Designing a tactic on FM

Time to make some tactics,All that technical stuff was just background prep. People have asked me why its easy for some to create tactics, almost magically whipping them out of the air, and why its so hard for others. The simple answer is research and hardwork. The posts that came earlier are a result of almost 10 years of work on Football Manager. Ever since the days of Championship Manager people have been pondering over all the technical stuff in the game. Its time to break it all down in simple language, nuff of the technicals.

Alright so these will the tactical shapes. The diagram on the right is the false nine formation, its actually a hard nut to crack. Before I describe what each tactic does, I need to explain the goal of the system. Essentially I want to create a system where I can interchange between three tactics if I need to. The 4-5-1 formation is basically the formation I should start with in every match, I have within that formation added elements that will allow me to turn a game on its head.

The 4-2-3-1 formation is my offensive formation that I will use in case I need to overpower opposition thats proving too resistant. In order to use that formation, I need to make sure that I am dominating the match in key areas, which is the reason why I did the post on  Performance Management.

My false nine formation is my fun formation, I have used it a few times, but I use it primarily in matches where i just want to grind out results.

Sliders and Such

This is how I set up my 451 formation. First here is what i expect in terms of plans

Plan A

I recognize that the 451 is defensive in orientation, but I want to create uncertainty. As far as the match engine is concerned, it works on predictability. It crunches numbers. then tosses in variables and creates a match report. That is over-simplification to the highest magnitude, there are a billion permutations that it goes through, but if you’ve ever played computer chess, you know your best odds are to do the unexpected.

Even in team sports like football, the unexpected turn of a striker or the exquisite vision of Dennis Bergkamp were critical in unlocking defenses. The plan with this formation is to do the same. So if I want to achieve the same result I need to do things differently, it won’t be entirely unpredictable but it should be fun.

The fun elements which I can turn on and off in a game include:

  • One fullback attacks like normal, so he will have no ttb(try through balls), the other fb will be set to cross from deep to a target-man and the cross aim will have him running onto them
  • My target-man is the inside forward to the left
  • The forward up front will be a deep lying forward who will drop deep to bring others in. Now this is effectively a false nine formation in itself, because the centre forward is not a poacher in a distinct sense. This is one of the hardest roles in the game to handle. In order to have the right player for this task, he needs flair, great first touch, decisions, good off the ball, anticipation and determination.
  • The inside forwards are expected to get a lot of goals and so is the deep lying forward, hence the inside forward or inverted wingers as they are more commonly called will need good off the ball running, first touch, composure, acceleration, these are the key attributes I look for.
  • Width isn’t much of an issue as long as you make sure you are playing your inside forwards they right way. If their preferred foot is right, make absolutely sure they are on the left flank. That essentially is why they are called inside or inverted wingers/forwards. They cut in and are goal-bound on their preferred foot.
  • A 3 man midfield isnt a good midfield unless its set up right. To make it effective I need to set it up so that there is ‘natural’ one two passes happening. A Box to Box midfielder, a ball winner and an advanced playmaker should do the trick. Its logical actually, the ball winner, the b2b mc and the apm should all be naturally positioned mentality wise to work together.

The Slider

The slider, there have been so many theories flying around about this thing that can notches on it. My favorite question used to be whats the difference between 5 and 6 notches. To be honest almost bloody nothing if you don’t put things in overall context to your whole tactic. So what do you need to know LOW, MIXED and HIGH, or SHORT, MIXED and LONG for passing. By now if you still don’t get the drift, maybe I wasnt very clear. There are ONLY THREE settings you need to worry about, and within these 3 settings the variations exist in isolation. So if you set something to low..on the last notch its still low. But not as low as the first notch of low.

If we were talking about short passes then 1 would be short pass and like 7 would be the short pass which is almost bordering on a direct this is where things get even more complicated. What is direct passing, its merely the tempo at which  a pass is played. The direct pass is just a more accurate pass that can be played short or long. So it demands accuracy of passing as a skill. Then we have the long portion which is the ‘high” portion i marked on the graphic…thats long ball.

So now that we have got that out of the way, lets get to the next important thing about sliders. There are any number of ways you can set mentality up. One thing you need to remember though, mentality gaps will result in gaps on the pitch. Mentality still affects positioning on the pitch, but it also affects the likelihood of a players behavior  The creative freedom you give him will allow him more latitude to do his own thing, and it gives players a lot more freedom to express themselves

Going back to my tactic and how i want the front attacking group to move thats exactly what I want. Now lets look at mentality in detail. I have set it up as a Dual Mentality setup, or in the case of the tactical creator FLUID, which has two mentality setups. I prefer my defensive group to a bit deeper, and since i dont want gaps to emerge I make sure my midfield isnt too far away.

One other area I modify is tight marking. I like to see my fullbacks mark tight, but be careful when you do this, if you are using shouts, and you want your players to go tight on the wont be able to take it off, since you have them set up here..any choice you make here requires you to know exactly what happens in relation to shouts…and once again if you arent sure please..go…to this post  where i discuss shouts.

Ok so everything is set I have my 451 formation.

Ok now for what happens in a game. When I start games, I tend to like sitting back, so I can choose to keep my fullbacks in check.  My settings will usually have one fullback untouched and the other ticked for his deep passes. In this case i can opt to go narrow, and if I want i can still choose to do overlapping runs. Yes it still works.  I also make sure that I play from defense and work balls into box.

The important thing from here on end is to be patient with your formation and observe. The tactical creator can be used as a starting point for tactics .but if you wanted more customization this is how you would do it.

Now with all this done I go to work on my 4231 and my false nine, using the same setup. All I do is move the guys around and done. I have my three tactics. In the case of the false nine I will consider unleashing both fullbacks cos that tactic is essentially a bit more defensive, so I tend to push up more.

Tactics can also be modified slightly, all you need to do is go control and control the pace through shouts. Hmm my cat is massaging my tummy now, wish i could take a screenie. He is prepping me for my five km run tomorrow i guess or hinting i need to eat something….ouch. Be back with more  on another day


  1. Nice post, just a thought , from my own experience the mentality slider as a positional tool is no more so effective in recent times, I look at it more like a risk/reward option for the players on the pitch.

  2. yrashidiy – you wrote the following in regards to selecting a false 9:
    “flair, great first touch, decisions, good off the ball, anticipation and determination.”

    Since you are in BSP League … what number attributes would you consider the minimum?
    For example 8 for flair? 7 for first touch? etc.

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