Try This Pep Guardiola 3-2-4-1 Football Manager 2023 Tactic

fm23 3241 tactic

fm23 3241 tactic

Pep Guardiola turned football on its head once again with his tactical ingenuity last season. His Manchester City team swept all before them on the way to a historic Treble.

Players of the Football Manager series have been keen to replicate Manchester City’s success in their own save games with a similar FM23 3-2-4-1 tactic, as the effectiveness of this approach has been clear for all to see.

In this article, we’ll break down all the roles and duties of this tactic to make it easy for you to dominate your opponents in the game with swashbuckling pieces of play.

So, let’s get started!

Goalkeeper and Back Three in the FM23 3241 Tactic

We know that Ederson loves to rush off his line to clear any opposition through balls, so it’s easy to give him the ‘Sweeper Keeper’ role with either a defend or support duty, depending on how aggressively or conservatively you want him to play.

For the centre backs, a standard back four is better suited than a back three to mirroring the positions of Nathan Ake, Ruben Dias, Manuel Akanji and John Stones when the team is out of possession.

Dias and Akanji would simply be set up as ‘Centre Backs’ who recycle the ball, with Ake being the conservative defender on the left occupying the traditional ‘Full Back’ role on a defend duty.

fm23 3241 tactic - defender roles
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On the other side, John Stones seems to fit best as an ‘inverted wing back’ on support duty, as this replicates his movement into the defensive midfield pivot alongside Rodri.

Understanding the “John Stones Role’

When Manchester City are in possession, John Stones steps up into midfield beside Rodri and plays as a defensive midfielder.

On the flip side, when the team doesn’t have the ball, Stones slips back into central defence alongside Ruben Dias.

Unfortunately, due to the current limitations of the game’s tactical creator, there is no position in Football Manager that perfectly mirrors the positional instructions executed by John Stones in real life.

If you were to put John Stones as an inverted wing back in the game, you wouldn’t be able replicate his movement of dropping back into central defence when Manchester City don’t have the ball.

But the inverted wing back on support duty does surprisingly well enough in possession, so you can stick him in that role.

You can see that from the screenshot below:

fm23 3241 tactic - john stones in possession
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Stones slots in quite nicely next to Rodri in the centre of midfield, making a double pivot when in possession.

Box Midfield Concept of the FM23 3241 Tactic

The so-called “box midfield” is said to offer numerical and positional superiority in the centre of the field, which is a key proponent of a successful Pep Guardiola team.

Here we have four players slotting into different positions:

  • Rodri – defensive midfield
  • John Stones – defensive midfield
  • Ilkay Gundogan – central midfield; and
  • Kevin De Bruyne – central midfield

The first two players (i.e. Rodri and Stones) in the aforementioned list will primarily hold position in front of the defence, gathering the ball from deep and distributing it forward.

Rodri is a match for the 'Defensive Midfielder' on support duty, as he sometimes contributes to attacking phases of play. This is best exemplified by his pivotal goal in the UEFA Champions League final against Inter Milan, where he struck the ball sweetly from the edge of the box.

On the other hand, as we’ve seen from Gundogan this past season, his role entailed making late runs into the penalty box in order to get on the end of cut backs and crosses. He managed this to great effect by scoring 8 Premier League goals, which is an impressive tally for a midfielder.

The ‘Central Midfielder’ role on attack seems to suit his attributes and traits the best.

fm23 3241 tactic - gundogan as a central midfielder
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Meanwhile, Kevin De Bruyne was a midfield orchestrator, carving out chances for Erling Haaland with alarming regularity.

For him, the ‘Advanced Playmaker’ role on support in the central midfield position makes the most sense.

Role of the wingers

Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva worked really hard for the team, making an effort to press opposition defenders and support their teammates by tracking back into defensive positions when opposing wingers had possession.

Setting each of them as ‘Inverted Wingers’ on support duty is a good call, as they both tend to cut inside onto their stronger foot when attempting to dribble through central areas of the pitch.

Another tip to follow would be to place them in the central midfield strata as opposed to the attacking midfield area, as these positions offer more defensive solidity which is what you expect from these two wingers.

Erling Haaland

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Not much needs to be said about Erling Haaland, as we all know he’s a goal machine.

He’d be better suited to an ‘Advanced Forward’ role as opposed to the ‘Poacher’ role, as he does often drop a little deep to get involved in build-up play.

fm23 3241 tactic - haaland role and duty
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The poacher role in Football Manager offers little to no contribution in build-up play, which is the opposite of what we saw from the Norwegian international in this past campaign.

Haaland frequently makes runs in behind the defence, tries to beat the offside trap and pushes opposition Centre Backs back towards their own box, which fits his ‘Advanced Forward’ role to a tee.

FM23 3-2-4-1 team instructions

Finally, you can play around with the following combination of team instructions in order to fine-tune the tactic to the precise way that Manchester City play:

  • Play Out of Defence;
  • Shorter Passing;
  • Higher Defensive Line;
  • Trigger Press More Often;
  • Fairly Wide Attacking Width;
  • Counter-Press;
  • Goalkeeper to Take Short Kicks; and
  • Goalkeeper to Distribute to Centre Backs

And of course, you’ll also have to tweak individual player instructions on a case-by-case basis.

For example, you may want Ederson to take more risks with the ball when passing out of the back, in order to accurately mirror his real-life behaviour where he plays short passes to teammates nearby whilst under pressure, as well as launching long balls to the wingers when attacking opportunities arise.

Success rate

Your mileage out of this tactic will vary, but you should expect to win the vast majority of matches (i.e. 80%+) in the Premier League and cup competitions such as the FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

The UEFA Champions League knockout round matches may pose more difficulty due to the quality of opposition, but Manchester City have players good enough to beat anyone in this year’s game.

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