How To Properly Use The Poacher In Football Manager

The poacher lives to score goals, he will barely contribute anything to your team’s build-up play or defensive work. But if you supply him with opportunities, he will most likely top the goal-scoring charts in your football manager save.

Getting this balance in FM, however, is easier said than done. I have managed regen strikers in previous FM editions, who looked like ideal poachers, with good finishing, off-the-ball movement, and high acceleration and pace, but what let them down is their player traits.

A poacher in football manager

The poacher’s off-the-ball movement needs to be complemented with player traits that pull in the same direction. Having a poacher who has the “comes deep to get ball” player trait, for instance, will work counterclockwise to what you are trying to achieve.

Football manager describes the poacher as a player who sits on the shoulder of the last defender, looking to break the defensive line and run onto through balls from midfield.

This description automatically makes the “likes to beat the offside trap” a necessary player trait to train your striker on if he does not have it in his locker already.

There are some who consider poachers to be a dying breed in the modern game, which might be true as most strikers nowadays are required to perform other roles than just sticking the ball at the back of the net.  

Be it leading the press, holding up play for your team, or being the team’s designated playmaker, there are convincing arguments for not using the poacher’s role altogether in favour of other well-rounded striker’s roles in the game.

For those of us who stick the team’s best player in his best role, then build a team that complements him, using a poacher now and again is inevitable.

I have had more success using a poacher in a two-striker pairing rather than having him operate by himself upfront.

One striker holds up the play, a target man can work well here, linking the attack to the midfield, while the poacher runs riot trying to work out where he can be most effective without worrying about how the ball will get to him.

Attributes Suitable For A Poacher In Football Manager

The poacher’s attributes requirements are pretty simple, yet difficult to get right in the game. You basically need a fast nimble striker with good finishing ability.

Finishing, heading, technique, and a good first touch are all that is needed from the poacher in terms of technical ability.

I would aim for these to be at least 15 or higher, By nature, this is also true for real-life poachers, if they are better rated in other technical attributes like crossing or passing, I would personally deploy them in other roles that are more well-rounded.

In terms of physical attributes, high acceleration is critical. You want your poacher to always comfortably create a yard or two from the defender marking him to take a shot. When making runs in behind the defence, high acceleration will make it difficult for the opposition to catch up once the poacher makes his move. 

Mental attributes that ensure the poacher is at the right place at the right time and manages to keep his cool once he gets goalscoring opportunities are what will make or break a player for this role. 

Off the ball movement, anticipation, composure and decisions should be at least 15 or higher. Most strikers fulfil these requirements, therefore pick the one that has a few 16s and 17s in one or two of the attributes. 

The poacher might occasionally find himself out wide, so a decent crossing rating would not hurt, but this does not happen often and you should only consider it as a bonus rather than a requirement for the role.

Player Traits Suitable For A Poacher In FM

Player traits that complement a striker’s finishing ability will also work well for the poacher. However, as discussed here, these player traits do not universally apply to all strikers, meaning you have to individually look at a striker’s attributes before you decide on training him on either “shoots with power” or “places shots”

I have therefore decided to only share player traits that will aid the movement of the poacher, rather than those focusing on how he strikes the ball.

  1. Likes to beat offside trap – The poacher lives at the shoulder of the last defender, encouraging him to continuously try to beat the offside trap will increase the chances of him getting a goal or two.
  2. Plays one-twos – The poacher initiating a one-two as he moves into the final third will increase the tempo your team plays at while unsettling the opposition’s defence. If you are more of a counter-attacking team, this will rarely happen but for more possession-based teams, having this player trait will not hurt.
  3. Knocks ball past opponent. This player trait is useful for taking advantage of the poacher’s high acceleration and pace. However, if the poacher also has high dribbling and flair, say around 14 or 15, it is not crucial you train him on this specific player trait.

Poacher Tactic In Football Manager

The tactic below is suited for a cautious play style that aims at soaking pressure before quickly launching counterattacks that take advantage of the poacher’s pace and off-the-ball movement.

Poacher Tactic In Football Manager

The wing back on the left, and the winger on the right will offer the width while the inverted winger, box to box midfielder, and the deep lying forward will be responsible for being the team’s presence in central midfield.

The ball-winning midfielder, on defensive duty, will not venture far from his position, and will instead cover the team from the opposition’s own counterattacks.

The poacher will largely remain anonymous when the team is out of possession but will have sufficient space to run into once the team gets the ball back in our own half.

This is a suitable system for a team that is not necessarily a world-beater but has the players capable of causing trouble for the big boys. You still retain your goal-scoring threat while also being defensively sound.

One tweak you can make is making the deep lying forward play with an attacking duty if you want him to operate closer to the opposition’s goal. 

If you need more bodies in midfield, playing the second striker in the AMC position as an advanced playmaker will add more creativity to your side at the cost of increasing the goal-scoring burden for your poacher.

I have kept it simple in the goalkeeping department by using the standard goalkeeper rather than the sweeper keeper, as we do not him wandering out of his 18-yard box to join in the play or kickstart attacking moves.

For a more well-rounded central striker that offers more in attack, you can also take a look at the pressing forward’s guide or the false 9’s.