If you’ve ever watched a game of football, you may have noticed the major differences in height among players in a team. For example, the Portuguese national squad has players like Jose Sa being 193 cm and Raphaël Guerreiro being 170 cm.
This has generated multiple debates on the importance of height in football and Football Manager.
When signing a player, do you focus only on their physical, technical, and mental attributes, or do you consider height too?
Football is a sport where there are lots of aerial duels, so height is definitely important, but football also requires agility and fast reaction, which is more prevalent in shorter players.
Ultimately, it really depends on the player’s role and the team’s tactic.
In this article, let’s explore the importance of short and tall players in Football Manager and the scenarios where they are both beneficial.
Scenarios Where Being Tall is Beneficial
Here are some possible scenarios where being tall is beneficial in Football Manager:
I once scouted a 23-year-old Welsh Regen CB; I looked at his attributes and declared him the perfect Ball Playing Defender I’ve ever since.
He had 15+ ratings on Tackling, Marking, Positioning, Heading, and Passing. He also had decent Acceleration, Jumping Reach, and Pace ratings, plus he was playing in the Welsh first division while I was managing an established Premier League team.
There was only one thing stopping me from signing him, his height. He was only 170cm tall, and despite his decent Jumping Reach rating, there was no denying that he would lose most of his aerial duels and also fail to effectively deal with crosses into my box.
Height may not determine if a player will be good or not, but it definitely plays a major role in the position they can play.
In Football Manager, I choose to sign players that are at least 180 cm tall as my centre backs, and this is only if they have good Jumping Reach and Heading ratings. Generally, 182 cm is my benchmark. This is because the defender’s main job is to stop balls from coming into dangerous areas.
While there are cases of short defenders performing at the highest level, like Lisandro Martinez and Otamendi, this rarely happens.
The average height of a central defender in major leagues like the EPL, La Liga, and Bundesliga is well above 182 cm and most of the world’s greatest centre backs were very tall, most above 192 cm.
A taller centre back will be better at defending set pieces, marking strikers, and winning aerial duels. Furthermore, tall defenders with good heading ratings tend to score lots of corners and free-kick goals in FM, and if you’ve played the game for a while, you’ll know how game-changing set-piece goals can be.
Your opponent might be heavily outperforming you on xG, and you can end up stealing a win thanks to one good header.
In Football Manager, height is advantageous for strikers in the Advanced Forward, Target Man, and Poacher roles. Players in these roles tend to receive lots of crosses from those in wide and central positions, and good height puts them in a better position to both score and beat defenders aerially.
Erling Haaland is a perfect example of a lethal striker that has an advantageous height. He’s one of the best clinical finishers in the world and is 195 cm tall.
Most of the world’s best strikers are taller than average, and 182 cm is a good height for a striker in Football Manager.
Height in goalkeepers is important because the taller they are, the higher their jump, which allows them to cover more areas. Good reflexes are good, but a taller keeper will have a greater hand span and the ability to save difficult shots.
Ultimately, taller players will guarantee more dominance in the air. This is especially important if you use the Pass Into Pace and Play Out Defense instructions.
Your midfielders and forwards will easily claim those long balls from your Goalkeeper and Defenders, and you can build your attack from there.
Scenarios Where Being Short is Beneficial
It’s hard to have a solid argument against short players when some of the world’s greatest players are shorter than average. Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona come to mind.
You can find out more about whether a striker in football can be short here.
Generally, shorter players in Football Manager have more agility and flexibility thanks to their low centre of gravity. They are mostly the best dribblers and are perfect in wide positions. When scouting my wingers and wingbacks, I never worry about height.
In fact, the shorter they are, the more endurance they have, allowing them to maintain playing at a high level for longer.
Another role where short players are beneficial is the defensive midfielder role. Especially if you’re like me, that prefers possession-based tactics. Shorter midfielders are mostly better at marking and tackling and tend to cover more areas on the pitch, thanks to their endurance.
Kante at 33 still has amazing tackling, work rate, and stamina ratings.
Does Height Matter in Football Manager?
Ultimately, the importance of height depends on the player’s role and team tactics. Forwards, mainly strikers, need height to win duels and score headers. However, height is not necessary for all forward roles.
In most of my saves, I play with two strikers, one as an Advanced Forward and the other as a Deep Lying Forward (DLF).
My DLF is usually the shortest player in my squad because his role is to link my midfield and attack, so I prefer him to be agile, a good dribbler, and an excellent passer.
A player doesn’t need to be tall to have all of these traits.
On the other hand, my Advanced Forward is usually the tallest non-defensive player in my squad, as I want him to score lots of headers, win duels, and impose on the opposition’s defenders.
Other positions where short players can be beneficial are Defensive Midfield, Central Midfield, and Wide positions.
Furthermore, If you play possession-based tactics, height might not really be important unless in defensive positions. However, if you play out from the defence and create most of your chances of crosses, then you’ll need tall players.
Do Players and Regens Grow Taller in Football Manager?
Yes, they do. However, height and Jumping Reach are aspects of Football Manager that SI has yet to fully explain. Player growth in the game is very random and mostly minimal. Generally, Regens stop growing taller when they turn 17 and most times, they only add 1 or 2 inches.
This is understandable because, in real life, the human male stops growing at 17/18.
The Bottom Line
In Football Manager, signing players that fit your tactical system is paramount in your pursuit of football glory. Height is one of those factors you consider alongside the player’s physical, technical, and mental attributes.
However, you can’t ignore a player because he’s shorter than average. Height should be considered based on its influence on your tactics and player roles.
Also, Regens do grow.
I can’t say for certain the extent of the growth, but it’s usually below 2 inches.
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