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Three in One Tactical Planning – Colours of the Flag

FM20 Tactical Planning

Welcome to Three in One Tactical Planning, part of the Colours of the Flag series which will be running on Dictate the Game, in this post we will be looking at how in Football Manager 2020 you can create three tactics, all to aid and work together to get you the points needed in this virtual world of FM20. Don’t forget to head over to other posts on the website after you have enjoyed this Three in One Tactical Planning post. I recommend this Total Football DNA post by Crusadertsar.

Some clubs come with the backing of a town, others with a district, county, community or more whilst F.C. Andorra come with the backing of a nation. Imagine setting up a football club in your country to find that not only are you the only one but there is no league structure to enter and no national team for your players to aspire to play for, this was the case in 1942 when F.C. Andorra formed.

In 1942, Andorra held a population of roughly 6,000 (based on 1939 figures), this is the same amount of people that can fit inside Dagenham or Woking’s stadiums, or they could all visit Morcambe and have some seats spare for the locals to still turn up. A tiny country landlocked by France and Spain but a country with a dream, a dream of having a football team, 52 years before the Andorran FA was formed. Maybe looking up and down, F.C. Andorra decided to head south and join the Spanish league system, donning the colours of the flag, blue, yellow and Red.

So, where do we come in, F.C. Andorra interest me, a side who has spend most of its existence in the lower reaches of Spanish football but in December 2018, a group involving Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué invested in the club giving them a boost in popularity around the world and even more so in the 2019/2020 season after a side dropped out of the Spanish third tier, F.C. Andorra jumped in and purchased the spot for a reported 452,022 euros (£411,000). Now, us Football Manager (FM) geeks know them as a great club and country (c+c) challenge with the Andorra National team, other nations and clubs like San Marino who played in the Italian league before a recent merger ruined our FM dreams of a C+C with them. Do not worry though, initially I need to give my focus to F.C. Andorra alone and maybe later in this journey we can look at the National team position.

Season 1, the three in one tactical planning, the plan is to create three tactics all to work together within a 90 minute game, all designed to aid in the sole focus of 3 points and a clean sheet. The solid start, the attacking middle period and the defensive ending. Can this system of a three in one work, can you create three tactics which can work without making a substitution? Let’s be honest here, substitutions are needed when legs are tired, when players are not on form, when players have scored three goals and you want them to get a virtual standing ovation but apart from this, can we design a three in one tactical plan where players can move around the pitch depending on the minutes on the clock.

Three in One Tactical Planning
4-4-2 Tactic

The 4-4-2: opening the game, a period of feeling each other out, a period of watching the opposition and deciding the best set up to prevent them winning and giving you the best chance of winning, do we need to stick with flat banks, will our second set up (4-2-3-1) of players between the lines give us a better control, will we need to defend deeper with our 4-1-4-1… all questions to be asked in the first 15 minutes of a game. Now with this 4-4-2 it is designed as my starting tactic, a tactic which suits my players, gives me nice solid lines of defence and midfield which also gives me a better vision of the opposition, when your team is playing with two lines of four, it is easier to see gaps that the opposition are exploiting, be it playing a defensive or offensive midfielder in the spaces. This tactic creates chances for me as well as giving me the first line of defence in my initial goals in a game, do not lose whilst trying to win.

4-2-3-1 Tactic

Moving onto the 4-2-3-1, a tactic designed to find space, a tactic designed to be more offensive as well as keeping the solid two in central midfield as an aid to my defence. This side of the three in one tactic fits well as playing with two strikers, often one of them has the ability to drop back into the AMC role as well as my wide men being capable of pushing into the AMR/L role. I often will move onto this tactic after 20-30 minutes of the game and continue with it until we are at the 70/75th minute, if we have not scored a goal to give us the lead by that point, I would often settle for a point and switch to the third tactic. Now, if we are losing a game by one goal, then this tactic would be in play until we have either got back into the game or the game is over.

4-1-4-1 Tactic

Final part of this three in one tactical plan is my ‘put us all back and don’t let them score’ tactic, also known as 4-1-4-1. This tactic has a lot behind it including short free kicks and corners, time wasting and no one going forward for set pieces apart from my striker, everyone else is either outside the box or they have gone short for the kick and plan on wasting even more time once they get the ball. The aim of the tactic is simple as explained above, stop the other team scoring and secure the three or one point if needed!




A look at the first 20 games of this Three in One Tactical Planning

FM20 Andorra Table S1

We are 20 games into the league campaign with F.C. Andorra and sitting in 4th place, only 5 points off top place Castellón. We are expected to finish in the top half of the table but currently we are more likely to be finishing in a playoff spot and battling to win promotion to the second tier of Spanish football.

In terms of the tactical influence on this league position, it has been huge. We have had to battle in games against some very good teams like Castellón and FC Barcelona B being two top top teams in this league, shown by their current position but without a doubt the results against the smaller clubs has been the reason we are in the position we are in.

As you can see below, we have played 20 games and currently we have only conceded 3 goals in the second half of games, now straight away it shows we are poor at the start of games and our work rate, desire and tactical planning is showing in the second half but no team is perfect and after 20 games we must take positives. The defensive side of the team, to shut up shop, to see the game out and not concede a single goal in the final 15 minutes of games makes me very proud and gives me positives going into the second half of the season.

Goals scored conceded fm20

There is a long way to go with these three tactics, a lot of editing, adjustment and reworking completely for certain areas of the tactics but that is the fun of FM and football in general, you are never at a perfect point where you are completely happy and there is always work to do.

I would love to see some examples of your tactical set ups and how you deal with certain match day situations. Feel free to reply to this post below or contact me for a more one to one chat on twitter at

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  1. Superb article. Love the fact you have created three systems to cover different scenarios. Lots of articles on a single system, i prefer this kind of tactical flexibility.

    Look forward to seeing where this goes.

  2. The Spanish 3rd tier is a nightmare to get out of, or at least it was a few FM versions ago. I’m not sure if the rules are the same, even if you finish first you still have to go through a play-off match.

    Interesting that in real life, Andorra are sitting third in the table after 19 games.

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