Football Manager 2013 best tactic, 4-5-1 with fluid attacking football

FM 2013 Downloads

written by Darren Smith

Hello and welcome to my Football Manager 2013 best tactic. Johnny brought you a defensive tactic and a balanced system also, so I thought it was time for something a little more attacking and fluid.

This FM 2013 best tactic was tested over two seasons with Newcastle United, the first of which was played during BETA release and saw a lot of formation changes and tweaks. As many know the match engine had some problems at that time, so I will share my results from the second season, which was carried out during the games full release, but we’ll come back to that in a minute. First lets take a look at the shape of my FM 2013 best tactic.

Football Manager 2013 Tactic Formation

This tactic is very similar to my Arsenal 4-5-1 from last year. Very simple really, the full backs are on automatic duty so they will bomb forward to support the attacking wingers. The central midfielders are setup to do a job, holding a line which is very tough to break down, only the advanced playmaker will advance ahead of the pack when the time is right.

This tactic comes alive in the final third. You have a poacher upfront, he tends to be the focal point sitting on the shoulder of the opposition defence. The AMR and AML are inside forwards and either offer width or cut inside to form a front three, this makes life tough for the opposition as the inside forward has to be dual marked by a full back or centre back depending on his movement. But for all these three roles to work, you need blistering pace and acceleration with flair and creativity on the wings. Generally a technically talented side with good physical attributes should suit this nicely.

Football Manager 2013 Tactic team instructions

As mentioned in my Tactics Guide, simpler is always better. And you can’t get much simpler than these instructions. The philosophy is fluid, this is to offer my side the freedom to move outside of the tactic when required. I find the inside forwards can be more creative and unpredictable using this. The strategy is attacking for home games and matches we fully expect to win, but it changes to counter for tough games at home and away days. This doesn’t result in a defensive style of play, it just tightens the sides shape up as they go a little deeper and narrower to make the whole system more compact and tough to break down.

Passing is set to short, this is to aid possession and give my players more time to find the right pass. I also like my players to hunt the ball, so closing down is set to ‘press more’. Everything else is left to default, as mentioned, Football Manager 2013 best tactics can be simple. :)

Focus passing, playmaker and target man

OK this part is very important and should be adjusted depending on your sides ability. For the first time I am using the focus passing feature. Due to my sides strength down the right with Ben Arfa and Nathaniel Clyne who are deadly going forward, I attack down the right flank. This is very risky if you don’t possess brilliant players on the right, so please change this appropriately. You can either not use focus passing at all or change to the left flank depending on your side. But if you don’t have amazing talent down one side, don’t use this feature, you will need to adjust it after downloading the tactic.

Due to my focus passing, it makes sense to install Ben Arfa as my playmaker from AMR. He is a genius on the ball and an oppositions nightmare. If you have changed focus passing to the left then make your AML the playmaker, if you don’t use focus passing pick your advanced playmaker or no one at all.

You don’t have to use a target man but I use the poacher with supply set to feet. Again, this entire section should be adjusted to suit your side, to be honest you could untick it all and not really damage the tactic, its your choice.

Football Manager 2013 Tactic, how it works

This tactic works in so many ways I couldn’t possibly explain everything, but I’ll try and get through the most important aspects. First of all, the full backs, They need great pace and acceleration for two reasons. Obviously to keep up with the opposition but also because they provide great width and fill the space left by my inside forward. As shown below, my two inside forwards have formed a front three, dragging the opposition full back out of position, so my full back exploits the space and provides an easy option.

Now to the engine of this tactic and my middle three. Throughout each phase of play they hold a flat line, unless closing the ball down or dribbling into pockets of space. The MC’s are all circled with a dotted blue line below. They move forward in a pack, using each other for support before eventually finding that killer pass. A real perk is how they hold a line outside the box to collect any loose clearances as the poacher and two inside forwards sit on the defensive shoulder.

The midfield three wouldn’t work without the flair, creativity and raw pace of my poacher and inside forwards. Below is a two part image, the first shows my advanced playmaker as we counter attack. Isco has two options, the poacher (Hernandez) through the middle or my left inside forward (Rodrigo) cutting inside.

He picks out Hernandez who then has the luxury of attacking the goal or picking out Rodrigo. My inside forward is very tough to mark so he picks up this sort of space often when using the counter strategy. Hernandez opts for Rodrigo who slots home.

But this tactic wouldn’t work if my inside forwards just cut infield all the time. Ben Arfa and Rodrigo start each phase of play very deep, then burst forward as soon as we get the ball. But in the screenshot below, my AMR Ben Arfa picked the ball up very deep, then dribbled down the touchline. There wasn’t enough room to cut inside so he carried on down the wing, crossed and it led to a goal. As you can see my MC’s, poacher and other inside forward all crowd into the area sniffing a chance.

Here is some video footage so you can see how well the system works from an attacking sense. I think this demonstrates how quickly we can attack and how hard the inside forwards are to mark, this goal was scored against Man Utd.

And here are some full match highlights, demonstrating just why I use Ben Arfa as my playmaker and concentrate my attacks down the right. Seriously watch this, Ben Arfa is a genius with the ball at his feet. Fair enough Huddersfield weren’t great at the back, but Hatem was still majestic.

Football Manager 2013 Tactic results

As mentioned all the below results and statistics are taken from season two (2013/14) playing with Newcastle United. The first season was spent experimenting and I didn’t fully settle on my tactic until after January time, we still finished fourth (rather luckily to be fair with a low points total) and we won the two domestic cups, but I felt season two would be a much fairer reflection on the tactic as the match engine issues had been ironed out to there current state.

The first half of the 2013/14 Premier League season was exceptional and left me dreaming of a title challenge. We beat some tough sides and won rather convincingly against the easier ones. Only Tottenham and Man City could beat us.

The second half of the EPL season wasn’t as good, I put this down to a horrendous injury plague in March and focus been drawn from the Champions League. Chelsea slaughtered my boys and we then struggled for morale, entering a rut of 4 consecutive draws.

That poor run cost me the title. If we’d have just beaten Norwich in the penultimate game of season. :( But one point off top and seven clear of third is a great finish. We were the second top goalscorers this season behind City and were one short of topping the goals conceded charts.

Silverware did come though in the form of the League Cup…

…and the FA Cup which to be fair saw an extremely easy run in, probably the easiest in the history of the competition. :)

Unfortunately I couldn’t make it a treble with the Champions League, but we came hellish close! Smashing FC Bayern and Real Madrid before Barcelona took it all away.

As for the my players, below are a few stats that should indicate which positions do well and are vital to the tactic.

Top goalscorers in all comps: Ademilson (European and cup game player) – 27 goals, Abel Hernandez – 24 goals, Ben Arfa (AMR) – 19 goals, Rodrigo (AML) – 12 goals

Most assists: Isco – 19, Ben Arfa – 16, Rodrigo – 11, Hernandez – 10, Fabio – 10

Highest average rating: Steven Taylor – 7.49 (highest in the EPL), Abel Hernandez – 7.28, Jan Kirchhoff – 7.25

I think the results speak for themselves and so do the top scorers. But what is interesting is that despite Rodrigo, Ben Arfa and Isco playing a key role, none were even in the top 6 for average ratings. This just proves my theory that you need to sacrifice some average rating stereotypes for the greater good.

All in all a solid tactic that gets incredible results, yes you need fast players, a solid defence and very creative and talented attacking players, but get those and you’ll be winning. This tactic will even work in the lower leagues.

You can download this Football Manager 2013 best tactic by clicking the image link below.

How to install the tactic 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 “Darrens_fluid_attacking_4-5-1″ from the menu.

If you like this tactic please share it with your friends on the social networks icon wink fm 2013 fm 2012

As always thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy my tactic, if there are any queries or questions, please place them in the comments box below. Thanks.

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448 Comments on "Football Manager 2013 best tactic, 4-5-1 with fluid attacking football"

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Hi Darren

Well those are very good results indeed. I had a similar venture with my Vancouver Slant Left tactic – focusing on the left flank of course which worked quite nicely. As you say if you have the players as wingers turning to IF’s it works nicely. I’m going to”bank” this tactic for my Montreal game which will come later on. Just noticed that’s a pretty high defensive line!!


Hi Darren great tactic uploaded it to my saved game,but the formation on your pictures you posted is different to mine on my game 4-5-1 ? Done exactly what you said but doesnt look the same for some reason.Where am i going wrong?


Good to see you back Darren, was a BIG fan of both your Stoke and Arsenal tactics of 12. Speaking of which, do you plan on releasing another Stoke esque tactic for 13?

Will be sure to give this a good whirl with Wolves. I will be changing the focus play though as I am not a fan of playing down one flank in particular.

Will post back with results.


Great tactic mate. Any info on Match Prep, Pitch size, Team talks etc?



Great formation, this is what I want to use for my Arsenal team. The biggest issue with my team is Carzola – he is a great player but he wants to play behind the striker which won’t work in your team.

I have reshaped the entire starting 11 by adding Alaba, Goetz, Fellani, Isco and Ademilson so I want to have a team of Ademilson upfront with Goetz (left) and Ox/Wilshire (right) and a midfield trio of Carzola, Fellani and Isco. Carzola goes from a 4 and a half star player down to a 3 and a half.

Please help! How do you think I should utilise these players best? Thanks.



Very nice tactic, and seems to produce all the types of moves and passes I love to see a team play.

I love to see the very high line, the pressing style and the reasonably high tempo. I’m sure pushing the tempo just above the centre setting makes a huge difference. When I did that back in FM12 it transformed the way the team played. The only thing I never really quite got to work properly before, was moving to a fluid style, something just didn’t quite click with it, with far too many misplaced passes.

I’ve long believed that the ratings don’t always tell the whole story. Midfielders and wingers can suffer sometimes. I’ve seen players provide an assist, but still not have a rating over 6.9. At times I’ve seen player appear to have a good game, but still suffer a poor rating. I think the mistakes sometimes get overly punished, which wingers can do quite a bit.


Hey Darren could one of the CM be a DM and Defend and the AP be a DLP given duty of support? Would that still work as well?

Gaurav Chaddah

Really nice tactic their mate, really like it!

I have made a similar one however have a limited defender and a ball winning midfielder. Also I at first left it at normal tempo but I felt their was not a enough uregency and we weren’t scoring the goals so tempo is quick but agian great stuff!


Looks like a great tactic again, I used your arsenal one and it worked very well.
Currently using Johnny’s balanced one so Southampton don’t get relegated in the first season but looking to switch to this in the next. Think in will suit Ramirez if I focus passing down the left.
If I changed the style to counter would you tick the box for counter attack too?
Would it benefit having a sweeper keeper with such a high line?
Plus would upping the tempo to quick commit the midfield too quickly and leave the team vulnerable?
Cheers, Steve


Superb tactic again! My possession stats are off the charts! However, i wanted to know if you score from corners and freekicks often? because i think its kind of the game engine’s fault that set pieces are so hard


Hey Darren,
Have been a massive fan of the 4-5-1 since you posted your Arsenal tactic last season. Am interested to know why you changed your BWM (D) to CM (D)?
(I can understand getting rid of the BPD as this requires a pretty unique defender to work properly).


Nice tactic, Darren. This is something that I am going to try in my save, as soon as I get two wingers :)) I used to play something similar, but with a DMC instead of 3 centrals, but I saw that this year the DMC in the game is pretty useless. Yours seems like a great tactic and certainly I will try it!


Hey, nice tactic, but I have some serious problems. I use it with Inter Mailand, more or less the squad you have at the beginning and while I think I have at least ok players for every position, I can’t really get my guys to score. Even in games where I have 60% or more possesion I have a ton of long shots and 1 CCC at best. I tried several ways, focus passing left or right with Cassano oder Coutinho as Playmakers, Passing through the middle with Sneijder as playmaker oder without focused passing ticket at all.
Do you have any idea how to make this tactic work for Inter? Because I really like the rest of it, it looks pretty nice, it’s a formation I like and its one of the very few tactics that seem to work with my team at the defense..


Hi Darren,

I will try this tactic with my Spurs side, it looks very promising!
What would you do with Bale/Lennon? Would you use the focus passing or not?



This article is fantastic, the level of depth and detail is just insane. Kudos. I use the same formation, but different tactics, doesn’t always work, so I’ll give yours a try. Keep the good work.

Matias Goncalves

crap… attacking its fine, but cannot hold a lead and blunders galore… like almost all tactics

i am monaco, brought lots of players but i cant win because when i score first my team becomes dumb and give the ball away

any clue on how to deal with the lack of passion??? the cold chest???? i hate dumb teams, rivals dont beat us, we beat us ourselves giving the ball away when i dont order to, and having more than good players to keep passing the ball to the lads with the right shirt

lots of goals from own throw ins, just pass the ball to the opponents


Sounds like you need to give your players time to gel as you brought loads in. They need a lot of playing time together before they will click and make the most of Darren’s tactic. Im using it with a mid-table side and its working fine.

Darren btw I find the tactic on ‘counter’ works a charm, especially away but also at home. The ‘attacking’ setting is a lot more inconsistent however, we can get ripped apart defensively when the opposition counter attacks. As I say, Im playing with a midtable side so it could be that, we dont have a mega pacy defence which I think is needed to cope with the ultra-high line. Have you tried the tactic using ‘control’ or ‘balanced’ at all?

Matias Goncalves

i just dont understand how a team can be so dumb… tactic is ok, but almost always opponent score from a blunder or sit back, and when i score first my team relax too much and gives the game away…

im 4th with monaco, missed a cl spot because a missed a huge amount of points because of dumbness

Tom Miller

Would it still work if i played the advanced playmaker at CAM as I only have 2 Players that are comfortable in playing CM, I will retrain them to Cm’s but In the mean time just wanted to use this formation

Matias Goncalves

now im on the next season.

the tactic was maxed out on fluidity… so that wasnt the problem…

i kicked both centreback asses and brought two new…

this is my starting eleven

GK Viviano, had a good season. the substitutes didnt.

DR Corchia, DL Clyne CB’s Shawcross and Kirchloff the wonderkid

MC defending, Moussa Sissoko (free from psg) MC Support, Ndinga MC Attack Pjanic

AMR Kagawa AML Ocampos P Ademilson (Aboubakar last season, scored a bit, but miss a lot!!!)

im suppose to be a big team in france…

Chai Chien Liang

Nice tactic Darren, like the combination in the middle of the pitch with the 3 central midfielders, do you think it will be a good idea if I leave my AML and AMR as wingers?

Matias Goncalves

good news (sorry for the “spam”)

switched to counter, and now i am on a 3 games streak without conceding…

Matias Goncalves

got really good news for your tactic…

i was worried because of conceding too much, i got an idea… put both centre back on cover duty…

on last 6 games, i just conceded once, from a blunder of my right fb

my keeper saved a couple of ccc… but nothing more

im very pleased of that huge improvement

i also switched the d line to the middle, put both fb’s on support and get rid of the offside

10 games to go, Monaco is leading, 6 points clear. the Prince will love me


Do you recommend passing down the left flank if the my left winger is eden hazard/mata and setting him to playmaker?


thank you for posting this, but I have some questions:
– a poacher with an attacking role plays very high up the pitch and doesn’t offer a link between the attack and midfield (a problem because you don’t have an attacking midfielder), did you consider a deep lying forward?
– when you play two IF your formation becomes too narrow especially when you play a counter attack strategy against big teams as the FB doesn’t have enough time to move forward
– only one player has a support duty (when your mentality is attack, automatic duties become attack) no one recommends that
but I have to say I’m impressed with your results, I will definitely try your tactics.


First of all I want to say a massive thanks to Darren, i find your profiles extremely useful, and they are always my first port of call when I’m looking to buy someone on on FM. I started a game with Newcastle, I’ve tried countless tactics and some of my own but none of them worked, until this one. This is by far the best one I’ve used on this years game. I’ve been playing Anita, Cabaye and Maher (who i bought) in the midfield and they are tearing everyone to pieces. I got Callejon on loan from Real Madrid and Montoya on loan from Barcelona, I’ve played them together down the right in the Europa games where Ben Arfa has been suspended and they link up like a dream. Demba Ba has been on fire on the other wing and Ciise through the middle has been amazing. Really impressed with this tactic Darren, top notch work mate. :)

Matias Goncalves
Matias Goncalves

what happened with my translated river plate chants???


hi, might be a stupid quest ever, but why my tactic has sliders, and is not like yours with options to choose instead of move the slider.

Amiruddin Thaksin

hi, might be a stupid quest, but why my tactic has sliders, and is not like yours with options to choose instead of moving the slider.


Absolutely perfect tactic!
I tried it with Newcastle United and what a season, i won Premier League with 79 points, 9 points ahead of Tottenham, Arsenal and Man Utd.
I Won the Europa League beating Marseille 1-0 i the Final.
My greatest player was Nathan Dyer with 25 goals, 15 assist, avg. 7.31 ing 50(6) games!! Used him on the left flank.
Found out that Sylvain Marveaux is fantastic on the playmaker in the middle with 4 goals, 11 assist, avg. 7.17 in 21(12) games.

But rly thank you for this great tactic! Now im heading to the Champions League! :D


Hi Darren,

Thank you for this brilliant tactic.
I am deploying this for my Man Utd save.
Results from friendlies are amazing with 3-4 goals difference using Attacking and 1-2 goals difference using Counter.
To the team, I bought Fellaini and Wellington Nem.

So, my IFs rotation will be Nani, Valencia, Young, and Nem.
My AP will be Rooney, Kagawa, and Giggs.
My Poacher will be RVP, Hernandez, Wellbeck, and Henriques.
And my CMs will be Fellaini, Carrick, Fletcher, Ando, Scholes, and Powell.

I remove the Focus Passing, Playmaker, and Target Man.
Do you think my approach will work ?
What do you think will be my best Midfield and Attack formation for me ?

Thank you,

Matias Goncalves

My monaco (with the tweaks) just won the Ligue 1, and Europa League…

now im on the next season to the champions… its 5 am in buenos aires and im little drunk (a bottle of champagne, not too much)

i found out that the double cover centre backs can lead to less conceding… but i will try now with both cbs with pace 18

my team for this season to come:


Coentrao, Dede, Kirchhoff, Corchia

M’Vila, Pjanic, Crisetig

Kagawa, Ocampos


any advice with this players???


Thanks for the tactic! I have always used my own tactics on FM since 06, but with the new set-up the tactic failed. Therefore I used your tactic and I am on the top with Brøndby from Denmark! I have made some regualations though! Keep up the good work!


I am going to test this tactic with a lower league team.

But for now I don’t have left foot wingers, should I use the right winger (right foot) as inside winger or right winger?

IF (right foot) – P – WG (right foot) or

IF (right foot) – P – IF (right foot)




Seriously hating FM13 at moment. Nothing I do works, always get outplayed. Gonna try your tactic mate, with Arsenal. Never usually like playing one up front though. Using classic tactics too, as more familiar with it, and just altering it slightly. Gonna try and buy Ben Arfa. But got Cazorla at moment on the right. Would the tactic still work if you had focus passing down both flanks? Like Ben Arfa on right with Cazorla on the left, both cutting in.


Thanks for the tactic upload but I think the match engine is still deeply flawed. It seems impossible to get any consistency and there bizarre and totally inexplicable performances come from nowhere.


What would you say is the best tempo to use, mate? Is this is one border-line normal, close to fast? Does fast tempo never work well for possession?


Forgot to ask too. This is your primary formation. Do you have a second one, like if you’re losing or drawing, and pushing for a win?


Lol. It’s a pain in the arse at times anyway. I change formation, but forget to click on the arrow to make it my main one. You often find you can come from behind a lot if losing?


I managed to get Ben Arfa. Thought he’d choose Chelsea, but luckily he didn’t lol. Here’s a dilemma though. Cazorla on the left, and Arfa on the right. Focus passing via both flanks. What would happen though, if I focus down the right flank for Ben Arfa, yet Cazorla is chosen as my main play-maker, out on the left and opposite flank? Bit contradictory!

Matias Goncalves

i found out that team talks messed up this game…

i hired the best assitant i could with high motivating and man management, and despite that, he just makes my players dumb.

i dont know what fuck to say in team talks, i led them to him, but half of times he do wrong

which assistant is good? im going to hire him asap


Hi, dont you find your two IF cutting in cluttering the middle which allow lesser space for your poacher?
do you recommend changing the poacher to a deep lying forward to draw the defenders and create space for your IF?


Tactic doesn’t work at all for me. This game is fucking shit. Had it with SI Games. Seriously hope they go bankrupt. What an awful, shambles of a game.
Tryed numerous tactics, formations, none of it works, period. Game is totally random, which is why it only works for some people. Completely flawed. Doesn’t matter which opposition you play, they always out play you and have more possession. Disgusting really. Never purchasing another FM again. Started having doubts last year, but this year is final for me. No sense of realism or nothing. Game is unplayable and broken.


Fair few. I’ve tryed numerous tactics and formations,and it’s all the same. Totally hopeless. I prefer to use classic tactics. Pretty much the quivalent of your one here. First friendly game it worked fine, then stuggled for games afterwards. I can send you my classic tactic option, along with team and see what you think?


Uploaded onto Mediafire, but never used it before. How do I get you to download the file?


Not sure it’s working properly lol. Uploaded it, but when I click to “My Files”, nothing’s there. Even though it shows the size of it via my account view.


Yeah. Could be a problem with Mediafire. Took a while for yours to initially download. I’ve even tryed verifying my email too, but doesn’t do it.


Dunno mate. I’ll keep trying and let you know if it’s done.


Re-started a new save now. The team that I had via that tactic, for what it’s worth lol, was:
Szczesny GK, Jenkinson RB, Vermaelen LB, Hummels & Mertesacker CBs, Vidal as defensive MF, Arteta in the centre, and Ramsey on the left. Cazorla AML, Ben Arfa AMR (Playmaker), and CF was Giroud. Gives you a rough idea.


Yeah. Always do. Hire the best coaches etc.


Your two wingers. They set to short passing, or direct?