Historically known as the 'Target Man', we've rebranded this term to be all encompassing. More than just about any role, the word 'Target' immediately paints a picture of the type of player we're looking for. That is, someone strong, typically tall, aerially savvy, robust, and frequently used by their team as a target for advancing up the pitch. In the hockey sense, they would typically be the one responsible for 'roughing up the opposition'
Creative Links are quite similar to our attacking midfielder persona - the 'Creative Ten'. The main difference is that they play up front, and typically conduct more of their play with their back to goal in linking up with their teammates. You could call them a 'False 9', a playmaking centre-forward, or something between a '9' and a '10.'
Channel Runners are one of our most unique prototypes, based off the common phrase used for strikers that "run the channels". They typically exist in a front-two, and in teams that intermix moments of counter-attacking football with quick and incisive long passes over the top. The use of a striker in this manner remains a more common approach to life in the women's game, as strikers across all realms are becoming more versatile (and advised for that matter) in dropping into build-up play to receive the ball.
When on their day, 'Direct Goal-Scorers' can be some of the most entertaining footballers to watch, with a sense of raw intensity beating inside their heart every step of the way. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has shown everyone exactly that this season at Serie A leaders Napoli, but the likes of Sadio Mané and Serge Gnabry have demonstrated their goal-scoring exploits for years.
Throughout this series, we've endeavoured to avoid player types signified by a single set of actions and statistics. The 'Dynamic Dribbler' is one of the rare exceptions, as the art of 'dribbling' is an essential way for wingers to enact magic on the pitch, and become the magic wand sorcerers that we all know they can be. Here is our analysis of the 'Dynamic Dribbler', and their importance on the pitch.
Unlike their name might imply, 'Inverted Wingers' are far more than just wingers that cut or drift inside. That is only one small part of an overarching role that prioritizes playmaking in the final third, and dynamically linking play between the other members of the front-line. The best of the art will often post high numbers in goals and assists, but 'Inverted Wingers' need to be so much more than just creative goal-scorers - generally tasked with creating space, rotating with teammates, and moving off the ball to exploit the half-spaces at the right moments.
Even if a coach has not clearly communicated how they see the player fitting into the grander scheme, any footballer can come to a realization about the type of role they fulfill for their team and how they work as part of the team to achieve success on a grander scale, beyond just the individual facets of their game.
When we say 'Creative Ten', I'm sure you immediately conjure up an image of a classical painter of a player, who wonderfully creates art with their passing and incisiveness in the final third. But as has been well documented over the past few years, that type of player does not tend to exist in the modern game. The Mesut Ozil's, David Silva's and Cesc Fabregas's of this world no longer tend to exist as they once did, or play in the same positions that they once held. Nowadays, 'number ten's' must not only be capable contributors in the final third, but highly active in pressing from the front, and contributing to rotations that spread the width of the pitch.
As the ball-dominant magic-wand sorcerers in central midfield, 'Midfield Maestros' accomplish feats that few other players would be capable of showcasing to the world. They ooze class every time they touch the ball, always looking dangerous as they dribble, carry or skillfully dance their way around the opposition. But beyond technical precision and pizzazz, 'Midfield Maestros' might be some of the most tactically adept out there, possessing the awareness of space that very few have mastered. Here is our analysis of the Midfield Maestro.
The 'Tempo Setter' is a unique player type to our system, taking into account the possession-based players that operate in a 'number 8' position, and thrive when given the ball in the half-spaces. Youri Tielemans, Christian Eriksen and Jordan Henderson feature as some of the best within the role from an emblematic perspective, perfectly exuding the cucumber coolness required. But the likes of Thiago and Tchouaméni also stake a claim despite their extreme exceptionalities on the ball, due to the high influence they present in keeping the game moving along from a withdrawn position. Beyond the streamlined skill of Thiago, they tend not to be the flashiest of players in their teams. But 'Tempo Setters' are key to setting the tone of a football match, and conducting the orchestra from start to finish. Quite simply, without their class and composure in possession, the whole entire musical production could crumble.
As goal-contributors, defensive warriors and midfield engines all wrapped up in one modem, 'Box to Box Midfielders' end up being some of the most imperative members of their squads. Unlike other midfield player types, they consistently catch the eye for their attacking performances, even when deployed in a deeper, defensive, 'number 8' role. The likes of Conor Gallagher, Sergej Milinković-Savić and Georgia Stanway perfectly encapsulate the role, helping us to qualify and quantify more of these 'Box-to-Box' engines in the future.
The 'Deep-Lying Playmaker' is one of the already attributed player types that we have adopted within our system. Also known by its Italian name 'Regista', the 'DLP' is tasked with setting the tempo of the match from build up to progression, all the way to creation. They sit in front of the defensive line as an 'Anchor', but hold a more offensive, progressive and possession-oriented role than the other two 'number 6' types within our 'Anchor' persona. Their role is in both helping create space between the lines, and then breaking lines, recycling play, or even changing the point of attack upon receiving the ball, so that their team can advance up the pitch, beat an opposition's press and seek spaces closer to goal.
Anchors tend to play at the base of a midfield three, holding the midfield together, and allowing others to work their magic up ahead. Their role is in both screening in front of the defense to disallow progressive passes forward, particularly into the opposition's striker, and to 'anchor' the midfield by holding everything together as other members step out of position or drift into the half-spaces. Unlike the 'Midfield Destroyer' they do not need to be overly active in defensive phases on sheer statistical contributions, but should be equally active on the hard work done off the ball to shift, shuffle and slide with the play.