The Fellaini role – exploiting size and other physical strengths in attacking midfield

Now now, you can stop laughing. I know Marouane Fellaini has had a poor start to his Manchester United career but there were valid reasons David Moyes decided to sign him; he almost single-handedly destroyed the Red Devils’ defence in Everton’s 4-4 draw at Old Trafford around two years ago, a loss of points which handed the title to Manchester City. In that match Fellaini played behind a lone striker, Nikica Jelavic, and was his team’s main target man and key to their creative endeavours.

In Football Manager 2014, spurred by Shrewnaldo’s ‘Overtaking Happel – Creating new roles‘ article and the imminent arrival of new free signing, Domingos Leite (below), I plan to introduce a new form of attacking midfielder to my AS Roma team, not a diminutive, balletic advanced playmaker, such as Juan Mata or Andres Iniesta, not even a maverick free spirit like Ronaldinho, but someone more like the big Belgium, Fellaini, when he is at his most effective (albeit better). Man City’s Yaya Toure is another midfielder who excels in advanced positions, however, I argue he spends equal time dropping deep to take the ball from defenders. I do not want my attacking midfielder to do that so I will have to consider his role and individual instructions. I have not put this idea in to practice yet but let me expand on how I plan to use a player in this role and in a future blog I will let you know if it was a success. This is where Leite comes in.

DOmingos LeiteSeeing as Leite is joining us in the summer and possesses a novel mix of physical and technical attributes, I thought he provided a great opportunity to test something exciting. Leite is athletically-gifted, probably more so than Fellaini, as despite being a few inches shorter he has amazing acceleration without missing a pound of muscle. He could also rival ‘the Afro’s’ jumping reach with a ’16’ attribute. His current lack of aggression and bravery could hold him back but it is not a major concern, I think he can conquer these obstacles. Nevertheless, I will add it is a shame he is a fairly one-footed player with a ‘weak’ left foot.

Forgetting Fellaini for now, let’s talk more about the specifics behind the ‘new’ role idea. It is quite simple, height and strength give players an advantage in defensive positions so why shouldn’t they make an attacking midfielder a goalscoring and creative machine? Mental attributes maybe? In fact, some FM players might suggest the efficacy of strength and pace is top-heavy and can be taken advantage of so why not see if we can use these mooted in-game ‘biases’ in our quest for glory?

Furthermore, in my 3-5-2 formation and various others I use, a lone attacking midfielder is arguably the key to its success which makes experimenting in this area of the pitch extremely fun. I have found great results in utilising an advanced playmaker (attack) and an attacking midfielder (support) for example.

Below is a new formation idea I am flirting with in which I could use this type of player.

442 ssPlease do not pay much attention the shadow striker┬árole for now. With this experiment I plan to fit a role to the player and his skills not vice versa so choosing a role for him will be an exercise of trial and error. It would be cool if there was an extra role named something like ‘deep lying target man’ although maybe my idea is hiding in the ‘enganche’ or ‘advanced playmaker’ options.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for part two.

Categorized: Tactics

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