Glancing Leicester City football style in the 2018/2019 season when Brendan Rodgers took over, and with requests from our fans, we decided to try their tactic in FM19. We tested Brendan Rodgers 4-1-4-1 setup at Leicester City in FM19 and got amazing results. Therefore, I am going to use this post to share about his style of play.
Since the Irish manager succeeded Claude Puel, the Foxes have been playing a different kind of game. Their game is a bit more of possession-base so far. Also, their tactic has brought out the best of Vardy again, which wasn’t so in Puel’s time. In FM19, we encountered such situation too – Jamie Vardy made the greatest impact while using this tactic. All the stats will be available later in this post.
Brendan Rodgers 4-1-4-1 Setup
The formation of Rodgers isn’t actually 4-3-3. His setup makes use of the ML and MR positions, just like in a traditional 4-4-2 formation. In this 4-1-4-1 structure, the striker is the only one in the frontline, having the optimum freedom to make runs. I will shed more light on the striker role later.
Since Rodgers took the hot seat, the team now uses the strategy of a patient build-up from the back. With the quality footwork of Schmeichel and the ball playing defenders, Leicester display an attractive display in terms of build-up.
Brendan Rodgers, being pragmatic, doesn’t stick to one pattern of build-up. Sometimes his keeper goes long to find breaking players – this is why I didn’t enable Take Short Kicks under GK Distribution Type.
Leicester move the ball with diagonal short passes to break up opposition lines (almost like in a classic tiki taka). But, they don’t always use the short passing directness. Sometimes the go direct, which is why I left the passing directness standard in FM19.
When it comes to attacking, Leicester’s setup often moves from 4-1-4-1 to 3-2-4-1. However, getting this particular change of formation to work in FM19 was disappointing. This change will require the right back to take a defensive duty while the left-back gets an offensive role. Then, one of the MCs will take a defensive duty in order to draw back and join the DM to form a double pivot. But this was ineffective in FM19, so we made some changes.
In real life, the change into 3-2-4-1 can happen in two ways. When the team attacks from the right, the left-back drops to form a 3-man defence with CDs while the right-back moves forward. In another way, the left-back moves forward while the right-back stays back with the CDs when the team attacks from the left. Getting this animation wasn’t possible in FM19 – requires more tactical features.
Moreover, Rodgers’ men make use of the counter attacking strategy. And, they like using effective through balls or killer balls to break opposition defence in the final third. If any those don’t work, they use crossings by taking advantage of the wide areas.
Leiceter usually defend in a 4-1-4-1 (sometimes in 4-4-1-1) shape. Rodgers also uses the counter pressing system to win back possession. Both the line of engagement and defensive line are high but not as high as in Klopp’s gegenpress tactic or in Guardiola’s or Ten Hag’s tiki taka tactic.
The Foxes press with more intensity under Brendan, but they can be aggressive on the opponent while trying to win the ball.
Brendan Rodgers’ Role Selection
Sweeper Keeper (Attack)
Kasper Schmeichel has been the excellent attacking sweeper keeper in the team. He’s distribution is just outstanding.
Two Ball Playing Defenders (Both on Defend)
Just as we said in most of our tactics with ball playing defenders, the players with this BPD role have that ability to make intelligent passes that can generate effective attacking movements. And, they can carry the ball to break up the opposition first defensive line.
However, at Leicester, with Brendan being pragmatic, the central defender role is often introduced to the team to instil a bit more physicality in the defence.
Jonny Evans and Harry Maguire are comfortable ball playing defenders. However, Çaglar Söyüncü is the perfect central defender but can also perform as a BPD.
Two Wingbacks (Both on Support)
These positions are what we couldn’t get exactly well in terms of their movements under Rodgers. As I mentioned earlier in this post, we couldn’t get it right because of lack of tactical features. So, we decided to just give both of them the wingback role with the support duty. With this, both side-backs have the freedom to get forward when essential.
Ben Chilwell (or Christian Fuchs) usually operates on the left while Ricardo Pereira (or Daniel Amartey plays on the right side.
A Half Back (Defend)
A creative role that attacks less and defends more, and can still exhibit that required physicality, is what Brendan uses in the DM position. The half-back role best describes this character. Wilfred Ndidi is usually the man in this position under the current boss.
Ndidi, defensively, can drop in between the CDs to provide extra protection in the back. When the team attacks, he moves a bit forward and hangs around the central pitch to recycle possession in case the attack fails. As a creative role, he makes some intelligent passes to breaking teammates.
Two Advanced Playmakers (Attack and Support)
As in Pep Guardiola’s tactic at Man City, both advanced playmakers stay wide in Rodgers’ setup. Instructing them to stay wide does enhance making good use of the half spaces and wide areas, which is part of how the Foxes get their chances.
The attacking AP (usually James Maddison), advances in between the line to operate as an attacking midfielder and can get into the opposition box. The AP with the support duty (usually Youri Tielemans) also does the same work as the AP-A but stays a bit deeper. However, when Maddison is not in the MC position, Tielemans takes up the AP-A role while Hamza Choudhury becomes the BWM-D (to bring more aggressiveness in the midfield if necessary) in the MCR position. You can make changes like this in FM19 too, but it’s better to use BWM-S.
Inverted Winger (Support) and Winger (Attack)
The inverted winger here is like an inside forward. He usually stays narrow and cuts inside. At Leicester City, Demarai Gray (sometimes Maddison) usually plays as an inverted winger. As he cuts inside, he makes space for Chilwell to run into and support an attack from the left.
On the right side, Marc Albrighton frequently plays as the traditional attacking winger who offers that required width. But sometimes, Rachid Ghezzal plays this position as an inverted winger.
A Pressing Forward (Attack)
This role brings the best of Jamie Vardy under the Irish gaffer. He gives Vardy that freedom to make vertical runs and roam around for space. These vertical runs make it easier for his teammates to provide deadly through balls and killer balls for the top 9. Rodgers uses the powerful 32-year old striker’s aggression to cause problems for the opposition defenders. Defensively, Vardy leads the press.
According to our FM19 goal analysis, you can see that the team got most of their goals via “through ball” and “short pass” while using this tactic.
When Jamie Vardy isn’t around, Kelechi Iheanacho takes up the position as an AF; though, he isn’t as vibrant as Vardy.
Just like most managers who use the counter pressing system, Brendan Rodgers uses zonal marking. However, for this tactic, using only zonal marking wasn’t enough defensively. So, we decided to apply just a few man marking to improve defending.
The screenshot below shows four common formations and the positions you need to man mark.
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