Today’s Hagi goal, first of all.
Situation: away to Norwich, 85 minutes gone. The score is 0-0.
I’m down to 10 men. My right back was harshly sent off for a second yellow.
Norwich had pummelled me all match, even more so since the dismissal. I was trying just to hang on for a point.
I’d rejigged my formation, moving Hagi to the centre of midfield, where I hoped to get a long-range opportunity at the very least.
I got a throw-in on the right, in Norwich’s half. And this happened:
When that one went in, I sat up and yelled out loud—then stifled it, lest the neighbours start to think I’m even stranger than they already think I am.
I love a good long-distance thumper, as regular readers will know, and Georghe Hagi has certainly provided a few since his arrival. I keep saying that his latest one is the best of them all, but I genuinely think this one is. I’ve scored from further out with Hagi and will do so again, I hope, but in this case he’s running side-on to the goal. Possibly the clincher is his insouciant look-up at the keeper. Perhaps only his recent spectacular free kick tops this one for me.
I grimly held on for the victory, in the face of some shockingly transparent shenanigans from the CPU. They nearly auto-equalised straight from their kick-off. I had to defend two last-gasp corners. My defenders seemed unwilling to just hoof it upfield. But I held on somehow.
That win against Norwich was one of 4 league wins on the bounce that boosted me up to 3rd place at one stage. Then I lost a few and plunged back down to 7th, but at this stage of the season—only 8 matches have been played—a quick return to form should see me vaulting back up towards the top 4, where I want to be.
That’s easier said than done in PES2012, though. Since that purple patch, the game seems to be doing its best to stifle me and to direct my shots everywhere except where I want them to go.
I’m so frustrated with PES2012 sometimes. Not least because, when it works, it’s a great game of football. Everybody who has stuck with PES2012 past the first few weeks knows how good it can be.
But when it decides, for example, that it’s going to direct van Basten’s strongly-aimed corner shot right down the keeper’s throat—not just once, but several times in the same match—I despise the game only slightly less than I despise myself for persevering with it.
Once again, it all comes back to the shooting.
There’s a voice I hear occasionally, a voice that whispers in my ear: you only scored that great goal with Hagi, or anyone else, because the game decided to recognise your shooting aim on this occasion. That’s what it whispers to me, very quietly.
There has never been a more Jekyll-and-Hyde edition of Pro Evolution Soccer than PES2012. In all my long years of playing this franchise, I have never encountered such extremes between true greatness and utter garbage.
Yes, yes, yes. It’s a familiar refrain that’s pretty much old-hat now. Saying “PES2012 is eccentric” is like saying “water is wet”. What’s the point of saying it?
What I need is for the balance between Jekyll and Hyde to be at least 70/30 in Jekyll’s favour (Jekyll being the good one, of course). At the moment, it’s 50/50 at best.