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Marco Silva - Hull City - FM17 Tactic

A tactical overview on how to emulate the tactics of Marco Silva in the Football Manager 2017 match engine. Plus the tactic file itself.

By on Apr 18, 2017   36194 views   4 comments
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Football Manager 2017 Tactics - Marco Silva - Hull City - FM17 Tactic
Marco Silva

The current Hull City Association Football Club manager Marco Silva has been impressing during his brief time in the premier league so far. Taking over on January 5th 2017 he quickly turned the club who sat 20th in the table, and relegation favourites, into world beaters. Having won 5 times in 12 league games since he took the position at Hull City, including a victory over Liverpool and a draw against Manchester United, Marco Silva has made a massive impact on the English Premier League table. He has accumulated 17 points out of a possible 36 and whilst this might not sound all that impressive, it’s a huge turnaround for the squad who accumulated 13 points in the first 20 games before he took over.

Where did he come from?

Marco Silva previously managed Estoril between September 2011 and May 2014 following 6 years of playing for the club and a brief stint as their director of football. He took the team who sat 10th in the second division of Portuguese football and lead them to the title, losing only 3 times in 24 games in the process. A league title and a Manager of the Year award was not enough for Silva and he drove the team on to a 5th place finish in his debut Primeira Liga season. During this season, Estoril not only beat Sporting Clube de Portugal 3-1 at home, they also drew with them 2-2 away and drew 1-1 away at Benfica. In the following 13/14 Primeira Liga season Silva lead Estoril to 4th position, a club best, beating FC Porto at the Estádio do Dragão 1-0 for their first home defeat since 2008.

In the 14/15 season of the Primeira Liga Silva took up the manager’s position at Sporting after Leonardo Jardim left for AS Monaco FC. His first and only season at Sporting was mixed finishing 3rd in the league, but winning the Taҫa de Portugal following a 3-1 penalty shootout against S.C. Braga. 4 days after winning the competition Silva was dismissed by the club for having not worn the club’s official suit during a cup match.

In July 2015 Silva took up the manager’s position at Olympiacos F.C. and subsequently guided them to top position in the Superleague Greece. They won their first 17 games in the league, a European 21st century record; and finished the league having only lost and drawn once, 30 points ahead of second placed Panathinaikos. After this great success, Silva stepped down from his position citing personal reasons, leaving many of the Olympiacos players in shock.

Style of Play

Silva is a counter attacking coach who sets his team up with a great deal of organisation so that they deliver his highly coveted clean sheet. He favours a 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-4-1 approach depending on the ability of the players he has at his disposal, and likes his team to transition quickly from defence into attack. During his time at Hull Silva has played a 4-1-4-1 five times and it is his most favoured approach.

While in defence Silva likes his wingers drop back and give extra protection to the wing backs. The full backs tuck in alongside the centre backs depending on which side of the pitch an attack is coming from, and the defensive midfielder and midfield 4 seek to cut out passing options that the opposition team have. Primarily the defensive midfielder sits in front of the back four, and whilst he presses the opposition team, he does not often stray in front of the 4 midfielders in front of him, acting as the last backup in midfield if the opposition attack. A ball winning midfielder plays in the middle of the park alongside another midfielder, typically an attacking playmaker. The ball winning player defends alongside the defensive midfielder when in defence and joins in whenever the team attacks. This gives the team an extra passing outlet, and the ability to win the ball back high up the pitch and break down any counter attacks which the opposition might try to spring. The two wingers operate with the attacking playmaker in midfield. Attacking very quickly whenever the ball is win back. They often see to find gaps in the opposition’s defence, and seek to create passing options for each other to advance the play as high into the opposition’s half as possible during a counter attack. The wing backs look to overlap the wingers when attacking, stretching the opposition defence to allow the midfielders to play more creatively in any gaps which may appear, and to provide a further passing or crossing outlet. The lone striker presses the opposition’s central defenders trying to force any mistakes which may lead to them clearing the ball, clearing the ball gives Hull City the chance to win the ball back and quickly spring another counter attack. During the counter attack the striker also likes to get involved in the quick build-up of play, dropping back and making passes before going on runs. This pulls different opposition players out of position and gives other players the chance to attack spaces created.

During Hull City’s 2-1 win against Swansea City A.F.C, we can see the back 4 playing very narrowly with the defensive midfielder in front. The ball is being quickly closed down for a counter attack by a midfielder further up the pitch and the Hull City right winger is tracking back with the Swansea’s attacking left wing back.

During a counter attack, the Hull City striker comes deep and receives a pass. He has two options alongside him and a winger overlapping him behind. He passes the ball to an attacking midfielder before making a run and receiving the ball further up the pitch, leading to Hull City’s first goal.

Marco Silva's Tactics Translated to Football Manager

To best represent Marco Silva’s brand of a pressing counter attack. I have used the instructions sit deeper, to allow the opposition to control the ball high up the pitch, giving the Hull City players more space to run into whenever they win back the ball. Whilst Silva was managing in Greece, it was often joked that Silva’s Olympiacos team would rather the opposition have the ball so that they would be able to counter attack and that the team would even rather give the ball away so that they can play in this style, and allowing this Hull City team to sit back is the perfect way to enable this style of play to take place. more for closing down was selected so that players press the opposition rather than sit back. Even though his teams are deep, Marco does like the modern pressing approach so that a counter can be sprung, as well as closing down any passing options that the opposition players have not only does the close down more instruction help this but the use tighter marking will also give opposition players less space to play the ball. To enable this counter, I have set the tempo to higher so that the ball is sent up the pitch as quickly as possible, as well as more direct passes to ensure that the focus of passes is to attack. Exploiting the flanks and run at defence gives the counter attack a direction, and allows the most creative players to find passes and create chances. To give his full backs enough opportunity to attack I have asked them to look for overlap, and have set the width to fairly wide to try and enable them to stretch the opposition. This all set with the creative freedom option be more disciplined is the perfect set up to a Marco Silva team.

Individual instructions have been applied to give players more freedom outside of the team instructions.

The lone striker is played as an advanced forward. This allows him to move into channels and link play whenever a counter attack is played as seen in the photos above. He will them make runs or even dribbles towards the opposition goal looking for any opportunity to score. Whenever defending he will look to close down more and mark the opposition defenders more tightly so that the opposition cannot play out of defence, giving the team as much opportunity to counter attack as possible.

Both wingers are set up in the same way in the role of attack. Roam from position allows them to cut inside more when attacking, allowing fullbacks to overlap. Mark tighter and close down more, allow them to press opposition full backs seeking to attack as seen in the real-life photos above.

N’Diaye as the ball winner is set as a ball winning midfielder in the role of Support, with dribble less and get further forward as the two player enabled instructions. This allows him to win the ball higher up the field, and instead of dribbling with the ball he will immediately look to pass it, minimising the chances of him losing the ball high up the field so the opposition can counter.

Clucas plays alongside N’Diaye in the middle of the park as an advanced playermaker in the role of attack. There are several player enabled instructions; close down more, mark tighter and roam from Position. Roam from position enables him to have the flexibility to be more creative in the counter attack, being able to invade spaces in the pitch to receive the ball from wide or from his fellow central midfielders so he can play the ball on and set up a goal.

Tom Huddlestone is set as a defensive midfielder in the role of defend with shoot less often and ease off tackles his only two instructions. Shoot less often stops him from having a shot on goal deep in the opposition’s half; if he was having these shots there would be a much greater chance of losing the ball and the opposition launching a counter attack. With ease off tackles on, Huddlestone doesn’t chase the ball and step out of position, an extremely important instruction to keep the team shape and remain as defensive as possible.

The two centre backs are set the exact same way as defensive centre backs in the role of defend. Their single player enabled instruction is close down much less. This stops them from stepping out of their back line to chase the ball, an action which could lead to the opposition getting in behind and potentially score. The role makes them no nonsense defenders, and they will clear the ball rather than trying to play it out of the back, an extremely important job to carry out when quickly counter attacking.

Once again, we find the same role for both full backs. They are both set to full backs on support with shoot less often, close down less, sit narrower and run wide with ball being their player enabled instructions. Shoot less often prevents them from having shots and potentially losing the ball high up the pitch. Close down Less stops them from pushing too far up the pitch in an effort to win the ball, instead they try to get back into position alongside the two centre backs from one straight back four. Sit narrower keeps the back four compact, while run wide with ball allows them to get wider when the team attacks, offering width and enabling the wingers to get inside if needed.

The goalkeeper is simply set as a goalkeeper in defend with the two instructions, distribute quickly and distribute to flanks. This allows him to launch counter attacks quickly to the men on the pitch who are most likely to influence the teams play.

The Squad

In Game

The first game of the season is against Arsenal and this is the perfect chance to test the tactic.

Whenever the team is out of possession we can see that it plays in two banks of 4, one across the defence and one across the midfield.

On the left wing, we can see the Hull City right winger tracking back the Arsenal left back in attack, and below shows he tracked him all the way to the corner flag.

On the counter attack, Huddlestone passes the ball to Niasse up top, who holds up the ball before passing it on to Markovic.

Who makes a run further up the pitch, leading to a Clucas goal.


At the end of a few games, it’s clear that this football manager tactic provides a match engine replication of the team shape as well as player instructions. This was the main aim I had when setting out to make this tactic. This tactic was not made for results, just for a true to life replication of Marco Silva’s tactics based on my own interpretation. As always football tactics need tweaking based on the team you are managing, so do not use it expecting immediate results.

And this article is also available at

Davie from Outside The Box Online

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Discussion: Marco Silva - Hull City - FM17 Tactic

4 comments have been posted so far.

  • Mushy Pea Mart's avatar
    Awesome, very interesting to see a variation with wide midfielders or 'wingers' in your case, been struggling this year with any decend variation of a 442- 4411-4141, cheeky request - any chance of potentially recreating Mark Hughes at my beloved Stoke City, I know we are useless but can play decent footy at times, would be muchly appreciated, keep up the good work
  • OutsideTheBox's avatar
    @kirsap Thanks for your comment. In case it was not made clear enough above, the fairly wide option was set to enable the team to stretch the opposition. Whilst this may sound counter-intuitive as the full backs sit narrower whilst defending in a Marco Silva tactic, they operate outside of the team instruction parameters due to their own individual instructions.

    Whilst sitting wide, the lone striker up top can drift into the wide areas, potentially pulling the opposition defenders out of position. If a counter attack is sprung, there will be much more space for the wingers and creative midfielder to run into, also also potentially enabling the striker to run into much more space if the defenders try and press an oncoming winger instead. It also gives more creative midfielders the chance to operate more freely and set up a goal. Fairly wide is all about stretching the opposition defence, and making space for the team while counter attacking.

    In terms of testing, like any of my tactics, I don't test the tactic over the course of a season, mainly because it's not about getting results. I create tactics to replicate shapes and positions of teams in the Football Manager match engine. Therefore I simply test the team in a few matches to ensure that the tactic is working exactly how I want it to and tweak it accordingly. I would never recommend using my tactics over the course of a season, because that's simply not what they are made for or how they are tested. Hope this helps
  • kirsap's avatar
    And another question is - did you test this tactic&
  • kirsap's avatar
    Hello, I have one question. Why did you set width on FAIRLY WIDE?
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