This Brentford FM23 post was written for us by long-time FM community member and former SI employee @dazza1889

Thomas Frank is one of the most tactically flexible managers currently operating in the Premier League. Throughout his time as head coach of Brentford, he has consistently shown an ability to change shape and personnel within the framework of his side. He’s more pragmatic (I know that word conjures up thoughts of Tony Pulis and Big Sam, but I think it fits here) than I think people may give him credit for as he’s more than happy to forgo possession to win.

From his first full season, he started with an attacking 343 which quickly evolved to a more common 433 spearheaded by the free-flowing BMW frontline (Benrahama, Mbeumo and Watkins) and after narrowly missing out on promotion he lost 2 thirds of that front line and had to reshape while being spearheaded by Ivan Toney which saw the Bees go on a 21 game unbeaten run in the league and reach the top before long term injuries to the likes of Rico Henry and Josh DaSilva forced another tactical tinker and saw him adopt a 352 which saw the Bees win promotion to the Premier League via the playoffs.

During Brentford’s first season in the top flight, he continued to use the 352 but was also more direct with the style of play as he looked to hit teams on the counter and in transition but again when the form faltered, he changed back to the 433. The arrival of a playmaker of the calibre of Christen Eriksen also played a key role in giving him the confidence to be more open.

2022/23 Season

The 2022/23 season Brentford has surpassed expectations and has not suffered from the “second season syndrome” that many expected and predicted they would. This season has seen Brentford get wins over some big names such as the 4-0 home win over Man United, a 2-1 away win at Man City and a 3-1 home win over Liverpool. The last of those was also done without star man Ivan Toney (something I’m sure Frank is already preparing for with Toney likely to be unavailable for the Bees either because of a potential upcoming ban or maybe even a summer move).

Trying to recreate this level of flexibility isn’t something I feel is entirely possible within FM so instead what I am going to do is offer my take on both his 433 formations and the 352 and try and explain Some of the changes he makes depending on what players he picks for the system.


Frank will mainly use the 433 at home to sides outside of the big 6 and away from home in games where he feels Brentford can and should control possession, it’s as close to the possession heavy BMW era Brentford as we’re likely to see in the Premier League so with that in mind I have gone for a control possession style with a couple of tweaks.


It’s a fairly basic control possession style but I’ve added overlapping on the left. Rico Henry is usually instructed to get right up the pitch more so than the right back. I’ve also got distribution set to fullbacks as what Brentford like to do is get it wide to start the build from one side to the other pulling the opposition out of shape.

Out of possession is all pretty standard for this type of tactic, the only thing I’ve added here was to stay on feet, Brentford look to win the ball back through pressures and interceptions rather than diving into tackles

The Roles

GK – Sweeper keeper on attack. Raya is more than comfortable with the ball at his feet and his ability to read the game means he times his runs out of the box well

RB – Full Back on Attack. Sit Narrower and cross from the byline added. He’s a little more reserved than the left back and with Hickey’s ability to play off either foot sitting narrower lets him cut inside in order to break lines. Crossing from the byline means he does get forward in support though.

RCB – Ball Playing Defender on defend. Frank likes to have at least one CB comfortable in progressing the ball.

LCB – Central Defender on cover. This could easily be another ball-playing defender if you like but the reason I have them on cover is that with the wing-back next to him on attack and the team looking for the overlap on this side you need someone to just sit in on this role.

LB – Wing back on attack. The wingback here is to get forward and support the attacking players.

DM – Defensive Midfielder on Defend. His role is simple in that he’s base, protects the CBs, wins the ball back and then passes it to the creative players.

LCM – Roaming playmaker on support. Run wide with the ball added. This is the Jensen role, the heartbeat of the team, he looks for space and his teammates look for him. Long or short passing it doesn’t matter, this is the guy your team build around. Have added runs wide with the ball because Thomas Franks likes both of his 8’s to go wide to create overloads with the fullbacks and wide players.

RCM – this is where Frank’s flexibility shows as depending on who plays here the role changes. Janelt or Onyeka and it’s a Ball Winning midfielder on support. If it’s Josh DaSilva it’s more like a box-to-box midfielder and if it’s Damsgaard then it’s more like a Mezzala on attack The only constant here is the stay wider instruction for the same reason we look to run wide with the other CM.

RW – Inside forward on support. Mbeumo’s role here is to be slightly wider than Wissa on the left but still to make those runs into the box to support Toney

LW – Inside forward on attack and sit narrower added. Wisa tends to operate more centrally than Mbeumo does on the other side, he needed to get closer to Toney and play off him a bit more.

ST – Complete Forward on support. Toney loves to drop deep and hold up the ball but is capable of leading the line which is why I went for a support role rather than attack, the PI’s that come with this role suit Toney with roam from the position and move into channels perfectly for him.

The 352

The 352 is the formation Thomas Frank used to firstly see Brentford over the finishing line and win promotion from the Championship and what he used for the majority of last season. This year it’s mainly been used at home to the big 6 clubs and in tougher away games. It’s a counter-attacking set-up where the aim is to sit deep and then hit the opposition on the break while also trying to play for set pieces (another area where Brentford focus on) With that in mind I’ve gone with a direct counter-attacking style mainly because when Frank play this he’s looking to get the ball up to Toney quickly. The only team instruction I added was to remove get stuck in and instead use stay on feet for the same reasons I said earlier.

Brentford FM23

The Roles

GK – Sweeper Keeper but on support this time. No need for attacking with the low block and a back 3.

RCB – Wide Centre Back on attack. This player (usually Kris Ajer) will have the role of not only bringing the ball out of defence but is also used to push up the field whenever possible.

CB – Centre Back on cover, this is your experienced defender. Pontus Jansson or Ben Mee type, not the quickest but reads the game well.

LCB – Ball playing centre back on defend. You want someone comfortable on the ball here, his role, while the RCB pushes on, is to play the ball forward into either the DM or the wing-back but is also capable of switching the ball if needed.

RWB – Wing back on support. Pretty standard here, gets forward to support but with it being a defensive set up his main role is obviously defending.

LWB – Wing back on support with get further forward added, same as Hickey on the right really but with the added instruction, we don’t use it on the right as with the WCB there pushing on it would leave the side too exposed down that side, for the LWB though his role is to get forward and support the midfield and attack.

DM – Defensive midfielder on defend. His role doesn’t change, sits in the middle and breaks up play before moving the ball on.

RCM – Ball-winning midfielder on defend, it’s his job to go and hunt the ball and win it. For Brentford, this is either Janelt or Onyeka here.

LCM – Roaming playmaker on support. Thought about changing this but Jensen’s role doesn’t change, he’s instructed to dictate the game and look to play the balls through to the attackers.

ST – complete forward on support, like Jensen Toney’s role doesn’t change, he’s the main man, drops deep and brings others in while looking for goals. It’s his job to occupy the defenders

ST – Pressing forward on attack. Here you’re looking for someone with a bit of pace but also the work rate to pressure the defenders, even though it’s a low block Mbeumo’s role is to look to run off of Toney but also help him pressure the defenders.

Set Pieces

An area Brentford focus on for marginal gains is set pieces, I feel this is something most Football Manager players also do as well but more and more actual clubs are starting to catch up now, and at the time of writing I think Brentford are the leading scorers from set pieces in the Premier League this season with around 16 goals.

Their variations are too many for the FM set piece creator to handle but in the main, they tend to have a left footer (Mbeumo usually) taken from the right-hand side with Jensen coming short and the other way around on the left-hand side. Most times its inswinger but honestly I don’t think I’ve seen them use the same routine twice in a row for about 3 or 4 years now. The main one, and one I’ve added to the tactics) is to have the DM attack the near post looking to flick on and have runners behind him to attack the flick on or be there if a save is made.

They also tend to send everyone forward and have their fastest players on the edge of the box ready to run back to stop a counter (having someone as fast as Rico Henry is a key part of this and when he’s missing it doesn’t work quite so well – see the Bournemouth goal in the 2nd leg of the playoffs as an example) but I’m not sure how the FM match engine would handle having no one back at all for every corner so I’ve amended it slightly:

Brentford FM23

The key thing to remember with Thomas Frank is just how flexible he is with shape and player roles, sets out with a plan for every game but is comfortable in changing things up, even running an attacking 343 with one or 2 CMs in the backline at times when chasing a game. As much as I love having him as the Head Coach of Brentford I’m very interested to see how his career develops from here on out and what he does next.

Tactic download links:





  • 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.

    View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *