There are many factors that one must consider when deciding on tactics for Football Manager 2018. Without careful planning, you’re unlikely to achieve the success and heights you know you were born to reach.
Home and Away
Firstly, it is imperative to understand that you must use different tactics for home and away games in Football Manager 2018. The game reacts differently for each type of match, which is to be expected since home and away games are different in real life. Home team advantage can be gained from familiarity of the ground, facilities and stadium, more fans cheering you on, or less travelling to get to the match. In research conducted by Sky Sports, teams were 12% more likely to win when playing at home than when playing away.
Therefore, like in real life, you will need to tweak your home tactics separately to your away ones.
When starting out you will want to set a baseline. Changing too many things in one go will not allow you to those alterations that are having positive effects on your team's performance, and the ones are doing the opposite. Start with a default formation, making some adjustments to player roles and duties if you want. Although always make sure to fully understand any changes you make.
From gameplay, Football Manager 2018 seems to treat 4-4-2 and 4-2-3-1 Wide formations favourably, particularly when players on each flank have different roles assigned to them.
Once you have played a match you will be able to understand much more clearly the performance of your team in its current form.
Latest Transfer Updates
If you're looking for realism in your game, it is possible to get updates to your Football Manager with all of the latest changes from the Transfer Market. You can do this using unofficial data update sources, such as the Football Manager Transfer Update Project.
Understanding Team Instructions
Football Manager 2018 has a number of different team instructions that are important to understand, these are:
Mentality - The options for mentality are Counter, Overload, Attack, Defence, Contain and Standard. The Counter and Defensive options allow you to patiently build up play, waiting for a breakthrough to occur in the game that can be exploited.
Naturally, if you want to push your players up field whenever they are in possession of the ball, you need to use the Attack mentality. From play, it seems Attacking, Controlling and “Standard” seem to deliver the best results in Football Manager 2018.
Shape - This setting balances tactical freedom and sticking to assigned positions. A “Highly Fluid” shape will make a team that is vertically compact, closing down opponents to attack. Football Manager 2018 seems to prefer Fluid and Very Fluid shapes.
Tempo - Just like in life, if you rush something you increase the chances of making mistakes. In Football Manager 2018, the Tempo setting dictates the speed of play with a faster tempo creating more opportunities to attack, but equally increasing the likelihood of a mistaken or intercepted pass. From experience in playing Football Manager 2018, the Tempo needs to match the attributes of the players on your team.
Width - This is the measurement of how wide the players position themselves across the pitch. Although it’s difficult to identify the perfect setting, Football Manager 2018 does appear to be very sensitive to changes of Width. Trial and error will be your best option here.
Player Stats - Understanding each player’s stats will allow you to identify the player roles that are working in your favour, and the ones working against. Trial and error will again be your best option, but consider tweaks to roles where low average ratings are delivered regularly, no matter the player in that position.
These are not the only factors you should consider in Football Manager 2018, but they are the best places to start if you’re looking to build your team. Bucket loads of time and plenty of trial and error will be your route to regular winning in the game. Experiment, but don’t change too many things at once, as you won’t know which change has achieved which outcome.