Here I am in the Premier League at last, after 4 seasons of hardship in Division 2. It’s not been quite the epic odyssey that PES2010 was (7 long, long seasons), but I’m actually glad of that.
Master League this year has a few rough edges. It doesn’t quite live up to last year’s high standards (PES2010’s was the best-ever Master League, IMO), but it’s still only a difference between a 9/10 and a 9.5/10.
First thing I did was to do some redesign work on my stadium, ‘The Football Ground’. I upgraded the stands from lower-league stands to the next level, as can be seen at the top of the post. That picture is very reminiscent of the old Highfield Road, the real-life Coventry City’s stadium until recent years.
Here’s my new squad for season 5:
I was very busy in the transfer market. The Void flew by. My main aim was to get a decent sized squad, and I achieved that. I wanted a full complement of at least 22 players for my first season in the Premier.
In the end I sold Animan, my star defender, for £900,000—a huge fee for a youngster by this year’s standards. That money plus the cash from promotion gave me a sizeable warchest to work with. Leonardo and Paonessa were both dirt-cheap on the regular transfer market. Agard was a free transfer. The other new players are Youths.
Leonardo is going to be a first-choice left-back; I’ll probably move Nzom Gole to CB, his other position. My new right-sided midfelder, Gustavvson, is a Youth for whom I have high hopes. As I do for McManaman, who has already blossomed into a 70 OVR player from his start in mid-season.
I had enough cash left over to purchase a single staff upgrade. £500,000 went on a Level 2 Athletic Trainer, my only staff upgrade. I left myself with £300,000 in the bank to go towards an emergency fund for mid-season should I need to.
The only thing left to do was to start playing football. I edited my Home and Away kits (left and right respectively) and got going.
By one of those football gaming coincidences, my first match, against Everton, was the same fixture as my first match in my Football Manager 2010 save. In FM2010 (the best FM, for me, since 2005) I took a 5-0 beating from the Toffees on day 1 of my arrival in the Premier League. I played my PES2011 ML opener on the same day as I took that thrashing. How would I fare?
I lost it 1-0. It was a typical grinding, dour performance from both teams that could have gone either way. It seemed to be heading for a 0-0, which I’d have been happy with, until I conceded from a corner. It felt suspiciously automatic, but I can’t complain.
And it was only after the match that I realised something. I had fogotten to change the difficulty up to Top Player. I was still playing on Professional. Doh.
I made the switch up to Top Player and got on with the next few matches. And, true to form, PES being the contrariwise beast that it is, I won both of my next two matches on Top Player quite comfortably. I beat Chelsea 3-2 away (after being 3-0 up at half time), and West Ham 1-0 at home.
Here’s the very early Premier League table, complete with fancy colour coding. We never had anything like that down in Division 2…
It’s too early for me to say how I think I’ll get on with Top Player difficulty. I didn’t really notice the CPU players closing me down any more than they already did. Performance-wise, I seemed to pick up exactly where I’d left off last season.
If anything, the two matches on Top Player felt a bit easier than Professional, but I’m sure that’ll change as the seasons start to roll by. How many before I can secure the fabled Treble?
And of course there’s a headline-grabbing gameplay patch to be installed. At the time of writing, Wednesday morning, it’s just been released. I’m off to install it now and play some more.