Jump to content
Sports Interactive Community
  • Tactics

    Tactics. The making of a manager. Sure, you may occasionally get by on having the very best players available to you, but by and large any success you intend to have will rest largely on your tactical decisions. Setting up your tactics in Football Manager™ 2017 can be as simple or as detailed as you wish. This section details the Tactics screen and various options available to the user.

    The Tactics Creator
    Designed in collaboration with Richard Claydon and Gareth Millward, with additional contributions from Rashid Dajit Abdullah and Mark Burton, the Tactics Creator allows you to create a brand-new tactic from scratch by following a number of clear, easy to follow steps, before tweaking it further within the same interface.

    To begin, click on the ‘Create New Tactic’ button.
    Set to Formation
    The first step of creating a tactic is to choose a formation in which to play. Formations are discussed in greater detail later in this section, but for now select from the list of standard formations, and/or follow the instructions on-screen to drag players into a custom shape.

    Select a Mentality
    Once you’ve got a formation, you need to choose how your team is going to approach the game in terms of Mentality. From a defensive Contain system to a full-out attacking Overload, you can set how you approach the game, with the appropriate advice available to you.

    Select Team Shape
    Define how structured your team’s shape should be. This effectively lays down plans for how much you want the team to stick to the formation chosen; from a clearly defined system with little room for flexibility, to a more fluid, versatile approach.

    Team Instructions
    You’ll then be prompted to set Team Instructions. For a complete guide as to how these work on an individual basis, click here. However, at this point you will be presented with a graphical interface from which to go about customising your tactical preferences. The ‘Team Shape’, ‘Defence’, ‘Build-Up’ and ‘Attack’ sections each offer visual representations of what you might seek to achieve, from customising the width of your team to working the ball into the box when in advanced situations.

    Team Selection, Player Roles and Player Duties
    With the basics of the team set up, you can now get into the detail of defining what you want the player in each position to play. Perhaps you have personnel in mind, but if not, the choice of role can impact on the sort of player you employ in that berth. For example, a player assigned the ‘forward’ role can be one of many things: he can be a poacher, a deep-lying forward, a target man, an advanced forward, or a complete forward. Choose your requirements.

    You now also get to define player duties and freedoms. For example, you may ask your fullbacks to support the attackers, or you might want them to sit back and defend. Midfielders can be asked to defend, support or simply attack, and attacking players can be asked to drop back into supporting roles. As ever, the on-screen advice will give you the basics.

    Whenever selected, a small ‘pie’ graphic appears next to the player on the tactical pitch display with a rating out of ten ‘segments’. This rating combines his suitability to the position, role and duty as well as his seniority within the squad (a younger player might be a better tactical fit, for example, but will often lack the experience and ability of a senior player) and his overall fitness and match sharpness. It represents the overall picture of how well a player is likely to play in any given circumstance on any given match day.

    Once you’re happy with your setup, make sure you save the tactic by selecting the appropriate option from the dropdown menu that appears when clicking on the button underneath the ‘Tactic’ heading.

    What next?
    Once you’ve set them up, you can still continue to tweak your settings. Clicking on an individual on the pitch graphic (from the ‘Player’ sub-tab) will allow you to re-define his role and duties, as well as those for any player playing in that position. There is a description of how each role and duty is intended to work, allowing you to make informed decisions.

    The Tactics Overview Screen
    The Tactics Overview screen is a hive of activity separated into two main sections; the squad list and the tactics pitch.

    Towards the top left of the main screen area you’ll find options to change your Starting Tactic and add or create Alternative Tactics.

    The ‘Quick Pick’ drop-down menu allows you to ask a member of your backroom staff to pick all or part of a match day squad on your behalf, as well as clearing down all current selections and saving particular line-ups for future use. You can also request that they pick a certain type of team depending on the needs of your squad; a side can be rotated to various degrees of fitness, or based on a set of Custom Rules you may have implemented.

    The default squad list ‘View’ is set to ‘Selection Info’, which provides information on match readiness, form, player status information, morale and role ability/suitability, but there are a number of different views which each provide important information for you to analyse and use as you see fit.

    The very first thing you should take into consideration is the formation you are going to play. Or indeed, formations, because the best managers will be able to adapt their shape based on the opposition and match situation. There are two very basic schools of thought on formations – pick a shape that best suits the players at your disposal, or shoe-horn your best players into an eleven and then pick the formation based on your players. The former certainly allows for more balance, although perhaps at the expense of leaving out a talented player because he doesn’t ‘fit’. Naturally, if your best players fit into a formation that suits them all, then you should be looking to take advantage of this as much as you can.

    When a player is assigned a position, a coloured graphical indicator below the player’s name on the tactical pitch display will show you the suitability for that position. The colours match the Position indicators outlined elsewhere in this manual, so if a player is being played in a Natural role, the indicator will be bright green. If he is being played totally out of position, the indicator will be red.

    The graphical pitch display will change depending on your choice of formation. You can also manually change the formation on this display by left-clicking and holding on the position icon, and dragging it away from the position it currently resides in. Available positions to move this to will be indicated by a series of icons in colours indicating the player’s ability in that position. Release the left mouse button to place it in a new position.

    Team Instructions
    The Team Instructions section is where you set up how your team is going to play. Begin by selecting a Mentality and a Team Shape, before refining things further by implementing a series of instructions, made easier by a series of graphical representations of what you might be aiming to achieve. The available options and configurations are described in this section.


    Team Shape

    Another opportunity to select your preferred Team Shape, ranging from Highly Structured to Very Fluid as explained earlier in this section.


    Much Higher Tempo

    Instructs the team to go about their business in a more urgent fashion, moving the ball around quickly and decisively, using the intensity of their approach to unsettle the opposition and eventually tire them out.

    Higher Tempo

    Instructs the team to go about their business in an urgent fashion, moving the ball around quickly and decisively, using the intensity of their approach to unsettle the opposition.


    Players will adopt a balanced tempo throughout the match, increasing it when necessary and slowing things down in appropriate situations.

    Lower Tempo

    Instructs the team to go about their business in a considered and patient manner, taking their time with the ball and often retaining possession in order to retain control of the game.

    Much Lower Tempo

    Instructs the team to go about their business in a more considered and patient manner, taking their time with the ball and often retaining possession with no great short-term purpose, with the intention to retain control of the game.

    Time Wasting

    This option is affected by the chosen team mentality.

    This allows you to set how wide you want your team to play. The available options range from Narrow through to a Balanced approach and all the way out to the extremes of as Wide as possible.


    Defensive Line

    Instructs the team on the desired defensive line placement; Deeper will see them hold a line on the edge of their own penalty area, with options right through to Much Higher, which pushes the defence closer to the halfway line.

    Use Offside Trap

    Instructs the team to operate with the offside trap.

    Closing Down

    Instructs your players to close down the opposition to a range of intensities. At the extreme, you can ask players to be relentless in their pursuit of haranguing the opposition, whilst at the other end of the scale you might request that they sit off and afford them plenty of time and space.

    Prevent Short GK Distribution

    Instructs your forward players to press the opposition high up the field in order to stop the goalkeeper being able to distribute the ball over shorter distances to defenders and instead take risks or have to resort to a longer delivery.

    Use Tighter Marking

    Instructs players to adopt a tighter marking scheme in defensive situations where players are encouraged to stick particularly close to their assigned opponent in order to prevent them from attacking the ball.

    Get Stuck In

    Instructs your players to be aggressive and strong in the tackle. This may increase the risk of fouls and disciplinary action.

    Stay On Feet

    Instructs your players to stay on their feet when making tackles instead of going to ground.



    Play Out Of Defence

    Encourages defenders to pass their way clear from the back rather than clear the ball long.

    Exploit The Left Flank

    Instructs your players to look to take full advantage of the left wing, perhaps due to an opposition weakness.

    Exploit The Right Flank

    Instructs your players to look to take full advantage of the right wing, perhaps due to an opposition weakness.

    Exploit The Middle

    Instructs your players to look to take full advantage of playing through the middle, perhaps due to an opposition weakness.

    Clear Ball To Flanks

    Instructs your players to look to make their clearances into wider areas to be picked up by attacking players.

    Pump Ball Into Box

    Instructs your players to launch high, long-range passes into the opposition’s penalty area.

    Pass Into Space

    Instructs your players to look to make passes into open space.


    Shorter Passing



    Instructs your players to adopt a style of play based around shorter passing and greater ball retention.

    Mixed Passing

    Instructs your players to adopt a mixed style of passing appropriate for the situation.

    More Direct Passing

    Instructs your players to adopt a style of passing based around a quicker transition from back to front, with the ball covering long distances in a shorter amount of time.

    Go Route One

    Instructs your players to get the ball into attacking areas as quickly as possible and with the minimum of fuss.

    Retain Possession

    Instructs your players to prioritise keeping hold of the ball.


    Be More Expressive

    Allows more creative players the freedom to play the game with additional creativity and flair outside of the confines of a team's tactical setup.

    Be More Disciplined

    Asks players to play as part of a robust and focused tactical shape in order to make the team a stronger collective group. It may come at the expense of some individual expression.



    Hit Early Crosses

    Instructs players to get the ball into the penalty area with early crosses as soon as they receive the ball in a position to do so.

    Look For Overlap

    Instructs your players to hold onto the ball and look for an overlapping player in support, most likely a marauding full-back.

    Shoot On Sight

    Instructs your players to shoot when the opportunity arises instead of waiting for a more clear-cut opening.

    Work Ball Into Box

    Instructs your players to work hard for their opening, remaining patient and not forcing the issue but rather retaining the ball until the breakthrough occurs.

    Mixed Crosses

    Instructs your players to deliver a varied range of crosses from the options immediately following this one.

    Float Crosses

    Instructs your players to play high, floating crosses into the penalty area with the intention for the ball to hang in the air to allow a forward to position himself sufficiently to take advantage.

    Whipped Crosses

    Instructs your players to deliver balls with pace, dip and swerve in order to make it as hard as possible for defenders to deal with them.

    Low Crosses

    Instructs your players to play quick and powerful crosses into the penalty area with the intention of catching a defender off guard against a quicker forward with good movement.


    Run At Defence

    Instruct players to run at the opposition more than your tactics allow by default.

    Dribble Less

    Instruct players to adopt a pass-first mentality rather than retain possession and dribble their way into attacking situations.


    Stick To Positions

    Instructs players to stick to their primary duties in their assigned position. It does not allow for fluidity of movement.

    Roam From Positions

    Instructs players to be more creative and fluid with their positional locations on the pitch, demanding sufficient tactical awareness so that one player is able to fill in for another who has roamed from his position.

    When one instruction is selected, it will turn green in colour. At the same time, conflicting instructions will turn red, indicating that they cannot be used in combination with the selection. For example, ‘Pump Ball Into Box’ will result in conflicts with a number of other Possession-based instructions which relate to either keeping the ball through shorter passing, or clearing the ball into wide areas.

    You can create various combinations of instructions and save them by using the ‘Presets’ drop-down at the bottom of the pop-up panel.

    Player Instructions
    In addition to your overall team instructions, you can designate instructions to any individual to tailor their playing style specifically. The ‘Player’ sub-tab presents a screen whereby you can configure instructions on a player-by-player basis, as well as configuring rules for anybody who happens to feature in that position in the team.

    For example, if you click on the Defensive Midfielder slot on the formation graphic in the left sub-panel (‘Tactic’), you will be able to customise Role, Duty and Instruction commands for the positions regardless of who plays there. You can also add members of your squad to the ‘Instructions For’ sub-panel towards the bottom left of the screen and set up further instructions on a case-by-case basis.

    The rest of the screen is devoted to attributes and feedback on the performances of the player currently selected in that position for the team.

    The instructions available for assignment vary by position and are split into a number of areas but, for the convenience of finding and utilising them from the lists in this section, they have been grouped into areas of greatest similarity.

    When Goalkeeper has the Ball



    Roll It Out

    Asks goalkeepers to roll the ball out to a team-mate.

    Throw It Long

    Asks goalkeepers to throw the ball to a team-mate over a slightly longer distance.

    Take Short Kicks

    Asks goalkeepers to take shorter goal kicks to a team-mate positioned close by.

    Take Long Kicks

    Asks goalkeepers to take more traditional goal kicks over longer distances.

    Distribute To Specific Position

    Asks goalkeepers to seek a pass to a designated position as their primary means of distribution.

    Distribute To Specific Area/Player

    Asks goalkeepers to distribute the ball to one specific group of players on the pitch: Full Backs, Centre Backs, Playmaker, Flanks, Target Man or over the top of the opposition defence.

    Slow Pace Down

    Asks the goalkeeper to operate at a slower tempo when in possession, perhaps to control the game or to waste time.

    Distribute Quickly

    Asks the goalkeeper to operate at a quicker tempo when in possession, perhaps to increase urgency or instigate counter attacks.

    When Team has the Ball



    Hold Up Ball

    Asks players to take a moment or two longer with the ball than they perhaps would ordinarily, slowing the pace of the game in order to gain a greater perspective over affairs.

    Shoot More Often

    Encourages players to attempt a greater number of shots when posed with potential chances, rather than looking for a pass.

    Shoot Less Often

    Asks players to retain possession and remain patient in search of a more opportune moment at which to finally shoot.

    Dribble More

    Encourages players to be more individualistic and seek to make gains by dribbling their way past opponents, rather than passing their way towards goal.

    Dribble Less

    Asks players to primarily pass the ball around and not attempt to beat opponents individually by way of taking them on.

    Run Wide With Ball

    Encourages players to move into wider areas of the pitch when in possession in a bid to stretch the opposition and disrupt their shape.

    Cut Inside With Ball

    Asks wide players to look to come into central areas when running with the ball, driving inside their opponent and heading towards the goal.

    When Player has the Ball



    Shorter Passing

    Asks players to adopt a shorter passing game and primarily retain the ball with a patient approach.

    More Risky Passes

    Encourages players to play low-percentage passes in the hope that one or two of them will unlock the opposition defence in a potentially decisive manner.

    Fewer Risky Passes

    Asks players to retain possession first and foremost, playing a sensible and patient passing game without unnecessarily turning possession over to the opponents.

    Mixed Passing

    Asks players to adopt a sensible style of passing correlating to the game situation.

    Cross More Often

    Encourages regular delivery into the penalty area from wide positions.

    Cross Less Often

    Asks players to retain possession longer rather than seek a crossing situation.

    Cross From Deep

    Asks players - most typically full-backs, although not exclusively - to set up crossing opportunities from deeper areas on the pitch rather than wait until the ball is in the attacking third.

    Cross From Byline

    Asks players to get the ball as high up the pitch as possible in wider areas before attempting to cross into the goalmouth and penalty area.

    Cross Aim Near Post

    Asks players to deliver their crosses into the near post area.

    Cross Aim Centre

    Asks players to deliver crosses into the middle of the penalty area.

    Cross Aim Far Post

    Asks players to deliver their crosses towards the far post.

    Cross Aim Target Man

    Asks players to deliver their crosses in the general direction of a designated target man.

    Freedom of Movement



    Get Further Forward

    Encourages players to adopt a more attacking mentality and seek to make an impact on the game in advanced areas.

    Hold Position

    Requires players to remain largely in their assigned position and rarely deviate from it.

    Stay Wider

    Encourages players, primarily those in wider areas of the pitch, to stay as close to the touchline as possible in a bid to stretch the game over the full width of the playing surface.

    Sit Narrower

    This option asks the player to stay in the central areas of the pitch, either to exploit a weakness in the opposition or to consolidate defensively in a bid to keep the opposing threats on the periphery.

    Move Into Channels

    Asks players - particularly attack-minded players - to find vertical spaces between opponents, and pull away in such a manner that a team-mate can find them with a pass, which in turn draws a defender out of position.

    Roam From Position

    Gives players the freedom to leave their designated position within a team's basic formation and instead find pockets of space in which they can be more effective.

    When Opposition has the Ball



    Closing Down More/Much More

    Encourages the player to make the effort to harass any opposing player who has possession in hope of forcing a mistake and ceding the ball to them.

    Closing Down Less/Much Less

    Asks the player to stick to their position when defending and make it hard for the opponent to break them down, rather than risk being caught out of position when closing down.

    Tackle Harder

    Encourages players to be forceful and combative when challenging for possession.

    Ease Off Tackles

    Asks players to consider the ramifications of an aggressive mistimed tackle and instead will encourage them to pick their moments in a more timely fashion.

    Mark Tighter

    Asks players to stick particularly tight to their assigned opponent in defensive situations so as to limit the space they have in which to attack the ball.

    Like the Team Instructions, there are conflicting setups which will be displayed in red when one instruction has been selected (in green). Presets are also applicable here, so you can create a series of templates to load in at your leisure.

    Set Pieces
    Selecting the ‘Set Pieces’ sub-tab will allow you to set up your dead ball instructions. Each set piece type guides you through a visual presentation of your set piece instructions and takers. Each position is visible on the pitch with a series of available icons either when clicked on or dragged away from the current position. You are able to drag an icon to another area of the pitch (only areas with an indicated ‘landing spot’ will be accepted).

    Good set-pieces can be the difference between winning or losing. Taking advantage of the numerous dead-ball situations which occur in matches can work massively to your benefit.

    Primarily you need to identify your best corner, throw-in, and free kick takers. Each of these have their own attributes, so initially look for 15 and above in these areas. If your squad isn’t blessed with any particularly capable players, consider bringing one in. Once you’ve identified potential takers, you can start narrowing the selections down.

    A good corner taker will also have good Crossing; naturally because they’ll be using these crossing skills to put the ball into dangerous areas. Also consider the footedness of a player – do you want your corners to be in-swinging or out-swinging?

    A good free-kick taker will also have good Crossing if the attempts are not direct at goal, since the free-kick will likely be put into a dangerous offensive area. If the shot is direct on goal, Long Shots may come into consideration depending on the distance, and a good Technique may be required. High Composure and Concentration are often seen in the best dead-ball specialists, so try and piece these attributes together as best you can to find the ideal free-kick takers.

    Throw-in takers should have a good Long Throws rating to make full use of the situation, but they’ll also need to have good ratings in Strength and Balance to get a really good throw away.

    When selecting Penalty takers, much of the above applies. Your regular penalty taker should have a high Penalty Taking attribute in addition to good Finishing. He also needs high Composure, Concentration, and Decisions. Consider these attributes in greater scope when selecting takers for a penalty shootout. It may be that you’re forced to use players who aren’t natural penalty takers, so look at the next most important attributes – mentally strong, capable players who strike a ball well and make a good decision.

    Multiple players may be selected for set-piece duties in the same way as described in the Captaincy section. Left-click on the desired player’s table row; drag then drop into the appropriate set-piece menu. The ranking is hierarchical and will follow in order should the top player not be on the pitch at the time.

    At the start of every season you will receive an item in your Inbox asking you to confirm a captain and a vice-captain for the coming season. Once selected, they will appear at the top of the ‘Captains’ panel in different colours to the rest of your squad. Note that should you change your captain during the season, the previously deposed captain, his friends and the media will want to know why, so make sure you’ve got a good reason for doing so. If you do wish to change your captain, select the newly desired player from the drop-down list. If you wish to add players in a hierarchical order of which they should take the captain’s armband, left-click their table row and drag and drop them into the list. The same method applies for re-ranking them, but you can do this from within the right hand side panel.

    When considering your captain, one of the primary things to look for is a high Leadership attribute. Anyone with 17 or above here should immediately be considered as a candidate, but there’s more to look at than just that. Your captain should be mentally strong enough to be a capable leader of his team-mates. On a player’s ‘Personal Information’ screen each player has a Personality trait. A ‘Born Leader’ is an ideal candidate for the captaincy. ‘Determined’ and ‘Model Professional’ are also desirable. Also consider the player’s age and experience – ideally he’ll have been at the team for a few years and been in football long enough to understand what it is to captain a team.

    These criteria can change depending on the composition of your squad – a young team needs a capable captain perhaps more than a team of veterans who’ve been there and done it – but largely following this advice should put you in good stead when handing out the armband.

    Opposition Instructions
    This screen allows you to configure default opposition instructions to apply to any position on the pitch. These will be applied ahead of every match but you can tweak them before kick-off depending on the team selection and shape of each specific opponent.

    The Analysis section offers a statistical insight into your performances whilst using certain tactics in a bid to keep you fully informed in your decision-making process.

    If you’re looking to compare the success of different tactical approaches you may have taken, this screen will help you do just that. The ‘Tactics Used’ tab in the main screen area panel details how often a tactic has been used and chances for and against when it has been in operation. These stats are then looked at in more detail in the panel towards the right of the main screen area, with some text to explain what’s going on in the panel towards the top of the main screen area.

    The same applies to ‘Tactics Faced’, which will allow you to pinpoint areas in which you struggle as well as those in which you’re making some headway.

    Team Talk Feedback
    This is provided by the Assistant Manager and can be viewed in more detail by clicking here.

    This does what it says on the tin; a look at how and when your team found the back of the net, and accordingly, conceded at the other end. The ‘Goal Times’ sub-tab breaks down when the goals were scored in fifteen minute segments, whilst the ‘Goal Types’ sub-tab indicates how they came about. ‘Goal Assists’ shows the primary method of the goal’s creation.

    For each section, there is a visual pitch display which is divided up into areas of the pitch, allowing you to see where the goals are coming from. The pitch is split in half and in colour; the top half is in green, showing your team’s goals scored, whilst the bottom half is in red and shows the goals your team has conceded.

    Shot Analysis
    A breakdown of all shots at goal when a particular tactic has been utilised.

    Next Opponent
    This screen simply offers information on your historical record against the next team on your fixture list. The ‘Stat Pack’ offers a statistical look at the league as a whole and the context of the upcoming match whilst the ‘Past Meetings’ section displays the overall head-to-head record between the sides.

    Last Match
    This section presents a brief breakdown of your last outing and offers a reminder of the match stats and player ratings.

    This section allows you to fully analyse a chosen match.

    Edited by Philip Rolfe

      Report Online Manual

    There are no reviews to display.