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All About the 4-2-3-1 Wide Tactic in Football Manager 2017

Updated on September 2, 2017
Mauricio Pochettino as Tottenham Hotspur F.C Manager, directing from the touchline.
Mauricio Pochettino as Tottenham Hotspur F.C Manager, directing from the touchline.

Mauricio Pochettino has been very magnificent at Tottenham FC for 3 years now. Getting a team like the Spurs to the champion's league for two consecutive seasons has marked him as one the best managers in this era. The Spurs are now seen as a big threat to other English Premier League teams. The Argentine is very tactical and knows how to motivate his players. In every save I make, Mauricio never gets sacked because his team is always among the top 4 at the end of every EPL season. Admirably, his tactics are among the best. And this makes the Spurs very difficult to beat.

When playing against Mauricio's men, you will notice that they play a very fast attacking game. They attack while maintaining a great pace and they defend aggressively.

Even though this is Mauricio Pochettino's tactic, it is not a tactic that is solely reserved for his use. It has brought many successes to a lot of teams I have tried it with. The Lily Whites always do better when using this tactic, but for the purposes of this article, I'm going to use the tactic on Bayer 04 Leverkusen as an example.

Tactics

Formation
Formation
Team Instructions
Team Instructions

The Attacking 4-2-3-1 Wide Formation

This formation is among the best formations I have tried. The 4-2-3-1 Wide arrangement is very common in Football Manager, but keep in mind it can be applied with different tactics and every manager has his own unique tactic options. For Mauricio, his tactics inspire the team to press very hard and attack quickly once the ball is won.

This formation is equipped with an Attacking mentality (you can also use Control or Defence, depending on the team you're facing), a Fluid team shape, and 17 Team Instructions.

Roles and Duties

Keeper: Goalkeeper (Defend)

Pochettino always uses the goalkeeper role with defend duty. I installed exactly that.

Goalkeeper instructions
Goalkeeper instructions

Defenders: Ball Playing Defender (Cover)

The ball playing defender (BPD) role is more suitable because the assigned player can comfortably hit through balls to the wide players for them to carry out quick attacks. The defenders present in this tactic really do promote the flow of passes and particularly accurate long passes to the wide players.

With the cover duty, the players drop a little deep to win through balls behind the defence line, thereby making it difficult for the opponent to find One-on-One chances with the keeper. These defenders with the same duty are part of Pochettino’s weapon in defence.

Players assigned to these roles should have attributes of at least 13 on marking, tackling, and positioning, at least 14 on heading and jumping-reach, and at least 12 on passing.

Ball Playing Defender Instructions (right)
Ball Playing Defender Instructions (right)
Ball Playing Defender Instructions (left)
Ball Playing Defender Instructions (left)

Side Backs: Two Fullbacks (Defend and Attack)

With an Attack duty, the appointed player gets more freedom to overlap and therefore makes deadly crosses from the byline. The player is always alert and active because he's supposed to go deeper toward the opponent’s third and return as quickly as possible when the team loses the ball. The Spurs', Kyle Walker is a perfect example of this. His crosses are sensational.

On the other hand, the left fullback with Defend duty usually stays back to reinforce the defence line. This helps in hindering counter-attacking threats.

Assigned players should possess at least 12 on crossing, positioning, and tackling; 11 is good for marking. Acceleration and pace should be considered greatly.

Fullback Instructions (right)
Fullback Instructions (right)
Fullback Instructions (left)
Fullback Instructions (left)

Midfielders: Ball Winning Midfielder (Support) and Advanced Playmaker (Attack)

The ball winning midfielder (BWM) role is necessary in this formation because the assigned player helps perform the needed aggressive tackling. He usually proceeds to challenge the opponent with the ball, thereby allowing both the CDs and FBs to readjust properly for defence. With the Support duty instructing him to "Get Further Forward," the player acts like a Box-To-Box midfielder by making impressive forward moves when the team attacks.

He wontedly gets his own chances by placing powerful volleys from outside the opponent’s box. Any player you choose to play in this role should have a good long shot attribute.

In other words, for the advanced playmaker, his main job is to distribute key passes to the striker, wingers, and fullbacks. His usual way of dominating the game is to switch the ball to the flanks. This action sways the team to get scoring chances from crosses.

Ball Winning Midfielder Instructions
Ball Winning Midfielder Instructions
Advanced Playmaker Instructions
Advanced Playmaker Instructions

Central Attacking Midfielder: Advanced Playmaker (Support)

This role is versatile because the player can operate anywhere around the pitch. But his main job behind the striker is to drop killer balls for the attackers. The player's dribbling, first touch, passing, vision, technique, anticipation, decisions, and off-the-ball skills must never be overlooked. Also, getting him to train in the False 9 role will advocate his scoring mentality.

Advanced Playmaker Instructions
Advanced Playmaker Instructions

Side Attacking Midfielders: Two Winger (Attack)

The Spurs' manager utilizes the Winger role more. Any player playing in this role must be quick and good at dribbling. He must beat his opponent as fast as possible to create a scoring chance for the striker. Most of the attacks carried out with this tactic come from the wingers. They are really deadly when fully active.

When trying this tactic at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Julian Brandt proves to be one of the best players that can perform in this role.

Winger Instructions (left)
Winger Instructions (left)
Winger Instructions (right)
Winger Instructions (right)

Striker: Target Man (Attack)

Sometimes Pochettino sets the striker to execute the role of a Target Man (TM) or Complete Forward. This means that your desired outcome will depend on the type of striker you have. For the TM role, the assigned player must be tall, strong, and very good in the air. He must also have the ability to use his strength to disrupt the opposition defence line in order to create spaces for his teammates. However, the Complete Forward role is more focused on the player’s technical execution rather than strength. So you have to fill the role in a way that is most effective for your team.

Target Man Instructions
Target Man Instructions

Set Pieces

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Opposition Instructions

Setting the opposition instructions for this tactic depends on the type of formation applied by the opponent. In general, it’s best to set Tight Marking and Closing Down to “Always.” Then set Tackling to “Hard” and Show Onto Foot to “Weaker Foot.” The following screenshots provide some effective settings:

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Training

In the training section, I usually hand the reigns regarding general training to the Assistant Manager while I handle the Match Preparations. The best preparation for this tactic is the Attacking Movement. However, you can set it to another focus if you feel there is a need to.

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Weakness

The 4-2-3-1 Wide is a very strong and effective formation that is suitable for every team. Problems arise when the opposition manages to shut down the wingers. Since the attacking strength of this tactic predominantly rests on the wingers, they have to perform well enough to resonate with the rest of the team. Also, the right fullback must be very active. Any weak performance from him will cause issues.

Feel free to drop any questions about the applications of this tactic in the comment box.

Results

The below screenshots show some results I got from using this tactics when facing other teams; using Leverkusen.

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Comments

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    • Kingsley Iyoke profile image
      Author

      Kings 8 weeks ago

      Hi reader, to download this tactic, you have go to my profile (ie beside Kings, click on the "more" and then click on "profile") and click on the Facebook icon that's under "Also follow me on." It will lead you to my page. But if you couldn't find this tactic on the page timeline, just send a message. Then i will repost the tactic with the download link. I can't post any link here because of the site rules. So bear with me.

    • Kingsley Iyoke profile image
      Author

      Kings 6 months ago

      You're right CJ. They are united and am a big fan of him too. I hope he claims that title for them very soon

    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 6 months ago from Auburn, WA

      Great article. When you watch Tottenham, you can tell they like their coach. I see them interact with him and I listen to them after the game. Win or lose, they stay united. I'm a big of Pochettino.