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Tactical guides FM19

How to create a basic tactic

Lazy Nov 9, 2020 Last modified: 23 Nov 18,264 views

This guide will explain the basics on creating a tactic in Football Manager.

In this guide I will describe how I set up my basic tactic after I loaded a save. I won’t go in too much of detail because I know you guys love to learn how to create a basic tactic. Hopefully you can also create your own tactics after reading this guide. Find out what you need to look for (or where I’m looking at) and how to use these things to create a suitable tactic for your team.

For the Guide will be using my Malmö Save. Currently I’m in the fourth season, so I already signed a lot of players over the years trying to create a balanced squad. There have been a lot of players going out and coming in, so I needed to create a new basic tactic that suits my team.

Analysing the squad

First thing you want to do, is take a good look at your current squad. At the start of the game you should always create a tactic based on your players. You can already create a tactic you prefer but this tactic doesn’t always suits your team, because you don’t have the right players in the right positions yet.

What I like to do first, is trying to figure out where my teams Strongest Areas are. So I’ll go to ‘Team Report’ and select the tab ‘Comparison’. In this tab you can look at your team compared to the other teams in the league. This comparison only includes the players in your first team, so keep in mind that a young talented player, who has low attributes, could bring your average score down. By putting this player in the reserve team, just for comparison, you can get a clearer view of the current ability of your first-team.

I selected All Positions to get an idea which part of the game we can dominate to use in my basic tactic. As you can see we are the best team in the league when it comes to:

  • Decisions
  • First Touch
  • Strength

We are also doing well in Passing.

Work Rate, Teamwork, Leadership and Aggression are below average.

By looking at this tab, I already know I can’t play a high pressure game. This is because of my players aren’t willing to work for each other (Teamwork and Work Rate). This would create gaps in my tactical shape when putting pressure on the opponent.

It would be wise to play a passing game with a low tempo. My players have a good Passing, a great First Touch and a great Strength. They could easily hold up the ball and that’s where the low tempo comes in.

You could also go a step further by looking through the other tabs as well. In these tabs you can compare your goalkeepers, defense, midfield and attack to the other teams in the league.

The next step for me is to look who are my key-players. I do this by going to my squad screen and select the view ‘Assistant Reports‘(encircled in red). Then I’ll click on ‘ability‘(encircled in green) to get the players with the best ability on top.

Now we can see that Neves, Guzzo and Lopes are considered to be the best players in my team.

*Keep in mind that you’ll need a good assistant manager for this. Especially the attributes ‘Judging player ability’ and ‘Judging player potential’ should be over 16.

What stands out are the natural positions for these players. They plas as a DM, MC or an AMC. This confirms to me the center of the pitch will be my strongest area.

Neves is also able to play as a central midfielder, so I choose to play with at least two central midfielders. I don’t know what to do with Lopez yet, but this will come when I take a look to the rest of the team.


Right now I’m at the point of picking a formation. I’m deciding my formation based on the players natural positions, because I want to play as much as players in their favorite position as I can. I’m still in the same screen in FM (the assistant reports view) but now sorting my players on their best positions.


Obviously, I’m going to play a goalkeeper. I’ve got two right full-backs an two left full-backs in my team so we’ve that area covered. We also have the availability of four centre-backs. This shows that we can rotate each position on the back line. It would be wise to play with four defenders on a flat line, but a formation with three defenders could also be an option.


I’ve two defensive midfielders in my team and I’m also a big fan of the defensive midfielder position. Because Rúben Neves is one of my star players, I will definitely playing him as a DM.

Next position is the (A)MR position. I’ve three players for these positions; Svanberg, Okafor and Ntcham. So, probably going to play with a winger on the right. On the left we’ve got Younes and Lukovic with Younes being the better player I certainly will pick to play with an AML.

A lot of choices in central midfield, so I want to play with two central midfielders as mentioned before.

This way I can use two out of my three most important players in their most preferred positions. (Neves in DM, and Guzzo in MC).


We’ve used ten positions so far so it’s clear that we are going to play just one striker. With five or six players who can play this position I need to sell or loan some of them out. But that’s another story..

Selecting roles and duties

Once I have selected my formation (4-1-2-3 DM Wide), we can go to the next step: looking at roles and duties.

When I start out with creating a tactic, I want to keep things as simple as possible. So, I don’t want to change too much settings. All I want to do is get my key players in their natural positions and look for their favorite (read: best suited) roles.

Unfortunately my best players are all considered to be playmakers and I don’t want to play two playmakers in one formation. So I decided to give Neves the ‘Ball-winning midfielder’ role and let Guzzo play as an ‘Advanced Playmaker’. The tactic will be balanced more when Neves is on a BWM-role.

Keep in mind that you can’t and shouldn’t give your players their favorite roles in every save you play. You are looking for balance in your team, so you decide on the best roles available for your tactics. Creating a tactic is all about logic and looking at the attributes of your players.

Team instructions

Because you want to set up a basic tactic first, you shouldn’t use to much instructions. A fully tweaked tactic probably has six to eight team instructions activated. In this case I only want to use ‘Shorter Passing’, ‘Retain Possession’ and ‘Lower Tempo’, as I feel these are the instructions that will suit my team.


We can tweak our tactic further by using the Team Instructions, Player Instructions and set pieces. Would you like to keep on improving your tactics? Read our special ‘How to improve your tactics‘ guide.


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