FM 2013 Tactic Review: Screwby’s 4-2-3-1

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written by Darren Smith

Hey guys, and welcome to another FM 2013 tactic review. Today’s tactic is intriguing on so many levels, from its name to the system itself, but before we delve into all that lets re-cap the testing process.

The testing procedure is quite simple: I will install the tactic and use it through pre-season plus six league matches with Spurs. Then I’ll watch each match closely, see what happens and come up with the best review I am capable of. I will also keep track of various statistics in order to be able to compare the essential numbers between this and other tactics that have been or will be analysed. It will be more or less like a benchmarking tool for FM 2013 tactics.

Today’s FM 2013 tactic review is code named DEEPFRIED CHICKEN and evolves around an attacking 4-2-3-1, lets see what Screwby’s tactic is all about.


deepfriedchicken 4-2-3-1 , formation

The formation is a 4-2-3-1, commonly seen in modern day Football and yet a shape that many FMer’s struggle to gain success from. While Screwby has assigned roles for this tactic, you should note that every player has individual instructions.

The back four are simple, then we have two MC’s with support and defend duty, both wide AM’s are assigned the winger role while the AMC is an attacking midfielder with support duty (he really can run the show.) Finally we have a poacher upfront.

Going back to the individual instructions, you should note all advanced players are set to take long shots rarely. But the most interesting setting is the marking. Both centre backs are set to not mark tightly, while the AMR, AML and ST are all assigned the opposite (different to the default setting.) The attacking midfielders try to find a man, tracking their opposite number back down the flanks while defending (very much like Robben and Ribery did in the Champions League against Real Madrid.) The defenders just sit and wait until they have to make a tackle, as a result your defenders always keep a good line and aren’t drawn out of position.

Team Instructions

deepfriedchicken 4-2-3-1 , team instructions

Team instructions make a difference here too as Screwby assigns a fluid philosophy with control strategy. The passing is short, the marking zonal and the team is asked to press their opponents. What initially worried me was the defensive line, it seemed very high and the tempo fairly slow, I thought this might lead to a loss of possession due to the MC and AMC been asked to hold up play, which could see the opposition pick their pocket and launch a deadly counter attack. Was my logic flawed, or will this cause a problem, keep reading and we’ll find out.

Average Positions

deepfriedchicken 4-2-3-1 , average positions

The average positions show a high line indeed, there’s lots of space between the GK and the back four, so it immediately becomes visible that this tactic must be based around possession retention, or it could fall flat. The system looks very organised, every player has plenty of passing options.


deepfriedchicken 4-2-3-1 , defensive movement

The screenshot above shows Spur’s just seconds after losing possession of the ball. It’s obvious that the individual player instructions work well. Every attacking player has turned around and begun their sprint back to defend. However, you’ll notice every defender on an angle, meaning they are also tracking back, not closing down the ball and been drawn out of position. What this does is give their more attacking teammates plenty of time to get back and help win back possession.

Seconds after taking this screenshot, our MC tackled Watson and regained possession, this happened on countless occasions. Most notably the AMR and AML track their opposite number well.


deepfriedchicken 4-2-3-1 , attacking movement

This is where the DEEPFRIED CHICKEN really comes to life…sorry, I had to get that in somewhere :) The ST, AMR, AML and AMC have wide play set to ‘move into channels’. This creates some lovely movement. The MC’s and AMC tend to hold their position in a triangle, playing the ball around, just waiting for one of their more attacking teammates to run off the shoulder of a defender. The AMR and AML can move into the channels with ease due to the full backs charging forward in support also.

But how does this tactic keep possession so well? Because all four of the attacking players move into channels and provide clever movement, they drag the opposition all over the pitch and usually quite deep into their own half. The two MC’s then hold their position passing the ball around carefully.

The back four always get very close to the MC’s also, this leads to an endless string of passes on the halfway line, just awaiting that killer ball. I think the hold up play instruction for the supporting MC and AMC is very important here too. The match highlight below demonstrates this well and proves my initial fears for the high line wrong. Without the high defensive line this wouldn’t work at all, just click the link below, you’ll see what I mean.

Possession retention – click here to see match highlight


deepfriedchicken 4-2-3-1 , results

Good results but slightly deceiving. Spur’s had countless chances to score against Swansea and due to three or four very key injuries (including Bale and Walker) the match was a draw. The 3-2 victory against Sunderland was utter domination and the opposition were incredibly lucky with their goals.

I think the key here is a draw away to Chelsea in which both teams were even, yet Spur’s looked to have an edge. Then the 5-0 victory against Aston Villa showed this tactics full effectiveness.


Goals scored: 15 (2.5 per game)

Goals conceded: 4 (0.67 per game)

Shots on target for: 7.17 per game

Shots on target against: 1.5 per game

Clear cut chances for: 1.83 per game

Clear cut chances against: 0.67 per game

Half chances for: 3.5 per game

Half chances against: 1 per game

Ball possession average: 58.67%

Very impressive statistics, this tactic matched the highest amount of goals scored, provided plenty of chances and is the second best in terms of possession, second only to Poobington’s 3-4-3. You can compare these stats to other tactics in the FM13 Tactics Index table, this is used to compare the stats from all our reviews. Now lets analyse the main pro’s and con’s of Screwby’s 4-2-3-1.


Exceptional ball retention

Amazing link up play, leading to attractive Football

Fantastic unity between MC’s and defence, they just pass the ball back and forth, never panicking (see screenshot below.)

deepfriedchicken 4-2-3-1 , building from the back

Can be caught out with balls over the top (seen rarely though.)

Without a quality AMC and self assured MC’s retaining possession will be difficult.

Forward four can dwell on the ball a little too much, almost like Barcelona.

Suggested Tweaks

This system is very specific, its so organised because all the individual player instructions are set for a reason by Screwby. In as much I would struggle to recommend tweaks without testing the effect of those tweaks first. However, I will mention that Screwby asked me to lower his DC’s closing down to the first step of ‘stand off more’, at the moment they are set to ‘own half’, unfortunately I’d already tested the tactic before this request.

FM 2013 Tactic Download

Download the 4-2-3-1 FM 2013 tactic by clicking on the image below:

download link

After downloading the tactic follow these simple steps to install it in FM 2013:

1. Put the downloaded file into this folder: Documents>Sports Interactive>Football Manager 2013>tactics

2. Start your game and go to your team’s tactics screen.

3. Click on the little arrow located to the right of your starting tactic name, move your mouse cursor over “archived tactics” and select this tactic from the menu.

Well another great FM13 tactic tested and onto the next one, over to Johnny. But until then I hope you enjoyed this review and encourage you to comment below, thanks for reading.

Please note We won’t be taking any more entries from you at this point because we already have plenty of tactics on the waiting list. Here’s what’s coming up:

1. Ryan Daly

2. Aleksandar Kiselinov

3. Bigmac

4. Vinay

5. Mantorras77

6. Paris

7. Deano

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72 Comments on "FM 2013 Tactic Review: Screwby’s 4-2-3-1"

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Thanks for this. Been looking to implement something like this for months – trusting that the Tactic Creator with shouts will do but how wrong was I. This is a lot better. Tactic Creator is overrated in my opinion, especially if you really want to get your team to play possession football.


Usually the Tactic Creator is good in my opinion. I believe that simple is the best. You need a vast amount of knowledge on this particular playing style to create something like this.


With the high defensive line and having a keeper like Lloris surely changing his role to a sweeper keeper might would cut out the occasionally ball over the top?


Im not sure if its me that is doing it wrong but with this tactic, its just so “leaky” in defence, especialle those ball over the top. Im quite in need of anger management from all the late goals the opposition gets from over the top balls :P. But i was hoping someone would have a suggested tweak in mind for clearing those up. The main problem it seems are when the ball comes in over the top, there is no one defending on the far side and thats where i conceede goals……….maybe trying the “stand off more” for defenders?
I do like the tactic very much and would like it to succeed :)


I have tested this tactic in six league games with Chelsea. So far very stable and good. I have not changed on the defensive line, press, etc. yet but are looking to lower the pressure a bit.
The results so far;

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Cheers ;)


Oh shit, I almost forgot my tactic was being reviewed this weekend! haha.

I was actually surprised by the good results. Possession tactics like this often takes a lot of time for your team to get used to.

I enhanced this tactic over several seasons with my Crawley Town FC that consisted exclusively of regens. So my team on my save consists of player with high passing, technical and creative abilites, therefore it works brilliant for me.

As the reviewer mentioned I actually changed down the closing down on of my central defenders recently before the review because I noticed my defence was a bit to vulnerable for counterattacks.

The tricky part when creating this tactic was actually to raise the effectiveness of my AMC (Playmaker). I noticed when I set AMC to ‘hold up ball’ he waited for my wingers and striker to start their offensive runs and it worked brilliant for me. In my last season my AMC contributed with 35(!) assists in the league.


umm…what shouts are to be used for this tactics??


I should add that I usually don’t use this tactic against teams that plays with a player in the DMC-slot. The space between the opponents midfield and defence is crucial for the AMCs effectiveness. Instead I use a similar, modified 4-3-3 (4-1-2-2-1), in which the two MCs has similar instructions to the AMC in the 4-2-3-1.

One should not really use a target man with target man supply ’to feet’ unless you have the right player for it. In my team I have striker with BRUTAL technical abilities and dribbling. I use him as a target man to really get the most out of his abilities. In some games where my offensive play ”gets stuck” he offers an extra dimension to my attacking play (similar to Messi in Barcelona).

I also want to mention the left central defender, on my save he have won the golden ball two times with an average of +8.10.

And finally, how did the set pieces work? In my most recent season my two defenders scored 10+ goals EACH in the league.


Hey, Screwby!
I was wondering if you could upload your second tactics to somewhere (the one you use against teams that play with DM)
Thanks in advace


Yes please upload the DMC variant as well!


Any recommeded shouts?


I usually don’t use shouts, at least not from the beginning of the game. Although it happens sometimes.

When defending a lead at the end of the match: ‘Retain possession’ + Lower tempo and more time wasting

When I need a goal: ‘Hassle opponents’ + Less time wasting

When I have a comfortable lead but wants to score more: ‘Hassle opponents’, ‘Play out of defence’, ‘Play through defence’ and ‘Work ball into box’


Ok ;)
Any other tweaks ‘n’ tips? :P

Tham Mun Wai

Wow, this tactic is amazing. Used this for my arsenal save and it is already working wonders for me. Almost played for half a season and i am still unbeaten. What’s more amazing is that i am playing with mostly youngsters. Thanks a lot for the tactics.

Elliot Mac

is there any chance of getting screen shots of the player instructions? managed to get that malware that doesn’t allow me to download anything, safe or otherwise

Elliot Mac

yeah that’s what im thinking. thanks for this, very kind!


This is simply the finest tactic I’ve seen since the game was released. Tight at the back – even more so when the DC’s closing down is lowered, as suggested above – excellent going forward, great at retaining possession and the goals and football are great to watch.

I’ve put this in with an Inter squad in 2012-13 that is short of quality and ALWAYS fails to measure up when managed by the AI (I’m sure everyone has witnessed Stramaccioni getting sacked by Christmas in almost every save) and we’re top of the league after 10 games. Milito is leading the scoring in the Poacher role.

The scary thing is that the side is just getting comfy with playing this style and I’m almost scared to see how lethal this will be after 2-3 seasons and some better players.

Great review, too.




It’s nice to hear it’s working so well for you!

About the PPMs, ALL my players have PPMs suitable for their role in the starting 11.

D R/L – Plays Short Simple Passes (Optional, depends on what type of fullback I have)

D C – Plays Short Simple Passes

M C (Defend) – Plays Short Simple Passes

M C (Support) – Comes Deep To Get Ball, Dictates Tempo, Tries Killer Balls

AM C – Moves Into Channels, Dictates Tempo, Tries Killer Balls, Comes Deep To Get Ball

AM R/L – Moves Into Channels, Plays One-Twos

ST – Moves Into Channels, Plays One-Twos, Places Shots

I’m implementing my tactic on another save right now with your idea on the fullbacks. To compensate the counter-attack proneness when the fullbacks are attacking, I dropped down the two central midfielders to defensive midfield. I use the same player instructions, except I changed the ‘Run From Deep’ and ‘Run With Ball’ instructions to sometimes for the right DM (The more defensive one).

I don’t use a designated playmaker at the moment either. I don’t want my team to be dependent on one single player.

Thanks for the feedback btw, appreciate it!


DC’s closing down is lowered, as suggested above?
How much should I lower “closing down”?


would you recommend this or the 4 5 1 with fluid attacking football for a team like roma? they have a lot of good inside forwards and this tactic utilize wingers. but it looks solid


Do you think that this kind of defense (no tight marking for CB) would work with other tactics? Kind of like an universal tactical defense.


The no tight marking for the CBs is used by me exclusively when I use a possession tactic with a high defense line.

I ‘ve been experimenting a while on 4-3-2-1 with mixed results and that’s when I tried yours to see how it works.First I ‘d like to say that I try it on a mediocre team that lacks great players because I believe that’s where a good tactic really shows its potential. About your version I really like the idea of tight marking for the attack players something the AI does a lot and leads to some easy interceptions in the midfield or counter-attacks at best.But a drawback in your tactic defensively is the no tight marking for the 4 in the back because then the AI throws its “wing play+run at defense” while swarming the middle which leads at easy runs towards your box – I was thinking of making the full backs tight marking so that the centre backs could sweep any dangers towards the box. Attack wise it mainly uses 4 players to attack as the two CMs mainly hold and pass around.So unless you have some class players upfront (like it is in my case) you can’t create easily.I tried to give the AM “run from deep sometimes” which led to some key passes and chances in… Read more »

In my newer versions of this tactic I use tight marking for the fullbacks!

‘Run from deep sometimes’ on the AMC is in my opinion a total destruction of his purpose. The AMC is just supposed to move horizontical in the pocket and receive balls. He is the link and brain in the offensive play. The AMC is probably the most important player in the team. A playmaker with high creative and technical attributes together with PPMs is unstoppable.

Even though the striker has the role of a poacher, his purpose is more than scoring goals. Just having a striker by the opposition central defenders makes them busy and opens up space for your wingers and offensive midfielder. The striker makes the opposition defense static.

Hey Screwby ( and the rest of you ) I was wondering how you would tweak this formation to use two inside fowards, and if you think it could work, i’ve been running a 4-1-2-2-1 and decided to go with this tac since i’ve aquired som great AMC. I’ve tryed it for some time with two inside fowards and it’s working ok, not great though, seems like i’m missing allot of deep runs from my inside fowards even though i’ve set wide play to deep runs on both, the reason i want to play it with inside fowards is because that i’ve got the players for it, and i would like to avoid having to change that since i run the 4-1-2-2-1 with if when i’m playing abit more deffensively or if the opposite squad is having a good DMC. I’ve also set the AMC to advanced playmaker with and removed the run deep instruction for him to stay in the pocket, i’m not sure if it’s a bad idea since hes playing great ( rating wise ) but he’s realy missing someone to fire those though balls to. ohh and one more thing, i’ve changed the cm(support) to bwm… Read more »

The default roles of the tactics creator are insignificant, they don’t change anything since the player instructions in my tactic are entirely custom made.

The two wingers in the tactic works like inside forwards since the tactic is very narrow and the player instructions are similar. However I would not recommend you to change the ‘Run From Deep’ instruction of the wingers, if you do that the wingers takes a lot of unnecessary offensive runs leading to turnovers in possession. I prefer to have their ‘Run From Deep’ instruction to ‘sometimes’ and let the creativity of the player decide what is best for the current situation.

I have also experimented a lot with the ‘wide play’ instruction. I have never really managed to utilise the ‘Cut Inside’ instruction effectively and figured that the ‘Move Into Channels’ instruction works better for possession tactics. I hate to limit my players offensive movement, I think the ‘Cut Inside’ instruction does that. It gets quite one-dimensional and crowded in the center of the pitch when playing an AMC parallell to the wingers if ‘Cut Inside’ is used.


Question for you FM veterans. I bought Moi Gomez for the future of my team. I was going to teach him “try killer balls” and “dictate tempo”. Both option were available but after he learn “try killer balls”, “dictate tempo” is no longer an option. What could have cause this?


I figured it out. A player needs 15 in work rate to learn dictate tempo.


no I mean teamwork

Michael Barry

I’m having huge problems creating chances with this tactic, I’m dominating the games in possession, but can’t seem to get into dangerous chances


Blackpool – Brighton 0-2

61-39 posession.

Michael Barry

Amazing season, simply amazing.

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My squad:

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Isaac Vorsah, 27 games, 8.06 average rating, best in the league
Alvaro Negredo: 46 games, 20 goals, signed for £6M
Lacina Traoré: 54 games, 29 goals, free transfer
Alexander Kacaniklic: 32 games, 10 goals, £3M
Alen Halilovic: 60 games, 10 goals, 26 assists
Branco Van Den Boomen: 63 games, 2 goals, 27 assists

Pretty impressive for those players, Halilovic turned out to be a fantastic winger, those are his stats at season 2017:

comment image Simply a must buy

Van Den Boomen: Bought from Ajax at the age of 15 for £5M

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Big thanks for this amazing tactic. Took some seasons to learn it and find the right players, but well worth it.


Do you use any OP instructions? or do you let your ass.mgr set instructions for OP?


Maybe this question already have been asked but will you make/recreate this amazing tactic for FM14?


I really hope you make it, the last tactic was awesome!!! and I love the 4-2-3-1 formation.


“I’ve managed to create something similar to the Deepfried Chicken with some good results. I can send it to you if you’d like.”
I would like to try it if it’s ok?