Guide to Inverted Wing Backs in Football Manager

An Inverted Wing Back in FM23 makes inverted runs from the flank to the central areas of the pitch to help in the build-up and ball progression. 

Popularized yet again by Pep Guardiola with his treble-winning Manchester City team, the IWB role has seen a substantial rise in its inclusion in many tactics. 

Contrary to traditional wing-back roles which prefer overlapping runs, Inverted Wing Backs look to impact the central areas of the pitch by underlapping. 

Today, we’ll learn about the role a bit more. And how exactly does it play out in Football Manager. 

I’ll also throw a few more tips on how to get the best out of the role.

Grab your seatbelts. 

What Is An Inverted Wing Back?

Many might mistake it as a position in Football Manager.

But the Inverted Wing Back is a wide defender role who drifts inside into central areas and plays more like a midfielder. This allows them to receive the ball in more dangerous areas and create chances for their team.

The role operates quite opposite to traditional fullbacks and wingbacks.

Movement of the Inverted Wingback in Football Manager.

You can pretty much sum up an inverted wing back by the following characteristics:

  • Drifts inside into central areas during possession.
  • Creates numerical superiority in midfield.
  • Need good technical skills, passing, and vision.
  • Requires composure to operate in heavy traffic areas.
  • Have to be able to defend opposing wingers. 

Let’s have a look at how Football Manager sees the role.

How Inverted Wing Back Works in Football Manager

Inverted Wing Backs in Football Manager are preferred in attacking formations to provide additional support to midfielders and forwards. 

Used often in possession-based teams like Man City and Bayern, Inverted Wing Backs help to overload the central areas of the pitch, giving your team greater control over possession and allowing you to dictate the pace of play.

They can also be used to create numerical superiority in midfield, as they can often outnumber the opposition’s midfielders.

Unlike a traditional wing back, the role does not hug the touchline and stays fairly narrower when the team has possession, making them more involved in keeping possession. 

Player instruction for the Inverted Wing Back role in Football Manager.

The role also prefers underlapping runs rather than overlapping on the flanks. So they are very reliant on Wide attacking players to stretch the field, giving them room to make an impact. 

In defense, the IWB will sit and defend narrower compared to traditional wing-backs, blocking opposition wingers to cut inside.

Here’s what the individual instruction for Inverted Wing Backs looks like in Football Manager

When Team Has The BallSit Narrower
When Player Has the BallCut Inside with Ball
DribblingDribble More
Passing RisksTake More Risks
Crossing FrequencyCross Less Often
Freedom of MovementRoam from Position

FM23 Inverted Wing Back Attributes

An Inverted Wing Back must possess attributes that complement the role of a Wing Back, but also prove effective in the midfield. 

Attributes of an Inverted Wing Back in Football Manager

Football Manager highlights the following attributes to be the most important attributes for an Inverted Wing Back:

Technical Attributes

  • Dribbling
  • First Touch
  • Long Shots
  • Marking
  • Passing
  • Tackling
  • Technique

Mental Attributes

  • Anticipation
  • Composure
  • Concentration
  • Decisions
  • Flair
  • Off the Ball
  • Positioning
  • Teamwork
  • Work Rate

Physical Attributes

  • Acceleration
  • Agility
  • Pace
  • Stamina

From the looks of it, the Inverted Wing back role is one of the few roles in FM that demands a very well-rounded player. A good example would be Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo. 

How To Pick The Perfect Inverted Wing-Back in Football Manager

Okay, so let’s get down to business. 

We know the attributes we need for an Inverted Wing Back. But that’s just too many. And most players in the game won’t have a decent stat in all those attributes. 

So, we need to pick players who excel in particular attributes to be highly effective for the role. 

When looking for an Inverted Winger, I make sure to emphasize the following 5 attributes:

  • Dribbling
  • Passing
  • Decisions
  • Off the Ball 
  • Stamina

That’s two technical attributes, two mental, and one physical attribute.

Let me explain why.

You want your wing backs to constantly run up and down the pitch throughout the match. For that, you need a player who has a tremendous level of stamina to keep up high intensity for 90 minutes.

Secondly, his movement without the ball needs to be good as you’ll expect your Inverted Wingback to position himself in the right place to receive the ball from supporting players. Your Inverted Wing Back also has to be a good decision-maker to pick up the right action from the midfield crowd. 

And lastly, the obvious dribbling and passing. That’s what creates the chances. And you really want your IWB to pick up your forwards in a good position with those in the final third.

Check out this youtube guide from the Athletic’s The Football Manager Show on how to find the perfect Inverted Wing Backs:

Who To Train As Inverted Wing Back in FM23

Good question.

It’s really hard to come across Inverted Wing Backs in Football Manager who are “natural” in the role. 

The fact that they require a decent weak foot doesn’t make the task any less challenging.

So most of the time, you’re left with the choice to play a versatile player in that position who can do just enough! I usually look for versatile midfielders or Defensive midfielders for the Inverted Wing Back role. Playing them in the role and tactical familiarity training should get you some decent results.

Already equipped with the necessary attributes to operate in the midfield, DMs and CMs can perform fairly well as an IWB. 

You can also pick a versatile wing-back and try playing him on the opposition wing to make use of this strong put to cut inwards. 

Recommended Player Traits for Inverted Wing Backs

An Inverted Wing Back has a lot in common with a traditional center midfielder. So he’ll reap the benefits of possessing one or two midfielder traits.

Tries long-range passes

This trait encourages the player to look for the more advanced players with long balls to create goal-scoring chances. 

Plays one-twos

Playing one-twos helps the player to boost the tempo of the play, creating space for the player in a more favorable position to receive the ball and progress in the final third.

This trait makes it difficult for the opposition to mark your players, allowing you to exploit a tight marking system. 

Tries killer balls often

An Inverted Wing Back on Attack Duty will look to engage himself more in the final third of the pitch. Having this trait will add a valuable weapon to his arsenal and make him one of the key distributors in the team. 

Tries Killer Balls Often trait will help your player split compact defenses by delivering more risky balls in the final third. 

Switches ball to the other flank

Switching the ball to the other flank helps the inverted wing back stretch the play by finding a winger in space with his long range of passing. 

It’s highly effective against opposition that sits compact and makes it hard to break through the middle. 

Runs With The Ball Through Center

This trait can highly benefit inverted Wing Back with good dribbling and technical abilities. 

Players comfortable in taking on opposition head-to-head can lunge through the center, running with the ball.

Teams preferring a counter-attacking approach will heavily benefit from a player with this trait. 

Traits to Discourage

These are the traits you should strictly discourage in your Inverted Wing Backs.

Why? Because they render the role ineffective in most situations, hampering the way they were supposed to play.

Stays back at all times

Players with this trait will not look to head forward, supporting the attack. This trait is meant for more defensive-minded roles who are meant to sit back all the time. 

Plays short simple passes 

Inverted Wing Backs are meant to be one of the major playmakers in the team. Developing a short passing tendency will hugely limit their effectiveness around the final third of the pitch. 

Hugs Line

As the Inverted Wing Back is expected to make runs towards the central areas of the pitch, hugging the touchline is out of the equation. 

This trait is fashioned for wide players to add width to the team while in possession, which is clearly not something you want your IWB to do.

FM23 Inverted Wingback Tactic

To make sure your inverted wing back actually gets to be effective in the game, you need to build a tactical system around the role to allow him space in the middle. They are mostly deployed in systems that are closely identical to tiki-taka or vertical tiki-taka tactics.

If we have a close look at how Pep Guardiola plays his Man City team, you’ll notice a few things. 

Firstly, Pep Guardiola uses Jack Grealish wider in the system to draw the opposition DMs and Full backs. This allows Manchester City to create space in the half spaces, where Joao Cancelo, our Inverted Wing Back comes to play. 

Supporting midfielders or Mezzala like Gundogan will move forward and look to exploit the space left by the full back drawn away by the winger. 

And the IWB will fill in the space in midfield, creating overload and applying pressure on the opposition. 

Doing so also adds an extra passing option which helps to retain possession for the team. 

Best Inverted Wing Backs in FM23

It’s really hard to find dedicated Inverted Wing Backs in Football Manager due to how rarely the role is implemented in the world of football.

But you can still make players with particular skillsets to adopt to the position and get a good output from it. That said, here are the best Inverted Wing Backs you can secure for your team in Football Manager 23.

NamePositionNationalityCurrent ClubAge
Joao CanceloDR, MRPortugueseMan City29
Trent Alexander-ArnoldDR, WBR, DM, MC, MREnglishLiverpool24
Joshua KimmichDR, WBR, DM, MC, MRGermanFC Bayern27
Oleksandr ZinchenkoDL, WBL, ML, ARL, DM, MCUkrainianArsenal25
Joakim MæhleDR, DL, WBR, WBL, MRDanishAtalanta25
Josha VagnomanDR, DL, WBR, WBLGermanVfB Stuttgart21
JonnyDR, DL, WBR, WBLSpanishWolves28
Noussair MazraouiDR, DL, WBR, MR, DM, MCMoroccanFC Bayern24
Ben WhiteDR, DC, DM, WBREnglishArsenal24
Eduardo CamavingaDM, MC, DMFrenchR. Madrid20
Jules KoundeDC, DL, DRFrenchFC Barcelona24


Which teams use Inverted Wing Backs?

In the modern game, possession-focused teams like FC Bayern and Manchester City use Inverted Wing Backs to dominate the opposition in the midfield. 

When should you use Inverted Wing Backs?

Using an inverted wing back is fruitful when you have wide players to stretch the opposition formation, allowing the player space to exploit in the middle of the pitch. Inverted Wingers are also highly effective against teams who lack adequate players in midfield, making it easy to outnumber and overpower them. 

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