The Running Regista Or Withdrawn Central Winger

My friend Jonathon Aspey (@JLAspey) has written about the Central Winger before, whereas I have written about the intricacies regarding the implementation of the role in a Strikerless formation. The next idea is pushing the idea a bit further and withdrawing the Central Winger from his central midfield position, de facto creating a sort of hybrid between the wandering midfielder we wish to see and the generally more static defensive midfielders we are used to.

The following match clips pretty much show what I want to create in FM. A picture is worth a thousand words, so these moving pictures ought to be worth about half a book.

The first match clip shows the Regista moving forward and wide, exploiting the space allowed to him by the opposing team, whereas the second clip shows a penetrating run made by the Regista, who finishes with a solid header. In both cases, these are not the movements you would traditionally expect from a defensive midfielder.

In the not-too-distant past, your traditional defensive midfielders were widely considered to be the midfielders who did the dirty work, guys like Gennaro Gattuso, Nigel de Jong, Roy Keane, Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele. Defensive midfielders were underrated. Stereotypically, defensive midfielders are portrayed and viewed as aggressive, wild and cynical players. That’s not to say that’s not how some of them played. However, they do possess other traits and offer alternative options besides the destroyer role. Basically, while a defensive midfielders’ primary role is to shield the defense and goalkeeper, they could also be tasked with starting their teams’ attacks immediately after breaking down the attack of the opposition, thus giving them a more constructive role.

That pretty much means playing a traditional Regista or deep-lying playmaker. Players like Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Nuri Sahin, Ilkay Gündogan or Andrea Pirlo who dictate play from deep, players who weave a web of tactical magic, spraying passes all over the place. At this point, I feel it is important to emphasise that a Regista is not a position so much as a role. A Regista is expected to initiate attacking play from deep and make himself available all over the pitch in the follow-up. Most of these real life players are players who remain deep and venture forward scarcely. What I want is a player who penetrates the opposing lines far more frequently; a withdrawn box-to-box player, withdrawn Central Winger or a running Regista, whichever description tickles your fancy.

Regardless of the name you want to give to the role, it’s how a player fills the role that’s most important. The creator limits us in creating our own roles, so we have to make do with the preset roles and tinker with them to get the desired effect. On paper,  we’re looking for some intelligent forward thinking passing, as well as penetrating runs forward whenever the opportunity presents itsself. Our Running Regista (I love a good alliteration) should have good movement, and be a willing runner because he will be involved in pressing high. We’re basically looking for the illegitimate love-child of Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo (now there’s a scary mental image that will keep you awake at night…).

In the FM14 Match Engine, the Running Regista does not offer an actual goal-scoring threat. That’s not to say he is uncapable of scoring goals, as one of the match clips highlighted above shows you, but it’s not his primary raison d’être in my world of thought. I have mentioned the need to layer my attacks, especially within a strikerless formation and an extra runner from midfield would yet another layer of depth to my already intricate attacking play. When he arrives late, he is sometimes presented with an opportunity to shoot and more often with a chance to pick up a loose ball and pass it along to keep an attack going.

Whilst the video above shows our Running Regista blasting home from the edge of the box, I am after something else. In order to highlight the true value of the Running Regista, I need to take a page out of the playbook of an entirely different sport; ice hockey. In ice hockey, an assist is attributed to up to two players of the scoring team who shot, passed or deflected the puck towards the scoring teammate, or touched it in any other way which enabled the goal, meaning that they were “assisting” in the goal. There can be a maximum of two assists per goal. The assists will be awarded in the order of play, with the last player to pass the puck to the goal scorer getting the primary assist and the player who passed it to the primary assister getting the secondary assist. It’s those secondary assists I want from my Running Regista.

The Running Regista is supposed to come in from a deep a position and pick up loose balls or help set up an attack from a more advanced position than usual. In an ideal situation, he can penetrate the defensive line for a finish inside or on the edge of the box, but keeping the passing flow going is his primary asset to the way I want to play.

Both videos show a different side to how the Running Regista can play the way I want him to. The first match clip shows him linking up with the attacking midfielders and central midfielders, picking up a loose ball and calmly redistributing the ball into the box to set up another goal. His well-timed runs enable him to keep the motion of the attacks going, not by playing as a traditional destroyer but by positioning himself well and looking for a clean passing option.

The second match clip shows the Running Regista finding space on the wing, driving forward and stretching the opposing defence, before finding space with a simple pass. The movement of his team-mates means the attack is capped with a goal, but the attack all started with the aggressive run forward by the Running Regista, opening up space.

That’s all for now. In another article, scheduled for later this week, I intend to divulge the exact team and individual instructions, you can consider this a theoretical piece and a teaser for the coming article.

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