While I’m relatively certain that most dedicated followers of MLS will know what United are getting with the likes of Maicon Santos and Danny Cruz, there’s still an element of mystery surrounding the acquisitions from the mid-tier Euro-leagues. Most of us see precious little from Swiss or Austrian clubs outside of perhaps the odd Europa League highlight.
With that in mind, I’m shocked and mildly disappointed in myself that I didn’t think to consult the massive scouting network lurking on the hard drive of the computer I’m typing this on.
I speak, of course, of Football Manager.
Yes, yes, go on all you must about it being a mere game – a simulation if you will, but those of us worshipping in the Church of FM know the breadth and depth that SI’s army of researchers provide. I’m not going to claim the database is 100% accurate or reliable, and the proof, of course, will be in the playing pudding come the regular season, but it’s certainly a better resource than YouTube clips and the aforementioned Europa League highlights, isn’t it?
With that in mind, we begin with our new forward, Hamdi Salihi…
|click to enlarge|
What impressions do we get right off the bat?
- Outstanding finisher with high technical ability.
- Reasonably strong on the deck and in the air, but not the quickest.
- Takes up good positions and reads the game well, but maybe doesn’t make the best (or the most) runs without the ball.
- Determined and fit, but not the hardest worker.
- Striker first, but also capable of playing a-mid or on the right wing
That’s pretty much the story we’ve been told, though I was pleasantly surprised with how high the game rates his technique and his positional flexibility. Comfortingly, he’s also rated as fairly strong and fit, which he’ll need to be to deal with the rigors of the league, both in the form of the opposition and the schedule. The only slight worries would be the low-ish work rate and lack of true pace, though those didn’t seem to hurt Emilio too much when he made his initial splash in the league…
That’s all well and good, but how about some context? First we compare/contrast Salihi with the player he’s been brought in to replace, Charlie Davies…
|click to enlarge|
Unsurprisingly, Davies is rated faster and with a slight edge in all-around attacking ability, though Salihi has the advantage in most other categories, indicating a more well-rounded and accomplished player, as you would expect given his age and experience. I do worry slightly that he doesn’t have the pace or movement to stretch and get behind defenses, but maybe being a more integrated part of the attack rather than the pointy end of the spear will make him more dangerous in other ways. Salihi certainly looks the type to thrive more on possession than on the counter.
Where things get really interesting is comparing Salihi to Maicon Santos…
|click to enlarge |
What jumps out immediately is that, despite the difference in footedness (left versus right) and Salihi’s mental and technical advantages, their attributes are remarkably similar in most other respects. That leads me to infer two things…
- Santos was likely the bargain-bin insurance policy in case we weren’t able to land Salihi.
- Olsen has clearly defined roles that he’s looking to fill and knows the types of players he wants in those roles in order to create the style of play he wants.
That second point is either comforting if you’re inclined to believe in Benny’s tactical nous or somewhat worrying if you’re looking at the inflexibility of last year’s outfit. Of course, given the limits imposed by last year’s roster and Benny’s limited experience as boss, that later bit might be unfair. Certainly the options this year look greater. What remains to be seen is if Benny can avail himself of them.
Next up, we’ll run the FM rule over Emiliano Dudar…