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Best FM 2016 Tactics: Darren’s Devastating 4-1-2-3

Best FM 2016 tactics brings you Darren’s devastating 4-1-2-3 with lots of goals and plenty of CCC’s, download and play now.

Best fm 2016 tactics Darren's devastating 4-1-2-3

Hi guys

Welcome to the first edition of our best FM 2016 tactics series. If you like devastating attacks, plenty of excitement and edge of your seat Football this is the tactic for you. Plenty of goals, pressing Football and the odd red card, oh well you can’t have it all.

FM 2019 regen dates youth intake

Best FM 2016 Tactics: Formation

FM 2016 tactic, Darrens devastating 4-1-2-3, formation

The system is based around the popular 4-1-2-3, or 4-5-1 as some prefer. The two central defenders and half back are a security blanket, your shield in front of goal…the rest? Well its a bit chaotic with complete wing backs bombing on the overlap, two attacking central midfielders making late runs into the box, a false nine pulling defenders away and two marauding inside forwards with the freedom to do as they please.

Sounds like a defensive nightmare I know, but that three man defensive shield keeps it all together and every player is instructed to mark tightly and close down so they all do a job defensively.

Best FM 2016 Tactics: Team Instructions

FM 2016 tactic, Darrens devastating 4-1-2-3, instructions

I kept all instructions the same regardless of opponent, the only time you may feel the need to adjust is if your opponent pack out the middle of the field and you keep losing possession as a result, then playing a little wider may help, equally if you are worried about the number of bookings then take off ‘get stuck in’. This is a pressing tactic that unsettles the opposition and includes some very physical play.

Before we move on, please do not ask me to list the individual player instructions, I have made the effort of making, testing and writing this tactic up, the least you can do is learn how to download it as if you don’t chances are the tactic won’t work. The player instructions are very, very important and that is why I have put this tactic up for download, to make sure they implemented properly.

Best FM 2016 Tactics: Player Roles

GK – goalkeeper (defend) – standard goalkeeper

CD – central defender (defend) – typical central defenders as ever, tackling, positioning, strength and heading are key attributes, try and avoid slow centre backs as you can be in danger of the counter attack and passes over the top.

DM – half back (defend) – This guy can drop back to form a three man defence or act as a shield in front of your defence so he needs to tackle, head the ball, mark and pass. Defensive attributes are best but an all round midfielder would be ideal.

CM – central midfielder (attack) – The complete midfielder would be ideal but players with great physical ability and good speed are best, both CM’s are instructed to get furtehr forward and dribble more as well as move into channels. They must be able to pass and the better they are in front of goal the more they’ll score.

AMR/AML – inside forward (attack) – lots of goals and assists from these two players, they have a lot of freedom and you need someone who has vision, flair, speed, dribbling and finishing ability. Also off the ball is important as the ability to be lost in the box will make scoring easier. The better these two are the more success you will gain and magician dribblers are preferred.

ST – false nine (support) – Possibly the hardest position to fill. This guy must do it all, he needs speed, dribbling, flair and the usual finishing attributes. Off the ball is very important as is anticipation but don’t underestimate how good passing should be, this guy needs to pick out the inside forwards.

Best FM 2016 Tactics: Results

Premier League with Newcastle

FM 2016 tactic, Darrens devastating 4-1-2-3, table

Considering the weak defence I think 2nd is a great finish and we only lost three times. Some of those draws were down to injuries and suspensions. This tactic can feel inconsistent with the odd unexpected draw, these usually happen for a reason either a very important player was missing or your side squandered too many chances.

Player Stats

FM 2016 tactic, Darrens devastating 4-1-2-3, player stats

The stats above prove how vital those inside forwards are, also note the wing backs assist record they need to play a big part also.

Results with Roma

FM 2016 tactic, Darrens devastating 4-1-2-3, Roma results

One save didn’t feel like enough so I decided to test this in Italy and the results were great. Considering we had a tonne of injuries to deal with the tactic performed almost perfectly. With Newcastle I found the bookings and red cards bearable, but in Italy it was almost unplayable, therefore I had to deselect ‘get stuck in’ from team instructions, this worked almost instantly and didn’t damage the tactic.

FM 2016 tactic, Darrens devastating 4-1-2-3, Roma table

Best FM 2016 Tactics: Top Tips

  • This has been tested for the BETA, we cannot predict whether this will work on full release due to potential match engine changes.
  • Note, this tactic can seem inconsistent at times, chances are you are watching in key highlights mode and not seeing all the chances your players are missing…if your players are not creating chances then you do not have a suitable squad to use this system.
  • As with any tactic it needs loading at the start of pre-season and don’t sign a whole new team, these two things will see you under perform not because of a poor tactic but because of poor management.
  • Pre-season:  General training – team cohesion  with medium intensity.
  • During Season: General Training – balanced, Match Preparation – take assistants advice and judge by form.
  • For opposition instructions use your assistant manager or coach with best tactical knowledge.
  • Be aware you need a decent size squad…at least two players per position to allow for injuries and bans.
  • You will commit a lot of fouls and have impact injuries, its the nature of the tactic. If you struggle with bookings then deselect ‘get stuck in’ from your team instructions, but do not stop closing down.
  • If you do not have suitable players for the DR, DL, AMR, AML and ST then this tactic will be hindered.

Best FM 2016 Tactics: Download

If you would like to give the tactic a try, follow the instructions below:

FM 2014 Download

1. Click the download link above and download the file.

2. Once the file is downloaded move it to the following folder documents>sports interactive>football manager 2016>tactics

3. Now load the game as normal and enter the tactics screen.

4. In the tactics screen, click the tactic you currently have loaded then select ‘load’ from the drop-down menu

5. Select ‘Darren’s devastating 4-1-2-3′ and click  load.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to leave a comment. Hope you enjoy :)

This tactic was updated for FM 2017 and FM 2018.



  1. Nathan

    November 5, 2015 at 00:46

    Can you change the player roles or will that mess things up

    • Darren

      November 5, 2015 at 20:08

      I couldn’t say as changing the roles would change the tactics functionality. All you could do is try and see what happens.

  2. Timothy

    November 5, 2015 at 07:03

    do you switch to counter or switch mentality at all depending on your opponent ?

    • Darren

      November 5, 2015 at 20:07

      That is mentioned in the post but no I didn’t though you should judge that on your own save, in some cases it may work.

  3. Daniel Eastman

    November 8, 2015 at 06:49

    Best tactic I’ve used yet! Do you have a slot 2/3 tactic in conjunction with this?

    • Darren

      November 8, 2015 at 09:35

      Thanks, glad you are enjoying it. I don’t have any other tactics loaded alongside no.

      • Daniel Eastman

        November 8, 2015 at 14:56

        I’ve just put it in 3 times to cure my OCD :)

  4. Daniel Eastman

    November 10, 2015 at 20:31

    Hi Darren, looks like the new update has hit this a fairly hard as it’s no longer getting the possession it was yesterday with the same team. Hopefully you have a new one on the way

    • Darren

      November 10, 2015 at 20:57

      Its not AS effective but does still work for me. In all honesty I think they have improved the AI quite a bit so any tactic would take a hit. I won’t be working on anything new until the ME changes calm down.

  5. David Talisman

    November 10, 2015 at 23:08

    I won the prem with Spurs last season but am having a dodge season and was struggling to turn it around. Strikers just were not scoring. Loaded this tactic a few minutes ago. Kane just scored his fourth goal of the game

    • Darren

      November 11, 2015 at 19:51

      Glad it worked from the off, hope you get some consistency with it too.

  6. TheTinkerman

    November 12, 2015 at 13:28

    Defence is fine I think Darren, less than a goal a game which is pretty good considering how many goals you get with this tactic. Some great results with Newcastle, also seems very consistent with Roma. Nice one :)

    • Darren

      November 12, 2015 at 18:26

      Thanks, are you working on anything? I’m sure there are a number of readers anticipating your first release.

  7. Jeroen

    November 14, 2015 at 11:32

    It seems the tactic survived the full release! Nice tactic, thanks!

    • Darren

      November 14, 2015 at 12:38

      Thats nice to hear as heard the opposite form others. Haven’t had chance to test myself as yet.

  8. Jetplane

    November 14, 2015 at 21:56

    Just wanted to say thanks, the tactic still works; but somehow a bit inconsistent away from home (but I guess most tactics are at this current state of the game).

    However, I won the Premiership on my first try with Watford, only made minor signings to the defence in the january transfer window.

    Thanks Darren!

    • Darren

      November 15, 2015 at 09:11

      Glad its still working for you. I think the tactic is a little inconsistent in general, when its on point its deadly but can easily go wrong. So far seems to be more on point though so hope future updates don’t ruin that.

  9. Salon Quality Hair

    November 15, 2015 at 15:28

    Alright when I attempt this part “2. Once the file is downloaded move it to the following folder documents>sports interactive>football manager 2016>tactics” there is no tactics folder, I have tried adding a new folder and sending the formation into there but when I am in game there is no tactic there. Am I doing something wrong ?

    • Darren

      November 15, 2015 at 15:33

      If you have a legal copy of the game the instructions should work and I have never heard of the tactics folder not been there.

      • Salon Quality Hair

        November 15, 2015 at 15:34

        It is a copy I bought via Steam

        • Darren

          November 15, 2015 at 15:43

          That is strange I can’t work out what the issue is…do you have two Football Manager 2016 files? In years gone by I had two one had files in the other didn’t.

          • Salon Quality Hair

            November 15, 2015 at 15:46

            Nah there is only the 1 file there. Football Manager 2014 and 15 is there and they don’t even have the tactics folder in them.

          • Darren

            November 15, 2015 at 16:03

            That would have been my next step, certainly wasn’t right to not have tactics folder. Glad you managed to download.

          • Salon Quality Hair

            November 15, 2015 at 15:56

            I managed to fix it mate, just had to re download the game.

          • Huw Davies

            November 24, 2015 at 10:27

            I’ve got the same problem but don’t fancy re-downloading the game. I won’t lose my save files will I?

          • Darren

            November 24, 2015 at 18:49

            No you shouldn’t lose them but copy and paste them somewhere safe for insurance before reinstalling.

  10. banana

    November 15, 2015 at 17:14

    Moved the DM back to a CD-S and the tactic seems to work well again. DMs are just shit in FM2016 I think.

  11. Matthew Pryor

    November 15, 2015 at 17:15

    Using the tactic with Bolton. I’m not doing terrible with it, but just not scoring enough. Think that is mainly down to the players at my disposal though. Not signed anyone, except a GK on loan when Amos got injured

    • Darren

      November 15, 2015 at 19:37

      This does require a certain caliber of player and sounds like you may be short of that in the Championship.

      • Matthew Pryor

        November 15, 2015 at 19:41

        Oh, dont get me wrong, it’s working. I’m getting a lot of shots, but not so many on target, and even less of the ones on target hit the back of the net. I’m 4th in the Championship after 8 games with 4 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss, so can’t complain. Good job.

  12. Trajanus

    November 15, 2015 at 19:26

    Hi Mate. When you want to play wider with your tactic. Do you mean the setting “width” or do i change the passing distribution to the flanks? Cheers for a great tactic.

    • Darren

      November 15, 2015 at 19:38

      I would say exploit the flanks.

  13. Duncan Robertson

    November 17, 2015 at 16:55

    What do you select Darren for the player intsructions?

    • Darren

      November 17, 2015 at 18:31

      As stated in the post I will not list all player instructions, you need to download the tactic for that.

  14. Duncan Robertson

    November 17, 2015 at 23:17

    Are there any plans for someone to do a 4-2-3-1 as that’s the formation that I’ve used in previous FMs but have been unable to get it to work in this one no matter what I try?

    • Darren

      November 18, 2015 at 11:50

      Not as yet only because it seems hard to find consistency in the current patch,

  15. Jack

    November 20, 2015 at 05:52

    Hey Darren, thanks for the tactics, always been a fan of them in the past. However when I try to download this one, my comp tells me I have no app to open the file, any suggestions on what to do?

    • Darren

      November 20, 2015 at 11:50

      Once downloaded you need to move the file not open it, so cut and paste the file into the destination in the instructions.

      • Jack

        November 20, 2015 at 12:07

        Thanks, managed to get it working now. One more question is there a place for a traditional number ten in your tactics. Or is better to them sell off these types of players to replace with more box to box type players?

    • Darren

      November 20, 2015 at 12:24

      Sorry the start and end of your paragraph seem like different questions. If you mean the F9 then yes you need that sort of player, not a poacher or advanced forward they will not work.

      • Jack

        November 20, 2015 at 12:40

        Sorry. What i meant is would be possible to play a player like Ozil in the CM position in your tactics?

        • Darren

          November 21, 2015 at 08:33

          I understand, you could go either way really. But this year the better a players ability in a role and position the better chance you have of them succeeding. I’d try Ozil in both MC and which ever wing he prefers to see which hes most effective from.

  16. Lupie

    November 20, 2015 at 13:39

    Thanks for the tactic, I’m really enjoying it since I’ve previously struggled to find any decent working 4-2-3-1 formation in FM16. However, I struggle a bit with the bookings even though I’ve deselected ‘Get stuck in’. My back four and HB gets around three or four bookings almost every game, is this normal for this tactic? I realize it builds on very high pressure and physical play but when my centre half gets booked after less than 10 minutes you start to get a little bit worried imo.

    • Darren

      November 21, 2015 at 08:34

      Yes bookings are an issue, it also comes down to the players. Unfortunately as you pointed out it is a high pressing tactic so the bookings are part and parcel but maybe just check if they have individual player instructions to tackle hard too, that could be making things worse.

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  19. Alm

    November 23, 2015 at 03:34

    Are those results with Roma done with the patch 16.1.1?

    Tactic it’s very good defensively, but the offense sometimes lacks clear cuts or even good shots from the false 9. Even so, awesome work!

    • Darren

      November 23, 2015 at 18:46

      All tested in BETA, hence the comment suggesting it may not perform as well in the full release…we will be looking at new tactics soon though, or at least as soon as SI release a new patch.

  20. Huw Davies

    November 24, 2015 at 10:24

    I’ve just been promoted with Hull into the premier league, do you reckon this tactic could work for a newly promoted side? Or is it a bit too attacking?

    • Darren

      November 24, 2015 at 18:21

      Might be a push TBF but theres only one way to find out.

      • Lapdogg

        November 25, 2015 at 08:36

        It’s working okay to be fair. Losing against big clubs but scoring a fair few vs. smaller clubs. Happy

  21. Stu Bell

    November 29, 2015 at 11:31

    This is an excellent tactic, won 3 in a row after changing it mid season with sunderland. Fortunately i already had a similar set up but it was so inconsistent and flawed, i was able to change to this just before a match and controlled it. Thats the difference i think. Ive beat watford away 2-0, Leicester at home 4-0 and Man utd away 2-1 since changing to this mid season and dominated the matches.

    Id also recommend, in the tactics bit have your 2nd and 3rd formations as copies of this one and your squad will learn it faster.

    • Darren

      December 1, 2015 at 18:34

      Glad its working for you.

  22. Marc Richard

    December 5, 2015 at 10:33

    Hi, I’ve just bought the game and started with this tactic and so far so good, although I am playing the game on my Ipad and unable to download the tactic to see the individual player instructions, is there any way I can see it without downloading the file?


    • Darren

      December 6, 2015 at 08:39

      Sorry there are too many instructions to list them all.

  23. Richard Williams

    December 7, 2015 at 19:29

    What about set pieces pal, corner instructions?

    • Darren

      December 7, 2015 at 21:05

      Just leave them as default, worked fine for me.

      • Richard Williams

        December 8, 2015 at 16:25

        Do you ever go defensive or counter when a goal up or away from home?cheers for the reply

        • Darren

          December 8, 2015 at 18:58

          No I just stick with control.

  24. Si

    December 9, 2015 at 13:10

    For clarity – this is played with a Control strategy… not Attack… right??

    • Darren

      December 9, 2015 at 18:08

      Yes it is played with control.

      • Si

        December 15, 2015 at 19:24

        Well, tried this with Derby County in the Championship. Just got to the end of the January transfer window and only added a couple of decent youngsters: Rico Henry and Joel Pereira.
        Currently second in the league having lost just two away games.
        Mind you, I’ve drawn ten – mainly by conceding a lot of late goals!
        I’ve scored freely, with 30+ goals from the inside forwards.
        Great tactic – we’ll see how it goes in the Prem?!
        My tactical advisors keep wanting me to swap my CF to advanced instead of F9, as well as my midfielders and FBs to different roles… I’ve kept to your plan to date.
        (As I don’t know how to download tactics, I’ve added my own player instructions).
        Cheers – top tactic!!

        • Darren

          December 16, 2015 at 12:26

          To be honest it will be quite different if you have not downloaded the tactic as there are a lot of important instructions. Downloading is very easy just follow the instructions.

  25. Dawid

    December 13, 2015 at 17:46

    Hi, I lost a lot of goals. Usually in first 15 minutes at first or second half…maybe you now why ? I’m playing AC Milan and my DC: Romagnoli Mammana. In my first 20 games I lost 22 goals…

    • Darren

      December 14, 2015 at 07:52

      To be honest its hard to pin point where the issue lies without watching the match engine. Mammana may be a little too green to be starting every game first season but unless you watch the ME in at least extended highlights and analyse what is going on we’ll both be guessing at the issue.

  26. Dion

    December 18, 2015 at 09:49

    Great Tactic, I used it with Spurs finished 3rd first season and finished 2nd and won Champions League in the 2nd season.

    • Darren

      December 18, 2015 at 19:14

      Thanks, glad you are enjoying it.

  27. Burak Yağız Karaman

    December 19, 2015 at 05:48

    man ı want to say thank you so much. this tactics what i want to my players play football like . thank you so much. sorry for bad english:)

    • Darren

      December 19, 2015 at 07:57

      No problem, glad its working for you.

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  30. Kenny

    December 22, 2015 at 05:51

    Nice to still see you making great tactics Darren

    • Darren

      January 2, 2016 at 14:38

      Thanks Kenny, I’ll keep trying.

  31. John

    January 2, 2016 at 14:03

    Darren I can win easily at home but struggle away from home, any suggestions

    • Darren

      January 2, 2016 at 14:41

      Without seeing your game theres no way of knowing it could be a number of things, lots that aren’t even related to the tactic.

      You need to watch the match engine closely and work out what the issue is, also see how your team talks are working etc. If you do need to think about an alternative tactic you could try my 4-1-4-1 but I see no point until you understand for yourself what the issue actually is.

  32. Ashley

    January 2, 2016 at 15:48

    Hey man,
    firstly this kicks ass. Great formation and tactics. Used the DL to great effect.
    been reading the comments and I know you need to see match engine and games etc, only thing iu have an issue with is, qualified for Europa league wit the toon, this season, things don’t seem to be going so smoothly, brought in a few extra players for depth. Though only around 6 games in., do you know of nay thing in particular to try?

    • Darren

      January 2, 2016 at 16:42

      As mentioned to others I can’t say what is happening in your game as I can’t see what mistakes you may be making with team talks and signings, squad selection etc.

  33. Daniel Savage

    January 2, 2016 at 22:18

    Hi, This is a truly amazing tactic, I am playing as chelsea and have won all competitions at least twice in my first 4 seasons. Do you have any suggestions for a good False Nine as my strikers only seems to score 6 goals between them for the whole season

    • Darren

      January 3, 2016 at 09:55

      I don’t know who is available in your save being so far in nor who is developing well but might be worth seeing if Dybala can be bought. Other than that I found Ayoze Perez and Gabriel Barbosa quite good.

  34. Jotzer

    January 9, 2016 at 01:17

    Hi, how important do you consider the full backs to have their strong foot on the right side. I play with a very similar tactic with Gladbach and I am searching for a new dl, my first choice, Andrew Robertson seems to bee to expensive so I thought to go after Erik Durm but the problem is, he is right footed and his left one is only decent, I would consider it important but maybe it could be a chance it doesn´t mather that much, my other dl options dont look that great.

    • Darren

      January 9, 2016 at 12:43

      I deem it very important to be honest, you need left foot for left otherwise momentum is lost in the wing backs attack as he cuts back to cross.

      • Jotzer

        January 9, 2016 at 13:47

        Yeah that was what I suspected, shame about Durm he would be a good deal, I´m gonna fight with Hull for Robertson´s price then(he looks good in almost everything) or maybe Muniesa. Thanks for replying.

  35. Hoshpower

    January 9, 2016 at 14:45

    Would this tactic work well with F.C. Porto??

    • Darren

      January 9, 2016 at 15:17

      I haven’t tried it in Portugal so couldn’t say for sure but the squad looks suitable.

  36. Christopher

    January 13, 2016 at 13:31

    Hey Darren,

    Any chance you’ve got any feedback as to how this performs with the new patch and/or an updated version to work with what you’ve found?

    Also, is there a 4-2-3-1 style tactic in the pipeline?

    Thanks for all your advice and so on over the years, its been of much help!


    • Darren Smith

      January 13, 2016 at 19:00

      I have used it with Newcastle in the most recent patch and was working well for me, just wise to have a more defensive minded for those tough away games. No 4-2-3-1 in pipeline as yet I’m afraid.

  37. Mike

    January 21, 2016 at 21:02

    Hi Mate, I notice from the screenshot you play Wijnaldum on the right and Thauvin on the left, is this better than the other way around? I generally thought that having a right footed player on the left and a lefty on the right was better. As inside forwards cut inside and look to shoot I thought that was better?

    Nice tactic by the way.