How To Play Attacking Football In Football Manager 24

“Play Attacking Football” is one of the many available expectations your board and supporters can demand from you in Football Manager. 

And if you’re a people pleaser like me, you might want to set up your tactic to suit an attacking style of play. Plus, it can be the only thing that helps you save your job if everything else goes haywire.

So what does attacking football mean? How to play attacking football in Football Manager?

Attacking football is a philosophy under which it’s expected that a team will have high goals-to-games and shots-to-games ratios.

To play attacking football in FM, your job as a manager is to set up a tactic that:

  • Gets a lot of goals
  • Encourages a lot of shots at goal
  • Ensures High XG plays

Today, we’re going to learn about the core principles of attacking football and how to play an attacking brand of football in Football Manager.

How Attacking Football Works in FM

Attacking football in Football Manager 2024 refers to a proactive style of play aimed at scoring goals and dominating matches. 

Board and Supporter expectation of playing attacking football in Football Manager.

By employing attacking football in FM 24, teams aim to entertain fans, create scoring opportunities, and ultimately achieve positive results on the pitch.

This strategic approach emphasizes offensive maneuvers, high pressing, and creative attacking movements to break down the opponent’s defense. 

Here’s what you need to implement in your tactic to play an Attacking style of football in FM:

Attacking Mentality

The first thing you need to do is set the team mentality right.

For attacking football, you need to pick any of the following three team mentalities:

  • Very Attacking
  • Attacking
  • Positive

How your team approaches the game both offensively and defensively depends on the team mentality you set. 

An insight on how the Attacking Mentality works in Football Manager

A positive mentality looks to dominate the game while still maintaining a safe approach. 

Whereas, a very attacking mentality will instruct the team to be extremely aggressive inside the opposition half, often leaving the defense vulnerable.

Personally, I only trigger a very attacking mentality if the opposition is using a park-the-bus tactic. Otherwise, it leaves my defense very much vulnerable against counterattacks. 

High Pressing Football

Another core part of attacking football involves intense pressing to constantly pressure the opposition into giving away the ball, resulting in high possession retention and chance creation. 

Most attacking tactics closely resemble a Gegenpress style of play, forcing mistakes from the opposition team to make chances in dangerous areas.

Which means deploying a high line of engagement and a higher defensive line to suffocate the opposition in submission. 

Possession Retention

In order to have more control over the opponent, you need more possession. 

You need your team to retain possession for the majority of the match to play an attacking style of play. 

But you also need to adopt a high-tempo approach to have more touch and shots inside the final third. 

So it’s important to find the right balance of passing directness and tempo

Measured Transition

Teams employing this tactic often focus on quick transitions, exploiting spaces behind the opposition’s defense, and delivering incisive passes into goal-scoring positions. 

However, a quick attacking transition mostly results in high possession turnovers, which is not ideal for attacking soccer. 

You also don’t want to sit it out during defensive transitions as it’ll let the opposition get the upper hand.

That’s why, you want your team to make measured transitions while progressing the ball. And you want to quickly win the ball back during defensive transitions.

Factors like Attacking width, passing directness, tempo, and the opposition’s defensive line are important to consider for attacking.

As for defensive transitions, you must focus on the line of engagement, defensive line, counter-pressing, pressing traps, and tackling.

Effective Final Third Play

It all boils down to how many goals your team is scoring and how many high-quality chances are they able to create in the final third. 

That means your team needs to be highly agile in the advanced areas and should be able to easily penetrate the opposition defense.

If you have a lot of agile forwards who barely lose the ball in the opposition’s half, you might want to work the ball into the box. But it’ll slow down the attack a lot as your players will be looking for better chances.

However, if your tactic is reliant on explosive wingers who provide constant threats from the wing, you might want to hit early crosses to get more chances in the box. 

Ideal Formations for Attacking Football

You can implement attacking football with a good number of formations with varying degrees of success. 

But the FM community mostly relies on these 4 formations to get the best attacking football in the game:

4-2-3-1 Wide 

The 4-2-3-1 Wide is the standard and most commonly used formation to play an attacking brand of football in Football Manager.

It’s a well-balanced formation that allows a good number of bodies to press high and run inside the box. 

The 4 advanced players (ST, LW, RW, CAM) can easily close down the opposition defenders with a high line of engagement, pressuring them to play it long, or make errors. 

Attacking 4-2-3-1 Wide tactic and formation in Football Manager.

If the initial press fails, the 2 central midfielders provide ample cover to restrict the opposition from making any breakthrough. 

The 4 at the back also maintain a high line. This allows them to stay close to the midfield which helps them to squeeze out space for the opposition to build up attack through the middle. 

With the 4-2-3-1 Wide formation, you get a good offensive balance from both wide and central areas. 

On each attacking play, you’ll have 5-6 players sniffing for an opportunity near the box, creating more goalscoring chances. 

5-3-2 WB 

The 5-3-2 WB is yet another effective attacking formation that utilizes two forwards to constantly close down the opposition’s defense, forcing them to mostly play the ball in wide areas. 

It’s a defensively solid formation that is also highly potent in offensive transition thanks to two aggressive wing-backs. 

Attacking 5-3-1 WB in Football Manager.
Unlike the other attacking tactics, the 5-3-2 WB looks to defend by trapping the opposition inside to put them at a numerical disadvantage.

This formation aims to overwhelm the opposition with two attacking center midfielders on top of two advanced forwards, creating huge overloads inside the box. 

That, and two overlapping attack-minded wing-backs add extra width to the play, forming a highly attacking formation. 

Another great thing about this formation is the resistance it’s able to provide against counter-attacking football. 

Thanks to 4 players always staying at the back, you can easily nullify any possible counter-attacks from the opposition in a 5-3-2 WB formation. 

4-4-2 Narrow Diamond

Although not as defensively solid as the 5-3-2 WB, the attacking 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond relies on allowing zero breathing space for the opposition who like to build up the play from the back. 

It also creates a high number of chances focusing through the middle which can easily overwhelm a 4-man defensive team. 

Attacking 4-4-2 formation and tactic in football manager.
The 4-4-2 Custom Gegenpress system is yet another attacking tactic that should be approached with a positive mentality as it’s highly vulnerable defensively.

The goal is to play in a tightly compacted space to get the best out of incredibly agile and technical players. 

Shorter passing and a balanced tempo allow the team to slowly work their way into the box and find goalscoring opportunities. 

In the defensive transition, the 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond is better positioned to block counterattacks in the opposition half thanks to their narrow positioning.

It also allows them to easily close down the opposition defenders, leading to easier turnovers near the final third. 

4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide

Although very similar to 4-2-3-1 Wide, the 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide is a more defensively stable formation that creates chances from their defensive half with calculated long balls. 

The Defensive midfielders carry most of the responsibilities when it comes to breaking up opposition play and launching counter-attacks. 

Thanks to the synergy between a Regista and an Anchor, the formation is able to create the play from the deep.

Sitting deep makes it difficult for the opposition to apply pressure on the DM duo. 

And even if the two Defensive Midfielders are aggressively pressed, it creates space in the opposition’s defensive shape, allowing more room for the Attacking midfielder and Inside Forwards to move into.

Attacking 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide tactic and formation in Football Manager.
The 4-2-3-1 DM AM Wide relies on quick succession of passes, playing a vertical tiki-take style, taking advantage of the wide players by hitting early crosses.

Team Instructions for Attacking Football

Here’s how you want to tactically set up your team to play attacking football in Football Manager:

In Possession

Attacking WidthStandard
Final ThirdHit Early Crosses
DribblingRun into Defense
Passing DirectnessShorter Passing
TempoSlightly Higher Tempo
BuildupPlay Out of Defense

Alright, for attacking football, you need to set up your team to play a high-tempo brand of football focused on retaining possession.

So we need to play short passes at a high pace to reach the opponent’s box quickly. 

Inside the final third, we’re going to hit early crosses to overwhelm the defense and create as many goalscoring chances as possible. 

We’re going to avoid Working the Ball Into the Box as it encourages the team to only take shots when clear-cut chances arrive. It’s a high-patience approach that doesn’t suit an attacking style of play. 

Hitting early crosses on the other hand will bombard the defense with tons of crosses, creating a high amount of chances. 

Depending on your formation, and the opposition’s defensive structure, you might want to set a narrower or wider attacking width. But keeping your attacking width standard also works great. 

In Transition

When Possession Has Been LostCounter-Press
When Possession Has Been WonCounter
GK DistributionDistribute Quickly

In the defensive transition, we want to step up and look to immediately win the ball back by triggering counter-press. 

This will push the players to quickly close down the opposition and stop potential counterattacks. 

Once the ball is won, the team will launch a counter in the attacking transition. 

Out of Possession

Trigger PressMore Often
Prevent Short GK DistributionYes
Line of EngagementHigher Line of Engagement
Defensive LineHigher Defensive Line
Pressing TrapTrap Inside/ Trap Outside
Cross EngagementStop Crosses

A huge part of attacking football involves high press and holding high lines to restrict space in the middle for the opposition.

For that, we’ll set a high defensive line. A higher line of engagement will instruct the forwards to defend near the opposition’s back-line and close them down from passing it from the back. 

Another way to prevent the opposition from playing from the back is by preventing short distribution from the GK. This forces him to play it long, which allows your high defensive line to win the ball in an aerial challenge. 

Depending on your formation, you’d want to either trap the opponent inside or outside. For formations like 4-2-3-1 Wide, and 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond, you want to force the opposition outside to reduce their impact on the middle. 

On the other hand, with a 5-3-2 WB, you’d want to trap the opposition inside to nullify their presence on the wing. 

Choosing the Right Players for Attacking Football

It’s important that you recruit the right kind of player to dominate an attacking system. 

Players in an attacking football system require a specific set of skills to execute the game plan. Like:

Intelligence

You must deploy intelligent players who can read the game well. Especially in the midfield. 

Anticipation, Decisions, and Composure are key attributes that dictate a player’s intelligence on the pitch. 

A good level of intelligence will help your team make measured decisions in a high-tempo system. 

Movement & Mobility

Next, you want to organize your attack with agile players with good movements on and off the ball. 

Your advanced players will be closed down on every occasion they receive the ball. And if you don’t have players who can easily get past those pressing traps, you’ll have a hard time progressing the ball. 

Attributes such as Acceleration, Agility, and Pace impact a player’s mobility without the ball. 

High stats in those areas will make them harder to mark and close down. 

In addition, attributes like Anticipation and Off the Ball allow a player to be in the right place to receive the ball and make the right runs. 

Defensive Positioning

Your team’s primary focus will be on constantly pushing for attack. But this approach also means that you’ll have to take a lot of defensive risks to immediately win the ball once possession is lost. 

So you need defenders who’re good at reading the game and closing down the opponents.

Having players with good core defending attributes like Marking, Tackling, Bravery, Concentration, Decisions, and Positioning is the bare minimum you should have in your squad. 

But those stats alone won’t be enough for such a high-intensity tactic. 

Your players must also have a good level of Stamina, Acceleration, Pace, Aggression, Work Rate, and Determination to quickly close down the opposition play and recover long balls behind the defense. 

Control & Technique

Superior ball control and technique become really important inside the final third where you need to be precise to score. 

But good control and technique also help in other parts of the pitch, especially when constantly pressured by the opponent.

Good First Touch, Technique, Dribbling, Agility, Composure, Decisions, and Balance are the staples of a press-resistant player who can easily retain the ball even under intense pressure. 

Situations like one-v-ones also require good control and technique.

Tackling

Lastly, you need to build a side that is a good tackling outfit. 

Players with good tackling, bravery, determination, and balance will easily win you the ball in advantageous positions on the pitch. 

It’ll also give you the upper hand against good dribbling sides.

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