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.