The Central Midfielder needs to possess all the skills from all the positions on the field. Playing central midfield is like doing the decathlon at the Olympics. The player needs to be competent at all the required disciplines and excel at one or two of them as well.
As a central midfielder you will be constantly involved in the game so you level of concentration needs to be higher than any other player. You are are either in the thick of things trying to regain possession of the ball on defense, or making things happen when in possession of the ball in attack mode.
One of the biggest mistakes a central midfielder can make is to be caught out of position, thus leaving space to be exploited by the opposition when they gain possession of the ball. Often this is rectified by having the two central midfielders work in tandem, constantly communicating so that one can cover for the other as necessary.
Another common mistake is to hold on to the ball too much and conversely not to hold on to the ball enough… Figure that one out! What I mean is that the central midfielder needs to read the game and know when to advance the ball quickly on say a counter attack and conversely when to retain possession of the ball and slow the game down for example dying minutes of the game protecting a one goal lead.
The central midfielder must have it all. They need to be confident and competent with both feet. They need to be able to execute the whole range of passes from 40 yard driven diagonal balls, through to little “to you to me” balls.
Central midfield players need to be able to run with a dribble with the ball at speed. They need to be able to shoot from anywhere within 35 yards of the goal (a la Steven Gerrard). They need to be good crossers of the ball as well.
Central midfield players are often the players taking the free kicks in advanced positions, serving in the ball into the danger area creating chances.
Central midfield players need to be good in the air as they will often be either challenging for headers to win possession of the ball, or getting on the end of crosses and heading on goal as they join the attack.
Central midfield player need to be excellent tacklers as they will be constantly in the lion’s den trying to battle it out with the opposition. Central midfield players never get a chance to rest or “hide” even for a brief moment.
They are often the captain, the leader, the inspiration of the team and they love it. As a result the often put themselves under too much pressure and often their team mates rely on them too much as well. Therefore when they do have a dip in form which they inevitably will do at some point in the season, the team needs to be able to take up the slack and compensate for them.