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.