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Today’s guest author is @JamesP1987!
The Carrilero is one of those roles on Football Manager that hasn’t quite made its way into the hearts and minds of most casual FM players in the way that it’s arguably more exciting relative, the Mezzala, has.
It doesn’t get the plaudits, it’s rarely used, and it definitely doesn’t count as a “glamour” role. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be incredibly effective if it is used properly. Described in FM as “a Shuttler, who covers the lateral areas of the pitch”, they operate almost as a box-to-box midfielder but working horizontally rather than vertically.
Gennaro Gattuso and the AC Milan Dynasty
In my opinion, to see the best real-world example of a Carrilero operating at a high level (which you can apply to Football Manager) you need look no further than the all-conquering AC Milan team of the mid 2000s. It was a team packed with superstars like Maldini, Nesta, Cafu, Seedorf, Pirlo, Kaka, Shevchenko, Crespo and even Rivaldo for one season. All of the above-mentioned players were considered world class at one time or another, but there was another very important cog in that machine that allowed the players around him to flourish without ever really being talked about in the same way. Gennaro Gattuso wasn’t the greatest dribbler, his goal scoring record is not one to be proud of and he wasn’t known for his defence-splitting passes, yet somehow he managed to play 468 games for Milan.
Milan operated with a diamond in midfield and their strongest quartet at this time was Pirlo, Gattuso, Seedorf and Kaka with added strength in depth in the form of Ambrosini and Rui Costa. With their first choice four, Pirlo would sit at the base of the diamond in a deep-lying playmaker role, Gattuso off to the right as the Carrilero, Seedorf on the left with a bit more freedom to get forward as what would probably now be a Mezzala and Kaka at the top as an Attacking Midfielder.
The main reason Gattuso had to take on this slightly more defensive role was because Milan had Cafu, who was one of the greatest wing backs of all time. The Brazilian could thunder up and down the pitch whipping in crosses and joining the attack safe in the knowledge that if he went forward his Carrilero would be there to fill in the gap. In a team full of superstars someone had to do the hard work and, for Milan, that was Gattuso.
An example of how the Milan team of 2004/5 would line up.
Jordan Henderson and Liverpool’s Attack
If a diamond doesn’t suit your players or tactics, then a more modern example of a Carrilero would be someone like Jordan Henderson. Normally playing on the right of a midfield three with a holding midfielder next to him, an inside forward or inverted winger in front of him and an attacking wing back behind him. Liverpool’s right hand side of Salah, Alexander-Arnold and Henderson has been one of the most potent attacking avenues in world football over the past few years and, while it might be the former two who gets most of the goals and assists, it is the freedom they are given by Henderson which is a big reason for this.
A representation of the Liverpool 433 with the Carrilero covering for the attacking wing-back.
Key Attributes and Player Selection for the Carrilero Role
In my own personal experience, I have achieved a lot of success with this role, but you do need the right midfielder to play there and the right system to fit them in. Whilst the player you use needs to be a good all-rounder the most important attributes to have are Passing, Tackling, First Touch, Stamina, Positioning and Teamwork. In my current Wrexham save, Kristoffer Askildsen is my first choice for this role, without being amazing at anything he is quite good at everything and has the mental attributes to play the position with the discipline required.
To summarise, the main reason you should consider using a Carrilero is if you have an attacking wing back and want to offer them the protection and freedom to get forwards. It can also be useful when trying to close a game out, if you play with a Mezzala and are defending a one goal lead with ten minutes to go, then making that role switch will mean they will operate in the same areas just without trying to get forward so much.
Sometimes the sheer number of roles and options in Football Manager can be overwhelming (I’m still not entirely sure what a Raumdeuter is), but the Carrilero is one which might warrant a closer look.