Football Manager 2014 Preview: Eight New Tactical Roles

For the Twitter users among you, I’m sure you’ll know that for the past two weeks Sports Interactive have been heavily plugging Football Manager 2014 as they begin to announce new features publically. Quite frankly, their series of ‘feature roulette’ tweets has become tedious and mundane as incredibly irrelevant “features” are announced.

However, today they revealed something that had the potential to be just a bit interesting. And that’s the new tactical roles they’ll be introducing into FM14. There are eight all-in-all; half back, target flank man, limited full back, complete wing back, enganche, regista, false nine and shadow striker.

Initially I got excited that there were changes to the current roles. There’s still so much to be done and I thought FM14 could go some way to addressing this. I think I was wrong. And I’ll try to explain why, role by role.

The first role is ‘half back’. An archaic term coined for the wing-backs in the infamous W-M and 2-3-5 formations from the early 20th century. However, it’s completely gone from the game due to the emergence of the wing-back and full-back, with two [CB, CB] and three [LB, CB, RB] man defenses now being a thing of the past. So why have SI brought it in? I’ll delay judgement on all of these roles until I’ve seen it in FM14 itself, and the half-back even moreso because I have no idea what to expect. However, I’d like to think of it as a WB/DM hybrid, positionally. This could be more than handy in creating the Inverse Wing Back again next year.

Next up was the ‘target flank man’, a perhaps even more ambiguous term than the previous. From what I can gather it’ll be appropriate for wingers who are particularly proficient aerially. Long diagonal cross-field balls would allow for knock downs from wide and chance creation for a striker who would play off the tall wide man. The best real-life example I could think of was actually Cristiano Ronaldo. Whilst he’s certainly got other strengths, aerially he is also excellent, and he’s adept at holding onto the ball and creating chances for others. However, much like the half back, it’s not common in modern football. I’m sure you can think of a better example. Let me know.

Another dull role was next in the ‘limited full back’. Let’s hope they started with the boring roles because this is perhaps the worst of the lot. I can’t see how this would be too much different from a Full Back – Defend, nor do I see the need for it. Next.

‘Complete wing back’ is another role that I’d consider unnecessary. However, it may simply be a question of semantics so I won’t completely dismiss it. How this will differ from the normal wing back I’m not sure. If they were really keen to add in another role for full backs or wing backs, I’d have liked to have seen them add in the Inverse Wing Back. Shame.

Now it starts to get interesting, with the ‘engache’. Initially I was led to believe that this was simply an alternate phrasing of ‘trequarista’. However, upon further discussion from Twitter’s footballing gurus, it had been decided that an engache would be less mobile then a trequarista; more of a Juan Roman Riquelme than a Francesco Totti. It’s definitely a good addition but one wonders whether there are already enough roles for CAMs. We shall see.

Following that is perhaps my favourite of the bunch, in the ‘regista’. I’ve always thought that the most defensive midfielder has really been lacking in tactical roles on Football Manager. The regista acts in a similar way to the deep-lying playmaker, however, will often be the deepest midfielder. Much like Andrea Pirlo in Juventus’ three-man midfield, he will often be less mobile and play a slightly more direct passing style. Hopefully this reflects within FM14. Defensively, I have no idea whether the regista would be expected to contribute more than the DLP. Pirlo and Scholes famously contribute very little without the ball despite often being the side’s deepest midfielder.

Then comes the addition of the ‘false nine’. I assume the false nine will be to the deep-lying forward as the regista is to the deep-lying playmaker. With the emergence of Pep Guardiola’s infamous Barcelona side and Lionel Messi’s initial role as a false striker in that side, the false nine really has become a bit of a necessity within FM. There’s been countless articles across the scene on replicating the false nine within FM, suggesting it’s a vital addition. Good work.

And finally we’re left with the ‘shadow striker’ which Miles Jacobson referred to as a false ten, on his personal Twitter account. I can’t say I know much about this one, so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. How this’ll act differently from a deep-lying forward or a false nine, I don’t know.

However, whilst I was initially elated, and then disappointed, I do feel slightly content. We can only assume that the guys over at SI are not complete morons, and the sliders will be different enough between the likes of regista and deep lying playmaker to merit the introduction of the new roles. What we’re seeing is an increase in the control we’re being given over how we want our players to play. There’s lots more work to do for FM15 and beyond, and I’d certainly like to see more roles for the DM in particular, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction of increasing the user’s tactical control.


  1. fmmanager23

    I completely agree, the first four roles are a bit dull and dont think they improve the game any more. The last four however, if implemented right, should improve tactical options massively. Im wondering if the Treq/DLF/DLP will not be included and be completely replaced by the new roles.

  2. rtherringbone

    What I want is innovation. There’s no point in having “roles” which are half way between what we already have. If they label a “new” role as somewhere between an Attacking AM and Attacking AP I’ll be slightly peeved, although I suspect that’s what will happen.

    I think the whole FM scene is moving away from sliders to generic roles, so if that is the case, the gap between roles needs to be profound enough to be relevant.

  3. WorkTheSpace

    Really interesting read Ed, certainly gives us an idea of what to expect come FM14. Like you I was initially alot more excited for this announcement than I am now; having looked into each duty and the possibilities they present.

    A false ten to my understanding isn’t a conventional advanced midfielder; instead of creating chances for his team, they move up the pitch and act as almost a second striker. Making runs from deep and exploiting the space players higher up the field create before looking for opportunities to get into the danger area. The role to me seems like it may be of use when playing a modern 4-6-0 shape and wanting to encourage a midfield player to get into the final third from deep when in possession.

  4. Themadsheep2001

    I think we are far too concerned with roles here. Whats going to be more important is the underlying changes in the ME mechanics.

    That said:
    The Half Back, I think you have got the role right, not the exact position, the half back could also deploy in the middle of the as the centre half back, and could drop into defence. It’s a really old term, but I suspect its the central player they are referring to, in which case, that means we are effectively talking about Busquets here.

    “The position is sometimes referred to as “centre-half”. This originates the late part of the 19th century, when most teams employed the 2–3–5 formation, the row of three players were called half-backs. As formations evolved, the central player in this trio (the centre-half), moved into a more defensive position on the field, taking the name of the position with them.”

    That second part makes me think its a central half back and not wide half back, as the latter is actually in modern football, and the latter basically non existent. Frankly given how much the forums have gone on about wanting it, I’d put money on it being the central half back. What matters here then is the mechanics, because you simply couldn’t do this properly in FM13, so there would have to be underlying ME changes for this to work.

    As I said on Twitter, Shadow striker isnt close to False 9 though. The Shadow Striker/False 10 is Rooney/Fabregas/Sneidjer at AMC, driving from deep from the pocket to play alongside the forward. False Nines drop off very deep into the pocket, they are moving in different directions. When comparing it to a DLF, its really comparing the positions of say Lambert, to the positions of Messi, imo.

  5. witul

    I was hoping for a role for the Defender, a style like Pique, Hummels, Pepe who moves forward when on counter attack, after passing the ball forward, they run forward too.

  6. Dr Poods

    With the Target Flank Man, I think the best example would be Jostein Flo in the Norwegian team under Egil Olsen. Meant to create a mismatch on a wing against a smaller fulllback knocking down long cross-field passes.

  7. Chris Williams

    With the Target Flank Man, Thomas Muller is a great example, he’s normally a striker but can also play wide right, and with his height it makes him a very good target man, and I’m sure if we were to re-watch Barca v Bayern, examples of this would shine through, as he would dominate in the air against Alves or Alba.

  8. Aj

    Anyone remember Dirk Kuyt playing on the right flank for Liverpool FC towards the ends of his reds career. He wasn’t particularly a fancy dribbler, neither a pacy winger or neither a good crosser. But he could certainly hold the ball up in the flanks where full backs could hardly challenge him physically. Perfect man for ‘Target Flank Man’.

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