The deep lying forward role, the false 9, and the complete forward on support duty are three roles that are not particularly clear to most FM players on how they behave both with and without the ball.
The deep lying forward’s position is described in football manager as one whose main aim is to link the attack to the midfield
A deep lying forward will drop into the space between the opposition’s defence and midfield, hold up the ball then depending on your tactical set-up either spread it to the flanks, play in the runners from midfield, or put his strike partner through in on goal with a defence-splitting pass.
The main difference between the support and attack duty of the deep lying forward is that in a support duty, he mainly focuses on bringing others into play rather than on his goal-scoring exploits.
The priority in the attack duty on the other hand is that he mainly focuses on getting on the scoresheet, and bringing others into play is the secondary objective.
Comparing the deep lying forward to the false 9, the false 9 drops much deeper into the midfield and is often deployed as a lone striker with inside forwards or inverted wingers on either side of him.
This creates problems for the opposition’s defence as they can either follow him into the midfield, creating space for the wide players to attack, or let the false 9 drop deep by himself, thereby providing him time on the ball to pick a telling pass that may split them open.
Moreover, the deep lying forward position mostly relies on a striker’s strength, just like the target man, to hold the ball up before playing others in. The false 9 on the other hand mainly relies on his dribbling, flair, acceleration, and balance to create room in the crowded midfield to pick his teammates with pinpoint passing.
The complete forward on support duty encompasses the trickery of a false 9 and the physical requirements of a deep lying forward. He is equally good in playmaking like the false 9 or holding up play using his strength like the deep lying forward.
A good example of this kind of player is Karim Benzema of France, who is an elite dribbler, passer, and finisher. The complete package for a world-class striker.
Harry Kane at Tottenham Hotspurs is an obvious example of a world-class deep lying forward. He will happily drop back, receiving the ball from the likes of Højbjerg and Bentacur then turn and play in either his striking partner in Son or spread the ball towards the wings to either Kulusevsky or Bergwijn when they are playing a front three.
When using the deep lying forward, I try to avoid adding an attacking midfielder to the equation as they tend to end up in the same spaces.
If you must have an attacking midfielder and a deep lying forward, make the attacking midfielder a shadow striker rather than an advanced playmaker, enganche, or trequartista.
The shadow striker will be more willing to run past the deep lying forward into better goal-scoring positions compared to the more playmaking roles of the other AMC roles.
If you strike the right balance, you might end up with the Kane-Dele Ali partnership that was devastating in the 2016/17 season, which saw Ali rack up 18 goals and 7 assists from the AMC position.
Attributes Required For The Deep Lying Forward Role In Football Manager
Strength has to be the first thing you look for in a striker before considering playing him as a deep lying forward. I would preferably have it more than 18 for a top-tier striker, as he will be facing defenders who typically have very high strength ratings.
Balance, decisions, passing, and vision are up next in what I consider important attributes for the deep lying forward. They will all play a part in the striker weighing his passing options before picking the one that has the most potential in causing problems for the opposition’s defence.
You do not want a deep lying forward who holds up the ball well but can not pick a telling pass because of sub-par passing.
High ratings in attributes that aid in goal scoring like finishing, technique, anticipation, and off-the-ball movement are nice to have, but not necessarily crucial, especially if your primary aim is to have the deep lying forward creating chances for other players.
In an attack duty, the finishing attributes are definitely more essential, but you can get away with having them in the 14s or 15s if you are using the deep lying forward in the support duty.
You can test the support and attack duty in your team to see which one performs closely to what you would want from your deep lying forward, then add or remove the personal instructions to further tweak his behaviour both on and off the ball.
Player Attributes Suitable For A Deep Lying Forward In Football Manager
Rather than outlining player traits that aid a striking in scoring more goals, which I have done here, I will outline those that aid the deep lying forward as he goes about his business of dropping back then linking the attack to the midfield.
- Comes deep to get ball – Before training this player trait on a striker, you will have to be certain that you will never use him again as a poacher, advanced forward, or pressing forward. This is because it conflicts with the normal striker’s instinct of staying up high on the pitch, ready to break through on goal.
- Play with back to goal – Suitable for strong strikers with a high balance rating, this player trait encourages the striker to face away from goal making it easy for him to link up play better with the midfielders and also spreading the ball to the wide positions.
- Tries killer balls often – Normally a player trait I assign to playmakers, this player trait encourages the deep lying forward to try more risky passes in an attempt to split the opposition defence open.
- Moves into the channels – The deep lying forward vacating his position and moving into the channels makes it difficult for the opposition to pick him up, which in turn provides him more time to pick a telling pass to his teammates.
If you are still experimenting with different roles for your striker, do not make him learn a player trait that will hinder him from performing well in a different role should you change your tactic sometime in the future.
Likes to beat offside trap might be a good player trait for a poacher, for instance, but a terrible one for a player you want to be holding up play for your team.
Deep Lying Forward Tactic In Football Manager
In the tactic below, I have the deep lying forward partnered with an advanced forward in the striking position. I have chosen to have no attacking midfielder as the deep lying forward will occupy that space while the box to box midfielder will also occasionally bomb forward adding another body in attack.
The winger on attack duty is to aid in creating chances with crosses and cutbacks, while the inside forward on the other side is supposed to complement the advanced forward’s goal-scoring exploits.
The deep lying playmaker on defend duty will shoulder the lion’s share of stopping counter-attacks, but I have also made the fullback and the wing back be more conservative as the tactic is really adventurers, which might leave us a little exposed at the back.
This tactic is not suited for weak teams, but you can make it more defensively sound by moving the wide players back into the wing positions in central midfield strata. The winger will still be on winger duty, but you can have the inside forward as an inverted winger.
You can also have the deep lying forward play as a lone striker with a shadow striker in behind him, while the wing positions are occupied by two inside forwards or an inside forward and an inverted winger so that they can combine with the deep lying forward as they move into the box.