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Jan 14, 2010
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Before I proceed, I should note at this point, that I'm still in the first test season with this tactic. It's here to be tweaked/edited/bettered. I'm only sharing my ideas/experiences. I've no idea if it works with lower league teams etc.

The more and more I play FM13, the more I actually want to know about tactics and the setup of play. So far in FM13, I've failed miserably at setting up any decent tactic. In fact, I've only lasted as far as Xmas with my last 3 attempts. So the other day I did some reading about what was so good about the Liverpool tactic in the oh so close season of 2008/09 when they finished 2nd and beat Man Utd and Real Madrid so convincingly. (note, this is not a Rafa Benitez Liverpool imitation tactic, although it is named Benitez)

I noted that Rafa liked his teams to play a deep 4231. One full back more attacking than the other, but all defenders able to be versatile enough to cover right across the back four. One centre back to be a no nonsense tough tackler and the other to be capable with the ball at his feet.

In front there was a midfield enforcer (Mascherano) and a creative midfielder who could spray passes around the park beside him (Xabi Alonso).

In front of them was three attacking midfielders. Kuyt on the right, Gerrard in the middle who linked up magically with Torres and then Riera or Babel on the left (less said about the left side, the better!)

As mentioned, Torres was up front running around looking for space at all times.

I liked that setup and used it for the basis of this tactic. I've used Tottenham as the testing team. They have a good squad of players and a bit of cash to spend to enforce the team where needed. Like Liverpool at that time, they have a good goalkeeper, strong central defenders and good attacking full backs. They have an enforcer in midfield (Sandro/Parker) and I've signed Strootman to be the Alonso type figure. Better wingers are available here and in the middle, they have Dembele/Sigurdsson/Holtby who can sit behind a striker. I've shipped out Adebayor on my save and signed Lisandro Lopez. More about the players later.

I've had some great results with this tactic. 5-1 against Liverpool, 4-0 against Chelsea being highlights. Coming back from 3-0 down against Panathinaikos in the Europa League was also excellent.

The Tactic
So, as I said, 4231 Deep.
View attachment 363861

I've gone for balanced style with an attacking strategy. I think the rest there is pretty much self explanatory. The zonal marking was something that Rafa always used, despite much criticism. As you can see, I've set my team up to work hard to win the ball back by tackling harder and pressing more.

You'll notice that during matches, that your team build from the deep midfielders who distribute to the wingers. This was quite early in the season before the squad had become fully adapted to the formation. The team won't pass the ball about like Barcelona, but they know how to create a triangle and they know where the goal is. I'm getting a decent amount of CCC's and half chances.
View attachment 363862

Defensively, it's been quite sound. Because of the deep midfielders, the attacks are usually outnumbered.

The roles of each player are almost setup with the default settings. The right Attacking full back has a bit more freedom than the other defenders, although the left back gets forward at the right times. It's rarely an issue as my two deep midfielders cover the space behind rather well. Sandro can be seen running after players and winning the ball back quite effectively. He's just there to sweep up and lay it off to his midfield pals. Although not playing defensively, Strootman seems to be doing well in this respect too. He's only joined in January, so he's still adjusting to his more creative role.

I've gone for classic wing play, run up the pitch, knock it in.. but don't be afraid to run into the box and smash it in if the space is there. Bale/Lennon/Dembele have all scored some amazing goals this season doing just that. Coutinho(also a January signing) is playing well in the AM role. Sigurdsson was playing there before I got Coutinho and he player rather well, chipping in with 10 assists and 7 or 8 goals.

I'm not totally sure if Complete Forward is the best role for my striker yet. It's a hard role to fill in the game. Lopez and Bony were the only two that I could find in pre season with stats that I wanted in a striker. I needed a high work rate with stamina and good finishing/dribbling/first touch. Lopez has done great. 24 goals in 31 games, all goals coming in the League.

Touchline Instructions
I use no shouts with my team, although if you think it might help your team, it's worth a try. I've noticed that my team play on the wings a lot. Perhaps exploiting the middle might help since the defenders are generally played out of position.

Pre Season:
Tactics: Very High for General Training and Tactics only for the Match Training.
Once Fluid:
Balanced: Average for General Training and Teamwork for the Match Training. Scheduling is usually set at 20%

I set match prep for each game. Defensive for strong teams/games you might lose. Attacking for home games/games you should win.

Once the team is fluid, I set individual training based on their positions


Killer balls often, comes deep for ball, dictates tempo
Marks opponent tightly, plays short simple passes
Run with ball often, run down left/right, knock ball past opponent
Plays killer balls often, plays one twos, runs with ball through centre
Beats offside trap, moves into channels. I also think rounding the keeper would help

Player Types
:I can only really comment on the team I have, but most of these guys are running between 5-8 miles a game. I'd recommend good stamina and hard working players. A player with a creative streak for the DMCR position is useful, likewise for the AMC slot.

It took me a while to get fluid, but that was because I was spending a lot of time trying to sign players/staff instead of concentrating on the team. I'm still fiddling with it. I've been a bit unlucky with injuries. Bale was out for 3 months, Sandro/Dembele/Dawson/Lopez have all missed about 5 weeks through injury also. I've been using my backups for all the cup competitions. I'm sitting first with 21 wins from 29 games. Scored 62 and conceded 17.
View attachment 363868

The Tactic:
I've never seen anyone else attch their tactic like this, so I apologise if this isn't the right way to do it. I couldn't see anything in the rules that stated not to do it though. Someone direct me if it's wrong.

View attachment 363872

There's no guarantee that this will work with your team. However, I'd really appreciate anyone trying it out and indeed, improving on it. I'd like to make it a bit more attacking and make more use of the AMC.

Thank for reading, sorry if it's a bit long. Feel free to ask any questions that might help you out.

Dec 25, 2009
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i'll give it a try looks descent i'am going try this out on a new Arsenal save i will keep you up to speed with any progress

P.S i am guessing the DLP is the playmaker or is it the AMC ???
Jan 14, 2010
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DLP is the playmaker yeah. Let me know how it works for you. Cheers