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In Football Manager 2022, your tactics are one of the most vital parts of your game. No one wants to see a team of superstars get beaten 5-0 by their biggest rivals, so you have to have a cohesive tactical approach to your game. Here, I'll talk about some of the top tactics to pick, and also give you a bit of advice when it comes to team instructions and player roles.
Of course, the most important piece of advice I can give you is to play to your strengths. If your squad has some absolutely brilliant central midfielders but no wingers, a narrower formation will serve you well, provided you cover for the wide areas in your roles and instructions. Likewise, if someone on the internet has told you a certain player role is essential and broken in a specific system but your players don't have the stats for the role, make the change to something more comfortable for your team and try to find a better fit in later transfer windows.
With that said, here's what you need to know when you start out in Football Manager 2022 tactics.
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When you create a new tactic, you'll have to pick a tactical style. Which one will work best for you depends heavily on what kind of players you have in your squad. In the run-up to FM2022's release, we were told that the Gegenpress style would be nerfed after its dominance in FM2021, but that doesn't mean it's useless by any means. In fact, with players who have high stamina and work rates, it's worked great for my Reading squad in the Championship.
However, for lower-rated teams, the Gegenpress might not be a brilliant go-to. You aren't going to get Vanarama National players working a high press like you're Jürgen Klopp. Strategies like Wing Play or Direct Counter Attack work a lot better at this level, especially when you have a target forward able to hold up play or some speedy wingers able to whip in crosses.
Your assistant manager will tell you which tactical style works best for the players you have, and if you're a beginner it's best to try them out first. The Man City squad below likes to use Gegenpress, Tiki-Taka, and Vertical Tiki-Taka, so I picked the one I'm most comfortable with. Clicking on the tactical style will give you a more detailed description of what it entails.
The tactical style actually impacts the instructions you give your players, so if you want more specific alterations or want to iterate on an existing tactic, click on the panel to the left of your 'Tactics' screen and make the changes from there.
A great example of this is during a match. If you're winning 3-0 and there are 20 minutes to go in the game, why bother piling on the pressure and forcing your players to sprint around in a high press? Head to your 'Instructions' section and turn down the 'Trigger Press' dial under 'Out of Possession'. In 'Possession', switch 'Time Wasting' on and 'Tempo' down. Finally, 'In Transition', get the goalkeeper to slow play down and regroup when you lose possession. These will all reduce the 'Intensity' bar on your tactic and reduce the likelihood of your players getting injured in the final minutes of a match.
Similarly, you can up the intensity or tweak your instructions when you need a goal. Maybe you chuck on 'Shoot on Sight', or forego patience in the final minutes and get your players to pass extremely directly in the last gasp for an equaliser. Instructions are the changeable aspect of your overall tactical style, and can be altered as and when you need to.
After this, you need to pick your formation. It's a similar story here as it is with your tactical style. Pick the one your squad gels best with, unless you're really looking to do something unique. Until you've had time to gel with your team, the luxury to experiment like this might not be afforded to you by the board, so it's often best to go with something traditional. The City formation here uses instructions and roles that work well with Gegenpress by default, but these are malleable if need be.
This is where you can start getting creative. The formations offered there aren't the only options, and your tactical makeup will evolve as your team does. I went for a 5 at the back formation in my main career and it's worked an absolute treat, but there has to be a balance struck between tweaking your formation for your squad and remaining rigid and forcing them to play the system they've been working on in training all week.
In the tactic above, I'm using a Gegenpress 5-2-2-1 formation, with Inside Forwards providing a goal threat along with the Pressing Forward attempting to win the ball back high up the pitch and quickly convert those chances into goals. When Grealish is back to match fitness though, he'll slot into the Inside Forward role at left wing even though my coaches say he's best used as an Inverted Winger.
In general, the best thing to do is stick with what your players know. If you go around changing player roles all the time, your players won't be able to get used to your system. Obviously, a tactical tweak can help you snap a losing streak (I like to go back to 4-4-2 when that happens), but in general, you want the 'Familiarity' bar above your players to be as high as possible.
Roles and Instructions have their own interplay too - you need a certain number of players in attacking, defensive, and support roles for the kind of game you're trying to play. If you're looking to play a positive or attacking style, then you should have 5-6 players in attacking roles so you aren't short of targets up the pitch when you win the ball. Equally, you should stock up on defensive players if you're parking the bus against a much stronger opponent. As always, tactics should both dictate and be dictated by your team's direction and squad. They can and should be changed to better results or build around a great player, but don't need to be constantly changed - if it ain't broke don't fix it!
With each opponent, you can specifically target certain players of theirs. Head to the 'Opposition' tab and have a look at what your assistant has to say. Opposition instructions aren't as vital as the other bits in this guide, but when you come up against a particularly formidable opponent, you really can't miss out on it. Your options are tight marking, trigger press, tackling, and show onto foot.
Don't mark players tightly who are a lot more talented than your team. If my Reading squad tried to stay tight to Kylian Mbappe, he'd eat them for breakfast. That instruction is better for specific players who won't react well to receiving the ball under pressure.
This differs slightly from triggering the press, which is ideal when specific players struggle to distribute the ball under pressure. This was used in real life against Danny Rose in Liverpool's 5-0 defeat of Watford. He wasn't making unforced errors - the press was designed to target him.
Harder tackling is a good tactic for quality players. In the screenshot above harry Kane is the example used, but going in hard can stop players in squads better than your own from being able to play their best football.
Finally, you can show players onto their weaker foot. This is a great shout for creative players with an absolute wand on one leg and a marshmallow on the other. Creative midfielders struggle with this, as do inverted wingers and inside forwards looking to cut inside and shoot on their stronger foot. Each opponent is different, but your assistant will give you a helping hand regardless.