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Football Glossary

In recognition that some new Football Manager™ users are also not totally familiar with some of the terms used within the world of football, we’ve put together a glossary of some of the ones more common terms you might encounter within the game. It is not exhaustive, but it is hopefully comprehensive and will be of assistance should you find yourself wondering about some of the terminology you’ve encountered playing the game.


Administration: A process where a club is unable to fulfil its financial obligations and brings in temporary legal assistance in an attempt to restructure any debt. The act of ‘entering into administration’ usually comes with a punishment in the form of a points deduction or similar, which is often accompanied by a transfer embargo and/or great difficulties in signing new players.

The Advantage rule: Referees are given scope to allow play to continue despite an infringement if it benefits the team that suffered the transgression more than stopping the game would, thus allowing them an advantage. This usually happens for the team attacking/with the ball.

Affiliates: Many clubs are increasingly developing networks of multiple entities designed to be mutually beneficial in all aspects of football, ranging from player development to financial rewards. Formal affiliations between two or more teams help achieve this. In the game, this can also take the form of senior affiliates and feeder clubs, which can help build up a stock of players, arrange friendlies, and help with the scouting network knowledge pool, among other things.

Agents: Sometimes called intermediaries, they are people who negotiate with clubs on behalf of players (and vice-versa), particularly when it comes to making deals for new contracts.

Aggregate (agg): Many competitions use two-legged ties to ensure each team gets an opportunity to play at home. These ties are settled by recording the aggregate score of both matches. If the aggregate score is tied, Away Goals, Extra Time or a Penalty Shootout are the designated tie-breakers in the majority of cases to determine the winners.

Amateur: A player attached to a club under contract but who is not paid a salary and is, in essence, free to leave at any point.

Assist: The last offensive act – pass, cross, header or otherwise – in creating a goal.

The Away Goals rule: In some competitions, if the aggregate score is tied after two legs of play, the team that scored more goals away from home is declared the winner.

The Back-pass rule: Goalkeepers are not allowed to handle any intentional pass back to them from a teammate. If they do, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposition.

Behind Closed Doors: Any match played where spectators are not present.

The Bosman rule: Allows professional footballers to leave a club as a free agent at the end of their contract. Named after former Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman, who became the first player to successfully claim the right to act as a free agent in the European Court of Justice in 1995.

Board: The people tasked with overseeing the general running of the club at its highest level, including hiring and firing managers. This typically includes the Chairperson and/or the Owner.

Booking (also booked): See yellow card.

Box-to-Box: A player with the ability to contribute at both ends of the pitch and all areas in between; the term ‘box’ is an informal word referring to each penalty area.

Brace: A colloquialism referring to a player scoring two goals in a match.

Byline: The extreme boundaries at each end of the pitch.

Cap(s): A term used to represent an appearance made for an international team. The term originates from the historical issuing of a physical cap to any player who did so.

Captain: A player designated as the team’s leader on the pitch, denoted by wearing the captain’s armband. The vice-captain serves as the captain’s deputy.

Caution: See yellow card.

Chairperson: The most senior figure of authority at a club. Tends to hire and fire managers and is a conduit between the football and business sides of the game.

Channel: The spaces between the central defenders and full-backs either side of the middle area/column of the pitch; the Player Instruction ‘Moves into Channels’ will ask an attacking player to attempt to exploit this space to their advantage.

Chip: A type of pass or shot, delivered with a stabbing motion underneath the ball to give it a lofted, high trajectory over an opponent.

Clean Sheet: A phrase denoting that the goalkeeper and/or the team for prevented the opposition from scoring against them in a match. Also known as a Shutout.

Clauses: An increasingly common aspect of transfer negotiations, teams will agree on conditional terms that will apply, should a player or club involved in a transfer achieve a particular landmark or milestone (which can also include negative ones such as relegation).

Coach: A member of the manager’s non-playing staff, they are typically specialists in a particular area of football and work with players to improve their game on the training ground.

Corner Kick: Awarded to the attacking team when a player from the opposing team puts the ball out of play over the byline. A player from the attacking team will then typically deliver the ball from within the corner quadrant directly or indirectly (via a teammate) into the penalty area in an effort to create a goalscoring chance.

Counter-Attack: A team will ‘launch’ a counter-attack by taking possession from an opponent and attempting to transition from defence to attack in a swift and manner.

Cross: The act of delivering the ball into the penalty area, typically made from wide areas of the pitch.

Cup (competition): An elimination-style competition where matches might take place over one or two legs (fixtures),a group stage format, or sometimes both.

Cup (trophy): One of a number of names associated with the trophy lifted by the winning team in a conversation. Also known as silverware.

Cup-tied (Cup): If a player has already represented one team in a competition, they are ineligible to represent another team for the remainder of that competition during the same season.

Derby: A match between two rival teams, usually geographically close to each other but not always.

Director of Football (DoF): Also known as the Sporting Director, Head/Director of Football Operations or General Manager, they take responsibility for constructing a squad (i.e. signing and selling players), leaving the manager to coach the players in a division of duties historically solely assigned to the manager.

Directness: Refers to the type and style of passing adopted by a team. Direct passing involves playing the ball from back to front as quickly as possible rather than adopting a slower and more patient approach in which players move the ball across the pitch from side-to-side.

Diving: A form of simulation where a player exaggerates or pretends there was physical contact from an opponent in an effort to deceive the referee into awarding them a decision. Players found to have dived will be shown a yellow card.

Dribbling: The art of running with the ball under close control.

Equaliser: A goal that restores parity in a contest, e.g. to make it 1-1 from a 1-0 or 0-1 scoreline.

Extra Time (ET): An additional period of thirty minutes, split into two fifteen-minute halves, used to settle the outcome of a match. If unsuccessful, it normally results in a penalty shootout.

Financial Fair Play (FFP): A series of rules introduced to help ensure that clubs can exist on a relatively fair and even financial footing in the interests of competitive balance. Limits are typically imposed on transfer and wage expenditure in line with club income, and punishments where teams break the rules range from fines to transfer embargoes and points deductions.

Flanks: Wide areas of the pitch. Also known as wings.

Formation: The organisation and structure of the eleven players selected at any given point during a match (the sequence of numbers does not include the goalkeeper and will only total ten rather than eleven). Common formations involve four defenders, four midfielders and two forwards (4-4-2) or four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards (4-3-3). The midfield is often split into defensive and attacking units when describing formations; for example, the common 4-2-3-1 formation denotes two defensive midfielders and three attacking midfielders behind a single forward.

Forward: An attacking player primarily tasked with scoring or creating goals. Also referred to as Striker (a more typical goalscorer) or, less typically these days, an attacker.

Free Agent: An individual without a club who can be signed by anyone in the world, excepting restrictions on nationalities, work permits, and so on.

Free kick: Awarded to a team for a transgression by an opponent outside of the respective penalty areas.

-              Indirect: A free kick that cannot directly result in a goal; another player other than the taker/kicker must touch the ball first before a shot can be taken.

-              Direct: Can result in a goal by means of the taker immediately finding the back of the net without a touch being required by any other player.

Friendly: A non-competitive match, sometimes also referred to as an exhibition match.

Full-Back: The defenders tasked with operating in wide areas at right-back and left-back. Their primary responsibility is to help nullify wide attacking threats but increasingly in the modern game, they are expected to influence matters going in the other direction, too.

Full-Time (FT): The end of a match.

Goal-line Technology: An automated camera system that determines whether the ball has fully crossed the line to result in a goal. The referee is informed that the ball has fully crossed the line by way of a notification on a dedicated watch, before fans at home and in the stadium are shown a visual, computer-generated representation of the decision as it actually happened.

Goal Kick: When the ball runs out of bounds at the byline, and is last touched by an opponent, it is returned into play in the form of a goal kick. The goalkeeper must place the ball inside the six-yard area and it cannot be touched by another player on the pitch before it leaves the penalty area.

Glance: A deft touch usually applied to a pass or a cross with the head using the ball with both subtlety and accuracy.

Goal Difference: A common tie-breaker in league standings where goals conceded are subtracted from goals scored.

Group (Group Stages): Some knockout cup competitions will include a group stage where teams are separated into smaller groups and play against each other in an elimination format. The remaining teams eventually advance to a straight knockout stage.

Half-Time (HT): The end of the first half.

Half-volley: The act of striking a ball just after it has struck the ground. See also Volley.

Hat-trick: The common term (originally derived from cricket) celebrating a player’s achievement in scoring three goals in a single match. A perfect hat-trick is when the player scores with their left foot, right foot, and their head.

Head-to-Head: A term describing a contest between two players or two teams. It can reflect a single incident or an ongoing series, and is also used sometimes to compare individual or team statistics.

Header: Using the head to connect with the ball rather than the foot or any other body part.

Home-Grown (HG): The specifics of the rule will vary from competition to competition, but in general, the Home-Grown rule intends to ensure that clubs include a certain number of players developed within their own country in their overall first-team squad as a way of aiding the development of their domestic league and national sides.

Injury Time: Time added onto the scheduled ninety minutes for injuries and other stoppages to play, most commonly displayed by a “+<number>” marker on the clock/in references to match time. Also known as Stoppage Time or Additional Time.

League: A competition where teams are ranked by the accumulation of points from fixtures played against one another over the course of a season. Often used interchangeably with Division.

Loan: A temporary transfer of a player between clubs, returning to the club owning their registration at the end of the deal. The loaning club can, and often do, pay for the player’s services through loan fees and wage contributions, and can negotiate the option to purchase the player outright as part of the deal, too.

Lob: A type of pass or shot that is similar to a chip, with a high trajectory over an opponent, but delivered in a defter fashion and usually from a bouncing ball rather than one on the ground.

Manager: The person responsible for the day-to-day stewardship of the players . Additionally, the Assistant Manager is their second-in-command and can be delegated any number of tasks to make the manager’s job easier. It has become increasingly common for the biggest sides in the world to have more than one Assistant Manager.

Marking: A player (usually a defender) pays close attention to an opponent by ‘marking’ them and trying to prevent them from having an influence on the game, e.g. making dangerous passes or being free in space to shoot at goal. Player-specific marking involves assigning several team members a specific opponent for which they are responsible, while Zonal marking involves defenders being assigned areas of space for which they are responsible, whether opponents venture into it or not. The latter method of marking has become increasingly prominent in the game.

Near Post (also Far Post): A geometric reference  to the goalposts. Incidents occurring in or around the post nearest to the action can be referred to as happening at the near post, whereas incidents on the other side of play (for example, a player arriving to meet a cross on the opposite side of the pitch to where it was delivered) are said to involve the far post.

Offside: A player is deemed to be offside if there is only one opponent (including the goalkeeper) between the attacker and the opposition’s goal when a pass is played to them. A player cannot be offside in their own half of the pitch or if they are behind the ball when it is played. They can, however, also be flagged for offside if they are deemed to be interfering with an opponent despite not playing the ball.

Offside Trap: A tactic whereby the defending team looks to play in such a way that lures attacking opponents into straying offside, often through moving the defensive line higher up the pitch at the right time.

One-two: A passing move between two players where the first player both gives and then immediately receives the ball back from a teammate.

Overlap: When one player runs from deep around the outside of a teammate in an attacking position to advantageous effect. See also underlap.

Own Goal (OG): Happens when a player accidentally scores past their own goalkeeper.

Part-Time: See Semi-Professional.

Penalty Area: The rectangular area drawn out in front of each goal. Goalkeepers are only permitted to handle the ball in this area, while any fouls committed by the defending team result in a penalty kick.

Penalty Kick: A penalty kick is a free shot at goal, with only the goalkeeper to beat from twelve yards out, awarded when a foul or other infringement (such as a handball) punishable by a free kick happens inside the penalty area.

Penalty Shootout: In many cup competitions, if a match is all-square at the end of all designated playing time (sometimes including extra time), the contest will be decided by a penalty shootout. Each team must nominate a minimum of five players to take penalty kicks in alternating order until a team misses enough that they can no longer out-score their opponents. If five rounds of penalties are not sufficient to decide a winner, players will continue to take in a sudden-death fashion until one team misses and the other scores.

Physio(therapist): A member of a team’s medical staff tasked with providing both immediate and long-term physical treatment to a player.

Playmaker: One individual in a team who is the conduit for the majority of the attacking play. They are responsible for taking charge of possession, creating chances for other teammates, and looking to affect the match in as many ways as possible. Some sides now occasionally employ more than one in order to make it more difficult for their avenues of attack to be closed down.

Playoff(s): An additional stage to a league competition where a select number of teams in specified finishing positions ‘play off’ in a series of fixtures to determine an outcome, for example a league title or promotion/relegation.

Points (Pts): Three points are typically awarded for a win, with one for a draw and none for a defeat. Some leagues may operate differently; please refer to the Rules screen in-game for full clarification for each competition.

Professional: A player under contract with a club and who receives a salary. See also Semi-Professional.

Promotion: When a team moves up from one group or league to the next one up the hierarchical ladder due to on-field results.

Red Card: A player is shown a red card and is dismissed from the field of play for seriously or persistently breaking the rules. A player who is shown a red card is said to have been sent off and will usually face a suspension.

Referee: An independent arbiter assigned to enforce the rules in a match. Assistant Referees are found on each touchline; previously known as linesmen, their duties consist of judging offside decisions, whether the ball has left the bounds of play, and advising the referee on incidents they may not have been in position to see.

Released (contracts): Broadly speaking, a player is released when their club decide that they no longer require their services and they become a free agent.

Relegation: When a team moves down from one group or league to the next one lower down on the ladder/pyramid due to on-field results.

Reserves: A team’s secondary squad, used in several ways. Some teams will use the Reserve team as a first-team squad overspill, while others will promote their best young players and use it as a developmental ‘bridge’ between the Youth Team and the first team.

Route One: The art of getting the ball forward into the opposition’s defensive areas in the quickest and most efficient manner possible, often involving playing long, high passes from back to front.

Sacked: Also sometimes coined as ‘fired’, the term is used when an individual – usually but not exclusively a manager – has their contract terminated with immediate effect.

Scout: A non-playing member of staff responsible for watching and reporting on players from other teams, either for upcoming opponents or for potential transfer targets. Also used as a verb to describe this act.

Season: The period of time over which a league campaign takes place.

Semi-Professional: A player under contract with a club and who receives a salary but only on a part-time basis. Such players typically hold down another career outside of football and have limited time to dedicate towards training and their football career overall.

Set Piece: Any situation where play restarts with a dead ball (as opposed to a live ball in open play). The nature of a dead ball allows teams to set up specific routines devised to exploit the situation without immediate interference from the opposition.

Silverware: Refers to trophies awarded for success.

Substitute: A player who is brought onto the pitch to replace another player.

Tactics: The way a team sets itself up to play a match. The formation is the foundation of a tactic, upon which team and player instructions are issued to give a team the best possible chance of winning.

Team Talk: A brief talk given by the manager to their players before, after, and during half-time in each match. The talk typically involves motivational encouragement alongside tactical direction.

Terrace: An area of a stadium which does not have seats and has room for standing supporters only, although it can be used informally as a way of describing where the supporters are, not whether there is seating.

Testimonial: A friendly match played out in honour of a long-serving or notable player, often featuring former colleagues and an appropriate opposition. Originally held to boost the honoured players’ finances, these occasions more commonly see charity donations occur nowadays.

Through-ball: A type of pass played by the attacking team that goes straight through the opposition’s defence to a teammate. Some teams will deploy an offside trap to catch the attacking team offside and prevent this kind of pass from working.

Throw-in: A common method of restarting play; when the ball is cleared out over the touchline, it is returned by means of a player using both hands to throw it from above the head back into play.

Transfer: The change of a player’s permanent registration between clubs. Players are often transferred for money (transfer fees) with negotiations also including clauses, bonuses and staggered payment periods.

Touchline: The extreme boundaries at each edge of the pitch.

Underlap: When one player runs, from deep, inside of a teammate’s position on the pitch in an attacking position to advantageous effect. See also overlap.

VAR (Video Assistant Referee): The use of technology to adjudicate controversial incidents during matches. The Video Assistant Referee is allowed to review four types of incident on video replay; goals and whether there was a violation in the build-up to it, penalties (both given and not), direct red cards, and cards issued with mistaken identity. The system is also used to determine whether a goal was offside or not; the clear and obvious criteria is not used here, rather a player is offside or isn’t. Its introduction into the sport was relatively recent, but its use is not evenly spread or been without controversy.

Volley: The act of striking a ball before it hits the ground.

Wall: An obstacle of players set up by the defending team to make it more difficult for an opponent when taking a free kick.

Whip: To curl the ball with pace, most often used from crosses, corners, and free kicks.

Winger: A player tasked with operating primarily in and/or from wide areas – wings or flanks – of the pitch.

Woodwork: A colloquialism referring to the goal frame structure of posts and crossbar, which are usually made from a combination of heavy gauge steel and aluminium.

Work Permit: Some competitions require additional checks to be made before allowing players from certain locales to sign for one of its teams. The most common of these is a work permit, which some foreign players will require in order to take a job in a new country and join a new team.

Yellow Card: A player is shown the yellow card (also referred to as a caution or booking) for breaking one of the laws of the game. A player shown two yellow cards in the same match is then shown a red card, and players shown multiple yellow cards in the same season usually face suspensions at incremental landmarks (e.g. 5, 10, 15).

Youth Team: The youngest represented age group in Football Manager™, the youth team is comprised of teenagers aiming to have a career in football. The youth team typically has an upper age limit before the players are expected to move onto the next logical step in the ladder as they develop.

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