ByMarlon McDonald, writer at
Umm... are you going to drink that Skooma?
Marlon McDonald

Up there with Barcelona's fast paced, tiki-taka 4-3-3 and even possibly the simplest of 3-5-2s, the 4-4-2 is one of the most iconic formations in football history.

Favored by lower league teams and clubs lingering around the drop in the world's top soccer leagues, when put together well this formation can literally swamp and crush your opposition. I've been battered with 4-4-2s before (damn you, Atlético Madrid), and it ain't pretty.

So do you fancy taking on the challenge of managing a lower league team? Or a team attempting to survive when a little out of its depth? Come with me now, grab your orange slices, and let's have a look at-

The Best All-Round Tactic For Smaller and Lower League Teams In FM17

See also:

The Classic 4-4-2

I'm not going to give the 4-4-2 the most in-depth discussion, due to it being quite a simple formation to pull off. So instead I'm going to spend the time discussing the pivotal roles.

[Credit: Sports Interactive]
[Credit: Sports Interactive]

Player Roles


  • GK: Goalkeeper - Defend
  • DR: Full Back - Defend
  • DCR: Ball Playing Midfielder - Defend
  • DCL: Center Defender - Defend
  • DL: Full Back - Defend


  • MR: Winger - Attack
  • MCR: Central Midfielder - Attack
  • MCL: Central Midfielder - Defend
  • ML: Winger - Attack


  • STCR: Deep Lying Forward - Support
  • STCL: Advanced Forward - Attack

Breaking Down The 4-4-2

4-4-2 team instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]
4-4-2 team instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]

A high tempo game with direct passing is key for pulling off a successful 4-4-2. As is having quality and tricksy wingers, because it's those two players that will be working their butts off to supply your forwards. With a standard mentality and a structured shape, your team will be moving like one unit in moments. Also, make sure to crank up your team's fluidity too when things start going well. Really shake things up.

The Winger Way

Winger instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]
Winger instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]

With the team's full backs lingering behind to mop up missed balls or onrushing forwards, your wingers sole role in the middle of the field is to protect your full backs, create interplay, and make space on the wings for crosses to your finishers. Alternatively, if you're playing away or against generally tougher opponents, it may bode better to swap your wingers for wide midfielders, have them hold their position and have your full backs overlap in order to pump crosses into the box.

Midfield Generals

Center Midfielder instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]
Center Midfielder instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]

Aah central midfielder, the most unsung of positions. Unsung because I never use them to be honest, I'm far too fond of my advanced playmakers and box to box badmans. But with that in mind, I guess it's fair to say that a truly great midfielder has an aspect of every midfield role in their game. Which makes them the perfect candidate for an OG central midfielder role.

On defensive duty, your CM will hold their position, control the tempo and halt incoming attacks. A midfielder with high stats in, say, first touch, decisions, positioning and stamina—besides passing, marking and tackling of course—should be a shoo-in for the center of your team.

Center Midfielder instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]
Center Midfielder instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]

The same goes for a more attack-minded CM, but ensure their finishing, long shots, off the ball and quickness attributes are top notch. Or best for whatever role your team desires come match day.

Backs To The Wall

Full Back instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]
Full Back instructions [Credit: Sports Interactive]

If you're anything like me and find the thought of not having your full backs or wing backs tearing up and down the pitch somewhat unsettling, then don't fear for no-one likes to see their team concede, amirite? With a lack of a defensive midfielder plugging the gap between midfield and defense, your wing backs will have to stay fairly solid in order to offer aid to your central defenders.

When in position, I like to have my full backs hug the line so the wingers can cut inside and offer support to the forwards and attacking center midfielder. But once again that all totally depends on your preference.

Forward, March

Deep Lying Forward instructions [Credit: Sport Interactive]
Deep Lying Forward instructions [Credit: Sport Interactive]

And finally a brief word on the strikers, Fundamentally your second striker should function as a target man, which makes sense seeing as your have four players on the wing that should be supporting your TM with crosses. Otherwise if you're not a fan of target men, a deep lying forward, who is kind of a more advanced enganche or trequartista, can work just as well (especially if you have you wingers playing more risky passes).

And that's a brief look at a structured yet fluid 4-4-2. Let me know how you fare with it! And also if you've come across any other sweet tactics, cause sharing is caring, son.


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