We’ve all been there. Spending chunks of your precious evening meticulously tweaking your perfectly balanced 442 formation. Making sure your central midfielders compliment each other, your wing back instructions set so they know exactly when to overlap, strike partnership modified so both of them aren’t pushing too far forward. Guardiola would be proud of your attention to detail. The weekend fixtures come, however, and it’s a 2-0 loss. Four more consecutive defeats follow and you’re left wondering – where did it all go wrong?

The standard 442 and 4231 formations are very commonly used in Football Manager games, both because they’re popular in the real world and because, with the introduction of player roles in FM, it is easy to find the players that fit nicely into these tactics. They’re a safe bet, a comfort blanket. But what if you wanted to live life on the edge? Play by your own rules? Break the mould? Could you be a managerial success?

I decided to find out. There is an abundance of weird and wonderful Football Manager 2020 tactics all over the internet that FM veterans and enthusiasts like to share, some of them more unusual than others. I chose a host of the strangest formations/tactics that were doing the rounds online and tested them over the course of 10 games, to see if I could find a few that were a success. As it turns out, there were 5.

1. 2341 by LisaFox

This first tactic is one that, I would say, was the most successful tactic out of the 5. Fielding both wing backs and flat wide midfielders, as well as two Advanced Playmakers behind the lone striker, it certainly got me scratching my head and thinking how on earth this would work. The Wolves players I was using for testing seemed to fit nicely into this formation, however, and as 10 games whizzed by, I was mightily impressed. 7 wins, 2 draws and 1 losses left me with 23 points. Perfect.

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2. 41230 by Knapp

Knapp’s formation was a little less fun as it didn’t let me play with a striker (sorry Raul Jimenez). Although this was the case, I was eager to see how the team pressed out of possession with 3 Shadow Strikers and a huge gap in midfield for Leander Dendoncker to fill. There were struggles at times, mainly in terms of finishing chances, but this may have been down to the fact that players weren’t entirely comfortable in their roles. Grinding out wins did the trick so technically it was a ‘success’, but I certainly had more fun testing the others. 20 points from 10 games.

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3. 3232 by xSue

Sue… wherever you are, I’d just like to thank you for this tactic. It was so f***ing weird but I was on the edge of my seat in a few of the games. To say they were thrillers was an understatement, a 6-4 hammering of Aston Villa a personal highlight. The midfield was dominated most games, the players were often exhausted, but the front 5 had a lot of firepower, Pedro Neto showing his quality so early on in the season. 19 points from 10 games and 29 goals scored.

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4. 253 by Ronzy

This next formation is one that I certainly found intriguing. Why? Because two defenders and two Segundo Volantes got me wondering who on earth thought this was a feasible idea. With just Wing Backs and no Full Backs, I was worried that the wide areas would be exploited and I was right. In several of the fixtures, goals would be conceded all too easily from crosses. Jimenez didn’t suit the DLF role, but I should point out that I did have to play the entire ‘Top 6’ in my opening 10 games. 17 points acquired, so I’d still call that a success.

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5. 41212 by FMKorea

Out of the 5 formations tested, this one is probably the least unusual. However, the thing that struck me most about FMKorea’s tactic was the use of the IWB to sure up the gaps in midfield. I didn’t like the fact that there were two Advanced Forwards, but I tried my hardest not to change their roles and powered through the 10 fixtures set. I could argue that this should be higher up the list, as there were several fixtures where we were hard done by due to red cards and last minute equalisers/winners. 16 points from 10 games. I decided to carry on for an extra 10 games to see if my fortunes would change and, by the end of the calendar year, I was sitting pretty in 3rd. Lovely.

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So there you have it, 5 successful FM20 tactics that will make the opposition (and probably even your own players) incredibly confused. But hey, it’s always fun to be a little different.