CM 01/02 Best tactics and players: MVP Madeira still the GOAT

CM 01/02, as the 2001 edition of Championship Manager is referred to, hit the stores back in the October of that year and allowed players to take control of clubs from 27 countries across the globe.

It is still, amazingly, being played today by hardcore fans. Each season, modders even create an updated database for this now-ancient game, with its easiness to master and the presence of ‘cheat players' being amongst the biggest pull factors.

When these are combined with a famously failsafe formation, bringing the Champions League trophy to Torquay or Barnet is a cakewalk. Here, we're going to take a look at the still-famous 4-1-3-2 tactic and the top 10 ‘cheat' players that made fans fall in love with CM 01/02.

CM 01/02 4-1-3-2 formation

New Features for CM 01/02

CM 01/02 introduced the EU regulated transfer system for the first time in the series. It also included ‘attribute masking' for the very first time, though fans are split over that particular one.

And with the Japan/Korea World Cup just around the corner, the K-League in South Korea became a very topical part of the CM experience. Overall, CM 01/02 sold over 300k copies in the UK alone.

CM 01/02 best formation

By current standards, CM 01/02 had a relatively lightweight package of new features. The biggest of them all, however was one not widely advertised. Namely, that ‘feature' was the 4-1-3-2 formation that grants almost Ranieri-like powers to turn misfits into megastars.

There's always a way to get some easy wins when playing football manager simulators, and FM24 is no different. But It wasn't long after the release of CM 01/02 that players began to realise just how powerful this particular formation was

On CM 01/02, the 4-1-3-2 formation is located at the very bottom of the formations list within the tactics screen. Whilst your team might not keep a lot of clean sheets using this very aggressive and attacking tactic, it would score plenty of goals.

If you had the right players, it would invariably provide the basis for a very successful save. The set instructions with this tactic were (and still are!) as follows…

  • Mentality: Normal
  • Passing: Short
  • Tackling: Hard
  • Pressing: Yes
  • Offside Trap: No
  • Counter Attack: No
  • Men Behind Ball: No

Due to the high amount of red cards you get when playing with these standard settings, many players opted to lower the tackling to ‘normal' and often increased the mentality to ‘attacking' to keep their team on the front foot.

There were plenty of other formations in the game that could bring you success, as well as ones you could create yourself, but none really compared to the 4-1-3-2.

Maxim Tsigalko CM 01/02
Maxim Tsigalko's real-life career was unremarkable, but he becomes a beast within three years on just about any CM 01/02 save.

CM 01/02 best players: Our top 10

10. Leo Bing

This top 10 starts off with a Norwegian that could play in every outfield position and was stacked with 20s. The only drawback is that he was likely a regen, given that he has zero online presence. But if he does appear, get him!

9. Mark Kerr

Kerr is a creative midfielder who you can sign from Falkirk for a nominal fee. Despite being one of the cheap players, he creates many goals and helps keep possession for your side during some very tense moments.

7= Tonton Zola Moukoko and Cherno Samba

Moukoko and Samba are two very young players in England at the start of the game that have tons of potential and have become CM 01/02 legends amongst the community.

6. Ibrahim Said

In terms of adding a ball winner into your side, you need look no further than Said. The young Egyptian DM pops up with the odd goal but his true skill is breaking up opponents attacks and allowing the three creative midfielders ahead of him take all the glory.

5. Franco Costanzo

If you are searching for a young goalkeeper that can be the best in the world, then Costanzo is up there amongst the greatest hidden gems. The young Argentine shot-stopper plays for River Plate and already has a bunch of 20s in his stats when you start your save.

4. Isaac Okoronkwo

If you need a RB, LB or CB then Okoronkwo is your man! The Shakhtar defender can play anywhere across the backline and is either footed. He's a Nigerian international and you can sign him for around £1m and his performances will never drop below a 7/10, Mr Consistency.

3. Maxim Tsigalko

Tsigalko, or Maksim Tsyhalka as he is actually called, is one of the best strikers in CM 01/02. Tsigalko is 18 when you begin your save and, due to his lack of international caps for Belarus, he can be tricky to sign for a Premier League club.

But if you can bring him in he will guarantee goals and develop very quickly. Sadly, he passed away in 2020, but his mark on CM 01/02 players will always be remembered.

Kennedy Bakircioglu
Kennedy Bakircioglu is a true midfield ace, but he doesn't take the crown here.

2. Kennedy Bakircioglu

Bakircioglu could play CM/RW/AM/FC but in the tried and tested 4-1-3-2, I enjoyed using him as a CM as he scored plenty of goals and created even more, and he eventually develops into one of the best midfielders in the game.

1. To Madeira

The only player I would actually consider a true ‘cheat' player is Portugal's own To Madeira. The reason for this is that Madeira was created by one of the game's scouts, and has never existed in real life.

This 22-year-old striker is available at the start of each save for a small fee and will score you goals at whatever level he plays at.

The Future is CM 01/02

There is still a large community that plays CM 01/02 for the sheer joy and nostalgia, and you can find these very friendly and helpful fans of the game online, along with loads of databases that are continuously updated every year.

This means you can play CM 01/02 any way you like, and while the evolutions evident in the most recent edition of Football Manager naturally make CM 01/02 obsolete in many ways, its charm factor will see it survive the test of time in footballing fandom.


A lifelong Evertonian, James started writing for an Everton fan site in the mid-2000s and then developed his own blog covering football transfers from across Europe's big leagues before becoming a regular match preview and betting tips writer for Biggest Free Bets. James moved to Free Super Tips next, and then Racing Post, where he worked as a full-time betting tips writer for a few years. Following that, James joined Football Whispers in December 2020 and has been a permanent fixture ever-since, currently covering the Premier League amongst other things