Inverted Winger vs Inside Forward: How Are They Different?

The inverted winger and the inside forward are two different roles for the Wide Attacking Midfield position in Football Manager. 

Used to cut inside from the wide areas, both roles are focused on creating an impact on the central areas of the pitch. 

So, let’s talk about Inverted Winger vs Inside Forward

Inverted wingers cut inside from wide positions, seeking crosses and through balls while the Inside Forwards primarily drift centrally, aiming to receive the ball near the box, enabling more direct shots at goal.

Today, I’m going to set the two roles up for an ultimate confrontation. Let’s find out which is the better winger role.

Inverted Winger vs Inside Forward: Brief Overview

The Inverted Winger drops deep to link up play while the Inside Forward look to make runs in behind the defence to receive through balls and convert goalscoring opportunities.

I’ll start by going over a general overview of the two roles. 

Here’s how the two different roles fare up against each other:

CharacteristicsInverted WingerInside Forward
MovementCuts inside from wide positionsDrifts centrally
Ball PreferenceSeeks Crosses and Through  BallsAims to receive ball near the box for direct shots
PositioningStarts Wide, Moves InwardsPrimarily stays central
ShootingModerate numbers of shotsShoots more often
Playing StyleCreative playmaking optionGoalscoring option
Preferred FootLeft-footed on the right flank, right-footed on leftBased on their dominant foot, adjusts position accordingly
Defensive ContributionTracks back to defensive positionPresses high
Passing RisksStandardRisky
Example PlayersNeymar, Bukayo SakaMartinelli, Marcus Rashford

As you can see, the players in the winger roles have completely different objectives to play for. And that makes them effective in different situations.  

Inverted Winger vs Inside Forward: Detailed Differences

Player Attributes

In the inverted winger role, while pace and acceleration are valuable assets, they are not essential. This position relies more on decision-making and creativity to unlock defences with well-placed crosses and through balls.

An Inverted Winger must possess a good level of Dribbling, Passing, Technique, Vision, and, Decisions to become more effective in playmaking and ball progression. 

Attributes for Inverted winger on support duty in Football Manager.
Attributes for IW on support duty in Football Manager.

Other than that, the Inverted Wingers need to cover more ground with and without the ball. As a result, the role puts a high emphasis on Work Rate and Stamina.

Although the same attributes are important for the role, the Inside Forward role demands additional Anticipation, Off the Ball, and Flair from the player to be effective in the final third. 

An effective inside forward should possess considerable pace and acceleration or compensate with high dribbling and flair to beat defenders consistently. 

Inside Forward on support duty attributes in Football Manager 23.
IF on support duty attributes in Football Manager 23.

Without these attributes, the player may struggle and become ineffective in your tactic.

Positioning & Movement

The Inverted Winger’s movements are characterized by dynamic runs and creative plays from half spaces, while the Inside Forward excels in positioning centrally to capitalize on goal-scoring chances and actively supporting the team defensively. 

They start wide near the touchline, then actively cuts inside with the ball, exploiting the space between their position and a wide attacking area. 

Inverted winger support duty info in FM23

Now, by starting wide, I don’t mean starting exclusively wide. It’s mostly the area between the center and the wide area of the pitch, known as half space where Inverted wingers station themselves.

On the other hand, the Inside Forward primarily operates centrally, expertly drifting inwards without the ball, aiming to receive it near the 18-yard box for direct shots on goal.

While the Inverted Winger focuses on providing creative playmaking options for the team, delivering dangerous crosses and through balls to teammates, the Inside Forward’s main emphasis lies in goal-scoring opportunities.

Inside Forward on Support Duty info in FM23.

They are always seeking chances to take shots at the opposition keeper, becoming a potent offensive threat.

Defensive Contribution

In terms of defensive contribution, the Inside Forward may not be as involved in defensive support as the Inverted Winger, who actively participates in the team’s defensive efforts by tracking back. 

However, you can expect the player to actively lead the line of engagement when it comes to pressing the opposition.

Tactical Setup

When deploying inverted wingers, your central striker should focus on making runs behind the defence, not dropping deep to link up play. This way, he will consistently have a target for through balls.

An advanced forward, poacher, or pressing forward on attack duty can fulfil this role adeptly.

Overlapping fullbacks can complement inverted wingers, though they need not be as aggressive as they are with inside forwards.

To optimize the use of inside forwards, employ a central striker who drops deep, allowing him to play off him as they advance towards the box. 

A deep-lying forward or a complete forward on support duty can complement this role effectively.

Ensure your inside forwards have good finishing and technique to avoid frustration from missed chances. Consider using fast strikers for the role when utilizing wide players in your tactic.

For a strong team with adventurous fullbacks, pairing inside forwards with attacking fullbacks or wingbacks can exploit the space left wide.

Since the primary objective of the role is scoring goals, the desired player traits for this role will significantly align with the traits of a striker.

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Player Instructions

Inverted Winger

When Team Has The BallStandard Positioning
Cross From Deep
Cross FrequencyStandard
DribblingDribble More
Shooting Standard
Passing DirectnessFluid
Passing RisksStandard

As you can see, the Football Manager instructions for the role are pretty much basic. But, you get a lot of freedom in tweaking the player instructions for the Inverted winger. 

You can instruct the player to play a more creative role by enabling More risky passing and increasing crossing frequency. Similarly, you can also dictate the positioning of the player when the team is in possession.

Player instruction for Inverted Winger in FM23

Inside Forward

When Team Has The BallGet Further Forward
Cross From Restricted(N/A)
Cross FrequencyCross Less Often
DribblingDribble More
Shooting Standard
Passing DirectnessFluid
Passing RisksTake More Risks

The Inside Forward role gives you slightly less options to work with compared to IW. 

For starters, you can’t really ask him to cross more often. Neither can you expect him to take less risk when passing.

However, you can ask him to shoot more often if your player is receiving balls in dangerous positions frequently. 

Player instruction for Inside Forward in FM23.

Player Traits

Inverted Winger Traits

The role of the inverted winger prioritizes creativity over goal-scoring, making player traits that enhance the ability to find and assist teammates crucial for this position.

I’ve already covered the best IW traits on FM23 in a very recent guide in my blog. You should check that out.

Anyways, here are some of the traits that benefit the role:

  1. Comes Deep to Get Ball
  2. Tries Killer Balls often
  3. Cuts Inside From Right/Left/Both Wings
  4. Runs with ball often
  5. Likes Ball Played into Feet
  6. Likes to Switch Ball to Wide Areas

Inside Forward Traits

It’s all about scoring more goals for the role. 

So you need to focus on traits that can get your players in better goalscoring positions and improves his goalscoring abilities. 

And for that, your Inside forwards must possess the following traits in Football Manager:

  1. Places shots
  2. Likes to try to beat offside trap
  3. Plays one-twos
  4. Moves into Channels
  5. Runs with ball often
  6. Tries tricks

Want to get more in-depth on the topic? Check out what FM YouTuber Stinger has to say about it.

Advantages vs Disadvantages

Inverted Winger

Creative PlaymakingLess focus on goal-scoring
Cuts inside, running to the central area to progress the ballRelies on supporting full-backs for width and overlaps
Ball ProgressionStruggle at breaking narrow, compact defence

Inside Forward

Excellent goal-scoring opportunities, deadly in the final thirdNot as effective in creating opportunities for teammates
Adept at taking on defenders in one-on-one situationsRequires good service from midfielders to thrive offensively
Leads the pressing line of engagementLess involved in defensive duties, limited in tracking back

Inverted Winger or Inside Forward: Which Is Better?

The choice of role in the wide positions should be determined by the team’s balance and the strengths of your players. 

If you seek a player with a greater goal threat, opt for an inside forward. 

Be sure to build your tactics around your players so that they get good service from the supporting players in the final third. 

Likewise, the inverted winger role suits playmakers who prioritize supplying teammates over scoring themselves. 

But for that, he needs a system around of him to give him the proper space to be more effective up front.

If you like comparison guides like these, feel free to check out our take on full-back vs wingback on FM23.

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