Training Continued

Playmaking
Why so many people train it? The reason is simple: midfield was far more important than other tactics. Hopefully HT 6.5 will change it, but I don't think that the change will be drastic. In most cases midfield will still be in power. While training playmaking you not only produce a desirable goods, but also increase the most important part of your team. Plus you can train 6 inner midfielders and 4 wingers, which is a lot. That's why 26% of people have decided to choose playmaking. If you'll cross out general, stamina, set pieces and passing, it will be even higher...
advantages:

  • bright future. As stated above, after some time of training it you'll end up with excellent midfield power. Great especially for new teams.
  • 10 people being trained. 6 of them will receive full training, up to 4 only a part (probably half).
  • flexibility. By matching your players well, you can have a team for every occasion. Just go for inners with passing/defending being distributed differently. Buy a mixture of wingers that are either good at playing offensively or towards middle. Then you could use different combinations for sunday/wednesday games.
  • smaller off-season penalty. You can play your inners as wingers, you can train passing for 8 players, you can take care of stamina. Not bad at all.

disadvantages:

  • initial costs. Pure supply & demand rule: when so many people train playmaking, young playmakers must be much more expensive than others. And they are.
  • large supply of well trained playmakers. Doesn't hurt right now, because the demand is also high, but what about the future? What if midfield really becomes less important?
  • stamina. Inner midfielders either have excellent stamina, or are worth much less. You need to plan stamina trainings. More about it a bit later.

Who to buy?
Again, depending on the size of your wallet, you can buy different players. Just read the previous sub-chapter on defenders and you'll have the clue on how powerful players to buy. As I've already said, you want six inner midfielders and four wingers. They're in some ways different, thus I'll talk about them seperately.

  • inner midfielders. They're your main concern. They train faster, and while in your club, they're the ones who influence your midfield power the most. Age and playmaking follow the same rules, as always (the younger and more skilled, the better). As for passing and defending, it's also good to have them high, but remember, that the lower skill is less important. Why? If your player has higher passing, you'll play him offensively and defending will be less important. Also buy 1 or 2 players suited for "extra inner midfield" job. That means pretty eqal defending and passing. Putting a player with disastrous defending or passing on this spot is something similar to having fewer players fielded (one part of your player doesn't work... and would work if you bought a guy with weak defending instead of disastrous).
  • wingers. They train slower and naturally give less profit. But when you buy them, the almighty invisible hand doesn't ask you if you want to use them as wingers or inners. Simple: for two equal players (one being playmaker, other playing as winger) investments are basically the same, but profits different. So you should probably go for cheaper guys.

Also, try to buy players with similar stamina. Having 9 guys with solid level of this skill and the 10th with disastrous is a bad idea. What will you do after one or two training, when all of your guys will have excellent and that lousy sprinter only wretched or poor? Leave him? Or waste time on training stamina for the whole team? Decide one certain level and try to buy all of those guys that match it. For example, all trainees should have weak/inadequate stamina. Buying much better players is a bad idea, too, as you're most likely wasting money on him.

Tactics for playmaking trainers
In general all tactics involving 5 midfielders (inners + wingers) are fine. Probably good old 3-5-2 is the best in most situations. As HT 6.5 is being introduced, you might want to consider using attack in the middle (AIM). It gives you 20-40% (depending on your players' passing skill) more attacks in the center, at the cost (1:1 ratio) of wing attacks. Two wingers towards middle, of course.

Cross passes
As far as I can remember, cross passing was always the least popular of all main kinds of training. Only around 2-3% of all people trained it. Reason for this was pretty obvious - if you want to be effective, you need to weaken your team (I'll tell you why in a second). But since the begining of season 20, ht-staff has introduced few changes to the game, which made it more attractive. First of all, the speed was greatly increased, by the huge 50%. On the other hand, while midfield seems to become a bit less important and new tactics introduced, playing wingers offensively should be more common now. I started training wingers few weeks after season 19 began and I don't regret it, but it still has some serious disadvantages. But let's start with benefits... . IMHO cross passing should be considered by fresh (and poor) teams, for several reasons: quite low investments requred, quick profits, CA is good for this kind of training and leagues that are weak (more about it in the chapter about new tactics).

advantages

  • speed. Only goaltending is a bit faster. It seems that it takes a little more than 4,5 weeks for a 17 years old wingers to advance in skill. You don't have to wait a long time if you want the cash quickly (over 3 levels per season!).
  • number of trainees. You can train 4 wingers and up to 4 wingbacks. Wingbacks probably train twice as long, so you could say you can train up to 6 players (just as scoring, which is much slower).
  • smaller injury penalty. If your winger gets injured, put a wingback in his spot!
  • real value. Almost nobody trained cross passing, so there are very few high-end wingers. And people are going to start buying them... it's the end of season 20 (and tactical effects of HT 6.5 hasn't been introduced to competition games yet) and you can already see that wingers are in general a bit more expensive than other proffessions :)
  • low popularity. I can't quite understand it, but the popularity of this kind of training hasn't risen considerably since all the changes have been implemented. that means lower competition both when buying and selling. I've bought some of my 17 years old solids for 100k ?. Not bad, eh?

disadvantages

  • weak midfield. You simply HAVE to play with two offensive wingers. That means you can not have any wingers towards middle. I have lost quite a few games to opponents with 2 wingers towards middle, even though my inners weren't worse, even though I had superior stats in other areas.
  • fewer trainees or weak defence dillema, "strange skill". Half of your potential trainees are wingbacks, who mainly utilize their defending skill when playing in your team, especially if you play them defensively (which is highly suggested, btw). You need to buy guys with decent defending and decent winger skill. When you'll be selling them, that defending skill will be of low value (because most likely your customers will be looking for offensive wingers). So you need good defending and winger skills, and such players are greatly desired by teams that train defending. I solved it like this: I bought 2 wingers with passable defending and solid wingers (17 and 18 yrs old), paid around 300k ? for every one (unfortunately they don't come in promotional packets, 2 in the price of one ;) ) for my wednesday games and two guys with good defending (outstanding and brilliant in my case) and a decent winger for sunday matches. I will not earn much on the last two guys (they're be sold as wingbacks with the same defending skill), but I just can't have weak defense!
  • "strange skill" #2 - playmaking. Playmaking is very handy, even for offensive wingers. But if you want to buy youth with good playmaking, you're competing against playmaking-training teams (who'll play them as wingers towards middle). That raises the market value, too :(
  • diversyfying your tactics is hard. You have two wingers and two wingbacks per game, right? It's easy for your opponent to predict your strength. Strong wing attacks and a certain, predictable strength of wing defense (depending on your wingbacks' defending skill). It's always a great advantage to know how your opponent is going to set up his team and it looks like you're going to give that advantage to your enemies if you decide to train cross passes.

tactics for cross passing trainers
One rule: you must have two offensive wingers (all symmetrical tactics). In some rare cases (e.g. you've just bought a guy with good winger, playmaking and stamina) you might play one of the towards middle (it obviously doesn't change the speed of training).

  • 3-5-2, symmetrical, normal. Just a regular 3-5-2 with two offensive wingers. I've successfully used it in the past two seasons (won the Ekstraklasa twice), only it seems my players are slightly better than the ones my opponents have. Rather difficult. One repositioning: central defender (you don't want to lose one wingback, right?) as extra inner midfield.
    Kajet's notes: This Is It!

  • 5-4-1, symmetrical, CA. That's what I want to try out next season (unfortunately I have an offensive coach and I won't be able to change him for at least one season :/ ). Especially good for low leagues, because on one hand it's easier to get good enough CA ability, on the other you will quickly develop good wing attack.

    Kajet's notes: Like I told defending trainers: I do think you'll usually have to rely on counterattacks to score, while having very little of the most important central attack... Admittedly, your wings shouldn't be a problem. Nevertheless, winger trainers know better ways of using them, so I'll rate this tactic a degree lower than if you train 10 high-profile defenders. Send Orders And Pray.

  • 5-3-2, symmetrical, CA. Great defense, very good attack, but you rely on counter attacks, which might be not enough to win. I also want to try it out, but at first I need to make sure that safer 5-4-1/CA works. One repositioning (inner as extra central defender).
    Kajet's notes: Like in the defending section: An attack slightly worse than with 3-5-2 and a total disaster in the midfield. Sure Loss. And a few draws ;)

  • 4-3-3, symmetrical, CA. Just like above, only you gain some attack power at the cost of defense and CA ability. Use it when your opponents have defensive coaches.
    Kajet's notes: From the defending section: With one inner midfielder and four defenders in the back, losing 4 goals a match isn't fun, and you won't often score on 4 counters. The opponent's attack and defence would have to be terrible, and not just yours good. Sure Loss, and even more so for someone who does not necessarily have the best defenders in the world, like a defending trainer might.

  • 4-4-2, symmetrical, CA. Seems to be nice. Great defense, acceptable midfield, very good attack. No repositionings needed (which is good, cuz every repositioned player plays a bit worse).
    Kajet's notes: If a defending trainer's defence isn't bound to be good enough to stop all the opponent attacks, then yours won't either. I don't think the era of 3 inner midfielders is sooo over. Send Orders And Pray, or perhaps you have two superb inner mids?

  • 4-5-1, either normal or CA. Need more midfield power? Here you go!
    Kajet's notes: Both wingers offensive, of course, and assymetrical 4-4-2 is unavailable. Might Be Useful on Normal, and surely a Promising Tactic with CA against an opponent really superior in the midfield, when 3-5-2 is no alternative.

  • 3-4-3, symmetrical, normal. If you have superior midfielders, if you have many opponents playing CA, go for an absolute attack!
    Kajet's notes: Might Be Useful, but really only if your opponent is a specialized counterattacker with a terrible midfield and a superb defense. Otherwise, a Sure Loss.

  • 5-2-3 (sic!) symmetrical, CA. Copied from tactics for defending trainers. Yes, you read it right. symmetrical 5-2-3 means no inner midfielders! It's rather a fun line-up, as there's one severe drawback of using it: you will not gain experience with this formation and you might lose goals because of it. Excellent defence, excellent attack, no midfield, no regular chances... just pure counter attacks and special events. Two repositionings (inner as extra central defender and another inner as extra forward). Edit: a friend has just told me that I have not stressed one thing clearly enough: this is just a fun tactic and should not be used in important games!
    Kajet's notes: Defending trainers heard the same: No inner midfielders. Yeah, this tactic indeed is a joke. Sure Loss (and a sure laugh :-D).

As you can see, I have not included any tactics involving attack on the wings (AOW). I'd be rather cautious when using it. Why? While playing AIM you can abandon your wings and concentrate on central attack. There's no such case with AOW, as you must have a striker. I might be wrong, but at this time I don't want to advise you something that I think is not too good. If you want to try AOW, go for any symmetrical tactic with one striker (4-5-1 most probably).

Scoring
Every little girl wants to be either an actress, or a singer. Every little boy - a fireman or a soldier. Every football fan - a scorer! And similarly in hattrick - people somehow like to have good scorers. And either pay good money for them, or train some little Ronaldos. As always, lets begin with a list of what's cool and what's not.
advantages:

  • yeah, it's definitely cool to play offensively :P
  • good scorers are more expensive than other players. And have always been.
  • HT 6.5 comes with an attack in the middle strategy, perfectly suited for people training scoring.

disadvantages:

  • you need to sacrifice either your wings (and play one winger towards middle) or midfield (and rely on three inner midfields without any help from wingers that play towards middle).
  • your tactics are highly predictable. Whenever I see a guy playing 3-4-3 with a winger TM (or 3-5-2 with both wingers TM) I just pump up my central defense and laugh during the game.
  • diversifying your team is hard. While playing 3-5-2 you can have one winger TM and one offensive winger. You can decide what wing they will occupy and your opponent must guess. But when you want to play 3-4-3, you need to have either a good all-rounder (good for both TM and offensive task) or two wingers, which is a bit expensive.

First listed disadvantage is what I disliked 3-4-3 for the most. You either have weak midfield or wing attacks. Time has taught me that forwards' scoring skill influences wing attacks really nicely and having no offensive wingers doesn't make you completely sacrifice these areas. Many people use this tactic and win a lot. Probably most successful Polish manager this season, Bzyczek (won the Cup and advanced to Ekstraklasa) used 3-4-3 all the way. Another Polish star - kOsToR, the guy who has gotten us a silver medal during the last U-20 WC - also trains forwards and plays 3-4-3 (lost the qualification game to Bzyczek, tho :P ).

Forwards' passing skill only improves your central attack ratings. Having scorers with high passing is yet another reason to consider AIM. Also, passing is underpriced. If I had to, I'd value it two times less than scoring, but you would certainly pay less for a guy with passable scoring/passable passing then for solid scoring/weak passing.

A shooting training might be a good option in the off-season. Not only you train all of your forwards, but the whole team trains scoring and set pieces as well, which might pay off some day. More about it later, when it comes to describing shooting training.

tactics for scoring trainers
Of course you want as many scorers, as possible. That's the general rule. How to make it work without weakening your team too high?

  • 3-4-3, asymmetrical, AIM. When some wise man developped cold beer, he certainly thought of me. When HT-Gods created AIM, they surely thought of people training scoring. One winger TM, two repositionings (winger as extra forward and defender as extra inner midfield). You have weak wing attacks, but you attack on the wings less frequently. You may think about getting a winger TM with very good playmaking and little winger skill (why pay extra?).
    Kajet's notes: I have a totally different opinion than jerzy: Attack in the Middle is ineffective. Just calculate: assuming that 40 out of 100 attacks go thru the middle on normal, an AIM tactic with 30% quality (and 30% I think is a lot - how many excellent passers do you have, after all?) raises this figure by 12 only to reach 52 in 100. The theoretical maximum is 56! And your side defence gets a kick in the ass. Additionally, if you play a defending trainer who lines up 5 defenders and who predicts your move (easy), your sole attack will meet a divine+100 central defense with 3 CD's and 2 wing backs towards middle. Finally, since in many of these 5-defender cases the opponent's only attacking weapon are the wings, they should have an easier battle to fight with your side defense than normally. Send Orders And Pray, unless your opponent is a crap team and so you couldn't care less about your defense.

  • 3-4-3, asymmetrical, normal, winger TM. Just what most coaches have been doing until now. One winger TM, two repositionings (winger as extra forward and defender as extra inner midfield). As it has been told - great central attack, decent midfield, a little weak wing attacks (hopefully not TOO weak). An option if your scorers have bad passing (since your central attack is relatively not that much stronger).
    Kajet's notes: If your opponent attacks on the wings, this is very powerful. If he doesn't, Might Be Useful (but predictable and easy to stop for someone with 5 good defenders, like I described with 3-4-3 AIM). You'll either need a really good midfield (to score more if you have a defensive coach, to concede less if you have an offensive one) or defense, the latter being much easier without AOM than with it.

  • 3-4-3, asymmetrical, normal, offensive winger. Same, only you use offensive winger. Simple - weaker midfield, stronger attack on one side. Especially good against teams using CA.
    Kajet's notes: More difficult to get a good midfield, but you won't need one as badly as with a winger TM. Less predictable and more difficult to counteract. I'd even call this a Promising Tactic, maybe for sentimental reasons. The major drawback of 3-4-3, I believe, is its susceptibility to the random factor that sometimes directs way too many attacks (with AIM or without it) to the weak wing(s).

  • 3-5-2, normal. Three options: two wingers TM, one TM and one offensive, two offensive. (gradually worse midfield and better wing attacks). Of course, there's a chance that 3-5-2 will remain the most powerful tactics and new tactics are just too weak. Plus, it's always safe to play it - it doesn't have a tactic that it really sucks against. You know it well, I'm not going to talk about it ;). One repositioning (defender as extra inner midfield).
    Kajet's notes: Might Be Useful for you, and nothing more. Why waste training? Not only managers with superior teams have done well training 6 forwards a week.

  • 4-3-3, symmetrical, CA. Might be quite nice after all, if you manage to have high defense ratings and CA ability. One repositioning (inner to extra forward). Of course both wingers play offensively. Decent defense, great attack, poor midfield (thus you rely on CA's).
    Kajet's notes: From the defending and winger section: With one inner midfielder and four defenders in the back, losing 4 goals a match isn't fun, and you won't often score on 4 counters. The opponent's attack and defence would have to be terrible, and not just yours good. Sure Loss, and even more so for someone who does not necessarily have the best defenders in the world, like a defending trainer might.

  • 4-3-3, asymmetrical, CA. Same as above, only you trade one wing for some midfield power. You reposition one of your wingers instead of a playmaker.
    Kajet's notes: This is a bit like the symmetrical 4-4-2 with CA, only on of your wing attacks is split between the center and the other wing. Send Orders And Pray.

  • 4-3-3, no wings, AIM. I've never really seen it and never heard anyone talking about it, but I think it might be useful. Here's how you do it: 3 repositionings - one winger as extra forward, one as extra central defender, one defender as extra inner. You have good defense, decent midfield, great central attack and weak wing attacks (that's why you use AIM). The disadvantage: three repositionings is a lot.
    Kajet's notes: Unlike jerzy, I've heard the well-known Polish U20 coach kOsToR suggest this tactic. I'd prefer the assymetrical 4-4-2 for a counterattack, but this one surely Might Be Useful. And if you train scoring, you may want to give it an even better label perhaps.

  • 5-2-3 (sic!) symmetrical, CA. Copied from tactics for defending trainers. Yes, you read it right. symmetrical 5-2-3 means no inner midfielders! It's rather a fun line-up, as there's one severe drawback of using it: you will not gain experience with this formation and you might lose goals because of it. Excellent defence, excellent attack, no midfield, no regular chances... just pure counter attacks and special events. Two repositionings (inner as extra central defender and another inner as extra forward). Edit: a friend has just told me that I have not stressed one thing clearly enough: this is just a fun tactic and should not be used in important games!
    Kajet's notes: Third and final time ;-) : No inner midfielders. Yeah, this tactic indeed is a joke. Sure Loss (and a sure laugh :-D).

Stamina

Stamina is an unique skill. What makes it so special is that you simply have to train it up to a certain level (excellent) for all of your inner midfielders and wingers who play towards middle, and then you can easily forget about it. Only players that influence middle anyhow (inners, wingers tm, and partially other kinds of wingers, offensive defenders and defensive forwards) use this skill in every game. Few seasons ago HT staff introduced special events based on stamina ("Tired defenders can make mistakes. Unless the opposing attacker is also too tired, this may create a chance for the opponent", source: official HT rules document), but I don't think it's worth to waste your regular training.

How does stamina work? I believe that every significant player's influence on midfield is simply multiplied by stamina modifier in game's 2nd half. I have not made any research on that (because I've always had playmakers with excellent stamina). I think it could even be that players with NO stamina (extremely low disastrous) might have no influence on midfield ratings at all. Doing a research on that should be really easy: get two teams to play against each other. Team X RELEVANT players (inners, any kind of wingers, offensive defenders and defensive strikers) have excellent stamina, Team Y relevant players have disastrous stamina. It would be good if you could use as many relevant players as possible with as good playmaking skill as possible (making calculations on too small and not 100% certain values could be too inaccurate). Even 4-3-3 with 3 inners should give good info. Now compare 1st and 2nd half possession and you will know what impact it makes. Please contact me when you try this... I want to look at the game, too :)

Training speed is well-know by most of the people (1 level per one week), but paradoxically hard to measure, because no player could possibly train it for a long time (after reaching excellet stamina drops by itself if trained further), no ht-player trains it for a long time either. Taking 1 level per 1 week for the rule should be ok. Sometimes your player will not advance in a given week, sometimes he'll skip one level (i.e. jump straight from poor to inadequate).

Training stamina makes your players drop in form. Nothing can be done, though... training it up to excellent is a necessity.

Formidable stamina? Yes, it is possible to achieve it. You need to train it for quite some time after reaching excellent and you can expect it will drop back sooner or later. HT official rules claim that stamina slowly falls to low excellent. Surprisingly, it often falls from formidable during next weeks training, when you train stamina, too. On the other hand, I know one example of playmaker with formidable stamina: when I became a National Coach in July, 2003, Maciej Maj already had formidable stamina. Leverek (his owner) has told me recently, that he has not trained it for several seasons. Maj dropped to excellent on friday, October 31, 2003. That's a long time. But is it worth to loose all those weeks of training? I'd rather say no.

Few tips:

  • Stamina differences between players. Avoid purchasing players that stand out of others. Let's say you have two inners that have excellent stamina and need to buy a third one. He's got to have excellent stamina as well, or else you'll waste precious weeks of training which will not be beneficial for most of your squad. When buying youth to be trained, try to go for guys with similar stamina (i.e. everybody's around inadequate... any player below that will make you have to train longer, avery player above that is a waste of money). When not training it and switching all of your inners to better guys, it might be well worth to buy players with a bit worse stamina, because you'll save a lot of money this way.
  • Try to train it in the off-season. As I've said, only players that influence midfield need high stamina. During off-season some of your trainees would not train at all (only one game played), so you might as well use that week for training stamina to all guys that need it. Also, lower form does less damage to you then (plus you will pay less to your players next season).