Follow us on Twitter @claretandview // Words by Jake Evans (@jakeevans_11)

Playing Football Manager is something that all football fans with too much time on their hands will indulge in every season. As Villa fans, it can be tough to try and succeed with the Claret & Blues in the game due to our poor financial position and even worse squad status. However, this year we seem to have the perfect squad to achieve promotion- even if we do have to wait a while for the wheels to come into motion. Here is a glimpse at how I have got us back into the big time.


As always, it is important to have a strong squad of players- but it is more important to have a squad of players that are suited to your style of play. I recommend selling certain players – Albert Adomah, Jack Grealish, Alan Hutton and Micah Richards at the top of the list – and signing some young talented players such as Lucas Lima, who at the beginning of the game is available on a free transfer. I also recommend signing Preston North End’s Andy Boyle, but other than those two signings you should be able to keep your cheque book in your pocket, and immediately give the board a boost by making a healthy profit in the transfer window.


You may have been slightly surprised that I opted to sell two of our best wingers. However, I made this call because of a few simple facts that you ought to know:

  • Wingers are very underpowered in the game this year
  • Villa have an abundance of top strikers
  • Both Grealish & Adomah rapidly decline in value

I have opted to play with a 3-4-3 system- and it is working fantastically well. My team is as follows:

GK: Sam Johnstone

CB: James Chester, Andy Boyle, John Terry

MF: James Bree, Lucas Lima, Mile Jedinak, Neil Taylor

FW: Scott Hogan, Ross McCormack, Jonathon Kodjia

Of course, at the beginning of the game you will not have McCormack available to you. A good substitute to use is Keinan Davis, until you can recall the Scot in January. Furthermore, you need to think very carefully about the way that you set your team up. By opting to play with a narrow front three, you need to be mindful of the need to set a narrower team Instruction- otherwise you will be drawing your WB’s out of position and leaving your defenders vulnerable. You also need to think about how you are going to transition from attack to defensive with this structured formation.

When you consider the pace of your Advanced Forwards, you may decide to play a more direct style of play. Remember that retaining possession with this formation will open your formation up- leading to gaps that the opposition will easily exploit. If you then decide to play with a more controlling style, then- as you don’t want to invite pressure on yourself- you need to think about how direct passing will be most effective. I operate with ball playing defenders, but you may choose to try and attack with your wing backs, and put crosses in for the strikers. In terms of your midfield, you need to be aware of what their duties should be. You need one man helping cover the defence, and another man aiding the attack- which is perfect for a midfield combination of Mezzala and BWM. You also need to think about how important it is to win the ball in every area of the pitch- playing a pressing style will enable you to hit your attackers from all positions.


Villa seem to have a habit of beginning the match well, before dropping off and becoming vulnerable in the last ten minutes. This means that you will need to consider substitutions very carefully- look at the key players in your team and the most important duties for defending a lead. Remember that with a back 5, it is never too early to switch to a “contain” style of play… but only do this if you have a goal margin of at least two goals.

The rest, I am going to leave up to you. Feel free to send me a tweet if you need any tips- but try to embrace the different opportunities that this style of play will give you.

Also – I want to see how well you get along with this tactic! Once again, either tweet me directly or send a screenshot to @claretandview and you could be in with a chance of featuring on our upcoming Football Manager series… Good Luck!

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