We’ve all been there.

When you first pick up Football Manager, it can feel like a tactical minefield. There are so many options and styles along with countless tactics online that it can be difficult to know where to start.

Thankfully, here at Football Manager Tips, we have compiled a small list for beginners to try to grasp how tactics work and what they really do. What makes these tactics so beginner-friendly is that they have no individual instructions. All you have to do is copy the images below and you will have a full functioning tactic based on the style you want your team to play. I will also include a small few tips for you as these have all been tried and tested over 2 seasons by myself at various teams and I found consistent success in all of them. Enjoy!

Tiki-Taka (Guardiola) 


This has been one of my go-to tactics in FM 20 for possession-based football. A hybrid I personally made based on a tactic I found online, this tactic has been a mainstay for me over the past several months. During my playthrough as Barcelona, this tactic averaged 62% possession and a 74% win rate. It’s intense, fast and will enable you to dominate games with ease.

What you’ll need:

  • Players with strong work rate, composure and decisions stats. These stats will make or break this tactic for you. You need players who can consistently press off the ball while making the right calls when they’ve got it.

442 Wing Play (Dyche)

442 Wide Play

Frustratingly, my Burnley save corrupted where I tested this tactic so you will just have to take my word on this but it is astonishing what this tactic can achieve. My Burnley side, in coalition with this compact, counter-attacking, Brexit brand of football, reached the incredible heights of 4th in the Premier League with very limited signings. It’s a strong tactic for big away games too as it took the scalps of Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham. You won’t have a lot of the ball but you will break quickly and create clear-cut chances with ease.

What you’ll need:

  • Big centre-backs. This tactic relies on the acceptance that defensive width is where you will allow teams to hold the ball. Defenders with good heading and positioning are an absolute must. Ben Mee and James Tarkowski were outstanding for me.
  • I would strongly recommend using this tactic alongside our fantastic set-piece tactics as it will only enhance the prowess of your defenders. Consider turning on ‘Play for Set Pieces’ if you are planning to use this.

Catenaccio (Zoff, Trappatoni) 


The ultimate tactic for those who want to park the bus and not be ashamed of it. My Inter Milan side only conceded 22 goals in all competitions with this tactic and with good reason. While your output on goals will be very much limited to the quality of your dynamic trio at the top, the defensive aspects are what you are here for. This tactic follows the teachings of Italy at Euro 2000 where Zoff guided the Azzuri to the final only to lose on Golden Goal to France. If you’re all about defending, this tactic will frustrate your opponents to their core.

What you’ll need:

  • A highly technically capable front three. This tactic relies heavily on the front 3 to not only score those chances but to create them. The Mezzalas will be able to support occasionally but I consistently found my Trequartista was the true force of creativity. Make sure they have high dribbling, passing and vision stats for this to truly succeed.
  •  Good Wing-Backs. Your wing-backs will push wide to give the Libero and two ball-playing defenders space. This means they are very often in one-on-one situations to block crosses to the middle. While this can be tricky, ensuring they have good defensive stats such as positioning, marking and tacking will help to limit chance creation against you.

Gegenpress (Klopp, Nagelsmann) – My personal recommendation


It’s boring, I know. It’s another gegenpress tactic and I have no doubts you have seen thousands of these. But allow me to show you some pictures explaining why I have dubbed this tactic ‘Pompeyball‘.

This tactic was created when I took over Portsmouth for a save of mine a few months ago and it has been one of my most successful tactics of all time. In just 5 seasons, this tactic has guided Portsmouth from the depths of League One to a Champions League, 2 Premier Leagues, 2 Carabao Cups and 2 Community Shields. It is insane.

In my current season, we have so far lost only 2 games in all competitions including scoring 5 or more goals in 17 games.

What you’ll need:

  • A fast striker and wingers. This tactic is all about pace. You want to get in behind at every opportunity possible with your attacking line.
  • Work rate across the board. While it can be frustrating when scouting, work rate in this tactic is so important in every area. This tactic functions on the basis that your team will outwork the opponent.
  • Wing backs with good crossing and vision. Taking inspiration from the output of Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold at Liverpool, your main forms of chance creation will be your wing backs delivering balls into the box. A regen wing back of mine managed to get 14 league assists in a season so make this a priority.

That’s all I have! I hope you enjoyed this article and found some use in it. Please feel free to send me or the page your questions and your successes on Instagram.

Thanks for reading.