This starter guide briefly covers the process of creating a tactic, including the following aspects:

  • System fluidity (team shape) - choosing a system fluidity level according to how you want your players to play as individual 'parts' of your playing system.
  • Playing style (team mentality and team instructions sliders) - choosing a basic playing style according to how you want your team as a whole to play.
  • Playing system balance (formation, and player roles and duties)
    • Formation - choosing a suitable formation.
    • Balancing each positional area - assigning player roles and duties that suit your system fluidity and playing style.
    • Overall forward movement - achieving a balance in the overall forward movement of your players.
  • Playing style customisation - reviewing your player roles and duties and setting other tactical instructions if desired in order to ensure that your playing style is implemented appropriately.

This should give you a good general understanding of how to create a logical tactic.

The focus here is on creating a tactic that is suitable for general use. However, as part of a match strategy, you may want to alter any of the above aspects of your tactic for a particular match or in a particular match scenario, even if it means making a temporary departure from a typical playing style or a balanced playing system.

Subsequent guides in the Tactics section cover these topics in greater detail, including information not included here, in order to explain the complete framework for creating a tactic based on the tactical theory presented on GuideToFootball.com.

The Example Tactics article that immediately follows this starter guide provides various examples of tactics that have been created using the full framework, along with basic explanations, so you can gain a greater understanding of how the framework works, and even try out some tactics, before you move on to the subsequent guides.

If you are new to Football Manager then it is recommended that you use the in-game tutorial to familiarise yourself with the tactics screens and options before reading this starter guide.

1. System Fluidity

Aim: to choose a system fluidity level according to how you want your players to play as individual 'parts' of your playing system.

UI: On the Tactics Overview screen you can set a system fluidity level for your team by using the Team Shape drop-down list on the right-hand side.

Choose one of the following:

1) I want my team to play with a more fluid playing system - your team will shape up fluidly and play as a unit, with players sharing positional responsibilities and mixing things up.

  • To implement: select the Fluid team shape to implement a more fluid playing system to a moderate extent or select the Very Fluid team shape to implement a more fluid playing system to a large extent.

2) I want my team to play with a more structured playing system - your team will shape up rigidly and play in a precise manner, with players focusing on particular positional responsibilities and playing to their individual strengths.

  • To implement: select the Structured team shape to implement a more structured playing system to a moderate extent or select the Highly Structured team shape to implement a more structured playing system to a large extent.

3) I want my team to play with a flexible playing system - your team will play in a balanced manner, with players sharing positional responsibilities to a moderate extent.

  • To implement: select the Flexible team shape.

Tips for making your choice:

  • A more fluid playing system can make it easier to create your tactic as it allows you to think of your team as being more like a single unit.
  • A more structured playing system can be more interesting to choose player roles for as it places more importance on the individual contributions of your players.
  • A flexible playing system can give you more freedom when creating your tactic and you can always change it later if you decide upon a more specific approach.

Further details:

2. Playing Style

Aim: to choose a basic playing style according to how you want your team as a whole to play.

UI:

  • On the Tactics Overview screen click the Team Instructions button on the right-hand side.
  • You can set a core style for your team by using the Mentality options at the top of the Team Instructions window.
  • You can set an attacking style for your team by using the team Passing Directness slider in the Build-Up column.
  • You can set a defensive style for your team by using the team Closing Down slider in the Defence column.

Further details:

2.1. Core Style

Choose one of the following:

1) I want my team to play attacking football - your team will apply pressure to the opposition team with a high risk approach both with and without the ball, proactively creating space and forcing mistakes from the opposition team.

  • To implement: select the Control team mentality to implement attacking football to a moderate extent or select the Attacking team mentality to implement attacking football to a large extent.
  • With standard attacking football your team will focus more on penetrating space than on keeping possession and retaining solidity, and more on restricting space than on protecting space. Attacks will be lead mainly by your more attack-minded players, with your more defensive-minded players focusing more on feeding the ball to them with shorter passes.

2) I want my team to play defensive football (a.k.a. counter attacking football) - your team will invite pressure from the opposition team with a low risk approach both with and without the ball, ceding the initiative for large periods and waiting for available space to open up in more advanced areas before exploiting this space on the break1.

  • To implement: select the Counter team mentality to implement defensive football to a moderate extent (and encourage counter attacking1) or select the Defensive team mentality to implement defensive football to a large extent.
  • With standard defensive football your team will focus more on keeping possession and retaining solidity than on penetrating space, and more on protecting space than on restricting space. Attacks will be lead mainly by longer passes from your more defensive-minded players, with your more attack-minded players focusing more on waiting for available space to open up.

3) I have no preference regarding the use of attacking football or defensive football.

  • To implement: select the Standard team mentality.

Tips for making your choice:

  • Try to choose a core style that is suitable for your team.
  • To check player suitability for each core style go to Team Report > Comparison tab and view the Physical, Mental and Technical tabs. Assess your team's attributes relative to the grey bars that show your league's averages.
  • On Physical tick Defenders and Midfielders only.
    • For attacking football look for relatively high Acceleration and Pace.
    • For defensive football look for relatively high Jumping Reach and Strength.
  • On Physical tick Midfielders and Strikers only.
    • For defensive football look for relatively high Acceleration and Pace.
  • On Mental tick Defenders, Midfielders and Strikers only.
    • For attacking football look for relatively high Flair and Vision.
  • On Technical tick Defenders, Midfielders and Strikers only.
    • For attacking football look for relatively high non-set piece attributes (all attributes except Corners, Free Kick Taking, Long Throws and Penalties).

Further details:

1A break involves your team temporarily taking a higher risk approach in order to quickly exploit available space in advanced areas. A counter attack is a break that occurs immediately after winning back possession from the opposition team. During a break your team will ignore your tactical instructions to a large extent in order to focus more on penetrating space. Selecting the Counter team mentality increases the likelihood of your team starting a counter attack after winning back possession.

2.2. Attacking Style

Choose one of the following:

1) I want my team to attack with direct plays - when it has the ball your team will penetrate space directly by moving the ball forward quickly, mainly creating space by using physical power.

  • To implement: increase the team Passing Directness slider to More Direct Passing to implement direct plays to a moderate extent or increase it to Go Route One to implement direct plays to a large extent.
  • Your team will play direct attacking football if you combine direct plays with attacking football - your team will focus even more on penetrating space than with standard attacking football and will proactively create space by using physical power.
  • Your team will play long ball football if you combine direct plays with defensive football - your team will focus more on penetrating space than with standard defensive football and will be less reliant on breaks.

2) I want my team to attack with short plays - when it has the ball your team will penetrate space patiently by cycling possession, mainly creating space by drawing players out of position.

  • To implement: increase the team Passing Directness slider to Shorter Passing to implement short plays to a moderate extent or select the Retain Possession team instruction to implement short plays to a large extent.
  • Bear in mind that Retain Possession also implements the safe passes style method (see Playing Style Customisation below)
  • Your team will play pass and move football if you combine short plays with attacking football - your team will focus more on keeping possession than with standard attacking football and will proactively create space by drawing players out of position.
  • Your team will play possession football if you combine short plays with defensive football - your team will focus even more on keeping possession than with standard defensive football and will be more reliant on breaks, although it will counter attack less due to spending more time in possession.

3) I have no preference regarding the use of direct plays or short plays.

  • To implement: do not adjust the team Passing Directness slider.

Tips for making your choice:

  • Try to choose an attacking style that is suitable for your team.
  • To check player suitability for each attacking style go to Team Report > Comparison tab and view the Physical, Mental and Technical tabs. Assess your team's attributes relative to the grey bars that show your league's averages.
  • On Physical tick Midfielders and Strikers only.
    • For direct plays look for relatively high Acceleration, Agility, Balance, Jumping Reach, Pace, Stamina and Strength.
  • On Mental tick Midfielders and Strikers only.
    • For direct plays look for relatively high Aggression, Bravery and Work Rate.
    • For short plays look for relatively high Anticipation, Concentration, Decisions, Flair, Off The Ball, Teamwork and Vision.
  • On Technical tick Midfielders and Strikers only.
    • For direct plays look for relatively high Crossing, Dribbling and Heading.
    • For short plays look for relatively high First Touch, Passing and Technique.

Further details:

2.3. Defensive Style

Choose one of the following:

1) I want my team to defend with aggressive pressing - when the opposition team has the ball your team will apply a higher level of defensive pressure (than would normally be the case for your selected team mentality) in order to force more attacking mistakes from the opposition team and spend more time in possession.

  • To implement: increase the team Closing Down slider to More Closing Down to implement aggressive pressing to a moderate extent or increase it to Much More Closing Down to implement aggressive pressing to a large extent.
  • If you are using the Control or Attacking team mentalities then bear in mind that they automatically increase the team Closing Down slider slightly, so be sure that you want to increase it further before doing so.
  • Your team will play high pressure football if you combine aggressive pressing with attacking football - your team will focus even more on restricting space than with standard attacking football and will spend more time proactively creating space due to spending more time in possession.
  • Your team will play aggressive defensive football if you combine aggressive pressing with defensive football - your team will focus more on restricting space than with standard defensive football and will be less reliant on counter attacking due to spending more time in possession, although it may be able to counter attack more frequently by winning back possession earlier.

2) I want my team to defend with containment - when the opposition team has the ball your team will invite more attacking pressure from the opposition team (than would normally be the case for your selected team mentality) in order to allow more available space to open up in more advanced areas for counter attacking.

  • To implement: decrease the team Closing Down slider to Less Closing Down to implement containment to a moderate extent or decrease it to Much Less Closing Down to implement containment to a large extent.
  • If you are using the Counter or Defensive team mentalities then bear in mind that they automatically decrease the team Closing Down slider slightly, so be sure that you want to decrease it further before doing so.
  • Your team will play cautious attacking football if you combine containment with attacking football - your team will focus more on protecting space than with standard attacking football but will spend less time proactively creating space due to spending less time in possession.
  • Your team will play parking-the-bus football if you combine containment with defensive football - your team will focus even more on protecting space than with standard defensive football and will be even more reliant on counter attacking due to spending less time in possession.

3) I have no preference regarding the use of aggressive pressing or containment.

  • To implement: do not adjust the team Closing Down slider.

Tips for making your choice:

  • Try to choose a defensive style that is suitable for your team.
  • To check player suitability for each defensive style go to Team Report > Comparison tab and view the Physical, Mental and Technical tabs. Assess your team's attributes relative to the grey bars that show your league's averages.
  • On Physical tick Defenders and Midfielders only.
    • For aggressive pressing look for relatively high Acceleration, Pace and Stamina.
    • For containment look for relatively high Jumping Reach and Strength.
  • On Mental tick Defenders and Midfielders only.
    • For aggressive pressing look for relatively high Aggression, Anticipation and Work Rate.
    • For containment look for relatively high Composure and Concentration.
  • On Technical tick Defenders and Midfielders only.
    • For aggressive pressing look for relatively high Tackling.
    • For containment look for relatively high Heading and Marking.

Further details:

3. Playing System Balance

UI:

  • On the Tactics Overview screen you can set a formation by selecting one from the Formation drop-down list at the top-right of the screen or by dragging the player icons on the formation diagram.
  • You can set roles and duties for each playing position by using the top drop-downs on the player icons or by using the drop-downs in the Position/Role/Duty column on the left.
  • You can select a player for each playing position by using the bottom drop-downs on the player icons or by using the drop-downs in the Player column on the left.

Further details:

3.1. Formation

Aim: to choose a suitable formation.

A selection of balanced formations for you to choose from is provided below. The formations are categorised according to how attacking or defensive they are (the formation names used here are those that are used in FM).

Very attacking:

  • 4-2-3-1 Wide

Fairly attacking:

  • 4-2-3-1 Wide Asymmetric (select 4-2-3-1 Wide and drag an M(C) down to DM(C))
  • 4-4-2
  • 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow (known as 4-1-2-1-2 elsewhere in this guide)
  • 5-3-2 WB (known as 3-5-2 elsewhere in this guide)
  • 5-2-3 WB (known as 3-4-3 elsewhere in this guide)

Neutral:

  • 4-1-2-3 DM Wide
  • 4-2-3-1 DM Wide
  • 4-4-1-1
  • 5-3-1-1 WB (known as 3-5-1-1 elsewhere in this guide) (select 5-3-2 WB and drag a ST(C) down to AM(C) then re-position the two attackers to centre)

Fairly defensive:

  • 4-2-1-3 DM Wide
  • 4-5-1

Very defensive:

  • 4-1-4-1 DM

Tips for making your choice:

  • Try to choose a formation for which you have good squad depth in each playing position.
  • To check your squad depth in different playing positions go to Team Report > Squad Depth tab and select Position Overview (Current Ability) from the Show drop-down list. You can view your squad depth in more detail by selecting All (Current Ability) from the Show drop-down list and choosing different formations from the Formation drop-down list. The stars indicate the current abilities of your players in the relevant playing positions (based on the opinion of your assistant manager or other coach if selected).
  • Your assistant manager's recommended formation (at the bottom of the Formation drop-down list) should have good squad depth.
  • Any formation can be used with any playing style. However ...
  • ... More attacking formations can help your team to apply a higher level of pressure in more advanced areas (which can be useful for attacking football and aggressive pressing).

  • ... More defensive formations can help your team to invite more pressure from the opposition team (which can be useful in defensive football and containment).

  • ... You may want to use a formation with two central attacker playing positions (an AM(C) and an ST(C), or two ST(C)s) for direct plays.

  • ... You may want to use a formation with wide partnerships (two players on each flank) for focusing play down the flanks.

Further details:

3.2. Balancing Central Defence

Aim: to assign player roles and duties in central defence that suit your system fluidity and playing style.

  • Central defence = sweeper (SW) + centre backs (CB)

To balance central defence try to include each of the following key tactical roles in your tactic:

  • A covering central defender
    • Includes the Defend and Cover duties
  • A stopper central defender
    • Includes the Defend and Stopper duties (except the Sweeper (SW Defend))
  • A safe-playing central defender
    • Includes the Central Defender, Defensive Centre Back and Half Back (DM Defend) roles

Each key tactical role can be given to more than one player and each player can be given more than one key tactical role, if you wish.

Balanced role and duty combinations that include all of these key tactical roles are listed below. They are categorised according to their suitability for different system fluidity levels and playing styles, based on the following:

  • The Central Defender (shortened to 'CD') role and the Defend duty are more suitable for more fluid playing systems.
  • The Ball Playing Defender (shortened to 'BPD'), Defensive Centre Back (shortened to 'DCB'), Sweeper and Libero roles, and the Stopper and Cover duties, are more suitable for more structured playing systems.
    • The BPD and Libero are more suitable for attacking football and short plays.
    • The DCB and Sweeper are more suitable for defensive football and direct plays.

Choose one of these combinations (or its mirror image).

Tips for making your choice:

  • Try to choose roles and duties for which you have good player suitability.
  • To check player suitability for different roles and duties go to Tactics > Player tab and use the Role drop-down.

Further details:

General Purpose

These role and duty combinations are suitable for any playing style when using a more fluid or flexible playing system in particular. They can also be useful when using more structured playing systems if other options are lacking or not suitable for your players.

Central defence partnerships:

  • Central Defender (CB Defend) - Central Defender (CB Defend)

Three-man central defences:

  • Central Defender (CB Defend) - Central Defender (CB Defend) - Central Defender (CB Defend)

Attacking Football / Short Plays

These role and duty combinations are more suitable for attacking football and short plays when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Central defence partnerships:

  • CD/BPD (CB Stopper) - CD/BPD (CB Cover)
    • Including at least one CD (or add a Half Back (DM Defend))
  • CD/BPD (CB Defend) - CD/BPD (CB Defend)
    • Including at least one CD (or add a Half Back (DM Defend)) and at least one BPD

Flat three-man central defences:

  • CD/BPD (CB Defend/Stopper) - CD/BPD (CB Cover) - CD/BPD (CB Defend/Stopper)
    • Including at least one CD
  • CD/BPD (CB Defend/Cover) - CD/BPD (CB Stopper) - CD/BPD (CB Defend/Cover)
    • Including at least one CD
  • CD/BPD (CB Defend/Stopper) - CD/BPD (CB Defend) - CD/BPD (CB Defend/Cover)
    • Including at least one CD and at least one Stopper or Cover
  • CD/BPD (CB Defend) - CD/BPD (CB Defend) - CD/BPD (CB Defend)
    • Including at least one CD and at least one BPD

Sweeper central defences:

  • CD/BPD (CB Defend/Stopper) - Libero (SW Support) - CD/BPD (CB Defend/Stopper)
    • Including at least one CD (or add a Half Back (DM Defend)) and at least one Stopper
  • CD/BPD (CB Defend) - Libero (SW Support/Attack) - CD/BPD (CB Defend)
    • Including at least one CD (or add a Half Back (DM Defend))

Defensive Football / Direct Plays

These role and duty combinations are more suitable for defensive football and direct plays when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Central defence partnerships:

  • CD/DCB (CB Stopper) - CD/DCB (CB Cover)
  • CD/DCB (CB Defend) - CD/DCB (CB Defend)
    • Including at least one DCB

Flat three-man central defences:

  • CD/DCB (CB Defend/Stopper) - CD/DCB (CB Cover) - CD/DCB (CB Defend/Stopper)
  • CD/DCB (CB Defend/Cover) - CD/DCB (CB Stopper) - CD/DCB (CB Defend/Cover)
  • CD/DCB (CB Defend/Stopper) - CD/DCB (CB Defend) - CD/DCB (CB Defend/Cover)
    • Including at least one Stopper or Cover
  • CD/DCB (CB Defend) - CD/DCB (CB Defend) - CD/DCB (CB Defend)
    • Including at least one DCB

Sweeper central defences:

  • CD/DCB (CB Defend/Stopper) - Sweeper (SW Defend) - CD/DCB (CB Defend/Stopper)

3.3. Balancing Central Midfield

Aim: to assign player roles and duties in central midfield that suit your system fluidity and playing style.

  • Central midfield = defensive midfielders (DM) + centre midfielders (CM)

To balance central midfield try to include each of the following key tactical roles in your tactic:

  • A covering central midfielder
  • A number-eight central midfielder
  • A central midfield water-carrier
  • A central midfield creator

Each key tactical role can be given to more than one player and each player can be given more than one key tactical role, if you wish.

Also try to include a number-eight central midfielder in a playing position level with or ahead of a covering central midfielder.

Roles and duties for each of the above key tactical roles are listed below. They are categorised according to their suitability for different system fluidity levels and playing styles.

Tips for making your choices:

  • Try to choose roles and duties for which you have good player suitability.
  • To check player suitability for different roles and duties go to Tactics > Player tab and use the Role drop-down.

Further details:

General Purpose

These roles and duties are suitable for any playing style when using a more fluid or flexible playing system in particular. They can also be useful when using more structured playing systems if other options are lacking or not suitable for your players.

Covering water-carriers:

  • Defensive Midfielder (DM Defend)1 - slightly more suitable for defensive football and short plays
  • Central Midfielder (CM Defend)

Number-eight water-carriers:

  • Defensive Midfielder (DM Support)
  • Segundo Volante (Off-Centre DM Support)
  • Central Midfielder (CM Support)
  • Box To Box Midfielder (CM Support)1 - slightly more suitable for attacking football and short plays
  • Carrilero (Off-Centre CM Support)1,2 - slightly more suitable for attacking football and short plays

Creators:

  • Defensive Midfielder (DM Support)
  • Segundo Volante (Off-Centre DM Support)
  • Central Midfielder (CM Defend/Support)
  • Box To Box Midfielder (CM Support)1 - slightly more suitable for attacking football and short plays
  • Carrilero (Off-Centre CM Support)1,2 - slightly more suitable for attacking football and short plays

Others:

  • Central Midfielder (CM Attack)

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

2This role instructs a particular type of player movement and is most suitable for one or two centre midfielders who are positioned in front of a defensive midfielder in a three- or four-man central midfield.

Attacking Football

These roles and duties are more suitable for attacking football when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Covering:

  • Deep Lying Playmaker (DM/CM Defend/Support)
  • Half Back (DM Defend)1,2 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Number-eights:

  • Ball Winning Midfielder (DM/CM Support)1 - slightly more suitable for direct attacking football
  • Regista (DM Support)
  • Roaming Playmaker (DM/CM Support)
  • Advanced Playmaker (CM Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Water-carriers:

  • Ball Winning Midfielder (DM/CM Support)1 - slightly more suitable for direct attacking football
  • Half Back (DM Defend)1,2 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Creators:

  • Deep Lying Playmaker (DM/CM Defend/Support)
  • Regista (DM Support)
  • Roaming Playmaker (DM/CM Support)
  • Segundo Volante (Off-Centre DM Attack)
  • Advanced Playmaker (CM Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Libero (SW Support/Attack)
  • Inverted Wing Back (FB/WB Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Wide Playmaker (WM Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inverted Winger (WM Support/Attack)

Others:

  • Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support/Attack)3
  • Inverted Wing Back (WB Defend)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

2This role instructs a particular type of player movement and is most suitable for use in a three- or four-man central midfield with another central midfield water-carrier or a Central Midfielder (CM Attack).

3This role instructs a particular type of player movement and is most suitable for use with a lone wide player or Winger (WM/WF Support/Attack) on the same flank.

Defensive Football

These roles and duties are more suitable for defensive football when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Covering:

  • Anchor Man (DM Defend)

Number-eights:

  • Ball Winning Midfielder (DM/CM Support)1 - slightly more suitable for aggressive defensive football

Water-carriers:

  • Ball Winning Midfielder (DM/CM Defend/Support)1 - slightly more suitable for aggressive defensive football
  • Anchor Man (DM Defend)

Creators: none (see General Purpose roles and duties instead)

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

Direct Plays

These roles and duties are more suitable for direct plays when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Covering:

  • Anchor Man (DM Defend)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football

Number-eights:

  • Ball Winning Midfielder (DM/CM Support)

Water-carriers:

  • Ball Winning Midfielder (DM/CM Defend)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football
  • Ball Winning Midfielder (DM/CM Support)
  • Anchor Man (DM Defend)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football

Creators:

  • Segundo Volante (Off-Centre DM Attack)
  • Inverted Winger (WM Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for direct attacking football

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

Short Plays

These roles and duties are more suitable for short plays when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Covering:

  • Deep Lying Playmaker (DM/CM Defend/Support)
  • Anchor Man (DM Defend)1 - slightly more suitable for possession football
  • Half Back (DM Defend)2

Number-eights:

  • Regista (DM Support)
  • Roaming Playmaker (DM/CM Support)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Advanced Playmaker (CM Support)
  • Advanced Playmaker (CM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Water-carriers:

  • Anchor Man (DM Defend)1 - slightly more suitable for possession football
  • Half Back (DM Defend)2

Creators:

  • Deep Lying Playmaker (DM/CM Defend/Support)
  • Regista (DM Support)
  • Roaming Playmaker (DM/CM Support)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Advanced Playmaker (CM Support)
  • Advanced Playmaker (CM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Libero (SW Support)
  • Libero (SW Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inverted Wing Back (FB/WB Support)
  • Inverted Wing Back (FB/WB Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Wide Playmaker (WM Support)
  • Wide Playmaker (WM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inverted Winger (WM Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Others:

  • Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support/Attack)3
  • Inverted Wing Back (WB Defend)

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

2This role instructs a particular type of player movement and is most suitable for use in a three- or four-man central midfield with another central midfield water-carrier or a Central Midfielder (CM Attack).

3This role instructs a particular type of player movement and is most suitable for use with a lone wide player or Winger (WM/WF Support/Attack) on the same flank.

3.4. Balancing The Flanks

Aim: to assign player roles and duties on the flanks that suit your system fluidity and playing style.

  • The flanks = deep wide players + advanced wide players
  • Deep wide players = full backs (FB) + wing backs (WB)
  • Advanced wide players = wing midfielders (WM) + wing forwards (WF)

To balance the flanks try to include each of the following key tactical roles in your tactic on each flank:

  • An attacking wide player
  • A wide creator

Each key tactical role can be given to more than one player and each player can be given more than one key tactical role, if you wish.

If you are using attacking football or short plays then consider using an attacking wide player in a deep wide player playing position (FB or WB), preferably with an Attack duty, behind a player on the same flank (or near the same flank if you only have one wide player on that flank) who is not instructed to Get Further Forward. The attacking wide player can then make overlapping forward runs that can help your team to create space.

If you are using defensive football or direct plays then consider using an attacking wide player in an advanced wide player playing position (WM or WF). The attacking wide player can then make forward runs at and behind the opposition team defence that can help your team to penetrate space more directly.

Roles and duties for each of the above key tactical roles are listed below. They are categorised according to their suitability for different system fluidity levels and playing styles.

Tips for making your choices:

  • Try to choose roles and duties for which you have good player suitability.
  • To check player suitability for different roles and duties go to Tactics > Player tab and use the Role drop-down.

Further details:

General Purpose

These roles and duties are suitable for any playing style when using a more fluid or flexible playing system in particular. They can also be useful when using more structured playing systems if other options are lacking or not suitable for your players.

Attacking:

  • Full Back (FB Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for attacking football and direct plays
  • Wing Back (FB/WB Support)
  • Wing Back (FB/WB Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for defensive football and direct plays
  • Wide Midfielder (WM Attack)

Creators:

  • Full Back (FB Support)1 - slightly more suitable for attacking football and direct plays
  • Wing Back (FB/WB Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for defensive football and direct plays
  • Wide Midfielder (WM Support)

Others:

  • Full Back (FB Defend)
  • Wing Back (FB/WB Defend)
  • Wide Midfielder (WM Defend)

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

Attacking Football

These roles and duties are more suitable for attacking football when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Attacking:

  • Complete Wing Back (FB/WB Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Creators:

  • Complete Wing Back (FB/WB Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Winger (WM/WF Support)1 - slightly more suitable for direct attacking football
  • Defensive Winger (WM Defend/Support)
  • Trequartista (WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for cautious attacking football

Others:

  • Inverted Wing Back (FB/WB Defend/Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Wide Playmaker (WM Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inverted Winger (WM Support/Attack)
  • Advanced Playmaker (WF Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inside Forward (WF Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Raumdeuter (WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

Defensive Football

These roles and duties are more suitable for defensive football when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Attacking:

  • Winger (WM/WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football
  • Wide Target Man (WF Attack)

Creators:

  • Winger (WM/WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football
  • Wide Target Man (WF Support/Attack)

Others:

  • Defensive Full Back (FB Defend)

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

Direct Plays

These roles and duties are more suitable for direct plays when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Attacking:

  • Winger (WM/WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football
  • Wide Target Man (WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football

Creators:

  • Winger (WM/WF Support)
  • Winger (WM/WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football
  • Defensive Winger (WM Defend/Support)
  • Wide Target Man (WF Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football

Others:

  • Defensive Full Back1 - slightly more suitable for long ball football
  • Inverted Winger (WM Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for direct attacking football

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

Short Plays

These roles and duties are more suitable for short plays when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Attacking:

  • Complete Wing Back (FB/WB Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Creators:

  • Complete Wing Back (FB/WB Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Trequartista (WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Others:

  • Inverted Wing Back (FB/WB Defend/Support)
  • Inverted Wing Back (FB/WB Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Wide Playmaker (WM Support)
  • Wide Playmaker (WM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Advanced Playmaker (WF Support)
  • Advanced Playmaker (WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inside Forward (WF Support/Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Raumdeuter (WF Attack)

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

3.5. Balancing Central Attack

Aim: to assign player roles and duties in central attack that suit your system fluidity and playing style.

  • Central attack = attacking midfielders (AM) + centre forwards (CF)

To balance central attack try to include each of the following key tactical roles in your tactic:

  • A number-nine central attacker
  • A central attack runner
  • A number-ten central attacker - either ...
    • ... A technical number-ten for attacking football and short plays
    • ... A target-man for defensive football and direct plays
  • A spearhead central attacker

Each key tactical role can be given to more than one player and each player can be given more than one key tactical role, if you wish.

If you are using attacking football or short plays then consider using a number-nine central attacker in a deeper playing position (AM or WF) behind a player who is not instructed to Get Further Forward. The number-nine central attacker can then make overlapping forward runs that can help your team to create space.

If you are using defensive football or direct plays then consider using a number-nine central attacker in a more advanced playing position (CF). The number-nine central attacker can then make forward runs at and behind the opposition team defence that can help your team to penetrate space more directly.

Roles and duties for each of the above key tactical roles are listed below. They are categorised according to their suitability for different system fluidity levels and playing styles.

Tips for making your choices:

  • Try to choose roles and duties for which you have good player suitability.
  • To check player suitability for different roles and duties go to Tactics > Player tab and use the Role drop-down.

Further details:

General Purpose

These roles and duties are suitable for any playing style when using a more fluid or flexible playing system in particular. They can also be useful when using more structured playing systems if other options are lacking or not suitable for your players.

Number-nines:

  • Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack)
  • Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)
  • Advanced Forward (CF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for attacking football and direct plays

Runners:

  • Attacking Midfielder (AM Support)
  • Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)1- slightly more suitable for attacking football and short plays
  • Central Midfielder (CM Attack)

Number-tens (technical):

  • Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)1- slightly more suitable for attacking football and short plays

Number-tens (target-men):

  • Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)1- slightly more suitable for attacking football and short plays
  • Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)

Spearheads:

  • Advanced Forward (CF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for attacking football and direct plays
  • Deep Lying Forward (CF Support)1- slightly more suitable for attacking football and short plays
  • Deep Lying Forward (CF Attack)

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

Attacking Football

These roles and duties are more suitable for attacking football when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Number-nines:

  • Shadow Striker (AM Attack)
  • Complete Forward (CF Attack)
  • Inside Forward (WF Attack)
  • Raumdeuter (WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Runners:

  • Advanced Playmaker (WF Support/Attack / AM Attack)
  • Trequartista (WF/AM/CF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for cautious attacking football
  • Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • False Nine (CF Support)2
  • Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support/Attack)3
  • Inverted Winger (WM Attack)
  • Inside Forward (WF Support)

Number-tens (technical):

  • Advanced Playmaker (CM/WF/AM Support/Attack)
  • Trequartista (WF/AM/CF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for cautious attacking football
  • Enganche (AM Attack)4
  • Complete Forward (CF Support)
  • False Nine (CF Support)2
  • Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Attack)3
  • Inverted Wing Back (WB Attack)
  • Wide Playmaker (WM Attack)
  • Inside Forward (WF Support)

Number-tens (target-men):

  • Complete Forward (CF Support/Attack)

Spearheads:

  • Trequartista (CF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for cautious attacking football
  • Complete Forward (CF Support/Attack)
  • False Nine (CF Support)

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

2This role instructs a particular type of player movement and is most suitable for use with an Inside Forward (WF Attack) or a Shadow Striker (AM Attack).

3This role instructs a particular type of player movement and is most suitable for use with a lone wide player or Winger (WM/WF Support/Attack) on the same flank.

4This role instructs a particular type of player movement and is most suitable for use with with roles such as Roaming Playmaker, Mezzala, Advanced Playmaker (WF), Inside Forward, Trequartista, Advanced Forward and Complete Forward.

Defensive Football

These roles and duties are more suitable for defensive football when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Number-nines:

  • Target Man (CF Attack)2
  • Poacher (CF Attack)3

Runners:

  • Target Man (CF Support)2
  • Defensive Forward (CF Support)1,2 - slightly more suitable for aggressive defensive football

Number-tens (target-men):

  • Target Man (CF Support/Attack)2

Spearheads:

  • Target Man (CF Support/Attack)2

Others:

  • Defensive Forward (CF Defend)2

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

2This role instructs a focus on the use of physical presence. The Target Man (CF Support) is most suitable for use with an Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack) or Poacher (CF Attack). The Target Man (CF Attack) is most suitable for use with an Attacking Midfielder (AM Support). The Defensive Forward (CF Defend/Support) is most suitable for use with any other player in an attacking midfielder or centre forward playing position.

3This role instructs a focus on the use of mobility and is most suitable for use with a Deep Lying Forward (CF Support), Target Man (CF Support) or Complete Forward (CF Support).

Direct Plays

These roles and duties are more suitable for direct plays when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Number-nines:

  • Target Man (CF Attack)1,2 - slightly more suitable for long ball football
  • Poacher (CF Attack)3

Runners:

  • Target Man (CF Support)1,2 - slightly more suitable for long ball football
  • Defensive Forward (CF Support)2

Number-tens (target-men):

  • Target Man (CF Support/Attack)1,2 - slightly more suitable for long ball football

Spearheads:

  • Target Man (CF Support/Attack)1,2 - slightly more suitable for long ball football

Others:

  • Defensive Forward (CF Defend)2

1You may want to counteract this role's tactical instructions with appropriate Playing Style Customisation if you use it for a 'contrasting' playing style - discussed later in this Starter Guide.

2This role instructs a focus on the use of physical presence. The Target Man (CF Support) is most suitable for use with an Attacking Midfielder (AM Attack) or Poacher (CF Attack). The Target Man (CF Attack) is most suitable for use with an Attacking Midfielder (AM Support). The Defensive Forward (CF Defend/Support) is most suitable for use with any other player in an attacking midfielder or centre forward playing position.

3This role instructs a focus on the use of mobility and is most suitable for use with a Deep Lying Forward (CF Support), Target Man (CF Support) or Complete Forward (CF Support).

Short Plays

These roles and duties are more suitable for short plays when using a more structured or flexible playing system in particular.

Number-nines:

  • Shadow Striker (AM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Complete Forward (CF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inside Forward (WF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Raumdeuter (WF Attack)

Runners:

  • Advanced Playmaker (WF Support)
  • Advanced Playmaker (WF/AM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Trequartista (WF/AM/CF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Complete Forward (CF Support)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • False Nine (CF Support)2
  • Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Support/Attack)3
  • Inverted Winger (WM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inside Forward (WF Support)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football

Number-tens (technical):

  • Advanced Playmaker (WF/AM Support)
  • Advanced Playmaker (CM/WF/AM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Trequartista (WF/AM/CF Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Enganche (AM Attack)4
  • Complete Forward (CF Support)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • False Nine (CF Support)2
  • Advanced Playmaker (CM Support)
  • Mezzala (Off-Centre CM Attack)3
  • Inverted Wing Back (WB Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Wide Playmaker (WM Attack)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football
  • Inside Forward (WF Support)1 - slightly more suitable for pass and move football