FM13 Wolves: Summer of ’31

Welcome to another article on my Wolves side. I’m going to wrap everything into this post, including my youth development update. It’s been a bit of an exciting season and I’m getting into the save and into the game more with every passing day (week/month/season). However, the season before was a bit of a tricky one in that lots of trainees got injured and I got a bit disillusioned with the game so holidayed the majority of the season. This worked a treat and as the squad regained health and fitness over the Summer, so did my motivation to play. If ever you’re struggling to remain interested in your save game, it’s worked for me. Just make sure you control the transfer windows, wouldn’t want your assistant manager selling that young 5* PA striker.

Basically, keep in mind that the youth development update is effectively Year Four and that Year Three has been skipped.

I suppose a good place to start would be to tell you about the season that just unfolded. Well, it was a bit of a goodie. Those of you who follow me on Twitter (plug: will know that I managed to bag myself a six-trophy haul, or a sextuple, for the first time in any Football Manager game. I was understandably delighted despite missing out on the magical ‘win every competition you possibly can’ mark of seven. However, I found this particularly interesting given the tactical shift I made in the year, from a 4-2-2-2, to a more regular 4-4-2. I’ll talk more about this later on.

The first thing I’ll do is the Year Four youth development update as it’ll lead into my thinking later on in the post. We’ve had some excellent progression from lots of players.

Gheorghe Petrea (RB, Full Back, aka #2)

Starting Screenshot:
Year Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot (fully developed):

Wow. I’m not quite sure what to say about this lad, really. Having been a first-team regular for such a long period of time I was always sure he’d develop into a really good player but he’s arguably my best player in his own role. He’s an absolute defensive rock and has been moulded for the Full Back – Support role just as I imagined. As my left-back (I have two left wing-backs of very high quality offensively) is usually the more attacking threat, it’s up to Petrea quite often to sit back and form part of the defensive unit alongside the deep-lying playmaker and two central defenders. And he does this bloody well, 19 marking, 19 tackling, 20 positioning, 18 anticipation. The only slight let down is the 14 concentration although I’m sure I can forgive him.

Equally though Petrea can attack if need be and with his 17 decisions, it’s almost always the right call to do so when he does decide it’s necessary. He’s then got the pace (16), acceleration (15), work rate (17) and stamina (19) to make sure he actually makes it back to ensure we have nice quick defensive transitions and aren’t vulnerable on the counter-attack.

It was a wonderful season for Petrea, individually and as a team. Obviously he played a massive part in all of the trophies, racking up 55 starts and 2 sub appearances – more than any other outfield player (next was Senegal with 44(3)). This was because he often filled in at central defender when we were up against the less challenging sides and a CB comfortable on the ball was required. These performances led to recognition on an individual basis; of the ten months the award was handed out, Petrea won Premier League Young Player of the Month on half (5) of those occasions. He was in the top three twice more. After the season was over, he was named in the Premier League Team of the Season as one of three Wolves’ representatives, with a final league average rating of 7.55. I’ve rambled on a bit here, but the sky’s the limit.

Mohammad Tran (CB, Central Defender, aka #5)

Year One Screenshot:
Year Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot (developed):

The last two years have been a bit odd for Mohammad Tran. Whilst he’s hardly actually developed as a player, he has been given a chance in the first-team. He originally got a go under the assistant manager last year during my holiday and played well. Given the £51m sale of previous CB, Fred, Tran needed to step up, and did. He’s been a first team regular for a while now and with quite a few injuries last season, he managed an impressive 42 starts for an average rating of 7.80. However, this average rating is inflated by his potency from corner kicks (he got nine goals for the campaign).

Whilst still having little improvements to make, as an out-and-out central defender, Tran is pretty much developed. His main gains over the past two years have been mentally, which is obviously very important for a central defender. His rise in composure, concentration and decisions are the particularly important ones.

He’s unlikely to ever be a superstar, but he’s developed into a more than solid squad player which I’m very happy with.

Suat Ates (CB, Central Defender, aka #5)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

At a few years younger than Tran, Ates is on track to follow along a similar path. As my starting two centre backs age (now both 27), Ates won’t be long away from the first-team. He spent this year out on loan at Nurnburg where he was excellent, with an average rating of 7.45 from 32 league games (and not inflated by goals, given his tally of 0). Unfortunately he won’t be able to go out on loan this year as I managed him fairly poorly previously – I’ve allowed him to have 9 jumping at the age of 20 which is a pretty unforgivable error. But I’ll learn from this and hopefully be able to make up for it by really working on it this year. If he does well he might even get himself the odd cup game. Aside from jumping there really isn’t too much to work on before he’s first team ready.

Andoni Galindo (CM, Defensive Midfielder, aka #4)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

As referenced in the first two updates, Galindo had always been one of my top trainees. And given his progression since that time, he’s proven my sentiments were correct. However, Galindo was a high-risk investment due to his poor personality and injury prone nature. After some heavy periods of tutoring, Galindo is now resolute in personality and *touch wood* his injuries haven’t hit him hard yet, with a six week knee ligament strain the worst of his struggles.

But it’s all worked out bloody excellently; his attributes have improved no-end. At one point, despite his reasonable passing, Galindo was in danger of becoming a one-dimensional ball recycler. However, he’s slowly morphing into the perfect DLP-D, a vital part of the 4-4-2. He’s able to break up play, and pick out almost any pass that he wants to. Now a natural CM to slot into my flat midfield four, Galindo often does drop in behind the others and dictates the tempo of the game. However, he’s bloody excellent at it. Honestly, I can’t think of a player like him in real world football right now, he’s so excellent with and without the ball.

Obviously all this means Galindo has been getting into the team more lately. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much my assistant manager played him in the 2029-30 season, and I kept things going this year. Whilst he’s yet to be recognised properly on an individual basis in terms of awards, it’s only a matter of time. He’s also become a regular in the Spanish national team which is obviously something of a standard bearer for central midfielders across the world.

But he’s not yet fully developed. More improvements to be made here. He’s made steady improvements in his composure over the last year but I’d like to get that to at least 15 by the time he’s completely done. A small improvement in his marking wouldn’t go amiss to, and I’d love love love to get him to 20 positioning. We shall see.

Mirko Tesic (CM, Defensive Midfielder, aka #4)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

I feel a bit bad when looking at Mirko Tesic’s profile because due to a lack of first-team football he hasn’t really progressed as I’d hoped. There’s very little to say about him for that very reason. Hopefully he’ll get more first team action this year as a backup to Galindo, as his attributes suggest he’s more than capable. Plus, with 9 appearances for Serbia, it’s about time he got some for club. There is still hope.

Maxime Teixeira (CM, B2B Midfielder, aka #6)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

Those of you who have been following from the beginning know that Maxime Teixeira has always been my favourite trainee of the lot due to his inhumanely high potential. His attributes are beginning to justify the praise. However, the main issue with Teixeira is that he’s a jack of all trades and master of none. This may seem a harsh criticism of an eighteen year old but having now appeared in the first team over fifty times in his Wolves career, I’d be hoping for a tad more. He lacks the flair to play as and Advanced Playmaker and the off the ball to play as a Deep Lying Playmaker. He doesn’t have the end product to become a proper Box To Box midfielder, either. As a result, he’s often be stuck in as either the DLP-D in Galindo’s absence, or as a CM-S alongside him.

This year, he’ll get even more first team action in a bid to change that. He’s never going to be the Yaya Toure style specimen that I originally hoped of him, because of his lack of physical potential. But technically and mentally, Teixiera has the potential to be the best I’ve ever seen. His flair has risen from 3 to 7 and will hopefully end up at around 12, where his other attributes would mean he’d be an excellent AP. Then, there is potential for off the ball to rise to a similar sort of level, however, this isn’t vital for me given he’s unlikely to be the deepest lying of the two central midfielders with Galindo and Tesic about. I’d also very much like the option of using him as a Box to Box midfielder with his central midfield partner sitting alongside and dictating the tempo. Therefore, I’ll be working on his end product, too.

It’s promising that Galindo has turned into such a good player at 20, given that Teixiera at 18 is a much better player than the Spaniard was at the same age. And with even more gametime this year, there’s far more to come.

Louis Rousset (CM, Deep Lying Playmaker, aka #6)

Year One Screenshot:
Year Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot (developed):

It’s a bit harsh on Rousset in that in most generations of my Wolves side, he’d have been a fairly integral part of the team. However, at 24, and after four loans in four seasons, it’s hard to see where he’s going to fit given the emergence of Galindo as the ‘all-in-one’ deep lying playmaker. Daniel Santa Cruz, my 34 year old central midfielder, had been the main barrier to the first team for Rousset, but there’s now too many obstacles to avoid. I’ll be looking to develop him as far as I can and then to regain as much cash as possible. By my estimations based on his transfer fee and wages, we’d need to fetch around £15m to make a profit. Very doable.

Marcio (AMR, Winger, aka #7)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

Despite again contending with the previously mentioned Remy Maurel for a starting spot, Marcio has held him own and on occasion, got a run of fairly regular games going. With 15 assists for the year, he’s more and more becoming the supply man that’s required of him from the Winger – Attack role in my 4-4-2. He was named European Golden Boy last year for his good performances under my assistant manager and continued that into the new year. I’m getting bored of rambling on about these lot so I won’t go into detail about his past and future training regimes, but will discuss him in more depth once he’s fully developed next year. Hopefully he can play an even bigger role in the team this year.

Loic Furlan (AML/C, Advanced Playmaker, aka #8/#11)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

In my last update, Loic Furlan was somebody that I was talking about as having very little chances to prove to me that he was worth pursuing in the long-term. However, I did end up giving him a new contract, but after that I gave him very little thought. My assistant manager hardly played him and I was convinced that was it. This year, he was shipped out on loan to Saint-Ettiene, and was magnificent. He was MoTM in every three games he played, whilst scoring and assisting regularly. Finishing with a final average rating of 7.69, I was suitably impressed.

But then I had a look at his attributes, and I was even more amazed. There were big improvements in certain areas, but small (yet important) improvements in the key areas. He’s developed into a really, really good player. If I could do my time with Furlan again, I’d almost certainly avoid loaning him out at such a young age. Despite his strong personality and high determination, kids that young don’t usually appear to respond well to a loan, particularly outside of their home country. However, my faith in the loan system has certainly been restored by this Saint-Ettiene deal, and I’m delighted by it.

Furlan will take his place in the first team next year to add to the competition of the central midfielders. He’ll also get a few games on the left-hand side of midfield as he’s got all the attributes to do an excellent job their as a backup (the only issue is his poor left foot). I’m hoping for similar gains this year.

Luca Giordano (AMC/ST, Deep Lying Forward, aka #8/#10)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

I mentioned previously that Luca Giordano would be one of the main guys to lose out from my getting rid of the #10 from my system. And in a way, he has. However, he’s also becoming a really good deep lying forward and for that, he gets the odd cup game. There’s heaps of potential there, and whilst there isn’t a lot to say about him right now, there will be in the next few years. Looking forward to this kid’s development.

Alain N’Dioro (AML, Inside Forward, aka #11)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

It’s becoming ever less likely that Alain N’Dioro will break into the first team. When the side operated with a 4-2-2-2, an inside forward on the left made perfect sense as the man on the right was almost always a playmaker. However, as we move to a flat 4-4-2, there appears to be less of a role for N’Dioro.

I’d love to see him force his way in, as he’s one of the few completely natural Wolves’ homegrown talent in that he’s not bought from another club. However, it’ll be very difficult.

David Barnes (ST, Advanced Forward, aka #9)

Year One Screenshot:
Year Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot (fully developed):

It’s been a whirlwind few years for David Barnes. Since the last update, he’s become something of a first-team regular. That’s mainly because of his versatility. He can operate as a #9, or as a #10, and even appeared on the left-wing on occasion when we reverted to our 4-2-2-2 for easier home matches. He hasn’t become the physical specimen I was hoping for, but he’s still not particularly bad at football.

His contributions led to a nomination for the Balon D’or, an award he actually finished second in, bizarrely. Whilst I disagree that he should been anywhere near the top two, it is testament to his excellent performances. As I consider my options for the squad overhaul in the Summer, Barnes is likely to play a big part in my decisions. More on that to come.

Victor Saldana (ST, Advanced Forward, aka #9)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

Not much to report on Saldana. A promising talent, he featured in the first team a fairly large amount whilst here, but spent last season on loan at Stade Rennais alongside Gilles Blanc. He was fantastic there, gaining the Assists title, and his versatility means that he might get a good run in the first team. However, there’ll be more on that later in this update – he’s got a lot of competition on for minutes.

Gilles Blanc (ST, Advanced Forward, aka #9)

Year One & Two Screenshot:
Year Four Screenshot:

Blanc is in a very similar position to Sandana so I won’t discuss him too much, but I will go into more detail in his duel for minutes later in this post. Blanc went on loan to Stade Rennais with Saldana, and also performed really well, despite not quite as good as the Frenchman.

– – – – –

Well, that’s quite enough of that. Player development in FM has interested me more and more lately but tactics will always be the most interesting part of the game for me so I’d like to dedicate some time to that, as well as squad management.

However, for this article, I’ll only give a brief outline of the way I play because I’m considering a more in-depth 4-4-2 analysis at a later date.

Illustrated above are my three tactics. Being the incredibly logical person that I am, I appear to have put them in the wrong order, hence the labelling. The 4-4-2 has very much been my default formation for the majority of the season, with the other two being considered on special occasions.

Here’s a very brief analysis of what’s going on in each tactic:

Primary Approach

The much-maligned flat 4-4-2 has worked a treat for me this year. Having had lots of success with the 4-2-2-2, I decided to make the switch when looking at the defensive phase of play. The two wider midfielders weren’t tracking back as much as I’d hoped, despite their relatively reasonable mentalities. This meant the defensive shape was often more of a 4-2-1-3 with the deep-lying forward acting as the ‘1’ whilst the advanced forward and two wingers had a nice cup of tea.

In the new system, there’s much more defensive work for the wide players, even with the attacking duties. They’ll sit much deeper and move forward, rather than starting at a higher position and having to drop deeper (which in reality didn’t even happen). This means that defensively we act as a 4-4-1-1 with the advanced forward doing relatively little, but the deep-lying forward doing more than his fair share of pressing. If I’m playing against a side that likes to retain possession of the ball then I’ll often ask my DLF to man-mark the opposition defensive midfielder, if I consider them a threat. This is what I’d do if I were up against modern day Barcelona or Bayern Munich, for example, with Busquets and Martinez the targeted men respectively.

Offensively, there isn’t nearly as much complex tactical insight as I’ve used in the past, but it utilises my best players, which is the key to any tactic. Often, despite not having a right-footed player at left-back anymore (Nicolas Dalmolin RIP :(), I’ll still use an Inverse Wing Back to underlap the winger. This is mainly because my main left-wing option, Alan Correa, is very much a touchline-hugging wide midfielder who swings crosses into the box. Therefore, to provide the inward threat from the left hand-side, I use my left back. The threat from the right is even more simple in that it’s simple a winger with a supporting full-back in behind him if necessary. If he takes a man on but finds it difficult to get a ball into the box (which he shouldn’t, as the LM and AF are usually there to apply a finishing touch), then the DLF, AP and RB are there to recycle possession.

In the centre of midfield, the roles are extremely flexible. The combination changes almost every game, depending on the players in the roles mainly, but also due to; the opposition, the rest of the team (ie. do I need to provide an attacking threat from the centre of midfield?) and occasionally, the weather conditions. My favoured combination is the DLP-D & AP-S combo, though. The previously mentioned Andoni Galindo is one of my options in this role, as well as Daniel Santa Cruz. They play the role very differently, with Galindo very much a ball-winner whereas Santa Cruz is far more likely to regain possession from good positioning rather than a tackle. Next to them are Ridiger Sadiku and Maxime Teixiera as the potential options. Sadiku is arguably the best player at the club, but is a converted #10, so will often be more of a threat from central midfield in an AP-A role. However, this means the rest of the team needs to adjust around him. I’d more than likely use a more defensive player at RM, perhaps my backup RB, Gregory Morel. I’d then switch the Winger – Attack to a more conservative Wide Midfielder – Support. To still allow for a threat from the right, I’d then strongly consider changing Gheorghe Petrea into a Full Back – Attack to provide an overlapping option.

When in possession, the DLP-D will often drop in behind the rest of the midfield three who almost form a protective barrier against unrushing opponents. This allows Galindo or Santa Cruz to pick out any pass they wish and dictate the game. When the DLF drops deep (as they inevitably do with a support duty), the DLP-D has nine potential passing options available, or perhaps even ten if the AF-A’s movement is good. Obviously a number of these will be blocked off from strong opposition defensive organisation, so it’s up to the DLP to pick the right man, which he generally does.

Secondary Approach

I won’t talk for too long about this one because it’s fairly similar to my primary approach. I’ll only use this approach if I’m at home and confident that I can win, where a big victory is on the cards. If the opposition perform well and by half-time it’s proving to be a tighter game than I expected, then we’ll often revert to the primary 4-4-2.

The defensive organisation and its weaknesses were outlined above. However, the attacking style is slightly different. Obviously, with two conservative central midfielders, they’re unlikely to provide much of a threat. This means the majority of the attacking play comes from the four attackers, and on occasion, the left back.

The strikers are set up in a particular way to interact with the fluid attacking midfielders. Keep in mind that if a more attacking player were to start on the left, say David Barnes, then the roles could be switched. This would mean also switching the role of the strikers so that the DLF is always alongside the IF. This is because as the IF makes marauding runs inside, he’ll have the AF cannoning onwards on the far side of the pitch, and the DLF nearby to offer a short five-yard pass and potentially a one-two to unlock the defense.

Tertiary Approach

Now this one is a bit more unique. I’m a really big fan of the shape, and it even works well within the match engine, but I really need to give it more gametime before I start calling it Plan B, let alone Plan A. The idea behind it came from wanting a tactic with a) a proper #10, b) two strikers and c) four at the back as a base. I achieved two and a half of these things, as the pedantic among you will argue it’s not four at the back, I’m sure.

A happy side affect of this was that it became a very handy backup tactic, as it’s very different to the other two. The left back drops back whilst the opposition have the ball but pushes on high up the pitch in possession. The left central defender is a stopper, meaning he has a slightly higher mentality than a CD-D, and even moreso than a CD-C, which is what I’ve allocated to the RCB. This means that as the left wingback bombs on down the left, the LCB will push across due to his higher mentality, and the RCB will be slightly further behind him to form the middle CB of a back three with the FB-S at right back providing defensive help.

Now, I hear you ask, why did you decide you wanted four at the back when in reality it’s just morphing into a three at the back shape anyway? Well, what I learned from the whole 4-2-2-2/4-4-2 situation was that the shape you set on the tactics screen on Football Manager is actually the defensive shape the side will take (with the exception of a DLF-S which is a fantastic role). Particularly if you use a fluid system such as I do, when attacking, the players will often interchange and the shape you select originally means very little – movement is the key in attack. So, I guess what I’m trying to say here is think about base position on the pitch as the defensive shape and then decide a player’s role and duty based on their attacking contribution. Even a Libero – Attack, for example, will sit in behind the defensive line in the defensive phase of play, but then break forward once the team regains possession. This is much the same for the likes of a [Complete] Wingback – Attack.

As well as this, one thing I’ve been really encouraged by with this tactic is the interplay between the left back and the DLF. A hardworking DLF is absolutely key to this tactic, as in the defensive phase he will often drop back as deep as LM to cover for the vacant space the LWB leaves as he also drops deep. What a good chap that DLF is. In the attacking phase he’ll link up with various different players and then bomb on into the box, arriving late and cleaning up anything that goes wrong. Champ.

– – – – –

The Summer of ’31: Squad Management

Now that I’ve explained to you my tactics and some of the younger players I have coming through, I feel as if now is the time to explain what I do every Summer using practical examples. It’s a bit of an odd Summer in that I won six trophies last year but there’s so many talented young players coming through that I can’t afford to simply rest on my laurels.

The first thing I’ll be doing is deciding which young players will be pushing for the first team or rotational unit this year. Gheorghe Petrea is excluded from this as he’s already a first-team regular, but all of the others mentioned at the beginning of this post were either rotational players or less. I’ll be looking to make the following changes this year:

Suat Ates – trainee to backup.
Andoni Galindo – rotational player to first-team regular.
Mirko Tesic – backup to rotational player.
Loic Furlan – trainee to rotational player.
Luca Giordano – trainee to backup.
Victor Saldana OR Gilles Blanc – trainee to backup.

This results in a depth chart as follows:

I’d like to note now that I’ve made no sales or incoming transfers yet this season. This means that I currently have exactly the same set of players as last year. Having upgraded the six players outlined above, I’ve now got some sort of reasonable depth – as you may be able to tell, we struggled at times last season due to injuries and fitness issues.

When looking at the depth chart, the first thing I realise is that I need a backup right-back. That’s doable. I’ll have to bring in a trainee.

The next thing to note is the left midfield slot, and in particular the secondary options ‘Furlan/Barnes’. I’ve put the two of them in here because the left midfield slot is the one that gets messed around with more than any other position in my team. This is partly because Alan Correa is an out-and-out winger, and therefore doesn’t suit my attacking 4-2-2-2 style. It’s also because on the tertiary option I decided I’d just get rid of my left midfielder altogether! Therefore, Furlan represents the option for when the left midfield is shifted into the #10 slot, and Barnes is the preferred option for the second midfield 2 in the 4-2-2-2 (although Furlan is also an option here too). Emir Sen simply represents a backup 4-4-2 midfielder, as does Gregory Morel on the other side. I’ve mentioned the importance of creating contrast in your squad before, and these two full-backs being able to push on and play as wide midfielders is particularly helpful when playing against sides with good wingbacks. In short, no further action required here.

However, one area I do have to sort out is the strikers as there’s a bit of a clusterfuck going on there. There’s two main issues though: 1) there’s no space for Luca Giordano, who I suggested would become a backup player, and 2) Well, Saldana or Blanc?

I’ll address the second issue first as it’s a simple comparison issue. From a quick comparison of their attributes, I can instantly see that Saldana is much better technically, and slightly better mentally. Blanc’s far superior physically though, and could provide something very interesting as a rotation player in the future. However, with my current depth of strikers, now is not the time. Saldana in!

Now, Luca Giordano. The first thing I’d like to note is that, if at all possible, it’s best to have five people competing for two spots rather than six. This is why the victor of Saldana/Blanc slots as the backup into the DLF and AF roles, and not just the AF role, whilst putting Giordano in as DLF backup. I find, when I have a complete set of players for each role, that the backup players get basically no gametime, and whilst that doesn’t matter if they’re a genuine backup, it does if you’re trying to develop them into a first team regular. So what I really want to do here is give Giordano the slot as backup ‘striker’. However, considering I’ve just suggested Saldana is in, we can’t remove him from the depth chart. So one of Rosiley, Barnes, Nouri and Senegal must go. I immediately remove Rosiley from discussions as he’s quite easily my best out-and-out DLF, and as I talked about earlier, that’s vital for my tertiary tactic. I can then count out Barnes due to his age, versatility and rounded-nature. This leaves Hamza Nouri and Senegal – a horrendous choice to have to make. I don’t want to get this one wrong so I’ll go into a bit more detail, but the new striker depth chart looks something like this:

This shows the reality of it all, whoever comes out more favourably in my AF comparison will be kept on as the club’s top striker. The loser will be sold, most probably for a record club free received. At this point I feel it’s important to note that I’m doing my club overhaul and sales as early as possible. Having finished my season on 31 May 2031, it’s now the 1 June and I’m already looking to make changes. Why? Well, after winning the Champions League, or even simply competing in the final, your players receive a temporary (or permanent in some cases) reputation boost. This means their values shoot up, even if they haven’t gotten any better at football. For a fully developed player, this can often result in a value increase of up to £5m. Mohammad Tran was Man of the Match in the final, and his value ended up increasing by a humungous £12.5m in the space of a day. It’s a small one, but it can make you lots of money. Keep it in mind.

Hamza Nouri vs. Senegal: Player Comparisons

The first thing I go to is always the information comparison. This basically compares all the basics, such as height, weight, age, wage etc. And in it, Hamza Nouri comes out on top. He has a better record internationally (albeit with Belgium rather than Brazil), is younger, and has a smaller, longer contract. A good start for the club’s number nine.

The next thing to go for is the attribute comparison. And the obvious first four I always look at when comparing advanced forwards is the magical goalscoring four of finishing, anticipation, composure and off the ball. In the four of those, Senegal has an overall advantage of +5 which is a not insignificant amount. This is mainly down to his superior anticipation and points towards Senegal being a better out-and-out striker.

Below this on the list is the physicals. Not much to say here that isn’t already illustrated from the picture above – Senegal is one of the best physical strikers I’ve seen on any FM and he dwarfs Nouri in almost all areas.

However, Nouri has slightly more luck in the ‘miscellaneous yet could be valuable’ attribute stakes: heading, passing, decisions and work rate being the keys here. When you play a 4-4-2 system, you’ve got to have hard workers, and Nouri personifies that. Despite being a technically excellent striker, he also works extremely hard for the team, something Senegal doesn’t seem to appreciate. In almost all areas here, Nouri comes out on top.

Now, the problem with a lot of player analyses I see is that they often stop here. That’s a mistake. If you’ve got two similar players that play in the same role in the same system then you’ve got to compare their on-field stats, surely?! It’s difficult to compare the stats of players from different clubs as they usually play completely different systems, but that’s not the case here.

Now, a quick scan across this will tell you that Nouri and Senegal are very, very similar footballers. Nouri has a slight edge in some areas such as assists and pass completion (%) but not enough to make a real difference in an analysis such as this. However, all it takes is for you to spot one thing to really make a difference and that’s what happened for me. Pick it out.

Yep, that’s right, it’s the number of shots taken per game. Senegal has nearly double the number of shots on target that Nouri does. Incredible. However, his number of shots on target isn’t nearly double Nouri’s, suggesting he’s far more inefficent. This is something I’d been noticing in games but didn’t have any evidence to back up until now. If anything, this illustrates to me that actually, I should probably do more regular check ups on the players stats and that I have an overreliance on the analysis tool.

For me, this is enough to swing it, and Senegal will be the one to go, despite smashing the club’s all-time goals in a season record by 31 goals (38 to 69) in his first year at the club. Nouri and Senegal are extremely similar and so for Senegal to be gifting possession away so cheaply is just not on. As Pep Guardiola says, “there’s only one ball”.


  1. Abi

    Hi Ed, how did you manage to get hold to these brilliant youngster anyway? Did you sign them through another league youth intake, or did these guys came through your youth ranks?

    Cheers mate.

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