Forging a Finnish Legend:Cold and Rigid(also known as Finnish) approach on tactics Part II

As I did mention in my previous post about this subject I will go into more detail about my tactical approach on my Youtube series “The Finnish Legend”

You can pretty much dig up my philosophy or approach as I feel it easier for me to wri… as I like to call it from the part I.

  • Pressing – In this case high pressing or gegenpressing as it is know also.
  • Possession – I wanted to steer away from my direct approach. Also keeping the ball is best form of defending.
  • Using attacking midfielder to my advantage. As I mostly just sold them away earlier on.
  • Hard Work – I always have preferred hard working players over flamboyant bombadillos.

So four key points on my approach so to speak. I could keep saying that this was something I just wanted to try out for fun, Let us make this a bit more interesting. Let us say I chose these core points with a plan in mind when starting as a manager in the finnish Veikkausliiga.

What would be my premise? Why I choose to have this approach on this league, on this team. 

If you have watched finnish football there are some very solid clues that almost instantly start to give away some parts of my plan.

In general finnish football players are not so skilled than most of our european brothers and sisters. Mostly meaning “The body can´t cash the checks our brains are putting out”. And I mean even the smallest aspects of playing the game. Like first touch for instance. We also lack some vision. So our decisions are pretty straightforward and simple.

With our skill set being more on the narrow side we are not so comfy trying to do our stuff in a hurry. Being hurried mostly means even simpler solutions or no solutions at all.

With these parameters in my mind, two of my keys start to find their meaning. If you can press defenders and midfielders that have poor passing, technique, vision, decision and poor almost everything, it is more than likely that they don´t perform very well with the ball. Thus giving us the change to win the ball deep in the opponent territory.

But you have to remember that to counter  the pressing,  good teams try play themselves out with good movement and good passing. Just a reminder. Requires skilled players to do this so……

Other key found here is the use of AMC. Why not add one more player to press those poor sods. There is more to AMC later on but for now let´s go back and check what was my formation again shall we?



As it appears to be, it still is the 4-2-3-1 which I started the season with. With this formation I am applying most pressure with four of my players that operate the high area of the pitch. 2 IF´s, AMC and my AF. All of these players have mark tighter instructions set along with the role instructions. They do have some other stuff assigned also but I will come to that also, The whole team is instructed to close down more and the width is set fairly narrow. This makes the unit tight and close help is near if ball is played inside the formation. With high pressing I like to have higher tempo and run at defense. 

How about that possession then? It is pretty plain that I don´t have so much of a skilled players at my disposal and still wanting to play possession football with my hipster beard wielding lumberjacks? Defending. Keeping the ball is the easiest form of defending there is. If you have the ball the other team need to work to get it from you and they need to react more than act to achieve that. The idea off defending with the ball is not new but I still didn´t get the idea by watching non-stop total football channel. I got it from ice hockey.

My hometown ice hockey team play highly possession based game and their willingness to keep the puck is ridiculous at times. But every second they pass back and start over the opposing team is not shooting the puck towards goal. (I might add here that I find this working way better in football than ice hockey but that is just me) To keep the ball I got some team instruction set up.



These are the team instructions I have started most of my games this season. But we can go over them in more detail:

  • Team shape:fluidI like to have all of my team contributing at to all phases. I had this on flexible when the tactic was still in the making
  • Tempo: higherI like swarming. Along with attacking player instructions this is pretty good one. I´ll change accordingly.
  • Time Wasting: fairly rarely. Already trying to keep the ball as much as I can.
  • Defensive line: slightly higherDepending on how the team is doing in the game this is subject to a change. Team is pushed closer to the opponent. Has to have use offside trapFast CD´s are quite essential as I have noticed few times this season. You can help yourself with a sweeper keeper but changes are that you find a doorway to Narnia easier than SK from Finland.
  • Closing down:more I am saving much more for those situations where everything must go to 11.
  • prevent short gk distribution not sure if this actually does anything but fits the approach
  • use tight marking We want to get up -close and personal.
  • Build – up play out of defense As we want to possess we want to pass our way up and keep the ball.
  • pass into space We want to tear apart the defensive formation and put players out position to create caps and channels
  • Passing directness: shorter passing Shorter passes are easier to make and give you more change to keep the possession. You can balance this with player instructions.
  • retain possession Obvious
  • Creative freedom would be an option if there would be more creative players but we´ll see
  • Attack: look for overlap for the wingback to occasionally do their stuff and work the ball in the box  because we want to possess the ball and find our way in patiently. AMC works great on this spreading the ball with one touch passes.

mixed crosses to have some variety, run at defense Did I say something about swarming already? roam from positions This can backfire if you field a bunch of idiots on the field but work well so far adding elements to short passing and swarming.


I do have some player instructions that are complimentary to these and I will go over those before I let you off the hook.

  • GK –distripute to centre backs I had that play out of defense preference so I don´t want my goalie to splatter the ball all around.
  • WB(support) on support because  I don´t want them to all out attack and be off position or making tackles from behind when they outplay themselves. cross more often, cross from byline, get further forward  could take the more often option away but has worked so far.
  • CD(cover) on cover because they stay a bit deeper and can´t play BPD that well. close down much less, shoot less often, dribble less, fewer risky passess. I want them to give the simple first pass on the ground. Also don´t want them to closs down too much and get off position.
  • BWM(defend): This was my replacement to the DMC I used to have. The idea is to disrupt any ball movement midfield, win the ball and give it to someone who knows what to do with it. dribble less, fewer risky passes, close down much more, tackle harder, hold position  all come with the defend role.
  • DLP(support):my dlp is pretty bare bone so he just distributes the ball and supports the more attacking players. more direct passing, hold position, shoot less often. only thing I added is more direct passing since this guys is good delivering balls to wingback moving forward behind the opponent defenders.
  • AMC(attack):at the moment he only has mark tighter but I am planning more stuff for him as we go along with this one.
  • IF(attack) mark tighter, sit more narrower i want the formation to be tight and also create the swarm by keeping them closer to the centre of the field. dribble more, cut inside, get further forward, cross less often all come with the role and are pretty obvious stuff here.
  • AF(attack):dribble more, mark tighter, move in to channels, get futher forward. I really want this guy to get in the face of defenders and create room for swarming IF´s and AMC.


This tactic is still in the making and in constant subject to a change but let´s see how it has served me so far in the 22 matches played in the Veikkausliiga.



That´s all folks!!!




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