FM 2014 Tactics Guide: The Effect Of Player Movement

FM 2014 Guides

written by Darren Smith

FM 2014 Guide

This is our first FM 2014 tactics guide, a little late I know but there’s a good reason. I’ve been testing tactics on FM 2014 for weeks now, every night and weekend pressing that sticky little spacebar furiously, just to see if my tweaks and modifications have spawned something that doesn’t suck. Nine times out of ten I go to bed disappointed, laid on my back for an extra hour before the sand man comes to carry me away, just pondering where it all went wrong and plotting my next move.

Yes I am sad, one of the many who lose sleep over a computer game. What drives me to continue and persist in the face of defeat is you guys, I get a thrill from creating good downloads and tactics, but also the odd enlightened read, something to change your perspective.

Well, this article certainly won’t provide you with an unstoppable tactic in the form of easy answers and downloads. Instead I want to share a few opinions. Partly on player roles, how they can transform a tactic and I’d like to address everyone’s perception of positional play and player movement. We’ll delve into the age old debate of picking roles for the tactic or picking roles for players.

Please note what is written below is all one example, mainly of how I see tactics but also specific examples to help you visualize how you could form your own system. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to tactics, there is just the way that gets you the results you seek. I believe visualizing each players movement is the way forward and I just want to show you how that works for me in one specific example.

FM 2014 tactics guide – Perception of positions

The beauty of tactics in FM is we can all visualize positions, roles and how they interact in our own way. Sure there is a description for each role, but how each player will interact in your tactic, within his position and considering his assigned role can be tough to judge…not to mention we then have the added stress of other players getting in the way of ones open space, or a player being stranded, doomed to lose possession time and time again. The word ‘balance’ comes to mind, find that and you have yourself a tactic.

I have tried to find balance in lots of different systems and using various positional combinations and a pattern has arisen in almost every successful tactic I’ve created this year. I generally don’t position players in ‘the hole’, that being all attacking midfield positions and all defensive midfield positions (ie AMC, DMC, AMR etc.)

For most gamers that can be a bugbear, due to the fact many talented players prefer playing in these positions. There is method to this madness and that comes in the form of a players starting position and his subsequent movement through the three phases of play.

For example, I recently created a flat 4-5-1 which some may visualize as the image below.

FM 2014 tactics guide, defensive positions

However, I see tactics in two stages. The first been defensive and the second offensive, the image above represents how a team will line-up without the ball, which looks very stable defensively and seems to have a lot of bases covered. You’d be right to think ‘well look at those gaps in the attacking third, there’s a lot of space left uncovered. For me that isn’t the case, I visualize the image below as being how the system will look on the offensive.

FM 2014 tactics guide, offensive positions

I have purposely only moved the players that get involved in the attacking phase of play in one way or another. The flat midfield includes four players’ assigned roles to actively move forward during the attacking phase. Suddenly the wingers positioned in MR and ML have become attacking midfielders, the advanced playmaker originally positioned at MC has become an AMC. I think you can see where I am going with this.

To summarize, if I was to give starting positions of attacking midfield to those three players (the MC, MR and  ML,) then defensively we’d be losing out and the system would be far less stable. But because of their roles they naturally move into their preferred positions for the attacking phase of play anyway, which is when they need to take advantage of their best traits. We’ll break this down in the next section.

FM 2014 tactics guide – roles control movement

I don’t see roles purely as an indication of what my players are expected to do in their position, for example, be the playmaker, or score a shed load of goals. I actually focus more on where that role will make my player move. Tactics are all about shape and as soon as that whistle blows, your system will disperse into chaos depicted by the roles you select. As I’ve already said, the formation you select can only dictate where your players start each phase, but once the ball is in play that all goes out the window, roles are how we control the shape of our formation from then on.

Let’s start with the MC position. Lots of people have asked me to create a tactic using the AMC role, usually based around the 4-2-3-1. The main reason for this is due to the amount of talent that enjoys these positions as their preferred station on the pitch. My issue is and always has been the ease of which your opposition can mark this chap out of the game, combined with the fact he can do little defensively.

I actually visualize my advanced playmaker positioned at MC as an AMC. Makes no sense but his duties are exactly the same, only difference is he starts all phases a little deeper than his AMC counterpart, which gives him more room to move around the pitch and poke openings. Not to mention he has more space in front of him to attack direct. I know some of you may think the AMC option is better because he can easily attack with the striker, pushing beyond the centre backs and you’d be right, but so can the MC, he can attack as far forward as he likes and his natural position during the transition phase will always be ahead of any other MC role, so if you want staggered passing options that base is still covered too.

FM 2014 tactics guide, mc staggered passing option

So, I now have my own version of the AMC position filled, in the form of an MC, but what about the AMR and AML positions that we love so much. I featured them heavily in my tactics for FM13 and to great success. Again, this is a position that just hasn’t worked for me this year. My alternative is the MR and ML positions, just a little bit deeper yet they don’t offer any less going forward and can provide a lot more defensively.

The other negative some may draw is that a player who prefers the AMR position with a role of inside forward will be left footed and can’t work if just dropped back to MR. This isn’t correct though, I have personally done that and seen the player cut inside and attack the defence just as the AMR does. Only difference is his starting position is deeper, offering more defensive stability.

In some cases you don’t even need to set a player instruction for him to cut inside, he’ll naturally do that seen as it brings him onto his strongest foot. As a result, he can choose to cut inside from the halfway line, ergo evading any full backs, or dribble along the flank before cutting inside further up field…this is more flexible than using an AMR, because the winger at MR can cut inside based on multiple opposing formations, no matter where the opposition would stop him going central he can find a way around the problem. The MR has much more room and space to choose the right moment to cut inside and find his way infield unopposed (see below.)

FM 2014 tactics guide, mr movement

And just to cap this section off, a heat map of my flat 4-5-1 in action. The image below shows the average position of each player in my formation, highlighting what I have explained…note we dominated possession in this match, hence the positions on average were more inclined towards our attacking shape, which turns into a 4-2-3-1.

FM 2014 tactics guide, av positions heat map

FM 2014 tactics guide – tactic over players

I have always been a believer in the tactic takes president over individual players. Yes the two go hand in hand, but for me you should always adapt a position around the tactic as opposed to one players preferred role, within reason of course.

This year there is added emphasis on using the right players in the right roles and yet I still find that adjusting roles for players doesn’t work, at least for me. If roles dictate player movement and you wanted that player to move in a particular way within your system then changing the role will change the movement and in turn a system that works.

Of course, you are wasting your time if every single role is filled with players that can’t play the position or fulfill the duties. The ideal scenario is where you can buy new players to suit or at least accept under par performances for a year while the player learns the role and adapts or until a new player can be bought. What I am saying is that its better to maintain the stability of the tactic over one players average rating and performances.

For example, in my Toon Army save I have two players that prefer the wide attacking midfield positions and a role of inside forward. They are not natural in the MR and ML positions either. Instead of changing my system I will make them learn the position I expect them to fulfill. As mentioned both my players like to cut inside, if my tactic didn’t suit that then I’d have a big problem, so its all about finding the right balance and what adaptations you can and can’t expect from both your tactic and your players.

Equally, if like myself you enjoy the movement of a false nine then you are left with a conundrum. A false nine is like an AMC and needs attributes including very good long shots, creativity and passing etc. There is barely a mention of finishing, dribbling and physical attributes, but of course these are very important too as this guy is a striker at the end of the day.

So what do you do, fulfill the requirements of the role, or go for a prolific striker hoping he’ll also play the role well. I ended up going 50/50, having a forward who can shoot reasonably well from range and link up play OK but his main attributes are as a poacher, so in essence he’s a creative poacher I guess. That is just another example of a question I may be asked that can’t be answered, its all about finding your own personal way around problems and if they don’t come off, learn from the mistake.


The focal point of this post was to show you all how player movement can transform a tactic. Everyone wanted a 4-2-3-1, well in my opinion they already have it in my flat 4-5-1. I used this thought process to create my best tactic yet and I am trying to implement it into my next tactic also. But how will you use it to create yours?

Well, that should do for now I do hope you enjoyed this FM 2014 tactics guide. Feel free to leave any comments below and as always I’d truly appreciate any shares and likes on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, you can do that by clicking the icons at the top and bottom of the post. Thanks for reading.

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55 Comments on "FM 2014 Tactics Guide: The Effect Of Player Movement"

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Pedro Roriz

great read darren. this is a great subject for discussion. i also feel this year the familiarity player-role is more important than the previous version and i also felt that balance is the key note to this year’s tactics. that’s why i’m not doing well with 4-1-2-2-1 (a 4-3-3 with wide men) as those wide men offer little it terms of defending if you don’t set them to mark the FB.
i tried a 4-3-1-2 with 2 WB, 1 BWM, 1 BTBx, 1 DLP and 1 Shadow attacker. my two upfront are a poacher and a false 9. it is really kicking in as the false 9 drops deep, grabing one of the CB’s attention, and the shadow attacker has lots of space to either run to goal or delivering that through pass to the poacher. but that’s it, apart from that, i’m pretty much sucking with other formations.
have you tried anything with 3 cb as of yet?


Gaurav Chaddah

Ah Darren what a read mate, brilliant. I agree with that and it’s great to see the amount of depth you put into this. Interesting point about the MR and the AMR… I’ve also seen the AMR playing as a inside forward especially just doesn’t seem to cut it this year, they missed 9/10 chances however the MR position seems to have much more success, I have Lamela for that position and he is up their as one of my top scorers.

Good point about the 4-5-1 being the 4-2-3-1, maybes I can finally give Chelsea a crack with your 4-5-1 ;)

Gaurav Chaddah

This article has really got me thinking about trying your tactic with Chelsea but I have a question, basically I have Juan Mata who would play in the AMC role however now I would need to play him in the centre midfield as a Advanced Playmaker, he was all the attributes suggest he can play in that role but it says he is unconvincing in the MC position, same for Willian from AMR to MR, would you just ignore this and just play them their? Hope that makes sense.

Karol Sen

I think that you just have to give it a try, and hopefully after a few games they wil get better on this positions. Of course you have to set those positions i their position training ;)

Pedro Roriz

i tried it with internazionale, sticking the player to the position despite his ‘red bar’ for that spot on the pitch. it has double effects. i’m talking specifically about rodrigo palacios here: as a ML (winger role) he was really good when decided to cut inside and shoot, but the distance to the goal grew and as he is not fast it crushed his goal scoring form. it also adds up to the fact that he can’t track down FB due to stamina and marking being lowish.
the upsides were that he made the FB cut inside, since they faced his opposition, and my MC could tackle them. Another good thing is that he could make direct long beautiful passes to the forwards that used the flanks, whilst geting up front just seconds later only to receive the ball back when he was facing directly the box and had little opposition (the CB followed the forward that went to the flank). as he shoots from long range quite often, it became a routine of scoring in long shots form him.
i’m quite not sure if all in all it was a good or bad move as of yet.

Lucijan Troha

First of all, thanks Darren for a great article. I totally agree that this year player roles are much more important than in previous versions.
Second, I also was intrigued to try this tactic with Chelsea. And I also am not sure who to use in MC and MR position, but am thinking about a bit different approach. I was thinking of training Oscar for the MC position, Mata for the MR, and Willian for ST as a False nine.
What do you guys suggest, should i train them like Gaurav suggested or should i stick with what i was thinking?
I just asking this because i don’t want to ruin any players :)

Johnny Karp

Great work Darren! Getting the roles right is essential when creating a tactic in FM 2014 and I fully agree that you have to understand player movement in each role in order to know what you’re doing.


I saw some interesting threads on another fm forum last year about ultra defensive tactics. You’d have a standard back 4, but the midfield would be DMs with wing backs as the wide-men, and the ‘strikers’ would be MCs and they had huge success. Which I think from the perspective of how we would want the game to work is a big negative when you consider ‘player roles’ and how they seem to want them to work.

Pedro Roriz

it also happened in the opposite direction. having an ultra forward formation, a 4-2-4 if you will with a flat line across the opposition’s box. the game will see the 2 wide men as forwards and, therefore, you’ll won’t be able to rely on them to defend much. so, it is not possible to have sth like a daniel alves or neymar for barcelona, who are so offensive in some games that they position themselves beside messi or the CF, trying to break the line in speed, and ALSO have them track down and defend in the middle. at least i haven’t been able to do that.


Great write up Darren. You have done a great job in explaining how the players role can affect the tactic. I always love it when you write up these guides and tutorials. I guess this is the fun part of the game, testing and experimenting various tactic and players role which is successful. For mw, i always decide on the tactic 1st and adapt the player role to it.

Like what you say, there’s no right or wrong with this one, it’a a matter of whether the tactics works.


What an article man….excellent…a great insight in the new tactical model…i failed miserably too trying to create different tactics and finding the best for each save…i findthis years variety and difficulty to be refreshing and challenging….keep up the good work…

Divij Jawarani

One question. Your player roles for ML and MR are wingers or wide midfielders? And also support or attack? Valencia is a boss at MR but that Cristiano Ronaldo just doesn’t want to defend at AML.


Personally i prefer a tactic with only three defenders, this so i can put a full pressure o the opponents defense


Great reading. I also found the 4-3-3 difficult this year, so I experimenter and ended up with an overload 4-3-1-2, where I had 2 CWB and 2 DLP with support to have the wings covered defensively, the two CB were changing according to the oppositions attack formation and the attack consisted of an withdrawn Treaquista, a Poacher and a False Nine, whose only purpose was to throw the opposing CB’s into chaos. The CM was generally a BWM.


Just forgot to mention, the three MC’s I had, the BWM (defend) with the two DLP (support) with the right players are “the Wall”. Effectively, with the CWB’s support, I had games when no one was able to pass through (70+ % possession for my side and 0 shots on target for the opposition).


A lovely read, thanks!

Your point about formations only being relevant without the ball is very true and I think once people start thinking along the same lines as you they’ll get more joy from tactics.

It’s early days in my Arsenal save with your 4-5-1 tactic, but it’s looking promising. Giroud has 5 in 3 and really replicates his real life play – dropping off, looking to link play etc. Only Özil, Walcott and Podolski need retrained for the midfield roles, with Cazorla and Ox already very solid in those ML/R positions. I think this formation is a really good example of everything you said in your article.

It’s 10 am on a day off work here in sunny south east asia, I think it’s time to brew some coffee and load up the laptop!


I’ve only tried a few different tactics with Crewe. 4-2-3-1 didn’t happen for me, 4-4-2 with AML and AMR has done ok at times but I’ve had incredible success with a variation of 4-5-1 using a holding midfielder instead of CM and the AMR/AML wingers. Wingers have been excellent for me and my AFC(Mpenza) scored prolifically in League 1 which I won in my first season. 6 games in to the championship with same tactic and I’m top, Nahki Wells now scoring for fun. Once I establish them in the premiership I will try more attacking again but this is probably the sort of way to go when building a team up.


Really interesting and thought provoking read. Thinking that little bit more about positions, tactics etc, just shows what a benefit it can bring. And like you say, you set a formation but once the whistle blows it basically changes instantly. Thanks, Darren.


Good read mate. I too was struggling with tactics on this year’s game, not able to play my favoured style of play (either 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-2-2-1 barca-esque style) however I’ve recently managed to change this and have got them to work. I’m just using CM, DM and AM instead of any of the other roles like AP, DLP, BBM etc and it’s working a lot better now. Personally I’ve just found Inside Forwards totally useless as well! Most striker roles have been a bit disastrous too but Target Man seems to do amazingly. Just wondering what your overall thoughts are on whether SI have made most player roles a bit obsolete on this year’s game? Like I said, I havent got any tactic to work until I just started using basic CM, DM and AM in my central midfield positions


I had the same feeling. I started my Tottenham save with my tactics from FM 13 which won me tons of stuff, then I was losing to Cardiff :( . Still working on it.4-3-3 seems to be working for me for now, I hope it continues working :P

Topcu baba

It seems really good tactic. I’ll try it, but I want to learn that, which roles did you give to other 2 MC players ? Thank you.. :)


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Jonathan Atkinson

I used this as Hull City, my home club, and worked great. I only signed Whittingham, and signed lukaku Amos on loan too.

Jonathan Atkinson

Just asking, do you still have your scarborough career? Cos it might be intresting to post the PL to Conference N&S


Hi mate,really good read. I have been playing fm for years now but have never struggled with tactics as much as i have on this years.
Im am a Liverpool fan and have been trying to start a game with them but they dont really have any decent wide options and there cm options are limited. Can you suggest any options other than the stated 4-5-1 above.


Hi Darren,
are you guys doing a tactical review this year, simmilar to the index on fm 13. have created a tactic, and was wanting a second opinion of how it could be improved or where weaknesses were with it.