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Football Manager Basics: Player Attributes and Roles Explained

Learn what each attribute means and which are the key attributes for each role and duty on the field. Updated for Football Manager 2014!

By Updated on Oct 20, 2013   288226 views   8 comments
Football Manager Guides - Football Manager Basics: Player Attributes and Roles Explained
Football Manager is full of choices and one of the many you will be confronted with is what players will you buy or sell. For Tactics sake, you need the right type of players to play the way you please. To identify who is in your plans, attributes are important and therefore us here at FM Scout will demonstrate to you just what each one means.
There are some hidden attributes you don't get to see in-game but they exist and can be very important; we showcase them as well.

Finally, we list the key attributes for every single player role and duty you can choose on the football pitch. It's something that you can find on your own in-game, but that would take lots of clicks and a notepad to write them down. You can find them all here in one page.

Updated: 20 October 2013
Published: 14 June 2013

Goalkeeping Attributes

This is a goalkeeper's ability to deal with the ball in aerial situations – punching and catching. Goalkeepers with higher ratings here will be able to deal with these potentially tricky situations more capably. Taller goalkeepers may have an advantage as well, but that isn’t to say smaller ones will struggle.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
The capacity to pluck the ball out of the air. A keeper who comes out and flaps at a ball will cause panic among his defenders. A good aerial ability is helpful against teams who get lots of crosses in or use the long ball tactic.

This affects how well the goalkeeper takes charge of his penalty area and works with his defensive line. A goalkeeper who commands his entire box (i.e. has a high rating) will be instinctive and look to take charge of situations, especially coming for crosses (therefore working in tandem with Aerial Ability). Do note, however, that a high rating only increases his penchant for coming for crosses and not necessarily claiming them all.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
A keeper with good command of his area is mobile and gets around the box rapidly. He will display this attribute best at set pieces – knowing when to come for the ball and making sure he gets it when he does.

How well a goalkeeper communicates with his defensive line and organizes the defensive side of the team. A higher rating reflects a better communicator and will allow your back five (or more) to work better together, ensuring better defensive stability.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
A keeper with good communication skills is essential if you want to possess an organized defense. Think Peter Schmeichel...

This attribute represents the likelihood of the goalkeeper to do the unexpected and typically act completely un-like a goalkeeper. Things like dribbling out of his area will be commonplace if the eccentricity attribute is high.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
An eccentric keeper is a double-edged sword. He might be capable of moments of genius, but equally you may find him scampering out of his box with no hope of getting to the ball before the opposition striker. If you like a player with a bit of character, a low rating, in my opinion, is not necessarily a good thing.

How securely the goalkeeper holds onto the ball when making a save or coming for a loose ball. Greater handling will be beneficial in unfavorable weather conditions, but in general a goalkeeper who doesn’t give up rebounds will be useful.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
This is the attribute you really want to look out for in a keeper. No handling = no good.

The physical capability of a goalkeeper to kick the ball - this purely defines the distance he can reach. His Passing and Technique ratings will define how accurate his kicks are.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If you play the long ball tactic, make sure your keeper has a good kicking attribute. He'll be able to stick it on your target man's head from his six yard box. If your keeper has a poor kicking rating, have him distribute the ball straight to your defenders.

The ability of the goalkeeper to do well when faced with an opponent in a one on one situation. The higher this ability, the higher is the chance that the keeper will deny the goalscoring opportunity. This combines with good Reflexes, Rushing Out and Composure.

How good the goalkeeper is at making instinctive reaction saves. If he has a high reflexes rating he will be able to respond to the unpredictable with more success and be able to pull off the highlight reel saves.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
This is a great attribute for your keeper to have, denoting how good he is at making instinctive saves – particularly from close range. This combines with good Handling and Agility to keep your goals conceded to a minimum.

How good the goalkeeper is at coming off his line to react to through balls and similar situations. A goalkeeper will benefit from Pace and Acceleration here as well.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
This is a good stat to have if your team plays the offside trap or if the opposition has a particularly fast striker (aka Michael Owen). Your keeper will be out to meet them before you can say "Rushing Out"...

This determines whether a goalkeeper will catch the ball when he can, or 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.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Something we've seen more of in the English Premiership in recent seasons as more teams employ continental keepers. Looking for this stat is purely a personal choice – punching can clear the danger immediately but it still remains a risky business. Not recommended with a weak and shaky defense.

How good the goalkeeper’s distribution with his arms is. A higher rating will increase the accuracy of his throws, although Strength imparts on the distance he is able to reach.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If you like your team to play Counter Attack football, a keeper with good Throwing ability is essential. Once in possession he’ll have the ball out to your striker on the halfway line in no time...

Technical Attributes

This attribute reflects how well the player takes a corner. Taking advantage of set-pieces is important, and having a capable corner taker to put the ball into key areas is useful.

This indicates a player's proficiency at crossing the ball from wide areas into the penalty box.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If you like to employ wingers and fullbacks marauding down both flanks it's vital that they have the ability to get quality balls into your strikers. No point in doing this if your attackers are 5ft nothing though. The Crossing schedule in training is a good way to improve their stats.

This refers to the player's ability to dribble with the ball. This is purely his proficiency with the ball at his feet - his Pace, Acceleration, Agility, and Balance will all aid his dribbling in different circumstances, and whilst a higher dribbling attribute will also help him in different situations, dribbling alone isn't enough to get by.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Coupled with Agility and Balance, I consider it essential you have a good dribbler in your side – especially in the more advanced roles with room to run at defenders. Be careful you don't have too many dribblers though as they'll tend to ignore any passing tactic you might have. Although a dribbler has the potential to be a match winner, he could also give it away in his own penalty area and lose you the game.

The player's ability to put the ball in the back of the net when presented with a chance. A high finishing attribute will put the shot on target a majority of the time as a bare minimum but compared to a player with poorer finishing will find 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 will also impart on the ability of a player to score consistently.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Nothing simpler here. Bad Finishing = Missing a Sitter. Mind you, your player has to be in the right position to score a goal, so ensure your player also has good Off the Ball movement, Balance and Strength.

How good a player's first touch is when receiving possession. A higher rating will ensure that the player can trap the ball quicker and put it in a useful position to then act upon. Players with lower ratings here will struggle to control the ball as adeptly and may be prone to losing the ball if closed down quickly.

This reflects how good at taking free kicks the player is. It applies to both direct shots at goal and deliveries into dangerous areas from wider or deeper positions. A player who is proficient in taking free kicks can be a valuable commodity - scoring five free kicks a season and adding five more assists from them can be a huge bonus.

Free Kicks combine well with Long Shots, Crossing and Passing.

This is a player's competence in aerial situations. Heading applies to all situations and is only about the player's ability to head the ball well. Jumping (and to a lesser extent Strength) plays a big part in combination with heading to utilize the attribute to a greater level, as well as a player’s height.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
As crucial for players you want to use as Target men as it is for Central Defenders. Any team either playing the long ball tactic or being confronted by it will want some good headers in the side. Look for this attribute combined with Jumping.

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 which complement their long shots rating.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If you don't get shots on goal, you're never going to score. A few long shots now and then can also really test a dodgy keeper. Once you've established that you have a midfielder like Hamann who can bullet them from the halfway line, instruct him to take a few long pots. He might be good at freekicks too...

The ability of the player to perform a long throw, which can be taken advantage of in attacking situations.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Long Throwing ability is a particularly good attribute for a fullback to have as you will probably be wanting them to take most of the attacking throws, thereby freeing up your more attacking players.

How well players, mainly defensive types, mark an opponent. Marking alone will see them do a good job if the attribute is high, but remember that other attributes - Strength, Off the Ball, Anticipation - will play a part in the effectiveness of the marking, as well as the comparable physical statures of the two players.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If a defender has poor Marking it doesn't necessarily mean he'll be a load of rubbish. However, you'll definitely want to avoid playing a Man-Marking tactic. If your defenders can't mark for toffee, perhaps consider a Sweeper system or have them defend deeper than you would otherwise like. A Hard Tackling ploy goes nicely with Marking to soften up the opposition...

How good the player is at passing the ball. His technique and ability will determine his success at passing over longer distances.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If you've got a midfielder posse who would give the Real Madrid midfield a run for their money, then you'll be in a good position to use a Short or Mixed passing tactic to good effect. However, your midfield are more likely to be a bunch of muppets, so have them long ball it for all they're worth.

The ability of the player from the penalty spot. A player with a high rating here will be more confident and capable from 12 yards.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Although this stat speaks for itself, I've often found that a player with high Influence (e.g. club captain) will also come up trumps and have the guts to take a good penalty. Think Beckham...

How successfully the player is at winning tackles and not conceding fouls from such situations. Players with a high tackling rating will consistently win the ball cleanly and be a more capable defensive player.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If you combine this attribute with Strength, Marking and particularly Aggression and Bravery, you'll have a great defender on your hands. Essential for defenders and battling defensive midfielders.

Technique is the aesthetic quality of a player's technical game - how refined they appear to be with the ball. A player with high technique will be more likely to pull off a tricky pass or a cross-field ball with greater ease than someone less technically able. This in turn affects a number of technical attributes – poorer technique will let a player down.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Technique is perhaps one of the more important attributes a player can have and refers largely to natural skill rather than an expertise in a particular area or position. Look for good technique in your more attacking players if you want to impress the opposition.

Mental Attributes

This reflects a player's attitude in terms of playing mentality but is not necessarily a dirtiness indicator. A more aggressive player will look to involve himself in every incident and get stuck in, perhaps at the expense of a yellow card or two. A less aggressive player may shy away from situations and merely drop into his comfort zone.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
This attribute is a measure of how enthusiastic a player will be when involved in a confrontation with an opponent or when challenging for a 50-50 ball. Aggressive players will get cautioned more often (which will make them miss matches) but they won't half get stuck in for your team!

How well a player can predict and react to an event. If a player has a high attribute here he can read the game well and react to situations quicker than others. This attribute works well with 'Off the Ball'.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If your midfield players have good anticipation, then they will be likely to manage more interceptions during a match and therefore give your team more possession. Good anticipation is a vital ingredient for defenders and attackers alike though - best coupled with good Off the Ball movement and Decisions.

How committed and indeed, brave, a player is. Braver players will risk injury more in situations a lesser-minded player may shy away from. They'll go in where it hurts and lay it on the line for the team.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Bravery should be an essential part of any player's vocabulary. A high Bravery rating will increase the likelihood of your player winning 50-50 balls and generally getting in where it hurts. As previously mentioned, at its best with Tackling and most goalkeeper stats you care to mention.

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 will be able to keep his head and more often than not make an intelligent decision which is beneficial to the team.

This reflects a player's concentration on an event-by-event basis. A high rating here will mean the player can concentrate harder for longer and be able to respond to incidents late in the game just as well as he did early on. Lower concentration will see players lose focus and perhaps become liable to mistakes at crucial times in the match.

This refers to a player's vision and ability to see a potential opening, not necessarily exploit it. A player might be able to see something to take advantage of but also requires the technical proficiency to pull it off.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Creativity is the ability to make things happen. You'll score more goals if you get a creative midfielder operating in the centre of the park. It might be wise to support him with a defensive midfielder though as creative geniuses don't tend to be great tacklers. There are exceptions of course...

The ability of a player to make a correct decision a majority of the time. This attribute is important in every position but perhaps more so for central defenders and midfielders, who will see a lot of the ball and have a number of options when in possession.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Quick thinking is crucial in a hectic game of football. You want players who can make the right decisions in the heat of the moment. Look for a good Decisions attribute to be combined with Creativity, Passing and to a lesser extent Anticipation.

A commitment to succeed. A determined player will give everything in order to win. This ties in with Bravery - players with a high attribute in one of these attributes may also be high in the other as the traits necessary are similar.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Determination is a measure of your players’ desire to win and it's a good attribute to possess throughout your team. You might particularly look for Determination in players if you manage a lowly club and often find you’re having to come back from a goal or two down. Players with Determination will keep battling to the final whistle.

A natural talent for the creative and occasional unpredictability. A player with a lot of flair will be one of the key attacking components in any team but at the same time may need tactical restraint to get the best out of him. Flair and Creativity work well together.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
A player with a lot of flair can cause you a lot of frustration but equally can be a match winner. There will be times when you wished he’d tried the simple pass rather than blazing a bicycle kick into the stands. There will be other times however when you rise from your seat and applaud the best piece of individualism you've ever seen. Not recommended for managers who like their team to play George Graham Arsenal long ball.

Influence is the player's ability to affect events or other players without any intentional effort. Players with high influence will be leaders on the pitch and team-mates will tend to rally around these players.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
A player with a high Influence attribute will undoubtedly be a prime candidate for the role of captain. Yet choose wisely. A player who has high Influence but doesn't seem to command the respect of the players around him will not make a good choice. Remember, even when you've chosen your captain it's good to have Influence in every area of the pitch.

A player's movement without the ball. Similar to Anticipation, this is how well a player, particularly attacking ones, can assess a situation and then move off the ball, making themselves available to receive a pass in a dangerous position.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Off the Ball is perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of the game of football, yet FM regards it as one of the most important. A player with good Off the Ball movement (aka Jeffers perhaps) can draw defenders and generally cause the opposition a lot of problems. Try to find a player who combines a high Off the Ball attribute with good Pace, Positioning and Anticipation.

Positioning is the ability of a player to read a situation and place himself in the best possible position to deal with the unfolding events. Anticipation will help him in the first stage but in terms of his actual positioning, it comes down to this attribute. A higher rating will ensure the player takes up a better position.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If you've ever entertained the idea of your team playing the Offside trap, you will know that Positioning is the main attribute you want your defenders to bring to the game. Combines well with Strength and Anticipation to create an air of solidity.

How well the player follows tactical instructions and works for and alongside his team-mates. A team full of players with a high rating here will work better as a unit. Players with lower ratings will slack off and not 'buy in' to the team ethos.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
If you not the sort of person who likes to rely on one player to win matches, you'll need players with strong Teamwork to get your team gelling. High Teamwork throughout your team will see your side working their socks off for each other. Blends nicely with high Work Rate and Determination.

This reflects the player's mental drive to work hard. A high rating will ensure a player wants to work his socks off from start to finish, but he will need the necessary physical attributes to actually be able to pull it off. Nonetheless, it is an admirable trait to have in your team.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
As mentioned, this is an attribute which compliments a high Teamwork ethic. If you like your team to Close Down your opponents, then a high Work Rate attribute throughout your midfield will be highly useful. Don’t forget to ensure they've got a bit of Stamina though...

Physical Attributes

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.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
As a measure of how quickly a player can reach top speed, Acceleration is a must-have attribute for wingers and pacey attackers. You might also consider having defenders with good Acceleration if you're faced by a team who are aiming to hit you on the break. Good Stamina is a must and a little bit of Work Rate won't go a miss either.

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 running with the ball.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Agility is an attribute which is most necessary for players in top-flight football. You can get away with being a cumbersome lump in the lower leagues but the top divisions demand that even the central defenders have a bit of dexterity. Combined with Acceleration and Dribbling a high Agility rating can make for a great attacking footballer.

Balance reflects simply how well a player can keep his balance in situations both with and without the ball. With the ball, it refers to how balanced he is running with it and evading opponents, without it, it refers to his balance when facing a player running at him, or his stability when turning/jumping.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Although by the very nature of their profession all footballers could do with a bit of Balance, the ones who'll need it most are the ones who are going to be on the receiving end of a few tackles and kicks. You'll predominantly like your wingers and other attacking players to have high agility, coupled with good Agility, Dribbling or Strength to make it difficult for the opposition to knock them off the ball.

This attribute relates to how high a player can jump from a standing start.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
An easy one this one. You've got to link it with a good Heading attribute and be sure if you ever want to play long ball or crossing-intensive tactics that your players are good at springing off the ground. If, say, your players are also high on Bravery and Aggression as well as Jumping, make sure you've got them putting in some Hard Tackling to really dominate the opposition.

How fit a player is as standard - his base level of fitness. It affects how many games he is likely to be able to perform to peak physical fitness in before becoming noticeably tired and susceptible to injury.

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, is how long they are able to maintain that pace in both short bursts and over the course of a match. A player will naturally be a shade quicker without the ball than with it.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Pace can actually be a bit of a misnomer so be careful. Your player might be lightening quick but if he can't do anything with the ball then he’ll soon become a bit of a liability. Look to link Pace with Flair, Dribbling, Agility and of course Acceleration. Have your fastest players run from deep to really scare the opposition defense.

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 nine month season, players with high attribute ratings for Stamina will be able to perform at their top levels for longer. It ties in directly with Natural Fitness.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
The importance of Stamina cannot be underestimated – particularly if you play an effort-intensive style such as Closing Down, Gung-Ho or have players set to making lots of forward runs. You'll find that if your team has a low level of Stamina in general, you will tend to concede goals late in the game. You have been warned...

A player's strength is his ability to exert his physical force on an opponent to his benefit. A player with a high strength rating will be able to use it to his advantage against weaker opponents.

Marc Vaughan and Nick Habershon:
Strength is an important issue when challenging for the ball, so you'll be keen to have a fair few players in your side who can mix it when the going gets rough. Tackling, Jumping and Marking are augmented by Strength and you will find that stronger players don’t give away fouls so often as they can generally muscle players off the ball instead of having to slide in.

Hidden Attributes

How consistently he performs from match to match. Consistency is a particularly important attribute.

On the basis that there is no player that will perform to his current ability 100% of the time, the ratio of what consistency means in terms of how often a player plays at his CA is as follows:
20 Consistency = 20/25 games played at CA
10 Consistency = 10/25 games played at CA
1 Consistency = 1/25 games played at CA
The way consistency is used in the full match engine is that the average "off day" will be 10 below the CA. A random factor will be used to determine how much this is less or more than 10.

Please note that physical attributes are not taken into consideration when it comes to consistency. Only the technical and mental attributes are marked down depending on consistency.

How dirty player is on the pitch.

How well player performs in important matches.

How likely player is to get injured. The higher the number the more likely the player will get injured (1=very unlikely to get injured, 20=very likely to get injured).

How easily player adapts to playing in unfamiliar positions.

Mental Traits

How well player adapts to living in a country that isn't his own.

How much ambition player has to play at the highest level he can.

How controversial player is off the field. This is a negative attribute.

How loyal player is in general.

How well player is able to handle pressure on and off the field.

How professional player's conduct is on and off the field.

How sporting player's conduct is on and off the field.

How well player keeps his temper on and off the field.

Key Attributes for all Player Roles and Duties


Defensive Roles



Central Defender

Limited Defender

Ball Playing Defender

Full Back

Limited Full Back - New in FM14

Wing Back

Complete Wing Back - New in FM14

Midfielder Roles

Anchor Man

Defensive Midfielder

Regista - New in FM14

Deep Lying Playmaker

Ball Winning Midfielder

Box To Vox Midfielder

Advanced Playmaker

Central Midfielder

Wide Midfielder

Defensive Winger


Inside Forward

Attacking Midfielder

Enganche - New in FM14

Shadow Striker - New in FM14

Wide Target Man - New in FM14

Attacking Roles

Deep Lying Forward

Advanced Forward

Target Man


Complete Forward

Defensive Forward


False Nine - New in FM14

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