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Football Manager 2021 Mobile Best Formations and Tactics Guide: Everything You Need to Know

For the past two weeks or so, we’ve been extensively covering Football Manager 2021 Mobile — SEGA’s latest entry in the popular association football management franchise, which has been available for iOS and Android devices since late last year. This game, which costs $8.99 USD or its local equivalent, is very much worth the purchase, given that it comes packed with new features, new countries, new leagues, and just as usual, thousands of real-life clubs and players with a plethora of attributes that make them realistic approximations of their actual equivalents. But even if you’re managing a talented, cohesive team, there’s a good chance that won’t matter if you aren’t choosing the right formation, or tactic.

We’ve gone the extra mile and listed eight of the best Football Manager 2021 Mobile formations and tactics that could help you rack up a lot of wins — wins that could lead you to the division title and/or cup win or, if you’re managing a lower-division club, maybe help you get that much-needed promotion.

As most players tend to favor high-scoring tactics, we’ve made sure to include our fair share of favorite tactics that are geared toward an attacking style, but we haven’t neglected the more possession-oriented, defensive strategies either. Of course, your mileage may vary when it comes to the best tactics, but we believe the ones we have chosen are among the best, or in some cases, most interesting, in this latest version of the game.

Football Manager 2021 Mobile Best Formations And Tactics

4-1-2-2-1 Gegenpress

gegenpress formation football manager 2021 mobile

The Gegenpress, which is German for “counter-press,” may be best known as the strategy Jurgen Klopp uses as Liverpool’s manager, and the same one that helped the club win the English Premier League title in the 2019/20 season. While it could be very effective against most types of opponents, it also requires that you have a few things in place in order for the tactic to work to its full potential.

First of all, Morale will need to be Good or better for most, if not all of the players in your starting eleven, as this is a tactic that requires a lot of Teamwork — be sure that you’ve got several players whose Teamwork is at 13-14 and above. As the tactic is a pressing one, high Stamina is also needed (15+ for most players), and good Pace is essential for your wingmen and at least one of your center backs.

As you’ll see in the roles on the right side of the screen, your left and right defenders need to be set as Wing-Backs, while your central defenders should be Ball-Playing Defenders. Your defensive midfielder will be your Anchorman, while the two central midfielders play Box-to-Box and Roaming Playmaker roles. The two attacking midfielders can be used as Inside Forwards, and the striker can be a Poacher or Pressing Forward, depending on which role he’s more comfortable with.

Related: Football Manager 2021 Mobile Beginner’s Guide: 12 Tips, Tricks & Strategies for Newbie Managers

For the other parameters, use Control team mentality, Narrow width, Fast tempo, and Expressive creative freedom in the Shape screen, and in the Defence screen, play your defensive line High, close down All Over, use Normal tackling, and set Offside Trap and Time Wasting to Yes and No respectively. Finally, in Attack, choose Work into Box and Run at Defence in the Final Third section, use a Short passing style, set passing focus to Both Flanks, and utilize Short goalkeeper distribution.

4-3-3 Wide

4-3-3 wide formation football manager 2021 mobile

This is a rather simple, yet effective tactic that doesn’t require too many changes to the traditional 4-3-3 setting found in the game. It also seems to be quite a frequently used strategy, and it’s no surprise why, as it could lead to some high-scoring, exciting matches. Porous defensive play may be a bit of a concern, but this is an easy way to get some points on the board and set things up with a fair number of corners.

That said, you’re going to need some talented forwards with high Shooting stats, and in order not to allow too many goals, a skilled defensive corps with good Tackling and Technique is also strongly recommended. There’s nothing much to it, so let’s move on to the player roles for everyone on your starting eleven — except the ‘keeper, of course, whose role, unless we state otherwise, should be set as G.

Once again, you’ll want your right and left defenders to be set as Wing-Backs, with the two center men as Ball-Playing Defenders and your defensive midfielder as your Anchorman. It’s more of the same as well with your two midfielders, whom you can set as Box-to-Box and Roaming Playmaker. The left and the right forwards will play Inside Forward roles, while the center forward can be set as your Poacher.

Obviously, since this is an offense-oriented tactic, the first two Shape parameters should be set as follows — Attacking team mentality and Narrow width. Tempo can be Normal or Fast, while creative freedom is best set at Expressive. Play a Balanced defensive line and have them close All Over, set tackling to Normal, and choose Yes for Offside Trap and No for Time Wasting in the Defence screen. Over at the Attack screen, Look for Overlap and Shoot on Sight are the best choices for Final Third, passing style should ideally be Short, passing focus Mixed, and goalkeeper distribution Short.

5-2-1-2 Attacking

5-2-1-2 attacking formation football manager 2021 mobile

While still on the topic of high-scoring strategies, let’s move on to one that could once again help you score a ton of goals while surprisingly helping you concede fewer than expected. This is a useful strategy if you don’t have quality left and/or right midfield talent on your squad, but you may need to retrain certain players for certain roles, particularly Shadow Striker, which isn’t exactly a common role as far as attacking players are concerned, and Libero, which isn’t utilized too often either as a defensive role. You’re going to need a lot of high-Stamina players due to the fast pace involved, and naturally, a lot of offensive firepower in general in order to make things work to your favor.

For the specific player roles, you’ll need three central defenders, with the center-left and center-right playing the traditional Central Defender role and the one in the middle acting as the aforementioned Libero, or someone who drops behind the defensive line to cover extra attackers. Such a role, as the game states, would require elite athleticism and decision-making skills. The two defensive midfielders will act as wing-backs, while your two central midfielders will be used as Advanced Playmaker and Box-to-Box Midfielder. Set your central attacking midfielder’s role to Shadow Striker, and have your two center forwards as Target Man and Poacher.

Related: Football Manager 2021 Mobile Advanced Guide: Player Morale, Team Mentality, Defensive Tactics and Transfer Strategies Explained

In the Shape screen, make sure you have the following set up as such — Attacking team mentality, Narrow width, Fast tempo, and Balanced creative freedom. You’ll want a High defensive line, closing down All Over, and Normal tackling in the Defence screen, with Offside Trap and Time Wasting both turned off. And to further ensure that you’re living up to this scheme’s offensive potential, go to the Attack screen and select Look for Overlap, Work into Box, and Through Balls in the Final Third section, choose a Short passing style, and a Mixed passing focus. As usual, finish things off by selecting Short goalkeeper distribution, and you should be good to go.

2-3-2-2-1 Vertical Tiki-Taka

2-3-2-2-1 vertical tiki-taka formation football manager 2021 mobile

This is an old favorite for many veteran Football Manager players, and the term “Tiki-Taka” refers to a Spanish style of play that is dominated by short passing, various ways of getting the ball in the opponent’s goal, and a possession-oriented game.

The “vertical” nature of this tactic makes it a good choice — like the one above — for teams that aren’t on the up-and-up at MR and ML, but it would also require some talent up front, specifically two elite-level strikers with good Shooting and Finishing attributes. You will, however, need to have some wing-backs with high Stamina and Pace, and a skilled central midfielder who could act as your top playmaker. It may not be as potent an offensive tactic as most others, but you won’t be lacking for goals in most cases.

Unlike the first three tactics we mentioned, this is one where your goalkeeper needs to be set as a Sweeper Keeper. Your two central defenders should be set as Ball-Playing Defenders, and for your three defensive midfielders, the one on the left should ideally be an Inverted Wing Back, with the one on the right being a traditional Wing Back.

The central defensive midfielder, meanwhile, can provide support as a Deep Lying Playmaker. Set one of your central midfielders as an Advanced Playmaker, and leave the other one as is as a Central Midfielder. Your left attacking midfielder should typically be a Winger, while the one on the right is best used as an Inside Forward. Finally, have your center forward/striker act as a Deep Lying Forward, as you’ll need him to link your attack back to the midfield.

When choosing Team Mentality in Shape, you can either set it as Balanced or Control, though the former is more strongly recommended. Keep Width at Narrow, and set your tempo to Slow — remember, you’re trying to maintain possession more than anything else when using this tactic. Creative freedom, however, should be set to Expressive.

For the Defence screen, choose High for your defensive line, All Over in the Closing Down section, and Normal tackling, with Offside Trap at Yes and Time Wasting turned off as usual. Select Look for Overlap, Work Into Box, and Through Balls for your final third options in Attack, choose a Short passing style and Centre passing focus, and keep your Goalkeeper Distribution short.

3-1-4-2 Wing Play

3-1-4-2 wing play formation football manager 2021 mobile

Don’t let the fact that we used Manchester United as a sample team for this tactic deceive you. While this should be a good formation to use if you’re managing a top-tier club, you could also use this for your lower-division club and get some good results. As such, you don’t really need a super-talented or super-athletic starting eleven to pull this off in most cases.

The key element of the 3-1-4-2 Wing Play is your ball-winning midfielder, but before he gets the ball back for your squad, you’ll need to keep things disciplined on defense and remain as structured as possible. You can then launch your counter-attack and make good use of your two center forwards to score some goals.

When selecting roles for your players, your three men in the back — all central defenders by position — should consist of two Ball-Playing Defenders flanking one traditional Central Defender. No need to change roles for your Defensive Midfielder — just leave him as is and position him ahead of the three center backs. Your right and left midfielders should ideally be Defensive Wingers, with one of the men at center serving as a traditional Central Midfielder and the other one being the aforementioned Ball-Winning Midfielder — someone with good defensive attributes and enough technical skills on offense to allow your squad to maintain possession. Lastly, your two center forwards’ best roles in this tactic would be Pressing Forwards.

Related: Football Manager 2021 Mobile Wonderkids: A List of the Best Wonderkids for Every Position

Naturally, you’re going to want to choose Counter as your team’s mentality under Shape, and select the Wide option for your width on the field. Tempo can be set to Normal, while Creative Freedom can also be left as it is in its Normal setting. Defensively, this is where you can choose a Deep defensive line and close down in your Own Half. You can either choose Normal or Committed tackling while choosing Yes for Offside Trap and No for Time Wasting. For your attack, Look for Overlap and Work into Box are ideal options in the final third, while Direct passing is strongly recommended for your passing style. Maintain a Mixed passing focus, and once again, opt for a short Goalkeeper Distribution.

4-3-2-1 Defensive

4-3-2-1 defensive formation football manager 2021 mobile

If you’re one of those Football Manager 2021 Mobile players who favors a lower-scoring, more defensive style of play, we haven’t forgotten about you. Scoring goals may be fun, but if you believe possession is key and the best offense is a good defense, this one should be for you. This is another four-in-the-back tactic like a couple others in this list, and there aren’t too many unusual roles that require special skills or extensive retraining.

You will, however, need to have a lot of quality defenders on your club, as well as a more than solid midfield — of course, you’ll need at least one high-end forward to take care of the goal-scoring duties, but if scoring goals isn’t your team’s forte, this should work in your favor.

For your defensive roles, just leave things as is for the two central defenders, but switch your DR and DL to Full-Backs, as you’ll need them to support the midfield, given that the tactic doesn’t require an MR and ML. It does require three central midfielders, including one Box-to-Box, one traditional Central Midfielder, and one Advanced Playmaker. The two attacking midfielders on the left and right side should, as they oftentimes are, be set as Inside Forwards, and your lone striker should be a Pressing Forward.

In the Shape screen, set your team mentality to Control or Defensive and your width to Narrow, and use a Slow or Normal tempo. Creative freedom can be Balanced or Expressive, though it seems that many prefer the latter. Over in the Defence screen, choose a High defensive line and close down All Over, with Tackling either set to Normal or Committed, depending on your personal preferences. No need to turn on either Offside Trap or Time Wasting. And in the Attack screen, choose Shoot on Sight and Run at Defence for your final third scoring options, choose a Short passing style and Mixed passing focus, and set goalkeeper distribution to Short.

1-2-2-2-3 Overload

1-2-2-2-3 overload formation football manager 2021 mobile

Now we must warn you that this is a very risky tactic to opt for, and the fact that this formation only features one defender means you’ll likely be conceding a fair number of goals while scoring a lot of them. (If not, you may likely surrender a lot of shot opportunities, which is just as dangerous!)

As such, we strongly advise against using it against more talented clubs, though if you’re facing a cream puff opponent, you can definitely have some fun with the tactic and essentially bully those weak defenses. Besides, we feel this list needs to have at least one tactic that makes use of the Overload team mentality.

Given the lack of pure defenders required by this formation, your keeper will need to pull double duty in a way by backing up your lone central defender, hence the need to set his role as Sweeper Keeper. Said central defender, meanwhile, should ideally be a Ball Playing Defender. The two defensive midfielders — one on the left and one on the right — should play traditional Wing-Back roles, while the two central midfielders are best used as Box-to-Box Midfielders. Diverting from the usual roles, the AML and AMR’s roles in this strategy would normally be those of Inverted Wingers, while the three center forwards, in most cases, will perform best if they are all used as Poachers.

As the name of this tactic clearly states, your team mentality should be set to Overload in order to allow as many scoring chances as possible — assuming you’re able to dominate possession. Keep your width Balanced and your tempo Normal, though you can also take some extra risks by choosing Fast. Of course, this is a strategy best used when your creative freedom is Expressive.

Moving on to the Defense screen, go for a High defensive line, close down All Over, and select Committed tackling — switch to Normal if this results in too many yellow, or even red cards, which we observed was the case in one particular match we played. Turn on your Offside Trap and leave Time Wasting off as usual. As for your attack, Work into Box is the only necessary option for Final Third. Choose Direct passing, Centre passing focus, and unlike all the other tactics we mentioned above, select Long goalkeeper distribution.

4-2-4 Attacking

4-2-4 attacking formation football manager 2021 mobile

Aside from being a very offense-oriented strategy, this is also one that you can freely use against weaker clubs, and also if you’re managing a lower division club where the defenses aren’t too good anyway.. If you choose to use this tactic for your higher-division club, the most important skills for your players to have here are Crossing and Dribbling for your wingers, and Finishing, Heading, Shooting, and Composure for your forwards and attacking midfielders.

However, be warned that this formation may leave you vulnerable against opponents who use a counter-attacking strategy, so make sure you’re reading those team scouting reports before using it in a match.

In order to avoid surrendering those goals that coma off the counter-attack, it is best if your goalkeeper’s role is set as Sweeper Keeper. Nothing fancy needed for your four men in the back — DL and DR can be set as Wing-Backs, while the two center defenders can be used as Ball-Playing Defenders. You’ll only need two central midfielders for this tactic, with one serving as a Deep Lying Playmaker and the other one being your Box-to-Box Midfielder. The two attacking midfielders should be positioned on the left and the right, and both should ideally be Wingers. Lastly, choose Advanced Forward when setting roles for your two strikers.

In the Shape screen, choose Attacking for your team mentality, and keep the width Narrow. A Fast tempo will, of course, help you maximize the offensive potential of the tactic, as would using Expressive under the creative freedom section. Minimize the chances of getting beaten by the counter by keeping your defensive line High, and make sure to set closing down to All Over.

Tackling is best left Normal, while Offside Trap should be turned on, with Time Wasting set at No. And in the Attack screen, you can leave your final third options at Work into Box and Run at Defense, use a Short passing style, choose a Centre or Mixed passing focus, and use a Short goalkeeper distribution.

There you have it! These would be the best formations and tactics for Football Manager 2021 Mobile. If you happen to know any other formation or tactic, that’s working well for you, feel free to drop us a line!