The inverted winger is a fairly new role in Football Manager, having being introduced in the FM20 iteration. The role is rightly compared to the inside forward, as they largely behave in the same way, however there are a few key differences.
The inverted winger normally starts out wide liker a normal winger near the touchline, but will instead cut inside into the midfield once in possession while looking for an opportunity to cross or play a dangerous through ball to the strikers.
The inside forward, on the other hand, will normally cut inside without the ball and aim to receive it near the 18 yard box, where he will hopefully have more chances to take shots at the opposition keeper as compared to the inverted winger.
Raphinha of Leeds United is an excellent example of an inverted winger, as he normally picks the ball out wide, cuts inside and tries to find Bamford with a cross or through ball. Riyad Mahrez in the Right Wing position is also another perfect example, while the likes of Mohammed Salah and Marcus Rashford are examples of inside forwards as they like to drift inwards even without the ball, then once in possession, they will typically take on their man then look to fire a shot towards goal.
However, an inside forward will also look to find his teammates in better positions with through balls and crosses, however the regularity of these happening will be different compared to an inverted winger. In the same vein, when presented with an opportunity, the inverted winger will also take shots towards goal, though minimal.
How to Use an Inside Forward in Football Manager
An inside forward should generally have pace and acceleration to burn. If not, his dribbling and flair should be high so that he can get past his marker more often than not.
An inside forward who does not have the above characteristics will struggle massively and might be ineffective in your tactic.
When using inside forwards, the central striker in your tactic should be one who comes short so that the inside forwards can play off him as they proceed towards the box. A deep-lying forward or a complete forward on support duty should work well here.
Good finishing and technique are a must if you do not want frustration watching your inside forwards fire wide almost every chance they get. I typically play fast strikers as inside forwards when using a tactic with wide players.
If you have a strong team and can afford your fullbacks being adventurous, inside forwards are best partnered with attacking fullbacks or wing backs so that they can occupy the space left out wide when the inside forward moves inwards.
As an inside forward looks to primarily score goals, suitable player traits for this role will overlap massively with those of strikers, you can take a look at them here.
How to Use Inverted Wingers in FM22
Just like inside forwards, pace and acceleration are important tools to have in this role, but not crucial. The inverted winger largely relies on his guile and creativity to unlock the defence in front of him with crosses or through balls.
Therefore, vision, passing, technique and crossing are much more important here than just raw pace and dribbling.
Mahrez, Grealish and Sancho are not necessarily known for their searing pace, however they have played this role effectively for their respective teams.
Unlike the inside forward role, when using inverted wingers, your central striker should look to primarily make runs in behind the defence rather than dropping deep to link up play. This way, your inverted winger will always have a target to hit with through balls.
An advanced forward, a poacher or a pressing forward on attack duty will regularly make these type of runs in behind the defence.
Overlapping fullbacks will also work well when using inverted wingers, however they do not need to be as aggressive as compared to when using inside forwards.
Player Traits Useful For Inverted Wingers
The inverted winger is more of a creator than a goalscorer, therefore player traits that will complement the player finding other teammates are important for this role. These player traits include;
- Moves ball to right/left foot before dribble attempt – This player trait is useful for players with good dribbling but are severely one footed. It also encourages the manager to play these players on the opposite side of their stronger foot so that they are more likely to dribble inwards rather than going down the flank.
- Tries killer balls often – This player trait encourages the player to take risks more regularly in trying passes that aim to unlock the defence.
- Plays one-twos – Playing one-twos with runners from midfield or an overlapping fullback will help in unsettling the opposition defence.
Inverted Winger or Inside Forward, Which Role is Better?
The balance of your team coupled with the strengths of your players should dictate which role you select in the wide positions. If you want a wide player with significantly more goal threat, then an inside forward should be your choice, while the inverted winger role is best suited for playmakers who will first look to supply their teammates before opting to score themselves.