Busted noses, teeth like a broken piano, blood trickling through the bandages… We all know the stereotypical image of a centre-back, but what should you be looking for in FM22 centre-backs?
At the top level, you need your centre-backs to do much more than get in the way of the opposition striker. They’re one of your chief playmakers, they need to contribute goals from set-pieces, and they need the concentration levels of Magnus Karlsen to keep on top of all the things you need them to do.
Here we’re going to prototype the modern centre-back, bust some myths about the big boys of the back line, and show you how to sort out the lynchpins of your defence.
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The key attributes for FM22 centre-backs
When you’re sizing up a potential centre-back purchase, the first stat your eye might be drawn to is Tackling. If a defender can’t tackle, he’s about as much use as a cardigan to the Kardashians, right?
Well, not necessarily. Yes, some competence (10+) in the tackling department is definitely worth having, but if you look at the player stats from any game you’ll find centre-backs often only make one or two tackles per game. It’s not a major part of their work.
They will normally make twice as many interceptions as tackles, they will complete dozens of passes every game (see below) and they will be called upon to win battles in the air far more often than they do on the ground.
Therefore, when I’m looking for a top-notch centre-back, the attributes I’m focused on are:
- Heading (combined with Strength and Jumping Reach)
- Passing (see below)
No tackling? No marking? Yes, they need to be competent at both of these, but if they can win a header or make an interception, they might never need to make a tackle in the first place.
The importance of passing
The screenshot above show how critical it is for the elite centre-back to be decent at passing. This is from my West Ham side, who play with a Vertical Tiki-Taka tactic and play out from the back. As you can see, the two centre-backs see more of the ball than almost anyone else on the pitch. The player with the highest pass completion in the entire squad is a centre-back!
If they give the ball away with a sloppy pass at the back, it’s curtains. A striker likely gets a free run at goal and you’re screaming obscenities at the screen. So having centre-backs with decent passing ability and composure is crucial for anyone playing any type of possession tactic. Even if you’re banging it long, it’s likely the centre-backs will be doing a fair bit of the banging (insert your own John Terry joke here), so never recruit a centre-back with iffy passing.
Want to develop youth players in FM22?
There’s a reason why Steve Bruce has a hooter that points due south west – it’s because he wasn’t afraid to stick his head in at either end of the pitch. He scored a goal roughly once in every ten games for United and you need your centre-backs to contribute from set-pieces if you want to be unlocking the trophy cabinet, too.
Aside from Heading, Jumping Reach and the oft-ignored Bravery, simply look for centre-backs who score more than their fair share of goals when you’re recruiting. Build set-pieces around them. Having your big bastard attack the near post isn’t the guaranteed goal recipe it once was, but it’s still a vital goals channel. Don’t ignore long throws, either, especially if you’ve got a full-back or winger with the ability to chuck it into the box.
Pick a pair of FM22 centre-backs
Centre-backs are (normally) a double-act. You need to pick a pair with complementary skills and then find suitable back-ups for both of them.
We’ve not talked about Pace so far, but it’s normally a good idea to have at least one centre-back with 15+ pace who can keep up with the nippy strikers, especially if you’re playing with a high defensive line.
I’m always wary of centre-backs who aren’t at least 6ft, but if you’ve got a decent 5ft 10in defender, make sure there’s a 6ft 3in+ lolloper beside him to win the headers he won’t.
I also like to have one centre-back playing with a Cover duty, providing a safety net if the other guy is exposed. Playing a left-footer on the left-hand side of the pair is also a sensible precaution, although left-footers are rare.
If you’re playing with a back three, you’re going to need at least one centre-back who can drive out of the back line with the ball, maybe in the new Wide Centre-Back role. Look for this in player traits.