Football Manager 2023: Attacking Roles Guide

If you want to get the best out of your forward line then this Football Manager 2023 Attacking Roles guide is for you. Learn more about the different roles available and the right circumstances to assign them in to maximize your attacking capabilities. Without further ado, let's get started!

Football Manager 2023: Attacking Roles Guide

A strong attack can completely flip the balance of play and singlehandedly win you football matches even if your defence and midfield aren’t as formidable. Therefore, it’s vital that you know the different roles and duties you can assign to your forward line that best suit your playstyle, match conditions, player abilities, and can exploit the weaknesses in the opponent’s backline. In this Football Manager 2023 Attacking Roles guide, we’ll take a look at the wide areas first, before moving onto the more central prong of the forward line.

If you want more Football Manager 2023, check out our other guides, including these:

Wide Forwards


The traditional winger operates in the wide areas of the pitch looking to stretch the opposition and create space for the main striker. In addition, they will look to swing in crosses for the target men in the opposition penalty area, looking to rack up those assists. For these two functions you will want your winger to have good pace, dribbling ability, and crossing attributes to get the best out of this role.

My recommendation for when you have a system that relies on a 3 man attack with 2 wide players (such as the 433) is to assign the Winger role to at least one of the wide men. This will ensure you have one player running direct on the sideline at all times, proving to be a constant threat down that side as well as acting as a decoy to create space to run into for teammates. However, one traditional Winger is more than enough, if you assign the role to two players you could overdo it and fail to exploit the space created for the opposite side of the ball-carrying winger.

A well-balanced front three that complements each player and creates plenty of chances.

A well-balanced front three that complements each player and creates plenty of chances.

You have two duties you can assign to the Winger. The first one, Support, instructs the Winger to prioritize moving the ball on, either through crossing or a through-ball, once he has dribbled past opponent, instead of having a shot at goal. Alternatively, you can assign the Attack duty which encourages the Winger to be even more direct, dribble more often and take on more shots than usual. I have found the Support duty to be sufficient in most phases of the match without overcommitting the player in question.

Inverted Winger

Next up in the Football Manager 2023 Attacking Roles guide is the Inverted Winger. Contrary to the traditional Winger who likes to keep his width and stretch the opposition, the Inverted Winger looks to cut inside towards the opposition area. Doing so allows them to provide a more direct goalscoring threat as they can unleash deadly curling long shots from the edge of the penalty area. This also means that your Inverted Winger’s strong foot should preferably be opposite to the wing he is operating on to allow them to execute the curler properly. Alternatively they can also put in in-swinging crosses on the far side of the goal as a deadly alternative to the out-swingers of the traditional wingers.

I recommend you to pair up the Inverted Winger with an overlapping full-back/wing-back. This will stretch the opposition defense, create more space for the winger to cut into, and also create a deadly passing option for him to exploit. You can assign one of two duties to the Inverted Winger. With the Support duty, the winger will lay off the ball to a more direct threat after cutting inside. Alternatively with the attack duty they will look to take on more shots and dribble into the penalty area more often with more responsibility.


Now in this Football Manager 2023 Attacking Roles guide lets discuss the Raumdeter. This is a pretty unique role in which the player looks to constantly move about in the wide areas and doesn’t hold position, looking for free spaces to exploit. The Raumdeter relies on flashes of brilliance rather than consistent excellence throughout the match. He will be quiet throughout the match, but when he sees an opportunity to burst in behind from the wide areas, he will take it without hesitation to get across a dangerous shot or cross.

This role only comes with the Attack duty. The Raumdeter has the tendency to become invisible in large portions of the match. Therefore, it’s almost as if you will be playing with 10 men in defence. You need to make up for the lack of defensive contribution by pairing a defensive minded player alongside him or a no-nonsense fullback behind him.

The Raumdeter's lack of defensive contribution can be balanced off by the high work rate of the Pressing forward

The Raumdeter’s lack of defensive contribution can be balanced off by the high work rate of the Pressing forward

Wide Target Forward

These are ideally big target-men positioned on the wings in the final third who make their aerial presence known from long balls sent forward by the backline. They usually pair themselves against full backs who are traditionally not as tall as the central defenders or wide centre-backs, hence increasing the chances of winning the aerial duel. This role is perfect for teams who like to sit back and park the bus, and then go on the counter-attacks by playing long-balls in behind the opposition defence or even clearing it. The Wide Target Forward gets control of the ball and plays short simple passes on to faster players making runs in behind the defence.

There are two duties available for the Wide Target Forward role in terms of player instructions. With the Support duty, the player will use his sheer physicality to get control of clearances or loose balls and pass it onwards. However with the Attack duty, the Wide Target Forward will take a more significant role in attack by actively demanding long balls and participating in the build-up once the ball in under control. When I play a counter-attacking system, I like to assign a Support duty and put up a fast runner alongside him to carry the ball forward.

Central Attack

Target Forward

Let’s now move to the more central areas in this Football Manager 2023 Attacking Roles guide to talk about the Target Forward role. The Target Forwards traditionally use their powerful physique to act as decoys in the opposition backline to create space for their other attacking partners by occupying defenders. Additionally, their jumping reach also allows them to win long balls and clearances and pass the ball on for dangerous attacking plays. While goalscoring is an important part of their game, they often take up a more supporting role in the forward line, happy to let their fellow forwards steal the show. A perfect example is Olivier Giroud.

I like to pair up the Target Forward with a faster runner in behind when I play a two-man attack in any match, such as the 442 system. It comes with two duties. The Support duty is what we have just discussed, while with the Attack duty the Target Forward will look to be a more direct threat by executing more shots than usual.

The Target Forward can win long balls and pass it onto the Poacher.

The Target Forward can win long balls and pass it onto the Poacher.

Advanced Forward

The Advanced Forward is given the important responsibility of being the main man in attack both by scoring as well as creating goals for less significant forwards. Additionally, they will look to win possession for their team from clearances and keep the ball moving once under control. This role is suitable for a variety of systems but I usually use it for when I have to park the bus in defence.

The Advanced Forward comes with just the Attack Duty as they are positioned pretty high up the pitch alongside the opposition backline where they cannot offer much defensively.

Pressing Forward

Next up in this Football Manager 2023 Attacking Roles guide is the Pressing Forward. The player will look to apply pressure on the opposition backline when the team is out of possession in order to win back the ball as quickly as possible. This role is perfect for teams that like to play a possession-pressing hybrid system where they want to unleash wave after wave of constant aggression on the opposition. Due to the intensity, the opposition backline will be forced to go long, once the defenders have won back the ball the team can resume its attacking play.

The Pressing Forward has three duties available for assignment. With the Defend duty, he will look to prioritize the pressing duty and force the opposition backline to clear the ball long, After all, what better way to defend than to win back the ball? With the Support duty, the Pressing Forward will take more attacking responsibility and look to chip in with more goals. Finally with the Attack duty, the player’s priority will be to get in amongst the scorers by taking off more shots than usual, albeit the pressing would still be an important part of his game.

False Nine

The False Nine can quite often prove to be a tactical masterclass. It is used more often by possession oriented teams who like to retain control of the ball and construct attacking moves rather than hope for them. The False Nine appears as a traditional centre-forward in the lineup graphics, but throughout the game will drop back into the midfield to function as an advanced playmaker to find pockets of space to operate in. This creates a conundrum for the opposition backline as they have to choose between man-marking him, opening up spaces for other players to exploit, or ignore him which allows the false nine to utilize vast spaces for deadly attacking patterns. 

The False Nine can drop in deep to disrupt the opponent's defensive structure.

The False Nine can drop in deep to disrupt the opponent’s defensive structure.

A good False Nine should have excellent passing, dribbling and positional understanding to make the most out of their hybrid role. While goal scoring is an important part of their game, it is not their priority objective. Accordingly, the False Nine only comes with the Support Role whereby they create spaces for their teammates to exploit.


The Poacher’s job is simple yet effective: get the ball in the back of the net. However, this is a dying role in modern-day football because of the lack of defensive and creative contribution by the Poacher. Poachers rely heavily on good service from their midfielders and wingers therefore you need to ensure you can arrange for this otherwise you will suffer from poor build-up play. Also make up for the lack of their defensive contribution by assigning an appropriate role in the midfield, such as a box to box midfielder. The Poacher needs to have a good first touch and acceleration to get in behind the backline, and of course needs to have brilliant finishing ability to make sure the chances get converted. The Poacher only comes with the Attack Duty.

Complete Forward

Finally in this Football Manager 2023 Attacking Roles guide we have the Complete Forward. This is probably the most complex role available for forwards. It combines the technical abilities of the false nine, the physicality of the Target Forward and the finishing of the Poacher. As such the player you choose needs to be gifted in a variety of areas such as passing, acceleration, speed, finishing, and body strength to be able to excel in this role. The Complete Forward will constantly move in the final third, looking to create chances for his teammates, make quick one-twos with them, win back the ball for them, and make runs in behind the opposition backline to get a shot at goal or create a decoy run.

A nice four-man attack in which the Wide Target Forward can win the aerial ball, pass it on to the complete forward who can then set up the Poacher

A nice four-man attack in which the Wide Target Forward can win the aerial ball, pass it on to the complete forward who can then set up the Poacher

You can assign either a Support or Attack duty to the Complete Forward. With the Support duty the Complete Forward will look to disorient the opposition backline by dropping deep and making decoy runs as well as distributing the ball dangerously to fellow teammates. With the Attack duty, they become a little more direct and get further forward, constantly demanding the ball and looking to get as many shots as possible.


That about wraps up my Football Manager 2023 Attacking Roles guide. You should have a better understanding of the varying roles you can assign to your wingers and center-forwards to maximize your chance creation and conversion. Mix it up, experiment, explore different playstyles and try different combinations with your defence and midfield.

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