Overview and Status Flags
It’s a simple fact that to be successful, you need the right players. That’s not to say you need the best players, but identifying the necessary players to suit your plans is of paramount importance.
Whenever a person – player or non-player – appears in a list, they have a small circle with a silhouette or a profile photo. This is the ‘Information’ pop-up.
Clicking it (or hovering over it, depending on your Preferences selection) displays a small box with their most useful biographical information and their attributes. You can also right-click on the player’s name to access the ‘Actions’ menu, allowing you to interact with the individual without having to access their full player profile.
A player may also have one or many status flags attached to them on the Squad screen. Hold the cursor over (or long-press on Tablet) to enable them to cascade into full view. Bring up the tooltip for more information on what each of them means; further detail is available from the Overview screen for each player as well.
Playing time is at the heart of a player’s happiness. Give it to them and they’re satisfied; take it away from them and problems will almost certainly arise. For Football Manager™ 2021, Playing Time replaces Squad Status to provide a clearer and more descriptive understanding of how a player fits into a squad. It allows for better rotation of players between matches, keeping players happier for longer, while drawing closer parallels to expected behaviour on a contract-to-contract basis as players move through their careers.
The tiers of Playing Time are as follows:
Star Player: The main player at the club. There can be more than one Star Player but, as a rule, this is the top dog and they expect the playing time and salary that comes with it.
Important Player: The first names on the team sheet and, in teams where a Star Player isn’t found, the most important members of the squad.
Regular Starter: Someone you can expect to feature in the majority of matches in the starting eleven but who doesn’t quite command the star power of the more illustrious players.
Squad Player: A genuine rotation option who can be brought into the team throughout the season and keep pace with the more important players.
Impact Sub: A game-changing option from the substitutes’ bench; someone who might not start very often, but nevertheless is in a position to make a positive contribution more often than not.
Fringe Player: Someone who gets the occasional opportunity to play in the first team, and earn more minutes if they impress enough, but largely accepts their place at the bottom end of the squad.
B Team Regular: Exclusively for use at clubs with a B Team, this is a player aged 24 or older who is a B Team stalwart with no aspirations to play for the top club.
Breakthrough Prospect: A highly talented young player who is close to a permanent breakthrough into the first team and would likely expect new terms to be discussed once that happens.
Hot Prospect: A highly talented young player who is still some way from the first team.
Youngster: A good young player with varying degrees of chance of eventually playing for the first team.
Surplus to Requirements: A player who is no longer needed at the club.
There are also some goalkeeper-specific options:
First-Choice Goalkeeper: Almost self-explanatory, this goalkeeper is the clear first choice in his position. A goalkeeper can be a Star Player where suitable but most of the time they fall into this category.
Backup: The regular deputy goalkeeper in all competitions.
Emergency Backup: A depth option who understands that the only time they’ll play for the first team is if injury and suspension force it to happen.
Cup Goalkeeper: The nominated goalkeeper for all cup competitions; someone different from the First-Choice goalkeeper.
Domestic Cup Goalkeeper: The nominated goalkeeper for all domestic cup competitions; someone different from the First-Choice goalkeeper.
Continental Cup Goalkeeper: The nominated goalkeeper for all continental cup competitions; someone different from the First-Choice goalkeeper.
How you distribute these Playing Time options around your squad, and act upon them over the course of the season, goes a long way towards determining your overall success.
A complete breakdown of a player’s positional ability is found on this screen. It is accessed from the ‘Development’ -> ‘Tactics’ tab.
The graphical pitch displayed in this panel indicates the positions the individual can play in and each is colour-coded to represent a level competence in that position.
Five levels of competence in a position are considered in addition to the player’s ‘Natural’ position:
Accomplished – The player isn’t naturally at his best in this position but will perform in an accomplished and successful manner more often than not.
Competent – The player has enough experience and ability to put in convincing performances here on a regular basis.
Unconvincing – The player is playing out of position but will be able to do a decent job for a short period.
Awkward – The player isn’t likely to be particularly successful playing in this position. He may fill in for emergencies but will be struggling.
Ineffectual – The player cannot play in this position. You are free to play him there, but he will not perform well.
The panel also displays the competence of a player with both feet at the bottom of the pitch display. It also displays the number of games he has played in various positions throughout the current season. For example, a versatile player who is predominantly a Defensive Midfielder but can play at Defender (Right) may have 30 appearances in his primary position but 15 as a Defender (Right). This allows you to see potential reasons for a player’s good or bad performances and indeed his ability to play in various roles.
A player’s main position is printed in full in the title bar (presuming you have the Preferences set accordingly). Any other positions and/or sides he can play are appended with abbreviations.
Any particular traits the player favours are listed on this screen and can be altered or added to through the player’s Individual training screen.
Does it matter if I use a player out of position?
The answer to that is a mix of both yes and no. In an ideal world, with all things equal, you’d have a player Accomplished or better in each position. They’ll be more comfortable, they’ll perform to a higher and a more consistent standard and will be less likely to be targeted as a weakness by the opposition.
This isn’t to say that you can’t play someone out of position though, either on a regular basis or in times of need. For the latter, you can often plug someone in to ‘do a job’ and they’ll typically perform well enough to get by, particularly if the rest of the team is strong and the tactical structure helps to support them. Playing someone out of position longer-term, on the other hand, can work if the player’s attributes lend themselves well to the position and role assigned to them, and they’ll gradually learn and improve in that position the more they play there.
This ties into the overall concept of footballing ‘universality’; the idea that any player can play in any position as long as he’s well-trained and has a certain number of fundamental attributes in place. This is much harder to commit to and make work in practice than it is in theory, but the concept of a player being used in an unfamiliar or entirely different position isn’t a new one, and it isn’t something you should necessarily shy away from if you feel it can work within the framework of your tactics.
What is the tangible difference between each level of positional ability and how does that manifest itself in the match engine?
Essentially, the position rating system works the same as most attributes. It operates on a 1-20 scale: the higher the number, the more competent the player in his execution of his duties.
The player’s comfort in a position acts as a direct modifier to his ability in that position. A player with 20 for any position is able to play there without any adverse impact. The lower the rating for a position, the more the player will struggle – particularly with his Positioning and Decisions – but his versatility can help him adapt if he has a high rating for that attribute.
An Introduction to Attributes
It is vital to understand the importance of player attributes in Football Manager™ and how they affect various parts of the game and, in particular, the match engine. Attributes are divided into three main areas – Physical, Mental, and Technical – with Goalkeepers having their own Technical ratings. The attributes, how they react in certain situations, in combination with others as well as on a stand-alone basis, are detailed below, but it’s important first of all to outline how attributes work.
Each player is rated on a scale of 1-20, 1 being absolutely terrible, and 20 being elite. Some attributes are defined as ‘Absolute’, and some as ‘Relative’. Absolute attributes are those that are locked to an individual and can’t be trained quite as easily, such as Determination and Work Rate. These are generally innate attributes specific to individuals and typically only develop as the player matures off the field. Relative attributes are those that can be compared to other players in the football world and can be improved through training and player development. Physical and Technical skill sets are the main areas in which you’ll find relative attributes.
For players that aren’t at your club and who haven’t been comprehensively scouted, attributes appear as a range to indicate a rough idea of their ability in that area. Continued scouting reduces the range until the attribute is clearly identified.
How are attributes and player ability linked?
The distribution of attributes across a player’s profile effectively determines his Current Ability. A player with 20 in all positive areas would be as close to the maximum ability score as possible; it wouldn’t be 100% certain because the number of positions he can play, as well as his competence with either foot, can affect the final number.
Some attributes have a higher ‘weighting’ towards a player’s overall ability as they are fundamentally important to succeeding in any position. The majority of Physical attributes, as well as Anticipation, Decisions and Positioning are the most heavily rated for any position, while each position carries appropriate weightings for attributes crucial to performing to a high standard in that area of the pitch. The ‘Highlight Key Attributes’ button on a player’s profile offers an insight into what each of these attributes are per position.
How does a one-number difference in an attribute make a difference in the match engine?
The easiest way to answer this question is to state that a more consistent and high-quality outcome is produced with every increase up the attribute scale. A pass is more likely to find its target, a shot is more likely be on target, a tackle more often wins the ball, etc. The combination and distribution of attributes, combined with the player’s position, also directly correlate with their ability as described above. Players with higher attributes, typically, also have a higher ability.
It applies to attributes several numbers apart as well as a single digit in difference, 11 to 12 for example. The differences are more easily noticeable when the difference is increased, but there are subtler tells when it’s reduced. Consider two identical players, but with their Decisions attributes a single digit apart. The player with the higher rating is more likely to make a better choice with every decision he makes.
It’s a very basic example that doesn’t include the nuance of how game situations and other attributes affect it, but that isolated marginal gain is important over the course of ninety minutes. It could be the difference between a pass that successfully unlocks a defence that another player might not have chosen. The small margins, the slight advantages, add up to a much bigger advantage when applied across the entire team, and that’s how the attribute model works.
How do attributes combine with each other and with external factors on a game-by-game basis?
Every player has almost 40 visible playing attributes. They often work in conjunction with each other, either with another single attribute, or in combination with many, and the total number of combinations of attributes working in a synchronised fashion is stupendous. It would be impossible to list every single possible combination, but it’s more important to understand the environment the players operate in, and how the decision-making process works.
Take one small example. A winger who has a high attribute value for crossing, on average, delivers consistently dangerous crosses into attacking positions in perfect circumstances, i.e. with the ball fully under control and without significant pressure around him. But what happens if you then start to add in other factors? Introduce a defender closing him down, introduce a defender in the penalty area waiting to clear it, introduce a poor playing surface due to unfavourable weather. Everything changes.
If that player has high attributes in other areas, like pace and acceleration, dribbling and technique, for example, he has more ways to succeed. Players make thousands of mental calculations in every match based around the best option available to them at any given moment, and those are based off their attributes and their all-round competency. They aren’t always right in their decision (the Decisions attribute itself plays a big role here), nor is the right decision always the successful one.
Try to think of attribute combinations ‘creating’ templates of players: athletic players, intelligent players, creative players, leaders etc. Much of this can be deciphered by using the ‘Highlight Key Attributes for Role’ option on the player’s profile. This is not necessarily an exhaustive list – the hint is in the word ‘Key’ – but at the same time, it should be simple to understand which attributes do not work well together, or at all, by a combination of common sense and a process of elimination. Strength, for example, has nothing to do with Crossing. Positioning, as a purely defensive attribute, does not work with Finishing. Vision and Tackling are not associated as Vision refers to the opportunities a player can see opening up when in possession.
All of these attributes are explained in more detail in this section; using the descriptions to build a foundation of knowledge of how they work will leave you better informed as to how they might interact with each other.
This attribute reflects how well the player takes a corner kick.
This indicates a player’s proficiency at crossing the ball, predominantly but not exclusively from wide areas, into dangerous goalscoring positions.
This refers to the player’s ability to run with the ball and manipulate it under close control. This is purely their proficiency at moving with the ball at their feet; Pace, Acceleration, Agility, and Balance all aid dribbling in different circumstances. A player with higher ratings here is also able to move in more directions more fluidly with the ball than someone with a lower rating.
The player’s ability to put the ball in the back of the net when presented with a chance. A high Finishing attribute puts the shot on target a majority of the time as a bare minimum and, compared to a player with poorer Finishing, finds the places where the goalkeeper can’t save it. This is purely the ability of the player to perform an accurate shot – Composure and Decisions also influence a player’s ability to score consistently.
How good a player’s first touch is when receiving the ball. A higher rating ensures that the player can control the ball quicker and put it in a useful position to then act upon. Players with lower ratings here struggle to control the ball as adeptly and may be prone to losing the ball if closed down quickly.
Free Kick Taking
This reflects how good at taking free kicks the player is. It solely applies to direct shots at goal; indirect free kicks are governed by other technical attributes like Crossing.
This is a player’s competence in aerial situations. Heading applies to all situations with the ball in the air and is only about the player’s ability to use their head well. Jumping Reach, Height, and to a lesser extent Strength all play a part in combination with heading to utilise the attribute to greater effect.
This is the player’s prowess at shooting from distance – from outside the penalty area. It is largely a stand-alone attribute but pay attention to any PPMs the player may have that complement their Long Shots rating.
The ability of the player to perform a long throw, which can be taken advantage of in attacking situations, or to help move the ball forward from defensive areas.
How well players, mainly defensive types, defend an opponent. Marking alone sees them do a good job of identifying, tracking, reacting to and denying opponents if the attribute is high, but remember that other attributes – Strength, Positioning, Anticipation –play a part in the effectiveness of the marking, as well as the comparable physical statures of the two players.
Passing refers strictly to how good the player is at passing the ball to a team-mate. Vision dictates whether or not they see different types of passing opportunity. Technique affects the quality of their execution (for example, whether the pass lands perfectly for a player to collect in stride). Passing itself, in isolation, determines how successful the player is at producing consistent success over different types of passing opportunities.
The ability of the player from the penalty spot. Composure is also factored into whether a player is successful with the penalty, but the Penalty Taking attribute itself governs whether or not a penalty is likely to be scored or missed.
How successful the player is at winning tackles and not conceding fouls from such situations. Players with a high Tackling rating consistently win the ball cleanly and are more capable defensive players.
A player with high Technique is more likely to pull off a tricky pass or a cross-field ball with greater ease than someone less technically able, or to use their preferred foot in situations where their weaker one would appear to be easier. This in turn affects technical attributes – poorer Technique will let a player down.
This reflects a player’s attitude in terms of playing mentality, but is not necessarily a dirtiness indicator. A more aggressive player looks to involve himself in every incident, press more often, tackle harder, foul more often, and engage in the ‘darker arts’ of football such as dissent towards officials and foul play.
How well a player can predict and react to an event. If a player has a high attribute here, they can read the game well and react to situations more quickly than others. It also has a significant effect on a player’s awareness and whether they identify space for themselves to play in, as well as whether they react to signs of danger created by the opponent.
This attribute determines how committed and indeed, brave, a player is. Braver players risk injury more in situations a more cautious player may shy away from. They compete more often in the air, contest more 50/50 or low-percentage challenges, both on the ground and in the air, and look to put their body on the line with blocks and last-ditch challenges.
Composure reflects the player’s steadiness of mind and ability, particularly with the ball. When faced with a big goalscoring chance, or heavy pressure defensively, a player with high Composure is able to keep their head and more often than not get the opportunity to make a good decision that is beneficial to the team. In general play, they appear to have more time on the ball, make smarter and more successful decisions with it, and are generally more aware of their surroundings in all phases of play.
This reflects a player’s mental focus and attention to detail on an event-by-event basis. A high rating here means that the player is more consistent on a move-by-move basis during a match. They also react better under pressure, position themselves correctly in all phases of play, and make better judgment calls in tight situations, while players with lower concentration struggle more in these areas.
The ability of a player to make a correct choice the majority of the time. This attribute is important in every position, and works with Composure to decide how likely a player is to feel under pressure at any given moment, and to make the best choice accordingly.
A commitment to succeed both on and off the pitch. A determined player gives everything in order to win. This ties in with Bravery – players with a high number in one of these attributes may also be high in the other as the traits necessary are similar.
A natural talent for the creative and occasional unpredictability. Flair governs whether or not a player is likely to choose to dribble, to take on long-range shooting opportunities or spectacular overhead kick efforts, or generally to take risks with the ball.
Leadership is the player’s ability to affect other players. Players with high Leadership are influential on the pitch and team-mates perform better when playing with them.
Off the Ball
A player’s movement without the ball. Similar to Anticipation, this is how well players, particularly attacking ones, can assess a situation and then move off the ball, making themselves available to perform another action after making a pass themselves, or to move into a position to receive the ball from a team-mate.
This attribute reflects the ability of a player to read a situation and manoeuvre themselves into the best possible location to deal with the unfolding events in defensive situations. It is not used in attacking situations; rather, it is used to determine how well a player identifies who to mark, when and how and where to mark them, and whether or not they’re in the best position within their current tactical setup.
How well the player follows tactical instructions and works for and alongside their team-mates. A team full of players with a high rating here works better as a unit. Players with lower ratings slack off and do not ‘buy in’ to the team ethos, becoming more individual, and not providing adequate support for their team-mates. It is also used to help decide whether or not a player opts to use one of his Player Traits ahead of a tactical instruction.
This refers to a player’s ability to see a potential opportunity – but not necessarily their ability to exploit it. A player might be able to see something to take advantage of but they also require the technical proficiency to pull it off; this attribute governs how likely they are to visualise something developing or, in the case of a higher rating here, spot something that another player might not.
This reflects the player’s mental drive to work to his full capacities. A high rating ensures a player wants to work their socks off from start to finish, but needs the necessary physical attributes to actually be able to pull it off. It does not merely represent a willingness to run – something that would be inappropriate in many positions – but rather the urgency with which a player gets to where they’re supposed to be in all situations.
Acceleration is how quickly a player can reach top speed (pace) from a standing start. It therefore ties in very closely with the Pace attribute.
Agility reflects how well a player can start, stop, and move in different directions at varying levels of speed (pace). It ties in with the Pace, Acceleration and Balance attributes as they work together in the match engine, especially when a player is Dribbling.
Balance simply reflects how well a player can keep their balance in situations both with and without the ball. With the ball, it refers to how balanced they are when running and evading opponents; without it, it refers to balance when facing a player running at them, or stability when turning/jumping.
Jumping Reach reflects how good a player is at reaching the ball in the air. It indicates the highest point an outfield player can reach with their head. It is not necessarily reflective of how tall a player is, but when considering jumping ability, it makes sense to consider the player’s height. For example, a player of 200+cm still possesses a high reach even if a poor jumper, and a player who measures in at 170cm struggles to compete at the same height due to the 30cm difference in height between the two.
A player’s natural fitness influences how well they stay fit when injured or not training. This helps to determine how quickly players recover from injury, how well they retain their physical attributes as they go past their peak, and how fast they recover between matches.
Pace is a player’s top speed. Whereas Acceleration reflects how quickly a player can attain their top speed, Pace is that top speed and, together with Stamina and Natural Fitness, controls how long they are able to maintain it, both in short bursts and over the course of a match. A player is naturally a shade quicker without the ball than with it.
Stamina is a player’s ability to endure high-level physical activity for a long period of time. With the demands placed on a player over a full season, players with high attribute ratings for Stamina are able to perform at their top levels for longer. A player with less Stamina not only tires more quickly, but the quality of execution in all phases of play decreases the more tired they become. It also ties in directly with Natural Fitness.
A player’s Strength is the ability to exert his physical force on an opponent to gain an advantage.
This is the goalkeeper’s physical ability in aerial situations. Taller goalkeepers typically have a higher rating here as they are naturally pre-disposed to being able to reach areas shorter goalkeepers cannot, but there are exceptions. This attribute works in connection with several other goalkeeping attributes in order to determine proficiency in dealing with the numerous aerial situations they encounter during a match.
Command of Area
This affects how well the goalkeeper takes charge of the penalty area and works with his defensive line. A goalkeeper who commands the entire box (i.e. has a high rating) is instinctive and looks to take charge of situations, especially coming for crosses (therefore working in tandem with Aerial Reach) or coming out for interceptions. Do note, however, that a high rating only determines whether or not they try, not that they succeed.
How well a goalkeeper communicates with the defensive line and organises the defensive side of the team. A higher rating is reflected in a defender’s comfort in possession near their own goal and whether or not they correctly leave the ball for the goalkeeper rather than trying to play it themselves.
This attribute represents the likelihood of the goalkeeper doing the unexpected and typically acting completely unlike a goalkeeper – things like dribbling out of his area, coming for the ball outside of the area, and generally being more involved in outfield play when losing will be commonplace if the Eccentricity attribute is high.
How securely the goalkeeper holds onto the ball when making a save or coming for a loose ball. Better Handling is beneficial in unfavourable weather conditions, but in general a goalkeeper who doesn’t give up rebounds is useful.
The capability of a goalkeeper to kick the ball – this defines the distance and accuracy with which they can kick from hand or from dead-ball restarts. Passing governs the goalkeeper’s ability to move the ball in open play.
One on Ones
The ability of the goalkeeper to do well when faced with an opponent in a one on one situation. Higher attributes see goalkeepers make better judgments of the opponent’s speed and likely decision and result in them being more likely to make a successful decision.
This reflects how good the goalkeeper is at reacting to unpredictable events. If they have a high Reflexes rating, they have a quicker reaction time to make more difficult saves.
Rushing Out (Tendency)
How frequently the goalkeeper comes off the line to react to through balls and to narrow the angle for various shooting opportunities. Goalkeepers also benefit from having high Pace and Acceleration attributes in combination with Rushing Out.
This determines whether a goalkeeper catches the ball when possible, or whether they prefer to punch it clear. A higher rating reflects a tendency to punch most things clear, even when it may be possible to hold onto the ball.
Throwing governs how likely a goalkeeper is to start moves, often counter-attacks, with quick throws from the ball in their hands.
Some technical attributes, like First Touch and Passing, are also applicable to goalkeepers.
The player overview screen shows you when an attribute has either increased or decreased.
The Attribute Changes screen then takes this to another level, allowing you to comprehensively track the short and long-term development of every single attribute.
Select the desired attribute(s) and the timespan you want to review, and those changes are displayed in both a line graph at the top of the screen, and with exact numerical differences placed next to the attribute name below. A summary of the overall Technical, Mental and Physical trends completes the screen at the bottom.
Every attribute plays a part in whether or not a Player Trait can be learned and, if learned, whether it is successfully used. The full list of traits and a very brief explanation of what they do are below:
Runs With Ball Down Left
Increases the frequency with which a player decides to run with the ball down the left.
Runs With Ball Down Right
Increases the frequency with which a player decides to run with the ball down the right.
Runs With Ball Through Centre
Increases the frequency with which a player decides to run with the ball in central areas.
Gets Into Opposition Area
Mostly governs how often a player makes forward runs but can be overridden by Player Instructions.
Moves Into Channels
Increases the frequency with which central players move into the space between their position and a wide attacking position; also allows wide players in certain roles to move inside into that space.
Gets Forward Whenever Possible
Increases the frequency with which a player makes forward runs, adjusting for team mentality.
Plays Short Simple Passes
Reduces the directness of a player’s passing.
Tries Killer Balls Often
Increases the frequency with which a player attempts through balls.
Shoots From Distance
Increases the likelihood of a player attempting long-range shots, particularly where his Flair attribute is greater than his Decisions attribute.
Shoots With Power
Increases the chances of a player opting to shoot with power over placement.
Increases the chances of a player opting to place his shots with accuracy rather than power them.
Improves the player’s ability to curl the ball above and beyond his ability as already determined by his attributes.
Likes To Round Keeper
Increases the likelihood of a player looking to go around the goalkeeper in one-on-one situations.
Makes Runs In Behind
Increases the frequency with which a player looks to make runs in behind. The success is determined by his overall attribute profile.
Marks Opponent Tightly
Ensures that a player is set to tight marking by AI teams; improves the chances of him being successful at it if set in any team, but the overall success is still controlled by his attributes.
Argues With Officials
Increases the chances of a player showing dissent to match officials.
Plays With Back To Goal
The player looks to hold up the ball in attacking areas.
Comes Deep To Get Ball
Increases the frequency of a forward player dropping into midfield to get possession against a team playing with a deep defensive line.
Increases the frequency with which a player makes a pass and immediately wants to receive the ball again, having moved into an advantageous position.
Likes To Lob Keeper
Increases the likelihood of a player looking to loft the ball over the goalkeeper when presented with a chance at goal.
Increases the chances of the player taking charge of midfield situations and using their attributes to influence the team’s performance.
Attempts Overhead Kicks
Increases the chances of a player attempting a spectacular overhead kick rather than a header at goal or a pass to a team-mate when in an attacking situation.
Looks For Pass Rather Than Attempting To Score
Increases the chances of a player opting to give a scoring chance to a team-mate rather than take it on himself. The success of the decision is based on the player’s attributes.
Plays No Through Balls
Decreases the frequency of a player looking to play through balls, adjusted for team mentality.
Increases the chances of a player simply coming to a stop in possession, primarily to assess his options.
Knocks Ball Past Opponent
Increases the chances of a player looking to beat his immediate opponent for sheer pace and athleticism and get into a more advantageous position.
Dwells On Ball
The player takes longer to make a decision when in possession.
Arrives Late In Opponents’ Area
Increases the frequency with which a player makes forward runs, adjusting for team mentality.
Tries To Play Way Out Of Trouble
Increases the chances of a player looking to pass or dribble when under pressure in a defensive position, rather than opting for the safety-first approach of clearing the ball.
Stays Back At All Times
The player does not make forward runs, adjusted for team mentality.
Avoids Using Weaker Foot
The player always looks to use their preferred foot where possible, even if the situation would benefit from them using their weaker foot.
Tries Long Range Free Kicks
Increases the chances of a player taking a direct shot from a free kick 35 metres or more from goal.
Dives Into Tackles
Increases the frequency with which a player engages in a tackle. It does not simply mean the player ‘goes to ground’ when challenging for the ball.
Does Not Dive Into Tackles
Decreases the frequency with which a player engages in a tackle. It does not simply mean the player stays on his feet when challenging for the ball.
Cuts Inside From Both Wings
Increases the frequency with which a player looks to attack central areas from a nominal wider starting position.
Ensures the player remains in wide areas of the pitch whenever possible.
Hits Free Kicks With Power
Increases the chances of a free kick being struck with a lower, harder trajectory.
Likes To Switch Ball To Other Flank
Increases the frequency of a player looking to move the ball from one half of the pitch to the other.
Possesses Long Flat Throw
Allows the player to deliver a long throw with a low and flat trajectory, akin to a cross, in attacking areas only.
Runs With Ball Often
Increases the chances of a player choosing to run with the ball rather than pass it.
Runs With Ball Rarely
Decreases the chances of a player choosing to run with the ball, instead looking to make a pass at every turn.
Uses Long Throw To Start Counter Attacks
Goalkeepers only; increases the chances of them looking to make a quick throw to launch a counter attack.
Refrains From Taking Long Shots
The player does not attempt shots at goal from outside the penalty area.
Does not Move Into Channels
The player does not move from central areas into space between them and the wide positions; wide players similarly do not look to come inside to operate in that same space.
Cuts Inside From Left Wing
Increases the chances of a player looking to move inside from the left wing and attack in central areas.
Cuts Inside From Right Wing
Increases the chances of a player looking to move inside from the right wing and attack in central areas.
Increases the chances of a player crossing from a deeper position rather than seeking to find a better opportunity higher up the pitch.
Brings Ball Out of Defence
Increases the likelihood of a defender running with the ball into midfield positions.
Moves Ball To Right Foot Before Dribble Attempt
This increases the likelihood of a player adjusting his body shape to play on his right foot when looking to dribble.
Moves Ball To Left Foot Before Dribble Attempt
This increases the likelihood of a player adjusting his body shape to play on his left foot when looking to dribble.
Likes Ball Played Into Feet
This increases the likelihood of a player showing and asking for passes to his feet rather than into space or a different part of the body.
This increases the chances of a player displaying more flair during matches and can result in a greater array of skills being used.
Winds Up Opponents
This increases the likelihood of a player trying to improve the morale of his team by attempting to impair that of his opponent in attempting to distract them from giving full focus.
Likes To Beat Man Repeatedly
This increases the likelihood of a player opting to dribble with the ball regardless of how many opponents are trying to dispossess him.
Develops Weaker Foot
This indicates the player is attempting to improve the quality of his weaker foot.
Gets Crowd Going
This increases the likelihood of a player seeking a positive reaction from the crowd in appropriate moments when the ball is not in play. If successful, the team’s morale is improved slightly and they may display a more positive body language.
Tries First Time Shots
This increases the likelihood of a player taking a shot before considering a touch to settle himself, unless he's one on one, at which point he takes the best course of action for that situation.
Tries Long Range Passes
This increases the chances of a player attempting to pass the ball over longer distances.
Plays Ball With Feet
This is goalkeeper-specific and increases the chances of a goalkeeper playing an active part in the build-up phase in possession.
This section is dedicated to all things concerning the physical well-being of your players, from injury prevention to rehabilitation, and everything in between.
The Overview mainly provides a breakdown of players in the squad who are at risk of injury. The Head of Sports Science (where employed, otherwise an alternative member of staff provides this information) details the workload and injury proneness of each at-risk individual and summarises how likely they might be to pick up an injury in the immediate future. The risks are colour-coded, with players in the ‘red zone’ highly likely to encounter problems unless immediate preventative action is taken.
The Risk Assessment sub-panel has its own dedicated screen where you can action all of the above. It features much of the same content but instead covers your entire squad while informing you of the upcoming fixtures and the team’s overall training workload for additional context.
Current Injuries and Injury History
These screens detail every injury suffered by a player in your squad during the current season. The bar traversing the top of the Injury History screen area provides additional information to place these injuries into context; the section comparing them to the rest of the league is perhaps the most important, while the comparison to your own injury record last season also offers insight into whether things are getting better or worse.
The Season Summary section lists every player in the squad alongside the number of injuries and time spent on the sidelines as an overall summary.
Each player also has an injury overview page accessible via their player profile from the ‘Reports’ menu, under ‘Medical Report’. This report provides a visual overview of their current injury status, risk assessment and injury history.
This section primarily allows you to check up on and configure individual training details for the player. These details range from their schedule through to attribute changes to new positions and player traits or affiliate loans.
You can also perform various interactions such as moving players between squads and requesting player advice, as well as viewing the player’s overall tactical familiarity from the ‘Tactics’ section. This displays his positional versatility as indications of how integrated he has become into various facets of your tactical approach. Familiarity grows with each player’s experience at playing with various facets of the team’s instructions, as displayed on the Tactical Familiarity Levels overlay.
The more often they play under these instructions – at your club or elsewhere – the more familiar they become, and the higher the overall levels become for both the individual and the team. If the tactics or team and player instructions change dramatically on a regular basis, those familiarity levels take a hit (for example, short passing to shorter passing doesn’t impact things, but short passing to more direct passing does).
The full range of familiarity, on the same theoretical 1-20 scale as player attributes (although in reality the scale between each level is considerably bigger) is as follows:
How can I improve my player’s attributes and ability?
A player’s development is an inexact science but there are plenty of ways you can improve your chances of helping their progress:
- Improved coaching staff
The better the coach, the more impactful their attributes are on improving a player. In general, the better the coaching attribute, the more effective it is on the player’s attribute development.
- Improved training facilities
The standard of training facilities has an impact on determining the chances of a player’s attributes developing, how close to their potential they can get, and how likely they are to continue developing overall. Better facilities encourage a greater chance of a player realising his true potential but, like everything, it isn’t wholly decisive in and of itself. It can also help the coaching staff develop too.
- Playing time
A player with greater exposure to meaningful playing time will develop better than someone who isn’t playing quite as often. Playing first-team minutes is more valuable than playing reserve or youth team football, and a young player who stagnates from his teens into his 20s without starting to play regular football stands a higher chance of not being able to reach his potential.
A player develops most through day-to-day training; his overall development is affected by the quality of the facilities and coaches, the team-mates he’s training with, the appropriateness of the schedules he’s given, whether he’s with the first team or any of the club’s sub-teams, and whether he’s tasked with additional individual work outside of the team’s sessions. The more of these that are met to as high a standard as possible, the quicker a player develops towards his full potential.
Young players can develop by working closely, during training, with a more experienced team-mate or team-mates within their squad. Their mental attributes and Player Traits are the only areas affected, and the entire concept is detailed more in the Training section of the manual.
Transfer - Offer to Clubs
If you no longer want the services of a player or your hand is forced into selling him, you can offer the player out to teams your Assistant feels are most suited to the player’s ability and reputation. You can configure the terms of any potential sale in as much or little detail as you like and can exclude any rival clubs should you not want to strengthen a hated opponent.
If any team decides to take you up on your offer, you will receive a formal bid from them in your Inbox.
Transfer – Add to Unwanted List
If you no longer have a use for a player, you can add him to an Unwanted List from this section. You can determine whether you want to move him on for any price, for his value, or just to get rid of him in this initial stage. Then, from the ‘Unwanted List’ panel in the ‘Director of Football’ menu within the ‘Transfers’ screen, you can configure the particulars of any deal you’re looking for. This makes it easier to manage, maintain and keep track of the player you’re trying to get rid of.
Development - Move Players Between Squads
This option allows you to assign players to various squads, most typically a Senior, Reserve, Under-23, Under-21, or Youth team. As manager, you have the ultimate say in the development of a player and it’s up to you to decide when a player needs to be tested further, when he’s not ready or performing at a higher level. You can also assign a player to a team for a period while he recovers from injury to allow him to regain his fitness at a lower level where performances and development can be considered more important than the result.
Development – Make Available for other Squads
You can also make a player available for the other teams at the club, where age rules allow, if he is part of your senior squad. Often you may want a youngster to be part of the first team and to be training with them even if you don’t have room in your match day team for him. To keep his fitness up, happiness in order, and development continuing, you should allow him to play for the reserves or an equivalent team.
Development - Move to Affiliate
If your team has an affiliation and the terms allow players to be loaned between clubs, you can designate a loan to such a team from this option. It acts as a suggestion to the player, who has the final call on whether he moves or not. His decision will arrive in your Inbox usually inside 24 hours of asking him to move.
This can be set for any member of the squad, but for those you wish to sell, you can set your instructions for handling transfer offers, including desired fees and whether the player is ‘officially’ on the Transfer List.
Once you’re happy with your changes, hit ‘Confirm’ to apply them.
Contracts - Offer New Contract
Offer your player a new contract from this option.
Contracts – Release on a Free/Mutual Termination
If you no longer want the services of a player at the club and can’t shift him on to another team, you may want to release the player from his contract and make him a free agent. If you decide to do this, you will have to pay off the remainder of his contract, unless you agree a mutual termination with the player. Should he also want out of the club, offering him the chance to leave the club in a mutual agreement for a lower payoff or completely free of charge may be successful, but it will not be in all cases and you may end up merely making the player stubborn, in turn making things harder for you as he takes offence at being asked to leave.
As a manager, you’ll find yourself interacting with players on a daily basis. Not just interaction through the direct interaction module detailed in this section, but in more minor ways, such as promoting a player from the reserve team into your senior squad. The majority of these are carried out from options found within a player’s Actions menu, which can be accessed from their Player Interaction tab or by right-clicking on a player’s name.
You should make sure you pay close attention to the Dynamics section, both in-game and in this manual, when interacting with players, as their reaction can and often does influence other players in the squad.
You can choose to speak to or about the player from this section, with a range of subjects to discuss. You might wish to praise his recent form or conduct, or you could have more stern words with him about his work in training, his recent form, or his conduct; all of which might land him on the transfer list.
You can also discipline your players from this section. Exactly how much discipline you mete out depends on your tendencies and how much trust you want to place in your players, but if any of them step out of line, you can discipline them to the tune of an official warning or a fine of one/two (maximum) week’s wages.
Players can only be disciplined if they’ve committed a misdemeanour. If they act unprofessionally, are violent, are dismissed during a match, or simply haven’t put in the performance you expect them to, hit them where it hurts – their wallet.
However, be warned. Excessive punishment can lead to you garnering a negative reputation; your players won’t like this and, eventually, your Board won’t either. Fine too many players at once for a debatable reason and you’ll be hearing from your superiors. Manage it well, and you’ll have a squad that keeps in line.
Comparison – Player Comparison
Take two players, similar positions; maybe they differ in age, height and weight. They’re comparable. Football Manager™ allows you to take two players and compare every facet of their game.
The default behaviour for the Comparison section is to offer a comparison to a player you have recently viewed, so if you are intending to compare two players, click to the first player’s profile screen, then the second, then choose ‘Compare With’.
The comparison has different views available but by default the ‘Overview’ view is set. Using the comparison feature allows you to make well-informed judgment calls between players in your squad or when deciding on potential new signings.
Comparison - Find Similar Players
This scans the database in your saved game for players with a similar attribute profile to the selected player; it returns players who play in the same position and role, so as to give you a range of options that might include retraining a potential new signing to play in a new position.
History - Keep History After Retirement
If you wish to retain a player’s career history once he has retired, ensure that this option is enabled. His playing history and biography will be permanently accessible if retained; if not, he will disappear from the saved game if he doesn’t move into a non-playing position.
How important is player interaction to my chances of success?
Like most aspects of Football Manager™, player interaction is a piece of the puzzle that is overall success. Making the right decisions with your players directly affects their morale, which in turn directly affects their performances on the pitch.
To repeat what has been written in the Dynamics section: keep your players happy and you’ll be rewarded. They will give you every opportunity to do right by them before things become truly unmanageable, and they want to be successful every bit as much as you do. The interaction module is an important part of ensuring their morale remains high.
There are no right or wrong answers in direct interactions with your players and, as is often the case, a common-sense approach is usually a good starting point. Understand your players, know their personalities, and respond to their concerns. Some players require a firmer hand, others might need an arm around the shoulder and a softer approach. There is no single solution to each conversation, but the right outcome can be discovered through experience, understanding and strong management.