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18.12.19

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How to Create Successful Role Partnerships | Wednesday Wisdom

This week's Wednesday Wisdom comes from Ihor Crusadertsar of DictateTheGame who looks into what makes a successful combination of player roles in key areas of the pitch.

How to Create Successful Role Partnerships | Wednesday Wisdom

To be successful in Football Manager 2020 it is vital to think of tactics as collections of roles. More importantly, you must think in terms of combinations of complimentary roles. The most effective tactics are collections of these partnerships, as no role works in isolation from the player roles around it. Partnerships with good chemistry will make or break the tactic - when you have your roles working well together, you are already halfway to crafting the tactical style of your choice.

One advantage of the roles mechanic is that a lot of tactical instructions can be conveyed via a simple drop down menu and a role selection. Things such as channel movement and pressing instructions are hard-coded into each role. Sometimes it can be the only way to tell a player to do something. For example, the sole way to instruct your advanced wide players to move into channels is by selecting a role like Raumdeuter or Wide Target Man.

When trying to recreate a specific tactical style, and before selecting any team instructions, I will look at the roles that I think might fit it. There is a lot that you can learn about a tactic from this. Therefore, it is often best to start with a clean slate, without any instructions, when first testing your tactic. Sometimes all you need is a few specific roles. For example, include a few playmakers and some supporting roles that cut inside and you get a basic possession system that will be able to patiently control the ball through the middle. You could try utilising a Target Man and two good pacey wingers to set you on the way to a much more direct approach.

So, as a working example, let us take a look at what role pairings you might employ to bring astyle of attacking possession to life in FM20.

Anchor Man and Segundo Volante

A screenshot of the Seguno Volante and Anchor Man in FM20

The Anchor Man has the important job of maintaining and recycling possession. He has the option of sending it back to the defenders, the wing-backs or pushing it forward to his more adventurous midfield partner. This partner, the Segundo Volante, has the doubly important task of carrying the ball during the transition and attack. He can similarly pass it to the Inverted Wing-Backs or send it up to the wide attackers or Enganche.

The two roles complement each other perfectly in defensive stability and attacking movement. It is important to choose one player who is very solid in defensive positioning to be the Anchor Man. The Anchor Man has to be a hard tackler, with excellent positioning and strength. He has to be able to disrupt the flow of an opposition’s attack before it can get to the defenders. The Segundo Volante, on the other hand, needs to excel in both off-the-ball movement and passing. He is your typical runner from deep.

The Segundo Volante/Anchor Man combination is a classic partnership in Argentinian football, and it's even suggested by the role description for a Segundo Volante in the game. This is not the only good partnership for the Anchor Man though. Another one that I think would work very well here is an Anchor Man paired with a Roaming Playmaker.

Central Defender (Cover) and Central Defender (Stopper)

A screenshot of Central Defender Partnerships in FM20

With the hard-tackling Anchor Man positioned in front of it, the defence should be a stopper/cover combination. If the opposition bypasses the Anchor Man, one of the centre-backs has to push forward and close the gap immediately. In the pair, this is usually the older, more experienced and technical player. With high ratings for attributes like tackling and positioning, he should give trouble to most attackers. If he fails, the covering centre-back will drop behind and intercept any through balls and attempt to tackle the opponent’s attackers. He should always be your fastest defender and the one with the best anticipation. 

Enganche and Raumdeuter

A screenshot of Will Hughes' Profile in FM20

An in-game description describes an Enganche as a “stationary hook that acts as a static pivot that links midfield to attack. As such he will largely remain in place, preferring to ping passes around rather than move around into larger areas of space.”

I would use a Raumdeuter as a perfect foil to the creative powerhouse that is the Enganche. Being its polar opposite is actually what makes it its most suitable partner. A Raumdeuter is a role focused on finding pockets of space in which to operate. He will roam around and drift from his assigned position on the wing, looking for a perfect moment to strike. Do not necessarily expect to find a world-class Raumdeuter straightaway but a lot of players will be able to adapt to the role. Try to find someone with all of the essential attributes of a good poacher (which is essentially what a Raumdeuter is), such as off-the-ball movement, finishing, composure and anticipation.

Hopefully, this gives you a little idea of how role combinations can be used to achieve a specific footballing style. Even before team instructions come into play, a lot of information can be conveyed via pairings of complimentary roles like the Anchor Man and Segundo Volante. Having players that worked well together in the past can also be key, especially as FM20 has improved the player chemistry feature. Now that established partnership links will last across teams, it is more important than ever before to choose players with fitting roles and well-developed partnerships.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading this little guide as much as I did writing it. If you want to read more tactical advice from yours truly then check out more of my articles over at FM20 fan page Dictatethegame.com. Happy managing!