Poacher – Tactic Talk

Welcome, hope you are all well and ready for another tactic talk with me. My last article on my current tactic with Velez had an awesome response and the feedback was amazing, thank you if you gave it a read and I hoped it helped.

Today we look at a role I love in Football Manager 2019 and in real life and it’s the Poacher role for your strikers. I love to use my strikers as either a poacher or a pressing forward but today I want to go in depth with the poacher role and what attributes to look for and how to get him scoring bags of goals in your save. I will be looking at how it works in Football Manager and with a peek at some real-life attacks from one of the best in this role. I just want to say I don’t claim to be a master of the game or anything of the sort, I just love to write this sort of content and hope it helps you.


Yes, even your attacker has a job to do when your team is under attack from your opposition. I want to show you what the poacher should be doing when the ball is up the other end of the pitch. The defence approach from the poacher is actually pretty simple but you want to make sure, he is in the right position ready for a quick counter-attack in your favour.


The Poacher should be placed inside the box on the image above right on the last defender, seems simple which it is but it can be very effective. When your team is under attack it’s important the striker is aware and in the position, I explained, why? Soon as your team wins the ball back one of their outlets for a counterattack is your striker whether it’s to his feet to hold up the play and bring in the midfielders or a ball over the top behind the defence to get a chance on goal. This simple positioning from your attacker can change defence to attack in a second especially if you play a counterattack style, which I love.

When the ball is with the opposition defenders the striker’s role is to hassle the defence and try to force a mistake and gain possession back for your team. Below you can see my striker trying his best to intercept a pass from their goalkeeper to his own defender. Do this as much as possible a mistake will always occur in your favour throughout a game.


and again…


Even from the oppositions goal kicks if they play it out short the striker should be straight on him to force a long punt upfield or an interception to regain possession.



Now the most important section of this article, what should the poacher do when your team has the ball and ready to make an attack. The main role for the Poacher is scoring goals, his job 100% of the time and he should always be looking to get in a scoring position on every given opportunity.

Screenshot Poacher play 1.png

As seen above our midfielder has the ball in a positive area of the pitch, our striker the poacher is looking instantly to get in behind the defender for a ball over the top to latch on to.

Wherever on the pitch, your team has the ball the striker should always be on the last defender as seen below.


Staying onside is the poacher’s hardest part in this role I believe because he plays on the last defender all game he is always in danger of slipping offside or the defenders stepping up. Below you can see the striker doing a perfect job of staying slightly onside ready for the ball over the top for a goal scoring opportunity.

stay onside.png

I get asked a lot why I like this sort of striker in my team and it’s because being a Leicester fan you see Jamie Vardy doing this week in and week out, especially in the season we won the league, it’s a great sight. I try and get my strikers in Football Manager playing like Vardy just because I see it a huge asset to the team.

v1  v2

A prime example above of Jamie Vardy hassling the defender and winning the back in a great position to start an attack for his team. The striker doing this successfully changes defence to attack in a matter of a second and leaving the opposition unorganised and very vulnerable. Below we see a pass come in from a wide area and of course, Vardy is on the last man to put the ball in the back of the net.


Get the Poacher doing what Vardy does for Leicester every week and he will create more chances and score you more goals.


Now let’s go over what attributes you should look for when either buying a new poacher or picking him from the current squad.

Decision making and off the ball are two key attributes to look for so he can make the correct runs at the right time without straying offside. The better runs he makes without the ball the more chance he will get in a goal scoring area.

Anticipation and Acceleration two more important attributes for him to have for obvious reasons being when he is waiting for the ball level with the defender, he will need a quick start from a standing position to beat his man to the ball for a chance on goal. Anticipation is needed when the midfielder is ready to put a ball through the striker needs to be switched on and anticipate the play.

Finishing Yes finishing is important for any striker but I have never seen it the key attribute for a forward. I would rather have a striker who gets in the one on one scenarios and that’s needed with what we have mentioned above if the striker can’t get into a goal scoring position it’s pointless him having a good finishing stat. Composure also comes under this bracket in my opinion when the striker has the ball one on one a calm composed striker is more likely to hit the back of the net and not get too excited or nervous and miss the target.

Work Rate, Natural Fitness, Team Work and Stamina are attributes I look into for every member of my team especially the Poacher, due to his closing down and constant running in behind, you need a player who is willing to work and not get tired too easily. Remember this role over a season will take it’s toll on the player so squad depth is very handy towards the latter end of the season.

I would say all these above are vital to a lethal striker playing the poacher role. I also like my striker to be good in the air just so from attacking set pieces he is a threat, that isn’t a must just something useful to have in his locker.


Your striker can’t be lethal in front of goal unless he gets the service to him throughout the 90 minutes. I like to add these team instructions so my midfielders and even my defenders know to get the ball up the field.

screenshot (124)

Team Instructions – should be set as seen above and it’s simple why with a more direct approach your poacher will be receiving balls to run on to more frequently especially with “Distribute Over Opposition Defence” instruction set, this means your midfielders will look more often for that pass.

Player Instructions – Player Instructions is again pretty simple, due to you wanting the hassling of defenders you want him to close down more and of course stay up the pitch hence the “Get Further Forward” instruction. “Tackle harder” I like just so the defenders know they are not in for an easy ride throughout the game and makes them on edge having possession.

Thank you for reading another tactical piece from myself, I’m still new to these types of article but it’s something I really enjoy doing and want to continue doing so. I love receiving feedback whether it’s positive or something you think I could have done better please just hit my DM’s over on Twitter.





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