Best FM22 Tactics: Formations, Instructions, Player Roles

Best FM22 Tactics: Formations, Instructions, Player Roles
Images via Sports Interactive

Written by 

Niall Walsh


24th May 2022 12:32

It takes a lot of patience and playing to figure out the best FM22 tactics, as there are a slew of interconnecting systems and mechanics influencing how your ideas play out on the actual footbal pitch. However, due to Football Manager's longevity and evolution over the years, it's become easier than ever to really dive deep into the tactical nature of the beautiful game. Whether your new to the series or a veteran, our best FM22 tactics should give you a jumping off point to dictate how your team functions.

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Best FM22 Tactics: The Basics

FM 22 Preferred Tactic Setup
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The ideal tactics have a thumbs up next to them

When setting up a tactic you need to know whether or not it’s one the club is already familiar with. Preferred tactics and formations are singled out on the tactics screen meaning they are easier for the players to adapt to. It’s always worth having one of these being trained at all times to fall back on in a pinch.

Tactics take time to learn so always make sure your club has three tactics to use. You can set it up so that each one addresses a different scenario (favourites, underdogs, dominance etc.) but never just settle for one tactic and hope that’s all you need.

FM22 Training Player Position
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It's key to make sure your players are well trained in the role you want them to play

Player position training also needs to be looked after at all times. Even if you’re not the kind of player to micromanage training, make sure your players are training in the position and role that you want to use them for. There’s no use in your CM training as a winger or your target man striker training for the role of a pressing forward.

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Best FM22 Tactics: Gegenpress 5-2-1-2

FM22 gegenpress tactic
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So far in FM22, the most successful tactics has been the Gegenpress 5-2-1-2. The power behind this tactic is its fluidity and adaptability to any team, in any game and any situation. 


Gegenpress is a high tempo tactic because what you’re essentially asking your players to do is constantly chase the ball and put the opponent under pressure. Players with low stamina and work rate will struggle to adapt or thrive in this style, so when signing players, make sure you're focusing on workhorses who won't stop running.

The 5-2-1-2 formation is one that didn’t work very well last year due to the game’s imbalance with wing-backs. They were not nearly as effective as they were in real life and it caused any formation using them to become a bit useless. Not to mention many players who could play the position would verbally argue that they should instead be playing as a regular full-back, which made life a misery.

In FM22, this has been fixed and a five-at-the-back formation works exactly how it should. The adaptability and flexibility mentioned above are mostly in relation to the midfield pairing and strike partnership you choose. This setup sees a defensive deep-lying playmaker playing alongside a box to box midfielder, which are two roles that complement each other and the wider team nicely.

Without any ball-playing defenders, having a midfielder with a defensive mindset acts as good coverage but the playmaking aspect means they can still have a huge attacking impact on the game. The box-to-box option is a middle-ground decision that sees the player constantly running lengths of the pitch as though they’re in the middle of a bleep test. For both roles, a high work rate and stamina are essential. With your attackers, one must play as a pressing forward but the other can play almost any role but attacking forward or poacher is probably the best option.

Gegenpress can work in any situation provided you are ready to adapt mid-game to any strategies deployed by the opponent. Getting exposed by the long ball? Lower your line of engagement. Attackers snapping at the chances from distance? Work the ball into the box instead. This tactic demands the most from you during matches so be prepared to make changes on the fly.

Best FM22 Tactics: Vertical Tiki Taka 4-3-3 DM Wide

FM22 Vertical Tiki Taka Tactic
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The Vertical Tiki Taka (VTT) is all about style points as you’re implementing a tactical style that encourages attractive football and looking to score on every attack. Its biggest strength is also its biggest weakness as being such an attack-minded tactic means that in games where you’re outmatched, your team may sink without a trace. Unless you’re going to play as a world-class team, it’s best to have a defensive tactic lined up for tougher games or to switch to in dire situations.

A VTT tactic hinges on your midfield triangle. These need to be your best players on the team as they’ll be prevalent when attacking or defending. Ideally, you'll go with a defensive midfielder in a supporting role while allowing one central midfielder to be a roaming playmaker. The third player can take up any role you feel the team is missing but in many cases, a mezzala is a fine fit due to their ability to find and operate in tight spaces.

You may also want to play around with the role your forward plays as you can see fantastic results when deploying them as a complete forward, but not many top players are familiar with the role. Falling back on either a pressing or advanced forward is recommended in this case.

Overall, the tactic isn’t too intense even in attacking situations so you’re going to want to focus on attributes like creativity, technique, decisions and passing when looking for players to fit the system.

Any tiki-taka tactic is best deployed when you’re a team set up to attack. It can work in situations where you’re not necessarily the favourite to win but you’ll need to make sure you study the oppositions scouting report to change any instructions you feel may leave you exposed. For instance, if you’re playing a high line of engagement, maybe drop it back a little to offset a team using a counter-attacking strategy.

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Best FM22 Tactics: Control Possession 4-2-3-1 Wide

FM22 Control Possession Tactic
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Next up is one for the purists. Possession wins football matches - or so they say - therefore a tactic built entirely around dominating possession should lead to plenty of trophies in the club cabinet.

All joking aside, the control possession tactic is actually incredibly dominant in the right hands. It has enough flexibility to allow you to make small tweaks if certain aspects aren’t working right and most players can fulfil the required roles with ease. As an example, you can sometimes find that attacks are a little too casual in this setup meaning you want a more direct approach. Feel free to change this in the tactical instructions and see if anything improves but it likely just means that your team hasn’t found an opening they deem suitable to pounce on quite yet. Playing possession-based football requires a lot of patience and a cool head from you as the manager. There’s no use in berating your players because they’re sticking to the tactics and not winning 3-0 at halftime.

Think of the Arsenal team from the early noughties and that’s exactly what this tactic and formation are trying to recreate. You want free-flowing and simple football that can spark into something special when the openings arrive.

Roles are a little less adaptable with this tactic and the only real changes you may want to play around with are for your wingers. Depending on the options available to you, playing dual inverted wingers is simple but if your players are more competent playing inside-forward roles, things get a little tricky. You can play the long game and try to train them to better roles or change your central attacking midfielder into a supporting role to compensate for the added bodies in the middle of the pitch.

Vision and off the ball stats are key for your forwards and midfielders as they look to expose your opponents. Passing, decisions and composure are key for defenders as they will be expected to be comfortable with the ball at their feet and make the right passes.

This tactic is not intended for teams who will be frequently outmatched but can be effective if used by those who are often the favourites in games or want to play a slow and methodical game to disrupt the much faster-paced meta used by the world’s elite at the moment.

Best FM22 Tactics: Fluid Counter Attack 4-3-3 DM Wide

FM22 Fluid Counter Attack Tactic
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The 4-3-3 DM Wide returns under a different tactic this time as you look to play a fluid counter-attack. This system can be used by anyone from the bottom of League 2 all the way up to the Champions League finalists. 

It may come across as too defensive for many players, but it’s all about giving opponents a false sense of security before pouncing on their vulnerability. Because this tactic involves soaking up a lot of pressure you’re going to need a team with high stamina and work rate across the board. One weak link could weaken the entire team so there’s no room for slouches here.

It’s key to have your full-backs in a wing-back role meaning they’ve got the green light to get forward once an attack begins. By assigning your wingers as inside forwards you can avoid having too many bodies out wide and instead have more in the box looking to get on the end of a cross.

Pace, acceleration and creativity will be key across the team as you look to have a devastating impact with your counter-attacks which need to be brutally fast to prevent your opponents from reorganising themselves.

If you’re a more cautious manager by nature then this is the best FM22 tactic to give you the defensive assurances you need while also allowing for an attacking spark. It’s not advised to play any kind of counter-attack tactic at anything other than a cautious or defensive mentality as you won’t go into the game with the right intentions and the tactic as a whole becomes compromised. You’ll also need to accept that there won’t be many comfortable wins across a season as you’ll likely squeak your way to a lot of one-goal victories.

Also be wary that your club’s board are okay with the style of play because if they expect attacking football, this certainly isn’t it.

Best FM22 Tactics: Catenaccio 5-3-2 WB

FM22 Catenaccio Tactic
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The final entry in the best FM22 tactics list is the ultimate defensive tactic that’s practically pulled from 'How To Manage Like Mourinho' (if such a book exists). This tactic is all about defence first and maybe scoring a goal if the opportunity presents itself.

In all seriousness, while any Catenaccio formation is defence-heavy, the 5-3-2 setup does actually allow it to operate more like a counter-attacking option. There is a huge focus on smart defending meaning it’s less draining than other tactics. Proficiency in all defensive statistics is a must so high marking, tackling, strength, heading, and bravery are key.

For your wing-backs, the pacier the better as they’ll be spearheading your attacks but it will also allow them to track back much quicker when required. With your strikers, you could have one play the role of the poacher to sit on the shoulder of the last defender and break at a moments notice but chances are you’ll need to train a pacey attacker to play this role due to it typically being occupied by slower players.

You can experiment with the roles of your midfielders but it’s best to keep at least one in a defensive role to fit the overall tactical intention. It can be easy to get drawn in and disrupt the tactic by setting too many player roles to the attacking option. The harsh reality of the Catenaccio is that if it doesn’t work with minor adjustments, it’s probably not going to work at all.

This tactic is best suited to clubs that have a strong defensive core that is practically unbeatable on any given Saturday. It will frustrate opponents into changing their approach which leaves gaps in the field for your wing-backs and attackers to take advantage of. Real Madrid is the best example of this in FM22 as they are proficient with both the tactic and formation from the start of the game.

Now you know all of the best FM22 tactics, keep your eyes peeled on GGRecon for more Football Manager news and guides.

Niall Walsh
About the author
Niall Walsh
Niall is a freelance writer who's just trying to justify the thousands of hours spent playing Football Manager to his loved ones.
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