Football Manager Tactics - Player Roles: Goalkeeper vs Sweeper Keeper
First edition of our Football Manager guides to player roles
As part of creating your first football manager tactic is the option to set specific player roles for a certain position. By manually select player roles you can influence the style of play, and predicts how a player would act in certain situations. Player roles, in additional to player duties, will influence what the actual player will be likely to do, when it comes to for example passing, running and closing down.
If you use the football manager tactic creator you may like to auto assign player roles according to formation, but what suits your football philosophy and playing style? Creating a tactic in Football Manager 2013 is all about getting the best out of your squad and individual player weaknesses and strength. It is vital to understand how to get the best out of the preferred player role, and sometimes understand how the specific player role interacts with the other player roles. We will come back to that in the last guide to player roles.
In the first edition to our guide to player roles we will take a closer look at the goalkeepers player roles; Goalkeeper Defend and Sweeper Keeper.
The traditional goalkeeper instructions
The player role Goalkeeper defend could be regarded as the standard player role for goalkeepers, and could be regarded as a shot stopper. A goalkeeper with this player role will take fewer risks and be positioned inside the penalty area, according to where the ball is located on the pitch. If the ball is in the oppositions penalty box, then he will stay further out then if the ball is close to the half-way line.
Goalkeeper defends performance will be based on simplicity, as he will do what is necessary to prevent the other team from scoring. With the ball he will look to clear the ball away from the most dangerous area (in front of goal). He will distribute the ball to closest team mate, if the right opportunity arises and if it's safe. Without the ball he will patrol the area and position himself according to the ball inside the 6 yard box.
As I have discovered he might have a tendency to launch the ball long, if the opposition team pushes high, and puts pressure on the defensive line, as there are no available distribution targets.
Key attributes for Goalkeeper Defend:
The goalkeeper defend is the most traditional player role and fits almost every goalkeeper in Football Manager 2013.
The goalkeeper defend needs good basic goalkeeper attributes. You can see the full list of the specific goalkeeper attributes and their definitions in this guide to player attributes.
Short survey of the most required GK attributes according to player role positioning area:
- Reflexes: as he often is positioned at inside the 6 yard box when the opposition team have possession of the ball it is important that he have good reflexes if a player launch a quick surprising shot. and may need to act quick to save a shot.
- Handling: combined with good reflexes it is important that he can hold the ball or have control of it after saving, as you don't want him to loose the ball in front of the goal.
- Positioning: even though the working area is far less minor it is vital that he can position himself according to situation, which makes it easier to save the shot.
- Agility: the goalkeeper needs to move around his area quick and easily. If the opposition team is pushing you back in the penalty area it is important that the goalkeeper can be quick on his feet; start, stop and move to several different positions for a short period of time.
The modern (ball playing) goalkeeper.
The Sweeper Keeper player role is considered to be a composition of the traditional player role sweeper and the classic goalkeeper. The sweeper keeper is the modern day goalkeeper. He requires far more skills than the traditional goalkeeper as he could be regarded as the eleventh outfield player when in possession of the ball. He will both need the technical skills to keep possession of the ball (by passing the ball, clearing the ball or even dribble with the ball) and the physical skills to close down and move within his player role area, as he will tend to rush out and sweep up through balls.
He must also accept back passes from his team mates and deal with them in an effective way, either by distribute the ball to an available player or launch a long ball to get it out of dangerous areas.
- defend (more cautious and act more like the goalkeeper defend)
- support (will stray just outside the penalty area)
- attack (will tend to move outside the penalty area with the ball at his feet and act more like the sweeper).
No matter which type of duty you select the sweeper keeper will look to initiate counter-attacking moves with direct passes to breaking players (which can change your preferred playing style a lot!), and should be able to intercept long balls and passes behind the defensive line, either by take control of the ball with his feet, hands or head the ball away to a far less dangerous area.
Key attributes for Sweeper Keeper:
The sweeper keeper is the modern day goalkeeper, but there are fewer choices in Football Manager 2013 to find an excellent sweeper keeper, if we only look at his required attributes and skills.
The sweeper keeper needs both good basic goalkeeper attributes and better mental and physical attributes. You can see the full list of the specific goalkeeper attributes and their definitions in this guide to player attributes.
Short survey of the most required sweeper keeper attributes according to player role positioning area:
Below attributes are in additional to key attributes for Goalkeeping Defend - First Touch: since the sweeper keeper could be regarded as a ball playing goalkeeper it is vital that he can take control of the ball when receiving back passes, as we don't want him to loose the ball outside the penalty area.
- Rushing Out and one on ones: as the sweeper keeper might have to rush out of the penalty box because the ball got lost high up on the field, which leaves huge space to exploit behind the defensive line, it is vital that the goalkeeper can act like a defender and close the ball down. To succeed in rushing out he requires the Acceleration and space to do so. If the situations arises that the opposition team launches counter-attacking moves and your goalkeeper is alone against one of the opposition teams players (normally striker or a winger) it is important that the sweeper keeper have good anticipation, decision and bravery to succeed at one on ones.
- Positioning and Anticipation: The sweeper keeper requires excellent attributes in positioning and anticipation as he needs to be good at positioning himself on the right place in the right situation. You can only imaging the huge area he can operate in, and why it is important to predict what can happen. When testing the player role I used Victor Valdes as sweeper keeper support and in a number of situations he did some bloopers either by running out too early or be positioned too high up which made it easy for the opposition team to shoot from long.
All the key attributes discussed in the section for Goalkeeper Defend and Sweeper Keeper, is additional to the fairly basic goalkeeping attributes which is handled and discussed in this article about basic player attributes for goalkeepers.
Please check out this guide, as here you will see which attributes an excellent goalkeeper will need when distribute the ball or handle defensive set-pieces, amongst other.
How to know which player role to choose - Creating a Football Manager Tactic
When creating your own Football Manager Tactic it is important to consider two things in regard to choosing goalkeeper player roles:
A) Team strategy and playing style compared to defensive line. It's important to consider this to find the correct balance for the preferred formation. It is also vital to remember the team passing style and defensive line instructions for the different strategies.
The goalkeeper in a defensive strategy will clear the ball deep in the midfield, while an attacking strategy will make the goalkeeper tend to play the ball short, (if it's safe), to one of the defenders. The basic question is; do you want to keep possession or are you satisfied if you're left with a 50% chance of loosing possession?. Your Goalkeeper may be the reason you're not able to keep possession, as he either plays the ball into "safety" by launching a long kick or move out of the penalty area with the ball at his feet (to start counter-attacking moves).
A huge available space between the defenders and the goalkeeper may force you to choose one player role (read: sweeper keeper) over another (read: goalkeeper defend). But you can succeed by using goalkeeper defend no matter defensive line, as long as you have some in the defensive line who have the anticipation and quickness to drop into the available space when required (read: duty cover).
B) The player attributes; his strength and weaknesses. Can he perform and act like an sweeper or do he lacks the required skills to succeed in this role?
Pros and Cons for choosing GK defend vs Sweeper keeper
Pros - Goalkeeper defend
# You don't need excellent attributes to get good performances, as the key attributes can be enough for a good performance in additional to good reach (height, reflexes and aerial ability)
# The goalkeeper has shorter area to travel and can be instructed to stay inside the 6 yard box which makes it more difficult for the opposition team to score goals; as the shot must be well-placed to get by him.
# Far less easier to make a possession tactic if using an attacking strategy. Just remember if employing a more cautious strategy the goalkeeper may distribute the ball long / wide which might end up loosing possession of the ball as the goalkeeper is pressurized to do a long kick (but lacks the skills to do it successfully).
Cons - Goalkeeper defend
# The space between the defensive line (defenders) and the goalkeeper can be exploited when playing an attacking strategy or using a control space touchline instructions where you push up the defensive line.
# If the goalkeeper lacks positioning, reflexes, handling and reach it is easier for the opposition team to score goals from long shots.
Pros - Sweeper Keeper
# If you're playing with a high defensive line the right goalkeeper may rescue you, as he intercepts long balls played into the available space.
# If instructed to kick the ball to the right player you can launch an attack pretty quickly. Especially useful if you're an underdog.
# The Sweeper Keeper Defend have many similarities to the Goalkeeper defend and less of the requires skills are important (as the goalkeeper mostly will be positioned in the area of goalkeeping defend (see red area in above picture).
Cons - Sweeper Keeper
# If the goalkeeper have high eccentricity and creativity but poor decisions, positioning he may do many mistakes and bloopers. Sometimes it could be favorable to have a goalkeeper who act unlike the traditional goalkeeper, but this will of course be based on the situation.
# As this player role is intended for launching counter-attacking moves it may result you could loose possession of the ball if the wrong strategy is employed in regard to your preferred playing style, as he will tend to kick the ball long.
# Are you able to find a goalkeeper with all the required skills?
# Will the player instructions mentality and closing down be too attacking minded?
Related articles - learn more about the goalkeeper role in real life football:
Staying Connected to the Game – The Goalkeeper’s Job Responsibilities