A Rough Diamond

The 4-4-2 narrow diamond is one of my favourite formations ever. That's why for this new project this is the shape I will be focusing on.

One of the biggest issues I’ve seen that a lot of users struggle with on Football Manager, is the relationship between the roles and duties they’ve selected. Some of the examples I’ve seen over the past few months don’t really take into account what the role does, how it links with the rest of the tactic and how it plays out in a game. In this article I hope to explore this side of the game more as I create a new tactic from scratch and explain why I pick which roles and showcase how they all function together as a unit.

Before creating any tactic on Football Manager you need to understand a few things and ask yourself a few questions. You also need a general idea about how you want to play, if not then how do you know what type of players you need to bring in. Or what tactical changes to make. Without a basic idea of that, then you really have nothing to work towards. But for the sake of this article, I’ll do it slightly different this time and pick a shape I’m going to use and then have a discussion on the different roles and explain why I choose something. Then we can see in-game, if it works out like we expect or not.

4-4-2 narrow diamond

I don’t have a particular style or brand of football in mind for this. But if I did, these are some of the questions you should be thinking about;

  1. Do the players you have fit the tactic and style you want to create or does the tactic and style have to fit the players?
  2. What are your players strengths and weakness?
  3. How does the style you want to create impact the strongest areas of your current squad? I.e if you want to dominate midfield, are the current player capable of doing it?!
  4. You might have to make compromises to begin with, so what will you have to trade-off?

These are simple yet vital questions you need to have some general idea about, if not then you could be making things hard for yourself as they’ll be no end goal to aim for. Which makes it increasingly difficult to build something if you don’t know what the end product you want is. For the sake of this series though I’ll be ignoring those questions and tackling tactic building from the harder end of the scale. By doing this I’ll be able to focus on the relationship of the player roles and duties. I want to focus on the basics of what a role does, how it functions overall in the tactical framework. So I can demonstrate how roles all link together. The brand or style of football isn’t that important to begin with for this project.

Over time, we should create a style out of nothing naturally. But like I mentioned earlier, this is hard and throws up a lot of issues along with the way. However it’s a good way to demonstrate another side of tactic creating. I’ve written about creating a tactic from an idea in your head, real life examples, making tactics fit players you have available, but never really focused on this side before. Well I have to some extent but they were more single role specific articles.

Now we know which shape I’ll be using (the 4-4-2 narrow diamond)I already know some of the issues I’ll face regardless of what roles, duties or tactical instructions I use, due to the nature of the shape. You need to remember is that every tactic has strengths and weaknesses. There is no such thing as a perfect tactic no matter how much you try. You always have some kind of tradeoff to make. It’s important you know quickly though how your system actually works and why. If you don’t then you won't understand why certain things happen or won’t know what the weak areas of the system actually are. It makes it easier to identify real issues that you can fix and helps with the ‘how to’ fix the issue too.

I’ll be going into a lot of detail about the strengths and weaknesses of the 4-4-2 narrow diamond later on the article. But to give you a general idea of what you should be looking for, to understand how your own system works regardless of shape, it should look something like this;

4-4-2 Narrow Diamond Pros

  • Two strikers
  • Diamond midfield
  • Use of a DMC
  • Use of a AMC
  • It’s an attacking formation
  • Lots of passing options
  • Numbers advantage in midfield normally
  • Versatile midfielder setups.
  • Compact when in defensive situations

4-4-2 Narrow Diamond Cons

  • A possible lack of midfield width at times
  • Risk of the central midfielders being pulled out of position
  • Vulnerable to counter attacks
  • Requires superman type players for certain positions i.e full backs
  • Full backs can be isolated by the opposition
  • Overloads down the flanks
  • High energy expenditure

Those are some of the basic issues I face when using the 4-4-2 narrow diamond. So when picking a shape it comes down to what you think is acceptable and what isn’t. Each formation you can choose will come with it’s own pro’s and con’s.

I wrote about the narrow diamond quite a few years ago;


That project was very different to this though and I don’t feel I’m going over old ground due to that article being about defensive football and using that as a strategy. But it's still relevant to this series because it’ll allow you to see a different side of the diamond and give you an idea of how you can utilise roles, shapes and settings differently.

The next part will focus on the roles of the 4-4-2 narrow diamond as we discuss the different roles available. I'll be hoping to show you how I decide which roles I select and discuss the why of that decision. 

6 thoughts on “A Rough Diamond”

    1. That was my first thought too. However, I think that having 2 carrileros would probably create a gap between the midfield and the 2 forwards + AMC, leaving them alone. A Box-to-Box midfielder might be better, or even a mezzala maybe, if you want to exploit a weakness on one of the two sides?

      1. I’ll be going through the roles in the next article and doing process of elimination. However I want to pick up on the above comment. Why would 2 Carrileros create a gap between the forward 3? I mean, the AM should still link up and bridge the gap.

        You’d definetly not use a mezzala in the diamond. The whole point of the middle two is recycle the ball and cover any threats from out wide. Using a mezzala just makes the player too attacking. You don’t need the two MC’s attacking, they should sit and provide constant recycling of possession from deep.

        Using a mezalla or box to box, you’re just asking to be ripped open constantly either through the middle or down the wings. It’s basically tactical suicide.

        1. Sorry I meant one carrilero and one mezzala (English is not my mother tongue so my ideas might be lost in translation sometimes 🙂 )with a support duty which could help to insist on a weak side if the opponent has one, i.e. lot of assists coming from one side in particular.
          My worry about the AM is: what happens if he’s being tight marked, or just having a bad game? Another idea was about using 2 CMs as you can personalize their instructions?
          There are a lot of other ideas in my mind, like having a deep-lying playmaker if the tactic has 2 carrileros. as well as ball playing defender to play long and vary the transitions.
          I’m really curious and looking forward to see what’s coming, that looks very interesting!

        2. I just read through your previous article on the defensive 4-4-2, which is an interesting read (would be interested in trying out some of those tactics with the new tactical setup in FM19).

          On that though, you used a box-to-box midfielder on the right hand side. Is there any reason you think that wouldn’t work now? My thought would be that it would depend upon the behaviour of the AM and the wing-back on that side. The other CM and the DM could then be the players recycling the possession?

          1. I think it would still work. It all depends on what you are actually wanting and how much risk vs reward you believe it’s worth.

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