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Tactic and team guide for Football Manager (Easy 4-step approach)

by @guidosteve

In the guide, today, I’m going to show you how to quickly assess your team, decide on a tactic and set yourself up for success for the rest of the season in Football Manager.

Following these simple steps will give you a clear plan and direction for your FM17 season and will ensure you stay on plan.

Keep reading to learn how…


Assess the relative strength of your team

The first thing you want to know is how good your team is compared to the rest of the teams in the league.

(If you take charge of Man Utd, you most likely already know this…)

Anyway, to figure out how good your team is compared to your competition go find the media prediction as in the screenshot below.

This helps you figure out how offensive your team should be.

Generally, the better your team, the more offensive it should play.


Individual player analysis and preliminary tactical thoughts

The next step is to figure out how good your players are and whether there are any weak spots in your team.

There are two ways to do this and similar for both is that we will use the player star ratings to get a quick overview.

Step #2a: Use assistant reports

The first thing to do is to go check out squad depth for each position.

So go to your team squad, select reports and sort by best positions as in the screenshot below.

Bonus tip: Before going further, go see if there are any players above 2½ stars in your reserve or youth team and promote these to the first squad.

Bastian Schweinsteiger for one, has a 3-star rating and starts in the u23 team of Man Utd.



In terms of goalkeepers, Man Utd has no worries. David de Gea is a world-star keeper at 4½ stars and Sergio Romero is an adequate backup at 2½ stars.

Full backs

In terms of full backs, it seems that Man Utd is short on a right back. Only Matteo Darmian has it as his favourite position and while ok at 3 stars, he is nothing spectacular. As of now, I would invest in a new right back.

It looks bright on the left back. We have two 3 star players and Luke Shaw can develop into a world class left back.

Center backs

We have four centre backs that are more or less equally strong with Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly at 3 stars and Marcos Rojo at 2½ stars. Further, Eric Bailly will likely get a little better.

Our depth is good and while we could do with a world class centre back, that is less of a priority for me.

Defensive midfielder

The picture here is similar as for centre backs. Two good players so there is depth, but nothing spectacular.

Central midfielder

We have three good players and one World-class central midfielder. Very good depth here and I will expect Paul Pogba to light up to league.

Attacking midfielder (wingers)

We have Henrikh Mkhitarayan who excels at the AM (R) position and nothing short of four players that excels as AM (L). I also note that all five players prefer an inside forward role.

Attacking midfielder (centre)

Again, we have two good players here in Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata providing good depth.


We have one world class striker in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, however, just looking at this view it seems we might need a backup striker.

To sum up our conclusion from this view it seems we might need the following in the following priority:

· A new right back

· A backup striker

· A world class centre back

However, we have yet to see, if any players can fill into other roles besides their preferred role.

Based on our players preferred positions I will also look to play a 41221 formation with emphasis on inside forwards.

Bonus tip: Check whether the contract for any of your players has less than one year left and extend these.​

Step #2b: Go to squad depth overview

Based on our squad depth overview, we now know that we will play some kind of 41221 formation. So, I will set my tactics to this.

Now we want to get a strong idea about how strong we are in each position and the depth in each position.

To do so, we go to our team screen, as shown below.

Above you see from the DM positions forward with the five best players presented for each role.

Here it seems clear that my starting players in these positions should be:

Striker: Zlatan

AM (L): Martial

AM (R): Mkhitarayan

M (CL): Pogba

M (CR): Pogba… but he can’t play twice so we’ll use Ander Herrera

DM (C): Again.. Paul Pogba can only play in one position and we have four other players with a 3-star rating here so lots of choices.

We also note, that Anthony Martial, Wayne Rooney and Marcus Rashford can play backup to Zlatan so based on this, I do not think there is a reason to sign a back-up striker. All in all, our depth seems very good in all positions.

By scrolling down so we can see goalkeepers and defenders we see that:

What you want to do next is to go through each position and figure out how strong you are.

GK: Same conclusion as before. Strong first choice and good back up

D (L) and centre backs: Same conclusions as before. Not world beaters but good depth.

D (R): Not good. Only two players can play there and none of them are particularly good. However, still better than before where only Darmian showed up.


Make a transfer plan and get going immediately

Based on this we are ready to make a transfer plan.

After looking at the assistant reports we had:

· A new right back

· A backup striker

· A world class centre back

Based on our team report, I do not think we need a backup striker.

My plan is thus to sign a new right back. I want him to be a starter and as such, I do not expect there will be money left for the signing of a new world class centre back, at our transfer budget of £30m

My updated transfer plan is thus quite simple:

Sign a new right back.

In terms of selling players, I know that I have a good depth in my midfield. However, with many players at the same level here, I will look to try most of the players and wait until the winter transfer window to see, if I want to sell someone here.


Decide on your tactic

The final step is to decide on a tactic.

We have already decided that we will play 41221 based on our team.

Creating a tactic is a whole other thing, but whether you design it yourself or is the person who downloads a tactic, now would be a good choice to do so.

And now that you have decided on a tactic the natural step would be to read our guide to set up training in FM.​

For more on tactic creating I recommend these guides:

A beginner’s guide to analyzing matches

In-depth view at all things tactics in FM

Extensive tactical guide for FM

Now You Try It

I hope you can see the potential of this guide.

Yes, it takes a little extra work up front.

But with this strategy you already know ahead of time what you want to do which pays off in the long run.

Ready to get started?

I hope you’ve liked the guide and I’ll be around to reply to comments and answer questions.

So, if you have a question or thought, leave a comment right now.

– Steve

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