Imagine a formation that takes you back to the times of the early nineties, to the times of teams like the 1990 West German squad. A sturdy, defensively reliable squad, with a proper defensive sweeper like Klaus Augenthaler. The Germans won quite a few trophies in their day playing, according to the pundits, a particularly cynical style of football. But in Italy 1990 the cynical defensive football prevailed, while the Germans began playing more offensive attacking football, but without losing their organisation and discipline. I’ve tried to marry this ruthlessly efficient and defensively solid style with my own strikerless ideas in the same fashion a master whisky blender tries to take the best flavours to create something new and genius. The end product of my whisky-fueled brainstorming-session looks like this.


Now before reading on, please don’t expect this tactic or any Football Manager 2015 tactic to provide instant results. This is a system involving a strikerless formation, which by default takes time to implement but has a proven track record of success in Football Manager 2015. This specific tactical system has been designed around the concept of an Auspützer as described by Jonathon and myself earlier. I will go into a detailed breakdown, covering both the formation and the various roles below.

The Complete Wing-Backs stop the wide spread of the central players somewhat, without sacrificing the offensive width we badly need. We realise this sounds very nifty on paper, but it’s untested in reality. In an effort to show you that this actually works in the Match Engine in the exact way we envisaged and described, we’ll walk you through some match screenshots.


In this match screen, we can see the opposing team trying a long ball over the top. This is the basic defensive setting our setup generates in the current Match Engine. We can see the basic premisse in action. When you cannot make the libero/sweeper move, move the other players around him. The two central defenders aggressively move forward, whilst the sweeper stays behind them, covering the space behind the defensive line. The presence of the Complete Wing-Backs stops the defenders from spreading too wide, despite the space behind the wide players. Again, the sweeper can cover these spaces if needed.


When the team is going forward, the Complete Wing-Backs surge even further forward, adding some much needed width to an otherwise largely centralised setup. What is encouraging, is the positioning of the remaining three players. They are situated on the half-way line, with the sweeper slightly behind the other two. In a setup with no wing-backs, the three defenders would spread to cover the flanks as well, creating gaping gaps between them, large enough to sail an aircraft carrier through unscathed. Despite the attacking runs by our wing-backs, the defence remains centralised, with the gaps between the players small and manageable.

This holy Trinity of defending looks quite sturdy. The Ausputzer is not the mobile player the libero is. He does not move laterally behind and in front of the defensive line. Instead, he is the focal point of the defensive line, the pivot so to speak. Whilst he does make covering runs to clear dangerous situations, he remains largely static , whilst the others form the line around him.

Offensively, we’re going for the tried and tested approach with a Withdrawn Targetman dash Targetganche, flanked by two Shadow Strikers. Basically, we wanted a cross-pollination of the targetman role and the enganche role. In a way, it makes sense, as the enganche already encorporates some of the qualities a targetman is supposed to offer to a team. A targetman is a striker who is the target of passes from his teammates. A good target man will possess the strength to hold up the ball, hold off opponents and bring team-mates into play. Target men are often tall, physical players who operate with their back to goal.

The “enganche” is the term in Argentinian Spanish for a playmaker. The word “enganche” is apparently derived from enganchar, which means in South American Spanish: “to hook”. The idea is that the enganche has to hook the strikers into the supporting cast of players who are there to support them in their efforts. He is the player that receives the ball and chooses how and when to pass the ball to maximise the potential of the attacking movement.

Mix those two up and you get the Targetganche™, or the Withdrawn Targetman we want to see in the game. He will hold up the ball and bring his team-mates into play, choosing how and when to pass the ball to maximise the potential of the attacking movement, whilst the Shadow Strikers run onto the balls headed through or flicked on. The midfield setup with a Roaming Playmaker and a Box-to-box midfielder should generate plenty of movement around our Targetganche.

So does this interest you? Why not give the tactic a try?

Table of Contents



Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.


Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.


Privy_Chamber · September 20, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Can I ask a question?
On what highlights do you watch your games in general?

All these strikerless tactics are so aggressive and attacking, surely you must pay close attention and make little tweaks in order to maintain such an impressive winning rate you have with every club.

Just plugging one of those in and play on “key” can’t possibly work, can it?

    strikerlessGuido · September 21, 2015 at 5:48 am

    Mostly extended in important games. In lesser games, I tend to blaze through on key highlights. Once you get the style down, it’s almost intuitive tinkering.

Nick · September 26, 2015 at 10:58 am

Hi mate, this will no doubt sound really stupid but after downloading I have no idea how to view. Do i have to buy the ingame editor?
Thanks, really like your work

    strikerlessGuido · September 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

    No need to buy anything. Just place the downloaded tactic in the My Documents/Sports Interactive/Football Manager 15/tactics folder. When you go in-game, just import the tactic from this folder.

Nick · September 26, 2015 at 11:13 am

Thanks mate much appreciated, Strikerless here i come 🙂

Nick · September 30, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Stunning, simply stunning. You’re a genius sir, attacks so beautifully & the sweeper just mops up everything at the back. Its not like I even have a great team, just took over an ailing Spurs in 2023/24.
But now, I dont know what to do. I’ve had a pretty successful save learning my own tactics & then find your plug in and play CCC monster.
Nice work again

Samuel · October 20, 2015 at 10:09 am

Hi Guido,

what sort of stats should I be looking for in the Targetganche? I’m relatively new to FM and still don’t have my head around roles and attributes. Thanks for any help keep up the good work.

Tonism · October 20, 2015 at 3:05 pm

Hi Guido, Nice tactic. I’m trying with Newcastle at first season, will keep you update. Comparing this tactic with your 5 men at the back, which one is better?

    strikerlessGuido · October 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    That really depends on the material you have. I reckon Newcastle could do a job with both formations. Do keep me posted on the results, I hope it works well for you, mate!

Nick · November 19, 2015 at 11:48 am

Hi Guido,

I know you’re all over “16” for now but I’m sticking with 15 for a while and generally this tactic for a bit. 2026 the year Spurs finally come good, Premier League for the 1st time since 1961 and the Champions League to boot.
I’m thinking of training my Engache & SS’s the move “Plays Killer balls often”. Do you think that would be a good move for the tactic.

Thanks as always. What are you making of 16?

    strikerlessGuido · November 19, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    I reckon it suits him and the way he is supposed to play, so it’s worth a stab, Nick.

    FM16 is good. It has some annoying features, but the Match Engine is sound 🙂

      Nick · November 20, 2015 at 8:23 am

      Thanks, might also train them all to play “one twos” FM17 will be out by the time that’s done 🙂

      strikerlessGuido · November 20, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Hehe, and that’s only when they all remain loyal and don’t request transfers, or when injuries stop them from learning a PPM 😉

StudentOfTheGame · December 4, 2015 at 11:00 pm

hi is the tactic available on fm16?

JoeyNumbaz · August 9, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Just wanted to check if there is a FM16 version of this, or if you could pass along the mentality, and any other instructions so I could take a crack it, I don’t have FM15 to load this into. Thanks for any help.

    StrikerlessGuido · September 6, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Not yet, sorry. I generally play a control or attacking mentality with a very fluid setting.

Die Aue Moneyball Saga zum FM 2015 · October 4, 2015 at 11:11 pm

[…] entschied ich mich für ein 5-2-3. Ich habe lange daran rumgebastelt und bin dann über einen guten Beitrag von Guido gestolpert, der ein System mit 5 Verteidigern […]

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