Welcome to the third post in my Chelsea FC Football Manager 2020 series. In this post i will be covering my tactical intentions that i have going into this savegame. I am not a tactical wonder like some other Football Manager players out there but i do know my way around the tactical kitchen. I do want to make something crystal clear, i am not gonna try to recreate a real life tactic in this savegame with The Blues. I am however gonna try to pick certain elements from tactics i like in real life and put them in this new tactic i am making.


The formation that i am going to use is a 4-3-2-1 but in a different way people normally use this. Before i started this savegame i was thinking about what i wanted to achieve on the tactical side of things. And for me one thing was clear as day, i wanted to create something i have not created before in any Football Manager edition. So i wrote down which tactics i like in real life with the intention of picking out the specifics so i would be able to use them in my own tactic. For me three tactics really stood out and below you can see which ones and why.

1. Erik Ten Hag at Ajax

The position play AFC Ajax had during their fantastic Champions League run a season ago. I was amazed to see how the players were able to keep their combinations alive even in small and tight spaces. Especially the match against Real Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabéu was fantastic.

2. Jürgen Klopp at Dortmund and Liverpool

Yes, this manager and his tactical style should not be forgotten. I really love how Klopp let’s his teams play. His players put a lot of energy in their game and that is what i want to see from my players as well. Another part i really love about Klopp his tactic is the pressing he has managed to get into his tactical system. The so called Gegenpressing will be the way to go for me with this Chelsea team and tactic i have created.

3. José Mourinho at Real Madrid

After reading this article i knew i had to try and do something with it in this savegame. The use of counterattacking with that specific Real Madrid team was amazing to see. José Mourinho his side even managed to have the world’s fastest counterattack and i am hoping to implement something like that as well. My current Chelsea team has pretty fast paced players and i’ve always love to see my teams score from any transition situation. The atricle called What is transition? is also a great read for everybody that loves getting deeper into football tactical elements. Some parts of it i’ve used to build my tactic because most of the important questions that are asked in that article can be answered in Football Manager with a specific role, task or duty.

Credits: Nino productions


The formation i have chosen for this tactic is as i’ve written earlier a 4-3-2-1 or as Football Manager calls it a 4-3-3 wide. To keep things interesting for myself i have decided to use a Targetman upfront for the first time ever. It is nice to challenge yourself now and then and so i decided to change things up for once. Another reason to go with this formation is because of the versatility it provides. I can easily swap to an 4-2-3-1 or a 4-1-2-2-1 at any time during any match. This brings a lot of unpredictability to my team and that is exactly what i want to achieve as well. Now let’s dive into the player roles and i’ll explain what i expect from the players that are going to play in that specific position.


As my team will be using a Gegenpressing style of play it is necessary to have a goalkeeper that acts like the last defender or so called sweeper. Alongside his standard goalkeeping duties, he will sweep up balls in front of and wide of the penalty area and initiate counter-attacking moves with direct through balls to players further up the pitch. As i’ve given my goalkeeper that Attack duty he will travel some distance outside of his area and is comfortable to move out with the ball at his feet.

Option: K. Arrizabalaga, W. Caballero


Both my wingbacks need to fulfil all of the duties both attacking and defensive of wingers and full-backs. This means that they need to help out the defenders when needed but they also need to contribute to the attacking by running down the wing, overlap our wingers and give crosses into the box. i have chosen this role and duty as i wanted something a bit more agressive then a normal full-back but not too agressive which can upset the balance i am trying to create within the team. I might switch this to complete wingbacks eventually but for now i will stick with wingbacks and see how it goes.

Option: Emerson, C. Azpilicueta, R. James, M. Alonso, I. Maatsen (youth player)


The main job of the central defender is to stop the opposing attackers from playing and clear the ball from danger. They also need to have the composure to help the team maintain possession and lay of simple passes to more creative players. As i’ve chosen the defend duty both players will stay in line with eachother and look to break up attacks, mark opposing forwards and prevent the ball from getting crossed into the box. Due to the players that i currently have i did not go for one central defender and one ball playing defender. This might change in the future as a ball playing defender would really fit my style of play.

Option: K. Zouma, A, Christensen, F. Tomori, A. Rüdiger

Comment: I am looking into the possibility of selling Rüdiger, if i succeed i will not be able to get a new defender due to the transferban. I will fill up the vacancy with the players i currently have and at the end of season one i will either buy an extra defender or i will promote a youth player into the first team


This player will operate in the spaces between the defence and the midfield. He is really going to be our playmaker and he needs to initiate attacking moves with pinpoint passes to his teammates. Besides being the playmaker he als needs to be able to defend and i want him to bring the ball out of defence and operate with a more expansive passing range. As this player will be the enging of the team i will need players playing there who understand their role in the entire tactical system i am creating. If the playmaker drops the ball, we will be in a world of hurt.

Option: M. Kovacevic, Jorginho, M. van Ginkel, Willian


This player will be responsible with providing a versatile link between the defence and the attack. He needs to surge into the final third and support the forwards in and around the box. But i also want him to act as my second attacker when we are pressing our opponents. As you can see this player will need a pair of iron lungs as he will be covering quite the amounts of distance each game.

Option: R. Barkley, M. Mount, R. Loftus-Cheek


This dynamic player has to contribute in all phases the team plays through. In attack he has to surge late into the box to provide an extra offensive option, in defense he has to help to protect the defensive line with a main focus or harrying offensive attacking midfielders. Like the central midfielder this player will cover a lot of ground. But as he as a support duty the box-to-box midfielder will act more defensively.

Option: N. Kante, M. Mount, Jorginho, M. Kovacevic


As i am using wingbacks who will overlap my winger when the opportunity arises i need a winger who cuts inside. To have variation in our attacks i have chose for the inside forward with a support duty on the left side. This player will cut diagonally into the space behind the defence and play through balls or take long shots when they see fit. I am hoping that my wingers can link up with the targetman and/or central midfielder to create havoc in my opponents defense.

Option: Pedro, C. Hudson-Odoi, M. Mount, Willian


This player wil cut inside frequently to free up space for the overlapping wingback. He will also try to overload the defenders because they will have to choose what to do once he cuts inside. Will they follow him or will they hand him over to another defender? The answers to those questions in a short period of time will cause my opponents to make mistakes. With the right player playing in this position i am hoping to capitalize on those mistakes quite often.

Option: Willian, C. Pulisic, Pedro


The targetman has the ability to transform an average team into a good one. By using his physicality to disrupt the oppositions defense and to open up space for supporting midfielders. He will look to bring his teammates into play with his aerial strength and simple possession passes and by winning flick-ons. I really need this player to lead our attacking line by making himself availbe for combinations. If he is able to score some goals on the side as well that would be awesome but occupying the oppositions defenders and being able to provide a place to pass the ball to he will be very valuable for the team. By keeping the ball at his feet he will give his teammates time to surge into the final third with the hopes of scoring goals.

Option: O. Giroud, T. Abraham

Not an option: M. Batshuayi has a low teamwork attribute which makes him unfit for this role and position. Therefore i will look into the possibility of selling him and getting a new targetman to the club once our transferban is over


Below i will talk about the team instructions that i have chosen. Keep in mind that some instructions come from the Gegenpressing style i have chosen. During the season this tactic will be tweaked and as the seasons progress i hope this tactic eventually develops into something solid and beautiful.


As i’ve written earlier in this post i really like Jürgen Klopp his Gegenpressing. I have selected that style when i started with this tactic and the out of possession instructions can be seen on the screenshot below. We will be using a much higher line of engagement combined with an extremely urgent pressing intensity. The goal is to recover the ball as quickly as possible once we lose possession. Another factor is also that we want to give our opponents as little time on the ball as we can. By also preventing the opposition from building up from the back via their goalkeeper i hope that they will use a long ball which we can then attack in order to win back possession.


In order of recreating a bit of the counter attacks that José Mourinho his Real Madrid did back in the day i have chosen for the in transition instructions below. The only thing i am not sure about at this time is the Distribute To Centre-Backs. Because this is not what is suitable with an actual counter attack style of play. But as i want a bit of both worlds this is what i will be going for for the time being.


Once we have the ball i want us to quickly look for attacking opportunities. But i also want our position play (HELLO AFC AJAX!!) to be as good as i can get and that is why i have chosen for the in possession instructions as seen below on the screenshot. By having a fairly narrow attacking width combined with short passes my players should find eachother quite easily on the pitch. The higher tempo combined with the pass into space will fit the counter attack style of play that i want to see from my team now and then. But i also have Play Out Of Defence ticked and like with distributing the ball to my centre backs i need to see if this will actually fit into my tactical plans. I have not played a game with this tactic yet so time will tell if this is going to work or not.


As i am about to start playing with this tactic in my Chelsea savegame i am really curious to see how it is going to turn out. I really loved writing this article as it has challenged me to think a little deeper about what i love about football and the tactical side of it. So for now i want to thank everybody for reading this article. Stay safe and i hope to see you again once a new post comes out.




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