Football Manager 2016 - Manchester United Tactics Guide

David de Gea is one of United's best players in FM 2016
David de Gea is one of United's best players in FM 2016

Many people will have bought Football Manager 2016 and started up managing Manchester United. We give you a bit of a heads up with our handy Man Utd FM 2016 guide.

"Boasting a young squad, with an average age of 24, Manchester United start with some young players who can easily turn into true greats. Martial can become an incredibly prolific striker, Shaw keeps on getting better and Adnan Januzaj can turn into a skilful creative force."

Manchester United have a strong squad, with a wealth of quality players in Football Manager 2016. But they're certainly not without their weaknesses. Working through the positions, let's take a look at what we've got.


David de Gea is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and can be employed as a traditional stopper or a sweeper keeper, although you might want to put him on individual training to improve his throwing. Valdes is a very capable back-up, with even better distribution from the back. No improvement necessary, this is the strongest area of the team.

Key Players: David de Gea
Recommended starters: David De Gea


Defence is a slight concern, due to the lack of back-up in key positions. The core defenders are good but none are quite world class and it's an area worth improving. Luke Shaw starts out as a good left-back, but has the potential to be one of the best in the world. The versatile Daley Blind is not recommended as a full-back due to his lack of pace, or a centre-back due to his lack of height.

Key Player: Luke Shaw
Recommended starters: Luke Shaw, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Matteo Darmian

Central Midfield

Manchester United have a wealth of options, which should influence your formation. The problem is that apart from Ander Herrera they have very little pace. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Morgan Schneiderlin and Marouane Fellaini are all talented, but they suffer from a severe lack of pace.

Key Player: Bastian Schweinsteiger
Recommended Starters: Schweinsteiger, Herrera, Schneiderlin

Wide Players

The lack of quality wide players is what generally necessitates a narrow formation when playing as Manchester United. Antonio Valencia is a speed merchant who can destroy teams with slow full-backs, but he is technically very limited. Ashley Young is not good enough to make your starting XI. Memphis Depay is the exception, he starts out well and can become great.

Key Player: Memphis Depay
Recommended Starters: Memphis Depay


This is where things get interesting. Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata are your two key attacking talents, but they play best when occupying the same slot behind the striker. It's worth using Mata in a wide position as an Advanced Playmaker, so Rooney can fit in here. Rooney works best as a Shadow Striker, aggressively running from deep into scoring positions. Anthony Martial isn't yet fully developed, but can turn into a goalscoring machine.

Key Player: Wayne Rooney
Recommended Starters: Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney

Squad Strengths:

With an excellent goalkeeper, numerous central midfielders of quality and some mercurial forward talent, Manchester United have some key strengths to build around in terms of choosing a formation and strategy.

There are some excellent passers of the ball in the squad and you can use this to your advantage with a philosophy based around retaining possession, with creative players given the freedom to play through-balls and incisive passes moving forward.

The squad generally has players with a strong first touch and decent technique, which further helps in keeping control of the ball.

With saleable assets, players on the fringe of the squad like Fellaini, Young and Valencia are easy enough to ship out and can add to an already sizeable transfer budget.

Boasting a young squad, with an average age of 24, Manchester United start with some young players who can easily turn into true greats. Martial can become an incredibly prolific striker, Shaw keeps on getting better and Adnan Januzaj can turn into a skilful creative force.

Squad Weaknesses:

Jones, Smalling, Rojo and Darmian are all good players, but they lack a standout leader in the defence on par with the best in the world. Their defence is lacking in back-up too (Paddy McNair isn't good enough and Blind is too small).

The midfield has two issues - their lack of pace coupled with average wide players. The temptation is to play a very narrow formation that makes good use of their central midfield talent. However, playing against a team that utilises pacey wingers alongside overlapping full-backs, it becomes very difficult to contain them.

Up front, your main issue is the lack of a truly high quality goalscorer. Rooney is excellent in deeper roles, Depay works best out wide and Martial isn't quite ready to take on the burden of being the main source of goals. This combines with a slight issue in fitting your best players in the same side working in concert with each other.

Potential Signings:

Defence: Buying younger players who can fit straight in and surpass your current line-up is a recommendation. Daniele Rugani (Juventus), Jose Gimenez (Atletico Madrid) and John Stones (Everton) are all excellent and will only improve.

Midfield: Koke (Atletico Madrid), Marco Verratti (Paris Saint Germain), and Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund) all possess more mobility than players like Carrick, Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger. To buy a top-class midfielder, expect to pay big money.

Forward: If you can get a hold of Lucas Moura from (PSG), he complements Depay perfectly on the right flank as an inside forward. Romelu Lukaku (Everton) can be the complete striker you need as a focal point for your attacks.

Recommended Formations

4-3-3 DM Wide

This formation plays to the strengths of your playing squad - namely lots of good central midfielders. Using a Deep Lying Playmaker/Regista and two central midfielders allows you to dictate the game with a possession style. Use Schneiderlin as the ball winner in the centre of the pitch and Herrera as an Advanced Playmaker, with Schweinsteiger either as the Regista or Deep Lying Playmaker.

Up Front it is best to use Rooney as your striker, flanked by Mata in a creative role on the right and Memphis as an attacking winger or inside forward from the left. You'll also want your team to have the freedom to swap positions with a fluid formation, Rooney and Mata are at their best when allowed to float into pockets of space around the box.

5-2-3 WB

This formation uses three central defenders and relies on wing-backs for its width, with two central midfielders, two central attacking midfielders and a striker.

Shaw makes a great wing-back with his pace although Darmian may struggle to get up and down the pitch. A combination of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger makes for a solid midfield base. That frees Mata to occupy an advanced playermaker role, with Rooney as a shadow striker and either Martial or Depay up front.

4-1-2-3 DM Narrow

Another narrow option, this is similar to the 4-3-3 set-up but instead of using wide forward players, it tucks two players in behind the striker. Again you'll want to use Rooney and Mata behind either Depay or Martial.

4-4-2 Inverted

This is an interesting formation from the Football Manager community that uses inverted wing-backs drifting inside. Combine that with two playmakers out wide, two false nines dropping deep into space and an incredible passer sitting in the deep DM position alongside a traditional defensive midfielder. The strategy hinges on the deep-lying playmaker. Fortunately, with Schweinsteiger, Manchester United are in a good place to play into the strengths of this strategy. Your team will tend to sit outside the opposition box, controlling the play with unpredictable movement and incisive passing. This tactic can be a joy to watch, although it doesn't really play to the strengths of Depay or Martial.


Manchester United are a team with plenty of strengths to capitalise on and weaknesses to correct. Finding a style that suits you and then tailoring your squad to that style is key. Building your side around the strengths of Schweinsteiger, Rooney and your up-and-coming talent is a recipe for success. Remember in terms of pure talent the squad isn't quite capable of competing for top honours straight away.

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses
Bet now

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles