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The Formation On Tactics Screen Is Your Defensive Shape; I Have A Problem With This

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Hello Everyone

I have a problem with the notion that your formation on the tactics screen is your defensive shape.

Id like to illustrate an example.

As a Leicester fan, I was watching some recent games, particularly last nights game v Everton, and I thought it was evident that the defensive shape was at times 4-4-2 and other times 4-3-3.

However when attacking, the formation looked more akin to 4-3-1-2 to me.

In FM terms, in the formation last night, Maddison in FM language would need a position that sees him ATTACK in the middle of the pitch, but be on the right to defend.

So Maddison therefore, in FM language, would need a position where he STARTS on the right, but on the ball ends up in the middle of the pitch with the ball.

So in his defensive role, it may look something like this:


The red arrow shows where the players SHOULD go in possession.


In any position starting on the right, Maddison will not come into the middle of the pitch enough to take up the create position he needs IN possession. Even if you tell him to roam, sit narrower and cut inside, he still will not come into the middle of the pitch enough.

So youd have to put him in a more central role on the tactics screen, so that he appears there with the ball.

If you were to do this, the shape of the team would look ridiculous, there would be no one on the right hand side.

Another one would be Tielemans..... no matter what the role he has, he will not behave like real life Tielemans. Because there are times where he will be mostly like the right back, other times collecting the ball deep, and other times he drifts very wide.

But you cant actually make him DO this, without comprimising the defensive structure.

Harvey Barnes CAN act like a Raumdeuter, but he also needs to stay wide when defending, not to "sit narrow".


So are you better to put the players where you want them IN possession and then use instructions to move them into defensive positions, i.e. Man Mark a position, or mark a position tighter?

This would make the formation look very odd.


Or do you just have to accept that the game is limited in what you can do with tactics, and some interactions between players are just not possible?


Im really confused about this, it just doesnt seem possible to do certain things?


Thanks everyone

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15 minutes ago, Lesterfan_Cambiasso said:

I have a problem with the notion that your formation on the tactics screen is your defensive shape.

Personally, I don't think this is the case at all and it's a bit of myth, the formation on the tactic screen to me is your neutral shape ie the position of all players when the ball is roughly in the middle of the pitch. 


26 minutes ago, Lesterfan_Cambiasso said:

Im really confused about this, it just doesnt seem possible to do certain things?

I think real life managers change shape during a match, way more often than we do. I didn't see the game yesterday but maybe Rogers changed shape a couple of times so it's making things a bit difficult to replicate. 


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To replicate whatever style you want, you could put Maddison in the right AM position and then have him mark the LB out of possession. The formation is assymetrical but it would work to achieve the specific movement you're looking for. In addition, a Narrow Attacking Width could allow the AP or Treq on the wing to move very centrally.

Also @Johnny Ace is right, saying the tactics screen formation is your defensive formation is a myth. In defence, a CM-D will be deeper than a CM-S, and a CM-A will be even higher and more aggressive

Edited by The3points
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Thanks guys, makes perfect sense.


By this logic, this also means the full back positions wont be forward, unless you put them further forward, to use the same logic?

I find the game quite confusing to be honest in the way you get your ideas into FM language.

Would it be best to summarise as, put a player where you want them to be to be most effective, and then use instructions to tailor their movement?

If its an attacking player like maddison, primarily i want him in an attacking position, so i prioritise this first, and then use his instructions to make him defend.

If its a full back, his primary objective (often) is defend. So put him in a defend spot, and then tailor his movements to make him attack the way you want


Would this be a fair assessment?


Rather than put all the players into a "defensive" shape as the formation, and then have to put instructions and hard coded instructions onto them to make them into an attacking formation?


What i said makes sense in my head, I probably didnt explain it well. Does that make sense to you?

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Yes the match engine is limited to some extend and real life manager use shapes way more fluid then you might do ingame. If you look for a wide player to occupy a more central position and be creative, an APs properbly is your best call.

Make sure that someone is creating width on the right flank. There really is no central midfield role the can fulfill that sufficiently.

What you COULD try, eventhough I’m not 100% sure if you can do that with those Positions, is to add a time to time positional switch with individual roles between right AM and CM. You can set that up in the other screen.

Regarding the Shape, yes it’s the defensive shape, since you can’t adjust their movement out of possession. All instructions regarding movement are in possession exclusively. And once your team transitioned to defense duty effect are very minor out of possession. 

hope that could help. 

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This exact issue haunts me still since I started watching full match like six years back. Trust me I had tried countless ‘ridiculous’ or asymmetrical shaped formations to replicate real life tactics with no perfect solutions whatsoever. You probably just have to admit the game is flawed and a full-match player like me just can’t do anything with it. A player like Neymar in FM would never play like in real life no matter what roles, PIs or preferred moves you gave him with IGE. And you want to replicate the Italian Zona Mista? The man marking and communicating between defenders in FM have been awful. I think the best thing they could do (which is highly unlikely) is to have two separate formations for defensive and offensive phases. So my take on this is that you do whatever you see fit regardless of shapes, roles, instructions etc., if you watch full match.

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I mean what you say is valid, and points out some of the flaws of representing something as complicated as a football match in a game engine. You simply cannot replicate what happens in real life in the game, football is vastly too complicated for that. The tactics are the prime example of this. The game has to try to capture some essence of the way the game is played, and it does it using defined roles which then can be modified. It is easy to understand why they do this, because it probably makes the coding a little easier. And it does a pretty decent job. Typically an FM player will know what they want their player to do, and FM provides archetypes to do this. It means if we want a player who plays like a poacher, we can. Or easily differentiate between a maurading wing back and a defensive wide defender, for example. It is a simplicity thing for usability. I am old enough to remember the sliders, and they were infinitely worse. It was so goddam tedious to play with sliders until you found the magic combination that worked. And often you did not know why. However I know, for example, why having a striker who drops off a defenders (a DLF) will help create space for an IF(A) and CM(A) on opposite sides of him. I can set that up easily in the current system. Previously, it would have been a matter of hoping you found the correct settings by chance. This is not perfect, but I like it. I am of course in favour of having it improved if possible (I think the ME code is holding FM back a little actually).

As to the tactic on screen being your defensive formation, it is an over simplification. There are many ways to modify what plays do defensively as well as offensively. Pressing and man marking are the most obvious ones. This alters your shape significantly compared to what you see. The representation you see on the tactics screen is more a neutral representation. Or think of it as an average representation - what you will see on a heatmap at the end of a game. I regularly play with a formation that attacks like a 424 and defends like a 4141, and is called a 433 by FM. Go figure. Thinking of the tactic you see as a defensive formation is simplified. 

I think the reason why people do this is because it is easier to set up a defensive structure and then use creativity to create attacking movement. Also because attacking movement is more common compared to the relative rigidity of most football defences. So you can more easily understand and translate your desires for attacking by modifying roles and understanding how they interact. However I guess there is little reason why you could not do as you suggest. Setup with an attacking formation and modify it for defence. It would certainly be harder to do based on how the game works, but I guess it could be done. More often you are making both defensive and offensive modificaitons.

FM will likely never come close to the complexity of real world tactics. Which I agree is a shame. The way tactics work at the moment is a reasonable way to give users a good deal of control and is quite intuitive after the steep learning curve.

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