Two footedness in FM - a double edged sword?

This week's blog discusses two footedness in Football Manager and why it should be carefully considered in FM16.  I also include a handy summary of the most two footed (elite) players in FM15.

In real life
Before we begin, let's be clear on one vital thing: being two-footed makes a player better in real life AND in Football Manager (although this blog will discuss the problems it can bring in FM).  There is a clear advantage for those players who can control the ball with the foot that is the farthest away from the opponent. Those milliseconds saved can be spent finding a more incisive pass or scoring a goal. If given the riches that Pelligrini and Van Gaal currently hold, my dream team would be full of ambidextrous players from Goalkeeper to Goal Poachers. 11 Santi Cazorlas:

However despite my opening paragraph, I would not want a full 11 of ambidextrous players in my Football Manager team. Now I need to start by introducing current ability and potential ability before I ramble. Current ability (CA) is how good a player is rated from 1-200, this number will influence the distribution of player attributes and how they perform in the FM match engine. Potential ability (PA) is how good a player can become, equal to their current ability to 200.

So with this in mind, let's introduce Player A who is left footed but with a disastrous right foot (20/0) and Player B who is either footed (20/20), they are both Strikers. If these two players were to have the same CA and PA then you would be surprised by the results, as Player A would display higher player attributes.  If they both had the same attributes, Player B would be a better player and would require a higher CA.  The reason Player B attributes are lower is because we have given him an extra advantage, but we have not boosted his CA to account for that advantage. 

Out of these two players I would prefer the two footed player even if there was a 5-6 points swing in the Finishing stat. Let's imagine Player A with perfect finishing of 20 Vs our Player B with 15. Within the FM match engine Player A needs a very specific condition for him to convert - it needs to be on his good side. For Player B, any space in the box is likely to be a goal scoring chance. It does matter which side the defender channels him down or which foot the ball lands at, he can lash an accurate shot towards goal with any foot.

So why on earth do I NOT want a full 11 of ambidextrous players in my Football Manager team?!? Well there is one major flaw (in my opinion) from Sports Interactive. The reduction in player attributes affects not only technical attributes but also mental and physical stats. Essential attributes like Determination and Natural Fitness could be affected, in my opinion this is not right. Why would having two good feet affect how determined my player is? Or how quickly he can recover between games?

I choose Player B, any day of the week, because his ambidexterity gives him that vital advantage in the final third. But would I want the same advantage for my Goalkeeper or Limited ball playing Centre Back? The answer is no. I would rather have those players' attribute points in specialised stats like Concentration and Strength. This is why you should focus the two footedness of your team in player roles that you think make a deciding difference in your tactical system (and not be overly concerned about having two footed players in every position). I am already starting to think about this for my Grasshopper FM16 save and I am fortunate to have a couple of two footed players in the team: Caio (my Enganche 16/20) and Moanes Dabbur (my main striker20/17). Both roles will maximise the advantage of being able to use either foot. 

Here now is a list of those elite players who are best suited to make use of their two footedness:

The top 10 'World Class' ambidextrous players (who have ≥ 18 in either foot)
1.    Jerome Boateng (18/20)
2.    Santi Cazorla (19/20)
3.    Pedro (19/20)
4.    Francesco Totti (18/20)
5.    Adriano (20/18) - of Barcelona
6.    Hernanes (19/20)
7.    Danny (18/20) - of Zenit
8.    Julian Draxler (18/20)
9.    Heung-Min Son (18/20)
10.    Gylfi Sigurðsson (18/20)

(Numbered by their CA in FM15, July 2015)