This is the fourth installment from guest blogger Grant Sales.

Well, here we are. The meat of it. My attempt to make a working formation. I’m usually as successful as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest! (Thank you, Dolly Parton). Being an Arsenal fan, I do love pretty passing football. However, I’ve played all sorts of formations in various FM’s. 4-4-2 on FM05, 4-2-3-1 in FM08 & FM09, 4-1-2-1-2  on FM10, my Catenaccio tactic on FM12… All these, bar the FM12 one were stolen from people and such.

My dream was to have a Pirlo-esque player play DM behind two ball-winning midfielders, a shield for him to do his work. But everything I came up with just looked wrong to me. Bear in mind, I haven’t really touched any of the new roles in the last few FM’s as I just don’t understand them. Another confession, I’ll watch Arsenal every day if possible, AC Milan if they’re on and as a league, I’ll watch the Eredivisie. But I won’t change the channel for any other team. El Classico? F*** off. Haven’t watched one ever. I refuse to worship at the altar of Dortmund or the Church of Barça. This does not mean that I don’t know my European football and players. I just don’t watch them live. However, from 20 years on CM/FM, I have a theory that most of the main European leagues on FM play a certain way. Like a 4-2-3-1 setup for England, won’t translate to Italy. A 4-3-3 in Germany won’t work in Spain and so on. So the plan for this formation was to a) use a few new roles and b) try to play a way that I believe fits into the general theme of the country.

France themselves, seem to be the new Spain when it comes to young talent graduating. So it’s silky, technical football all the way for my Tours side. Got to try and be able to play nice football in our quest to get to and maybe win Ligue 1. So let’s look at my formation..


A simple 4-4-1-1. Heh. Simple. And, as ever, the disclaimer is that I know absolutely f*** all about this, so I could just be talking out of my anus.

  • Keeper is normal. I like the idea of a sweeper keeper, but it’s not something I’m considering yet.
  • Full-backs. I don’t really want to touch them as I don’t think we have the best full-backs in the world yet. Or even massively talented ones… So keeping them as Full Backs on an Automatic duty, should give me the basic cover/backup when it comes to defence and attack. I’ve seen various blog posts that say one should be attacking, one supporting, but I don’t see why.
  • Centre Backs? Normal and basic. I don’t have the pace (14+) in the DC role players yet to have one as covering. But, they’re too good to be hoofing it out, especially as that would conflict with what I want to do on the pitch.
  • Right Midfield. Looking at my team, I can run this as a Winger with an Attack duty. The idea behind this is that he’ll make runs up the pitch to either be fed balls into score (Freddie Ljungberg) or be quick enough to send in a low cross (Theo). I have no reason to change anyone’s default instructions right now.
  • Right Central Midfield. This guy is gonna be the main link man. The guy who mops up behind my forward idea. so to make it as simple as possible, he’ll be just a Central Midfielder with a Support duty. Almost like an Aaron Ramsey/David Rocastle hybrid. To give him another role would, to me, over-complicate an already complicated idea for the forwards.
  • Left Central Midfield. This is gonna be the Mikel Arteta of the team. Notice I didn’t say Francis Coquelin. The Coq is a good ball-winning midfielder, i need someone who is going to play defensive, but in the confines of the tactical idea. I do not need them chasing about the pitch after the ball. So a Central Midfielder with a Defend duty will be his lot.
  • Left Midfield. This guy is totally the 2007-era Tomas Rosicky/2004-era Robert Pires. I want this guy herding the play, picking the ball up deep, cutting inside and either scoring if close up, or feeding through if not. This will (hopefully) lead to a domino effect across the pitch with passing, as a pass from him, will get to the middle and then end up at the feet of the attacking winger. So, I feel I can use the new Wide Playmaker role on a Support duty.
  • Attacking Midfield. This is where my plan gets a little awry. We all know that Dennis Bergkamp is considered to be the proto-Support Striker. But I almost want him to be like Cesc too, when he’d run on, beyond the striker. The idea is that this guy’s runs from deep with bamboozle the defence, leaving his markers out of position or appearing where there are no markers at all.
  • Striker. This guy will be a False 9 , what we all though Eduardo would be… I want this guy dropping deep, taking a marker with him and allowing the Support Striker to run into the gaps that are left for him. Or, lurking back, so when the attacking Winger’s crosses are cut back, he can arrive late to finish.

So these these were my idea, all conveniently put down in this handy chart.


Now, the instructions. Again, looking at the instructions, I get a little baffled. Sometimes, I think a set up should work perfectly, only to see it ripped apart on some tactics thread or another. But, hey, live and learn. This is what we’re here for, right??


As I’ve said before, Arsenal are my team. Plus I believe that France requires a more technical approach than, say, Italy. So that said, I’ve set the Mentality to Control and the Team Shape to Flexible. On top of that, I have instructed the team to play with Shorter Passing, Work Into Box & Play Out Of Defence to start with. This means that when the defence picks it up, we won’t hoof it aimlessly. It’ll mean that the ball will be played out to whoever is closest. I want us to keep it tight going up the pitch and to give us the best chance, eliminating the long shots with the WIB shout. Whipped Crosses are fairly self-explanatory with a 5’ 7” striker and a 5’ 8” AM.

When we don’t have the ball, I want us to be pro-active about getting it back. This is where the Push Higher Up and Close Down More shouts come in. Hopefully we can contain them enough to launch attacks back from higher up the pitch than normal. However, I don’t want us going steaming in. I like Arsenal, not Stoke. So I want Stay On Feet as a shout too. That hopefully will eliminate a lot of red cards for fouls. Finally, I want us to be industrious, buzzing round their team like a hornet, whether we have the ball or not. So Play Higher Tempo is a must.

I will review all this in January of the first season. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!

4 thoughts on “AN FM’S GUIDE TO AN IDIOT – Tactics”

  1. Fun and interesting read. I’ve only been playing since FM10 and getting my head around a working tactic is still at work. Even when I see issues or lack of support I still don’t know how to switch roles etc to get it going.

    I might see how this works as a 3rd tactic on my Arsenal save (only way to try and win trophies more oftern lol).

    Look forward to the review of how it pans out after 5/10/15 games etc!

    1. It’ll be a half season review, purely as I want to play as I usually for 6 months (highlights on Key, not much editing)

      Thank you for reading!

  2. Interesting read, and loved the player links to some arsenal legends. Be interesting to see how this plays out, especially with a high line and lack of pace at the back, good luck, and look forward to reading more.

    1. It was one of those things where a high line made sense in my head, but I had no idea how it would translate

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