The Art of The 4-4-2 Diamond

Earlier this year I wrote a series of articles that discuss the 4-4-2 narrow diamond.  These are not newly written articles, only newly posted. They take a real deep look of the system and highlight the pros and cons of the system as well as showing you examples of them, from actual matches inside Football Manager. I thought it was time I started posting these last bits of Football Manager content I have lying around, rather than keeping them on my hard drive gathering dust.

Before creating any tactic on Football Manager you need to understand a few things and ask yourself a few questions. You also need a general idea about how you want to play, if not then how do you know what type of players you need to bring in. Or what tactical changes to make. Without a basic idea of that, then you really have nothing to work towards. Anyways back to those questions, they should be something like this;

  • Do the players you have fit the tactic and style you want to create or does the tactic and style have to fit the players?
  • What are your players strengths and weaknesses?
  • How does the style you want to create impact the strongest areas of your current squad? I.e if you want to dominate midfield, are the current player capable of doing it?!
  • You might have to make compromises to begin with, so what will you have to trade-off?

And one vital bit of information you need to remember is that every tactic has strengths and weaknesses. There is no such thing as a perfect tactic no matter how much you try. You always have some kind of tradeoff to make. It’s important you know quickly though how your system actually works and why. If you don’t then you won’t understand why certain things happen or won’t know what the weak areas of the system actually are. It makes it easier to identify real issues that you can fix and helps with the ‘how to’ fix the issue too.

I’ll be going into a lot detail about the strengths and weaknesses of this system later on the article. But to give you a general idea of what you should be looking for, to understand how your own system works regardless of shape, it should look something like this;


  • Two strikers
  • Diamond midfield
  • Use of a DMC
  • Use of a AMC
  • It’s an attacking formation
  • Lots of passing options
  • Numbers advantage in midfield normally
  • Versatile midfield set ups.
  • Compact when in defensive situations


  • A possible lack of midfield width at times
  • Risk of the central midfielders being pulled out of position
  • Vulnerable to counter attacks
  • Requires superman type players for certain positions i.e full backs
  • Full backs can be isolated by the opposition
  • Overloads down the flanks
  • High energy expenditure

Those are some of the basic issues I face when using the 4-4-2 narrow diamond. So when picking a shape it comes down to what you think is acceptable and what isn’t. Each formation you can choose will come with it’s own pros and cons.

To give this series a different twist to normal, I’ll be creating this tactic to accommodate the best player in my side. So the team will be built around him and the roles will compliment what I want from the player.


He is the entire reason why I want to build a tactic around him. He’s not the best player on the game not by a long shot. However I like him in real life and think he is a fantastic player.
So how exactly do I create a tactic around one specific player. Well it’s simpler than you might think but it requires a lot of watching full games or large parts of games to see how all the roles interlinks with each other. This is probably the hardest part of the whole process yet one that will be the most rewarding long-term as it will allow me to understand the how’s and why’s of how the system functions whether it be good or bad.

Before I can do that though, I need to have some sort of baseline to work from. These roles are likely to change based on the visuals I see when watching games, but for now here is what I’ve selected and why;



I see the defence being solid and the central two defenders are what most would probably use. The choice is supporting wingbacks though was taken because I see them providing width and doing more through balls than actual crosses (as I’ll likely add more risky passes instruction for both of them). That’s not to say they won’t cross if they feel it’s a better option, but a support duty offers greater chance of through balls being played by them, compared to an attack duty which is more focused on crosses from the byline. I want the wingbacks to offer width and support attacks but I don’t need them going to the byline frequently. After all, the wingbacks are the most important part of the 4-4-2 narrow diamond due to it being a demanding role that uses lots of energy. The players need to be able to support attacks by offering width but also recover their positions easily to help in defensive situations as they’re the only real wide cover I have.


I want a Pirlo type player here who can dictate the game from deep and recycle possession. I want a player who does all the simple stuff and makes the rest of the midfield tick. This is why I’ve gone with a deep-lying playmaker to help with this. Due to him being on a defensive duty he should hold position better and not support attacks. Until I see the actual games though, I’m not sure if this is a bad or good thing. In my mind, it’s good in theory but I think sometimes I might have him more forward thinking and supporting attacks maybe, especially against more stubborn sides. But it’s something I’ll have to monitor.

The choice of a ball winning midfielder was because I need a physical destroyer type of presence to unsettle the opposition. I need this aggressiveness to win the ball back. I could find he is more aggressive than I hoped though, so like the deep-lying playmaker, I will be keeping an eye on him.

The other role I have used is the central midfielder on support. I see this working by him staying in the centre of the pitch and supporting attacks when needed. But for most parts, see him balancing defensive and attacking duties very well compared to the choice of the other roles available. I feel this is the best role available for that. Not an expert of anything but with the right player, he’ll be decent at all things. I also see him as linking the midfield to attack in higher phases of play.


The Trequartista is a role I’m not 100% decided upon yet. I think an Enganche role might suit better overall for what I need. But I’ve already written some very in-depth articles about those for FM16 already so wanted to start with something different here. You can find the articles I wrote about the Enganche role here;



I see the Trequartista roaming about, coming deep in search of the ball and then trying to feed the ball to the strikers. However I feel the role could be a bit too mobile at times which sounds crazy doesn’t it, that a player can be too mobile?!! I’ll hopefully show you why it might be an issue once the analysis starts as a picture will explain it much better than I can in a few sentences.

The complete forward on a support duty will hopefully offer me a bit of everything and make himself a handful for the opposition’s defenders. This should create space for the advanced forward or at least occupy one of the central defenders more consistently so the advanced forward isn’t out numbered.

As for the advanced forward, I see him being the dangerous goal threat. I’m not sure though if he’ll be as good as a poacher would be. It’s something I’ll have to see and it all depends on the kind of supply he gets. I think that will be the most important factor here, the supply.  If the Trequartista (or whatever role I settle on for the AMC) provides pin point accurate balls into the advanced forward then a more static role i.e poacher could be worth exploring.

So those are the player roles I’ve gone for and explained a little bit about what I think they’ll offer. Now it’s a case of seeing if it works like I vision in a game.
Team Instructions



I want to be attacking but not very attacking. So control was the best choice here as it’s slightly less aggressive than the attacking mentality but still attack minded. The 4-4-2 narrow diamond is quite an offensive formation and this mentality structure should help utilise the shape fully.

Team shape, as you know I always keep it simple when talking about this and don’t over complicate it. I always base what team shape to use on one simple thing. Do I want players to be more creative or less creative than their initial roles allow. For this project I decided I wanted lots of creativity compared to normal so went very fluid. There is nothing more to my decision at all, it was that simple.

Now onto the actual team instructions. Some people believe you have to start with team instructions, but why? You should in fact use them to create specific styles or for refining tactics and never use them just because you think you have to. As I’m not replicating or trying to create a specific style just yet, I’ll be using no team instructions. Instead I’ll be using them to refine the play that I see happening on the pitch and using them as tweaking tools.

In the next article we’ll be looking at how it works compared to how I thought it would. I’ll also try to look at the pros and cons in more detail too.

12 thoughts on “The Art of The 4-4-2 Diamond”

  1. I didn’t write anything else, it was already done and this is certainly not a comeback of any kind. Not that I have to explain what I do with my own time to you. I guess you can’t read though, so not sure why I reply to you. It’s fine though Peter is a fan girl who has nothing much going on in his life, so she likes to keep tabs on me. I’m flattered really, they have some kind of crush on me. I call them a girl because they don’t have the bollocks to post being a real account, so create fake ones. Fucking pussy, if you’re going to act Billy big Bollocks at least get some and post under your real name.

    1. Haha excellent reply Cleon. Some folk are clearly too stupid to read what you had wrote at the start.
      I don’t understand people like that. If he doesn’t like you or your material, why bother subscribing to your site?

      1. He’s just one of those who likes to moan regardless and says he doesn’t care when he does. He’ll soon get bored 🙂

        1. Good to see you can handle the trolls. Many of us do appreciate your articles, and I actually enjoy reading your stuff more than I do playing the game.

  2. Nice to see you posting again.

    One query I have relates to fluidity. I know this setting changes mentality structures and creative freedom, but what does it change most out of the two?

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