Manager League Mode

It’s time to get into FIFA09’s career mode in a big way. I’ve had my few getting-to-know-you weeks. I’ve also spent several days playing PES2009 just to see if things could be like they were between me and PES again (no, they can’t—not at the moment, anyway). It’s time to put my money where my mouth is. Time to walk the walk. I’m heading into Manager Mode, or as I will try to make it: Manager League Mode.

This name reflects that I will be playing with House Rules designed to make the experience as much like PES’s Master League as possible. I know—it’s absolutely crazy that the PES career mode is more realistic in many ways than its supposedly fully-licensed, official, FIFA equivalent, but there you go. Life’s not obliged to be consistent.

I’ll expand on my House Rules for Manager Mode over the coming days and weeks. They’re not that complex. There’ll be no consulting a rulebook every time I want to make a substitution. Most of my House rules will limit my coaching staff upgrades and my acquisition of new players on the transfer market. After 4 seasons in my Manager Mode career on FIFA08, I had Michael Owen, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Jesus Navas playing up front for Coventry City. I won’t let that happen this year.

I’ll be playing again as Coventry City on the PlayStation3 version of the game. Yes, the PS3—the console with the dreaded through-ball bug. It’s still not patched. Doubtless I’ll be moaning my head off incessantly about it until it is patched. I have noticed fewer issues since I switched to manual through-balls, but it’s early days.

I’ve mostly played FIFA09 so far on the Xbox360. The game is—just slightly—a better game on the 360. Better graphics, and better overall pace. Just better. Sadly, my 360 would seem to be on its last legs (after just 14 months, and relatively little use) and it’s not reliable enough for me to trust it. I have little enough time as it is. Constantly restarting after freezes and crashes is not something I can be bothered with.

I’ve been playing as Atletico Madrid in the Spanish league on the 360. I’ve just finished my first season and ended up in 4th place. The whole season was played on Professional difficulty. Early on I switched from all-Assisted controls to a mixed bag of semi-manual, manual, and assisted. This instantly made the game harder for me without having to change the difficulty level.

It turned out to be a rollercoaster of a season. Going over to semi-manual shooting in particular saw my goals dry up, and I slipped down the table. I rallied toward the end of the season and but for a few poor performances I might even have challenged for the title in the closing weeks.

What can I say about my Atletico players? I’ve loved playing with them. Forlan. Aguero. Maxi Rodriguez. And quite a few more. I think I’ve loved this season with Atletico so much because it’s been one of discovery for me. I taught myself how to shoot straight without the game helping me so much. Semi-manual shooting makes even the most straightforward goal something that you really have to work for. For example, this goal—

—is the quintessence of a bread and butter goal. But when using a manual through-ball, and semi-manual shooting, I was grinning as if I’d just netted a 40-yard screamer. The ordinary can feel that good in FIFA09. I can’t wait to see how my Coventry City career shapes up.


  1. First one to comment and this time it should be serious. Nice goal, if I should say. For a video game, I guess, it would not be considered as fantastic. We have been blessed over the years by top corner screamers. Of course in real life players aim for the posts, look to chip the keeper, try to play the ball through the legs (I’m confident some players actually mean to), just try to get decent contact on the ball and get it on target, reach in and try to get a foot in, or just hit and hope. Whatever the players’ intentions, whatever a goal looks like, most goals have their merit. In the end neutrals are able to appreciate a goal not only for its technicality or the build up play leading up to it but also its context and what it means for the game or the greater scheme of things. Not-Greg, a goal doesn’t have to blast the net inches off the post the be considered beautiful, as I’m sure you would agree. Remember that a goal counts whenever the entire ball crosses the goal line in between the posts, and you would certainly hear it from the fans if somehow you suggested that their goal was worth less than any other =].

  2. steph_wheeler – that’s pretty much what I said in the post, in the last few sentences in particular. How FIFA09 makes the ordinary feel special. It’s a bread and butter goal by computer game standards of the past, but one you really feel the worth of in FIFA09 with some degree of manual controls switched on.

  3. Just a side note:
    I have no idea of what the commentary was on the lead up to your goal, but it should have been excitement and anticipation, which I think should make sense anytime a general consensus would be that a finishing touch is imminent. Or whenever it looks clear from the progression of the action that a shot is likely to come, or a clear cut chance presents itself, commentary should be more comprehensively involved in order maybe to add more magic to goals, as it should be done.

  4. [b]not-Greg -[/b] Hmm, sounds good which makes me more excited to play the game. But how does that work the other way around? Are the AI ruthlessly accurate with their shooting? I hope not. Anyway, I’m glad that you are so involved in your blog replying to as many people as you can so promptly and putting up a new text almost daily. I didn’t want to get in a conversation with you as that sort of puts off other people from making comments, but I wanted to acknowledge your being so active.

  5. Well Greg, i’ve decided to take the plunge. I’ve bought a FIFA title.

    This isn’t due to any weakness on Pro Evo’s side (I love PES 2009 – seriously hooked on the Become a Legend mode), but i’ll be getting a PSP from the missus next weekend, and have decided that since PES isn’t out yet on it, i’ll give FIFA a go.

    Now I know it’s not going to be that similar to the PS3 version, but it still marks a big step for me. Hopefully it’s decent enough. If not then it’s exchanged for PES2009. Not a massive risk I grant you, but it will be the first FIFA game i’ve bought……ever (been ISS since Super Nes).

  6. steph_wheeler – the commentary in FIFA09 is from Sky Sports’ Tyler & Gray duo. I suppose they do a good job but it’s nothing we haven’t heard before, really. I thought Clive Tyldesley did a cracking job in FIFA07 and UEFA2008 and should have been kept on.

    My favourite-ever football game commentator? Tony Gubba! He did one of the ISS games on PS1.

    Last year I did indeed post every day, but this year I’ve given myself time off with one day a week (usually Sunday) being a rest day. The idea is to give me some extra breathing space to make every post count. It’s debatable how that’s gone so far… I reserve the right to take other days off in the future, but at the moment there’s a lot to write about.

  7. Liam – well, I do hear good things about FIFA09 on the PSP, but it’s still old-style FIFA, and won’t be similar to the PS3/360 version at all. (A fact that doesn’t stop many people on some forums randomly shouting about not seeing what the fuss is all about after playing the PC/PSP version of FIFA09…)

    I hope you at least find it decent. You should. I had FIFA07 for the PSP a few years ago and enjoyed it. Not a patch on the PSP version of PES2008 though…

  8. Lets hope EA stick to their guns and release alternative commentary packs in the near future as David Rutter eluded to,
    I personally feel Tyler & Gray do a superb job, and theres only so many times u can run through commentary without hearing repetitions but in all they give it a big game feel and i like it.
    would be fab to be able to choose different commentators though.
    A David Pleat & Tony Mowbray special for a midweeek cup tie away at some lowly Div 2 side!!!! 😀

  9. Paul – remember John Motson? In my very occasional glances at FIFA games between 1999 and 2007 I thought he was pretty good. FIFA2003? I think that was his game. Terrible game, as they all were, but he was a great commentator. I think Ally McCoist was his co-commentator.

    I find Martin Tyler a bit ‘flat’ personally. They should give the gig to Tyldesley and have done with it, but they won’t. Because Tyler/Gray are the TV partnership everyone knows.

  10. Like you not-Greg I have moved on and now play fifa 09,my first fifa in 8 years. Love the game and really like your site. One question though: shouldnt this site be named fifa chronicles,since thats all you tall about lately.

  11. Quick comment about yesterdays conversation about the flaws starting to show through. I agree that after a few weeks of play you do start to see the little niggles and things that you wish weren’t there. Thing is though that every football game ever made (and in fact every game ever made) has had these little things and it’s probably a good thing. If we get to a point where there is absolutely nothing wrong with a game then there is no improvements to be made for the future.

    No matter how fantastic a game is there will always be the odd thing that has you tearing your hair out. The biggest one for me is still carried over from FIFA08, the refusal of the game to change players when I am frantically hitting the ‘switch player’ button when a ball falls in and around the edge of the box. I use fully manual switching and wouldn’t dream of using anything else, so I expect the game to allow me to change players whenever I want. Numerous times both this year and last the ball has fallen within a meter of one of my players only for the game to decide I can’t switch to control him.

  12. Glad to see your getting in to FIFA, its a good game and I’m very jealous of those who have a PS3 at their disposal on a daily basis. I actually like those sorts of goals alot, and not suprised it had a special feeling for you. Haven’t played PES2009 enough but based on 2008 and 08 the difference in how you would imagine the contact with the ball and the actual goal ‘feels’ better in my opinion. (I.e. seems more ‘realistic’ for a lack of a better word).

    stinger, I noticed that issue but I also found if you use semi automatic it helps soothe that problem. I’m a fully manual switcher myself normally as well but on FIFA it seems to be a semi-solution.

  13. Oh btw, although I’m terribly reulcatant to do so is a 360 worth buying purely for FIFA09 greg? – Don’t worry I won’t just buy something off of one persons advice but just canvasing the idea!

    I’ve pretty much had a pet-hate of the xbox since it came out (I just don’t get on with the controller for example) but I could afford to buy myself a 360 in the coming weeks and not feel guilty about not having a HD TV either.

  14. johndoe – nah, I like the name as it is.

    stinger – familiarity breeds contempt. And yes, we need to have a reason to look forward to FIFA2010. No game could stand up to the scrutiny that playing it for a few hours every day brings. That’s how I’ve hammered FIFA09. The next few days will bring out all my major criticisms—and also, in the end, a solution of sorts.

    Paww – the bread and butter goals really feel special using semi-manual controls. No doubt in time the effect will wear off, but for now there’s a pleasant buzz at scoring any type of goal.

    Re. the Xbox360 – it’s a great console with terrific features and first-rate online architecture (that you have to pay for). I bought it just for Bioshock, and got my money’s worth out of playing that amazing game. Worth buying just for FIFA09? I’d say YES, but only because the hardware is rumoured to be more durable nowadays.

    Do your research carefully and make sure you get a model with the latest chipset – codenamed Jasper, I believe, although see the official Xbox360 hardware forum for more.

  15. Snarls at the Xbox… PS3 all the way if your after getting your moneys worth from a console!!!

  16. To everyone playing FIFA I highly recommend you read the following guide. It is a sensational read and you can pick up a lot of little things that will help improve your game. I’ve just finished reading through the whole thing and I know it will help me next time I play the game

    The files in the first post are not the whole thing. Your best off reading through each post in the first 4 pages or so of the thread which has the whole guide

  17. Paul – I’m a PS3 man too, but it is more expensive and if we’re absolutely honest most multiplatform games are better on the 360, as they get more developer time devoted to them. I really feel FIFA09 is a slightly better on 360, for example—and I’ve now played loads on both.

    stinger – thanks, I’ve been looking for that guide since losing track of it over the past few weeks

  18. Thanks not-greg, I was actually under the assuption they’d already fixed the RROD but if thats not the case I’m not going anywhere near a 360 after all.

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