A perfect central midfield partnership working like tea and Busquets in Football Manager 2015

This article is about two midfield roles in Football Manager 2015.

When I set up my midfield I usually pin most of my hopes on an individual in a specific role. But this time I realised for my midfield to be fully-functioning, it had to be a team effort.

I’ve not found it easy to control games in FM15 so I thought about the systems and roles I’d used trying to work out what was missing.

Furthermore, when I took over Wrexham in the Vanarama Conference, I knew Elliott Durrell, an attacking midfielder, would be one of my key players so I needed to fill in the gaps he would leave when running forward to support our lone striker, Louis Moult.

Let me show you our formation/s so it’s easier to visualise.

I started off with this shape and we’ve used it in about 96% of games:

The formation


It’s a 4-4-1-1 which gives me the numbers in midfield I want and I can use Durrell in his best position. I only liked the look of one of my strikers so that’s convenient. And I’m using wide men as crossing seems so effective at the moment.

It’s also a formation that stays true to our philosophy of sticking together as everyone is expected to help out in various situations, e.g. my wide men are good at getting back to help their full backs.

Sometimes we use this 4-5-1 against strong teams or teams that pack their midfield. I’m considering using this for most of our games now as it’s produced some impressive wins recently.

The midfield maestros

I almost always use a deep lying playmaker and I wanted someone to go alongside him who would play short, simple passes and be more defensively-minded than the DLP whose main job would be to create chances.

Moreover, I’ve seen in FM15 how DLPs can be very dangerous and really dictate play even from inside their own half, so I wanted to see if I could replicate this.

We didn’t have anyone who could play the DLP role in the defensive midfield spot so I settled for playing him in central midfield. It turns out he stays quite deep anyway.

I immediately pin-pointed Mark Carrington as the likely DLP but my assistant told me one of his weaknesses was marking so it made sense to have a pragmatic CM(D) to cover when he went wandering.

While putting this together Michael Carrick was my inspiration (a minor reason I chose Carrington for this role was he actually looks a bit like Carrick!). I pretty much wanted two Michael Carricks, one with lots of creative freedom and license to dictate the play, while the other covered and recycled possession. Darren Fletcher also came to mind when choosing the CM(D) role.

Carrington’s stand-out stats


As Carrington’s been an ever-present in the side playing 26 games in all competitions everyone else was battling for the CM(D) spot.

The perfect man for an unassuming role

Hyper-experienced Dean Keates was the first to get an extended run in the side but he’s declining at 36 and his average rating is only 6.76 in 15 games.

Dean Keates

Dean Keates

keates' career

Keates’ career

Keates’ attributes are distinctly average so I felt there’s not much point showing them. Although his average rating is poor I feel his know-how is vital to us and I have no hesitation starting him.

This is where ‘hidden’ influences come in to play again. Just like I’ve been emphasizing the importance of keeping morale high and the benefits of consistency.

I sometimes bring Keates on when we’re winning by a solitary goal to ‘calm things down’. I hope his experience will bring a calming influence and composure to the rest of the team.


Here’s an idea of the pair’s average positions in one match

There’s more to the CM (D) than meets the eye

The CM (D) role might not seem exciting. Sure, using an advanced playmaker or an enganche might come closer to getting your pulse racing, but I’m in love with this duty and can’t wait to try a more talented player in the role.

The CM (D) and DLP (S) are never far apart. I genuinely don’t think I’ve seen a partnership as close and effective as between my two central midfielders. They’re on the save wavelength and complement each other.

They dictate the play together, keep the ball together, win the ball back together, it’s brilliant!

Completed passes

You can see here the sort of passes the pair make and where.


Match against the league’s strugglers, Dartford.

It’s remarkable how the DLP is camped outside the opposition’s penalty box. Dare I say, he reminds me of a certain Xavi Hernandez, probing away with accuracy.

You can see the majority of his passes are short and forward.

While the CM is there to keep the ball moving. When he gets it he just lays it off and usually finds his man.

Defending as a pair

It’s not just about how well they keep the ball though – and with the third highest average possession percentage in the league (53.68%) we do that well.

Keates has won 42 out of 47 tackles attempted. That’s 3.52 tackles per game.

Carrington has 60 out of 83 tackles which is 2.47 per game, pretty impressive.

Carrington is doing great with interceptions too with 152 in 27 (1) games while Keates has 94 from 15 (4) games.

Out of all my players who have played at least ten games the pair are in the top six for distance travelled per 90 minutes. Carrington = 12.3km and Keates = 11.7km (not bad for a 36-year-old). This translates to winning the ball back and helping team mates.

I’d like to go in to more depth on the role of the CM (D) in future and my AM (C)’s partnership with my Poacher/ False Nine.

Until then follow me on Twitter @fmscrapbook and on Facebook .

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