Complete Opposition Instruction Guide: Football Manager 24 

Football Manager allows you to set up specific instructions that you want to execute against opposition individuals through the Opposition Instruction tab in the Tactics screen. 

Setting Opposition Instruction helps you to take certain actions outside your team’s tactics against particular opponents to force them out of the game. It also can help your trigger press on particular players to force errors or mark someone tightly to reduce their impact on the game. 

If executed properly, opposition instructions can give you the defensive upper hand against your opponent, dampening a lot of their attacking threats. 

Opposition Instructions in Football Manager

Football Manager allows you the following 4 instructions to implement against your opponent individuals:

  • Tight Marking
  • Trigger Press
  • Tackling
  • Show Onto Foot

Each instruction comes with different options:

InstructionOptions
Tight MarkingAlways, Never
Trigger PressAlways, Never
Tackling Hard, Normal, Easy
Show Onto FootLeft Foot, Right Foot, Weaker Foot

You can implement Opposition instructions as either Player-specific opposition instruction or Position-specific opposition instruction.

Player Specific Opposition Instruction allows you to set opposition instructions for certain players. Position Specific Opposition Instruction allows you to set instructions for particular positions in the formation. 

Image of the Opposition Instruction screen in Football Manager 24.

Tight Marking

The “Tight Marking” instruction dictates whether you’re demanding your team to mark that particular player or leave him unmarked. 

The Tight Marking instruction comes with two options:

Always

This will instruct the team to always mark that specific player around the pitch. It’s a highly useful instruction for dealing with players who love to operate in space. 

You want your team to pick out those particular players who’d be devastating if allowed to have too much space. It can be a clinical goalscorer or a playmaker who dishes out killer balls if allowed enough room. 

Depending on your formation, the closest player in your team will be in charge of marking the opposition player. 

Out of possession, your player will follow the opponent player like a shadow. 

However, the effectiveness of his marking duty relies on his abilities like Marking, Concentration, Anticipation, Pace, and Acceleration.

The role of your player also impacts their marking ability as some player roles tend to be more defensively focused than others. 

For example, roles like Mezzala tend to defend near the opposition half rather than sitting deeper. This can influence their marking effectiveness. 

Lastly, be careful about who you’re marking!

Tightly marking a particular player can open up space for another advanced player! It can also break your defensive formation, allowing the opposition to find easy gaps. 

So always make sure you consider your team’s formation beforehand. 

That said, here are the player roles I usually look to mark tightly:

  • Advanced Forward
  • Inside Forward 
  • Mezzala
  • Roaming Playmaker
  • Advanced Playmaker
  • Inverted Winger

Never

There are times when it’s better to leave a man unmarked during defending.

Setting your opposition marking instruction to “Never” instruct the players to avoid tightly marking their designated target. 

If your defenders don’t have the speed necessary to mark a pacey opposition, then you should instruct them to never mark tightly. 

Marking too closely will allow the faster player more space to run behind the defense. 

Player roles that drift wide shouldn’t be marked closely as doing so can leave gaps in your defensive shape. 

You can also avoid closely marking players who lack technique, ball control, agility, composure, and decision-making. Leaving his unmarked will encourage the opposition teammates to give him the ball. 

Doing so will help you to restrict the opposition’s attacking threat. 

These are the player roles that I never mark tightly:

  • Winger
  • Deep Lying Player(DM)
  • Wing Backs

Trigger Press

This instruction asks your players to close down a particular opponent as soon as they receive the ball to limit their movement and passing options.

The Closing Down instruction comes with two options:

Always

There are two scenarios where you want to ‘always’ trigger press on your opposition:

  1. The Defensive Trigger Press
  2. The Offensive Trigger Press

Let me explain.

If your opposition playmaker has good passing and shooting range with exceptional technique, you want your players to close him down as soon as possible. 

This is the defensive press. 

Closing down the opposition playmaker will limit his playmaking ability, forcing him to make less risky passes.

Similarly, you want to close down players who have exceptional shooting range and will hurt you if not closed down quickly. 

Check your opposition’s playmakers’ traits. If he has “Tries killer balls often” and “Shoots from Distance” traits, then you should immediately trigger press on him. 

Player traits in Football Manager

Don’t trigger press against press-resistant players who tend to “Run often with the ball”. They can easily beat your press and advance the ball in a more dangerous area. 

On the other hand, you can trigger press to force errors from your opponents with an offensive trigger press. 

This type of press is executed to close down players who panic under pressure, leading to wrong decisions. 

Look for players who lack technique, ball control, decisions, composure,  and agility. They should be your usual targets to trigger counterpress. 

Try triggering presses against players with the following traits:

  • Dwells on Ball
  • Stops Play

Also look to close down opposition who have recently come back from an injury and lack match sharpness. 

Your players should have a good level of Stamina, Aggression, Acceleration, Teamwork, Determination, and Work Rate to execute pressing traps effectively.  

Never

Pressing particular oppositions can leave acres of space in your defensive shape, allowing the playmakers to easily exploit those gaps. 

So if your defensive strategy involves maintaining a strongly knit defensive shape, you want to avoid pressing certain players.

For example, you want to never close down a center-back with high composure, decisions, agility, and first touch. He can easily beat the pressing from your striker and go on to exploit the space left by him. 

Similarly, you don’t want to engage against highly agile players who can easily beat the press. 

Avoid pressing the opponent if they have the following traits:

  • Tries tricks
  • Beats opponent repeatedly

But if your player has good Aggression, Work Rate, Stamina, and Agility, then he’ll have better success in closing down agile and unpredictable opponents.

You should also never trigger press against opponents if they have better teammates surrounding them. 

That way, your players will be able to better mark the key players while allowing the poorer players to have the ball. 

Tackling 

This instruction allows you to dictate how intensely your team is going to tackle particular players. 

Hard

Triggering Hard tackles is the alternative to the team instruction “Get Stuck In” in Football Manager.

Tackling hard is a great way to scare opposition players who lack player attributes like Aggression, Bravery, Balance, and Determination

And if used right, it can be a complete game-changer. 

First of all, you can easily limit a creative player with poor mobility by going hard against him. 

It also scares opponents with poor bravery and aggression in engaging one-on-one with your players. 

A player with low Balance and Strength can easily be taken down by going hard against him. 

Hard tackles are also a somewhat nasty strategy to injure opponents who’ve received a knock, or struggling with match sharpness. You can also injure players with hard tackles if they’re tired. 

You should carefully implement a hard-tackling strategy as it can lead to a lot of unnecessary fouls and bookings.

Make sure that your team is good at defending set-pieces as you’ll be giving out a lot of fouls near the box. 

Going hard against opponents with superior Physical attributes, especially strength can backfire and injure your own players. 

Normal

Normal tackling instructs the players to avoid making rough tackles. It also tells the players to not go soft against the players. 

So, when do you want your players to go make normal tackles?

Well, if your players are facing an opponent who is built like a tank(high strength, bravery, balance, aggression), you want to avoid hard-tackling them to avoid fouls and risking injury. 

But some advanced players can’t be allowed too much time on the ball, and you need to take them down eventually. That’s where normal tackles come in handy. 

Your players will still go for hard tackling in last-ditch situations. But they’ll mostly make normal tackles against that player.

Easy

It’s ideal to go easy against a player with good mobility and dribbling skills. Especially when your player in charge of covering him lacks in Tackling, Bravery, Aggression, Decisions, Determination, Concentration, and Balance.

You should also go easy against powerful opponents with your weaker players.

Show onto Foot

The Show Onto Foot helps you to force an opponent to use a specific foot or move to a specific side. 

It can be used to trap the opposition inside or outside to restrict their play. Or you can substantially reduce a player’s effectiveness by forcing him on his weaker foot. 

The Show Onto Foot instruction comes with 3 options:

  • Left Foot
  • Right Foot
  • Weaker Foot

Ideally, it makes sense to show a player onto their weak foot all the time. But that can backfire in certain situations. 

You can learn about a player’s weak foot status by going to Player Profile > Development dropdown > Tactics.

Player weak foot status in Football Manager

Left Foot / Right Foot

Forcing a player onto their left/right foot can help you dictate the opponent’s flow of play to a certain side of the pitch.

Let’s say that your opponent has great success operating on the left side of the pitch. They make a lot of chances through the left side of the pitch, thanks to their left winger and fullback. 

You can show the opposition midfielders and centrebacks onto their right foot and restrict their play towards the right side of the pitch, limiting goalscoring threats. 

Another way you can implement this tactic is by showing a player to a particular foot based on their player role.

Let me give an example.

A left inside forward/inverted winger will always be predominantly right-footed. Showing the left inside forward/inverted winger onto their right foot will restrict them from cutting inside and taking a shot or pass.

It can also be utilized to trap the opposition to play inside or outside by implementing clever traps. 

Weaker Foot

Showing a player onto their weaker foot makes sense as they’ll always be less effective using their weaker foot. 

It can be highly effective to limit a player’s dribbling, shooting, and passing success. 

A forward can be forced to take shots with his weaker foot, leading to missed or weaker shots. 

Similarly, a playmaker with a weak foot can easily be bullied into making weak passes with his weak foot. 

But sometimes, you should show a player onto his strong foot to gain a tactical advantage over your opponent. 

For example, if my full-back is capable of marking and defending against a traditional winger, and my center-backs are good at defending crosses, I’d want my full-back to show him his stronger foot to trap him near the touchline. 

That way, I can completely take that winger out of the game and limit him from using his weaker foot to make short passes to a teammate. 

Final Words

If you don’t want to get into the nitty gritty details of opposition instructions, it’s best to ask your assistant coach to set up the opposition instructions for each match. 

An assistant coach with a high Tactical Knowledge attribute will be able to set better opposition instruction for the team. 

To have a better understanding of opposition players, make sure to recruit good scouts and performance analysts as they will provide valuable insights on your opponents.

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