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FM IS making me go insane.

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Firstly I love playing this game, of course when it goes well for you. 

Quick Overview - Promoted with Villa in the first season to the Premiership. Struggling with tactics.

So I have mainly experimented with a 442/41221/4141. But no matter how much reading I do on addictedfm or watch bustthenets youtube channel, I just can not get my head around the route cause of the problem and how roles combine with each other etc etc. So I am going to be posting some screenshots of my formations and player roles etc.



So I started using the 442 when I was sick of trying to find a solution to the 4141 and other formations. You can see some of the signings I have made, Maupay/Bowen/Diame (free transfer), Nunez & Cahill. 

DLF drops deep, Bowen goes vacates the space he leaves. Kodja moves into channels and on the last line of defence. Full backs supporting the wing, one DLP holding the right hand side and Left hand side supporting the AF.



Some of my players are injured, so trying to put them in so you guys can see what my line up is. I got promoted using the 4141, lowest goals conceded in the league but one of the lowest goal scoring teams. In the championship I played Kodga as AF in the lone striker role. Wanted the striker to be involved more in transitions/link up of the midfield so I signed Maupay.

Key Players



Sorry for the watermarks btw, I have the free plan. However this is my DLF on support.


Bowen (Inverted Winger)


Grealish (Mezzala/Winger/Inverted Winger)


Nunez (Central Defender)


Cahill (CD/NCD)


Bitton (DLP/Anchor Man)


So I have posted my two formations/roles and some of my key players at the moment. If there is anything I have missed, please mention it and I will try & get a sc of it. Really am struggling at the moment & I do not want to start a new save and hope that I stumble along a tactic. I need to learn. 

Thanks for reading guys.

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Firstly, be realistic and try to have some patience. I know that's easy for me to say, but you've just been promoted to the Premier League and establishing yourself in the league will take a bit of time. You will have some bad results and just staying up in the first season is an achievement.


You don't say what the struggle is and where you think tactically it is going wrong. I am going to assume that your tactics aren't withstanding the leap in quality - what was a defensively solid tactic that nicked goals and was effective, you're now finding a) concedes more at PL level and b) that lack of goals is now magnified?


Trying to play out of defence with shorter passing in a possession style will be a work in progress too and requires patience (and possibly a rethink if results are really bad). I'd say you're probably not at a point where you can play with two strikers and sacrifice the extra man for solidity, so let's focus on that 4-1-4-1... What I think most people would say is that it looks pretty toothless. There isn't really anyone who is going to consistently attack the penalty area and be there on the end of chances. The Inverted Winger role in my experience cuts inside and operates mainly in front of the oppositions defence, so he is going to be in the same areas as the DLF. My first suggestion would be to make that a Wide Midfielder (A) who surges forward from the right flank whilst the left flank is the supply line. I'd also probably make the RB behind him into a Wing Back (s).

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Looks to me that you're trying to play the same way as you were in the Championship maybe? I think you need to shut up shop a bit more, realistically you're going to be outclassed in the majority of your games. I'd recommend starting out playing on 'cautious', and maybe even 'defensive' when away from home. You can always increase your mentality during the match if it looks like you can get away with it. I'm focusing on the 4141 too.

You're trying to play out of defence, why? Firstly you're playing a NCB, who's just looking to hoof it away anyway, but secondly even if you changed that role, do you think Cahill has the stats to knock the ball around under pressure from a high press? I don't think so, and I've no idea about your other defenders but you're only as strong as your weakest link.

Again with shorter passing you're limiting the options of the player on the ball. That will just compound the issue above. As above, can your players be calm enough and skilled enough to play short passes around better players than them?

So now in transition, I think you're right to opt for 'regroup', but you're just sterilising your attack by selecting 'hold position'. You're a newly promoted team, counter attacking is your life! Use it.

Out of possession, is that 'use offside trap'? With CBs with acceleration of 11 & 12, and Cahill not having great decisions? That's seriously risky business against the quality of forwards that you're going to come up against.

Looking at Bowen, I'd be very tempted to play him as a winger on the left. His trait of 'gets into opposition box' will make him a decent second target when play goes down the right (which it will do a lot, see below), and could make him a bit less predictable when he has the ball. I'd rather teach him 'cuts inside from *both* wings' rather than just the right he has now, which would help in this instance. His other traits would indicate an attack duty.

Grealish looks to me like your playmaker. I wouldn't have him as a DLP though as it's a waste of his flair. It's his best stat so make the most of it. I think I'd go for a Wide Playmaker role on attack down the right, again because of his PPMs of running with the ball often and cutting inside giving variation. May as well let him do that.

Bitton looks OK as an anchorman, though he's lacking a bit of strength.

I'd be reluctant to give either of your MCs a role which has roam from position hard coded, but you might get away with it for most games. So I'd say the MCL could be a BBM which would help to support the attacking winger. Mez could work, but is less responsible defensively. I was toying with suggesting a CM-A which would add a lot to your counter attack but with an attack duty on each wing, I think that might be a bit much. But then you'd be playing on a lower mentality, so maybe... Maybe have an experiment with it. As for your MCR, with a possible roamer (BBM) next to him, and a WP cutting in front of him, this should be your other sensible option that doesn't get forward. Depending on the player you might not want him attracting the ball and taking away from Grealish, so DLP is out. Maybe a Carrilero would work but I admit to not knowing how they play alongside a WP. I'd probably go with a CM-D to help protect the flank. Could also help if you did go for the CM-A next to him.

As for Full backs, your left needs to be on a defend duty with the attack duties in front of him. So either NFB or FB-D, your right can be a little more expansive due to the cover in at MCR, so FB-S would be my go to option.

As you may be able to tell, I'm setting up for a defensive tactic with counter attacking options. I'm not sure though how many extra team instructions you'd need to add considering the team mentality, roles and duties. They're already set up to be defensively sound and then quick and direct on the attack. So I'd clear everything and select the following for sure; Higher Tempo, Play for set pieces, Regroup, Counter, Distribute quickly. That's all to begin with, then over the course of the season you can watch how things are going and adjust accordingly. Only do one change at a time though, and give it a few games to bed in and to check it wasn't just affected by one particular opposition. I'd be looking at things like passing directness, LOE, DL, and defensive with. Get stuck in, Pass into space, and Use tighter marking I'd use as the situation dictates rather than always having them selected or not.


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Oh and rather than using photobucket, you can just screen shot on your laptop and upload the image from your pictures file. If you're using a Windows computer, pressing the Windows button + G will bring up the game bar, which has a screen shot option on it. It saves them in your computers video folder though.

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5 hours ago, WHUBen said:


Short passing, PoD and hold shape under the Balanced mentality (along with a DLP on defend duty) are likely to lead to a pretty sterile football in the possession phase. 

A basically very similar comment can be made for your other tactic as well: 

5 hours ago, WHUBen said:



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Firstly, as a newly promoted side you should have one aim; not getting relegated again. You are going to have a squad that is at best as good as the other bottom teams. It is not really realistic to expect to finish high up the table. Indeed, relegation is often quite hard to avoid no matter what you do. You can have a well built tactic, but if your players are not as good as the teams around you, it will still be difficult. Anywhere around 15th is a great achievement with a newly promoted side.

There is nothing obviously wrong with your tactics. I echo what others have said about playing the ball out of defense. You can try to be a little more direct, especially for the 442, where you have 2 advanced players who can exploit space given to you by the AI. This is a general rule for me playing as weaker sides. If the AI is offering up a bunch of space by attacking me, I will almost always try to exploit that space with my tactic. For me, it usually means pacy players in the striker role, and out wide. Do not play out of defense (but you do not need to go too direct with instructions either). Try to encourage your players to get the ball forward quicker though. Remove any GK distribution instructions, maybe slightly more direct or a higher tempo (both will make attacking transitions more direct). Pace can be utterly deadly if you have the space (and as a newly promoted side you will have the space. If you played like this in the 4141 I would use a DLF(A) to have a more advanced player for these transitions, a DLF(S) can be too deep at times.

Finally, just keep in mind what you should expect. You are going to lose more games than you win, more than likely. That is how it goes for a newly promoted side (although learning to exploit space will help you win games). If you are not relegated, your season is a success and you can use the money to invest in better players to try and advance up the table. You should be thinking long term (5 years, say) here. Short term pain (in terms of having to lose, which I know sucks) for long term gain. And if the game is bothering you, do take a break. I used to get so frustrated by the game too. I now know when I need to have a break to refresh myself (I have no touched FM in around 3 week at the moment, I wanted to explore some other games for a bit).

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