Creating Tactics – The Book of Roles (1) in FM19

Creating Tactics : The Book of Roles in FM19

When creating tactics we need to know how we are going to win games with the players at our disposal. Visualising how we score goals helps. You need to pick your battles carefully on the pitch, choosing which ones to win and which ones you can afford to lose.

There are many ways to build a tactic, you can go ground up by analysing your team to find a tactical shape that suits them or you can impose your own tactical shape on them and slowly mould them into how you want to play.  There is no right way, only your way.

Ultimately football is just a battle on a pitch where sides try to win battles across the pitch. Weaker sides will try and win the battles in defence and try and launch quick counters. Sometimes they will try and force stronger sides on the backfoot and deny them a chance to play their game.  Stronger sides could try and impose their will on a game and try and control the bigger areas of the pitch forcing weaker sides into an endless barrage of attacks. That’s the beauty of the game – there is no one tactical approach, and that’s the same with creating a tactical system. There are many ways to do it.

There is one thing that stands true in any system. You need to find the right player to do the job you want. If you aim to play a defensive game then you need the right kind of players to do the job.  With that in mind I will explain certain roles in the game to begin with so that I get the basics out of the way before constructing a tactic. A role can be played in different ways and it can work in combination with other instructions in the game to offer you choices. How these roles play on the pitch can affect your tactical shape, so its important to understand the basics first. Once you understand roles you will be able to make effective combinations with the players that you have.


Sweeper Keeper

  • Technically proficient, good first touch, dribbling and kicking are attributes needed apart from typical keeper attributes
  • Ideal for possession football and countering prevent short goalkeeper distribution and the high press.
  • Used well when we have players in close proximity to offer passing options. Eg. Ball Playing Defender, Deep Lying Playmaker
  • Might leave the box to launch attacks from deep
  • Real Life Example: Allisson, Liverpool
  • Works well in combination with a BPD, to counter the jigh press or prevent short goal keeper distribution.

How a sweeper keeper and a ball playing defender can create passing combinations to beat a high press. The draw the team in before releasing the ball either to a playmaker or they can use the BPD to do a deep diagonal. Without these roles the Sweeper Keeper could try and pass the ball to the nearest fullback.


  • Orthodox keeper, doesn’t need to have good first touch
  • Can still play the ball on the ground with the “Play out of Defence” team instruction
  • Stays in the penalty area, rarely ventures out of the box
  • Real Life Example: Kaspar Schmiechel, Leicester

Central Defender:

  • Generic defenders who are a good option for any side
  • Will play the ball out of defence or in the air.
  • Team instructions and mentality can influence their play, sometimes they will play the ball long when there are no adequate passing options.
  • Movement – Does not leave the defensive line

Ball Playing Defender

  • Technically proficient player, good first touch, dribbling, passing, vision and technical defender attributes
  • Can launch deep diagonal attacks from the back if there are good options in front. Eg an Inside Forward on attack duty playing against the high press, with space to attack.
  • Risky role if used with players who have poor first touch, composure and dribbling
  • When paired with a sweeper keeper they can counter a high press or prevent short GK distribution
  • Can be used very effectively in a 5 man or a 4 man defensive line.
  • Movement – Dynamic role that can leave the defensive line to initiate attacks or break lines (eg, Move from defensive line to midfield)


  • Creative central defender, passing, decisions, vision, and dribbling are recommended attributes to have in addition to central defender attributes
  • Technically proficient player
  • Can push out of his defensive line when he brings the ball out of defence
  • To bring the best out of him, it’s best not to have playmakers ahead of him
  • A good role for playmakers who need to be retrained as they get older as long as the defenders around them are fast.

No Nonsense Central Defender

  • Ideal role for players who are not great with passing, first touch or dribbling
  • A role that plays direct balls into space or towards a player
  • Ideal role for sides that want to play defensive football where clearing the ball is the first priority
  • Can be used by any team as an option for a deep strike when they are playing with attacking duties in the final third

No Nonsense Fullback

  • Does not overlap
  • Simple fullback role whose priority is to guard the flanks
  • His starting positioning is usually too deep to offer support to attacking players in central positions because he holds position
  • His job is to help the team recycle possession so he will not be expected to cross often.
  • He may clear the ball when he has no good options to pass to


  • Versatile with plenty of options offered by duties, including automatic duty, which makes this a very customisable role that can be abused.
  • If a team is on attacking mentality and you use a FB on auto he will follow the team mentality and you can instruct him to do things that may not be available to other duties. It’s a duty I avoid.
  • On defend duties he holds his position and crosses from deep
  • On support duties, decisions and his individual mentality will influence his play. He will choose when to do cross, play the through ball. His job is to support the midfield and attacks.
  • On attack duties, the fullback will cross more often and look for chances to move higher up the pitch.
  • A fullback on support can be positioned higher to support midfield with the overlap/underlap shout. This will place them close to midfield, but can run the risk of putting the team in danger if the side is not good at circulating the ball.
  • A fullback can be influenced to pass inside more by using the “Sit Narrow” instruction. This will move them narrower during buildup play. This can be useful for sides that have issues with keeping the ball when they are building play from the back.

In this image you can see how the fullbacks position themselves. When playing on support or defend they will not commit to attacking transitions early, instead they will wait till your side exerts control over the opposition area.

Here the FB(D) on the left flank is helping the team circulate possession, he has plenty of passing options.

The FB(D) may not overlap but if you have the right distribution of roles in midfield you can use them to control midfield creating space for him to be an unmarked cross deliverer from deep.

Never look down on a FB(D).

These are some of the movement patterns we can expect from duties and from certain player instructions like “Sit Narrow” and “Overlap/Underlap”


  • More aggressive than the fullback
  • Good role for sides opting to play an aggressive possession game in midfield and the opponent’s third
  • A wingback on defend duty will help the side keep possession of the ball, help the ball move the ball through the midfield transition phase but will prioritise returning back to a defensive position when needed
  • Wingbacks on Defend duty are positioned higher up the pitch than a fullback on support
  • In attacking transitions they will get themselves higher up the pitch
  • Wingbacks on defend do not cross from the byeline, they will hold position and cross from deep

Here is a wingback on defend duty supporting the attack, if the side loses the ball he needs to track back quickly.

His priority is to cover the threat that is on the flank.

This could end up being a massive post, so i will need to break it up so that they become easier for people to read. There is also a post on the community forums at sports interactive and I will be doing a youtube series on my channel at youtube as well at some point.




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