- Football Manager 2024 is one of the best games around, but deciding what tactics to use is challenging.
- There are countless options available, from a high-pressing 4-2-3-1 to a defensive 5-3-2.
- These 12 formations give you all the options you need, despite excluding all the random formations people come up with!
Football Manager 2024 is finally in full flow and – once again – it is considered one of the best sports games of the year. You’re probably not surprised, with Sports Interactive continuing to amaze their fans every year that it’s not even a surprise anymore; it’s an expectation.
This year it’s formed as one of the most polished sports games of all time, with everything from updated set-piece tactics, new leagues (say hello to the Japanese league), improved graphics and the consistent joy – and disappointment – of a final-day match to win the title.
However, that joy – or disappointment – is only possible after careful tactics are decided by the manager, you! It’s a challenge in itself to decide what you want your tactical philosophy to be. Do you want to channel your inner Jürgen Klopp or play old-fashioned style football in a 4-4-2? This is the beauty of Football Manager; it’s up to you and the consequences of your actions can be entirely different every time.
It’s worth noting that you can play absolutely any formation in FM24 – yes, this includes a crazy 1-5-4 – but most aren’t the classic formations you see on the home screen. These 12 formations are common within the game, but they all provide different positives and negatives.
Every Formation in FM24
4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide
4-3-3 DM Wide
4-3-2-1 DM AM Narrow
5-2-2-1 DM AM
5-2-3 DM Wide
4-2-4 DM Wide
5-2-1-2 DM AM
4-4-2 Diamond Narrow
4-2-2-2 DM AM Narrow
5-3-2 DM WB
Starting off the list is the 3-4-3. There’s one simple way to define it: chaos. Leaving you open at the back, you’ll probably concede countless goals in this formation but – as just mentioned – it will be chaotic and entertaining. With the left midfielder and right midfielder, you have space along the flanks to utilise, whilst the amount of people in the final third will help you score goals. The likelihood of matches finishing 5-4, 4-3 or even 5-5 seems quite likely in this formation, especially if you opt for the high-pressing to leave you even more vulnerable at the back.
11 5-3-2 DM WB
On the face of it, the 5-3-2 DM WB may seem defensive – and of course, it can be. However, this formation is unique by allowing you to play aggressive football whilst also sitting back. The wing-backs are key in this system, driving high up the pitch – as if they are wingers – are supporting the attackers. The three centre-backs will often sit back unless you choose to use a wide centre-back, which provides stability. Of course, it is risky, knowing you have to rely on counter-attacking football to win, but against the best teams, it might work in Football Manager 2024. It’s like channelling your inner Sam Allardyce, acting as if the defence can solely win matches.
10 4-2-2-2 DM AM Narrow
You might know the 4-2-2-2 DM AM Narrow from EA Sports FC 24. In that game, it is considered overpowered, allowing you to throw men into the box without the risk of being counter-attacked immediately. However, in Football Manager it is not as effective – and rarely used by gamers around the world. It is highly dependent on aggressive football and using width from the wing-backs. If you choose to use defensive wing-backs, you will likely struggle, because you would have very few options in the final third. It’s defensively secure with the two defensive midfielders, but it lacks balance overall.
9 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow
The 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow is a formation rarely seen in modern football. In fact, with clubs insistent on aggressive formations and utilising width, they often forget about it. But don’t worry, we haven’t and the 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow offers some intriguing positives and negatives. Used to dictate the tempo of the match, you will become possession-heavy with it, but – unless you have your full-backs driving forward – you will struggle to create any width. Playing through defences centrally is often a struggle, knowing the opposition team pack the area out to make it as tight as possible in FM24.
8 5-2-1-2 DM AM
Going back to five at the back formations, the 5-2-1-2 DM AM is another tactic that seems defensive on paper, but it has the potential to be aggressive, compact and potentially even attacking. The two strikers provide a vocal point upfront, whilst the lone attacking midfielder is able to string together passes and dictate the tempo of the match at his will. Combined with the wing-backs providing width – as long as they are set to attacking – the formation is well-balanced and has everything you need to perform against the very best. However, relying on counter-attacking football can often be boring.
7 4-2-4 DM Wide
The 4-2-4 DM Wide has the reputation of being chaotic, bold and – often – too attacking. Well, that’s what players of EA Sports FC 24 and several managers around the world would say. However, in Football Manager 2024, it has the potential to be a clever formation to use. The wingers provide width on the flanks, whilst the two attackers, with one potentially dropping deep like Harry Kane, can help string together the transitional plays through the middle of the back. The full-backs can now be used as inverted full-backs (a new addition to FM24), which will help you overload midfield in possession.
When people think about a football formation growing up, they usually think of the 4-4-2 and it’s for good reason. Once the most common formation around the world, it is now slowly dying out, with connotations of defensive and untechnical football overshadowing it. However, in FM24, it can work, especially in the lower leagues. As the positions suggest, it is incredibly well-balanced, providing you with width, options in the final third and balance in the middle of the park. The combination of an inverted winger and an attacking full-back can also work perfectly, knowing you can ‘double up’ on opposition defenders.
5 5-2-3 DM Wide
The 5-2-3 DM Wide is another formation that doesn’t look too balanced when you first look at it. After all, the huge gap in the middle of the park suggests so. However, in possession, there are ways to make this one of the most balanced formations around. Using inverted wing-backs you can overload the midfield whilst also having width from your wingers. The use of inverted wing-backs is commonly used now for this exact reason, helping dictate matches. However, just like other formations with five at the back, it is not seen often within the Football Manager community, with most resorting to the final four.
4 5-2-2-1 DM AM
The best five at the back formation? Some would say so! The 5-2-2-1 DM AM is one of the most exciting formations to use in Football Manager because of the unique qualities it possesses. From two (yes, two) attacking midfielders, to still utilising the width of the wing-backs, it has everything you need in a team. Using a shadow striker alongside an attacking playmaker, behind the striker, makes for a well-balanced and fluid team, whilst the well-used deep-lying playmaker at defensive midfielder provides an attacking outlet from your own half. If you’re bored by your standard formation, try your luck with this one.
3 4-3-2-1 DM AM Narrow
Into the final three, the 4-3-2-1 DM AM Narrow is an intriguing formation despite the qualities it has. Similarly to the previous formation, the use of two attacking midfielders provides you with creativity you can’t even imagine, whilst the full-backs can drive forward powerfully, knowing the two defensive midfielders can drop back if needed. It’s the story of a well-balanced team, especially if you can utilise the wide areas with your full-backs. There are endless ways to use this formation, with all of them – just like every other formation – dependent on your philosophy. Becoming a Gegenpressing master with this team is highly possible! It could even work like Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool when they had Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino.
2 4-3-3 DM Wide
The 4-3-3 DM Wide is one of the most used formations in Football Manager – and one of the most used formations in world football. This isn’t just a coincidence though, because it provides stability, balance and an attacking threat all match. With the wingers, it works best with inside forwards, allowing them to cut in and combine with the powerful full-backs driving forward. The midfield trio – commonly an attacking playmaker, box-to-box midfielder and defensive midfielder – complement each other’s qualities perfectly, allowing you to dictate the tempo of the matches. In simple terms, it is one of the best formations available, especially if you still want defensive security. The chance to become like Spain in 2010 is here.
1 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide
Last, but not least, the 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide is widely considered the best – and therefore overpowered – formation in the game. Similar to the 4-3-3 it is slightly more attacking, allowing you to throw players into the box to score the crucial goals. The defensive midfielder helps transition the ball from defence to attack, often alongside the full-backs, who can continually push forward. This formation is commonly used whilst adopting the idea of gegenpressing, therefore the high line is risky, yet it frequently pays off. You have to have the right players to make this formation, particularly quick defenders, but once you do, it is very hard to beat.