Best FM24 Tactics: The Elite, Top, And The Underdog

With the game evolving every single year, new tactics rise in popularity in Football Manager to dominate the game. And that’s no exception for FM24. 

Depending on your team’s firepower, some tactics might suit your team over others. 

But keep in mind that no tactic in the game guarantees a 100% success rate. Your tactic’s success depends on your opposition’s tactical approach, mentality, and the overall quality of your players. 

That said, here are the best tactics in Football Manager 24:

TeamTacticPlaying StyleFormationMentalityIntensity
Sub-topHigh pressing 4-3-3 DM WideHigh Pressing4-3-3 DM WideBalancedModerate
Sub-topUnai Emery’s 4-4-2High Tempo4-4-2AttackingHigh
TopXabi Alonso’s Disciplined 3-4-2-1 Possession tacticPossession3-4-2-1 DM AMPositiveHigh
UnderdogAndoni Iraola’s Direct 4-2-3-1 – BournemouthDirect4-2-3-1CautiousHigh

You can create your own version of tactics by tweaking these tactics to cater to your team’s ability.

1. High Pressing 4-3-3 DM Wide

It’s your standard 4-3-3 DM Wide formations playing the aims to win the ball high up the pitch with intense pressing. This formation provides a good balance of offense and defense, making it a good tactic for a mid-table/top-half team. 

High pressing 4-3-3- DM Wide Balanced FM24 tactic

Formation & Roles

In our High Pressing 4-3-3 DM Wide, we’ll include 1 lone advanced forward backed by an inside forward(Attack) and a Winger(Support)

The Mezzala(support) will be the primary creator in the midfield, partnering alongside a hard-working Box to Box midfielder to support him in attack and provide defensive cover. 

Either an Anchor or a Defensive Midfielder will cover for the two midfielders in front of the defensive line, shutting down passing lanes and opposition counterattacks. 

On the left flank, we’ll play one wingback(support) to make overlaps behind the Inside Forward. To make sure that we’re defensively compact, we’ll play a Fullback(Defend) to stay behind and form somewhat of a 3-man defense. 

The Defensive pair will be a combination of a BPD and a CD on Defend duty. But if your team lacks any proper Ball Playing Defender, you can simply opt for a CD.

Mentality

The tactic works best with a Balanced mentality, depending on the strength of the opposition. Even with a Balanced mentality, the tactic plays positive football against weaker, or equally matched opponents.

If faced with a stronger opponent, the mentality can be notched down to Cautious to play more reservedly.

In Possession

Attacking WidthStandard
Passing DirectnessStandard
TempoSlightly Higher
FocusFocus Play Down The Right
CrossesMixed / Low

The team will look to play a high-tempo game, progressing the ball to the final third with a combination of short and direct passes.

If you have confidence in your winger’s ability to take on opponent fullbacks one-on-one, then you might want to focus the play towards that flank. 

Apart from that, the rest of the instructions should be set to standard.

Depending on your forward’s aerial ability, you can instruct the team to play low or mixed crosses. 

In Transition

When Possession Has Been LostRegroup
When Possession Has Been WonCounter
Goalkeeper DistributionDistribute Quickly

It’s important to make sure that the team always regroups first before pressing the opposition during the defensive transitions. This leaves the team less vulnerable when the opposition starts their counterattacks. 

The tactic plays many positive roles who want to venture further forward. Triggering instant counter-pressing can be costly against sides that are press-resistant. So it’s best to regroup during transition.

As for the Attacking transition, your goal is immediately launching a counterattack to exploit spaces left by the opposition’s advanced players. 

Instructing your goalkeeper to distribute the ball quickly will help your cause. 

If you’re playing a powerful target man as your advanced forward, you might ask your goalkeeper to kick it long to the striker. The striker will fight for the ball and create chances from high up the pitch. 

Out of Possession

Trigger PressMore Often
Line of EngagementMid Block
Defensive LineHigher

Maintaining a mid-block serves two purposes for the tactic:

  • It doesn’t engage the opponent too high up the pitch, leaving acres of space in midfield.
  • It helps to maintain a strict defensive shape and helps to intercept passing lanes easily.

The high defensive line simply pushes up the defense to restrict any space for the opposition forwards in the middle. 

But if your back line is not capable of coping with opponents with pace, I’d suggest lowering your defensive line a bit for better safety against long balls. 

Individual Instructions

I’d instruct my inside forward to sit narrower to be more involved in the final third. He’ll be better positioned to deal with crosses from the winger. 

And for my fullback(defend), I’ll ask him to stay a bit narrower for better defensive cover. He’ll also hold the space left behind by the Mezzala.

2. Unai Emery’s 4-4-2 – Aston Villa

The Spanish football manager has taken the Premier League spot after his impressive rebuilding of the Aston Villa team. 

Currently pushing for a Champions League spot, the Clarets are playing some lovely high-tempo 4-2-2 attacking football. That’s why we featured Unai Emery’s 4-4-2 tactic as the best Attacking tactic in FM24.

Image of Andoni Iraola's 4-4-2 Attacking tactic with Aston Villa.

Formation & Roles

The roles involved in this tactic are pretty basic counterattacking roles. 

Unai Emery’s  4-4-2 formation plays a Pressing Forward alongside an Advanced Forward to aggressively press the opposition to win the ball back. 

Two Box to Box midfielders keep the midfield busy with their non-stop running. The Wide Midfielder(Attack) on the left acts as an additional midfield player, stretching the width. On the right wing, the Inverted Winger(Attack) will cut inside, involving himself frequently in the final third. 

At the back, you have the defensive center-back pair, with two wing-backs to support the attack up wide. 

Mentality

The tactic is very attack-minded, looking to constantly hit the gear once the team wins the ball. 

Other than the Centre Back pair and the Goalkeeper, every other role will play with a positive/ attacking mentality and push forward in the opposition half. 

In Possession

Attacking WidthFairly Wide
Passing DirectnessShorter Passing
TempoSlightly Higher Tempo
Pass Into SpaceOn
FocusFocus Play Down The Right
DribblingRun at Defense
CrossesLow Crosses
BuildupPlay Out of Defense

Aston Villa likes to build up with short passes. But they make sure they reach the opposition quickly with an intense tempo. 

In possession, Unai Emery’s side focuses the play through the right side of the pitch, where the inside winger looks to progress the ball with either diagonal passes, or through straight runs into the final third. 

Majority of the this 4-4-2 tactic relies on chances created from low crosses in the corridor, where the Advanced Forward is always lurking to slot the ball in the back of the net. 

In Transition

When Possession Has Been LostCounter Press
When Possession Has Been WonCounter
Goalkeeper DistributionDistribute Quickly

Aston Villa looks to immediately push towards the opposition half through a quick attacking transition through the left. The right-inverted winger runs with the ball and cuts inside, creating disarray in the opposition’s defense. 

Instead of quickly launching the ball towards the forwards the goalkeeper prefers to play it short to one of the defenders who initiates the transition.  

Out of Possession

Trigger PressMore Often
Line of EngagementMid Block
Defensive LineHigher
GK PressingPrevent Short GK Distribution

Unai Emery’s 4-4-2 side is more aggressive in their defensive actions. The defensive line sits high in this tactic with a mid-block line of engagement. 

It’s a great strategy to catch the opposition in offside position, while also preventing the two-man midfield from getting run over.

The tactic demands high-intensity pressing from the front line. They will press the Goalkeeper to force him to play long balls to disrupt the opposition who likes to build up from the back. 

3. Xabi Alonso’s Disciplined 3-4-2-1 Tactic – Bayer Leverkusen

2023/24 has seen Xabi Alonso burst into the scene with his managerial career at Bayer Leverkusen.

Positive. Disciplined. Compact.

These are three words that explain Xabi Alonso’s tactical approach in his sublime season with Bayer Leverkusen. His team currently sits top of the Bundesliga after 16 matches.

So its no surprise that Xabi Alonso’s 3-4-2-1 tactic makes the list as the best possession focused tactic in Football Manager 24.

Image of Xabi Alonso's Disciplined 3-4-2-1 Tactic with Bayer Leverkusen in FM24.

Formation & Roles

Alonso excels in offensive strategies, prioritizing positional attacks, particularly in a mid-block with his 3-4-2-1 formation. 

The center of the pitch is packed with bodies to build a robust midfield while overlapping wingbacks create width to progress the play forward. 

An Advanced Playmaker and Attacking Midfielder pair sit right behind the Advanced forward to support the attack through the middle. 

Two holding midfielders screen the back line of three, forming a solid defensive stance. 

Mentality

The 3-4-2-1 tactic operates with a positive mentality. It aims to dominate the game for the entire 90 minutes, forcing the opposition to sit deep to defend their goal. 

In Possession

Attacking WidthFairly Narrow
Passing DirectnessShorter Passing
TempoSlightly Higher tempo
FocusFocus Play Down The Right, Left
Creative FreedomBe More Disciplined

To keep hold of maximum possession, Xabi Alonso plays a short passing system while maintaining a slightly higher tempo. His 3-4-2-1 tactic demands a disciplined attacking approach from the players to maximize collective team play. 

The midfield looks to compress the play by narrowing the attacking width. This helps the players dominate the central area of the pitch. 

But if the opposition focuses on defending narrow, the wing backs can push wide, adding extra width to break down even the most stubborn defense. 

In Transition

When Possession Has Been LostRegroup
GK DistributionDistribute to Centre Backs

The team will look to patiently build from the back from GK distribution in attacking transition. 

Once they lose possession, the team will prioritize regrouping first before approaching to press down the opponent. 

Out of Possession

Trigger PressMore Often
Line of EngagementMid Block 
Defensive LineHigher
TacklingGet Stuck In

Depending on your opposition’s buildup, you can either ask your team to put up a high line of engagement, or simply sit in a mid-block.

Thanks to having 4 midfield players(2 CAMs and 2 Holding midfielders), the chances of being overrun through the center are very low, so you can comfortably adopt a high line of engagement. 

It’s also effective in dealing against counterattacks thanks to the two holding midfielders. 

As for the defensive line, you can set it to High or Standard depending on your Center Backs’ Pace, Acceleration, and Agility.

A higher line of defense will help your team win possession against teams that play short passes through the center. 

Part of controlling majority possession consists of winning the ball quickly and allowing the opposition as little time with the ball as possible. So the tactic instructs the player to get stuck in with heavy tackles to win the ball.

4. Andoni Iraola’s Direct 4-2-3-1 – Bournemouth

It took Andoni Iraola’s Bournemouth 9 straight losses before everything clicked for them. And now they are comfortably sitting near the top half of the table in the Premier League.

Iraola’s Direct 4-2-3-1 underdog tactic specializes in playing extreme pressing to win the ball from the opposition before launching a direct counterattack. 

The 4-2-3-1 of Iraola is considered one of the best underdog tactics in Football Manager 24.

Image of Andoni Iraola's Direct 4-2-3-1 tactic with AFC Bournemouth in FM24

Formation & Roles

This tactic relies heavily on the strength of the Target Man to hold up the ball and play it to fellow pacey teammates to attack the goal. 

A Deep Lying Playmaker will act as the holding midfielder, while a Roaming Playmaker will look to drive forward with the ball to spearhead attacks. 

The tactic prefers a Ball Playing Defender over a No-Nonsense Defender to have more control over the accuracy and intention of the passes.

Mentality

The tactic follows a Cautious mentality due to being an underdog tactic. 

In Possession

Attacking WidthNarrow
Passing DirectnessDirect
TempoSlightly Higher
DribblingRun at Defense
CrossesLow
Creative DisciplineBe More Disciplined

Iraola’s Bournemouth prefers a direct, quick combination play to attack the final third before the opposition can settle. 

The Iraola tactic aims to win the ball near the opposition’s half, squeezing out the opposition’s passing channels from the back. So they are comfortable giving up the ball to the opposition in their half to win it back immediately closer to the goal. 

During the attacking transition, the key to ball progression involves good dribblers who can break past the opposition press and run with the ball toward the opposition box.

The players are instructed to be disciplined in position, allowing for better combination play and positional awareness.

Bournemouth looks to play low crosses in the box despite having a strong Target Man, which helps the other offensive players to have a nibble at goal.

In Transition

When Possession Has Been LostRegroup
When Possession Has Been WonCounter
Goalkeeper DistributionDistribute Quickly
GK Distribution AreaDistribute to Target Man

During a goal kick, the Goalkeeper aims to punt the ball to the Target Man to receive it and start a counter. 

Even if the distribution is intercepted, the players will quickly charge to win the ball immediately, closing down the opposition.

In the defensive transition, the team will drop back first to secure their defensive shape before attempting collective pressing.

Out of Possession

Trigger PressMore Often
GK PressingPrevent Short GK Distribution
Line of EngagementMid Block 
Defensive LineHigher
TacklingGet Stuck In

Iraola’s 4-2-3-1 tactic relies on extreme pressing in the opposition half, allowing the opposition no room for building up from the back. 

Such a relentless pressing tactic requires players with high Stamina, Work Rate, Aggression, Teamwork, and Determination. 

The mid-block approach backed by a high defensive line squeezes out any room for the opposition to play through the middle. As a result, the opposition is often forced to play long balls, which can be easily intercepted by defenders who are quick and good in the air. 

Pressing the Goalkeeper also forces the GK to play it long, resulting in high possession turnover for the opponent.

As for tackling, Iraola demands his players to tackle hard to win the ball back. Doing so can result in a lot more fouls and bookings, but it can also reward the team by winning the ball more often. 

For that, your players must be brave and possess good strength, balance, and tackling attributes.

Still looking for the right tactic for your team? Don’t worry! I’ll be posting a new tactic every day in this article. So make sure to visit again!

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