I have never thought that playing this formation in cautious mentality actually performs better (i.e. Solid Blue?).

In this formation, cautious does not mean defensive - far from it. The formation is still attacking. The two AF are still under positive mentality (when team mentality is cautious). In fact no player in the team except the two CB will be defensive. Tempo is still high.

Who doesn't want to score a lot of goals? But playing in cautious mentality does not mean scoring less goals - it just means taking chances in a measured manner. With better quality chances the team will still score and may even score more.

Of course if you have great players with high CA your team will always do well. But if your players are not stars and do not have particularly good off the ball or positioning attributes then it may well be worth trying playing cautious throughout the whole game (even when you are trailing behind).

I am playing an online game with friends and I use Oxford, promoted to PL after 2 seasons. Players are decent but not spectacular. I just beat Man City (which has both Haaland and Mbappe) 4-2 away. When I started the game in positive mentality (i.e. the default mentality) I had absolutely zero chance. Once I turned to cautious I can actually see my whole team started to dominate - this goes way beyond what Zaz describes as using Solid Blue to "de-stablize" your opponent. The passing was spectacular, the players took their chances well. I was at one stage leading 4:1 and Man City only managed to score back with Mbappe using his monstrous speed to beat my two mediocre CB. At the end of the game I think I had close to 20 shots attempted, over 13 shots on goal, and a higher xG than Man City. And I was the away team.

Try cautious!
A stronger pacey striker playing in the middle as AF is an advantage. Ricky-Jade Jones in my Wrexham save plays the middle AF role and scored 19 in 15 league games and 23 in 23 games overall. League One through half season.

Wrexham scored 73 goals in 23 games (half season). For your reference the champion of League One in the previous season (Derby) scored a total of 70 goals whole season and won the league.

Formation has extremely high intensity and is therefore very demanding on players. I suggest adjusting training intensity to as follows to keep players fresh and minimize injuries:

The two F9 on either side can be re-trained from AML and AMR. Run down flanks and move into channel traits would be a huge advantage.

Many cards each game (but surprisingly few red ones). Reduced number of fouls if players get full familiarity with the formation (as in all cases). So priority is to train tactical familiarity (tactics, teamwork and match review).

I am pleasantly surprised at both the few red cards and also goals conceded (even though on very attacking mentality) although I think this may have to do with the fact that: (i) going hard does not mean going dirty; and (ii) very attacking mentality and pressing intensity force your opponents backwards and give them fewer chances to attack or keep possession which in turn reduce the goal threats. Of course there will still be goals scored against you and a lot too if your two BPD are not up to standard.

The most surprising thing this formation has for me is the use of CWB on attack. I have never used a CWB before and I always have doubts over how this role works. But it works wonders. The player is just everywhere down the flank. When on attack he is a winger going to byline to cross. When on defence he is a FB pressing on the opponent's wingers. Make sure you have two players (at least) for each side for CWB - need full rotation.

Attack play gradually becomes a bit monotonous - but who cares.

Great high scoring formation.
Many thanks for creating this wonderful tactic. If you have the right players this tactic will be potent in attack, solid in defence, and fun to watch. I am into second season with my Man Utd team and is so far undefeated in 22 games. I do have an overpowered squad though, but the gameplay is simply magnificent.

My best starting eleven.

Note that I have placed SS towards the right because I play Rashford (and sometimes CR7) on the left winger role. They both have cut inside from the left trait, so it is desirable to leave more "space" in the middle of the pitch for them to naturally cut inside. On this note, I have no problem playing "inside forwards" as the wingers (i.e. players with stronger foot on the opposite side). For example I play Rashford as left winger, and Adeyemi as the right winger. In fact it enhances the chance of them playing 45 degrees pass from midfield with their stronger foot from their side of the pitch to the AF SS and CM-a to score from the middle of the pitch. Of course if you play a natural winger (i.e. stronger left foot as left winger, stronger right foot as right winger) their crossing pattern will change and they will tend to cross more from the byline with their natural foot. Also, to state the obvious, your wingers will not be the main goal source but will have a lot of assists given their "take more risks" role. I have not had much success with insider forwards and inverted wingers in this match engine anyway.

I have made tweaks to the backline:



Reasons for the tweaks. My attacking front is strong enough. I do not need the backline to participate actively in attack. Their role is to recycle the ball and pass to the front. I particularly like the "take fewer risks" and "close down less" options for both roles.

"Take fewer risks" is self-explanatory and avoids losing possession in dangerous zones - it is good enough for the wingers and the CM-a to "take more risks" and create one-on-one chances for the striker and shadow striker. In order to have "take fewer risks" for the IWB you have to change it to IWB - auto: IWB - attack has "take more risks" hard coded. Sometimes I may even click "dribble less" for the IWB to make sure they do not lose possession especially against strong teams.

"Close down less" is very interesting. It does not mean your defenders will go easy on your opponents - it simply prevents the defenders from pressing too hard and too far up and requires them to press from a distance, thus not losing ground unnecessarily. Otherwise when you are up against very agile and pacey opponents, once your defender presses too hard, your opponent can go past you like wind.

"Ease off tackles" for the two CB: (i) they get far less cards (therefore creating far fewer opportunities for your opponent to have a free kick just outside your penalty box and you know how lethal that can be in this match engine); and (ii) they would not go down to tackle pacey and skillful strikers so they will not lose ground - you will see that they simply position themselves to block the opponent's path. Of course their defensive positioning and decision must be very good to be able to get the best out of the two CB.
CBP87 said: Although its a good write up mate, you will need to provide screenshots of the tactic along with your own results to get it tested

Follow this to get your tactic tested - https://fm-arena.com/thread/1661-how-fm-arena-picks-tactics-for-the-testing/

Sorry for any confusion but I didn't mean to test my tactic because I didn't intend to do that here and I don't know how to post a screenshot anyway. I think the testing here is meaningful as a starting reference but ultimately whether and how a tactic work really depends on a particular team and the players; and playing manually (which requires instant reaction, change of pace and focus, and player alterations) is a wholly different ball game from holiday testing (however fair the parameters are set). The purpose of my post is only to share with you all some general observations in setting up a tactic which readers here may find illuminating. Good work here though!
I came across this article in a Chinese FM discussion forum:


The article is too long for me to google translate and repost so I will leave it to you all to read at your leisure. This forum does have some interesting articles. True reflection of FM globalisation.

What I can offer is to share some key points with you all. You may or may not agree with them; it may or may not work in your game; but just some food for thoughts. They work well in my online game using Man Utd. I am not going to design a formation that "works" all the time but I always think it is useful to try to understand the ideology when designing one that suits your unique team and players.

Key set-up in my 433 inverted wingers formation:

IW(a) ------------ AP(s)
      CM(a) --- BBM(s)

- Standard line of engagement
- High defence line
- Play offside trap
- Regroup when possession lost

[This keeps the battle line to the area between your opponent's DM line and the midfield. There is no point pressing your opponent's back line in the hope of a turnover - it rarely works. Setting the two lines in this way also compresses your formation and leads to more effective pressing.]

- Balanced mentality
- Slightly shorter passing
- High tempo

[Surprisingly a balanced mentality will not necessarily mean reduced attacking potency. In fact it means your team attacks more wisely rather than taking every chance (however slim) so a balanced mentality improves the overall quality of your attack. You are not sitting on the ball - by using high tempo your players are passing the ball quickly to keep pressure on your opponent.]

- Wide attacking width
- Play down both flanks

- Play out from the back
- Low cross
- Work into box
- Play for set pieces

[There is a proliferation of penalties in FM22 and there is no harm encouraging your players to be naughty and dive - I have never seen any player getting a card for diving.]

- Trigger press: often (one notch left of max)

[This prevents aimless pressing to save stamina.]

- Shoot less often
- No "tackle hard" for all players indiscriminately: I only have this clicked on for my 3 attackers and 2 central midfielders.

The resultant intensity level bar should be blue and not red.

The idea of the author is to preserve stamina at least in the first 15-20 mins so that your players earn a "stamina advantage" (with your opponent wasting stamina to attack you). If you have played Clash Royale the idea is similar: you save up stamina for a fatal blow. There is no point attacking from the 1st minute when both teams have 100% stamina. If you don't manage to score during that period, you can then turn mentality to positive, temp to maximum, trigger press to maximum, and line of engagement to high - by then your players should have built up some slight stamina advantage so this sudden surge in attack intensity may catch your opponent by surprise and may give you the goal, upon which you can then revert back to your default setup.

Doing the above may not make your team a very high scoring (and sexy) one but I find it very effective in maintaining control throughout the whole game and only a few players have their condition in red towards the end. My team (still) scored over 100 goals in the first season with the goals spread across the front attackers.

Remember to take off a yellow carded player if possible. Leaving aside the possibility of a red card, having a yellow card will make the player less aggressive and therefore reduces his effectiveness in shutting out your opponent. Using the above setup has the additional benefit of keeping a good defence without being overly aggressive.
Btw, don't want to hijack this post unnecessarily, but my Bolton still going strong 2nd season into EPL so far: 4th with 17 pts (9 games), 5W 2D 2L, scored 31 (highest in league). 2nd in CL group stage (having played 2 games). This formation can work well with the right players in the positions. My best deal over summer was the loan move for Takefusa Kubo from R Madrid who can play both the AM position and also CM-a.
I am now doing a hybrid formation: I have incorporated the backline of the creator's "Queen Sacrifice" tweak into this formation. The LCB and RCB tend to be less "out of position" because of the removal of the "mark tight" which seems to help (and I suspect that was the idea). But there is still the problem of the space in the penalty box resulting from the central CB being on stopper duty and thus occasionally out of position. In fact most of my goals conceded came from the opponent's lone striker being fed with a through ball in the middle and the CB (stopper) or Anchor Man cannot recover lost ground quick enough. I have some suspicion that this was the result of my players being of fairly inferior quality. But the main weakness in this formation is clearly the centre of the backline.

In this regard, @Stan Seymour what was the idea about pairing a CB on stopper duty and an Anchor Man? In particular why play a CB on stopper duty? Conventional wisdom is that if you have an Anchor Man "in the hole" at the DM position, your centre CB can and should probably be in cover duty and acts as a sweeper. I am just wondering if there is any particular reason for your design. I am sure with better players my defence will be more solid (I still have 5-4, 4-3 games fairly frequently).
alex said: @JTC why do you think DLP on support would be a better choice than Anchor? Btw, great results! :)

That was just because I do not have any player in my team whose stats suit an Anchor Man. Plus I also think CB (stopper) and Anchor Man tend to cover the same area because of the Anchor Man will hold position and the CB (stopper) will be proactive in moving forward. I suspect that may also be one reason why the Anchor Man tends to have low rating because he does not have much to do except to recycle the ball quick. That said, I do not think there is any noticeable difference playing DLP or Anchor Man in that position. From the gameplay it would seem that DLP tends to move around / forward more than an Anchor Man even though both has "hold position".

Final league position. Bolton only 1 goal shy of top scoring team. This formation is brutal in attack and fun to watch. I had tweaked it slightly towards the end of season: CB (stopper) changed to CB (cover); A changed to DLP (support) who also man marks the opponent's striker. No noticeable difference in attack potency but seemingly more solid in defence especially less clear cut chance for opponent's through pass in the middle.

Manchester has a bad night tonight ... the Blues fall victim this time
Stan Seymour said: Great explanation. Reading this write-up was as enjoyable as watching the tactic :) And I think there is no better definition than your words: "I will always outscore you". The reason the website exists is because we can read such beauties. Thank you for your beautiful story and deep analysis. Keep us informed about Sh*t Bolton. :) By the way, it was one of my favorite teams in fifa 2005.

Famous away victory against league leader Man Utd ... need both CB-stopper and Anchor Man to man mark Haaland to curtail him (that beast still scored 2 goals), the two DW man mark opponent's IF and IW, and always press against their two midfielders.
Oh, I should add that this formation WILL result in a lot of yellow and red cards. Possibly because of the relatively inferior quality of my players (I suppose better quality players will be more intelligent in tackling). And this formation is very demanding so you need enough players to rotate and you need to adjust your training and rest periods carefully.
Forgive me for the long-windedness but I can assure you this is a post worth reading - if you truly want to know how this formation works.

It is always my firm belief that whether a formation is good or not is to be tested with a sh.t team. In my case, it is Bolton (don't ask me why I picked Bolton - perhaps I am still nostalgic about THAT Bolton team with JJ Okocha and Jaaskelainen). Whoever has used this team in the past will know how shi.t a team it is - what a fall from grace. Team starts from League 2; on the verge of bankruptcy; zero transfer funds season after season; minimal wage budget; no youth intake; and I started with only one spot for 1 GK coach, 1 general coach, and 1 fitness coach.

I fought my way up. League 2 and League 1, not that big a problem. Hit the bottleneck when I reached Championship. The gap was huge. I was rock bottom of the table after 5 games. Then I spotted this thread.

And - as some say - "the rest is history".

What a reversal of fortune. I ended up winning the Championship. W32 D7 L7. Scored 133 goals. My top scorer was Muhammadu Faal who scored 38 goals in 42 games. I played him as SS (re-trained from AF). His skills are sh.t. Single digit composure, first touch and off the ball - the usual key skills you expect from a scorer. But he has 16 acceleration and 16 pace. And he is quite tall and strong. And he cannot stop scoring by bursting in the middle of the field between the two CB in the opponent team, his fellow AM dragging the opponent formation out of shape.

I am now in the Premier League. Finally got some decent transfer budget upon promotion (32m to be exact). Always revamped the whole team and brought in 9 decent (not great) players - for a sh.t team, any player will easily be an upgrade. My best player now is Michael Olise, bought from Reading for 15.25m; and Isak Hansen-Aaroen, wonderkid SS/AM loaned from Man Utd (17 acceleration, 16 pace, 16 first touch). My team is now 5th. Scored 70 goals in 24 games. There is a realistic change of Euro qualification.

Okay - enough story-telling.

Having used this formation for two seasons, I will summarize this formation in one line: "I will always outscore you". It does not matter if my team concedes a goal first (and you will usually concede first). The more your opponent attacks you, the more powerful is my team's counter-push. Newton's third law. So I score more when my team is leading and when my opponent as a result becomes more attacking. Many of the goals are scored from 80 mins onwards.

This is, without doubt, the most ultra-attacking formation I have ever used. (For reference, I have been playing FM for a long time and have seen enough to make this comment.)

Let's start with the backline. It is interesting to see how the left and right BPD behave. They behave like a Wide CB - a new role introduced in FM22. You can see them as a "reverse" IWB. IWB is a FB with the tendency of pushing inwards. These two BPD are CB with the tendency of pushing outwards, and they interact well with the DW who is always positioned close to them because the BPD are so wide in the field.

The middle CB stopper is interesting. I have never used a stopper before: I tend to be defensive (or cautious), I always prefer my middle CB to be on a cover duty as the "last man standing". CB stopper is basically a less aggressive Libero. He is less aggressive because he has an Anchor Man in front of him, so there is no need for him to move that deep into midfield. But he pushes more forward then a conventional CB. And that is useful because he will neatly fill in the gap if the Anchor Man is displaced.

But there lies the biggest weakness in this formation: the wide gap between the three CBs. This is easy to see. If the left and right BPD move sideways, and the CB stopper at times move forward to the DM position, there will be way too much space in your own penalty box area. You need very good BPD and CB to recover. They have to be pacey (in this regard, acceleration much more important than pace because you need them to "explode" to cover lost ground). They have to have good anticipation and positioning. These qualities are plainly lacking in my defenders. That is why I have conceded 50 goals so far, and have lost 1-9 to Man City, and 1-6 to Chelsea. But because of my team's attack potency, I also beat Arsenal by 6-1, and Liverpool 4-2. High scoring games are the norm.

The Anchor Man role makes sense but as usual his ratings are low. But in this version of FM, usually whoever occupies the DM role will have low ratings (unless you set him as set piece takers). This is the problem with the ME, not the problem with the role as such. If you observe the gameplay you will see the Anchor Man doing the job neatly. You need him to hold the fort in front of the back three. In this regard, the creator of this formation mentioned that the Anchor Man needs not be taller - in fact preferably he should not be too tall. I agree. Rather than linking it with height, I would rather say you need someone who is fairly agile in the role (and tall players are usually more rigid) because he starts all the counter-attacking movements and you need him to be really good at using the ball.

The creator once said that good heading ability in players will help in this formation. Again based on what I saw from the gameplay, I agree entirely. This is because most (if not all) of the time, ball recovery is by way of headers when your opponent team passes a high ball into your own half. Also, if your SS is tall and has good heading and strength, this will also help a lot because he can act as the "tower" to slip the ball to his fellow AM by header, and many times the AM will then go all the way to score.

This formation is the equivalent of the basketball term "run and gun". If your team does not have high quality players, you will see misplaced balls frequently, but it does not matter too much because your team will always press and recover them, and then push forward again because of the very attacking mentality. The creator is right that this formation needs pacey players. More specifically, the SS, AM and DW must be quick. Less pace-demanding on the two CM on attack. The LCM tends to score more (and naturally so because the RCM has the AM in front of him - and this creates a nice overload on the right side). So the LCM should have "move into channels" or "always go forward" traits. But even without these traits, it will be fine as long as the LCM has good off the ball and shooting attributes.

I notice there have since been two reiterations of this formation. I will test them separately next season. This season I want to use this formation only to see how far it can bring my sh.t Bolton team. So far it looks very promising, and for that I thank the creator for making FM fun to watch again.

Finally, there is in my view no such thing as "the best" formation. I pay little attention to the test results and scores in this forum. They may be useful starting points but certainly not the "be all and end all". In my mind, "the best" tactic is one that suits your team, your players and your personal style of play. There is no right or wrong in FM - it is all a matter of personal preference. If you want to play possession football, this formation does not suit you. If you want to play control, this formation does not suit you. But if you want to see the ball pumping around the field like ping pong, and you enjoy the thrill of high scoring games, you should definitely try out this formation.
ZaZ said: Thanks for testing! Later I'll see if something from Red can be used in Blue, but it has been really hard to improve Blue as it's very close to optimal for strong teams. I know for a fact that Red is better than Blue for weak team, but most of those tweaks that improve for weaker team makes strong team play worse. In simple words, better players perform well with risky moves, while worse players perform better playing safer.

Very broadly speaking one notable difference between Blue and Red is that for Blue, you have many more vertical passes and the team is looking to move forward as much as possible, whereas for Red, you can see more interchanges between players building up an attack.

Btw I chose "positive" mentality for Red. This in my view is better to maintain control whilst not undermining attack power (significantly). I will turn to "very attacking" when I am losing by half time. To me I think "attacking" is a bit neither here nor there because even on "positive" mentality the formation is attacking enough already.
I have been using Phoenix/Blue in my online game with friends and have achieved great success. High scoring (spread across the front 5 players) and solid defence. Biggest problem is with DLP(Su). Even when I play Camavinga he still has very low rating. I understand that rating does not reflect all but it would seem odd for a great player to score so low.

I have changed to Red in the last two games and immediately I noticed a few things.

First, the DM(Su) position now has much better rating. I believe the problem with Blue in that regard is that DLP(Su) is positioned too close to CM(A) so there is "too little" for the DLP(Su) to do save to recover the ball and pass upwards (occasionally long killer pass but rare). Now with DM(Su) you can see that he is positioned half notch downwards so there is more space away from the CM(A). I have a strong feeling that in this game rating is at least partially influenced by how much "work" a player will do during a match. From what I see from the match highlights, the DM(Su) is contributing much more than DLP(Su). There is more interaction with the the back four (given his closer position) and he runs more before passing to other players: in Blue he mainly interacts with CM(A) who is closest to him.

Second, and by similar logic, the DW(Su) contributes more than W(Su) because of their lower position. This made them interact more with the rest of the whole team. In Blue, W(Su) keeps bombing down the sideline to cross from the byline, and to great success, but far too monotone. When the DW(Su) is positioned further down, they would interact with others more, and this instills greater variety in terms of approach play e.g. I now see much more chances created by DW(Su) passing not from the byline but actually down the centre cutting across the opponent team's CB and FB.

Third, I think removing "take more risks" from most players save for CM(A) is a good move. It enhances the quality of the chances and definitely helps maintain possession.

Overall speaking, from what I observe so far, I think Red is a much better version than Blue even for strong/elite teams, provided of course you have the right players in each position. In fact I think Red whilst being a gegenpress does not necessarily need very pacey players. Running is important, but the player interaction and passing around the field mean chances are now created by slicing through the opponent's team rather than a particular player running past your opponent's players.
Keakiwi said: Hey @Magician do you still use the conditions saving tactic in games? Does it make too much of a difference? I find I still get quite a lot of players in the red heart by the end of a game regardless.

When against weaker teams and/or playing at home I usually start with high pressing and high tempo (i.e. one notch left from default setting) to see how things go. If I did not manage to score by half time I will first restore the pressing and then the tempo. If by half time I am having a comfortable lead I will just let the settings remain. I do not think it is possible (nor necessary) to have both pressing and tempo at the maximum throughout the whole game: this will drain the players not only in that particular game but also significantly drain them for the next game and increase injury risks.
My experience is that long throw-ins generally have a fairly low success rate anyway but it can bring in some goals from time to time depending on your choice of players (and your opponent's) in the box and the aerial reach of your opponent's GK. If your opponent's GK is worldclass like Edeson or Alisson of course I bet 99% of the time he catch the ball. But for weaker opponent players it is fun seeing (from time to time, albeit sparingly) the players mixing up in the box for one of your players (not necessarily the tallest one) to flick the ball into goal.
ta2199 said: Yusuf Demir can be a good option

Already got him in my squad LOL He is a funny player because he has a strong tendency to use his left foot (I think his stronger foot) but his natural role is right AMR so he fits the profile of an IF-R a lot but I don't play IF anymore. When playing him as SS I usually put him on the left side.
You have already forewarned us that this is a high intensity tactic and will kill our players if the squad is not big enough and there is not enough rotation. Well this is killing my squad now. I am only in Dec and my 5 main attackers (wingers x 2, CM(a), SS x2) all play with low fatigue (although full green condition) which is affecting their performance (e.g. you see them miss easy sitters). I am also using your in-season training schedule. I did a fair bit of rotation but there are players who demand to play in as many games as possible or else they become unhappy with game time. Is there a quick (or any) fix? Should I tone down the training or even rest some of the key players for a few days? I have been wondering whether I do need to start with extremely high tempo in every single game or perhaps can start from normal tempo in home games when my team should be doing more comfortably.
In the end I bought Lemar and Bellingham who both can play Wingers and SS.