“Now we can concentrate on the league”; and Negotiate This

Suddenly, my first Master League season has gone the proverbial tits-up. I’m two-thirds of the way through the season and I am resolutely bottom of the league. I don’t think it’s possible for me to be more bottom of the league than I am right now. This is the most ideally bottom of the league I think I have ever been in any PES.

Here’s my record – it’s shocking. It’s something like Won 5, Drawn 7, Lost 3425. Goals for: 15. Goals against: 433,926. There is now no way I’ll be getting promoted in my first season.

It happened not long after the game where I scored the two wonder goals with Ruskin. I’m not superstitious enough to lay all the blame at Ruskin’s door. It’s not as if there’s some kind of set allocation of amazingness and good fortune that I used up all in one go with those two goals. I don’t think so, anyway…

Whereas previously I was holding my own and picking up solid results, all of a sudden I couldn’t score goals and I couldn’t prevent the CPU teams scoring goals against me.

The rot set in a few games before the mid-season negotiation period. I was eliminated from the Division 2 Cup. I lost the first leg at home 0-1, unluckily I thought, and drew the second leg 0-0. I was disappointed – but not too much. Being out of the Cup meant a few less games to tire my players while I went after the main objective – promotion. But I suddenly went on the mother of all losing streaks. I lost every game until the negotiation period.

Falling over that dividing line into the negotiation period was a great relief. Now, I thought, was the time to get my season back on track. Four new players was my target. I had 12000-odd points and my estimated end-of-season salary costs would be 9000-odd. I looked long and hard at my squad and knew that I should easily be able to trade in the dead wood, and even purchase some players outright with that spare couple of thousand points. I thought.

My first target was a certain player called Mathieu… I will write more about this PES phenomenon another time, probably when I finally get him. My PES Master Leagues only really seem to start when I get Mathieu.

In the first negotiation week (1 of 4) I tried to get Mathieu by trading Castolo. (No real loss to my team, as it has been a good few PESes since Castolo was really any good. I think PES3 was the last time, when he was called Castello.) Refused. The next week I tried to trade Gutierrez for Mathieu. Refused. In the third week I tried to buy Mathieu outright for 5000-odd points. Refused. In the final week I offered 7000 points, more than was sensible to risk a Game Over at season’s end for. Refused. Damn.

PES2008’s negotiation periods are affected by the team’s league position and overall prestige like no other before it. Being near the bottom of Division 2 (as I then was) perhaps counted against me. Whatever. I wasn’t too fussed, to be honest. While I was trying to snap up Mathieu I was also bidding for other players.

Which shouldn’t have been a problem, right? Wrong. I won’t recount all the gory details. To be honest I don’t really remember them. It was a case of Advanced Searching for medium-quality defenders, midfielders, and attackers (better by miles than any of my current squad) and placing a trade-in bid. All were refused.

By the last week of the negotiation period I had signed ZERO new players. I started to panic. I had a look at the Youth players under Search by Group, and saw three youngsters – 17-year-olds – whose key stats for their positions were almost all in the yellow or heading that way. I’ve got no chance of these, I thought, but I offered them contracts anyway.

Two of the three youth players were PES stalwarts: Schwarz and Shimizu. The other was some defender called Mattsson.

Luckily for me – I thought – they all accepted my contract offers. I went into the second half of the season with them in my squad. Having got rid of precisely zero players, I now had a somewhat bloated roster of about 30 players. Ouch. I’d easily be able to cover their wages at the end of the season – I’d spent nothing from my 12000 kitty, remember. And I could have lots of fun going for trade-ins all over the place in the full negotiation period.

But I still came out of the mid-season negotiation period thinking I had completely wasted it. Schwarz and Shimizu notwithstanding.

I put all three youngsters straight into my First XI. Here’s the new line-up:
I dropped Iouga and moved Jaric to DMF. Zamenhof is actually a better keeper than Ivarov, so he went in. I brought in Baumann at CB as well. Mattsson went straight into the other CB slot. Shimizu fits in nicely as the right-sided AMF, and can play as a nippy CF on the right when called for. Schwarz is a natural CF, and currently belongs in the centre, in my opinion. I’ll try him out on the left in a few seasons’ time.

The new boys have done me no good. 17-year-olds have poor stamina. Schwarz and Shimizu play perhaps one game in three. Mattsson is a different prospect. He plays one full game in two, on average – he’s also pretty good, mopping up and clearing balls far more than any of my other CBs are capable of doing. Mattsson is actually the pick of the three right now.

Shimizu and Schwarz are too easily shrugged off the ball, too easily tackled, too easily outpaced. Neither have scored a goal as yet. Shimizu has one assist. Coventry City have plunged to the bottom of Division 2 and are going to stay there until the end of the season.

Regardless, I am still playing the three 17-year-olds in every game I can. It’ll bulk out their stats and hopefully give them a flying start to the next season, when they’ll be 18 and just starting to really show their potential.

So the first season is mostly a write-off. I have about eight games left to play. Now it’s just a matter of getting to the end, having a great negotiation period, and starting again.

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