4-4-2 is a shape which seems to be coming back into fashion, we only have to look back to Claudio Ranieri’s Leicester and Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side to realise just how successful it can be. I wanted to create an unconventional 4-4-2 which in possession is very offensive, and out of possession extremely organised. I came up with the below:


The first thing you notice is how heavy the right hand side looks, I tend to ignore this as both the IF(A) and IWB(A) tend to sit very narrow and central. This creates the balance I’m looking for.

I also wanted an identity to the shape, I see a 4-4-2 as a solid shape out of possession, but one that packs punch on the counter attack. Therefore, a strong defence is key. I decided to test with a lower Premier League team (Bournemouth) and a top Premier League Team (Arsenal) who both are known for being soft defensively. Below, are the stats for Bournemouth.

League Performance:

We have to be realistic with Bournemouth, anything top half must be considered a successful first season, especially with zero signings. It was our consistency with performances which pleased me most, against equal & weaker opposition we seemed to thrive, especially at home! A common theme was our shape canceling out the opposition to limited chances, and we’d nick the game 1-0/2-0.

Just over 1 goal conceded per game, the 5th best in the league.


58 points and finishing 8th in the Premier League.

Key Results




Obviously, winning the Premier league was the aim, but my main focus as with Bournemouth, was on the style we used to achieve our goal. We were incredibly solid using this unconventional 4-4-2, conceding just 19 goals in 38 league games whilst tallying up 22 clean sheets from 38 games. Again, at home is where we thrived, with our 3 defeats all coming away from home by the odd goal.

League & Overall Performance

Champions with 85 points and just 3 defeats in 38.
22 clean sheets from 38, conceding only 19 goals.
An overall win ratio of 67%, conceding 36 goals in 62 games.


Key Results



Download link

I’d love to see a few of you test this unconventional shape for yourself, as this is what Football Manager is all about, trying new and strange shapes and tinkering them to work in the way you want them to. Please see the download link here > https://www.dropbox.com/s/d4jyco56yy1brvb/Unconventional%204-4-2.rar?dl=0


Thanks, DefenceFirstFM