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3 Player Role Combinations to Avoid and 3 Alternatives to Try

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3 Player Role Combinations to Avoid and 3 Alternatives to Try in Football Manager

Football Manager guide on player role combinations you should avoid and alternatives to try out in your tactics.


As all FM players know, not all formations are created equal; and not all tactics that share a formation are the same. The details hang on the player roles and the difference that the right combinations can make. Similarly, the wrong combination of roles can cause players to get in each other’s way and stop your tactic from reaching its full potential. This guide will explain why certain combinations of player roles should be avoided, and what alternatives are available to make the most of your star players.

Avoid - Wing Back and Winger


Simply, a wing-back and a winger on the same side of the pitch will be looking to attack the same areas of the pitch. Both will be trying to attack the full-back, get to the byline and put crosses into the box, and giving this responsibility to two players will overcrowd that area. Annoyingly, they won’t do this in a positive way to overload the opposition, but rather it will look like your wing back is following your winger.

Instead - Inverted Winger and Wing Back


This depends on who the star player is. If you have a wing back with high crossing and creativity attributes, it would make more sense for the wide player ahead of them to drift inside and get out of the way. This allows the wing back the space to attack, and the inverted winger moving into the channel is far more effective at overloading the opposition full back. This is because the full-back must make the decision to follow the inverted winger, or stay wide and prevent the wing back from reaching their crossing position. Either way, someone will be open to receive the ball in space.

Alternatively, if you have a high-performing winger or want to keep the wide player out wide and stretch the midfield, it's best to play your full back as a full-back, or an inverted wing-back. This causes them to take up a narrower and deeper position - depending on which role you choose - and to support play from there.


Avoid - Half Back and Libero


A libero will expect to collect the ball in defence before moving forward into midfield, whereas a half back will drop into defence before recycling possession. Both will look to work with the back between your defensive line and your midfield line, which can very quickly become crowded.

Instead - Ball-playing defender and Half Back


I wouldn’t recommend using a DM with any formation that involves three at the back, simply for the reason that it crowds the defensive midfield and leaves your wings exposed. If you really want to make use of a half back, think of them almost like a false 9 as a DM (a false 6 if you want to split hairs). They’ll drop from your midfield line into defence, and they won’t always be the most adventurous passers. For that reason, I’d recommend a ball-playing defender for one of your DCs, as they’ll be more likely to make the risky passes to unlock the opposition midfield. I find this combination works well, as your half back offers defensive security and a simple passing option for your defence.


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Avoid - Deep lying Playmaker and Advanced Playmaker


I’ve fallen into this trap before, but you really want to avoid having more than one playmaker on the pitch at any time. All of the playmaker roles (DLP, AP, F9, Wide Playmaker, Regista, Libero) have one thing in common: they all want to see a lot of the ball. These roles want to

be the ones making things happen, and giving that kind of control to multiple players makes your tactic disjointed and slow.

Instead - Use the “blank” roles


Central Midfielder, Attacking Midfielder, Wide Midfielder, Defensive Midfielder. I call these the Blank Roles because they have very few or no player instructions, meaning you can shape them however you like. So if you have a DLP who you’re expecting to be the star of the show, but another player further forward who would suit an advanced playmaker, consider using either central midfielder or attacking midfielder with tailored instructions to get the movement and passing you’re looking for, but without the same need to dictate play.

Hopefully, this guide will have cleared up some of the most common conflicting player roles for you, and you’ll be able to use this guidance to improve your tactic.

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FM Blog: 3 Player Role Combinations to Avoid and 3 Alternatives to Try
3 Player Role Combinations to Avoid and 3 Alternatives to Try
Football Manager guide on player role combinations you should avoid and alternatives to try out in your tactics.
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