Best tactics & formations to use in Football Manager 2024

Best tactics & formations to use in Football Manager 2024
Images via SEGA

Written by 

Morgan Truder

Last updated 

22nd May 2024 13:45

Finding a killer formation in Football Manager 2024 (FM24) will go a long way to helping you find success, as well as the right tactics to make it all click. You have the freedom to do whatever you want, but depending on the calibre of players at your disposal, you may not want to overcomplicate things too much. 

Certain squads and teams will not have the capacity to play in a certain way, so sometimes you’ll find yourself restricted with what you can achieve given your personnel - but it doesn’t mean you can’t have something to work towards in the game.

The best formations & tactics

4-2-3-1 Gegenpress

4231 gengenpress in FM24
Click to enlarge

Every year this is one of the best formations to use in the game, but with any high-pressing formation that utilises a high line, you’re going to need players who are very athletic and can run for days.

This system also heavily relies on a very good pressing forward to lead the attack which acts as the first line of defence, adding plenty of pressure to defenders and goalkeepers.

Your midfield is largely an engine room whenever you use a high-pressing tactic, but your wingbacks should have complete freedom to overlap and create chances from out wide. This means your fullbacks could be great creative outlets as long as they have the stats for it, completely owning the whole of their side.

The only downside is if you do come up against a team that can work around your press, your Highline makes you incredibly vulnerable at the back. You may lose a few games, but if your goal is to entertain, this formation will suffice - popping on Shoot on Sight could lead to even more goals.

I find this to be the most successful tactic at the higher levels of play, such as the top leagues or European competitions like the Champions League, because you find far more players who are suited to the system and match its strengths.

5-3-2 Fluid Counter Attack 

532 Fluid Counter Attack FM24
Click to enlarge

To use this system, you will need three very good defenders and good wingbacks who will provide all of your width. Two strikers who have very different skill sets are also crucial to how this system works, so they don’t step on each other's toes and help each other. Think how Inter Milan attack.

We have opted for a defensive midfielder to add even more reassurance at the back, but if you prefer, you could use an attacking midfielder.

Your defence is going to be incredibly deep, so it is just as important to hold your nerve in this scenario, you will be under a lot of pressure during the match and conceding the majority of possession.

It may not be pretty, but you can get some good wins, especially if you transition quickly from back to front. Counter tactics like this work well for mid-to-lower-table teams in the upper leagues, as they typically have a big disadvantage when it comes to money and player quality.

However, I would recommend only using it for a few seasons if you find success, as you can then begin to upgrade to players who work for more attacking styles of play.

4-3-3 Tiki-Taka 

433 tiki taka fm24
Click to enlarge

If you’re going to deploy a Tiki-Taka formation, you will need players who are good on the ball, strong mentally, and can pick out a pass.

In keeping with the recent trends in football of the box midfield, this is also a great formation to utilise inverted fullbacks, flooding the midfield and dominating possession. Your chances will be created by your midfielders and wingers, whilst your approach will be patient.

It means that in possession, you will rely on working the ball in the box whilst keeping your passing short and the tempo low. Tiki-Taka is a hard formation to use in the lower leagues, or for teams who are less dominant - for most, this will be a formation to work towards over time.

5-2-3/3-4-3 Wing Play 

523 wingplay in FM24
Click to enlarge

If you want a lot of chances from out wide or have some high quality wingers and wing backs, I find the Wing Play tactic to be fruitful when playing.

You'll flood the channels with plenty of players, whipping in balls to a big centre forward and hoping to score goals this way. It is important to have a striker comfortable being isolated for large portions of the match, who is physically imposing and can thrive off of the scraps. 

Three at the back will tighten things up defensively and allow the wingbacks to run the channels freely, not having to worry too much about their defensive responsibilities. Not only will you need players good at the crossing, but defenders who can also bring the ball out, play a pass when needed, and get the team on the right foot by pinging balls out wide.

4-3-3 Narrow Vertical Tiki-Taka

FM24 Narrow 433 Vertical Tiki-Taka
Click to enlarge

The Vertical Tiki-Taka is faster, quicker and relies on getting the ball from the back to front very quickly. To excel with this system you will have to use press-resistant midfielders and your fullbacks will provide a lot of your width. 

To guarantee plenty of goals, three strikers are deployed so will need to ensure they complement each other with some capable of passing, so the others can bag plenty of goals.

Using three forwards can cause a bit of chaos, but there will be plenty of goals and hopefully, you just outscore your opponents. We can’t stress enough, that this formation will need a very good shot-stopper because you will concede chances.

How I decided on the best formations

I spent a lot of time this year trying out the different tactics above to analyse their strengths and weaknesses in game situations and in different team compositions.

Teams with more quality will be able to get away with using the Tiki-Taka and Vertical Tiki-Taka approaches, but if you're a side with less quality, five at the back and playing deeper will help you grind out results.

During my Pro Vercelli save, I would often have a few tactics loaded up to switch between depending on the opposition, as adaptability is arguable the most important skill in Football Manager.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Get exclusive news, content, and discounts sent directly to your inbox

You've joined our newsletter. Thank you!
Sorry, there has been an issue in subscribing to the newsletter.

For more guides, check out our Football Manager homepage, where we have covered how to find wonderkids, the best scouts, how to download the game via Netflix and more. 

Morgan Truder
About the author
Morgan Truder
Morgan is one of the Guides Writers at GGRecon. He first started writing about games for fun whilst doing his BA (Hons) in History and Film. Since then he has turned this passion into a career and was previously an Editor at VideoGamer before joining GGRecon. Despite enjoying all sorts of games, he can often be found playing Football Manager, Red Dead Redemption 2 or Sekiro.
The best Director of Football to hire in FM24
Who are the best Assistant Managers in Football Manager 2024?
Is Football Manager 2024 on Xbox Game Pass? Console, PC & Cloud explained
Football Manager 2024 minimum PC & Mac system requirements
Best scouts to hire in Football Manager 2024 to make the best team