Best FM 2014 Tactics: Darren’s 4-4-2 And The Deadly Duo

FM 2014 Downloads

written by Darren Smith

FM 2014 Tactics

Hey guys and welcome to my best FM 2014 tactics this time based around the 4-4-2 using fluid philosophy. This Football Manager 2014 tactic is called ‘Darren’s 4-4-2 and the deadly duo’. I’m sure the 4-4-2 bit makes perfect sense, the deadly duo bit I guess may have a few scratching heads.

Long story short, I think FM 2014 will see us creating more tactics based around what we have in terms of players as opposed to a vision we have for creating triangles and pretty little patterns. Miles Jacobson has made it perfectly clear that this years edition relies heavily on players and using them in the right roles.

From playing the BETA its also apparent that while in the past a bunch of sliders controlled how your little men ran around the pitch, this year sees the individual players and there characteristics make the same position and role look very, very different in the match engine. For instance, when I use Llorente in the false nine role, he tends to fall short and link up play, but also gets in the box and scores lots of headers. I then use Michu in exactly the same role and most of his goals came with the ball at feet and from the edge of the area darting in.

Again, I have drifted off subject a little, what I mean is that due to the importance assigned to player selection this year, I wanted to make a tactic based around the most important players on the pitch, the deadly duo, still not getting it? your strikers of course. So after that long winded introduction I present the formation and roles.

FM 2014 tactic, formation and instructions

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, formation

The instructions are fairly simple really, they all have one goal in mind, to service the front two while playing fluid attractive Football. The philosophy and strategy stay the same no matter what, we always want to take the game to our opponents. Same goes for the team instructions which are explained below, we do not have any individual player instructions, because I am a believer in keeping things simple where possible.

  • Run at defence: Simple, we have wing backs and wingers, not to mention a box to box midfielder so I want all of them to attack the opposition head on, putting our opponents on the back foot from the off.
  • Exploit the flanks: Width seems like a great tool to use this year, so having the four wide players exploited also suits the instruction mentioned above.
  • Look for overlap: Again, this suits the first two instructions, we want players to pass and move, the wing back to find their winger and then overlap him. This creates space and confuses the opposition.
  • Higher tempo: I like high tempo when using the wings, also helps to take advantage when we’ve gained possession from opposition set pieces and sparks a counter.
  • Hassle opposition: I like to get in our oppositions space, rush them into a mistake and keep the pressure on.

FM 2014 tactic: roles

Below I have explained what each role does and suggested appropriate attributes.

GK – goalkeeper, defend: Very simple, he stops the ball hitting the net. There are no specific requirements in this area. We all know what a good keeper should look like.

DR/DL – wing back, support: His job is to not only defend but attack. The wing back will get forward when in possession and with this tactic overlap the winger, he’ll always stick to the flank. click here, for most important attributes.

DC – central defender, defend: Just your normal defender, would help to be good in the air, due to the lack of MC’s you don’t want him losing simple headers. Other than that, you may need 12 or above in pace and acceleration for top flight teams alongside the usual defensive attributes seen here.

MR/ML – winger, attack: Your wingers need to hug the line, be able to cross from deep and the byline and most importantly spring an attack at the drop of a hat, also note if they won’t get back and defend when needed, the whole system could fail. OK now we get specific, these guys need to be fast, cross well and dribble too. Other very important characteristics I have found are work rate and flair. For the rest click here.

Important tip! Please not that if you feel crosses are been intercepted too easily or no ones getting on the end of them, go into each wingers individual instructions and select ‘cross aim far post’. Do this on a game to game basis.

MC – deep lying playmaker, defend: Here we have your playmaker, the man who sits in the middle and hinges defence to midfield, to attack. He must have great passing, creativity and teamwork. You will also need him to defend and break up play, so look at stats like tackling and marking, also positioning. For a full breakdown, check here.

MC – box to box midfielder, support: Not only are we relying on this guy to dribble with the ball and bridge the gap from midfield to attack, but he needs to arrive late in both penalty areas. So long shots are helpful, but most important are physical stats, dribbling, off the ball movement and passing. This player should be your most well rounded on the pitch as his role leads to both attack and defence. Heres the full list of attributes.

ST – poacher, attack: Nice and simple, this kid is your goal outlet, his main focus is on the defensive shoulder waiting to pounce. So acceleration, finishing and composure mixed with off the ball movement are important. Usually dribbling helps but that’s not as vital in this tactic. See the full list of attributes here.

ST – false nine, support: This lad will float between ST and AMC, dragging defenders with him to create space for the B2B and poacher. He needs to have a good first touch, creativity and off the ball movement, long shots are also very helpful. However, the better this guy can jump and head the ball the more possession and chances you’ll have. The team like to use this guy as an outlet and lots of the play will go through him, especially direct balls and crosses.

FM 2014 tactic in action

While you may not boss the centre of midfield, there is defensive stability in shape and symmetry. See the screenshot below, this is how your side should line up from goal kicks and general attacks. Counter attacks can be a bit more tricky but I’ve not noticed many issues with reasonably fast defenders.

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, defensive movement

Once you’re back in possession, the deep lying playmaker will drop deeper and show for the ball, your DR and DL will remain just in front of the defensive line until the ball moves beyond them and likewise the box to box midfielder. So you have four passing options in a line in front of your DC’s.

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, build up play

Another nice part of the build up play can be the false nine’s involvement, he drops very deep in the initial stages to lose his marker, then lays off a pass and runs forward again.

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, f9

Basically everyone is instructed to overlap and move all the time. We have wing backs and wingers doing so out wide, we have the box to box midfielder doing it in the middle and the false nine striker dropping into AMC often while the poacher is forever looking for space to dart into ahead of himself. The only players who don’t actively move during attack are the DC’s and deep lying playmaker. Lets see how this works when attacking, below is the wing play and how your wingers and strikers attack the ball.

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, attacking movement

Now we have the false nines tricky movement again. The wing back has come forward overlapping the winger to gain space, he gets in a cross to the back post. Both the ML and false nine are arriving late.

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, wing play

FM 2014 tactic highlights

Here are a few highlights to demonstrate better the goals that are capable with this tactic. First the goal that followed the screenshot above.

Here is our false nine losing his marker again to get on the end of a quality cross.

And finally a few goals from our poacher to show how he works off the DC’s shoulder, the first a lobbed ball from our false nine and the second a perfectly waited threaded ball through the middle.

Results and key stars

So, as you may have guessed already I tested my best FM 2014 tactic with Juventus. I didn’t make the tactic, then decide to try out Juve, I just started a game with the Italian giants and had to find a new system seen as my usual 4-5-1 just wouldn’t work. That is when I saw their strike force as the key outlet for attacks and built around two upfront and found ways of getting them the best service.

Below is how the season went, not too shabby considering three of the six defeats were using a different tactic in the beginning :)

Serie A table

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, serie A table

Italian Cup results

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, italian cup results

Champions League results

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, cl results

Before you see the Champions League final result, it is worth noting that all testing upto this point was done before 23/10/13, so patch 14.0.2. The Champions League final was played tonight using patch 14.0.3, so I was very nervous to see if we still had an effective tactic aaannd…

fm14 tactic, 4-4-2, cl final

Top 5 performers

Carlos Tevez (ST, poacher) – 44 starts / 32 goals / 8 assists / 7.43 av rating

Fernando Llorente (ST, poacher) – 41 starts / 21 goals / 7 assists / 7.48 av rating

Eder Alvarez Balanta (DC, central defender) – 39 starts / 5 goals / 7.83 av rating

Giorgio Chiellini (DC, central defender) – 49 starts / 8 goals / 7.77 av rating

Kwadwo Asamoah (ML, winger) – 39 starts / 6 goals / 10 goals / 7.25 av rating

Important notes

OK like with any tactic there are disclaimers, things you must note before using this tactic.

  • BETA tactic – This tactic was created and tested using the BETA, upon the games full release this tactic may not work, depending on what has changed in the match engine. For example there are lots of crosses happening in the ME at the moment, if that is limited then a huge positive from this tactic will be damaged.
  • Poor preperation, blah, blah – Ever heard the saying ‘poor preparation equals piss poor performance’? Well its true, if you don’t prepare this tactic throughout pre-season don’t expect an instant impact, even then it still takes time into the season before your players will perform.
  • Opposition instructions – Always ask your assistant to set the ‘opposition instructions’, they usually know best and with none set you stand little chance.
  • Team talks must be taken correctly in accordance with the opponents ability and current form. Get a great assistant with good motivation and ask him to do the team talks if not experienced.
  • Does it work in other countries – I have only tested this tactic in Italy, how well it works in other countries against different styles I am not sure. But it seems good in Europe, we beat Chelsea and United in the Champions League.
  • Player selection – You must have the correct players to use this system, if you don’t, do not waste your time. Two very good strikers are a must and backups are needed also. The false nine works best with good jumping reach and heading, just as a forward in any crossing tactic would. Also a very strong back-line is important due to the lack of cover in midfield. Very slow defenders will be exposed.
  • Wing backs and wingers that can’t cross won’t get assists and that is where the goals are.
  • Pick correct roles – Pick the right players for the right roles, if you don’t this tactic will not work at all…as is the same with any system.
  • Crossing – Sometimes asking your players to cross as they like doesn’t work, it depends on your squad and the opposition, so if crosses aren’t working, then go into each wingers individual instructions and select ‘cross aim to far post’.
  • Have a backup tactic – This tactic can on occasion lead to you been overawed in the middle, always have a second tactic (maybe a 4-5-1) just in case. The AI is smarter this year and will work your systems out before long, so its always good to switch things up a little from time to time to keep them guessing. Having said that I didn’t need to switch tactic at all, just while defending a lead in the dying moments when I felt exposed in midfield.
  • Training and match prep – The myth of training and match preperation being appropriate to specific tactics is bollocks, they are not related. Of course a possession orientated tactic needs good ball control and you can train in that area, but that only sets to train your players attributes in that area, not make them better in the tactic, it helps marginally indirectly, but they are not directly linked at all. Having said that, like with any tactic, you should do pre-season with match prep as ‘tactic only’ and training as ‘team cohesion’ and a bit of ‘fitness’ before changing to balanced once the season is underway. Intensity is set to high and then pick your match prep based around preparing for the opponents weakness’ and strengths.
  • Pitch size makes such a small difference I wouldn’t waste your time on it. Naturally with any wide tactic a wider pitch is preferred, but it makes very little difference.
  • Shouts in the match aren’t needed, unless to combat certain formations or your teams bad performance. Like ‘retain possession’ when required or taken the lead and ‘get stuck in’ if your boys look like fairy’s.

FM 2014 tactic download

If you like what you see, then just click the download image below and download the file from mediafire. Then follow the instructions.

FM 2014 Download

  1. Once download is complete, move the file to the following folder documents>sports interactive>football manager 2014>tactics
  2. Now load the game as normal and enter the tactics screen.
  3. Click the button to add a tactic and look in ‘archived tactics’, then select ‘Darren’s fluid 4-4-2 and the deadly duo’.

Hey presto there it is. Well that’s it I think, hope this works for you as well as it did for me with Juventus. And if you appreciate this post and tactic, please, please, share on Facebook and Twitter etc etc…you can do this at the very top or bottom of the post, and I’d appreciate. :)

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226 Comments on "Best FM 2014 Tactics: Darren’s 4-4-2 And The Deadly Duo"

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Great read…i have been testing a similar tactic with my fiorentina and it does decently…mario gomez and giuseppe rossi are lethal duo…i prefer playing pocher-depp lying though but that just depends on the players that are in your disposal…i guess roles are the backbone of any tactic this year…nevertheless its great to see some love for the almost forgotten 4-4-2….

Gaurav Chaddah

Great read mate, seems a nice change from your usual formation. I think I might give this a go, just to test out and build some confidence in the 4-4-2, I might try it like yourself with Juve or maybes someone like Manchester United may be adjust to this.


Honestly Darren, I don’t know how you come up with these! Looks an absolute belter! Please keep it up!

Dave T (@buzzindave)

great read mate keep em coming I wont use this but you have give me fresh ideas on how to approach things thx


Great read and hopefully great tactic. Will give it a try with Wolves and report progress. Any tactic that makes use of its wingers and is a old fashioned-ish 4-4-2 is a good one for me.

Do you expect any issues with the unfortunate timing of the new patch that has came out today Darren?


I must say I’ve been won over with this “no sliders” thing, I think tactics are better to handle and easier to manipulate to fit your own preferential style of play. I do disagree with your opinion on the player instructions though; I really think they can change the success of tactic this year with the individual shouts.

Anyway I really like the look of this 4-4-2 and this post was wonderfully written. Tevez and Llorente must have made a great partnership.


Looks good Darren I’ll be sure to use that! When is the demo released? sorry I know its a bit off topic

demetrius palmer

Did you setup corners with this tactic or is it just default?


I bet this tactic would be insane with PSG.


Very pleasant read, I love posts about tactic. I tried this with my team but it didn’t work. But the reason it’s because I am training a team in Skrill North and the team lacks the quality to play in that way – especially the defense, but in general the mentality is not good at this low level.
I will try it when I will be able to apply it to a more technical squad, meanwhile I wait for a “low league 4-4-2” to fiddle with !


Downloaded it , gonna try it in my next game. I am gonna follow your advice with no instructions for players a little. Some have instructions , some dont gonna see how it works out.


Doing this in my own tactic btw . Your tactic seems really nice , How many goals did your strikers make?

Demetrius Palmer

Currently using ManU in my 1st save. I know Hernandez and Welbeck fit the poacher role perfectly but when I play Rooney and RVP together who should I make the F9? Awesome tactic btw. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to your next release.


I downloaded and put in the tatics folder but when I try to upload during the game it says file cant be imported, any idea why

Jonathan Banton

thanks for this. What do you do if you go a goal behind or need a goal near the end of the game? Do you change anything? I just started with it as Cardiff. Went 1-0 down in first game away at Villa, changed to Attacking after Half Time and equalised, then reverted back to Control and dominated the whole second half. Couldn’t get the winner though.

Ryan Daly

For the last 2 years of FM your tactics have been the template on which I have built my teams, and it looks like you have created another solid one. I am especially loving the fact that you had to move away from 4-5-1, not because I didn’t like it but because it shows that the game is moving forward and has changed from last year, forcing us to adapt. I cannot wait for the game’s release tomorrow !


Doesnt work with any teams I am tried it with benfica and sharktar donesk!


Awesome tactic buddy, going great for me with Tottenham. Top after 10 games. It might be a problem with FM, but quite bizarre that only two of my players have a higher average rating than 7.00!! Board are delighted with the attacking football but quite annoyed that I havn’t dominated possession (Screw them, right I’m winning matches?!). Defensively this tactic is fantastic as well. Top top work!!

Gaurav Chaddah

Just to say mate currently have wat through a season of testing with United. So far so good and unbeaten in all comps :)
Are you planning on making your 4 5 1 this year? Just because I’ve made a similar one to yours last year and it seems to be working really well for me and I would love to post it in the forum but their would be no point of your gonna make one.

Alexey Petrushchenkov
Alexey Petrushchenkov

Works good with Tottenham, but I allow goals in every match. Score is always like 3-2, 4-3… Working on it=)

Got a question about training though…

“Intensity is set to high…”

Had no problem with it in FM 2013, but here half (!) of my players start whining that workload is too high. I got smth. like that (the season is underway):

Main focus: Balanced
Intensity: High
Match prep.: 20%
Rest after/before match : NO

Can’t get it even after reading numerous articles about FM 2014. Guess I’ve got to sell half of my team during transfer window.


works great with Anderlecht ! in CL win against Zenit 3-2 and draw agains Marseille 2-2 away. in league: 7 matches, 6 wins, 1 draw !


Just finished my first season with newcastle and with the default squad and using this tactic i finished 4th in the league and reached the semi finals of the fa cup which i got knocked out by man utd on pens and won the carling up

stephen walsh

hey darren great tactic using it with my fave team newcastle united im 2nd in league with 8 points infront of 3rd only made 1 signing buttner cisse and remy are scoring for fun and shola ameobi comes off the bence and scores a few so so good thank you

Nick Sundin

Off topic, but anyone remember Jake saying in the podcast that Joe hart was the best keeper in the world? :P

Jack Shipton

Hey Darren, love the tactic, just about to use i with spurs, was just wondering if you had any suggestions on who to play in what role as there are many central midfielders and wingers. As well as that are there any players that you would suggest signing especially for a certain role . Cheers mate.


Just started a new save with Southmapton, You got any good tactics for them?.


[…] the tactic you found? My tactic doesnt seem to work against lower league teams with 5 midfields. 4-4-2 I used this against weak team… well, my Gloucester is supposed to be weak too. hahaha. […]

Adam Lunn
Darren, I’ve been giving this tactic a try over the past few days, exactly as described and with Juve. This on full game, latest update. Found a couple of problems, especially with Llorente as F9. I began with him and also tevez as the poacher as shown in your post. Both playing at around 6.50. Took Llorente 14 games to get his first goal and tevez only had 3. The performances improved as they became familiar with the tactic which I trained heavily. Another issue was the poor crossing of the wingers. They all seem to have crossing of around 12/13. I’ve tried getting them to cross to far post. No improvement. The biggest problem I noticed was the ratio of shots on/off target. Typically I’d have roughly 25 shots and around 4 on target! Mostly accounted for by Llorente’s long shot ability (11). I’ve now had to instruct the BBM and F9 to shoot less so they continue to build attacks rather than shoot from 25 yards. Seems to have helped slightly. My intuition tells me that tevez and Qaugliarella (!?) are better f9’s due to their better technique, passing, long shots and dribbling. No proof of this yet… Read more »

Hey Darren, I’m trying out this tactic as Elfsborg and all the feedback I can give is positive. I haven’t played many games but I have won all bar one, and dominate shots. Only thing I could say is that I don’t win games by big margins as I might like, but when I’m drawing or losing going into the final stages going to attacking or overload usually gets a goal; that rarely happened on FM13. This tactic is even better given that on a ‘trial run’ of the save I was sacked after 13 games!


Thanks for the tactic Darren. Started listening to the podcast and that’s why I now come to this site as a trusted resource for FM related material. I had problems with the tactic initially but as my team (Chelsea) became familiar with it, it has been working better. So far: 9 games into the season, 7 wins, 1 draw, 1 loss. Loss was to Stoke and second game in with team only being half-familiar with the tactic. Best result was total combination of Bayern in the Super Cup. Only won 1-0 but we dominated. My question though, do you change mentality from away/home games? Cheers from Oz!! PS the wife ain’t happy but I love how she says “Oh, he is busy managing his team!”


Great read – I seem to be having problems with mine though :( For some reason I can’t give team talks, or speak privately with my players between games either. I just don’t see an option for it. Any ideas?


It works great in the full game, but i would advise to change to a 4-4-1-1 and put the (false 9) as a Shadow Striker. This will fill the gap that sometimes the false 9 create in the midfield, and also will make your attack stronger (cause the SW will run to the box everytime you are attaccking).
I’m with Arsenal, and have Wilshere in SW with Lewandowski in front, is just amazing :)


I cant add other tactic in fm14(say cant import this file) but this tactic i can where is problem :( ?


Hello this is my first post on here, I just want to say what a gem this tactic is, I’ve been using it with Nottingham Forest for 15 matches or so and I have only lost 2, I admit I am playing Classic Mode so weather this contributes to my success or not, I was really struggling before and I made a couple of signings to get the players required for this to work, the only different thing I have done is i use a Target Man instead of the F9 as my best striker is better suited to a TM role then a F9 (he was playing TM before i found this tactic and was the leagues top scorer so i decided to keep him as it, 22 goals in 28 league games). thank you for this amazing tactic, its helped me no end!.


muito boa a tactica, obrigado, estou com o Estoril de portugal, e vou muito bem


I got my wolves team promoted but started the new season terribly and picked up 1 win in first 5. Tried these tactics which improved the team but found that retaining possession helped my team control games even more. Now on a 10 game unbeaten run so thanks for the assistance!


Darren have you played this tactic in 14.1.3? And if so, do you still have the same succes? Im currently playing with Napoli, but are havin mixing results.

dave hedgehog

excellent tactic turned my team from relegation strugglers into top 4 contenders

Martin Bahn
Wow, just wow! I know this tactic won’t suit all teams… But if you have good wingers and tall headstrong strikers, this tactic will work wonders. Started a LLM game, and just after the first 3 friendlies, (they havent even blended proper, nor worked long on tactic yet) but still just 3 friendlies and instant result. I don’t know if its just England that likes this style of play, but my first 3 games are, 3-1, 2-0, and wait for it… 5-0 !! Now yes, these friendlies were not against EPL teams, but the 2-0 victory was a team in a division above me. – Avg shots in total: ~20 – Avg shots on target: ~9 ( low because my midfielders did some terrible efforts from range. ) – Clear Cut Chances: ~3 ( 1/3 attempts as CCC, that is beatiful, just beautiful. ) My poacher likes to solo sometimes, and he does manage to succeed once in a while, dribbling helps. But it has been a joy to watch crosses to far post, where my tallest player, my F9, has gotten almost all headers on target. Heading is only 13, so when he gets better, or I find a… Read more »
Martin Bahn

Just had my first league game. We won 3-1.
The score was 1-1 at half time, so i decided to try something risky.
As BBM center mid, has: Passing: 14, Creativity: 12 and Technique: 13. I wanted to try telling to do “Direct Passing” onto strikers. Result was 2 assists in the 2nd half.
I believe ( and this is just a guess ) that because the AI had found out we played with “Exploit Flanks” the sudden center mid starting to make a few passing through the defense came as a surprise move, and resulted in 2 more goals.

I know during a match, that if to do just minor changes, they can have a big effect, if its something different from your standard tactical setup, as it takes the AI by surprise – but again just a guess.

This is my 12th year of playing CM/FM – and still learning, and love it!

Gary Wood

Very good tactic, I got WBA to finish 3rd in the prem in first season, however, I have the worlds worst discipline record, I get 4-5 yellows EVERY game and have had around 13 red cards, need to edit this tac to cut out the cards.


Without Pirlo and Pogba? :///


working verri good i m with FARUL CONSTANTA 2nd lig from romania and i m to pozition 2 after 16 games realy good tactics sorry for my bead english leanguige


Hi Darren, great post as always. I’ve had poor results with my usual 4-2-3-1 that I’ve been using for the last 4 or 5 years, so might have to take a great leap of faith and switch to something else. I’ve seen a potentially world class Target Man striker to pair with my existing Advanced Forward, I would assume that would work well as a combo up front in this 4-4-2? Also one of my wingers is an Inside Forward, I’m guessing that’s not ideal with this tactic and I should be looking for old fashioned Wingers to swing crosses in?

Martin Bahn

From what I can understand, both “Wingers” are supplying crosses into the box.
And “Inside Forward” CAN do that too, but is more prone to running into the middle, as he is usually better with the left foot on right side and vice versa.
I have tried having an inside forward in this tactic, but not with great success – it is possible if you have a marauding fullback coming up the line to take his place, when the inside forward moves inside, as the inside forward then might pull a defender or two with him – giving the storming fullback room to cross instead, and then you’ll have one more player in the box so to speak.

But the big picture of how this will work with this tactic in the long run, I cannot say as I like my wingers in this tactic.

I usually play a more possession based tactic – but with this I create more CCC’s.
Besides what is the point of great possession if you can’t turn it into good chances in the final third. :D


I’ve bought Wingers on each side for this tactic now. Only difference with Darren’s version is that my widemen are Wingers and not Wide Midfielders, so they’re further up the pitch. This leaves me with a very attack-orientated formation that has plenty of men bombing forward and will score lots against weaker opponents, but will be overrun in midfield and defensively when on the back foot. Hopefully this just means I’ll be scoring and conceding lots, which is fine by me!

Muhamad Aidiel

I have try it with gunners . But it not work . Cause gunners dont have f9 . Can you make one tactics for Arsenal please .

Muhamad Aidiel

ok thank


Using it with AS Monaco, works rather well. The start of the season was rough, but things are looking great now, I’m second in the league with only three points behind, on an 11 game unbeaten run and with Falcao being the top striker in France.

The assistant manager is moaning about the team being overrun in the middle of the pitch, but who cares? I’m just ignoring him. We keeping winning, after all.



Odd…Fernando Llorente, although gifted, would be the last of Juve’s forwards that I’d picture as a False 9… Couldn’t Tevez or Vucinic perform the role?


What about using the “Play Wider” team instruction with this tactic since you’ll be using attacking Wingbacks and Wingers?