Role Categories

Tactical roles can be grouped into various role categories that can be used to analyse responsibility distribution.

A role category is a group of theoretical tactical roles that share a similar role specialisation. Types of role categories include primary role categories and secondary role categories.

A primary role category is a role category that is typically used by a team for at least one player in order to achieve an appropriate responsibility distribution, as per the analysis in the Positional Responsibilities and Responsibility Distribution guides. A secondary role category is a role category that may be used by a team for an alternative purpose, such as to help to implement a particular playing style.

Two or more role categories can also be composited with each other to form a composite role category.

The main primary and secondary role categories in each of the main positional areas are detailed below.

Summarised for each positional area are:

  • Primary role categories – the main primary role categories in the positional area. These are given names and, in some cases, alternative names in square brackets, which can be used in a similar manner to those for component role types as explained in the Tactical Roles guide.
  • Secondary role categories – the main secondary role categories in the positional area, again with names and alternative names.
  • Notable composites – particular composite role categories that are each given their own unique name.
  • Typical composites – composite role categories that are typically formed when a particular role category is used (typical composites do not necessarily apply for auxiliary players).
  • Typical combination – the quantity of each role category that is typically used in order to achieve an appropriate responsibility distribution. Two or more role categories may be assigned to a single player.

Analysed for each role category are:

  • Defining role specialisation – the role specialisation that defines the role category.
  • Suitable playing positionsplaying positions that are suitable for typical tactical roles in the role category.
  • Suitable auxiliary role typesauxiliary role types that are suitable for typical tactical roles in the role category. These are derived from the role category’s role specialisation and the Auxiliary Players analysis in the Responsibility Distribution guide.
  • Typical composites – explanations of the typical composites summarised above.
  • Implementation – particular compositions and uses of tactical roles in the role category.
  • Additional suitable component role types – component role types that may be suitable for a typical tactical role in the role category but are not directly implied by its role specialisation. These include system-specific role types, which are adverse role types or unsuitable indirect role types for a particular positional responsibility that can be considered to be suitable if used for particular system-specific implementations in an appropriate manner.
  • Additional unsuitable component role types – component role types that are unsuitable for a typical tactical role in the role category but are not directly implied by its role specialisation.
  • Notable implementations – particular types of tactical role that are considered to require specific analysis.
  • System-specific implementations – particular types of tactical role that include the use of system-specific role types and details of their appropriate use.
  • Counterbalancing combinations – how a player who is assigned a tactical role in the role category that focuses more on a related positional responsibility is typically counterbalanced with other players who are assigned tactical roles in different role categories.

Central Defence

Primary role categories:

  • Restrained central defender – provides cover (supported or designated), including providing attacking cover (supported or designated) and providing defensive cover (supported or designated).
    • Covering central defender – provides cover (high importance – designated), including providing attacking cover (designated) and providing defensive cover (supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Restricted central defender – plays safe (supported or designated).
    • Safe-playing central defender – plays safe (fairly high importancesupplementary or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Protecting central defender – provides defensive cover (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Stopper central defender – applies defensive pressure (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.

Secondary role categories:

  • Running central defender – stretches play (low importance – supported or designated).
  • Skilled central defender – creates chances (low importance – supported or designated).

Notable composites:

  • Restrained (covering) central defender = [withdrawn (orthodox) central defender + protecting central defender].
  • Balanced central defender = protecting central defender + stopper central defender.

Typical composites:

  • Restrained (covering) central defender => withdrawn (orthodox) central defender + protecting central defender.
  • Covering sweeper => orthodox sweeper => safe-playing sweeper.
  • Safe-playing sweeper => orthodox sweeper.
  • Stopper central defender => orthodox central defender.
  • Running central defender => protecting central defender + skilled central defender.

Typical combination:

  • 2 or 3 orthodox centre backs (all centre backs) + 1 covering central defender + 1 safe-playing central defender + 1 stopper central defender.

Withdrawn Central Defender

Defining Role Specialisation

Orthodox central defender:

  • Designated responsibilities – providing attacking cover.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Sweeper.
  • Centre back.

A team typically uses a line of restraint in the manner explained in the Playing Style Balance guide in order to form and maintain a defensive line in the defensive phases effectively. As a result, orthodox centre backs, even if acting as stopper centre backs, essentially close down to a lesser extent overall relative to the team as a whole.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

Typical Composites

  • Orthodox sweeper => safe-playing sweeper.

An orthodox sweeper typically also acts as a safe-playing sweeper since creating chances is likely to be ineffective from such a deep position.

Restrained Central Defender

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing cover; providing attacking cover; providing defensive cover.

Covering central defender:

  • Designated responsibilities – providing cover; providing attacking cover.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Sweeper.
  • Centre back.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Narrow full back.

Typical Composites

  • Restrained (covering) central defender => withdrawn (orthodox) central defender + protecting central defender.

A restrained central defender is a withdrawn and protecting central defender by definition. Similarly, a covering central defender is an orthodox and protecting central defender by definition.

Implementation

Counterbalancing Combinations

A restrained central defender who focuses more on providing defensive cover, for example as a cautious central defender or as a sweeper, is typically combined with either:

  • Two stopper central defenders, or
  • (At least) one stopper central defender who focuses more on applying defensive pressure, for example as a central defence aggressor.

This ensures that applying defensive pressure (medium importance) can still be performed effectively in central defence.

Restricted Central Defender

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – playing safe.

Safe-playing central defender:

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Sweeper.
  • Centre back.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Deep-dropping defensive midfielder.
  • Narrow full back.
  • Roaming full back.
  • Narrow and deep-dropping wing back.
  • Deep-dropping and roaming wing back.

Typical Composites

  • Safe-playing sweeper => orthodox sweeper.

A safe-playing sweeper typically also acts as an orthodox sweeper since, unlike in the case of a skilled sweeper, there is likely to be little benefit for the team of him moving into central midfield.

Protecting Central Defender

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing defensive cover.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Sweeper.
  • Centre back.

A player who is assigned the sweeper playing position typically acts as a protecting central defender since the sweeper playing position is not suitable for applying defensive pressure.

A sweeper is free from the positional responsibilities of forming a defensive line and applying defensive pressure. He can therefore focus more on providing defensive cover by moving behind the centre backs as necessary in order to ‘sweep up’ any risky passes or direct dribbles made through the defensive line by the opposition team.

However, the use of the sweeper playing position is unusual in modern football since it makes it difficult for a team to effectively restrict onside space due to the onside space that exists between the sweeper and the centre backs. Therefore, the use of a protecting centre back is more common.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Narrow full back.

Stopper Central Defender

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – applying defensive pressure.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Centre back.

A stopper central defender is typically played in a centre back playing position since the sweeper playing position is not suitable for applying defensive pressure.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Narrow full back.
  • Full back aggressor.

Typical Composites

  • Stopper central defender => orthodox central defender.

A stopper central defender is typically played in a centre back playing position and, therefore, typically also acts as an orthodox central defender.

Implementation

Counterbalancing Combinations

A stopper central defender who focuses more on applying defensive pressure, for example as a central defence aggressor, is typically combined with either:

  • Two restrained central defenders, or
  • (At least) one restrained central defender who focuses more on providing defensive cover, for example as a cautious central defender or as a sweeper.

This ensures that providing defensive cover (medium importance) can still be performed effectively in central defence.

Running Central Defender

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – stretching play.

Although stretching play is of low importance in central defence, a team may use a running central defender to stretch play so that he can provide attacking support to the midfielders and attackers as an auxiliary defensive midfielder.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Sweeper.

A running central defender is typically assigned the sweeper playing position as centre backs are typically instructed to provide attacking cover as orthodox centre backs.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

None.

Typical Composites

  • Running central defender => protecting central defender + skilled central defender.

A running central defender is typically assigned the sweeper playing position and so typically also acts as a protecting central defender.

A running central defender typically also acts as a skilled central defender since this enables him to make an effective contribution in central midfield as an auxiliary defensive midfield creator.

As is the case with other auxiliary central midfield creators, by moving into central midfield from elsewhere a running central defender is likely to be able to move into available space more easily than the team’s assigned central midfielders, which can enable him to receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality penetrative opportunities.

Implementation

Additional Suitable Component Role Types
  • Shot-taking player – can enable a player to exploit the higher quality goal-scoring chances that are likely to occur from moving into available space in central midfield. This can hinder his ability to create chances when he is in an advanced enough area to have a reasonable goal-scoring chance, although it will not affect his ability to initiate breaks or intricate build-up play when in central defence and deeper areas of central midfield.
Additional Unsuitable Component Role Types
  • Safe-passing player – can hinder a player from moving the ball into midfield and attack effectively.

Skilled Central Defender

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – creating chances.

Although creating chances is of low importance in central defence, a team may complement an orthodox centre back with a skilled centre back if appropriate for its playing style, in order to help to implement that playing style effectively.

A skilled central defender can initiate build-up play from central defence more effectively than an orthodox central defender, in particular when recycling possession or when the team is in attacking transition.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Sweeper.
  • Centre back.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Deep-dropping defensive midfielder.
  • Narrow full back.
  • Roaming full back.
  • Inverted full back.
  • Narrow and deep-dropping wing back.
  • Deep-dropping and roaming wing back.
  • Deep-dropping and inverted wing back.

Implementation

Notable Implementations
  • Central defence countering-playmaker
    • Description – ball-playing and creative skilled central defender (used as a focal player).
    • Component role types – sweeper or centre back; ball-playing player; creative player.
    • Role categories – skilled central defender.

A central defence countering-playmaker focuses on initiating breaks and intricate build-up play from central defence. As a creative player he has greater freedom to use his intelligence to decide how and when it is appropriate to do so.

Central Midfield

Primary role categories:

  • Restrained central midfielder – provides cover (supported or designated), including providing attacking cover (supported or designated) and providing defensive cover (supported or designated).
    • Covering central midfielder – provides cover (high importance – designated), including providing attacking cover (designated) and providing defensive cover (supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Withdrawn central midfielder – provides attacking cover (supported or designated).
    • Number-six central midfielder – provides attacking cover (high importance – designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Protecting central midfielder – provides defensive cover (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Pressing central midfielder – applies defensive pressure (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Number-eight central midfielder – stretches play (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Restricted central midfielder [water-carrier] – plays safe (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Chance-creating central midfielder [creator] – creates chances (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.

Secondary role categories:

  • Goal-scoring central midfielder [goal-scorer]takes chances (low importance – supported or designated).

Notable composites:

  • Restrained (covering) central midfielder = [withdrawn (number-six) central midfielder + protecting central midfielder].
  • Anchoring central midfielder [anchor] = [covering central midfielder + central midfield water-carrier].
  • Ball-winning central midfielder = [withdrawn central midfielder + pressing central midfielder + central midfield water-carrier].
  • Destroying central midfielder [destroyer] = [number-six central midfielder + pressing central midfielder].
  • Luxury central midfielder = [protecting central midfielder + number-eight central midfielder + central midfield creator].
  • Dynamic central midfielder [dynamo] = [pressing central midfielder + number-eight central midfielder].
  • Free-role central midfielder = [number-eight central midfielder + central midfield creator].
  • Versatile central midfielder = [central midfield water-carrier + central midfield creator].

Typical composites:

  • Restrained (covering) central midfielder => withdrawn (number-six) central midfielder + protecting central midfielder.
  • Central midfield water-carrier => withdrawn central midfielder + [protecting central midfielder or pressing central midfielder].

Typical combination:

  • 1 covering central midfielder + 1 pressing central midfielder (separate to the covering central midfielder, as explained below) + 1 number-eight central midfielder + 1 central midfield water-carrier + 1 central midfield creator.

Restrained Central Midfielder

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing cover; providing attacking cover; providing defensive cover.

Covering central midfielder:

  • Designated responsibilities – providing cover; providing attacking cover.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Defensive midfielder.
  • Centre midfielder.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Narrow wing back.
  • Narrow wing midfielder.

Typical Composites

  • Restrained (covering) central midfielder => withdrawn (number-six) central midfielder + protecting central midfielder.

A restrained central midfielder is a withdrawn and protecting central midfielder by definition. Similarly, a covering central midfielder is a number-six and protecting central midfielder by definition.

Implementation

Counterbalancing Combinations

A restrained central midfielder who focuses more on providing defensive cover, for example as a cautious central midfielder, is typically combined with either:

  • Two pressing central midfielders, or
  • (At least) one pressing central midfielder who focuses more on applying defensive pressure, for example as a central midfield aggressor.

This ensures that applying defensive pressure (medium importance) can still be performed effectively in central midfield.

Withdrawn Central Midfielder

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing attacking cover.

Number-six central midfielder:

  • Designated responsibilities – providing attacking cover.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Defensive midfielder = pivot.
  • Centre midfielder.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Supporting central defender.
  • Deep-dropping attacking midfielder.
  • Narrow wing back.
  • Narrow wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and supporting full back.
  • Narrow and deep-dropping wing forward.

Protecting Central Midfielder

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing defensive cover.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Defensive midfielder.
  • Centre midfielder.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Narrow wing back.
  • Narrow wing midfielder.

Pressing Central Midfielder

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – applying defensive pressure.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Defensive midfielder.
  • Centre midfielder.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Narrow wing back.
  • Narrow wing midfielder.
  • Wing back aggressor.
  • Wing midfield aggressor.

Implementation

Although the pressing central midfielder may be composited with the covering central midfielder, a team typically uses a separate pressuring central midfielder so that sufficient defensive support can be provided to the central midfield pivot.

Counterbalancing Combinations

A pressing central midfielder who focuses more on applying defensive pressure, for example as a central midfield aggressor, is typically combined with either:

  • Two restrained central midfielders, or
  • (At least) one restrained central midfielder who focuses more on providing defensive cover, for example as a cautious central midfielder.

This ensures that providing defensive cover (medium importance) can still be performed effectively in central midfield.

Number-Eight Central Midfielder

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – stretching play.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Defensive midfielder.
  • Centre midfielder.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Offensive central defender.
  • Narrow wing back.
  • Narrow wing midfielder.
  • Roaming wing back.
  • Roaming wing midfielder.
  • Inverted wing back.
  • Inverted wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and offensive full back.
  • Offensive and roaming full back.
  • Offensive and inverted full back.

Implementation

Additional Unsuitable Component Role Types
  • Safe-passing player – can hinder a player from moving the ball into attack effectively.
Counterbalancing Combinations

A (non-auxiliary) number-eight central midfielder who focuses more on stretching play, for example as an offensive central midfielder, is typically combined with either:

  • One restrained central midfielder and (separately) one withdrawn central midfielder, or
  • (At least) one restrained central midfielder who focuses more on providing attacking cover and providing defensive cover, for example as a holding and cautious central midfielder.

This ensures that providing cover (high importance) can still be performed effectively in central midfield.

Central Midfield Water-Carrier

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – playing safe.

Because he plays safe, a central midfield water-carrier typically focuses more on using his physical abilities in the attacking phases in order to contribute effectively to the team’s build-up play, while he can also use them in the defensive phases to help the team to win possession.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Defensive midfielder.
  • Centre midfielder.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Offensive central defender.
  • Supporting central defender.
  • Deep-dropping attacking midfielder.
  • Narrow wing back.
  • Narrow wing midfielder.
  • Roaming wing back.
  • Roaming wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and offensive full back.
  • Narrow and supporting full back.
  • Narrow and deep-dropping wing forward.
  • Offensive and roaming full back.
  • Supporting and roaming full back.
  • Deep-dropping and roaming wing forward.

Typical Composites

  • Central midfield water-carrier => withdrawn central midfielder + [protecting central midfielder or pressing central midfielder].

A central midfield water-carrier typically also acts as a withdrawn central midfielder, since this enables the other midfielders and attackers to focus more on creating chances as well as on stretching play and taking chances. In addition, he typically also acts as a protecting central midfielder or a pressing central midfielder so that he can use his physical abilities to help the team to win possession.

Implementation

Notable implementations
  • Half-back
    • Description – deep-dropping defensive midfield anchor.
    • Component role types – defensive midfielder; deep-dropping player.
    • Role categories – anchor (covering central midfielder + central midfield water-carrier); number-six central midfielder; protecting central midfielder.

A half-back drops deep into central defence in the attacking phases in order to provide closer attacking support to the central defenders and goalkeeper. This enables the team to cycle possession in central defence more effectively, which can be useful against opposition teams that use a high defensive block.

In addition, it enables the team to use offensive deep wide players while still retaining solidity effectively. These players are typically assigned the full back playing positions so that the team has sufficient players in defence in the defensive phases when the half-back returns to central midfield, although the half-back enables them to move further forward in the attacking phases to essentially act as offensive wing backs.

For these purposes a half-back can be a more effective option than using three centre backs, which requires the use of a 3-4-3 formation or similar to achieve effective overloads on the flanks, or two defensive midfielders, which hinders the ability of the central midfielders to provide attacking support to the attackers.

When the team has possession in advanced areas a half-back typically takes up his attacking position in central midfield so that he can be used for recycling possession.

Central Midfield Creator

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – creating chances.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Defensive midfielder.
  • Centre midfielder.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Offensive central defender.
  • Supporting central defender.
  • Deep-dropping attacking midfielder.
  • Narrow wing back.
  • Narrow wing midfielder.
  • Roaming wing back.
  • Roaming wing midfielder.
  • Inverted wing back.
  • Inverted wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and offensive full back.
  • Offensive and roaming full back.
  • Offensive and inverted full back.
  • Narrow and supporting full back.
  • Supporting and roaming full back
  • Supporting and inverted full back.
  • Narrow and deep-dropping wing forward.
  • Deep-dropping and roaming wing forward
  • Deep-dropping and inverted wing forward.

An auxiliary central midfield creator can move away from his assigned positional area into available space in central midfield. This can enable him to receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality penetrative opportunities than the team’s assigned central midfielders.

Implementation

Additional Suitable Component Role Types
  • Roaming player – can enable a player to move into available space where he can receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality penetrative opportunities.
  • Drifting player – can enable a player to move into available space where he can receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality penetrative opportunities.
Notable implementations
  • (Central midfield) deep-lying-playmaker
    • Description – creative central midfield creator (used as a focal player).
    • Component role types – defensive midfielder or centre midfielder; creative player; specifically not offensive player or ball-playing player.
    • Role categories – central midfield creator.
  • Defensive midfield countering-playmaker
    • Description – ball-playing and creative defensive midfield creator (used as a focal player).
    • Component role types – defensive midfielder; ball-playing player; creative player.
    • Role categories – central midfield creator.

A deep-lying-playmaker is used to dictate play.

Dictating play involves a player acting as a focal player in central midfield, so that the team can focus the earlier stages of its build-up play through him, and having greater freedom to use his intelligence to decide how and when it is appropriate for him to contribute to playing safe and creating chances, according to the situation.

As such, a deep-lying-playmaker does not act as a ball-playing player, since this would make him too focused on creating chances. By not acting as an offensive player he is able to receive the ball more easily and in deeper areas where he can be more involved in the earlier stages of the team’s build-up play.

A defensive midfield countering-playmaker is similar to a deep-lying-playmaker but he focuses more on initiating breaks and intricate build-up play from deeper areas of central midfield. As a creative player he has greater freedom to use his intelligence to decide how and when it is appropriate to do so.

A defensive midfield countering-playmaker is typically implemented as a defender or wing back who moves into central midfield as an auxiliary defensive midfielder, which can give him more available space to initiate breaks as explained above.

Central Midfield Goal-Scorer

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – taking chances.

Although taking chances is of low importance in central midfield, a team may use a central midfield goal-scorer to enable it to score goals with long distance shooting.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Defensive midfielder.
  • Centre midfielder.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Offensive central defender.
  • Supporting central defender.
  • Deep-dropping attacking midfielder.
  • Narrow wing back.
  • Narrow wing midfielder.
  • Roaming wing back.
  • Roaming wing midfielder.
  • Inverted wing back.
  • Inverted wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and offensive full back.
  • Offensive and roaming full back.
  • Offensive and inverted full back.
  • Narrow and supporting full back.
  • Supporting and roaming full back
  • Supporting and inverted full back.
  • Narrow and deep-dropping wing forward.
  • Deep-dropping and roaming wing forward
  • Deep-dropping and inverted wing forward.

An auxiliary central midfield goal-scorer can move away from his assigned positional area into available space in central midfield. This can enable him to receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality goal-scoring chances than the team’s assigned central midfielders.

The Flanks

Primary role categories:

  • Running wide player [runner] – stretches play (supported or designated).
    • Attacking wide player – stretches play (high importance – designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Protecting wide player – provides defensive cover (supported or designated).
    • Shielding wide player – provides defensive cover (fairly high importance – supplementary or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Pressing wide player – applies defensive pressure (supported or designated).
    • Pressuring wide player – applies defensive pressure (fairly high importance – supplementary or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Chance-creating wide player [creator] – creates chances (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.

Secondary role categories:

  • Withdrawn wide player – provides attacking cover (low importance – supported or designated).
  • Restricted wide player – plays safe (low importance – supported or designated).

Notable composites:

  • Ball-winning wide player = [pressuring wide player + withdrawn wide player + restricted wide player].

Typical composites:

  • Wide runner => wide creator.
  • Wide creator => wide runner.
  • Restricted wide player => [wide creator or withdrawn wide player] + [protecting wide player or pressing wide player].

Typical combination:

  • 1 attacking wide player + 1 shielding wide player + 1 pressuring wide player + 1 wide creator.

Wide Runner

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – stretching play.

Attacking wide player:

  • Designated responsibilities – stretching play.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Full back.
  • Wing back.
  • Wing midfielder.
  • Wing forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

None.

Typical Composites

  • Wide runner => wide creator.

A wide runner typically also acts as a wide creator since this enables him to provide a meaningful threat to the opposition team in more advanced areas, which is needed for him to stretch play effectively.

Implementation

Additional Suitable Component Role Types
  • Restricted-dribbling player (system-specific role type) – can enable a restricted flank-target-man to focus on using his physical presence to stretch play – discussed below as a system-specific implementation of restricted wide player.

Protecting Wide Player

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing defensive cover.

Shielding wide player:

  • Supplementary or designated responsibilities – providing defensive cover.

Suitable Playing Positions

Shielding wide player:

  • Full back.
  • Wing back.

A protecting wide player is typically played in a deep wide playing position as this enables him to protect space near to central defence effectively.

Otherwise:

  • Full back.
  • Wing back.
  • Wing midfielder.
  • Wing forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

Shielding wide player:

  • Wide and off-centre centre back.
  • Wide and off-centre defensive midfielder.

Otherwise:

  • Wide and off-centre centre back.
  • Wide and off-centre defensive midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre centre midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre attacking midfielder.

Pressing Wide Player

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – applying defensive pressure.

Pressuring wide player:

  • Supplementary or designated responsibilities – applying defensive pressure.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Wing midfielder.
  • Wing forward.

A pressing wide player is typically played in an advanced wide playing position as a protecting wide player is typically played in a deep wide playing position.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Wide and off-centre centre midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre attacking midfielder.
  • Off-centre centre midfield aggressor.
  • Off-centre attacking midfield aggressor.

Wide Creator

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – creating chances.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Full back.
  • Wing back.
  • Wing midfielder.
  • Wing forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Wide and off-centre centre back.
  • Wide and off-centre defensive midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre centre midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre attacking midfielder.
  • Wide-dribbling off-centre centre back.
  • Wide-dribbling off-centre defensive midfielder.
  • Wide-dribbling off-centre centre midfielder.
  • Wide-dribbling off-centre attacking midfielder.

Typical Composites

  • Wide creator => wide runner.

A wide creator typically also acts as a wide runner since this enables him to move into sufficiently advanced areas to create chances effectively.

Implementation

Additional Suitable Component Role Types
  • Restricted-dribbling player (system-specific role type) – can enable a restricted flank-target-man to focus on using his physical presence to create chances – discussed below as a system-specific implementation of restricted wide player.
  • Byline-crossing player – can enable a wide player, particularly a flank-dribbling wide player, to make direct dribbles closer to the byline before making crosses.
Notable Implementations
  • Flank-target-man
    • Description – hold-up wing forward creator (used as a focal player).
    • Component role types – wing forward; hold-up player; specifically not deep-dropping player.
    • Role categories – wide creator.

A flank-target-man is similar to a target-man in central attack (an implementation of central attack creator) but less commonly used.

A flank-target-man uses hold-up play and physical power to create space near to the opposition team’s defensive line while his teammates move forward to provide him with attacking support and move into the space created. As such, he typically needs little available space around himself and his teammates to create chances effectively.

A flank-target man does not act as a deep-dropping player, since this would cause him to move too deep.

A flank-target-man is most effective when long passes from deeper areas are focused to him (as is the case with a more direct passing range system, typically used with the defensive football core style, or with the direct plays attacking style), enabling him to help the team to move into more advanced areas more quickly.

Furthermore, a flank-target-man’s lesser reliance on available space means that he is most useful when more direct penetration is used to a greater extent (as is the case with the direct plays attacking style).

Withdrawn Wide Player

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing attacking cover.

Although providing attacking cover is of low importance on the flanks, a team may use a withdrawn wide player to provide attacking cover in order to help it to retain solidity more effectively, possibly when facing a particularly threatening opposition team advanced wide player.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Full back.
  • Wing back.
  • Wing midfielder.
  • Wing forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Wide and off-centre centre back.
  • Wide and off-centre defensive midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre centre midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre attacking midfielder.

Implementation

Counterbalancing Combinations

A withdrawn wide player who focuses more on providing attacking cover, for example as a holding wide player, is typically combined with:

  • A wide runner and creator on the same flank who focuses more on stretching play and creating chances in more advanced areas on the flank, for example as a line-hugging, offensive and dribbling wide crosser.
This ensures that stretching play (high importance) and creating chances (fairly high importance) can still be performed effectively on the flank.

Restricted Wide Player

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – playing safe.

Although playing safe is of low importance on the flanks, a team may use a restricted wide player to play safe so that it can also use a wide creator on the same flank who focuses more on creating chances, while still keeping possession and retaining solidity effectively.

Alternatively, a team may use a restricted wide player to play safe so that he can take advantage of his physical abilities to create chances.

Because he plays safe, a restricted wide player typically focuses more on using his physical abilities in the attacking phases in order to contribute effectively to the team’s build-up play, while he can also use them in the defensive phases to help the team to win possession.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Full back.
  • Wing back.
  • Wing midfielder.
  • Wing forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Wide and off-centre centre back.
  • Wide and off-centre defensive midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre centre midfielder.
  • Wide and off-centre attacking midfielder.

Typical Composites

  • Restricted wide player => [wide creator or withdrawn wide player] + [protecting wide player or pressing wide player].

A restricted wide player typically also acts as a wide creator, since this enables him to take advantage of his physical abilities to create chances, or a withdrawn wide player, since this enables the wide creator on the same flank to focus more on creating chances as well as on stretching play. In addition, he typically also acts as a protecting wide player or a pressing wide player so that he can use his physical abilities to help the team to win possession.

Implementation

Additional Suitable Component Role Types
  • Deep-crossing player – can enable a player to still contribute to creating chances to a small extent despite playing safe.
  • Dribbling player (system-specific role type) – can enable a defensive advanced wide player to focus more on creating chances while still playing safe – discussed below as a system-specific implementation.
System-Specific Implementations
  • Restricted flank-target-man
    • Description – restricted flank-target-man.
    • Component role types – wing forward; hold-up player; specifically not deep-dropping player.
    • Role categories – wide creator (flank-target-man); restricted wide player.
    • Commonly implemented as – restricted-dribbling player.
    • System-specific role types – restricted-dribbling player (stretching play and creating chances).
  • Defensive advanced wide player
    • Description – ball-winning advanced wide aggressor.
    • Component role types – wing midfielder or wing forward; aggressor.
    • Role categories – ball-winning wide player (pressuring wide player + withdrawn wide player + restricted wide player).
    • Commonly implemented as – dribbling player (makes him an atypical withdrawn wide player); wide creator.
    • System-specific role types – dribbling player (playing safe).

A restricted flank-target-man is similar to a restricted target-man in central attack (an implementation of restricted central attacker) but less commonly used.

A restricted flank-target-man focuses on using his physical presence to create chances. He can do this since the use of his physical presence creates space using physical power. This enables him to create chances by helping him to receive the ball in wide attack before making relatively safe passes to nearby teammates.

In order for a restricted flank-target-man to do this effectively he should have good physical presence and preferably good aerial presence, while he is typically combined with a deep wide runner who does not act as a roaming player, along with other teammates in nearby central playing positions (for example, two players in central attacker playing positions if he is a wing forward). This ensures that there are players who can make effective use of the space created around the restricted flank-target-man and receive the ball from his passes and crosses.

A restricted flank-target-man is commonly implemented as a restricted-dribbling player, which increases his focus on using his physical presence. His ability to use his physical presence to create space, as well as to keep opposition team players closer to their own by-line if he is instructed to stretch play, mean that he can create chances and stretch play despite being a restricted-dribbling player.

A defensive advanced wide player focuses on using his physical presence and mobility to apply defensive pressure, as well as to help him to contribute to creating chances. In the defensive phases he uses his physical presence and mobility to close down opposition team players in advanced areas, which can potentially result in counter attacking opportunities from close to the opposition team’s goal, while he also provides defensive support to the deep wide player. In the attacking phases he uses his physical presence to create space using physical power, while he uses his mobility to move into available space. In particular, as an advanced wide player he can knock the ball beyond the opposition team’s deep wide player before running on to it and taking it towards the opposition team’s by-line.

In order for a defensive advanced wide player to do this effectively he should have good physical presence and mobility.

A defensive advanced wide player is commonly implemented as a dribbling player and a wide creator, which increases his focus on using his mobility to create chances in particular. His ability to use his physical presence to create space and his mobility to move into available space, together with the available space that usually exists behind the opposition team’s deep wide player, mean that he can essentially play safe despite being a dribbling player. However, by acting as a dribbling player he is not able to provide attacking cover as effectively as a typical withdrawn wide player.

Central Attack

Primary role categories:

  • Running central attacker [runner] – stretches play (very high importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least two players.
    • Number-nine central attacker – stretches play (designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Chance-creating central attacker [creator] – creates chances (supported or designated).
    • Number-ten central attacker – creates chances (high importance – designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Pressing central attacker – applies defensive pressure (supported or designated).
    • Pressuring central attacker – applies defensive pressure (fairly high importance – supplementary or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.
  • Goal-scoring central attacker [goal-scorer] – takes chances (medium importance – supported or designated) – typically assigned to at least one player.

Secondary role categories:

  • Withdrawn central attacker – provides attacking cover (low importance – supported or designated).
  • Relaxed central attacker – provides defensive cover (low importance – supported or designated).
  • Restricted central attacker – plays safe (low importance – supported or designated).

Notable composites:

  • Predatory central attacker [predator] = [number-nine central attacker + central attack creator + central attack goal-scorer].
  • Goal-poaching central attacker [poacher] = [number-nine central attacker + central attack goal-scorer + restricted central attacker].
  • Luxury central attacker = [central attack runner + number-ten central attacker + relaxed central attacker].
  • Linking central attacker = [central attack creator + withdrawn central attacker].
  • Ball-winning central attacker = [pressuring central attacker + withdrawn central attacker + restricted central attacker].

Typical composites:

  • Number-nine central attacker => pressuring central attacker.
  • Restricted central attacker => [central attack creator or central attack goal-scorer] + pressing central attacker.

Typical combination:

  • 2 central attack runners + 1 number-nine central attacker + 1 number-ten central attacker + 1 pressuring central attacker + 1 central attack goal-scorer + 1 spearhead (explained below for central attack creator).

Central Attack Runner

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – stretching play.

Number-nine central attacker:

  • Designated responsibilities – stretching play.

Suitable Playing Positions

Number-nine:

  • Attacking midfielder = false-ten.
  • Centre forward = out-and-out-striker.

Otherwise:

  • Attacking midfielder.
  • Centre forward = second-striker.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

Number-nine:

  • Narrow wing forward
  • Roaming wing forward
  • Inverted wing forward

Otherwise:

  • Offensive centre midfielder.
  • Narrow wing forward.
  • Roaming wing forward.
  • Inverted wing forward.
  • Narrow and offensive wing midfielder.
  • Offensive and roaming wing midfielder.
  • Offensive and inverted wing midfielder.

Typical Composites

  • Number-nine central attacker => pressuring central attacker.

A number-nine central attacker typically also acts as a pressuring central attacker since he is usually the player best positioned to initiate closing down from the team when it is in defensive transition.

Implementation

Additional Suitable Component Role Types
  • Deep-dropping player (system-specific role type) – can enable a false-nine to collect the ball in or near to central midfield while still stretching play sufficiently – discussed below as a system-specific implementation of central attack creator.
  • Restricted-dribbling player (system-specific role type) – can enable a restricted target-man to focus on using his physical presence to stretch play – discussed below as a system-specific implementation of restricted central attacker.

Central Attack Creator

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – creating chances.

number-ten central attacker:

  • Designated responsibilities – creating chances.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Attacking midfielder.
  • Centre forward = spearhead.

A team typically uses at least one (non-auxiliary) spearhead so that it can penetrate space behind the opposition team’s defensive line effectively.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Offensive centre midfielder.
  • Supporting centre midfielder.
  • Offensive defensive midfielder.
  • Narrow wing forward.
  • Roaming wing forward.
  • Inverted wing forward.
  • Narrow and offensive wing midfielder.
  • Offensive and roaming wing midfielder.
  • Offensive and inverted wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and supporting wing midfielder.
  • Supporting and roaming wing midfielder.
  • Supporting and inverted wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and offensive wing back.
  • Offensive and roaming wing back.
  • Offensive and inverted wing back.

A wide player who acts as an auxiliary central attack creator can move away from his assigned flank into available space in central attack. This can enable him to receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality penetrative opportunities than the team’s assigned central attackers.

Implementation

Additional Suitable Component Role Types
  • Deep-dropping player – can enable a player to receive the ball from deeper teammates more easily before moving it into the space created ahead of him.
  • Roaming player – can enable a player to move into available space where he can receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality penetrative opportunities.
  • Channel-running player – can enable a player to move into available space where he can receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality penetrative opportunities.
  • Drifting player – can enable a player to move into available space where he can receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality penetrative opportunities.
  • Restricted-dribbling player (system-specific role type) – can enable a playmaking-hook to create chances while remaining in a relatively fixed position – discussed below as a system-specific implementation.
  • Restricted-dribbling player (system-specific role type) – can enable a restricted target-man to focus on using his physical presence to create chances – discussed below as a system-specific implementation of restricted central attacker.
Notable Implementations
  • Technical number-ten (central attacker)
    • Description – ball-playing number-ten central attacker.
    • Component role types – attacking midfielder or centre forward; ball-playing player; specifically not offensive player.
    • Role categories – number-ten central attacker.
  • (Central attack) advanced-playmaker
    • Description – creative technical number-ten (used as a focal player).
    • Component role types – attacking midfielder or centre forward; ball-playing player; creative player; specifically not offensive player.
    • Role categories – number-ten central attacker (technical number-ten).
  • Target-man
    • Description – hold-up number-ten centre forward (used as a focal player).
    • Component role types – centre forward; hold-up player; specifically not deep-dropping player.
    • Role categories – central attack creator (spearhead).

A team typically uses either a technical number-ten or a target-man, or both (possibly composited with each other).

A technical number-ten makes risky passes in order to exploit any available space that his teammates can move into. As such, he typically needs a large amount of available space around himself to create chances effectively, as well as available space that his teammates can exploit.

A technical number-ten is therefore more likely to be implemented as a deep-dropping player, a roaming player, a channel-running player, a drifting player, a relaxed player or a wide player acting as an auxiliary central attacker so that he can move into available space more easily, while he may also be implemented as a dribbling player so that he can create space around himself.

A technical number-ten does not act as an offensive player, since this would prevent him from staying in relatively deep areas as explained in the Positional Responsibilities guide

A technical number-ten is most effective when short passes in more advanced areas are focused to him (as is the case with a more progressive passing range system, typically used with the attacking football core style, or with the short plays attacking style), enabling him to play a key part in the latter stages of intricate build-up play.

Furthermore, a technical number-ten’s greater reliance on available space means that he is most useful when more patient penetration is used to a greater extent (as is the case with the short plays attacking style).

An advanced-playmaker is a type of technical number-ten who has greater freedom to use his intelligence to decide how and when it is appropriate to create goal-scoring chances.

A target-man uses hold-up play and physical power to create space near to the opposition team’s defensive line while his teammates move forward to provide him with attacking support and move into the space created. As such, he typically needs little available space around himself and his teammates to create chances effectively.

A target-man does not act as a deep-dropping player, since this would cause him to move too deep.

A target-man is most effective when long passes from deeper areas, along with crosses, are focused to him (as is the case with a more direct passing range system, typically used with the defensive football core style, or with the direct plays attacking style), enabling him to help the team to move into more advanced areas more quickly.

Furthermore, a target-man’s lesser reliance on available space means that he is most useful when more direct penetration is used to a greater extent (as is the case with the direct plays attacking style).

System-Specific Implementations
  • False-nine
    • Description – supporting and deep-dropping centre forward runner and creator.
    • Component role types – centre forward; supporting player; deep-dropping player.
    • Role categories – central attack runner; central attack creator.
    • Commonly implemented as – ball-playing player; creative player; number-ten central attacker (advanced-playmaker).
    • System-specific role types – deep-dropping player (stretching play).
  • Playmaking-hook
    • Description – supporting and restricted-dribbling withdrawn attacking midfield advanced-playmaker.
    • Component role types – attacking midfielder; supporting player; restricted-dribbling player; ball-playing player; creative player; specifically not deep-dropping player.
    • Role categories – number-ten central attacker (advanced-playmaker); withdrawn central attacker.
    • System-specific role types – restricted-dribbling player (creating chances).

A false-nine drops deep into or near to central midfield in order to receive the ball more easily and create space ahead of him, before creating chances by exploiting available space in central attack. By moving forward (both when off and on the ball) into the space that is created both by himself dropping deep and by the off and on the ball movement of his teammates in attack, he is also able to stretch play as a central attack runner (but not as a number-nine) despite being a deep-dropping player.

In order for a false-nine to do this effectively he is typically used in an overlapping partnership with a dribbling false-ten. Such a false-ten can make forward runs and direct dribbles in advanced areas of central attack and so create space for the false nine to drop deep into, and also create the space that is needed ahead of the false-nine for him to stretch play. Such movement from a false-ten can also enable the false-ten himself to exploit the space created by the false-nine dropping deep.

A false-nine is commonly implemented as an advanced-playmaker so that he can make more effective use of the available space in central attack, in particular by making risky passes when appropriate to the false-ten and other teammates in attack.

A playmaking-hook remains in a relatively fixed position between the centre midfielders and the centre forwards where he can receive the ball before quickly moving it on, if appropriate, with risky passes to more mobile teammates. This can enable the team to more effectively exploit different areas of available space in attack with quicker ball movement, with the playmaking-hook providing a central fulcrum for such ball movement. A playmaking-hook can therefore create chances effectively despite being a restricted-dribbling player.

As such, a playmaking-hook does not act as a deep-dropping player, since this would cause him to move too deep.

In order for a playmaking-hook to do this effectively he is typically typically combined with teammates who provide plenty of off the ball movement and on the ball movement all around him with forward runs, roaming movement, direct dribbles and cuts inside.

Pressing Central Attacker

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – applying defensive pressure.

Pressuring central attacker:

  • Supplementary or designated responsibilities – applying defensive pressure.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Attacking midfielder.
  • Centre forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Narrow wing forward.
  • Wing forward aggressor.

Central Attack Goal-Scorer

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – taking chances.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Attacking midfielder.
  • Centre forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Offensive centre midfielder.
  • Supporting centre midfielder.
  • Offensive defensive midfielder.
  • Narrow wing forward.
  • Roaming wing forward.
  • Inverted wing forward.
  • Narrow and offensive wing midfielder.
  • Offensive and roaming wing midfielder.
  • Offensive and inverted wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and supporting wing midfielder.
  • Supporting and roaming wing midfielder.
  • Supporting and inverted wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and offensive wing back.
  • Offensive and roaming wing back.
  • Offensive and inverted wing back.

A wide player who acts as an auxiliary central attack goal-scorer can move away from his assigned flank into available space in central attack. This can enable him to receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality goal-scoring chances than the team’s assigned central attackers.

Withdrawn Central Attacker

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing attacking cover.

Although providing attacking cover is of low importance in central attack, a team may use a withdrawn central attacker to provide attacking cover so that he can use man-marking more effectively against an opposition team central midfielder when the team is in defensive transition.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Attacking midfielder.
  • Centre forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Supporting centre midfielder.
  • Narrow wing forward.
  • Narrow and supporting wing midfielder.

Relaxed Central Attacker

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – providing defensive cover.

Although providing defensive cover is of low importance in central attack, a team may use a relaxed central attacker so that he can move into available space more quickly, and so receive the ball more easily, when the team is in attacking transition.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Attacking midfielder.
  • Centre forward.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Narrow wing forward.

Restricted Central Attacker

Defining Role Specialisation

  • Supported or designated responsibilities – playing safe.

Although playing safe is of low importance in central attack, a team may use a restricted central attacker to play safe so that he can take advantage of his physical abilities to create chances or take chances.

Because he plays safe, a restricted central attacker typically focuses more on using his physical abilities in the attacking phases in order to contribute effectively to the team’s build-up play, while he can also use them in the defensive phases to help the team to win possession.

Suitable Playing Positions

  • Attacking midfielder.
  • Centre forward.

A restricted central attacker who focuses more on playing safe, for example as a safe-passing or restricted-dribbling central attacker, is typically assigned a centre forward playing position and combined with another centre forward, as explained below.

Suitable Auxiliary Role Types

  • Offensive centre midfielder.
  • Supporting centre midfielder.
  • Offensive defensive midfielder.
  • Narrow wing forward.
  • Roaming wing forward.
  • Narrow and offensive wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and supporting wing midfielder.
  • Narrow and offensive wing back.
  • Offensive and roaming wing midfielder.
  • Supporting and roaming wing midfielder.
  • Offensive and roaming wing back.

Typical Composites

  • Restricted central attacker => [central attack creator or central attack goal-scorer] + pressing central attacker.

A restricted central attacker typically also acts as a central attack creator or central attack goal-scorer, since this enables him to take advantage of his physical abilities to create chances or take chances. In addition, he typically also acts as a pressing central attacker so that he can use his physical abilities to help the team to win possession.

Implementation

Additional Suitable Component Role Types
  • Roaming player; channel-running player (system-specific role types) – can enable a wide-poacher to focus more on stretching play and taking chances in central attack while still playing safe – discussed below as a system-specific implementation.
Notable Implementations
  • (Central attack) poacher
    • Description – central attack poacher.
    • Component role types – attacking midfielder or centre forward; offensive player.
    • Role categories – central attack poacher (number-nine central attacker + central attack goal-scorer + restricted central attacker).
  • Defensive central attacker
    • Description – goal-scoring and ball-winning central attack aggressor.
    • Component role types – attacking midfielder or centre forward; aggressor.
    • Role categories – central attack goal-scorer; ball-winning central attacker (pressuring central attacker + withdrawn central attacker + restricted central attacker).
    • Commonly implemented as – safe-passing player.

A poacher focuses on using his mobility to move into available space in more threatening areas near to the opposition team’s goal that enable him to exploit high quality goal-scoring chances. Since he plays safe as a restricted central attacker he is not a dribbling player or wide-dribbling player (or inverted player in the case of a wide-poacher, which is analysed below) and so he makes most of his movement when he is off the ball.

A defensive central attacker is similar to a defensive advanced wide player (an implementation of restricted wide player).

A defensive central attacker focuses on using his physical presence and mobility to apply defensive pressure, as well as to help him to take chances and contribute to creating chances. In the defensive phases he uses his physical presence and mobility to close down opposition team players in advanced areas, which can potentially result in counter attacking opportunities from close to the opposition team’s goal, while he also provides defensive support to the central midfielders. In the attacking phases he uses his physical presence to create space using physical power, while he uses his mobility to move into available space.

A defensive central attacker is commonly implemented as a safe-passing player, which increases his focus on using his physical presence and mobility.

System-Specific Implementations
  • Restricted target-man
    • Description – restricted target-man.
    • Component role types – centre forward; hold-up player; specifically not deep-dropping player.
    • Role categories – number-ten central attacker (target-man); restricted central attacker.
    • Commonly implemented as – restricted-dribbling player.
    • System-specific role types – restricted-dribbling player (stretching play and creating chances)
  • Wide-poacher
    • Description – offensive and roaming restricted wing forward; attacking phase auxiliary attacking midfield poacher.
    • Component role types – wing forward; offensive player; roaming player.
    • Role categories – restricted wide player; auxiliary central attack poacher (auxiliary number-nine central attacker (false-ten) + auxiliary central attack goal-scorer + auxiliary restricted central attacker).
    • Commonly implemented as – narrow player; channel-running player; restricted-crossing player; auxiliary central attack creator.
    • System-specific role types – roaming player and channel-running player (playing safe).

A restricted target-man focuses on using his physical presence to create chances. He can do this since the use of his physical presence creates space using physical power. This enables him to create chances by helping him to receive the ball in advanced areas of central attack before making relatively safe passes to nearby teammates.

In order for a restricted target-man to do this effectively he should have good physical presence and preferably good aerial presence, while he is typically combined with a another player who is assigned a central attacker playing position and who does not act as a roaming or channel-running player. This ensures that there is a player who can make effective use of the space created around the restricted target-man.

A restricted target-man is commonly implemented as a restricted-dribbling player, which increases his focus on using his physical presence. His ability to use his physical presence to create space, as well as to keep opposition team players closer to their own by-line if he is instructed to stretch play, mean that he can create chances and stretch play despite being a restricted-dribbling player.

A wide-poacher makes roaming movement into central attack in order to act as an attacking phase auxiliary attacking midfield poacher, although he also moves into available space in wider areas than a non-auxiliary poacher, including on the flank.

As is the case with other wide players who act as auxiliary central attack goal-scorers, he is likely to be able to move into available space more easily than the team’s assigned central attackers, which can enable him to receive the ball more easily and exploit higher quality goal-scoring chances.

In order for a wide-poacher to do this effectively he should have good mobility, and preferably good off the ball movement, while he is typically used in a forward movement partnership with a supporting player who is assigned a central attack playing position in order to create space for him to move into. In particular, the use of a supporting centre forward and no attacking midfielder can give the wide-poacher more space to move into.

A wide-poacher is commonly implemented as a narrow player, a channel-running player and a restricted-crossing player, which increases his focus on moving into central attack when off the ball. He is also commonly implemented as a central attack creator so that he can contribute effectively to creating chances in central attack, as he is less focused on moving into areas near to the opposition team’s goal than a non-auxiliary poacher.

Counterbalancing Combinations

A restricted central attacker who focuses more on playing safe, for example as a safe-passing or restricted-dribbling central attacker, is typically assigned a centre forward playing position and combined with:

  • A separate player in a central attacker playing position who is not a deep-dropping or roaming player, with one of the two players also being a hold-up centre forward (such as a target-man).

This ensures that creating chances (high importance) and taking chances (medium importance) can still be performed effectively in central attack. This is because a restricted central attacker can contribute to creating chances more easily if he is a centre forward and has a nearby central attacker teammate to play safe to, while he can contribute to taking chances more easily if he can move into available space near to the opposition team’s goal when off the ball while a hold-up centre forward uses hold-up play to create space for him.