Best FM 2014 Tactics: The Surprising 4-3-3

FM 2014 Downloads

written by Johnny Karp

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.

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  • comment avatar Glw November 10, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      4-2-3-1 can be with 2 DMs and 3 attacking midfielders, or 2 CMs and 3 AMs, almost endless possibilities.

  • comment avatar Glw November 10, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      I tried something like this in the beta version but couldn’t make it work, might give it another go later.

  • comment avatar Glw November 10, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      Why don’t you try to create one? You might do a better job than I would.

  • comment avatar adi November 10, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Glw November 10, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      I’ll see what I can do.

  • comment avatar Glw November 10, 2013

    thx a lot johnny your the best as always!!

  • comment avatar Will November 10, 2013

    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?

    • comment avatar adi November 10, 2013

      should be alright. perhaps a DLP will be a safer bet while an AP will open up your defense a bit more at the expense of your offense. do be careful while against much stronger teams though.

      • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

        Adi is right, AP is a bit more risky but it should work against most teams.

  • comment avatar qwerty November 10, 2013

    Can you tell me what is your general training focus ?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      I don’t know, training was handled by the assistant manager.

  • comment avatar omocha10 November 10, 2013

    Hi Johnny,

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

    Thanks for creating it

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      Good luck, hope you get good results with it.

  • comment avatar Stan November 10, 2013

    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…

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      Thanks Stan, I hope you enjoy it. You are right, the roles are very important in the new tactics system in FM 2014.

  • comment avatar Tahir November 10, 2013

    will it work with counter?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      As I said in the post, I have started with counter for away games but then gave up on that strategy, was too defensive. I only used counter to defend a lead during the last 20-25 minutes of certain matches or when down to 10 men.

      • comment avatar Tahir November 18, 2013

        okay thx!its been great for me!amazing!!

        • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 19, 2013

          That’s good to hear, thanks.

  • comment avatar Glw November 10, 2013

    any news on the 4231? :P

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 10, 2013

      :) I can’t create a working tactic in a few hours mate, it will take some time. I haven’t even started working on that to be honest :)

  • comment avatar Glw November 10, 2013

    kk np i will wait

  • comment avatar Sven November 11, 2013

    training , match prep ?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 11, 2013

      Handled by the assistant manager, already said that in the post.

  • comment avatar Mantorras November 11, 2013

    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?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 11, 2013

      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.

      • comment avatar Mantorras November 11, 2013

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

        • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 12, 2013

          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).

  • comment avatar kevin November 11, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 11, 2013

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

      • comment avatar John November 11, 2013

        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.

  • comment avatar micheal November 11, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 11, 2013

      Good luck, hope you get good results! Try to get a few good players on loan, you need a bit better squad depth.

  • comment avatar Jordan November 11, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 12, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Marwin November 12, 2013

    Could you remake this tactic to this new FM14 system?

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 12, 2013

      I’m sure Darren will try to do that but it’s quite difficult to remake FM 2013 tactics in FM 2014 due to the tactics system change.

      • comment avatar Darren Smith November 12, 2013

        Oh how I have tried :) Unfortunately that system just isn’t consistent enough this year, but I will keep trying.

        • comment avatar Marwin November 13, 2013

          Please Darren, you can do it! :P
          I’ve tried, but failed badly

  • comment avatar Gaurav Chaddah November 12, 2013

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

  • comment avatar a November 12, 2013

    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?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 13, 2013

      I really have no idea. Both should work with any team if you have the right players.

  • comment avatar JFK November 13, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 13, 2013

      It’s Johnny, not Darren this time :) Glad to hear you got good results.

      • comment avatar JFK November 13, 2013

        Ooops! Sorry, I think it was too late last night! What do you think of Lucas Romero playing CTT in this tactic? tnks Johnny

        • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 13, 2013

          Should do a fine job in theory.

  • comment avatar Impz November 13, 2013

    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 :)

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 13, 2013

      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.

      • comment avatar Impz November 18, 2013

        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.

        • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 18, 2013

          Well done, congrats on promotion and best of luck in the Premiership!

  • comment avatar Alexey Petrushchenkov November 13, 2013

    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 =)

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 13, 2013

      The previous tactic wasn’t mine, it’s Jack’s :) Anyway, hope you get good results with it.

  • comment avatar a November 13, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 13, 2013

      No, haven’t used counter to start games, regardless of the opponent (we were underdogs almost every time for that matter). I only used counter during the last 20-25 minutes when I needed to defend a lead.

      • comment avatar JFK November 13, 2013

        Do you change the the instructions when you shift to counter attack?

  • comment avatar matt November 13, 2013

    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?

  • comment avatar Kris November 13, 2013

    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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 14, 2013

      Thanks, please create a better one.

  • comment avatar j.v November 13, 2013

    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

  • comment avatar aston78 November 14, 2013

    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..

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 15, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Sangeet Narayan November 15, 2013

    What about the instructions to full backs???

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 15, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Michael November 16, 2013

    Is it important that the keeper is a sweeper keeper?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 16, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Michael November 16, 2013

    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?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 16, 2013

      No, I haven’t played after finishing the first season.

  • comment avatar Chris November 16, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 16, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Markos76ers November 19, 2013

    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??

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 19, 2013

      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 :)

      • comment avatar noeoeoe78 November 19, 2013

        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

        • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 20, 2013

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

          • comment avatar noeoeoe78 November 20, 2013

            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..

          • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 20, 2013

            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.

  • comment avatar popnfresh November 21, 2013

    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

  • comment avatar Ian November 21, 2013

    Hi Johnny!

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 21, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Prodomme November 27, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 27, 2013

      There’s nothing to be ashamed of, we all need some help now and again. Glad you had good results with it.

  • comment avatar micheal November 29, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp November 29, 2013

      There are various player instructions for crossing, depending on the player role. But I’m not entirely sure I understand the aim of your question.

  • comment avatar PIRO December 5, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 5, 2013

      None, or at least I haven’t made any changes except substitutions.

  • comment avatar TheSeagull December 7, 2013

    Does this work on the lates patch?

  • comment avatar jeccross December 10, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 10, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Ricardo Ledo December 10, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 10, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Alexey Petrushchenkov December 11, 2013

    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…

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 12, 2013

      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 :)

  • comment avatar Alex December 14, 2013

    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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 14, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Jason hart December 16, 2013

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

  • comment avatar Chris brown December 16, 2013

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 16, 2013

      Alex has just posted a comment saying he tried that and it worked.

  • comment avatar Alexey Petrushchenkov December 16, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 16, 2013

      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.

      • comment avatar sursur December 17, 2013

        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

        • comment avatar sursur December 17, 2013

          Can i change false9 into poacher or other position? And how about the player instruction if i use poacher?thanks

          • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 17, 2013

            You can change the role to anything you want but I can’t guarantee it would work, you have to try and see.

  • comment avatar Rashmi Ranjan Patra December 17, 2013

    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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 17, 2013

      I have left the training entirely into the hands of the assistant manager.

  • comment avatar Nik December 17, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 17, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Benny Ipin Huang December 17, 2013

    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

  • comment avatar jeccross December 18, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 18, 2013

      Thanks for sharing those tweaks, good to hear they worked out well for you.

  • comment avatar jeccross December 18, 2013

    Still as Sutton United btw – see my post above.

  • comment avatar Rashmi Ranjan Patra December 18, 2013

    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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 18, 2013

      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.

  • comment avatar Lewis December 19, 2013

    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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 19, 2013

      It’s too early to say it works after just three games but I’m glad you’re satisfied with the results.

  • comment avatar Oliver December 20, 2013

    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.

    • comment avatar Rashmi Ranjan Patra December 21, 2013

      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

      • comment avatar Johnny Karp December 21, 2013

        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…

  • comment avatar Craig December 23, 2013

    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?

  • comment avatar Mike January 2, 2014

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp January 2, 2014

      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.

  • comment avatar jimmyd January 2, 2014

    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?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp January 2, 2014

      I haven’t tried it with the new patch.

  • comment avatar jimmyd January 2, 2014

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

  • comment avatar Ian Agate (@IanAgate) January 6, 2014

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp January 6, 2014

      Seems it went pretty well, nicely done and best of luck for next season.

  • comment avatar Sangeet Narayan January 6, 2014

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

  • comment avatar GunnedUp January 8, 2014

    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?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp January 8, 2014

      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.

      • comment avatar GunnedUp January 8, 2014

        Thank you for the extra info, the tactic’s doing well so far.

  • comment avatar Silvano January 9, 2014

    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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp January 10, 2014

      Good to hear it’s working so well, two seasons unbeaten is a half-miracle I’d say.

  • comment avatar Zack January 19, 2014

    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.

  • comment avatar Scott January 21, 2014

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp January 21, 2014

      Yes, it does resemble that set up.

  • comment avatar felipepessa January 23, 2014

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp January 23, 2014

      Good result, nice to hear it’s working well for you.

  • comment avatar thegooner65 January 23, 2014

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp January 23, 2014

      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!

      • comment avatar thegooner65 February 3, 2014

        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.

        • comment avatar Johnny Karp February 3, 2014

          Thanks, good to hear it’s working well for you.

  • comment avatar Izabella February 3, 2014


    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?

    • comment avatar Izabella February 3, 2014

      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.

      • comment avatar Johnny Karp February 3, 2014

        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.

  • comment avatar Tim Waterhouse February 4, 2014

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


    • comment avatar Johnny Karp February 4, 2014

      It could work with any team, you can’t know for sure until you give it a try.

  • comment avatar thegooner65 February 5, 2014

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp February 5, 2014

      Thanks mate, glad to hear you got promoted! :)

  • comment avatar PeeDub February 25, 2014

    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.

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp February 25, 2014

      Thanks, glad to hear you found it helpful.

      • comment avatar PeeDub February 25, 2014

        Really, the key is the IF on support but with lots-o-dribblin’. They’re *available* but they still have plenty of off the ball movement and plenty of attacking.

  • comment avatar Mik Bjerre Handberg February 27, 2014

    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

  • comment avatar elliot wilde March 30, 2014

    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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp March 31, 2014

      Thanks, I’m glad to hear it’s working for you. Using counter strategy is a good choice, it’s safer but still good enough in attack.

  • comment avatar Vass March 30, 2014

    Any updates on this for 14.3?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp March 31, 2014

      Not yet, on the other hand I’m not sure whether an update is needed.

  • comment avatar Daniel April 19, 2014

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp April 19, 2014

      Glad to hear you are enjoying it mate, I hope you will have great results.

  • comment avatar AndresRamirez May 8, 2014

    still working fine after the update?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp May 8, 2014

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

      • comment avatar AndresRamirez May 8, 2014

        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.

        • comment avatar Johnny Karp May 8, 2014

          I don’t know when (if ever) I’ll find the time to do that.

  • comment avatar Ruggo May 20, 2014

    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?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp May 21, 2014

      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.

  • comment avatar Alex May 24, 2014

    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

  • comment avatar shay May 26, 2014

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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp May 26, 2014

      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.

  • comment avatar Madego May 26, 2014

    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.

  • comment avatar Erik June 30, 2014

    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!

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp July 1, 2014

      Thanks, glad to hear it has been working so well for you.

  • comment avatar Marcel July 3, 2014

    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

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp July 3, 2014

      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).

  • comment avatar walcotteric July 3, 2014

    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?

    • comment avatar Johnny Karp July 3, 2014

      If you create chances it means the tactic is offensive enough, maybe you need players with better finishing ability to convert those chances.

  • comment avatar Hekdah September 1, 2014

    Can you Create a Tactic with Real Madrid

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