The return of Ezio Glerean

Tactical ideas for Football Manager 2018

I bet you don’t know anything about Ezio Glerean, a football manager who gained some popularity in Italy at the end of the nineties, he never managed in Serie A, but showed in the Italian lower leagues something never seen up to that moment, his famous 3–3–4 tactic inspired by Dutch football of which he was a huge admirer.

In 1996 Glerean took over at Cittadella, a small and obscure club from serie C2 (Italian fourth tier), going up to serie B at the end of the 1999–2000 season, an amazing rise always playing his risky 3–3–4 tactic, using four natural forwards.

After that experience he was ready to prove himself on bigger stage, Maurizio Zamparini, who just became the owner of Palermo, in 2002 offered him the job but after only one game in serie B, a 5–2 loss to Ancona, things escalated quickly and Glerean was fired by his histrionic chairman.

Unfortunately he didn’t have another big chanche and in spite of managing other clubs like Spal, Venezia and Cosenza, his highly offensive kind of football failed to perform and impress like it previously did.

Some of the press wrote he could have become another Arrigo Sacchi but something went wrong and actually he’s not managing anymore.

I already wrote about total football influences but Glerean 3–3–4 was peculiar:

  • 3 defenders, 3 midfielders and 4 forwards
  • Basically 6 players defend and 4 attack
  • Forwards have to close down opponents in the attacking half of the pitch, while only midfielders and defenders have to cover in the defensive half.
  • Controlling the central zone of the pitch is a priority
  • Being the defensive and midfield line often outnumbered they must mainly focus on the ball, rarely on players movements.
  • Priority of vertical movements and plays when in possession
  • A strong target man and a more skilled and creative player up top
  • Two quick wide forwards capable to cut inside and beat their direct opponents
  • Forwards have creative freedom

Some screens taken from Ezio Glerean working papers could explain better how this tactic should work.

Off the ball movements when the central midfielder has the ball
The keeper, if defenders/midfielders are under pressure, should look for an attacker with a quick and long ball
Midfielders movements after gaining the ball back in opponents half
Central defenders move back to offer safe passing options
“Glerean is more attacking than me” Z. Zeman after their famous 4–4 match (02.09.2001)

Now the vital question, could this work in Football Manager 18?

Obviously I don’t know, I tried to develop something similar in the past with mixed results, this system has obvious strengths and weaknesses, Glerean never managed big clubs and I’m going to do the same with this experiment.

But there’s more, to give Glerean another (virtual) chance to prove his critics wrong, he’ll be my alter-ego in the game.

On a last note, if you want to know more details about how I’ll build this tactical framework or discover the club Glerean will manage in FM 18, be sure to follow my twitter account [@Armchair_gaffer] and check this space!

Stay in touch.