Du Malone writes: A little while ago I read an online article about the ‘catenaccio’ formation used by Inter Milan in the 1960s. The article, on the Football’s Greatest, website is here: https://footballsgreatest.weebly.com/inter-milan-1960s.html.

Intrigued by how bizarre it looked, and also rather sceptical, I decided to experiment with it on Football Manager.

16 Oct 19 catenaccio
Inter-style catenaccio comes to Macclesfield

My main experiment was conducted by creating a club, Catenaccio FC, founded on Macclesfield (EFL, 4th tier).

I used a very cautious approach with the wages of the players I recruited — at first because I was unfamiliar with the ‘Create a club’ mechanism and think I misunderstood it, and then because I thought I’d hold some cash back in case I needed to rethink. I searched only amongst 4th-6th tier players. None of those whom I recruited had substantial EFL experience.

To my surprise, the tactics worked well. Despite scoring very few goals we were, when I retired from the save, comfortably mid-table.

The reason I retired was that the football, though effective, was unremittingly grim. From accounts of Inter at the time, that might indicate that the tactics were realistic.

What about the right back?

The main oddity of the tactics is obviously the lack of a full back on the right. Surely, I thought, opponents will just go round the side of our Maginot line of centre backs?

What I found was:

  • yes, they did: but not nearly so much, or as effectively, as I feared
  • the centre-back and defensive mid, with appropriate instructions, can do a certain amount to cover
  • as can the winger, if he has the appropriate qualities, notably teamwork, work rate, and stamina. He really becomes the key acquisition.

I’m not sure, but it may be that the vacant space distracts opponents and disrupts their pattern.


Occasional experiments suggest that, unlike IRL, this might not work at higher levels, presumably because the levels of vision and off the ball are better — but my dalliance with the tactics there were too spasmodic to be conclusive.

I retain it on my database of tactics, not because I’m enthusiastic about using it but rather because there may come a time when I need it to dig me out of a whole.

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