FM21 | The importance of the right man for corners

If you know my posts about set pieces from the previous years, you will probably remember one of my main rules on how to put set pieces together. The right players for the right roles. It absolutely doesn’t matter what version of the game you are playing. It applies to all of them since FM16 when this set piece creator/editor was added to the game.

Firstly, I’m still using the same Near Post corner kick routine I wrote about here.

Secondly, I would like to talk mainly about the fact how the right person in a crucial position/role can help you to beat a much better, stronger, and more reputable club.

In my case, it’s a part of my save in Sweden with the GAIS. We are currently in 2027 and I played the knockout stage of the Europa League. We faced the Romanian side FCSB (the same or a little bit higher reputation than us) and Wolfsburg (higher reputation).

The fun part of our current situation is that I decided to take all the Chinese money in winter 2026/2027 and to start partly from the scratch.

Outgoing transfers included also Danish central defender Anton Skipper who was our vice-captain and the best player for both attacking and defensive set pieces.

The main man of this post is Icelandic defender Axel Óskar Andrésson. It’s not an unknown player to me personally because I remember him as one of the youngsters in the Reading FC academy a couple of years ago before he moved to Viking (Norway) permanently where he played until 2024 in my save universe.

I bought him for €155K in 2025, mainly as a backup player for Anton Skipper.

Andrésson’s key attributes for Zonally Mark Six Yard Box Centre on the left and for Attack Near Post on the right.
Andrésson’s key attributes for Zonally Mark Six Yard Box Centre on the left and for Attack Near Post on the right.

When I was searching players through my custom filters for defensive and attacking set pieces, he was always one of the best ones within all combinations.

That was also one of the main reasons why I decided to sign him because I knew he can be a very important player when he will play. Despite the summary of the scouting reports was not higher than the 60 rating and my scouts didn’t recommend me to sign him.

One of his CONS is that he doesn’t feel comfortable playing in big matches (I know the game probably doesn’t consider the matches I write in this post about as big matches in the Europa league but the point remains the same).

con - important matches.png

Maybe I was lucky so far but I didn’t see he would made some big mistake in some big match like in the Champions League/Europa League or in the crucial domestic matches and derbies. Maybe it will come in the future.

But back to the main point of this post.

When I decided to refresh the squad, I also knew Axel will be my main central defender with the stopper duty for the 2027 season. And I will also make him the main threat within near post corners.

Axel Óskar Andrésson with the CD(St) key attributes selected.

You can see that Axel has all the required/optional key attributes for the selected roles within set pieces at the value of 10 or higher. It really helps him and the team in combination with his 195 centimetres.

As I mentioned at the beginning, we started the Europa League knockout stage against FCSB with an aggregate result of 4:1.

  • We won 2:1 at home in the first leg and Andrésson scored from a corner.
  • We won 2:0 in the second leg and Andrésson scored from a corner.

We played against Wolfsburg and the aggregate score was 2:1 for us.

  • We won 1:0 at home in the first leg thanks to the goal by Oscar Aga.
  • It was 1:0 for Wolfsburg in the second leg before Andrésson scored the equalising goal in the 84th minute to make it 1:1. Yes, from a corner.

That means we played 4 matches in the Europa League and Axel scored three goals after corners. He scored four goals during the whole 2025 season and only two goals during the 2026 season.

I’m sure that if there would be a different player, maybe a better-rated central defender, but with worse attributes related to the set pieces, we would be already out of the competition. Instead of watching the rest of the competition ahead of TV, we made it to the quarter-final and earned almost €2M on prize money and TV revenue.

I mean, Axel is not the best central defender in the world, mainly because of his speed abilities [but that’s also the reason why he is playing as CD(St)]. But he can be a crucial player for our side if I will use him right and he will be able to get the most out of corners or free kicks.

That’s why I don’t buy/sign only the best players for specific positions and roles but I try to see their attributes from a bigger perspective and how they would be able to use the most effective.

Goals scored from corners after the 1st and 2nd Knockout Round

Can you guess what happened in the first quarter-final leg in Seville? 👀

Yes. Axel Andrésson scored the opening goal of the match and one of our two away goals. We lost 2:3 in the first leg.

Can you guess what happened in the second quarter final leg? 👀

Yes. Axel Andrésson scored our opening goal of the match. In the 19th minute of the match. Again. Same as in the first leg. After a corner kick and a cross by captain Anton Snibb.

And we made it to the semi final of the competition after a 4:3 win on aggregate.

Europa League 2026/2027

I was able to finish this part of the 2027 season and it ended with a European trophy. The first in the club history. Corner goals by Andrésson were the main reason why I wrote this post but it deserves also to end the Europa League story.

Despite Andrésson didn’t score more goals, we made it to the final after we beat Wolves thanks to away goal rule. We lost 2:3 away but we won 1:0 at home. Oscar Aga scored all our goals.

We faced Fiorentina in the final and Oscar Aga scored again as he opened the score in the 51st minute. We added the second of the match in the 90+6 after a great strike by our own newgen midfielder Fredrik Bohlin.

I checked Andrésson’s shots in the semi-final and the final when he didn’t score but he had 6 off target shots and 3 more shots saved. He just didn’t have enough luck in these matches.

The Europa League 2026/2027 results

The custom Squad view for Set Pieces

I recently made some custom views related to the set pieces to be able to compare my defenders in terms of the required/key/important attributes. Not For both defending and attacking set pieces.

I took the base of my usual view with the basic info and edited the second part of the view. I added Shots on target per 90 minutes stat column near the goals column. I would like to have some set pieces related stat in the game like “how dangerous the specific player is from the near post routine; or how effective is the far post routine with this player; or how many headers the specific player won during corners/free kicks etc.” but I will have to count it on my own when I will have some spare time and a lot of patience to load every match and I will accept the fact that the game will crash during every attempt to compare two matches in the analysis screen…

I added the number of Headers won, Headers won per 90 minutes and Headers Won Ratio. It’s mainly just because I’m interested to see it. And the last part of the view consists of the defensive/attacking corner kicks related attributes. It’s filtered just to see the central defenders in the picture below. If you have some big striker and you are using him within set pieces, I would surely recommend including strikers here too to be able to compare them. Or you can compare the whole squad for sure, but I know my squad well so I think it’s pointless to have there the whole squad when I want to see only defenders who are crucial in my case.

FM21 Squad Set Pieces view filtered.png

Thanks for reading and take care.

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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