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I'll give that a try :thup:

The team I used the 4-2-3-1 with to the greatest level of success was Celtic. At first I thought it was simply down to the level of the opposition (one thing FM has certainly got right is the level of desperate thuggery and lack of ball skills that I have to put up with every week in the SPL) but then we started making progress in Europe as well, which I was mighty pleased with.

I should have said from the start that this is largely a Liverpool based problem I have (though my online game Rangers side suffer similarly), and mostly because I can't bring myself to sell Gerrard, despite not being able to get him working well in the AM role. And, as you say, he would be wasting a lot of his strengths if played as an Advanced Playmaker.

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Don't have the game handy at the moment (on my laptop, FM is on my desktop) so no screenshots for now, but it's a problem that comes up when we win the ball back in the defensive third of the pitch. The DLP will, as you say, show himself for the ball but he is given very little in the way of options for his pass. Wingbacks help, that gets the DLP giving the ball to his wingback, moving forward and taking a return pass, but too often my DLP is then forced into trying to give too long a pass, of which the success rate is naturally lower. That's where his lower performance ratings come from, I'm pretty certain that the problem lies with the AM.

Interesting point on having the AMC on support. I tend to go with attack, with the striker on support as I like the sight on an AM bursting into the box (can you tell I'm a Liverpool fan?) but I'll give it a prolonged go the other way round. I find that having the striker on support generally gives my inside forwards more space to attack in the opposition backline, but I'm sure that's a problem I can overcome.

I'll report back to you later on, Crouchy. Cheers for the advice.

Interestingly enough, when you're using a lone forward - presumably Torres as a Complete Forward? - there isn't too much difference in terms of instructions between support and attack duties. You'll still see a lot of the same behaviours. Especially as you are also using Rigid philosophy.

It's hard translating FM terms into real life, and vice-versa, but I'd suggest giving Gerrard a go on a support duty might be worth a try. Gerrard does tend to hang back a bit more and sit in the hole crafting out chances for others in real life, as much as he does get into the box (but it's usually late runs). He's very much a withdrawn forward but at the same time he plays the role like a midfielder and not a second striker, if that makes sense. Think of Gerrard shooting from range, or picking a pass, spreading the ball or arriving late in the box to finish. And think of how deep he can come when defending. That's the kind of thing you want.

Putting the AM on an attack duty tends to see that player in the box way too early in my opinion. What you really want is him hanging back in the hole waiting for a pass, making things happen and making late runs into the box. I'm pretty sure this is going to be your problem, and reducing the forward runs could help by making the build up a little more patient.

If you want to stick with the support/attack front partnership, you could try Advanced Playmaker attack for Gerrard. That would give him mixed forward runs and make him hang back a bit more but it seems a waste not to have him roaming and he's not much of a dribbler really.

I'd probably have the Liverpool team set out like this (assuming you have an Alonso replacement):

GK Default

Wingback auto, Defender defend, Defender defend, fullback auto

Anchor man defend, DLP support

Winger attack, Attacking mid support, Inside forward attack

Complete forward attack

That's more or less based on the Liverpool team I imagine you'd start with on FM10 by the way minus the DLP support!

I'll give that a try :thup:

The team I used the 4-2-3-1 with to the greatest level of success was Celtic. At first I thought it was simply down to the level of the opposition (one thing FM has certainly got right is the level of desperate thuggery and lack of ball skills that I have to put up with every week in the SPL) but then we started making progress in Europe as well, which I was mighty pleased with.

I should have said from the start that this is largely a Liverpool based problem I have (though my online game Rangers side suffer similarly), and mostly because I can't bring myself to sell Gerrard, despite not being able to get him working well in the AM role. And, as you say, he would be wasting a lot of his strengths if played as an Advanced Playmaker.

Gerrard plays well in CM as box to box or even as deep lying playmaker, support. He is the best option for replacing Alonso without buying someone then you have no need to sell Gerrard. Also I have found Aquilani performed well in AM as an advanced playmaker or if you're using an update then you have Joe Cole to play behind Torres.

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I'll give that a try :thup:

The team I used the 4-2-3-1 with to the greatest level of success was Celtic. At first I thought it was simply down to the level of the opposition (one thing FM has certainly got right is the level of desperate thuggery and lack of ball skills that I have to put up with every week in the SPL) but then we started making progress in Europe as well, which I was mighty pleased with.

I should have said from the start that this is largely a Liverpool based problem I have (though my online game Rangers side suffer similarly), and mostly because I can't bring myself to sell Gerrard, despite not being able to get him working well in the AM role. And, as you say, he would be wasting a lot of his strengths if played as an Advanced Playmaker.

Good luck and remember to wrap Fernando Torres in cotton wool!

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I personally am a bit dubious about advanced mentality, low RFD lone strikers. Pushed far forward and extending the natural gap between themselves and the AMC/Midfield/Wingers and then lacking regular attacking runs is for me something I find contrary to the idea of an actual penetrative forward.

My take on a penetrating lone striker would be a role that is dropping deep then making attacking runs. A role that is naturally testing the defensive line by dropping into the hole and looking to run beyond the D-Line before any other options are considered. In effect constantly trying to spin the Centreback.

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My take on a penetrating lone striker would be a role that is dropping deep then making attacking runs. A role that is naturally testing the defensive line by dropping into the hole and looking to run beyond the D-Line before any other options are considered. In effect constantly trying to spin the Centreback.

\

Again, I must agree with SFraser, the only thing to add would be that the exact same tactic (having a striker droping deep then making fwd runs), from my experience, works really well with two striker partnerships, not only with one striker formations. Furthermore, a striker with a really high mentality, playing high up the pitch, can be very effective if asked to cut inside instead of other PPMs. It will drag defenders out of position leaving lots of space for the deeper players to make forward runs into.

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What are people's favourite ways of playing the AMC?

I've been playing with an Inside Forward (support) in that position. I quite like that role for this position as it means the player is concerned with scoring goals first and foremost, as well as setting them up for the lone forward, and he tends to play more like a withdrawn striker. Of course, you need the right kind of player in this position, who can run with the ball, shoot from outside the box, pass well and play a generally dynamic game.

I tend to prefer a Support/Attack split between the front two. I quite like less forward runs for the hole player so that he sits in the space more often. And the emphasis is thus placed on the forward to score goals and lead the line.

Any thoughts on this? What are your favourite ways of setting the AM up?

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just to share my latest findings, after swapping to a 4231 deep, more or less with crouchies settings and not being happy with the behaviour of the amc, I've put him as an amc with an attack role.

This seems to create a dar more dynamic partnership with the advanced forward, more 1-2's, and the amc still drops into the hole, although this may be due to john flecks 'comes deep' ppm. Worth a try lads.

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yeah, I noticed that from your mighty saints thread ;)

I had fleck with that role but it just didn't suit him for some reason, some lousy performances, after swapping to AMC/attack hes caught fire.

wierd how it goes sometimes.

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Just wondering if anyone has some experiences to share with an AMC as Advanced Playmaker attack in the 4-2-3-1.

I normally build my 4-2-3-1 around a deep-lying playmaker but I've been thinking of trying out the following with my current side:

GK (d)

FB/WB (auto) - CD (d) - CD (d) - FB/WB (auto)

Anc Man (d) - Def Mid (s)

W/IF (a) - Adv Play (a) - W/IF (a)

CF (s)

Anyone have anything to share regarding making the AM the focal point of the play like this? Mainly wondering what the contribution can be like from the right kind of player playing in the hole behind one striker?

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I've always been fascinated by this system but whenever I've tried it on FM it never seems to come off. I find that I have too many holes in the defensive shape of my team. This could probably be put down to not having the right kind of players to implement.

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For those who use this formation in FM2010. How do you make you striker to score and have more shots? Because i cant make it.

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@ Crouchy: in my experience the AMC with an attack duty works better, never tried an AMC that didn't roam though, worth a try but might get marked pretty heavily by the AI.

Can't buy a win with the blades atm, so might give it a stab ;)

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@ Crouchy: in my experience the AMC with an attack duty works better,

I normally prefer a 'support' duty there actually. I like mixed forward runs from that position so that the player will tend to stay in the hole more often and so that the onus is more on him to create and break into the box late on in a move.

That said, it very much depends upon the players I have. If I have an AM who is better in the box and a striker who is better linking things up, then I'll reverse that general principle for obvious reasons.

never tried an AMC that didn't roam though, worth a try but might get marked pretty heavily by the AI.

Well, the AM as Advanced Playmaker does sort of roam, as he moves into space and 'shows' for the ball. He just tends to stay more central than a roaming player. But he will move around to get into good positions for a pass, and hopefully that should cause problems for the opposition as he is playing between the lines and will be hard to pick up.

Can't buy a win with the blades atm, so might give it a stab ;)

Let me know how you get on if you do. :)

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I do love a good 4-2-3-1 formation. It has so many options available o it.

Usually my AMC plays as an AMC support although recently have been trying Adv. Playmaker att and having my lone striker as a support and it works well. I like mixed fwrd runs from AMC positon.

My problem is that while i would like to use 2 DMCs, i always seem to move them upto the CM positions instead and set them to CMd and deeplying playmaker support. I think its because there always seems to be a big gap between the DM and AM and the fact that theres just so many good CM players around. Suppose i could put the CMd into DM and leave the deeplying in CM.

What sort of philosiphy are people using btw? While for pretty much all of Fm10 i used fluid i have been using Balanced so far im FM11. Main reason was because of the clear mentality distinction between the 3 roles compared to fluid.

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I do love a good 4-2-3-1 formation. It has so many options available o it.

Usually my AMC plays as an AMC support although recently have been trying Adv. Playmaker att and having my lone striker as a support and it works well. I like mixed fwrd runs from AMC positon.

I'm with you on that Siven. That's how I like my AMC to play.

I'm interested that you say you've been using Advance Playmaker attack in the AM position. What are you experiences of using this kind of role in the 4-2-3-1? I'm wondering what the contribution can be like from the right kind of player playing in the hole behind one striker. I'm intending to experiment with this myself but at the moment I don't have the right kind of squad at my disposal to play this formation. No doubt I will try it out in the next season in my game, after some summer purchases!

My problem is that while i would like to use 2 DMCs, i always seem to move them upto the CM positions instead and set them to CMd and deeplying playmaker support. I think its because there always seems to be a big gap between the DM and AM and the fact that theres just so many good CM players around. Suppose i could put the CMd into DM and leave the deeplying in CM.

I don't find any problem with a gap between the DM and AMs personally and I like the way it plays in the match engine.

The main problem is the second point you make about CMs in the game. If you play in Spain or Italy, though, MCs tend more often to have DM competency. Quite often, I have retrained an MC if necessary, that is if I am really intent on playing 4-2-3-1 with the two DMs.

What sort of philosiphy are people using btw? While for pretty much all of Fm10 i used fluid i have been using Balanced so far im FM11. Main reason was because of the clear mentality distinction between the 3 roles compared to fluid.

I prefer rigid personally as I like the mentality structure and the slightly lower creative freedom settings.

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Just wondering if anyone has some experiences to share with an AMC as Advanced Playmaker attack in the 4-2-3-1.

I normally build my 4-2-3-1 around a deep-lying playmaker but I've been thinking of trying out the following with my current side:

GK (d)

FB/WB (auto) - CD (d) - CD (d) - FB/WB (auto)

Anc Man (d) - Def Mid (s)

W/IF (a) - Adv Play (a) - W/IF (a)

CF (s)

Anyone have anything to share regarding making the AM the focal point of the play like this? Mainly wondering what the contribution can be like from the right kind of player playing in the hole behind one striker?

My experience when using Adv. Playmaker is that the STC either get isolated or doesn't attack the box enough for me. However, playing two inside forwards semi-resolves the issue but just not enough goals for the risk. I prefer playing:

GK Sweeper (a)

Wingback (a) - Central Defender (d) - Ball Playing (d) - Wingback (a)

Ball Win (d) - Ball Win (s)

Winger (a) - Att Mid (a) - Winger (a)

Adv Fwd (a)

I use Liverpool so I am restricted for playmakers but Gerrard works well position Att Mid with his attributes but I'm finding that he is dropping to the Ball Win(s) poisiton with age. The Adv Fwd position may not be right for the formation and it may make more sense to use deeplying forward but Torres needs to be a Adv fwd. Most of the games I play I will be the favourite and this tactic works in that repect; the wingers pull wide to find space the wing back support. The extra space is made for the forward and att mid in the box for the cross or the pull back. The ball winning midfielders are not as defensive as it looks especially on support role.

I adapt my tactics for my opposition, eg shouts for densive line, width and ball retension. I don't use this formation in all games; in tough away game it would be risky to use my 4-2-3-1 so I drop the AMC for a DMC and use a narrow counter 4-1-2-3.

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@Peekay: Do you find your MC ball-winners frequently pull themselves out of position, leaving a gap in the middle, due to their higher closing down instructions? What have you observed defensively about this tactic? It seems like there are a lot of Attacking roles.

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@Peekay: Do you find your MC ball-winners frequently pull themselves out of position, leaving a gap in the middle, due to their higher closing down instructions? What have you observed defensively about this tactic? It seems like there are a lot of Attacking roles.

Ball winners out of poistion? Not as much as you would think. When the formation is set, like from a goal kick, then the basic shape is solid. When a ball winners will close down the other is close enough to cover. Also having two ball winning midfielder there is no reluctancy to close down the player with the ball. The ball winning midfielders will not close down a player if they are already being closed down so this stops anything silly happening.

I would say about 60% of the goals I conceed would be when the opposition plays past my midfield and attacks my centre backs directly. The formation uses a high defensive line and is vulnerable to pace. I have to keep a close eye on the opposing forwards and drop the defensive line if neccessary. The other goals I conceed come from corners/set plays. I put that down to having short players. I surprisingly conceed very few headed goals from crosses and very few long shots.

My philosophy for this tactic is to win the ball, keep the ball and score by flooding the box with players to score.

What roles would you suggest might work better that are currectly set to Attack?

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@Crouchy: funnily enough, I do knock them down to a mixed fwr setting, I'm not a great fan of often forward runs on any player really. A more attacking mentality just seems to make the amc more decisive and willing to take risks.

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What roles would you suggest might work better that are currectly set to Attack?

I didn't have any in mind, but was curious about your defensive stability with so many players making runs forward. It would make me nervous that I'd be hit on the counter time after time, but it sounds like you play a very high and aggressive defensive scheme that seems to work! I tend to play more conservatively, sitting back a bit and trying to take care defensively. I could probably stand to play a more expansively and aggressively on attack and defence. Thanks for sharing your approach!

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I tend to play more conservatively, sitting back a bit and trying to take care defensively. I could probably stand to play a more expansively and aggressively on attack and defence. Thanks for sharing your approach!

Do you use the midfielders in the DMC or MC positions?

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Do you use the midfielders in the DMC or MC positions?

That has been the dilemma and frustration of FM10! All the cool kids on the block play 4-2-3-1, but I have struggled to get it to be effective for me. The right positions and roles for the holding midfielders has eluded me. DMC vs MC.

The DMCs seem like they sit back too far and allow my opponent time on the ball to pick my defense apart. The MCs seem to get overrun and played through on opponent's counter. You really like the MCs version, eh? I haven't tried them as ball-winning holders yet, but will. I will try that in conjunction with a higher defensive line, to restrict that space.

I hope that I'm more successful in FM11. That's why I'm very interested in your experience and that of others in this thread.

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I believe having too high closing down on midfielders (whether MCs or DMCs) may actually be counter productive. You need to hold shape in the middle of the park, not to have them running around the pitch chasing the ball. Having two CMs and AMC with normal closing down and no roaming allowed, marking zonal, my team to keep defensive shape and force opponent to send the ball to the wings. Rarely they managed to get one through the middle.

I'm playing Shakhtar so the difference in class compared to the rest of the division is huge but I only conceded 2 goals in 12 matches.

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That has been the dilemma and frustration of FM10! All the cool kids on the block play 4-2-3-1, but I have struggled to get it to be effective for me. The right positions and roles for the holding midfielders has eluded me. DMC vs MC.

The DMCs seem like they sit back too far and allow my opponent time on the ball to pick my defense apart. The MCs seem to get overrun and played through on opponent's counter. You really like the MCs version, eh? I haven't tried them as ball-winning holders yet, but will. I will try that in conjunction with a higher defensive line, to restrict that space.

I hope that I'm more successful in FM11. That's why I'm very interested in your experience and that of others in this thread.

One persons "dilemma and frustration" is another person’s "flexible and versatile". The strength of the 4-2-3-1 is it can adjust to suit different styles of play. Think of Spain and Germany during the world cup, similar formations but different styles. That is why I asked you that question about the midfielders it gives me an idea how you have arranged your midfield to achieve your objectives. You told me “play more conservatively, sitting back a bit and trying to take care defensively” so I would use 2 DMC’s with a Deep-lying playmaker and an Anchorman. Also my experience with this is to drop the AMC to MC for better defence, why? The fundamental with all tactics is the balance between attacking play and defensive play. At the very basic level you can say “I’m going to use 8 players to defend and 3 to attack because I want to be cautious”. You need at least one player to press otherwise it “allows my opponent time on the ball to pick my defense apart” and if you are sitting back then the more players the opposition need to get through the better. The wingers and striker I would ask to wait for the direct pass and don’t get involve with defending too much. I would use Counter starting strategy. However, possession will not be good; longer the pass more chance of it failing

Do I really like the MC’s? Well they help me play the way I need to play which is “win the ball, keep the ball”. When using Liverpool I know that most of the teams will be playing on the counter against me and even more when I am at home so they will be playing a deep defensive line. The ME works out the “playing area” to be from my defensive line to the opponent’s defensive line. If both teams play deep then area is bigger so it is harder for me to win the ball because my players are further from opponent and it is harder for me to keep the ball with short passes because my players are further apart. I can control my defensive line and I can push up, making the playing area smaller so allows me to achieve my objectives.

I have rambled but I wanted to get my thought process into text; it might generate ideas from anyone reading.

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I believe having too high closing down on midfielders (whether MCs or DMCs) may actually be counter productive. You need to hold shape in the middle of the park, not to have them running around the pitch chasing the ball. Having two CMs and AMC with normal closing down and no roaming allowed, marking zonal, my team to keep defensive shape and force opponent to send the ball to the wings. Rarely they managed to get one through the middle.

I'm playing Shakhtar so the difference in class compared to the rest of the division is huge but I only conceded 2 goals in 12 matches.

Having two ball-winning midfielders does not result in two players chasing the ball. Also remember my defenders are pushed up so it the space created by a midfielder chasing the ball is reduce slightly. In the premiership, I have conceded 15 and scored 42 in 24 games with the 5th best team (media prediction).

I'll try to get a Youtube video of a match uploaded to show that it's not that bad

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@PeeKay - Great explanation of how your approach your tactic in different situations. Great advice on what I could look for to improve my 4-2-3-1 play. Thanks!

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Having two ball-winning midfielders does not result in two players chasing the ball. Also remember my defenders are pushed up so it the space created by a midfielder chasing the ball is reduce slightly. In the premiership, I have conceded 15 and scored 42 in 24 games with the 5th best team (media prediction).

I'll try to get a Youtube video of a match uploaded to show that it's not that bad

I said may be. I'm more than satisfied with my setup. I have conceded only 6 goals in 24 games (scored 60+), 4 of which were from set-pieces.

By having your team shaped like this

---------------AMC-----------------

----MC--------------------MC----

you're forcing opponents to send the ball to the flanks, where the opposing players is under pressure from your MC, FB and AM. That way your CBs don't have to deal with so many through balls but with an occasional cross or two. Since it's relatively easy to find strong and tall CBs, this isn't much of an issue, definitely not as much as through balls which require your CB's to be pacey, with good positioning and concentration.

Anyway, nice explanation, glad that your system works, too. I'm guessing that when playing high d-line your centre-backs need to be really good, to deal with through balls and pacey strikers. It depends a lot on players you have at your disposal...

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Just wondering if anyone has some experiences to share with an AMC as Advanced Playmaker attack in the 4-2-3-1.

I normally build my 4-2-3-1 around a deep-lying playmaker but I've been thinking of trying out the following with my current side:

GK (d)

FB/WB (auto) - CD (d) - CD (d) - FB/WB (auto)

Anc Man (d) - Def Mid (s)

W/IF (a) - Adv Play (a) - W/IF (a)

CF (s)

Anyone have anything to share regarding making the AM the focal point of the play like this? Mainly wondering what the contribution can be like from the right kind of player playing in the hole behind one striker?

I've tested this but not got the advanced playmaker in the AM slot to play to my satisfaction.

I think that I far prefer to have one of the DMs as the DLP.

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I think the 4-2-3-1 deep has become my favourite FM formation alongside the 4-3-1-2 formation (for the reasons laid out in the linked thread).

My set-up on FM tends to be something like this:

GK (d)

FB (auto) - CD (d) - CD (d) - WB (auto)

AncM (d) - DLP (s)

W (a) - AttM/IF (s/a)* - IF (a)

CF (s/a)*

The stars are there to indicate that I switch between a support/attack split or an attack/support split depending upon the quality of my strikers.

I tend to use a rigid philosophy, with zonal marking.

I'm a total convert to 4-2-3-1 and also to the cult of the deep-lying playmaker, which I think can be key in the 4-2-3-1. I like the solid 6 players in defence but I also love the fact that you can have four very attacking players in the attack. I think it's both solid and quite exciting going forward too. I love deploying a deep-lying playmaker at DM who dictates the tempo and plays plenty of through-balls to the attacking players. I tend to have one winger and one inside forward in the wide attacking midfield positions, with a wing back deployed behind the latter to add extra width and a normal fullback behind the winger.

I've had plenty of fun with this set-up on FM and so it has become one of my favourites now.

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*gasps in horror*

So crouchy... you've eventually joined the dark side and like myself, moved away from 4-4-2 eh!?! ;)

Thinking about it though, with the wide players, it's not such a great leap from a 4-4-2 variant really. A few versions ago, with various instructions, I managed to get a 4-4-2 formation to play like a 4-2-3-1.

Overall I like the flexibility of the shape offensively, whilst I also retain the defensive rigidity of four at the back and a defensive orientated midfielder sat in front of the centre-backs. The old "defensive triangle" I used to harp on about a few years ago, which I still try to use though.

Irrespective of using two DMC's or two MC's, one is always in the defensive role, whilst the other is in the support role.

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*gasps in horror*

So crouchy... you've eventually joined the dark side and like myself, moved away from 4-4-2 eh!?! ;)

I'm afraid it has been like that for quite some time now. :eek: On FM10, my main formations of choice have been 4-2-3-1 Deep and 4-3-1-2. The closest I've got to 4-4-2 is a 4-4-1-1 formation!

I still like the 4-4-2 when playing in the lower leagues but if I have suitable players, I often tend to prefer the numerical advantage of playing with more numbers in the middle of the park.

Thinking about it though, with the wide players, it's not such a great leap from a 4-4-2 variant really. A few versions ago, with various instructions, I managed to get a 4-4-2 formation to play like a 4-2-3-1.

Yes, I'm quite sure that's possible, and it's not such a giant leap away from 4-4-2 really, in terms of the fact that you're basically pushing up the wings, withdrawing a forward and playing with deeper lying midfield players.

Irrespective of using two DMC's or two MC's, one is always in the defensive role, whilst the other is in the support role.

Same here, although I nearly always use the two DMs. I quite like a DLP support alongside a purely defensive player.

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I'm afraid it has been like that for quite some time now.

...and I just realised I'd posted back on page one of this thread too. Was a while ago to be fair. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it :p

Shows how little time I've had to engage properly in some good debates over the last year, to my shame. Bloomin' work eh!

Same here, although I nearly always use the two DMs. I quite like a DLP support alongside a purely defensive player.

That's pretty much the same as me then. I am experimenting with a few different "role" combinations though. Currently I'm quite liking having two DLP's, one defensive, one support. Clearly the right attributes are essential (as with any role), but I'm quite enjoying the way the two similar, but different roles work together in the middle.

Experimenting with some of those roles and positions, with a combination of different types of player, attributes or PPM's, can produce some interesting results too. For example, in FM10 I had a DLP "Support", who watching in the match engine, you might think was playing in a box to box midfielder role.

Good stuff really and I think it's one of the reasons I particularly like the "shape" and flexibility of this formation and the possibilities it offers to experiment and play around with different settings, to get wildly actions from players. :)

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...and I just realised I'd posted back on page one of this thread too. Was a while ago to be fair. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it :p

Shows how little time I've had to engage properly in some good debates over the last year, to my shame. Bloomin' work eh!

I know. Real life really does get in the way of FM sometimes. :mad:

That's pretty much the same as me then. I am experimenting with a few different "role" combinations though. Currently I'm quite liking having two DLP's, one defensive, one support. Clearly the right attributes are essential (as with any role), but I'm quite enjoying the way the two similar, but different roles work together in the middle.

So which one is the primary playmaker then?

Experimenting with some of those roles and positions, with a combination of different types of player, attributes or PPM's, can produce some interesting results too. For example, in FM10 I had a DLP "Support", who watching in the match engine, you might think was playing in a box to box midfielder role.

I like 'comes deep to get the ball', 'stops play', 'tries through-balls'. I'm sure there are some others but I can't think now.

Good stuff really and I think it's one of the reasons I particularly like the "shape" and flexibility of this formation and the possibilities it offers to experiment and play around with different settings, to get wildly actions from players. :)

The only pain I find is where there are players who are pure MCs and who then need training to take up the DM or AM roles.

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thought i would throw my 2 cents in here although I don't have the tactical nouse of many on this forum (I often feel overawed when reading these threads tbh) but I have managed to make a reasonable go of using a 4231 with leeds. I use the 2 DMC, 1 MC, AMR & L version and thought I could add a bit from my own experience to this discussion......

I use very attacking brazil style wingbacks and have my AML/AMR set as inside forwards. I don't bother too much that they get caught too far upfield quite often because I have the fastest DC I have available to me set to cover and he chases the wide players who get behind my FB's out to wide areas. The trick to making this work is to have my non-playmaking DM set up to very low levels of closing down. I think where the system falls down is when you set up the 4231 and set one of your DM's to anchor man or defensive mid that the tactics creator sets the closing down way too high. I don't want him haring all over the pitch trying to make tackles, I want him falling back into the DC position when my cover DC sprints wide to cover the wide player who has got behind my attacking FB. If he has good positioning and heading and I set my closing down to low - he covers the middle and cuts out the majority of crosses that come in from those wide areas when my FB's get caught upfield - Its a bit of a Gilberto Silva role.

Also I am quite happy for my AML/R to stay high and not track back very much because when we win possession I have my 2 DM's - one is a deep playmaker and the other an anchor man but he can pass a bit too - look to launch to forward to catch out the other team in wide areas. I have all the rest of my back 4 set to very short passing so they invariably pass to one of my DM's who can hit it long Pirlo-style to my attacking three who have stayed high up the pitch.

I have the 1 MC set as a box-to-box and only push him to AMC position if we are desperately chasing a result and I have resorted to hoof and hope. This provides me with a ball winner in midfield who will chase around and close down as well as someone who can arrive late in the area - obvioulsy stamina and work rate are key here or they will die after about 50 min as they have a lot of territory to cover.

tbh I am not a big believer in the 4231 irl and would probably prefer to play something more fluid and attacking but have found that the 4231 works well with the limited players I have with leeds who tend to only be good at 1 or 2 things eg MC who can pass but can't run or tacklle or fullback who can cross but has terrible heading and positioning because I can give them highly specific roles within the team and thats all they have to do. I guess what I am saying is that a very rigid 4231 has been able to hide many of the weaknesses amongst my so-so group of players and allow them to achieve some successes.

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My set-up on FM tends to be something like this:

GK (d)

FB (auto) - CD (d) - CD (d) - WB (auto)

AncM (d) - DLP (s)

W (a) - AttM/IF (s/a)* - IF (a)

CF (s/a)*

Are you using a high defensive line with that to compress the gap between the DMCs and the AMs?

I've just started with this shape (with MCs at the moment, but that could change), a tactic set thrown together half way through a seaon, and it's doing OK. So for the new season I'll make a set from scratch. FM9 I used solely 451, and with '10 solely 41212 - and for this years game I can see me using this 4231.

Because I just use the DL suggested by the TC I think I'll start by having the MCs on a relatively low closing down setting.

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I'm playing with spurs and I'm having a problem with my 4-2-3-1. I'm playing with 2 CMs, AML/R and AMC. The problem is, I'm struggling to get my central midfielders into the game. They rarely have more than 30 passes, even when I'm dominating. So any tips, on how to get my deep lying playmaker to move around the pitch and dictate tempo in Modric/Xavi style.

So any suggestions on strategy etc. would be helpful.

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For my 4-2-3-1 formation I tweak all the instructions for my roles barring the 20 notch sliders, so I can use the different match strategies to adjust global mentality, closing down, passing directness etc. to affect general aggressiveness of my football without disturbing my specific preferred style and preferrered tactical options.

Anyone have anything to share regarding making the AM the focal point of the play like this? Mainly wondering what the contribution can be like from the right kind of player playing in the hole behind one striker?

The AM is without a doubt the key to this formation. Player choice can have a radical influence on the type of performance from your AM and therefore the entire style and pattern of your attacking play. In my experience the most crucial element in the game for a player in the AM slot to perform as a focal point of the attack is his Teamwork attribute. High Teamwork is what distinguishes a builder and constructor of team moves from a mere Second Striker. Clearly closely related to this is Creativity, a players ability to see options. Regardless of Tactical Instructions, high Creativity and high Teamwork is what produces the core ability of a Playmaker.

I had great success playing Berbatov behind Rooney in a 4-2-3-1. Berbatov has the abilities of a playmaker and a forward while Rooney is slightly more biased towards being a Striker. The combinations of Teamwork between these two players produced excellent link up play and for several seasons they sliced defences apart.

The instructions I use for my AMC are the Attacking Midfielder Attack role, giving high levels of Mentality and Creative Freedom with Mixed Passing, in conjunction to these I use the instructions RFD Mixed, RWB Mixed, Long Shots Rare, TTB Mixed, Crossing Rare and Roaming ticked. This effectively gives my AMC the instructions make runs when it is a good option and to balance throughballs and dribbiling with a normal passing game. In short I give my AMC the freedom to make the best options according to his abilities and I restrict none of his Creativity. If he thinks a chipped throughball is the right option, I don't tell him otherwise.

This "theory" of balancing options to enable players to play according to their intelligence is something that applies throughout my entire side. The only instructions I move away from Mixed are those instructions my players are poor at such as Crossing because my side is not the best at crossing and is poor in the air upfront. My striker, wingers and AMC all have RFD Mixed, TTB Mixed, RWB Mixed and huge quantities of Creative Freedom. This style of play requires particular players, players with Creativity, Flair, Decisions, Teamwork, Off The Ball and plenty of technical accuracy. It produces some immense attacking play, but rarely of an individual variety. I rely upon the ability of my players to open up teams with passing and movement throughout my attacking unit.

The right AMC is crucial. He is the fulcrum of this play and should be blessed with immense levels of Creativity, Teamwork, Decisions, Flair. Since Berbatov has started to decline I have opted for Mesut Ozil to play in the hole.

That has been the dilemma and frustration of FM10! All the cool kids on the block play 4-2-3-1, but I have struggled to get it to be effective for me. The right positions and roles for the holding midfielders has eluded me. DMC vs MC.

The DMCs seem like they sit back too far and allow my opponent time on the ball to pick my defense apart. The MCs seem to get overrun and played through on opponent's counter. You really like the MCs version, eh? I haven't tried them as ball-winning holders yet, but will. I will try that in conjunction with a higher defensive line, to restrict that space.

I hope that I'm more successful in FM11. That's why I'm very interested in your experience and that of others in this thread.

I use the MC version. Defensively speaking you can never get tired of players with high Anticipation and Positioning with the ability to win headers in the MC slot. Players like this will be able to nip in first before the opponents to nick the ball and generally dominate the pitch whenever there is a threat of a counter from the opponent. Liberal quantities of Acceleration and Pace to help recover if a player gets past your midfield is another major asset.

My CM's are effectively Centrebacks with high Creativity and Passing ability to distribute the ball around well. I may sometimes opt for a less defensively able CM but then you do notice a reduced defensive solidity of your midfield, so it's a matter of choice. That's the nature of the system though.

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tbh I am not a big believer in the 4231 irl and would probably prefer to play something more fluid and attacking but have found that the 4231 works well with the limited players I have with leeds who tend to only be good at 1 or 2 things eg MC who can pass but can't run or tacklle or fullback who can cross but has terrible heading and positioning because I can give them highly specific roles within the team and thats all they have to do. I guess what I am saying is that a very rigid 4231 has been able to hide many of the weaknesses amongst my so-so group of players and allow them to achieve some successes.
Formations are a lot more neutral than you think. You can use a rigid 4-2-3-1 with lots of defensive power like your leeds side and the holland side of the past WC, but you can also use a more fluid 4-2-3-1 which can produce some amazing attacking football like Arsenal and the modern Ajax. There's only two constants in a 4-2-3-1 (if it's the wide variant):

1. The AMC is the focal point in attack and is crucial to how your team functions.

2. Because of the shape of the team, you're vulnerable in wide areas and secure in the centre.

And the second point is even debatable. For the rest, it's all about what players in what roles with which duties you use that determines how your team works.

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When I've seen 4-2-3-1 recently in real-life matches, I've noted how often it is actually closer to this shape in the centre of the pitch:

DM - DM

MC

The truth is maybe close to the fact that, in real life, the deeper lying midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 blur the distinction between the DM and MC position, while the more attacking central midfield player blurs the distinction between MC and AM.

It's part of the frustration of 4-2-3-1 on FM for me. None of the options look right to me really.

The version with MC - MC / AMR - AMC - AML just looks wrong to me. Ditto the MC - MC / AMC - AMC - AMC version.

The version with DM - DM / AMR - AMC - AML might be quite close but I don't feel that the wings position themselves very well horzitonally or vertically, and I have the feeling that the AMC should be deeper.

The version with DM - DM / MC / AMR - AML may actually be a bit closer to what I have witnessed in some recent games.

To be honest though, I just don't think any of them look quite right to me.

It's something that is putting me off using the 4-2-3-1 in Football Manager. I don't think the rigid match engine positions help at all.

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Agreed. The double pivot always has a staggered shape, just doesn't work out very well in the match engine.

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When I've seen 4-2-3-1 recently in real-life matches, I've noted how often it is actually closer to this shape in the centre of the pitch:

DM - DM

MC

This is how I set my teams up. It ensures for me that I have a player in each strata of the pitch, aiding build up play and creating passing options all over the pitch. My two wingers are not traditional "CROSS THE BALL" types though, they play quite narrow and support the striker, while the MC is an all round player capable of dictating player and also working effectively in defense. The full back always provides the width for me in this formation but like the wingers I don't wish for them to cross (my ST is nine times out ten a small lad) so they are there to simply give options if the middle of the pitch becomes to crowded.

I think that the use of free roles and high creative freedom in attacking areas is important to the 4-2-3-1.

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This is how I set my teams up. It ensures for me that I have a player in each strata of the pitch, aiding build up play and creating passing options all over the pitch. My two wingers are not traditional "CROSS THE BALL" types though, they play quite narrow and support the striker, while the MC is an all round player capable of dictating player and also working effectively in defense. The full back always provides the width for me in this formation but like the wingers I don't wish for them to cross (my ST is nine times out ten a small lad) so they are there to simply give options if the middle of the pitch becomes to crowded.

I think that the use of free roles and high creative freedom in attacking areas is important to the 4-2-3-1.

Well done!

@SFraser

You are one of a kind.

Thank you

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