FM21 | My counter-corner ballad

There were times when I almost every second day shared the message starting “One for FMSamo klaxon” in the Football Manager Slack. It meant I scored a counter corner goal. It was really often and we enjoyed scoring these goals. It’s really great to see the simple counter with a rippling net at the end. Sadly, It’s not happening too often in my saves within FM20 and FM21 but when it happens, it’s like a great ballad.

It’s not that long from the time when we remembered some old saves in the FMSlack and also the FM18 save with BFC Siófok was mentioned. I think it was FM17 with Reading and the save with Siófok during which I enjoyed the counter corner goals the most.

I had a lot of great newgens around both teams and there were a lot of fast players. Simply, they were absolutely perfect to fit the counters.

I didn’t see too many goals after corners since the FM18 probably. And maybe that’s also the reason why I enjoy a lot every time I see it.

I wrote about conceding from the set pieces and counter goals last year during FM20 save with Celaya FC. But my defensive corner kick routine is different in FM21. And I enjoy it.

Why so cautious?

My most common defensive corner kick routine contained only one player who is set to Stay Forward and one player was set to Edge of Area. I was usually afraid there won’t be enough players in my own penalty area.

I decided to change this approach because I wanted to stop being so cautious. And I wanted to use, not completely, but something new.

It led to the new system of defensive corner routine. With two strikers around the half-line line and one player as the edge of the area.

If you would open that post from FM20, there is a picture of my routine where five players were set to defend zonally all the positions within the 6-yard box. There were other players set to go back so it was almost like the invitation for our opponents to make a picnic in our penalty area. And score a goal as a dessert.

FM20 (left) vs. FM21 (right)

The defensive part

You can see there are changes within the main defensive part within the 6-yard box. We now have here only three players instead of five. As I’m using 3-5-2 formation, I am able to use all my three central defenders who are (or they should be) strong and brave enough to defend crosses.

I didn’t play many seasons so far, but I saw that the near post routine is more frequent so I like to use the best central defender in terms of set pieces as the one who is set to Zonally Mark Six Yard Box Near Post. Simply – the first one in the line.

Most of crosses are headed or cleared away exactly by this player.

You can also see one player Mark Far Post. I will be absolutely clear to you, I didn’t want wan to place some player here. I wanted to have two players at the edge of the area. But I accidentally left one player here and he saved at least four headers in the first couple of matches. The opponent flicked the ball nicely to the far post.

And I decided to keep that player here. It happened several times within the end of the first season and during the second season too.

FM21 | My counter-corner ballad

The decisive part

Maybe the word decisive is not the right now in this case. But I am sure that if players around the 6-yard box clear the ball, the rest of the players in the penalty box cand decide what will happen next.

  1. If they will be quick (with their decisions but also physically quick) enough, they can win the cleared ball and start the counter.
  2. They don’t have to start the counter if they win the ball, but they can keep the possession. And what happens when you have the ball? You don’t concede.
  3. If they will not be quick (-||-) enough, the opponent can make another attack/cross/keep possession.
  4. It’s mostly about the three players who are set as Man Mark. They usually make the runs to wide areas when the ball goes here.
  5. The player with Edge of Area role should be the brain of the counter if 1) the ball is cleared to him, 2) or he wins the cleared ball, 3) or he makes the right run forward and support the strikers.
FM21 | My counter-corner ballad

The strikers

The key attributes for Stay Forward role are Acceleration, Agility, Pace, Strength, Balance and Anticipation. That’s what game says.

I would add also the combination of teamwork and work rate attributes. There are many cleared balls by defenders far from the box but most players (in overall, not only strikers) with low values of these two attributes are not willing to help to others and they just stand at the half-line.

They are just waiting for that final pass into the box. At least I think about it in this way.

FM21 | My counter-corner ballad
My main strikers for the 2022 season and their key attributes for Stay Forward role

Oscar Aga has teamwork attribute of 11 and workrate of 10. Vladimir Rodić has both of 13. Rodić is playing as our pressing forward. And it’s not a surprise he wins/collects more balls than Aga. He is more willing to help.

On the other hand, Aga is quick enough to beat defenders with the run from his own half. I see this very often but it doesn’t lead to scoring chances every time.

FM21 | My counter-corner ballad

How it can look?

One of my favourite examples is only a couple of matches old. I scored this goal during the pre-season after the promotion to the top tier.

There are also two new players in the key areas. Kairinen as the one at the edge of the area made a perfect quick pass to the Rodić who is our pressing forward and he was able to keep the ball and found Aga.

Our advanced forward made the rest and scored very nice goal.

Another very nice example is from the second season. Charlie Weberg won the header at the near post and cleared the ball to the right side. Daniel Sterner (Pressing Forward) helped the team with a perfect deep run to win the ball.

And he also moved down the right flank and Nuha Jatta rebounded his shot. I would like to see a pass from Sterner more but I can’t have everything 🙂

Nuha Jatta, the goalscorer, also deserves a prise as he made a perfect run forward from the edge of the area position/role.


  1. As always, rule number one is to use the right players in the right roles. The small striker defending the near post area is wrong, right?
  2. If your player makes a lot of runs but the counter ends by losing the ball, try to use another player here. Sometimes even the player trait like ‘runs with ball down right’ or ‘hugs line’ can make a big difference (insert :eyes: emoji).
  3. Don’t expect counter corner goals in every match. I didn’t write this post because of this reason.
  4. The best part of this game is don’t be afraid of experimenting. And set pieces, no matter how many bugs they consist, are ideal to have fun. Or to find out you made something wrong 🙂
  5. Btw. I conceded 0 corner goals in the first two seasons with this routine. #MythMike incoming…
  6. Have fun.

Take care and join the Football Manager Slack.


A Football Manager addict and lover for many years. You can follow me on Twitter or in Football Manager Slack – #fmrensie channel.

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