FM17 Tactic | Inverted Christmas Tree

Time from time I have to play something other than only my main save in concrete Football Manager. It’s not different in FM17 as I played for example with AEK or with Anzhi within FM Slack Tactics Challenge. 

And a few weeks ago I made a step to the dark side as Guido like to say. Yes, you’re right. I decided to play with strikerless tactics.

Inverted Christmas Tree header photo

It’s stupid how I decided to try it. It was around that time when me and my wife decided to unrobe our christmas tree.

I was sitting at home on the living room floor and I picked up ornaments in boxes and then I turned christmas tree upside down. And that’s it. I used the typical christmas tree formation 4-3-2-1 several times in the past and when I held our christmas tree in reverse I saw strikerless formation…

A few minutes later when I get back home I made some notes and sketches to the notebook as I did not want to forget some my thoughts about it.

I’m not Guido who is the master of this style and you should read all his posts. Also Chris Darwen or Marc Bowen have great experiences and posts about strikerless style so give them a follow on Twitter or check their work.

But I tried it…

Inverted Christmas Tree & KRC Genk

If you read my one-season experiment with AEK on The Higher Tempo Press website you know I played it in FM Touch and I selected this Greek club because Czech striker Tomáš Pekhart plays there.

Firstly, for this another one-season experiment, I used the full version of FM. And I wanted to select another European club in which I can find some of my favorite players or friends from real life.

I decided to choose from two options – Bologna with Ladislav Krejčí or KRC Genk with Jakub Brabec. And the second option was the right one.

One season in Genk with Jakub Brabec.

Keysi Rensie_ Inbox-22

Jakub Brabec_ Overview Profile
Jakub Brabec at the start of the save

During the first thinking about what I want from team in this experiment I decided just in the beginning I want to keep it simple in terms of team instructions.

And I used only two team instructions – Shorter Passing and Play Out Of Defence. Mentality was set to Standard and team shape to Very Fluid.

As I wanted to create inverted christmas tree the one thing was clear – I have to use Sweeper or Libero role to complete the tree :) No player in the squad was able to play in these roles but I decided I will not buy new players and I will play Jakub Brabec there. And I chose the Sweeper role instead of Libero. Stats and development of Brabec in his new role is below.

What about other roles? We used two central defenders both with defend duty. Central midfield trio included two CM’s with support duty and one Deep Lying Playmaker with defend duty.

Two Advanced Playmakers with support duty on both sides and two Shadow Strikers in the middle of our “attacking area”.

Koninklijke Racing Club Genk_ Overview
Inverted Christmas Tree

I set also some individual instructions. Deep Lying Playmaker has dribble less & close down much less and both Advanced Playmakers have dribble less as well.

And that’s all in terms of roles and formation.

This is how it looks on the pitch just only a few seconds after the start of the match.

KRC Genk v Standard Liege_ Pitch Full-2

This is crazy goal from league match against Standard Liege.

KRC Genk v Standard Liege_ Analysis Teams

This game was one of my favorite from the whole season as we won 4-0 after dominant performance.

KRC Genk v Standard Liege_ Pitch Full

I really liked how player in Sweeper role moves higher between both central defenders to help attack the ball but as you can see on the picture below (average positions overall) he was there every time so he destroyed the christmas tree… :)

KRC Genk v Standard Liege_ Analysis Teams-3

…and Heat Map from this match.

KRC Genk v Standard Liege_ Analysis Teams-2

In my main save with Reading but also in other saves with other formations I use(d) to play with similar roles so let’s take a look on Advanced Playmaker role who I chose instead of wingers, inside forwards, wide target man or raumdeuter.

“The Advanced Playmaker can operate in the central midfield, attacking midfield or wide forward positions. The Advanced Playmaker aims to drop into the holes between the opposition’s midfield and defence, making himself available for his teammates’ passes and aiming to turn defence into attack in an instant.
With a Support duty, the Advanced Playmaker will stay in the hole and look to spray passes to support players and forwards.”

My first choice in this save on the left side was José Naranjo. If you take a look on highlighted key attributes (First Touch, Passing, Technique, Composure, Decisions, Vision + Flair and Teamwork) you can say he is only average.

This Spanish midfielder made 52 appearances, scored 15 goals and made 17 assists. He was voted 11 times player of the match.

Below you can see Naranjo’s profile and his heat map + average positions + passes from the match with Standard in which he scored one goal (free kick) and made two assists.

This is the fourth goal in the match against Standard as Sabak won the ball at the half line and after quick counter Naranjo found Pozuelo and he scored…


Let’s take a look on the Sweeper role which I’ve never used before and as I wrote above I decided to play Jakub Brabec there. If you saw his player profile picture at the start of this post you could se he is not suitable for this role.

But he tried. And he was great.

“The Sweeper drops behind the defesive line, aiming to sweep up through balls, pick up extra attackers and make goal saving tackles, blocks and interceptions.
His exceptional athleticism and reading of the game enable him to cover for defensive errors, take possession of loose balls from a deep position and secure possession.
He rarely, if ever, ventures forward. The Sweeper is only available with a Defent Duty.”

He is not the greates central defender/sweeper/libero in the world but let’s check his key attributes for the Sweeper role.

  • Heading – 14
  • Marking – 13
  • Tackling – 13
  • Anticipation – 11
  • Concentration – 12
  • Decisions – 10
  • Positioning – 14
  • Acceleration – 15
  • Balance – 14
  • Jumping Reach – 14

He played all 40 league matches and 14 matches in Europa League. He scored 6 goals in domestic league, made one assist and was voted three times player of the match.

Jakub Brabec_ Overview Profile-2

His average rating in the league was 7.32. He also played five matches for Czech national team during the season and he had 100% tackles ratio. In domestic league matches he had 72%.

Jakub Brabec_ Reports Stats

In other pictures you can find some stats from analysis like aerial challenges, interceptions and heat map.

…and his typical situation when he stops long ball to opponent’s forward.


For everyone who like player radars I made this one for Brabec. If you want to read more about radars check this post by Guido or this by Ed.

brabec radar

Season with Strikerless and KRC Genk

If you are interested how the one-season experiment with Strikerless formation ended, the next lines is for you.

I will start with Europa League qualification in which we were lucky to go through to third round after win over Odds BK thanks to away goal rule. We then played with Brondby (2-2 & 3-1) and with Vaduz (2-2 & 3-1). So we were through to the Group Stage. If you follow real life football you know Genk is in the Quarter Final of this competition.

We started group stage matches with a 1-1 draw with Krasnodar and lost with Fiorentina. But we beat Padurii twice and thanks to two draws with Krasnodar and Fiorentina in the last match we finished second in the table behind Fiorentina. 

We were not as good as Genk in real life and we were knocked out from this competition in the last 32 stage after a 2-3 and a 0-3 defeats from AS Roma.

Koninklijke Racing Club Genk_ Senior Fixtures

Domesic cup called Cofidis Cup was not important for me. Especially when we got Club Brugge in the 7th Round and we had to play rotation squad and they played with their strongest squad and they beat us 2-1.

Jupiler Pro League was my main priority. And it started well as we won five from first six matches. In the seventh round we lost to Club Brugge but it was our last defeat in this league campaign.

There were some draws during the season as well but we were almost the whole season dominant and we won the league after a 2-0 win over Standard at the end of April.

KAA Gent v KRC Genk_ Preview Line Ups
Derby Gent – Genk with not too much traditional formations. It ended 0-0 :)

We were first after 30 matches with 75 poinst and that’s a new team record same as 23 wins in a season.

After another 10 matches in Championship Group we had 62 points (as teams entering this stage start with 50% of their points gained in previous 30 matches) and Brugge finished second 15 points behind us.

Alejandro Pozuelo_ Overview Profile
Alejandro Pozuelo – one of my favorite players in this experimet

We scored 75 goals and conceded 30 in these 40 matches. If you check the table you will see we drawn eight from 20 away matches and we won 19 from 20 home matches.

Koninklijke Racing Club Genk_ Senior Fixtures-3
League results
Jupiler Pro League_ Overview Stages
League table

The last thing is a picture of basic stats of players and team.

Keysi Rensie_ Home

And I decided to upload the goal of the year because it’s the best example how this formation with Sweeper works. Sweeper won aerial challenge at half line after long pass and…

KRC Genk v Standard Liege_ Analysis Teams-4

Download & Steam Workshop

Thanks for reading.

…if you have some questions let me know in comment section or on Twitter or in Slack channels. Join us via the invitation link.

header image fm slack


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