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Southampton Advice. 4-2-3-1 Deep

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This will be my last save on FM14, using FMC, I've really taken to this format of the game, much quicker, skips through a lot of the things that don't really interest me, and allows me to focus on tactics. Do miss the analysis tab, and the tutoring, but anyway that's another story.

I chose Southampton mainly because their squad seems to suit the shape I want to use. I wanted to use a Premier League team from the off, rather than doing my usual trying to get a team promoted through the leagues, and Southampton seemed a good fit. They have a decent starting 11, but not a lot beyond that. Probably got enough funds to buy a couple of players, desperately need a left back as Shaw is pretty much it, and a center back as cover too, that will probably be my lot.

I had a little advice from Cleon on another thread, but I wanted to start a thread to pick a few brains for some ideas. I have a general idea of what I want to do, but am caught in two minds over certain things, so any advice will be much appreciated.

Squad Analysis

As I said, Southampton don't have a big squad, and I am going to have to hope I don't get to many injuries, I notice Lallana is injury prone from his report, this could prove problematic, but anyway I am going to focus on the first 11 here.

First thing of note to me, Southampton have 2 very quick full backs in Shaw and Clyne, with attacking PPMs to boot. Clyne having watched him in several friendlies actually plays almost like a winger from deep, probably down to his ppms, which include knocks ball past opponent. Shaw is very attacking too, but not so much so as Clyne from observations, Clyne is far more likely to head down to the byline and try and cross the ball, where as Shaw will generally get forward a lot, but will try and find a pass as much as he tries to cross the ball.

I feel it is important to use these to their maximum potential, so am probably going to go with 2 attacking full backs/wing backs, this should be less problematic having 2 DMC's more about that in a moment.

Southampton have a nice little attacking quartet with Lambert, Ramirez, Lallana, and less so Rodriguez , with Ward-Prowse and Steven Davis having to play a part too. No world beaters by any means, but some useful players all the same, that can cause problems. Selecting the right roles for them to compliment each other is going to be key, there are a lot of ppms involved here too, and they will be needed to take in to consideration.

The center of defence is decent, but quite slow, so going to have to be careful about how high I can push up, even though we have lightning fast full backs, they are going to be quite attacking. In the DM slots, we have Wanyama, and Schneiderlin, both look very useful players indeed, but also have some disturbing ppms for the kind of roles I want them to play, although they could come in useful too. There is also Jack Cork who looks like he is decent cover at the moment, not sure if he will improve or not.

The Idea

The general idea, and this is very simplistic at the moment, it's by no means a masterpiece, but then again simple is often better, is to keep the team shape as much as possible in defence, I don't want my team pressing to hard and getting pulled all over the place. I'm not too concerned with playing neat football in the defensive 3rd , I want to get the ball forward quickly too the attacking quartet, so they can do their work. I think a neutral or more defensive mentality is going to be best, as I don't want my players to get forward too quickly, id rather they had room to work in when the ball gets in to the attacking phase. I also don't want my defensive players (other than the wing backs) getting to much out of position.

Having 2 players in the DM slots, should help negate the fact my wing backs will be getting forward, I am a little worried about the gap between DM and my attacking quartet, but Cleon gave me some advice regarding this, pushing the defence higher up, which in turn should push the defensive midfielders forward. Using a lowish mentality should ensure they don't get too high. I also intend to be quite direct getting it forward, so the gap shouldn't be that much of an issue. Which Philosophy to use is a thing that I have been thinking about a lot. I am torn between Rigid, which means the DM should cover the defensive and transition phase, and then the attacking players are responsible for transition and attack, other than the striker who should be only focused on attacking (although his role might change this slightly) Or Fluid, which effectively splits your team in to two bands, which could also work, but I have little or no experience of how Fluid really looks, and I am concerned a bit about the creative freedom aspect, still undecided as of yet but it is likely to be one of the other.

Now all I have to do is get this attacking quartet right, I think this is key to the tactic working. Adjusting the feed to them, I can work on, I have a pretty good idea how I want this to go, how I want the attacking players to work when they get the ball, is something I have been thinking about long and hard. Firstly, I am undecided whether to go with AML/R and an AMC, or just 3 AMC roles. Firstly I wanted the AML/R AM set up, but then the more I thought about it, I have wing backs bombing up that side, and Clyne in particular plays a lot like a winger, so do I really want players out wide, even Inside Forwards sit relatively wide a lot of the time and then cut in. So the more I think about it, the more I think 3 AMC roles is going to be best, I had a good idea how I was going to set wide attacking players up, but I haven't got much of a clue how I'd set 3 players in the AMC slots up. Never done anything like that before, would probably require a bit of tinkering, it would free up Rodriquez to fight it out as the striker with Lambert.

This brings me to another teaser. Ideally to me, I think an Advanced forward is ideal in this kind of set up, with an AMC behind them, however although Rodriquez could possibly do a reasonable job of this, Lambert is a pretty key player, and I don't see him being quick enough, and is more suited to a support role in attack. This leaves me with the problem of him dropping in to the space taken by the AMC, I don't really see a shadow striker working in this set up (unless he was one of the 3 AMCs then it could) I don't want my AM in the center falling over Lambert's large arse.

Anyway, sorry if some of this didn't make sense, I have done my best to explain. Below are some ideas of where I am at and where my thoughts are.

Philosophy - Rigid or Fluid

Mentality Standard to Defensive

Possible Team Instructions

- Push higher up to negate the gap between DMC and attacking players.

- More direct passing (although I don't really want my center backs lamping it forward, so I may use player instructions to do this)

- Higher Tempo possibly if I feel we aren't attacking quick enough, using a lower mentality. I don't want this to be a counter tactic as such, although obviously I want to exploit any space left in behind, I don't really want a slow build up that a lower mentality could bring)

4-2-3-1 wide

Advanced Forward

Inside Forward (s) AP (s) Inside Forward (A)

Anchor Man Regista

Wingback (A) Center Back (d) Center Back (D) Wing Back (A)

Goalkeeper (D)

Sorry for the poor diagram, I will try and get some screen shots up soon. Any ideas, advice much appreciated. I realise I have no on pitch problems to report as yet, just looking for some extra inspiration. Cheers.

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Hi torskus, always liked your pleasant comments and advice on here so I will offer my two pennies (which is probably not much creative help!!!)

Myself I would try all the same TI's as you already but would try a counter / balanced philosophy. Balanced for me helps what my players would do on their role but also fits in with ww fans 12 steps. I like your thinking of using 3 AM's to make the space for the wing backs, so here is my line up.

Goalkeeper (D)

Wing back (A). Central defender (D). Central defender (D). Wing back (A).

regista (S). Anchor man (D)

Attacking midfielder (S). Advanced playmaker (S). Shadow striker (A)

Advanced forward (A)

As I see this, my wingbacks will create the width and be the runners, with an extremely solid central defence and midfield. The anchor behind the shadow striker to cover and the regista to link with the middle 3. The people to score the goals will be the SS and advanced forward and the AP and AM to link play and recycle possession.

As I say torskus I have struggled this year but always like to offer a different perspective to people who always have the time to offer help to others.



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Hi Torkus, being a Saints fan I always have to take a look at any thread that mentions them. I have recently been reading a lot of the late, great SFrasers threads and a 4231 has been percolating in my brain for a while. I'm still playing FM13, not a huge fan of '14 and hope that '15 will be better and this time around - I will learn my lesson and not purchase until the final update.

Anyway, in FM13 I have a draft wide 4231 set-up as follows:

Balanced, Standard, everything else default apart from zonal marking


WBs, CDd, CDd, WBa - WBs tweaked to RFD & TTB sometimes


APa, AMs, IFa


Have gone with Standard so that I've room to move with drop deeper and push higher shouts

Shaw as a WBs as slightly less attacking than Clyne at WBa, but also just to get a little bit more depth to our attacking play

DLPd to sit and spray passes

DMs to make runs into that big midfield hole

APa on the left will make passes and cut-in

AMs will drop into midfield/defence and push up into attack

IFa to cut-in and be the main scoring threat

DLFa to drop into space but also push up when in possession

Hope it's of interest...

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Interestingly you both mention 2 roles I have never really used. AM (s) I think it out of all the roles offers the most defensively, not sure that is what I am looking for, depends how far he comes back and how he operates in transition and attack, I'd have to test it out. Also the DLF (A) I've used the DLF (s) many times, but never really got what a DLF (a) did. Does he still sit deep and attack from deep ?

Lallana and Ramirez are pretty key players to this quartet, I feel that Ward-Prowse, or Steven Davis are going to be better bets for a more bland role like AM. Lallana has poor finishing and composure, so not sure he would make an ideal Shadow Striker, he is a very good dribbler though with excellent balance and agility I think I'd like him as possibly an AP (s) with dribbles more PI, so he has space to run with the ball. Ramirez has slightly better finishing and composure, but is still very much a creator rather than scorer. Have to be careful I don't have to many creators and no one sticking the ball in the net. Lambert can actually play the Shadow Striker role pretty well I'd think, but that only leaves me with Rodriguez to play up front. If only they hadn't loaned out Osvaldo out for the season !

Anyway, gonna do some work on these set ups now, and post back later.

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The thing to remember when using a DM (whether one or two) is that it naturally makes your defensive line drop, so pay attention to that. I know you're planning to Push Higher Up to bridge the gap to AMC, but you may find you need to be even bolder - it kind of depends on whatever Mentality you end up choosing.

For me, the selection of a Regista is a no-brainer to try to cover that space in the middle (and the AP (S) is also a wise choice), as is the use of aggressive, attacking players at DL/R. The Regista will move upfield, the AP should be relatively controlled at AMC, and the wing backs will offer the width and forward thrust you need.

In terms of TIs, I feel that you need to tread carefully, as the more defensive Mentalities default to more direct passing at the back anyway. It might be worth considering asking the DCs to pass short (i.e. to the DMs) and allow the deep, creative responsibility to sit there.

A final consideration is quite a significant one and may be something to think about over time. CWBs can be lethal and Clyne and Shaw can suit that Role. If you revert to that, you will find that they offer the attacking intent that the IFs provide in the system you posted. If that proves to be the case, you can then look to fiddle with the AMCs to get a different dynamic altogether. All very cryptic from me, but I like this system and like to see people using it.

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Thank you for that. You already mentioned one thing that I had already noted. I do not need more direct, it ends up as defenders blasting the ball forward for the lonely striker to try and chase, or win 1 header in 20 that goes straight to the opposition anyway. That's sorted.

There are so many PPMs on Southampton's players it's a minefield, I know they aren't the be all and end all, but they are certainly having an affect on things.

Couple of questions RTH if you don't mind.

Firstly, Philosophy, this is doing my nut in, I can't make a decision. I've been fortunate that in FMC I can fiddle about with things and not pay any penalty for it. I am trying to think logically about what I want to do, and what Philosophy suits it best, and for the life of me I can't come up with an answer. I think I want to steer clear of Balanced, I have used Balanced a lot I like it, but it does tend to get make the shape of your team change dramatically based on your roles and duties, and I want to keep this simple, something I can fiddle with, without changes being to drastic. For me Rigid seems the best in my mind, then the defenders will defend, apart from the wing backs which with their roles should still get forward enough. The 2 DMC's will be involved in defence and transition, and the attacking 3 will be transition and attack, with the striker being responsible for mainly attacking. However I still have Fluid in my mind, although maybe this is a bit optimistic with Southampton's starting team, although they are decent, not sure I want to give them to much creative freedom.

Second point, saying I didn't want to use an advanced forward as my striker, although it seems like an obvious choice, not sure when Lambert plays there, he can really perform the advanced forward role to well, because of lack of pace. Saying I chose a DLF (s) or F9, how can I set up my other 3 to avoid him using up their space. If I have an AP (s) right behind him, they will virtually be standing on top of each other I would have thought ? Not asking you to spoon feed me, just a few ideas even if it's just something for me to think about.

Thanks for your reply.

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Fluidity is one of those things that I over-simplify to the extent that will make experienced players cringe :D

I stick pretty firmly to the Twelve Step Guide in terms of its specialist / generalist application. Then, I decide whether I want a collective Fluid approach, or more defined Rigid play. Personally, I've traditionally erred on the side of Standard back down to Rigid for ages, but since embracing the more Fluid approaches, I've grown to prefer them. I'm also a FMC man, and a massive benefit of it is that you can **** about as much as you like with Mentality and Fluidity to arrive at the answer with no familiarity nonsense getting in the way.

As far as the forward goes, whatever you do has a ripple effect down the pitch. As things stand, you have just one Attack Duty in the AMC line so to change the striker to a less assertive Duty is likely to reduce your level of attacking penetration. Experiment with the Attack Duty Roles up front to see what offers your system the chances you want. It will be difficult to use a DLF or F9 with an AP (S) behind due to potential crowding issues and the lack of attacking oomph you'd have up front.

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Okay bit of an update. Firstly I want to say how much I am enjoying FMC, man it's so much quicker than the full game, and apart from a couple of notable things I'd like in there, there is hardly anything I miss. It also seems far better presented in the FMC skin. I may well make this my game of choice from now on. It's like CM 01-02 with a cherry on top !

Okay, tactics.

I set up 3 different tactics. The 4-2-3-1 Narrow I wanted to use, with the wingbacks giving me width, I just had to put this to one side for now. Not totally given up on it. The wingbacks (CWB) as suggested by RTH work really well, I think the whole set up falls apart because I can't get the 3 AMC roles right. I lost a whole bunch of points messing about with it, in games I really should have been winning, so I put it on a back burner for now. Any advice about the AMC roles would be appreciated. I tried lots of ideas, none of which ever really looked right.

The 4-2-3-1 wide on the other hand has been superb, Did the double over Chelsea with it, think we tore them a new A**** hole in the home game against them 2-0, but should have been about 7 easy. If I'd used this in some of the stinking results I had trying to get the narrow formation right we'd have been laughing I reckon, but anyway not to worry about that too much, we are still doing pretty well.


That is about my strongest line up. Only made 2 signings Strandberg who I signed as cover at CB but he's been so good he is first choice now, and a cheap left back as cover for Shaw. Rodriguez I used as back up as striker for a while, but while Ramirez was injured he had some games at AML (IF) and was superb, pretty much kept his place there since unless Lambert isn't available up front. Thankfully I have been really lucky with injuries so far.

Lallana isn't what you'd class as a winger, but the role just plays so much better than IF from watching the games. Although I am tempted to try him as a wide AP (s) I'm not sure about having 2 AP in the team. He has done pretty well, picks up knocks that keep him out all the time, but no major injuries.

Team Instructions are just Push Higher up, or Much higher defensive line, depending on the game. And work ball in to the box, as we were shooting from all over the place and wasting good attacks. Occasionally I will add higher tempo, and I think twice so far I have gone to standard mentality. That's about all the changes I have had to make. Started off with more direct passing, but it clearly wasn't right, it wasn't what I was looking for, it was way to direct, and the center backs literally kept lamping the ball up the pitch, and the wing backs weren't much better. I believe having really quick wing backs helps me a lot, we have done okay when Shaw and Clyne haven't played, but no where near as good as when they do.

Second tactic ,


I've found this tactic especially good when getting attacked hard down the wings. The center backs seem to get across well to cover the wide men with the Half Back there. I do occasionally give Clyne an attack duty, but he attacks a lot even with a support duty, probably because of his PPM,s. This tactic allowed us to give Aresnal a good hiding :lol: I don't use it anywhere near as often as the 4-2-3-1 wide though, sometimes players available will decide which I use, this tactic is quite useful as a more patient build up tactic than the first, that's how it seems to play out anyway.

All in all going really well, but injuries could scupper this season at a moments notice with such a thin squad.


Got my eye on a champions league spot, but as I said injuries would be a problem. Knocked out the Carling Cup by Spurs at home. (another attempt at getting the 4-2-3-1 narrow to work) Still in the FA Cup.

We took 2 good hidings in Manchester, at City and United both 3-0. United game was an odd one though, had we scored 1 of the numerous chances we had at 0-0 would probably have gone the other way.


Most recently (off screen pic) we drew at Arsenal. Quite annoying cos we won 2-1 there, and I had to replay because of a crash. Created so many chances in both games, yet couldn't score in the second game. So be it, that's how I play, if it crashes, then I replay it and the result stands regardless of the first result. Was a fine performance in both games.

Anyway, so far so good, going to try and get the 4-2-3-1 Narrow to work at some point as I feel my wing backs are just too good not to utilise fully.

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Nice thread mate. You can be happy that you have convinced me to role FMC for the rest of this edition.

I have been trying to get a good Arsenal tactic working based on current squad, have started a new regular save, but for the sake of testing and improving my tactical skills and knowledge till FM15 comes out I think FMC just makes too much sense.

Looking forward to more info on how the Narrow 4-2-3-1 works out.

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I don't know if it is succeeding, if I had taken a bit more care, I think I could have had a good crack at the league. Not to worried about the results against United and City, especially United as the score flattered them a lot, and the Everton away when we lost 3-1 not quite sure how that happened either, but a few of the other games I dropped points I could and should have won them with a better performance from me.

FMC is brilliant. Few niggles - no analysis tab, think that's a fairly common groan. I'd like to be able to choose ppms, and possibly tutor that's it. If those things were added to FMC, I seriously would never play the full game again, it's beautiful how smooth the game runs. I like that I don't get a huge punishment for changing tactics, I love the layout, it's just fantastic to be honest.

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Don't know if it helps or not but i've found that if I play in a 4-4-1-1, on my analysis screen im constantly a 4-2-3-1, effectively giving me the shape with a better level of cover and theres not the gap I find in using DM's

My midfield two are a BBM & a DLP(d) the latter who I instruct to close down less and tackle harder. It's completely changed my game as i'm a player who rarely if ever moves from a 4-3-3 (4-1-2-2-1) which i still switch to if i'm finding teams on top of me.

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Don't know if it helps or not but i've found that if I play in a 4-4-1-1, on my analysis screen im constantly a 4-2-3-1, effectively giving me the shape with a better level of cover and theres not the gap I find in using DM's

My midfield two are a BBM & a DLP(d) the latter who I instruct to close down less and tackle harder. It's completely changed my game as i'm a player who rarely if ever moves from a 4-3-3 (4-1-2-2-1) which i still switch to if i'm finding teams on top of me.

Yeah, couple of problems with this. Firstly the players are more AML/R type players than players that will play in the ML/MR slots. Lallana, Ramirez, Rodriguez. Secondly, with my Wing backs being so attack minded, they may tend to clash. It has crossed my mind, but seeing as it is working reasonably well at the moment I haven't done it yet. Maybe as the save progresses though.

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Are you using any PI's in your 4231 Torskus?

Very few.

Shaw has run wide with ball at left back. And StrandBerg has pass it shorter as his passing is poor and I'd like him just to play it in to the 2 DM's mostly. Lovren has better passing (14) so I allow him to pass the ball a bit more if he wishes.

4 games left and I am a point behind Man City in 2nd, and I have them at home next up. Been very lucky with Injuries, but now Lambert is out for 3 weeks so will miss most of the remaining games, which is a huge blow, because Rodriguez is my only other real option, and he has been fantastic at AML (IF)

Still not got my AMC firing in this tactic as of yet though, tried various things and nothing has looked quite right yet. Have more recently changed him to AP (s) which is slightly better.

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Well that was an anti-climax. Won the league with a game to spare. Was actually Swansea at home next, which we lost 2-0, that result came out of nowhere, but City had 2 bad results and we beat them at home. Using mostly the 4-2-3-1 wide, didn't have to change a great deal, was lucky with injuries, think we missed Lambert when he was out.

Not really sure if to continue this save, was hoping for it to take a bit longer to win the league, have yet to win the Champions League on this version of the game even in my long term Walsall save, I may yet. Quite fancy a crack at Sunderland as there was another poster on here struggling with them, and it looked like a decent challenge.

Clyne is just to deadly as a CWB, I believe he is still developing too, Shaw was good, but not as good as Clyne on the right. Rodriquez although not a top class player was superb on the left as an inside forward. Only slight problem never really got the AMC role playing that well which is odd, but it hardly stopped us. Maybe Ramirez and Ward- Prowse just aren't good enough for that kind of role. Even v 4-4-2 that role was never the key part of the tactic, which seems a little strange.

Jack Cork did a nice little job as back up for the regista role, in fact I think he played the role better than Schneiderlin. Should be over the moon, but feeling kind of meh that I won the league first season with just 2 back up signings, not really sure where to go with the save now to be honest. I guess second season syndrome will kick in and give me some tougher decisions, so it may be worth continuing.

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