[Top 10] Football Manager 23 Best Tactics

Football Manager 23 Best Tactics

10. Positive 4-3-3 DM WB Wide - Stevie G’s 4-3-3

Gerrard did well as a manager, once!

Steven Gerrard played at a high tempo, was ‘in your face’ was full of quality. This take on the tactic he used so successfully at Rangers. 

It may be named as a 4-3-3 but this tactic actually plays more as a 2-3-2-2-1 that puts a huge emphasis on your wing backs and requires them to have great stamina. For best results, this is best used with teams expected to challenge for the top four and it might see them get closer to the title than previously expected

Your wing backs will play high up the pitch but will drop back to make a defensive four to provide a solid base for your team.It is important that your wing backs stay wider and get further forward to get crosses into the box. They will have cover provided by the anchor in midfield who will stay back to break play and stop counter attacks

In an attacking sense, your wing backs are vital to provide the overlap on both sides and get crosses into the box. They are pushed high as a flat back four in this formation stifles your attacking powers. Ahead of the anchor will be the box to box midfielder with freedom to move into the channels to get on the ball and the deep lying playmaker whose role is to hold his position and take more risks, looking to release the overlapping wing backs in dangerous positions. 

Use two inside forwards and a pressing forward to complete this tactic. Keep the inside forwards narrow to allow space for the wing backs. When you have the ball, play with a high tempo, work the ball into the box and dribble at the defence using a short passing game. In transition and out of possession your team needs to  play with a high tempo and put pressure on your opponents as you look to win the ball back in their defensive third. 

Positive 4-3-3 DM WB Wide - Stevie G’s 4-3-3 Strengths: 

  • High intensity, win the ball back high up the pitch.
  • Covered against counter attacks. 
  •  Score lots of goals. 


9. Positive 3-4-2-1 - Xabi Alonso Overloads

Alonso has tactics worth KOPying.

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen are making people sit up and take notice in the Bundesliga and his favoured tactic is one that creates overloads in the midfield and space in the wide areas. 

When in possession, keep narrow and focus your attacks through the middle of the pitch to allow space for your wing backs to advance into. Pass into space to make the most of the overlapping fullbacks and have them crossing early for your advanced forward. Your deep lying playmaker should drop deep to receive the ball from you defenders to force your opposition out of shape. The overload in midfield with one of the narrow wing backs and the DLP and regista will not only help you keep possession but to create space for those defence splitting passes.

In your defensive three, one of your centre backs will ideally be a ball playing defender who is encouraged to dribble more to allow freedom to step out of the defence and help create the overload. In transition, press the opposition and look to counter attack as soon as you get the ball back. To help this, maintain a high press line of engagement and a higher defensive line to compact the space in the centre of the pitch. 

Positive 3-4-2-1 - Xabi Alonso Overloads Strengths:

  • Lots of goals.
  • Entertaining football.
  • Keep possession and draw your opponents out of position. 


8. 4-1-3-2 Narrow

It's goals, goals, goals with this tactic.

Another tactic that will, or should, bring lots of goals for and very few against. If you are in charge of one of the best teams in a league, they will smash it! If you are in control of a less fancied team, you will overachieve. 

Two ball playing defenders in the centre back positions will kick start your attacks and by using inverted full backs your team will stay narrow and free up space out wide for the two attacking midfielders and shadow strikers. The defensive ball winning midfielder is there to provide cover and break up any counter attacks and to allow those ahead of him to focus on getting forwards and getting the goals. A shadow striker just in behind the two pressing forwards, who have a freedom to move into the channels and get behind the defence, will cause multiple problems for the opposition.

This tactic will see you have your fair share of possession, use it with shorter passes but also allow your flair players to run at the defence so you are not one dimensional. When in transition, this tactic is different to many others as instead of being at a high tempo and pressing it encourages you to slow the pace down and take care of possession. When you don’t have the ball,raise the tempo, press high and get stuck in! 

4-1-3-2 Narrow Strengths:

  • Lots of goals for.
  • Elite teams dominate.
  • Less fancied teams overachieve. 


7. Positive 4-4-2 - Wenger’s Invincibles

Arsene Wenger guided his Arsenal team to the title and an unbeaten season in 2004 using a tactic that we don’t often see in modern football- 4-4-2. 

As with the majority of these tactics, it will bring you goals but also the bonus of a mean defence, giving you a platform to take the league by storm. It is important to play with a positive mentality as anything less will result in a season packed with bore draws. When you have the ball, play at a high tempo and encourage overlaps on both sides of the pitch. 

Your build up will be intricate as the passing style is short as your players look to find the spaces to work the ball into the box. When you are out of possession, keep the tempo high as you press far up the pitch looking to steal possession back quickly. Up top, you can decide between a deep lying forward or a false 9 to partner an advanced forward and your attackers will have the freedom to roam, take more risks and move into the channels. 

To support your strikers, your wingers should look to get the ball in the area and stay further forward to provide an outlet for the ball winning midfielder and roaming playmaker. The BWM could be set to harder tackling but that is part of their game you can decide as it may lead to more bookings- perhaps more realistic for Wenger’s Arsenal though! 

Use your full backs to provide extra width and cross the ball into the box for your frontmen to latch on to. Give yourself one ball playing defender who can take the ball from your goalkeeper with their partner there purely to defend. 

Positive 4-4-2 - Wenger’s Invincibles Strengths:

  • Can be used with the elite and lesser teams. 
  • Very tight defence.
  • Two up front cause lots of problems for opposition and score lots of goals. 


6. Positive 4-2-3-1 Wide

Once again you will score lots of goals with this tactic. The addition of the CAM as a shadow striker with the freedom to roam into channels and take risks adds to the popular inverted winger and inside forward feeding the advanced forward.  This attacking prowess is supported by a solid midfield pair made up of a deep lying playmaker and a box to box midfielder. The DLP is given the freedom to take more risks in order to support the attack and find those killer passes. 

You are playing with a positive mentality so your defenders need to be ball playing and your wing backs should be encouraged to get forward and cross from the byline. As with any of the tactics, you may wish to tweak your mentality depending on your opposition’s strength.

Positive 4-2-3-1 Wide Strengths:

  • High scoring tactic. 
  • CAM adds a new attacking dimension.
  • Play attractive, attacking football. 


5. Positive 4-3-3 DM Wide - Sensational 4-3-3

Using this formation and tactic should bring you lots of goals, approaching an average of three per game, particularly for your main forward and will also keep you defensively tight. 

A positive mentality combined with shorter passing and a slower tempo are needed for this tactic to really work. Pep’s teams keep the ball and have a large share of possession, keeping the passes short and the tempo lower ensure your team will keep the ball but still make progress up the pitch. 

Your inverted wing backs should look to stay narrow and cut inside to allow them to feed short passes to one of the three midfield players. The anchor in midfield with their hard tackling instruction protects against counter attacks and allows the mezzala freedom to get forward and create. 

The pressing forward will score bags of goals and will be supported by the inside and inverted winger who will be looking to cut inside and shoot themselves.  

Positive 4-3-3 DM Wide - Sensational 4-3-3 Strengths:

  • You will score a hat full of goals
  • Your team will keep it tight at the back
  • It can be used with elite and lower level teams. 


4. Positive 5-2-3 Wide - Ultimate 5-2-3

Take your midtable team to glory.

The ultimate 5-2-3 will see loads of goals but will keep you tight at the back. Your wingbacks are vitally important to get the best from this tactic as their role will be to get the ball into the middle for the three advanced players. Your main forward will score lots of goals but the wingers will chip in with lots of assists and goals themselves and, at the other end, your goalie is likely to keep a fair few clean sheets. This is a great tactic to improve the fortunes of those teams predicted to finish in the top 6 or 8 and drive them up the table.

When you are in possession, utilise the space with your passing and play out from the back at a higher tempo while allowing your players to express themselves. Get your team on the front foot by looking to counter press and counter attack the opposition while maintaining a high press line of engagement. It is a tactic with simple instructions but is highly effective. 

Positive 5-2-3 Wide - Ultimate 5-2-3 Strengths:

  • Keep clean sheet.
  • Score lots of goal.
  • Take the unfancied team to glory.


3. Pep’s Perfect 3-2-4-1

Pep, you are spoiling us!

It can’t really be argued that Pep Guardiola is the greatest manager currently working and this is your chance to replicate his all dominating tactic. 

Some will think that playing with the elite teams is too easy and you should manage an underdog but others gain greater enjoyment from building a dominating side who sweep all before them. This tactic is definitely for the elite sides out there. With this set up and the elite team of your choice you will score lots and lots of goals while remaining really hard to beat defensively. 

Play with a higher tempo, keep the passes short and work the ball into the box to work the ball around your opponents and create the space for goals, goals and more goals! You will need to be pressing with a high line of engagement and take the risk of a few bookings here and there by getting stuck in! Of the three defenders, use two ball playing defenders (you will have lots of possession) and one central defender. 

What’s really interesting with this tactic is the use of the half back. It sounds very 1950s-esque but it is a player who will drop even deeper than a standard defensive midfielder and offer an outlet for ball lying defenders and will keep the ball moving quickly. As well as their quality on the ball, they will also provide protection against counter attacks. 

Ahead of the half back your team is all about attacking strength. A risk taking roaming playmaker will look to feed your wingers who in turn will look to feed the ball and provide chances for the shadow striker, advanced playmaker and advanced forward.

Your team will be hammering opponents with the attacking intent they have. However, you can get even more attacking with a change in mentality or tighten things up at the back by choosing to waste time and slow the pace down. 

Pep’s Perfect 3-2-4-1 Strengths:

  • An incredible amount of goals.
  • Wonderful link up between the front four.
  • Attacking and defensive variants that can be used depending on your opponent's ability. 


2. Positive 4-2-4 Wide - Goals, Goals, Goals

It is designed to outscore your opponent and you have to be prepared to concede some goals. You are likely to score around 100 goals a season and around three per game but will see the opposition score on average around once per match. The two in midfield are quite defensive and this provides you with cover against the counter attack with the deep lying midfielder there to spray the passes to the wings or get the striker in behind.

Play with a positive mentality, pass into space and have your team ready to overlap on both sides - this is very important as it creates space and an overload for your team when attacking. When you lose possession, you want your team to immediately press to try and win the ball back before counter attacking when they do. This tactic is based on a high tempo and pressing with the aim of winning the ball back high up the pitch and punishing the opposition.

Keep your wingers high and have them cut inside with the ball to get shots off and to aim crosses towards the centre to give your two forwards the best chance of getting on the end of it. 

Positive 4-2-4 Wide - Goals, Goals, Goals Strengths:

  • You will score a shed load of goals.
  • It can be adapted to be slightly more defensive if playing against stronger opposition.
  • Having two up front brings greater attacking prowess and occupies the defenders of the opposition.


1. Positive 5-2-3 Wide - Ultimate Underdog

Give the underdog some real bite with this tactic

This tactic is best suited to those teams who are not expected to achieve much in the league and is perfect to get your side to overachieve. Using a slightly more direct and counter attacking style allows you to hit teams hard and aggressively when you win the ball back. It can also be used with one of the ‘elite’ and will see you dominate your division. 

Playing with three centre backs and the two wing backs makes your team solid and will provide a base to soak up the pressure before pouncing on your opponents with devastating counter attack. You won’t score bags of goals or have tons of possession using this tactic but you will be successful in front of goal and will remain solid at the back to grind out results, even against the big boys. The inside forward and inverted winger provide your team with plenty of width and, as well as providing assists for your advanced forward, will chip in with some vital goals themselves. 

It is important you play with a positive mentality as anything less with the five at the back will lead to plenty of bore draws. When in possession, set your team up to stay wide, play out of defence and play with a high tempo. In transition, play on the counter attack to really damage your bigger opponents but when you lose possession make sure that you keep a standard defensive line as anything lower than that will mean you are dominated and keep a high press to make sure you can capitilise on any mistakes your opponent makes. 

Providing a mix of positivity and defensive solidity, this tactic will see you soak up the pressure, strike quickly on the counter attack and see your team overachieve. 

Positive 5-2-3 Wide - Ultimate Underdog Strengths:

  • Five at the back will make your team solid and hard to break down.
  • Grind out results and overachieve against the bigger teams in the division.
  • Adaptability - this tactic allows for tweaks mid game and mid season.


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After thousands of hours, Tom should be better at winning virtual football matches but is instead used to be battling relegation and writing about it.
Gamer Since: 1998
Favorite Genre: Sports
Currently Playing: Championship Manager 01/02, Football Manager 2021
Top 3 Favorite Games:FIFA 16, Football Manager 2016,

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