FM Scouting: Hamdi Salihi

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

  1. Santos was likely the bargain-bin insurance policy in case we weren’t able to land Salihi.
  2. 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…


  1. "but it’s certainly a better resource than YouTube clips and the aforementioned Europa League highlights, isn’t it?"

    Yes, yes it is. Looking forward to Dudar...

  2. How many times have we said in the last two seasons "DC dominates possession, but has few shots on goal, and eventually succumbs to second half pressure." I swear I've read a homage to that sentence at least a hundred times.

    We were something of a counter attacking team, but I'm sure Salihi will be able to keep up with Najar and the rest if given a positional head start.

    As for Santos' similarity to Hamdi, that's kind of a given. I'm not sure what the problem is with having two skilled, physical guys.

    1. No problem implied; I was just surprised by how much their FM stats lined up. (not sure how their similarity is a "given," however)

      As to your first point, I agree. Last year's counterattacking style was forced by injuries to key personnel and the need to shore up the instability at the back. With a deeper, healthier back line and midfield, we should see a return to a more possession-based style, and that will be exactly the type of play that should benefit the likes of Salihi.

    2. Dudar's rumored long-range passing ability will also help as far as possession goes. If teams have to worry about him pinging a defense-breaking pass after a spell of seemingly harmless possession, they'll back off even if we don't have notable pace up front (especially since they'll still have to cope with Najar and Pontius coming from deeper spots). That means more space to play in the midfield.

  3. Another thought -- I'd be curious to see Brettschneider compared to Hamdi and Santos. I have a feeling he might be similar -- a concentrically shrunken diagram -- rather than of lesser quality but offering different strengths.

    I'm hoping that Jerome sticks (as Brettschneider's replacement), because it seems worth having a guy whose strength is his speed as a bench option, even if he's fourth choice.

    1. Sadly Brettschneider has a typical MLS rookie's stats in FM (ie. almost entirely un-fleshed out save for a couple of stats -- in this case decent finishing and movement -- suggested by what few appearances the player has made).

      Agreed on Jerome. Attacks should be like Swiss Army knives -- plenty of options.

  4. ill tell you which are right. good finisher, decent technique, amazing finisher, slow with his feet, outstanding finisher, lack of pace. did i mention hes a good finisher?

  5. Can we use this tool to do future posts on trialists like Jerome and Richter and the 2 unnamed Brazilians? I like it.... I use FIFA to look at play ratings when possible.... But the side by side comparison is nice

    1. It might work for Jerome and the Brazilians, as they're more likely to have been scouted/rated by SI's network of spies. Young Americans with entirely domestic careers coming out of college don't usually have specific/researched enough ratings to be useful (see also: my comments above vis-a-vis Brettschneider and White).

    2. The game is high on certain collegiate players, though - I'm using FM 2011, so maybe the ratings are a little out of date, but it seems to love Will Bruin and, to a lesser extent, Corey Hertzog.

      The reports don't exactly seem to come out of nowhere, either, even if they aren't precise. It makes something out of Perry Kitchen's mental attributes even though it seems to not rate him all that highly overall. Korb is relatively quick and not all that athletic. Another Akronite, Ampaipitakwong, is rated as quick, creative, and liable to be bullied around. So where we might disagree with the game in terms of the degree to which a player is/isn't good, it seems to have the "story" on the players more or less in line with irl scouting reports.

    3. You're right to an extent.

      Some of the more high-profile players have more fleshed-out ratings. Most, however, are pretty sparse. Take the example of the player asked about: Ryan Richter. He's got a grand total of one attribute specified (finishing: 11). While his size, birthdate, current/potential ability, and positions are also there, that's not a whole lot to use for the sake of comparison. Most of his attributes will be randomly generated at game start-up with guidance from his current ability + position.

      Hard for that to be useful as a basis for comparison, and I suspect that this is going to be the case for most domestic-based trialists. That said, I'll keep scouring the database as the names appear, and I certainly won't hesitate to pull the trigger if I find useful information.