Total Football Has Arrived


Make America Great Again
Boys, with the implementation of the different tactical roles for each position that actually work decently without excessive fine tuning I can finally--FINALLY!!!!--create the Clockwork Orange Total Football Tactic. I need your help though because some of you (looking in your direction Zlatan) know more about it than I do, but I feel like I've created the basic framework tonight. All I ask from you guys is two things:

1) Realize that this is far from a complete tactic at this point, so do NOT come bitching about results.

2) Help me make the tactic work from this basic framework. I'm posting it here in SG instead of other forums because first, I know that there are quality FM players here that know tactics, and second... well because I don't want to post a **** tactic in a place like that without a lot of input and testing from different minds.

I'll explain what I've done and some of the philosophy behind Total Football.

At the heart of Total Football is the realization that possession is the most important part of the game. If you don't have the ball you can't score, but if you don't have the ball in dangerous areas you probably won't score either. As a result, Total Football is designed to keep possession as long as possible (exemplified by the first goal in the 1974 WC Final: no German touched the ball until they pulled it out of their own net), and win back possession in dangerous areas.

So how do you keep possession? Well first you play simple passes. That seems obvious. Secondly, when you win possession you go WIDE. The more space the defense has to defend means the harder it is for them to win the ball back, and therefore the easier it is to keep possession. So as a result this FM tactic team instruction on width is about as wide as you can get. It can go a few notches wider, so maybe we should do that. The best example of this in real life is Barcelona. They play short quick passes all game long and when you lose concentration for a second they play the killer ball. That's what we're looking for.

How do you win possession? By compacting the field of play. When the defense has the ball in their own third you pressure the hell out of them. First, because defenders are often not very good on the ball, and second, because combined with an offside trap set at midfield they only get half the field to play with. Brilliant, no? This is the part I'm having more trouble with than anything, getting the guys to run hard for all 90 minutes and also setting the offside trap at the half way line for as long as humanely possible. The famed Dutch and Ajax teams used stimulants to go so hard for so long, unfortunately in FM we do not have the luxury.

The formation is naturally the 4-3-3. This is gospel. You cannot run Clockwork Orange in anything other than a 4-3-3.

The most famous part of the Dutch Total Football was players switching positions. This was done vertically. For example, if the fullback went ahead the outside midfielder would drop back. If the outside midfielder went ahead, the outside forward would drop back. This is still difficult to approximate in FM, although for single positions (for example CM and FC) it seems like they might have finally gotten it right this year. I'll have to check some more, but I definitely saw my CM and FC swap and then swap back a few minutes later which was cool. The best way I think we can approximate this phenomenon is to use a touchline order to look for the overlap in the first minute of every game. It makes no sense to demand switching, you want to switch organically when it makes sense. This is also why the Team Instructions are set at "Very Fluid".

The second most famous part of the tactic was probably the creativity it allowed in players. For the most part I do not give any specific individual orders about where crosses should go, if guys should cut in or get to the end line, or anything like that; there are a lot of "sometimes" in the individual instructions. It's up to the players to make the correct read for the situation. Therefore MAKE SURE you have smart players, particularly in attack.

The other small problem I'm having with the tactic revolves around my lack of knowledge about Total Football (I'm going to have to re-open my book on historic tactics), so maybe one of you can enlighten me. What to do with the counter attack? When we gain possession in our own half I'm not really sure if we want to start blasting it up field and chancing a long ball that loses possession; in fact I'm positive we don't want to do that. However, if we seize possession from the other team in our attacking half, or better yet our attacking third, then I'm pretty sure we want to press our advantage. If a team loses the ball that far back their defense will not be set up; likely the midfield will be up field and helpless to assist the defense, and the fullbacks might even be too far up to help as well. In this case we want to go straight for goal. So I leaned toward no checking the counter attack box, but I'm open to checking it.

The central striker was Johan Cruyff and he is the reason why Total Football ran as well as it did. I dare say that no one else in 1974 could have done it, but in the modern game we have a few players who can. Basically it's your classic Trequartista role. He is also the target man (play to feet) and the playmaker. Furthermore, at the earliest possible time you're going to want to train your mini-Cruyff to "come deep to get the ball". It makes no sense to have your target man and playmaker surrounded by DMs and DCs all game; he needs the ball in space. Combining the work rate, the stamina, and also the technique and flair required to play this position is very rare in one player, but as far as I can tell the best player in the game is probably going to be Wayne Rooney. If I had a second choice I would take Ibrahimovic. After that I'm not exactly sure what I would sacrifice, so that is up to you. Without looking at stats I imagine Drogba is capable, and obviously Aguero probably is too, and probably Cristiano Ronaldo (actually he might be the ideal candidate).

The other crucial position that the dutch didn't really use all that much because of injuries, although it was present in the CL winning Ajax sides and adds another dimention to the formation is the Libero. Everyone had a Libero in the 1970s. He is the last line of defense and on offense he steps into the midfield to offer another option. Classic Libero is Beckenbauer. In order to get the SW to play how I want him to play I had to make him very attack minded, but he still seems to get back on defense most of the time which is good. I would guess that your best bet for Libero is Michael Essien; he seems like the perfect combination of technical ability, brute strength, and defensive acumen. Other candidates are Pique, Chiellini, and probably Veloso although I haven't checked his stats in this version of FM.

The other star of Clockwork Orange was Johan Neeskens, the only Central Mid on the field (except for Cruyff if you count him). As far as I'm concerned this is the hardest individual instructions on the field to get right. Neeskens was a work horse who could win possession, but he was also offensively gifted and capable of scoring many goals. Off the top of my head Steven Gerrard has got to be the best modern player to fit this role. Other candidates would depend on what you want to sacrifice, but I would warn not to give away too much work rate, determination, and tackling ability by plugging in a sparkplug like Diego or even one of the Barcelona guys. To be honest I would probably look English for this position because central mids everywhere else in the world seem to have become specialized instead of being that all around box to box midfielder. Ballack would work (although he's old), Barry would probably work, Lampard probably, Carrick, Cesc, Flamini. The DM/AM C types.

After that I'd say the rest of the team is mostly who can play in the position. The outside forwards you're going to want guys who can dribble down the flank, but also score like a striker. Henry and Ronaldo have to be the best examples. Higuain too. Messi will obviously be fine, but crosses definitely can come in fast with this formation (although I'd almost prefer if there were more 1-2's on the sideline to spring a guy cutting in) and Messi won't win headers. If we can get the team to stop crossing and instead look to beat defenders on the sideline in the final third with give and go's and dribbling then we would definitely want a little guy like Messi in the team because I can't think of anyone who could quickly combine and also dribble by defenders like him.

The fullbacks need to have some attacking ability, but aren't full on wingbacks. Obviously want the usual stamina and work rate. Also make sure you have guys who can tackle.

Outside midfielders are interesting because I can't get them right. In the Dutch formation they're basically central mids in disguise. They combine on the side when the ball is on the side, but when the ball is in the middle and opposite side of the pitch, and when we are on defense, they pinch in and act as CMs. I'm having a hard time getting this right in the tactic, so I need help with this among a lot of other things. My best initial guess is to try and accomplish this with very high closing down (already done) and preferred player moves like dribble through the middle or cut inside, but we don't really want these guys trying to skin everyone in front of them either, so I'm unsure right now. I'd say you want M C/R types, so like a Gourcuff would be ideal, or a Gerrard, Berry, or Flamini.

The Central Defender (singular) needs to know what the **** he's doing. Great tackling, jumping, heading, anticipation, etc. He's your defense. Rio, Vidic, Terry whatever. These guys aren't that rare at the highest level which is sort of odd. Either way, if you have a bum in defense you're probably going to get absolutely lit up.

Here is what the formation looks like

Here it is for download:

Gentlemen, let's get to work.


Did you get the 10.0.3?

Amazing idea, I'm all for it! Don't know if I'll have any time to really try it and stuff, but I certainly will try to help with players, if not anything else! (Y)


Make America Great Again
Yeah I have the most recent patch. Well guys, looks like I'm not sleeping tonight (class in 5 hours now and I've used all my skips for the semester already), so a few initial observations.

I've put my Libero on 100% attack on the slider and he still won't step into the midfield. I tried scattering the CB and SW to be next to each other, so like left CB and right SW, but he still didn't move and it just led to better opportunities for the other team on offense. I'm thinking about scraping the Libero all together unless someone knows how to get it to work.

I've moved passes much shorter than they were in the posted tactic because we were giving away possession with too many long passes still. I've also set crosses to "rarely" for everyone on our team.

As I suspected, the Cruyff player definitely needs the PPM of "comes deep to get the ball". I also found out that, while you need your MC to be good at long shots because he gets quite a few opportunities, you cannot have him with the PPM of "likes to take long shots" because... well because he kicks the ball over the post too much with bad shots and loses possession for us.

I think I've upped closing down for the FBs and wide midfielders which seems to get them to pinch in a little bit on defense which is fantastic. I might tone down the FB closing down instruction because they don't need to pinch as much if I cut the Libero out of the tactic.

I've been testing with Bayern who don't have the players for it. Mueller in the Cruyff role which is obviously well beyond his capabilities. He's actually not done bad. The real stars are Ribery and Robben as the outside forwards who are dynamite now that we've stopped crossing the ball. A typical attack is a lot of possession build up, then Ribery or Robben gets the ball, skins a guy while cutting inside, lays it to the MC, who then knocks it back outside to the FB and outside midfielder who are wide open since Ribery or Robben took the defender with him. I'm starting to think it might not be a bad idea to use someone like Beckham with 20 at crossing as the outside midfielder. They get so many opportunities to play uncontested crosses. While I don't want the Forwards crossing, maybe it's not a bad idea to get some superstar crossers out there since they usually don't have anyone marking them.

Another thing: from what I've seen so far, most teams are going to try to beat the tactic by over running the center of the midfield. Not really surprising since we only have one guy there. Therefore, I think we need to have 2 tactics. The standard and the one where we pull our wide midfielders inside and have 3 MCs. We'll have to try to tweak it so they still go outside on offense, but that might be easier than it seems.

Finally, we definitely seem to get a fair few counter opportunities when we gain possession in the other team's half, so I don't think that will have to be tweaked.


Fan Favourite
A very cool idea indeed. Let's see if we can get this to work. I'll try to share my ideas about Total Football and what I know about it.

I think the essence of Total Football is the versatility and also the quickness of movement(of player and ball) and thinking of every player. Johan Cruijff has become the personification of Total Football, because, atleast in my opinion, he was the most versatile player ever. Looking at old Ajax and Oranje games you can see he usually starts as a striker, but runs all over the pitch. The teams Cruijff played in adapted around his movements.

So we need a player like Cruijff. Easier said than done ofcourse. The problem is that modern day football doesn't have and doesn't allow for such a versatile player as Cruijff was. Each player nowadays has their own set of tasks, you have defenders that concentrate on defending and attackers that concentrate on attacking. People like Messi and C.Ronaldo might come close to it, but they are mainly attacking minded players. They fully flourish when they got a defensive midfielder behind him. So what we need is a player like Johan Neeskens, that fills up the gaps that our 'Cruijff' leaves by moving around constantly. A name that springs to mind in this matter is Steven Gerrard, although he might be a bit too attacking minded. Maybe a more defensive minded player like Daniele De Rossi(of Roma) would work in this case too.

Defenders are the vital part of this theory. They need to be able to defend but also move to midfield and contribute to the attack. When a defender constantly moves to midfield when your team has possesion of the bal, you create an extra man(a 'man meer-situatie', as we would call it in the dutch) on the midfield. This gives you dominance over the most important part of the football pitch. From there on you can start dominating a game. I agree that overlapping is also an important part of Total Football. Players like Ruud Krol and stuff that switch very quickly from attack to defend(there we have that versatility again).

So supposing we have secured dominance over the midfield area, we now have to think how to set up a flourishing attack, that is so typical of Total Football. Here we should indeed, like you said, play wide. In this part the wingers play a vital role. I'm thinking Piet Keizer, Sjaak Swart, quick and fast players like that who recieve the ball, go past their man and cross the ball into the box. Now again we see a problem here in modern day football, because this type of winger you rarely see nowadays. The only player I can think of that comes close to this is Arjen Robben.

Anyway, I don't know if we can implement all this in FM, but I really like this idea and I'll see if I can test out the tactic you posted. I think I might try it with Barcelona, cause they come closest to playing the football we want to play.

Finally I'll include a video of the famous Johan Cruijff goal in the 1974 World Cup semi-final against Brazil, because I feel it illustrates everything I just described above:



Make America Great Again
I know this is just the Charity Shield, but I have NEVER dominated a team like Chelsea like I just did. I guess it's not so much the possession or the score, but rather how pathetic their attack was (3 shots?) and the players who were beating them. I have guys out of position (Park on the forward line), and because of injuries and fitness by the time the second half started there were 7 guys on the pitch that I would not call first choice (Park, Fletcher, Giggs, Brown, Evans, O'Shea, and Kuszczak). I tried to bring in players that I felt could run this style well; Balotelli and Mata to run at guys as the wide forwards and also be able to score, Gourcuff to control the midfield but also go out wide. I'll be curious to note if the team plays better with Fletcher at CM instead of Carrick because he's such a workhorse.

The passing is quick and almost always on point. I see very few wasted passes. Rooney is all over the place. There are times when the Wide Forward, Outside Mid, and Fullback put on clinics on the wing in the opposing team's third.

When the game starts I immediately issue 3 touchline instructions. Overlapping runs, Hassle opponent, and Keep possession.

Now, in this game I noticed that Chelsea were overloading the midfield (which they always do), so I pinched the wide mids inside, but retained all the same instructions.

The one think I still can't implement is the "man meer-situatie" as you say. I thought the Libero would be ideal, but it just didn't work out. The flat 4 has done a good job, and I think we can get one of those center backs to join the attack if we keep experimenting. Here's where I'm at so far:

The tactic I used against Chelsea was the exact same, except I moved the outside mids into the middle. I had to manually adjust the tickers to make sure nothing else changed.

EDIT: Zlatan, I just had a thought about Barcelona. I decided not to use them because I don't think Xavi or Iniesta are tough enough to play the Neeskens role. However, with the pinched midfield line you can use Xavi and Iniesta on the sides and then Keita as the middle player. That sounds really deadly, I'll have to try it out between my classes this afternoon.


Awesome news, I swear I'm really tempted to try that on my Leeds team if I finally get promoted to the Premiership this season(see screenshot thread) (H)

Regarding United, what was/would be your starting lineup? You started Rooney as your Cruyff?


Make America Great Again
Rooney as the Cruyff, Carrick in the middle, Rio as Libero if I can ever get it to work, Evra, Rafael, Vidic, Gourcuff (RM), Anderson/Giggs (LM), and then Mata and Balotelli as the wide forwards. I'd probably use Park, Obertan, and Fletcher the most out of all backups. I think Hargreaves could be useful too if healthy.

I've been thinking and Tevez could definitely play as the Cruyff as well. The other thing I've been doing the past few hours is reading about modern Liberos and why the position could make a comeback. We might need to have slightly different variations on the tactic depending if you're playing against 3 or 1 forwards, and 2 forwards. I think I've got a good handle on what I want to do, now I just have to do it.


I was going to say Tevez before I remembered he's not at United anymore haha... Btw, what do you want the libero to do, exactly?


Make America Great Again
Filipower;2830070 said:
I was going to say Tevez before I remembered he's not at United anymore haha... Btw, what do you want the libero to do, exactly?

I want the Libero to be a sweeper on defense and on offense step into the midfield and play like a defensive midfielder offering support, so essentially we have an extra man in the midfield. But like I said, this probably won't work against 2 striker formations.


Make America Great Again

Few points:

1) As United I have been using Berbatov as my Left Forward, so you might want to tweak those instructions slightly. If you need a template go with the Right Forward instructions.

2) The offside trap can be hilarious at times; I've seen the other team's midfield knocking it around at the half line and my defensive line is basically holding the middle third line. It usually works, but I will occasionally get beat by Jermaine ******* Defoe. Watch out for those guys, you might want to change a thing or two against the speedy poacher types.

3) The central forward really needs to be versatile. We're talking Rooney, Berbatov, Ronaldo, Kaka, Tevez, Messi, etc. In my second season Rooney has something like 10 assists and 3 goals in my first 12 games.

4) Just something to keep an eye on, your wide forwards should be decent finishers as well as excellent dribblers with flair. Without good finishing they'll frustrate the hell out of you. I have more success with Mame Diouf than with Chinedu Obasi because he makes the most of his opportunities.

5) You also might want to change the "ball playing defender" to something else. He doesn't get into the midfield enough to warrant the role, but I've had success, so have been loathe to change it.

6) Try to have all your midfielders be capable of taking long shots. Also they get in on the keeper one on one occasionally, so finishing can be of minor importance.

My favorite part is that I've had my fullbacks and central defenders score from the run of play... not on set pieces and not from long shots. The weakness is probably the defense, but it hasn't really been too bad except for a few games in a year and a half. Everyone is so attacking minded and the pressure is all over the pitch that teams have a hard time launching competent attacks.


Starting XI
I'm going to give this formation a try to my 2013-2014 PSV side. Why? because I have lost 2 games to Olympiakos in there stadium in the champions league group stage. and Real Madrid in the super cup. It's time for a new tactic even if it's my final year @ PSV.


Team Captain
Good read Shifty, seems like a fun adventure you took on there.

Personally I learned and evolved to no longer use set-out tactics such as this. I always adjust the tickers for each player, (including subs and squad rotation). I use the player's attributes to decide the mentality, creativity, passing etc... And then I basically add all of the squad's average and come up with the tempo and width etc...

This style relies totally on the players you have and those players end up shaping your team. It has been very effective with barely any "shocking" outcomes and many positive results. When I changed to this style I first went with creative passing players but now I am into the hard working squad, where every player pressures (high work rate) and works the hell out of the other team. This has been very effective and now I can say I am the most successful I've even been at CM/FM tactics.

p.s. Jermaine Jones is a beast.

Shifty, my suggestion is to get players with very high Creativity and Decisions (and other important technical stats) and set mentality to normal, creativity to the max, closing down to high and the rest to medium. With the medium settings the highly talented players can decide on the right actions without being too exposed. Some of the things are hard to implement in FM.


Make America Great Again
For the most part I stopped tweaking this tactic after thinking I accomplished all I could hope for. I scored 107 goals the first year with Man City only buying a few players. In that respect I think I've accomplished my goal. To win year after year in FM you have to make adjustments, so I abandoned Total Football after a few seasons when it stopped working for whatever reason.

The stupid ass post above ripped from thedugout doesn't help me at all and doesn't offer anything that isn't in my initial post, or Zlatan's follow up. All that **** is considered.


Team Captain
Alright fellas, I had some time on my hands so I decided to try a FM experiment thanks to the editor and inspiration of this thread.

I went for a team full of players with high technique, passing, creativity and teamwork and I edited player's positions (but left their stats the same, except I gave them all 20 in free role).

I did this experiment to see what sort of football they would play. I'm not going to use Shifty's tactics, except his general formation, a 1-3-3-3 with 3 sides of wings. I'm going to tick free role for all of them just for the heck of it.

Here is the squad and every one's edited position (a fault I admit is that the full backs aren't speedy enough for total football and there isn't enough work rate in the team, but this is more of an alternative experiment):

Cristiano Ronaldo's team-work wasn't high enough.
The goalies are sort of 'attacky'.


Make America Great Again
Sweeper directly behind a CB doesn't work. And I've also found that it works better if the midfielders are all MCs.


Team Captain
Yeah the first game isn't going too impressive, the system currently dosen't work so well. Lol the second goal Kaka just dribbled from outside the box into 3 Bury defenders and just passed it in the net from 5 feet out.