What’s your favourite football highlight ever? An audacious shot that flew into the top corner from long range, or maybe a silky run that saw defender after defender end up on their backside?
For all the skill that goes into defending, it is the flamboyant forwards that stick in everyone’s mind. Flair is what makes people gasp and move to the edge of their seats or go to YouTube to watch a clip again and again on repeat.
There is perhaps nothing that makes football the “beautiful game” more than flair.
What is flair in Football Manager?
So, it’s memorable, but how useful is it?
Football Manager has always been a game less focused on graphics and more focused on results so the screamers and stepovers that your players come out with are less likely to have value in their own right.
Flair is a mental attribute that all of your players have but like the goalkeeper eccentricity stat, it is not immediately clear how it might affect your players’ performance on the pitch.
Penalty kicks and pace attributes are things that you can probably work out a good use for fairly easily, but how do you utilise a player’s flair?
Football Manager players have probably noticed their goalkeepers come out with zany and sometimes regrettable moves when they have a high eccentricity attribute, so you want to make sure your outfielders are putting their flair levels to good use too.
How does it play out in-game?
The game officially defines the attribute as “A natural talent for the creative and occasional unpredictability.”
It combines with decision-making and technique to determine a player’s likelihood to try and pull out moves that are hard to predict, and therefore defend against. Be warned though, high flair means a player is more likely to attempt these moves, but not necessarily pull them off!
Most often, this matches up an attacker’s flair against a defender’s anticipation. A less flamboyant player is easier to predict and therefore less likely to find openings. However, finding these openings is of no use if a player doesn’t have the skill set to exploit them.
Pros of the flair stat
Players with high flair stats and the right attributes to back it up can be unplayable at times. No matter how well-drilled your opposition’s defence is, there is only so much a well-organised team can do to keep a skilled, unpredictable player at bay.
If it is used correctly, flair can be one of the most helpful attributes in all of Football Manager.
#1 Letting individuals flourish
As a coach, you can spend time on the training ground helping players learn set-piece routines and telling them where to aim crosses to exploit an opponent’s weakness. You can give them pointers here and there to flourish tactically, but some things can never be taught.
Tactics done right can take you very far, but they can be countered by savvy managers and well-organised defenders that you play against. When you’re facing a team that is otherwise your equal or possibly even better, it is up to a special individual to pull out something unexpected.
A moment of magic from a flamboyant forward can be enough to unlock even those most stubborn of defences.
A high flair stat, therefore, comes in particularly handy when you’re on the offensive. A game in which you’re parking the bus will see very few opportunities for flair to be capitalised on like this. However, when you’re desperately trying to grind down the opposition and need that spark to get through banks of bodies, flair can shine.
#2 The ability to pull it off
This makes it tempting to search extensively for players with a high flair attribute, but things aren’t as simple as that. It is useful when your players have the skills to make the most of the opportunities it creates.
If your attacking midfielder has great ability to shoot from range, then your opposition are likely to close him down quickly or possibly double-mark him.
If this player is flamboyant enough though, he will be able to still find the opportunities to shoot or exploit the attention on him to give his teammates opportunities.
A player like this without enough flair is likely to be shuttered out of the game and have their other attributes wasted unless the rest of your tactics are made to compensate.
A tricky dribbler is also likely to be able to still help your team when the opposition is focused on him if his flair is high. If an opposition defender doesn’t have the anticipation to keep up with your flamboyant winger, you’ll be able to draw fouls and yellow cards out of him, see him left in vulnerable positions and enjoy watching your team create opportunities.
Whilst flamboyance is generally associated with the attacking end of the pitch, it can also be helpful from deep too. If a deep-lying playmaker or regista has a high flair attribute to match their vision and passing, you’re likely to see him carve open the opposition from his “quarterback” role rather frequently.
Opposition managers are likely to respond to someone who can spray passes around by defending deep or marking him tightly, but this defence will be far less effective if your playmaker has the flair to still catch the defence off guard.
Centre-backs will rarely find the opportunities or attribute to make the most of high flair, but wingbacks might be able to benefit in the same way that some of your more attacking players do.
Flair lets your talented players make the most of their ability, especially against tight defences. An otherwise skilled player lacking in flamboyance is far more likely to get shut out of the game.
Cons of the flair stat
However, what about players who like to try new moves yet don’t have the technique to do so?
More than anything, these players will lose the ball a lot. Your opposition will struggle to see what’s coming, but that won’t always matter as it’s unlikely to be anything threatening.
#1 Flamboyant forwards
For attacking positions, this won’t always be the end of the world.
Sure, your winger may lose the ball more often but it won’t necessarily be in a vulnerable position. Still, this is hardly the most efficient way of attacking!
If you’re aware of your team’s limitations, you can set up tactics to still get the most out of them and possibly exploit the opponent’s weaknesses. An untalented, flamboyant player could see that hard work on the training ground go to waste and essentially blunt your side’s ability to attack.
You can find out what are the top attributes to look for in a striker on FM here.
Flamboyant defenders can be a much bigger problem. You won’t come across them too often as young flamboyant players are often moved further forward or at least to wing-back, but when one does arrive you could be in trouble.
The last place you want players to be acting unpredictably is in your back line. Getting something wrong here can easily lead to a goalscoring opportunity for the opposition and when a move does come off, it won’t be in a threatening enough position to really matter.
Unless you’re trying to set up a Total Football side that wants its defenders to contribute to build-up play a lot, centre-backs with a flair higher than 12 are likely to have more risk than reward.
How do I improve flair in Football Manager?
Flair can’t be directly trained as an attribute on Football Manager.
The best way to boost it on the training ground is by giving player training in a role that requires it.
This includes most winger and attacking midfielders roles, as well as some deeper ones like the regista and complete wing-back roles.
Developing players getting minutes in a team that provides opportunities to make the most of their flair are also likely to see the attribute grow faster, although this is a lot slower than training a player in a flair-heavy role.
It also helps to have talented coaches who can improve players’ attacking, mental and technical attributes to not just improve their flair but also the skills that will help them make the most of it.
If you’re playing in the lower leagues, here are some of the top attributes to look out for.
Like many physical attributes though, flair is unlikely to improve by a huge amount over the course of a player’s career. If you’re looking for flair, it’s best to search for players who already have it than rely on nurturing it in training, as your results are likely to be limited.
As such, do be careful with this attribute! It’s a neutral skill that can be misused just as easily as it’s correctly used. Learn to harness it though, and you’ll have the world’s defences trembling in their boots.
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