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Your central midfield is arguably the most important part of your team. If your players are able to control the central areas of the pitch then you will have a huge advantage over the opposition in both defence and attack. The structure of your central midfield and the roles and duties used should be well balanced and allow your players to carry out your desired tactical style effectively.

Choosing a suitable structure was discussed earlier in the Structuring Your Team guide. The available roles and duties and balanced role and duty combinations are explained below, along with recommendations for each of the attacking styles detailed in the Tactical Styles guide.

1. Balancing Central Midfield

1.1. Responsibilities of Central Midfielders

Your central midfield will need to perform four key tasks; protecting the defence, winning back possession, linking play between the transition and attacking phases and creating chances for attackers with penetrative passes.

1.1.1. Protecting the defence

This is normally performed primarily by a holding midfielder, although he will need defensive support from his teammates. This player will stay deep behind the rest of the midfield to make it harder for the opposition to attack through the central channel. If the opposition advances through the rest of your midfield he will typically attempt to hold them up to allow other players to get back and support, perhaps forcing the opposition to play the ball wide. Alternatively, he may be more aggressive and attempt to win back the ball himself, but this can leave your defence vulnerable if he is unsuccessful. When your team is attacking he will provide a deeper passing option for recycling possession.

  • Related player instructions: Hold Position.
  • Useful abilities: Marking ability (Marking, Anticipation, Composure, Concentration, Decisions, Positioning and Teamwork), tackling ability (Tackling) and physical presence (Balance and Strength).

1.1.2. Winning back possession

This is performed by at least one player who provides defensive support, in combination with the holding midfielder himself. This player will play higher up the pitch and contribute to attacking play as well, but will generally stay deep enough to track back into a better defensive position when the opposition wins possession. You may wish to use a designated aggressor who will have a particular responsibility to harass opponents who are on the ball.

  • Related player instructions (aggressor): Close Down Much More, Close Down More, Tackle Harder.
  • Useful abilities: marking ability (Marking, Anticipation, Composure, Concentration, Decisions, Positioning and Teamwork), closing down ability (Aggression, Bravery, Determination and Work Rate), tackling ability (Tackling) and mobility (Acceleration, Agility and Pace).

1.1.3. Linking play

This is performed by at least one player who acts as a runner. This player will make supporting, attacking or roaming runs off the ball to either provide a passing option or create space for teammates by dragging opposition players out of position. The same or a different player will also have at least some responsibility to make runs on the ball to either directly penetrate the opposition defence or again create space for teammates by dragging opposition players out of position.

  • Related player instructions: Dribble More (on the ball), Get Further Forward (attacking off the ball), Roam From Position (roaming off the ball). A supporting off the ball runner has none of these instructions, nor Hold Position.
  • Useful abilities: attacking movement for off the ball runs (Anticipation, Decisions, Off The Ball and Teamwork), dribbling ability for on the ball runs (Dribbling, Technique, Anticipation, Decisions, Flair and Vision) and mobility (Acceleration, Agility and Pace).

1.1.4. Creating chances

This is performed by at least one player who acts as a creator. This player will make penetrative passes that either directly set up a teammate for a shot at goal or simply release a teammate in a dangerous area where he can potentially set up another player for a shot at goal. He is normally given a playmaker role so that his teammates will focus play through him. Alternatively, you may want to use a different role to avoid this and make your team's passing play more varied. This is discussed in the Playmaker & Target Man guide.

  • Related player instructions: More Risky Passes, More Direct Passes (although most playmaker roles make more mixed passes by default), Be More Expressive.
  • Useful abilities: passing ability (Passing and Technique) and creativity (Anticipation, Decisions, Flair, Teamwork and Vision).

1.2. Assigning Tasks

To balance your central midfield you will need to assign all four of the above tasks using appropriate roles.

Unfortunately, having four central midfielders can leave your formation lacking in other areas. Although some formations do use four or five central midfielders, most employ either two or three so that wide attackers, an extra striker or an extra central defender can be used. Therefore, in most formations some central midfielders have to take on more than one of the key tasks.

However, the holding midfielder cannot also be defensive support by definition, nor can he be an off the ball runner as he will need to hold his defensive position. He could be an on the ball runner to an extent as long as he does not take the ball too far forward, while similarly he could be an aggressor to an extent as long as he stays fairly deep, but both of these options carry an element of risk. Therefore, the main other task that the holding midfielder can perform is creator.

There are no other restrictions on which tasks can be potentially combined for a single player.

2. Roles

Listed below are the primary and secondary tasks that are given to players by each of the role and duty combinations in central midfield, referred to by the different player types introduced above; holding midfielder, defensive support, aggressor, runner and creator. A primary task for a role means the task is actively performed by that role. A secondary task for a role means the task is performed to a reasonable extent by that role, perhaps in support of the main performer of the task, but the use of the role is probably not sufficient to cover the task.

The primary and secondary tasks are based on the default active player instructions for each role and duty and may vary according to your team instructions, the abilities of each of your central midfielders and any specific player instructions that you set. In particular, you may want to use specific player instructions to customise the Defensive Midfielder, Central Midfielder and Attacking Midfielder roles. These are the basic, generic roles for players in the central midfield positions and give you more freedom to create a role to suit your tactical style and the player or players concerned.

2.1. Defensive Midfielder (DMC Defend)

  • Primary tasks: Holding midfielder (fairly aggressive)
  • Secondary tasks: Aggressor
  • Notes: A slightly less secure holding midfielder because of its fairly aggressive defending, but it will generally stay in a deep position.

2.2. Deep-Lying Playmaker (DMC Defend)

  • Primary tasks: Holding midfielder, creator
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball)
  • Notes: A slightly less secure holding midfielder because it will occasionally try to take the ball forward, but it will generally stay in a deep position.

2.3. Ball-Winning Midfielder (DMC Defend)

  • Primary tasks: Aggressor
  • Secondary tasks: Holding midfielder (very aggressive)
  • Notes: Not recommended as a holding midfielder due to its very aggressive defending.

2.4. Anchor Man (DMC Defend)

  • Primary tasks: Holding midfielder

2.5. Half Back (DMC Defend)

  • Primary tasks: Holding midfielder

2.6. Defensive Midfielder (DMC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Aggressor, runner (supporting off the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball), creator

2.7. Deep-Lying Playmaker (DMC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Holding midfielder, creator
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball)

2.8. Ball-Winning Midfielder (DMC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Aggressor, runner (supporting off the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball), creator

2.9. Regista (DMC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Defensive support, runner (roaming off the ball), creator
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball)

2.10. Roaming Playmaker (DMC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Defensive Support, runner (roaming off the ball), runner (on the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Creator

2.11. Central Midfielder (MC Defend)

  • Primary tasks: Holding midfielder (fairly aggressive)
  • Secondary tasks: Aggressor, runner (on the ball)
  • Notes: A less secure holding midfielder because of its fairly aggressive defending. This is a generic role that can be more freely modified to suit your tactic and the player's abilities using specific player instructions.

2.12. Deep-Lying Playmaker (MC Defend)

  • Primary tasks: Holding midfielder, creator
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball)
  • Notes: A less secure holding midfielder because it will occasionally try to take the ball forward.

2.13. Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC Defend)

  • Primary tasks: Aggressor
  • Secondary tasks: Holding midfielder (very aggressive)
  • Notes: Not recommended as a holding midfielder due to its very aggressive defending.

2.14. Central Midfielder (MC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Defensive support, runner (supporting off the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball), creator
  • Notes: This is a generic role that can be more freely modified to suit your tactic and the player's abilities using specific player instructions.

2.15. Deep-Lying Playmaker (MC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Holding midfielder, creator
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball)
  • Notes: A much less secure holding midfielder because it will play in a higher position and occasionally try to take the ball forward.

2.16. Box-To-Box Midfielder (MC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Defensive support, runner (roaming off the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball), creator

2.17. Advanced Playmaker (MC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Defensive support, runner (supporting off the ball), creator
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball)

2.18. Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Aggressor, runner (supporting off the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball), creator

2.19. Roaming Playmaker (MC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Defensive support, runner (roaming off the ball), runner (on the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Creator

2.20. Central Midfielder (MC Attack)

  • Primary tasks: Runner (attacking off the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Defensive support, runner (on the ball), creator
  • Notes: This is a generic role that can be more freely modified to suit your tactic and the player's abilities using specific player instructions.

2.21. Advanced Playmaker (MC Attack)

  • Primary tasks: Runner (supporting off the ball), runner (on the ball), creator
  • Secondary tasks: Defensive support

2.22. Attacking Midfielder (AMC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Runner (supporting off the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Defensive support, runner (on the ball), creator
  • Notes: This is a generic role that can be more freely modified to suit your tactic and the player's abilities using specific player instructions.

2.23. Advanced Playmaker (AMC Support)

  • Primary tasks: Creator
  • Secondary tasks: Defensive support, runner (on the ball)

2.24. Attacking Midfielder (AMC Attack)

  • Primary tasks: Runner (attacking off the ball)
  • Secondary tasks: Runner (on the ball), creator
  • Notes: This is a generic role that can be more freely modified to suit your tactic and the player's abilities using specific player instructions.

2.25. Advanced Playmaker (AMC Attack)

  • Primary tasks: Runner (supporting off the ball), runner (on the ball), creator
  • Secondary tasks: Defensive support

2.26. Trequartista (AMC Attack)

  • Primary tasks: Runner (roaming off the ball), runner (on the ball), creator

2.27. Enganche (AMC Attack)

  • Primary tasks: Creator

2.28. Shadow Striker (AMC Attack)

  • Primary tasks: Runner (attacking off the ball), runner (on the ball), creator (very high)

2.29. Other Roles That Perform Central Midfield Tasks

There are also roles available in other positions that perform central midfield tasks to a certain extent. They can therefore be used to fulfil a task instead of a central midfield player or to share a task. These roles and the central midfield tasks that they take on are as follows:

  • Ball-Playing Defender (Defend/Cover/Stopper) - Creator - This central defender position role will take the ball in front of the defence and attempt penetrative passes from very deep, but it is positioned too deep to be effective as the main source of creativity in a team.
  • Libero (Support/Attack) - Runner (off the ball) / Creator - This sweeper position role will move forward off the ball into the deeper areas of central midfield (even further forward with an attack duty). From here it will act similarly to the Deep-Lying Playmaker and Regista, providing a deeper passing option and, when on the ball, taking the ball slightly further forward and attempting penetrative passes from deep.
  • Inverted Wing Back (Support) - Runner / Creator - This wing back position role will make on the ball runs into central midfield. Its off the ball runs will mainly be in wide positions, albeit narrower than those of most other wide player roles, but it will also roam into central positions. He will also attempt penetrative passes from deep.
  • Defensive Winger (Defend/Support) - Aggressor - This wide midfield and wide forward position role will generally stay in a fairly deep protective position and will harrass opposition players who take the ball near its flank.
  • Wide Playmaker (Support/Attack) - Runner / Creator - This wide midfield role will make on the ball runs into central midfield (into more advanced areas with an attack duty). Its off the ball runs will mainly be in wide positions, albeit narrower than those of most other wide player roles, but it will also roam into central positions.
  • Advanced Playmaker (Support/Attack) - Runner (on the ball) / Creator - The winger position variant of this role will make on the ball runs into central midfield (into more advanced areas with an attack duty).
  • Inside Forward (Support) - Runner (on the ball) / Creator - This winger position role will make runs into central attacking midfield when on the ball, where it will attempt to penetrate the opposition defence with further dribbling or creative passes.
  • Inside Forward (Attack) - Runner (on the ball) - This winger position role will make runs into central attacking midfield when on the ball, where it will attempt to penetrate the opposition defence with further dribbling, and also occasional creative passes. Its off the ball runs will mainly be in wide positions.
  • Raumdeuter (Attack) - Runner (off the ball) - This winger position role will tend to stay closer to the central areas and will roam when off the ball, helping to create space for itself or teammates.
  • Deep-Lying Forward (Support) - Creator - This striker role will attempt penetrative passes, but it is not positioned deep enough to be the team's main source of creativity.
  • Complete Forward (Support) - Runner / Creator - This striker role will roam into deeper or wider areas to help create space for itself or teammates, and attempt to make penetrative passes and runs on the ball.
  • False Nine (Support) - Runner / Creator - This striker role will drop deep into attacking midfield to find or create space. From here it will attempt to make penetrative passes and runs on the ball.
  • Trequartista (Attack) - Runner / Creator - The striker variant of this role will act similarly to the central attacking midfield variant, but will be positioned slightly further forward. It will roam into deeper or wider areas to help create space for itself or teammates, and attempt to make penetrative passes and runs on the ball.

Wide player roles in the wing back and wide midfield positions with defend and support duties will also provide defensive support on the flanks. Players in these roles can be given Sit Narrower and perhaps Close Down More player instructions so that they will provide more defensive support in the central areas.

3. Role Combinations

The theory above can be used to create balanced role combinations in each of the central midfield structures introduced in the Structuring Your Team guide.

3.1. Central Midfield Partnership

With only two players in central midfield it can be fairly difficult to allocate the key tasks.

3.1.1. Flat Midfield

In a flat partnership the following role combinations provide a good balance:

  • Central Midfielder (MC defend) - Advanced Playmaker (MC support) - The first player is the holding midfielder and his partner performs the other three tasks, including creator.

With this setup creative, risky passes will be made mainly by the more advanced player.

However, there is only one possible combination from the available midfielder roles. Alternatively, you could assign the task of creator to a striker by using the Complete Forward, False Nine or Trequartista roles or to a wide attacker by using the Wide Playmaker, Advanced Playmaker or Inside Forward roles. This would then give you more options for the more advanced central midfielder. If you use the Wide Playmaker then it is advisable to give him an attack duty so that he will move ahead of your central midfielders rather than into congested space.

  • Deep-Lying Playmaker (MC defend or support) - Central Midfielder (MC support) / Box-To-Box Midfielder (MC support) / Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC support) / Roaming Playmaker (MC support) - The first player is both the holding midfielder and the creator, meaning there are more possible roles for his partner. He too could be made a creator by giving him the Advanced Playmaker role with a support duty, but this may result in too much creative license being given and therefore a lack of control in possession.

With this setup creative, risky passes will be made mainly by the deeper player. Since there are no players in central defensive midfield it is advisable to give him a defend duty so that he will stay closer to your defence.

As an alternative to using the Deep-Lying Playmaker role as the deep creator you could use the Libero or Inverted Wing Back roles.

3.1.2. Diamond Midfield

In a diamond partnership there are no naturally balanced role combinations as the more advanced player will not provide sufficient defensive support from his higher position. Instead, defensive support needs to come from wide players in the wide midfield positions, or possibly the wing back positions. To provide the necessary support these players should be instructed to play narrower and given support or defend duties. Defensive Wingers, preferably with the Sit Narrower player instruction selected, are a good option as they will act as aggressors and be more likely to close down opponents in central areas. The Wide Playmaker and Inverted Wing Back roles naturally play narrower and also act as creators, but will provide less aggressive defensive support. However, they can, along with other wide player roles, be converted into aggressors by selecting the Close Down More player instruction.

The attacking midfield player should ideally be given a support duty so he does not become isolated from the rest of midfield.

Perhaps the most effective way to set up a diamond midfield however, is to move the two wide players into central midfield. This structure is used in the 4-4-2 Diamond Narrow, which is the most commonly used diamond midfield formation. This can allow for one of the two wider players to be given an attack duty, with the other being used as the main provider of defensive support, which will more effectively link the three deeper midfielders with the attackers. In turn, this allows for the possibility of the attacking midfield player being given an attack duty.

3.2. Central Midfield Trio

With three players in central midfield it is easier to allocate the key tasks.

3.2.1. Defensive Triangle

In a defensive triangle it is advisable for one of the two players at the top of the triangle to be an attacking off the ball runner or an on the ball runner so that he will get into more advanced positions and provide better support to the attack.

The following role combinations provide a good balance:

  • Defensive Midfielder (DMC defend) / Anchor Man (DMC defend) / Half Back (DMC defend) - Central Midfielder (MC support) / Box-To-Box Midfielder (MC support) / Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC defend or support) / Roaming Playmaker (MC support) - Advanced Playmaker (MC attack) - The defensive midfield player is the holding midfielder and the more advanced central midfield player is the creator.
  • Defensive Midfielder (DMC defend) / Anchor Man (DMC defend) / Half Back (DMC defend) - Advanced Playmaker (MC support) - Central Midfielder (MC attack) - The defensive midfield player is the holding midfielder and the deeper central midfield player is the creator.
  • Deep-Lying Playmaker (DMC defend or support) - Central Midfielder (MC support) / Box-To-Box Midfielder (MC support) / Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC defend or support) / Roaming Playmaker (MC support) - Central Midfielder (MC attack) / Advanced Playmaker (MC attack) - The defensive midfield player is both the holding midfielder and the creator. The more advanced central midfield player may also be a creator.
  • Ball-Winning Midfielder (DMC defend or support) / Defensive Midfielder (DMC support) / Regista (DMC support) / Roaming Playmaker (DMC support) - Central Midfielder (MC defend) - Advanced Playmaker (MC attack) - One of the central midfield players is the holding midfielder. The defensive midfield player is a runner who moves ahead of him when the team is attacking and/or an aggressor who strays from his position when the team is defending. The more advanced central midfield player is the creator, but the defensive midfield player may also be a creator.
  • Ball-Winning Midfielder (DMC defend or support) / Defensive Midfielder (DMC support) / Roaming Playmaker (DMC support) - Deep-Lying Playmaker (MC defend or support) - Central Midfielder (MC attack) - One of the central midfield players is both the holding midfielder and the creator, with the defensive midfield player again being a runner and/or an aggressor.

In any of the above combinations, when using the Ball-Winning Midfielder role a support duty is recommended so that the player provides more attacking support, especially if using less than three players in the striker and wide forward positions.

3.2.2. Attacking Triangle

In an attacking triangle with its base in the central midfield positions the following role combinations provide a good balance:

  • Central Midfielder (MC defend) - Central Midfielder (MC support) / Box-To-Box Midfielder (MC support) / Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC defend or support) / Roaming Playmaker (MC support) - Advanced Playmaker (AMC support or attack) / Trequartista (AMC attack) / Enganche (AMC attack) - The attacking midfield player is the creator and a number ten (a deeper striker). The Shadow Striker is not included as a possible creator as he will move too high up into attack to be an effective performer of this task.
  • Central Midfielder (MC defend) - Advanced Playmaker (MC support) - Attacking Midfielder (AMC support) - The more advanced central midfield player is the creator and the attacking midfield player is a less creative number ten.
  • Central Midfielder (MC defend) - Advanced Playmaker (MC support) - Attacking Midfielder (AMC attack) / Shadow Striker (AMC attack) - The more advanced central midfield player is the creator and the attacking midfield player is an attacking off the ball runner, or number nine.
  • Deep-Lying Playmaker (MC defend or support) - Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC defend or support) / Central Midfielder (MC support) / Box-To-Box Midfielder (MC support) / Roaming Playmaker (MC support) - Attacking Midfielder (AMC support) / Advanced Playmaker (AMC support or attack) / Trequartista (AMC attack) / Enganche (AMC attack) - The holding midfielder is also the creator and the attacking midfield player is a number ten. The attacking midfield player may also be a creator.
  • Deep-Lying Playmaker (MC defend or support) - Ball-Winning Midfielder (MC defend or support) / Central Midfielder (MC support) / Box-To-Box Midfielder (MC support) / Roaming Playmaker (MC support) - Attacking Midfielder (AMC attack) / Shadow Striker (AMC attack) - The holding midfielder is also the creator and the attacking midfield player is a number nine.

In an attacking triangle with its base in defensive midfield the following role combinations provide a good balance:

  • Defensive Midfielder (DMC defend) / Anchor Man (DMC defend) / Half Back (DMC defend) - Ball-Winning Midfielder (DMC defend or support) / Defensive Midfielder (DMC support) / Roaming Playmaker (DMC support) - Advanced Playmaker (AMC support or attack) / Trequartista (AMC attack) / Enganche (AMC attack) - The attacking midfield player is the creator and a number ten. The Shadow Striker is not included as a possible creator as he will move too high up into attack to be an effective performer of this task.
  • Defensive Midfielder (DMC defend) / Anchor Man (DMC defend) / Half Back (DMC defend) - Regista (DMC support) - Attacking Midfielder (AMC support) - The more advanced defensive midfield player is the creator and the attacking midfield player is a number ten.
  • Defensive Midfielder (DMC defend) / Anchor Man (DMC defend) / Half Back (DMC defend) - Regista (DMC support) - Attacking Midfielder (AMC attack) / Shadow Striker (AMC attack) - The more advanced defensive midfield player is the creator and the attacking midfield player is a number nine.
  • Deep-Lying Playmaker (DMC defend or support) - Ball-Winning Midfielder (DMC defend or support) / Defensive Midfielder (DMC support) / Roaming Playmaker (DMC defend or support) - Attacking Midfielder (AMC support) / Advanced Playmaker (AMC support or attack) / Trequartista (AMC attack) / Enganche (AMC attack) - The holding midfielder is also the creator and the attacking midfield player is a number ten. The attacking midfield player may also be a creator.
  • Deep-Lying Playmaker (DMC defend or support) - Ball-Winning Midfielder (DMC defend or support) / Defensive Midfielder (DMC support) / Roaming Playmaker (DMC defend or support) - Attacking Midfielder (AMC attack) / Shadow Striker (AMC attack) - The holding midfielder is also the creator and the attacking midfield player is a number nine.

In any of the above combinations, when using the Ball-Winning Midfielder role a support duty is recommended so that the player provides more attacking support, especially if using less than three players in the striker and wide forward positions.

3.3. Other Central Midfield Setups

With four or more central midfielders it is far easier to allocate the key tasks, while it is also more likely that you will assign a single task to multiple players. It is important to ensure that there remains a logical balance however. For example, you should not use two holding midfielders if you want your midfield to press aggressively when defending and control possession high up the pitch when attacking. Similarly, you should not use two creators if you want your midfield to remain fairly disciplined and focus on keeping possession.

In addition, if you have more than one runner or more than one creator it can be a good idea to place the two similar players in different areas. In the case of two runners, one could be making forward runs from deep while the other makes supporting, attacking or roaming runs from a more advanced position, resulting in more fluid attacking play. In the case of two creators, one could be positioned deeper and the other more advanced or one could be positioned on the left and the other on the right, resulting in more varied attacking play.

3.4. Use in Tactical Styles

Although the combinations suggested above are all well balanced, particular combinations tend to suit particular tactical styles better than others. Points to consider when choosing an appropriate combination for your tactical style are given below.

3.4.1. Creator

Styles that attempt to get the ball forward to the attackers early, such as Counter Attacking or Playing To A Target Man, would benefit from using the holding midfielder as the creator, or possibly a runner in defensive midfield.

Styles that attempt to control possession higher up the pitch, such as Passing Through The Defence, would benefit from using the most advanced player as the creator. Alternatively a runner in the central midfield position could be the creator, or an attacker in the striker position. The Attacking With Creative Wingers style uses wide attackers as creators.

The Running At The Defence and Attacking The Flanks styles could use any player as the creator, depending on the desired approach. A deeper creator will tend to be in more space and so have more time on the ball. This can be particularly useful in these styles as your players will tend to move further ahead of the ball and play with a quicker tempo making it harder for more advanced players to get the space and time needed to make creative passes. Using a deeper creator will also allow for a greater element of counter attacking play. On the other hand, using a more advanced creator can help a very high ability team to take control of the game higher up the pitch. It can be especially useful with the Running At The Defence style if you want to focus attacks through a particularly creative on the ball runner in attacking midfield.

3.4.2. Runners

On The Ball Runners

The use of on the ball runners is particularly suited to the Running At The Defence style, but it can make attacking play more dynamic in all styles. However, deeper on the ball runners are not recommended for use with the Counter Attacking style due to its typically more cautious nature. They may also detract from getting the ball forward quickly in the Playing To A Target Man style.

Support for a Striker

When using only one attacker in the striker position, the type of player used to support him from central or wide attacking midfield is an important consideration.

An on the ball runner is naturally a suitable option for the Running At The Defence style. One to three such runners could be used across the central and wide attacking midfield positions, with wide on the ball runners perhaps cutting inside, as long as duties are mixed in order to provide balance.

For tactical styles that play the ball direct to a strong attacker, such as the Playing To A Target Man style and possibly the Counter Attacking style, a central attacking midfield player can be used as an attacking off the ball runner to provide the necessary support.

Similarly, such as runner is a suitable option for tactical styles that attack in the wide areas, such as Attacking With Creative Wingers or Attacking The Flanks. This will leave central space for creative wide attackers to take the ball into, as well as providing an additional option for creative passes or an extra target in the box for crosses.

For the Passing Through The Defence style a creator in central attacking midfield is an obvious choice to support an single attacker ahead of him. However, an attacking off the ball runner is again an option when using a slightly deeper runner as the creator.

3.4.3. Aggressors

The use of aggressors is generally unsuitable when using more cautious defending styles, such as is typically the case with the Counter Attacking style, but could still be useful if you want a single player to take a more aggressive approach to defending while others remain more cautious.

Aggressors can be useful with more aggressive defending styles if you want one or two players in particular to lead the aggressive approach.

3.4.4. Holding Midfielder

Generally, it is recommended to use only one holding midfielder in order to achieve a balanced tactic with sufficient attacking support from central midfield. However, if you want to temporarily play very defensively then you could use two holding midfielders, with a third central midfielder providing attacking support as a runner.

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