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THE INTRODUCTION: Tactical Philosophy

Welcome to the latest instalment of my journey with Stade Rennais F.C. Last time out, I took you through how I plan to approach scouting and my transfer strategy at Rennais. In this update I'll be walking you through my tactical philosophy and how I plan to implement this at the club.

The Introduction | Tactical philosophy

Everyone’s favourite subject. Tactics.

Truth be told, by the time I got to writing this I was nine games into pre-season, with just one left, a new ME dropped, with a huge update from what I was playing. I had no idea of the vast difference the instructions I had set would play out now.

With this in mind, I will talk about the theory of how I want to play and how I want my team to perform and will follow this up, probably at the January transfer window with how we eventually end up playing.


It’s me, Oliver Jensen. A few of my footballing beliefs and how I like my teams to play.

In defence

I’m quite pragmatic here and I really do prefer to just keep things simple. I want my defenders to just defend, but they need to be technically competent as I prefer to work the ball out of defence rather than pump 60 yard passes forwards.

I like my wing-backs to have bundles of pace and energy. I need them to be getting up and down that byline all game.

I don’t play a particularly high line or any mad pressing, but I do like my defenders to put in a challenge.

In attack

When we are in possession I don’t like to stick to a single approach. While at times it’s good to slow the pace down and control the possession I also like to have the option to counter at pace.

With this in mind, I typically like my wide men to be quick with great dribbling. They need to have good agility and balance as I need them to be able to work their way into the box before picking out a pass or executing a shot if the opportunity is there.


I go through phases here, but typically there are two formations that stick out for me, the 4-2-3-1 and the 4-3-3. Certainly, at the start of my journey with Stade Rennais, I’ll be going with a 4-3-3 to give that extra defensive solidity with the defensive midfielder. I don’t really have an attacking midfielder on the books, either, so that kinda makes the decision for me.

Below is my current thinking for my strongest XI when all players are fit. A back four with wing-backs who will be encouraged to join the attack when safe to do so. A deep defensive midfielder shielding the defence. Two central midfielders with a licence to get forward and join the attacks. Two wingers who will cut in and drive at the opposition defence and a striker who I need to be able to do everything, as he’s going to be pretty lonely most of the games, so need needs to be able to drop deep when needed but also spearhead attacks.

starting XI@3x.png

Eduardo Camavinga is just 16 years old, so his game time will probably be limited with the experienced Jakob Johansson playing an equal number of games if he is fit enough to do so.


When we have the ball, I like us to have plenty of options. Looking at the below, you can see that when my keeper has the ball, my Half Back drops into position to receive the ball from him.

My two central defenders also provide an outlet to him. It’s easy to see here how we escape the press of most sides since we have a number of options available to us. I’ve also highlighted my wingers here as my keeper will sometimes–as he did here–pick them out with a pass.

pitch analysis.png

Both Raphinha and M’Baye Naing are tricky wingers, capable of doing the unexpected, which is something we will be relying on this season. Since we’re likely to be the underdog in most matches, when we do have the ball we need to use it wisely, and so having these players capable of pulling something out of the bag, it gives us chance against most sides.

Screenshot 2019-12-07 at 17.02.16.png

One of the reasons I enjoy playing with wide players who cut in is because it can be a great source of goals and assists. As you can see here, Raphinha has the skill and ability to drive in from a wide position and create a goalscoring opportunity for himself. The one potential downside to this is that these types of players tend to be a little selfish, so you can give up some better chances this way.


I like my wing-backs to be involved in the play. Particularly as I use two wingers who cut in, so I want them to be giving me width in attack. This makes us susceptible to counter-attacks down the flanks. It’s a balancing act, and I’ve still not decided on the roles and duties of my wing-backs, but I expect them to be at least up in support with the midfield when we have the ball.

pitch analysis.png

When my wing-backs loose possession, there’s a lot of free space for the opposition to exploit. I need them to be energetic and have a lot of pace in order to be able to chase back. It’s an area I will have to monitor over the season to make sure it’s not too much of a weakness for us.



Raphinha, 22, Inverted Winger 

It is without a doubt that Raphinha is going to play a big part in any success we have this season. When he is on form, we look like we could beat anybody. Unfortunately, this over-reliance on one player could affect our season if he gets injured. We just don’t have a lot of quality outside of this position.

I’m fortunate in that our central midfield is very good, but most of our play is centred down the wings.

Screenshot 2019-12-07 at 17.18.45.png


I’ve purposely not gone into too much detail as I’m still trying to figure out how this will end up, but at the moment we’re looking really good with a lot of variety in our play. Our defence is shaping up solidly, but as I mentioned, the ME has some big changes, so it’ll likely have some impact on how we play.

Screenshot 2019-12-07 at 17.21.47.png

We play with a balanced mentality, with a minimal number of team and player instructions. I will probably post something more detailed as the season progresses and we settle on a style. Until then… Thanks for reading.

As always, you can get in touch with me in the comments below, via twitter @fmfutbolmanager, or my slack channel #fmFutbolManager — if you’re not a part of the Football Manager Slack community, then you can join here!

Until next time, à tout à l’heure.

Oliver Jensen

Please leave me a comment below.

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