Whether you want to play an extremely fast and decisive brand of football that will have the ball cover the entire pitch in five seconds or so, an intricate slow short passing style mirroring Pep’s Barcelona or a style in between the two that balances fast gameplay and having control of the match, all viable play styles in football manager, you first have to start with settling on your team’s tempo.
Football manager has five levels of tempo, with much lower tempo at the low end and extremely high tempo at the other extreme.
In this article, I will highlight all these levels of tempo in FM, discussing where it is best to use them depending on the strength of your team, the opposition you are facing and the kind of football you want your team to play.
Much Lower Tempo In FM
Football manager describes much lower tempo as a team instruction that asks the team to go about their business in a much more considered and patient manner than their team mentality demands, taking their time with the ball and often retaining possession with no great short term purpose, with the intention to preserve control of the game
With this instruction toggled on, your team will prefer taking their sweet time on the ball, shying away from trying quick brisk passing between teammates that could lead to a mistake being made and possibly losing possession of the ball.
The team will always choose to hold on to the ball, even when an opportunity arises that could see some quick, intricate passing lead to your striker having a chance on goal. The priority is keeping the ball.
You might want to employ a much lower tempo for various reasons.
A much lower tempo is effective when seeing out a tight game that you want to keep the scoreline as it is. In this case, choosing the much lower tempo asks your players to take a second or two to weigh their passing options, minimizing the chances of cheaply losing possession
Say you are managing a big team that has a one goal lead in the last 15 minutes of the game.
Rather than continuing with your quick intricate passing, as you normally would, risking losing the ball and conceding an equalizer, you can instead ask your players to take a moment or two with the ball and pick the best passing option, retaining the ball and seeing the time tick to the full 90 minutes.
Slightly Lower Tempo In FM
Slightly lower tempo is described by football manager as an instruction that asks players to go about their business in a more considered and patient manner than their team mentality demands, taking their time with the ball and often retaining possession in order to preserve control of the game.
While much lower tempo and slightly lower tempo focus on greater control of the game, slightly lower tempo gives the team some freedom when it comes to initiating decisive attacks and making quick passes to players who are in the attacking areas of the pitch.
This makes it possible to use the instruction as the basis for a tiki-taka style of play that still carries a threat in attack, rather than having control of the game for the sake of it.
Slightly lower tempo reduces the time on the ball that your players would normally default to when on a certain mentality.
Say you are on the attacking mentality, a slightly lower tempo here would have the team refrain from making quicker passes that they normally would employ if they were using the default (slightly higher) tempo on the attacking mentality.
If you have the players for it, a slightly lower tempo can give you the high possession stats that you want, while still being effective in racking up the chances for your false 9 or deep lying forward to feast on.
It is advisable to have a playmaker in this kind of system can be a deep lying playmaker, regista or advanced playmaker, who will ideally have the vision and passing range to find your forward players when you face defences that sit back and hand over the initiative to your team to find the way through.
Slightly Higher Tempo In FM
Slightly higher tempo is more straightforward in football manager with the speed of passing here determined by your team’s mentality.
The very attacking mentality will see the team make extremely quick passes, increasing the risk of losing possession, while the very defensive mentality on the other end will see the team take a moment or two with the ball with no aim of creating chances, opting to keep the match ticking at their own pace.
Higher Tempo In FM
Higher tempo in football manager asks players to go about their business in a more urgent fashion than the team mentality allows, moving the ball around quickly and decisively, using the intensity of their approach to unsettle the opposition
You would ideally use this tempo if, for instance, you want your team to be more cautious out of possession in their defensive shape, but still retain the freedom to make quick and intricate passing that would get them quickly up the field and into the opposition’s final third.
A great opportunity to use this would be when facing a stronger opponent in their home ground, but you still have the players with the technical ability to quickly transition on the counter-attack to inflict some damage.
To neutralize the opposition’s attack, you might start on a lower mentality like defensive or cautious, however, the higher tempo team instruction will make it easier to quickly get the ball to your forward players once you win the ball back deep in your half.
The threat that your attackers pose on the counter-attack will make it difficult for the opposition to pin your team in your own half under waves of unrelenting attacks.
The higher tempo suits teams that play a counter-attacking system with a narrow attacking width since you do not need the entire pitch’s width to stretch the opposition and find gaps in their defence.
This is not to say you can not find success with a wide attacking width, as wingers and other roles in the wide positions can also be effectively used as an avenue for quick transitions centred around quickly passing the ball up the field and also taking advantage of some direct passing.
Extremely High Tempo In FM
Extremely high tempo in football manager asks players to go about their business in a much more urgent fashion than the team mentality allows, moving the ball quickly and decisively, using the intensity of their approach to unsettle the opposition and eventually tire them out.
I would only resort to this tempo level when every other tempo option has failed, and I am trying to find an equalizer in the dying minutes of a match.
The main aim of the team under this instruction is to get the ball to the opposition’s box as quickly as possible.
Losing possession and getting punished on the counter-attack is a risk the team is prepared to take.
The only other time when it might make sense to use the extremely high tempo option is when you are a massive underdog, with no chance of relying on slow, considerate passing to get the team up the pitch and finally into the opposition’s final third.
Your strikers might then occasionally get through on goal and bury one or two chances.
Finally, despite setting your team’s preferred tempo, a player’s player trait might still override your preference.
For instance, you might have chosen the slightly lower tempo, however, your shadow striker who has the ‘plays one twos’ player trait will still try to initiate a quick intricate play style with his other partners while on the attack.
Once you have settled on your preferred tempo, head over to our article on playing out of defence, and find out whether you can combine the two choices and come up with a creative tactic that gets the best of the players you have.