Football Manager 2011 my best tactic 4-5-1

archived posts

written by Darren Smith

Hey guys, today I want to share a tactic that has followed me around on Football Manager. We all try many different formations and tactics in the hope of finding the FM 2011 best tactic. Well my 4-5-1 has proven effective in last years game and Football Manager 2011, to date anyway. I have only tested it on the demo so far, but this tactic seems to work just fine. The beauty of it is, you can customize this to your own liking. Its very simple and should suit a variety of different players in different positions. My only warning would be that there are more attacking minded tactics out there, however this FM11 best tactic aims to get the best result out of the game (even if it is scrappy at times.) Anyway I have provided you with a FM 2011 tactics guide to my 4-5-1. The set piece guide will follow later after I have finished testing it.

4-5-1 Formation

I send my players out in a very simple 4-5-1 formation. Using my wingers as more attacking players rather than wide midfielders offers great support for the lone striker. Plus this helps get more bodies forward on the counter. I tend to keep a flat three in central midfield rather than pulling one into defensive midfield or attacking midfield. I find this helps my FM 2011 tactic flow better, my side can also dominate the centre more like this.

Team instructions, playmaker and target man.

Lets start with the team instructions. I always use the ‘balanced’ philosophy while managing a Premier League side. My strategy tends to change slightly depending on the opponents and whether we are home or away. A ‘standard’ starting strategy is applied if I think we can win the game. However, I use a ‘counter’ strategy if there are any doubts. I like to see my players make an effort and pressure the ball, so setting the closing down to ‘press opponents’ is very important. I find zonal marking a disaster, therefore only ever use ‘man marking’. Playing more ‘direct’ is also quite important, however this may depend on your team selection. I would suggest considering if your side are more like Arsenal (if so play short) or like Stoke (in which you need to be more direct.) Basically if they can pass the ball around well you may need to change this. A lot of Premier League pitches are huge and therefore benefit a more direct passing game to get in behind the defence. The defensive line, width and tempo below are my default settings. I only change these if coming up against a fast side or if my assistant recommends something the contrary.

Your playmaker and target man are very important to this tactic, they both make the team tick. In FM 2011 I would suggest carefully selecting you playmaker. Decide who can make the magic happen and only select a winger or attacking minded central midfielder for this tactic. I opted for Ben Arfa as he is my most technically gifted player and has been set to cut inside. There are two different options for a target man in my FM11 best tactic. Either a big strong striker with great heading ability and strength or a poacher with great finishing and pace. I have used the poacher option more recently because Kadlec is on fire. However aiming the ball to your target mans head can take advantage of a small side and bring other players into the game. I use this if my first option is failing to make an impact. The main rule is to set ‘target man supply’ to ‘run onto ball’ for a poacher and ‘to head’ for a proper target man.

Player instructions

This part is probably the most flexible section of my FM 2011 best tactics guide. It really is down to trial and error, however I will share with you what has worked best for me so far. Both the right and left defender should be set to ‘full back’. I find having one as ‘automatic’ or ‘defend’ and the other as ‘support’ provides a good mixture and doesn’t leave the defence too short staffed when going forward. The most important roles are in central midfield, two players should be set to a role of ‘central midfield’. The third midfielder can be the same or set a role of ‘advanced playmaker’. However I would recommend setting three different duties to this central midfield trio. One should have a duty of ‘defend’, a more versatile player should be set to ‘support’, while your most attacking player should have a duty of ‘attack’. With these duties your central midfielders should blend quite well and everything that needs doing in the centre is covered. I always set one winger a role of ‘winger’ and the other a role as ‘inside forward’. This way the lone striker gets more support. While we’re on the lone striker I only ever use two roles, these are ‘target man’ or ‘poacher’. The reason being because other roles don’t get the most out of my strikers in this formation. Obviously you should only set the role accoring to your players strengths.


As you can see I do not have a great side with Newcastle, such a small budget left me with two new signings. However using my Football Manager 2011 4-5-1 tactic, we have enjoyed an incredible start to the season. Obviously this tactic will work differently with other sides, but if it leads to results like these with Newcastle, I can’t wait to see what happens as my team improves.

Well that is it for today’s post, there will be lots more guides to follow in the future. I plan to look at set pieces, training and much more. Subscribe to this sites email subscription and don’t miss a thing. Please feel free to comment and I look forward to answering everyones questions. Thanks for reading guys.

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  • Sears

    Hey Darren,
    interesting post. As you know, I favor a basic attacking fluid 4-1-2-1-2 tactic. My team dominate possession and we create loads of chances. Though since were so attack minded, we occasionally leave gaps at the back for opposing teams to penetrate. When I started using the tactic I had enormous success on FM10. On FM11 I’d like o create my own successful tactic so this tactic guide will certainly help. Thanks.

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Sears, I remember your free flowing tactic well. We both have completely different approaches tactically which just goes to show how versatile FM is. If you manage to create a succesful tactic of your own I would welcome a post on it mate.

    • Symon

      nice tactics, i favour a 4-3-3 with no wingers as i prodomalley play through the middle as i have great passers, but i might try this tactic with my France U21 squad ;) thanks for the tips

      • Darren Smith

        Thanks Symon, well I hope it helps mate. :)

  • Sam

    Hi Darren!
    Your tactics looks great but I am using 4-4-2 with two wingers upfront. But looking at the results, the tactic is doing it’s job with an away win against Liverpool and a home win against Manchester City. My tactics right now is like 70% successful because sometimes it doesn’t work against a mid-table or lower teams. So, since your tactics has always been successful just like in Football Manager 2010, I bet this will be another great one.
    Thanks for the information mate.

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Sam, I dont think any tactic can be fool proof as every team has different weakness’ and strengths, its impossible for one tactic to exploit every teams soft spot. I have just found this the most consistent. Like you I also use a 4-4-2 and mix between attacking wingers and wide midfielders depending on the match. It would usually require my assistants advice to swap over though. Hopefully this mixture will serve me as well in FM11 as it did in FM10.

  • Birdy

    Hey Darren

    Very nice tactic with some very nice results. I normally use a 4-5-1 with similiar styles but when I play away I will normally use a very attacking 4-2-4 which will put the home team on the back foot straight away.

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Birdy, the 4-5-1 is just the most consistent in different types of games I guess. Thats a very brave away tactic you use…sounds like it could work though, unless of corse you get countered. I normally go the opposite way away from home and counter. Sometimes we lose but about half the time we manage a good result.

  • Kevin

    Hi Darren
    It’s been a while I know but my family situation in the UK continues to dominate. Anyway great job with the tactic and thanks for posting. I really like this new blog layout you have.

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Kevin, good to hear from you and I hope things are getting better. Don’t worry about not commenting, family comes first before anything else. Plus Im sure it doesnt feel right to comment and read these posts if you have problems as well. Thanks for the compliment on my blog, it took ages to do but I feel like its all worth while. Take care mate.

  • Pepe

    Hey Darren!

    Nice tactic you got! I am using something quite similar already… Two midfields instead of three and three central defenders. The two side defs are wing backs. Works great!

    Cheers from the province of Quebec in Canada!

    • Darren Smith

      Hi Pepe, thanks for the kind words, glad you like the tactic. Looks like you have made a useful tactic there…using wing backs can be very effective in certain formations. Thanks for the comment mate.

  • rocky

    I used 4-5-1 with 2 def mids and 1 adv playmaker with control minded on my manchester well,it gave me treble even the scores were most likely narrow..

    Now I am using QPR with the same tactic and find it hard to dominate even we’re on the right track to win the promotion..gotta try your 4-5-1..I’ve to get tied with leichester..cheers mate

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Rocky, although your 4-5-1 sounds defensive it is very successful, well done. The reason I use my 4-5-1 is because it is very flexible and seems to work in different leagues as well as the Prem. Winning promotion with QPR would be a great achievement so it sounds like your tactic is working OK. Hope my version helps though and let me know if its effective for you. Thanks for the comment mate.

  • Tom

    what would you advise when the tactic isn’t working?

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Tom. My 4-5-1 tactic works best when adapted to your opponent. So if your assistant recommends a deep defensive line or anything different to what I have put, change it. Also do not use my 4-5-1 tactic if the opponents play well against a 4-5-1…in this case it doesnt matter how good the tactic is as your playing to the opponents strengths. Lastly Id recommend looking through your players and checking if they suit the formation and tactic. If your players attributes work better in positions that can not be used within my tactic you should maybe use another tactic. The most important note is that every team is different and I have always found exposing the oppositions weakness’ is far more beneficial than playing purely to your teams strengths. Hope this helps a little and thanks for the comment.

  • ryanl lynch


    hope im not late joining this chat about tactics.
    i have created a tactic of my own which has given me great success
    i play a 4-4-3 with creative attacking football style
    my two centre back are of course defensive minded
    my two full backs support when they can.
    my 3 midfielders are all different, one is a ball winning centre mid, the next one is a box to box and is the advanced playmaker
    the 3 strikers are again all different, one is a target man, the next a complete forward and the other is a trequistra
    i let my players go out and play so i bought quite a few creative players but also made sure i had a few tackles to sure up my midfield
    thinkin about keeping a blog of game
    think i should?

    • Darren Smith

      Hi Ryan, your never too late to join a discussion mate. Your tactic sounds very attacking and I know a few people who have enjoyed huge success with the 4-3-3. It is a little difficult for me to use as I like to counter the opponents weakness’, but definitely seems to work for everyone else. I’d always encourage peps to blog about their games. It is a great way to share your experience with people who care. Let me know if you do mate.

  • Carlos Sadler

    You see what you need is a defensive midfeilder who can break up the play.
    Also Jonas should play as an inside forward he will miss some but also score some bangers.

    • Darren Smith

      Hi Carlos, I have messed around with using a DMC before but always revert back to my flat three. This just seems to be the most sucessful tactic for me. Although the DMC role does work better in Italy I think. I prefer to use someone with better attributes for the inside forward role. That is why I picked Ben Arfa, he scores more. Your points are very good ones though and I can see them working well. Thanks for the comment bud.

  • ryanl lynch

    hi darren

    thanks for your advice. im kinda new to this whole discussion site and blogs so i wouldnt know how to start a blog.
    any chance you could tell me how to start one,


    • Darren Smith

      Of course I will help mate. Its not too tough really and there are a lot of searchs on google that will provide a good tutorial. I would start by making a blog using blogger or blogspot as it is sometimes referred to. Google them, open an account and start making your blog. To get the basics maybe search ‘how to start a blogspot blog’. This will provide some easy tutorials for you to learn the basics. Anything else I can help with mate. This site was originally done using blogger, and I had no idea of what a blog really was before reading an ‘how to for idiots’ book lol :) I basically google searched everything I now know. Anything I struggled to understand I asked the more experienced bloggers out there. One in particular called Johnny really helped me a lot, and I have a lot to thank him for. I would be more than happy to help you Ryan, as I’d be stuck if no one would have taken the time for me.

    • Darren Smith

      ps maybe ask me the questions via email though. Otherwise the site may become cluttered with irelivant comments. You already have that so drop me a line when you need help.

      • ryanlynch

        Thanks very much mate
        sorry about that
        i’ll try and start the blog now
        i’ll let you know how i get on :)

  • angga

    hai darren smith.. saya angga dari indonesia..
    saya juga penggemar football manager 2011..
    tapi selalu kalah dalam bermain.. karena tidak ada formasi yang tepat..
    terima kasih atas saran yang anda tulis..
    salam dari indonesia.. :)

    • Darren Smith

      Thanks for the comment Angga. Picking a formation is always tough, but the more you play the easier it gets. I will be looking to do some more formations in the future and I am really glad this has helped. Good to hear from you.

  • garo

    hi darren i write you from italy, i’m a your great fan.
    iìm following your great game with newcastle
    wonderful success.
    can you send me your tactic, i’d like to download it and try to train my italian team, udinese.
    byebye and congratulations.

    • Darren Smith

      Thanks Garo, its always nice to hear someone enjoys the site. I will be doing a post very soon on my tactics with Newcastle. You’ll be able to download them from there. It will take a few days though so bare with me. Thanks for the comment mate.

  • Enaxa

    Hi there, i’m playing in Turkish first league so basicly i have a low profile team, i was just starting my brand new FM11, when i saw your post i want to shot the season with that one. In my first couple matches i lost to teams which is not good as mine, then i changed the tactic to 4-2-4, i swaped the 3rd mid with a striker after and keept everything else just like you suggested, and the magic happens, i had a 14 match unbeatable record ( 11W ), till one premier league behemoth in Turkish cup group stages carshed me.

    So i thank you for the idea and tactic, im willing to see your advise about training programme also.


    • Darren Smith

      Hey Enaxa, Im glad you could adapt my 4-5-1 and make it so successful in Turkey. Looks like you have found a real winner. That unbeaten run must have been very satisfying, well done mate.

  • Glenn Horman

    i used a 442 tactic however i used a a centre mid and defensive mid however they were angling each other, if you know what i mean! I will try one day to post a video on youtube of the formation if your interested Darren. Also using this tactic i got sunderland to fourth in the premership an outstanding show i say!

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Glenn, Ive heard a few people say they like that version of the 4-4-2. If you do make a video let me know and I’ll check it out. :) Getting Sunderland to fourth is very good…I think breaking the top four is quite tough, then when your there its much easier to do a repeat. Thanks for the comment Glenn

  • Ahmed Zaki

    Hey Darren, Some Great stuff you got here. I started a game with Blackburn and as i brought in more players I used a 4-2-3-1 formation where the two in midfield are both central midfielders operate defensively. Kind of like 2007 Milan team with an Aggressive ball winning midfielder (Gatusso) along with a deep lying playmaker (Pirlo). My Lone Striker is a target man in order to bring others into play. This is one of many Tactics I used, they all vary of course according to what i Have in my Disposal. What always confused me was how to approach each match if you now what I Mean. For instance When playing Arsenal i always thought of playing an aggressive and direct game because of the height of their defenders. I sometimes utilize the wings when playing slow full backs, however sometimes i get stuck with how to use statistics to play to the other team’s weaknesses.

    Thank You

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Ahmed, thanks for the kind words. We all like different formations and for some reason I always revert back to this 4-5-1. Sounds like you try to think about your opponents weakness’ which is very wise. I do the same, but don’t like changing my tactics drastically for every game. Good luck with Blackburn mate and I hope your tactic works well.

  • aron

    great tactic…how did you sign kadlec with newcastle?

    • Darren Smith

      Thanks Aron, glad you like the tactic. As for Kadlec, the screenshot provided is my Newcastle team from the demo game, he was very cheap then…the full version has seen his price rise a lot and I couldn’t afford him. Would recommend Araujo for a great young striker though. Not worldclass but quite cheap. :)

  • Timmy

    I hope it’s not to late to discuss some things
    first,how much you sign kadlec?
    second,is this tactic same with your 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 tactic posts?
    and the last,is this tactic works for 11.2 patch or 11.1?

    • Darren Smith

      Hi Timmy, its never too late to discuss a post or topic mate. In answer to your questions I think I signed Kadlec for around £1.2 million on the demo, however was been asked to pay £4 million in the full version of FM11.

      This tactic is very similar to my 4-5-1 and 4-4-2 post. Although this one was done during the demo and the newer 4-4-2 and 4-5-1 formation post is an up to date version for the actual game. This tactic will work on any version of FM11, but you need to bring in the right players and use the tactic in the right way…ie get your team talks correct and adjust width, def line and tempo when needed. Hope this helps.

  • Blogging Tips

    Hi I’m Elvin. What about uploading your tactic file so we can try it out 100% in your setting? Thanks.

  • Vjking

    Hey Darren.I’ve tried tgis out and it works quite well in the EPL.In the spanish league however – its a slow paced game and it didnt work out well.But this one works – 2-2-1-3-2.

    Sweeper keeper.
    Two Wing Backs – Support.
    Left and Right backs- Defend
    Central mid(On the half way line)- Automatic
    Left wing – Support
    Mid(in front of Central mid)-Attack.-Playmaker.
    Right wing-Attack(Keep a really fast player here)
    Left Attack – Target man-Attack.
    Right Attack- Attack when leading the game.Support when you are a goal down.

    I use your formation against EPL teams in UCL and it works just fine.

    • Darren Smith

      Glad it worked in EPL Vjking, I must admit that is what the tactic is made for. I managed to adapt it slightly myself for most countries but this is more down to reading the opponent. I must admit other tactics may well work better in Spain. Thanks for sharing your tactic too, its always good to see how others play, I may take a look at it in a dummy game. :)

  • Steve

    Hi m8 can u tell me when u use a Target Man do u set him to support or attack i can never decide !

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Steve, tbh I’m in the same boat as you. I tend to switch and change between the attack and support duty for target men…more than often attack though. Just remember the target man will try scoring himself with attack duty, but with support he’ll drop deep and try to bring others into the game. Therefore you’ll need some attacking minded midfielders to support him. I am currently using a poacher role for this formation which works a gem if your striker has pace, dribbling and finishing attributes. Thanks for the comment.

  • AshleyBeale’

    Hey, I read the comments and you say it works for EPL. Can you recommend any good tactics for nPower League 2? I manage Wycombe and used a tactic that I found on another Blog. Pre-Season it worked great! I beat Portsmouth from the Championship 3-1 and I thrashed a few others too. However, since the actual season has begun, my team aren’t coping well at all. My first game of the Season I lost to Stevanage who have only just been promoted. I’m not having any luck trying to find any decent tactics. I’ll try out this one but in case of failure, any others you’d recommend? Hope its not to late to ask*

    • Darren Smith

      I Ashley, well I would recommend this 4-5-1 for lower league football too. Kevin who writes here adapted my formation to suit his Wrexham side. Very successful too. I would use this post for the foundations and follow the link below for inspiration on how to adapt it. Remember you need to make the tactics fit your squad in lower leagues.

      Hope this helps, but if not I’m here every night and weekend for a chat. :)

  • AshleyBeale’

    It’s taking some time for the players to get used to it but im hoping they will. The morale is low at the moment and it’s really not helping the cause to be honest. I was quite happy that they seemed to adapt quite quickly in the 1st game although the result didn’t seem to prove it. The thing is, with a team like Wycombe, there are higher expectations and im in fear of my job already :/ But yeah, my first game using that formation and tactics was against Shrewsbury – Another game i should really be winning. Unfortunately lost 3-1 but im not that fussed at the moment. The reason is because we were 3-0 down at half time. I made a couple of changes and they were fantastic second half! :) Im not sure all of the players are currently good enough for first team football however. I loaned in a couple of players including West Ham’s reserve keeper Marek Stech. Im starting to wonder if that was a bad idea? So could you name a few players that maybe I could Loan in, in the January transfer window please? My main weaknesses are DC and also ML. I could also do with another MC too. So anyway. thanks for the link, i’ll give it a few more games so that the players will adapt fully and hopefully will be able to loan some fresh faces. Cheers

    • Darren Smith

      Hopefully the squad will adapt soon, sometimes it just takes time and there’s not much to do but wait and try increase morale through team talks etc.

      As for recommending loan signings I can’t help much as I’ve not done the lower leagues yet. However, I would recommend filtering in a player search for players listed for loan, any Premier League players will be worth a look and also pace can be deadly in the lower leagues. Maybe try manually searching the England under 19’s too. Hope this helps mate

      • AshleyBeale’

        Cheers, and yeah, gotta play the waiting game. But yeah, i’ll filter them out and as i have a 5k transfer budget the bigger teams like man utd, chelsea and man city etc. come in handy as they dont ask for wage contributions or any fee etc. I also looked at another blog on here that i noticed you commented on. He was using a team in my league so i’ll have a go at that as a kind of last resort. I’ll post how im getting on later tonight or tomorrow morning. Cheers for the advice mate

  • AshleyBeale’

    So basically, to sum it up…..: My defence are CRAP and my strikers won’t score…. I’ve won 2 out of 7 games so far although i did snatch a draw against top of the table Stockport. Other than that, i’ve lost. What starting strategies do you suggest because i always seem to choose wrong one.

  • AshleyBeale’

    Ok, last post for a while, I decided to start off a new season. It may sound like im a sore loser but no matter what i did, i could NOT score! So, i decided to do more research on suitable players and tactics and comined them…. and they work! I took this formation that you posted and reduced it to 2 CM and added an extra striker. I also loaned in a DR/MC from Man City called Vidal and he’s pretty good. I signed a few players on a free and Joe Keenan, as suggested by many blogs, and he does amazing in AML. The only downside is that he doesn’t have very good stamina. Anyways, i decided to loan Etheridge, a GK from Fulham, and the only mistake he made was an own goal against Watford in the LC. We dominated all game and fought really hard, unfortunately losing 3-2.2 other loans i made were Jacob Walcott, an AML/MC/ST. He is AMAZING as he can cover for strikers or most midfielders, and the other is a striker from Liverpool called Andras Simon. They don’t play well together but are both fantastic. I’ve only played 3 competitive games. I won 3-0 against Aldershot and 4-1 against rivals Oxford. The other one was obviously the loss to Watford but we outplayed them everywhere. Could of won it if it wasn’t for the GK muck-up. Anyway, like i said, last post for a while, i’ll comment on how im doing mid-season. So, cheers for the link and this blog, really helped me out. :)

    • Darren Smith

      No one like losing mate, and sometimes you can mess up a game and just want to start a fresh…theres nothing wrong with that. I’m just glad this site could offer you some help and hopefully will see you winning more games. :)

      • AshleyBeale’

        haha. i hate losing :O But i started this fresh and im gonna stick with it no matter what. Im currently 7th in the league and im slightly concerned about that. Im not beating the simple teams, just CANT hang onto a lead. Keep drawing or losing. Im on a 6 or 7 streak without winning! :( Loaned in couple more players, but not having much impact to be honest. Got the most goals in the league still and best GD so im hoping i can start pulling some results together. Its a relief to know that the board are still behind me however the fans seem to be a little disappointed – and i am too considering i was 3 points clear at the top only a few games ago. The only thing im having problems with really is getting the team to improve and score more. My biggest win is 5-0 and biggest loss i thnik was 2-0. So i know the problem isnt really with my defence. But still plenty of games to turn it around and i can still get promotion i suppose. If you have any short notice advie on how to score more goals than concede please please tell me ASAP! You’ve helped me a lot mate, i appreciate that :)

        • Darren Smith

          Hey mate, its difficult to offer such general advice without having all the game details. I would just suggest always using standard and counter strategies and always select tactics based on the opponent. You win games with ease because the opponents weakness’ have been exploited, not because a tactic particulary suits your squad. Sorry to be so general.

  • AshleyBeale’

    Hey, so as I said in a previous post, i’ll post how im doing mid-season. So i just finished my 23rd League 2 game – exactly half way. I beat relegation-bound Burton with a scoreline of 5-2. As you can see, im getting the goals in again and regained the most goals in the league with 54 so far. However, now the problem lies with my bloody defence! I set them to deep to ensure no one can get behind them… Pfft, doesn’t quite work that way as i’ve found out. Im 3rd in the league with 39 points – 7 behind second place and 8 behind top of the league Rotheram – Who i got a point against in a well earned draw. In the top 5, i have conceded the most goals – 34! I’m struggling to stop them from going in :/ I tried both standard and counter – neither work for me from kick-off but when im being attacked by the opposition i change to counter which works a treat. I wouldnt mind conceding if i scored 5 goals every game but even then i would probably end up drawing :O But im not gonna complain yet as im in an automatic promotion spot.Oh, i found that the default 4-5-1 actually works, with Frank Nouble (On loan from West Ham) as a winger or inside forward AML. I only have him on short loan so as its coming up to January, i’ll try to get a renewal. So yeah, im doing ok i suppose apart from fucking up against lower teams by drawing all the time, and in the FA Cup 3rd round awaiting Chelsea at Stamford Bridge…. :S My cup runs aren’t amazing as i was knocked out in 1st round of both League Cup and JPT (To Watford and Brighton) and in the 1st round of FA Cup i was nearly embarassed by Non-League Havant and Waterlooville, 1-1 at their ground and then 3-0 i the replay. Not sure im gonna accomplih the Chelsea task but if i can take it to a replay i’ll be happy as i would’ve drawn at their place. Anyway, gonna get back to it and stop clogging up your blog, the next time i post will be end of the season (keeping my promise this time), so bye for now friend.

    • Darren Smith

      Hey buddy, well conceding is extremely frustrating, but at least your in top three. A good run will see you climb above em’ I’m sure. Hopefully you’ll have something positive to report on come the seasons end. Good luck and hope promotion is the minimum you achieve. ;)

  • AshleyBeale’

    Ok, so I just finished my first season in charge – Finishing a respectable 2nd. Too me this is good as i was 3rd (as you know) and then i dropped all the way to 7th. Then i started some nice football and the outcome speaks for itself really. To sum the final quarter of the season (well, kinda quarter), 10 games remaining and it was basically a battle between 4th(me at the time) 3rd placed Port Vale and 2nd placed Bradford. By this time, Rotheram were 8 points clear of me and Bradford 7. So i suppose Bradford were battling for 1st place as well. I still had to play these 3 teams in these last 10 games. 5th place were about 8 points below me so there was no real danger there. So as i said, started getting these good results and to my likeness, all three above me started losing to lower teams – namely Torquay (Mid table at the time) and Burton Albion (23rd at the time). Burton beat Rotheram 5-1 and i was really happy for them – seeing as i couldnt even beat them (2-2 and lost 3-2 with 10 men 2nd from last game). They finished a shocking 12th :O To move 11 places in 10 games is a great achievement. Unlucky for them, i beat them 3-0 last game of the season in front of the biggest crowd at Adams Park all season – Just over 9000. So basically, i kept winning and beat Port Vale 3-0 at their ground – dominated all game and got all goals in the 1st half from corners. Then my defender was on for a hat-trick and surprise surprise, they injured him. After i beat Port Vale, they started playing crap and got bad results – but managed to finish 3rd still! Bradford i lost 3-1 to and then obviously lost 3-2 to Rotheram. Before the defeat to Rotheram, i was unbeaten in 11 :) So, finished 7 points clear of Port Vale (3rd) and 8 points behind Rotheram (1st). Not too disappointed as it was my first time playing as a Lower League Team. I usually go for the bigger teams and as much as i hate them, i used to be Spurs. Not good for a West Ham fan but that save crashed and deleted itself anyway :/ So, got 98 goals (really wished i’d beaten Burton 5-0 last game of the season :( ) – that was highest in the league and also got the best GD, +44. Not expecting promotion next season but hoping not to get relegated! I use 3 tactics now – this one that you posted i use quite often or an all attacking 4-2-4 which actually attacks and defends at the same time!<3 Hoping to get Nouble from West Ham on a season long loan and a MC that scores crackers from Blackburn called Michael Potts. Great player for the 'League' teams. Have to rely on loans for yet another season as they are in a 5mil debt which swallows up the transfer and wage budget. Didn't finish it as early as i wanted as i went to a non-league match today. Was a great first 15 mins and then could've fallen asleep tbh. Finished 1-1. Anyway, cheers for this, i'll keep posting how i'm doing (not as big as this one) but yeah…. Wish me luck xD

    • Darren Smith

      Great to see you succeeding mate, sounds like a real dramatic end to the season too. Lower league debt is crap and tough to get out of, but if you keep pushing on the higher up the leagues you get the easier your cash flow will be to maintain. Well done on a great season though and good luck for the next step. :)

      • AshleyBeale’

        Yeah, but I managed to get a little more via the end of season challenge thing. I set it to top-half finish. I’ve been predicted to finish 18th but im confident to finish at least 11th as i signed Sczezny(not sure thats how you spell it but its the Arsenal goalie if its completely wrong) which surprised me as i had to beat Rangers and Blackburn to get his signautre. Also signed Luke Moore (Ex West Brom) and a good liverpool player – not even sure what position he plays aha :’) I loaned Michael Potts on a season long loan and a couple others. To be honest, i got a fairly strong squad for a league 1 team. Anyway,i arranged a few friendlies against large reputation foreign teams so geting a little money from them. Anyway, will get back to it, have a good easter :)

  • AshleyBeale’

    hey dude :) havent posted for a while so i thought i’d give you a quick update. As it stands, im 3rd in the league and only lost 3 games. I started off the season unbeaten in 7….and then lost against Bradford -_- But after that, i went on either a 12 or 13 unbeaten run and broke the ‘record’. So, yeah…. Not much to say really, played 26 games and 2 points behind 2nd placed Sheffield Utd, erm… got a couple more players on loan and signed a striker and right midfield. Other than that, been pretty simple stuff and was humiliated at home in the fa cup 1st round with a 1-0 loss to Conference team York. Lost in quarter final of Johnstone Paint Trophy to Cheltenham and cant remember what happened in the League Cup… My top scorer (in league) is Luke Moore with 22 goals so far. Scored 69? goals and conceded 21. So im ok attacking and i also use an attacking formation. Might have to terminate my Assistant Manager’s contract as he’s not really a good helper when it comes to match preparation. So, that just about sums it up, im well on my way to hetting at least a play-off spot so not bad really. I’ll be playing it quite a bit now as Playstation Network is fucked and so cant play on my ps3 really so FM11 here i come xD Laters bro :)

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Buddy, good to see all is well. 3rd position is great and your new signings must have settled fast. I hope you can get promotion, though there is no shame in losing through the play-offs. Keep it up and hope to hear about an amazing promotion. :)

  • Andy Cass

    Hi, I need a successful tactic for FM 11 on iPhone. No matter which I use it’s incredibly hard to find a winning one. It’s also very easy to get sacked. Any advice?

    • Darren Smith

      I wish I could help Andy but I don’t play that version of FM and know it is completely different. Sorry mate

  • Cippy

    Hi Darren,

    Interesting Tactic mate ;).
    I know youre playing EPL but just wondering, Im currently handling AC Fiorentina in Italy serie A,we’re in 4th of the league.
    Last match we have is a 2-0 win Away on Juventus (which is awesome) but then lost 3-1 Home to Chievo .chievo are 16th in league (which is frustrating)
    You see the problem is my players just wouldnt run to chase a loose ball like any other lower club players,and they just didnt know how to retain possession.
    All they know is give ball to winger ,let it run as fast as they can,crosses and pray god the striker is actually knows how to poach or head.
    I’ve hired great coaches with a medium high schedule…still just doesnt work
    And my players are quite regarded in Serie A market (Montolivo,Vargas,Gilardino,D’agostino,Jovetic,Mutu) which all have speed,acceleration,flair,on attributes but on field is sumtimes acts like U-20’s
    Any idea? training maybe?
    im currently using
    4-2-3-1 (unstable),
    4-2-2-2 ( midfield loss tendency)
    4-1-3-2 (midfield loss tendency )
    4-3-1-2 (so far running good on short term)

    I like my Central defender set to Sweeper -Defend-Man Marking
    My Left/Right defender set as – Fullback -Automatic both-zonal marking

    Midfields :
    1-Anchorman/Deep Lying Playmaker -Support/Defend (up to situation)
    1-Advanced Playmaker-Attack

    1-Advanced /Complete forward-Attack
    1-Target man- Attack

    Team Instruction – Balanced and Attacking/Control (up to situation)
    Defense Line -more to the left ( 1 notch after Deep)
    Passes-More Direct
    Closing down-On your own area..

    Okay dats long just very frustrated…and the news and media doesnt help either when they keep voting us for win which we are not always do :(

    Thax for the attention darren

    • Cippy

      And Darren one more thing:
      Hows Affelay? i have him now…but which position is he at his best actually?
      I’ve tried MC,AMC,ML,MR and he just gave me the same ratings (6.8) and actions.
      is he really talented for future team?i mean he’s 24.and Jovetic is only 20.

      Nway i will try your 4-3-2-1–the tactic looks Possesive,and secure on the same time,tho i hope my striker is independent enough to finish a chance when he gets one. ;)

      ill try and see how it goes…

    • Darren Smith

      Hey Cippy, it can be very tough to diagnose gamers problems as so many different aspects change a teams performance. I always find that a team will not fulfil their potential on the pitch unless everything is set up correctly from backroom staff to training and tactics. Most importantly you must get the in game team talks right or your squad will under perform. Having said all this Italy is a very tough league in that the clubs seem to play boring football even in game…I could be incorrect here, but I think its a characteristic FM has set up. My bets recommendation is to download mine and Johnny’s handbook. It will really help and if followed correctly will mean your doing what we do. Follow this link below and then read how to download the guide.

  • squirrel

    hi darren
    well i must say you are a life saver i to am managing newcastle and iv been in the bottom 3 up to january iv now applied you tactics, however i apply the DCM behind the 2 CM, im now sitting pretty in 13th, however i would just like to know were is enrquie and also tiotie in your team????

    • Johnny Karp

      Darren is away for a week so he might be unable to reply.

    • Darren Smith

      I certainly shouldn’t be able to reply, but found internet connection in Manchester, however I’ll be flying tomorrow so no FMS for me very soon.

      Thanks for the kind words Squirrel, I’m just happy to help and knowing these posts help people makes everything worthwhile. Enrique is in the side but I took a rushed screenshot from a league cup game in which he was rested, Tiote spent most of that season on the bench. :)

  • squirrel

    i know this has nothing to do with this blog, but wondering whats the best players to get on a short budget??

  • Nael

    My formation that I fancy is like yours but I with one of the CM a DF.

    • Darren Smith

      Yeh the 4-5-1 is great to use and versatile in that the midfield can be tweaked to your taste.

  • Alex

    hey peeeps has anyone got anylists for good players that would join neath (welsh premier league) club. don’t have a very big wage budget either? can anyone help me ASAP ;)

  • Alex

    okay and thanks for answering my question! ;)

  • tommy

    Hi Darren,

    Top-notch opening post! Nice work… Looks interesting.

    Can I download your tactic somewere?
    I tried the “althatisfootball….”-link above. But it did’nt work?

  • Marcus

    Hello Darren!
    I just want to say that your tactic works perfectly on Malmö FF (Sweden)!

    I even qualified to champions league Group stage, tho Tottenham and Barcelona was way too good for my poor swede team :)

    • Darren Smith

      Well that is great to hear, especially seen as you have taken such a side to CL group stages. Always happy to help and please let me know if you push on Europe. :)

  • jemba

    hi darren.. i start used your tactic but my team still lose. help me please.hoho

    • Darren Smith

      I’d suggest you’re either using the wrong team talks or your squad don’t suit this tactic. You need a very strong and fast defence, midfielders with technique and passing ability as well as two wingers and a striker that are brilliant for your level of football….pace and acceleration are very important.

  • mark cresswell

    here is my 451 lads and its brillent and works

    menality attacking
    pass mixed
    tackling normal

    pass all team
    tackling 3xmc’s committed rest team
    pressing 3x mc’s yes restno
    pass all r/l/c
    set pieces a default
    set pieces (d) gk normal middle mc normal fc forward rest all bk
    free role all no
    forward runs : dl,dr,ml,mr,middle mc yes rest no
    run with ball : smae as forward runs
    hold up ball : all no
    long shots : 3x mc’s yes rest no
    through balls : all no
    cross balls : dl,dr yes rest no
    marking : dl dr middle mc zonal 2x Dc’s and 2x outer mc’s man gk, ml,mr fc none

    if anybody nows how to improve this then feal free to leave a comment to me #
    this form is aa good one with arsenal and barcelona in the 2012 version on the psp