Trying to figure out the most important attributes in football manager can be challenging without proper testing and simulating tens of in game years. However, as you play the game, there are a few attributes that just stand out in your best performing players that help them excel in a match, or outside the match in how they deal with other clubs being interested in them or how they handle contract negotiations.
I have therefore come up with a list that covers the most important attributes that I look at before deciding whether to sign a player or not.
1. Pace and Acceleration
I have grouped pace and acceleration together, as they closely related. Pace is the top speed that the player can theoretically reach in perfect conditions while acceleration is the amount of time, the player will take in reaching this top speed.
Therefore, an attacker with a lower top speed and very high acceleration can find the space needed to take a shot against a defender with a higher top speed but with lower acceleration.
A very high top speed might not be that effective if a player has very low acceleration, as situations that require players to sprint at full speed for extended periods are very few in a match.
Pace in the real world is terrifying to play against. Players like Kylian Mbappé and Marcus Rashford who have a good combination of the two attributes are a nightmare for defenders to deal with.
This translates to football manager, especially with counter attacking tactics that rely on long balls. If the player has poor dribbling, train him on the “knocks ball past opponent” player trait, and he will be highly effective.
Pacy players are effective in the striker’s position as poachers or advanced forwards, while they can also be utilized on the flanks as outright wingers that hug the touchline and swing in crosses for the strikers to attack.
Football manager describes determination as an attribute that reflects the player’s commitment to succeed and do his very best on and off the pitch.
A player with a high determination rating is less likely to give up when his team concedes an early goal. He will instead dig in, and try to find an equalizer as soon as possible, and possibly even the winning goal.
Similarly, when holding on to a slender lead, players with high determination are less likely to crumble under pressure towards the end of matches when the opponent is throwing everything at them.
This situation also plays out when the team is on the receiving end of a red card. High determination players will try to see out the game, while those with low determination are more likely to ship in more goals.
Players with high determination are also more likely to have good hidden attributes like high ambition and professionalism, although this is not always the case. Ambition and professionalism play a huge role in players developing to their full potential by giving their all in training sessions and on the match day.
Furthermore, players with a good combination of professionalism, ambition and determination form the perfect leaders for mentoring young players in the club. Players with this combination might have the personalities of model professional, model citizen, perfectionist, professional and resolute among a few others.
Passing might not be as important for some tactical plans that involve a lot of running, dribbling past players and long balls on the counter-attacks. However, if you are playing a passing game, a good attribute rating in passing is crucial.
To complement the passing attribute, good vision and technique are desirable, especially for more attack minded midfielders like the deep lying playmaker and the shadow striker.
The passing attribute determines the likelihood of a player’s pass reaching its target. Therefore, for players who you want to be creating goals for your team, you need their passing attribute to be at least 16 if you are pushing for a Champions League place.
Very good passers like Toni Kroos and Lionel Messi have the perfect passing rating of 20, however these are the exceptions rather than the norm.
For more defensive players who you do not expect to play a major role in creating chances for your team, like the centre backs or defensive midfielders, they can get away with having a lower rating for passing. However, some roles like the Libero and Segundo Volante still require the defensive players to have very good passing.
4. First touch
First touch determines how quickly a player brings the ball under his control. If a player has a poor first touch, he will probably need two or three extra touches before he can bring the ball under his control, then look up to find where his teammates are.
For congested 18 yard boxes against a team that is playing with a low backline, these extra touches will time and again lead to the attacker losing possession or reduce the effectiveness of his team moving the ball quickly around the box trying to create an opening for a shot on goal.
Players with poor first touches invite pressure as the opponents will try to press him immediately the ball is played to him, if he takes a long time to bring it under control, chances are he will lose possession as the opponents will most likely be on him already.
On the other hand, players with exceptional first touches like Riyad Mahrez, Thiago and Isco are more than happy to receive tricky balls even when surrounded by opponents as they can quickly bring the ball under control then find another player in a better position.
These players are better suited to unlock a tight defence, by playing in the hole between the opponent’s defensive midfield and the backline. To ensure they are effective, play them with willing runners upfront or on the flanks so that they can have targets to pick up whenever they are in possession of the ball.
Concentration according to football manager’s in game description is the mental focus and attention to detail on an event by event basis.
It is primarily an important attribute for defensive minded players, as it is more harmful for a defender being caught out napping with a through ball or a quickly taken free kick, compared to a striker not being on the same wavelength as his attacking midfielder and failing to attack a through ball or cross.
A low concentration rating, especially for centre backs and fullbacks, makes it likely that you will give up stupid goals that will make you feel like immediately putting the player on the transfer list.
Furthermore, concentration is one of the harder attributes to develop in football manager, making it a tragedy to have a good player but with poor concentration. To avoid dealing with this situation, I tend to avoid any player with poor concentration, especially from the defensive midfield position going backwards to the goalkeeper.
At the end of the day, the most important attributes in football manager might be different for you, especially if you play a different style of football that does not rely on passing or breaking down packed defences.
For instance, if you primarily play with a target man, the passing attribute goes down in importance while the heading and strength attributes become much more important if the target man is to hold up play much more effectively.