Tactical Periodisation in FM22: The Beginning

Welcome back to this Tactical Periodisation experiment with FC Augsburg in FM22. In the previous post in this series I explained what Tactical Periodisation is and how it came be used in football, here I will explain how I am going to implement this within the games obvious limitations. The key to TP is that tactics are at the heart of everything. So by creating specific training schedules based around the Game Model (how I want my Augsburg team to play) and placing every player on an individual training schedule in the role they are going to play, lets see if its possible to get as close to tactical periodisation as we can.

As this methodology is about using training to improve a players tactical intelligence to help them make the right decisions in game situations, the most obvious place to start is; what FM attributes make up ‘tactical intelligence’? This is what I have come up with and these are the attributes we will be aiming to improve by our training schedules:

The FC Augsburg Game Model:

How to implement this within the Four Moments of the Game… (I wrote about the four moments of the game in the previous blog) but here it is again…

Four Moments of the Game…this is quite simply the idea that a football match consists of four moments; AttackingMoment: this moment is when the team has possession of the ball and their opponent is holding their defensive shape. The Attacking Moment lasts until the team in possession loses the ball. Transition From Attack to Defence: This moment begins when possession is lost and the team is not in their defensive structure meaning their opponents may launch a counter-attack. This moment ends when the team enters their defensive shape. Defensive Moment: This moment is when the team is in their defensive structure while not in possession of the ball. Transition From Defence to Attack: This moment begins when the team regains possession of the ball and their opponent is not yet in their defensive shape, in this moment the team in possession has the choice to launch a counter-attack, or maintain possession and enter the Attacking Moment.

How to follow the FC Augsburg game model within the four moments of the game:

The formation and tactical instructions to implement the game model:

We have a typical back four with Iago as a Wing Back on Support meaning he is still able to push forward and help the attack but is equally able to get back into our defensive shape quickly. As a Wing Back, this is where our width will come from. Caligiuri is our Full Back on Attack, sitting more narrow to cut out opposition passes in transition and he is more likely to be ready to get forward to launch a counter attack. Reece Oxford is the Half Back who will drop back to form our back 3 when we attack. Hahn as a Raumdeuter has the freedom to roam and find pockets of space that have been created by Pepi, our Advanced Forward who works the channels, dragging defenders with him, leaving gaps to be exploited.

Here is my FM22 FC Augsburg Squad: (My signings are in bold)

Goalkeepers: Rafal Gikiewicz, Tomas Koubek, Daniel Klein.

Defenders: Robert Gummy, Mads Valentin, Reece Oxford, Felix Uduokhai, Daniel Caligiuri, Tanguy Nianzou, Frederik Winther, Raphael Framberger, Amos Piper, Iago.

Midfielders: Tobias Strobl, Carlos Gruezo, Arne Maier, Jan Moravek, Fredrik Jensen, Niklas Dorsch.

Forwards: Ricardo Pepi, Ruben Vargas, Alfred Finnbogason, Andre Hahn, Andi Zeqiri, Noah Sarenren Bazee, Michael Gregoritsch, Florian Niederlechner.

Key Players:

So this is what a typical Tactical Periodisation looks like…

How can this be implemented in Football Manager?

I have created five training schedules for us to use, two for match day on Sundays, two for match day Saturdays and one for a two game week. I have tired to stick to the above plan, so the day after a game will be complete rest, the following day will be a recovery day and then the weeks training will begin with a strength day, an endurance day, a speed day and then a specific pre match session. Our tactical intelligence attributes need to always be at the focus point of these sessions though, so we improve individual players via the team’s methodology. The most difficult training day to create was the speed day, there is not a specific speed training session (that doesn’t involve specific fitness training) within FM so I had to adapt and also incorporate a couple of other training sessions.

Below I have highlighted a few specific sessions to show how they stay within our tactical framework: based on the game model…

This is the physical session on Wednesday which is our selected strength training day. As I have highlighted this session will impact in a players strength and stamina while also training other fitness components such as pace, agility and balance making it a well rounded session rather than a specific focused gym session.

This is what a month looks like with our training schedules. Depending on the opponent I may make some modifications, for example when we are playing against Bayern we will likely focus solely on defence and maintaining our defensive shape. Whereas against the likes of Wolfsburg and Hertha we can be much more attacking and look to push on, as per the Sub Principles of the game model. The Main Principles being the things that will never change, as in our core sessions that train our specific game model, the Sub Principles are the specific unit training that takes place, geared towards the upcoming match while the Sub Sub Principles in FM’s case has to be the specific individual training a player is on. In terms of the Scales of the Team, we can see that the ‘Team’ sessions are representative of the Collective, the Inter-Sectoral is covered in the transition sessions while the Sectoral sessions are the specific unit sessions in FM. We also have Individual training so the only thing we are missing is Group sessions which is specific players from different sectors who work close together such as DM working with CBs.

After three months of implementing these training schedules, here are a few selected players and their development. Even after a short time the players are already showing an improvement, Pepi in particular is really benefiting from this specific focus.

Ricardo Pepi’s development can be seen here in more detail:

Player Focus: Caligiuri (RB) has become a very important player for us, these 3 clips show how his crossing ability, anticipation, positioning and ability to run with the ball have proved to be one of our most useful attacking outlets. Playing as a Full Back on Attack duty, he sits slightly narrower that Iago who is a Wing Back on the left. This means he is on hand to cut out passes when we lose possession and our opponents are trying to launch a counter attack (as seen in the third video).

Here we see a throw in being taken, Caligiuri receives the ball back and hits a first time cross into the boss where Vargas, the Inverted Winger has made a good run and is able to apply the finish.
Once again see play being focused down the right wing with Caligiuri driving past the defenders and crossing to the far post where the Inverted Winger is waiting to head it in.

This time we see Caligiuri use good positioning to anticipate where and when the ball will be played and make an interception. Then he makes a good decision to pass the ball forward to Hahn, immediately switching us from defensive transition into a counter attack.

Focusing on our attacking moments in this post, here is a great snapshot of our 3-4-3 going forward:

Play being focused down the wings as per the game model:

Results so far:

So where are we in the league?

Is it possible to create Tactical Periodisation schedules in FM? Yes, within the games limitations, because it’s a game, obviously. But it is possible to get close to TP, creating training schedules that focus on a methodology, with specific principles in mind that will help create a specific way of playing.

Aktionsplan: Introduction

Willkommen! As you may have gathered, this is an introductory post to my adventures with Augsburg in the Bundesliga. The reason behind starting this save is because I haven’t had the opportunity to use the Data Hub in FM22 to its full potential yet. In my previous save with Sakaryaspor we sadly couldn’t attract good enough data analysts so the information collected wasn’t always useful, in my current save with Port Glasgow (which is still ongoing) being in the lower leagues of Scotland we don’t have data analysts and the coaching/scouting staff don’t exactly have great attributes to provide high quality data.

Why Augsburg? Well, quite simply I like them. When deciding on a team for this save, I knew I didn’t want to use a ‘top’ team such as Bayern or Liverpool etc. Augsburg are an established Bundesliga team but have plenty of room for improvement, this is where I plan on using the Dave Brailsford endorsed technique of marginal gains. The idea being that if you make enough small changes/tweaks the marginal gains will then become a big gain where you will see tangible improvement. Using data analysis to carefully tweak the tactics being used and also when choosing which players to sign or sell we will hopefully see Augsburg climbing up the league year on year.

I am quite a bookworm and have been reading a lot recently, two of the books I enjoyed are The European Game by Daniel Fieldsend and The Barcelona Legacy by Jonathan Wilson. Both books mention the ever controversial Jose Mourinho and his chosen method of training, known as Tactical Periodisation. I plan to try and implement this into our training schedules at Augsburg to see if it helps us generate the aforementioned marginal gains.

What is Tactical Periodisation? It is a training methodology developed by Sports Scientist Vitor Frade about 30-35 years ago, as a football coach myself I was aware of the basis and ideas behind the method but have really delved into it recently to develop my knowledge and understanding. The methodology has since gone on to be used most famously by Mourinho but does have other subscribers such as Brendan Rogers, Nuno Espirito Santo, Andre Villas Boas to name a few. So, the idea is that the Tactical element of the game is the overarching element that is the most important while the other three elements; Physical, Psychological and and Technical should be trained in a way which compliments/reinforces the Tactical aspect. Prior to Frade developing this methodology, all four elements would be trained separately, for example the Physical element would require gym sessions with a designated fitness coach, the Technical element would be trained in sessions specifically designed to improve a players technical abilities such as first touch, dribbling, crossing. A separate session for tactics would take place, meaning players would get an overview of how the coach wanted them to play but would not have had the training sessions to teach them how to implement this in game.

By using the method of Tactical Periodisation the main objective for the training sessions is for a coach to be able to teach/coach his/her players in the ‘Game Model‘ they desire. The Game Model is the key, this is the Tactical element, AKA the way the coach wants their team to play. Training uses the other three elements, Psychological, Physical and Technical to teach players how to implement the Game Model, prepare them for in game situations, how to adapt to these situations and how to make decisions based off these situations. The Game Model consists of 3 parts; Four Moments of the Game, Principles of the Game Model and Scales of the Team. I will try to break each part down and give an explanation as I understand it…

Four Moments of the Game…this is quite simply the idea that a football match consists of four moments; Attacking Moment: this moment is when the team has possession of the ball and their opponent is holding their defensive shape. The Attacking Moment lasts until the team in possession loses the ball. Transition From Attack to Defence: This moment begins when possession is lost and the team is not in their defensive structure meaning their opponents may launch a counter-attack. This moment ends when the team enters their defensive shape. Defensive Moment: This moment is when the team is in their defensive structure while not in possession of the ball. Transition From Defence to Attack: This moment begins when the team regains possession of the ball and their opponent is not yet in their defensive shape, in this moment the team in possession has the choice to launch a counter-attack, or maintain possession and enter the Attacking Moment.

Principles of the Game Model… The principles of the game model are essentially the style of play that the coach wishes to implement. This can be broken down into 3 parts; Main Principles: This is the identity of the team. This principle never changes, for example if a team’s main principle is to keep possession, they will not change this from game to game as loss of their identity would have a negative effect. This is the core of the team so training sessions based around the Main Principles will involve all the players. Sub Principles: For the most part the Sub Principles remain the same, with small amendments during the weekly morphocycle. Here, the team is split into groups/sectors to work on specific movements to implement in the upcoming game. For example, if the upcoming opposition is a high pressing team, training may consist of new variations of the Game Model to accommodate a DM dropping deeper to aid playing out from the back. Sub Sub Principles: This is specific individual training (or very small groups of 2 or 3). The Sub Sub Principles are adaptable and change depending on the opposition. This is the most flexible element of training, this is where the small tweaks are made depending on the variables such as who the opponent is, for example, a Central Defender who will be playing against a Centre Forward who runs in behind and has plenty of pace will have to adopt a different approach than if they were playing against a Centre Forward who likes to play with their back to goal and hold the ball up.

Scales of the Team… These are the groups that the squad is broken down into in order to implement the above training methodology. Collective: this is the whole team, the Main Principles are geared towards the Collective. Inter-Sectorial: This involves two areas/lines of the team such as defence and midfield, or midfield to attack. This would involve training the relationship between the two lines which would aid/improve the team in transitions. Sectorial: This involves one line of the team such as defence, focus on the defensive line working as a unit to prepare for in game situations. Group: This is even more specific as it involves certain positions from different lines/areas that play close together such as Central Defenders and Defensive Midfielders or Full Backs and Wingers. Individual: This is specific training for one player to develop the coaches desired behaviour or trait.

What Does a Weekly Training Session Look Like?

The entire training cycle is based around improving a players in-game intelligence to help them make the right decisions. Everything is centred around what happens on the pitch, fitness training is integrated into football based training sessions to boost a players fitness components while also ensuring it is relevant to in game situations. This is why Jose Mourinho’s assistant for 17 years was Rui Faria, a Sports Scientist who has a clear knowledge and understanding of fitness training but also has a UEFA Pro Licence meaning he is an equally adept football coach with great tactical knowledge.

So, the plan is to see if FC Augsburg can make significant progress year on year by implementing a Tactical Periodisation approach to training on Football Manager, ensuring it is focused as a whole program rather than specific component based training. I hope you have enjoyed this brief introductory post just outlining the ideas behind this FM save. I’m looking forward to seeing if this works!

As always, thanks for reading!