Du Malone writes: This post is the fifth in the series on the application to FM20 of Arrigo Sacchi’s managerial approach.

I’m basing my understanding of Sacchi’s approach on an article in Football bloody hell written by Raghunandhanan Narasimhan. As I wrote in my introductory post, for me one of the attractions of that article was that it seemed at times to be written in FM speak.


The task I set myself was to develop a formation based on the first of the moving diagrams in Narasimhan’s article.

The positional decisions that this implied were for the most part straightforward. The two decisions I found hard to make were:

  • the Gullit figure: attacking midfielder, right of centre? or out wide on the right? or a right-sided striker?
  • the Colombo figure: left-sided centre mid who moves outwards? or wide midfielder who moves inwards?

For my first iteration the decisions I made on these positions were:

  • Gullit: AM(R), as a playmaker
  • Colombo: wide midfielder on the left


03 Feb 20 Sacchi form II


Though this formation looks wacky, the role selection and player instructions (PIs) make it less so.

In particular:

  • the PIs for the WB(R), namely hold position and sit narrower, ensure that the player’s movement imitates that in Narasimhan’s diagram
  • the role selection of stopper helps to produce the movement that Narasimhan’s article attributes to Baresi
  • the instruction to hold position helps the CD on cover to imitate Costacurta
  • the stay wider and hold position instructions for the left wingback help to model Maldini’s movements
  • the instructions of sit narrower, cut inside, and get forward represented my attempt to model Colombo’s movement
  • the choice of the carrilero role seemed obvious for the Dolnadoni role; in addition I used stay wider
  • to imitate Gullit, I plumped, with advice from the community, for an advanced playmaker role, with instructions to roam, sit narrower, and cut inside
  • the Massaro equivalent, I agonised over, but FM’s description of the pressing forward (attack) role decided it for me, with an instruction to move into channels
  • the instructions for the van Besten role included move into channels

For the Ancelloti role I ignored community advice to use a regista, simply because I felt we didn’t have  player with the requisite skill set — and with hindsight I feel that DLP(S) was a good choice.


In terms of results, I was absolutely delighted. But I’ll let our manager, Grigor Pasha, tell you more about that (in a subsequent post), since it was his team — Chernomorets Balchik in the Bulgarian First League — that adopted the tactics.

In terms of producing the desired tactics, I was no less delighted, though with an important caveat that I’ll explain in my next post.

I was particularly chuffed with the movement on the forward right side (Massaro; Gullit; Donadoni), which was exactly what I wanted. The Gullit figure became an elusive, creative, force. And the Massaro figure and was able to receive a lot of the ball by moving into the space created by Gullit’s movement.

I did have a reservation about the relationship between the left wing-back and the left midfielder. They tended to follow each other around too much, like twins. This had a positive aspect — they could overload a defender — but overall the duplication represented a waste of resources and left us vulnerable behind.

I notice the Pasha, wise old bird that he is, has tended since to switch the wing-back’s duty to defend.

Overall effect

What delighted me most was the overall use of space and movement. especially when we had the ball.

The tactics produced aesthetically pleasing asymmetric shapes that I’d never witnessed before. Combined with the diverse movements, the patterns exhibited a kaleidoscopic  quality that often had the opposition reeling.

The attempt to imitate Sacchi’s tactics has produced a style of FM unlike anything I’ve attempted before. It has proved thoroughly gratifying.


I have been playing with names for this style of play. I did consider ‘jazz football’ but have decided in the end to name it the Jackson Pollock.


Next up: a second iteration of the tactic

2 thoughts on “Designing a formation and refining it with player instructions: playing #FM20 in the spirit of Arrigo Sacchi

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