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Player Ability

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Player ability refers to how good players are as footballers on and off the pitch.

This guide details the various aspects of player ability on the pitch and player ability off the pitch, while it also covers the dynamics of player ability – how and why player ability changes over time.

The Player Development guide discusses how you can control the dynamics of player ability to improve your players over the course of their careers.

Player Ability on the Pitch

Player ability on the pitch refers to player ability that is apparent during matches.

Current Ability

Each player has a hidden current ability rating out of 200 that largely determines how good he is on the pitch.

A player’s current ability is distributed to the factors of current ability, which are:

  • (Weighted) playing attributes– current ability is distributed to the player’s playing attributes on a weighted basis, with the weighting of an attribute depending on its supposed importance for the player’s playing position or positions. The more important an attribute is, the heavier its weighting. In other words, playing attributes ‘use up’ or ‘cost’ current ability and more important attributes ‘use up’ or ‘cost’ more current ability than less important attributes.
    • Aggression, Determination, Flair and Natural Fitness, as well as the hidden playing attributes, are zero-weighted for all playing positions (no current ability is distributed to them).
    • Eccentricity, Free Kicks, Penalty Taking, Rushing Out, Tendency To Punch and Off The Ball are zero-weighted for goalkeepers (no current ability is distributed to them).
    • As an example, Tackling is considered to be more important for centre backs than Finishing and so ‘uses up’ more current ability for centre backs than Finishing does.
  • Weaker foot strength – some current ability is also distributed to (or ‘used up’ by) the player’s weaker foot strength. So a player with good weaker foot strength would have less of his current ability left to be distributed to his playing attributes. A player’s weaker foot strength is shown on his Development > Tactics screen.

Perceived Current Ability

Within the game current ability is estimated by coaches and scouts (by using their Judging Player Ability staff attribute) and presented in the form of perceived current ability star ratings in their coach reports and scout reports, as well as on other screens such as the Team Report > Squad Depth screen (and the Squad > Players screen if the Reports view is selected). Your coaches give perceived current ability star ratings for players at your own club, while your scouts give them for players at other clubs as part of their scouting assignments.

For most players, perceived current ability is shown in multiples of half a star, ranging from a single half star for players with the lowest perceived current ability to five full stars for players with the highest perceived current ability.

In most cases these stars are gold. However, young players who would otherwise be given a single half gold star are instead given silver stars, which enables you to compare their perceived current abilities more easily.

Black stars are also used where necessary to represent a coach or scout’s uncertainty regarding a player’s perceived current ability. The more uncertainty there is for a player, the greater the proportion of his star rating that is shown in black. This proportion falls as more knowledge is gained about the player.

It is important to be aware that perceived current ability star ratings, both for your own players and those at other clubs, are shown relative to the perceived current ability of your squad as a whole. So a rating of 2.5 to 3 stars can be considered to be approximately average for your squad, with 3.5 to 5 stars being relatively good and 0.5 to 2 stars being relatively poor.

A player’s perceived current ability star rating may differ between different staff members because of differences in their Judging Player Ability attribute and their knowledge of the player.

In addition, a player’s perceived current ability star rating is likely to change over time, not only as his actual current ability changes, but also as:

  • The current ability of your squad as a whole changes – this can occur both as a result of changes in individual players’ current abilities and as a result of transfers. For example, if you sign players to improve your team then current ability star ratings may fall.
  • Your coaches or scouts gain more knowledge of the player (or you sign staff that arrive with less knowledge of the player) – coaches gain more knowledge of a player the more time they spend at the same club, while scouts can gain more knowledge of a player by spending more time scouting him.

Therefore, if a player’s perceived current ability star rating decreases it does not necessarily mean that the player has become worse, while if it increases it does not necessarily mean that he has become better.

Coaches always provide up-to-date information on your players but the perceived current ability given by scouts needs to be updated with new scout reports. You can check the date of the latest scout report on the report itself.

Potential Ability

Each player also has a hidden potential ability rating out of 200 that acts as a limit for his current ability and typically remains static throughout his career.

Therefore, the potential ability rating that a player has at the start of his career (or at the start the game) is typically the maximum rating that his current ability can reach.

Perceived Potential Ability

Similarly to current ability, potential ability is estimated by coaches and scouts (by using their Judging Player Potential staff attribute) and presented in the form of perceived potential ability star ratings, with your coaches giving perceived potential ability star ratings for players at your own club and your scouts giving them for players at other clubs.

Perceived potential ability is shown relative to perceived current ability and works in a similar manner to perceived current ability in respect to gold, silver and black stars, and the knowledge and attributes (Judging Player Potential in this case) of coaches and scouts.

However, rather than being a direct estimate of his potential ability, a player’s perceived potential ability is based mostly on his age and perceived current ability. For example, an 18 year old player would be considered to have more time left to improve his current ability than a 23 year old teammate and so the gap between his perceived potential ability and his perceived current ability would be greater than that of his teammate.

In addition, a coach or scout typically uses black stars in the perceived potential ability star rating that he gives to a young player even when his knowledge of the player is high, due to the uncertainty regarding the improvement of current ability.

Match Performance

A player’s match performance refers to how well he plays in a match.

The level of a player’s match performance is affected by many more factors than just the factors of current ability. It is therefore important to judge a player by more than just his perceived current ability and perceived potential ability.

The factors that affect the level of a player’s match performance include:

  • His weaker foot strength – good weaker foot strength particularly benefits players who make roaming movement, make direct dribbles, play on the opposite side to their strongest foot or cut inside onto their weaker foot, as they are more likely to move into space where they would benefit from using their weaker foot.
  • His traits a player’s traits should ideally be appropriate for his playing attributes and his assigned tactical role. Otherwise, they may have an adverse effect on his match performances.
  • His personality attributes – particularly his ratings in the Pressure, Professionalism, Sportsmanship and Temperament personality attributes.
  • Any communication problems he hasa player may struggle to communicate with his teammates if they do not know a common language.
    • The languages spoken by a player are shown on his Overview > Information screen under Nationalities.
    • Communication problems are included in your assistant’s feedback during a match, which is shown under Advice on the Analysis screen and also on the Assistant’s Feedback widget.
  • The effectiveness of your tactics and of his tactical role in particular.
  • His positional ability for the playing position he is selected in – a player’s positional ability in a particular playing position is his level of understanding of that playing position. It works by affecting the Decisions attribute (and, therefore, decision making). The lower a player’s positional ability for a playing position, the more his Decisions attribute is adversely affected when he is played in that position.
    • A player’s positional abilities are shown as coloured circles on his Development > Tactics screen under Positional Abilities (you can hover over central playing positions to see the player’s preferred side).
    • The main positional ability levels in order from best to worst are:
      • Natural (bright green).
      • Accomplished (green) – the advised minimum level for a player played regularly in the position.
      • Competent (yellow-green).
      • Unconvincing (yellow)
      • Awkward (orange)
      • Ineffectual (red or not shown)
  • His tactic familiarity and his tactical role suitability, in the context of your playing style – tactic familiarity is learned by your team over time during match preparation training and does not take into account the suitability of playing attributes or player traits. A player’s tactical role suitability is subjective and based on the appropriateness of his playing attributes and traits for your team instructions and his player instructions, as well any hidden instructions set by his role and duty.
    • A player’s tactic familiarity and position/role/duty suitability1 are shown on his Development > Tactics screen under Tactical Familiarity. Position/role/duty suitabilities are also shown as coloured circle segments on the Tactics screens.
    • A player’s position/role/duty suitability is determined by the suitability of his ratings in the key attributes for the relevant role and duty (as well as left/right foot strength for some wide player roles), adjusted according to his positional ability for the relevant playing position.
    • However, a player’s suitability for your team instructions and any manually selected player instructions, which is not taken into account by his position/role/duty suitability, is also important.

1Some player roles require a player to have a minimum perceived current ability to be considered as suitable for the player by coaches and scouts.

Player Ability off the Pitch

Player ability off the pitch refers to player ability that is apparent outside of matches – for example, in training or general conduct.

Factors that determine a player’s ability off the pitch include:

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