How To Properly Use The Deep Lying Playmaker In Football Manager

Football manager describes the deep lying playmaker as a player who operates in the space between the defence and the midfield and aims to initiate attacking moves through pinpoint passes to players positioned higher up on the pitch.

The role is available with two duties, Support and Defend. In the support duty, the deep lying playmaker is more willing to bring the ball out of defence, and operates with a more expansive passing range, while in the defend duty, he will fulfil extra defensive responsibilities by holding position in front of the defence and will rarely look to support attacks.

The role rightly draws parallels with the Regista role, which we looked at here. However, the main difference between the regista and the deep lying playmaker is that the regista has more freedom to roam from his position into spaces where he will effectively dictate play from, while the deep lying playmaker is more static in his positioning. 

This freedom to roam from his position makes it necessary to surround the regista with willing runners who will cover for his tendency to neglect defensive duties. The deep lying playmaker on the other hand will look to strike a perfect balance between being solid in defence and aiming to support his attacking teammates with his passing range.

The deep lying playmaker holding his position just in front of the defence makes it a suitable role to employ with attacking fullbacks or wing backs who will push high into the opposition’s final third, leaving the centre backs and the deep lying playmaker to thwart the threat of counter-attacks from the opposition.

In the support duty, the deep lying playmaker will be eager to push higher into central midfield and even the attacking midfield position, as he is more willing to support his teammates in the forward positions. If you couple this with a lower defensive line, there are chances that the opposition’s attacking midfielder and inverted wingers will take advantage of the vacated space between your centre backs and the deep lying playmaker.

To counter this, either use a higher defensive line to minimize the vacant space, or only use the deep lying playmaker who is on support duty in the central midfield position rather than in the defensive midfield. You can then have a more defensive minded player in defensive midfield to occupy this space. 

Toni Kroos, the best central midfielder of this generation in my opinion, fits the deep lying playmaker role on support duty like a glove. His top tier ball retention skills in midfield coupled with a passing range on both feet that is second to none in world football was key in Real Madrid winning the UEFA Champions League three times on the trot.  

In order to shine in the 433 or 41212 systems that Zinedine Zidane routinely employed, Kroos and Modric in central midfield had to have the support of Casemiro in the defensive midfield position to cover the space that they would leave vacant when they pushed forward in possession of the ball.

The presence of Casemiro also freed up the wing backs, Marcelo and Carvajal, to push high into the final third, sometimes to the extent of Marcelo almost playing as a winger in some games.

With a support duty in the deep lying playmaker role, Kroos has occasionally found space just outside the opposition’s 18 yard box where he has taken full advantage, racking up quite an impressive number of long range goals.

The best deep lying playmakers in world football include; 

  1. Toni Kroos – Germany
  2. Jorginho – Italy
  3. Marco Veratti – Italy
  4. Miralem Pjanic – Bosnia
  5. Sergio Busquets – Spain
  6. Frenkie de Jong  – Netherlands

Deep Lying Playmaker Attributes In FM

The deep lying playmaker is known for his passing, and football manager emphasizes it as such. His first touch, passing, vision and technique have to be the best in your team if you are to see any success using the role. 

I personally think there is an abundance of good quality players and regens in the game who can comfortably play the role, so I aim to have a player who has a rating of 17s or 16s at worst for the technical attributes.

A capable deep lying playmaker

On the mental side, decisions, off the ball movement and vision are key in keeping the attack ticking while anticipation, teamwork and a good work rate will aid the deep playmaker in solidifying the defence.

The game does not demand much physically from the deep lying playmaker, apart from balance, making it a suitable position for versatile attacking midfielders.

Player Traits For A Deep Lying Playmaker In FM

The deep lying playmaker will benefit from having the following player traits in football manager;

  1. Comes deep to get ball – Out of possession, this player trait will encourage the deep lying playmaker to drop deep ensuring he gets possession in a deeper position, from where he can then find his attacking teammates with long balls.
  2. Dictates tempo – A good deep lying playmaker should be responsible for dictating the speed at which the team plays their game. Knowing when to speed it up, or slow it down.
  3. Tries killer balls often – Especially when there isn’t another playmaker in the team, a deep lying playmaker should be encouraged to take advantage of his passing range by trying to play his teammates through on goal.
  4. Likes to switch ball to other flank – This ability to switch play frequently leads to your winger or attacking fullback regularly finding himself in acres of space when the play is concentrated on the opposite side of the pitch. 
  5. Runs with ball rarely – The deep lying playmaker should be encouraged to rely on his passing and vision to advance play up the pitch, rather than trying to run with the ball through central midfield.

Bad Player Traits For A Deep Lying Playmaker

The following player traits on the other hand will hinder the deep lying playmaker from going about his role effectively;

  1. Arrives late in opponent’s area – This player trait is suitable for midfield roles like that of the mezzala or box to box midfielder who are encouraged to join the attack.
  2. Gets forward whenever possible – The deep lying playmaker should prioritize protecting the defence, especially when he is on the defend duty.
  3. Plays no through balls – This player trait is wasted on anyone who has decent vision and passing rating.
  4. Plays short simple passes – The deep lying playmaker should be encouraged to try expansive passing which takes advantage of his impressive passing range and vision.

FM Deep Lying Playmaker Tactic

Rather than going for a trio in midfield, I have opted for a two-man midfield in an attacking 424 system. The deep lying playmaker will offer defensive solidity alongside the box to box midfielder, who will still pick his moments to join the attack when it is safe to do so.

Football manager deep lying playmaker tactic

The tactic should work well for a team expected to mount a title challenge or just compete for a continental place.

Since the deep lying playmaker will not be making any forward runs, the inside forward is encouraged to drift inwards, while the wing back behind him will occupy his vacated space on the overlap. 

On the other side, the winger will hug the touchline while the box to box midfielder will look to link up with the deep lying forward as he makes his runs from deep, arriving late into the opposition’s box to meet a cross or cutback.

By virtue of the tactic being attacking, I have also instructed the team to play with a higher defensive line to minimize chances of the opposition’s central and attacking midfielders overcrowding my deep lying playmaker when they get possession.

If this tactic exposes your defence regularly, you can drop the deep lying forward in favour of a mezzala in the central midfield position, then pull back the deep lying playmaker into the defensive midfield position to form a conventional midfield three