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Unsung Heroes: Complete Wing Back FM

In this unsung heroes article, I focus on the complete wing back role in Football Manager. A role which is commonly used around football, especially in recent times. The complete wing back in FM has been influential in my side’s success, offering offensive outlets and defensive stability. I will be applying everything to my Uruguay save, which has given me a lot of success.

It is often hard to find players who are natural at complete wing back, and the wing back position on the pitch. This is made even harder when you manage a team with limited funds and players who aren’t really suited to the role. I read Oliver Jensen’s retraining article, which you can read here and it really inspired me. It got me thinking to do the exact same thing. Obviously, with lesser quality players in a South American league – it still had it’s positives. I wanted to apply this to my save, and this led me to falling in love with the complete wing back role.

Complete wing back in FM20 – Attributes to look for:

These are the attributes that Football Manager filters as the most important for the wing back role. Obviously, you have your own perception of what is required, so just use these as a base and then use your own knowledge to decide. 

In both the support and attack roles, the attributes that are needed don’t differ. However, with the attack duty there is a greater focus on decisions and flair.

Complete wing back – Support

  • Crossing
  • Dribbling
  • First Touch
  • Passing
  • Tackling
  • Technique
  • Anticipation
  • Composure
  • Decisions
  • Flair
  • Off The Ball
  • Teamwork
  • Work Rate
  • Acceleration
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Pace
  • Stamina

Those in bold are what the game sees as most important. There are a lot of attributes which are selected within this role, but it is a very technical role. Usually wing backs are partnered with an inside forward or no one ahead of them. This is why they need so much technical, mental and physical attributes because they contribute to all phases of play. 

In a support duty the complete wing back is more cautious with his advancing runs, with defending always at the back of his mind. With the attack duty, they are more inclined to make that run forward.

Complete wing back – Attack

  • Crossing
  • Dribbling
  • First Touch
  • Passing
  • Tackling
  • Technique
  • Anticipation
  • Composure
  • Decisions
  • Flair
  • Off The Ball
  • Teamwork
  • Work Rate
  • Acceleration
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Pace
  • Stamina

The main difference for the attack duty is that flair and decisions are deemed to be essential. I use an attacking complete wing back, so I completely agree. The player needs to have high numbers in these two mental attributes due to the nature of how they play. They need to know whether they make that run down the line, or hold off, in case of danger. It is important, especially if this is your focal point of attacks. If the attributes are poor, you are weakening your side, and not giving the role it’s much needed love.

I prefer the attack duty, but this is due to me having no other wide players. The rest of my players are central, so having someone who is solely responsible for both flanks is important. This also enables me to have a more structured setup, as I have both flanks covered.

Players who are Wing Backs in Football Manager

Although it’s hard to determine the difference between a wing back and a complete wing back, I have compiled a selection of players who I believe most replicate a complete wing back.

Alex Sandro

A creative player who isn’t one to hold back when attacking. A very quick, attacking wing back who offers a wide option at almost any opportunity. Having him naturally in the WBL role also helps, it means the time to get up to speed is massively reduced. He is one of the most experienced, well rounded players, and that is important. He is natural in other positions which also help with his overall game.

Trent Alexander-Arnold

Probably a name you’ve never heard of? Who am I kidding?! One of the world’s best golden boys. A player who is in my opinion the perfect wing back to apply to a football manager situation. Especially in his Liverpool setup. Typically the front three are quite narrow, which allows Trent to push forward and operate in a wider role.

This is how I envisage a team to setup who would use a complete wing back in FM. Looking at this particular video you can just read his behaviour and why he does a lot of the things he does. So the runs he makes, the right time, the right moment. It is very interesting. 

Retraining players to be a complete wing back in FM

In my introduction I mentioned that I had been reading Oliver Jensen’s retraining article, and it made me do this with all suitable players. I obviously don’t use a winger/inside forward because of the way I operate the complete wing back role. However, I was stuck with what to do with very talented players who would be missing out on game time. Then retraining stuck out.

I have focused a lot on attacking players and converting them into complete wing backs. Although it takes some time for them to adjust and understand the position, it’s by far the best way to keep players and it saves A LOT of money. Just for context, search how many players are comfortable playing wide midfield, or wide attacking midfield and then look how many are natural as a wing back. You won’t find many. 

Retraining is essential, and is fairly straight forward, especially during pre-season when you can train harder and have more match practice. I like to take over the individual training and get them focusing being a complete wing back on attack. If the player isn’t very good in a certain area, I will also focus on additional training in these areas. Game time is essential for learning a new position, so especially in pre-season make sure to get these players getting minutes in the role they are expected too.

It is always a learning curve, and not every player will turn out how you want them to. These simple principals can be applied to any position. Training and game time are massively important, as well as how they actually play in those roles.

Examples

Above, a player who I brought in who was naturally a right midfielder or right back. So, here’s my little project. Lets put him in between both and train him to the best he can be. It has worked, and now Pintado is more rounded. If I recruit players with a limited bank balance, it would make my team weaker. I like to find players who can be moulded in to the team.

Another example is a naturally very attacking player, who I have retrained to be a complete wing back. Mosquera has been on loan for two seasons and in that time has played every match as a complete wing back. He lacks defensively, but makes up for going forward. 

Both these players have been successfully trained to be part of the team. If I did not retrain them, they wouldn’t be a player for my team, and I’d be lacking. It’s always rewarding seeing players develop and be an asset in to the team and that’s precisely what has happened here.

Complete wing back in FM

Now, the fun stuff. Lets start looking at Football Manager, and some information collated from in game. I will briefly cover touches, heat map, distance covered and partnerships. I always find it good when two complete wing backs in FM have a good understanding of each other.

Touches

complete wing back fm

Above, my right wing back. If you look at the touches, he has significantly more than anyone else on the team. 175 touches is perfect for this system and just shows exactly how important the role and player is. I have highlighted where the touches are, and as you can see there’s a lot in different areas. I think this single screenshot symbolises how important getting the right player for this role is. 

Also to note Massari was subbed off due to fitness issues. He had 86 touches and the player who replaced him Bonnette had 75. This equals 161, just short of the right wing back. It’s important to remember that it’s not just in one area, it is varied and further proofing that they cover all areas. 

Heat Map

It may be hard to see, however the team are attacking to the left. I have highlighted the three wing backs (two starters, one substitute) just to show their heat map. The thing that interests me the most is that a lot of the heat is in the oppositions half, which goes to show how reliant I am on them for their attacking differences.

Due to me playing three at the back, the cover isn’t always necessary, so having someone who can run the channels is adventurous. The nature of the role demands a lot of stamina, hence why I use a lot of substitutes with this role. It’s not only to give the players a rest, but it can change the game if you have a tired player and bringing on fresh legs to help solidify the team. 

Distance Covered

distance covered complete wing back fm

I have to make a lot of substitutes because of how much my complete wing back in FM covers. My team averages about 11km per game. A lot of the movement that’s covered is sprints, therefore reducing his overall condition. 

If you remember the two complete wing backs I have, one is more attacking and one is more defensive. This is perfect to apply this scenario to that, you have an option on the bench who can help, so don’t be afraid to use your bench for options. 

Partnership – Goals/Assists

Baines and Coleman comes to mind when I see that both my wing backs are crossing the ball to each other. You probably won’t know them, because you support a good team. That’s besides the point. 

I am essentially overloading the box here and their defence do not know what to do. They are only focusing on my two strikers and my attacking midfielder. But look at Rodriguez at the back post, completely free. This is the type of space you can create with this style of play, and punish your opposition.

He is still free, with the ball. He places it in to the net, and we score. It’s all about confusing the opposition, having overloads in an area which is congested but doesn’t leave you exposed. They have all seven players in the box, but two out of the four players in the box are completely unmarked. I believe this is one of the reasons I like the complete wing back in FM, it just offers absolutely everything.

Partnership – Defensive Positioning

In this screenshot, the player who is down the line in red is my complete wing back. If my midfielder does not retain possession, I have a player who can cover. Focus your attention to the furthest player away, that is my right wing back. He is covering for that area.

There’s always a lot of misconceptions with this role. People just assume it’s all out attack, all the time, when it isn’t. There’s always going to be games where you’re backs against the walls, so make sure you have defensive players who can do this role. 

I hope you enjoyed this unsung heroes article and fall in love with the complete wing back in FM as much as I have. If you have any questions please comment below, or let us know via our social media channels. 

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Other articles you may enjoy in the Unsung Heroes series: 

 

Written by Dictate The Game

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