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What is the best way to utilise a target man?


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I like to have a variety of options when setting up my tactics, but I'm yet to settle on a good way to utilise a target man. Is it best to have a target man with a striker alongside them, or an attacking midfielder joining the attack, or inside forwards...?

I have not yet signed a target man, as I'm not sure they would fit into my squad - but I like the idea of it. Also, I'm blessed with some strong attacking midfielders coming through my U21 squad - but with my current tactics I have no place for them in my team - so I'm thinking a Target Man might open up the goalscoring threat from my midfield.

Does anybody regularly use a target man in their squad? And if so, how does you use the players around them to generate success?

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A Target Man is a more limited version of a Deep Lying Forward, and given his tendency towards lower risk passing, it's much more dependent on runs from midfield. It can certainly work with a second striker or wide forwards, but this will typically involve the TM having to turn and pass which he may not be particularly good at. Accordingly, a TM will typically receive the ball with his back turned at which point he will benefit from having the options of laying it off onto both an onrushing central and wide player. A lone target man will need to be reasonably two footed to make the most of his options, whereas a target man as part of a striker partnership should usually be positioned on the same side as both his strongest foot and the attack duty CM and WM to whom he will be distributing the ball (thus, with his back turned, he can more easily pass it to them with the inside of his strong foot or, when facing goal, to his strike partner).

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I have a player who is equally good as a target man or DLF. I normally use him as a DLF, but I will switch him to target man support if I am having trouble getting passes into the scoring area, as often he can lay off a header to someone whereas a pass was never going to get there. I don't like to have to do it, because in my experience players will lump it forward to the target man even when there are better options. Still, it can be a useful role when trying to break down a stubborn defense.

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Here's what I roll with at Juventus, with Llorente as Target Man. And two strikers beside him to feed off the knockdowns.

https://imageshack.com/i/0ukdp1j

I figured this was the best formation to take advantage of the depth they have at centre half and also up front.

Only in Oct '13 but Llorente and Berardi have a goal a game and Tevez has 5 goals and 4 assists or something like that.

I gotta say I love the Defensive Winger role. Suits the players I have because they're quite well rounded and are able defenders when needs be.

They sometimes take up great positions on the corner of the penalty area, often unmarked and are able to get an easy shot away.

I don't think wide players give you enough bang for your buck so I like how with the defensive wingers can cover the flanks while still being able to provide a threat going forward.

If the attacking midfielders you mention are AMR/AMLs then maybe you could retrain them. Definitely worth considering if they have good stats for teamwork and work rate.

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How do you want to use the target man is really the question. I had success for a couple of seasons using Mario Gomez as a Target Man (Attack) with a trequartista next to him, scored bunches of goals and the role limited him from doing anything "silly" (like trying to dribble past defenders, or pass, or anything but shoot really).

But if you want your Target Man to be more of a support player, ie Emile Heskey, you would set things up differently, maybe have a Poacher as his sidekick, or an AF(A). The main thing would be to figure out who he was supposed to be setting up and making sure they were in the right spots.

I have wondered how it would work having a Target Man up top set to support with a Shadow Striker running at him...

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