For years now, fans of Football Manager have tried to understand the system behind the ability of players. Typically, player stats are defined by two key factors. This is their Current Ability (CA), and their Potential Ability (PA). Naturally, CA is the level of ability that they have just now, and their PA is the highest level of ability that they can choose.
The problem is that many people get really caught up in the idea of CA and PA. For example, just because you used the In-Game Editor and found a chunk of players with Potential Ability in the 160+ range does not mean you’ll be building a team of superstars in no time at all. Capitalising on a high CA is the same as you would have capitalised on a player normally, anyway.
Basically, if you have a Target Man striker who has the highest CA of your team, but he’s deployed as a False Nine, he won’t look like a good player in your system. So, the main thing to think about here is this: you don’t need to know the CA or PA of a player.
Since your scouts (good scouts, anyway) can give you a good idea of what a player can do for you in the short and long-term, you don’t need to know a player's CA. In fact, having tried to play an entire edition of FM (2018) with the CA/PA stats unlocked for the entire year, I felt myself playing worse than ever!
While I was picking up super bargains for young talent with amazingly high Pas, I found myself getting lazy. I stopped developing players to do what I needed and instead relied on their high natural baseline to see me through.
Don’t build your Football Manager team based on Current and Potential Ability
The main thing to do when buying a player is making sure they are going to be a good fit for your team. This means quite a few things:
- Scouting them thoroughly, with a key target scouted by 2-3 scouts for confirmation.
- A detailed look at their key stats. How high are their key stats for the intended role?
- Looking at their age and general level of development: could you reshape them?
- Listening to scout and coach comments about their personality and suitability.
Many times, you can get excited because a player has numerous high stats in key areas you want to see them. However, things that can be extremely high impact on the usage of players CA include Pace, Acceleration, Technique, Finishing, and most of the mental stats like Composure, Concentration, and Decisions.
The stats that seem to take up the least amount of CA seem to be more arbitrary things like Work Rate, Teamwork, and Natural Fitness. So, if you are looking for a winger, don’t look for the speed merchant alone unless they have lots of potential according to your scouts. Without room to grow, a low-CA player would find their high Pace/Acceleration means their technical and mental stats never really grow.
Basically, listen to the coaches about the personality of a player, their development potential, and also how rounded their stats are. The higher up the divisions you go, the more rounded a player has to be. Don’t get caught up looking only at CA and PA if you activate them in-game, though; there is much more to making a player perform than simply having a high CA!