Coventry City vs Manchester United

Now for something long-promised. The video below shows, in full, me playing a league match in PES2010’s Master League. I’ve been saying I’d do this for some time, and now here it is. Apologies in advance for the slightly poor video quality—and for the slightly skewed viewing angle, which frustratingly cuts off the upper right corner where the score is displayed. If you watch the match, you’ll have to remember the score as you go along (there are some goals to see). Next time I do this, I’ll film it from a full-frontal angle.

Link: Cov City vs Man Utd (PES2010)

The only thing I’ll add here is that I know I noobishly overran the ball on at least two occasions, one of them when I had a glorious one-on-one opportunity at a critical time. I was too aware that I was filming the match. I wanted to appear in the best possible light, so I restrained my usual instinct to shoot early. But it was only those few instances, and they stand out a mile. The rest of the time, I was playing normally. This match does show me playing the game, for the most part, more or less as I do play it.

In the league, season 9 is so far proving to be that most dreadful of things: a season of consolidation. That’s been a buzzword in football talk since I was a nipper. Consolidation. It means: mediocrity. Holding steady. Neither one thing nor the other. Mediocrity. I thought I’d say it again.

I had another fiddle with the tactical sliders, looking for the golden setting that’d replicate the dazzling run of form I had a few sessions ago. I increased Support and Pressing to 100, left all the others more or less as they were, and results picked up slightly. But I still can’t seem to cope with the pace and passing and aggression of the top 10 teams. At one point I played Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and—yes—Manchester United one after the other, and they took turns to pummel me into a fine paste.

I was doing great in the Europa League at least. I got through to the semi finals after wins in the first knockout stage over NEC Breda, and then a fine aggregate trouncing of AZ in the Quarter Final. In the Breda tie it was all-square at 2-2 in extra time (1-1 in both legs) and heading for penalties. I scored the softest of soft goals to take the match. My name is on the Cup, I thought.

Manchester United, again, were my semi-final opponents. I scraped a 1-1 draw in the first leg at my place. They simply battered me in the return leg. Seriously, I was shell-shocked. I lost 4-0 and it could have been so, so much worse. Their third goal was a scorcher from about 30 yards that found the postage stamp corner of my net and scraped the underside of the bar on its way in. The AI does occasionally get goals like that against me in PES2010, and has done since day 1 (i.e., it hasn’t started since the mythical gameplay patch just before Christmas).

I was out of the Europa League, then, and fairly emphatically too. I’ve got a long way to go before I can compete with the big boys on anything like an even footing. To get there I’ll need better players. I think it’s really that straightforward.

Currently I’ve got merely a good squad, with a few stars. One of those stars has turned out to be Sazi, my young striker who came up from the Youth team a few seasons ago. Above left are his current stats at the age of 21. Since he arrived I’ve biased his focus training towards shooting, and it really shows with a shot accuracy of 91, and power and technique in the high 80s. I’ve also favoured his physical attributes in training, and they’re filling out quite nicely too.

Sazi’s starting to grab goals quite regularly in league and cup. I’m very happy with him playing as my lead CF. He’s blossoming into a top, top striker, currently riding high in the league top scorers’ list, and joint-top of the Europa League scorers. He’s like a slightly slimmed-down, slightly taller version of classic Schwarz.

The table after 29 matches isn’t great. I’m 13th now, which I class as lower-mid-table. That silly amount of draws—12—is costing me. Fully two-thirds of those draws could and should have been victories. With a comfortable cushion between me and the bottom 3, I won’t be relegated. But I’ll do well now, I think, just to match last season’s 9th-place finish.


  1. Not-greg,

    About your game footage, nicely played. You could have won or at least gotten a draw. It’s interesting to see other people playing. There’s so many instinctual decisions that each person makes differently.

    Your 1-on-1 with the keeper in the second half was a very sure case of circle+R1 to me, and I’ve made that same mistake countless times. I now make sure to always let go of the sprint button as soon as I see the keeper coming forward on the map.

    One thing that screamed at me was that you’re basically playing counterattack, but without a formation suitable to do so. I know you’re a buildup play kinda player, but it was apparent during that game that you HAD to try and play counterattacking because Man U wouldn’t let you keep the ball for long. That’s were your main trouble came from, your midfielders were too slow to keep with your forwards, and your CF had no-one to play with, since your other strikers (or are they wingers?) were too far to the side.

    If you want to play quick counterattack, you need two CFs, IMO. It’s crucial to be able to play 1-2’s and to run at the opposition’s defenders while waiting for one of your strikers to get in position to make a run behind the CBs.

    I think you could have won that game easily (ok, maybe not easily) by playing 4-5-1, with two wide SMFs. If you have a fast strong striker, you’ll wreak havoc on any defense, even though it looks like a defensive formation.

    A couple of options would be 4-4-2 with a CF and a WF or 4-3-3 with two CFs and a WF, that way you still can play it wide, but you have the ability to attack down the middle on a breakaway.

    Anyway, I’m sure you have your own way of doing things, and you’re adjusted to your trusted formation, but I personally found that my days of playing 4-3-3 are gone UNLESS I try it in a new way. It’s not as simple or as easy as in years past.

  2. The good thing is that even though you need better players, you’ll have an easier time attaining them if you continue to do well in the cups. The higher you place, the more money you make, so I would be concentrating there.

  3. Adriano—I sometimes have matches where I’m pretty much camped in the opponent’s half for long periods. You’re correct that in this one I was reduced to counter-attacking a lot of the time. (Next time I record a match, it’ll be one of the lesser teams that I usually do well against.)

    I find that the top teams in PES2010 are able to monopolise possession against me for long periods. The passage of play leadng up to Utd’s second goal where they just kept the ball, and kept the ball, and kept the ball, is an alarmingly common one.

    I have been experimenting with formations after finally doubting whether my traditional widely-spaced front 3 are ideal for maximising possession and for making/taking chances when in attack. Maybe in another few turns of the wheel when I’m able to sign vrtually who I like, I could get away with this 4-3-3, but I think I’ve squeezed the most I can out of it for now. I’ve been trialling a 4-3-3 with the front 3 all grouped tightly together like a spearhead. I am going to try a 4-5-1 as well. Sazi really is good enough now to play as the lone striker. We’ll catch up to this on Weds/Fri.

  4. Ken—Hopefully those better players aren’t too far away. The incremental nature of Master League is what’s always really excited me about the mode. The overall team development curve is a lot flatter than in years past, for me anyway. If anything though that makes me like it even more. It’s like growing a society in the Civilization games (or any strategy game where you do similar things). The ‘one more turn’ factor translates into ‘one more game’ in Master League.

  5. I honestly think you have a squad good enough to win stuff right now. You just have to get the tactics just right for the players you have. I won the English Cup with a similar level team.

    When you have some spare cash, after you have upgraded your staff to the max, you can start buying cards for your players. Then it will make a big difference.

    Player cards actually add a few points to a player OVR rating. And it makes them worth a lot more, not to mention the fact that they play better and attract higher bids from bigger clubs. You just have to be careful not train them when their contracts are about to run out.

    Re. formations, I think you’ll like playing 4-5-1.

  6. not-Greg,

    You didn’t play badly I think, just were unlucky really. It’s interesting to see how differently you play to me (and I’m sure everyone plays very differently), and you seem like the player that I always wanted to be, you know, the one who had nice build-up play, playing like the real thing.
    I agree with you trying to change your formation; I felt that you were lacking at the back at times (especially because you didn’t seem to “hoof” the ball out of danger), and that if you played 4-5-1 or even 4-4-2, the extra MF would make all the difference.

  7. Hi, very interesting to watch you play and I seem to have a different opinion to everyone else. The thing that stood out for me is that you very rarely play the ball out wide in the final third of the pitch. Crosses from wide positions provide a good part of my goals each season playing 3-5-2 and Man U’s first goal comes from a ball played out wide then crossed into the box. From the video playing three up front pushed up seems to limit the space that you can break into.

  8. Adriano—Wednesday’s post finishes off season 9 (and includes a mini-essay on the quality of PES2010, which it appears I’m strangely still playing here on the cusp of February). Friday’s post will get into new formations, tactics, strips, skill cards, and etc.
    If I get a bit of spare cash I’ll consider loading up Sazi with a few extra cards. First touch and quick turn would be ideal. I’ll check his remaining contract years first though 😉

  9. Darshan—I find that ‘hoofing it’ in PES2010 brings the ball straight back at me 9 times out of 10. It’s one of the most annoying things about PES2010 for me, this almost guaranteed ‘continuity of possession’ that the CPU can exert at times. I feel I have a higher percentage chance of clearing my lines by passing my way out of trouble, although often it catches me out.

    This match against Man Utd does show me playing a normal game, but I can play a bit better against other teams. I’ll do one of these every couple of seasons, and next time I’ll pick on a lesser team, hopefully one I can play a bit more aggressively against.

    I have to say I’m excited about trying a new formation now. I’ve played enough seasons now with 4-3-3 to finally relent and admit it’s not getting me anywhere. At least not in its current configuration. The players are just too far apart.

    All being well there’ll be another full match video in a few weeks. If the new formation is sufficiently interesting, I’ll do one sooner than that.

  10. madrab—it was only one match, and against one of the ML’s top teams to boot, but yes it does more or less show my approach to the game. Having said that, I usually play wide a little bit more than in the video.

    I think at the very least a formation tweak is in order for the future. I’m going to test out a 4-5-1, as well as a 4-3-3 with the front 3 bunched up in a spearhead. ML teams can be used in one-off Exhibition matches in PES2010, so I’ll be testing it out there first.

  11. Not-Greg – I have no experience with the quick turn card. If I had to choose two, I’d prefer First Touch and 1-on-1 Score. If I really have the money, I also give my CFs a Passer card, since they play a lot of 1-2’s, and it increases chances of a through ball on goal. The Reaction card is great for midfielders and even for sidebackers, as they’re more prone to surprise the opposition’s defense with a well-timed run.

  12. Hi Not-greg,

    why not try the 4-2-3-1, with 2 defensive midfielders, and 3 attacking midfielders, that way could could flood the center of the pitch and you may be able to retain better possession.

    Of course, you might need to buy the right players to make the formation successful.

    I enjoyed watching the game, the attacking stance you made late in the second half made a difference, why not try that earlier on in the game?

  13. not-greg have you seen “Inverting the Pyramid” by thr Guardian journo Wilson about the history of football tactics?

    Perhaps you should try an asymmetric Milan style 4-3-2-1, with the one of two deeper “forwards” being a very advanced LAM/RAM and the other a very deep RF/LF. The fullbacks should be as far forward as possible and attack minded then you should dominate in midfield.

  14. Adriano—the quick turn card, in theory anyway, reduces or eliminates the notorious PES2010 turning animation. It’d be good for Sazi, if it works as advertised. I’ve yet to even do one skill card training, so that’d be number 2 on the list after first touch.

  15. Makershaker—the match in the video does give a solid general idea of how I play, but some things were very match-specific, particularly some of my decisions as the match went on. I was a little more conservative than I would have been against most other teams. When I fall behind I always prefer to see if I can get back level quickly with the setup I have (there’s some laziness there too, naturally, in not wanting to pause the game and spend time in the menus).

    Just this morning I played a match against a top team where I took a completely insane risk in the last minute. I’ll cover this in detail on Friday’s post.

    Your 4-2-3-1 as a version of 4-5-1 (just as my favoured 4-3-3 is really a 4-1-2-3) could be the way to go. As you may know, I regard the DMF role as a special one in PES. Mathieu, Bradley, Prieto, plenty of others… Some of the greatest names in PES were/are DMFs.

  16. BigBalls—After reading The Miracle of Castel di Sangro some months ago, I looked for comparable books about football and that tactics-related book was one of the candidates I found on Amazon. (I only ordered one, A Year With Verona, which is still on my shamefully high pile of books to read.)

    At the moment I’m not brave enough to commit full-backs as far forward as that. If I had the players to pull it off I might be tempted, but I’m a few seasons away from that kind of status.

  17. Good match, interesting to see Scholes back at United in your ML. Do most of the top teams tend to buy back their old regenerated players in your experience? That would be disappointing as I love the feel of an all new footballing world 10 years in, it’s what makes PES special. A heartbreaking chance for Coventry in those dying minutes, they are not easy to finish at all. Especially when the CPU is Manchester United and feels it must win.

    I reverted from my own custom 4-3-3 about 3 matches into PES 2010, there was no way that was going to work. I have an almost 2-6-1-1 with the full backs on attack card at the moment. Might have to tinker though, season 3 has started with a frustrating 4 straight draws. Still we are in 11th place, our highest recorded position so far.

  18. Not Given—Scholes played so well that I wondered if he really was a Regen, or if he was a fortysomething-year-old still playing on and in peak form, in the time-honoured PES tradition. So I checked him out and, yes, he is a Regen, 18 years old in the current season, rated 86 OVR. He’s on my scouting list. I’ve always been a Scholes fan, in PES and in reality. I haven’t noticed many other Regens yet, and the few I have noticed aren’t at their old clubs. Beckham is at Rangers, for example. I keep checking for Maldini, and not finding him.

  19. I’m in the process of negotiating for 18 yr old Veron. I saw the game last night. Very well played, I think. I agree that you were unlucky to lose, especially in the dying minutes when you hit the post. We play similar possession/patient styles, with one difference: I don’t shoot nearly as many long range shots as you. There were a few chances in the game where you could have played one more pass and gotten yourself a bit closer, but chose to fire it off from distance. I also noticed a glaring lack of midfield support in your attack. Not sure what the attack level cards are set for your midfielders…

  20. Despite being my main AMF for 2 seasons now Oscars development graph is still completely flat. Hes not developing at all and I still persist in starting him when hes now one of the less impressive players in my midfield. Is this normal, does he start shooting up around 20? Gutierrez too is a massive disappointment. Not only has he had a purple arrow for 5 straight matches at the start of this season, his graph is already going down! I suspect it’ll start to rise again though. I hope so..

  21. Ken—my two AMFs are both set to attacking, the DMF to defending. I think my slider settings need more attention.

    I remember Regen Veron with fondness from PES5. One of my star players that year.

  22. Not Given—something is very wrong there. Oscar should start developing straight away, and very quickly to boot (he eventually slows down and ends up seeming quite ordinary after a few seasons). Gutierrez shouldn’t decline! I don’t know what it could be, as I had no staff levels to speak of in the early seasons either, and both players grew nicely. I’m baffled about that one to be honest.

    The purple arrow syndrome is normal for PES2010 at times. If you play a player out of position or otherwise muck them about, they can be blue- or purple-arrowed for ages.

  23. Well if anyone knows why this is happening please tell me!

    That’s a disaster because I do want to keep a few defaults/youth players for their career. What could I be doing wrong though? Oscar plays every game at AMF one of his positions and hes been level for 2 seasons. Gutierrez is in decline already and he has been my main CF. I love the idea of different graphs etc dependent on other conditions, I would just like to know exactly how to influence it.

    Just had my first great match in PES 2010. It finished 2-3, I lost but it was a good fun.

  24. Well Gutierrez has been in purple form for 13 straight matches, hes sharply in decline now and I checked his status and he has the ‘heart broken’ sign beside him. Wonder what I did wrong with him, as he was my main CF for so long. I’ll have to sell him mid season as hes in his last year of the contract.

    Jaric is the same, purple form every match and his heart status is empty. He has also stopped developing. I think it’s because I reject every offer I received for both of them. They must want the higher wages they could have somewhere else. I had to sell Schwarz for the same reason.

    I bet this explains Oscar too. To sum it up, they are all greedy gits who stop trying in training if they cant get more money. pfft

  25. ” I think it’s because I reject every offer I received for both of them”

    I think that’s it. You’ve probably received offers from bigger clubs for more money, you rejected, and now they are in poor form. They want to move to bigger clubs. I hadn’t heard that it also affects their development curve as well, but it makes sense, as a down arrow temporarily reduces their stats.

  26. Ken

    Yeah that looks to be it. Jaric is doing the same now, both him and Gutierrez have put their contract renewals on hold- they both want out. I really like this addition though. Despite building a team that could go for promotion internal team problems have hijacked this season, as so many key players are in poor form. This just adds more depth to an already fantastic career mode. Goodbye fifa..

  27. Same thing happened with Oscar and my star player Kakuta. I was offered 6 million and there was no point declining as he’d be in purple form forever. I declined an offer for Lakiten my LMF and he’s now in very poor form every match. Where is the loyalty here?

    My first very suspicious ‘scripting shenanigans’ has happened. Take a look when this glorious chance is snatched away by Seabass’ coding.

  28. Not Given:

    I heard that if you just ignore the offers made to you, your players will not react. Can anyone else confirm this? Contract renewals have to be taken care of, though, otherwise they’ll just resign at whatever price they requested.

  29. Ken—I can confirm it. I’ve never had a player destabilised by a transfer offer from another club, because if I don’t want to accept it I just ignore it until it goes away. There are no consequences as far as I can tell. I did once manually reject an offer, and the player concerned had an angry face on him for several weeks.

  30. Not Given—just ignore any transfer offers you don’t want to accept and you should be fine. I recall other people’s ML careers effectively being ruined by player unhappiness, so I hope it’s not too late for yours.

    Your shenanigans clip is amusing and sad at the same time. Amusing because it is so ridiculous that you’ve got to smile. And sad because that’s the tip of a huge dirty iceberg. My least favourite shenanigans at the moment is the AI’s stupid attacking-you-straight-from-kickoff thing… It gets crazy possession and luck bonuses in what feels to me like a semi-mandatory opening overture to any away game. I just played three away matches in a row that all started with the AI scoring immediately. In all 3 cases I had won the ball at least twice in their build-up, only for mysterious bobbles and dodgy animation sequences to gift the ball back to the AI. Over time, PES2010 will test your patience—and the extent to which you’re willing to suspend disbelief—like no other PES before it.

  31. not-Greg:

    This is exactly why my tactical “evolution” has taken me to the following: At each CPU kickoff (or whenever it has possession), I have my attack/defense bias all the way down to blue, and have the “All Defense” special tactic on, as well. “Parking the bus” has seemed to be the most effective way of minimizing (not stopping, of course) that goal from the kickoff. I also engage the “pressure” special tactic as well, to make sure we have more than one defender on the ball when he’s near my penalty box.

  32. Ken—I do exactly the same. Seeing the apparent kick-off auto-goal happen over and over has led me to the same measures: full ATT/DEF level defence, and all-out defence on a strategy button. The biggers still get through far too often. I find that winning the ball isn’t enough. I have to virtually kill the CPU player(s) to stop the kick-off momentum.

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