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Best FM 2017 Tactics: Darren’s Devastating 4-1-2-3 2.0

Darren’s best FM 2017 tactic to date..

best fm 2017 tactics darrens-devastating-4-1-2-3-2

Hi guys and welcome to another edition of our best FM 2017 tactics series. You may remember last years tactic FM 16 4-1-2-3 which proved to be one of our most popular downloads yet, well here is version 2.0 recreated for FM 2017. If you like devastating attacks, plenty of excitement and edge of your seat Football this is the tactic for you. Plenty of goals and pressing Football for all.

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Best FM 2017 Tactics: Formation


This system is based around the popular 4-1-2-3, or 4-5-1 as some prefer. The two central defenders and half back offer security…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. This FM 2017 version is very similar to last years, shape and roles haven’t changed but I have made a few amendments to individual instructions.

Best FM 2017 Tactics: Team Instructions


All instructions should remain 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. 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, adding the individual instructions would just make the post too long. However, the player instructions are very, very important and that is why I have put this tactic up for download.

Best FM 2017 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.

DR/DL – complete wing backs (attack) – Very important to the success of this tactic. These guys overlap the inside forwards and a better cross means more goals. Though must work hard to get back and speed is vital also.

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 further 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 but I also found long shot ability a handy extra.

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. Note I found great false nines that didn’t work as they could not carry the ball well, so get speed and dribbling ability.

Best FM 2017 Tactics: Results

Premier League with Southampton.


We actually won every trophy on offer. Worth noting though that I strengthened heavily for the season and gained Depay and Lemar on loan for nothing so two very vital signings at little outlay. Southampton have a massive budget if you request more and up the expectations, worth noting for those who like a little to spend…not to mention a number of high value players that aren’t suitable for the tactic. All of which were sold for decent money.



Player Stats

I cannot stress enough how important the F9 and inside forwards are, if they have a bad day you will have a bad day. If you can have strength in depth also it helps as one from the bench can really turn a game. Also don’t underestimate the importance of those complete wing backs, as seen below, Cedric chipped in with a number of assists. Yes I spent a lot of money, but with that we won the lot, on a more modest budget you can still have an extremely good season…to prove that I played eleven games with Sheffield Wednesday below.


Short test with Sheffield Wednesday


Note we are top after 11 games despite the false nine (Forestieri) not clicking with the tactic. He has only scored two goals.

Best FM 2017 Tactics: Top Tips

  • This has been tested for patch 16.1.2. We cannot predict whether this will work on later patches due to potential match engine changes.
  • Note, this tactic can seem inconsistent at times. You may be 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. Remember the front three are key.
  • As with any tactic it needs loading at the start of pre-season. Also avoid signing a whole new team unless you are experienced doing so. 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 high intensity.
  • During Season: General Training – balanced (medium intensity), Match Preparation – take assistants advice and judge by form, I found attacking movement most often when on song.
  • 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 if you are in Europe.
  • If you do not have suitable players for the DR, DL, AMR, AML and ST then this tactic will be hindered.

Best FM 2017 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 2017>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 2.0′ and click  load.

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

This FMS best FM 2018 tactic has been updated for the FM 2018 version of the game, you check it out clicking  here. :)

You can find our other amazing tactics for FM 17 by clicking here. :)



  1. Bo Bo

    November 20, 2016 at 17:59

    Hi Darren

    Thanks for the tactic. Have yet to try it out, but the results looks amazing.

    I noticed that only the one of the two central midfielders have agressive tackling in their player instructions. Is this an error or on purpose?

    • Darren Smith

      November 20, 2016 at 18:10

      Hi Bo Bo

      You can adjust that setting if you’d like, I found with that particular MC kept getting booked and the occasional red card…its better for them to be aggressive but not at the cost of cards.

  2. Jon

    November 21, 2016 at 03:41

    Hi Darren, like the look of the tactic. I play with Tottenham though, do you think Harry Kane will be too immobile to play the f9 position?

    • Darren Smith

      November 21, 2016 at 19:21

      No I think you’ll be fine with Kane, he has many other qualities that should out way the lack of mobility.

  3. YidInSweden

    November 21, 2016 at 18:03

    Yes Darren! Been waiting for this, will try it out with Aston Villa! :)
    Thank you for the work you put in

    • Darren Smith

      November 21, 2016 at 19:21

      No problem, hope it works well.

      • YidInSweden

        November 28, 2016 at 22:46

        Have tried it out and it works well, but I can see and really understand the importance of finding the right false 9 and IF on the flanks. I’ve mainly struggled to fill the f9 position, Ayoze Perez is decent and works as a backup. Do you have any suggestions besides Berahino who clearly is a monster this year. Cheers!

        • Darren Smith

          November 29, 2016 at 19:49

          I haven’t really tested enough with other teams to recommend…though playing Newcastle at moment and Dwight Gayle eat up the Championship. Just note he may not do the same in EPL.

          • YidInSweden

            November 30, 2016 at 12:31

            Alright I’ll keep my eye on Gayle to see how he does if Newcastle should be promoted on my save. Callum Wilson of Bournemouth though seems like a suitable f9, just have to hope they’ll get relegated so I can snatch him at a reasonable price.

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  5. Marijus

    December 2, 2016 at 22:54

    Thanks for tactics. I play for Soton. Saido Berahino not scoring. I loaned Depay, but have to play Redmond on right side, but he is not good enough. No goals. Hojberg and Ward-Prowse as CM. I have active games, but my players shoot straight to opponents GK or simply shooting bad. Maybe i must be patient and wait until the team will adapt to their tactics and player`s roles? Or maybe i need better scoring false 9 and those 2 IF.

    • Darren Smith

      December 6, 2016 at 19:15

      Berahino should do well and especially Depay I can only imagine you are either hasty in judgement or maybe haven’t got your team talks and opposition instructions right…those are the variables I can imagine from my game to yours.

  6. Marijus

    December 4, 2016 at 22:19

    Which players have you sold?

    • Darren Smith

      December 6, 2016 at 19:16

      My most notable departures were Tadic, Long and Austin.

  7. Yordan

    December 5, 2016 at 09:44

    Hi Darren,
    devastating tactic is like hell. Im playing with Arsenal and beating everybody in 10 games. Nobody can pass thru my defence, i mean – noone. Its getting little bit boring to beat all the teams. Ill play 10 more games and provide more information.

  8. Marijus

    December 5, 2016 at 14:06

    Nice to hear. My games with Soton are not bad, but maybe i have difficulties as my players are not of enough quality. What match preparation do you use before the home and away games? i just use match tactics. Maybe it`s bad:) ? and maybe you have some IF and false 9 to recommend in this game. Which one do you use for Arsenal?

    • Yordan

      December 6, 2016 at 09:34

      IF on the left – F. Anderson; IF on the right – D. Berardi; F9 – A. Lacazzette, those three guys are amazing every single match (10 games as i said – 20 goals and 14 assist total). Match preparation is given to my assistant (auto control switching).

      • Marijus

        December 6, 2016 at 09:47

        Thanks !
        As you are so kind and more experienced in FM 2017:)-one more question-any CM who fit to Darren`s tactics as attacking centrum midfielders and would be available to buy or loan not very expensive. Smbd from less advertised, from lower leagues or not top clubs… Thanks:)

        • Yordan

          December 6, 2016 at 11:40

          Lemar and Tielemans are maybe the best alternatives but they are too expensive. The problem is that this tactic is really suitable for rich clubs.

          • Darren Smith

            December 6, 2016 at 19:20

            I used Ward-Prowse and Clasie to best effect from MC, so shouldn’t need to buy for the tactic to work…as mentioned, you need to be sure you’re doing the right thing with team talks, opposition instructions and match preparation. Follow your assistants advice but often attacking movement is good prep and defensive positioning before tough opponents.

  9. Lucas

    December 6, 2016 at 12:40

    Downlaoded and applied the settings but having no such luck with wednesday… can you recall which players you had in which positions?

    NB – I am scoring, but far too leaky in defence – any tips for firming this up or perhaps how to adjust once in front / to kill games off

    • Darren Smith

      December 6, 2016 at 19:24

      My team was generally as below. As for killing teams off not really, it is risky changing as that can have more of a negative but if you feel something must be done switch the wing backs to full backs on support duty, one of the MC’s to support duty and counter strategy.

      GK – Westwood
      DR – Hunt
      DL – Pudil
      DC – Sasso and Lees
      DMC – Javi Castellano
      MC – Adbi and Lee
      AMR – Adam Reach
      AML – Kazenga Lua Lua
      ST – Forestieri

  10. Dustin

    December 7, 2016 at 18:44

    This tactic is a beast! Won the league and FA cup with Spurs the 1st year I used it. I didn’t use any other tactic all season. It’s very well suited for bigger clubs vs lower league clubs. I’ve tried similar tactics and the big differences I found with this that I never thought of were the half back, using a false nine vs complete forward and employing generic center mids so you can have more control of the player instructions. His note of the front three having a bad day is 100% correct in regards to your team performance. I always look for the low rating players @60 mins and sub. Can be tricky finding the ideal players (especially youth) but having a specific vision of what you need and how you play makes everything worthwhile. Cheers!

    • Darren Smith

      December 7, 2016 at 20:07

      Glad its working for you Dustin. You seem to have got the nack of it too, it is certainly a process perfecting the team and the difference between good and great can be substitutions.

  11. Eric

    December 9, 2016 at 12:31

    Hey Darren
    Thanks for the tactic. I’ve actually have this similar tactic that you create last year. I’ve mainly use this and 4-2-3-1 depends on opponents, great results. Thanks

  12. Rocky Barker

    December 15, 2016 at 17:58

    Hi Darren

    Have always used your tactics think there great. how ever this year im playing on a macbook and cannot download this tactic. ive copied it the best i could but i cant get the player instructions and feel im missing out..
    any help would be greatly appreciated.


    • Darren Smith

      December 16, 2016 at 08:28

      I would expect the instructions to be very similar…how far have you got with downloading? If you have downloaded the file, you just need to find your Football Manager 2017 folder so you can paste the tactic into the ‘tactics’ folder in there and the rest will be as per instructions.

      • Rocky Barker

        December 16, 2016 at 19:52

        Got it mate nice 1 your a star

  13. Bruno

    December 25, 2016 at 02:14

    i used your tactics from 16 to this FM, and starting to use this one aswell, but seems the problem is the same in each other : i suffer to much goals from crosses… normally each cross they do its a goal…

    • Paolino

      December 27, 2016 at 20:46

      Hi.. i’ve tried your tactics in 5 five games (GREMIO)
      1 win (1-0) 3 draws (2-2 2-2 0-0) 1 lost (1-2)
      i’m for sure the best team in Brasil but this tactics doesn’t works for me.. zero chances,zero possession,too much goals allowed from crosses…

      my players are:

      Marcelo Grohe

      Daniel Alves/Martin Caceres

      Fabinho/Leandro Paredes

      Gabriel Barbosa/Hulk
      Cristian Pavon/Everton

      • Darren Smith

        December 28, 2016 at 09:36

        I have not tested this in Brazil and you do face completely different shapes in South America compared to England so might not be suitable.

    • Darren Smith

      December 28, 2016 at 09:35

      Can’t say I’ve had the same problems…sometimes you need to slow the play down and actually look for the source of the problem.

  14. Adam Thompson

    December 27, 2016 at 23:09

    Good tactic, finished 6th in prem with SWFC in first season since promotion. seem to give away a penalty every game though, sometime two.

    • Darren Smith

      December 28, 2016 at 09:37

      I would suggest that is a sign of weak defence…you could try taking tackle harder instruction off.

  15. Matt

    December 30, 2016 at 04:27

    Hey Darren,

    Great tactic this, been using it for West Ham in EPL, loaned Depay at start of season and in the IF role he is insane going forward, but overall really enjoyed the tactic. Will you be releasing anymore in the near future? I would quite like to try out a new formation soon enough with two up top and your work is great so I’d love for you to release one, but nevertheless great work so far!

    • Darren Smith

      December 30, 2016 at 09:54

      Hi Matt, I personally won’t be releasing anything no but Tinkerman has already released one with two uptop…you can find it on the homepage.

  16. Nathaniel Whittingham

    February 13, 2017 at 21:58

    Done everything down to a tee. Players keep getting sent off, haven’t won a game yet and i’m on match-week 9 with Southampton.

  17. Gareth

    February 22, 2017 at 13:54

    Hi darren does this tactic still work if so great all i was going to ask you is who should take the corners please

    • Darren Smith

      February 22, 2017 at 20:58

      I haven’t used this one for a while and not in the latest patch so not sure to be honest. Only way of knowing is trying…anyone can take the corners, your best set piece specialist ideally.

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  19. Kieron Cameron

    March 1, 2017 at 13:12

    hi darren, just wondering if you have a note of your transfers from season 1 as southampton?

  20. Mark

    May 25, 2017 at 19:11

    Hi Darren cool tactics
    What other teams would you recommend for this tactic? (I know u said u haven’t tried others out)

  21. Fakhrul Zakaria

    November 23, 2017 at 03:41

    Hi Darren

    What skin do you use?

  22. Dharvin

    January 11, 2018 at 11:47

    Hey Darren!
    Ur tactic was awesome for Fm17 but have u tried it out yet on Fm 18?

  23. Tiberiu

    May 3, 2018 at 21:18

    I found that it works much better with counter instead of control. Figured it would because of those two cm set to attack. Seems to make a lot of difference with Liverpool especially and with Roma.
    All in all, very nice tactic, should bring success to most teams.

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