Football manager 2008 facepack guide

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How to make a facepack to Fm!!!

The best Defender on Football Manager 2008

Arturo of the best defenders on football manager. He is cheap (5-7 million euro) and you can get him from Leverkusen.

Football Manager In-Game Tactics

The Winning Tactic

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Jack Edwards, the creator of “The Winning” tactic has come up with different versions from 1.00 to 3.00 being the latest. I must admit that it has worked out tremendously and I am sure fans who have tested it agrees as well. It is not 100% sure win tactic but, it has proven to be very successful which makes it realistic. Do try out the tactic and post your results in the forums!

Ok, the winning is a pure attacking formation, set about on the new patch, i hope you enjoy winning lots of your games!

DR/DL - Very Attackingly Minded, but encouraged to make decisive tackles when they on the break A solid defensive player is a must here, A pacey DL Or DR Would do the buisness.

DC’S: Very solid, Very defensive, I avoided spreading them out as this would create a loophole, i wouldnt suggest tweaking

DMC: I Made a diamond here, it encourages controlling the center, and forces them to play down the centre, the DMC’S Should look out onto the wings and wont run themselves very much, I suggest someone like Hargreaves or somone with alot of experience.

LM/RM: Both very attacking in there own respective positions, Should be quite young and pacey, Ronaldo was Really class when i tested in Manchester, Giggs was Ok, but not the best..

AM: Will score a few goals from tim to time, Maybe a few screamers, they get the ball to the front men and provide plenty of assists.

FC: The typical target man should slot in here perfectly, Be prepared to change a few things, If something is not going well up here, change the delivery. Miroslav Klose and Carlos Tevez both did well here!


Dont be afraid to change lazy players in a match, you need hard workers if you are going to succeed with my tactic. Especially pacey players, You will succeed if you have a squad under 28 Years old


winning1 winning2



Mirror 1
Mirror 2
Mirror 3

Adding Your Picture to FM 2008

ramosHere’s a simple tutorial in adding your own manager picture into FM 2008.

Ok lets start.

1. Get your picture ready
It must be in .PNG format with size of 180 x 180 pixels. Preferably made using any good graphics software such as Adobe Photoshop, save it as PNG-24.

2. Locating the correct folder
I know alot of questions asked about putting facepacks in and needing to create them ourselves, but its quite easy actually.

Once you installed FM 2008, there will be a folder already been created in your My Documents. Open that folder and go into :
“Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2008 > graphics > players”

What you should have is “Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2008″
What you need to create is “graphics > players”

Once you are in “players”, if you already installed previous facepacks you should have your managed club in “players” folder. If you don’t have them yet, go to our Downloads Centre to download them.

For example:

“graphics > players > England > Premier League > Tottenham”

3. Edit the config.xml

Find “config.xml” and Edit it using Wordpad or any document editing program. Once in it, find a line that looks like this:

The numbers are actually called Player ID. This ID will identify the picture in the folder to display on the correct player. So to find that unique ID for yourself, load your game,


go to “Preferences > Display & Sound > Tick Show Unique ID


So once you have that ID, go back to config.xml and replace the numbers with the ID you just had.

4. Rename your picture.png

Remember step 1? Creating your own picture and placing it under “graphics > players” ? Make sure you rename it to the ID number you had earlier.


Well thats it! Load your FM game and check it out!

Installing Graphics in FM 2008

FM 2008 isn’t so easy when it comes to installing your downloaded graphics.

Once you have downloaded the files. You need WinRar (download here) to extract the file. It will produce folders within the files. Extract it to your Desktop first. Once you follow the steps below, creating folders, cut and paste them where appropriate.

Firstly we need to create some folders. First folder is “graphics”. Go to My Documents, you will see Sports Interactive folder followed by Football Manager 2008 which were pre-created when you install the game.

C:\…\My Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2008\graphics\

Installing Club/Country Kits

And now, if you wish to install Club/Country Kits, create 2 folders, “pictures” and “kits” folder in graphics folder like below:

C:\…\My Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2008\graphics\pictures\kits\

Go into “kits” folder. Extract all kits files you downloaded in there. Look at the screen shot of how you can organize it.


Installing Player Pictures

As for Player Pictures, you need to create “players” folder under graphics.

C:\…\My Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2008\graphics\players\


Go into “players” folder. Extract all player files you downloaded in there. Look at the screen shot of how you can organize it.

Installing Club/Competition Logos

If you wish to install small, huge logos of clubs and competitions, you may do so by creating “logos” under graphics.

C:\…\My Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2008\graphics\logos\

And in “logos” folder, take a look at the screen shot how you can organize it.


Game Settings for graphics to appear

Load your game in FM 2008, go to Preferences > Display & Sound > Untick Skin Cache

Installing Tactics

Installing Tactics

When installing a tactic make sure you add it to
C:\Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2007\tactics

and not

C:\Program Files\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2007\data\tactics

Installing Training

Training goes in the C:\Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2007\training

and not

C:\Program Files\Sports Interactive\Football Manager 2007\data\training

Training Guide

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How To Retrain Players
Go to the training screen, then in the bottom section where the drop down menu ‘view’ is, change that to position training and then you will see it, where you can set a new position.

My players don’t seem to be doing well in training
Morale affects how well a player takes to training as well. Ensure that he keeps his morale up, using him as a sub or sending him out on loan can help. Ensure too that your training schedule is not too heavy during the winter in areas of physical training

What’s a good way to develop your youth

Its all fine and dandy if you have the right coaches, but getting the best out of players involves a lot more.

*Good facilities
*Good Tutoring
*And timing their development

At age 17 - Move him to Reserves or send him on loan where he can gain valuable match experience, the side should also have good facilities and the quality should match the player in question
At age 18 - Give him the odd run in First team matches and minor cups..always match their level to the opposition; be aware of burn-outs, these can happen if you continously play him against teams that are far above his level
At age 20 - Loan out to Championship. When he returns put him on rotation and see if he can fight his way through.

Its good to get a youth coach as well, ideally he should have high attributes for working with youngsters

Coach requirements for 7 stars- Updated for FM2008
The attribute nos need to be verified as these are off the manual and I do not have it in hand

Strength  :    Fitness >     = 18
Aerobic : Fitness > = 18
Goalkeeping : Coaching Gks >= 18

Tactics : Tactical >= 18

Defending : Defending = 18 & Tactical>= 18 or
Defending = 19 & Tactical>= 14 or
Defending = 20 & Tactical>= 10

Ball Control : Technique = 18 & Mental>= 18 or
Technique = 19 & Mental>= 14 or
Technique = 20 & Mental>= 10

Attacking : Attacking = 18 & Tactical >= 18 or
Attacking = 19 & Tactical >= 14 or
Attacking = 20 & Tactical >= 10 or

Shooting : Attacking = 18 & Technical>= 18 or(May be Wrong)Could be Attacking = 18 & Technique>= 18
Attacking = 19 & Technical>= 14 or
Attacking = 20 & Technical>= 10

Set Pieces : Technique = 17 & Mental + Attacking >= 39 or
Technique = 18 & Mental + Attacking >= 36 or
Technique = 19 & Mental + Attacking >= 33 or
Technique = 20 & Mental + Attacking >= 30

What are the important attributes for each position

Goalkeepers - Vital Skills

Positioning, handling, command of area, agility, stamina, jumping, reflex, strength, decisions and aerial ability


Throwing, pace, concentration, composure, bravery and anticipation

Centre backs - Vital Skills

Positioning, jumping, tackling, marking, aggression, strength, bravery and heading

Other Skills

Stamina, anticipation, determination, pace and acceleration


Choose well, easily the best position to exploit in the game. If you can have the best of both worlds then they could be the diff between winning and losing. They can be both defensively good and offensively awesome. Pace isn’t a crucial factor, but if you want them to be good defenders, then positioning and anticipation may have to be introduced as well.


Work rate, stamina, teamwork, decisions, positioning and acceleration

Other Skills

Determination, strength, crossing and dribbling

Defensive Midfielder

Holding players who can help draw out the opposition, they can also play deadly killer balls and work very well with AMC based formations.

Vital Stats

Tackling, strength, aggression, marking, stamina, work rate, teamwork and decisions


Pace, passing, acceleration, determination, concentration, creativity

Attacking Mids

Link players with DMs or with regular MCs. If you place FWR often on them they could drift out of position so never do that. Use their strengths. This can be an interesting area, what’s listed are bare essentials,but if they have good dribbling skills they can be very deadly too.So adjust their instructions based on what they can use dribbling for long shots as a trade off.

Vital Stats

Decisions, Creativity, passing, off ball, technique, finishing, work rate


Stamina, teamwork, flair, long shots, pace, acceleration

Wingers - Vital Skills

Crossing, creativity, dribbling, pace, acceleration, tackling, balance, technique, passing


Finishing, long shots, teamwork, work rate, off ball

Forwards - Vital Stats

Creativity, flair, finishing, off ball, dribbling, passing, technique, pace, acceleration


Teamwork, flair, balance, long shots, anticipation, crossing

Strikers - Vital Skill

finishing, off ball, jumping, heading, anticipation, technique


Pace aggression, acceleration, strength, long shots

Explain work permits and how to get them

Work Permits are one annoying thing to get around. They are needed in the UK
and Ireland. So how do you get your player a work permit? What does he need to
get one?

Well, if the player you are looking at has one of these nations as either his
main nationality or second nationality (basically the EU + some other nations),
you’re fine:

Austria                          Germany         Norway
Belgium Greece Portugal
Cyprus Holland Slovakia
Czech Republic Hungary Slovenia
Denmark Iceland Spain
Estonia Ireland Sweden
Finland Italy Switzerland
France,incld French Guyana Latvia United Kingdom
Guadeloupe Lithuania
Martinique Luxembourg
Reunion Malta

If it isn’t, you’ll need a permit.

First of all, the player’s calibre is taken into account. If he’s a very good
player, has many international appearance’s etc then he’ll most likely get the
permit first time round. If not you can always appeal the decision, and usually
get the decision in your favour.

If your player was rejected a permit, why did this happen? Well, people are
given Work Permits if they are skilled workers. If your target is not much
better than British players, there is no reason, in the governments eyes, to go
for the foreigner and ignore the English players. Its purpose is to protect the
Economy from being saturated with foreigners, and help give the British people
jobs, no matter what the industry. I used the UK as the example, but the same
would apply to other countries needing a work permit.

There are ways to get around this though. First of all, you can get a European
feeder club. This means that even without a permit, you can still buy the
player. By sending him to the European feeder club for a couple of years, he’ll
eventually gain EU Citizenship = instant permit. It’s a lengthy process, and
I’d only recommend it for players who are 21 or under. Each country takes a
different amount of time for foreigners to gain EU Citizenship there, so here’s
the list:

3 years       4 years         7 years         10 years
------- --------- -------- -------

Belgium Spain Denmark Greece
Poland Holland Slovenia

5 years

Austria French Guyana Italy Renuion
Cyprus Germany Latvia Slovakia
Czech Republic Guadeloupe Lithuania Sweden
Estonia Holland Luxembourg Switzerland
Finland Hungary Malta
France Iceland Martinique
Ireland Portugal

As well as loaning out, every so often you can try offering your player a new
contract. He will be reapplied for a permit, and if you’re lucky, he may be
granted one.

When searching for a new player too in South American countries, keep an eye
out for his other nationalities. Many Brazilians have Portuguese/Spanish, and
some Argentineans have Italian as a second nationality. If you find players
like this then it means they will get an instant permit.

In certain south american countries if your first language is spanish, you wait only 2 years to gain citzenship

Tactical Sliders

What is mentality?
It influences how a player performs on the pitch, if he is attacking he will look to take part in more actions that help the ball move forward and to look for goal scoring chances. If he is defensive, he will take less risks, his actions will be guided by him trying to keep possession and to look for less risky passes.

Mentality also affects positions of players. The only players there is no positional effect on are the DCs.

What is closing down?
The higher the closing down, the closer to the opposing goal your player does the job of reducing space on the AI.

What is tempo
The higher your tempo the quicker they will move the ball around

Do I have to use slow tempo for a short passing game
Tempo just sets the tone of how you want to play you can play a short passing game on low or high tempo

What does creative freedom do and how do I use it?
Creative freedom gives license to a player to do his own thing. Players will ignore some of the individual instructions you give them and do what they feel is right. Its good to have this instruction for AMCs and any attacking player who needs to find space. Comes in handy on congested pitches.

What is the defensive line and how do I use it
A defensive line is a defined line that players are given to designate how deep they will defend. Each player has his own defensive line, one for DCs, one for DMCs, one for Fullbacks. A defensive line is not a straight line through the centre of a pitch for all.

If you want to play defensive football, you would set a deep defensive line,which implies that your players are sitting deeper to defend. You can match that with defensive mentality. An attacking formation typically does play with a normal to attacking defensive line, showing that the players will defend much higher up the pitch.

Player Instructions

Hold up ball
This is a good instruction to have to allow players to get into advanced attacking positions. Any player on the pitch can use this instruction and this allows others to join in. One midfielder can hold up the ball and then redistribute it as a player, or a forward can use his strength to keep the ball at his feet to allow deep running midfielders or other players to support him. Its an instruction that requires strength,if you want him to be a playmaker then he needs passing and decisions too.

Determination and bravery are other important attributes.

Swapping positions
When you swap positions, you are telling two players to switch and take on the others role, a striker could swap with an AMC for example, or two strikers could swap sides with each other. In order for this to wokr well you need them to be able to play in both positions, if you want a striker to swap with a midfielder make sure he’s brave enough to throw in a challenge.

Offside trap Offside is an on-field act when the opposing team plays a forward pass to an attacker behind the last defender of a team. The offside trap is an attempt by the defending team to push up their line of defense to catch attackers caught on forward passes played too early. Its a good tactic to have for an attacking team, but it requires good teamwork and a strong leader in the backline.

Cross ball and through ball, who uses it and how

These instructions can be given to anyone, but to be effective they should be assigned to players such as your wingers and fullbacks. If you give it to your central midfield players they will come out of natural positions to cross which isn’t always a good thing.

Through ball option needs to take the type of game you are playing into account. If you are playing a defensive possession game and are not going forward a lot then often through balls will just give possession away and invite trouble.

If you are attacking and trying to get forward all the time then through balls are a good idea.

Note the passing attribute for when assigning through balls too.

Bear in mind the kind of football you want your winger to play too, you can have a dribbler or you can have someone do slick one-twos and go cross, you usually will find it hard to do both as the attributes required are high.

Through balls can be a good instruction for wingers who are slow but possess a good cross, or if your strikers are very pacey.

Avoiding conflicting instructions

Conflicting instructions can confuse your players and unbalance your formation.

Counterattacking - and short passing without TTBs. You are not using the options correctly Its counterproductive

Giving your players a high mentality and then dropping your dline, this is dangerous, its not entirely conflicting but it does make your playing area bigger and make your player conditions drop.

Playing direct passing on slow tempo. Tempo affects how fast or slow a play builds up. Direct passing is naturally fast, so slowing it down is not advisable

Giving a player RWB often and TTB often is a conflict. One is ideal for a hold up man the other for a dribbler. Asking a player to dribble often and then to slow down to make a through ball can sometimes lead to loss of possession. There are few players who can do this effectively.

A conflicting instruction is any instruction that creates oppositon between an attacking action and a defensive action. Give defensive actions to defensive players and offensive instructions to offensive players. If you want to play defensive, then choose options that help you either control the game or play a quick counterattacking game.

Creative players needs to be given room to be effective they shouldn’thave intensive closing down

Be careful when instructing players to do “forward runs” often as this can drag the player out of a vital position defensively or offensively. An especially important fact for link players like DMCs and AMCs

Keep the tactic balanced in that even if all the players can run with the ball that doesn’t mean that they should. They can be intercepted while in possession leading to goal scoring opportunities for the opposition .

Opposition Instructions by Mr Personality

Usually after I give the pre-game teamtalk, I would check on the opposition instruction screen to see if I position my central defenders correctly. If my opponent is using the big-small combination, I shall adjust which of my two DCs to be on which side.

In my situation, both my DCs (I’m using a four man defence) are not the fastest players on the pitch (pace: 9 and 11) but they have decent (ie. is or more than 14) marking & tackling stats. Here is a few scenarios that I have run into in my games:

DC marking a big targetman in a 2 man attack: always close down in hope that he would win most of the battles and contain the targetman from attacking my goal. If his preferred foot is right or left ONLY, then I’d show him onto the left or right respectively. Else, I will just leave it to my defenders on how to mark him.

DC marking a pacey forward in a 2 man attack: never close down and always tight marking. This is what I’m not quite sure of. I’m afraid if I try to close down on him all the time, any mistackle would mean that my DC is going to be left behind by the sheer pace of the FC. With tight marking, I want the DC to nullify the effect of that fast forward without commiting himself too much. The higher the pace of the FC, the lower my closing down on my DC’s individual setting is. Any other suggestions?

DC marking a big targetman in a 1 striker formation: One DC (with the lower pace) will be set to always close down, the other has no specific instructions to pick up what’s left.

DC marking a pacey forward in a 1 striker formation: same as above as I have the numerical advantage and the extra man to cover should the closing down DC fail to clear or contain the man

On AMC: Always close him down to prevent him from linking to his strikers.

Opposition ML/R and AM L/R: Since I want to deprive opposition team of the supply from the wings, these players are given the instruction to always be closed down and shown onto the weaker foot (plus hard tackling depending on the match-up against my players). If the wingers are exceptional, I would tick tight marking on my DL’s and/or DR’s individual settings.

Any injured field players and players below 85% (excluding strikers): Have always put the hard tackling on these players to either make their condition worse or take them to the hospital early

BTW I seldom use both tight marking & closing down on always unless my DCs have way better stats than the opposing strikers.

In the closing stages of any game which the opponents have gone 4-2-4 on me, I usually set ‘always close down’ on all 4 forwards. This is done only after I put 2 DMs in front of my 4-man defence. So far the result has been alright as I have not conceded an 89 or 90th min goal since one game in the beginning of the season. Have not tried anything on the opponent defence or goalies either, thus not sure how anything works on that side of the field.

Pitch sizes

Pitch sizes

There are now 4 standard dimensions in pitch sizes, and they all influence how you should play.

Standard - Is pretty much what it means. Long and reasonably wide. Not a very common pitch in england, based on what I’ve played. Scout reports ahead of matches are important to reveal more information. So use a scout with good tactical knowledge.

In general most pitches come back as congested and you’ll be hard put to find space.

In this kind of situtation you will need players to make loads of forward runs, getting behind parts of the congested midfield. And you will also need good players to hold up the ball while others create space. A good tactic as usual is always to have good crossers of the ball. If you have to attack good defenders, then pace is important, off the ball attributes are also vital for strikers who want to find space.

Good movement, short passing at high tempo ie. playing like arsenal can help too. Wingers will struggle to find space as they are closed down fast so having them on mixed RWB is usually a good instruction as it allows give and go with the overlapping fullbacks.

Wide pitches, though rare are common in Europe, these kind of pitches allow more running play and a chance to exploit the flanks which congested pitches can’t provide. On these kind of pitches the danger will come from players with pace and good hold up men playing centrally. Manmarking strikers on pitches like this is also dangerous against good sides. A good option is to close down heavily on wingers and prevent them from putting in dangerous crossers.

Run of poor form

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There’s a number of factors at play in a late-season run of poor form.

One, Morale has an impact on how team talks (HT and FT) are taken. So, if thought you had ’solved’ team talks, and you had a great solution for a team on high morale, you may need to sort them out again for a team on low morale. (Just remember to go back to your old formula when Morale recovers!)

Two, Determination, professionalism, and experience has an impact on how well a player plays through a run of poor form, and how well a player plays when trailing. So, if you went out and got eleven great young players, well maybe they don’t know how to fight through a losing streak. You might find some older, more seasoned players with worse apparent numbers play better during the poor spell.

Three, sitting players out after a poor showing seems to have a strong motivating effect on them: basically, they take it as ‘I’m in danger of losing my first-team place’, so that can help. (Especially if you have a veteran back-up, you can address points two and three simultaneously.)

Four, your captain has a huge effect. Before reading on forum, I selected captain by Influence. However, “Influence” should be read as ‘potential influence’, or ‘the influence he will have when he’s 36 and has been at your team for ten seasons.’ An 18-year-old with 20 Influence who just joined the club may have some respect among the youth players, but does not have the respect of the veterans. The next point to consider is what Mental aspects he has: a high-Iinfluence player can do harm rather than good if he is weak in other Mental attributes. I’ve found a lot more success picking my captain by Determination, Work Rate, and Composure, seeking a captain with a professional attitude, a veteran whose been with the team a long time. By that point, at League One he may only have 10 or 12 Influence, but that’s okay: he’s a force beneficial to the team.

Five, look to your tactics. I find I shade my tactics more defensive when I hit a losing streak: my theory is that if I grind out a few 0-0 results and 0-1 defeats, eventually I’ll get lucky and grind out a 1-0 victory, and that can help turn around the Morale issue. In particular, I’ll look to keep it 0-0 for seventy minutes, then bring on some fresh attacking players in the hopes that they can outrun and outwork the opposition defense to get the decisive breakthrough.

Finally, think about Condition and training. There’s a number of different things that can ‘go wrong’ in this area - I’ll run over a few common mistakes.
- over-emphasizing one or two areas for a single position. Most players on the pitch do need to contribute both offensively and defensively. You may want tailored training by position, but don’t overdo it: you still want your forwards to be able to make a tackle, and your defenders to be able to pass, for example.

- over- or under- training. If your players always have 100% condition by Tuesday after a Saturday match, you’re probably under-training them, and could increase the Intensity of their training significantly. If your players haven’t recovered to at least 95% condition by the Saturday after a Saturday match, you’re definitely over-training them, and need to decrease the Intensity. Where you want it between those extremes is up to you, and depends on how much squad rotation you want to do.

- If Condition is dropping excessively in the individual matches, you might need more Aerobic training to counteract that effect. (Its especially useful to go an a serious Aerobic binge during pre-season, dropping off the deeper you get into the year.)

Understanding Corners

What’s a good corner strategy
Try to have three big targets in the box, one on Near Post Flick-On, the strongest on Challenge GK, and a third on Forward. Add to that a real shooter on “Attack Near Post”, and somebody with Headers and Finishing at “Stand on Far Post”, and you have four goalscoring threats plus a good garbage collector.

Likewise, your throw-in instructions can make a huge difference; get somebody with 18+ Long Throws as your throw-in taker, put a big defender on Near Post, two Long Shot specialists on Lurk Outside Box, a striker on Default, and a fullback on Go Forward. Works a treat; all five are threats to score.

As for Long Shots, you need space to pull it off - so if you have tight-marking and high closing down all over the pitch, neither your players nor the opposition have enough space to really make it work. If you dropped that to loose marking, low closing down, I bet you’d see a lot more - both for and against.

What kind of a player makes a good freekick taker

The first conclusion I came to was that although composure IS important, it is nowhere near as important as it is when taking penalty kicks. In my view, the composure attribute is, (believe this or not), more important than the penalty attribute when deciding the result of a spot kick.

With free-kicks, there are other options to consider and all of these affect the outcome.

Should the player shoot, tee up another player for a shot, cross, play wide left/right, or our old favourite, pass back to the GK from just outside the opposition area. Affecting this decision would be decisions, creativity, flair, and possibly anticipation.

If he shoots, which part of the goal does he aim for. I would say that decisions and free-kicks affect this.

If he decides he is going to shoot, and he knows where he wants to put it, does he blast it or try a delicate placed shot. I suppose what affects this is decisions, free-kicks, technique and maybe any PPM’s that are applicable.

Once he has decided that he will shoot, what part of the goal he will aim at and whether he will blast it or place it, we have the following attributes to consider that will effect the outcome. Finishing, free-kicks, long-shots, technique and composure.

My GK isn’t a very good example of an excelent free-kick taker, I just used his stats as an example to counter the comment from adonis who suggested that attacking players are better at free-kicks.

Understanding football formations

As managers are unable to get on the field themselves, the formation is a vital way for them to enforce their vision on the players. The type of formation selected by the manager reflects the sort of football you can
expect them to play, so understanding what the most commonly used formations signify is key to understanding football.

4-4-2 Formation

The most common and adaptable formation in modern football, the weakness of 4-4-2 is the gaps between the central defenders,midfielders and the strikers. As such, a huge burden is placed on the central midfield to augment defense and attack.

Precisely because of this all-round contribution, the wings play a vitalrole in spurring on attacks and supporting the strikers. This was evident in the approach of Manchester United and Arsenal during the late 1990s and early 2000s. The former utilised David Beckham and Gary Neville’s ability to deliver crosses from deep positions (as well as Beckham’s abilities from set-pieces), while the latter relied heavily on the goalscoring contributions both of right-winger Freddie Ljungberg and left-winger Robert Pires.

However, the two sides’ contrasting attitudes in central midfield reflects the subtle variations in the 4-4-2. Whereas Manchester United’s first-choice midfield of Paul Scholes and Roy Keane married a powerful but diminutive mixture of a goal-scoring attacking midfielder and a box-to-box tough-tackler, Arsenal emphasised a tall, powerful combination with their own tough-tackling box-to-box midfielder, Patrick Vieira, and a strict holding midfielder in Gilberto Silva.

4-5-1 Formation

A formation which has grown in popularity in recent times, the 4-5-1 is fundamentally defensive, but can be tweaked to provide more of an offensive threat. The essential qualities of the 4-5-1 are a three-man central midfield and a lone striker, typically a target man. By packing the midfield, a technically strong passing side will come unstuck and provide opportunities for counter-attacking football. When on the attack, the 4-5-1 is heavily dependent on the wingers supporting the lone striker.

Perhaps the best illustration of 4-5-1 in full flow is Jose Mourinho’s system. Both as manager of FC Porto and Chelsea, Mourinho founded his sides on strong defensive line-ups and an excellent holding midfielder, while the attack relied on a hard-working front man and a goal-scorer in midfield. At Chelsea, his defensive stalwarts were the captain and central defender John Terry and the holding midfielder Claude Makélélé. Alongside the Frenchman, Frank Lampard provided the bulk of goals from central midfield, ably supported by Joe Cole and Arjen Robben on the wings and Didier Drogba’s efforts up front. The side was extremely successful, picking up back-to-back Premiership titles in 2005 and 2006,building on Mourinho’s previous achievement at Porto in winning the 2004 Champions League trophy.


In some ways, the 4-3-3 is covered in the description of the 4-5-1.However, whereas the 4-5-1 starts with the wingers supporting the central midfielders, the 4-3-3 encourages the wingers to act as true forwards and the formation generally emphasises attack more than defense.

This theory was put into action by Frank Rijkaard as manager of Barcelona. Faced with the problem of how to accommodate Ronaldinho,Samuel Eto’o and Lionel Messi, as well as a host of central midfielders,Rijkaard adopted a 4-3-3. The triangle up front of the aforementioned players was supported by a creative and defensive midfield backbone of the playmaker Xavi, the holding midfielder Edmilson and either Andrés Iniesta or Thiago Motta as an all-rounder. The side was hugely successful, picking up back-to-back La Liga titles in 2005 and 2006 and the Champions League trophy in 2006.

The ‘Diamond Formation’ (4-3-1-2)

The diamond in the formation refers to the midfield, with an attacking midfielder and a holding midfielder employed and flanked by two wingers, who move in-field slightly to shore up the gaps in the centre. To cover
for the lack of width in the side, the full-backs become wingbacks and start slightly higher up the pitch.

The diamond formation is typically associated with the World Cup-winning English national team in 1966, christened the ‘wingless wonders’. In recent times though, the employment of the diamond usually revolves around a single player. The Argentinian national side in the 2006 World Cup held an extremely fluid diamond formation which gave Juan Roman Riquelme space to instigate attacks, while AC Milan under Carlo Ancelotti in 2004 used the diamond to assist the Brazilian playmaker Kaká.

5-3-2 Formation

In theory, the 5-3-2 is a purely defensive-minded line-up. The three central defenders provide extra resoluteness, while the three in midfield are all located around the centre circle. There is also a notable gap between midfield and attack, and the wing-play is the sole responsibility of the fullbacks.

However, the most famous modern practitioners of this system, the 1990s West German national side, were no slouches in front of goal. On their way to the World Cup in 1990, they scored an exceptional 15 goals, with
the midfielder Lothar Matthäus notching 4 on his own. As a result, the 5-3-2 is something of a tactical enigma, though rarely seen today.

4-4-1-1 Formation

It is a simple variation of 4-4-2 formation in which the second attacker plays just behind the main striker but ahead of the midfield.If a player plays ahead of the midfield but behind the striker, it causes problems for the opposition because they find it hard to mark them.

The midfield already has four midfielders to mark and if a opposing defender takes up the job, he will get pulled out of defence.This formation allows a creative player a bit more freedom to operate. He has more options, to pass short or long, dribble, cut wide or bear down on goal.If he fails to create an opening for himself, more often than not he will create goal scoring chances for others.And the added advantage is that, if he creates something further forward, he can arrive late in the box to join the attack.