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Football Manager

12 Nov 2020

FM21 Tactics: Style & formations may be the same, but game-to-game tweaks

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FM21 Tactics

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Matchday preparation

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Sideline shouts

There is nothing quite like making a tactic in Football Manager.

It requires a mixture of genius, insanity, and pure luck to hit on a successful tactic for your team. Worse, what works for one team might not translate to another.

Now that the Football Manager 2021 beta is here, what's changed?

This is based on beta play, and could change come release date.

FM21 Tactics

The first teaser trailer for FM21 hinted at some additions and tweaks to tactics.

FM21 perfect your tactics 1
PERFECTION: Can you create the mythical unbeatable tactic?

However, the basics are all the same as they were on FM20.

Your In Possession, In Transition, and Out of Possession instructions are all the same, and the likes of Gegenpress and Tiki-Taka have the same instructional selections as before.

FM21 tactics 1
FAMILIAR SIGHT: There's not a scary surprise this year

Whether or not the ultra-high press meta will change we don't yet know, that will take some time and testing to discover, but for now things appear much the same.

Matchday preparation

The differences come when you get toward matchday.

There are far more tweaks and changes recommended by your staff before a match. These can be applied strictly for this game, or to the tactic itself more permenantly.

FM21 matchday preparation
FEEDBACK: Your staff will make a few suggestions, you can take their advice or not

There's also more opportunity to catch your team sheet before it gets locked in. It's much harder now to accidentally start your cup goalie or central midfield prospect by mistake.

FM21 team sheet 1
ARE YOU SURE?: Double check your squad before going into the game

All of this influences your tactical setup, and encourages match-to-match tweaks that some players fretted about making last year.

Sideline shouts

While not technically a part of tactics, they are certainly used to reinforce ideas on the pitch, or at least they should be.

Only a handful of the shouts really did much in FM21. "Get creative" inspires players, "Demand more" focuses them, and "praise" fires them up. These were all quick-fixes to keep your team on the right track and boost performance.

Things have changed a bit this year.

FM21 shouts 1
FRESH LOOK: The match interface is much-improved

While the same shouts are available, they are not nearly as consistent in their result.

SI has made some drastic changes here, and the mentality, performance, and confidence of a player will all have an impact on how they respond to a shout. While the team's overall performance will also impact things.

It's also easier to give individual player feedback, which is just as dangerous a line to tread as full team shouts.

FM21 has made tactics all about game-to-game changes and playing your opponent with greater focus.

As a result, while the tactical meta may not have changed, your experience as a manager will.