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Football Manager 2019 New Tactical Styles Explained

Preset tactical styles make their debut on Football Manager 2019. We take a look at the new tactical styles on FM 2019 to explain what each of them does. WIP.

By Updated on Oct 16, 2018   43130 views   0 comments
FM Quick Tips - Football Manager 2019 New Tactical Styles Explained
For me, what is most exciting about the new game is the Football Manager 2019 tactics revamp. With about a dozen preset tactical styles to choose from, it means there is just so much to try out.

Let's take a look at each of the new tactical styles / philosophies we can choose from on FM19 and try to explain what each style is about.

Control Possession

Wenger’s Arsenal? Southampton? All I can think this would be is slow build up play, low intensity pressing, a packed midfield and not counter attacking. You're likely need Inverted Wing Backs, great passers in the midfield area and Ball Playing Defenders.
  • Aim to dictate play
  • Patiently wait for openings
A tactic that focuses on retaining possession and pressing high to win the ball back. Looks to play out of defence and create chances through patient, short-passing build-up play.
Works best with 4-2-3-1 Wide, 4-1-4-1 DM Wide and 5-2-2-1 WB formations.


100mph. Choreographed headless chickens. High line of engagement, high defensive line and lots of running. Players will need great stamina to maintain this heavy metal football.
  • Instantly win back possession
  • High-intensity running
Gegenpressing relies on every player in the team working hard and, above all else, being fit and mobile enough to press the opposition immediately after losing the ball.
Works best with 4-1-4-1 DM Wide, 4-2-3-1 Wide and 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow formations.


2008-2012. Guardiola’s Barcelona. Del Bosque’s Spain. Brendan Rodgers’ Swansea. A positive philosophy that focuses on ball possession and systematic attacking waves. Playing out from the back will likely require good composure and passing ability. Inside forwards will allow supporting Full Backs to support either by overlapping or underlapping.
  • Dominate possession
  • Relentless pressing
  • Patiently wait for openings
Tiki-Taka places the emphasis on the short passing, extreme pressing and movement, waiting for space to open up as opponents lose focus. An extreme variant of the Control Possession style.
Works best with 4-1-4-1 DM Wide, 4-2-3-1 Wide and 5-2-2-1 WB formations.

Vertical Tiki-Taka

Liquid football. Intent. Sarri-ball. This is surely most people’s #1 choice when it comes to selecting their first philosophy (either this or Gegenpressing). A few years ago, the idea that Tiki-Taka is boring was (and still is) en vouge. Many teams found ways to overcome it, most through impressive organisation. But technical ability in football has greatly improved and players can play long and accurate ground passes with great first touches at the other end of the pass. A slightly more direct approach than Tiki-Taka. Will have to be incredibly fluid with this tactic
  • Dominate possession
  • Relentless pressing
  • Emphasis on moving the ball vertically rather than side-to-side
A quick passing style of possession and movement, with a narrower, more direct approach than the standard Tiki-Taka.
Works best with 4-1-4-1 DM Wide, 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow and 5-2-1-2- WB formations.

Wing Play

This reminds me most of Ferguson’s United. Maybe not the side of 2008, maybe a little before that. The idea to play wide, have overlapping Fullbacks all trying to cross into 1 or 2 strikers in the box has gone a little out of fashion at the top level of football although it is still a more than viable tactic in the lower leagues. Your wing players will need great crossing ability.
  • Looks to get quality crosses into the box
  • Overloads the wide areas

Football Manager 2019 Screenshots

Route One

Positions of maximum opportunity. A little before my time although I think everyone is well drilled on what route one is. Extremely direct play and quick transitions are the bread and butter for this philosophy.
  • Quick transitions
  • Direct passing
The aim is to try to play the furthest forward pass available, with the intent to penetrate the opposition's penalty area as early as possible.
Works best with 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1 DM Wide and 4-4-1-1 formations.

Fluid Counter Attack

Manchester United 2008. Roonaldo. Although Manchester United were arguably more positive the philosophy would suggest, they were certainly fluid and counter attacking. This is my favourite philosophy to try in FM19. The idea of having a low line of engagement to invite pressure may seem negative although it can be devastating for the opposition. Players will need the physical attributes and off the ball ability to move up the pitch at lightning speed.
  • Soak up pressure
  • More expressive and fluid counter-attacks
Looks to draw the opposition forward to leave them vulnerable on the break. Players will be fluid on the counter, trying to combine with each other and carry the ball with clear intent.
Works best with 4-1-4-1 DM Wide, 5-3-2 WB and 4-4-1-1 formations.

Direct Counter Attack

Leicester City. Vardy’s infamous party. They took the league by storm by playing a relatively simple way to a very high standard. A nice low and narrow defensive block, inviting pressure from the opposition before quickly releasing to an outlet (Vardy) meant that teams couldn’t cope with the gaps that they had left behind whilst attacking.
  • Soak up pressure
  • Direct and structured counter-attacks
Draws the opposition forward to leave them vulnerable on the break. Players will look to move the ball forward as quickly as possible on the counter-attack to exploit spaces in behind.
Works best with 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1 DM Wide and 4-4-1-1 formations.


The Door Bolt. Old Jose. With Porto and Inter Jose mastered the art of nullifying the opposition. Copying this in Football Manager can be incredibly rewarding. Identifying a dangerous player in the opposition, altering your tactics slightly and seeing the “threat” get a 5.9 match rating and a 46’ substitution is what gives us the confidence to apply for actual managerial roles in football. It is hard to pinpoint a modern tactic for this (historically 5-4-1 with Libero) but it's about nullifying threats. Will likely need Defensive Wingers against overlapping Wing Backs, Fullbacks against Wide Target Men and physical presence in the center of the pitch.
A defence-focused style that primarily looks to deny the opposition goalscoring opportunities. A Libero is traditionally deployed to offer cover behind the defensive line.
Works best with 5-3-2 WB, 5-1-2-2 DM WB and 5-4-1 WB Wide formations.

Park the Bus

New Jose. Probably a little harsh although it has become synonymous with the Manchester United manager. I suppose this would just be time wasting, cramming more defensive players onto the pitch and playing a nice 5-4-1 or similar. This would surely only be used in 2-legged European games.
  • Low and structured defensive shape
  • Restrict space in the final third
Players will look to get behind the ball and protect their defensive third, focusing more on the clean sheet than on possession.
Works best with 4-4-2, 4-1-4-1 DM and 4-2-3-1 DM formations.

Clean Slate - Create Your Own Style

The Carlo Ancelotti. Cramming all of your good players into a 5-1-3-1 WB DM Asymmetric AM(L). No, he’s not that extreme but trying something new and becoming the new tactical innovator in world football is what the game is about for me. I’m personally interested to try something with a low line of engagement, high defense line, high pressing intensity, counter-press, counter, narrow width, high tempo, short passing.

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Please note this is a work in progress; will update this article as new information becomes available.

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