Modern Full Backs Part 2

In the first part of this short series, I gave an overview of the system I use and the roles I’ve chosen for my full backs. In this post, I’ll look at why I preferred these roles over others and why I think it’s time to read the role descriptions more.

Complete Wing Back/Support

I experimented with the CWB/S way back on FM15 and I don’t think I’ve really used it since. It’s one of those roles that I think you need a really good player for. I spoke to a couple of FM ‘friends’ about full backs over the last couple of weeks and got their input. FM Grasshopper said that he thought the CWB was like a box to box role that required a player with exceptional physical attributes. For once, I actually agree with him.

The physical demands of a modern full back are intense. They have to help build attack, support midfielders/wingers and get back to defend counter attacks. Not to mention that they have to deal with opposition wingers running at them full throttle. No wimps here, you need beasts.

Cepkauskas is that beast.

Lets look at the role description and PI’s for a CWB/S.

The Complete Wing Back loves to attack, and whilst he is capable of occupying his defensive duties, his natural inclination is to affect the game in the opposition’s defensive third by roaming from his position.

With a Support duty, the Complete Wing Back will look to combine his attacking instincts with some defensive responsibilities in an effort to provide balance to the team.

FM20

The role comes with the following PI’s active

  • Dribble More
  • Run Wide With Ball
  • Get Further Forward
  • Stay Wider
  • Roam From Position

The description and PI’s should build a pretty accurate picture in your head of what this role does. Cepkauskas is a good ball carrier, has good movement off the ball and can get forward to join attacks quickly due to his pace.

I’ve chosen to add Cross More Often to his PI’s as I feel he was dithering a bit at times, looking for a pass rather than getting the ball into the box quickly. It has definitely had a positive impact on things. I’ve dabbled with the Take More Risks instruction too, I wouldn’t say it has a devastating impact, but I have seen Cepkauskas play the odd through ball which has lead to a goalscoring chance, either directly or as a second assister. I’m not sure if that’s a real term, but basically, playing a key pass to the player that makes the assist.

Plenty of support in the box. RPM and IW/S were from an earlier version of the tactic

So why this over the Wing Back Support? Or any of the attacking roles for that matter?

Balance. It’s always about balance. On a support duty he’ll still get forward, but a little bit later than an attack duty would. Lets not muddy the water though, the CWB is direct, especially when he’s got the ball at his feet.

It’s important to be aware of the PI’s because I often think they are skimmed over at times. I had originally planned for the CWB to be a bit more like how Trent Alexander-Arnold plays for Liverpool but I think a couple of the PI’s don’t match up. A few do though. Trent gets further forward, tends to stay wide but will come inside(Roam from position) if required. His stats suggest he doesn’t dribble all that much. He crosses a lot and he does play a lot of key passes. The CWB with additional PI’s is as close as I can get to a Trent type without going mad on traits.

I’d probably need a slightly different player for a proper Trent type full back. A midfielder would likely be a good option if he had good passing. He’d need a couple of traits to get him closer to how Trent plays.

I didn’t feel that the other roles offered me the same type of play that I wanted compared to the CWB. There was no perfect role, so finding something close to what I was looking for and then adding a couple of PI’s in made sense.

Surely I could have picked a WB/S and added the PI’s and got the same result? No. Taking a role and adding PI’s to make it have the same PI’s as a different role does not make it the same. There are other things going on in the coding of the game that defines a role, not just the PI’s. That’s why it’s also important to read the description to build a better picture of what you want it to do.

Sorry for the lack of images, here’s a first time pass from my FB/A

Full Back Attack

I suspect people will be more intrigued by the choice of Full Back over Wing Back here. I’d normally be the same, but I was trying to be thorough. I tried the WB/A out(at a couple of teams) but it didn’t quite work how I wanted or imagined.

The role description and PI’s again to the rescue.

The Full Back is a key player in modern football, having to supplement his traditional defensive duties with overlapping runs down the wing to support forward play and help attacks overload the final third.

Although primarily a defensive player, he must be prepared to get forward when the team needs extra width.

With an Attack duty, the Full Back supplements his defensive responsibilities by overlapping the midfield and providing first time crosses into the area.

FM20

It comes with the following PI’s active.

  • Cross More Often
  • Get Further Forward

The last part of that role description was exactly what made me choose the Full Back over the Wing Back. All too often I would see the WB/A receive the ball in wide areas and instead of pinging the ball into the box, he’d head towards the byline and end up smashing the ball off of a defenders legs. We’ve all seen that highlight at least a thousand times.

He put this cross right on the WM/A head

Overlapping runs and providing first time crosses is a great and dangerous combo. If he’s overlapping the midfield, I’m pretty confident he’s going to be in a position to cross the ball. I don’t need him to be running with the ball if he’s doing his job properly. Crossing or passing first time can really catch the opposition full backs off guard.

I think what puts a lot of people off of the Full Back role is that it seems a bit old school. The description lets it down a little bit here, especially when it says “although primarily a defensive player” which is true, but the attack duty means he is an effective attacking force. When I was asking people about their full back roles, someone thought that the Full Back/Attack was less attacking than a Wing Back/Defend, which is not the case. Remember, you can check the mentality of the role by going into the player instruction screen. The duty defines the mentality.

The easiest way for me to compare the Full Back/Attack and Wing Back/Attack is how they overlap. The Wing Back tends to overlap when he is in possession of the ball to get into an area to put a cross in. He is a ball carrier(dribble more, run wide with ball). The Full Back role tends to overlap more without the ball, getting himself into a good crossing area to receive a pass before pinging a ball in the box. Both roles will do the other thing at times, but this for me is the key to defining the difference.

Not having the dribble more instruction means slightly less risk is involved in his play. As mentioned above, not having a preferred crossing area(byline or deep) is also great as it makes his crossing position more varied. WB/A prefers to cross from the byline, although he will cross from other positions too, but that usually means that more opposition players will be in the box by the time the ball comes in.

Will he run with the ball? Yes
Will he cross from the byline? Yes
Will he run wide with the ball? Yes

Those PI’s not being selected does not mean he won’t do any of the above. It means that he doesn’t prioritise doing those things. It’s like setting passing to mixed, sometimes he will, sometimes he won’t.

This role was a lot easier to get right if I was to compare it to Andy Robertson. He doesn’t dribble a lot based on his real life stats, but he always overlaps Sadio Mané on the left. He plays a variety of crosses, but his crossing map shows that he tends to prefer crossing from varying positions at the side of the 18 yard box.

But I Like Wing Backs!

Perfect, that’s totally fine. This isn’t a right or wrong thing, it’s just how I’m preferring to setup my full backs to be an effective presence in my system. If you like your full backs to get to the byline and smash the ball (into defenders legs) into the box, great. It can be very effective. Go for it!

I’ve had a lot of success with wing backs in the past and really enjoyed them. I’m just finding this pairing is incredibly effective in my setup.

I don’t expect it to work for everybody as you need the right setup/players/TI’s/PI’s/Training/Set Pieces/Life Story/Birth Certificate to get it right. Hopefully it’ll at least give you something to think about when picking your full backs.

What’s Next?

Two posts down, one to go. Hopefully everything makes sense so far. It’s worth remembering that this isn’t a guide or a how to or ‘OMGZORZ WHERE’S THE DOWNLOAD LINK DUDE?!’ post, it’s just me looking at how I’ve made my full backs a more commanding presence in my setup.

I’ll be showing how the full backs work in my system in the next post, likely with some video clips and screenshots etc.

Q&A

Where have the Q&A’s gone?
A fan of the blog recently told me that they really like the Q&A sections of the blogs. I’ll do a proper one at the end of the final post.

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