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The best Football Manager 2022 tactics to win matches and titles

Football Manager 2022
(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

Football Manager 2022 tactics are critical because in the digital dugout, as with real life, the beautiful game can be a harsh mistress. You can be an exceptional motivator on the training ground and a real wheeler-and-dealer in the transfer market, but it’ll all count for nought – barring a P45 – if your tactics aren’t up to scratch. That’s why, before diving headfirst into a journeyman save or title-winning career you’ll need to brush up on the best Football Manager 2022 tactics and formations first.

That counts for double this year: there are new roles to wrap your head around and, as you’ll soon find out, new systems that work far better than the plug-and-play options of previous entries. 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress isn’t quite off the table, but it’s far less effective than in recent years. So, let’s go back to the drawing board. While there’s never one single instant-win formation on offer, here are some of the best FM 22 tactics you should be using – no matter the league, division, or level of talent at your disposal.

5-2-3 Tiki-Taka

(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

Say hello to the wide centre back. To get the most out of FM 22’s most eye-catching new role, the 5-2-3 (we’ve gone with a Tiki-Taka preset, though you can certainly tweak to your heart’s content) works well.

This allows you to control most games with a patient, measured approach. It’s also one of the easiest to switch things up on the fly – provided you remember FM’s cardinal rule around formations: have multiple setups in reserve on the tactics screen.

The wing backs help provide width and, along with the wide centre backs, you are able to overload most opposition in the final third with the right personnel. A fair warning, though: wide centre backs must have at least 15 stamina, work rate, and positioning to get anything even close to resembling effective results. If you’re in the lower divisions, try not to overcomplicate things and just stick to a normal centre back.

In the middle, you need a solid base. We’d recommend toggling things to be more defensive if you’re shipping goals: Central Midfield – Defend and Deep Lying Playmaker – Support roles help in that regard.

Out wide, you shouldn’t utilise wingers or the ‘Attack’ mentality too much. Keep things narrow and compact, allowing for the centre backs to cover for the wing backs to maraud down either flank. A strong, physical presence up front also works best as they’ll be flying solo for large portions of the game, waiting for players to gravitate towards them in attack. If you’re struggling with goals, put each wing back on Complete Wing Back – Support and consider making both your wide attackers Inside Forwards.

4-2-3-1 Gegenpress

Football Manager 2022

(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

No, it’s not quite as overpowered as last year, but 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress is very much a viable tactic in FM 22. Why? Simply put, the AI can’t always deal with the sheer amount of pressing if you set your system up right. It often leaves gaps – and causes mistakes – for your inside forward in particular to exploit. So, for this to work well, you’ll need (ideally a right-footed) left inside forward that has bags of stamina and composure and can work in tandem with a Complete Wing Back.

We’ve actually found better luck with this tactic in leagues that permit five subs beyond the first season (i.e. not the Premier League) as the condition of your players drops far faster than in FM 21.

You can keep the roles as seen in the above screenshot, but be sure to tweak mentality for away games. We find ‘Cautious’ with a slightly lower defensive line works well if you’re not going to see much of the ball. Other than that, this remains by far the best tactic for newcomers to learn the ropes with and should let you fill out your trophy cabinets earlier than expected.

4-3-3 (with DM)

Football Manager 2022

(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

I had great success with this last year and, thankfully, it still works well in FM 22 – but there are things to consider before you dish out instructions to your team. There are two positions you should focus on: the DM and the Mezzala just ahead of him.

The latter should have exceptional passing and positioning attributes so he can dictate the play. The Mezzala, ideally, should come equipped with high dribbling and long shots stats. The third midfield player can be tweaked to whatever is required, though a ball winning midfielder works well.

Elsewhere, set specific player instructions such as your lone striking dribbling with the ball more. It’s perfect for counter attacks. We recommend setting your inside forwards to take more risks late on; this Liverpool-style formation is usually lightning-quick and lethal in the final third during the final 30 minutes of games.

4-4-2 Direct Counter Attack

Football Manager 2022

(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

AKA Mike Bassett’s trusty tactic. Four-four-flippin’-two isn’t quite as archaic as armchair pundits would have you believe – at least not on Football Manager, anyway.

Set up with two banks of four, including a pair of wingers, and a low defensive line. Throw on a Cautious mentality and ask your players to Stay Disciplined. It’s not pretty but if you’re expected to struggle, this is a formation that helps get the most out of a technically limited team. Early crosses and pacey wingers are also a potent mix.

We’ve tried many different flavours of 4-4-2 already and, honestly, getting the midfield pairing right is the tricky part. Try a deep-lying playmaker and Mezzala combo or a box-to-box midfielder to help get some more bodies in the box if your attacking play isn’t as sharp as you’d like. But if you’re shipping goals, this is the way to go.

4-1-4-1

Football Manager 2022

(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

Another formation with a lone striker, but this one is best suited to soaking up pressure and hitting teams on the counter. Oddly, my Ipswich save – where I’m using 4-1-4-1 – has seen my left back perform exceptionally well under the Wing Back role, and goals pop up from all over the pitch with this system.

Set things up as seen above, but ensure you’ve got a tall, strong defensive midfielder to act as the glue holding the team together. Without that, this formation will lack the defensive rigidity which makes it so effective. Speedy wingers and wing backs also help put teams to the sword when they least expect it from our experience.

Need some players to plug into these sexy formations? Then be sure to check out GR’s Football Manager 2022 wonderkids guide.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.