New FM 2013 Tactic: Balanced 4-4-2, solid defence plus goals scored

FM 2013 Downloads

written by Johnny Karp

Some of you have enjoyed success with my first FM 2013 tactic, the Spurs 4-5-1, but now I think I have an even better tactic: a 4-4-2 that I have been testing with the same team, Tottenham. This tactic is more attacking but it also keeps a very well-organised defence, which allowed me to have the best defence in the Premier League at the end of the first season. But more about the results later, now let’s see what this FM 2013 tactic is about.

FM 2013 Tactic Formation

It’s a plain 4-4-2, I guess there’s nothing special there. The flanks are pretty important in this tactic, both in defence and upfront. The fullbacks are set to automatic duty, which sees them push up the field when we have the ball and move back in defence when we’re under attack. The two wide midfielders are on attack duty, they will often play on the same line as the two strikers, which allows the team to put pressure on the opposition defence.

The two midfielders will mostly play on the same line, but the one on the right side will be a bit more attacking. The right side striker will be the one to form the link with the midfield while the left hand side striker will bang in most of the goals.

FM 2013 Tactic team instructions

The style and strategy are pretty common, balanced and standard, that will give your team a pretty organised aspect. The passing is set to direct, which means the team will try to get the ball forward as quickly as possible, but they will do that in a sensible manner, not with random long balls forward. As you can see the team is instructed to press and be aggressive, trying to get the ball back in the opposition half.

Please note: there is no designated playmaker and no designated target men. I am against those two tasks, since they would base the team’s play on two individual players, and if those two are blocked you can find yourself screwed.

The average positions analysis shows a fairly compact set up, with no major gaps between the lines.

FM 2013 tactic illustrations

First I want to show you how the pressing works. In the image below you can see the opposition left back having the ball in their own half, and he is closed down by our right midfielder. Since most of his team mates are under pressure as well, he has just two options: a risky back pass to he keeper or some sort of diagonal to move the ball to the other flank. He chose an unlikely diagonal towards their right midfielder, and we intercepted that pass.

But don’t be too happy, most teams will be able to get out of that pressing, so they will come with the ball into your own half. But when that happens, the defence will be pretty well organised. In the picture below you can see how the defence is set up when receiving a positional attack: one of the CMs is pressing the man with the ball, while the rest of the midfielders plus the defenders form a double wall.

The man with the ball doesn’t have any dangerous options, even though they outnumber us 3 to 2 in central midfield. As you can see our two wide midfielders are covering the flanks but are also ready to chase the ball and the opponent in more central areas, while the two strikers will keep the opposition centre backs pinned into their own half.

This tactic works very well on counter attacks, as proven by the screen shot below. We got the ball back through one of our centre backs, who quickly passed it to one of the CMs, who spotted the left winger wide open on that flank. And when you have Gareth Bale on that flank, it’s a pretty dangerous situation for any opposition ;)

I mentioned earlier that the wingers are playing an important part in this tactic. In the screen shot below you can see why. The left winger has entered the penalty area with the ball, went to the byline and opened up two options for himself: back pass to the left back, who was unmarked, or a pass back to the left CM, also unmarked. In this case the pass went to Livermore, the CM, who took the shot, which got parried, and then right midfielder Lennon, who also was in the box, tucked away on the rebound.

What I like about this tactic is that you get quite a few men forward when attacking, and that gives the players quite a few options. And that can result in beautiful goals, like the one I’m going to show you now. Left winger Townsend cut infield with the ball, and since almost everybody was marking everybody, CM Dembele made a great run off the ball, right through the heart of the defence to receive the pass. And then he scored :)

Here’s the video:

FM 2013 Tactic results

First I’m going to say that we went out early from both the FA Cup and the Carling Cup, because I experimented heavily in those games, both with tactics and line ups. So I’m only going to show you the Premier League results first and then the Europa League campaign.

The first half of the Premier League season was pretty good overall, we got wins against Arsenal, Man City, Man United and Chelsea, but we suffered shocking defeats at the hands of weaker teams. All three defeats were quite weird to be honest, but I guess that’s normal since that part of the season was played while FM 2013 was still in beta.

The second half of the season was a bit better, we managed to get a few consecutive wins, even though we got beaten by West Brom again.

And, overall, we nearly won the title! We got 83 points, just two short of the title, and had the best defence in the whole league. We did score a few goals though, not the best attack but not very far off either.

The best part of the season was the Europa League campaign, we won that after beating moneybags PSG in the final.

FM 2013 Tactic player stats

Most goals scored: Adebayor – 23 goals, Defoe – 20 goals, Demba Ba (backup striker) – 9 goals, Gareth Bale (injured for 3 months) – 9 goals

Most assists: Adebayor – 12, Bale – 11, Huddlestone – 11

Highest average ratings: Kaboul – 7.39, Adebayor – 7.33, Bale – 7.24

Bottom line: this is a solid FM 2013 tactic, it will keep an organised defence and you will also score a decent amount of goals. What you won’t have is good possession, and that is because the team will always try to get the ball forward quickly instead of passing it around inside your own half.

You can download this Football Manager 2013 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 “The_4-4-2_direct_v2″ from the menu.

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

If you have questions or comments, you know where to write them, I’ll be here to answer.

You may also like
  • denson

    Are you enjoying this game Johnny, because every game i play i loose with every tactic, my team do good passing for the first five minutes but then decide to do a shot from outside the box and in about the 15th minute i will concede and they will go on to score more and easily win the game, I can never seem to get any good clear cut chances, I have told all my players to do long shots rarely which is not seeming to help.
    I’m Reading btw

    • Johnny Karp

      I am enjoying it, yes. It does seem a bit more difficult to create a good tactic but it is possible. About long shots, you should check those players’s preferred moves, maybe they like shooting from distance. I had the same problem with Huddlestone at Spurs.

      • denson

        Ok thanks, I will give this tactic a go

  • jimmy

    can this work in LLM? its look like a well balenced

    • Johnny Karp

      It should work, that’s why I tried to build a balanced tactic. But you can’t know until you try :)

      • Jimmy Tingström

        have played some games now and its going very well.. playing with fc united and im top of the league great defence i most say..

        • Johnny Karp

          That’s good to hear :) I forgot to say that you might want to switch the strategy to counter when trying to defend a narrow lead in the last minutes of a game.

          • Jimmy Tingström

            Have finish the season now. and i ended up in 4th position. in media i was tip as 14.. soo great stuff =))
            how about matchprep ? and do u add OI`s??

          • Johnny Karp

            Definitely not bad :) I left both the match preparation and the OI’s to the assistant manager.

  • Darren Smith

    Nice work Johnny, this is definitely more attacking than the previous tactic and I like the players movement off the ball. I now see why you said we think a like again after reading the tactics guide, everything I talk about is replicated in your tactic here. I personally have never found consistency in a 4-4-2, so if I fancy it I’ll most certainly borrow this, can’t argue with the results, brilliant work mate!

    • Johnny Karp

      The 4-4-2 can be full of surprises but it does depend on the players you have at your disposal. For instance Huddlestone never managed to surprise me in the CMR position, always playing simple passing and shooting from distance, while Dembele constantly created surprising moments both on and off the ball.

  • Gaurav Chaddah

    Nice work mate, very simple but yet very affective. I have never been a fan or used a 4 4 2 and the direct game however may give this a try later.

    • Johnny Karp

      I’m not a fan of direct football either but I admit it can be quite entertaining and effective at the same time.

      • Gaurav Chaddah

        Johnny, completely off topic I know but can you use a fm 12 coach calculator for fm13?

        • Johnny Karp

          Yes, you can, as the algorithm is exactly the same.

  • chris

    Im starting with spurs so goona give this a shot. Johhny are you doing a story this yr, if so when is it startin g and who with?

    • Johnny Karp

      I haven’t decided yet but if I will start a story I am going to post it in the forum.

  • TheZiggy

    Nice tactic. At first glance it looks fairly similar to ones I’ve used in the past, but what I’ve never done is go with the aggressive setting on tackles, or the direct passing. The fullbacks on attack when I was playing weaker teams, was something I liked to do. Against stronger teams I would sometimes set them to defend, because they would still move forward if the space opened up for them down the wings. Interesting to know if that still happens in the new match engine, because if you were dominant over a strong team, it would force them to hit lots of wild clearances.

    With the 4-4-2 I always like having one MC defensive, and the other, more of a playmaker style. I guess that’s why I ended up moving to the wide diamond formation in the end as the natural progression, but you need a much higher line to make that work well, otherwise the hole in the middle can be a problem.

    I also never set the targetman and playmaker, as I’m convinced it makes the team one dimensional. It’s a bit like setting the focus passing, if you set that, makes it far too easy to counter.

    • Johnny Karp

      The fullbacks are a vulnerability on counter attacks but I haven’t received too many goals on such actions, most were from set pieces or great solo efforts.

  • NikoZolo

    Thanks for the tactic! Again, its a simple one but that’s what makes it useful to most players so I look forward to giving it a go with NUFC. Although.. I may need at least one more wide midfielder to get more consistent results.

    By the way, I’ve been meaning to ask (anyone really). I noticed on the info tab on the club page where you can view rivalries, legends, etc. there are words like “(historic)” or “(competitive)” next to the derby names. Does this mean I finally have “dynamic derbies”???! It may just be nothing or I may have missed the announcement on the pre-release video blogs but it would be nice to know if you have heard anything on the matter.

    Thanks Again! HTL!!!

    • Johnny Karp

      I don’t remember dynamic rivalries being announced, but there were a lot of new features announced and it’s quite difficult to keep track of all of those. But I had a look at the information panel and it does seem that we will have this feature this time.

  • Thales De Mattos Oliveira

    how about a target man and a poacher?

    • Johnny Karp

      You can try that but I think you will need a slightly more defensive forward to link up play with the midfielders.

  • Jedidja

    Jonny – I’m a newcomer to the site and I just wanted to say thanks for all the amazing content you and Darren (amongst others) are putting out. I’m looking forward to trying this tactic out but have to say that I think SI need to put a patch out as quite a few issues remain with the match engine in my opinion.

    • Johnny Karp

      There will surely be a patch, I’ve noticed a few issues myself. But I’d say those are minor things that don’t really affect the game overall.

  • Calin

    I am using something similar in my game, a “classic” 4-4-2 that I haven’t played in ages, but it does work in FM 2013. However, in my case, the team is not too offensive and they have few cc chances. I will try to move to a direct and more aggressive style, maybe this is what I’m missing (except for that, my tactic is 100% the same)… although I am with Drobeta at #1 in Romania after the first half of the 2nd season :)

    • Johnny Karp

      First in the top flight? Then don’t change anything :)

  • saltwater

    I’ve always found 4-4-2 a difficult formation to master as if a weaker side comes and sets up with three in midfield then it’s easy to lose control of the game. Judging on this though the aggressiveness and the directness of the play mean that it just a matter of getting the ball forward and that seems very effective. Do you think this formation would work with a slower team?

    • Johnny Karp

      You will need quick players on the wings and at least one of the two strikers has to be fairly quick I think. But the defence should remain solid even without fast players.

  • Huzaifa

    Has specific instructions for certain players been altered under player instructions?

    • Johnny Karp

      Yes, there are specific player instructions for some of the players.

  • Jimmy Tingström

    do u change the strategy to controll sometimes`?

    • Johnny Karp

      No, I only changed it to counter now and again.

  • Borobadger

    Do you think this tactic would work with lower league teams? I’m managing Afc Telford at the minute and am struggling to find a successful tactic, so would this work or do you know of other tactics that are more suited to the lower leagues? Cheers

    • Johnny Karp

      I think it should work, Jimmy commented earlier that he tried it with a lower league team and had good results.

  • Steven

    Hi Johnny,

    Just about to give this a go..i was wondering what you use for match preparation before games?

    Maybe you have already mentioned this above and i just missed it. Sorry if that is the case.


    • Johnny Karp

      I left match preparation to the assistant while testing this tactic, but you might want to check the training and match prep guide here:

      • Steven

        Is there a way to get him to take over match preperation then?

        Did you also get him to do OI?

        I have my match preparation at Tactics Only and 30% on the slider..i also have BALANCED and AVERAGE on the other two options to the left hand side of the page..


        • Johnny Karp

          Yes, in the staff responsibilities menu, there you can set what the assistant manager does and does not.

          • Steve

            Do you think changing the MCL to a ball winning midfielder would help or hinder the tactic? Likewise the MCR to a box to box mid?

            Also what’s your view on man marking or zonal marking?

            On a separate issue I’m really struggling with team talks. Whether it’s me or the assistant manager very few if any produce a positive response. More often than not the players switch off or lose focus even if I’ve praised them. Do you have any advice?

            Last comment! I’ve been practising with your arsenal tactic of last year and in the last half of the season it worked well with spurs. I know you don’t like to use a ball playing defender but did it work well for you in FM12?

            Thanks, Steve

          • Johnny Karp

            You can try changing the roles as you want, some might suit your players better, some might not. However, the BWM might be a bit too defensive for the purpose of this tactic.

            As for marking, I always prefer zonal, man marking is a thing of the past.

            I haven’t really paid any attention to the team talks in FM 13, I was too busy testing and tweaking the tactics, so I can’t really give you any advice there.

            The Arsenal tactic was made by Darren, so I guess you should comment on that post in order to get an answer from him. I always had my CBs as “central defender” or “limited defender” in some cases.

  • Steve

    Thank you for your advice. Do you do special man marking tactics for set pieces though or leave them?

    • Darren Smith

      In answer to your earlier question, the ball playing defender role can work well but it depends on your system. I personally stopped using it because you need a specific type of defender to play it and I always felt obliged to use one CB for every game which isn’t good.

    • Johnny Karp

      I usually set the two CBs to mark tall players and the fullbacks on each post.

  • Shaun

    Hi Johnny. Love this setup pal. Quick question, do you think changing the deep lying forward to that of ‘target man/support’ would have the same/better impact?

    That is just down to personal preference for me.

    Would appreciate a quick-ish reply. Going to launch a save with West Ham with this soon as, hence I can imagine why my question would make sense with a certain giant upfront haha.

    • Johnny Karp

      I guess it would work if you have a really strong striker in that position, Carroll should do well there ;) But I repeat, you can’t know until you try.

  • darthbane999

    Hi Johnny,
    The website got a shout out from Haighyorkie on YouTube, thanks to your Spurs 4-5-1 tactic. You may already know this but I’ll post just to let you know. Your tactics work like a charm. Thanks.

    • Johnny Karp

      Nice, thanks for the heads up :) And no, I didn’t know :)

  • Kevin

    Great advice to the community as always. I’m going to give it a go with a 4-5-1 set up which I’m carrying over from “last seasons” Vancouver success.

    • Johnny Karp

      Darren is going to come up with a tactic of his own these days, so there will be plenty to choose from.

  • Huzaifa

    Have you tried setting the WM to W?

    • Johnny Karp

      No, I wanted the WM role to have a bit more coverage both on the flanks and towards the middle of the pitch. You can try that but I think it would leave your two CMs a bit stranded when playing against teams with three central midfielders.

  • rune

    you use any shouts with this tactic?

    • Johnny Karp

      No, I haven’t used any.

  • Adam

    At the moment the patch seems a little unrealistic. I thought I would go in for Bale (as Arsenal) and blow my entire £40m budget on him to annoy spurs – I ended up getting him for £25m and as I sold players I got Fellani and Goetz as well. It seems unrealistic that Bale would ever come to Arsenal and for so little…

    Great tactic though – I use the 4-5-1 attacking tactic but this seems to have done a job to get spurs to second…

  • rune

    just lost 7-1 away too Chelsea with United using this tactic!! damm it, thought i finally found a decent away tactic! only used it 5-6 times so i guess its not fully blended yet but jesus christ! was demolished!!

    You using any oposition instructions?

  • rob

    I have some big problems with this tactic, I tested it with Feyenoord.

    1) Lots of yellow and red cards for the wingers
    2) Concede lots of goals, almost 2 per game

    • Johnny Karp

      1. You can adjust the tackling for those players if they get too many cards.
      2. Analyse how those goals are conceded and see if you can find a pattern, that might lead you to a solution.

      • rob

        Thanks for your reply,

        1) I will try this
        2) mainly crosses and counter attacks

        • Johnny Karp

          Some things tend to improve once your team gets more familiar with the tactic but you will also have to observe what happens during the games and think about solutions if you notice problems. I can’t give you the solutions since I haven’t watched your team play.

  • John Rosser

    Excellent tactic-I’d nearly given up with FM2013 as my team Watford kept losing even with all the foreign loan speed merchants. Now they are top in December and only seem to lose occasionally.

    • Johnny Karp

      That’s good to hear, I’m glad it’s working for you.

  • PeeDub

    Trying this tactic in my Swiss Challenge League save. Not working super great at the moment, as I’m giving up too many goals. The zonal marking is giving me some better defensive positioning than my last tactic, as the midfield line doesn’t sit as deep for whatever reason. Some of the tweaks that I’ve made here and there (and some that I’ve thought of making.)

    – I have good heading strikers, so against teams I’m trying to unlock, I change the WM’s to W’s. Has the effect of widening the attacking zone and getting more crosses in.

    – My defenders are none too fast, so I’m considering running one DC as cover. Trying to keep a flat line results in too many through balls through my line.

    – I definitely see a better effect when I keep my support striker as a DLF rather than a TM. He definitely does the Rooney thing and picks the ball up in midfield and provides much better linkage. But I’m considering setting the attack striker to P, especially when employing a counter style. He doesn’t drive or shoot enough for such a direct game. He’ll get the ball in the box and then … just pass back. What are you?? Torres???

    – I’ve had some good efffect when setting the style to attacking. Mainly, it has the effect of helping to get the ball back quicker. I have only used this when chasing a game or when I’m being horribly ineffective against lesser opponents.

    – The shouts that I tend to use most:
    retain possession – when the other team is laying back. I’m too wasteful with my possessions otherwise.
    exploit the flanks – when I’m not getting enough crosses in.
    stay on feet/stand off opponents – when my hassling tactics are not getting the ball back and the other team is passing through my larger defensive gaps.

    Very helpful tactic. I think my problems at this point are due to a lack of familiarity more than anything else, but I’ll keep testing. Thanks!

    • Johnny Karp

      Thanks for the feedback. Familiarity is important and the striker passing the ball back is, as far as I know, a match engine glitch that happens now and again.

      • PeeDub

        Well, that’s annoying, if so.

        • Johnny Karp

          Didn’t happen too often in my game. But it will surely be corrected through a patch sooner or later. Hopefully sooner :)

  • Hilmi Kayserili

    tried this on the new patch yet ?

    • PeeDub

      I have, although I didn’t know it was the new patch at first. All I thought was, “Hey, I’m actually getting crosses now!”

      So, brief, anecdotal evidence: yeah it’s better with the patch.

      • Johnny Karp

        All of our tactics should be better with the patch because they were not built to exploit the flaws that we noticed in the match engine.

        • Hilmi Kayserili

          wicked beacuse i just started yesterday with maidenhead united

  • John Rosser

    We made the premiership in top position but now not so good-we seem to be shipping a lot of goals in the 2nd half!

  • Sondre Hansen

    Hi! Do you have any transfer tips? Im Spurs, just like you!

  • Thom

    Have you got any tactics that work with Aston Villa, because all the ones I’ve been suggested only work for a few games?

  • Thom Smith

    Have you got any tactics for Aston Villa? and also what subs did you make and what instructions did you shout and when?

    • Johnny Karp

      We don’t have any tactics specifically designed for one team or another. Aston Villa is a tricky challenge from what I know from other players, so you might want to try the defensive tactic here:

      I haven’t used any shouts with it.

      P.S.: You don’t have to post the same question twice ;)

  • Archie B

    Hello, I’m using a very attacking tactic kicked off in fm2011. I scored encredibly much goals and conceded normally. It was reliable and I used it in Fm2012 as well, with the same results. I’ve won many trophies with teams where I developed youth into worldclass players. Now I use the same tactic in 2013, and you know what? It’s crap and I concede more, and score less than ever before. I had 4 defenders, 1 defensive midfielder, 2 central midfielders and 3 strikers. The strikers put pressure on the fullbacks from the opponent so the keeper always kicked the ball in the midfield, losing the ball to my team. Now my stikers won’t put pressure on them whatever I do and that’s a big part on how I win matches. Now I’m no expert in tactics, but do you know a plug and play tactic without making any changes EVER even in finals or away games that I can use? I’m a bit desperate here… Or is you tactic you have on here a tactic I can use? Even if you don’t response, thanks anyway for reading this.

    • Johnny Karp

      You can try our tactics but I generally don’t believe in plug and play tactics, the first thing you should do is make tweaks to suit your team. That’s probably what you should do with the tactic you have used in the previous versions as well.

      • Archie B

        Ok thanks. Can you tell me what a tweak is?

        • Johnny Karp

          I’m not managing your team so I can’t possibly know that.

  • Scott

    Great tactic, working wonders for my United team so far. Only query is the aggressive tackling. I’ve had two red cards in three games (Fellaini and van Persie) – would it matter much if I changed the tackling to Default or More Cautious?

    • Johnny Karp

      You should try that, it shouldn’t have a major impact but you can’t know until you try.

  • Baz

    which touchline instructions would you use with this tactic? got it working in bits but think my instructions ruin it. thanks

    • Johnny Karp

      Normally I don’t use any touchline shouts.

  • Reece Clark

    How do you think this tactic would work for Southampton? Been struggling a lot with defending in this years game despite almost doubling the quality that Saints have at the back. Only problem I can see is that Saints dont have any good wide midfielders as Gaston Ramirez and Adam Lallana (Best two wingers on the team respectively) Dont have a good rating other than when playing as attacking midfielders.

    • Johnny Karp

      I guess you would need a pair of good wide midfielders for this tactic.

  • Zola23

    Hi, great tactic. What specific player instructions do you set?

    • Johnny Karp

      You can see the player instructions if you load the tactic, there are too many to go through all of them.

  • Frederik Broendum

    what kind of transfers will u recommend? and do u use any shouts?
    btw im spurs
    sry for english.

    • Johnny Karp

      I haven’t used any shouts. As for transfers, you will need at least another striker since you only have Defoe and Adebayor. Another CM would be good as well but the squad is pretty strong anyway.

  • Luca Maranzano

    I am using this tactic with Venezia (Serie C2/A). For the moment (half of the season) I am first, and have a good average of points/match.
    But I have some “problems”:
    1. At the beginning of every game (15-30 minutes), I have a really bad ball possession (30%).
    2. I often get scored first. In a lot of match.
    3. I’m not efficient in the away games.

    – So, how can I avoid taking so much goals ?
    – Does Counter would be efficient in away matches ?

    Thank you, bye

    • Johnny Karp

      You could try counter in away matches, sometimes that works. About the conceded goals, you have to pay attention to what happens in the games and see where those goals are coming from, if there’s a pattern you can identify (counter attacks, right, left, middle, set pieces etc) then you could sort it out.

      • Luca Maranzano

        So, I just analyzed my goals, and I’ve been scored a lot from the middle of my defense.

        What is your advice to point it ?

        • Johnny Karp

          Maybe your centre backs are too slow?

  • Chris Frankland

    Interesting Tatic, would like to know what shouts you used as well

  • katkiller

    Thanks for the tactic but i must say this is the worst tactic i have ever played, i was winning 1-0 took this tactic and 3 goals against in just 5 minutes, end of my career in Dover xD, i will try another tactic xD.

    • Johnny Karp

      Let me get this right: you changed the tactic during a match, without preparing it first in match preparation? If so, you were lucky to escape with just three goals conceded.

      • Darren Smith

        You know what they say, ‘a bad worksman always blames his tools!’

  • Montell

    Thought I’d try something new for my Newcastle squad, employed this and Cisse put 4 past Man City, conceding 1. Hoping when Ben Arfa is back from injury we can improve.