Football Manager Half Back vs Anchor: Know The Difference!


The Half Back and the Anchor are two of the most misunderstood and underutilized roles in Football Manager. Both roles have a significant role to play in the backline structure of the team. 

While both positions are classified under the defensive midfield category, they share more similarities with central defenders than other roles in the midfield such as the Deep Lying Playmaker, Segundo Volante, or Ball Winning Midfielder.

But what makes them so distinguished?

The Half Back drops deeper than the Anchor Man while in possession. Without possession, the Half Back will be more aggressive in pressing and winning the ball. The Anchor stays disciplined and screens the defense, while Half Backs are a blend of aggressive sweeper and DM. 

In this article, we’ll be diving deep into the differences between the two DM roles, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, and giving you all the information you need to make an informed decision. So, if you’re ready to take your team to the next level, let’s kick off!

Football Manager Half Back vs Anchor: Brief Overview

Football Manager introduces the Half Back position as a hybrid between an aggressive sweeper and a defensive midfielder. They are known to drop deeper than a traditional defensive midfielder role during possession to offer a quick outlet for recycling the ball and prevent counterattacks.

On the other hand, the Anchor man is a player who sits in the hole between the defense and midfield. Their primary duty is to intercept opposing moves, win the ball back, and deliver simple yet effective passes to their more creative teammates. 

Anchors are the unsung heroes of the midfield, ensuring the team’s defense is secure while also providing a solid foundation for attacking moves.

Here’s how the Half Back and Anchor differ from each other in FM:

Appropriate forCounter Attacking TacticsPossession Based Tactics
TraitsDives into Tackle, Marks Opposition Tightly, Stays Back All the Time, Plays Short Simple Passes,Does not Dive into Tackle
ShootingBalanced ShootingShoots Less Often
Passing RisksBalanced PassingTakes Fewer Risks
Key AttributesPositioning, Marking,  Concentration, Aggression, and TacklingConcentration, Positioning, Marking, Tackling, 
Secondary AttributesFirst Touch, Passing,, Bravery, Work Rate, Jumping Reach, Stamina, StrengthComposure, Teamwork, Strength
Example PlayersKelvin Phillips, Jefferson Lerma, Samuele RicciBryan Cristante, Ron Schallenberg, Patrick Berg

That’s the baseline difference between the two roles. Let’s learn about them in detail and see how you can introduce them in your tactical setup. 

Football Manager Half Back vs Anchor: Detailed Differences

Covering the same position in the tactical setup, the Half Back and the Anchor are often used interchangeably. But a closer look at their attributes, positioning, and duties will unveil a lot more about how they operate. 

Player Attributes

Half Back

Half Backs have to be agile in both defensive and offensive situations. Without the ball, they will look to constantly press to win the ball back. Constant pressure and high defensive duties mean they have to excel in:

  • Positioning
  • Tackling
  • Strength
  • Stamina
  • Work Rate
  • Jumping Reach
  • Aggression
Bartol Franjic as a Half Back in Football Manager 23.
Bartol Franjic Is a good example of a HB with his adeptness in both defense and attacking roles.

With the ball on their feet, he will look to support the attack by carrying the ball up. Although he doesn’t necessarily require to be technically gifted, a player with high Passing, Vision, and Technique can be really explosive in this position.

He also requires good first touch, and ball-carrying ability to get up the pitch. 


An anchor has to always keep a sharp eye to read passing lanes and intercept them. To become good at his role, a player must possess the following attributes:

  • Tackling
  • Positioning
  • Work rate
  • Anticipation
  • Teamwork

Such defensive attributes make the role highly capable of breaking the opposition’s counter and recycling possession. 

Federico Navarro as an Anchor in Football Manager 23.
Federico Navarro is a great Anchor in FM 23.


Half Back

Half Backs are usually preferred in narrow formations that look to use attacking wingbacks to add width to their game. In such scenarios, he drops deep in the defensive line with the two Center Backs, allowing them to cover the wide flanks left unattended by the wingbacks. 

Once possession is lost, he buys valuable time for the Wingbacks and Center Backs to regain their defensive structure and moves himself to the Defensive midfield area. 

After regaining possession, the player looks to carry the ball forward and distribute the ball quickly and accurately to more advanced players. This makes them a very effective weapon for counterattacks in a defensive team. 

They provide great support in a narrow diamond setup with creative players up ahead.


The Anchor looks to position himself in the central position, in the hole between the defensive line and the midfield line. They act as a screen in front of the defense, breaking up counterattacks or intercepting passing lanes. 

With possession, they will hold their position in front of the defense and act as a safety outlet for possession. 

In the attacking transition, the player will not leave his designated position and stay back as a safety barrier to prevent the opposition counter. 

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Player Instructions

Half Back

The pre-set instructions for a Half Back are:

  • Hold Position: This instruction will keep the player in a deeper position, making them less likely to push forward and more likely to cover the defense.
  • Dribble Less: FM doesn’t allow the Half-Backs to play the ball out of defense on default. 
The Player instructions for a Half Back in Football Manager 23.
An HB in Football Manager 2023 has more flexibility when it comes to their player instructions.

In a Cautious team mentality, the player adopts a Very Defensive playing mentality. His individual mentality will switch to Cautious when switched to a Positive team mentality, 

You can add some extra instructions to tweak your player’s approach to the game:

  • Close Down More: This instruction will make the player press the opposition more aggressively, helping to win the ball back quickly.
  • Tackle Harder: Ask your player to tackle harder if you’re confident in his tackling ability
  • Take More Risk: Your player will try delivering some decisive passes near the final third. 

To execute a more risky passing approach, your player should have high Passing, Vision, Technique, and Decision Making. Telling him to Close Down More will make him act like a Ball Winning Midfielder and aggressively press the opposition. 


Anchors are highly restricted in their movements and decision-making. Expectation to stay disciplined at all times requires him to have high teamwork. 

The preset instructions for the role are:

  • Hold Position: This instruction will keep the player in a central position in front of the defense, making them less likely to push forward and more likely to shield the defense.
  • Dribble Less: The player will look to pass to a more creative player as soon as possible without looking to create opportunities himself. 
  • Shoot Less Often: They are instructed to look for passes instead of shooting
  • Take Fewer Risks: The player will keep hold of possession instead of playing risky passes and losing the ball in the process. 
Player instructions for an Anchor in Football Manager 23.
Players in this role have to follow strict preset instructions in order to execute their duties properly.

You can instruct your player to Mark Tighter if the opposition is playing an Advanced Playmaker who can cause trouble to your defense with the ball. 

Useful Traits

Half Back

If you’ve carefully observed how Half Backs are utilized in modern football, you’ll have to admit that FM puts huge restrictions on how the role plays out in the game. 

But you can overcome these restrictions by training your players to learn a few crafty traits. Here are the traits that can get the best out of your Half Back:

  • Arrive Late In The Opposition Area
  • Get Forward Whenever Possible 
  • Dives Into Tackle
  • Marks Opponent Tightly

Getting further forward and arriving late in the box are two traits an HB with a positive team mentality should possess. This increases the frequency of them making forward runs and arriving in the box late. 

However, in a defensive lineup, the player should be more focused on marking the opponent tightly and diving for a tackle as soon as his marked opponent reaches the ball.


There are few traits that can actually complement the role. Nevertheless, here are the traits that a good Anchor man should possess:

  • Stay Back At All Times
  • Does Not Dive Into Tackles
  • Play No Through Balls
  • Play Short Simple Passes
  • Runs with Ball Rarely

All these traits work directly in favor of how the DM role operates. It’s the perfect trait of a player who works as an outlet for holding and recycling possession. 

Strength vs Weakness

Half Back

As a role that has to balance offensive and defensive responsibilities, the Half Back might have too much on his plate at times. Here are their strengths and weaknesses: 

Half Backs are a dynamic role that can attack as well as defend.Might neglect defensive duties. 
Can act as a BWM, DLP, and DMToo much aggression can lead to too many fouls. 
Supports play in the attacking phaseCan leave gaps in the defense. 


Anchors have the following strengths and weaknesses:

Anchors are rigid and primarily focus on defense.Doesn’t contribute much to the offense.
Good for breaking up opposition attacks and blocking opposition passing lanes.Lacks creativity and attacking edge.
Helps to Recycle possession.Too passive oftentimes and doesn’t have aggression.

Best Half Backs in Football Manager 23

Football Manager has an abundance of top players who are capable of playing in the Half Back role. Here are some of the best Half Backs in FM23:

  1. Boubacar Kamara
  2. Bruno Guimaraes
  3. Joao Palhinha
  4. Kalvin Phillips
  5. Fabinho

Best Anchor Man in Football Manager 23

Anchor Man in Football Manager are hard to come by at the top level due to their exceptional possession-retaining capabilities. These are some of the best players who can play as Anchors in FM 23

  1. Sergio Busquets
  2. Trevoh Chalobah
  3. Ali Al Musrati
  4. Rodri
  5. Kristoffer Ajer


That concludes our detailed guide on Football Manager Half Back vs Anchor. Hopefully, this guide will help you spot the right opportunity to utilize your DMs to their maximum potential. 

If you like comparison guides like these, please check out our take on the differences between wing-back and full-back roles in fm23.

You can also check out the comparison between Inside Forward and Inverted winger on FM from our guide!

We’ll be back with more Football Manager guides and tactics. 

Until then, keep managing!

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