The end of season 2018 saw me 9 points clear at the top of the table with three games to go. My goal difference was a lot better than Valencia’s, the second-placed team. So even if I lost all three games (which would never happen anyway, not even to me, an average sort of PES player) the title was guaranteed to be mine regardless. As expected, I won the next game—game 28—and Valenica could only draw. And that was that. I’d won the League. Hoo-rah…
It’s only my third or fourth Championship (I think), so I’d be entitled to feel very happy with it. And I do feel very happy with it. Really I do. But… the whole season has felt like a bit of an anti-climax. I was knocked out of the Division 1 Cup in the first round, ending my hopes for a Treble. That was disappointing, but I had the chance of a great consolation prize: to finish the season unbeaten in the league. That gave me hope of securing something remarkable from this season, but the run came to an end recently with defeat at the hands of the division’s bottom club. So I can’t quite shake a feeling of ‘could’ve done better’. I suppose I’ll just have to rectify matters in season 2019…
Before I get to that, though, there’s the trifling matter of a European Cup final to deal with. My opponents were Lazio. I don’t think I’ve played them at all yet in this career. Actually, I’ve just checked back through the archives and I definitely haven’t played them yet. (I have played Lazio in PES2008, but it was in that other version of PES2008 that we don’t like to talk about.)
Lazio were staggeringly good. Even for a souped-up team playing in a cup final (the CPU team is always souped-up), Lazio delivered possibly the single best performance against me from any CPU team. They were faster, stronger, and yes, they were luckier. I can’t really make my traditional complaint about scripting per se. Once again I think my defensive failings in this match were mostly of my own making. But all match it seemed at times that Lazio’s players were immune to tackling—or, if they were tackled, then my players would mysteriously walk away a few paces and stop dead while the CPU player recovered his wits and the ball and raced away with it… Words cannot do justice to the sense of injustice I feel whenever this happens.
But anyway. Lazio were brilliant and the non-tackling issue was relatively minor in comparison. They took the lead, I equalised, then I took the lead—it was 2-1 to me at half-time. I was pretty comfortably holding them at bay. The second half started with a hurricane of incessant Lazio attacks. I still held out, but inevitably buckled towards the end, just when the finishing line was coming into sight. Gutted. 2-2, and looking like extra time. Then I made a schoolboy error.
A Lazio striker broke through my defence out on the right wing and headed in toward goal. I should know better, but I advanced my keeper by pressing Triangle. For a couple of versions now, there’s been a fault when advancing your keeper at an angle towards an attacker. The keeper makes a beeline toward where the ball was at the start of your Triangle-pressing, ignoring the CPU player’s continued run. This leaves a massive gap that the CPU player can hardly fail to score into. That’s what happened here.
2-3 to Lazio in the 90th minute. There was hardly time to restart. I had a token run down their wing, lost the ball, and the final whistle went. Ouch. This one hurt.
After the disappointment of losing the European Cup final I took my eye off the ball in league game 29, and lost 0-1 to Recreativo de Huelva. That meant I’d lost two games all season. Disappointing, but with the unbeaten record already gone, it wasn’t disastrous. I rallied for the final game of the season and trounced Deportivo la Coruna 6-0. My strikers ran riot. Andy Cole got a hat-trick, Giggs got two, and Kim Cyun Hi got the remainder.
My end-of-season record in the league is a pretty healthy one. I finished 1st with 74 points from thirty games. I won 23 games, drew 5 games, and lost 2 games (grrr). I scored 74 goals and conceded 24 goals, giving me a goal difference of +50. Now that’s pretty good—Valencia, the next-best team in the whole division, had a goal difference of around +18 at the end of the season. If I could just tighten up at the back a bit—in all competitions—I might well get into that ‘Treble every year’ zone where I want to be. We’ll see how it goes.
Next up is the pre-season 2019 negotiations period. With the seasons passing, it’s time to start making some plans for the future. I’ll be visiting the Youth list. And I’ll also be rearranging my First XI. It’s time to make some tough decisions.