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thefwf's 4-3-2-1 Underdog Possession FM17 Tactic

A high tempo, possession tactic for FM 2017. Merging the flair of high passing football with the old school goal scoring strategy of lob it to the big man.Updated for 17.1.1.

By Updated on Nov 09, 2016   64118 views   3 comments
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Downloads: 9050 / Size: 772 B / Added: 2016-11-01
Football Manager 2017 Tactics - thefwf's 4-3-2-1 Underdog Possession FM17 Tactic
I developed this tactic after testing with both Aston Villa in the Championship/Prem and Sunderland in the Prem. I gave it a proper test run over two seasons using FC Emmen in the Dutch Juliper league (2nd level on their football pyramid). I finished 1st during my initial season and then 5th in my first season in the Eredivise, even getting Europa League football!

What to expect

  • More possession than the opponent in ~90% of all matches (including much bigger teams!)
  • Performance well above board targets!
  • High ratings for players

The formation

A 4-3-2-1 formation with relatively easy to fill roles so finding players should not be an issue.

The two fullbacks support the attacking movement, but rarely move in from the byline due to wide attacking/countering threats (explained further in player instructions.

Two standard centre backs played as central defender with a defend duty. BDPs may also work for more competent players, however I do not have these available to me and this has not been tested!

The midfield contains two ball winning midfielders to regain possession as quickly as possible and venture forward when possible to support the attack. or pass to more creative players, such as the deep lying playmaker.

Two wingers are present with an attack duty, their main duty is to provide crosses for the target man and occasionally chipping in with goals of their own.

Finally, the target man is your main goal scoring threat, bullying defenders in the box and bludgeoning his way through to get the goals!

Team instructions

Controlling mentality aims to dominate possession.
The high tempo makes things a bit more exciting than the traditional slow clinical passing tactics, less chance of boring your fans!
A flexible team shape allows a slight level of freedom, usually allowing the CMs to chip in with the occasional goal or two
Increased closing down builds pressure on the opponents, limiting decision time for more creative players to unlock your defence with a pass. Pressure is also applied to the opposing GK by aiming to prevent short distribution.
The deeper defensive line adds an extra bit of protection to your back four.
Short passing and a retain possession instruction keep play tidy and cuts out errors arising from longer, more-risky passes.
Working the ball into the box may seem counter-productive when playing with a target man, however it decreases the chance of possession being given away too cheaply.

Additional player instructions

This tactic is relativity simplistic in approaching individual player instructions, only ensuring both fullbacks stay wider to stay alter to opposing wide players. I found before adding this instruction the opponents were making way too many chances from crosses.

The Results

In my 1st season in the Eredivise, with a wage budget of £50k/week for my entire team I managed to finish 5th

Against a bigger team:

2nd half of the season:


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Downloads: 9050 / Size: 772 B / Added: 2016-11-01
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Discussion: thefwf's 4-3-2-1 Underdog Possession FM17 Tactic

3 comments have been posted so far.

  • Nyemasanya's avatar
    To be honest I am a bit surprised to hear that this tactics works well for weak teams. There is a gap between the defenders and the midfield (i.e. no DM). If the oppostion would use AMs based on my experience I would expect them to run out as confortable winners.
    What is usually not declared that every tactics is dependent on the opposition tactics. Your own tactics alone without the opposition tactics you faced with most (according to my experience each league has one or two favoured formation) is not a really good presentation (in my view - sorry for this).
  • Nyemasanya's avatar
    @ AstrupDK:
    because if you are underdog your opposition is usually has a lot of possession. More possession means that their players are spending more time with the ball, having more time to think how to attack, can try more options/combinations. In overall they can create more chances which results in goal(s) sooner or later.
    Therefore if you can reduce the possession of the opposition then they will rely on individual qualities and luck more.
  • AstrupDK's avatar
    I dont get why underdogs want the possesion? :)
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