FM Take it Easy and Keep it Simple Stupid

Its so easy to overcomplicate Football Manager or any game for that matter. I have seen everything from complicated modelling to over elaborate theories that attempt to find that one methodology to rule over all. It doesn’t exist.

There is a fundamental logic that permeates all games. Designers attempt to code an element of unpredictability to mimic human behaviour and thats when we start assessing the artificial intelligence of the bot player. How well a game translates our instructions into ingame actions that meet our expectations affects our assessment on how good the game is.

Games like World of Warcraft are great because within the game design there is a high level of human interaction. Raids are successful through solid human team play and can fall apart when people get too emotional. At their core all games are simple. Assign instructions and off we go.

An AI needs to select from a prebuilt template of possible outcomes for each action chosen. To be successful as a human player all you need to do is to apply some simple logic by controlling as many variables as possible. Over the course of a few years I have been entertained by all the various methodologies and theories on how to beat the game. And quite a few of them work. That long break I took… well I thought I’d get creamed when I returned, we were 5 points behind leaders Liverpool in January, with 5 games left we are 11 points clear. Is the game too easy? I believe it is. And its because to be successful all you need to do is keep it simple.

My tactics are simple, 4411, 4231 and a 41221. They are all attacking formations and all I do is make sure I play some matches in a season on Control to get my teams accustommed to defensive play if needed. I use the 4411 and 41221 when I expect a tough game or I want to give myself the best chance to win and I use the 4231 when I want to get my players trained for wingforward formations.

The tactics are done off the Tactical Creator with some minor modifications so I can eliminate the use of overlapping shouts. I adjust tackling to hard for some positions cos I wanna guarantee a tackle regardless of player.

No magic tactic, its all about the numbers next.

Choose Right
This is how we reduce uncertainity or introduce it. Know how you want to play and be realistic. You can’t have an attacking formation without some leaks. So if you need to eliminate them then understand how the right player needs to be chosen for the right role.

If you want to play with a flying fullback you can expect that flank to be weak. So either he has a lot of stamina and natural fitness or that midfielder on his side has it. He needs to be covered, and thats the logical thing to do. FM is just a game that works off numbers, if your attributes are higher than the opposition ceterus paribusthen you will win most encounters. Unless of course you have elected to use an illogical system. Thats it. Some knowledge on football systems is almost mandatory if overachieving is your goal.

Many players have found success with the 41221, but as many have failed scoring a goal. And thats always down to player selections. In the real world that happens as wellm If you dont have a clear idea on what it takes to produce a Cristiano Ronaldo in the game, dont expect the game to. All AIs depend on instructions.

The best way to play this game is to keep things simple. Go to your team understand what kind of formation you can play. Fit the players in. Then make sure to inject some unpredictability by having unique players on the bench to switch things up. I have a crazy ball playing winger whom I bring on for tough matches once players are tired to mix things up.

Never forget that this is a simple game. When I returned I looked at my squad adjusted some individual training and applied really simple logic to romp home towards another title. Its not hard but it becomes impossible when you try to photocopy another managers playbook. Have your own KISS and you will find this game remarkably easy.


  1. Good post. I don’t touch any of the individual instructions and strictly with the TC, except I set both the playmaker and the targetman as none so the team doesn’t try to force play.

    1. The game is all about using the right players for the right roles..and thats about it…you can get away with having an average training schedule if all you care about is winning ….then just go buy the right players..your books won’t be great..but at least you will have fun

      1. The only tinkering I do with my tactic is to change the player role to fit the player I have in the position. I see people on the SI forums all the time wondering why their tactic doesn’t work after they have changed every single individual instruction.

  2. great post.

    I have found if you keep the first team numbers down this would lead to having a close knit squad therefore their understanding of tactics is better. Also I like to build to a young squad which will be together for many season therefore their understanding of each other gets better each season.

    1. Yeah I tend to do the same. I like smaller squads but you need to pay closer attention to players to avoid overwork

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