Du Malone writes: There’s a natural tendency, when thinking about personality on FM, to adopt a Manichean mentality, seeking to divide personality types into those that are good and those that are bad.

There is, I think, some truth in this. Take, for example, the mercifully rare ‘spineless’ type. I haven’t managed to think of anything good about such a personality. As a result, I avoid them: I don’t recall ever having signed a spineless type.

But I think there is a problem with the Manichean view, which is when it’s used as the predominant frame of reference for thinking about personality. There is much about personality that simply doesn’t fit into that frame.


First, in many personality types there’s a mixture of good and bad. Take, for example, the mercenary. Mercenaries undoubtedly get a bad press on the basis that they’re only in it for the money. But then, on the other hand, aren’t most players in it for the money? The difference between mercenaries and the majority of players is surely merely a matter of degree.

Moreover, having a player who is nakedly materialistic brings potential advantages. If you want to avoid relegation, giving a mercenary a massive ‘avoid relegation’ bonus might help to do the trick. Want them to score goals: there are three types of goal bonus you can motivate them with.

Or take ‘unambitious’. I tend to avoid these souls. But it strikes me that they too may have an upside. If I want a goalkeeper to act as an understudy, contentedly sticking around despite a lack of opportunities, I certainly avoid ambitious types: they’ll get frustrated. By the same logic, signing an unambitious type as an understudy might do the trick.


Second, the merit or demerit of a personality cannot be fully determined by considering only the individual case. One needs also to look at the balance of the squad. For example, personality types such as ‘loyal’, ‘driven’, ‘professional’, and ‘leader’ each offer distinctive qualities. When building a squad, I want a mixture of these: in FM, as in much else, there is strength in diversity.

So when considering a signing, it pays not only to look at the personality of the player but also how it will contribute to the blend of the squad.


Third, the precise efficacy of a personality type will depend on the context in which the club finds itself. In a likely relegation scrap, resilient types are at a premium: highly ambitious types can wait a while. But as the club starts to raise its sights, introducing an element of ambition is desirable.

For all these reasons, a Manichean framework isn’t adequate for appreciating the role of personality in FM.


Is ‘personality’ used sufficiently as a search field? One of the aspects of talent acquisition strategy that I find most satisfying is varying the types of personality I look for as the club moves up (not down, please!) the leagues.

Image credit: ‘Personality‘ by Vic, generously made available under a CC BY 2.0 licence.

2 thoughts on “Thinking about personality: beyond good and evil

  1. A good read, as always. I definitely have preferred personality types, but over time have emphasized this less. The are definitely some to avoid, for me – unambitious is one of them, but that’s often because I’m playing with young players who have potential. My fear is they just won’t develop!


  2. Thanks. Somehow I don’t feel drawn towards ‘slack’ types either. Although I should have mentioned that personalities can change through mentoring.


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