My Inspiration from this tactic was I wanted to create a new brand of Total Football within Football Manager 2020, there is already loads of representations of Johan Cruyff’s system of where he wants all of his players to be able to play whatever position that they’re in or given.

But firstly this article isn’t going to be about breaking down his system and trying to recreate that, there is plenty of posts on google and on the forums that break that system down because of how highly popular the system is among a load of people due to the success its had across all of its disciples, being: Dennis Bergkamp, Michael Laudrup, Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Ronald Koeman, Pep Guardiola and Louis Van Gaal, a lot of Dutch people due to the involvement he had at building Ajax’s foundations of future success.

Instead we’ll be focusing on the attributes that are needed and why and how we calculate a certain number to help us, tell us how good a player truly is and therefore we can pick those players when building a squad.

We can only do so well until it starts to become almost impossible to do any better than the squad you’re given in football manager, because we don’t have all of the tools that are required to do what we do.

The framework behind the tactic focused on the following attributes, which I’ve helped by breaking them down into the three main areas.

Technisch: Technical

Dribbling, Finishing, First Touch, Passing, Technique

Technical ability is very important in all players who need to keep the ball close to their feet as well as keeping it under control when getting heavily pressed, give the ball to your teammate how you’d like to receive it – Pep Guardiola

Mentaal: Mental

Anticipation, Composure, Decisions, Off The Ball

We need mental attributes because we need to make sure the players stay calm and composed when given the chance to attack and when they’re pressed as well as getting themselves into a good position all of the time for other teammates, as well as consistently making good decisions.

Fysiek: Physical

Acceleration, Agility, Pace

We need to out physical our opponents into making sure we get to every 50/50 quicker as well as being silky enough to slide right past people, having the pace to get back is also important.

If you pick a team like Manchester United on football manager and sit out there “TFR” rating you’ll get a “Total Football Rating” which is what we’re going to use to calculate a players TFR, the higher the TFR, the longer they stay in the squad, simple as.


Paul Pogba in Football Manager 20

Let’s take Pogba and figure out his TFR, we’re going to take the following and start adding it all up to divide it by how many there are, being 12:

  • Dribbling17
  • Finishing14
  • First Touch18
  • Passing18
  • Technique19
  • Anticipation14
  • Composure15
  • Decisions12
  • Off The Ball15
  • Acceleration12
  • Agility15
  • Pace16

The total for all of the attributes is: 185, we’re now going to divide that by how many attributes we’ve added up and that is 12 therefore 185 / 12 leaves us with 15.4, now we’re going to (x5) which gives Pogba a TFR of 77, which is really high and pretty good, which is to be expected from a player who is so talented. I use this method when doing lower league saves as well as anything like Championship, I’m currently using this method with my Nottingham Forest save, I figured out all of the TFR’s of all my players and put in the highest ones, obviously keeping everything realistic to roles and suitability and what a player can and can’t play.

I’ve managed to get Nottingham Forest promoted and now we’re sitting 4th in the Premier League first season with 12 games played and 25 points received from our games. With most of the same players that we had in the Championship and its because I was able to keep control of my finances as well as being able to rate players accordingly to the way I like to play in football manager.

TFR – Total Football Rating

-De Filosofie
: The Philosophy

The idea behind my philosophy was that I wanted my players to be good with the ball at their feet, as we would be playing a short-passing game with a lot of pressure, and as such they would also need to be good at taking their chances when the opportunity presented itself.

The mental side of the philosophy focuses on their decisions and composure, and the ability to anticipate the opponents next move in order to use their off the ball movement to initiate counter attacking runs, in order to force turn-overs and put the opposition under intense pressure and creating goal-scoring opportunities for us.

This resulted in some brilliant football being played, and we managed to shortlist players and acquire those who fitted the tactical system I was looking to employ, ensuring maximum effectiveness of the philosophy within the game.

Using this method to create formations and tactics

-Vorming: Formation

The formation you’d like to play is completely and utterly up to you, go look at some various examples from Johan that he used to play and that should do completely fine, I’ve always believed that the squad building is the important part in football.

After all “Bad managers make bad sides, you’ll never hear of a good side making a manager” – Brian Clough (My inspiration into my football manager save currently)

As I’ve discussed earlier the idea behind the philosophy was that we wanted to play a positive, short passing game whilst looking to force openings and overload the opposition, converting opportunities into goals. With this in mind I opted to go for a Positive mentality.

In possession we try not to overcomplicate anything and we try to make wall passes that we build the play up through the midfield and defence of the opposition, meaning we get towards the end of our play in possession and then our wingers have a chance to get into the half spaces and try to create something or they can dribble into the box or they can just cross, it leaves the defence very confused and consistently restless as we can always hit them hard at any point because we don’t lose the ball often at all.

In transition I wanted my side to regroup once we had lost possession, and to engage in counter-attacking play once we’ve won possession back. I instructed my goalkeeper to distribute the ball to my full backs to start out move forwards up the pitch, as they were some of the most skilled members of my team.

When our side was Out Of Possession I instructed them to keep a much higher line of engagement up the other end of the pitch, however our defensive line would maintain a Much Higher position (unless playing some big teams in Europe and we’d switch down to just Higher). We make use of the offside trap and defend narrowly and our instruction for tackles is to ‘get stuck in’.

As long as you make sure that you use these instructions whilst also calculating and improving the squads TFR, you’ll see success on and off the pitch.

You have to experiment with the TFR correlating to the league you’re in and the position the player you’re calculating plays in, for example if a player plays centre back, they’re more often going to have a lower TFR than that of a winger or a midfielder because technical stats aren’t so easily found upon centre backs compared to players higher up the pitch.

Another example would be if you get a rating of about 67 TFR in the championship, that’s a great score for that league and as long as you have TFR’s relatively quite high throughout the squad then you’ll see the squad overachieve.

ExampleNottingham Forest 2019/2020 Season

As you can see from the images above, we have my tactics in the 2nd season and the signings I made in the first signing, the players I’ve got out the club are NOWHERE near good enough for the club from the way I like to play football, compared to that of who I bought into the club.

At centre back we gained +10.3 TFR which seemed to help us fight for promotion, we also managed to improve the midfield by a staggering + 11.8 TFR which obviously helped massively, the overall attack I felt was already good enough.

This is what we managed to get in the first season:

Since then we’ve got promoted as you can see and now I’ve tried bringing in players that are rated above 70-75 which I feel would be good enough to get us mid table in the Premier League and well I must have been correct because we’ve managed to get 4th in 12 games with 25 points, relegation is pretty much already secured first season, we need to get Europe now, wish me luck!

Make sure you guys try it out and let me know in the comments how you guys get on, but I’d fully recommend this way of getting some quality players through the door, good luck, you can also be prepared to use this in the new football manager and get some instant success on the table.

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