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The Joy of 3-4-1-2. (Super High Scoring, Super Fun Times)

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So, I wanted to update this at the end of the season that I showed originally, just to see if it panned out well. No slump, no January mid-season blues or anything.  And... welp.

We won the league. Convincingly.

Final Season Results



Pretty damn good. As you can see, we had some pretty great performances in terms of two of our players getting 33 and 32 goals respectively, two smashing the assist's with 24 and 21. 

In terms of results. In my first post I showed just after I beat Chelsea in the cup, and the following game was Blackburn. So showing from there;


Following the Chelsea game, things carried on fairly swimmingly. Everything was all ticket-y-boo. The first loss was against the boringly set-up Burnley in the cup, still managed by Sean Dyche. Not that I'm talking bitterly due to being a Blackburn fan, but despite this game now being in 2025, Dyche still has Burnley sticking to the principles he had. Their first goal was fortunate, the second... hmm, well. Could've been offside. And their stubborn defensive was just pretty hard to break down. But hey-ho, it was only a cup game.

Dodgy period during January, had a couple of draws here and there. In January I had to contend with the fact that Camilo Salazar (screenshot of his profile is in the first post) started attracting a tonne of attention, and he had a release clause of 50m. Due to the interest I tried to start games without relying on him, despite him being a clear star player. Thankfully this little gambit worked, and he signed a new contract. Still with a release clause, but this time it's about 86m. But it did stop him wanting to leave in the January window at least. I think also during January I had a bit of an injury crisis here and there. Some first team players were out for a few weeks, including Salazar after the Watford game.


The last lot of games looked like this;



Starting with a 2-1 loss to Brentford. This was just one of those games were we snatched at chances, and they had two fortunate goals. The winning one for them being a 91st minute corner routine. Gutted at that point because it spelt the end of having an unbeaten league season. Honestly felt harsh, as we were the better team more or less. We bounced back positively and emphatically however, having a great run... barring the 1-1 against Forest Green. The team sat rock bottom of the league, 3 wins all season at that point... and they were just immense. Honestly, I don't know why, but I find FM tends to make this kinda fixture (late season, 1st plays bottom) as the hardest game you'll have.

Lost in the FA cup to Newcastle. Still playing a ridiculous 3-4-1-2 of their own, but with the 4 being WB - DM - DM- WB. Saint-Maxim was just ridiculous for them, scoring some great goals that I felt kinda salty about. But hey-ho, not too bothered. We're a Championship side still, can't be expecting an FA cup win.

Following games after the Newcastle result felt a bit nervy, however. Salazar was still out, only just about coming back for the West Brom game for a few minutes. Not match-fit after a 4-5 week lay off. The 0-1 to Sheffield United was... well, it was one of those ridiculous games;



The stats there don't give the full indication (as per usual). But just every slice of luck fell their way. We won more headers, but they won the crucial ones that resulted in lucky second balls. And as you can see at the bottom of the screenshot, their GK got an 8.5 ... he was just ridiculous on the day. Their goal against us was so soft, too.

A Slight Re-Jig of the Tactic

After that, and the slightly lacklustre results in the month of March were we hadn't scored too many, I changed the system slightly to this;


Only real difference was a few role changes. Namely the Poacher to an AF, and the BWM into a CM, with the instructions to Tackle Harder and Shoot More, 'cos Embalo has great finishing and decent long shots for a midfielder.

From looking at the results, the little change seemed to bear a lot of fruit, as we then scored 26 goals in 6 games.

In terms of a little look at the goalscoring. We obviously had the two main men, Obafemi and Salazar, but there was quite a good spread across the team. Particularly the CB's, owing to set-pieces.


Not -as- generous as I first thought maybe, but Harwood-Bellis got 11 as a CB. And Branthwaite with 6, likewise as a CB from set-pieces. 

Season Summary:

Overall the tactic just kept on going. The only times I started struggling towards the end was against 4-2-3-1 formations sometimes. The amount of bodies they had in attack, especially with width and wide players attacking from crosses to the far post kept posing a slight problem. But it always felt as though I was still in those games. They had more attacking strength against me in certain areas, but I still more or less kept getting forward successfully. I always felt confident every single game that we would out-score the opposition.

The far post crosses to attacking wide men felt like an Achilles heel, but not overly so. Like... it was an issue I was aware of, but not one I wanted to directly try to re-jig everything to compensate. It just felt like a trade-off for how the tactic worked everywhere else.

I think I might make another post added on to this after I've analysed it to show how those far post goals this tactic concedes kinda always came about. But, honestly? We only seemed to concede from set-pieces, wonder goals, the odd mistake of our own here and there, and far post crosses. Sounds like a lot of scenarios to say that we concede from, but realistically you're gonna concede, so most did seem to come from set-plays. And out of all the myriad ways you can concede, ours always boiled down to the same 4 scenarios.

Overall, as the season went on and injuries and fatigue had to be accounted for, I think it did reinforce the fact that you need the players to make this tactic work. You need quality in most positions, so this 3-4-1-2 is not something to slap together and maybe hope for the best. The Defensive Winger position was still always an issue at times, with nearly every game 2 subs having to be both of those wide players, and injuries to those positions throughout the season left me short, but we muddled on through.

As a last note. Sorry for the messy post and format, I'm sure I could've done it neater. But was just too gosh, darn excited wasn't I? It was a great season for me this, as it let me re-live the glory days I use to have in early FM games using my 3-4-1-2, and definitely showed me flashes of the dominance I used to get back in the day. I'm under no illusions that this mainly worked due to being a great Southampton side that in no way shape or form should've been a Championship side, but hey... it was a resounding win back to the Prem. A record breaking season for most points scored in a season, most goals in a season (broke a 100 year old record here), most wins, most... everything. The history books in my save will be remembering this as one of the most dominated Championship seasons.

I'm slightly dubious as to this tactic not working from the perspective of being the newly promoted underdog, but I'm game to give it a try. 

But cheers! And thanks to anyone who bothered reading it again!

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This looks like the kind of formation that can carry you to the Prem but will drag you back down in a season or two lol.

As you say, you need the players. I like a defensive winger but they're hard roles to fill. Very intensive! 

Probably work with a huge team and maybe a smaller one like Leicester who have quality in places. 

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Based on the stats, it looks like the service comes from the left-side - or do the two leading assist getters also handle free kicks and corners?

And how do the front 3 interact? I have a 523 as my base tactic and always try and add in a 5212 and have yet to really get that front 3 clicking. I am guessing a lot of it, is as you say, for the Championship your strikers simply dominate due to their technical and/or physical superiority to most of the opposition. Did you try other roles in the AMC slot?


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6 hours ago, CaptCanuck said:

Based on the stats, it looks like the service comes from the left-side - or do the two leading assist getters also handle free kicks and corners?

And how do the front 3 interact? I have a 523 as my base tactic and always try and add in a 5212 and have yet to really get that front 3 clicking. I am guessing a lot of it, is as you say, for the Championship your strikers simply dominate due to their technical and/or physical superiority to most of the opposition. Did you try other roles in the AMC slot?


Augustinsson and Olsson take the set-pieces between them, for the most part. So a lot of their assists I think are inflated from that. They still get a quite a few from open play, however. But defo the set-piece's do flatter their numbers.

The front 3... Malcolm as the Treq just acts as a kind of ... wild card. Some games he gets massively involved, and it feels like he's the hub of the attack, linking everyone together, making clever movements to open up space. Other games he just seems to disappear for large chunks, then just make one or two decent contributions. In terms of his goalscoring and assisting, he finished the season with 12 goals and 11 assists. 

So, quite far away from the front two.

The PF(a) and the Poacher, which is now an AF, seem to work quite well. Most of the AF assists come from just playing one ball in for the PF to finish. The PF likewise ends up getting furthest forward when we counter, and if his shot is parried, or he runs into a dead end, more often than not the AF is there to take over.

In terms of possession wise... they tend not to sit there passing the ball around themselves, I will admit. They all want to score rather than do that. But that in itself just makes the 3 become a nuisance to opposition defence, because they end up getting drawn away by attempting to mark and press whoever has the ball, gifting space and time to the other attackers who can receive an easy pass.

I will concede that the front 3 don't act as this well oiled, great machine. And it works more as 3 fantastic individuals, each trying to one up each other. But usually it became a thing of they'd finish each others deflections were possible, or be intelligent enough to play each other in during decisive counter attacks.

Edited by SuperBiggles
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Great writing so far, you've got a natural affinity for it! Looking forward to seeing how you get on in the Prem assuming you're keeping the save going and using the same tactic.

Would love to some screenshots of recruitment you've done and what type of players you think will perform in this system.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, after a little break I've finally carried on with this save, seeking to answer that burning question.

Could this 3-4-1-2 Southampton side make it in the Premier League, or would it all fall apart like a soggy biscuit? 

The Verdict Is;


A newly promoted side with a vaguely risky tactic, mixing with the big boys. And oh man, we're doing it. Top scorers I the league, entertainers through and through. We're performing like the jammy 3-4-1-2 loving lads we are. Only one thought springs to mind after looking at that table... 


The Results Themselves


Say one thing for my team, we're entertaining. I feel like I'm this reality's Bielsa. The team that the neutrals love to watch. Barring the one boring anomalous 0-0 result against Brentford, there's not been a game without a goal for me. either for or against. It's been a bit of a rollercoaster so far, but more or less the team seems to be carrying on from last year with their performances.

Just to break down a few of the games.

The first game we played was against Wolves. In this save Wolves have kinda fallen into mid-table mediocrity, but still with a solid and perpetually underperforming team. Felt like it was a good first test to see how we would do. Resisted my usual urge to change things when coming into a new season and went in with the same system as I put in my last post.

As you can see it finished 1-1, but man... it was one of those ridiculous games.



A 3.84 xG for my team, hit the post twice, 3 clear cut chances. I know stats don't tell the full story of a game, but oh man. As you can see in the far corner of the screenshot, my striker Obafemi got 7.7 rating... how. How? Watching the Extended Highlights while playing the game... the man missed 4 golden opportunities. Hit the post twice (from the same move... his first shot hit one post, the rebound fell to him and he hit the other post. First time I've seen that in FM). Late in the game he was clean through on goal, only the keeper to beat... fluffed it. Shackleton saved me at the death with a good goal.

But again, felt like it the system worked. We were getting goal scoring opportunities, things were flowing. It was just individual performances that could hamper results.

 The rest of the month of August was a mixed bag. Beat West Ham in a thrilling 5-3 game, lost 0-1 to Man City... a game were we kinda stifled them, and their goal came from an individual mistake (my right sided CB missed a tackle, their player was allowed clean through on goal). We just couldn't convert our chances as City's world-class GK and defenders just stopped us too much. Tottenham result... eh. They had a penalty, scored from one of those ridiculous counter attacking stemming from MY attacking corner. Third goal conceded came from me chasing the game too much.

But the panic didn't set in. In each game I still felt like we had something to bring. It seemed that some of my players were just struggling to get to grips with the step-up in quality needed for the Premier League. 

Then the Everton result set us on our way and again proved the strength of the team. Bar a very bizarre 4-4 result against Burnley. That (and I feel I keep saying it, but don't judge me) was just one of those crazy games. 3 of Burnley's goals were 30 yard screamers, the goal of the season kind of contenders. To be fair a couple of mine in that game were as well It was a very edge of the sit, squeaky bum type of game.

What I Learned Playing With The Big Boys

I will admit I have spent a lot of the season micro-fiddling (not as dirty as it sounds) with the tactic. Trying to find ways to make us perform better, and get the most out of games.

A pivotal point came for me in the 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace. Result wise it was very unfair to my team. Palace scored late on from two set-pieces, very against the run of play and harsh. Early in the game however I'd noticed that I was being ripped apart by the Palace wide players who were repeatedly being allowed space. In this save the wide players were still a 33 y.o Zaha and Eze. It was a theme that I'd noticed from other results too. Against Tottenham, the wide left sided IF scored two goals.

Up to this point I'd always felt that when I asked the Ass-man to sort out the defensive opposition instructions, and he gave any instructions to the AMR or AML, that it gave too much defensive responsibility to the Defensive Wingers. Those poor guys had way too much to do. Or so I thought. 

After being torn a new one in the first 30 minutes by Zaha and Eze on the wing, I allowed the Ass-man to do his thing, and he set the instructions on those players. Towards the end of the game, before their set-piece goals, those two players had dropped to about 6.3 ratings and been completely nullified. 

I carried this thinking over into the next two games against Liverpool and Man United. 

If I was a lesser man, I'd repeat the vindication gif.

For another note, I also dropped the LoE and the Defensive Line to Standard, down from the Higher that they'd previously been. The 3 goals against Liverpool all came from great counter attacks. 

Formation Changes

One other note... I've been doing a fair bit of fiddling (again) with the player roles and things. Some games some players don't seem to perform, and I'm struggling to get the most out of some positions. 

The key area seems to be the Treq. This season he's really been... kinda meh. As has been Salazar attempting to play as an AF or a Poacher. To compensate I've attempted to start playing this way;


This is what's coming up with some success so far. The SS seems a little inconsistent as well. Seems to work fairly well with Salazar dropping into being a DLF(s). Salazar changing to this is helping the team overall, but kind of starting to hamper him goal output. Which is a shame, 'cos so far both him and Obafemi are the top scorers in the league;


His assist stats are good though, so there is that. I've also experimented with dropping the Libero for a more standard kind of BPD on Cover. But that I'm a little indifferent to so far. Still trying to work through whether or not the Libero is underperforming because it's a new signing filling the role, or what. I'm keeping an eye on that for me.

I've also managed to get myself put in charge of England somehow. Slightly miraculous. After my first game in charge against Denmark attempting to play a 4-3-3 DM to make the most of the squad (Sancho, Hudson-Odoi, Sterling... all those great wide players) that ended up being the most boring 0-0 game ever, I decided to be bold and mould England to play ... Biggles-Ball, or whatever you want to call it. The England results that then followed;


Quite good. The only goal we conceded was a Christian Eriksen free-kick. The unexpected burgeoning star for me from this squad (as much as it pains me as a Blackburn fan) is Dwight McNeil;


A fantastic player for England. Those are all his first International caps coming from me, and honestly... heading into the World Cup, I'm envisioning him being a key player for me. Along with Reece Justin on the right. 

I also did start experimenting a little bit more with the formation and squad to make the most of some of the talent, and I've been attempting this;


I was initially dubious about attempting a Mez over the DLP... I felt the roaming and running wide might be detrimental, but so far it seems to be working out pretty well for me. Granted, England are ranked 3rd in the world and we've played quite crappy teams, but it still seems to work sometimes.

Overall I do find that sometimes the DLP in the formation kind of goes completely missing. It's hard to pin down why sometimes. I'm not sure if his role desiring him to hold his position leaves him vulnerable to being taken out of the game or what. Sometimes I have experimented changing him with the Mez, and if I do that I change the AM role to be a AP. But I'll see how that goes.


So far so good! It all seems to be going swimmingly! All things considered. This is a Southampton side fresh from being promoted from the Championship the year before. We're almost kinda being the IRL Sheffield United of last year.

Last year when I dominated the Championship most games were pretty much "start the game, barely change anything, watch us win". This time around I find myself having to micro-manage a lot more depending on the game. I'm mostly finding myself dropping the LoE to Standard to be the biggest change, and trying to change around a few of the roles here and there. Still some of the other issues from last season. Continually having to sub the DW each game 'cos their knackered all the time.

Importantly I'm now noticing that I do have to trust the Ass-man when he tells me the opposition instructions on the wide players. In the Championship the quality of finishing from the AML and AMR bailed me out a bit too much. In the Prem the standard of finishing is a lot better, so it's helping to mark those players. I did feel it would've left me vulnerable to overlapping fullbacks whipping in crosses, but there's enough bodies in the centre from my team playing narrow with a back 3, who are all good in the air, that it's not so much an issue at all. I don't think I've conceded a single headed goal from open play.

But overall its still a fun experience! And again, cheers to anyone for bothering to read!


Edited by SuperBiggles
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