This Nottingham Forest recreation is the first of our guest tactical recreations for Premier League clubs and they come with download links for the tactics. This post comes from @FMMeerCon

How has Nottingham Forest lined up this season?

Well… due to an incredible amount of injuries throughout this season and some rocky results in the opening quarter of the season, Steve Cooper has been somewhat forced into playing a different system than he has previously been using with forest.

Over the course of the past half season, we have been transformed from a team playing a 5212 to combinations of 433/4312. Here is how (on average) we see our team lineup over the course of our maiden premier league season since the 98/99 season.

The current “adapted” system

So I’ve mentioned injuries already and that in my opinion is one of the biggest contributing factors as to why we now play a “433”, but my take on the current formation (from the screenshot above) is that we don’t have a set player in the left wing position as we do with Johnson on the right and even then, his position can fluctuate a little.

Let’s break the tactic down, shall we?

In Possession – We’re a team which focuses a lot of play down the wings while being pretty counter-attacking this season, hence the reasoning for my choices in this section.

In Transition – there is some tendency to try and play out of the back from goal kicks which meant I added distribute to CB’s, I went for Regroup after losing the ball as we tend to have numbers back however, we do tend to do SOME pressing, mainly from the front and once a certain point is crossed, we stand off and and try to keep our positions.

Out of Possession – Continuing on from the pressing in the transition, I opted for a mid-block but this can vary. Likewise the pressing is more often as opposed to much more often. I’d say we tend to have a medium to high defensive line, which will drop when needed and finally, we are quite a physical team, hence the instruction to get stuck in.

GK – Pretty standard here, just a basic GK (D) with no special instructions.

PI’s – None

Fullbacks – There is clearly a difference in the types of players Aurier and Lodi are as well as the players ahead of them. Lodi tends to have a lot of responsibility on the left side and is often seen bombing up and down the pitch regularly, whereas Aurier has Johnson playing his side and sometimes overlaps but he never seems to be as high as Lodi, showing he is a little more defensive than the left back.

PI’s – LB (Cross More Often, Dribble More, Stay wider) / RB (Cross More Often)

CB’s – This is a big change to SC’s usual system of having 2 CB’s instead of 3, again, this is down to players not being good enough and injuries to the better defenders, such as Niakhaté, Boly and Mckenna. Nevertheless, they tend to do a relatively simple job of defending and being the outlet for a pass if needed and can be comfortable playing out of the back. Worrall tends to play quite wide when we have possession, something he could be instructed to do or also some tendencies from the old 5212 system he was used to last season and at the beginning of this season.

PI’s – Take fewer risks (Right CB, Stay wider)

DM – I do think Freuler fluctuates between DM and CM, depending on the situation, but he pretty much does the same job regardless and for FM ease, I have put him as a HB as it allows him to have the ball and lets him fulfil his defensive responsibilities he has for our side. You could argue he can play as a carrilero on occasion but ultimately, he seems a more defensive player for us this season and is very comfortable with the ball and offers outlets.

PI’s – None

CM’s – Here there is one constant, Ryan Yates, When he plays (which is most of the time unless injured like recently) he is a box-to-box midfielder, always sure to have a shot or two and always back to defend, he’s a physical player. Next to him, seems to be a Ball Winning Midfielder or an all-rounder, perhaps a standard CM, in this rendition, I’ve opted for a BWM, due to Mangala and Kouyaté featuring a lot this season.

PI’s – BBM (take fewer risks, cross less often, dribble less, get further forward and tackle harder)

BWM (Take fewer risks, cross less often, dribble less, shoot less often, hold position, stay wider)

CAM – Now this is the beginning of where positions can be slightly disputed. Gibbs white tends to be a roaming player, finding the space, happy to pull back and defend, and full of energy to press. I believe often you see the front three being shown as a standard forward line in a 433, I see him frequently towards the centre, which is where I have placed him in this recreation, I’d also have been happy to put him at just left of CAM, still in the middle somewhat.

PI’s – Dribble more, Roam from Position, Move into Channels

RW – Brennan Johnson is a stalwart for our team and has played just about every minute. I’ve opted to have him as an inside forward from the right wing. Nobody can dispute him being on the right side as he tends to run wide on the right side more often unless he has his eye on the goal as to which he’d then be cutting inside. There is a shout for him being put as a poacher at right striker as he usually is the last man up and looks to break the defensive line to receive a Gibbs-White pass, if you did this, you could select PI’s of Stay wider, Shoot more often, but as I say, today, he is a right-winger.

PI’s – Shoot More Often.

ST – We tend to play with one proper striker, someone who can hold the ball up as well as win it in the air and be able to finish when in the right position. I’ve opted here for a PF, left of centre, as it represents Awoniyi the most in terms of our attack. He is often seen further wide on the left when helping the build-up, but also happy to use his pace and strength to break the defensive line.

PI’s – Take fewer risks, Shoot More Often.

How would Steve Cooper prefer to line up, problems aside?

Judging from last season and the beginning of this season, it’d be a wise assumption that if he had the players available, he’d be looking to use his trusted 5212.

Nottingham Forest

I believe with everyone at his disposal, Cooper would look to lineup like the above!

Lots of similarities to last year, with some tweaks. 

Lodi would be our Djed Spence but with Brennan on the right, I think we’d be playing a little more evenly on either side. Williams would be more suited to this system as he can bring more offensively than Aurier I’d say.

Another tweak is that Garner would have been a DLP (s) for us last year, but Freuler has to be one of the better players in this squad, especially with all his experience at a very high level. I do think for the premier league, he’d be doing a similar job to what he is doing in our current setup, but still being an additional creative player and someone we’d look to get the ball to, in order for him to make something happen, or hand off to Gibbs-White, so I’d say he’d be a DLP (D).

As mentioned earlier, Johnson could be argued to be a poacher, which he would be in this setup. I’d add player instructions to stay wider though, to make it more realistic to how he plays.

One team instruction difference I have gone with is that we would no longer be a more direct counter-attacking team and would like to play the ball out of defence more and try to retain possession more than we do currently.

It has been a tough season for Forest so far with us hoping we can maintain a finish above the drop, as well as see new tactical changes this season in comparison to the same stuff we had since Cooper took over last season. Whatever happens, come the end of the season, we’ll find out if he does revert back to his favoured 5212 once the injuries ease up!

Here are the tactic download links: 



Thanks again to FMMeerCon for sharing this with us and hopefully it’s the first of many.



  • Daniel Gear

    Dan Gear is a vibrant member of the Football Manager (FM) community, renowned for his engaging content and insightful tutorials. He illuminates complex FM concepts on "View From The Touchline" and shares engaging narratives through his unique European Journeyman save reveals. Dan's collaborative spirit shines in partnerships with fellow creators like FM Stag, unraveling new FM features. He's a co-host of the engaging "Grass N Gear" podcast, making the FM experience more enjoyable for many. With a blend of humor, expertise, and a knack for community engagement, Dan Gear's contributions significantly enrich the Football Manager community, making him a cherished figure among enthusiasts.

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1 thought on “Nottingham Forest Tactical Recreation

  1. Looks OK.
    Don’t really agree on the positioning in the 4-3-3, but, as you’ve put, Gibbs White and Johnson have been pretty fluid in where they play, especially recently where they’ve both played up front, and, also both tucked in behind a striker. MGW operates better as a 10, as I’m sure Cleon will agree, however, he makes the most of being able to drop into the holes that Johnson can create with his mobility. Awoniyi would be my first choice up top when fit, and, he seems to fit with dropping into channels and causing defenders to turn.
    I’m not 100% sure on Niakhate at the base of the midfield, however, he played there in the Bundesliga, and with Felipe looking like an excellent buy at the moment, it definitely works.
    Yates performs better as a box to box player, especially when he’s got a midfielder alongside him who is more than happy to sit deep and do the passing/playmaking work whilst Yates does the running. I like Freuler here, however, as you say, Kouyate or Mangala can both do that job, although, I’d see Kouyate more as the defensive midfielder.
    The second formation has lots of similarities with how we were last season, as you say, Lodi will be the more attacking player, although, when Richards is finally fit (hence why we’re meant to be letting Lodi return to Spain in the summer), I can see this flipping, and Williams recreating his International partnership down the right flank as an attacking full back.
    I don’t know whether Cooper sees us playing 5 at the back in the long run, or whether he wants to push another player into the holding midfield role, but, the attacking option is pretty much how I’d set it up.

    Thanks for putting the time into this.

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