Tactic testing: Everton reimagined by David N


The latest tactic testing is slightly different, as this time around, I am not testing somebody else tactic but one that I have adapted from the 4141 Static-X- Focus Striker by Delicious Story, which remains one of my favourite FM 23 tactics. Thanks to the creator for the inspiration.

I took the tactic and basically tweaked everything, and in the end, I came up with something that was well-balanced and suited to the players available in the updated Everton squad.

I haven’t tried to reinvent the wheel here, as there are very few FM 23 plug-and-play tactics, and I, mainly due to time constraints, have not created a tactic for a decade. I usually leave that to the FM creators with far more tactical knowledge than myself, but not today.

The conditions of the tactic

I used a slightly updated database, which was accurate as of mid-July, so the likes of Ashley Young and, more importantly, in this system, Arnaut Danjuma were in my squad for the test.

I holidayed for a whole season without changing anything, so there were no tactical tweaks, transfers or even changes to the team.

How is the tactic set up?

everton reimagined tactics

The tactic is a 4-1-1-3-1 formation with a positive mentality, designed to get the best balance from the players at hand. Playing as Everton usually throws up challenges, especially when it comes to getting the balance right between defending well and scoring enough goals.

I set it up with a goalkeeper on sweeper keeper with a defend duty. I felt the sweeper keeper suited Jordan Pickford’s abilities. At the back, I used two wing-backs and two ball-playing defenders, all with defend mentality.

This was a conscious choice, as I attempted many different defensive set-ups and many different saves before hitting on this particular set-up. The tactic suited Vitaliy Mykolenko, as he is naturally more defensive than the more adventurous Nathan Patterson on the other flank.

The defensive protection was provided by a ball-winning midfielder Amadou Onana, which is the Belgian’s best role according to the game’s role screen. In front of Onana was Abdoulaye Doucoure, who played as an advanced playmaker in the centre of the park. It was maybe not the Frenchman’s best position, but I wanted a player to link up the defensive players with the attacking players and in the end, he did a solid job.

The front four was something I kept pretty simple, as Dwight McNeil and Arnaut Danjuma both played as wingers on attack duty, once again their best positions according to the roles screen. Dele Alli played as an attacking midfielder on attack.

Up front was Dominic Calvert-Lewin playing as an advanced forward on attack. In truth, DCL can play most of the forward roles, so it didn’t make much difference what role he played in. However, I have found that advanced forward is the role that usually gets the best out of him.

All in all, I was aiming for balance, and I think that this setup gave the team balance and brought the best out of certain players. The fact that so many players developed decent understandings illustrates that point.

How did the tactic perform?

everton reimagined table

It is fair to say that this tactic overperformed. Everton was predicted to finish 16th place in the table. However, the team finished fifth-place, only losing out on a Champions League spot courtesy of an inferior goal difference of two to Newcastle.

The team’s goal difference of 23 was a healthy one, though, as they scored 79 goals and conceded 54. In previous efforts we conceded far more goals. Therefore, the switch to a backline of all the defenders on defend helped the cause.

There was also some unexpected success in the cup competitions, as the team won the FA Cup, beating Arsenal 1-0 in the final of the competition. However, there was also the obligatory third round exit from the Carabao Cup, as the team were beaten by Sunderland.

Who were the top performers?

everton reimagined squad

Anybody who reads my tactic testing articles on a regular basis will know that Dominic Calvert-Lewin always seems to come out on top when it comes to top performing players. Once, again DCL thrived in this tactic, as he scored 42 goals in the same number of appearances, picking up an average season rating of 7.59.

Loan star Arnaut Danjuma thrived on the right-wing, scoring four times, but more importantly producing 16 assists at a season average rating of 7.18, the second-best after Calvert-Lewin.

Dele also produced decent displays in the attacking midfield role, scoring 12 goals and producing eight assists while picking up a season-average rating of 6.97. Winger Dwight McNeil was also highly productive in this tactic, producing 17 assists and scoring seven goals. His performances earned him an average season rating of 7.10.

The advanced playmaker Abdoulaye Doucoure performed in exactly the way I planned him to, as he scored six goals and also produced eight assists. His average season rating of 7.06 was the fourth best over the campaign.

Winger Demarai Gray deserves an honourable mention, too, as the Jamaican international scored seven goals, despite starting just three games while also making an incredible 42 substitute appearances.

One of the more surprising results was that ball-winning midfielder Amadou Onana producing six assists and three goals from his primarily defensive role.

What is my conclusion from using this tactic?

Well, I have to say attempting to create a successful tactic was difficult. It was made easier by the stellar base from which I started. However, I enjoyed tweaking the system and going slightly deeper into tactical setups and roles within the game.

I have maybe been slightly lazy with tactics in recent years, or maybe life has just got in the way of me being able to create tactics. This tactic testing has inspired me to keep tweaking the formation, and I am actually doing that in my personal saves.

The tactic worked out well, but maybe I can come up with something better in the future. I am using this tactic on my own personal save at the moment and have been tweaking it as I signed better-quality players. Hopefully, it will lead to better results and I may just publish my results in another tactic testing piece.

Let me know what you think of this tactic and if you would use this tactic on your save