This Southampton FM23 tactical recreation has been shared with us by @alkindihasibuan
In the current 2022/2023 Premier League season, Southampton is facing a relegation battle, having secured only 6 wins, 5 draws, and 19 losses. Their struggle started with the dismissal of Ralph Hassenhutl. His replacement, Nathan Jones, couldn’t turn things around quickly enough, and he was relieved of his duties after 94 days, with 7 losses in 8 matches.
However, Southampton has a new ray of hope in the form of Selles, Since Selles has been in charge, the team has shown some positive signs, including draws against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, as well as a victory against Chelsea.
Despite these promising performances, Southampton’s results have been far from good. Their shaky defence and poor conversion rate remain major concerns. In their most recent match against Manchester City, their disorganized defence and lack of communication cost them the game.
Southampton has primarily used a 4-2-3-1 formation this season, with a 4-4-2 formation also used frequently enough. The double pivot is responsible for circulating the ball and trying to combine passes to find the wingers, who love to stretch the defence and make runs in behind.
Selles prefers to be reactive most of the time, but there is no shame in being pragmatic when your sole purpose is to survive in the Premier League. Therefore, implementing structure and converting chances will be the priority in this Southampton’s tactical recreation.
ON THE BALL
Southampton prefers to play long balls to find forwards or switch sides, as they rank third in the league for the number of long passes. In the 4-2-3-1 formation, the attacking midfielder drops and roams to get the ball and link up with others. In the 4-4-2 formation, one striker roams around more frequently than his partner. The right-sided striker will drift wide, and the left-sided striker will position himself centrally and drop down a little. The wingback will overlap and help the wingers. These tactics can be used in one game, depending on the situation and the opponent’s style of play, but the 4-2-3-1 will be the main system of play.
During the build-up phase, Southampton does not always look to play long, when there is a chance Southampton will move the ball with more purpose, one of the fullbacks inverted, and the double pivot staying close to the defence. The main aim is to find runners out wide and forwards who love to move into channels and try to create and
find spaces. Che Adams’ aerial and physical presence is useful in this scenario, while his teammates will surround him as passing options or try to win the second ball.
OFF THE BALL
In terms of defensive structure, Southampton will use a mid-block most of the time, with a standard line of engagement. They will not necessarily counter-press the opponent all the time. This season, they have struggled to defend and face a transition. To counter this, one of the pivots will stay wider behind the overlapping fullback and try to force the opponent to play out wide, where they can attempt to win duels and start counterattacks.
This approach will give Southampton the chance to soak up pressure, cut passing lanes, and minimize spaces for the opponent. 4-4-2 will be the shape off the ball. The 2 highest men will disturb the centre-back and DM, while the 4 midfield will play narrow and ready to close the gap once the forwards trigger press. This structure will allow the opponent’s winger more likely to find spaces but that is the aim, especially against big teams that like to play vertical passes on build-up.
GK: Sweeper Keeper on Defend. Despite still being young, Bazunu has a lot of potentials. His command of area and distribution still needs some development, but his sweeping and shot-stopping is already there. This role suits his attributes
DR: Fullback on Support. Tasked to stay narrower, the right-back will be patient on the build-up and when given chance, will support the winger and spam crosses. With Livramento out injured for a long time, Kyle Walkers Peters suits well with this role as he is comfortable using both feet. With Maitland Niles and James Bree as backups
RCB: Ball Playing Defender on Defend. Given the responsibility to maintain possession and build up when allowed, RCB needs a secure technical ability and composure. Bella Kotchap will fill this post with Bednarek and Lyanco as backups
LCB: Central Defender on Defend. The more traditional centre-back is put on the left side to compensate for a more adventurous wingback on the left. His main duty is to clear the defence line, mark dangerous opponents forward, and take fewer risks on build-up. Salisu will be the main man in this role with Duja Caleta Car and Lyanco as backups
DL: Wingback on Support. His main duty is to maintain width, be a supporting runner on the overlap, create spaces, and cross from the byline. Perraud will be the first starter with Larios and Maitland Niles as backups
RCM: Box To Box on Support. Here is the post for the talisman, James Ward-Prowse. He will be everywhere on the pitch and dictate the play. He will be asked to play a more direct ball, and of course, take every set piece we got. Diallo and Stuart Armstrong will fill the post when needed
LCM: Ball Winning Midfielder on Support. Asked to stay wider, the LCM will cover a lot of distance with his priority to secure the ball and immediately trigger the counterattack once he won the ball. Romeo Lavia will be the starter with Diallo and Maitland Niles as backups
AMC: Advanced Playmaker on Support. As the pressing number 10, AMC will drop down and look for the ball on possession, he will be actively involved in the attack, create chances and roam from the position. Out of possession, he will join the striker to press. Stuart Armstrong, Alcaraz, and Aribo will fill this role
AMR: Inverted Winger on Attack. Mainly tasked to provide width, the right winger will cut inside from the flank looking for crosses or through balls. He will find spaces and make himself available in the opponent’s penalty box. El Younoussi, Theo Walcott, and Stuart Armstrong will fill this role
AML: Inside Forward on Attack. Tasked to sit narrower and focus on attack, he will find himself a lot at the end of the attack and ready to provide a threat on the final third. He will shoot more often and run into a box whenever chances are created for him. Sulemana, Adam Armstrong, Djenepo, and Orsic will fill this role
STC. Pressing Forward on Attack. The focal point of attack, he will drop down, link up, and create chances for himself and the team. He will relentlessly taunt the opponent’s defence on and off the ball. Che Adams will be the main starter with Onuachu, Orsic, and Mara as backups
On the 4-4-2 version, the focus is to use the width and be direct and fast on the ball. The aim is still the same, to catch the opponent on the break and use space as best as possible.
In this set-up, one of the strikers will roam from the position, with Winger on Right Midfielder to utilize width and movement when building up and transitions. In transitions, the team will regroup to close space and stay compact. They are also instructed to play fairly narrowly.
HOW THE SEASON WENT
I try to play a season, mostly using the 4-2-3-1 formation and simulated around 80% of it. In the beginning, the media predicted us to end 17th, not far from current reality.
As stated before, the main aim of this recreation is to make more chances and convert them. The result showing while the defence is still shaky as it is, our attacking improved and managed to score 60+ goals while conceding around the same number. Che Adams ended up as 3rd top scorer with 22 goals.
In the end, Southampton secured 9th position, much better than what the media predicted.
In Addition, our Cup performances also not embarrassing to say the least
If you would like to try these tactics the links are here to download: