FM19 tactics: the best strategies to clinch victory in Football Manager 2019 | PCGamesN
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FM19 tactics: the best strategies to clinch victory in Football Manager 2019

A squad of superstars will play like a team of strangers without the right tactics. Here’s how to get the best from your first XI

fm 19 tactics

What are the best FM19 tactics? Football’s beauty is matched only by its depth and complexity so, sadly, there is no universal answer to this question. Whether you’re managing a motley crew of part-timers vying for promotion to the big leagues or a team of bona fide world beaters, you’re going to need the right FM 19 tactics to get the most from your squad’s potential.

So, where to start? If you’re a brand new manager you might well feel overwhelmed by all the choices you’ll have to make. You’ll need a formation, mentality, and strategies for how you’ll play both with and without the ball. You can even decide the individual role of every player in the first team. It’s also a good idea to tweak your strategies based on your upcoming opposition, too.

Thankfully onboarding new players when it comes to Football Manager 2019 tactics has never been better. Tactical styles are templates that give you a head start and a visual 2D representation of how it will play out, from Tiki-Taka to Parking the Bus. Equally, veteran players can tinker their tactics as much as ever to create the style they desire. Whichever managerial camp you fall into, here are the best FM 19 tactics and how to decide them.

How to build FM 19 tactics

If you’ve turned tutorials on, you’ll have the opportunity for your first assistant manager to give you primers on the majority of the game’s systems. All are skippable and you can choose to ignore lots of decisions on your assistant. That said you should pay close attention to the systems that have seen the most change: Training and Tactics.

Before you start working on your tactics, make sure you’ve got to know your squad’s strengths and weaknesses – and made efforts to address them in the transfer window. The comments highlighted in either a bold red or green are the most important ones to think about.

Do you have especially strong wingers and tall, strong forwards? Consider a wing play-focused approach. If you’re strong defensively but have comparatively low funds with which to add offensive players to the list, Parking the Bus might be the best – if not most attractive – strategy to employ. The simplest way to see where you need to sign is in the ‘Squad Depth’ tab under Team Report, as it shows you in a nice and neat way how many players are jostling for their place in each position.

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You start masterminding your team’s approach by navigating to the Tactics menu, but your assistant gaffer will also remind you down the line so you’re not bombarded by too much information all at once. This will offer you the Tactics induction that starts by offering a selection of tactical styles, with brief descriptions of each. You have three to choose from, but think carefully about your primary one: that is the one on which your squad will focus in training.

Clicking on each tactical style will tell you whether each is positive or negative, the collective player roles in transit, and in and out of possession. There are lots of sliders and options to tweak from here and you can go as in-depth as you want, whether that’s sticking religiously to the template or tweaking the role of every last player in the squad. You can also adjust your tactic over the course of the season and depending on a particularly tricky opposition.

All FM 19 tactics style and how they work:

FM 19 tactics - Control Possession

Control Possession

Suggested formations:

  • 4-2-3-1 Wide
  • 4-1-4-1 DM Wide
  • 5-2-2-1 WB

Almost all of your first XI will need to be confident on the ball for this one. If you want to control possession and patiently wait for an opportunity to penetrate the opposition’s defence, you’re going to need to play a high line with a fluid formation. In other words, your side will be comfortable adapting their position depending on the situation. You’ll need to work your team hard in training, too: this high press, high-intensity style will be tiring, but it’ll be harder for the other team to charge you down consistently for 90 minutes.

Gegenpress

Suggested formations:

  • 4-1-4-1 DM Wide
  • 4-2-3-1 Wide
  • 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow

Popularised by the infectiously-entertaining Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp, the Gegenpress is another positive tactical philosophy that will test your club’s training regimen. This style is all about harassing the other team in their own half and ruthlessly hounding down any loose balls. Gegenpress can leave you vulnerable at the back, however, so you’ll have to place considerable trust in your team’s pace, stamina, and ball retention.

Tiki-Taka

Suggested formations:

  • 4-1-4-1 DM Wide
  • 4-2-3-1 Wide
  • 5-2-2-1 WB

What do you do if you’re short in a sport of tall, physical players? Just change the game. That’s precisely what Johan Cruyff and later Lionel Messi, Xavi, and Andres Iniesta did as they spearheaded the Tiki-Taka tactical style. An attacking and positive strategy, Tiki-Taka places on emphasis on short, rapid passing and a high defensive line. Possession should rarely be relinquished and it’s unlikely your each player will have more than a couple of touches of the ball before releasing.

FM 19 tactics - Vertical Tiki-Taka

Vertical Tiki-Taka

Suggested formations:

  • 4-1-4-1 DM Wide
  • 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow
  • 5-2-1-2 WB

Vertical Tiki-Taka is more direct than its tactical sibling made famous by the Spanish national team. The key difference is a focus more on direct penetration than patient side-to-side passing. Effectively both this and the more traditional version of this tactic are more focused versions of the Control Possession style.

Wing Play

Suggested formations:

  • 4-4-2
  • 4-1-4-1 DM Wide
  • 4-2-4 Wide

Now onto the more traditional sets of FM 19 tactics and formations. Wing Play features a focus on width as the ball is spread as quickly as possible to the touchline, with full-backs busting a gut to overlap and offer an offensive outlet. Pacey wingers that can offer of a handy ball into the box are just as essential as the tall strikers capable of converting them.

Route One

Suggested formations:

  • 4-4-2
  • 4-1-4-1 DM Wide
  • 4-4-1-1

If you’re managing a club battling it out amid the highest echelons of the game with fans paying through-the-nose to see their team, play this tactical style and you should expect a revolt. However, in the lower leagues or as an under-the-cosh away side this can be a useful counter-attacking style. Just soak up opposition pressure and play a lofty ball right where it hurts. Fast and patient forwards are recommended.

FM 19 tactics - Fluid Counter-Attack

Fluid Counter-Attack

Suggested formations:

  • 4-1-4-1 DM Wide
  • 4-4-1-1
  • 5-3-2 WB

Once again you’ll be inviting pressure from the other team in your half when it comes to the Fluid Counter-Attack tactic. Once the opposition have over-committed your midfielders and forwards will be looking for gaps and vulnerabilities quickly. Unlike the Direct Counter-Attack Tactic, the formation you choose is secondary to the speed with which you counter-attack. In layman’s terms: your side will be less inclined to stick rigidly to their position in their mad dash to get forward.

Direct Counter-Attack

Suggested formations:

  • 4-4-2
  • 4-1-4-1 DM Wide
  • 4-4-1-1

The crucial difference between this and the former style is the strategy with which your first XI counters. Here the attacking passing is more direct and structured, which is something your players will need to know inside out from training.

Catenaccio

Suggested formations:

  • 5-3-2 WB
  • 5-1-2-2 DM WB
  • 5-4-1 WB Wide

Catenaccio translates as ‘door-bolt’ from the Italian, which gives you a pretty good idea that we’re onto the more defensively-minded set of FM 19 tactics. The Catenaccio style relies on an airtight defence to frustrate enemy attacks. Your team will need to move as a solid, impregnable unit, so your side will have to boast strong communication and defensive skill.

FM 19 tactics - Park the Bus

Park the Bus

Suggested formations:

  • 4-4-2
  • 4-1-4-1 DM
  • 4-2-3-1 DM

And now onto the distinctly less sexy-sounding English equivalent, Parking the Bus. Used often as a pejorative term, Parking the Bus is the philosophy of the footballing philistine; it’s for teams that are well aware their chances of victory are slim. With a back line so far back it’s edging into the stands, your players will be looking to waste time at any opportunity, slow the pace of the game to a standstill, and disrupt the opposition’s flow. Then, if your side somehow gets a sniff at a set piece or chance to score, they’d better, for your the sake of your career, convert.

And that’s our FM 19 tactics guide to help you rise up the leagues, or at the very least stay in a job. Of course you’re going to need decent players to execute these strategies, so ensure that you’ve had a stab at signing some FM 19 wonderkids to help strengthen and future-proof your squad. For now, best of luck building your next silverware-winning tactical masterstroke.

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