Erik Ten Hag 4-2-3-1 fixed GOALS GALORE TACTIC


Aug 15, 2011
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Hi guys welcome to my new tactic this time I tried to fix the issues Eth is having at Manchester Utd this year and recreated his 4-2-3-1.
First an analysis of what we have been seeing so far

So, let’s see how I emulated this 4-2-3-1
First of all, let’s examine the team instructions.

Team Instructions

In possession

Mentality: A balanced mentality is a good starting point. It provides a middle ground, allowing the team to both attack and defend effectively. It can be adjusted based on in-game situations.
Attacking Width: A fairly wide or balanced width is often suitable for a 4-2-3-1, allowing our team to utilize the width of the pitch while maintaining a compact shape.

Overlap or Underlap:

Wan Bissaka is an attacking full-back so I choose "overlap" to encourage him to join the attack. On the left, Dalot is a bit more defensive player so I will ask him to overlap but at same time will focus our play more on the right.

Pass into Space:

Considering players like Sancho, Rashford, and potentially Eriksen, using "pass into space" could exploit their pace and movement effectively.

Play Out of Defense:

Given Onana's proficiency with playing out from the back, "play out of defense" is recommended. This helps maintain possession from the goalkeeper to build up play.

Passing Directness:

A "shorter" passing directness suits the 4-2-3-1 formation, encouraging our team to play short, quick passes, maintaining possession and controlling the game.


A "slightly higher" tempo can be effective, especially in quick transitions from defense to attack. It can be adjusted based on the situation and the flow of the game.


Consider a "mixed" crossing instruction. This provides flexibility, allowing players to choose the appropriate type of cross based on the situation.

Work Ball into Box:

Our players in the attacking third are technically skilled and using "work ball into box" can encourage patience and precision in the final third.

In transition instructions

Considering Ten Hag's tactics and the desire for a dynamic style of play, "Counter Press" could be a suitable choice. This encourages our players to press high immediately after losing possession to regain the ball quickly.

When Winning the Ball Back, I choose “Counter”: given the attacking talents in our squad, opting for "Counter" when winning the ball back can exploit the spaces left by the opponent during their attacking phase.

(Alternatively, "Hold Shape" can be effective, especially against strong opponents. It allows our team to regain composure, maintain possession, and control the tempo before launching a structured attack.)

Regarding Onana's Distribution:

Passing the Ball:

Onana should ideally pass the ball to the center-backs. this allows our team to build up play from the back.
Taking Short Kicks:
With Onana's proficiency in playing out from the back, I decided to instruct him to take short kicks. This aligns with the philosophy of building from defense and involving the goalkeeper in the possession phase.

Out of possession instructions

Pressing Line:

Considering Ten Hag's preference for an aggressive style, setting the pressing line to "Very High" could be appropriate. This aligns with the concept of pressing high up the pitch to disrupt the opponent's build-up.

Defensive Line:

The defensive line can be set to "Higher" or even "Much Higher" to compress the playing space and limit the opponent's options. This is in line with Ten Hag's inclination towards a high defensive line to put pressure on the opposition.

Pressing Trigger:

"Often" or "Much More Often" for the pressing trigger can be effective in quickly engaging the opposition when they enter our defensive third. This encourages an immediate response to regain possession.

Prevent GK Short Distribution:

To disrupt the opponent's build-up from the back, instructing our players to "Prevent Goalkeeper Short Distribution" can be effective. This encourages our team to press the goalkeeper and limit short passing options.

2. Players roles and personal instructions

GK: Andre Onana: sweeper-keeper (attack), pass it shorter.
This role allows Onana to sweep behind the defensive line and initiate attacks from the back. The instruction “pass it shorter” encourages short passes and build-up play from the back.

RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka: wing- back (support), stay wider, get further forward, cross on far post.
Choose the Wing Back (Support) role to provide Wan-Bissaka with more attacking freedom. This role encourages him to push forward, overlap the winger, and contribute to the offensive phase.
Stay Wider: Instruct Wan-Bissaka to stay wider, stretching the opposition defense and providing width on the right flank.
Get Further Forward: This instruction encourages him to join the attack more actively, making overlapping runs and getting involved in offensive plays.
By adjusting the role and player instructions, I can focus the play on the right side, allowing Wan-Bissaka to contribute more to the attack.

RCB: Raphael Varane: Central Defender (Defend): take less risks, close down less, pass it shorter, stay wider.
This role suits Varane's profile as a strong and composed defender. The Central Defender (Defend) role ensures that he prioritizes defensive duties, helping to maintain a solid backline.
Stay wider: he can cover the right flank when our team is in possession and Van Bissaka gets forward leaving spaces behind him.
Take less risks: this instructs Varane to stay back during attacking phases, maintaining defensive discipline and preventing potential counter-attacks.
Pass it shorter: this instructs Varane to make short passes and helps to build the play from the back.
Close down less instructs Varane to avoid pressing the opponent leaving space behind him.

LCB: Lisandro Martinez: Ball Playing Defender (Defend): close down more, dribble more, pass it shorter.
This role is suitable for Martínez, as it encourages him to play out from the back and contribute to the team's possession play. It aligns with Ten Hag's emphasis on playing out from defense.
Dribble More to allow him to carry the ball forward when space opens up.
Close down more: different to Varane, I want Martinez to press high and break the opponent’s play.
Pass it shorter: as for Varane, this instructs Martinez to make short passes and helps to build the play from the back.

LB: Diogo Dalot: Full-Back (support): stay wider, cross on far post.
This role suits Dalot's defensive tendencies while allowing him to contribute to the attack when the opportunity arises. It provides a good balance between defense and support.
Stay wider: encourage Dalot to stay wider, providing width to the left flank and stretching the opposition's defensive shape.

RM: Casemiro: Defensive Midfielder (Defend): tackle harder, pass it shorter
This role allows Casemiro to sit in front of the defense, acting as a shield and providing strong defensive cover. If we want him to focus more on interceptions and positioning we can choose the defensive midfielder role, alternatively, if we want him to focus more on aggressive ball-winning we can choose the ball- winning midfielder role. Player Instructions:
Tackle harder: Given Casemiro's prowess in tackling, I added the "tackle harder" instruction because I want him to be more aggressive in winning the ball.
Pass it Shorter: To align with a possession-oriented style, I instruct Casemiro to pass the ball shorter, maintaining ball control and initiating attacks from deep.
Deploying Casemiro as a dedicated defensive midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 provides a solid foundation for the team, allowing the attacking players to focus on their creative responsibilities while he ensures defensive stability.

LM: Amrabat: Deep-Lying Midfielder (Support): pass it shorter
This role suits a player who operates just in front of the defense, helping with ball distribution and controlling the tempo of the game.
The Deep-Lying Playmaker role allows Amrabat to contribute defensively, distribute the ball, and act as a link between the defense and the attacking players.

RAM: Jadon Sancho: Winger (Attack) : no instructions
This role encourages Sancho to stay wide and deliver crosses into the box. It suits a more traditional style of wing play.

LAM: Marcus Rashford: Inside Forward (Attack): stay wider
This role encourages Rashford to cut inside from the left flank, aiming to be a goal-scoring threat and link up with central attackers.
Stay wider: this instructs Rashford to stay wider and stretch the opposition defense creating spaces in the centre
The Inside Forward role complements ten Hag's attacking philosophy by providing a goal-scoring threat from the left side.

CAM: Bruno Fernandes: Advanced Playmaker (Attack): roam from position, get further forward, pass it shorter.
This role suits Fernandes' playmaking abilities, allowing him to link up with attackers, find spaces in the final third, and create goal-scoring opportunities.
Roam from Position: Enable Fernandes to roam from his position, giving him the freedom to find pockets of space and influence different areas of the pitch.
Get Further Forward: Encourage Fernandes to get further forward, ensuring he positions himself in goal-scoring areas during attacking phases.
Pass it Shorter: Align with a possession-oriented style by instructing Fernandes to pass the ball shorter, maintaining control in the attacking third.
The Advanced Playmaker role allows Fernandes to be a central creative force, linking up with the attack and providing key passes. Adjustments can be made based on your specific tactical preferences and the strengths of Fernandes.

CF: Rasmus Hojlund : Complete Forward (Attack): no instructions
This role is suitable for a player like Hojlund who possesses a well-rounded skill set, allowing him to lead the line, score goals, and link up play.

That’s all for my tactic, I hope it works for you too.


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