The release of Football Manager 2015 is just weeks away, and with four new player roles already announced the game’s virtual managers are set to have yet more tactical possibilities to tinker with. But what will these new roles entail, and how do they match up to real life players?
Combining the driving runs of the Box-To-Box Midfielder with the greater creative responsibility of the Deep-Lying Playmaker and Advanced Playmaker, the Roaming Playmaker role will enable managers to instruct their most influential players through the middle to drift where their abilities can best be harnessed.
In previous games it was difficult to fully recreate the role played by midfielders such as Yaya Toure, who are not only focal points for their team’s passing but also provide a powerful presence bursting forward from deep to take shots or deliver the decisive assisting pass.
Other footballers with a notable play style befitted the role include Jack Wilshere, who has been an influential figure for Arsenal and England this season with his runs and his passing; Cesc Fabregas during his time at Arsenal and Chelsea, bursting from the back of midfield to the border of the opposition’s box to link and create play; and Bastian Schweinsteiger, especially under Jupp Heynckes who utilised the German as both a hub for Bayern Munich’s passing and a strong runner to quicken the play and attack defensive lines directly.
Real life examples: Yaya Toure, Jack Wilshere, Cesc Fabregas, Bastian Schweinsteiger
What the game says: “The Roaming Playmaker is the heartbeat of his team, driving forward with the ball to spearhead attacks as well as tracking back to cover defensively. Always offering a passing option to teammates, the Roaming Playmaker must have the physical attributes to maintain a high intensity as well as the technical attributes to stamp his authority on the game.
“He will look to pick the ball up in deep position and work the ball forwards with urgency, all the while keeping up with play. The Roaming Playmaker will often camp on the the edge of the penalty area looking for room to shoot to try that killer ball which creates a goalscoring opportunity.”
Mesut Ozil fans, look away now.
While Arsene Wenger and Joachim Low may have been criticised of late by enthusiasts of the German playmaker, his role when deployed out wide in Arsenal’s 4-1-4-1 formation, or at the World Cup in Brazil during the summer, can now be better realised thanks to the new Wide Playmaker player role.
Designed for players who start out wide in the defensive phase, offering a small amount of cover for their full back, the role instructs their team mates to look to play in these influential creative players, who can then drift inside to feeds runners with dangerous diagonal balls and through balls through the middle.
Like any other playmaker role, selecting a player as a Wide Playmaker will identify them as important players for others to pass to as a priority. The hope for managers is that by placing their creators out wide, they will be able to find space away from the often cramped and combative conditions found at the centre of the field, while enabling the team to better hold their shape, especially when playing a bank of four or five in midfield.
Real life examples: David Silva, Santi Cazorla, Mesut Ozil, Koke, Juan Mata under David Moyes
What the game says: “The Wide Playmaker will act as the team’s primary source of creativity, drifting inside to find space from which to play the killer ball and create chances. Coming in from the wing allows the Wide Playmaker to escape the hustle and bustle of central midfield and can result in him being unmarked by opposition players.
“Defensively the Wide Playmaker will take up his position on the wing to provide cover for his full-back; however, his is not expected to make as many tackles but instead he should take up good defensive positions and provide another body in the defensive line.”
Following on from the Trequartista, Enganche and Liberio, in Football Manager 2015, the Raumdeuter will join the select group of more exotically titled player roles named after non-English football terms, designed to relicate more specialist player behaviours for virtual managers to take advantage.
Ultimately, the Raumdeuter is basically the Thomas Muller role: a wide presence that looks for space rather than the ball, and in Football Manager terms plays almost like an Inside Forward who cuts inside without the ball.
Yet beyond the uncanny German goal scorer, different interpretations and a few in-game tweaks will allow other players to take advantage of this new role in order to play more like how they would be expected to in real life.
Cristiano Ronaldo is a player whose virtual Football Manager performances and statistics haven’t always matched up to his real world achievements. Existing roles such as the Inside Forward out on the flanks, or the Poacher up front, never quite recreated the Portuguese’s unique way of playing and extreme focus on goal-scoring. With the right adjustments, the Raumdeuter should now allow the Real Madrid man to become as prolific in the game as a wide forward as he has been playing in his distinct role for Los Blancos since 2009.
The clever movement of another German goalscorer, Chelsea’s super sub Andre Schurrle, would also fit the specifics of the Raumdeuter, especially off the bench, and it should also be worth a look for those seeking to deploy Arjen Robben in the roaming, attacking role he played for the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup.
Real life examples: Thomas Muller, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Schurrle, Arjen Robben
What the game says: “The Raumdeuter literally translated German means ‘space investigator’. His main role is to find pokcets of space in which to operate. Essentially a wide poacher, the Raumdeuter takes up seemingly harmless positions out wide, waiting for the opportune moment to burst through the defensive line for that telling shot or cross
“He is difficult for defenders to pick up as he will drift from his assigned position looking for any opportunity to exploit. This can result in quiet periods, during which the Raumdeuter may neglect his defensive duties, therefore adequate cover and a strong team shape are key in order to fully utilise his attacking prowess in the final third.”
Based on the South American trend for under-lapping wing-backs, the Inverted Wingback is far more than your average Full-Back set up to cut inside rather than bomb on down the flanks.
Players in this new role will behave more like displaced midfielders than wide defenders, and can be used to strengthen up the spine of a team to vacate the space out wide for a roaming winger, or to draw defenders out of positions and overload channels through the middle of the park.
More sophisticated interpretations of the role in the real world include Marcelo Bielsa’s novel reworking of the box-to-box midfielder in his highly specific 3-3-1-3 formation. Playing like a mix between the box-to-box midfielder, the archaic half-backs of the early European game and ball-carrying wing-backs, the Argentinian required two players near the base of his midfield to shuttle from the wide areas of defence into the centre of the team to facilitate the rapid movement of the ball forward.
Pep Guardiola also experimented with using David Alaba and Philipp Lahm to fortify the midfield rather than push wide at times last season, such as in the first half of their second leg match against Manchester United in the Champions League. Rather than running on to support their team mates out wide, the Austrian and the German—who are both adept at playing as central midfielders; a role that Alaba is in fact thought to prefer—tucked inside to narrow the back half of the team. The idea was to block out the gaps in front of the defence and through the channels that had left Bayern looking so vulnerable to the runs of Danny Welbeck.
With Alaba and Lahm’s duties in midfield only expanding this season, Guardiola’s dabbling with the Inverted Wingback could almost be considered a transitional step towards redeploying more players centrally on a more permanent basis.
Real life examples: David Alaba and Philipp Lahm for Bayern Munich last season; the diagonal ball shuttlers in Marcelo Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3 formation.
What the game says: “The Inverted Wing Back will function defensively much like a standard Full Back or Wing Back. However, while a normal Wing Back will offer width to an attack, the Inverted Wing Back will cut inside and make runs through the centre of the pitch, creating space for players around him.
“Acting primarily as a central midfielder when attacking, this role is generally although not exclusively used to facilitate wide play from more advanced wingers.”