Football Manager 24 Lower League Tactics

The thrills of starting a Football Manager 24 lower-league save can wane down very quickly if you start losing games. It’s a different world of football after all. No Gegenpressing, vertical tikitaka exists in the world of non-league football. 

And for those struggling to build a presence in the lower leagues of FM, we’re here with some killer lower-league tactics for you to get promoted!

Football Manager 24 lower league tactics are different from top league tactics. They need to be tailored for below-average, non-league players who are not technically gifted. Nor can they execute most high-level tactics. So you need to dish out the perfect tactic to start winning in the lower leagues.

Let’s jump in. 

Football Manager Lower Leagues: What To Expect

You can’t expect your lower-league players to pull off quality skills on the pitch. Most of your players won’t have good technical or mental stats. Some of them will run out of breath before the 90-minute mark. 

After all, they are semi-professional footballers with part-time contracts in FM. 

The lower league also means that you won’t be able to recruit any notable personnel to help your team either

So you need to be realistic with your approach to the tactics. Expecting your players to press high for the entire game is not going to work. Your players are simply not built for extreme-intensity games. Neither can you pull off a Guardiola tikitaka with intricate instructions. 

Adopting a top-5 league tactical approach for a non-league team in FM is only going to set them up for failure. This is where you need to be tactful with your scarce resources. 

3 Highly Effective Football Manager 24 Lower League Tactics

Before building your lower-league tactics in FM24, keep a few things in mind. 

  • The tactic should be simple
  • The player roles and instructions should be simple
  • The tactic should not be highly intense or tactical

Flooding the players with too many instructions will only confuse them. So it’s best to only set individual instructions to make maximum use of a player’s capabilities. 

That said, let’s move on to our 3 Top lower-league tactics in Football Manager 24. 

No tactic in Football Manager will guarantee you a 100% success rate. A lot of factor plays into it. The quality of your squad, opposition strength, opposition’s formation, team mentality, etc plays a part in the tactic’s success. Keep that in mind before approaching the game.

Cautious 4-3-3 DM Wide

We’ll start off with a simple, yet popular one.

The cautious 4-3-3 DM Wide is a great lower-league tactic in FM to sit back and defend your goal and hit the opposition on a quick counter.  It’s highly effective when you are the underdog. 

Two attacking wide players will be the instigator of the counter while the advanced forward will spearhead the attacking runs. 

4-3-3 DM wide lower league tactic in Football Manager 24.
4-3-3 DM Wide lower league tactic with cautious mentality in Football Manager 2024

Your BBM will also get forward to support the counter and add an extra man up front. A wingback on support duty will make overlapping runs past the inside forward to help the attack. As for the rest of the team, they will hold their possession and stay defensively compact. 

In possession, the team will adopt a high-tempo play to get the ball near the opposition goal quickly. Being effective in the final third in this case is crucial with a cautious mentality.

Without possession, they will sit back and defend near their own half. 

The low-block approach in defense makes it harder for the opposition to find any room to score. If your players are good at tackling, you should instruct them to get stuck in more often. Otherwise, instruct them to stay on their feet. 

Advantages of 4-3-3 DM Wide

  • Solid Defensive Structure
  • Wide Attacking Threat
  • Counter Attacking

Cautious 4-4-2 Direct Counter Attack

4-4-2 in FM can be effectively implemented in both the top and lower leagues. The simplicity of the tactic makes it highly appealing to a lot to any manager.

With the 4-4-2 Direct counter-attack in FM, your lower league players don’t have to deal with too many complicated instructions. Similar to the Cautious 4-3-3 DM Wide, the 4-4-2 Direct Counter Attack follows almost identical team instructions. But it can be highly effective against 2-man center back pairs, thanks to having 2 forwards in attack. 

You can also use the 4-4-2 formation to Park the bus in Football Manager 23.

Maintaining a cautious mentality is the key to this tactic as you will be looking to win the ball and go on to counter as soon as possible. 

Of the two forwards, one will play the lead forward in the Advanced Forward role. The supporting forward will play as a Pressing forward. In possession, the two wide midfielders will look to stretch the play and make room for the two forwards to exploit. 

Cautious 4-4-2 direct counter attack tactics for lower league underdogs in Football manager 24.
4-4-2 Direct counter-attack tactics for lower league underdogs in FM24

Set your midfield with a Center Midfielder on Support duty and a Ball Winning Midfielder on Defend duty. If your midfield lacks pace and stamina to cope with opposition, try to set your CM in Defend duty as well. 

If attacking opportunities arise, you can also tweak the formation to a 4-4-2 narrow diamond in FM24 to concentrate your attack through the middle.

Your Fullbacks will look to overlap and occasionally hit early crosses. Or they can stretch the field even wider to create gaps in the opposition’s defense. 

The team’s priority will be to play a direct passing football by utilizing the width of the pitch in FM

In defense, your team will actively look to force the opposition into a wide area. Having physically strong center-backs can help you deal with any crossing threats in the box. 

A perfect example of this would be Sean Dyche’s compact 4-4-2 FM tactic to survive relegation.

Advantages of 4-4-2 Direct Counter Attack

  • Quick Transition
  • Direct Route One Football
  • Counter Pressing

4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide 

This tactic is for more technically sophisticated teams who are looking to dominate the match. The goal is to score more goals than the opposition and win the game.

A 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide tactic looks to control possession and use the Advanced playmaker to support the attacking players in scoring goals. Lower league teams adopting a 4-2-3-1 DM AM wide in Football Manager will look to patiently pass their way towards the opposition goal. 

The BPD and CD partnership at the back will look to play from the back and hold possession. Playing a BWM alongside a DM on Support duty will make sure that your midfielders will aggressively look to win the ball when not in possession. 

4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide for dominant lower league teams in Football Manager 24.
4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide for dominant lower league teams in Football Manager 24.

Your team will look to work the ball into the box and approach the play with a slightly lower tempo. 

One of the key aspects of a 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide is the use of the Advanced Playmaker in the mix. The number 10 will look to be more creative in the buildup and try to find the Complete forward in dangerous positions. He can also get forward and try to pop up with a goal himself if the opportunity arises. 

Playing in a Control Possession tactic means your players need to be in good cohesion with each other. Their cohesion will reflect on their collective teamwork, as almost all the advanced players in the team will be playing in a Support role other than the forward.

The wingbacks in the system will primarily look to support the wingers with their short passing. While the inverted winger will occasionally move in the channel to create scoring threats. 

Implementation of Pass into Space instruction can also be advantageous here if you’ve attackers who can outpace the defenders.

You will have to hugely rely on pace, anticipation, and concentration of your defense as you’ll be adopting a higher defensive line. This’ll help to quickly win back the possession. But a team playing through balls can easily overwhelm your defense with a pacy attacker. 

Only adopt the 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide Control Possession tactic in FM if you’re the favorites for promotion in the lower leagues. Attempting to play this tactic with a weaker side can end up being too much for your players to handle. 

Advantages of 4-2-3-1

  • Attacking Fluidity
  • Attacking Width
  • Creative Playmaking


Can I use a possession-based tactic in lower leagues in Football Manager?

You can use a possession-based tactic in the lower leagues in Football Manager.  To play a possession-based tactic, your lower league team must have good passing, anticipation, off-the-ball movement, stamina, and work rate. You must also possess players with high technical abilities. 

Can I use a high-pressing tactic in lower leagues in Football Manager 24?

Yes, you can play high-pressing tactics in the lower leagues in FM24. Your lower league team must be adept at constant pressing. This requires high stamina, work rate, aggression, anticipation, and teamwork.

Can I use a 3-5-2 formation in lower leagues in Football Manager 24?

Playing a 3-5-2 formation in the lower leagues in Football Manager can be a great defensive strategy. It provides great width to the play and can be devastating during attacks. But you’ll need to have players with high physical attributes to play 3-5-2 in lower leagues in FM. 

How can I use wingbacks effectively in lower-league tactics in Football Manager 24?

Most wingbacks in the Lower-leagues in Football Manager 24 are not good at attacking. So you must look to use your wingbacks in support duty to help your winger in FM. 

What role should my striker play in a lower league tactic in Football Manager 24?

You can play your striker as an Advanced Forward, Pressing Forward, or a Target man in a lower-league tactic. Most lower-league forwards in Football Managers are not technically gifted. So you can’t successfully play complicated forward roles in the lower leagues. 


Playing in lower leagues in FM has its own set of challenges. Using the right Football manager 24 lower league tactics can get your team out of a losing streak and start winning. 

Don’t get your hopes up too much though. Not every tactic is perfect. Carefully assess your squad and come up with the tactic that’s suitable to their preferred playing style and personality. 

That’s all. Cheers.

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