There was a time, not so long ago, that the laziest player in a team of 11 players was the most loved and valuable. Cherished by not how many kilometres he covered or how many sprints were made in 90 minutes. These players could simply turn up and show their craft, knowing that the other squad members would carry them. These were the playmakers.
A certain Pep Guardiola, with his dominant Barcelona teams from 2008, put the final nail in their coffin. Barcelona won every trophy possible – deploying a high pressing tempo games that required players to win the ball back within 6 seconds (below). From then on, players of all ilk were expected to press, press and press. Even players like Lionel Messi were expected to sacrifice a part of their natural game for the team.
However, football is cyclical in nature. What was considered the right way in 2008 will slowly change and there is hope (from me at least), that we will one day see the traditional playmakers of old grace the game at the top level again. Players such as Álvaro Recoba and Juan Román Riquelme, who had the dribbling, first touch and vision to change the game at any moment. These players were not athletes, they were artists.
So with this in mind, what will I do in FM16 with Grasshopper Club Zürich (GCZ)? Answer: I am going to do my upmost to bring back the playmaker(!). Luckily for me, we now have a dedicated player role for this very special kind of player: the Enganche. The Enganche literally translates to the ‘hook’ in Latin American Spanish. The role’s purpose is an ode to Juan Román Riquelme – receive the ball from a central pocket and distribute it accordingly. The role is not expected to press within 6 seconds or make any kind of run to create space for others, they are there to simply be loved through what they do best: dictate and pass.
Limited physical attributes such as acceleration, natural fitness and pace will not hinder a player within the Enganche role. It can allow players who are not suited to closing down the opposition to flourish. This is particularly appealing to me, because unlike Pep Guardiola, I do not like fitting ‘square pegs in round holes’. As GCZ manager, I also do not have the luxury of a pool of players who all want to collectively press and harass the opposition and I certainly cannot attract these players to a team that finished so lowly in the league last season (8th).
Luckily for me, I have a player that I believe can become the Enganche. Meet Caio César Alves dos Santos, also known simply as ‘Caio’. For the Swiss Super League, Caio possess good technical stats who is best suited to the AMC position (see below).
In order to use this specialist role I am expecting an enormous amount of tinkering during pre-season. Not only do I have to find a way to incorporate both the Enganche AND a Deep Lying Playmaker (see last week’s Blog). I also need to ensure that their passes (both short and direct) are found by teammates who are expect to turn opportunities to goals. Once FM16 is out, I can provide in-depth analysis what I have done and how I (hopefully) cracked it. Wish me luck…