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Attacking 4-4-2: The lost art of attack

Attacking 4-4-2 that accommodates all kinds of players in one formation. Direct pacey football with loads of goals.

By Updated on Jul 22, 2018   43641 views   14 comments
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Downloads: 8532 / Size: 94.0 kB / Added: 2018-07-21
Football Manager 2018 Tactics - Attacking 4-4-2: The lost art of attack
Hello there. This is my 4-4-2, perfected for around 14 in-game years. In my last season, 2031/32, I won 33 games, drew 4, lost 1, scored 138 goals, suffered 19 and ended up with 103 points. Ye, Champions League, FA Cup, all of that too. Forget possession, pass percentages and all those statistical obsessions, this is beautiful attacking football.

Let me start by saying this: There are no unbeatable tactics, no plug-n-play formations and no such thing as "cheat the engine tactic" as far as I'm concerned, if you've been playing the game and watching real life football for as long as I have, you'll know by now that you can win in all sorts of ways, there is not only one way to win or a better way to win it. In season 28/29 i won every trophy there was to win with an asymmetric 4-3-3 as it accommodated the different talent in my squad. Let's get down to business, this is my 4-4-2, year 2032, roughly 15 years into the game with Liverpool.

Never in my FM years I have used a 4-4-2, always went with a 4-3-3, 3-4-3, always aimed at retaining possession, but this season, I was inspired by Liverpool's exciting attacking play and by European Champions Portugal pragmatic but very effective formation. Add to this the fact my squad had fast players and excellent dribblers, the 4-4-2 was perfect for it.

I believe the players make the formation. I had 3 world class forwards and 3 more world class playmakers, so I couldn't play one forward only. I couldn't play one number 10 only and I needed width from my pacey wingers so I had to find a way to play them all together! Like this I manage to play two forwards and two "wingers" (a real one and a wide n10) plus i could put a flair Box-to-Box next to a defensive-minded in midfield. 4-4-2 fit my squad perfectly!!

I want a fluid interchange of positions so Very Fluid checks out. They're all world class players or at least I want them to play as such so I give them the freedom to do so. Individual Instructions are given to one or two guys, like dribble less or fewer risky passes for those less skilled ones but I never refrain from using this very fluid mentality. I go from Control to Attack only in 2nd halves when I'm losing or if we concede an early goal playing home.

So, breaking it down by positions:


I went ahead and bought the most promising GK in the game and I haven't worried about that position since I started this career. My substitutes are academy grown young GKs. Go for Aerial Reach and Command of Area as primary attributes so crosses and set-pieces are not a constant hassle. handling, 1 on 1 and Positioning are key too.

RB and LB

I stuck with Alexander-Arnold. The kid became a man, brilliant servant, great stats, couldn't have wished for a better wing-back and captain! Despite him having great attacking attributes I always focus on the defensive side of the game for full-backs: Positioning, Anticipation, Tackling and Marking, Work Rate and Height. I can tell you tall full-backs come in handy when crosses start floating into the box.


I like them fast since I play a high line. On the bench I got a towering CB with 203cm, but I usually play these fast kids. When they start losing the physical stats I sell them, usually around 30 or 31 years old. I look for Speed and Strenght, Marking, Heading and Tackling of course and then Positioning. Positioning is my criteria to choose one CB over another when they got similar stats, it is a super important attribute.


This guy is a natural poacher that I turned into some kind of inside forward. I could use his speed and technichal attributes in the build up phase so I retrained him there with great results. Off the Ball is the most important attribute for the wingers since they need to be constantly giving passing lanes. If i'm playing a small team with a bus outside their penalty box and after half time I'm not winning, I change his guys role to Winger Attack to widen the pitch. Works wonders. I had Mbappe doing this role for many years, now his 33, lost a bit of the pace so is more of a substitute.


Tommy, Stevie Gs regen. At 16 he popped up in my reserves team and his stats did not lie, I could tell he would be my future number 8. Genie Scout confirmed, 199 Potential. He became my youngest player ever to play a game. Been playing him with regularity, sold my big guns in the team to make way to this kiddo and at 18 he was starting every game. Took its time to settle in the team and his performances and my team results showed that, but thats part of the growing up and introducing young talent to the squad. I got him as a Roaming Playmaker becuase he has it all!! The Stamina, the Work Rate, the Teamwork and the Positioning, as well as the attacking attributes. He is my most important player despite the stats don't show it. He almost always assists the guy who assists the goalscorer. He is that guy.


By his side you need a more defensive guy right? Not really. I've been playing Ball Winning Midfielders there, Deep Lying Playmakers Defend, Central Midfielder Defend with averages of 6.7 per game. So I got this Hernandez guy, good tackler, good all round performer, so I got him as a Box to Box. Beautiful, started scoring goals, shooting from outside the box, through passes, 7.2 averages, which is great for that position. My theory is: If both midfielders have roles that instruct them to both defend and attack and then excel in attributes such as Teamwork, Work Rate, Positioning, you don't need a destroyer in your team.


This is Vinicius Juinor (i like giving them nicknames). One of the best players in my team. Can't remember him having a bad game. Loads of goals, assists, high averages every single season, amazing. I have him as a Wide Playmaker Support with instructions to dribble more. He will cut inside from the wing, the FB will overlap, The Left striker wll move into the left channel and he will either find the right striker with a through pass or the right winger/right full back with a long pass or just run inside the area and score, or try a one-two with another midfielder. Its a very important position in the team, I never change this role no matter what.


For this tactic the strikers need primarily Pace and Acceleration. After you check that box, look for Dribbling, Off the Ball, Composure and Finishing, in that exact order. Got more money? Heading, First Touch and Agility. If you got a bright shade of green on those attributes you have yourself a Complete Forward that will score at least 30 goals a season.

Bacolla and João have been destroying teams dreams for many years, they both got the same kind of attributes. They will score 35+ goals per season each and provide around 20 assists. João has become Liverpool all-time goalscorer, but due to a knee injury and a superb regen coming up, I changed Bacollas partner to a Target Man this last season. This new regen has an unbelievable 201cm, so he's got the strenght, amazingly the speed too and the attacking attributes. I was reluctant to bench João at a certain time of the season, but when this guy was playing he was scoring, assisting, assisting the assist-maker, we were scoring goals for fun, so I let him be. Both CF and TM worked wonders, like I said, it's the player that makes the formation work.

So this is how the League Table looked by the end of the season

At a certain point, I thought I could finish the season unbeaten. I was on a 60 something games run of invincibility, but then Premier League calendar decided I should lose at least one game:

Between 21 March and 1 April I had 5 decisive games for different competitions, and since I had won the CL previous season, they always do this rescheduling and put 2 games with a one day gap between them. This killed my players fitness and I ended up losing away to Tottenham. Shame. Finished the season with a 6-1 trashing of City, lost to them on the FA Cup final but beat them again in the most thrilling CL final I had in this game.

Secrets? Having the right players for the kind of game you wanna play. And keep them, blend them for many years. My starting eleven looks the same for 5 years, thats why I've been winning almost everything every single season. I buy the occasional superstar , sometimes just to prevent my rivals from getting the best players. Mostly I buy 16 year olds and grow them into the team, that's my thrill in playing this game, finding the talent and growing it into my future team.
João and Bacolla, my both strikers were bought when they were 16. Vinicius Junior when he was 20. Mbappe on 21. My RCB was snatched away from Tottenham before he even signed a professional contract. Then I have Alex-Arnold playing as a starter since he was 18. Tom, the regen will be the same. Bennie Woodburn is my eternal substitute, good stats that make him the perfect FA cup starter. I refused 100M€ from Monaco when he was 27 because I could.

I rarely change my 4-4-2. I have noticed that against 4-2-3-1, specially the big teams, I struggle a lot for possession since they have time and space on the ball to build up their game. So i get my LF as an AM to press their CMs. Against weak opposition, if I'm struggling to score, I advance my wingers, again so I can press higher up the pitch.

My team Mentality is tiring, so when I have a result I fancy, I drop the def line a bit, ask them to retain possession and lower the tempo. I don't mess with the closing down instructions or anything else, I find that to be my teams blueprint which is basically this: Get the ball (close down more), dribble past them (run at defence) without forgetting your teammates (work ball into box) who must roam into channels (pass into space). That's it.
If I change anything else is because of individuals, if I got slower or pacey players, taller, flair guys, defensive midfielders, I'll adapt the tempo or the directness of the passes, everything else stays as it is.

You can download my tactic if you want, I'm proud of my set pieces, they work really good, again, they're adapted to my players attributes, you should too. When I play Bennet (201cm) and Ibrah (203cm) I have them attack the near post with good results. You can take inspiration from it like I have from many formations and mentalities all over the web, but I don't encourage you to stick it in your game and see how it pans out. You might do good, but then again, who doesn't? I pride myself on doing good with a plan I have designed and improved with time, choosing the right players, testing roles and adapting to opponents formations.


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Downloads: 8532 / Size: 94.0 kB / Added: 2018-07-21
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Discussion: Attacking 4-4-2: The lost art of attack

14 comments have been posted so far.

  • peterbolam78's avatar
    so just ot confirm, ther si room to adjust roles in the tactic, without affecting it's integrity, so I can change roles to Suit my players?
  • Stam's avatar
    @PAfcknTCHON: Thanks for clarifying.

    @colek: The author explained that "the players make the formation" and he changes roles depending on which player he's using and always adapting to the opposition team. He shared a framework system, rather than a tactic that you have to use exact roles.
    I do check before posting. Stop trying to correct me, it won't work.
  • PAfcknTCHON's avatar
    Through the following link you can check the screenshots of the individual instructions to each player on my main starting 11:
    Individual Roles
  • PAfcknTCHON's avatar
    Hey people. The tactic file is correct. Thing is i customize the roles for every player i have. The starting positions are the 4-4-2 but then i change each player role depending on their strengths and weaknesses.
    The main roles i use are the ones in the article pictures, the ones i was most successful with, but just like i wrote, you should always adapt the player to the formation to suit his best abilities.

    The tactic file you download will have the set piece tactics and that's it, you should adapt the roles to the players in your team, if you can match them with the ones i got, perfect, it works wonders for me.

  • COLLINSSS's avatar
    The download link is giving a completely different version, all the roles are different. Link to the tactic in the pictures?
  • COLLINSSS's avatar
    Love how in depth this is. Gonna start a long term united save and see how this works for me.
  • colek's avatar

    not at all, the picture says Target man and Advanced forward but the loaded tactics makes them Deep lying forward and a Complete forward. Stop making condescending comments and check before you talk.
  • JamieDove's avatar
    I have the same problem as CJ_Randell I think I know why though. In the screenshots it seems to show some players have personalised roles rather than roles for the position. That would mean that the regular roles on the download would be different than the ones in the screenshots
  • Stam's avatar
    @CJ_Randell: It's the tactic the author uploaded and it matches the one in the post. Perhaps you loaded some other tactic by accident.
  • PAfcknTCHON's avatar
    Hey guys. The tactic download link follow next:

    The skin i use is FM Touch Dark, is one of the deafults in the game.
  • CJ_Randell's avatar
    The tactic downloaded does not match the one in the post at all.
  • Stam's avatar
    Added download link :)
  • el-chambo's avatar
    Could I ask what skin that is in the screenshots?
    Is it possible to download.
  • Justice's avatar
    Despite advertising the possibility of downloading this tactic here, you failed to include any sort of link or file to download it.

    I still validated this as you included quite an in-depth analysis of it, but I do ask that you edit this to either: a) include a download link/file, or b) remove the advertising of the download in the final paragraph.
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