Monday night saw the return of the content creator Q&A over on the FM Slack. If you haven’t got involved yet then it really is easy to join and talk openly to your favourite writers. The Q&A is a great chance to find out more about the series’ you’re currently reading. This week was with Lee (fmanalysis) and we talked about his favourite saves, how to improve our tactical game, and even what he did at university.
Reids, writer of new series ‘searching the stats’ kicked us off by asking How did you get started in the world of football/FM analysis?
The FM side of things came first. I started posting a lot on the old FM forum The Dugout and my posts started to take on more of a tactical focus. When I started my FM blog it was with a series of tactical posts looking at various concepts in the game. I didn’t actually start considering writing analysis of real life football until Omar Saleem of These Football Times and Rene Maric of Spielverlagerung approached me to write for them. After that things just snowballed
What are the differences between analysing FM and real football?
I think that with real life football there are far more variables to consider with the tactical shifts of two coaches and the players at their disposal. With FM you are more constrained by the framework of the match engine. Both have their positives and negatives.
FM_Adventure, a man who doesn’t need many tips after getting Kosovo to the Euros asked Do you follow a similar process when analysing matches in FM as you do in real life football? Is there a step by step process you abide by when pinpointing problems?
Good question. I do have a process for analysing real matches. I look at both sides in three distinct phases looking for trends in the play. I look at their defensive and attacking shapes as well as how they work in transition. That way you can build a good understanding of how they are looking to play. In FM it is far easier just to concentrate on my own team but the process is similar. You need to check attacking shape and defensive solidity and how you want the team to operate with or without the ball.
I struggle to identify where my tactics are strong or weak, what’s the best way to see where to improve a system?
You need to watch the match at a decent level of detail. Extended at the very least but I favour comprehensive. Pay attention to where the opposition are attacking you and having success. If it is through the central areas then look at the roles and shape you have to ensure that there is enough support in central areas. The same concept applies to the wide areas. Think about how to ensure that you have players to support the wide areas. In the attacking phase look at where your moves are breaking down and whether you are getting support and service to your front players. The same concept applies here in terms of tweaking roles to support.
So it’s just a case of playing with the roles to see if one suits more. And changing from attacking to support (and vice versa) depending on what you want to achieve?
Exactly. The trick is to not do too much though. It is easy to get lost by changing things too much. Just tweak one thing at a time to see if it solves your issues.
Rickie Clark (slack user @blackcaesara5) asked the first of his two questions with, I noticed that in your Aberdeen save, you deployed ‘Defensive Wingers’ against Inter Milan, do you change tactics based on the opposition, as I know many FM managers only use the one tactic?
I don’t do that often but will in special circumstances to counter threats against teams that are much stronger than me. In that specific example I had recently made a tactic recreating the treble winning side that Mourinho used at Inter. I saw that match as the perfect chance to use that tactic.
So if you find something that works you rarely change it?
Exactly. Until I get bored that is.
The Deep Lying Podcasts Ed Wilson asked Have you tried a 3 at the back system in this FM? Where you used 1 DC and full backs like last year? If so, how was it? If not, why not?
I haven’t tried it yet. I was considering it to be honest. Last year I used it with a Twente save where the central defender was shielded by two halfbacks and a roaming playmaker in the DM slot. Whether it would work this year or not I’m not sure. I’d be interested to see someone try it
We see a lot of excellent real football analysis on eatsleepdrinkfootball and you are always around Slack helping out with tactics but what saves have you been playing on FM17?
For my own saves I have been playing as my home town team Aberdeen but my time to play is relatively limited. I’ve been considering starting a save series on Tempo with another side though so watch this space. (catch up on Lee’s latest post here)
Spiritedklopp, who is currently writing about his ‘Ultimate Journey’ on HTP asked Do u have a particular philosophy when playing FM or does it differ from game to game and save to save?
The tactical system that I use differs but for the most part my philosophy remains the same. I prefer a more vertical style of football with quick attacking transitions. I don’t tend to rely on possession as much anymore.
FM_Samo popped into the slack channel (#thehighertempopress) to ask You’re a bit of a veteran of FM writing, any tips for keeping interested and keen in writing about FM?
I think the most important thing is to make sure that you enjoy writing. I see a lot of people make the mistake of wanting to write for other people instead of for their own enjoyment. If you do want to write though then just do it. Get something down on paper and see how it feels but you need to make sure that it doesn’t start to feel more like a job than something you enjoy doing. There are so many great FM blogs out there just read as much as you can and then find your own style
Chris Darwen took time away from his brilliant new ‘Boys of Borussia’ save and asked what has been your favourite FM save of all time to play/write about?
There have been too many to count over the years! When I was still writing on The Dugout I had a Dortmund save that was great. It was the year before they really exploded under Klopp and in my first season I found a Brazilian newgen at Sao Paulo called Arthur. He cost 500k and remains the best player that I have ever seen on the game. I also really enjoyed my Ajax save last year because I lost my best players almost every year. Replacing them and introducing a steady wave of youth players was a great challenge.
@blackcaesara5 was back again as we started to ask more broad questions, what did you study at University, and did this help you get started in football?
I actually studied History and International Relations along with some Economics at university. I can’t say that any of that really helped me with football but I guess it did teach me to manage my time and workload effectively which helps with all the writing that I do.
How do you pick what you are going to analyse?
I think I just look for aspects of football that interest me. I used to concentrate more on individual matches when I would struggle to find footage but now for Eat Sleep Drink Football I have access to Wyscout and I can concentrate more on the recruitment and player side of things. As a scout for Hibernian up here in Scotland I find that it helps to sharpen my eye and instincts.
Is it easy to switch off the analysis part of you and just watch football?
To be honest, no. I think though that I have always watched the game slightly differently and I enjoy watching football in the way that I do. I think that’s one of the best things about football – that there are so many levels on which you can watch and enjoy the game.
Do you have any save ideas lined up already for next year?
I haven’t yet. I’d like to do something with Red Bull Salzburg after seeing them with the Uefa Youth League but that may be something that I visit this year.
That’s all we had time for, thanks to Lee for his time, and thanks to everyone for the questions. Please keep an eye out for the promotion on Twitter or the Slack for next weeks guest and get involved. If you would like to know more about Lee you can find him on Twitter on @fmanalysis – as the lead analyst on www.eatsleepdrinkfootball.com and his new series on HTP will launched this week, catch up on his things here https://www.thehighertempopress.com/author/fmanalysis/