How Are They Different: Defensive Midfielder, Holding Midfielder, Deep Lying Playmaker & Pivot?

Discussion in 'Football Forum' started by GM K, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. Feb 9, 2018
    #1

    GM K Full Member

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    Reading through the caf, I get the impression that there's a bit of confusion about these roles in teams and this influences how people tend to analyse who we should be buying and which formations we should be playing at times.

    I thought it would be helpful to discuss this.


    So here's my take:

    Basically, at the very core, there is no difference between 'defensive midfielder', 'holding midfielder', deep lying playmaker' and 'pivot' considering their primary role (of being the link from defence to the rest of the midfield and the attack). You could say that the general term is 'Defensive Midfielder'. That's a midfielder who essentially plays at the base of the midfield group, right in front of the defenders. You could call him the fifth or fourth defender depending on which defensive formation you are playing or the last midfielder. Think Lothar Mathaus, Patrick Viera, Diego Simeone during his days. Or to come closer home, the legendary Roy Keane.

    So the real question is, what type of defensive midfielder is your team's defensive midfielder?

    There is a debate about whether the holding midfielder role even exists. But let's agree it does for a minute. Such a player (or you may say, such a defensive midfielder) is one who basically 'holds' space for the team in the middle of the park. He possesses excellent spatial awareness and a good passing range. The guy we traditional call the defensive midfielder is more focused on breaking up play and acting as the fifth defender. The guy we call the holding midfielder, is the type of defensive midfielder who is more about holding space. People often think of Thiago Motta or Steven Gerrard or Chelsea's Matic here.

    The deep-lying playmaker is the type of ball playing defensive midfielder who dictates tempo and with his incredible vision and passing range, sets the team into attack by playing that splitting pass.
    His sense of timing is also strong so he dictates pace to a large extent even if he is slow himself. He sprays the ball from defence to the wings or through the middle to set up his team for attacking play. Classical examples include Andrea Pirlo, Sergio Busquet and Pep Guardiola during his playing days.

    The Pivot is really a deep lying playmaker in many ways. But if we insist on standing him alone, he is basically the guy who is between the defense and the mid-field with the stand out role of linking the defence with the rest of the midfield. Beats me how this is different from the DLP though.

    Not all defensive midfielders are the same. Some like to sit deep and focus on breaking up play. Some others like to sit deep and dictate play. Some are more combative and physical, some others are more intelligent and sleek.

    Thus is why I don't think there is a problem with the 4-2-3-1 formation or why a team could play double pivots (or two defensive midfielders) at times. It depends on the game plan for specific opponents and the skill sets of the DMs - whether or not they are complimentary.


    Would love to get your thoughts and how you think this weighs into transfers and preferred formations especially for United.
  2. Feb 9, 2018
    #2

    Adisa likes to take afvanadva wothowi doubt Scouse Lover

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    I call anyone that plays in front of a back four a DM.
    Then there are different types.
    Ones like Casimero and ones like Busquets.
    Deep lying playmakers are very rare these days. Pirlo is the last I can remember. He often played as the deepest midfielder but it wasn't his responsibility to protect the back line. Kristy did for a while at Madrid.
  3. Feb 9, 2018
    #3

    Speedicut75 Full Member

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    Pivot?
  4. Feb 9, 2018
    #4

    Grylte "nothing wrong with some friendly incest, bro"

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  5. Feb 9, 2018
    #5

    Sunny Jim Full Member

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    IMHO, the margins are fine but when you see a respective type of midfielder you know who is who. Also i think that these types of divisions had more sense in th 90's and 00'. It looks these days we have more B2B's than specialized midfielders.

    On topic:
    Defensive midfielder - main taks is to break opponent's flow of passing. Tackling and interceptions are key skills.
    Deep lying playmaker- someone who contributes to attacking game by taking the ball form defender and distributing or taking it up field. (Pirlo)
    Holding midfielder - a type of defensive midfielder who operates predominately in front of CB's. For me this type originates from zonal-oriented game plans.

    Pivot? no clue.
  6. Feb 9, 2018
    #6

    unitedforeveral Banned

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    We have all the kinds in our team: The defensive midfielder+holding midfielder= Matic
    A deep lying playmaker: Herrera
    A free flying attacking midfielder: Pogba
  7. Feb 9, 2018
    #7

    YouOnlyLiveTwice Full Member

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    Defensive midfielders is the likes of Matic and Wanyama.

    Holding playmakers are the likes of Carrick, Alonso, Busquets.
  8. Feb 9, 2018
    #8

    Subho611 Full Member

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    I think it's FM that has started naming these positions like DM, Deep Lying Playmaker, Regista, Half-Back, Anchor Man etc. and confused the hell out of everyone.

    I believe, while the role is more or less the same i.e. to hold their position in front of the defense, look to break counter attacks by blocking passing lines, intercepting the ball and then playing it forward.

    The various names IMO refer to the actual application of this role and not the role itself. If the player in question has great vision and passing range, he would be called a deep-lying playmaker. If he has an abundance of energy and is seen almost everywhere on the pitch - a regista.
  9. Feb 9, 2018
    #9

    Rifer Full Member

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    Meanings overlapping with one another, albeit with few critical differences Imo.

    "Defensive midfielder" is a more general kind of category for central midfielders. Basically, the one that focuses more on doing the defensive roles and/or occupying a more defensive areas/spaces on the field. Can either be (& overlap with)be "pure defensive midfielder" who plays just in front of the CBs shielding them eg. Gattusso or Casemeiro, or everywhere (join attacks too) eg. Roy Keane or Dembele, and is more on tackling, covering, getting back possession and marking , or the other 3 roles below:

    "Holding midfielder" is the one that hold the midfield and team, to retain some kind of shape and structure. The best player for this role is the one that have the best positioning sense. Is mostly a CM rather than CDM/DM, but can still be regarded slightly as "defensive midfielder" especially when playing as CDM eg. Xabi Alonso and Carrick, plus tend to overlap with this one role below:

    "Deep-lying playmaker" is the one that have obvious playmaking sense, or to be more specific superb passing range and creative ability in initiating attacks and controlling tempo eg. Pirlo. Position is strictly at CDM, just in front of the CBs.

    "Pivot" however is specifically just the one that just seats in front of the two CBs breaking up plays, but often than not playing a certain "pivoting" role and that is connecting defends to attacks with link-up plays and simple effective passes retaining possession in the process. The best is of course Makelele who popularise this kind of position, but interpret it however you want. since sometimes it's just a name.

    :lol: Many players have pretty much mixed play styles, so it's really not right to categorize them all as just one type of central (defensive) midfielders. Matic is pretty much a hybrid of defensive, holding and pivot, and Carrick holding and pivot plus some deep-lying playmaking. There's also that "B2B" kind of central midfielder that have to be considered too when understanding "defensive midfielder". In addition, depends on what role they're playing as instructed by the manager/coach. In some games, they may play pivot, then the next holding, then playmaking, etc. Eg. Pogba being asked to play as both pivot and deep-lying playmaker in few games, minus commonly he played a more advance role of B2B mixed with playmaking upfield. Or Scholes playing more as playmaker then gradually down in his career to a pivot plus deep-play kind of role.
  10. Feb 9, 2018
    #10

    sunama Baghdad Bob

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    WTF is a Pivot?

    And as others have said, (apart from Pivot), we have players for all the positions you have mentioned.
  11. Feb 9, 2018
    #11

    Sunny Jim Full Member

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    Good summary.
  12. Feb 9, 2018
    #12

    Pete Dahh Sneak New Member

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    I thought pivot was the term for a 2 man midfield.....? "Pogba and Matic isn't a strong pivot."
  13. Feb 9, 2018
    #13

    SwSw Banned

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    Let's not complicated things.

    In essence, they are two types in a midfield three.

    1. Sits back, screens the back four and doesn't contribute much to the attack.

    2. Sits back, dictates the attack.

    The above changes when the pivot comes into play as both needs to contribute to the attack.
  14. Feb 9, 2018
    #14

    JJ12 Correctly predicted Portugal to win Euro 2016

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    Forget the rest. What the feck is a pivot?
  15. Feb 9, 2018
    #15

    Cutch Shit stirrer (Literally)

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    Good summary

    Herein lies the problem. Herrera has no passing range and no ability at controlling tempo (as he only plays at 100mph speed)
  16. Feb 9, 2018
    #16

    The Bloody-Nine Full Member

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    I saw someone refer to a 'double pivot in midfield' in a thread earlier. I immediately put him on ignore.

    Football Manager has a lot to answer for.
  17. Feb 9, 2018
    #17

    GM K Full Member

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    'Pivot' - just semantics.

    The more common usage is when you refer to a 'double pivot' which is basically a term often used by some to describe the deployment of two deep lying midfielders. Wilshere and Arteta / Matic and Fabregas / Matic and Pogba in our 4-2-3-1 / Alonso and Khedira etc.

    Some then describe 'pivot' as when you are using a single deep lying holding midfielder at the base of your midfield, in front of two more advanced midfielders.

    But it's semantics really and it's a less popular usage.
  18. Feb 9, 2018
    #18

    LoCalXT New Member

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    Isn't the "pivot" the whole tandem of either 2 or 3 mids?

    To the question though , it's the SAME position but player ability defines the role.
  19. Feb 9, 2018
    #19

    Bale Bale Bale New Member

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    I'm pretty sure it was actually Jose who coined that term whilst with Chelsea. It's supposed to mean a two man midfield where neither is the dedicated defensive or offensive player but instead each take on both roles.

    For what it's worth I hate that term too, though mostly because people use it as a catch-all way of describing any CM pairing.
  20. Feb 9, 2018
    #20

    unitedforeveral Banned

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    Exactly y Jose wants a more reliable replacement in Vidal
  21. Feb 9, 2018
    #21

    GM K Full Member

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    And even though he is decent, he's not exactly brilliant at breaking up play.

    The above definitions say a lot about why we get dominated in the midfield in the big games and why we need to beef up our midfield before we can seriously compete with the other elite teams again.
  22. Feb 9, 2018
    #22

    GM K Full Member

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    Good simplification.

    It's revealing when you then consider our midfield.

    Matic is our closest to a deep lying midfielder. He sits back and also attempts to dictate play.

    Herrera is not brilliant at either. Fellaini is not brilliant at either. Pogba looks more and more like a player you shouldn't allow to stay deep. Scott is young but is looking more like a Matic with less football intelligence.

    Our midfield seriously needs attention.
  23. Feb 9, 2018
    #23

    The Man Himself asked for a tagline change and all I got was this.

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    Pivot = Imaginary utopian place which Donald Trump is going to reach one day. Also see double pivot.
  24. Feb 9, 2018
    #24

    hasanejaz88 Full Member

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    Defensive Midfielder: This is someone who's job is to breakup play and be aggressive. Play as the deepest player in midfield and be responsible for protecting the defensive line but also being high energy and covering a lot ground trying to win the ball. N'Golo Kante, Sven Bender, Matic, Casemiro would be players I would put in this category.

    Holding Midfielder: Similar to the defensive midfielder, he too would be someone who sits the deepest in midfield and protects the back four. The difference between the two I feel is that the holding midfielder is more technically sound but less defensively strong. While he has to breakup play, he also has to be a link between the defense and midfield and be able to bring the ball over the half-way line to the more attacking players. Due to the dual responsibility, he would generally be paired with a more high energy midfielder who is able to cover ground and assist him defensively. Busquests, Julian Weigl would be examples of this position.

    Deep Lying Playmaker: Very often used in a possession based team, he is the fulcrum and arguably the most important player on the field for that team. A position that is used by a lot of players but mastered by few I feel. It is usually, and wrongly, simplified into a 'just passing' role but it involves much more than just being able to pass the ball well, being able to read the game tactically, controlling the pace of the game and also being able to play under pressure (as the player will be the biggest target of the opposition pressure). Qualities in these players are being technically sound, a master tactician on the field and ofcourse being a great passer. This is why many players have been shoe-horned into the role in recent times and failed. Kroos, Alonso, Pirlo and Xavi are obvious examples of this role.

    Pivot: Playing the pivot roles involves being an allround midfielder, pivot players are usually able to play either of the roles given above with high quality. It's a fantastic player to have in a counter attacking side I feel as it allows the team to be able to sit back and absorb pressure but then also break forward with attacking quality. As the word all round suggests, has to be a mixture of being defensive sound and have attacking qualities but more importantly be high energy to be able to move back and forth on the pitch. The pivot role I feel though is more of a tactical definition rather than a player specialty (like the ones given above) though as a single player can't be a pivot in a system, there ofcourse has to be another to work around. The Schweinsteiger - Khedira combo was an ample example of this combination during the early 2010's with Germany; Vidal - Marchisio was another.
  25. Feb 9, 2018
    #25

    gza the genius Full Member

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    Pretty much this. One can pass, the other can't. There are many different ways to do the defensive duties but it basically comes down to if they are good passers or not.
  26. Feb 9, 2018
    #26

    Lord SInister Full Member

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    neither are deep lying playmaker though.
  27. Feb 9, 2018
    #27

    Pexbo has never watched Star Wars

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    Herrera is a defensive midfielder like Kante. He's no playmaker.
  28. Feb 9, 2018
    #28

    hasanejaz88 Full Member

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    What role would you give them then? Kroos played as a DLP with Pep, was actually converted into one by him. For Xavi I suppose you can argue that he played more upfront than a DLP would but for Kroos I firmly believe his role right now is as a DLP.
  29. Feb 9, 2018
    #29

    Red Indian Chief Torn Rubber Thus says Kemo

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    A pivot is simply a short hand way of describing the two deepest midfielders in a 4-2-3-1. Its not a type of midfield role
  30. Feb 9, 2018
    #30

    MyOnlySolskjaer Creator of Player Performance threads

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    Nice, never heard of pivot as a role though.
  31. Feb 9, 2018
    #31

    shamans Hoser

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    Anyone that has played football manager knows the differences :cool: Fifa plebs will obviously say "there's attacking and defending mids only"
  32. Feb 9, 2018
    #32

    Raees Fairweather Fan

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    To be honest there are two camps, one which overcomplicates it and start using various terms for what are negligible nuances between different positions and others who will argue like cavemen that they're all defensive midfielders - which is even worse IMO.

    For me Pivot is too all-compassing and is more about a area on the pitch rather than an actual role. I play in the pivot position, rather than you play the pivot role. I would therefore remove that term and would categorise it as follows:

    Destroyer (Makelele):

    The quintessential defensive midfielder, tasked with shielding the defence and performing purely defensive duties. A role which requires physicality, great tactical awareness and aggression.. with the ability to intimidate and limit the fanciest of attacking midfielders. Ball playing skills are not essential in this role but a basic ability to play simple passes out of defence is still necessary especially at the highest level.

    Ball-Winning Midfielder (Gattuso/possibly Keane)

    Similar to a Box-to-Box midfielder in that they are expected to cover every blade of grass, but different in that unlike their sexier counterparts, they do so in hunt for the ball and are expected to feed the ball to more talented team mates, without anything expected from them in attacking output bar this supporting role. As a result they tend to be very underrated and unsung heroes within a side, but nevertheless can be a key tactical cog for sides who want to win the ball quickly.

    Holding Midfielder (Carrick)

    A midielder who is part destroyer/part deep lying playmaker in the sense that they are expected to shield their defence, at times tasked with marking the opposing attacking midfielder, with defensive responsibilities being of primary importance but also expected to be able to bring the ball out of defence and act as a conduit between defence and the midfield, for example as a link between the ball playing centre back and the regista.

    Deep-Lying Playmaker (Guardiola/Pirlo)

    A midfielder who stations himself just ahead of the defence, and collects the ball of the centre-backs and dictates the game from this position. DLP's tend to lack the pure athleticism of a regista and therefore by dropping deeper, the extra space allows them to play the game at their own pace and whilst they may get less goals and assists than a regista, their influence on a game can be just as devastating. Someone like Pirlo possibly falls inbetween a DLP and a Regista. <p></p>

    Attacking Half-Back (Ocwirk/Bozsik):

    An archaic term popularly used in the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries. to describe a midfielder who was the deep-lying playmaker of the side, but would also be expected to contribute defensively. The role is broadly analogous to DLP/Regista position in the modern game, prominent examples include Bozsik and Ocwirk of the 1950's.
  33. Feb 9, 2018
    #33

    Ecstatic Full Member

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    I prefer the following classification:

    Destroyer or pure defensive midfielder: Keane, Makélélé, Deschamps, Petit, Casemiro, Matic
    Deep-lying playmaker: Pirlo, Xabi Alonso, Guardiola, Thiago Motta, Busquets
    Central midfielder: Xavi, Didi, Iniesta, Verratti, Modric, Kroos
    Box-to-Box: Matthaus, Edgar Davids, Vieira, Rabiot, Kanté, Matuidi,
  34. Feb 9, 2018
    #34

    tomaldinho1 Full Member

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    I don't think box to box exists tbh - the majority of players are 'box to box'. Players seem to have more zonal responsibilities these days, when getting in to defensive shape they will slot into a system and then wait to regain possession. When attacking most CMs will push up and support the attack unless they're specifically told to sit deeper.
  35. Feb 9, 2018
    #35

    Ecstatic Full Member

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    @tomaldinho1

    How would you call Makélélé, Matuidi, Verratti and Busquets?

    MIDFIELDERS [ / THREAD ]
  36. Feb 9, 2018
    #36

    Adisa likes to take afvanadva wothowi doubt Scouse Lover

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    First time I've heard of "attacking half back".
  37. Feb 9, 2018
    #37

    Class of 63 Full Member

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  38. Feb 9, 2018
    #38

    Teja New Member

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    Pivot by itself is not a role AFAIK. A double pivot is two midfielders where both have offensive and defensive responsibilities and take turns to attack / defend.
  39. Feb 9, 2018
    #39

    Cheesy Bread with dipping sauce Scout

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    It's obviously all up for debate because a lot of players adapted and changed throughout their careers, but I'd definitely have Xavi leaning towards the deep-lying playmaker category more than Iniesta, who tended to be more attacking than Xavi who himself tended to dictate the play and pace of the game.
  40. Feb 9, 2018
    #40

    Charles Miller Full Member Verified Moaner

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    Defensive midfielder and holding midfielder are the same thing. The difference will be the level of technique of the player.

    Deep lying playmaker is not really a position imo. Its just the decision to put a player with some specific skills to play as DM, like if you use Tony Kroos there, for example.

    "Pivot" sounds 100% artificial and a video game thing.