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How to Score More Goals in Football Manager

An in-depth guide to how you can score more goals in FM. We'll talk about space, xG, the best chance, philosophy differences, instructions and solutions to common tactical issues.

By on Apr 16, 2022   4309 views   1 comments
Football Manager Guides - How to Score More Goals in Football Manager
Football is about space, to score you need to create an opportunity. To create those opportunities we need to find space as close to the goal as possible.

Relative Distance is also a part of finding space, and so in this guide I am going to try and go as in-depth as I possibly can in regards to how you can score more goals.


So we talked about getting space to score (tap ins, cut backs and one v ones). There is also long range shoots and while you almost always prefer shots up close, the reality is you want to threaten to score from close range to create the time and space for long range threat.

Space also is required to create the chances to begin with. Crosses need space out wide and through balls need space centrally, interestingly you also can use central space to create wide space and you can use wide space to create central space.

The best example of this is with Overlapping Wingbacks where deep playmakers control possession dragging players out of position allowing for Wingbacks to have space out wide, which again drags central players away from the striker and we get a tap in.

If a Winger is a problem, and keeps beating their marker, the solution is to send two players to defend them, by doing so however we give away space somewhere else.


This feature is slightly different from CCC (Clear Cut Chances) from older versions.

In real life XG takes into account multiple factors, the angle, the distance, head or foot as well as the way the ball arrived, meaning did the player need to take a first touch, or was the first touch unnecessary.

XG is good for comparing the chances made by one team to another, the issue is players have attributes and those attributes tell you everything. If you have a high XG but they are all for your 7/8 finishing Fullback then the stat is misleading.

Ideally the belief could be that the percentage XG gives also accounts for the fact that a Fullback for example could have had a majority of chances in a certain position. Football is however always evolving, nowadays Fullbacks need to be the playmakers, since there is no pressing wide player (yet).

So XG isn't perfect and we don't use that as the prime factor, if you have a high XG for and a low XG against then your system is rather successful and you can expect that eventually the XGs will match up, but this can be over the course of multiple seasons.

Sometimes we don't have that much time and so we need to in certain cases get a higher XG than is expected for our team. Doing so therefore requires a core understanding of how to manipulate our players for the best quality chances.

One v Ones

So what is the conversion rate of 1v1s in football, it seems nobody knows and that includes me.

What I have noticed is that the more touches a player takes before shooting, the less likely they are to score. The reason is that these touches allow the goalkeeper to get set and well positioned to deal with what is coming.

The solution would be to round or chip the keeper, all of which require certain attributes.

The reason I am discussing this is because many would believe that the best chance that can be made in football is a one v one, which actually the more you think about it isn't.

The reason is imagine you had to run 20-40 meters being chased down, the ball likely slowing you down before you had to finish of a chance, would your head be on your shoulders by that point.

It makes sense that the best one v one finishers are usually quick, because they not only don't let keepers think too long about what's coming next but they get good space between them and chasing defenders.

The Best Chance

So what is the best chance in the game, well by what I said, the one where you don't have to run with the ball. Also by what I said the one where your player has space as close to the goal as possible.

So a tap-in... well unless you are Barcelona, City, Chelsea there is no way you can get those but unless you are Raheem Sterling there is no way any player can miss it. We can also settle for Cut-Backs and side footed finishes.

If however it's an aerial finish the conversion rate drops. The reason is primarily because the ball moves quicker on the ground and it is particularly difficult to head the ball with power far from the keeper.

This is still relative though to who the person finishing it is, a player with good aerial ability and poor finishing will prefer it in the air. At the same time a shorter, less brave or poor aerial player will want it on the ground if he has good finishing.

As we move further way from goal, you'd rather have the ball on the ground since you cannot realistically expect to score outside the box with your head.

Philosophy - Quality vs Quantity, Perfection vs Aggression, Control vs Chaos, Slow vs Fast

The best players, Lewandowski, Mbappe, Salah, Messi, Ronaldo score a great percentage of the chances that fall to them. So the actual quality of a chance almost doesn't matter to them.

Messi can miss a penalty yet next game dribble past several players to score. XG would say that Messi should have scored the pen and failed to score the solo run because of the fact he ran such a long distance.

Now what I want you to understand though is that Messi will score most of his penalties but only very few solo runs and Football is not a one player game and while these players can win you games, they can't win you every game.

The team as a whole needs to succeed and to do that, the best finishers should be getting plenty of high quality chances. Quality chances are often shots within the width of the goal and within the box in terms of distance.

These areas are very hard to open up and so you can be one dimensional where you work to open space up in those areas. Alternatively you can be the manager who takes any space they can get so long as it's realistically possible to score from these areas.

The best way to explain it, is think of a graph with the quality of chances on the X axis and the Quantity on the Y axis.

In the Tactics screen you cannot actually increase quality without reducing quantity and vice versa, well not without the right players.

Quantity (Faster, Counter, Chaotic)

The direct or high tempo attack style is about creating chances using nothing more than speed. It is usually passive in defense because with this style winning the ball isn't really a big priority (Gegenpressing is just a version of this that defends aggressively).

What is important is make sure that they do not expose themselves too much in their effort to score. In this case the chances aren't chosen, your team is not trying to carve out a great opportunity instead settling on the easiest and quickest opportunity they can create.

These systems often have aggressive players who like to force the issue, CWB, IF, AF, MEZ, SS all of which look to play an aggressive game of football.

Team instructions like Pass Into Space, Shoot on Sight, Hit Early Crosses, Be Expressive and Run at defence all serve to do one thing, get the ball towards the opposing goal as quickly as possible regardless of whether or not it will actually lead to a great shoot at goal.

The width depends on if it is just a high tempo system, in which case playing wide is better.

If it was a Direct (Route One) system you want to be narrow since you are only going in one direction. In transition this system also loves to Counter attack alongside long goal kicks to the flanks, striker or in behind as again it encourages the need to run forward.

The peak of this style is when Quantity meets quality. What that means is that only when the right individuals in the team are doing certain things does it become a goal machine.

Hit Early Crosses with excellent crossers of the ball, Shoot on Sight with many excellent shooters, Dribble More with Quick Flashy Dribblers and so on.

Understanding how to best combine the speed with quality is where this style because a truly special way of playing.

Quality (Slower, Possession, Controlled)

The Tiki Taka, Possession and more controlled style plays for high percentage opportunities. These are low tempo and short passing relying on intelligence to get goals.

The system often has an aggressive defensive style and it can get away with that due to the long extensive periods it keeps possession.

What matters with this is that the right chances are being created during the periods of possession since anything less than optimal is wasteful.

These systems often have passive controlled roles like the AP, WP, F9, DLF, DLP, IW, FB, IWB.

In regards to Team instructions, the more central players present, wider it can be. Narrow systems like the Diamond or the 4231, 433, 352 would all prefer width as a method of maintaining possession.

Team Instructions like Play Out of Defence, Work Ball Into the Box, Dribble Less and Be More Disciplined all serve to slow the game down and make sure the only passes made are safe passes.

Naturally this will make the goalkeeper distribute short, to the fullbacks or to the playmaker and will likely not turn on Counter as well.

The System hits its stride when Quality meets quantity, what this means is when everyone on the team is looking to create space for another through solid possession play then it becomes a magical system.

N.B most roles can fit into both styles and Team Instructions can be used deal with the stylistic differences.

Quality = High Percentage, Protects for defence.

Quantity = Low Percentage, Risky for defence.

The Team you have

In FM there when you start a save and go to the tactics screen you will see the assistants recommendation. The recommendation will tell you exactly if your team is a quantity team (GegenPressing, Wingplay or Fluid/Direct) or Quality Team (Tiki Taka, Possession).

Now you might not have players who are good at the same things and so you may need or want to mix styles. This is good because the two philosophies cover for each other, limiting the need for team instructions.

(PI) Player Instructions vs (OI) Opposition Instructions (Focus on us/Focus on them)

It is hard to say if PIs or OIs take precedence... perhaps they cancel each other out. Ideally I prefer to not touch OIs and use PIs.

You can use OIs to nullify threats on the opposing team and PIs to make players perform better. I believe it is in your interests to use one or the other to win games or both.

The reasoning is that players aren't perfect and so you need to get them as close to that as possible. To do that you can use PIs.

A great way to use PIs is to cover for a teamwide weakness as well, especially offensively.

OIs allow you to basically tell your players how best to deal with a specific threat, which is essentially coaching your players on how to defend.

In regards to scoring though, it is best to use PIs as it is not easy to take advantage of a weak defender, rather focus on what is best for the individual.

Solutions for (Quantity) Play

The issues that high tempo/high directness play faces is wastefulness. High Tempo play is quick since nothing moves faster than the ball.

The unbiased nature of this philosophy means that there are instances where a lot of the offensive play is resulting in less than ideal goal scoring scenarios.

To Increase the quality of chances we must look at the attributes of every individual involved in Attack and ask if they have the necessary attributes to actually play this way.

If not then how can we reduce the wastefulness of their play. The answer is in two things, changing their roles or adding Team Instructions that slow down the play.

One example is if you are a playing a 433 you have the DMC (That holds position) then there is a good reason for you to Work Ball Into the Box. If the other players think an attack is not going to work then the DMC will just be there as an option, to recycle the attack.

It is important to keep in mind you need these to players smart enough to know when attacks won't succeed (Decisions, Composure, Teamwork) and as such if you have one or two players (who are involved in your attack) who don't have the necessary attributes then it is pointless to turn on Work Ball Into the box.

You can also do this with Dribble Less, Play Out of Defence and Be More Disciplined.

Another thing can be to lower mentality as well just and make your team less goal focused.

The other thing that can be done is to use more controlled roles. A player with poor shooting can be used as an AP instead of an AM, or using a Poacher rather than an Advanced Forward.

This is about finding more suitable roles for the player in question or for the team or the situation. A player who is good at crossing but bad at finishing may work much better as an IW instead of an IF.

There are more attributes involved in changing roles but and the game has tools to show you the best roles for each player. Small changes can make big difference though.

Solutions for (Quality) Play

The issue with this system can be it becomes too passive. This only occurs when there are players who are not progressively passing the ball.

Since the best chance needs to be found, there will be circumstances where no chances are being found and this results from an overly passive play.

Similar to the Quantity example we need to look at the attributes of every player in our attack and see one or two things they are good at that can increase the urgency of their attack. This also includes switching roles or team instructions.

If a player is playing as an AP and has great long shooting, then it would likely be better for them to be an AM instead.

In a team instructions sense, if there are decent shooters in the central areas or decent crossers out wide then work ball in the box is actually mitigating the teams ability to create. You might consider hit early crosses or shoot on sight instead.

In a 442 possession system there are two strikers, often these two alone can launch a good counter attack and so if you have creative players in the deeper positions who are composed enough then play out of defence may actually be limiting your team. Especially if the strikers are both on Attack, Pass Into Space may be necessary.

The last solution is increasing your mentality which is the simplest solution to increase the urgency of your team.

Too extreme or not extreme enough

Some thing to consider is that I talked about the solutions to when the systems are too extreme. It might be the case that the systems are extreme enough.

This may be that a high tempo/directness system may not be direct enough or that a possession system may not be keeping enough of the ball to succeed.

To figure out if the style of play is too extreme or not extreme enough is by considering the styles the players on the field fit into. This means looking at their attributes, to see if they are more suited to one style or the other.

Controlled players often have high attributes in Consistency (Check Attribute table below) and Chaotic Players have high Attributes in Creativity.

The Channels and Zones

The final danger left in Tactical building is redundancy, having players doing the same thing. There are 5 channels in football, to access all 5 you need at least 5 players willing to use them. These 5 players are your attacking power.

The channels are the 2 Wide areas, the 2 Half Spaces and the width of the penalty area.

We talked about how the best chances are found within the width of goal and by that conclusion, the decent chances are in the half Spaces.

There is no real way to score consistently from out wide, but controlling this area gives access to the half spaces and the width of goal. The reason why is because when the ball is wide, the defence needs to choose between protecting the two Zones, in front of defence or behind it.

They can protect both with a DM(s) but these spaces can both be accessed if you have an player in the AMC (a player who cuts in from the AML/R) position or a player pushing up from the CM/DM positions.

The zone in front of Defense gives a player the opportunity to shoot within the width of goal, be it from a far but that is about as good as a half space chance. Alternatively the space behind the defence gives the dreaded one v one.

Accessing the channels is important, to do so we need to play 3 strikers and 2 wingers or some system similar like a 433 with 2 Mezzalas, 2 Wingers and one striker. A 3412 with CWBs, a SS and two srikers also does the same.

This is all doable of course but it also means if it isn't noticeable that the team is rather aggressive and clearly wants to play a fast, high tempo style.

For a team to keep possession they need some more players centrally and as such the possession system would do so by playing a standard 433 but instead with 2 CWB, 2 IF and the striker.

The midfielders can't go to far forward simply because they will need to work to keep the ball. You can also do the 2 Mezzalas and two Wingers style if you have capable inverted wingbacks who can hold possession for your team.

I could go on and on about the different permutations and combinations but the core values apply, the duty/role should match the style, and if they player cannot play the role then don't force it.

Avoid roles like MEZ and IF being on the same side since they kinda do the same thing, the same is true of W and CWB/WB/FB(a), or APs in the AMCL/R position or IWB and DLP. These are redundancies and it's like basically giving yourself a red card.

Relative Quality

Understanding the quality of your players is important, relative to the division. So in my mind 15+ is top division challenger, 14 is top 4 to 8 and 13 is bottom half to relegation.

So if a player has 16 crossing 16 technique (32/40), that means their crossing is good enough to create chances against an estimate a majority of the teams without looking at any other attributes of course.

So in that regard you have to set realistic expectations for your players and what they are good at.

Another thing is to stop looking at attributes in isolation and start viewing them in combination with other attributes.

Here is a list of the attribute combinations.


Consistency - Applies to all events when attacking
- Composure
- First Touch
- Teamwork

- Acceleration
- Agility
- Pace

- Strength
- Balance

Passing Ability
- Passing
- Technique

Dribbling Ability
- Dribbling
- Technique
- Mobility

Crossing Ability
- Crossing
- Technique

Hold up play
- Physicality
- Consistency

- Anticipation
- Vision
- Decisions
- Flair
- Passing and or Crossing and or Dribbling

Opportunity Seeking/Finding Space
- Off the Ball
- Anticipation
- Decisions

- Finishing
- Long Shots
- Technique

- Heading
- Technique

Chance Taking
- Composure
- Heading and or Shooting


Aerial Ability
- Jumping Reach
- Bravery

- Work Rate
- Aggression

- Composure
- Concentration

Defensive Awareness
- Anticipation
- Decisions
- Positioning

Off Ball Defending
- Focus
- Defensive Awareness
- Marking
- Mobility and or Physicality

On-Ball Defending
- Endeavour
- Defensive Awareness
- Tackling
- Mobility and or Physicality

Now that is the end of the how to to score guide, I hope this stops you from breaking your monitor.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. You can also find me on reddit.

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