Of course I went back to playing PES2010. Pro Evolution Soccer is the game of my entire gaming life so far. I’ll always go back to it (probably). Of course that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll always go back to PES2010 in particular. I’m really coming to the view that it’s not the classically-good PES that I wanted it to be. But I have unfinished business with PES2010 that I cannot turn my back on.
I admit that I felt very discouraged after failing for 5 seasons to get promoted from Division 2 in my Master League career. But that’s all right, I told myself. It could happen to any man…
And so here I go again. On with season 6. We know the drill by now. Duck and weave to get out of debt before budget day rolls around. Then head into the new season with a skeleton squad of average players, and hope that this time, somehow, it’ll all be different.
I think—hope—it will be different this season. Mainly because I am finally bowing before the obvious. I’ve lowered the difficulty level from Top Player to Professional.
First, to deal with the debt. I was £15m in debt. In seasons past I’ve been saved in similar situations by timely ‘Golden Offers’ of incredible amounts of money for decidedly average players. It didn’t happen this time around. I’m back to looking for loose change down the back of the sofa.
I cleared the bulk of my debt by trimming the backroom staff budget from a whopping £17m to £5m, as shown in the before and after pictures:
That saved £12m. Just £3m to find now.
I also sold one of my top midfielders, Dissels. I got a cool £900k for him in the end. I sold a couple fo other squad-fillers for a few hundred thousand each. And I sold my pretty good striker, Trejo, after having him for only half a season, for £2m—a good price, and the nearest thing to a ‘Golden Offer’ in this transfer window.
It all gave me some extra cash to play with, but there was no time to raid the transfer market. There were only two weeks of the window left. I picked up another three players from the Youth team (before I downgraded it). Among the three was a born-again MINANDA, a decentish striker called FAISIL KHELIE, and a useful SB/CB/SMF player called CAPUANO.
I’ve played 170+ matches in Division 2 and used a lot of players. Sometime soon, I’ve got to have a stable squad, surely?
My full squad is at least a manageable 21 players. There were only 18 players before the Youth players came in. And I’ve gone back to a 4-3-3 formation. To hell with 4-4-2 (for now).
The FIrst XI in the squad picture is my preferred First XI. Sadly, with the downgrading of the backroom staff, stamina and form considerations make it a very rare match in which I can play that First XI.
The first match of the season on Professional difficulty told me I should have done this a few seasons ago. Right now the game doesn’t feel noticeably easier in general play, apart from giving me an extra split-second or two to make a decision and pick a pass. I don’t seem to be creating more chances or scoring any more goals, but the AI does seem less dangerous.
I won the first match, drew the second, lost the third, drew the fourth, drew the fifth, drew the sixth… Draws seem to be the order of the day for me on Professional
In the first round of the Cup I played Panathinaikos (again) and thumped them 3-0 at my place. It was the only match out of these opening matches where the game felt easy, particularly after I went 2-0 up. I did a stupid thing, though, and simmed the return leg. What was I thinking? I was 3-0 up. I just wanted to crack on with the league and skip a meaningless match. Of course, the game simmed the return leg as a 4-0 win for Panathinaikos and I was out of the Cup. Well… I had to smile about it. I certainly won’t do that again.
In my last match of this bumper session I played a league game that I really, really wanted to win. I focused hard and I kept the ball for ludicrously long spells. I said a while ago that I would only post goals that were extraordinary or notable in some way. I present what is, on the face if it, an utterly ordinary PES2010 goal—complete with some terrible editing from me about halfway through. I was trying to show my player’s stylish back-heel (actually struck with the sole of his boot) but I positioned it all wrong in the clip, and haven’t had time to redo it. Still, you get the idea:
What the replay doesn’t show is the 30-pass move that led up to the goal. I’m on record as saying I don’t really place any great value on the ‘Argentina 2006 team goal’-style of goal. I think far too much is made of them. Give me a 30-yard piledriver, or even just a 15-yard one, any day. But in context, I admit they can be great goals, and so was this one to me.
The goal won me the game, as all the best goals do. But too many of the other matches have been draws. It’s with a crawling sense of deja vu that I sit in 8th spot—upper-mid-table—after 7 matches. Almost exactly where I was last season and the season before that. I’m still not scoring enough goals. This is even more of a concern now, with me playing on Professional. I’ve got to shake off this feeling of inadequacy and get myself focused before yet another season slips by. Or this thing could get truly farcical.