A big reason for this guide is the feeling the 4-2-4 tactic is unappreciated, certainly when compared to the more popular tactics in Football Manager 2022. Yes, the 4-2-3-1 Gegenpress and 4-3-3’s will always be the people’s choice, but there are certain merits to a tactic which provides attacking overloads. As this is my first tactical guide, I wish to show you the very tactic that has brought me success so far in FM22. Let’s dive in!
4-2-4: The Preset Tactic
To begin, it’s important to see what the default 4-2-4 is and what it demands of your players, without any tweaks made.
Two things to note straight away with a 4-2-4: You can overload your attack with two strikers and two wingers, which can lead to many chances in your opponent’s area. However, your midfield two could easily be overwhelmed, especially when facing a midfield three or any narrow formations. Your midfield may require tweaking and experimentation to get it right, which I will go into later in this article.
The team instructions on a 4-2-4 preset are heavily detailed. A very wide and direct style of play with a high tempo is the default, with overlaps required by your full backs. “In Possession” instructions focus on getting the ball to your wide players more, so high quality wingers and full backs will be a high priority for your team.
You may notice the “In Transition” and “Out of Possession” instructions are not very detailed, which is fine depending on how you play and where your team is in the league structure. A General Rule: the lower down the leagues your team is, the less team instructions that are needed.
But how does this tactic look in practice with some tweaking? Step forward my Wycombe Wanderers team, which was a part of my Unemployed to Legend Series on YouTube in FM22. Below, I go through how the 4-2-4 was used for my squad.
How I Played It: Wycombe Wanderers
Taking the 4-2-4 tactic and molding it to my team took a while (several seasons), with many failures at times. But eventually I found a style that suited my way of playing, as you can see below:
The biggest change for me was balancing the midfield between attacking and defensive duties. Instead of two Central Midfield roles, I made sure to use a Ball Winning Midfielder on a Defend duty. This ensured whoever plays there held their position in front of the defence and attempt to win the ball back. The second midfielder was a bit loose in terms of role. I used a Central Midfielder here (an all rounder at attack and defence), but I have also used a Mezzala and Box to Box Midfielder previously. Preferably, this was a player who could get forward, but was also defensively responsible at the same time.
As I started using this tactic with Wycombe Wanderers in League One (third tier of England), I felt it was important to limit my use of team instructions. The screenshot below shows hardly any instructions were used after much tweaking:
Considering the original preset showed a boatload of “In Possession” instructions, making it easier for my players to understand was key. Slightly shorter passing with a slightly higher tempo and playing for set pieces was our aim going forward, giving my players more freedom to attack anywhere across the pitch. The use of one Inside Forward meant we could attack out wide or through the middle, as we could overload all over the pitch.
Important Player Roles
So with the tactical style and team instructions set, below are the main roles that were pivotal to how we played and could not be deviated from.
Ball Winning midfielder (BWM) (Defend)
I mentioned this above, but a BWM was essential to containing the opponents midfield. Without one, we could not win the ball back and were exposed defensively, especially when the Wing Backs were out of position. A good Ball Winning Midfielder should be good at marking; tackling and physically capable of jostling with opponents for the ball.
Attributes – Marking; Tackling; Aggression; Anticipation; Teamwork; Work Rate; Stamina; Strength (preferably).
Wing Backs (Support)
On both sides of my defence, the Wing Backs were crucial in getting up and down their respective flanks. Considering my wide players cut inside, I needed my Wing Backs to provide width and overlap to get into crossing positions. I never used them in an attacking role, to make sure they continued to help out the defence when needed. Good physical attributes are needed for this role, with good crossing to get balls into the box for the strikers.
Attributes – Crossing; Dribbling; Marking; Tackling; Off The Ball; Teamwork; Work Rate; Acceleration; Stamina.
Inside Forward (Attack)
Speaking of wide players, the use of an Inside Forward is almost a must in FM22. They have proven to be more effective in this match engine, and in this tactic it’s easy to see why. A role where the player can play out wide but also cut inside and get into the box to create chances or score. It is perfect for an attacking overload, especially in the 4-2-4. It also created the space for my Wing Back to overlap, allowing for that width to stretch the opponents defence.
Attributes – Dribbling; Finishing; Technique; Off The Ball; Acceleration; Agility; Balance.
Tactical Results: Wycombe Wanderers
I began using the 4-2-4 with Wycombe Wanderers in League One. By the time I moved on from them in my YouTube series, they were in The Championship (second tier), so it’s safe to say the tactic worked, even at a lower league level.
Starting the Championship season with the 4-2-4, the results showed even at a higher level we could compete with this style of football. In the results schedule below, aside from the West Ham and Derby games, we conceded very few goals, which spoke of how tight the defence was. But the key part was the attacking overloads working, as we scored 3 or more goals in 5 out of 8 games at the start of the season.
Overall, one promotion; a high scoring team and a much tighter defence meant a highly enjoyable experience with this tactic. Naturally, getting the right players for this tactic helps, but when you do, your brand of football becomes easier to get right.
Preset tactics are very useful, especially for those who are unaware of how tactics work or for newbies to FM22. However, there are benefits to tweaking tactics to player roles that work or to instructions that you are comfortable with. Just be aware that a balance is needed between attack and defence for this 4-2-4 to work, otherwise you face your midfield being very overwhelmed.
Follow me @Craig_FM1 for more FM22 content or find us on Twitter @DictateTheGame for more Football Manager news and content.
Check out these articles below for more on FM22:
- Total Football Journeyman: Creating My 4-3-3/4-2-3-1 Hybrid
- Motivation in Football Manager
- Creating a Tactic for Hamburg in Football Manager 2022 (Part 1)
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