FM17 | Reading FC | 4-1-3-2 Formation

It was the thirteenth season with Reading. And I thought I need to change something. I didn’t want to change my players so I decided to try another formation. As you maybe know I used and still use 4-3-3 and 4-3-1-2 formations during this save.

I didn’t make some radical changes but there were some. Mainly the player roles. What was the reason? The main of them were my own players.

As I still have a lot of players from the original squad and they are older and older I wanted to change our style from higher tempo to something calmer.

4132 header image

And it worked out. But to be fair, this experiment has to be divided into two parts. As I wrote above I wanted to create something for my older players. And I did it.

This formation has two versions. The first one is exactly what I wanted – to slow down. The first major change is able to see at the first sight. The Shadow Striker role is not here and I move this player to Defensive midfielder slot.

I started to use Defensive Full Back at the right side because Joshua Emmanuel and Tennai Watson are not so fast as in the previous years and they missed a lot of opponent’s attacks as they were unable to cover their area so they are now more conservative players.

4132DM version 1
4-1-3-2 DM version 1

Both players at the left side have a lot of energy so they are Wing Backs and they have a lot of assists in comparison with a right defender. That was my aim after analysis of a couple of matches.

I also changed roles for midfield trio and forward players as you can see in the picture.

Mentality and team shape remained same, standard and fluid but team instructions were reduced just only to two – play out of defence and play narrower.

These changes resulted in one important thing – we were not too furious on the pitch. We were calmer and more secure on the ball.

I started to use this formation during February 2029 so a couple of months before the end of the 2028/2029 season. At the end of this season, we celebrated our 7th Champions League title in a row and we won 7 trophies in this season in overall.

We played a lot of matches with this version during the second half of this season and I was pretty happy how it worked so I kept it. Just take a look at the results…

In pictures bellow, you can see some things from a random match against QPR. I really liked this match because it was a very comfortable away win thanks to a hat-trick by Danny Loader who played in Poacher role and two assists by Liam Kelly who was our Deep Lying Forward.

You can see it’s more straightforward and passes are not too complicated before goals as with previous formations. It’s still mainly concentrated in the central area of the pitch and as you can see left defender is more involved in the game as I wrote above.

Next two screenshots show situation before one goal in this match. Opponent’s keeper made a long kick from the penalty area, our central defender cleared the ball to the opponent but he made a bad pass and our central midfielder won the ball back immediately.

Opponent’s keeper made a long kick from the penalty area, our central defender cleared the ball to the opponent but he made a bad pass and our central midfielder won the ball back immediately.

And then it was very simple – CM -> WB -> CM -> AP and CM to Poacher and goal. Very important thing was that DLF (Kelly) was at the side and made some space for Loader who were able to run through opponent’s defense.

QPR v Reading_ Pitch Full

QPR v Reading_ Pitch Full-2

And that’s all about the version one…



4-1-3-2 DM version 2


Despite the first version worked very good and I used it during the next season I decided to make changes once again.

After the 2029/2030 season, some of the old players left our club and more importantly other players from the original squad retired there was no reason to not go back to faster approach with pressing, the higher tempo and why not to be like hungry dogs once again…

What I changed? I decided to use Full Back on both sides and two Central defenders. The Defensive midfielder now has a defend duty to cover the midfield trio before him.

These three midfielders are now CM(s) and one Ball Winning Midfielder with support duty.

4132DM version 2I also changed the roles of strikers and we now use Complete Forward with attack duty and Defensive Forward with support duty.

Same as in the first version I use Standard mentality and Fluid team shape but there were changes in terms of team instructions.

We use More Direct Passing, Push Higher Up, Close Down More, Use Offside Trap, Higher Tempo and Dribble Less.

If there is something that I don’t like and I try to reduce it’s too many dribbles from my players despite they’re instructed to not dribble too much.

Central midfielders have Shoot Less Often, Mark Tighter and Close Down More instructions as well.

I’m now in the 2030/2031 season and this tactic was used for a couple of months now. I have some issues with injuries and I miss key players like Danny Loader, Kevin Jackson and more so a lot of playing time for youngsters but as you can see in the picture with results the formation works well.

I have some issues with injuries and I miss key players like Danny Loader, Kevin Jackson and more so a lot of playing time for youngsters but as you can see in the picture with results the formation works well.

One of the best matches so far was against Liverpool as we won 7-2 after a perfect performance. It was the time when all players were available.

I made some screenshots from league match against Sheffield Wednesday. We won 4-1 and it was 4-0 just before a half-time. I was also happy ball losses and dribbles were reduced during the time I use this formation and there are more direct passes.

If you’re interested in something about these formations just let me know there in the comments section, on Twitter or in my #mrkeysirensie channel in FMSlack.

You can also find both versions in my Steam Workshop.


4-1-3-2 DM version 1 | 4-1-3-2 DM version 2


Thanks everyone for the continuing support and thanks for reading.

The previous part of this save is HERE.

You can also join us in FMSlack and talk not only about Football Manager. What is Slack? Read this or ask me and others on Twitter for example.

header image fm slack

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