Attributes – What they do in Football Manager

In Football Manager all Roles are a composite of attributes, each role has 36 attributes, some are more important than others. In the following section I list out some of the important attributes that need to be clearly understood before we delve into Player Roles. SI have been reworking attributes for at least two years now. I’ve done this to make it easier for people to understand what they do.  It’s als a good idea to check the tooltips for each attribute.

I will where possible post the old description and the new description side by side in case there is a change.


Player attributes guide how well a player performs his core skills, this is perhaps one of the single biggest reasons why some managers struggle with the game. Things can look good with a solid tactic, in fact most tactics will come out looking solid, until you do player selection. If you know what each role’s key attributes are, then when things break down, it’s going to be easier for you to understand why.

This is a “micro-aspect” of the game that is central to making tactics work. By and large the Tactical Creator itself just aggregates all these player attributes when instructions are issued. A solid tactic is easier to make than trying to identify which player is making the system fall apart. And for long term success with the game, understanding which attributes are vital.

Back in the day when the game was identified as CM instead of FM all we had to tell us what was happening was commentary mode, so all we did was pay attention to the commentary and then analyse that against the match statistics. A typical analysis would begin with match ratings, then we would identify the player concerned who was generating poor numbers. We would then drill down to his in-game performance statistics. If it was a playmaker we would be looking for pass completion rates, key passes made. If an anomaly emerged we would then try to see why his pass completion rate was too low. Why were his passes not hitting the mark? Then we would look at his attributes, if his attributes suggested that he could play well in the position, we would start considering whether he had enough support. Was he spending more time trying to win the ball, instead of trying to play the risky pass? Was he under too much pressure? Did he get enough support? Without knowing what they key attributes are for each role, it would be akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.

FM is a simulation game built on binary numbers, defined by simple logical conditionals. At it’s basic core, FM is just a numbers game. Stick better numbers in and you should win. So if you can rule out attributes, then its always going to be your tactic. This makes the understanding of attribute relationships very important. It’s the single biggest reason why a lot of novice players struggle. They are jumping in to the exotic creation of tactics without considering the weight that attributes play in the game.

Since attributes play such a big part of the game, Sports Interactive introduced the Tactical Creator. This allowed people to stop focusing on simply getting the perfect player for the role, and instead introduced a system that was built around choosing the right role and duty for the right player within a tactical system. Gone was the possibility of downloading a tactic and sticking in the best players the creator of the tactic suggested.

A player’s attributes define his skill, these are the factors the match engine considers when it’s determining the outcome of a match. How well you are able to match player instructions and team instructions around the attributes at your disposal will define how well you do.

There are 36 attributes for players divided into Technical, Mental and Physical attributes. These improve over time, and depend on the quality of training, the time a player spends playing first team matches and the kind of training he gets. Goal keepers and outfield players have slightly different attributes. This section details what some attributes are and how they impact your players. I have excluded explaining the obvious ones, but gone into detail with some that are often misunderstood and those I think stand out as the ones we absolutely need to understand

Before we begin, there is something we need to establish-Benchmarks.  A player with 15 First Touch will be considered good in a top league, and a person with 15 playing in the lower leagues may even be superhuman.

Attributes are relative to the league you are in. So the first thing you need to do is to do a league comparison every season to see how you stack up against the rest of the competition. A good yardstick is to look at 9 being average in the lowest leagues and then adding 2 for each league you are promoted to. It’s tough finding the right players but with time and effort its possible, and, sometimes you may need to prioritise.

Aerial Ability – affects how high a goalkeeper’s hands can reach when he jumps. For outfield players this attribute is called Jumping Reach. The keepers one refers to how high his hands reach, and the outfield players ones determine how high they can jump to head a ball.

Command of Area – How good the keeper is at controlling his area . How well he does at claiming aerial balls depends on his Aerial Ability, Handling, Anticipation, Decisions and Positioning.

Eccentricity – How likely a keeper is at doing unexpected and risky actions. This is a negative attribute

Handling – How good a keeper is at handling a ball after stopping it. Can he hold onto the ball after catching it?

Kicking – How far can he kick? His accuracy depends on Decisions, Technique, Teamwork and Vision.

Rushing Out – Along with Pace and Acceleration, this attribute will influence how well a keeper can leave his area to close down or come up to play as a sweeper keeper. If he has good ratings for Anticipation, First Touch, Composure and Decisions he may have the ability to be an effective Sweeper Keeper

Tendency to Punch – How likely a keeper is to choose to punch a ball. A higher rating could put pressure on his defence if he fails to punch well. If a keeper has poor handling than this attribute can help him at least punch the ball when he can’t catch it.

First Touch – This attribute is vital for a team that wants to keep the ball and distribute it under pressure. Its also a good attribute for attackers. A team that has players with good first touch can take control of the ball with one touch passing quickly and effectively. It is one of the key attributes that influence the effectiveness of tactics. It’s also a key attribute that’s needed if you want to play systems where you want to control possession. Creative players require first touch, its almost mandatory to get the ball under control so it can be distributed. And for defensive support players its of secondary importance, with Concentration being key.

Technique – How well players can perform more challenging actions. These include volleys, taking control of difficult balls, making difficult challenges, using tricks and long cross field diagonal passes.

Aggression – Is a misunderstood attribute. This is a good attribute for defenders provided they have good tackling, anticipation, concentration and decisions. The chance that a player will commit a violent challenge is influenced by other attributes such as Dirtiness and Sportsmanship which are hidden attributes.

Anticipation – Is both a defensive and offensive attribute. Players with good anticipation, acceleration and off the ball, make good players for running into channels. It’s also a good attribute to have for slower defenders who possess good positioning and need to be able to step into covering areas earlier.

Composure – How well does a player handle himself under pressure. When a player has composure and first touch he is able to take the ball down quickly. He can also control the ball under pressure so that it can be distributed to other players. This is an important for playmakers and pivots who are expected to provide effective links during transitions. Any player who is expected to do something important with the ball should have this attribute.

Decisions – This attribute influences how well a player considers his options, and this in turn is also influenced by vision which allows the player to see more of the play on the pitch. A player with good passing, visions and decisions has they key attributes to be a good playmaker.

**Teamwork – If you want a team to play as a unit then this attribute is key. A player with good teamwork is also likely to sacrifice personal glory for the sake of the time. When you find that your flanks are exposed, you need to look at Work Rate, Teamwork and Bravery to understand why the support player didn’t show up.
This attribute has be reframed since FM19, it’s now also indicative of how well a player is likely to follow tactical instructions, whilst working for and alongside his teammates.

Balance – This attribute influences how well a player can stay on his feet under pressure both on and off the ball. A player with great balance and dribbling speed can turn players around. Think of Diego Maradona and Paul Gascoigne. A player with good balance is more dangerous when he has good first touch.

**Determination – It determines how likely a player is try to put in an effort when the side is a goal down. A team with low determination in key areas is likely to fold if they go a few goals down. It reflects the players commitment to wanting to succeed and do his very best on and off the pitch. This attribute has also be tweaked since FM18.

**Work rate – In football, work rate refers to the extent a player contributes to running and chasing in a match when not in possession of the ball. A high work rate is generally valued because players with this attribute will be able to play a more active roles in defending and attacking during a game. This is a vital attribute for any player who is expected to play in a system that is expected to play aggressively for 90 minutes. So if you were to set up a gegenpressing system and you had a few support players, the ones with low work rates will be the ones you will worry about. A good combination for gegen pressing systems is: Determination, Work rate and Teamwork.

Bravery – This attribute indicates how willing a player is to take a necessary action which may cause personal pain or injury. Lower bravery attributes are usually a sign that a player is likely to hold back helping someone if there is a chance he will get injured. Low natural fitness and low bravery are a double whammy. You want to avoid signing players with a combination of low ratings in both.

Concentration – This is an attribute that indicates how well a player is able to maintain his focus during a game. Players in key roles such as defensive midfielders, holding players and defenders require good ratings in concentration. If they lose focus during a game, there is a chance that they will not see a danger developing until its too late
In FM19 they changed the description to indicate how well he can pay attention on an event by event basis. And this suggests strongly that this can influence all outfield players.

Flair – This attribute deals with the extraordinary that a player performs and covers actions like tricks and feints for example. These are unexpected actions that a player is likely to perform that catch the opposition unaware. It’s a good attribute to have for a certain creative roles in a game, for e.g. Trequartista.

Off The Ball – This attribute describes how well a player moves and positions himself, to either provide a passing option or create space for others to exploit, when he is off the ball. It is probably one of the biggest attributes needed for fluid systems. For a fluid system to operate well, players need to be able to move in and out of passing triangles, and into other triangles. Coupled with the player preferred move “one-two passes” this attribute contributes to players moving into positions and offering themselves up as passing outlets.

Positioning – This attribute describes how well a players moves and positions himself defensively off the ball to handle opposition attacks when his side doesn’t have possession of the ball. Any player assigned a Defend duty will require good positioning, however if you don’t have players with good positioning, you will need players to have acceleration, concentration to get back to position. If they are slow they will need concentration, anticipation and positioning.

Since FM19 this attribute seems to reflect the ability of a player to read a situation and put themselves into the best possible location to deal with unfolding events. Since off the ball refers to movement when you have the ball and are in possession of it, this still seems to be the defensive version of that attribute.

Vision – This attribute lets us know how well a player sees the actions available to him. A player with higher rating is able to assess from a wider array of possible scenarios. Decisions indicate how well he processes those observations.

Pace – How fast a player can run after he has achieved maximum speed, it his constant maximum velocity. If you are trying to develop a counter attacking system that’s deep then you will need some of your players to be blessed with pace, acceleration, first touch, balance and dribbling

Acceleration – Is how quickly a player can reach his maximum velocity. If you want to beat players on the turn then you need acceleration. Once you have beaten the player and are heading to goal, then you need pace to keep that maximum speed going. If you are using a fluid system and you need your players to beat tight marking, then acceleration, off the ball, first touch, balance and dribbling are going to be important.

**Natural Fitness – Since FM19 this attribute may prove important for managing older players. It reflects how well a player stays fit when injured or not in training. It also indicates how well they can maintain their physical attributes past their peak and maintain their fitness between matches.

There are six hidden attributes, and when you assign your scouts to evaluate a player, their reports give you an indication of what these are:

Adaptability – How well a player settles down after a transfer. A player with low adaptability may have issues playing for another team in another country. For scouts and coaches, it affects how easily they handle assignments when they move to a new country.

Consistency – This attribute affects physical and mental attributes. Players with good physical attributes are less likely to be affected by consistency

Dirtiness – Players with high ratings in this attribute are likely to bend the rules in a match. If the scout report states that a player has a competitive streak in him, then he has a high rating in Dirtiness and is likely to commit more fouls.  A player who has this with high aggression and poor technique can be expected to receive yellow cards very often.

Important Matches – How well a player rises to the occasion. A player with low ratings is likely to feel the pressure in big matches.

Injury Proneness – How likely a player is to pick up injuries, if a player has low natural fitness and injury proneness its double jeopardy.

Versatility – Influences how well a player takes to a position he is not familiar with. This influences how well he can learn new positions. This acts as a kind of limiting factor to the amount of positions a player can master and how well he masters them.

Usually when I set up to begin a game I tend to prioritise understanding my players which is why I highlighted(**) Determination, Work rate and Teamwork. These attributes usually give me a good idea of which player on the pitch can be relied on for most games. Then I add Natural Fitness. High natural fitness indicates that a player can usually last longer than most in high defensive line, high pressing systems. Finally I start focusing on Bravery. This forms the last cog in the key attributes, because Bravery tells me who can be relied on to put in a challenge. Once these key attributes have been lined up I usually look at the ones I’ve listed in this sheet.

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