Full back is a very important position in modern day football.
In my opinion it’s the position that has probably evolved the most in the last 15-20 years.
In my early days in the Academy at Man United I was always a central midfielder. It wasn’t until I was 19 that I was converted into becoming a full-back.
After having discussions with my coaches who at the time felt that my attributes were better suited to being a full-back than a midfield player.
At first I used to hate playing there, all I wanted to do was just score goals from midfield and run around trying to get on the ball. It wasn’t until I was released by United and went to Derby County that my coach, Lee Glover really introduced me into the role.
When I first started playing full-back, all I wanted to do was attack.
I never really worried about the defensive duties as my game was about creating chances and scoring goals.
It took hours of coaching and analysis with Lee that I started to realise that my new position was actually more based on defending.
He always used to say to me before games “defend first, going forward becomes secondary”. At the time I would always think he was wrong, I would look at players like Cafu who was one of the best full-backs I have seen, and think to my self “he never used to defend, he was always charging forward with the ball and attacking.”
Suddenly, it all clicked for me. When I started to deeply analyse players positions and movements when they played rather than watching the game, I would see top players defend first without the ball. They were always very reliable defensively and they made themselves hard to beat when they were defending.
On the ball, it is a different scenario.
These players would be charging forward with intent trying to score goals as well as making them. These players only attacked when the time was right, they never neglected their defensive duties.
Last season, I spent six months on loan at York City in League Two.
My manager there was former Celtic and Scotland full-back Jackie McNamara who had a very successful career up in Scotland winning domestic trophies and playing in the 1998 World Cup with Scotland.
He is probably the best one to one coaches that I have had in my career so far.
He would keep me out on the training ground once or twice a week for half an hour to improve my game.I was getting individual training from a former international player.
He broke down every part of my game from crossing, to defending. Again, a lot of his coaching was the emphasis of defending first, and attacking being a bonus.
Even now a year on from when he was my manager, I still hold onto key bits of advice that he gave to me during my time there. I owe a lot to him and how he helped improve my overall game.
In today’s game, the world’s best full-backs are the one’s who balance their defending and attacking with the same purpose and attitude.
You often see full-backs who are good at defending but offer very little going forward. Or full-backs who are good at going forward but are liable when it comes to defending. (Maicon).……..
I was born in 1994, and the first “complete full-backs” I can remember are players such as Paolo Maldini, Roberto Carlos and Cafu. All of these players carried a massive threat going forward in attacking positions but they were very reliable when defending.
The impact that a full-back has on their team more or less varies on the formation that they play.
For example, playing in a conventional 4-4-2 the full-back holds a more traditional role of being part of a solid back four but also being able to add support to the attacking wingers in front of them.
Meanwhile a formation that holds three or more central midfielders such as 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 relies on the full backs for all the width on the attack and any overload in the opposition area would be down to the full backs getting forward.
In this sort of formation you often see attacking wingers drifting infield which leaves more space for the full-back to attack into.
The full backs are mainly suited to a four at the back system whereas any another defensive system would be reliant on wing-backs which are less defensively minded than a full back.