Anatomy of a (Successful) Football Team

Building a successful football team, who consistently compete at the top level and win trophies, requires several important individual elements all working in unison towards the same goal.

A car wouldn’t run properly if you removed its wheels, breaks, or engine. In the same vain, a football team cannot build success unless all the parts do their job properly.

So, what are the parts that build the anatomy of a successful football team?


The last line of defence, the person who can prevent the other team scoring. Every successful football team requires a strong goalkeeper who can lead the line from between the sticks. Someone who instils confidence because he doesn’t make mistakes. He allows the outfield players to concentrate on their game, knowing the keeper will be there to save the day if the opposition breaks through.

Read what makes a great goalkeeper.


A strong defence not only helps protect the goalkeeper and prevent the opposition scoring, but it is also where most attacks will originate. Solid central defenders will be unbeatable, putting in last minute blocks and tackles to keep their opponents at bay. Full-backs and wing-backs will put in defensive work as well as making attacking runs down the wings and playing the overlap, becoming as important to the attack as they are to the defence.

Read what makes a great defender.


The engine room of the team. Midfielders will have to be all things rolled into one player. They must be strong in all elements of the game, putting in fantastic defensive work with tackling, blocking and marking. Errorless and pin-point accurate passing and hold-up play will keep possession and control the tempo of the game, whilst they will also be required to go forward and attack, assisting the strikers and scoring the occasional goal.

Read what makes a great midfielder.


Where the goals come from. The strikers and forward players are those who are expected to put pressure on the opposition defence, hold the ball up to bring attacking midfielders and other forwards into play, and score the vital goals to win games.

Read what makes a great forward.


Every great team requires a great manager. The manager is the one who must select the best available players, formation, and tactics to win every match. They must make tough calls, like dropping an out-of-form but popular player, and they are undoubtedly the one who takes the criticism when things go wrong. Picking up the players and rebuilding confidence after a heavy defeat, gentle man-management, and rip-roaring motivational team talks are all part of this role. A great manager can turn average players into fantastic ones, and lead their team to glory.

Read what makes a great manager.


The motivational, calming, and confidence building influence on the pitch. A fantastic captain isn’t always the best player in the team. They are the one who always gives 100% regardless of the score, leads by example, picks their players up if things aren’t going to plan, settles down any angry situations, and constantly thrives to motivate their teammates to up their performance levels.

Read what makes a great captain.

Set-Piece Taker

A great set-piece taker can turn a game with one moment of magic. Again, these players may not be the most skilful, or the fastest, but they have a role in the team and a time when all hope lies at their feet. Good set-piece takers change games with an in-swinging corner which is aimed at a teammates head with pin-point accuracy, a direct free-kick swerved around the wall straight into the top corner, or a long throw into the box. When a set-piece is given, the crowd get more excited, expectation is raised, and there is a great amount of pressure on the person taking it. The type of set-piece taker in a great team can handle the pressure and be a match winner.

Read what makes a great set-piece taker.

In the upcoming weeks, our “Anatomy of a (Successful) Football Team” series will look at these parts in more detail. We will analyse each position, the role of the manager, set-piece takers, and the influence a great captain can have to turn a normal team into a great one.

Based on this series we’ve come up with a contender for the greatest team of all time.

Share your thoughts

I’m sure you don’t agree with everything we’ve said during this series. Let us know what we’ve got right and what we’ve got wrong in the comments below.

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