Nov 102013

The quest for the best FM 2014 tactics continues, I have to admit that I like creating and testing tactics even though it does get very frustrating when things don’t go as planned. I’m pleased to report that this time they did go as planned, even better than I had expected. My initial idea was to create a flat 4-3-3 with 3 central midfielders and 3 strikers up front, but that didn’t work so I ended up creating this…

FM 2014 Tactic Formation and Shape

It’s still a 4-3-3 but there is a regista in front of the defence, two box to box midfielder running the show, two inside forwards and a false nine up front. Mentality was “attacking” in my initial idea but then I changed it to “control” for better balance between defence and attack. Once I had a more or less definitive version of the tactic I decided to test it with Aston Villa, predicted to finish 16th.

The team instructions are pretty much self-explanatory: work ball into box, play out defence and short passing, hassle opponents and use offside trap, high tempo and lo0k for overlap plus run at defence. I won’t go into the endless details of how and why I have chosen those instructions but I will say that I had 13 instructions in the initial version, then narrowed that list down to these eight. If you want details about why I have chosen an instruction or the other please ask in the comments and I will explain.

fm 2014 tactic formation and instructions

There are also some specific player instructions set:

Goalkeeper – distribute to defenders

Midfielders (including DM) – shoot less often, close down more

Inside forwards – dribble more, shoot less often, roam from position

False nine – shoot less often, roam from position

As you can see I tried to reduce shooting from distance while encouraging midfielders to be aggressive and forwards to roam from their positions, trying to surprise the opponents in various areas of the pitch.

The result of all those roles and instructions is a compact set up with short distances between the players (a must if you want to play a short passing game). The two full backs will often overlap the inside forwards while the two box to box midfielders will also overlap the false nine as the striker will often drop back to receive the ball. The two inside forwards will often run with the ball, either down the line or cutting inside to seek an opportunity to shoot.

fm 2014 tactic average positions

FM 2014 Tactic In Action

The two central midfielders are crucial when going forward, they run at the defence and create numerical superiority inside the opposition penalty area.

The screen shot below shows one of these cases, one of the MCs has the ball at the edge of the area while the other breaks free of his marker inside the box. The ball carrier has two options, either passing to the striker or to the MC, creating a chance to score either way.

fm 2014 tactic attacking

The next screen shot shows a case of one of the MCs overlapping the striker. The false nine dropped back to receive a pass while the left side MC runs inside the penalty area to receive a pass. This play resulted into a goal for us and we had many similar ones.

fm 2014 tactic false nine

When defending the three midfielders will create a punch in front of the back four, they will always look to press the opponents and try to get the ball back. The screen shot below shows that the two inside forwards also contribute to the defensive effort while the false nine will also do that from time to time. In this case the pressure was too much for the opponent who decided to shoot from there. You can also notice that our back four moved a bit up, trying to compress the space and leave the opponents offside.

fm 2014 tactic defending 2

Another thing I want to show you is what the regista can do at times. The play below shows our DM plugging a hole on our left flank, the left back was slightly out of position so the DM stepped in to cover the ground. You can also see that the AML travels back along with the opposition right back.

fm 2014 tactic defending

FM 2014 Tactic Results

And now the results… I have to say that I have tried to use counter mentality instead of control for away matches, that went on until the Arsenal match when I decided to start with control in order to surprise them. Never started with counter after that but I did switch to counter during matches now and again, mostly during the last 25-30 minutes when defending a lead.

As you can see we lost two of our first three matches, I guess most people would have called it quits at that point. But I was still pretty sure that this tactic would work as we were incredibly unlucky to lose those two matches. Then we lost another one, at Norwich, and that was quite unlucky as well.

And then my persistence was finally rewarded, we went 10 games unbeaten, defeating Liverpool and drawing with Man City and Arsenal in the process. Then league leaders Everton brought us back down to Earth but the lads reacted with a fantastic string of results, beating Chelsea and Manchester United! The match at Old Trafford was epic, they were leading 1-0 at the break, we were down to 10 men but fought back to win 2-1!

fm 2014 tactic aston villa results

Our best players were Benteke, the striker, with 13 goals, 4 assists and 7.34 average rating, and Albrighton, right inside forward, with 2 goals, 11 assists and 7.33 average rating. I guess we would have been even better off with a good left inside forward…

Probably the best performance was at home against Sunderland, a real onslaught there.

Aston Villa vs Sunderland stats

So, I went on until the halfway mark of the season, leaving relegation contenders Aston Villa in second place (maybe 4th if both Man United and Chelsea win their game in hand). Still pretty good for a team that was predicted to finish 16th. With 38 points after 19 matches I guess we had already achieved the goal set by the board, which was to avoid relegation.

fm 2014 tactic premier league table

UPDATE: I completed the season with Aston Villa after publishing the post, finished 4th behind Everton, Chelsea and Man United. Should have finished second but lost 3 out of the last 4 matches due to injuries and some silly red cards.

I was curious to try this with a better team and I gave it a quick go with Barcelona, holidaying through non-league matches. The results were pretty good, even though we played without Messi (injured).

fm 2014 tactic barcelona results

FM 2014 Tactic Download

If you want to give it a go you can download it by clicking the button below. If that doesn’t work for any reason, try the alternative link below that.

FM 2014 Download

- alternative download link -

Here’s how you install the tactic in FM 2014:

  • Once your download is complete, move the file to the following folder: documents>sports interactive>football manager 2014>tactics
  • Load the game and enter the tactics screen.
  • Click the button to add a tactic and look in ‘archived tactics’, then select ‘4-3-3 control’.

A few things I should mention before wrapping things up: I prepared the tactic through pre-season (you should too), opposition instructions and match preparation were handled by the assistant manager. I should also say that I didn’t make any signings during the summer, just used the standard Aston Villa squad.

That’s about it, hope this FM 2014 tactic gives you good results if you try it. Would it work for any team? I would be very surprised if it would, there’s no tactic that can give you instant results with any team. You can consider the previous line as a standard reply to comments saying “this doesn’t work, I’m 14th with Arsenal”.

Constructive feedback and suggestions are always welcome though.

  186 Responses to “Best FM 2014 Tactics: The Surprising 4-3-3”

  1. Can you create a 4-2-3-1 pls. i really like your tactics!!

  2. no with 2cms and 3 ams (2 wingers or inside forward with an am)

  3. it would me the world to me seriously because i really like the tactics you create.
    pls create one as soon as possible

  4. nicely done! exactly the same as my tactic! except for a few slight differences. run at defence are only for my inside forwards instead as team instruction. and I don’t like to play out of defence, seems too risky unless you have ball playing defenders and balanced DM or CM. anyway, I end up getting 3rd at the end of the season with Liverpool, blooding Sterling on the right, Coutinho on the left with Suarez playing forward. perhaps playing Suarez in a False nine position would have given me better results.

    • I prefer “play out defence” because I really hate seeing defenders blasting it up the pitch, I’d rather witness the odd passing mistake than giving the ball away like that. Suarez should do a fine job as a false nine, you might want to try that.

  5. i tired already and failed miserably. can you pls create one for me?

  6. thx a lot johnny your the best as always!!

  7. I have been using this tactic with Atletico Madrid. I changed one of the BBMs to a AP to fit Arda Turan into the team as he is my best player. So far this is working well and helping me to create more chances. Has anyone else tried this?

  8. Can you tell me what is your general training focus ?

  9. Hi Johnny,

    Nice one, I always like your tactics, I will use this one for my first save :)

    Thanks for creating it

  10. I guess the significance of the player roles plays a big part in the good old 4-3-3 too…I like the new system so far…lots of tweaking even without sliders…This is a great tactic and when defensive strats tire me(till now i use tactics similar to darren’s) i will give it a try…Great read…

  11. will it work with counter?

  12. any news on the 4231? :P

  13. kk np i will wait

  14. training , match prep ?

  15. Hey Johnny…I find that my F9 is taking way too many long shots. He’s rated 3.5 stars for the role. Best I’ve got. Any ideas?

    • Maybe he has long shots among his preferred moves? The striker would take such shots now and again but not too often because of the player instruction. Try to put another player in that position or work in individual training to remove that preferred move if it exists.

      • He has no preferred moves set and his lowest attribute for a F9 is a 12. He does have a 10 for decisions though.

        • Then I guess you’ll have to wait for him and the others to get used to the tactic (or for SI to release a new patch in case all this shooting against instructions is a bug).

  16. The first thing I noticed was what seemed to be an abundance of team instructions but in fact didn’t complicate things at all based on those results :) Villa looked like a nicely compact unit and a 4th place finish is very respectable.

    • Thanks Kevin, I guess we could have pushed for the title with just a bit better squad depth and a few less red cards.

      • Ha, I came up with exactly the same tactic! I used anchor man and poacher instead, as well as an attacking playmaker but everything else was the same. I was Newcastle. Won the Premier League in my first season with 29 wins and only two defeats. I won my last 13 league game in a row haha! God knows how. And we made the FA Cup final, but lost on penalties to Everton. I signed Balanta and Jonathan Silva, sold Santon and Ben Arfa, Cabaye was player of the year and we had the best defence.

  17. Wow those results are outstanding! i support villa aswell so I no what im going to be doing after this. Thank

  18. I have a tactic that you may want to review? Where do I join the queue if there is one?

    • We’ll start to analyse tactics soon, most likely right after the new patch for the game will be released. We’ll have a post explaining how to submit your tactics and so on.

  19. Could you remake this tactic to this new FM14 system?

    it was by far, one of the best tactics i’ve ever used

  20. Great work mate, seems like a solid tactic and I’m sure I’ll give it a go at somepoint.

  21. Just an opinion. Is this tactic “best” suited for a top team or a average team in PL compared to the 4-5-1 tactic of yours?

  22. Thanks Darren for this great job. I’ve tried this tactic with the season started with Espanyol and it’s really working great. I’m on the cup’s final (with Atletico and Valencia on my way) and 6th on the Liga at just 3 points from the champions league. What I like the most is that seems that almost everybody in the team can score and without being so weak on defense. Really working.

    I sold Moreno for 20 m € and I got Balanta, Samper, Lucas Romero and Zivkovic. Not bad for a team without transfer budget.

  23. Thanks for the tactics. I made a few tweaks (retaining possession at home), changing one of the BBW to DLP and the Regista to Anchorman for more forward action at home. Pretty nifty, but tends to invite a lot of pressure at the last 25-30 minutes. Switching to counter to defend a lead seems to do the trick :)

    • I think you get some pressure during the final minutes with any tactic because the opponents bring more men forward when behind on the score board. Good to hear it’s working with those tweaks.

      • Just a quick update that I completed the first season with Middlesbourgh and managed to clinch 1st place in the Sky Bet League with 3 matches to go. I didn’t really change the squad significantly and simply beefed up the defenders in the team. The strikers and everybody are pretty much the same,

        Only possible issue (not really) is my low scoring, with only 70-ish goals scored (but pretty good) but the outstanding part is the 29 goals conceded. Excellent defensive record considering there are 46 matches. The striker part was partially my fault; I had crappy strikers lo who are ill equipped to play false nine.

        Can’t wait for the premier league season to start and probably update if having a set of weaker players for the league. FYI, i changed back to the default formation setting given by this site.

  24. Looks better than your previous Tiki-Taka tactic – more chances, better defence. Can’t find a proper SK though. Guess Szczesny is ok with this role, but I’ve sold him to Barcelona right before reading this article =)

  25. Do you use counter mentality when you play away against very good teams (or you a being an underdog) ?

  26. Say if you are using a player like Lamela on the right, to take full advantage of his fantastic ability could you change the amr to attack instead of support?

  27. This tactic is awful. I played it with Southampton, in seven games I lost 5 and 2 draws. It really sucks. Worst tactic I ever played

  28. what kind of players would you use in box to box roles? i mean more defensive or more offensive oriented? maybe you could provide some examples. thanks

  29. I have been using this tactic with aston villa like you, did good results, its still early but gone unbeaten to chelsea and united.. but the thing that im worried about is too much injuries, every single match i got one player injured with this tactic.. training is average, and i rotate players.. so far 8 players injured including benteke, so is this tactic depending on high stamina or something becouse on other tactics i dont get injuries that much..

    • Injuries can be caused by lots of factors but not so much by tactics, the perfect example is that I had a more or less normal number of injuries through the season I played with Aston Villa.

  30. What about the instructions to full backs???

    • There are no instructions for the full backs but you can add as many as you want if you feel that is necessary, I didn’t feel the need to add any for any of the four defenders.

  31. Is it important that the keeper is a sweeper keeper?

    • I have chosen that role because the keeper will need to sweep up balls behind the defensive line when needed. You can try to change the role to goalkeeper to see how it works but there might be some problems when the opponents drop the ball behind your defence and your goalie won’t rush out to sweep.

  32. Ok thanks I won my first game 8-2 away to Crystal Palace the team seem so aggresive and the overlap helps for crossing Delph is immense he grabbed a hatrick. Hopeful i’ll have a successful season.Have u done any more seasons?

  33. I appreciate the time gone into this, but it worked terribly for me. If you don’t have 2 players who are good in the inside forward position, there is no point trying this tactic.

    • I agree, or at least one of the two should be good (Albrighton in my case at Aston Villa). Much of the attacking play relies on the inside forwards, if they can’t deliver chances are the team will struggle for chances and goals.

  34. Pretty nice tactic mate! your hard work made Newcastle finish 2nd in my first season. 2nd season, 6th.. Its a little tricky tactic though.. One thing i cant understand, is that my strikers, dont get average rating anywhere near 7.. Cisse: 16apps,3goals.. Doumbia:14apps 4goals.. i cant figure this out.. ive also tried to change their roles, in case they fail to play as False9 in this tactic, but again, too low performances.. Any advice??

    • Thanks, glad you have good results. It’s quite curious that your strikers haven’t scored more, Benteke bagged lots in my save. However, if the striker creates chances for the team mates then it’s all good. I don’t mind the player ratings, I want results ;)
      Moreover, you have to watch the games and try to understand why the striker does not perform. Maybe he misses chances, then you need a better striker. Or maybe he doesn’t receive the ball often enough, in that case his role or abilities to move off the ball might not be what you need or maybe the team mates don’t do a good enough job creating chances for him. And so on, I could continue for hours :)

      • I got the same problem with my Liuverpool save, Lewandowski cant score, he is always below 6.3 rating.. Its december now and he only got 1 goal and he started almost every game so far.. Any advice? Maybe he is not suitable for this tactic, or am i failing somewhere else? my top scorer is BBM and its very weird that player like him cant score. I am 4th right now, but got a lot of draws becouse of failing to score, but tactic is good generaly, safe at back, only the striker issue concerns me. thanks

        • Can’t score or doesn’t get chances to score?

          • Doesnt get chances to score, only sometimes from distance, its strange because leiva, gerrard, sturidge and coutinho are all set on suport duty and top scorrer is gerrard, Actually i tried this tactic on aston villa before and benteke scored quite a few goals, but i believe lewandowski should score even more than him, only its not working because of some reason..

          • It is strange indeed because Benteke scored quite a few in my save as well and I agree that Lewandowski should do even better. You can try to change his role, maybe try trequartista or defensive forward as those two roles wouldn’t change the shape of the team too much. You can also try poacher or advanced/complete forward and see if anything changes.

  35. Check out a post on fmbase by the username of jonathansmith. With the post called 352 D-WING(match engine breaker). This tactic is fenominal i have tried with top teams in prem and champ in england wiv relegation battle mid table and title challenge n this works for all of them. Seriously check it out it is sweet

  36. Hi Johnny!

    What adjustments would you normally make to for example team instructions if your team is behind? Thanks

    • Depends on the tactic but the first thing you can do is change strategy and/or add some instructions like “pump ball into box” if you have attacking players that can dominate the opposition in the air. With this tactic I wouldn’t make any adjustments, it’s fairly attacking anyway.

  37. Hey, iv been playing fm since day one, CM and all that, and i hate to say…but ur tactic is sick, im even ashame to admit as i always do my own thing but this time i was struggling, i got ur tactic and im 23 games unbeaten with Napoli with a average team… well done.

  38. What about for crossing the ball is there any specific instructions for this? Thanks

  39. What do you if you team is behind? what changes du you make on you tactic ?

  40. Does this work on the lates patch?

  41. I’m trying this with Sutton United, have tried similar but with two DLPs in CM and a playmaker as AM with ok results. I used the DLPs as I wanted them to win the ball back and clean up to avoid being hit on the break but like your use of regista and two more attacking CMs.

    • Good luck, hope you get good results with it. I prefer the regista role because it’s slightly more aggressive than the DLP but the position on the pitch is more or less the same. The two CMs should also help when defending.

  42. Hi Johnny,

    First of all thank you for the detailed tactic and instructions. I basically followed to the dot since I don’t have much time to investigate around by myself (busy familiar life :)).
    I chose the team of the city where i was born and raised in Portugal. This team is in the last division possible, something like National Conference League and I’m going half way of the season in 2nd place.
    What I noticed is that the results are a little bit unpredictable. For eg. I won against the 1st by 3-0 and the next game i lost against the last one by 3-1.
    So basically my question is: Is this tactic applicable also for lower level teams such as this one i picked? Or should i need to “tweek” it to adapt to a “different reality”
    Once again thank you so very much for the excellent thread and tactic. They’re very good.

    • I have tried it with a lower league team and I had the same problem, totally unpredictable results. I don’t know if it’s because of the tactic though, one game it seemed to work perfectly and the next game the players seemed to play a whole different game, not obeying instructions in the first place. So I’m not sure whether it’s the tactic or the game or maybe a little bit of both.

  43. Hello. Is there any profit of using my forward as CF(support) and not F9 in your model? Still can’t get the plot of this new player role…

    • The F9 should do more in terms of linking up play and dropping deeper towards midfield, that is why I have chosen that role. But, as with any changes in a tactic, you can’t know for sure what happens until you try :)

  44. Hi Brill tactic im using it with stockport all iv done is take high tempo off and I running away wiv the league! Target man aswell instead false 9 lower league are not ready for false 9′s

    • You have made a wise choice because lower tempo is generally more suitable for lower league teams, higher tempo sometimes makes such team make too many mistakes. I can see the target man choice working as well.

  45. Will it work with a target man instead of a false nine?

  46. Could I use this with a target man instead of a false nine?

  47. Hello again, John!

    Have you tried to add “Be More Expressive” and “Roam From Positions” tactical features? Guess it can be good for a high-profile team with a lot of creative players but unfortunately I can’t see the difference and my ball possession slightly decreased (played 2 months with these 2 new add-ons).

    Best regards, Alexey.

    • Yes, I have tried those but eventually gave up on both. “Roam From Positions” would be a bit redundant anyway since the players that I want to roam are instructed to do so via individual player instructions.

      • Thanks for your tactics, I’m getting frustated and try to find what is the best tactic for my liverpool. I used jhordan rhodes as false9 and he is a monter

  48. hi jhonny karp , i am a big fan of urs and darren and i love how u guyz create tactics and it works like a charm , i am currently using ur tactics with Blackburn and it working very well and I am on Top of standing ..
    could u give some insight about the training for both team and individual ..for team how mutch should the slider be

  49. Hey Johnny! I am also a fan of yours for a quite some time now. Here is my review so far of the tactic. I’ve been using it from the get-go in my Freiburg save and I am now 10 games into the second season.
    We started the first season very well and by the winter break we were 5th in the league, through the group stage of the Euro cup and still in the cup. By that time we had some extraordinary results like beating Valencia 7-0 in Spain and returning from 3 goals down to win 7-4 against Dortmund again away. But after the winter break all hell broke loose and we’ve only won one game. I don’t blame the tactic for that 100%. Despite being a veteran in this game (playing since the mid ‘90s) I probably did something wrong. Also after watching the goals I must say that something is wrong with this version cause players just walk through my defense and score. And my defense ain’t that bad. Also bigger teams were unsettling our players so I had to sell some of them.
    So far in the second season we’ve been doing again well, being 5th in the league once more. Let’s hope we don’t have a déjà vu of last year’s performance.
    I still have mixed feelings about the tactic. Our strikers don’t score a lot. I’ve got Alan from Salzburg since the start of the game. He is considered a good striker and last year he scored 9 goals in 37 games. On the other hand it does help wingers score. Pilar ended with 13 goals in 38 appearances. What I’ve noticed is that we do create chances but not clear cut ones.
    Also our defense is letting in a lot of goals. Especially late ones.
    Since we do create chances and it does give us possession in the game, it might be lack of quality that is the problem. But if that is the case it pretty much makes it unviable for smaller teams. The problem starts with the player roles needed. It’s hard to find good False9s, registas and box to box midfielders cheap in the game.
    I hope people don’t misunderstand me. I am grateful for all the hard work. I am just pointing out some problems I faced. I will continue trying it and see if by getting better players in, it improves. Thank you Johnny for your all your work.

    • Thanks for the review Nik. Unfortunately it’s quite difficult to say how much is due to the tactic and how much to the game flaws. Testing went well with Aston Villa but then I tried it with another club and had the same experience as you, good results up to a certain point and then, for no obvious reason, things went the other way around. I can’t really explain that so I guess I’ll wait for the next patch before trying out any other tactics.

  50. Hi Johnny Karp.. i am about to try your tactis but i wonder how el ahmadi and westwood can contribute? should i just play them both as BBM role or can i change the role? since both are considered AP.. thanks John

  51. Was again getting ok results with this, around the bottom of the playoffs then made some tweaks and won the last 12 out of 13 coming second and winning playoffs. Changes that worked well for me were

    Much higher tempo
    CWBs istead of WBs
    Half back instead of Regista to compensate for this
    Deeper def line and no offside trap (always seem to get caught at lower league without this)
    CF instead of F9 (Slabber is too good at coring from crosses to have dropping deep)
    Also sometimes played the wide guys as wingers or advanced playmakers if they were more suited to that role.

    I also switched between this and an identical formation except the front 3 were an AM and two CFs (one complete forward and one poacher) depending on whether oppo was weak at CB or full back.

    I found that I restricted the opposition chances alot more following these changes and created more clear cut chances as the wing backs attacked more, I do have 2 CBs that are way too good for the league though which helped clear up if I was left short. Oppo often seemed to not even leave a man up when defending though which meant I didn’t have to defend much.

  52. Still as Sutton United btw – see my post above.

  53. hello jhonny ,
    u r tactics been amazing bro , i got promoted in first season itself from championship to premier league , i dominated the championship league with around 108 or more (dont remember ), . i have been using counter in away and home matches to tough opponent and where we are not favourite to win ,its works very well .. .. started my premier league season too defeated liverpool and got a draw against tottenham both using counter mode .. , i m hoping to avoid relegation this season .. i m managing blackburn .. can i use more creative player in BBM to create more chances. signed fiero i think he will be awsome as false 9….i m having a bit difficult with set piece during corner i have been using 6 yard box delivery .. should i use near post option ?
    need some help in corner and can i use creative midfield player in BBM position

    • Glad to hear you had good results. Yes, you can use a more creative player in that position, as long as he can also do his part at least decently on the defensive side. As for corners, I always prefer near post delivery with the best heading player set to attack near post, another to attack far post and another to challenge the goalkeeper.

  54. Great tactic! Got me out of trouble. Ive used it for 3 games and these are the results:
    Man Utd 2-1 Chelsea
    Man Utd 2-1 Arsenal
    R.Sociedad 0-1 Man Utd

  55. Whenever I played a top 4 team (Man U, Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea) I always use the same tactic, but with counter. It worked really well, I even beat man u 3-0 away.

    • I had an amazing season after getting blackburn promoted ,, got 9th position in my 2nd season ,could have achived more if my striker had scored ,.. getting difficult in set pieces unable to scored more and my striker is always taking long shots ,he doesnot have any long shot ppm.. any suggestion jhonny .. j rhodes is my striker and back up striker is fierro

      • I’m having the same problem, striker and not only him shooting against all logic and instructions. Since I can’t find the logic behind that I’m unable to find a solution…

  56. Not having much success with this since the latest update as dominating games but not scoring enough so does anyone know any good tweaks to score more with the chances you create?

  57. Hi Johnny,

    I haven’t played FM in a couple of years, but I’ve been curious about the new game and recently downloaded the demo. I’m aware the demo version might not be the best way to test to the formation but I am terrible when it comes to making my own formations, so thought I’d give this a go.

    I started with West Ham. I figured they were a similar enough side to Villa to make this work. Because I was more interested in just seeing what the game was like rather that getting too indepth with the transfer system, I hired a director of Football and set him to make all transfers.
    With the limited funds, we only signed one player, David Nugent for £1.6m. He’s probably not ideal for the false number 9 position but up until the demo finished, he was our top scorer with about 9 goals. Back up was Petric, who also did ok when he had a run in the team.
    We suffered a lot of injuries along the way so I didn’t always have the luxury of a full strength squad. Another problem I had, and I’m not sure if this is a bug or not, but I couldn’t register players like Matty Taylor and Kevin Nolan as home-grown players?? Again, this left me with quite a weak squad. I hope this has been fixed for the main game.

    Although my results were a tad random (fought hard and drew 1-1 with Man City a way, only to lose 2-1 at home to Sunderland) and I noticed that I’d commit a lot of fouls, ending up with quite a few yellow cards. I put this down to the ‘hassle opponents’ setting and the team not having the quality to do this effectively. Players like Noble and Collison were perfect for the the DM and CM positions, and Reid and Tomkins were fantastic as the two CB’s.
    I finished the demo in 10th place, definitely overachieving for the side I had. When I eventually do get the full game and make my own signings for West Ham (cheap, youngsters most likely), I will more than likely stick with this.

    One final questions, with the two IF’s, do you play them on their natural sides or do you prefer a left footed player on the right and vice versa?
    Great work on the tactic mate, I’ll definitely throw in some more feedback when I get my hands on the game.

    • Usually I prefer to play the IFs on their natural position but sometimes I try to switch them around during a match depending on what’s happening on the pitch. I didn’t have any squad registration problems so I guess that was a demo flaw that won’t happen in the full game.

  58. The tactic has been working great, but since the 14.2 update, it has rendered it useless. i even started a new game with Spurs. pre update i finished 2nd in my first season, but the new game i am beingsacked after about 10 games. are there any modifications, and has anyone else found this problem?

  59. avoid it! is there any way i can revert to the old patch?

  60. Hi Johnny

    I tested this tactic with Liverpool (which imo is one of the most frustrating sides to manage on FM14) and is predicted to finish 6th in the league. Finished second in the league, two points behind the winners Chelsea. I had the least number of losses in the league as well as the least number of goals conceded testament to how defensively sound this tactic is. Only missed out on the title because of too many draws. Chelsea, the champions had 9 losses against my 5 but I accumulated a frustrating 11 draws.

    As I’m typing this, I just won the FA Cup against Arsenal. With few more quality additions in the summer I reckon we could really push on for the title in the next campaign. Fingers crossed.

  61. what are the main attributes needed for the players ???

  62. Nice guide, I’ll be using it on my Arsenal career and seeing how that goes. Just a question or two though, do you man mark specific players and use opposition instructions? and have you tried retain possession and pass into space tactics?

    • I haven’t used man marking, assistant took care of opposition instructions. I have tried those two but eventually eliminated them as I felt the team would do better without given the other instructions.

  63. I’ve tried this tactic with Arsenal, this tactic is unearthly good. I have never ever had 2 straight seasons without losing a single match. It’s like cheating, but the challenge now is to see how much more i can stay on this flawless streak.

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing tactic

  64. Excellent tactic mate. Just started a new save as Lazio, and so far we only lost 2 matches in Serie A, out of 10 played. We also beat Juventus in Super Cup Final, albeit on penalties. We just won against Livorno, 3-0 away from home, had a 2-0 win away vs Fiorentina as well, and have yet to lose a match in Europa League group stages. The squad I have is largely the same, I only brought in one CD, and one LB.

  65. This is kind of like Johan Cruyff’s 4-3-3 diamond.

  66. Very good tactic. Thanks mate!
    I’m using Everton right now & win game against Manchester United 3-0.

  67. Hi Johnny new to this site and first post. I find your ideas really interesting and constructive. I like to start lower level teams and for this venture have gone with Colchester. Good training and youth set up 3 starts for a league 1 side, no money to spend but a decent squad to play around with.
    At the moment am half way through my first season so will test your tactic with my youth team and start using with main squad at start of next season. Do you think any major tweaks will be needed or should i just use it get it fluid at end of pre season? I do the training myself so am looking forward to the challenge.

    • Thanks. Normally I only make tweaks to a tactic after having tried it for a few games, it’s difficult to know what to change before watching the team in action. Best of luck with your team!

      • Due to injuries i have had to implement your tactic with my first team squad now as already fluid the only change i made was to remove the offside trap and change the DC’s one is BPD Cover the other CD Defend works a treat. Have won 4 from 5 and that includes beating 3 of the top 5 i am now in March 2014 and 2nd in League one with Colchester.
        Would say that the tactic must be fluid due to the complex movement of the team instructions a really solid tactic and congrats Johnny will finish the season and report how i done.

  68. Hi,

    I have tried implementing this tactic to my Real Madrid side (my 1st save since I got the game). The tactic is almost fluid with my players but have noticed some things already (I’m in the end of September). The defence is solid, all the goals that I have received were from set pieces where Casillas was a dumbass.

    I have an overwhelming possession and A LOT of chances, even CCCs. However, I score quite rarely, even against mega-weak sides. Ronaldo, Bale, Isco etc. are shooting METERS away from the goal even when they are close (so not long shots), they hit the crossbars countless times and all the opposing GKs are supermen and can catch rebounds even if they’re on the other side of the goal.

    I’m playing Isco/Bale as IFs on the right, CR as IF on the left and Jese/Benzema as F9 (will try to get Vela asap). Modric/Khedia/Alonso are the BBMs and Alonso/Illaramendi/Casemiro are the registas.

    I use the same team and player instructions. Any suggestions? Or should I just be patient until they gel a bit more?

    • LOL, guess what. Minutes after I posted this, I smashed Atletico with 6-1. I guess patience was needed.

      Even when I was frustrated by the lack of proper finishing that is expected from RM players, I have to say that this tactic plays really beautiful dominating football. I think the dumbassery of some players is due to the ME, not the tactic itself, so thank you very much for creating a tactic to help get a handle on FM14, so maybe on my next save I can make my own.

      • Thanks, patience is always a good thing to have :) I obviously used some logic and principles when designing this tactic but the game can be unpredictable at times, from terrible finishing to really curious ways to play the ball in defence.

  69. Would you recomend this tactic for Crystal Palace or are they just so poor that the instructions wouldn’t work?


  70. Season over and finished 2nd in Division One so promoted :-). Went down to the final game and won 2-0, with an average team Colchester no transfer budget and making only minor tweaks this proved a very solid tactic both home and away. As posted earlier i removed the offside trap and altered the defence settings and when i have better defenders i will try to reduce the goals conceded?
    I managed to keep very few clean sheets(would post a screen shot but have no idea how to) but this is more down to average defenders than the tactic, however the front 4 score enough goals to balance that out so for a 20 game run it works fine for me and proves that very average teams with the right tactic can do great things, thanks Johnny.

  71. Just wanted to give you some kudos and thanks! I was looking for something in the 4-2-3-1 / 4-3-3 mold that would fit my players and wouldn’t give me heart palpitations, like my homemade tactics tend to. Amazing really. This was so similar to one I was trying to use but with just a few tweaks: my IF were on attack and I didn’t have play out of defense or offside trap. But MAN, the DIFFERENCE! Started using this on promotion to Lega Pro 1 Divisione in Italy, and I haven’t lost in 15 games! (I do use counter when I’m not comfortably favored on the road, and retain possession when closing out games, but that’s pretty much it.)

    I mean, I find it completely amazing that just a few small tweaks can make such a difference, especially because the changes you made fly counter to most of the advice I’ve seen about creating tactics. No one on attack? Pffffff. Easy. :)

    And my players are amazingly appropriate to this tactic (no pure playmakers, good inverted wingers, slow creative strikers, limited fullbacks (can’t play WB)) so that helps a lot.

  72. Using a similar tactic with some modifications (wingers, not IF,Target not false 9) , which is effective to an extent.
    What are your feelings regarding playing deep defenders rather than trying to play offside? With offside i find myself conceding a lot of goals to direct passes in the middle

  73. Just wanted to pay the compliment for the best tactic I’ve used playing Football Manager. However I should point out I have used the tactic with the Mentality on Counter rather than on the recommended Control as I’ve had greater success with this minor tweak. Won various league titles playing this tactic, Serie A (AC Milan), Premier League (Chelsea & Liverpool), along with a couple of Champions League titles & international football competitions. So truly the plaudits go to you

  74. Any updates on this for 14.3?

  75. what an amazing tactic, Johnny. love how the wingers create much, and my midfielders are my top assisters, and im Cardiff. thank you!

  76. still working fine after the update?

    • Some readers say it does, I haven’t tried it after the update.

      • can you prove it again to have your opinion? and if u see that the tactic lost efitience or you considere that the tactic need some fix or something you can update it :) also i already downloaded haha but you create this tactic and onli you can judge if is OK or not.

  77. Hey man! I used your tactics and altered it a bit. The tactics is OK, but I do tend to lose against some mediocre teams constantly. It is weak against counter attacking.

    I have my MC (box to box-support) with same instructions as yours, except for the one more attacking one. He doesnt have a shoot less. Then I have the DM set as regista. Both wingers are Inside Forwards and Im using the Striker as an Advanced Forward. Instructions are yours.

    It is funny how the team manages to win against Dortmund and then be totally destroyed by Werder. 3:0 in the first 20 minutes. I receive goals from crossings, corners and free kick crosses.

    My players are: Murriel as striker, left wing Iancu or Inui and right wing Tadic. MCs are Strootman and Bertolacci and regista Marrone. DCs Balanta and Munoz and LB is Ricardo Rodriguez and Jung as RB. They are full backs, set to automatic.

    As I said. The tactics is working OK, yet sometimes I tend to lose against weak teams.

    Latest results were: W- 2:1 Dortmund, L- 0:3 Werder, L-0:1 Hannover, W-4:0 Schalke, L-0:1 Bayern.

    Any suggestions on how to twerk these settings to better my team?

    • If you concede from corners and free kicks I guess tweaking the tactic won’t solve the problem, maybe you should tweak the defensive set pieces set up or train that in match preparation.

  78. One team instruction I have found I needed to add was “Stay on Feet”. Without it My players were constantly getting yellow card bans and red cards which was the only thing stopping this tactic from working for me but over all it’s fantastic.

    Played a career with Adelaide United then moved up to Hertha BSC and had a lot of success, just pipped Bayern and Schalke to the title last season

  79. what can i play my striker as to score more goals with this formation, as a f9 doesnt seem to score much goals

    • Depends on the striker you have. Changing the role would change the shape of the tactic though, I guess you’ll have to try a few roles before you find what you want.

  80. Finished 3rd in Serie A with Hellas Verona (just promoted, predicted 19th) in my first season with a similar tactic. Works like a charm. 4 points against Juventus, 6 against Inter, 3 against Roma are some of the results.

  81. just found this tactic on a google search, and my oh my is it good. im doing an ajax challange right now (winning the champs league with youth from the academy, only being able to buy former players that developed at the club), and so far im 1st in the eredivisie with 45 pts, scoring 35 and conceding only 7!!! at the start i was worried about conceding much, but 7 goals in 18 league games is superb. in the champs league im doing fine, went through my group first and unbeaten. as for my goalscorers, my striker has grabbed 8 goals in 21 apps, not too shabby. my wingers do score a lot also, so the goals do flow.

    looking forward to your next tactic, i would love to try it!

  82. Hi Johnny,

    Thanx for the great tactic. I have a lot of good results with my team Feyenoord. I even won the Europa League again :-)

    I have one question; What is better, a inside forward with his right foot on a flank or a inside forward with his weak foot on a flank

    • Depends on the player. If you have a winger that likes to cut inside and shoot then it’s better to have his strong foot on the inside (right foot on left wing and left foot on right wing).

  83. I’m currently using this tactic with Wolves in League One. I’m in my first season and it’s working well in terms of limiting opposing chances, dominating possession, and creating chances, but I can’t score. Winning lots of games 1-0 or drawing 0-0. Any tweaks to make it more offensive?

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