Heaven Knows I’m Middlesbrough Now

Mediocrity and Coventry City Football Club go hand-in-hand in the real world. It hurts to say it, but it’s true. Why should I be so surprised that it’s also currently the case in my gaming worlds, in Football Manager and Championship Manager, and in PES2009 at the moment?

To have won nothing by now—on the threshold of season 2016, my eighth—is unprecedented for me in any Master League campaign on any PES. Even I, an average player, am usually at least challenging for the title by this stage. I’ve got used to being a mid-table mediocrity. I have to get back into a winning frame of mind—a gamer’s frame of mind—and do it pronto.

My first order of business in this pre-season was to finally get rid of my remaining Default players. Jaric, Macco, Ruskin, and Ordaz have all been on the transfer market for a few seasons now. No one has bid for them. None of them have played, apart from Ruskin on a few occasions. It was high time for them to go. I released them all and didn’t regret it for a second.

All of the Master League Default players are rubbish. Some of them are relatively less rubbish than the others, but overall, they’re all completely rubbish. The reason why so many Master League players—myself included—have a hard time accepting this blatantly obvious truth is because of the mythology of the past. There once was a time when many of the Default players were pretty decent. Castello for one. Vorlander for another. I remember those great days with a fond nostalgia. But that was the past. Those times and players are long gone, and it’s no good holding onto Default players now for semtimental reasons, which is what I was doing.

I’ve operated a de facto Youth policy so far in my Master League. My signings of experienced players have been pretty few; I’ve mostly picked up youngsters. It’s nothing deliberate. It just happened that way in those tough early seasons when I didn’t have any money and Youths were the only players I could afford.

So I gathered up another five players:

KHUMALO – A name to conjure with for many Master Leaguers nowadays, but until PES2008 (the PSP/PS2 version) I’d never had him in my team. I wasn’t very impressed and he hardly played before I moved him on. But he was a late acquisition in that career, and he came into a squad already packed with flamboyant superstars. This is his big chance to become a great ML player for me.

COTTERILL – Er… who? I don’t know either. I found him in the Unbelonging list. He’s a forward player who can play anywhere, left, right, central. Very useful and something I’ve lacked. Decent stats. 27 years old—always nice to have a bit of age and guile in the squad.


MALDINI – A Prince among footballers, and his light is no less on PES for me. But what has happened to his facial model?! That’s one grim overbite he has there.

RUBIO – Every good team needs a good dependable right-back. My current player in that position, Antonini, is actually pretty poor. Rubio, although only 19, will slot straight in.


PRIETO – Finally, I got him. I offered his club Traore plus 1000 points, just as I did last time, and then offered the player himself a large salary, just as I did last time—but this time he accepted my offer. I was delighted. I’d finally landed my #1 transfer target over the past three or four seasons. There he is,wearing my number 6 shirt. Finally. He’s still only 20 and I’m expecting the usual great things from him. I always expect great things from my DMFs.

I played three friendlies, all chosen at random for me by the game. My first match, appropriately enough, was against Middlesbrough. I say ‘appropriately’ because they’ve always been just another Coventry in my eyes. Fittingly, the match was a 0-0 draw, with not much action worth reporting. Indeed, the game’s very actionlessness was the sole thing worth reporting. It was as if the two teams were mirror images of one another, both equivalently mediocre, cancelling the other out.

I lost my other two friendly matches. First I was trounced by Sampdoria. The game ended 5-1 to them. I was fortunate to keep them down to scoring just the 5. I thought it was a very strange match indeed. After that the World XI, who I like to play in every pre-season, beat me 2-0. I was not happy at all. If this is indicative of the season to come, it’s not going to bring me the progress I want.

My new kits. I went for a mainly white home kit with sky blue stripes, and a mainly black away kit with sky blue trimmings. Neither kit is anything special. They’ll do me. From now on I’m only going to change one kit every pre-season, so one of these kits will be around for the next two seasons. I don’t know which one yet.

And finally… Before the new season started I decided to drop in on my Track Record. This is the section of the main menu that keeps a record of all your stats. The one I was most interested in was my total playing time. I imagined it would be around the 50 hours mark. I was stunned to see the actual figure of over 95 hours.

By today that figure will be over 100 hours. That’s a long time to have spent playing a game. I was genuinely shocked.



  1. My playtime is 105 hours, 55 of them in Master League

  2. Max – thanks for your comment, and I think I just broke through the 115 hours total/95 hours on ML mark this morning (Monday 22nd). That ‘screenshot’ was taken last Thursday morning. It’s frightening for me as there are plenty of other games I’d love to play, and plenty of other things I’d love to be doing, but PES (Master League actually) just seems to monopolise all my time and attention. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog—to make me feel less guilty about spending so much time playing it, because I’d have something to show for it. That was the theory anyway…

  3. 122:28:10!!! long time
    62hrs ML
    19hrs BAP
    20hrs Exhibition (im a student living with mates who like to lose regularly to me)

  4. I am very happy to say that for a while now when i get a free kick <23 yards to goal its pretty much a certain goal every time! O is the way forward from close range!

    try it

  5. omg just saw results in track record, p 203, w 166, l 13!!!!!!!! d 24

    GS 475
    GC 87

    i think i play too much, and when i play i dont bother with possession football, its all attack attack attack, as the crowd love to chant

    only ever conceded 10 pens, recieving 68 yellows and only 12 reds…. greg you are a dirty bastard!

  6. James – they’re some fine stats, you really do win (nearly) every game don’t you?!

    Thanks for the FK tip too – I still have only scored one or two.

  7. Good to see the ML progress and glad it’s still proving a challenge! Theres been no PES playing on my end for a while, due to being on the XBOX most of the time.

    I re-read your other posts. Your not alone in your opinion of online! Although I have been playing it a lot lately, I have grown tired of it for the same reasons. I just prefer playing against an AI than kids who like to crouch over my dead body (I believe they call it teabagging). COD4 has been getting a lot of play but the XBOX Live community in general is just terrible. People rapping down the mic, insults, swearing it’s all very boring.

    I can understand why people play as Barca all the time online- it’s easier to win, but it bores me. I’d rather play a league against the AI than 38 matches in a row against Inter. My online ‘binge’ is over now, I really miss the relaxing atmosphere of one player and nobody sending me messages about being a ‘noob’. (You get this online if you play too well or too poorly, that’s how bad Live is in general)

  8. Those stats include 60 odd easy difficulty matches though.. i think ive just got the ai beaten, and ive seen none of the old god mode occuring either, i do concede, sometimes a lot in a match if i get caught on the break by fast sides, but the ai isnt so good at defending, and often using L1 + Triangle to do 1 – 2 ‘s or better yet using manual passing the ai just seems unable to cope.

    Keepers could be improved a little too, they seem to be easy to beat from >20 yrds by R2ing the shot

  9. Hey James, how do you take your circle free kicks? Do you push forward or curl it or what? Have tried it a few times but it just floats over and the keeps easily catches it. Great record by the way!! Do you play on Xbox Live at all?

    On a side note, I just made a signing that should hopefully bring me the Division 1 title in the forth season. A certain Diego Armando Maradona… A snip at 29000 and 3000 per year!

  10. got a ps3, and the record is only against ai, i do lose 40% of the time when playing mates, sometimes i get hammered. I press up and O 3/4 of the bar or less defending on the players shot power. Get C.Ronaldo on the training and have a few goes from 20 yards or so


  11. I cant play online anyway, im in halls that dont let my connect games w/o paying 250 quid for a years worth of “super” internet

  12. scratch that, i just set up trainin with ronaldo and missed a bunch of 20 yarders, then tried 18 yards, half power, sailed right in

  13. Another freekick tip, if you aim at a gap between 2 players legs that is in line with the keepers far side, you may be able to score by aiming and doing O + Down to power it along the ground, keepers love parrying this into the net

  14. Not Given – you got your 360 working again?

    And the main reason I dislike online play isn’t the atmosphere of online gaming in general, although that’s bad enough. (Not as bad as it’s reputed to be, though—I don’t think I’ve ever had a really bad experience with online players.)

    It’s as you say, I just prefer the quality of playing time against the AI. Take Football Manager and Football Manager Live, for example. Offline, the game is as deep as an ocean. Online, redesigned for multiplayer, it’s still got depth… but it’s shallow in so many ways, as it by definition has to be if it’s going to work as an online game.

    I haven’t played enough of PES/FIFA online to be definite about this, but they don’t feel like the same games online as offline. I suppose this is mainly down to me just playing so much offline that I’ve become institutionalised to it. The nearest analogy I can come up with is if you were to try to persuade me that it’s better to read books by shouting them out loud with another person. That’s how I see games. They’re something I do alone, sitting in my bedroom, the way God intended.

    James – I think you’re probably a member of that exclusive bracket of PES player for whom the game is absurdly easy after a while. Another random analogy: I’ve always been able to say tongue-twisters (Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper etc) without any trouble at high speed, while 99% of people can’t. It’s just one of those things.

    Re. free kicks, the only success I’ve had so far this year is aiming at the unguarded side of the net, even with the keeper standing there, and going for a rocket past him into the top corner by tapping Triangle immediately after shoot. It’s got me my only 2 free kick goals so far, and almost always gets at least a corner.

    Grilled Seabass – now I’m really regretting not choosing Classic players for this career. I was too scared to include them, after what Elcherino/Eusebio did to my ML last year (he wrecked it). If there is another PES2009 ML career after this one (never say never and all that), I’ll definitely include them.

  15. Cheers James, will give that a go when I get a chance. I’m going away for a couple of weeks so no PES for me for a while! Catch you all in the new year. Happy festive season to all!

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