Welcome back to How I Play, a series where I let you into how I approach and play Football Manager. This time I let you into what I look for in my midfielders…
The heartbeat of your team is an important thing to get right. Balance, creativity, destruction, work rate – midfielders are the cogs that keep the machine running.
In Football Manager, midfielders have been very easy for me. Jordan Hammill, Lauri Dalla Valle, Antonio Otegui, Martin del Palcio Lange, Andy Murdoch, Nicky Law and Filippo Pennacchio are just a few of the names etched into my memory from previous saves. But what made them so great? What types of players were they?
Well, fortunately, I have a little method to finding my midfielders. I have set roles I want midfielders to fit into and I have a series of skills I need each of them specifically to have. So, let’s dive into them…
Note: I will deal with wingers in an upcoming post.
Specifically a role for defensive midfielders, this is not actually the Anchorman role in-game. Usually a Deep Lying Playmaker set to Defend, I look for my deepest midfielder to be like a connector.
Essentially this means that the midfielder doesn’t need to be tearing all over the pitch but sitting in place, winning the ball and circulating possession. Think a Xabi Alonso/Sergio Busquets type player.
So these are the attributes I look for:
Fairly standard stuff there. Perhaps most interesting to some would be Composure. With the importance of the role in a tactical set-up if I use it, there comes a lot of pressure on the player chosen in that spot especially from teams looking to press high. Therefore, I need someone who is almost unflappable under pressure to ensure we can play our game in the most difficult of games.
Applicable to both defensive and central midfield players, the Destroyer has one very simple job: destroy attacks.
Usually deployed in a tactical system where I want to press high, the Destroyer will typically be my Ball Winning Midfielder or, on occasion, a Box to Box Midfielder. They need to cover ground and be aggressive and willing to get stuck in. Think N’Golo Kante or Javier Mascherano in the middle of the park.
For the type of player I want, I will prioritise these attributes:
- Work Rate
Another fairly self-explanatory list there with the real stand out being Decisions. It’s great being able to run around, tackle and be aggressive in a game but there are moments to go for a tackle and moments where it’s better to stand off and stay in position. A player with good Decisions will make fewer mistakes and help your team be more solid in the middle of the park.
I really couldn’t think of another name for this because frankly this is kind of a new one for me in FM.
What this role entails is basically a box to box midfielder that is not just an athlete but also a playmaker and goal scorer. Basically, the star man that produces special moments. Think Pogba today or Steven Gerrard in his prime at Liverpool.
This is actually a role I use exclusives as a Roaming Playmaker in-game but it does take a bit of planning. I found my greatest success with two fairly static midfielders alongside this role in my Osasuna save (which you can find more about on the site).
The attributes I want for this role are:
- Work Rate
Perhaps the big stand out there would be Flair for many. In this role I’m really looking for someone who can produce the unexpected and unlock even the tightest defences.
Similar in many ways to The Anchor, Playmaker is a more attacking, creative role.
While The Anchor is fairly static and set, the Playmaker is allowed to roam a little and get forward into scoring positions. However, they are not expected to bomb all over the place a la The Gerrard Role explained earlier. Basically, it’s a middle ground for a more all-round type of midfield.
Generally I use the Advanced Playmaker on Support and focus mostly on these attributes:
It’s not a massive list because those are the main ones I want to be high. Obviously, when I use this role, I will look for good mental stats as well but I really value these three and find them crucial to the role’s success.
A role inspired by my Rangers save on FM14 where Nicky Law was one of the best players I have ever used, the 10 is a unique combination of Playmaker and goal scorer and generally is the star man when used in my tactical set-up.
My favoured role for this is Advanced Playmaker on Attack in the attacking midfield role and I look for them to not only create chances but get themselves into scoring positions. A good 10 for me will get at least 10 goals and assists in a season.
When finding a 10, I’ll prioritise these attributes:
- Off The Ball
Fairly similar to the Playmaker in a few ways but what stands out is the Striker Triumvirate (explained at a later date). While not absolutely vital, they do have an importance, as touched upon earlier, I look for my 10 to chip in with a few goals every season.
So that is how I find my midfielders and, in a way, set my midfield up. If you’d like a more detailed tactical based midfield set-up piece, let me know.
Also, let me know how you set up your midfield here or on Twitter. Do you do something similar or do you differ?
Finally, thank you for the support on the defenders post. It is much appreciated as always.