Tactic Talk – 4-2-3-1

Welcome, I have been wanting to write-up some tactic guides and other bits on what I do and how I play Football Manager. I say these are guides but it’s just what works for me and how I like to play the game, I’m not an expert or claim any of my stuff will benefit you but it could. I hope you enjoy these new sorts of posts from me alongside my Velez series.

If you know me and keep up to date with my content you will more than likely know I’m managing in Argentina for Football manager 2019 with Velez. I have had some success with them using the tactic I’m about to show you now.

The 4-2-3-1 tactic I see is rather popular this year on Football Manager 2019 but has been used in many different ways. My Velez save has gone through 4 seasons now and I have used a different tactic each season and finally lifted my 1st league title using what I’m about to show you.

line up 4-2-3-1

Above is how I set up in 90% of my games, of course, a few small things can change depending on my opponent on match day.  The style of football I love is attacking quick counter football.

Mentality – POSITIVE – Why positive? We are one of the top teams in our league and are favourites for most games we play so a positive outlook on each game is a must. We could easily go attacking but I don’t like how vulnerable that can leave us against teams who like to soak up pressure and counter. Positive allows us to attack with numbers but as soon as the ball is lost we work hard to get back and close down any threat.

Player Roles –

I will go through the most influential player roles for this tactic and what’s needed from each player and what attributes to look for when selecting players for these roles.

Defensive Line – 

The back four is a simple defensive line up with your two Central defenders being old school solid defenders. When looking at which two central defenders to choose you will want to look for the following attributes Positioning, Marking, Tackling, Decisions and Pace. These attributes are a few key ones to look for, you may think the pace isn’t too important but to me, I see a lot of teams trying a route one approach against us so I believe having a defender with pace is a huge plus.

The two wing backs on the right and on the left are very important in adding options when we have the ball in midfield in wide areas. This tactic makes our wide midfielders tuck into central areas when possible so the wing backs offer that wide area option when needed to build up an attack. They have the defend instructions on to stop possible counter attacks that may come.

Wing Backs.png

As you can see in the image above when my CM (DLP) has the ball deep the wing backs (circled) are on the move to give us the wide options.

Central Midfielder & Deep-Lying Playmaker – 

The central midfielder is given the support role so when we are attacking he is up the pitch with us and when we are defending he is also doing his defensive duties. He needs to have high attributes in the following areas off the ball, work rate, passing, vision and anticipation. The player in this role will be working hard up and down the pitch for 90 minutes and can get injured or fatigued quicker than any other player so squad depth in this area is vital for the season.

Deep-lying Player Maker this area is one of the most important players in the squad in my opinion and really start’s your attacks. This is the player you want picking up the ball in deep areas and looking to bring in your forward players with a long ball over the top or a pass to the attacking midfielder getting the team up the pitch as quickly as possible. Attributes to look for in this player are the following first touch, passing, decisions, technique and vision. A DLP with these attributes should really be racking up the assists and be the man to keep your attacking style ticking over.

Wide Midfielders (Inside Forwards) – 

These 2 players are hugely influential in this tactic and in attacking play make your lonely striker into a 3. These 2 players need to have the following attributes in their locker Agility, composure, technique, off the ball, determination and work rate. When we win the ball back in deep areas these two players should be looking to link up with your striker at every given moment, check the image below.

Solid front 3.png

As soon as we are on the attack and one of our creative CM’s have the ball, the 2 wide men cut in to make a solid front three ready for any ball into their path for a goal scoring chance.

Attacking Midfielder –

The attacking midfielder is another player that should be racking up the assists and adding a few goals to his tally over a season. This player should be a creative player that’s always looking to put the ball through to that front 3 in dangerous areas, making cutting passes through the oppositions defensive line.

am - has options

The circled player in the image above is my AM that plays behind the striker and should be picking the ball up in the area as seen above, if your team are gelling then he should have 2/3 options at his disposal. Attribute-wise the key ones I believe are first touch, passing, vision and long shots. He will try the long shots every so often due to his position so if he is a master of them he could add some crucial goals.

Striker – Pressing Forward –

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a Leicester fan and love seeing Jamie Vardy terrorise defences with his pace and determination but I love my forwards doing the same in my saves. The pressing forward should be on the last defender on attacking plays, ready for a ball over the top to make sure he has the pace to latch on to it along with the composure and finishing to slot it home. Anticipation, off the ball and decisions, are a few more for the striker to have it’s all well and good him having 20 finishing but if he can’t get in the right positions it’s not much use.

So that’s some important information on the positions to make this tactic work, on top of all the named attributes to certain areas I also look for teamwork, natural fitness, work rate and stamina.

I hope people can take this away and use it in their saves to help them win some trophies. With Velez I managed a 17 game unbeaten run which is shown below.

screenshot (119)

I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this piece and will 100% be doing more of this in the future, I would love to hear people’s feedback good or bad so I can learn and improve on each post I do. I would like to say a huge thank you to FMCatenaccio for his help and advice on producing this sort of content, go and check him out… https://fmcatenaccio495007826.wordpress.com/




  1. Hey Dazza, great to see you take the plunge and write this type of post, would always recommend this to anyone writing about FM! People love seeing others thought processes.

    That being said, I would’ve loved to have read yours on your instructions. Why you’ve got certain things set versus not having others, that kind of thing.

    Obviously the results you’ve shown look great, but I would’ve loved to have seen some examples of you going through some good passages of play, or showing actually a weakness or two that you want to try and solve.

    Looking at your tactic, personally it’s crazy to me it’s working so well! I’d always have one of my central midfielders on defend in a 4-2-3-1 and at least one of my full backs thinking more positively about going forward, especially with two IFs.


    1. Would the Wing Backs on defend not add extra cover for the two central midfielders when theres a counter? In the two pictures above they look deep enough to be able to come inside and add defensive numbers.


      1. Yeah that could work but in Argentina I get a lot of teams with 1 or 2 DMs so I like them to add a little width in my early stages of an attack.


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