As you may know we have Football Manager Slack community. This platform offers to all of us absolutely fantastic way how to talk between us and maybe more importantly it’s great way how to learn something new.
One of many interesting channels in FM Slack is also #fm17tacticschallenge. The first challenge was 4-5-1 formation with OGC Nice. I was unable to take part in this one but I decided to participate in the second one.
Our one and only Daniel Gear selected Russian side FC Anzhi Makhachkala and the formation is 3-1-3-1-2.
The rules are simple…
- Team: FC Anzhi Makhachkala
- Database – latest update – small
- Leagues loaded – Russia Top 2
- Formation – 31312
- No transfers & no staff changes
- Screenshot tactic before first league game.
- Play half a season
- Side challenge – high scoring center back how many goals can you get a cb to score (must play CB)
Anzhi are celebrating 25 years in football in the 2025/2026 season as club was founded in 1991.
Expectations for the season are not much high. Board want to avoid automatic relegation and to reach sixth round of Russian Cup. Media prediction for Anzhi is 12th place with odds 250-1 for league title.
As one of the rules are no tranfers and staff changes there is a picture of the Anzhi’s transfers before I joined the club. Two players are out on loan – Dibirgadjiev in Fátima and Ciuperca in Tomsk.
We have three players in the club who are on loan with us – Alexandr Zhirov from Krasnodar, Ayaz Guliev from Spartak Moscow and Pylyp Budkivskyi from Shakhtar Donetsk.
As I said before, we have 3-1-3-1-2 formation to use. What roles and instructions I chose?
Player in DM slot has Deep Lying Playmaker role with defend duty.
For wide players I decided to use Defensive Winger at right side and Wide Playmaker role at left side. In the central position is Central Midfielder with support duty.
I decided to use the same roles for the rest three players as I use in my 4-3-1-2 formation with Reading.
That means there are Shadow Striker, False Nine and Complete Forward.
I set mentality as Standard and Team Shape is Fluid. Team Instructions are – shorter passing, pass into space, close down more, be more disciplined, higher tempo, prevent short GK distribution and play much narrower.
There are also some another individual instructions for specific players. The attacking trio, CM and DW have shoot less often. Complete forward and deep lying playmaker have mark tigher.
And I also set fewer risky passes and distribute to centre backs to our golkeeper.
Highlights from the save…
- Mohammed Rabiu – injured for 5 to 7 months with damaged cruciate ligaments so he was out of action for the whole challenge. If he would be ready to play I would use him as my main Deep Lying Playmaker in DM slot.
Pavel Yakovlev – injured for 3 weeks at the first training of the pre-season. I had to wait to use him as my main Wide Playmaker at the left side.
- Dmytro Scherbak – our first choice for Shadow Striker role injured in third friendly for 5 weeks with twisted ankle.
- Second choice goalkeeper Mekhti Djenetov injure for 3 months during lifting weights…
- Pre-season – camp in Austria was planned and we played there with SC Ritzing and SV Horn. We also played with SV Mattersburg and FC Wacker Innsbruck at home after training camp ended.
- I have to arrange another three friendlies matches before Russian Premier Division started as there were almost three weeks without match. So we played with three local clubs and we beat UOR Kaspiysk, Legion Makhachkala and Politekh-GBOU. Striker Yannick Boli scored 10 goals in these eight matches.
- Start of the league – Yannick Boli (click to name to see his profile) continued with his good form from pre-season and scored brace in the opening match of the season as we won derby with Spartak Moscov in Otkritie Arena in Moscow.
- The surprising win against Spartak ecouraged us enough to draw with another giant from Moscow – CSKA. It ended with a 3-3 draw as our central defender Alexandr Zhirov scored two goals.
- After a 2-2 draw with Tomsk away when we were 2-0 down already after 14 minutes we also drew with Rubin Kazan at home. The match ended with a 4-4 draw after our 92nd equaliser ⇓ It’s a new record high scoring game of Russian Premier Division.
- After match with Rubin we beat Orenburg and Rostov and tied with Krasnodar.
- There were also Russian Cup and we beat Tosno 2-1 away from home in the 5th Round.
- I have to say I still waited for defeat but in most of matches we were dominant and it was only matter of time when we score the first goal of the match. There were only two exceptions – goalless draws with Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit.
- These two matches were very hard and we had luck to escape with a point for draw. Between these matches we beat Arsenal Tula, Ufa, Krylja Sovetov, Krasnodar in 6th Round of Russian Cup, Ural and Terek.
- In the last match of this challenge we beat Amkar Perm at home 2-0 thanks to two goals by our veteran captain Shamil Asil’darov. After 15 league matches we are 2nd in the table just three points behind CSKA and two points ahead of Krasnodar and four points ahead of Zenit.
- We scored 33 goals and conceded 18. There were 9 wins and 6 draws what means we were only one team without lost in the first half of the season.
- As you can see in the table we conceded more goals at home than away.
Defensive work -> Goal
I randomly selected one situation from our match as I like the work of our Deep Lying Playmaker in DM slot, compact defensive trio and also the way how False Nine with Complete Forward made a goal.
The action started when we lost the ball on our half and opponent’s players move with ball to their right side.
Their fullback has a ball and our wide playmaker close him down as our left central defender moves back to his position after tackle with their number 9.
Sumin decided to pass the ball to the middle to Kuzmichev who now has option to pass it to two players before him or to the left side. Our defensive winger moved to the more central position and deep lying playmaker are the first who follows Kuzmichev with the ball.
Kuzmichev decided to pass it to Borisov who can try to break our defensive trio and he can moves close to goal but…
…our DLP Mkrtchyan made a tackle to Borisov (also our DCB Zhirov helps to get ball back) and Mkrtchyan wins it.
Mrktchyan passed it to Asil’darov who is our False Nine and Complete Forward moves up same as Shadow Striker and both players on the sides.
Asil’darov made a through ball to Bolli (n.94) who is faster than defender and is alone before the keeper. Easy work for him to score.
Highlight of this situation…
The Best Player
At the start of the save I thought the best player of this challenge will be striker Yannick Boli who had great pre-season and he was the best stiker. But during the time I fell in love with central midfielder Ayaz Guliev who is in Anzhi on loan from Sparta Moscow.
His best role is Advanced Playmaker but I played him in Central Midfielder role with support duty. He scored 8 goals in 15 league matches and he made also 2 assists. He had average rating of 7.44 in the league and was voted 4 times as player of the match.
His goal from free kick in match against Ural in October was voted Goal of the Month. In September he was voted Player of the Month as he scored three goals in three matches and had average rating of 8.33.
I really enjoyed this short save and the challenge itself and looking forward for next one. Thanks everyone from the community and everyone in the #fm17tacticschallenge channel in the Football Manager Slack.
- Final league position – 2nd
- Final league points – 33
- League goals scored – 33
- League goals conceded – 18
- Center back goals (name too) – Alexandr Zhirov – 4 (1x vs. Krylja Sovetov, 1x vs. Tomsk, 2x vs. CSKA Moscow)
- Biggest league win – 4-2 against Rostov
- Most goals in a league game – 4-4 against Rubin
- Lowest league position – 7th
- Least goals scored – 0 (twice goalless draws with Lokomotiv and Zenit)
- Most goals conceded – 4 in match against Rubin
Thanks for reading…