You can’t win anything with kids

After a decent start to my first Division 1 season—not great, but not bad either—I’ve been braced for disaster to strike. And it has struck. Kind of. I’ve gone on a streak of losing and drawing that’s seen me fall from the relative security of mid-table to fourth from bottom.

There’s no cause for any real alarm just yet. Okay, so I’ve slipped down the league and the table at the moment isn’t particularly good viewing. But I’ve still got 15 games left in which to turn things around. I should do that easily. However, the very sight of the league table is having a psychological effect on how I play PES2009.

It’s all about perception and confidence. I look at the table and see my team down there near the bottom and I just want to get away. So when it comes to the next game I tense up. I tighten up. I play too conservatively. Or I go to the other extreme and play too lackadaisically.

The effect of this consistent inconsistency leads to more defeats, and to more draws that should have been wins. Which leads to more tightening up and carelessness… Real-life football teams at the foot of real-life league tables probably undergo the same kind of viciously spiralling cycle of defeatism.

I think I’m reaping the consequences of favouring Youth over Experience. There’s no harm, as such, in operating a Youth policy. Master League actively encourages it with its endless parade of mouth-watering Regens on offer.

But it’s always wise to combine a Youth policy with enough Experience to carry you through tough times. You need to score bread-and-butter goals, and pick up the bread-and-butter points that they bring. A youthful line-up might do the business occasionally, but not often enough.

In recent negotiation periods I should have exerted myself some more to get a good, solid, late-twenties/early-thirties striker, preferably a target man type. Somebody like Vieri or Schwarz. At the moment I’m playing Kim Cyun Hi in the middle of my front 3. He just isn’t cut out to lead the line at the age of 20, and being about three feet tall. I’m going to move Kim out wide (his best position anyway) and bring in my only experienced striker, Mai Jungi, a true journeyman footballer. Hopefully I can scramble some points together before I end up in a proper relegation battle.


  1. The lack of confidence does indeed breed poor results. On my BAL mode, I played in my 4th Champions League final last night (lost previous three) and lost again. Now on the game, i’m the best player in the world and score in almost every match. But because I was so desperate to win it, and socre in the final (as I hadn’t done in the past) I stopped playing my normal game and tried to do too much.

    It’s almost enough to stop me playing BAL and go back to my second season in the Master League.

    It was a tough pill to swallow, especially after watching West Ham’s toothless performance against Spurs.

  2. Liam – I fear that poor old Zola isn’t long for this world. He’ll be lucky to make it to January. I rarely mention real-world football on the blog (as you may have noticed). The reason is I like to keep the blog purely about the video game(s). But I do have a healthy interest in the real-world game. Zola was one of the finest foreign imports ever to play in England, at a time when there weren’t that many. Such a shame to see him struggling in management like this.

  3. A manager can only do so much, ultimately its down to the players to perform on the pitch, several teams with good quality players just arent peforming this season, the hammers being one of them.

    Ive just started my 3rd season on FIFA MM, my 1st in charge of League 1 side MK Dons, im playing on Profdessional mode, but have changed all controls to semi-manual, except crossing which is full manual. Finding it much more of a challenge, so far having won 2, drawn 2, lost 2 of my first 6 games.
    I keep reading this blog with interest in your ML career Greg, and I keep tinkering with the idea of going back to my saved PES ML, which I put on hold last week after playing it solidly for 3 weeks, to concentrate on FIFA again, my 2 seasons on each game rule, but find myself itching to go back and play PES purely for the in depth enveloping feel that is Master League. It just feels so empty playing FIFA MM. But So far I have resisted because ultimately of the frustration, anger and dismay i feel when playing PES, its kind of like self torture as i rarely experience any enjoyment from the games, just anguish!!!

  4. Yeah it would be a shame as he’s likeable – hopefully he’ll turn things round. Never thought that a lack of goals would be the problem under one of the best forwards the League has seen. The irony.

    Back to Pro Evo – I see what you mean about scoring being a problem from the For column on the table. Impressive that you’ve managed to keep the Against number to less than a goal a game. Normally takes me a few seasons in (the top division) before I can manage that and even then it’s rare.

  5. Paul – you’ve summed up the appeal of ML in one there, “the in-depth enveloping feel”. Although if you’re not getting anything from the actual matches, why play it!

    Are you sure you’re not squeezing R1+X+square when you don’t have the ball, and hoping/expecting possession to come back to you, and then wondering what’s happening when the CPU waltzes through your defence…?!

    I only ask because I often find myself doing that when things aren’t going well, and of course it only makes things go worse. I think it’s a reflexive action among PES gamers after a certain number of years.

    Liam – I have always been decent at defending on the game, when I concentrate properly and avoid excessive ‘clamping’ when not in possession of the ball (see my previous comment).

    I treat it almost as a real-time strategy game, where I have to plan ahead and make sure my units are best placed to intercept/block/destroy the AI’s units. This means tracking runners with a secondary pressure player whilst running my controlled player towards the unmarked CPU player in the box, and that kind of thing.

    Scoring goals and defending leads when the CPU decides it wants to keep the ball have always been my main problems in PES.

  6. I’ve got myself in a bit of a conumdrum. A few weeks ago here I mentioned I would buy PES2009 pre-owned once I’d worked a bit and got some money under my belt. Well it turns out I have worked a hell of a lot more than I expected and thus have a hell of a lot more money. So surely it’s time totake the plunge?

    Well there is apart of me thatreally wants to play the ML again, just craving that experience. Then there is the part of me thinking that chances are I wont play it all that much. My last week of gaming time (which has been fairly limited) has been spent purely on FM2009, with not even a thought to playing either FIFA09 or Fallout 3 (as I keep saying, by far my number 1 game of 2008). For me the immersion factor of FM is something that eve the ML can’t get near.

    So the decision is whether to sacrifice some FM time (which I’m sure ill be happy to do at some point when my team starts playing badly) and pick up PES again or not.

  7. Cool topics being discussed here, mind if I join?

    I said I would write something on PES 2008. I am finding the game absolutely beautiful, and I’ll share a secret, I don’t think I’ve ever felt like that about the opposite sex, which tells you something . . . [coughs] . . . which tells you that it will be written with a passion. And to all PES lovers it will be of course positive; I’ll be praising the game. I hope it encourages some to keep hope with Konami, and so on. But we’ll see how it turns out.

    By the way, not-Greg, have you been able to play PES 2009 on PS2 or maybe PSP. I want to make up my mind as whether I need to get it. I’ll keep y’all posted. Laterz!

  8. Not-Greg – Yes im positive im not clamping R1+X+Square!!! what does that do??
    Its not so much getting posession, in all honesty, i have 60% posession in most games, its just the fact that 80% of passes are cut out, the cpu players are always on my players like flies round shit, yet i can never get my players to press the cpu in the same way. I can string 20 passes together to get the ball to my CF on the edge of the 6 yard box, tap shoot and the ball flies over the roof of the stadium or miles wide!! Yet one CPU attack leads to the forward dribbling past my entire defence and unleasing a 25yarder into the corner – it just doesnt balance!!!
    I can handle being outplayed by a team with better players, after all thats the aim of ML – to develop and build a better team, but it just all feels so scripted and weighted in the CPU’s favour that its hard to swallow.

    Never the less I wont be beaten and I did in fact ditch FIFA MM last night for a bout on PES. I have just reached the end of my 2nd season in Div 2, and have approached the pre-season friendlies.
    I havent made any signings because I approached the last pre season friendly 58pts short of paying the team salary, it was down to the wire!!
    Last Per-season match was against the North American Select side, and from nowhere I grabbed a 3-1 win (most goals Ive ever scored in one game and it could have been 6!!) to bag myself 1000pts and avoid the dreaded GAME OVER!

    So am now starting my 3rd season with no money to spend, a shortened squad as ive put a few up for sale and released a couple and am looking forward (!?) to another gruelling frustrating season!!!

  9. stinger – I can testify that having too many games isn’t a good thing. You end up spreading yourself so thinly over them all that you never really get the full worth of any of them. I’m not buying any new games now until next spring. I’ve got too many great games to work through right now. I say stick with what you have until you know you’ll have time for PES2009.

    Re Football Manager, I’m still plugging away on FM08 with my one or two hours per week, which is slowly increasing to three or four hours per week…

    steph_wheeler – no, I haven’t played PES2009 on PS2/PSP, and at the moment I have no plans to get either of them. Even if the PS3 version goes rogue on me and I start hating it, I think I’ve spent more than enough cash on PES over the past few years.

    Besides, I have the excellent PS2/PSP version of PES2008 to fall back upon if need be! As you’ve found, there’s nothing wrong with that game at all. I fully plan to resume my PSP-based ML career at some point this year no matter what.

    Paul – ‘clamping’ as I call it is famous/notorious amongst most PES players. It’s something that seems to have occurred naturally to every PES player at some point in the past. You squeeze X+Square, the primary and secondary tackle buttons, and this exerts maximum pressure on the CPU ball-carrier (in theory). Holding R1 as well makes your player(s) sprint whilst doing it.

    It was quite effective in old PESes, but even then it was often counter-productive sometimes. In PES2009 it’s hardly ever effective, from what I can tell. Curiously, in FIFA09 this ‘clamping’ technique of recovering possession is absurdly effective, particularly on lower difficulty levels.

    I don’t know what to say to you about the general gameplay you’re finding in PES2009. It’s not what I’m finding, but that’s no help. All I can suggest is to keep plugging away and hope it’ll ‘click’ one day.

  10. Paul – I agree it’s really hard to score with the default strikers. I was lucky enough to sign Orellano in the first transfer window and he carried the team for long periods. I was also lucky to win the cup 1st season – I went thru the last 3 rounds without scoring a goal!! all won on penalties. This meant I had a a decent amount of money for a 2nd striker. By splashing out on a quality striker he’ll win you at least 2 games, covering the cost of buying him.

    Steph Wheeler – WTF?!

  11. Grilled Seabass – I have finally seen Orellano in my ML! He popped up in the Youth list. I’ll catch up with that point on the blog very soon….

  12. I lost Agbonlahor, I had him on loan and cant afford to resign!!!
    he was the only one who could finish!

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