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Basic Tactic Guide

The Tactics Guide

Struggling for tactics? Want to buy someone for your team but do not know if they fit your system? Don’t worry and let me bring you the guide for tactics in Football Manager Mobile 2016, which will help you in your journey of FMM.


Part 1 - Analysing the squad

Whether you’re at 2025 with Bayern or in 2015 and just took over York, you have to analyse a squad and while there is not a quick way, it isn’t hard as all, with a few examples, I will lead you through how to analyse a squad.

For the goalkeeper and defender sections an example will be Manchester United.

Manchester United has 3 goalkeepers in the game, David de Gea, Sergio Romero and Victor Valdes. United has strength in-depth, with a world class keeper in David de Gea, and decent back up with Sergio Romero and Victor Valdes, and I think the team doesn’t need any transfers in the goalkeeper sections.

Next up is full backs, we have Varela and Darmian as the right backs with Luke Shaw as the main left back, it doesn’t look very good with back up but as we have Smalling, Jones (right) and Blind and Rojo (left) as backup, it is ok and no transfers are needed.

Central defenders consist of Blackett, Rojo, Jones, Smalling and McNair, and a world class signing is needed, as Rojo and Smalling not good enough in game and McNair and Blackett are just too young.

For all midfield positions, we will use the example of F.C. Barcelona.

In central midfield, they have fantastic players but not much strength in-depth, for a title winning team. They have Sergio Busquets, Rakitic, Song (on loan at West Ham) Iniesta and Rafinha. I would sell Rafinha and Song and bring in a world class centre mid, as backup that would be replacing Andres Iniesta in the future. Pogba is calling.

Next is wingers, and Barcelona has some fantastic ones, with Neymar, Aleix and Arda Turan they are flying, along with Messi, and Munir, Sandro and Suarez (who could play as wingers), and the class they have means that no backups would be needed and you would be good playing 2 natural wingers.

For strikers Bayern Munich will be used as an example.

In attackers wise Bayern have few, but have a lot of quality, with Robben able to play not primarily, and Muller and Lewandowski, you only have very few good strikers to play with which makes a 3 upfront tactic risky, I’d do a 1 upfront with Lewandowski up front.


Part 2 - Tactical Instructions

Now you’ve decided on your tactic, you’ll need to do tactical instructions for your player, here I will talk about the instructions and what they will do.


2a. Team Mentality

The team mentality determines what style will your team play.

Attacking mentality means that your team will always attack. It is best employed for matches that you are favourites to win, it aims to exploit the space and attack, it focuses on getting players forward.

Balanced mentality enables the manager to assess the match situation by balancing risk and reward. It is an ideal mentality for short-odd matches.

Defensive mentality is a mentality which is good for matches where you are favourites to lose, it relies on direct balls up to the attackers from the defense, it aims to get men behind ball.


2b. Passing Style

Passing Styles determines the style of passing you will use.

Mixed passing styles means that your team will use a mixture of passing like tiki-taka style and also long balls like the old Stoke.

A short passing style means that your team wouldn’t try long balls, instead they will play a tiki-taka style of play and will require some patience for success.

A long passing style is a perfect match for the defensive mentality, as it will be pumping the ball upfield to the target man from the defense, it is good when you are not the favourites to win.

A direct passing style will be a risky but a very good style at time and it will be an ok style to play in any situation, more when you are desperate to score a goal.


2c. Passing Focus

Passing focus determines where you will focus your passing and your game on.

It is pretty straightforward.

Right or left are focusing your passing on only one flank, either the left or right.

Centre passing focus means that you will focus your passing on the middle, and is essential for a formation like 41212 narrow.

The mixed passing focus means that it will focus on any of the other 4 passing focuses while both flanks means that your team will focus on attacking with the wings and exploiting the flanks.


2d. Goalkeeper Distrubution

The goalkeeper distrubution determines the way the goalkeeper kicks/throws.

Long is for the goalkeeper to boom it upfield and aim it to the target man while short is distrubuting to the defenders.

Short would mean that your goalkeeper would be putting the ball into the center halves and full backs, it would suit a possession style of play and also direct football.


2e. Tackling

Tackling instructions determines how tackling would be for your team against your opponent.

Cautious means that they will usually stay on foot, while commited will mean that your players will get stuck in and tackle often.


2f. Refinements



Pressing is the art of attacking the opposition whenever your team doesn't have the ball by harassing the player on the ball as quickly as possible to get the ball back as soon as possible. This will force the opposition into more mistakes though can be fairly intensive meaning players will tire quickly especially if they are poor in the stamina attribute. Therefore it is up to you to consider if your players can handle it and if it is worth tiring them out more than usual (especially during a busy period of fixtures).


Offside Trap:

The Offside Trap is one of the most difficult parts of football to master. It relies on perfect teamwork, decision making and timing in order to implement this simple but deadly trick however one wrong move and you put the other team in a great goalscoring situation every time. The aim of the offside trap is to push up at exactly the right moment to catch the opposing forwards offside in order to win the ball back with a free kick. This will relieve and allow your forwards to get into good positions in order to receive the ball however as aforementioned if it goes wrong it could be very deadly and often results in a goal.


Counter Attack:

Counter Attacking can be very lethal if executed right. The use of fast players to hit quickly when the opposition get forward in numbers to expose themselves at the back can lead to some amazing goalscoring opportunities for your team. However while this is great for creating chances when the opponent is vulnerable it relies on having a sturdy defence than can soak up pressure. Then the right mix of players who can carry the ball forward is also needed. They need to be able to make a deadly pass and finish with ease despite only having a few chances during a game.


Men Behind Ball:

Your team will look to 'park the bus' as they set up defensive walls up to stop the other team trying to get passes through the slot into dangerous areas. This is very useful when trying to protect a lead against a team better than your own but due to the nature of the option it invites the opposition to get forward with a lot of your players in your own half. Your players will therefore find it difficult to get up the pitch to creating chances for themselves. Men Behind Ball is a purely defensive option and sometimes may not work as letting the opponents attack will sometimes mean they will get a goal as teams cannot keep clean sheets every single game. However it is useful if you want to base your success on solid defence or are looking to keep the result the same as it is in a game.


Part 3 - Individual Players


3a. Player Roles Explained


Defender Roles:

Sweeper - The Sweeper's role is to mop up anything that passes the DCs using his positioning and decisions. He acts as the final line of defence with nearly none attacking abilities.

Limited Defender - Limited Defenders are the no-nonsense centre backs England fans are very used to. They don't care where they put the ball as long as they clear it out. This role is suited for less technically gifted central defenders.

Central Defender - A central defender will do what is required of him. He won't try to overplay or try to play too simply. He'll look for the safest play and act that out.

Ball Playing Defender - Ball Playing Defenders like to take more risks by getting the ball back then initiating moves. They will look to play defence splitting passes by moving out of their defensive zone to make a creative play to try and score a goal. They can be prone to mistakes with a lack of mental attributes though.

Full Back - The less attacking of the two wide defenders roles. A full back's primary job is to defend and then provide support in attacking when it is a very clear opportunity. He doesn't risk anything by leaving his man free to go and join in with the attack.

Wing Back - A source of width from deep. The Wing Back will look to push on at every chance to try and provide a further crossing option from the wings. He requires great stamina, crossing, dribbling and decisions as they may be guilty of leaving their man free if a turnover in play happens quickly.

Midfielder Roles:

Deep Lying Playmaker - The Deep Lying Playmaker is a player who sits in front of the defence trying to retrieve the ball using brains. He looks to intercept the ball and only commits to tackles when vital. His job is to provide the defence with a closer outlet and also start attacks through clever passes with ball retention is primary concern, he also makes tackles and dictates tempo of the team with passing and getting the ball up the field.

Ball Winning Midfielder - An aggressive player who likes to throw his physical stature around in order to win the ball back. He may often make surging runs into space to progress his team forward and try a long shot.

Box to Box Midfielder - Box to Box Midfielders never stop running. They need very high stamina and are everywhere on the pitch. This role is the most demanding on the game as they need the ability to do everything on the pitch for 90 minutes as they look to move from defence to attack with the play.

Central Midfielder - The second neutral midfield role with the Box to Box Midfielder. The central midfielder tries to pass the ball on and hold play up by linking the attack and defence up through vision and passing ability. He will very rarely leave the middle third of the pitch as he tries to provide a smooth transition throughout the team's play.

Advanced Playmaker - One of the most craved and creative players in the game but a role that is very hard to get right. An advanced playmaker is the hub of most teams when he is on the pitch and can be responsible for goals out of nothing with the creativity and passing ability that they bring. However if marked out of the game with no other outlet for splitting a defence apart the team can struggle because of this.

Inside Forward - Inside Forwards will look to find space in order to shoot. They'll go on surging runs from the wings or centre to get next to or past the forwards or shoot on sight. They may have a high amount of shots with most off target but an inside forward with high shooting may net some very important goals against hard to break down teams.

Defensive Winger - A defensive winger is extremely useful against top wing backs. They will not just look to get forward but think about their defensive duties too in a manner similar to wing backs but higher up the pitch. They too are like a box to box midfielder in which they require high stamina but instead of requiring tackling/shooting they will need crossing and tackling.

Wide Midfielder - The Wide Midfielders are a similar role as a central midfielder but on the ML/MR spots. They will try to drift inside and are useful for if there is space in MC such as in a wide diamond. Their role means that your team will be compact in which is ideal for short passing but they'll lack width so you cannot stretch your attacking plays as much.

Winger - Wingers are the conventional role that you expect out wide. When they get the ball they will run forward with speed in order to deliver the ball into the box. Their speed is perfect for quick moves such as counter attacks but they will hardly ever worry about their opposite number meaning that in defence your DL/DR may be overran with two players depending on the other team's tactics.

Forward Roles:

Defensive Forward - A Defensive Forward will track back and press the opposition defences. Their primary aim is to win the ball back high up in order to force opposition mistakes and gift your team cheap goals.

Deep Lying Forward - Deep Lying Forwards are exactly what the name says. They sit back when not in possession to pick up the ball from a near AMC spot and move forward with the team as opposed to being the furthest player forward. This is useful if you intend to play the ball around quickly in order to make space and sit deep to play on the counter.

Trequartista - This role isn't a typical forward role. It concentrates more on the link up play and playing the passing game. The Trequartista uses movement to find space in order to link up play between the attacking midfielders and strikers. You may often find this player on the wings too if given enough space to do so.

Advanced Forward - The Advanced Forward will play off of the back of the opposition defenders so is prone to being offside. However with his pace and movement often means he can be one on one with the goalkeeper and be scoring 40/50 a season as a result. His movement means he will struggle to be tracked by a sub-par defender and can cause problems by dragging oppositions out of their natural positions creating room for others.

Poacher - A Poacher will sit in and around the box trying to get on the end of low crosses and passes. The primary aim of a Poacher is to put the ball into the back of the net from rebounds, deflections and crosses.

Target Man - Target Men use their strength and height in order to score goals or feed the ball to other players from long balls. They will look to outmuscle players and win everything in the air to generally keep possession, put the ball in the net or be a pest to the defenders.

Complete Forward - The name for a Complete Forward says it all. They do all of the forward roles as instructed and as they decide fit depending on the match they are playing in. This player will use his decisions and his well rounded attacking ability to play the best he can in the match. This is therefore the hardest role to be played in the game as it relies on extreme ability and decisions to conquer.


3b. Practicality of Player Roles


Now you have a good understanding of the backbone to each player role and their uses we need to consider the practicality of each one when setting up a team.

While it is easy to place the player's in roles that they are most suited for with their attributes sometimes this isn't the way to go about it as the pairing of roles can change the use of it. You need to consider this and envisage how each player will influence a role. For example if you want your Ball Winning Midfielder to go forward more then you shouldn't pair him with only "attacking" midfield player roles; such as Advanced Playmaker, else he will be solely responsible for defending and not have a chance to get into the opposition's third. Please note this will not cover every single combination as this would get extensive beyond readability. While you will find a few examples of combinations influencing defence it is more than likely you will find more to do with attacking and space due to roles occupying similar spaces will adapt to find new positions (such as INFs with a DLF). It may also be noted that positioning can have a say in a player's role whether this be attacking or defending; though it is in more cases than not the case 'if a player has a lot of room on one side of him then he will often drift to occupy this extra room.'

Throughout this article I am going to look at the variance of roles when you place another role with them or how you can get the best out of a player in a specific role by using other roles in your team.


Ball Playing Defenders with Central/Limited Defenders:

If you look at the Ball Playing Defender and what he is capable of then you wouldn't be wrong to think they can be hazardous. However pairing with another type of central defenders and they can be the first point in a very dangerous move. Putting a Ball Playing Defender with another defender (particularly two either side in a 3 or 5 man defensive line) allows him more freedom and to take more risks to get the most out of the player without the worry about them pushing up too far up and getting exposed by great movement and pace by the opposition.


Wing Backs with Inside Forwards:

As you know from the previous section wing backs are very adventurous and love to get forward . However with this it can also depend on who is far up the pitch as to the extent of how far they get up and what they do when they are up there. In the case of pairing them with Inside Forwards allow them to have the flank to themselves at times and mean they can get as far up the pitch as they desire.


Wing Backs with Wingers:

As mentioned in the above section of Wing Backs with Inside Forwards they act differently depending on the player higher up the pitch. In the case of Wingers they will often lie further back and feed the ball up to the wingers so that they can cross the ball. However, this isn't all as they may look to overlap and combine on the wing in a 2v2 situation as they move the ball around the side of the pitch to find a crossing spot. This is more the case when they play a team who are hard to break down and get men back as it allows the Wing Back to get further forward without much defensive responsibility.


Ball Winning Midfielders with Deep Lying Midfielders:

Ball Winning Midfielders are a unique player role in FMM2016 as they are one of the only players that can change their role almost entirely depending on how they are lined up with. If they are with a Deep Lying Midfielder then they will be a lot more aggressive and attacking than when paired with any other role. With a Deep Lying Midfielder they'll look to get forward and dribble the ball to shoot as opposed to sitting back and acting as a screen to break up play near him in front of the defence.


Multiple Advanced Playmakers:

While having many threats is very useful especially when it comes to the supply against high pressing teams it may actually be counter-intuitive to your team if you do not set them out correctly. Each playmaker needs two things - time and space, without these they will not thrive and their quality will suffer. In order to get the full potential out of your advanced playmaker/s you need to give them space. For example in a 433 you may want to play them either side of the 3 man midfield and not next to each other as this will limit their productivity and their similar styles will clash.


Wingers with Target Men:

In order to make a Target Man effective Wingers are often the most commonly used with him. Their deadly crosses are the perfect supply for the strong, lethal forwards. Able to dominate many people in the air the Target Men need a passing source to utilise this and Wingers do just that. If you have Target Men then a Winger is a real threat for the opposition unless you play long passing in which case this can also use his strength but in a different way. There will be more on passing styles and how to make it work later in the guide though.


Inside Forwards (Wing) vs Inside Forwards (Central):

Inside Forwards' are tasked with the job of finding space and bursting into them often to pass or shoot but their positioning is important. However placing an Inside Forward on the wing means they can only drift one way - inside by the side of the striker/s or just behind. On the other hand the central Inside Forwards will look to get past the striker/s in all sides possible.


Inside Forwards (Wing) with Deep Lying Forwards:

As the player role guide should have explained to you a Deep Lying Forward is a player whom sits farther back than a normal striker trying to bring the defenders up the field a bit to leave gaps in behind.  This means that when playing Inside Forwards that they will have even more room up front to get into and create a goal scoring player from the wing akin to Cristiano Ronaldo.


Inside Forwards (Wing) with Advanced Forwards:

As you may have noticed by now a common trend with Inside Forwards is that they drift inside when out on the wing. With this in mind an Advanced Forward will look to exploit this by getting into the free space around the edge of the boxes and the wings. This will end up pulling players out of their comfort zones  like the Inside Forwards to create deadly movement that is designed to confuse the opposition's defence. As Advanced Forwards love to make runs to get into pockets of space the opposition find difficult to attract this allows them to pull out space for the Inside Forwards to get into.


Advanced Forwards with Deep Lying Forwards:

As previously explained Advanced Forwards like to use their movement and pace to create chances. When you put an Advanced Forward with a Deep Lying Forward then they act as a pivot with the Advanced Forwards playing off of the defenders looking to beat the offside trap and the Deep Lying Forwards coming closer to bridge the gap between attack and midfield and take men away to feed the Advanced Forward. If your Advanced Forward has good pace, movement and decisions then he can be very hard to catch when he breaks free of the defence and paired with a natural scoring instinct then a goal is almost certain.


Poachers with Target Men:

Poachers' aim is to put the ball into the back of the net by being in the box on the opposition's blind side. When you pair this with a Target Man you get the situation of having polar opposites in which can outdo even the best defences with their movement and strength having to be matched. While the Target Man will be stationary for the most part he will feed the Poacher whom will pop up where the defenders don't expect him to as he floats around the Target Man to get into good areas. The Poacher will use the Target Man's natural levitation of drawing in opposition defenders to find his space and a scoring opportunity.


Trequartistas with Poachers OR Target Men:

When you pair a Trequartista with a Poacher or a Target Man then they will drop deeper and act as an ever-moving threat trying to feed the ball up. They'll drift from left to right just behind the main attacker looking to feed balls through and open up spaces for their partner to use. Their constant movement will make them hard to pick up and draw the opposition out to try and combat this but this can then leave their partner free for a killer through ball to be played. If that opportunity happens then they will duly oblige by providing that.


Advanced Forwards with Target Men:

Play an Advanced Forward beside or either side of a Target Man and you don't get a player who wants to just break past the defence but you'll get a player who will drift outside looking to chip the ball into the Target Man. As well as trying to feed off of his knock downs stretching the play and providing a variety in pressure for the opposition due to the opposite nature of the Advanced Forward and Target Man roles.


While I have covered the majority of player roles that differ and work well together this isn't all of them as Football Manager Mobile 2016 offers so many different roles and combinations that when working together can change the very nature of the play. I hope by explaining a few of them you can get a good grasp on how players evolve to suit their surrounding players.  Remember that balance is key in a tactic so using too many attacking/defensive players can create a great imbalance and you will find it hard to do the other or too similar players can lead to one dimensional play. You must consider the types of players you're playing else you may end up with a front line of two or three non-striking forwards such as a Defensive Forward with Deep Lying Forwards and these will then struggle to put the ball into the back of the net due to the nature of their roles. Don't be afraid to go with non-symmetrical player roles with your tactic if it suits your players better and can create deadly combinations as this can sometimes be the difference between a win and a draw.

The best advice about player roles to give is to envisage the roles and how they will be playing in a team, if you think something will work and can justify it then give it a go. Sometimes a little foresight is all that you require is the best thing to have when determining player roles so they don't clash and can work together to create a solid unit in both defence and attack. While Lionel Messi may prefer to be a poacher you have to consider how well he would perform in that role and also the influence of him being this in relation to the team as you may find that a Deep Lying Forward could benefit your squad more and therefore one simple change can win you the league! And most importantly be patient with your team, don't start modifying their roles after one game as you lost it may take time for them to settle. Deadly partnerships are not created over night but also be strict with the results you get by looking at their match statistics.


Part 4 - Balance

In a created tactic you will always need balance, you don't want 10 attackers and 0 defenders in a tactic right?

So, that is exactly why when creating tactics you need to check the balance, one of the most important things in any football tactic, let's use the standard 4-4-2 as an example.

In the standard 4-4-2 we have the standard goalkeeper and the defence, but then in the center of midfield you will usually have someone like a ball winning midfielder and a box to box midfielder, which means there is one that sits in front of the defence and sweeps the balls away while the box to box midfielder will be everywhere, tackling, shooting, passing the ball, and it would make the perfect balance of the midfield pairing, like the famous partnership of Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. Paired with one winger and one wide midfielder, it would give a nice balance of attack and defence, while the winger will be attacking and getting down the line and cross the ball into the penalty area, the wide midfielder will also cross, but will also play a more defensive role compared to the winger, like Ryan Giggs and David Beckham in the famous United era. For the striker partnership in a classic 442 formation, you would like a target man who could hold up the ball, and a poacher/advanced forward who could score the goals for you, so you will have a deadly partnership upfront with some fantastic balance in your side.


Part 5 - Width

You might get everything in Part 1-4 right, but width is an integral part of any tactic, you can play a very narrow 4-1-2-1-2 and play 2 full backs on FB instead of WB, and both flanks you would get absolutely spanked on, and also you cannot even get any attack down that area of the pitch as well, it would be really bad.

Let's use the current Leicester City side as an example. Claudio Raineri has made a fantastic 4-4-2 side, but the thinking behind it has the width everywhere. On the left hand side Albrighton as a winger and Fuchs as a wing back works like a charm, both of them will get up the pitch and cross the ball into Okazaki or Jamie Vardy.

Meanwhile on the right hand side, Mahrez, played as an Inside forward always cuts in and has shots or cross the ball into the center, while the wing back Danny Simpson provides the width for the right hand side and gets forward to cross the ball into the middle for the two strikers. One of the reason of Leicester's success this season is because the fantastic 442 tactic and the width in it is very important.


Part 6: Deciding on a style

In football, there are a lot of different styles, but you will need to decide on one particular style that you want to play in.

The first style that bigger teams use is the straight up attacking, it usually requires players with good passing, and shooting ability and a very good team shape.

The second style is a defensive style of play, playing 5 at the back is one of those styles' formation, but along that you usually play the counter attack, (because at the end of day, you need to score to win), so you will need a fast attack, like 2 very fast wingers with good dribbling as well so they can bomb up the field then cross the ball in to the striker.

The last style is the passing style, like a tiki-taka. In this style you will not only require players like Iniesta who can pass the ball and have fantastic vision, but also you need players that are suitable to be positions like the ball playing defender, because it is essential to that kind of systems.


Editor’s words:

And that marks the end of my basic tactic guide for you lot! Hope you have enjoyed, this has been a planning disaster but I think it turned out ok! Hope you enjoy!

Credits: @Dec

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Hi, thanks for this...  i have used Dec's tactic guide before but you seem to have an addition (or I have missed it from Dec's).  You say to change the Defensive / Balanced / Attack element depending on the odds for the match, does that work as I tend to keep it on Balanced.

Also would you recommend shorter passing for counter attacking play?  I always thought the difference was shorter passing means passing to the closest player who is closer to the goal than the player who has the ball, with direct meaning passing to the player closest to the goal.


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