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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  • comment avatar kevin November 6, 2012

    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!!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2012

      Thanks Kevin, I like the IF’s a lot and focus passing works well but only with the right players. I hope this works for your Montreal save, the def line is very high but it drops a lot when using the counter strategy for tougher matches.

    • comment avatar shaun January 12, 2013

      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?

      • comment avatar Darren Smith January 12, 2013

        Sorry I’m not sure where the problem is, are you saying the players shape is different to that of which is shown in the post? Can you send me a screenhsot?

        • comment avatar shaun January 12, 2013

          Yes mate different to the one you posted. Cant do a screenshot so hope this works how my line up starts with my wolves team


          _ _ _

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          _ _ _ _

          • comment avatar Darren Smith January 12, 2013

            Look at the tactics name, what is is labelled in your game?

          • comment avatar shaun January 12, 2013

            Just says 4-5-1 .Downloaded another tactic called my wolves first try working ok so 1 defeat in 6 games.Will use your tactic with another team if i can get it to work right is there any chance you can post a link in this chat to download it again please.Also during game when assistant pops up saying this and that do you just ignore it during play?.
            Cheers Darren

          • comment avatar Darren Smith January 12, 2013

            Thats not my tactic, my tactic is under my name, you have just loaded up a default formation or someone else’s tactic. Have you followed the download instructions properly? Look in your archived tactics for this tactic and if its not there, re-read how to download, the link is fine and so is the download.

          • comment avatar shaun January 12, 2013

            Will download it again thank you will it work with wolves by the way? Newcastle have just sacked there manager might go for it lol

          • comment avatar Darren Smith January 12, 2013

            I don’t know, it worked for me with Blackpool so I’d assume so but like with every new club you’ll have to test it.

          • comment avatar shaun January 12, 2013

            Working fine now mate just won my first game 2-0 away at Birmingham , Like i said before should i just ignore assistants shouts from touch line?

          • comment avatar Darren Smith January 12, 2013

            Yes you should, I pay no attention to them. That is if you mean the feed in the match engine.

          • comment avatar shaun January 13, 2013

            Cheers Daz will let you know how i get on as for instructions from match engine yes

          • comment avatar shaun January 17, 2013

            Working great this tactic unbeaten in 25 games so far and closing in on the title at ease cheers Daz

          • comment avatar Darren Smith January 17, 2013

            Good to hear Shaun, hope it continues to work.

        • comment avatar Joe Fretti April 25, 2013

          Hi Darren.. I was wondering if you could help me out. Im in my third season in premiership with cardiff.. doing well in europe but shocking in the league.. I’ll give you a run down of my starting 11 and see if you could advice. me.. any help send to my email please. (

          gk – Sirigu

          lb – bale/ baines
          lcb – Victorino/hummels/shawcross
          rcb – luiz/kompany
          rb – zabaleta / santon

          cm – wilshire
          cm – gundogan
          cm – ozil

          w/if – messi/reus
          w-if – ronaldo / gotze

          cf – lewendowski/carroll/ gomez/ rossi/ cardozo/higuian

          any help would be appreciated.

          not won in 12 games and sitting mid table, yet through to semis in europa

  • comment avatar Shaun November 6, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2012

      Thanks Shaun, its good to be back with tactics etc. As for the Stoke system, I probably won’t be doing one this year, mainly because Johnny has already done a 4-4-2 formation that would be very similar anyway.

      Definitely change the focus and playmaker to suit your side mate, it could be the difference between winning and losing, let me know how it goes.

  • comment avatar Mark November 6, 2012

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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2012

      Nope none required, just left match prep to assistant, pitch size is irrelevant (you can over think things sometimes) and team talks are completely separate to tactics anyway.

  • comment avatar Adam November 6, 2012


    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.


    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2012

      Don’t pay too much attention to those star ratings for player roles etc, just see how they perform in the match engine. My suggestion is that you can’t use those three MC’s in the same side…you must rotate Carzola and Isco at AP, use Fellaini as the supporting midfielder and find a more suited defending MC.

  • comment avatar TheZiggy November 6, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2012

      Thanks Ziggy, I think tactics can be easy to make if you have a well thought out idea and plan. But they can also be very volatile, sometimes the slightest thing can throw a tactic from winning to drawing or even losing, like you your fluid philosophy issue. But for me that just seems to work, I also think it can vary on the team though.

      As for the ratings, with me it has always been the MC’s that suffer greatly for ratings, almost never nudging above 6.9 whereas the inside forwards always do a little better, but tend to have more inconsistent ratings.

  • comment avatar Scott November 6, 2012

    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?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2012

      It wouldn’t be the same tactic if you did that, so you’d have to test it separately, my feeling is it wouldn’t work as the three MC’s form a unit which would be broken should one drop to DMC. As for the deep lying again you are changing the emphasis of the tactic so you’d need to test it.

      • comment avatar scott November 12, 2012

        Thanks for the reply Darren, I have changed the formation I dropped one of the CM to a DM duty to defend, changed the AP to a DLP duty to support and had the other CM defend also.

        I kept team instructions the same but removed passing focus, I have also told both IF to swap sides from time to time with a quick tempo and counter attack ticked.

        I have played 4 games so far with Real Betis winning all 4 and conceding just 2, scoring 12.

        Tactic is still a work in progress I know. I will play a full season and let you guys know how it performs.

        • comment avatar Darren Smith November 12, 2012

          Fingers crossed it will work, hope so anyway.

  • comment avatar Gaurav Chaddah November 6, 2012

    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!

  • comment avatar Steve November 6, 2012

    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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2012

      Thanks Steve, it should suit Ramirez very well, I was actually looking at him for the left flank this season.

      When changing the strategy to counter you don’t need to adjust anything else, the tactic was created to fit straight in, so it automatically ticks the counter box for you and the defensive line drops back automatically as well. I wouldn’t use a sweeper keeper, purely because I haven’t needed one as yet. I wouldn’t recommend changing the tempo either, it is set to work like this and there really shouldn’t be any need to adjust the tempo.

      • comment avatar Steve November 9, 2012

        Cheers for that advice Darren.

        Do you ever use shouts during the game and if so which ones would you recommend for different situations?

        • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

          I do from time to time, just shout retain possession and hassle opponents towards end of a game if you want to keep the lead or near the start if your side look sloppy. And if we are struggling and go 1-0 down to a side I expect to beat I shout ‘get ball forward’ and ‘get stuck in’

  • comment avatar mubixx November 7, 2012

    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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2012

      I think SI have just made this area more realistic as in RL you wouldn’t score as many from corners as you could in FM12. I find it much harder now but I think its an adjustment as opposed to a glitch.

  • comment avatar tiro November 7, 2012

    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).

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2012

      I just changed it to try and achieve a tighter midfield unity rather than all three MC’s running around doing their own thing.

  • comment avatar Calin November 7, 2012

    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!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2012

      Thanks Calin, I hope it works for you.

  • comment avatar Jante November 7, 2012

    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..

  • comment avatar Boksor November 7, 2012

    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?


    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2012

      I wouldn’t try focus passing TBH, just leave it blank and have your Adv playmaker as the teams playmaker.

  • comment avatar Rion November 7, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2012

      Thanks Rion, hope this works for you.

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 7, 2012

    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

    • comment avatar Iain November 7, 2012

      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?

      • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2012

        What you have experienced is very normal and to me means the tactic is working. If you have slow defenders and not the greatest side then you should always use counter strategy against sides you aren’t confident of dominating (which will be most) I did this in the first season and it worked well. As your side progresses you’ll naturally progress to using the attacking strategy more often. I have never used different philosophies or strategies than stated.

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 7, 2012

    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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2012

      That is probably a player problem TBH, as you improve your side those problems should level out.

  • comment avatar Tom Miller November 7, 2012

    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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2012

      It wouldn’t work as well no. Are they not accomplished at MC? I use AMC’s that are accomplished MC’s all the time.

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 7, 2012

    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…

  • comment avatar Chai Chien Liang November 8, 2012

    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?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 8, 2012

      I wouldn’t leave them as winger no, otherwise the striker will be stranded without support.

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 8, 2012

    good news (sorry for the “spam”)

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

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 8, 2012

    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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 8, 2012

      Well all tactics should be changed to suit your style and side, that is the same no matter what.

  • comment avatar EdenHazard17 November 8, 2012

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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 8, 2012

      To be honest Chelsea are so good all over I wouldn’t use the focus passing at all, unless you want to see Hazard with the ball more often of course.

  • comment avatar George November 8, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 8, 2012

      To be honest George I disagree with your points there, they have logic but not with relevance to the tactic. The tactic was designed to work as a unit, so while some individual roles may seem a little off, they aren’t when put together, you’ll see in the match engine.

  • comment avatar Ian November 8, 2012

    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. :)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 8, 2012

      Thanks Ian, I’m glad the scouting network and this tactic have helped. You seem to have signed well so hopefully you can challenge the top four.

      • comment avatar Ian November 8, 2012

        Yeah hopefully top 4 can be achieved, fingers crossed mate. Just a quick few questions sorry, after reading through comments and replies etc. How do you let your assistant deal with match prep? is it just in tactics? or is it the day before the game and the match prep message comes up and you can change training focus etc? Sorry if that sounds stupid, but i would love my assistant to take over all that as i have no clue what im doing with all that haha. Also when you switch the philospy from attacking to counter if its a tougher opponent do you just change that literally just before the game on match day when you are picking the lineup , or a few days before in tactics or something? sorry if none of this made much sense, just hard typing what im trying to say haha. Thanks in advance Darren

        • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

          In the ‘staff responsibilities’ I set my assistant to handle training which match prep is included in. I change strategy whenever I want, I have no set rule but it may pay to change earlier.

          • comment avatar Ian November 9, 2012

            Thanks dude :)

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 8, 2012
    • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 8, 2012

      what happened with my translated river plate chants???

      • comment avatar Darren Smith November 8, 2012

        It bares no relevance to this post nor its topic so it was filed as spam. People read the comments section for help and will give up if having to scroll through endless comments that are irrelevant.

  • comment avatar Low November 8, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      You should have both if you are playing FM13.

  • comment avatar Amiruddin Thaksin November 8, 2012

    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.

  • comment avatar LocoLohan November 9, 2012

    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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      I’m glad this worked for you, cheers.

  • comment avatar Jaya November 9, 2012

    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,

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      Your approach should work yes, I’d say best three in middle are Fellaini as MC defend, Carrick as MC support and Rooney in advanced playmaker. Then Nani right with Young left and RVP upfront.

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 9, 2012

    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???

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      If you won those two trophies I’m not sure why you’d want any advice, doesn’t seem like its needed as the team is good.

      • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 9, 2012

        i started the new season and no wins yet, only the euro super cup but with another tactic…

        i dont know why… team plays good and then, suddenly just put the hand brake on

        • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

          I’d suggest adjusting your team talk approach then, that is often an area that becomes a problem after enjoying success.

  • comment avatar Ulrik November 9, 2012

    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!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      Thanks mates, I’m glad this has helped.

  • comment avatar rob November 9, 2012

    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)



    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      Don’t change the roles, keep them as they are.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 9, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      It depends on the side etc, I haven’t tested it but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. I’d suggest trying it and changing appropriately.

  • comment avatar Jedidja November 9, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      While I do agree the match engine still isn’t quite right, I haven’t experienced the same level of issues TBH.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 9, 2012

    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?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      It depends completely on the tactic, my advice is to make the tactic without touching those sliders, that is the best way to get a good balance.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 9, 2012

    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?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      No I just use the one formation, maybe not too wise but I feel like changing formation in a match will cause more problems, like Mancini in Europe ;)

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 9, 2012

    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?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 9, 2012

      I prefer to use the shouts and adjust my strategy to combat a losing position.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 9, 2012

    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!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      I wouldn’t do that, all selecting a playmaker does is make the other players pick him out so its besides the point really.

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 10, 2012

    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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      Just search for assistants with good motivation, PA and CA judgement, tactical knowledge and determination etc.

  • comment avatar EdenHazard17 November 10, 2012

    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?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      No not at all, I think the goalscoring records in the post show that.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      Well it works fine for me, how many games have you played with it, honestly.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

    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?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      Can you upload your game to ‘mediafire’? I will download it and take a look. All I can think is that you aren’t giving the tactics enough time but without seeing your save I won’t know for sure.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      Just go to the download copy the URL link and paste it here so I can get the download page.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      At any point did it say it was uploading the file? It should be in my files.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      Don’t know what the problem is then. I open an account with media fire, click ‘upload’ in my account on the left handside, then click the middle of the box that appears and browse to find my file.I click open then ‘begin upload and after the upload is done the file is shown in the main screen.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      You could also try other upload sites.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012
    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      Thats the tactic, I said I need your save, I can’t help without that as I think you’re making mistakes…without your save I can’t pinpoint what the problem is.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

    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.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      I can just suggest trying again and give it time, make sure everything is set up like training and coaches etc. Then if you still have issues I’ll take a look at your save.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

    Yeah. Always do. Hire the best coaches etc.

  • comment avatar Gelbs November 10, 2012

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

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 10, 2012

      As mentioned in the post I haven’t touched player instructions so they are set at default for the tactic and their role which is slightly direct.

  • comment avatar Simon Densham November 10, 2012

    Hi, which attributes do you recommend for the midfield three other than the ones which are already highlighted for the roles?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 11, 2012

      I’d say that work rate and determination are quite important but not vital, other than that the physical attributes are a bonus.

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 11, 2012

    ijm just fed up of this crap game, that are oceans away from other versions

    consistency doesnt exist at all

    team orders are useless (example, sweeper keeper dont playing outside the area??? shitty!!!)

    blunders galore, even from world class players (im myself im keeper, and i just DONT concede goals like this)

    team is told to close down up and tackle hard, just to see how the opponent move the ball with your players looking instead of running

    match training has NO EFFECT

    i dont know why SI just decided to ruin something that was right instead of just improving only that was wrong or missing.

    fm2013 is worser than previous versions down to 2007

    so, ill quit playing until an important fix comes out.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 11, 2012

      TBH your rants have nothing to do with this tactic and I can’t do anything about you disliking the game so please take your comments elsewhere.

  • comment avatar rob November 11, 2012

    mmm, i like the game more then last year’s, this tactic is awesome.
    I finished 2th with Feyenoord, QF Champions Leaugue lost to Porto.

    Only hired Ait Fana as right winger that season, Clasie and de Vrij were brilliant.

    Now starting the 2nd season with some nice signings, bought Ait-Fana for free and Ademilson for 5 mil euro, plus some youth players who have 4-5 star potential.

    next 2013-2014:


    Janmaat – de Vrij – Indi – Nelom

    Vormer – Vilhena – Clasie

    Ait Fana – Ademilson – Verhoek

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 11, 2012

      Thanks Rob, I’m glad you enjoy the tactic.

  • comment avatar kamal November 13, 2012

    Hi Darrent,

    I’ve been following Your tactic tutorial from the very beggining. I’ve problem that I want to ask. I’m using Milan, and I don’t make any transfer at all during the transfer season, because FM 2013 won’t let me do it by giving My Milan only 4M transfer bujet :(. So I’ve to stick with the exising resources. I’m using 4-2-3-1 with Fluid Style, Attacking Strategy, Shorter Pass, Press More closing Down. Actually It provide a verry good statistic but lacking of goals. The frustation part is frequently facing a match with my side losing only one margin goal but my team control the hole match.

    This is the starting 11 :

    Pato (Poacher)
    Binho (IF) Boateng (AM) El Sharaawy (WG)
    —- all this part is attack —
    Montolivo (AP, Support) Ambrossini (BW, Defend)
    Antonini (FB,Auto) Mexes (LD,Stopper) Zapata (LD,Cover) Abate (WB,auto)
    Abiatti (GK)

    General = Fitnes, High
    Match Prep = Tactics Only

    Training Season
    General = Team Cohesion, High
    Match Prep = Teamwork

    Despretly need your help Darrent :(

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 13, 2012

      To be honest all those roles are off considering what the tactics guide tells you, it says to keep things simple which you haven’t done. I’d suggest starting over TBH. What you have created here especially in terms of roles goes against almost everything the second guide says so I can’t help really.

  • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 14, 2012

    I finally managed to create an own tactic that brought success… after using this tactic for a while, i created one with the main focus of no conceding

    i accomplished that, although starting to score just a little bit less… but 1-0’s and 2-0’s started to galore…

    im on nov 2017 now, and started with the tactic at jan 16… so far, it gave me, Two Champions Leagues, 2 Ligues de France, 1 Coupe de France, 1 Coupe de la Ligue, 1 World club Cup

    but that doesnt the best thing… just sit down before reading

    after last season, i offloaded some players, this with the budget together totalled 100 million euros…

    and then, i saw him… first made an endorse, then a praise, he and his manager had a good relation with me… so i decided to do it…

    30 years old, 2 or 3 more at his best… placed an offer you cannot refuse…

    45 million upfront, 230 more on monthly installments… i know, that would ruin any club, but im Monaco, and in Montecarlo, money isnt a problem, you fall in debt, the russian clear it…

    offer was accepted, then the contract part… was tough, cause my budget werent so big for the contract this lad wanted… but that was fixed with an 50% yearly wage rise… so, after 1 and a half months or going back and forth, finally LIONEL MESSI signed my MONACO side.

    after a few matches gelling, appear at his full vs Man City to give me the third straight euro super cup… and now he is doing more than fine, scoring by self or assiting ademilson and the other lads…

    so, i realized… Its POSSIBLE to get MESSI!!!

    i would go for CR7, but he is 32, almost 33 years old… a pity…

    • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 14, 2012

      ups, almost forgot, the tactic i made…

      a hard breaking 4-4-1-1 with W mids, a DLP an AP, then a Att mid and a poacher…

      Messi is on Att mid position, before was Kagawa there…

      obviously the Rosarino wears number 10

      • comment avatar Darren Smith November 14, 2012

        So I guess you’re not ‘fed up of this crap game’ anymore then? And you won’t ‘quit playing until an important fix comes out.’ All quoted as you can see.

        • comment avatar Matias Goncalves November 15, 2012

          well, im argentinian… passionately… but in this game you have to be defensive, otherwise blunder and pizza goals galore…

          but im happy cuz i managed to sign messi, and thats very difficult, i played a madrid save before and couldnt

          • comment avatar Darren Smith November 15, 2012

            Doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to slag off a company that works very hard, maybe you should have waited to see if the results were your fault as opposed to the games if you ask me, but there you go.

  • comment avatar Cameron Moulton November 14, 2012

    Darren if playing this tactic can you name the best inside forwards, if it is possible could you list expensive and relatively cheap

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 14, 2012

      Ben Arfa and Rodrigo from Benfica have done very well for me and Lamela has progressed well into the role, you can find other names here

      • comment avatar Cameron Moulton November 14, 2012

        Thanks Darren I was thinking Tom Ince good idea? Struggling with the second as its quiet early in the wonderkids guide but I’ll just look later as I’m still waiting for my copy of FM13.

        • comment avatar Darren Smith November 14, 2012

          Tom Ince would be quite good but there are better players available, best thing to do is wait for the game and have look though.

  • comment avatar Ian November 15, 2012

    This tactic is still going great for me, currently 2nd with Newcastle in December. Ive got Creistig and Poli coming in for January. I already have Maher who is on fire in the AP role in the centre. Do you reckon all three could play together? Poli as the CM support, Maher as the the AP and Creistig as the CM defend ? I have noticed this tactic is fantastic for all 3 central midfielders doing everything from tackling to threading people through so i was hoping Creistig and Poli could slot in well together with Maher as they both are creative and neither mind getting stuck in. Thanks in advance :)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 15, 2012

      For definite they could work together yes, I too have just signed Crisetig and waiting to see how he’ll do in MC defend, but my main worry is his lack of attacking skills, as mentioned his role isn’t purely defensive. Fingers crossed.

  • comment avatar Iain November 24, 2012

    Hi Darren, your tactic is still working well for me too, so thanks. Just a quick query regarding marking- I seem to remember you favoured zonal marking in previous years, whereas you’ve left it at default this year, which means the centre backs (and some other positions) will man mark. Any reason for this, is it just a result of trial and error? I ask because I’ve personally done better defensively since changing to zonal.

    • comment avatar rob November 24, 2012

      Me too, zonal worked better in the counter strategy, but if using the attacking mentality I think man mark is better if you have fast defenders, otherwise you will get counter attacked.

      • comment avatar Darren Smith November 24, 2012

        Just trial and error really, I decided to leave as many team instructions at default as possible and it just seemed to work.

  • comment avatar brian November 25, 2012

    not sure whats happend to this tactic since the last patch but now it just wont work .In my first season it was superb with my newcastle team i won the prem ,league cup and europa league it was awsome but now the whole team strugle. any ideas ?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 25, 2012

      It can’t be the tactic, as its actually working even better for me since the update. I’d suggest that you did very well in the first season and the players need a different approach, ie using the strategy differently due to your new reputation and also team talks.

  • comment avatar Jimmy Tingström November 26, 2012

    play with Portmouth is it fine to use starting strategy as STANDARD? or is Conter best? i have just come up to Championship.. and how about Match prep? thanks

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 26, 2012

      I couldn’t say as that would be changing the tactic, as always you’ll need to do some leg work yourself and test it. Ad for match prep its left to the assistant.

  • comment avatar Anders Gröning November 28, 2012

    Hi there Darren!

    Do you use any sideline instructions? “Try to overlap” should be qiute good if you play with inside forwards for example? “keep the ball”, “play out of defense” ?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 28, 2012

      Only instructions I use are retain possession when defending a lead late on.

  • comment avatar Ian November 28, 2012

    Hello there, I have commented a few times on this tactic, still going great. I won the FA Cup and Europa League with Newcastle in my first season, and was only 4 points behind a formidable Man City in the league, this tactic really is fantastic. Just a couple of questions just to make sure i dont mess up a happy save :) I was saying a few weeks back i was going to gte Creistig to play the CM defend role and you said you were getting him, if so hows he played in that role? also ive been offered Walcott for 8 mil, i need cover on the right for when Ben Arfa isnt fit so he would be ideal, but do right footed right wingers work well on this tactic with them cutting in? as i was thinking of getting Lamela to play on left but hes left footed so wasnt sure if he’d work likewise being left footed on the left side if that makes sense..

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 29, 2012

      He has done well, nothing amazing yet but should develop that way. All I will say is to sign him as second choice and use for Europe and cup matches until he improves, but don’t sign him unless you can play him in these matches. Walcott would be a good signing, ignore what foot is his preferred, I pay no attention to it.

  • comment avatar Daniel Heslin November 29, 2012

    This tactic was working fine for me for the first season I finished fourth in the league and won Carling Cup andEuropa league. I continued to use this tactic for my second season by qualified Top of my champions league group. And then it all went wrong for some reason. My players all of a sudden cant keep position, on an average game I will be lucky to make 1 clear cut chance. It makes completely no sense I have made no dramatic change it just seems totally unrealistic. I was 5th when I had qualified from my champions league group now I am only 5pts from the drop. I don’t know what to do, I have changed tactics but nothing can get me out of this rut. I need help lol

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 30, 2012

      If the tactic worked in the first season it must be your team talks and squad selection hasn’t adapted with your new reputation then. I can’t help you with that as it would be one long guessing game, you just need to try different things and see what works

  • comment avatar Anders Gröning December 1, 2012

    Get so f*cking tired of this. Tried your tactic for a while but it sucks for me. Can’t believe how you guys can achive so much success. I’m still in midtable in december just like all the other saves I’ve tried with Arsenal. The only differense this time is that my target player (Giroud/Chamakh) gets more goals but that ain’t gonna cut it. Have the more possesion and goal attemps in almost every game but the finsishes is just awful. Have tried with lower defense line cuz I think the high defensive line is suicide but still no change. I guess the poor results is my own fault but I really can’t understand why I can’t pull this off. I’ve tried in many different ways but still the same poor result. I will never ever try a save with Arsenal again :(

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 1, 2012

      Sorry to see you are struggling Anders, unfortunately I’m not sure what the problem might be. Could be team selection, when you’re using the attacking strategy or counter and team talks.

      • comment avatar Anders Gröning December 1, 2012

        Yeah probalby, I’ve changed to zon marking since I don’t the central mids arteta,ramsey, wilshere or diaby should be man marking which they are if the the marking is set to “standard”. I don’t know if that could play a part, but I think it shouldn’t. The team talks is not good. Most of my players reacting negative of whatever I say. I think it come down to that I have to buy a lot of new players and get rid of many I have which I don’t think is fun…

        • comment avatar Darren Smith December 1, 2012

          Well signing and selling is probably the most important part of the game TBH.

  • comment avatar Lukas Van de Kelder December 1, 2012

    Great tactics!

    I was about to get fired at my club Racing Genk in Belgium because I was placed 9th.
    Then I began using your tactics and 3 months later I am 2nd with a winning streak of 8 games !!

    Thanks a lot!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 1, 2012

      No problem mate, hope it continues.

  • comment avatar Jimboola December 1, 2012

    Similar to a tactic of mine (the midfield 3) so i tried your version. But 1/2 season on….the team ‘ignore’ the ‘down the right flank’ order. They hardly ever do it.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 1, 2012

      That is probably the most insignificant part of the tactic anyway, I dropped it after a few seasons when the overall quality improved. I only used it because Ben Arfa was the outstanding player in my team.

  • comment avatar Joe Bueno December 1, 2012


    In section “shouts” what you use?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 1, 2012

      Just to ‘retain possession’ when holding onto a lead late on. As mentioned already if you need to use too many shouts then the tactic isn’t working.

  • comment avatar Joe Bueno December 3, 2012

    in the beginning of the championship, they ask the dimensions of your field.
    You put some dimension who influence the team play?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 3, 2012

      Makes absolutely no difference, I never create tactics that rely on these sorts of things, simple is always better :)

  • comment avatar Luke Wilkinson December 6, 2012

    Hey buddy, Been pulling my hair out over this tactic, I’ve been forced to start over and over because I’m just not getting results. I’ve tried buying the same players you have minus a few due to not enough funds, Rodrigo doesn’t seem to want to sign for me anyway. Pre-season was horrible only winning one game and that was against a team I’ve never heard of. First 3 games of the season were just as bad losing 3-0 to Wigan, Drawing 1-1 to Southampton and Losing 2-0 to West Ham. So yeah, Not going very well. Is there anything I’m doing wrong? And also could you throw a couple screenshots my way of the transfers/changes you made in the first and second season etc etc? Would be great, Thanks!.

  • comment avatar December 7, 2012

    Hello there Darren, this tactic is still going great for me with Newcastle. After finishing second in the league my first season and winning the Europa League and FA Cup, I won the European Super Cup 3-1 against Barcelona. The thing is, I’ve brought Mario Gotze in and playing him AML inside forward and he’s destroying everyone, but some games hes absent, is that because focus passing is still down the right with Ben Arfa? (who i must say is the best player in my team, he is just a beast). I’ve got Adam Maher in the centre as well, so with Ben Arfa, Maher and Gotze in the same team i dont know who to set as my primary playmaker? or none at all and let them all do their magic? I was going to change focus down the right with Ben Arfa to down the left with Gotze to bring him more into the game, and also he has 20 for both passing and creativity now. Its a nice headache to have though I guess haha :)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 7, 2012

      Good to hear you’re doing so well and yes those three are a brilliant problem to have :) I too reached a stage where the rest of my side reached Ben Arfa’s standard, at that time I switched focus passing to default and set my AP as playmaker (mainly because he could pick out a pass and play the wingers/forward through on goal.) I recommend doing that and it should open up the play.

      • comment avatar December 7, 2012

        cheers dude :) i’ll change them instructions. I’ve found Koke from Athletico Madrid plays the CM defend role an absolute dream in this tactic. Him, Hiljemark and Maher in the centre works an total treat. Thanks mate :)

  • comment avatar Paulo Gato O Próprio December 9, 2012

    hi mate ! how are your training? :D

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 9, 2012

      Sorry I don’t understand the question…if you mean how do I train the general team to suit the tactic, there isn’t anything special you need to do, the tactic works apart from training.

  • comment avatar Paulo Gato O Próprio December 9, 2012

    I mean, what’s your team training. Damn bad english xD

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 10, 2012

      Well the training won’t effect the tactic, but I generally set it to balanced and high intensity with a break after matches but not before. If I have signed lots of new players I do a mixture of fitness and team cohesion training during pre-season also.

  • comment avatar kriggs December 10, 2012

    gud day darren ur tactic looks great would u recomend it 4 a liverpool team

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 10, 2012

      This tactic should work with any side, but you still need to address the positions and check the players will suit. Every tactic may need tweaking to an individual teams needs so you’d have to test it.

  • comment avatar Elliot December 12, 2012

    This tactic isn’t working in the championship, left the tactic how it is apart from removing the focus passing and moving playmaker to the ap role. Played it for full 3 seasons (2 with Hull and 1 with Forest neither have finished in the top 10.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 12, 2012

      Without the right player you can’t expect this to work, you have to adapt the tactic around the players or the players around the tactic…sounds to me like you are sticking two things together and hoping for the best.

      • comment avatar Elliot December 12, 2012

        Team with Forest- In your formation from left to right,
        Rudd, Dan Harding or Luke Shaw, Ben Haim, Greg Halford, (or Danny Collins & Lescellas) Chimbonda or Maloney Midfield – Hiljemark Cohen Frimpong or Lansbury Goretzka Moussi – Inside Forwards Crussat & Drage (or Cohen & Tudgay) forward – Cox or Sharpe

        • comment avatar Darren Smith December 12, 2012

          Have you had any success with other tactics?

          • comment avatar Elliot December 13, 2012

            Yeah, using pretty much the same players on different save with Hull got third and won league with Forest. I will keep with it see what happens.

  • comment avatar Ian December 12, 2012

    Hi Darren, sorry if this question is a bit off topic…but it is this great tactic that is making me not want to start a new game as I am loving my current save using this tactic. I know there is an update out through steam addressing some bugs on the game. For the update to work would i have to start a fresh game? i know you had to to start a new save for January transfer updates in the past, but wasn’t sure for problem shooting updates like to fix ME? I just really don’t want to start a new game just yet, loving my Newcastle save using this tactic. Sorry for the off topic question, but could not a get a solid answer elsewhere.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 12, 2012

      No Ian all fixes will be updated on current saves also. Obviously database changes such as transfers and player data will need to have a new save loaded but any match engine fixes and the like will happen for all saves new or old.

      • comment avatar Ian December 12, 2012

        Cheers Darren :)

  • comment avatar Sebastian December 16, 2012

    Hi Darren. I have a question. How to change the players started to play better defense and getting less pages and began to score goals in six matches since I can not win or score a goal. I lose five six wickets in the match.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 16, 2012

      Sorry I don’t understand the question.

      • comment avatar Sebastian December 16, 2012

        My Bolton don’t have wins since six match and I don’t know what is not so

        • comment avatar Darren Smith December 16, 2012

          I can’t really help much to be honest, it could be any number of things…the wrong players, team talks, but I’d start by suggesting you try adjusting the philosophy to fluid and strategy to counter while you work tour way out of the bad run.

  • comment avatar Derrell December 19, 2012

    Hi nice tactic. going threw a bit of a slump at the minute tho. any advice and do you use OI?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 19, 2012

      I can’t really offer any advice, it will depend on your game. All I could say is to watch the match engine and see where the problems are to correct. I ask my assistant to sort OI.

  • comment avatar FMfan-Denmark December 20, 2012

    Hey Darren, what a fantastic way to play!
    Ive just started a new season with Oxford United
    and its going great first season game against a L1 team i the capital one cup, victory for me, and then a victory for me against swansea, who had beaten Man City and everton in PRM so far.. thanks again for the tactic, will come with futher updates on how it’s going :)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 21, 2012

      Thanks mate, glad you’re enjoying the tactic. Fingers crossed the success continues.

  • comment avatar jackp17 December 24, 2012

    what are the player instructions? thanks:)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 24, 2012

      There are none, just default.

  • comment avatar Paul Donnelly December 25, 2012

    Trying this out with Arsenal at the minute, played a solid game against the reserves with some great attacking football. Sadly Mannone decided to have a really good game so it stayed 0-0.

    Signing a couple of players geared for this formation so hopefully it’ll work out well.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 25, 2012

      Hopefully it works for you, good luck.

  • comment avatar Hashim December 27, 2012

    Hi Darren,

    I am using your tactic on my Roma team on FM mode, and to be very honest….its one of the most dominant and astonishig tactics I have seen recently =D with only one downside i’ll mention later down

    I play:
    Piris – Astori – Leandro Castan – Balzaretti
    De Rossi (CM-D) – Benat (AP) – Pjanic (CM-S)
    Schelotto (AMR) – Lamela (AML)
    —The good side of the tactic—
    Played 6 games so far in Serie A…Won all 6…scored 14 and conceded 3
    Pjanic is my top scorer so far with 4 goals
    Destro (Totti’s Sub) my top assists with 4 too
    Benat my top performer with 7.55 Avg
    —The down side—
    The team is getting waaaaaaaaaaaay too many cards =S
    13 Yellow cards (highest are 3 for Balzaretti, 2 for Lamela and De Rossi)
    2 Red cards (Astori and De Rossi)
    Fouls made/Games played = 128/6 !!!!!

    Thank you for an amazing tactic

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 27, 2012

      No problem, glad you like the tactic, as for the cards I haven’t seen such an issue myself but I guess its a small price to pay for winning matches.

  • comment avatar Ziad Hyder December 27, 2012

    Hi Darren,

    I just started playing FM 2013, and boy is it overwhelming to see so many tactics and training options. Nonetheless, I’ve got a hang of things. So, me and a couple of friends of mine are playing online FM 2013 where we set rules for ourselves, such that we can only pick teams that finished in the middle of the table last season. As such I ended up with Fulham. All my other friends are seasoned campaigner and such is the nature of our competitiveness, they do not want to disclose any tactics or ideas they use.

    As a result, I am now looking online for tactics and trying to understand the best way to play the game. I plan to use your tactic on Fulham, and this is the default Fulham side with no new signings, apart from Adam Johnson. Do you think this tactic will work for a team like Fulham, or does it need to be a team from a top-tiers such as Arsenal or Manchester United?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 27, 2012

      It could work but you’d have to test it like any other tactic, the key is to have a good, fast striker and solid defence.

  • comment avatar paul bourke December 30, 2012

    would it work if i set target man supply to run onto ball?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith December 30, 2012

      I don’t see why not, but I haven’t tested it so you’d to try it out to know for sure.

  • comment avatar Ryan January 1, 2013

    Hey Darren im doing a season with Spurs using your Tactic I had a really good start to the season but recently it has not been working i lost 5-1 to Southampton 6-0 to Man city and my team just don’t seem to score the team playing is

    GK Lloris
    RB Walker
    CB Kaboul
    CB Vertonghen
    LB Fuchs
    CM Sandro
    CM Isco
    CM Parker/Dembele
    LAM Bale
    RAM Lennon
    ST Defoe/Adebayor

    Can you give me some advice please

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 1, 2013

      I can’t really help without seeing the problems, just be sure to have your assistant do the opposition instructions adjust your team talks to suit the bad form and try to analyse where its going wrong so you can either work on the problem area in match preparation or adjust the tactic accordingly.

  • comment avatar McGoobage January 3, 2013

    Hi Darren. I am posted because you said that this tactic should also work in the lower leagues. Well, here’s one for you!

    I am taking part in this challenge starting in the Blue Square South – FIVE leagues below the Premier League and I can’t buy a win to be honest.

    Down here, it’s very difficult to bring in players that make the tactic work. Is there any chance you could email me what I should be looking for in players bearing in mind how far down I am starting?

    • comment avatar McGoobage January 3, 2013

      Just to explain, I work 4 on, 4 off 12 hour shifts and don’t get alot of time for FM to study tactics, formations etc..

      • comment avatar Darren Smith January 3, 2013

        Since making this tactic the new patch has made things very tough with lesser players so I have experienced the same problems as yourself…I would recommend looking for a tactic that will suit your level better as this tactic has become less effective so far down since the most recent patch.

  • comment avatar Danny January 3, 2013

    Hi James

    i have Started an online season like your self with newcastle and this tactic is perfect, never the less it takes time for players to gel ect…

    but my question to you is:

    i have since started a season with Crystal Palace, Championship i feel is a tougher league and with little to no money to spend im finding it difficult to find wins, is there any advice that you may have that might aid me to making my Palace save successful, i would be much appreicateed

    • comment avatar Danny January 3, 2013

      sorry i mean Darren :S

      • comment avatar Darren Smith January 3, 2013

        Sorry Danny but there are no quick fixes, if you can’t sign better players then its just about seeing where the problems are in the match engine and trying to adjust the tactic appropriately. The only tip I can offer for that is watch every match in ‘extended highlights’.

  • comment avatar Liam January 5, 2013

    Plug and Play Tactics don’t work in Football Manager 2013.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 5, 2013

      They did for the early patches but this most recent patch seems to have made things a bit more difficult, plug and play does still work if you have the right team and players for the tactic but that is a very tough match to find so I’d agree.

  • comment avatar Kristoffer January 7, 2013

    Hi Darren,

    Im about to try this out in Championship with a lower league side of team! I do have one question though about the playmaker and the distribution of the ball to him.

    How should i set this one if i dont have a player like Ben Arfa? Should it be set to the AP in the MC slot or should i pick NONE as playmaker!? And then about the ball distribution, should it if i set the AP as playmaker be set to variations? :)


    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 7, 2013

      As addressed in the post if you don’t have a Ben Arfa type player set the playmaker as the Adv playmaker and leave the distribution as default.

  • comment avatar Mark January 8, 2013

    Hi Darren

    I start my campaign in FM13 with Southampton and my ussual tactic from FM12(and older versions),which is 4 in a back,one DM,AM,CM and up are IF,winger and poacher.
    It was awfull start of the season and then i saw your tactic and i like the idea of 3 midfilders.Irs turn my season to more positive scores and i finished 6.
    Im now in my second season and have a few question.The team is great at home but not as good on away games?Not scoring many goals from counter attacks,almost none?And there is a gap btw defence and mid?
    Im trying with different pressure,def.line,direct passing…. for away games.Have no idea for counter att.?
    Do you have any suggestions for gap btw. def. and mid.?
    For IF im using guys with “opposite foot” on the right is the one which is better with left foot and opposite.Your experience?

    Just a few things for discussion :)

    Otherwise the idea of tactic is really great!


    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 8, 2013

      I don’t know about the gap between defense and midfield as I haven’t experienced that. But as for the problems away from home you are going through an awkward transition of underdogs to established EPL side. You need to carefully select between attack and counter in your away matches depending on the opponent. And looking at your IF question, all always say ignore their preferred foot and go with the more familiar side for them.

      • comment avatar Mark January 9, 2013

        You are probably right about away game.Its Southampton and i really have a young team.They could easily play on Olympics :))

        All other things are here to try,to research,etc.,but i must say that this version of FM is the hardest i play untill now.

        Thanks for respond

        • comment avatar Darren Smith January 9, 2013

          TBH I agree with you Mark, this years game is definitely the toughest, at least since they revamped the tactics screen anyway.

  • comment avatar Sean January 11, 2013

    Thank you so much Darren!

    I did well with lower league teams using more intricate tactics but I wanted to start a save with a big team; PSG.

    Things weren’t going well up to Dec and my team had no consistency, losing stupid games etc. I tweeked everything trying to create a good tactic but nothing worked.

    I was honestly going to give up and go back to where I belonged — as a lower league manager — then I came across this tactic, tried it and its worked brilliantly so far, six wins on the trot with 19 goals scored and only 3 conceded. (had to drop Ibrahimovic though cause he doesn’t fit with it lol) I guess when it comes to the big teams simpler IS better in FM.

    So I can confirm that even with the new patch this tactic still works with the right players.

    Thanks a bunch!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 11, 2013

      No problem, I’m glad this works for you.

  • comment avatar paul gibson January 13, 2013

    have to thank you for this tactic hernandez is scoring shed loads of goals in this formation at man utd

  • comment avatar mike January 15, 2013

    Hi Daren ! What do you thing about the roles that I have to use with this players ?

    PL Falcao
    AML Douglas Costa
    AMR Cavani
    MC André Ayew, Vidal and Moussa Sissoko


    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 15, 2013

      You shouldn’t change the roles in the tactic so poacher Falcao, inside forwards for the wingers, Vidal cm-defend, ayew adv playmaker and Sissoko cm-support.

      • comment avatar mike January 15, 2013

        And how about focus passing ? Do you think that Cavani on the right side could be a good option for that ? Or it´s better not use focus passing ?

  • comment avatar Alan Moffet January 15, 2013

    Hey I think you tactic is great, however I’ve run into the problem that a few have mentioned above, I’m playing as Chelsea in my first season, they create loads of chances i.e 30 shots a game yet the CCC is maybe 1 or 2, an I cant seem to score many at all

    Then comes the worst part, for whatever reason every time I play a team using 4-2-3-1 I get battered, including a 3-0 loss to Swansea and a 4-1 to Malaga, this is extremely frustrating considering the attacking power I have

    Heres my team
    GK – Cech
    RB – Lichstiener
    CB – Terry
    CB – Dede
    LB – Cole
    CM – De Rossi
    CM- Hamsik/ Mata
    CM – Lampard
    LAM – Hazard
    RAM – Neymar/Mata
    ST – Torres

    Please help asap as this is an online league with friends an its bugging me that I can beat my friends Man City side 3-0, then get beat 2-0 by sunderland the week after

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 15, 2013

      As of the latest patch you may struggle just plugging in a tactic and playing, you need to be much more conscious of the opposition. Its just about observing the game and finding a way through. For instance, if you are having lots of chances according to the shots ratio, maybe the shots are from too far out? Maybe you need to draw the team onto you by standing off them as opposed to closing down and play on the the counter, but you need to observe the game and see what needs adjusting as it will vary form opponent to opponent.

  • comment avatar KingPablo January 15, 2013

    I play with your tactics 6 seasons. results are exciting, but I have some problems.
    The biggest problem IF left and right, all of the games I’m not satisfied with them because neither achieved a lot of goals or have a lot of assists, and Ar is a maximum of 7:15

    IF Left: Gotze, Bernard
    IF Right: Hulk, W.Nem

    Some suggestions for them


    GK – KRUL

    DCL – MBIA
    DL – A. SANDRO


    IF L – GOTZE
    IF R – HULK

    P – FIERRO

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 15, 2013

      I don’t know what to suggest as I have never had issues with them. If you haven’t already I’d suggest not assigning a target man and not setting any specific focus passing.

  • comment avatar michael January 19, 2013

    hi brilliant page may i add, using your tactic in my second season with middlesbrough, got them into the premiership, problem is i keep conceding far too many goals, played 30, scored 45, conceded 73, any ideas how to slightly tighten up the defence, cheers mike

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 19, 2013

      I’m afraid that is just realism, if you don’t have the players then you are bound to concede, experienced the same thing with Blackpool…all you can do is wait it out and get better players…until then just watch the match engine and see where its going wrong, it will vary from game to game.

      • comment avatar michael January 19, 2013

        yeh thanks for advice not doing too bad though in 9th at the minute got my scouts scouring the world for that ideal back 4, but again seems to be working elsewhere, great work, keep it up, thanks

  • comment avatar Ian January 20, 2013

    Hello Darren, I still think this is by far the best tactic by a mile for this years game. Just a quick question, do you put your players on any specific training schedules? say for instance I’ve got Lamela playing AML inside forward, would you put him on the inside forward schedule to help him get a bit better? or would you put him on lets say the winger schedule to improve crossing, or even the poacher schedule to improve finishing etc? thanks in advance dude

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 20, 2013

      Thanks Ian, I would put Lamela on the inside forwards training personally. I just see what I want improving and train the area, usually with high intensity.

      • comment avatar Ian January 21, 2013

        Would you put all players on a training schedule? I’ve got Garmash playing cm defend so would you put him on the cm schedule? Sorry for all the questions, its just when I hear stuff like “under the right management this player will get better” I never know what that means and if I’m training players right, still new to this. Cheers mate

        • comment avatar Darren Smith January 21, 2013

          Just to clarify there are no schedules this year, so I am assuming you mean set their training on the appropriate role, if so then yes that is what I’d do unless there is one specific attribute that needs a lot of work.

  • comment avatar KiwisAreCool January 20, 2013

    does this tactic still work? i see you posted it a while ago.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 20, 2013

      Yes provided you have the right players, for lower league football you would have to adapt the tactic to suit.

  • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll January 28, 2013

    hey Darren, was just wondering if you use shouts? or anything, just played my second premier division match against tottenham and lost 4-0 just wondering if i did something wrong? i set my tactics to counter and my passing focus to mixed because ben afra is injured, but changed to attack and defend as well because it wasn’t working,also can you suggest any transfers for the 1st season with newcastle ? i got ademilson, hiljemark, and a guy called wellington nem who is a brazilian am(lr) st ? also i lost demba ba to chelsea although its to late now can you offer him a new contract so he stays with newcastle? cheers

    • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll January 28, 2013

      also i would just like to say thank you for all your posts has been a big help! keep up the good work and i’m now following you on Facebook :)

      • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll January 28, 2013

        and also what do you set your training to? i thought i saw it on here but i can’t at the moment so if you could add that too it would be great cheers

        • comment avatar Darren Smith January 28, 2013

          - I do use shouts, but only as and when they are needed. For instance I tell the players to get stuck in if they aren’t making enough tackles or to retain possession if they are misplacing passes. These are reactions to the performance though, not to correct errors in the tactic.
          – All I’d suggest is you may not have trained the team well enough in team cohesion and the tactic so they haven’t blended in well.
          – I’d suggest looking here for transfers
          – As for offering Ba a contract you can but it would depend on his demands I guess.
          – Training is just set to balanced and heavy intensity. But pre-season is spent working on team cohesion and tactic only in match training.

          • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll January 29, 2013

            thanks for the tip just wasn’t sure :) yes it was the 3rd game i had played so that would be it, I’m starting to get better, I’m currently 8th after 11 games with 5 wins 4 draws and 2 losses, thanks for the link :), thats what i thought but i’ll just try buy him back at a later date or get someone younger and just as good, any recommendations? cheers so during the season training should be heavy intensity ? or average ? cheers

          • comment avatar Darren Smith January 29, 2013

            As mentioned all player recommendations are within that link and the training is heavy IMO yes.

  • comment avatar Chris Hutton January 29, 2013

    Thank you Darren you have saved me a lot of torment tried a lot of tactics before this none worked apart from yours so thanks for that. One thing I did notice is my players constantly shoot from outside the box they are either miles off or very timid, I tried to use the work ball into box shout but only works every so often, other thing I noticed is when it is set to counter the tempo is set to very slow surely it should be fast? Thank you in advance and keep up the good work

    • comment avatar Darren Smith January 29, 2013

      Glad this has helped Chris. The long shots is a pain at times, I have amazing players so those efforts get drowned out by the amount of chances we create now, but you can help the matter by changing the individual player instructions, just adjust long shots to rarely, it won’t solve the issue completely as its a bug with the most recent patch but it should help.

      As for the tempo, you are right that logic would demand it be faster with the counter strategy, you can adjust that as you wish. I just wanted to create a simple tactic and it seemed to work well with default settings so I left it rather than asking everyone to change that when they counter attack,

  • comment avatar Godders February 3, 2013

    Hi Darren.

    Have you ever uesd Advanced Players in the wide areas, have they worked for you over a season?

    Any thoughts of using a Very Fluid tactic in the future?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 3, 2013

      I haven’t used an adv. playmaker on the wings this year but I did last year and it worked fairly well. Not as bigger a fan this year but it could work with the right players. I wouldn’t use a very fluid tactic though, kinda makes me feel like there’s no point in working on the shape of the team as they’d drift from it constantly anyway.

  • comment avatar Andrew February 4, 2013

    thanks for this, working nicely so far :)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 4, 2013

      No problem, glad its working.

  • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 4, 2013

    hey darren,

    was just reading another site and someone on there recommends to not use just one tactic?what are your thoughts on that? also i seem to be loosing a lot of away games against teams i should be beating with the counter tactic, any advise ? i trained very high with team cohesion as well as tactics for preseason, i know it wont work straight away but its just annoying as you would know. cheers

    • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 4, 2013

      also im finding it hard to score consistently, i cant seem to get more than 1 goal in a game often

      • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 4, 2013

        i have gotten 12 goals in 11 games, the strikers i have are cisse, ademilson, yoan gouffran, i might get campbell in to the side from u18’s, im getting leonard kweuke in the jan transfer market so he should be a boost, and how do you best manage a teams finances? so getting players in while making a profit? i know you sell players but i just cant manage it properly and end up loosing money all the time so any tips would be great.

        sorry about all the questions

        • comment avatar Darren Smith February 4, 2013

          I’ll address your questions in order starting from the first one…

          1) It is advisable to use two tactics if your side aren’t great, but when you have better players one is enough, its all about judging from the opponents formation etc.
          2) The last inquiry in the first comment and first inquiry in the second comment have the same answer. Every game is different and I you need to be watching the ME in at least extended highlights to see where the problems are and then take appropriate action. Try reading the bottom part of this post about touchline shouts
          3) You guessed it with the finances, there are no shortcuts, its simple, you have to buy and sell smart.
          4) The last query is answered in number 2.

          Basically the game has gotten tougher since the most recent patch and you now need to pay close attention to your tactics, you need to take action on a game to game basis, there is no plug and play tactics anymore unless you have an amazing side.

  • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 4, 2013

    also… teams keep stopping me from scoring because there defence is solid at the back so the commentary says, anyway what can i do tactic wise to change that ? go more direct or?

  • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 5, 2013

    this is going to sound like a dumb question but how do you analyse your tactics when managing your team, you say to watch extended highlights to see what needs improvements, so like if you were conceding heaps, you would drop deeper and maybe hold possession in shouts? or is it more am actual tactic change required? i know you cant do knee jerk reactions in this game but can you please give me some tips on what to look for in gameplay to improve my managing skills and results because as i said recently i am still struggling to score and i can dominate possession but still loose the game and there is nothing more frustrating as you would know.

    cheers jvk

  • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 5, 2013

    also i think my problem is in the final third, i have to get rid of cisse, any consistent strikers with good finishing you can recommend ? my defence and mid are ok i think but i just lost 0-3 at home to psv which knocked me out of Europe but had like 18 shots at goal, any ideas ?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 6, 2013

      You are asking me to analyse something I can’t physically see. All I can say is that if you are getting raped down the wings, common sense says to play wider and maybe get stuck in, equally you may need to command your AM’s to man mark the full backs of the opposition if they are causing problems. Thats an example…you mentioned losing, its not about the result or scoreline its how you are conceding goals or why you are struggling to score. You need to think for yourself and use common sense as there are no easy answers.

      Your problem is that you have one man upfront on his own and that player can’t dribble for crap, he lacks creativity and flair also, so how do you expect him to create chances, a lone striker used as poacher must be able to create his own chances as well as score them, so you need a new player like Fierro or Abel Hernandez for instance.

  • comment avatar Daniel Haus February 6, 2013

    hey Darren!

    for the instructions, what do i have to make only 3 points in top matches?

    Need answer quick!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 6, 2013

      Sorry I have no idea what you are trying to find out there, can you give me a little more detail or use proper terms so I can answer the question.

      • comment avatar Daniel Haus February 6, 2013

        when you’re playing a game, you have style, strategy and instructions to choose, and i wonder if you use some instructions for your team to play?

        • comment avatar Daniel Haus February 6, 2013

          touchline instructions!!

          • comment avatar Darren Smith February 6, 2013

            Yeah the main ones I use are retain possession and get stuck in when the possession stats aren’t too great or feel my side are sloppy.

  • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 6, 2013

    alright that is helpful, so change the players instructions to suit, thanks for that though really appreciate it :), one more thing for now, when I’m vsing all the good teams in england as well as some average teams, i seem to find it hard to get a result although i did beat man c 2-1 but that was very lucky, do i need to alter my tactic or do i change formation to a more defensive one? or just change my player instructions?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 7, 2013

      I don’t know, this is what I’m saying, I can’t see what your problem is in game, you have to experiment yourself and find out.

  • comment avatar John February 8, 2013

    Hi Darren,

    I have a big issue with this tactic. My defense i leaking like i don’t know what. I’m so damn frustrated right now!

    Playing with Arsenal, in season 2, my lineup is very good, but still, even lower teams like QPR, Burnley, Ipswich and such just run right through my retarded defenders, why ?

    Also, when i meet bigger teams, their players “attack” mine and steals the ball all the time, my players just runs side by side and watch… have I missed something?


    Striker: Cavani
    Wingers: Draxler, Walcott
    Midfield: Arteta, Cazorla, M’Vila
    Defence: Fabio, Koscielny, K.Papadopulus, Cline

    I have also bought Isco as you did, but he cant even pass the ball 10% right, even when I use him in the same position as you..

    Just cant figure out what the hell is wrong…. please give me a hint :)

    Can you upload i picture with your shouts maybe ?

    Thanks mate!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 8, 2013

      Unfortunately wince the new patch you can’t just plug and play, you need to look at whats happening in the match engine and respond to it…I obviously can’t tell you what is going wrong in your games as I can’t see them.

      All I can say is maybe your squad haven’t been given enough time to blend…if you didn’t spend pre-season with team cohesion for training and tactic only for match training then that could be the issue. The other thing to try is maybe using the counter strategy while you are in bad form…but all in all you must respond to the opposition, which I can’t really explain how to do as it varies so much on different circumstances.

      • comment avatar Daniel February 8, 2013

        I world have tried the control strategy! Won me Big counting matches vs real Madrid and Barca, win 5-1 and 4-3:)) just saying, works better That counter!

        • comment avatar Darren Smith February 9, 2013

          But the counter strategy is used as an alternative to the attacking strategy, all depends on the standard of your squad really.

  • comment avatar Hari February 9, 2013

    Hi Darren,

    Great tactic, makes a lot of sense while attacking. Do you have pics of how NUFC deal with the engine while defending? I get ripped apart on the counter attack easily especially when my full backs cross is headed away.

    Any idea how best to recycle possession? I asked my AP to stay in the hole and be able to pick up misplaced clearances but in the Italian league, counter attacks are especially devastating (most defences are slow, including mine).


    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 9, 2013

      The only way to handle the defensive side if you are using the attacking strategy is to have fast defenders, without them this won’t work.

  • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 10, 2013

    hey darren,

    how do you stop defenders from making mistakes ? ive conceded about 5 goals in 3 games because of it… really frustrating i know good concentration and composure helps as well as passing but any tips would be good, currently loosing to norwich 2-1 because i have given them 2 goals

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 10, 2013

      Well with a general problem like that all you can do is set match training to defensive positioning and maybe try using a less attacking strategy, as mentioned you have to dissect the problem to solve it, if you don’t do that then it’ll keep happening.

      • comment avatar Jarryd Van Koll February 11, 2013

        thanks darren ! you have really helped me improve as a manager

  • comment avatar David February 10, 2013

    Hi Darren, I cant download the tactic (laptop issues) so ive tried to set it up as youve suggested, with minor tweeks to suit my players, but I was wondering if you could briefly give sum player instructions, mainly full back (attack or support) and the three in the middle of midfield, is there a trick to getting them to work as a pack?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 10, 2013

      All the instructions are shown in the image above, that is how they are set. There is no trick its just about getting the right players to fill the roles.

      • comment avatar David Oyston February 11, 2013

        ok thanks. what about the player instructions? are the IF’s set to ‘cut inside’ for example, or have to changed it?

        • comment avatar Darren Smith February 12, 2013

          All player instructions are left to default if they weren’t I’d have posted them, no tweaks in this one as it just confuses things.

  • comment avatar Mike February 11, 2013

    I’ve been playing with Blackpool and have set up a similar formation and signed zaha with the intention of him playing poacher with nice and Phillips on the wings which in theory sounded good however I’ve played four league games somehow losing all four and so before too much pressure builds I just want to know whether your tactic would turn it around for me or whether there’s something else I need to address

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 12, 2013

      I don’t know, there’s so many things that could be going wrong, all you can do is try it, but TBH it may be too late to change tactic as pre-season is gone and the players won’t learn it too quick.

      • comment avatar Mike February 12, 2013

        I don’t think there too much difference between the formations so ill give it a go and hopefully I’ll climb the table


        • comment avatar Mike February 20, 2013

          I lost my first six games in the league but eventually got the tactics right and later had seven consecutive victories continuing the season in good form finished 4th in the league and narrowly lost 2-1 in the playoff final. However even after losing I still see it as a successful season and that with improved strength in depth I can win the league in season 2 thanks to the 433 tactic

          Thank you

          • comment avatar Darren Smith February 20, 2013

            Sometimes the problem is the team blending and learning the tactic, but good you got to grips eventually and hopefully you can win the league next year maybe.

  • comment avatar Fred Turner February 14, 2013


    Your tactic seems to work. I like it. Thanks

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 14, 2013

      Glad it works for you Fred.

  • comment avatar Omar Sherif February 16, 2013

    Your tactic is great, I wish I could have a great mind like yours :)
    I was playing with Arsenal and I think it was on of my worst games ever!
    Now I need a team which I could have a challenge like yours with Newcastle.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 16, 2013

      Thanks, glad it helped.

      • comment avatar Omar Sherif February 16, 2013

        Could you suggest me a team?

        • comment avatar Darren Smith February 16, 2013

          Depends on what you want form the save, I always suggest playing with a team that enjoys resources like Spurs if you tend to do short saves, but try and pick a team that means something to you or interests you for a longer save.

  • comment avatar John February 17, 2013

    How can I create a strong defensive line?

  • comment avatar Frank February 18, 2013

    Hi Darren,
    I just want to start off saying I am a huge fan of your blog and I have loved reading your stories for the past few years. I will be using this tactic with Ajax which I have decided to start blogging on and I wondered could you check it out.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 18, 2013

      Thanks Frank, hope the tactic works, I will glance over your site from time to time and see how you’re doing.

  • comment avatar Raman February 20, 2013

    hey bro, whats the skin you are using above? where do i get the link? send me if possible. thanks.

  • comment avatar toonarmy0511 February 20, 2013

    Hi Darren,

    I’m trying out your setup with the magpies. I noticed that even though my team always have the majority of the possession, we created very little chances on goals. I watched one game in ‘full match’ (tyne-wear derby) and it looked like that none of my IFs and the poacher trying to surge inside the penalty box. Instead they were trying to go with long range shooting. Has this ever happened to you?


    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 20, 2013

      Yeah its a common problem with most tactics TBH, just go to the effected players instructions and change their long shot slider as required. Alternatively use touchline shout, ‘work ball into box’.

  • comment avatar Luis February 22, 2013

    I’ve used this tactic in 8 of my careers! yet none of them worked… I first tried it in a career wiv sime shitty spanish team and got relegated, then i tried it wiv man u, tottenham, chelsea, madrid, bayern, dortmund, and masaille yet none of it seemed to work.. and one point i had the exact same team as u but still didnt work? any ideas why?

  • comment avatar Rick February 25, 2013

    Just wanted to say how amazing this tactic is. Got Blackpool promoted in the first season, and have been getting better ever since.
    Currently sitting 3rd in the prem and knocked Madrid out of the Champions league 3-0 in 2017.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith February 25, 2013

      Good to hear, I’m glad its working for you.

  • comment avatar Tan February 27, 2013

    Nice tactic! My own developed tactic looks pretty similar, but I have a complete forward-attack up top and two box-to-box midfielders flanking the advanced playmaker. It’s working for me, won the league as Liverpool (albeit after selling the house). Arguments for/against the cm/s and the cm/d part?

  • comment avatar David Smith March 1, 2013

    Hi Darren, the tactic isn’t set up to autmotically change to counter for tougher and away games is it? You will need to change that yourself at team talk stage?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 1, 2013

      That is correct, it is impossible to set a tactic to automatically change for the opponent. I recommend changing the strategy yourself during the team selection stage.

  • comment avatar Jack March 7, 2013

    How well does this work with new patches? The two tactic that ive been using were working really well, but now thats not the case

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 7, 2013

      Works just fine for me.

      • comment avatar Jack March 7, 2013

        Im gonna give it ago then :)

  • comment avatar James Philp March 7, 2013

    Some one please help me i am the new manager of the Spurs. Please i would like to know if Gareth Bale can work as ”IF” with Aaron Lennon on the other flank. My midfield is made of Sandro, Guarin, Micheal Bradley and other good player for mid……thanks.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 7, 2013

      Bale could work as inside forward from the left and Lennon would do OK from the right but I think there are better players available in that role on the right like Ben Arfa and Yarmolenko.

  • comment avatar Jack March 8, 2013

    Would it destroy the tactic by changing all the Cm’s and Wingers to Often Through Balls, or would it benefit it because ive got really pacey wingers and strikers, and my 3 cm’s are Wilshere, Pogba and Cleverley , so they’ve all got top notch passing as do my IF’s

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 9, 2013

      It would change the tactic completely so you’d have to test it as I haven’t tried it.

  • comment avatar Daneala March 9, 2013

    hello darren, what do you think it el shaarawy and diego fabbrini on the right side? are good to highlight your tactic?

    another thing,away,team go wrong with this tactic, advised me to change anything when the game away? thanks

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 9, 2013

      Both could play the role, I’d probably prefer El Shaarawy in the long run. When playing away the only thing I change is switch to counter strategy.

  • comment avatar Billy March 9, 2013

    Does it make a big difference to the tactic if you change the cm’s role i.e. CM support to Deep lying Playmaker and CM defend to Box to Box

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 9, 2013

      It would make a difference, but should work fine, all you can do is try it out as I haven’t tested the tactic with those roles.

  • comment avatar Joel March 10, 2013

    where’s santon?

  • comment avatar Andreas Karlsson Zacharoff March 12, 2013

    Does this tactic work wit the 13.3.2 patch? I’ve noticed that the most of my tactics doesn’t work anymore thanks to the new tactic.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 12, 2013

      Certainly should, I am using it with the new patch to great effect, you just need to be wary of when to use the counter and attack strategy but that is explained in the post I believe.

  • comment avatar Matt Williams March 14, 2013

    I have been quite impressed with this tactic, but similar to another post I change a couple of things around. I made the defensive line deeper and I ran a second tactic to switch one of the CM to a DM. The bigger issue I had is that I didn’t find it a great tactic against lower team. I switch to a more direct tactic with 2 up front against sides considerably weaker as I found you could dominate possession shots and be caught on the counter. I also us 2 up front if they go down to 10.
    All that aside, quite impressed with it.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 14, 2013

      Glad its of use Matt, we all tend to do things differently even if only slightly but its about finding what works for you and your changes are obviously working.

    • comment avatar Marc March 28, 2013

      which midfielder did you take out to go two up top? and what were you stricker roles?

  • comment avatar Lewis March 31, 2013

    Just wondering whether or not you use opposition instructions?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith March 31, 2013

      I just set my assistant to take care of that.

  • comment avatar gibson23 April 14, 2013

    any shouts darren?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith April 14, 2013

      No, I just use get stuck in and retain possession on the odd rare occasion when we don’t seem up for it. If you need a load of pre-set shouts then the tactic isn’t working IMO, all they do is change the sliders, therefore changing the tactic.

      • comment avatar gibson23 April 14, 2013


  • comment avatar Jack April 22, 2013

    This is another great tactic from this website. How come you guys find it so easy to develop all these great tactics? Most of the tactics I’ve tried to make in the past are p*ss poor.

    This one is fantastic at keeping possession, but I guess you already know this!

  • comment avatar Jack April 22, 2013

    Also, I find this tactic works extremely well with the retain possession and work ball into box shouts, but no more that that.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith April 22, 2013

      Thanks, I guess its a lot to do with playing the game too much and because we actively write so many guides we make a point of knowing things most wouldn’t think of researching unless they were tasked with providing hints and tips etc. When you actually stop pressing continue, continue, continue and start clicking through pages and pages of data and information things do become clearer.

  • comment avatar Jack April 22, 2013

    I’m making it a mission of mine to create a 4-2-3-1 formation like the one Man City use on the game. Have you ever tried to create one like this? I have problems with the three attacking midfielders in that they don’t seem to have much room to operate, yet when you play against the CPU against teams like City, it’s really hard to contain that trio of attacking midfielders.

    As for your formation, I have Thiago playing the advanced playmaker roll and he’s really quite brilliant in that position.

    Well, reading all the data and information is clearly paying off for you guys. Keep it going!

    • comment avatar Darren Smith April 23, 2013

      TBH Jack I wouldn’t recommend using that formation at all. I have tried it before but seen from the beginning it just doesn’t click. I’m sure some gamers get great success but I don’t like it at all. The reason its difficult to use is because theres no room for the AM’s to run at, and because they can’t get up a head of steam they pass and shoot from range…very general but thats what I found.

  • comment avatar Jack April 23, 2013

    That’s the general problem for me too. I may just abandon it in that case and leave it for now as it’s starting to take over my life a bit haha. Cheers for the advice.

  • comment avatar Jack April 23, 2013

    Oh, by the way, have you any tips for managing Neymar? He’s a complete pain in the arse and really difficult to get consistent performances out of. It’s arrived at the stage where I’m considering selling him tbh. I play him as a poacher in your tactic and, while on paper he should boss this role, he just doesn’t for some reason…

    • comment avatar Darren Smith April 23, 2013

      I don’t have any personal experience with him TBH, chances are he isn’t keen on the role though he should be. My suggestion is to try him on the wide AM position (which ever is his preferred side) because that will take advantage of his skill and dribbling ability.

    • comment avatar Joe Fretti April 25, 2013

      Jack i know what you mean with neymar. switch him to an inside forward role.. normally works wonders for me :) failing that , invest in Reus or gotze from Dortmund or have a look at Rossi (former man utd )

  • comment avatar Jack April 23, 2013

    Cheers. He should (in theory) perform well as an inside forward, so I’ll give it a try. It’s probably better that I do that tbh because it will mean Fierro can get in the team consistently. Is it safe to say that Fierro develops into one of the best poachers on the game? He really was immense last year.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith April 24, 2013

      Fierro is definitely one of the best striker potentially and he is great as poacher.

  • comment avatar muhammet April 29, 2013


  • comment avatar rob May 10, 2013

    still using the tactic with pleasure.

    But 1 problem

    If an opponent plays 4-4-2 diamond, so 2 stikers and an AMC I am very weak on the back. Especially if they have a fast striker and a great heading stiker. I always lose against those teams. What can I do?

    (ps sorry for my english it is bad i know ;) )

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 10, 2013

      While I’ve not noticed that, I have also not noticed my opponents using a 4-4-2 diamond either. My suggestion is to assign the MC with defend duty the task of man marking the AMC. Also try telling your two wide AM’s to man mark the opposition MR and ML…maybe that will stop the problem at its source, so the target man won’t get as much service.

  • comment avatar Robcom May 12, 2013

    Hi Darren,

    I thought I’d give this tactic a go with Newcastle (FMC) (no download, just emulate and pay attention to your post). First season, standard 11:

    Ba/Gutierrez Ben Arfa
    Cirigliano Cabaye Tiote
    Santon Coloccini E. Munoz Zimmerman

    It’s been 7 league matches without a win and I’m dead last. Weird thing is I’ve won twice in the Europa League, beating Inter 2-1 at home.

    I’m following all directions, positions, roles, attacking/countering and whatnot. Have you got any ideas about what I’m doing wrong, what I’m not doing or does everyone just has to ‘settle in’?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 12, 2013

      It could be a mixture of things, if you didn’t focus training on team cohesion and match training on tactic only through pre-season then there will be a longer bedding in period. Also since making the tactic the game has gotten tougher especially against better opposition so maybe try the counter strategy more often until the team settle down. I recommend also applying the changes below.

      – Go into the IF’s individual instruction and set long shots to ‘rarely’.
      – Untick ‘focus passing’ so its just default.
      – Change playmaker from Ben Arfa to your advanced playmaker.
      – Set marking to zonal.

      Let me know if its any better.

  • comment avatar Ian May 19, 2013

    This tactic is the best tactic I’ve used by far on this years game.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 20, 2013

      Thanks Ian, glad its working for you.

  • comment avatar Ian May 20, 2013

    After trying countless other tactics I have came back to this as it is the best I’ve used. Quick question, team cohesion and tactics only before a match during pre season, then what is training focus and match preparation during the season again mate?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 21, 2013

      So its team cohesion set to high and tactics only until a week before your first competitive game, then I change to balanced still on high and just take my assistants advice in the opposition report to set the match training. Attacking movement before a match we expect to win or have a good chance in and defensive positioning when we will struggle. Obviously if you’re leaking from set pieces then focus on set piece defending for a bit.

  • comment avatar Ian May 22, 2013

    Thanks dude. Sorry, one more question. You know how you say blistering pace is needed for the front 3, whats the minimum you could get away with for acceleration? Like if an inside forward has 14 for acceleration is that fast enough? Cheers dude.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 22, 2013

      It depends on the other attributes as well, but 14 would be just enough if he were exceptional in other areas.

  • comment avatar Ian May 22, 2013

    I had Victor Fischer and Depay in mind…

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 22, 2013

      They would be great potentially but not to start with as your only options.

  • comment avatar Ian May 22, 2013

    Cheers dude

  • comment avatar Jack May 24, 2013

    I’d just like to say thanks, this is with out a shadow of a doubt by far the greatest tactic of use on any FM

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 24, 2013

      Thanks Jack, its nice to know this tactic has worked as well for others as it has for myself.

  • comment avatar Ian May 24, 2013

    I started a game with Atletico Madrid, I went in for Ben Arfa and lost out to Man City :( they just have too much money. But then I went in for Wellington Nem, got him in really early and focused on his pace and his stats went up quickly, He is a dream in this tactic. I bought Muniain to play on the left with Rodrigo up front and it is lethal. I sold Falcao to Man City for 45 million and brought in Ander Hererra and Benat. Benat works like a treat as the CM support in this tactic. This is a joy to watch dude.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 25, 2013

      I think what makes this tactic so usable is the various types of players that can be used, it really is one of the more versatile formations in terms of who you can buy for each role.

  • comment avatar Ragnar May 26, 2013

    Would belhanda be a good playmaker on the wing?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 26, 2013

      Yes he could do that.

      • comment avatar Ragnar May 26, 2013

        alright thanks mate.

  • comment avatar Dilyan May 29, 2013

    Brilliant! I’ve tryed this tactic and the result in my first match is 4:0. Jack Wilshere asisst for all goals, thats is great. Giroud until this moment was score only once, and this match scores twice. I sow in the pictures Rodrigo is IF(L), until this tactics i used him like a poacher. When is back from injuries i”ll set him on the left. I hope so should be in good shape. Any suggest what kind of players/positions should i buy after the season? I play with Arsenal and my transfers are: Rodrigo from Benfica and Dedrick Boyata (Man City). I think one def midfielder is necessary, Fellaini is in City, bad luck for him…. Waneyama is it good enough for my team ?

  • comment avatar jedi May 30, 2013

    what’s your take on offside this edition, in the past its always a bad idea to play offside but it seems to work “better” now but feels more like a “cheat” then actual effectiveness.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 30, 2013

      I don’t have an opinion seen as I have never really noticed a difference (but to be fair I haven’t paid much attention to it either), I haven’t seen it work or not work in either edition tbh & my tactic is largely the same as my 2012 edition.

  • comment avatar David May 30, 2013

    Very good tactic.
    Have standard instructions during a game? (Touchline Instructions)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith May 31, 2013

      Just get your assistant to do opposition instructions and no touchline shouts required. Maybe use retain possession and get stuck in if they are struggling to defend.

  • comment avatar Ghassan June 2, 2013

    I have been trying for a whole season to get the 4-5-1 that switches to 4-3-3 then a 2-5-3 to match real life fiorentina style which has been amazing this year. Although i managed to finish third in my first season. any difficult match (against rivals or cup matches) are drawn at best. I shuffled between things like





    but nothing really was so solid. i may be doing the mistake of playing balanced/control for all my games, maybe if i change those depending on game difficulties then good results may come. I will have to do more testing to get a tactic that suits my players as i have many AM (c) to ignore.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith June 2, 2013

      That won’t be easy, good luck.

  • comment avatar Stephen C June 7, 2013

    Hi Darren

    My chelsea team is:




    its a 4-5-1 and its just not working. I want to try your tactic, just wondering do you think it can work with this team? im in 10th position after 15games. I have never played so poor, can you offer some help please?

    Thank you

    • comment avatar Darren Smith June 7, 2013

      It should work, as long as you’re doing everything else right then the tactic will take care of its self with those players.

      • comment avatar Stephen C June 7, 2013


  • comment avatar leon hunter June 9, 2013

    great tactic helps a lot! just wondering how you got all those players in, in just 2 seasons? All of them don’t come cheap haha

    • comment avatar Darren Smith June 9, 2013

      Some people may notice the additions, whereas if it were me I’d notice the players that are missing and put two and two together. Cabaye, Cisse, Coloccini, Demba Ba (this game is patch 13.1) Gutierrez and a tonne of fringe players, they all don’t come cheap either.

      • comment avatar leon hunter June 9, 2013

        haha fair enough i guessed you did some selling alright. was it difficult to sell all those players? i can sometimes struggle to get the interest from clubs.

        • comment avatar Darren Smith June 9, 2013

          No it was simple really. The key is to offer them out to clubs at double their value or more. This will only attract bids if the offer is made within new transfer budgets been announced (so clubs have cash to spend) and if the player is a first team regular. No one will buy a bench warmer for decent cash. I got £26 million for Cisse and £30 million for Cabaye using this method.

  • comment avatar Kelvin36 June 13, 2013

    hey darren i downloaded your tactics an applied in my liverpool and i think i had an unique situation. my forward(suarez, borini, and sturridge) rarely scored a goal. most of my my goal is scored by gerrard from long range and sometimes rom CD and and my WB. so if gerrard cannot play i can’t win the game. can you suggest a tweaks ?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith June 13, 2013

      Have you experienced this in the first 10 games? If so you need to give the team a little longer to adapt to the tactic. The ideal way to implement any new tactic is install it during pre-season, set match training to ‘tactics only’ and general training to ‘team cohesion’ and ‘high’ intensity. Then when the season starts use the recommended match training by your assistant and switch training to general.

  • comment avatar Ian June 25, 2013

    Hiya Darren,

    Just got FM2013 with the January update. Have had a few restarts out of frustration because I just didn’t seem to get the tactics right with Liverpool.

    Downloaded your tactic and putting it to use. Only in pre-season now and with a £0 Transfer Budget I’m forced to work with what I have.

    Do you reckon that Liverpool side has decent enough players to pull off your tactic in the first season before I bring in reinforcements hopefully next campaign?

    Thanks in advance.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith June 25, 2013

      I haven’t tried it but should work.

      • comment avatar Ian June 25, 2013

        Oh and a quick question on the passing. I notice it’s set on Short on your tactic. Do you still leave it at Short when you adjust strategy to Counter against tougher opposition?

        • comment avatar Darren Smith June 25, 2013

          IF you changed to direct it would change the whole dynamic of the tactic, just keep everything the same and change the strategy.

  • comment avatar mike136 July 1, 2013

    Hey Darren, great tactic, I’m using very similar one with couple of tweaks as I didn’t had the players for this tactic. Now I wonder if this guy would work in Be Arfas role? Thanks

    • comment avatar Darren Smith July 1, 2013

      He would provided you are going to switch the sides to suit him as Mattheus prefers the left. Also, I’d maybe be a but worried that he’s not explosive enough to be the centre of attention.

      • comment avatar mike136 July 1, 2013

        Thanks, that’s what I was thinking. I’m using him on the left but he could use a bit more acceleration and flair. Anyway will give it a try and if it’s not working I’ll just set default focus passing and default playmaker. I believe that the tactic will still work well.

      • comment avatar mike136 July 18, 2013

        it’s working pretty well at the moment. 18 matches unbeaten with my Villarreal team. Tweaked it a focus passing, no target man and the goals are coming from everyone. Conceded just 7 goals and I’m 2nd behind Barcelona.

  • comment avatar James Metters July 2, 2013

    Hi Darren, i love this tactic but it seems that my front 3 are not scoring goals, im using it with my tottenham side, the front 3 are bale, Defoe and Jovetic. At the start of the season a lot of the goals are coming from my 2 midfielders but through the middle of the season those goals are starting to stop. I’m in the January transfer window now and have a bit of money to spend but i don’t really want to spend money on a striker whose not going to score. I was wondering if there was any players you could recommend or any tactical or training tips to get my strikers scoring goals? Thank you

    • comment avatar Darren Smith July 2, 2013

      Well thats probably because Defoe isn’t the best at creating his own chances, he can finish and get into the right place but he struggles to manufacture something off his own back. Who to get comes down purely to budget, a budget option is that can make quick impact is Abel Hernandez, but of you can splash the cash then Cavani would be ideal.

      • comment avatar James Metters July 2, 2013

        Thanks I will look at Hernandez also i was thinking of Luis Muriel from Udinese but wasnt sure if he would have the same problem as Defoe, do you know if he is worth a risk?

        • comment avatar Darren Smith July 2, 2013

          Not sure not tried him, but I wouldn’t risk it personally.

          • comment avatar James Metters July 2, 2013

            Thanks, also i would like to say this is my firs time playing fm and your website has helped me out loads

          • comment avatar Darren Smith July 2, 2013

            Thanks, glad we could help.

  • comment avatar Ian July 3, 2013

    “…if you don’t use focus passing pick your advanced playmaker or no one at all.”

    Hey Darren,

    So if I choose to use no playmaker at all, do I change the AP to just CM with attacking?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith July 3, 2013

      No you’ve misunderstood, I mean pick your advanced playmaker as the playmaker of the team or use nobody as the playmaker….you shouldn’t change his role.

  • comment avatar James Metters July 4, 2013

    HI Darren just wondering if this formation would work with Falcao, Turan and Adrian up the top and koke as the AP? thanks

    • comment avatar Darren Smith July 4, 2013

      They’d do well but I would consider replacing Arda with someone more explosive maybe.

      • comment avatar James Metters July 5, 2013

        Yh im currently training Arda to be my AP koke to be my supporting CM but i dont have any money to sign a new player yet. Thanks

  • comment avatar Neil July 6, 2013

    I have used this tactic since it was posted to great effect, love the playing style and has brought me great results.

    I have recently started playing again for the first time since the update and my results have been good but for some odd reason my poacher seems to be getting poor ratings and a lack of goals, but the rest of the team performs great. Compare this to before the update where the striker would recieve the best ratings and score by far the most goals.

    The only changes I have made are these ones:

    – Go into the IF’s individual instruction and set long shots to ‘rarely’.
    – Untick ‘focus passing’ so its just default.
    – Change playmaker from Ben Arfa to your advanced playmaker.
    – Set marking to zonal.

    I am playing Lewandowski as my first choice striker so I don’t think this is down to an inability to make his own chances. I have tried target man supply both to feet and run onto ball to no avail.

    Just seems odd to me and was wondering if you had any suggestions?

    Love the site, especially the tactics index. Would you consider testing this tactic and adding it to the table to see how it compares to others you have tested?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith July 6, 2013

      Thats natural TBH, unless you have the perfect striker in great form he shouldn’t be the best performer. The defence and two IF’s are usually the best performers for me. I had Lewandowski with Dortmund, he managed 27 goals in 44 games and an av rating of 7.3, so good but not great. If you have just started the new season then give him time to gain momentum, strikers in this tactic perform better as they pick up form.

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  • comment avatar Ian July 23, 2013

    High defense line proving to be a perpetual nightmare for me. Plus the space between FB and CB seems to be where I’m conceding a lot of goals from when a strikers runs through there and receives a pass.

    First season with LFC in January. 5th in the leaugue but I think only because Man Utd, Arsenal & Chelsea ar also having a shocker of a season.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith July 24, 2013

      As mentioned in the post you need to select the right strategy at the right time, that makes or breaks the performance, your defensive line will drop a lot with counter strategy and the full backs on automatic duty will support or even defend as opposed to attack.

      • comment avatar Ian July 24, 2013

        Makes sense. Thank you.

        Also noticed formation really starts to pick up in the second season. I guess having the right kind of personnel is also a factor.


        • comment avatar Darren Smith July 24, 2013

          That is a massive factor indeed, you can win everything with the right players, equally, you’ll be killed against the big sides with the wrong players.

  • comment avatar leopard1 July 24, 2013

    Hi Darren. Im currently trying this with Roma like you suggested. A couple of questions:

    1. Don’t you feel you’re defenders get drawn out of position due to high def line/man marking or high closing down? What usually happens is that a player will run at my defense and draw them to him then just put a through ball to the ST who is then 1 on 1 with the keeper. How can I adjust this to make it more solid at the back as right now it’s leaking like hell?

    2. Doesn’t the forward line dwell on the ball a bit too much and often find weird back passes instead of going towards goal? Maybe I can adjust this with higher creative freedom and more offensive mentality but I don’t know how that will affect the defensive side. What are your thoughts?

    3. I feel that the attacking players are standing off alot instead of pressing hard in order to gain back possession. Intended? Or am I mistaken?

    Thanks for your time!

    • comment avatar Ian July 25, 2013

      I agree with your first point. That is an aspect of my defensive play that is really doing my head in.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith July 25, 2013

      All of your questions scream out lack of time with the tactic for your players and incorrect player selection. First thing, you need the team to be trained full pre-season as ‘tactic only’ match prep and ‘team cohesion’ training. You also need to give them time to settle into the system, if you are raising these queries after just 5-8 games then it is too soon to pass judgement. Also make sure you are selecting the counter and attacking strategies for the right matches, that is vital. You mentioned the forward dwelling, it depends on who is upfront, do you have a poacher that can create his own chances, ie plenty of pace, acceleration, dribbling etc etc. The standing off is something again I haven’t seen, which is the main reason I am wondering how many games you tried this for.

  • comment avatar Rob August 2, 2013

    Hi Darren

    Great work on the tactic it looks ace, ive just started using it with Chelsea and i went on a 3-4 game unbeaten run got to the world club championship final which I lost 2-0 to Corinthians. Im currently losing 2-0 to Man Utd who are above me in 7th. My problem is I cant seem to maintain possession, im getting destroyed by Man Utd where i currently have 33% and when that happens im almost certain to go 1-0 down. Im using the counter strategy with no focus passing. Is there any tactic to implement to get possession back other then using a shout (seems to have no effect).

    One more thing, is there away to stop my two IF from taking long shots all the time as they are AWFUL.

    Thanks for any help that is given, keep up the good work.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith August 2, 2013

      Sometimes the opposition will boss possession, if they have a better team and you are sitting back then of course they’ll enjoy more of the ball. All you can do is shout ‘retain possession’, improve your midfield and maybe adjust the strategy to attack though this can be risky.

      To stop IF’s shooting from range go into their player instructions and drop the long shots bar to ‘rarely’, also try shooting ‘work ball into box’.

      • comment avatar Rob August 2, 2013

        Thanks for the reply :), I got sacked by Chelsea but Ive started again but with Arsenal, ive managed to sigh Ben Arfa and Mason Bennet so far & using your tactics ive won 3-0 & 2-0, agaisnt Luton Town and Salamanca, not big teams but still its look good so far, ill try what you said in your post :)

        Thanks again.

  • comment avatar Jack August 7, 2013

    do you have counter attacking on? it’s just ive been using this for so long i cant remember if i turned it on or not

    • comment avatar Darren Smith August 7, 2013

      Just default, so its not on but let it turn on if you switch too counter strategy.

      • comment avatar Jack August 7, 2013


  • comment avatar Gafs August 19, 2013

    I don’t understand, i downloaded file, moved them into “tactics”, and still can’t find it in my game. Can somebody help me please?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith August 19, 2013

      Did you move them in documents/sports interactive/football manager 2013/tactics? If so then you need to look for it in archived tactics when you load the game.

  • comment avatar Gafs August 19, 2013

    Do you use any “Shout instructions” in the game?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith August 19, 2013

      Very rarely, but if we are struggling to control the game I shout ‘Get stuck in’ and ‘retain possession’.

  • comment avatar Caelis August 20, 2013

    Hi Darren, Your tactic works like a charm. I only forget to set to counter on tough games so i end up losing more than i want too but that’s my own fault. I lost in cl quarter final to bayern munich that way. (With Anderlecht BTW).

    I just want some advice on players choice.

    my main issue is to fill in the mcr position (central midfield defend) i hardly find good players for never mind to find good quality natural players for that role. I don’t realy struggle for other positions i even have good back up and cover for the back up so only that mcr is giving me a heading. Can you suggest me some good quality players (budget is no issue)

  • comment avatar Gafs August 22, 2013

    I don’t know why, but i have better results when i play “attacking” even vs strong teams. I play with Liverpool, and i kicked Chelsea and Man Utd with “attacking” in away games, but played draw vs same teams at home.

    • comment avatar Darren Smith August 22, 2013

      That’s interesting, I do think it varies on the team also. I ound that as my Newcastle side progressed using attacking strategy worked more and more.

  • comment avatar dodo31 September 11, 2013

    Hi just asking why is the supporting cm instructed to run from deep often? Thank you :)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith September 11, 2013

      That was just an instruction that suite a specific player I had, you can change it if you don’t have someone too prolific going forward for that role.

  • comment avatar Mert September 12, 2013

    I tried 12 different tactics which says ‘best tactic ever’…
    But This is the best..I tried and you can feel’s the best for home games..

  • comment avatar john September 19, 2013

    will u be making 4 5 1 again for fm 14?

    • comment avatar Darren Smith September 19, 2013

      I’ll certainly be posting a tactic that works well for me, whichever that may be and the 4-5-1 is usually my preferred choice so I’d think so mate.

      • comment avatar Jack October 5, 2013

        i assure you i will be using that tactic

  • comment avatar Houtarou October 6, 2013

    Hi darren, if my forwards are most suited to be complete forwards rather than poachers can I use this tactic with the poacher tole changed to complete forward? Or should I use your previous arsenal tactic that has uses a complete forward? Thanks in advance :)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith October 6, 2013

      I’d say you could use this tactic still and change the role, I just haven’t tested it so you’d probably need to try it out first. Don’t be too disheartened if the CF isn’t banging the ball home straight away, as long as the team are winning and playing well then it is working.

  • comment avatar Martin Bahn November 5, 2013

    Hey Darren.

    Believe it or not, but the last 2 days, I’ve been reading through this whole list of posts.
    I have manually created a tactic in your vision of your 4-5-1 from FM13.
    I have until now had more success than bad experiences with this tactic – tested and tried with;
    – Brøndby IF (Denmark) = Success to some extent, based on not having the greatest squad to work with.
    – Fulham = 6 /10 matches are wins, which I believe is more good than bad with Fulham.
    – Tottenham = Great success, currently lying 1st, 8 matches unbeaten run so far. (crossed fingers)

    I bet you are currently enjoying your new FM14 as much as I am.
    But I worry that my adaptation of your FM13 tactic is not perfected, and I am eagerly awaiting your input, suggestions, or even a brand new tactic, if that is what comes up for you as better success.

    Lastly I want to agree with you, that the more simple the tactic/duties/instructions you have, the better allround for the team – you don’t want to overcomplicate things for the players.

    I wish you the best of luck, and cross my fingers that you have a tactic for us soon.
    – Martin

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2013

      Good effort reading all that Martin, I’m glad you found it helpful. As for a 4-5-1 in FM14, I have a succesful tactic using flat lines as opposed to pushed up wingers but that one sees the striker perform badly, the results are good but few gamers are willing to sacrifice their forward so still testing that. I have tried a similar tactic to this one but there’s issues with the formation, pushed up wingers in this shape make for a very inconsistent tactic for some reason, still working on it all though so might have something soon.

  • comment avatar Martin Bahn November 6, 2013

    Sounds good Darren.
    Yeah, just finished my first season with this tactic in the Premier League, and I must say that its a little inconsistant, and the striker is finding himself alone alot having to hold up ball for some reason.
    I kept Fulham in the midtable, which was my goal, but the success that I was hoping for, to enter european competition did not arrive.

    I’m waiting in anticipation for your next masterpiece – good luck. :)

    – Martin

    • comment avatar Martin Bahn November 6, 2013

      PS. I’m finding in another game, that I’m having some minor success with an adaption of Tiki-Taka, where instead of a DM, I’m using an xtra up below my striker – as a False 10 (Shadow Striker).
      He seems to score good amount of goals.

      Don’t know if possession football is back in Premier League – I know most English clubs like to play Direct passing.

      • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2013

        Yeah its a but tough this year, seems the tactical side has gotten progressively tougher to dominate and get the results over the last two or three years…probably what SI wanted. Will try and perfect this tactic ASAP, and if I can’t then you’ll all have to accept crappy performances from your forward for the greater good ;)

  • comment avatar Martin Bahn November 6, 2013

    I’m really not that fussed about subpar performances from a single player, if the team wins – then the striker must sacrifice his pride for the greater good of the club.
    Besides, if a tactic comes out of the mist, that is successful – on the premise of a striker not scoring alot of goals, then that is how it must be. He should get good avg ratings as long as team plays well and wins. :)

    But we are still in early stages of FM14 – Sigames are still trying to perfect the ME, and there are still quite a few bugs with it that they are working on, so we might see some changes that work WITH good tactics later down the line…

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2013

      Yeah I think I’m half holding back because I expect them to release a patch as soon as I publish the tactic lol :) The issue with the striker is some pretty bad av ratings also, which is frustrating but I think I’ll just bite the bullet and put it out there.

  • comment avatar Martin Bahn November 6, 2013

    I’ve been doing alot of reading of PPM’s and how to try to take advantage of these, by trying to give ‘some’ players instructions, that are in line with their respective PPM’s.
    Apparently that is show some success, as they tend to be better with those instructions, when it is also a “preferred” move by the player. Will have to do some further testing on this subject.

    If you have tried/tested this in the past, please don’t hesitate to share your findings, as I’m “Christopher Columbus” on the matter – exploring. :D

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 6, 2013

      I haven’t done much research but I do know what you are saying is correct…they certainly do help, but the big issue is finding a player natural in the position, role and that has the PPM’s, you can develop a player with those aims but finding them to slot in is tough.

  • comment avatar Martin Bahn November 6, 2013

    Indeed it IS very hard to find those “gems” that gel right into that slot of your tactic.
    And remember reading somewhere, that its better to have someone play in your tactic, that doesnt have any PPM’s instead of someone with the wrong PPM’s as he can ruin your plans for the tactic, and give away possession.

    Example: A Winger/Inside Forward, to support, pass short, or create chances direct into feet of striker.
    But if he has the PPM “Run With Ball Often” he can and will disregard your instructions 60% of the time, and just solo, lose possession, and then your opponent is on the break/counter attack.

    But yes, PPM’s that fit with your players/tactic are rare.
    I never thought about PPM’s that deeply in earlier FM versions, and with FM getting more and more advanced every year, they start to play a more vital role.

    …Or maybe I’m just overthinking it – I tend to do that sometimes. :D

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 7, 2013

      No I think you’re right, FM is a very logical games (at times) and that is just common sense what you mention so I see it being true.

  • comment avatar Martin Bahn November 7, 2013

    Hey Darren, sorry to keep barging in on this thread, now that we’re on to FM14.
    But I was wondering, when you do get a tactic up and running (with this bugged ME) hehe.
    Where will you be putting it up? Just so I’ll know where to look.

    Thanks again for your hard work.

    – Martin

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 8, 2013

      You can find all the latest posts on this sites homepage which would be The latest articles go straight to the top, alternatively just follow us on Facebook, Twitter or by email and you’ll be notified whenever we post new content.

  • comment avatar Houtarou November 20, 2013

    Hey Darren, is there a difference between this tactic and your previous arsenal tactic other than the striker and the focus passing? Thanks in advance :)

    • comment avatar Darren Smith November 20, 2013

      Not many differences no, certainly none I can remember.

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