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
    #41

    711 Full Member Scout

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2007
    Messages:
    17,775
    Location:
    The Greasy Strangler
    Yeah, at one time you only heard it applied as 'two man pivot' in 4-2-3-1, as you say.
  2. Feb 9, 2018
    #42

    ThatsGreat New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    308
    Supports:
    Arsenal
    Arsenal examples:
    Defensive Midfielder: Gilberto
    Holding Midfielder: Arteta
    Deep Lying Playmaker: Xhaka(at Borussia Mochengladbach, I don't know whats his role at Arsenal)
    Pivot: Arteta - Song combination.
  3. Feb 9, 2018
    #43

    ti vu Full Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2015
    Messages:
    7,959
    Disagree.

    Defensive (oriented) midfielder is a broad term. Someone like Kante who does defensive work and can be utilized further away from the area in front back line. His job is to press either win the ball further up, breaking up play or at least guided opposition's play into the trap. He is a b2b midfielder. He can leave some area on the pitch unprotected which a holding midfielder needs to monitor.

    Pivot is more or an action. It is equivalent to holding (the midfield)
  4. Feb 9, 2018
    #44

    Ecstatic Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    11,644
    Location:
    Farewell tour
    Supports:
    PsG
    Let's enter my brain.

    A deep-lying playmaker spends a lot of his time near the defenders and rarely organizes the game in the opposing half. That is why, I would consider Busquets or late Xabi Alonso or Pirlo as deep-lying playmakers.

    Of course, a player like Xavi is complete but in my world he's a central midfielder who runs the show all over the pitch. He was sometimes deployed by Spain as a #10 and I wouldn't expect Xabi Alonso and Busquets to do that job.

    Iniesta and Xavi are similar players, one is certainly more attacking than the other but they fulfill the same tasks IMO

    (A) deep-lying playmakers: say Pirlo with Italy in 2006
    (B) central midfielders: Verratti, Xavi...
    (C) Advanced playmakers or #10: Zidane and co

    Of course, the distinction isn't so clear: Vieira 2006 isn't Vieira 2000 for instance
  5. Feb 9, 2018
    #45

    Ecstatic Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    11,644
    Location:
    Farewell tour
    Supports:
    PsG
    You just need to add Vieira as a B2B :angel:
  6. Feb 9, 2018
    #46

    Ecstatic Full Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    11,644
    Location:
    Farewell tour
    Supports:
    PsG
    Deep-lying playmaker: #6 with top passing skills (long and short) and a limited physical impact. Term loved by hipsters
    Destroyer: #6 with average/poor passing skills and a strong physical impact
    B2B: runs runs runs a lot in both ways. Straight-forward approach based on stamina and aggresivity.
    Central Midfielder: complete defensive midfielder, playmaking skills and ability to set the tempo. Contrary to a #10, a poor impact in the final third. Doesn't score a lot and has limited dribbling skills.
  7. Feb 9, 2018
    #47

    UnrelatedPsuedo I pity the poor fool who stinks like I do!

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    3,719
    Pivot is a word.

    All it's meant historically is the positions on the pitch that allow the team to switch (pivot) from defence to attack and make that transition beneficial to the team.

    Read something in depth in relation to Italian (my pick) coaching. Every position on the pitch has a name. Varieties of principle positions have different names.

    Italian football has a beauty of description that makes everything clear and easy.

    For some reason, English football is very resistant to changes of terminology. We desperately cling onto absolute definitions of positions and new phrases take decades to take hold. When a new one comes along we have an urge for it to be an absolute term. It's stupid.

    Pivot is a term that's used in a computer game and now seems to be used widely as a descriptor of position rather than role. Even if we grudgingly accept the term, we shouldn't use it as a means to label a specific player.
  8. Feb 9, 2018
    #48

    UnrelatedPsuedo I pity the poor fool who stinks like I do!

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    3,719
    To be fair mate, Nobody does.
  9. Feb 9, 2018
    #49

    oneniltothearsenal Arse Lover Scout

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2013
    Messages:
    6,091
    Supports:
    Brazil, Arsenal,LA Aztecs
    This is probably the best way to do categories but it leaves out one playstyle that Jonathan Wilson talks about here
    https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2013/dec/18/question-holding-midfielders-changing-role

  10. Feb 9, 2018
    #50

    Manny Grammar Police

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2014
    Messages:
    4,266
    Its really not hard. Using United players...

    defensive midfielder - Butt, Schneiderlin, Keane, Matic
    Box to Box - Keane, Fletcher, Pogba
    holding midfielder - Carrick, Keane, Matic
    deep lying playmaker - Carrick
    pivot - basically the one or two midfielders sitting in front of the back four.

    Notice how adaptable Keane was :drool:
  11. Feb 9, 2018
    #51

    Dante Bang Average but can post Blindfolded for 15 secs

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2010
    Messages:
    13,419
    Location:
    My wit's end
    Supports:
    United!
    Defensive midfielder: primarily a spoiler across the whole of the middle third when his team doesn't have the ball, eg. Essien

    Holding midfielder: never strays more than 30 yards from his centrebacks primarily in order to block runs and intercept, thereby 'holding' position in 'midfield', eg. Carrick

    Deep lying playmaker: sits as deep as a holding midfielder, but his primary sense is to be in a position to receive from the ball from any of his teammates in order to control the tempo of their passing, eg. Pirlo

    Being a pivot is an instruction from your manager, rather than a natural playing style. You sit back/bomb forward as and when you're told you should do so, eg. any midfielder who's asked to do it. Could be anyone.

    Obviously, there's a fair amount of overlap between these roles. But that's the explanation in broad brush strokes.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2018
  12. Feb 9, 2018
    #52

    InLevyITrust Full Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2017
    Messages:
    4,327
    Supports:
    Tottenham
    Football was once a simple game, then Football Manager was invented :lol:.
  13. Feb 9, 2018
    #53

    Charles Miller Full Member Verified Moaner

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2017
    Messages:
    1,569
    Location:
    Brazil
    Well, i hear those terms a lot among european fans. I confess that i dont think these nuances define a different position.

    In Brazil we call the player with main defensive duties a "primeiro volante"(DM). So it can be Casemiro, a player like Kante who is everywhere, or Pirlo, he still the primeiro volante(DM). So its about the place in the pitch where he will start more than his style.
  14. Feb 10, 2018
    #54

    sherrinford Full Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2017
    Messages:
    214
    ‘Defensive Midfielder’ and ‘deep-lying playmaker’ are probably the two most common terms used to describe a player’s playing style/ attitude/ strengths, more so than playing position. ‘Holding midfielder’ does not imply anything beyond playing position. ‘Pivot’ isn’t a word I’ve seen used with regard to individual players, but I’ve seen it used when outlining a team’s formation (specifically, detailing use of a single or double pivot in midfield).

    Holding midfielder, sitting midfielder, anchorman - the vast majority of sides use a single player designated to stay in that position in front of the defence, particularly in possession (as it is common for midfield teammates to position themselves on the same line when defending but advance as attacking play progresses forward). The descriptions are clear - the player holds/ sits/ anchors the midfield. Simples. Seeing the terms used and accompanying definitions in the OP, all the ‘types’ of players described are holding midfielders and their various strengths and abilities are a separate discussion.

    Most broadly, players could be categorised as silky or gritty. To what extent a player falls in one group obviously differs from one player to the next, but on the whole even those who are seen as complete tend to fit one description more than the other.

    Defensive midfielder, destroyer, workhorse, water carrier - these terms imply certain qualities and inclinations but it does not necessarily accurately indicate playing position. One could easily be talking about Makelele, Mascherano, Keane, Essien, Vieira, Hargreaves or Khedira - some were/ are holding players, some box to box and some proficient at both/ either.

    Similarly deep-lying playmaker, regista, dictator, metronome are labels given to players such as Pirlo, Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Modric - again some of which who were holding players and some box to box (in a positional sense rather than stylistically).

    I think confusion with these terms comes from the fact that titles like ‘defensive midfielder’ and ‘deep-lying playmaker’ are not defined roles on a football park, they are adjectives used to describe players, and yet are often used as such. Two people can be conversing using these terms while actually referring to different things and points get misinterpreted.
  15. Feb 10, 2018
    #55

    RedTiger Full Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2013
    Messages:
    11,751
    Location:
    Beside the sea-side, Beside the sea.
    Good explanation.
  16. Feb 10, 2018
    #56

    criticalanalysis Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2015
    Messages:
    1,780
    Why has no one mentioned the elephant?

    Elephant: Pogba - he plays equally shite and majestic in equal measure. A midfielder, who does most of his good work away from midfield.
  17. Feb 10, 2018
    #57

    meamth Full Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2017
    Messages:
    1,245
    Pivot? Stay in that box!
  18. Feb 10, 2018
    #58

    RedCurry Full Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2016
    Messages:
    2,423
    Location:
    Toronto
    Only thing this thread tells me is that no one knows what the feck kind of midfielder Scholes was.
  19. Feb 10, 2018
    #59

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2013
    Messages:
    15,191
    Location:
    New York
    Also a pet peeve of mine. Guys like Modric, Verratti, Thiago, Scholes from 2006-2013 and Xavi from 2008-2013 would not fit into any of these categories. They were not defensive midfieldes or even deep lying playmakers. They are/were simply midfield playmaker types.
  20. Feb 10, 2018
    #60

    bebeanderson Banned

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2017
    Messages:
    452
    Shivot : Rodrigo Possebom
  21. Feb 10, 2018
    #61

    Raees Fairweather Fan

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    25,713
    I would call them registas or yup basically as you put it proper centre midfield playmakers or maestros.

    Definitely in a category all of their own.
  22. Feb 10, 2018
    #62

    Raees Fairweather Fan

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    25,713
    Well what people do is combine what he was in his younger days and what he became once his legs went. He started off as a second striker, than as an attacking midfielder and then settled into a regista/CM playmaker. He was never all these things all at the same time.
  23. Feb 10, 2018
    #63

    Lord SInister Full Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2015
    Messages:
    1,277
    Location:
    where grasses are green and girls are pretty
    Regista is a more aggressive DLP, an Italian term. does not suit any of the ones from the post you quoted.
  24. Feb 10, 2018
    #64

    Raees Fairweather Fan

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    25,713
    Agreed. Area on the pitch just in front of the defence and if you go double pivot it means you want two guys ahead of the defence.

    What type of players you want on there can vary and that is when you look at all the roles we've all been discussing in this thread.
  25. Feb 10, 2018
    #65

    SadlerMUFC Full Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2017
    Messages:
    784
    Location:
    Niagara Falls, Canada
    The way I usually look at it is a DM is more of a guy who runs around and makes tackles. He breaks up the play with is energy and tackling. Think of players like Kante or in the past, Gattuso. While a holding midfielder is more of a guy who sits in space in front of the 2 centre halves. He doesn't necessarily go lunging into tackles, but he's more of a guy who is disciplined and holds space to slow down a counter attack and make interceptions. Think of players like Carrick and Alonso. Your deep lying play maker is typically a guy who plays as either of those roles, but is your first route of attack when you get in possession. Again, think of guys like Carrick, Alonso and then also Pirlo. Not quite sure what a pivot is...
  26. Feb 10, 2018
    #66

    Raees Fairweather Fan

    Joined:
    May 16, 2009
    Messages:
    25,713
    Yep but I've always disliked the Italian interpretation as it makes it too subtle and nuanced. It's such a great term but the way the Italians would use it, barely anyone would ever get defined as a regista.

    Currently the game is missing a fancy Latin derived defined term for guys like Xavi, Modric, Thiago, Verratti or say latter day Scholes. I'd like to see them defined as a regista but agree with you that strictly speaking I'm wrong.
  27. Feb 10, 2018
    #67

    POF Full Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Messages:
    2,149
    This is a really good post, especially the last paragraph. You will very rarely find any midfield player that only fits in one of these "boxes". One thing I find strange is when people do up their little "best team" formations outlining the players who need to fit the roles of "holding midfielder", "box to box" and "number 10", as if any combination of players who fit into each category will be the perfectly balanced midfield.

    Each player has their own characteristics and finding an appropriate combination that best complement each other is more important than finding players that fit nicely into these "positions".

    For example, in a midfield 2, Pogba and Keane would be an outstanding combination. Keane could dictate the tempo from deep, had the athleticism and reading of the game to allow Pogba to get forward more but also would keep him on his toes defensively and give him an absolute bollocking if he overplayed on the ball or failed to track runners. Pogba would provide the creativity and goal threat that Keane lacked.

    But Pogba and Carrick or Pogba and Fellaini were poor combinations because Carrick and Fellaini lack the athleticism to cover the ground when Pogba gets caught forward and Fellaini is poor on the ball.

    Herrera is a good all round player with tactical intelligence which makes him an ideal player to complete a midfield because he can complement different types of midfield players. He could fit into any of the "holding midfielder", "box to box" and "number 10" boxes but you wouldn't call him a specialist in any of them.

    What makes Pogba such a special talent is that he holds more attributes of every midfield role than any player I have seen. He has speed, power, athleticism, a good tackler, can dribble, pass, link play, shoot, make late runs into the box and is good in the air. He has the skill set of the perfect central midfield player. All he seems to lack is the mentality.
  28. Feb 10, 2018
    #68

    POF Full Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Messages:
    2,149
    He was the deep lying play maker too.
  29. Feb 10, 2018
    #69

    Invictus Best Poster 2015 Staff

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2014
    Messages:
    11,656
    Supports:
    Piracy on the High Seas
    They're all defensive midfielders, in the loose catch-all sense of the term. In terms of positioning, defensive midfielder is a position encompassing a myriad styles depending on the system and overall tactical philosophy the manager chooses to employ - and you could argue that everyone who plays in the space between central/offensive midfield and the defensive line is a defensive midfielder. Whereas deep lying playmaker or holding midfielder are roles diverging from the generic defensive midfielder classification - essentially a specialized interpretation of the defensive midfielder position. Just like for centerbacks - a sweeper is a centerback who interprets the role in a different way than a stopper. Or wide-ish attackers - there are differences between the roles of lateral wingers, inside forwards, inverted wingers, wide midfielders, etc.

    The easiest way to differentiate between them is probably this (not 100% accurate because different people classify them in different ways):

    [​IMG]

    Destroyer role: This is what folks generally mean when they say defensive midfielder, at times. A destroyer is a heat-seeking missile - a defensive midfielder that plays like a stopper in defense, and is essentially the fifth on-field defender for the team. Though you could also argue that a destroyer is a specialized holding midfielder that is more robust and focused on defensive duties with ability in possession being de-prioritized, but that's mostly semantics. Most of their work on the field is predicated on destruction - breaking up opposition moves, and moving the ball on to more skilled passers. They don't have to be supremely gifted from a technical standpoint because that doesn't factor into destruction (it's more of an added bonus - like physicality for liberos), but elite athleticism is imperative for destroyers because they usually have to cover vast amounts of space and need to keep up with opposition offensive midfielders to man-mark or stop them.

    e.g. Desailly at Milan or Casemiro at Madrid. If you watch this video, you'll get a sense for what the role entails:


    Deep Lying Playmaker role: Think of them as more disciplined midfield maestros or #10 players that are fielded deep, rather than stereotypical defensive midfielders. These players are oftentimes the primary creators (or architects, or quarterbacks) for the team on-the-ball despite the fact that they play in defensive midfield zones because the midfield is built around them to minimize their weakness and maximize their prowess on the ball. They're essentially the antithesis of destroyers because being technically gifted is a prerequisite for this position, obviously - they must have great passing range allied with the vision to scan the space in front of them and see the field to unlock the opposition midfield and defense, whereas athleticism is not that important. Not a coincidence that the likes of old Scholes and Pirlo transitioned from attacking creative roles to deep lying creative roles.

    e.g. The aforementioned duo and someone like Redondo who had the team built around him at Madrid with the likes of Seedorf and Karmbeu deferring to him in possession and creating spaces for Redondo to dribble through (though he could also be classified as a holding midfielder when he was employed in a more disciplined role).


    Holding Midfielder role: These players are in the grey area between destroyers and deep lying playmakers, if you consider them to be the two extremes. They're not like destroyers in that holding midfielders occupy and hold spaces and half-spaces in front of the defensive line to defend instead of being heat-seeking-missiles that dive into tackles - hence a difference in how the role is interpreted. They're not always like deep lying playmakers in that they usually have to be more disciplined with the spaces and half-spaces they occupy - and don't have as much spatial freedom as deep lying playmakers, and are not asked to be primary creative hubs from midfield.

    Being neat and tidy in possession is quite important because they are safety valves for the defenders given the spaces they occupy - and with the way football has developed, a lot of them can be almost as good as deep lying playmakers in possession. However, they're not always asked to be primary architects like deep lying playmakers are, so it's partly a systemic issue. e.g. Busquets is an excellent passer, but for the bulk of his career he deferred to Xavi and Iniesta - who were more creative than him. He could easily play as a deep lying playmaker or mediocampista in a team where he's the best passer and creator, but considering what was ahead of him and Piqué is defense, Busquets had to be selfless and focused on recycling possession for peak Barcelona and operating as a third wheel. Alonso is a decent contrast to that because he was half holding midfielder and half deep lying playmaker for both Liverpool and Madrid.

    * The destroyer role had declined in recent years because teams aren't using elite Classic 10 enganches like Platini, Zidane, Rui Costa that frequently - especially when the teams employ an 8 + 8 setup in a 4-3-3 or use a point-backward. So destruction obviously takes a backseat in the lack of a singular threat, and holding midfielders are in vogue because they help with the build-up play from the back and help transition from defense to offense.

    Pivot: Another diagram...

    [​IMG]

    If you divide your team into a Front 4 and a Back 4 - the central midfielders sandwiched between the two extremes are pivots, Segundo Volante, or fulcrums, or as the definition of the term suggests - “the central point, pin, or shaft on which a mechanism turns or oscillates”. Again, this is more of how the role is interpreted rather than the position in strict terms - though these players have to be multi-faceted because their remit is seemingly endless. e.g. One way to break down the opposition defense is to create numerical advantages - a pivot can help create that advantage by quickly passing wide to an attacking fullback and creating an advantage on the flank (so he has to be a perceptive passer), or joining the attack himself to create an overload in central zones (so he has to be a semi-respectable attacker), and conversely in defense - they can plug the central zones in front of the defensive line, etc. e.g. Tardelli for Juventus and Italy, or Vieira with Petit.

    Pivots usually, but not not always, operate best with another pivot - since that presents a dual threat - and both can shunt up and down in a synchronized way. e.g. Martínez and Schweisnteiger for Heynckes' Bayern - they helped create overloads on the flanks with combinations of Lahm/Robben or Alaba/Ribéry, protected the defensive line of Boateng/Dante, and even joined the attack in a methodical way. Since the role calls for someone who has high stamina to do a lot of things throughout the match, is defensively astute to protect the defensive line, a decent passer at the very least to switch the play, etc. - a pivot is usually very complete - half box-to-box and half holding midfielder or destroyer - depending on the team's approach.

    * This is all stereotypical theory and specificity goes out the window in matches. You cannot classify thousands of individuals using reductive terms - there are players who are in the grey areas between aforementioned roles (Mascherano was half holding midfielder and half destroyer because he didn't have elite athleticism but was decent on the ball and masterful in terms of reading the game or diagnosing dangerous opposition moves, or Gattuso - who was a defensive shuttler with an emphasis on winning the ball and providing legs for Pirlo), players who can play multiple roles depending on their remit (Rijkaard could play as a holding midfielder or pure box-to-box or as a pivot or a destroyer), players who can play multiple roles but are asked to specialize in one because of the coach's instructions, etc.
  30. Feb 10, 2018
    #70

    Keeps It tidy Hates Messi

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2013
    Messages:
    15,191
    Location:
    New York
    I also cringe when guys like Vidal and Keita are referred to as defensive midfielders. They are obvious box to box midfielders. Also the likes of Kante and prime Gattuso are/were not really defensive midfielders either they are ball winning midfielders.
  31. Feb 10, 2018
    #71

    POF Full Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2014
    Messages:
    2,149
    Winning the ball is a defensive action as it is stopping the opposition and recovering the ball for the more creative players. I don't think it's an inaccurate description for Kante or Gattuso.

    The Milan midfield was a real anomaly at the time. It was one of the first times I can remember where the defensive midfield players (Gattuso/Ambrosini) played in advance of the more creative player (Pirlo).
  32. Feb 10, 2018
    #72

    Scarecrow Having a week off

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2012
    Messages:
    11,230
    I came here to make fun of nerds but you've dissuaded me. Great post nerd.