Soccer formation tactics on a blackboard

The Starting Point – Part Two

In the last part I showed you a starting example of a real life formation that you can find information about on the internet. But what if you want to create your own formation that doesn’t necessarily follow any real life examples? Hopefully this will give you a little idea on how I approach this topic myself and set out something that I want to create when I have no references to refer to.

So where to begin!

Firstly I need some sort of idea in my mind so I can develop the idea into a proper working tactical idea. So I decide I want to try and utilise three of the new FM15 roles, they would be the wide playmaker, the roaming playmaker and the raumdeuter. This means I need a formation that allows for the roles to be used and then I need to fit the other seven player roles around these three. Due to the three roles that I definitely want to use this means I need to use  ML/MR for the wide playmaker role,  DMC/MC for the roaming playmaker and  AML/AMR for the raumdeuter.

So after looking at formations and moving the positions around on the pitch for a while to get an understanding of what my shape options would be like, I decided that I’d go for a modern 4-4-2 of sorts;


Once the shape is sorted fitting the roles into it should be simpler as I already have three in mind I want to use. But before  deciding on the roles I need to decide what type of footballing style I want to create at the club as this will also make the roles I need to use more clear.

So what I’m thinking here is I want to be patient with the ball but be aggressive when I don’t have possession. I also want to retain possession and show that a 4-4-2 can keep possession if set up correctly as people believe it to be weak in that regard. Maybe I’d like to try and take advantage of more through balls too and even work the ball into the box rather than shooting from range. With all of this in mind that means my team instructions are pretty much sorted now, at least on paper, any tweaks or changes will come from watching games and seeing how it all plays out. So the team instructions will look something like this;


This does highlight a possible issue though and that is the amount of TI’s used. I’m not a fan of using excessive amounts so once we get to the actual playing a game side of things these could be reduced by a considerable amount. Remember at the minute everything is still theory based and we have no idea how this will all play out.

Now I need to make the rest of the roles I want to use fit around the above TI’s and the philosophy I’m going to be attempting to create. As this is still all idea based I don’t want to spend vast amounts of time discussing the player roles and how they work together as I won’t know that until we’ve played a few games. So what I’ll do is give a few brief reasons to how I see it all working and then once I dive into the season I’ll do a proper analysis of the roles one by one to give a real insight into how they worked or why I had to change them.


Those are what I’ve chosen so far.

Keeper defend – This might change to a sweeper keeper if I find I get a lot of long balls over the top.

Complete Wingback Right Side – I see him getting beyond the wide playmaker and creating an overlap. This will mean the wide playmaker will have options centrally and wide hopefully.

Complete Wingback Left Side –  I’m unsure on this and feel it might be too aggressive but the strength of the 4-4-2 is the wide play so I want to start with this. Another reason for this is the AML will be quite aggressive so I want the wingback to be able to link up with him and play closer. If not this could potentially be problematic in some games as the AML/DL would have a lot of space in between each other that could be exploited.

Defenders – Just your standard defenders. I find this is always a good start point. I might find myself edging to a ball playing defender if I feel my defence isn’t linking to the midfield all that well.

Wide Playmaker – A new fancy role, I have to try and utilise it!

Roaming Playmaker – For the reason above really. I see him dropping back and helping defend out of possession but bursting forward from deep when in possession and offering a central threat.

Central Midfielder Defend – I need some stability and that one player who can drop back and help out the back 4 when needed. Especially as my full backs are gungho. Leaving just 2 defenders back could leave me exposed if I get the balance wrong. So hopefully this will be enough.

Raumdeuter – I see this role as a goalscorer and drifting inwards like an IF but using and creating space much better. Technically the player shouldn’t need to be brilliant as a lot of the role is down to what he does without the ball. So mentally strong and physical will help. Being technical is a bonus but I don’t feel its a must.

Complete Forward – Undecided on this role and a advanced forward might be the actual go to option once matches start. But for now I’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping he drifts wide, pushes the defence high up the pitch to keep the centre backs occupied. Along with also holding the ball up if its needed. Basically I need them to do a bit of everything in the hope the other striker and raumdeuter can cause some issues with arriving late into free space.

Deep-Lying Forward – I see him dropping deep and linking with the raumdeuter or the roaming playmaker who is coming from deep. Hopefully he can take his marker with him which will create space for those around him to use.

All in all I’ve tried to use roles/duties that can complement each other in theory. So I’ve got the players who can be creative i.e DLF, Wide Playmaker and the roaming playmaker. Then I have players who can use space created like the free roaming playmaker and the raumdeuter.

Remember its all still just an idea and we have no idea how it will work. But you need to have some kind of rough idea of what you want to create then you have to try and work out a few things like;


  • Who are the creative players?
  • Where will the goals come from?
  • Who will be supplying those ball to score the goals? This can differ to the creative players in the side.
  • Will I be exposed or am I being too aggressive?
  • Do you understand the strengths and weakness of the shape you are using?
  • How do the roles/duties/TI’s and PI’s impact this?


Those are the types of questions you need to be asking yourself. It’s important you understand how and why something works in the system and set-up you use, if not how will you know how to fix issues or even spot them in the first place? I’ll be touching upon this a lot later in the series.

15 thoughts on “The Starting Point – Part Two”

  1. I tried something very similar yesterday. It was somewhat successful even though I didn’t have the right players. Unfortunately the only thing lacking was the final result as I found myself conceding a free kick from 40+ yards every game. Conceded 7 free kicks in 6 games at one point which essentially cost us lots of points as well as the silly own goals which the beta is riddled with. However once those issues are fixed, again providing you have the right players, this should work well.
    My main differences were that I had both my Central Midfielders on Automatic, a winger on attack , another on support and full backs on Attack rather than CWB as that suited my players more (I was Blackburn).
    What you might find is that against certain opposition, you may have to vary the height of your defensive line (particularly versus opposition with fast strikers/inside forwards) due to the non-existent defending in the beta.
    But yeah, you will play some nice football, I wish you the best of luck and am intrigued to find out what team you’re going to play as since having the right capable players is crucial I find now in FM rather than the past where you could slot any player in to any role in a super plug & play tactic and achieve success 😛

  2. Great start!
    You always speak of needing to know “how roles complement and link with each other”, but that’s awfully dificult when a user doesn’t know exactly what to expect of each role.
    Sure, everyone has a basic idea, but it’s far from enough.
    Explanations like “this role does this in offense and that in defense” would help immensely.
    I hope you’ll have implemented something like that in your future articles.
    Even if not, good job! Whatever you decide to do, it will certainly help people udnerstand FM and alleviate some pain. 🙂

    1. I have something along the lines of what you are asking for. I’ll be explaining in great detail how it all links up after explaining what the individual roles actually do. I need to add the rest first though so I don’t skip steps. But I think you’ll enjoy what I’ve written about what the roles I’ve used actually do

  3. Great post. Would be interesting to hear a bit more on your point about the difference between the creative players and those who will be supplying the ball to score the goals?

    1. I will be but that’s later in the series. You have to remember this technically is still the idea in my head, so I can’t focus too much on how they all interact just yet until the season actually starts 🙂

      1. Obviously i am not so in depth as some of you, but always had the impression asking the players to pass at different lengths ?

  4. Cleon i know it’s been a long time but did you progress with this save and did the tactic work for you?

    Also, one more question if you dont mind please. Is it fine to use one RPM and one WP with an attacking mentality?

    Thank you.

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