Despite the stadium and pitch are areas which you don’t have that many control over on Football Manager, you are able to have a say in your clubs Pitch Size at the start of each new season. Every year you will receive a news item in your inbox and in that news item, your Groundsman will ask you if you would like to make any changes to the pitch dimensions in your stadium.
Many of us don’t even bother to read the message and simply click on the given option by the groundsman and then continue to play the game. But Sports Interactive did not put that option in the game without a reason.
What if I told you picking your pitch dimensions can have an influence on your own teams tactics and can be an positive influence on the opponents tactics.
As said earlier, at the start of each season you will receive a message from your Groundsman. He will ask you if you would like to change the pitch dimensions for the following season. He will give you a total of 4 options. These are:
You can either choose to keep your current pitch dimensions, or change it. There are 4 options; Minimum, Maximum and Standard size if you want to change it. Choice number 4 is keeping your current pitch dimensions. The width and length of your pitch varies per stadium and per competition. Some stadiums will allow your pitch to be 120m long, whilst other ones have a maximum of 98.
So, what is the point of having these choices or even having a Groundsman if you can not benefit from the options they give you? SI did not implement these options only to save some money or give your Groundsman something to do during the week.
The choices that are given by your Groundsman will have an effect on your tactics. We will discuss the various Pitch dimensions and which effect they could have on your tactics.
SMALL PITCH DIMENSIONS
Having a smaller pitch means automatically that there is not a lot of space to work with, as you can imagine. Small space means your team will have to be able to play in tiny spaced, so your squad will need high Technique, First Touch, Dribbling and Passing.
Defensively you will have to watch your defensive line. Playing a high defense line and playing the offside trap could give you some problems. There is not a lot of space behind your defense, so if an opponent breaks through the offside trap, there is not a lot of space to catch him.
But when you have some solid defenders in your team, playing a high defense line could limit your opponents space, pressing them back on their own half. If you have very technical midfielders and attackers, you will be able to outplay every team with a high tempo short passing game.
MEDIUM PITCH DIMENSIONS
A medium pitch is the most common used pitch and will suit almost every tactic in the game. If you do not expect to use a very special style of play it is advised to choose the standard pitch size. This pitch size will have enough space on the flanks, but will limit the space behind your defense. It will be a pitch size which you can use for a tactic that uses Wingers, but could also work if you limit your play to the center of the pitch. Having a medium pitch really suits different kinds of tactics and if you do not want to develop a home-tactic, your best choice will be the Medium Pitch Size.
LARGE PITCH DIMENSIONS
Having a large pitch requires your team to be fit as hel. A long pitch will mean your team (and the opponent) will need to cover a lot of yards during a match, so your squad will need a high fitness level for this to work properly. If you focus your teamtraining on the physical side of the game AND have players with high stamina and natural condition, you will be able to outrun your opponent as the match progresses.
Be wary though when picking a pitch size like this. The long pitch will mean there could be a lot of space behind your defense (especially if you play with an attacking mentality and a high line). That space will need to be covered if the ball will be played behind your defense. Your defenders will need high Pace, Acceleration and Fitness levels to compensate for the space. And you will have to make sure your full backs will not be out of position too much. Having attacking Full Backs in combination with a high defensive line could result in some massive space on your half, making you vulnerable for quick breaks and counter attacks.
The tactical style suited for a long pitch would be a defensive or counter minded tactic. Since there is a lot of space on the pitch it will be perfect for a long ball tactic with some quick attackers. Use a deep defensive line at the back, luring the opponent on your own half. Then when you have possession, instruct your players to look for the quick long ball towards your striker(s). That way you could surprise your opponent, especially if your opponent has some ‘slow’ central defenders.
Will that mean an attacking style is not possible? No, off course this could work. But you will need the players who can manage a long pitch and a lot of space behind them. Your defenders will need to be quick and fit as said earlier, but a ‘Sweeper Keeper’ is also advised. A Goalkeeper that will work the space between the back line and the penalty box would be ideal. Perfect example for a player like this: Manuel Neuer.
To sum this article up:
Small pitches are ideal if you like to play a high pressure, possession based football.
Medium pitches are basically suited for every tactic you can play. Especially if you do not expect to use a special style of play.
Large pitches are ideal if you like to play counter based football and you want to tire your opponents.