FM17 | The Keysi Way | Reading FC | part V | 4-3-1-2

As I wrote at the end of the last part of my save with Reading I decided to change our formation from 4-3-3 to 4-3-1-2. It was very important decision for the third season as I wanted to make bigger impact in the Championship and finish higher than tenth in the league. 

This post is not about results in the league and cup competitions but only about the new formation. Season summary will follow in the next post and you can expect more than good results.

The Set up

In the previous formation we played with Defensive Forward, Deep Lying Forward and Target Man. Only Target Man remained in the new formation as I moved one playr deeper to the Attacking Playmaker role and the second striker is Poacher.

The midfield trio were also changed. There is newly Deep Lying Playmaker with defend duty, Roaming Playmaker with support duty and Ball Winning Midfielder with support duty.

What about defensive line? There are changes as well. We now play with Full Backs with attacking duty and two Defensive Centre Back with cover and stopper duty.

After these changes I’m more happy with the centre backs playing style as they are able to attack ball more than with previous roles. The best example is this video where Jake Cooper steal the ball after opponent’s cross and he started the scoring opportunity.

So, the graphically formation is this one…

Football Manager 4-3-1-2Tactic

We play with Control mentality and Fluid team shape. The team instructions are:

Football Manager 4-3-1-2Tactic

The first match example of this formation is the EFL Cup match with Premier League side West Brom. We beat them 3-0 at home and just have a look at the match stats.

Football Manager 4-3-1-2Tactic
Football Manager 4-3-1-2Tactic

Another example is from away league match with Swansea. It ended with a 4-3 win for us and we had 20 shots/12 on target in this match. We were 3-0 up at half-time but the second half was a little bit crazy…

The first goal was scored after corner kick but you can take a look at pictures with all the passes before another three goals in this match.

I’m very happy with midfield roles as all of them playing what I want. Roaming Playmaker is very dangerous man in cooperation with Attacking Playmaker as he is able to score goal with placed shot just from the outside of the penalty area as I want from him to go forward and help our attacking movement.

Deep Lying Playmaker is a little bit deeper time by time but it depend which player is there. If there is Diego Poyet he is much higher than George Evans or Sandro Wieser. It really depends on each player.

Liam Kelly is my main Attacking Playmaker. I started with Shadow Striker role there but in combination of Target Man and Poacher the Shadow Striker was too high and I was lucky that these three players not injured themselves as they were too close to each other. Attacking Playmaker with support duty is more deeper and he can distribute passes around penalty area or through to one of striker.

There is Heat Map and Average positions (orange without ball, green with ball and blue average position) of Attacking Playmaker.

This gif is not about goal or chance. Just only wanted to show Kelly’s movement after defensive throw-in. He is back but made a move to the top as one of strikers has a ball, when ball is passed deeper, Kelly just go back deeper to get pass. He always offer option to other players despite he did not receive pass this time…

Football Manager 4-3-1-2Tactic

…and there is gif with two situations in a few seconds when he is under the strikers but always ready to help to the midfield trio and distribute the ball.


I hope it was not too much boring for you as I really enjoy to play with this formation. I’m at the end of the October in the third season and the results are these so far…

Football Manager 4-3-1-2Tactic

…if we can keep it like this it could be very interesting season for us.


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Thanks for reading, @FMRensie

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A Football Manager addict and lover for many years. You can follow me on Twitter or in Football Manager Slack – #fmrensie channel.

6 Replies to “FM17 | The Keysi Way | Reading FC | part V | 4-3-1-2

  1. Hello keysi! I want an advice from you in the youth development area. I’m playing with a team (top facilities) in The first league in Romania and i want to know if it’s better to send my youth players (17-21) on loan at second league teams ( average facilities) or to let them play mainly in my second team which is in the third league and give them some matches in The first team in cup or easier matches.

    1. Hi 😉 I have two ways how to deal with youngsters loans. If it’s very big prospect I never sent him to another club for loan and he is member of my Senior Squad, he trains with Senior Squad and he plays for Reserve team or in cup matches for first team. I rather keep youngsters in my first team than to sent him on loan.

      Loan could be good even if he will be a first team player in his new club and he is played in right position. To keep younsters in your club is good when your Reserve/U19 teams play with same formation and player roles as your first team.

      I always sent players on loan if I’m not sure they will be good enough for my first team. It’s all about your own experience but as my teams have always average age around 20-22 years old my advice would be to keep your youngsters around your first team.

      If your youngsters will be first team players or key players in the 2nd division clubs, it should be good. If they will be only rotation or backup players keep them in your club and let them play regularly for your reserve team.

    1. Team training is set up to “Team Cohesion” and “Match Tactics” for match preparation. Some players have individual instructions – for example goalkeeper has “distribute to full backs”, strikers have “Move into channels”, attacking playmaker has “Dribble less”…

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