The Central Midfielder – Playmaker | Are the attributes a key to creativity?

When I was a kid, and that meant actively playing Football Manager, I loved spending the whole budget transfer on one player.

In most cases, it was the striker (excellent attributes) who can make a difference on the pitch.

However, the quality of the players couldn’t come to the fore because I lost the “key battles” in the middle of the pitch.

In other words, I didn’t pay too much attention to the key position in the system, and it is central midfielder, but I wanted to have a great attack.



It is known that the results are the most important in football and the same goes for the game.

In that period, my results were very poor which is acceptable for an inexperienced FM manager.

After the dirty tricks (load/save game) and lost key matches against strong opponents, I decided to take a little break.

I focused attention on smart things – internetFM Guidedownload. By the way, I followed the forums and read the comments of experienced players.

After that, I realized that for success, the following was necessary:

– good knowledge of each position in the formation;

– watch tactics, like a chess board, where the opponent is the king who needs to be checkmated in 3 moves.

Why is the central midfielder so special?

The player, on this position, is a “bridge” between defense and attack. His pass to the striker can determine the winner of the match.

On the other hand, there are defensive tasks that are more characteristic for the CD. Thus, it isn’t difficult to conclude who the boss is in the team.

However, each of us has his own system. For example, I like to have two central midfielders in the primary formation.

Their roles, I see as an ordinary alkaline battery so that “plus” is creativity (deep lying/advanced/roaming playmaker) and “minus” – strength (box to box/ball winning/central midfielder).

Things change when I play defensively because I have 3 CM in the middle of the pitch. But it’s already a tactic and inspiration for a new article …

How to recognize a good playmaker?

The starting point – attributes. For me, in the first place is Determination, then Passing!

Thereafter follows: Technique, Composure, Decisions, Teamwork, Vision, and Stamina. What’s next? – Years and (international) experience – former clubs.

And now, we can go into the details: preferred foot, injury history and so on.

If a player fulfills the stated conditions, this is a sign that he can be among the first 11 (or my next transfer target).

The nicer part of the story is determining the player’s role at the CM position.

Since we’re talking about creativity, the main word has a playmaker. Let’s see what he can do …

Deep-Lying Playmaker

The Deep-Lying Playmaker operates in the space between the defence and the midfield and aims to initiate attacking moves via pinpoint passes to players positioned higher up the pitch.

Although primarily a creative player, the Deep-Lying Playmaker also has to be competent in the art of defence.

Support – the player will bring the ball out of defence and look for long shot opportunities as well as supplying through-balls.

Defend – the player will fulfill extra defensive responsibilities by holding position in front of defence and will rarely look to support attacks.

Advanced Playmaker

The Advanced Playmaker can operate in the centre midfield, centre attacking midfield or wide attacking midfield.

The AP aims to drop into hole between the opposition’s midfield and defence making himself available for his teammates passes.



The attacking ability of the Advanced Playmaker can turn defence into attack in an instant.

Attack – the player will look to run at the defensive line from deeper positions, aims to craft out crossing or through ball opportunities as he moves into the final third.

Support – the player will stay in the hole and look to spay passes to support players and forwards.

Roaming Playmaker

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 R. 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 positions and work the ball forwards with urgency, all the while keeping up with play.

The Roaming Playmaker will often camp on the edge of the penalty area looking for room to shoot to try that killer ball which creates a goal scoring opportunity.

The role is only available with a Support duty.

What’s missing from our player? – Preferred Moves

You can have an excellent playmaker (right role), but without good “preferred moves”, you’ll lose possession in midfield (against strong teams). Why? – You’re driving Lamborghini without wheels.

I’ll give an example. When I managed OFK Beograd, I had one player whose attributes were very bad. I was thinking a long time to give him a chance in the first 11.

However, he was given a chance from the bench and every time he overcame one training obstacle (preferred move) he had more minutes on the pitch.

In the end, he successfully completed the training tasks, and the results (on the pitch) were fantastic!

There is nothing left but to receive a prize, squad status – First Team. This is my player …

As you can see, his attributes are not great but he has other qualities: height 188 cm, pace, dribbling + 4 preferred moves.

When we add an appropriate role for the right position in the formation, the result is an excellent form.

But if I had an opponent who is ten times stronger than my team (finance and players), I’d probably suffered a defeat, but with a slight goal difference!

Sometimes money isn’t a measure of quality, but the heart and courage …

Let’s see what’s good and what’s bad for a playmaker. We have the attributes, a role, but what to do in training?

There is no universal rule because each of us has his own system.

On the other hand, what is good for one player doesn’t necessarily mean that it applies to the next one.

It is therefore important to recognize the qualities of the player and, with the help of “preferred moves”, to alleviate deficiencies.

This time, I chose the player Hamburger SV who would be the subject of our analysis – Lewis Holtby. A fantastic player!

1. Dictates tempo

My first association for a playmaker.

It doesn’t need to be further explained because the boss, in the middle of the pitch, can “pull the handbrake” when he thinks it’s the right time for it.

2. Tries killer balls often

Here are the main references Passing 17, Technique 15, and a good mental side of the player.

But imagine a formation of 4-2-3-1 where advanced/deep playmaker can play at the CM and/or AMC position.

It’s logical to choose AMC. However, a game with 2 playmakers is not my style …

3. Looks for pass rather than attempting to score

If we look Finishing 11, Long Shots 12, and Technique 15, we can conclude that Lewis Holtby has little potential for the classic striker.

His primary task is a right pass at the right time! However, another option may be – try long shots.

4. Arrives late in opponents’ area

I think this is a good move for the player at the CM position.

It can be “unpleasant surprise” for the opponent’s defense!

The use of this move is greatly facilitated when Lewis has a little help from players nearby – Plays One-Twos.

In this way, it is easier to reach the goal.

5. Runs with ball often

This is a risky move for a player who has Dribbling 12 and Pace 11. But …

I think it’s worth a try because Lewis has a great CV – 356 appearances, 41 goals, 48 assists.

Simply, he has a lot of experience (intelligence, creativity) so bad attributes go to another plan.

Of course, I can mention some other interesting ‘preferred moves’ for this position.

It depends on the style of the game and formation, but you can consider the following options:

  • attempts to develop weaker foot (good Technique>15);
  • avoids using weaker foot (left or right only);
  • runs with ball through centre/left/right;
  • tries long range free kicks or passes;
  • long shots.



That’s it. Are the attributes the key to the creativity of the playmaker? – Yes, but only if we put preferred moves in the whole story.

Without them, the playmaker won’t give his maximum on the pitch/training. Thank you for your attention and time.

Author: Alen Stefanovic     Game: Football Manager 2017

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