How to Train a Defensive Midfielder in Football Manager?

A Defensive Midfielder is the position reserved for a player whose main task is to “spoil” the opponent’s attack.

He has no time for the attractive moves on the pitch, but attention directs to the simple system- win a ball and send it forward.

Unfortunately, there are not many formations where DM would have a big role.

My favorite is 4-1-2-3.

However, it is generally known that the attributes measure quality in the FM world so that I see this position as follows: Defensive (Strength) and Midfielder (Passing).

These are the most important attributes for me. If the player meets the criteria, I can proceed further: determination, anticipation, tackling, marking and stamina.

Of course, there are some other interesting attributes, but it depends on the role and duty of the player!

The choice is yours – 8 Roles and 2 Duties

The Defensive Midfielder’s main duties are to protect the defensive line from breaking attackers by closing them down quickly and to support the creative midfielders when in possession.

A key job of the Defensive Midfielder is to keep hold of the ball while the defence and attack are reorganizing themselves after a period of opposition pressure.

With a Defend duty, the player will hold his position between the midfield and defensive lines and recycle possession from a deep position.

With a Support duty, the player will step into the midfield line and support attacking moves.

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.

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

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

Ball-Winning Midfielder

Playing in central midfield the Ball-Winning Midfielder’s main function is to close down the opposition and win the ball.

However, he also needs the technical skills to help the team keep possession and fashion out chances for players with more attacking roles.

Defend – the player looks to win the ball in the centre of midfield and quickly lay it off for a more creative player.

Support – the player aims to win the ball back high up the pitch and support resulting counter attacking opportunities.

Anchor Man

Sometimes referred to as the ‘Water Carrier’, the Anchor Man’s main duty is to sit in the hole between defense and the midfield, intercepting moves, winning the ball and laying off simple passes to his more creative teammates.

Since his key job is to anchor the defense he doesn’t venture too far from his position either to close down the opposition or to support the more advanced players.

The Anchor Man is only available with a Defend duty.

Half Back

The Half Back looks to serve a role somewhere between that of an aggressive sweeper and a defensive midfielder.

With a HB, the central defenders themselves will push higher up the pitch while the HB drops deeper than a standard defensive midfielder and, in addition to his defensive duties, looks to offer an outlet for quickly recycling possession when the team’s attacking play breaks down.

The Half Back is only available with a Defend duty.


The Regista is a more aggressive version of the deep-lying playmaker suitable for possession-orientated systems that press high up the pitch.

Given complete freedom to dictate play from deep positions, the Regista offers a dynamic and unpredictable creative outlet from behind the attack who seeks who seeks to maintain intense pressure by constantly looking for new chances as his more advanced teammates get into goal scoring positions.

The Regista is only available with a Support duty.

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 Roaming Playmaker is only available with a Support duty.

Segundo Volante

The ‘Segundo Volante’ is different from the Deep Lying Playmaker in that their role is primarily a defensive one, and is also different from the Ball Winning Midfielder, in that they often run with the ball, or arrive with a late run, into the opposition area in much the same way a Box-to-Box Central Midfielder does.

It’s a common role for those familiar with Brazilian football and team often field two of them or pair them with an anchorman.

Support – the player will look to support the attack whilst picking and choosing his opportunities to arrive late in the opposition’s penalty area.

Attack – the player will get further forward and frequently look to arrive late in the opposition’s penalty area as well as attempting more shots on goal.

A defensive midfielder individual training focus and preferred moves

Now I’ll show you my best player at this position. He has excellent attributes, but there is one small problem – low determination.

That doesn’t mean he can’t decide the match with one move! On the contrary, he has pleasantly surprised me many times.

But sometimes mistakes, in the middle of the pitch, can be very expensive …

Which (preferred) moves are interesting in this case? Nikola Cukic is playing at the position MCR as Deep-Lying Playmaker. That’s his best role.

However, if he would play as a DM, the role would be Defensive Midfielder – Support, and I would try to have the right training tasks.

1. Likes to switch ball to the other flank

A player (in the middle of the pitch) that has a good Passing 13 should try to do this task.

Sending the ball through the middle is a risky move, while the left or right is a much better solution. The role “Deep/Advanced Playmaker” requires a second choice – tries killer balls often.

2. Dives into tackles

The fact is that mental side of the player (Decisions 10, Concentration 10 …) isn’t the best, but Tackling 13 is a good reference to start.

If we go back to the beginning “win a ball and send it forward” than this is a key training task.

However, there is another side to the coin! If a player has a poor Tackling I would choose – Does not dive into tackles.

3. Long shots

First, I would improve attribute through Individual Training Focus, and after that, I would try “shots from distance“.

If we look Finishing 12 and Technique 11, we can conclude that this player has potential.

It only takes time …

4. Marks opponent tightly

A similar situation as in the previous step – improve Marking 12 and assign a task.

I very often use the “Tighter Marking” option so this can be a big plus.

5. Gets forward whenever possible

I think a player can make a major contribution to the attack.

Also, I think this should be the final task because it is enough to have 5 preferred moves or threats.

If a player can do more, why not? But, we should not exaggerate.

There are some other training tasks that may be of interest for the position Defensive Midfielder. I’ll mention a couple of them, but it depends on the tactics and the role of the player:

  • Dwells on ball (slow the game down);
  • Plays no through balls and Plays short simple passes (poor passing);
  • Runs rarely with ball (poor dribbling ability);
  • Shoots with power (good finishing > 12 and strength);
  • Stays back at all times (more defensive player – anchor-men);
  • Stops play (low tempo).

That’s it. The aim of this article is to find the right role and preferred moves for the player in position Defensive Midfielder (DM). What do you think? Thank you for your attention and time.

Author: Alen Stefanovic     Game: Football Manager 2018

What Others Are Reading