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tomtuck01

Three Defensive Midfielders.........is it as defensive as it sounds?

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yeah i seen that he had that PPM after i wrote comment, so lowered creative freedom and he hasnt done it as much, i have strrugled to create as many chances in the first game but still havent lost and have concedeed all my goals from crosses??

Well conceding goals from crosses is surely to do with your central defenders not winning the ball in the air, or fullbacks not defending doing enough to stop the cross? Not particularly an issue with the tactical set up.

Try looking at how those goals are conceded. Are the oppositions wingers getting too much space to cross? Is it the opposite winger getting too much space against your other fullback to score? Etc, etc.

Good to hear you've found a bit of a solution to the Robben issue. :)

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Great to see someone uses the same formation than me! I play classic and failed to get a 4-2-3-1 working so half way through my first season I just withdrew my central attacking mifielder and placed him between the two defensive midfielders to make exactly the same formation you use. However I left his mentality and closing down on exactly the same as the two wide attacking midfielders so despite his deep positioning he does get forward. Have all on rare forward runs as well bar the striker and play counter attacking. It won't quite work unless I play counter. The opposition usually has quite a few attempts but they are mostly long shots. Have won the League Cup two years in a row with West Ham so it's a pretty solid formation. It's just a pity that's it's tough in this game to have defensive cover with a flat 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 which I prefer. However I am using this as a template right now to try and develop a 4-4-2 but with two deep lying midfielders rathe3r that flat.

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Great to see someone uses the same formation than me! I play classic and failed to get a 4-2-3-1 working so half way through my first season I just withdrew my central attacking mifielder and placed him between the two defensive midfielders to make exactly the same formation you use. However I left his mentality and closing down on exactly the same as the two wide attacking midfielders so despite his deep positioning he does get forward. Have all on rare forward runs as well bar the striker and play counter attacking. It won't quite work unless I play counter. The opposition usually has quite a few attempts but they are mostly long shots. Have won the League Cup two years in a row with West Ham so it's a pretty solid formation. It's just a pity that's it's tough in this game to have defensive cover with a flat 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 which I prefer. However I am using this as a template right now to try and develop a 4-4-2 but with two deep lying midfielders rathe3r that flat.

This is what I have found mostly. Though the stats say the opposition have had plenty of attempts, when you look closer alot of them are either from outside the box or from set pieces. If you are set up well on set pieces, then that is not much of an issue.

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What are people's thoughts on playing a natural CM with attributes favorable as a being a DM even when they are not natural in DM. I notice a player such as this has a high star rating from the assistant as a CM and very low star rating as a DM, but considering it is a similar position I think maybe I place a too high stock with players 'natural' positioning?

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Porto were the creators of 3 DM's and won the Champions League.

They didn't create it, Alfredo Aglietti was using it at reserve and youth levels. And there are some managers abroad who have used it since the early 90's and some go back as far as 70's.

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Porto were the creators of 3 DM's and won the Champions League.

You mean the Porto side that set up its midfield like this;

Costinha

Mendes Maniche

Deco

I see a midfield diamond, but don't see the three DM's there. :confused:

What are people's thoughts on playing a natural CM with attributes favorable as a being a DM even when they are not natural in DM. I notice a player such as this has a high star rating from the assistant as a CM and very low star rating as a DM, but considering it is a similar position I think maybe I place a too high stock with players 'natural' positioning?

I have ued natural AMC's in the DM roles, so don't see a problem with it at all. :D

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What are people's thoughts on playing a natural CM with attributes favorable as a being a DM even when they are not natural in DM. I notice a player such as this has a high star rating from the assistant as a CM and very low star rating as a DM, but considering it is a similar position I think maybe I place a too high stock with players 'natural' positioning?
I'm trailing cesc as a DMV as well as inestea. I feel both will be able to cover the DMV role

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What are people's thoughts on playing a natural CM with attributes favorable as a being a DM even when they are not natural in DM. I notice a player such as this has a high star rating from the assistant as a CM and very low star rating as a DM, but considering it is a similar position I think maybe I place a too high stock with players 'natural' positioning?

Well I play Mark Noble, Jeremy Toulalan and James Tomkins there and I'm 5th in the League. Retrained Noble and Tomkins but still on look out for a couple of top class DM's.

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I'm sorry I haven't done anything else in this thread for a while guys.

As those of you who have read the thread through will know I am not just experimenting with a system, but actually trying to make it work in my current career save. Or rather I was. In my save I have moved clubs, from Manchester City to their biggest rivals, Mancheter United.

When I joined in the summer of 2022 there weren't the type of players at the club required to play this three DM's system without a massive overhaul of the playing staff. Of course seen as this is my actual save and not just an experiement, I wasn't going to do that as it would have risked how the club did due to having so many new players at the club at once.

I am now approaching the end of the current season, and hopefully with some more transfers in and out over the summer I will be able to get the players in to use this sytem again in preseason/early next season.

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I'm sorry I haven't done anything else in this thread for a while guys.

As those of you who have read the thread through will know I am not just experimenting with a system, but actually trying to make it work in my current career save. Or rather I was. In my save I have moved clubs, from Manchester City to their biggest rivals, Mancheter United.

When I joined in the summer of 2022 there weren't the type of players at the club required to play this three DM's system without a massive overhaul of the playing staff. Of course seen as this is my actual save and not just an experiement, I wasn't going to do that as it would have risked how the club did due to having so many new players at the club at once.

I am now approaching the end of the current season, and hopefully with some more transfers in and out over the summer I will be able to get the players in to use this sytem again in preseason/early next season.

Dangerous move there Tom ;) do the fans not all hate you now.

Fair enough with the lack of updates, its understandable really. I look forward to the next one though :)

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Excellent read this, great thread.

As soon as I saw the formation, I thought of how good this would be for Newcastle - with Cabaye and Tiote you already have two quality players for the DM roles (Danny Guthrie could do a job until you buy someone else). Now they have Debuchy, he and Santon can bomb forward with the support of the DMs. You could have Demba Ba on the left, either cutting in or moving into the channels and a right winger hugging the touchline, crossing to the far post where Ba would hopefully isolate the left full back. Or have Ben Arfa on the right, roaming in onto his left foot. With a couple of key signings you could have a title-chasing side.

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Excellent read this, great thread.

As soon as I saw the formation, I thought of how good this would be for Newcastle - with Cabaye and Tiote you already have two quality players for the DM roles (Danny Guthrie could do a job until you buy someone else). Now they have Debuchy, he and Santon can bomb forward with the support of the DMs. You could have Demba Ba on the left, either cutting in or moving into the channels and a right winger hugging the touchline, crossing to the far post where Ba would hopefully isolate the left full back. Or have Ben Arfa on the right, roaming in onto his left foot. With a couple of key signings you could have a title-chasing side.

Thanks for the positive feedback dude. It's very much appreciated. :thup:

I just wish that at the minute I had more to add. In my save right now I simply don't have the players available at my current club to play this system. :(

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Have you noted much with your full backs? I feel they are just as vital as the DM's in providing the ball to the forwards. The WB setting is perfect to make them into genuine passing options. If you do go back and have a look I would be interested to see what you come back with.

I am currently in January 2017 as Dortmund. My DM's are set as Regen - Yttergard Jenssen - Sven Bender with my full backs as Sime Vrsaljko and Marcos Rojo supported by two regens. The two full backs are operating as follows:

Sime Vrsaljko

23(2) matches

1 Goal

2 Assists

5.82 tackles per match

79% passing completion ratio

7.29 Average rating

Passing averages 32.44/40.68 per match

Marcos Rojo

14(2) matches

1 Goal

0 Assists

6.38 tackles per match

83% passing completion ratio

7.15 Average rating

Passing averages 31.56/37.94 per match

The other full back supporting Rojo is also worth looking at:

Regen LB

13(2) matches

1 Goal

2 Assists

7.05 tackles per match

80% passing completion ratio

7.50 Average rating

Passing averages 32.67/40.80 per match

The last bloke has played a lot more lower games than Rojo. The RB support is two MC's retrained as a RB's. I went down this path before changing to the 3xDM formation but I think having MC's in the WB roles will further help this formation. One has 14 passing and lower mental stats to the other who has 17 passing. The 17 passing is currently out on loan for gametime but will take over from Vrsaljko for the next season. I also have a 19 year old LB with 16 passing so he may end up taking over from Rojo in the future.

I think passing from the full backs is as key as it is by the DM's.

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nick1408

You are right, the fullbacks are vitally important.

The way I see it, with them on either duty, (support or attack), they bridge the gap at times between everyone else, (defenders and three DM's), and the front three (AML/R, STC), as the DM's are busy defending the middle ground. More often than not my fullbacks were the highest passers in the team when I was using the formation on a regular basis.

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I keep them on support but may move to attacking later on. Were your full backs on attacking when they led the passing?

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I keep them on support but may move to attacking later on. Were your full backs on attacking when they led the passing?

They were usually set to "Wingback - support".

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I keep them on support but may move to attacking later on. Were your full backs on attacking when they led the passing?
They were usually set to "Wingback - support".

As were mine. you mentyioned you switched them to attack. What situation made you change?

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As were mine. you mentyioned you switched them to attack. What situation made you change?

It would be against sides who were from the middle of table or lower, and if they weren't using AML/R's. Even against the lesser sides, you'd be massively exposed if asking your LB and RB to attack when playing against AML/R's.

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Well after a long time without being able to post tactical analysis of this formation because of a change of clubs in my save, I have decided to start using it again when necessary.

Some of you may know if you have read my thread in the Careers ection of the forum that in my save I am now manager of Manchester United after making the switch across town from Manchester City. I'm at the start of my fourth season, (August 2025), at the club and after some gradual changes to the squad this formation is now able to be used.

--------------------

The game I have taken the following screenies and observations from is the third game of the season away against Watford. This is their seventh season in a row in the Premier League, and they have progressed into a solid midtable club over the past six seasons. They have even taken a few points off us during my time at United.

In this game we ran out comfortable 4-0 winners, somewhat surprising as at the end of last season we could only manage a sneaky 1-0 win. What I want to highligh here is the usual sort of thigs. First, the average positions/heatmap;

unitedvswatfordposmap.png

The player circled played the last 22mins, and the player with the cross through only came on in 89th min.

The avgerage positions are all fairly routine in comparison to the other screenies I have posted ike this, but look at the DMLC who is starred in yellow. He is very much advanced of the other two DM's. In the course of the game he covered more ground than any of my other players (11.8km). He made the most amount of attempted tackles (10, 7 completed), and also managed a goal and an assist. Every single one of his Player Instructions is set to default, with the exception of "Forward Runs" which is set to "Often". By doing this he is able to break forward more while the other DM's hold their positions and influence things like he did in this game. This is a crucial role in the system.

As always I like to highlight where both teams are taking their shots at goal from. The idea of the three DM's is to limit the space for the oppositions attacking players, thus resulting in them having to take shots from long range. As defensive as the system seems, my teams still managed to make plenty of scoring chances in advanced areas of the pitch.

bothteamattemptsvswatfo.png

The screenshot on the left shows Watford's attempts at goal. Altogether they had nine shots at goal, five of which came from outside the box, (I'm well aware two of them are from just outside the box!), and three of those five coming from well outside the 'D' and/or at an angle. This is down to the system is meant to do - limit the space for the oppositions CM's/AM's to work in, resulting in pot shots at goal from range.

Our chances in the right screenshot on the other hand shows that our attempts are much more concerntrated in or just on the edge of the penalty. Only one came from further out than the 'D'. A whole clump of our chances came from left of the penalty spot, and that was down to the inter-play of the AML, the STC, and the DMLC getting forward, which kind of leads me to the next screenshot.........

treqpassesvswatford.png

The above is a screenshot of my STC's, (deployed as a "Trequartista"), passes made in the game. Altogether he made 27 passes, 26 of which were completed. As I pointed out earlier, my DMLC got forward very well and was involved in alot of play with the STC and the AML, and this is reflected in the screenshot - all but seven of the STC's passes were made from the left hand side of the pitch, and of those twenty just one went to the right. The inter-play between the three of the them was so effective that the AML scored two and assisted one, the STC scored one, (albeit a penalty), and assisted one, and the DMLC also scored one and assited one. Definitely something to keep and eye on and develop.

As always I like to post some thughts on my DMC, my playmaker. In this game he wasn't particularly effective as the playmaker; he attempted 38 passes but only 27 of them were completed. He did however get an assist.

Here is his passes/interceptions screenshot;

unitedvswatforddmcinter.png

On the right you can see the passes the player made. Although his completion rate of 71.1% wasn't great, he was atleast trying to influence the play in the right area of the field. The screenshot on the left show his interceptions, and in this game his defensive work was vital. Altogeter he made eight interceptions, but he made four of them in a crucial area of the field - where the oppoitions AMC likes to influence the game from.

As I have stressed a few times, the DMC might be my playmaker and crucial to things on an attacking front, but what he does defensively, especially when the opposition deploys an AMC, he is a vital part of the system.

Conclusions

It didn't prove to be the toughest game, but I feel that was down to how the system worked. At the end of last season when we beat them 1-0 I used a 4-1-2-2-1 formation and we were quite fortunate to win. The switch of formation in this game really made a big difference.

The inter-play between the DMCL, AML, and STC was very encouraging to see aswell. It was also something I hadn't noticed too much before, and hopefully it will continue to flourish.

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You know when you initially made this topic I was truly riveted by the shape and how unorthodox it was. For a year in my 2nd season with Arsenal I used it but I no longer play my arsenal save but I should say that it was quite successful . My main DM trio for this shape was : Bender , Wilshere , Song . I played Wilshere there since you mentioned and I realized that the most central DM usually has the most space and time on the ball and gets the loose balls .So I wanted someone who could of made good use of all the good stuff , so I choose Wilshere. What I really liked is how impenetrable it was and how defensively secure it was , even teams like Barca would struggle to really get much clear chances and eventually would settle for long shots. In my opinion it also was good for counter attacking. I've seen my team make opportunities on the break with this tactic. Thank you for sharing and the analysis was exceptional as well.

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Excellent to see you back TomTuck, looking forward to more updates. Really enjoyed this thread and a three defensive mid tactic is now always my hold out a 1-0 win in the last 10/20 minutes. It pretty much completely restricts the oppososition from creating anything :) excellent work

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TomTuck, are you still working on this tactic? I am surprised it didn't take off more but I guess the lack of attacking players may have turned people off.

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TomTuck, are you still working on this tactic? I am surprised it didn't take off more but I guess the lack of attacking players may have turned people off.

I haven't been no.

As I said a few times it wasn't a case of me experimenting with a tactical system, rather just finding a system to win within my save. I'm now in 2027 and at still Manchester United as I was when I last updated, but with them I use a 4-4-2 system more often than not so there isn't much to really go on unfortunately. :(

I agree with you as to why the thread didn't really take off - nearly every tactic posted is based on teams attacking and scoring loads of goals, not defending for dear life like Chelsea in last years Champions League!

If I do use the tactic again, I will of course post about it in as much detail as previously.

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I tended to retrain my attacking midfielders to be the DML as it really gave another scoring option. Having someone like Cesc Fabregas or Inestia at Barcelona playing in that position really works well. So long as the tackling is above about 7 they hold their own. While playing at Melbourne Victory I played Harry Kewell in the DML position with great success.

The way I see it is a usual AMC can (and in some situations, shoud) be used in the DML spot. He moves himself up the ground far more often than a creative DM.

I'm back to my Dortmund game so don't have the natural attackers to put in the DML but Leitner or Gundogan will be my DML in the coming season (2012/18)

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Just found this thread after creating exactly the same shape with my Toulouse side, although I have used different starting roles and tweaked the TC heavily.

I agree that it's a great shape to use to balance defensive strength through the middle with the ability to break forward in numbers. If you get the instructions right and, even better, have players with conducive PPM's then it can really be an excellent tactic to use.

My own tactic has been posted on my blog here if anyone is interested but tomtuck01 has provided an excellent summary of it's strengths here.

Incidentally, this is the second time tonight that I've linked to my blog in this section. Not really sure on the decorum here, is that allowed? Promise it's not a spamming exercise, Cleon (honest!!). Just had some extra time to browse and found some similar topics today. Anyway, let us know if it's not "the done thing". Ta.

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This is my favourite tactic I have played. It works effortlessy in most leagues. Only issue is the Asian continental sides keep beating my Melbourne Victory side in the ACL.

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Trying this formation with Arsenal, I have Wilshere and Sami Khedeira as the outer DMC's and Arteta as the playmaker.

Pretty much resembles a diamond in the midfield area with both outer DMC's getting forward so much.

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I've read this through at least three times and I don't see what I'm missing.

Even playing significantly inferior opposition, I'm losing the possession battle every game. I should never see the game text say "Bolton are taking the game to Man Utd." They're getting through for good chances far too often compared with tomtuck's results and I'm not creating anywhere near the quality of chances, despite having attackers who are plenty good enough. I look at the analysis tab and I watch segments of the match on full, the rest extended (I can't watch all full as it takes too long). I make any adjustments I see but I can't fix what I can't identify!

My best guess is there's something amiss with my players, especially the midfielders. But I don't see why the players I have can't do the job. Can someone please explain specifically what each midfielder is doing and what skills are needed to fill the roles?

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I think it would be more beneficial to advise what I am looking for, rather than pick apart what I have. That will give me something to build toward.

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I think it would be more beneficial to advise what I am looking for, rather than pick apart what I have. That will give me something to build toward.

If talking about United players at the club at the start of the game, you have three perfect player for the DM roles already.

Carrick should be the central DM - he will sit deep and look to dictate play. The right sided DM would be Darren Fletcher. He will support the attack and break forward into spaces when the chance arises. The left DM would be Anderson. He breaks forward and looks to make things happen, supplying through balls, etc, for the wide men and striker.

The onl thing really changed is the left DM's Forward Runs, which is set to "Often". Aside from that, settings can just be left on default. Depending on how you want to play, creative freedon, mentality, etc, can be changed as you desire.

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The way I look at it is an AMC on the left, a DM with creativity, flair and passing in the centre and a CM on the right that can tackle. I have played this in a few saves. The players I have used are:

DMr

Fellaini

Sven Bender

Kehl

Mariga

Leigh Broxham

Sandro

DMc

Sven Bender

Jimmy Jeggo

Jack Rodwell

Diogo Ferreira

Gundogan

Sandro

DMl

Jimmy Jeggo

Harry Kewell

Gundogan

Leitner

Tim Cahill

Ganso

As you can see, some players I have used in a couple of positions but this is more to do with how I want to play. I see the right as more defensive and the left as more attacking. Generally, you won't see a player switch from left to right or vice-versa but depending on how I feel it is common for a player to switch from the left or right to the centre.

Also, don't forget the full backs. They offer a lot of passing options themselves. It was not uncommon for Leighton Baines to be seeing more of the ball than my midfielders (as I posted earlier).

Finally, it took me a LONG time to get the team to gell. Make sure you get 8-10 good quality friendlies. I'm not talking Man Utd versus Vauxhall, I'm talking Man Utd versus Betis, Sochaux, Freiburg or Catania. Teams that will test but you should beat

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Ah, so it's me. Not surprising. The common demoninator in all my failures is me. So the best way to fix my team in FM is to not play.

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I have been using this 3 DM setup to create a 3-3-3-1 formation (GK, DR-DC-DL, DMCR-DMC-DMCL, AMR-AMC-AML, SC).... It is still a short passing control based setup which creates some of the best football i've seen on FM. I'm still struggeling with the defensive side which struggles against high pressing 4-4-2 or flat 4-5-1 but that is due to my wide 3-back defense which needs some more tweaking. The attacking force of the formation is brutal and if you get the roles right then you'll see your outside DM's run beautifully into the box and tapping in easy goals crafted by the 4 creative attackers.... what a joy to watch :) My experience so far is that you need players in front of the 3 DM's to create space and width for them to make their attacking runs. The DMC in the middle acts as an anchor man but starts the attacks with intelligent and easy passes.

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Porto were the creators of 3 DM's and won the Champions League.

The first true formation was 3 DMs. The Pyramid had two more defensive players with a central one that played as a box-to-box type attacking defender who then morphed into the original Regista before becoming a central defender.

The 3-DM system can actually allow you to not have WB/FB is you want and still be decently sound defensively. It's a good way of retaining possession and depending on the instructions and players used can also be devastating in attack as well.

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Tom, I may have missed it earlier in the thread but did you try a DLF Attack in the striker position?

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Tom, I may have missed it earlier in the thread but did you try a DLF Attack in the striker position?

I always just used a Trequartista.

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I'm taking this into FM13 so will have to see how to work it there

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Did a game with it just now, newcastle (me) against southampton, i scored 3 goals in the first 20 minutes, hat-trick from my striker cissé, thought the tactic was working wonders since newcastle got 3 good DM's, then southampton scored, 3-1 by the end of the half, then everyone became ******** and i lost the game 3-5 lol. No tackles, poor covering, i just don't know, this new engine.. i've conceded goals that were just plain stupid. Our area is flooded with people but it's some midget that gets the header while everyone just sits there. No tactic is working for me so far in terms of defense.

Then again this was a single test, players not used to the tactic at all, i'll still try a couple more matches but i'm not seeing this working so well as far as defense goes

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I'm having a lot of trouble getting this to work. I've tried Melbourne Victory, Everton, Dortmund and England. England gave me my only success. The DM's retreat too far into their own area without closing down attackers. I am going to move them into the MC positions with the same instructions, except the defensive midfielder. He will become a BWM. I haven't decided on if he will be a support or defense role yet. I'll work that out later and report back

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I'm having a lot of trouble getting this to work. I've tried Melbourne Victory, Everton, Dortmund and England. England gave me my only success. The DM's retreat too far into their own area without closing down attackers. I am going to move them into the MC positions with the same instructions, except the defensive midfielder. He will become a BWM. I haven't decided on if he will be a support or defense role yet. I'll work that out later and report back

This in FM13? Haven't got it myself yet as I haven't downloaded the demo and didn't preorder for beta.

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This in FM13? Haven't got it myself yet as I haven't downloaded the demo and didn't preorder for beta.

Fep, FM13. The change from DM to MC has done the trick early. The DMr became a BWMr (Defend) but I changed the creative freedom to match the DMr default CF. The other two stayed the same. First game against Stuttgart I drew 1-1 with an own goal for the,m, second I won 4-0 against HSV. I will still be trying to sign the same type of players with the hope of working out how to move them back to their DM positions but I really need to find out how to make all three players not drop so deep when in the DM positions.

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0-3 win against Frankfurt. The BWM has scored in the previous two games (one Kehl, one Bender) with late runs into the box and a shot from 18 yards out. I am happy with the move. I have found with FM13 the players with defensive roles of duties will sit deeper but the more attacking oes will move further up the field.

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Well, due to injuries I had to switch to a 4-2-3-1 for a while but January signings have led me back to the 4-3-2-1 3xCM. In January I picked up Dzagoev, Kara, Yttergard Jenssen, Wellington Nem, Anderson (Man Utd.), Will Hughes (to play LB) and Sebastian Jung. I felt I was two players light in midifeld and when Leitner got injured it was a struggle to get 3 CM's. I have obvisually strengthened the CM position now and have the following cover:

BWMd -

Bender

Kara

Kehl

DLP (Both d and s)-

Anderson

Gundogan

Yttergard Jenssen

Dzagoev

Leitner

Anderson as the DLPd I can't recommend enough. against Furth he got 85 passes (77 completed) in his second game for me. Gundogan and Bender in the two wider CM positions are still coming from deep to score goals.

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Might this be an indication that CMs play proper defense now? And that we don't have to slot them back into DM to make them work right?

nick, are you seeing opponents restricted to long shots only, akin to what was seen on FM12?

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I haven't really noticed anything like that but I will keep an eye on it now.

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Might this be an indication that CMs play proper defense now? And that we don't have to slot them back into DM to make them work right?

yes they do 100%. CMs work very well defensively now, especially with a defensive role. DMs on the other hand drop really fast really deep now, which is quite nice too i think and leads to really nice new possibilities. This is a fine change since in the database pretty much any real central/defensive midfielder can play both positions anyway (despite some CB / DM combinations which now even make more sense)

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One game since the question about where shots are coming from (against Wolfsburg) and it was roughly half inside box, half outside. The upside was there was only one clear cut chance from inside the box and two half chances from outside the box.

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A bit more on shots from the opposition; the shots they get in the box tend to be from wide positions anyway. They seem to be able to create space for a through ball between the LB and the CB. These roles are WBs and CBc so I will switch the CB to a CBd and see if it stops these wide chances. Only one team has really hurt me wide and that has been Juventus

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