Transitions in Football Manager 2016

Football Manager 2016  is all about managing transitions.

Today on the forums, my attention was piqued by an issue people had with 2 man midfields, common in top heavy systems. The key to setting up any system is making sure the right areas are being covered and making sure enough players are involved in transitions.

There are several kinds of transitions, and these depend entirely on what you want to achieve, some people may want to have a transition that is quick and involves pacey strikers. This means that you need to have the right players making forward runs, more importantly you need the right ones in the right positions to make those telling passes to find them.

Too often I see people use the Ball Winning Midfielder. Using a BWM in a 2 man midfield is inefficient. First he has an enormous closing down area, and secondly, when he goes on his leg breaking runs, he leaves your defense exposed. This forces teams into funny shapes to compensate and then they lose any attacking flavour.

If those 2 in midfield can’t act as defensive pivots you are going to find it hard to release the 3 up front. In the first screenshot the opponents are going to defend transition to midfield. My 2 MCs are tracking back while the 4 in blue are taking up positions.















I like how my backline is set up, defenders are in good covering positions. In the second  screenshot you can see the front strikers go to close an opposing player down.















The 2 MCs have not committed, so the team has not lost shape. They can easily control the middle if needed.















A few seconds later my entire team except for my striker have formed a tight bank to defend, our DLP has got the ball and is going to play the pass forward.
















As the pass is played to the right (yellow line) the right AMR is making a run down the flanks while the rest are moving up to support. Note where my fullbacks are and where the AML/FW are. The 2 MCs are still in the shape they need to be.















A few seconds later you can see how quickly we have transitioned from defense to attack. When playing with a 2man midfield, the most important thing to be aware of is transitions. Managing these is the difference between a solid 4231 and a weak one. And in my honest opinion, the ball winning midfielder is just too one dimensional for a midfield that needs to be more than just about winning the ball.

So the next time you set up a system in Football Manager 2016, think first about transitions. Coming up in a few days will be a detailed video guide on this in my Attacking Special called the Dark Arts of Attacking Football on BusttheNet. So keep a lookout for it or follow me on twitter for the latest updates. (@Bustthenet)




  1. i guess your idea is applicable not only in 4231 but also in 4411.

    Considering the 2 man midfield a MC(D) and DLP(S).

    And if you want the ”flip-flop” you said in previous videos ,you would put an attacking wide midfielder in the MC(D) side and a supporting one in the DLP(S) side .

    Is that so?

  2. If I remember correctly, you also had a similar topic on FM 13 when you where playing 4-4-1-1/4-2-3-1 with Stafford 😀 I loved that posts, just like I love these 🙂 I have 4-2-3-1 with both pivots acting as DLP (one on support and one on defend, being inspired by those posts). For me, the most important thing is to find the right balance since I like the aggressive setups. If you get your layers correctly you’ll notice some brilliant pitch covering. Even if you play with a very high DL.

  3. great article, emphasizing what i have learned from u when i fortunately came across your blog and yt vids.. can’t wait for the new vids. i’m always learning something !! before fm 16 i was the plug and play player but now its so much fun playing and understanding what im actually doing. keep up the good work!!

  4. I have a question about pressing in top heavy formations such as the 4231. Would adding PIs close down more to my pair (I use CMd, DLPd) destroy my midfield screen? Is it just more sensible to task the front 4 with pressing and just let my cms sit back and provide a second line of cover?

    1. I don’t use any PIs on my central midfield pair. I don’t see the need to. If I do want to, it’s for more risky passes to one of them.

      Since the forward line is so far up the pitch they naturally provide a good line. The only one who has close down much more and hard tackling is my lone striker

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