Star ratings in Football Manager can easily deceive you, especially if you’re coming straight from games like eFootball or FIFA.
Both of these games have an ‘overall’ rating system. For example, FIFA assigns a 1-5 star rating to each team, based on the average rating of each player.
When I first started playing Football Manager, I too thought stars were going to be pretty straightforward.
I mean, how can 5 stars be worse than 4, right?
I made the pretty bad mistake of always relying on them to get an idea of how good a team, player or staff member was.
Turns out, star ratings are a bit more complicated than that in this game.
They’re not objective, nor are they universal. The same player can receive wildly different star ratings, depending on a series of different factors. Sometimes, they’re just plain wrong – you can’t trust them that much.
So, do stars really matter in Football Manager?
Today, I’ll tell you the whole truth behind star ratings in Football Manager. By the end of this piece, you’ll know when to listen to them, when to ignore them, and what to look for instead of relying on them.
Advantages of using stars
First of all, you should know that the ones who issue star ratings are your coaches, scouts, and your assistant manager. If you want to be able to trust those ratings, you have to hire competent people.
Also, stars aren’t “set in stone”, so to speak.
What that means is that star ratings are relative. Apart from attributes, they’re influenced by a bunch of factors, for example how well the individual might fit in your squad and how well they can perform in a certain role relative to their attributes.
For instance, here’s Radu Drăguşin’s star rating at Juventus. As you might guess by the colour of his name, he’s on loan.
And here you can see Radu’s star rating at Genoa, the club he’s been loaned to.
As you can see, Radu Drăguşin is rated as an average, if not above-average player at Genoa, but he’s only deemed a 2-star emergency reserve at Juventus.
As you might have already guessed, it’s a bit complicated.
Let’s say you’ve got a pretty solid staff team and your star ratings are somewhat accurate. What can you do with them?
They’re in the game for a reason, after all, just not the one you thought!
You can use them to get a depth chart of your squad
Alright, we’ve established we can’t use stars as an overall rating. What are they good for, then?
Well, one of the first things that comes to mind is building a decent squad depth chart with them.
What do I mean by that?
As we said before, stars are relative, meaning that your squad’s best players will have higher star ratings compared to the more average players.
If a bunch of better players join your team, these once-superstars will surely become your average players.
Once you start bringing in better players in your club, ratings will slowly “normalise” until your once five- and four- star players become your new three-star average joes.
Through this system, you can get a general idea of where your squad lacks depth – basically, where you need to invest to improve a squad.
For example, let’s take Juventus. As you can see, they’ve got a fairly balanced mix of defensive players, but they do lack in the Wing-Back department. If I was their manager, knowing this, I would understand exactly where to focus my efforts.
I suggest trying this out in your save as well. Go to your squad tab, and check which section of your squad is the weakest and which one is the strongest. With this data, you’ll know exactly who to buy, which tactics to prefer, and how to manage substitutions as well.
Here’s an extra tip: stick to your data. Don’t impulsively buy a new, slightly better striker just because you can. Likewise, only get rid of players when your squad’s depth allows it, or else you risk getting stuck with no players in certain critical roles.
They’re useful to understand who to buy to improve your squad
Are you looking for a quick way to get an idea of who to buy in the next market window? Use stars!
Let’s be clear, though. Stars shouldn’t be the only method to judge if a player is worth buying or not.
They’re a pretty straightforward way to sort out candidates, especially if you’ve got a solid backroom staff team.
As we said, stars don’t deal in absolute, which is a good thing, at least in this case.
Unless you’re managing an S-tier team like PSG, Man City or Juventus, you’re not looking for the best of the best. You’re most likely just interested in buying players that can improve your squad.
Here’s Christian Gytkjær, a Danish footballer my scouts believe fits the club’s transfer strategy excellently. While the scout report says that he would be a terrific signing, the star rating says that he’s an average player.
That’s because the first grade is based on factors like if the player fits the sort of guys my club would normally sign or how high his wage is, while the second one takes his age, attributes, hidden attributes and personality into account.
Once you’re done sorting out players, you’ll be left with a couple of acceptable players. What I suggest doing now is going through each of these footballers, checking if their stats line up with your needs.
Player star ratings have a little quirk that you want to pay attention to: ambidextrous players (those who can play with both their feet) will automatically get a higher star rating than players who are not ambidextrous but are better in terms of stats.
Disadvantages of using stars
Using stars in the wrong way will set you up for failure. Use them too much while ignoring anything else and you’ll end up with a stagnant squad, and that just won’t do it.
Let’s see what disadvantages using stars brings, especially when done the wrong way.
They can significantly warp reality
Stars are never that reliable. Reality is pretty much whatever they want it to be, and that’s bad news.
Even with a top-notch staff team judging players and other staff, several factors can influence star ratings to be much higher or lower than they should. These things range from being two-footed to being too short or very tall, or having irrelevant but high attributes.
You might be tricked into buying or playing a useless player if you blindly follow star ratings without doing your homework. You should probably think about scouting potential signings or looking into a player’s attributes when making these kinds of choices.
They can stop you from trying things out
When I first started out playing this wonderful but confusing game, I found myself influenced by stars more than once.
I couldn’t bring myself to try and train players in new roles. I trusted the game way too much and lost incredible amounts of money and time upgrading my squad the wrong way.
Moral of the story?
Don’t let stars stop you from trying things out. If you notice that a player’s attributes allow him to play in a position he has few stars in, go ahead and train him for that role. He may turn out to be better than expected.
Well, stars are difficult to deal with, at least in FM.
You can’t follow them blindly, but they’re a good shortcut to understanding how you could improve your squad.
Overall, stars aren’t that important. What’s really crucial is understanding how to deal with all the information the game throws your way.
Football Manager is a complicated game, and the beauty of playing it is taking in all the useful information to build a club from the ground up or keep the legacy of one alive.
It’s impossible to effectively boil down to a star rating all the info Football Manager dumps on us. You should take it easy and analyze everything step-by-step, learning all along the way.
You’ll do well, I promise!
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