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Football Manager 2022 - Total Football Tactic | FM22

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Football Manager 2022 - Total Football Tactic | FM22

This article will explain why Total Football was so successful, why it is different from the tactical movements it inspired, and why you should be using total football as the basis for your next FM22 save.


This article is part of a series on famous tactical styles. While this tactic can work successfully as a plug-and-play tactic, it is recommended that players use this as a basic form of a certain style. Some slight adjustments may be necessary to play to your side’s strengths.

When we think of great tactics that revolutionised football, they all have one thing in common: they rely heavily on good teamwork and cohesion. None more so than totaalvoetbal or Total Football. While the true roots of total football are disputed, the Ajax and Netherlands sides of the 70s captured the world's imagination with their relentless pressing and commitment to a team game that very nearly conquered the world. 

What is Total Football?


Total football’s simplest explanation is a system where all players are expected to contribute to all phases of play, no matter what position they play. This is a very fluid system and requires a high level of tactical understanding and teamwork from every player. Everything works as a unit, with all players expected to attack, counter, press and defend as one. As such, a high level of team cohesion is absolutely essential. The result is a thing of beauty. When firing on all cylinders, your team is an attacking behemoth that's incredibly hard to stop, attacking and defending in numbers to simply overwhelm the opponent.

READ ALSO: Football Manager 2022 - Jurgen Klopp Gegenpress Tactic | FM22

Wasn’t this just an early form of tiki-taka?


Yes and no. Under Cruyff’s management, total football came to Barcelona, inspiring many of the key principles of tiki-taka that Guardiola would later use to take Barca to glory: the obsession with spacing, the high pressing, the team cohesion, and to a certain extent the fluidity of position. However, there are some crucial differences between Total Football and Tiki Taka.

Firstly, where Tiki Taka likes to spread play to create gaps to exploit, Total Football embraces overloading the defence. By attacking in such numbers, total football forces the opposition to either sit back defensively, therefore leaving them with very little counter-attacking threat, or risk defenders being isolated against multiple opponents. Secondly, the fluidity of position under Total Football is far more extreme than under Tiki Taka. 

While a team playing Tiki Taka might expect some positions, such as the full-backs and centre-forward, to contribute more to other phases of play than their positions would traditionally expect, Total Football genuinely expects every player to contribute to every phase of play. This is best exemplified by the three-man defence: a libero and two wide centre-backs. While the libero is expected to step into midfield and operate as a playmaker, the other centre-backs are expected to cover the lateral areas of defence, as well as providing support to the midfield when in position.


How does this look on FM22?


FM22 Total Football Tactic Football Manager 2022


The formation used in this tactic is nominally a 3-4-1-2; however, it operates more like a 3-4-3 due to the movement of the shadow striker and the lateral movement of the two strikers. The shadow striker in this tactic is modelled after Cruyff’s role under Rinus Michaels. Not only is he your main goal-threat, but he’s also your primary creative force and has almost complete freedom to contribute to the attack however he pleases.

Needless to say, we’re using a LOT of support duties. Everyone apart from your shadow striker and your wide CBs are on support. This is because we need them to contribute to every phase of play. There’s also an abundance of player instructions - which you might choose to alter slightly based on your team’s strengths - to try and replicate the positional fluidity of Total Football.

Final Thoughts


I hope you enjoy using this tactic and manage to find success through a relentless team-based philosophy. With the right number 10, and a versatile team around him, you’ll be ready to dominate in no time.

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FM Blog: Football Manager 2022 - Total Football Tactic | FM22
Football Manager 2022 - Total Football Tactic | FM22
The famous Total Football tactic gets emulated on Football Manager 2022. See your team to success on your next FM22 save.
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