Season 10 has begun. In a new, slightly bluer home kit (modelled on the left by a returning old friend… see below for more).
I’ve already played my first proper match of the new campaign—the first leg of the Champions League qualifying match, away to Vitesse. It was a tight match that ended Vitesse 0-1 Coventry City.
My away goal won’t count for anything if I let them get one back at my place, so I’ll be careful.
I haven’t played any other matches due to real-life commitments over the past few days.
So, for today’s post, something I’ve often threatened to do but never actually got round to: a full player-by-player breakdown of my entire squad. This one could get nerdy, folks.
My First XI is pretty much as seen in the squad diagram. The only thing different is a couple of the positional descriptions, which I’ll mention when I get to the individual players.
GK: DORDO. Easily the best keeper I’ve had in PES2012. My excellent defensive record last season owed as much to him as it did to any Zen-like focus on my part. I’ve lost count of the times when a certain goal looks on for the CPU teams, only for Dordo to pull off a save. I can count the number of his keeper blunders on one finger.
CB: RUGGERI. The Classic Argentine stopper plays up to his name: rugged, uncompromising. In real life he was the pre-Puyol Puyol (albeit slightly before my time). He’s my Captain, and there’s not much can get past him. If I’m missing Ruggeri for any reason, I know it. Every transfer window I receive £50million+ bids for him, which I turn down without batting an eye.
CB: NADAL. Ruggeri’s unsung partner in defence, albeit not as well-endowed stats-wise, Nadal is another player whom I really miss when he’s not playing.
LB: HYAM. A new signing this season from relegated Ipswich, Hyam is still quite young (26 I think) and very, very talented. He handles like a winger, with all the pace and stamina required. I’ve only played a couple of Training Matches and that Champions League qualifier with him in the side, but already I think I’ve found a new Roberto Carlos.
RB: CEDRIC SOARES. He came in last season when Luke Young went on a permanent purple arrow and suspended contract talks. I still need to replace Luke Young (who has since left the club), but I’m not looking very hard, because Soares is so good. Gets up and down that touchline all game long. He does tend to get beaten a bit easily sometimes, and allow the CPU in behind him, but that’s probably more my fault.
That back four, plus the keeper, are completely rock-solid most of the time. My only reservation is that Hyam and Soares are so useful going forward, I tend to leave myself exposed.
DMF: NEESKENS. He’s a CMF in the picture, but it makes little difference. Defensively, Neeskens (another Classic) is probably the most effective DMF-as-DMF I’ve ever ‘worked with’ in PES. In this game the DMF is designed to slot into the back 4 whenever a CB goes a-rovin’. Neeskens does this superbly.
He’s a tackler, a tracker-backer, a silky passer, and a linker-upper (and also #a joker, a smoker, a midnight talker… playin’ his music in the sun#).
The one thing against him—and this will probably keep him from full-on Legend status—is that he’s one of the many-too-many PES2012 players who cannot shoot to save his life. Historically, one of PES’s most thrilling attributes is leaping onto cleared corners with your DMF and smashing the ball into the top corner. Neeskens can’t do that. Otherwise, though, a top DMF.
LMF: JOHN BARNES. I know, another Classic, right? But the only tangible benefit all my Classics have ever brought me is the cashflow that comes from having sold a few of them. I’ve still won nothing, several seasons later, and most of them are ageing now.
John Barnes is… John Barnes. Got the lot. The sweetest left foot. Doesn’t score enough for my liking, but it’s not for the want of a solid left foot shot. He’s a 96OVR AMF in the picture, but his actual position is LMF, where he’s a 101OVR player.
You know, for all his skills, when he’s not playing I don’t really miss him. PES has always been eerily lifelike, and never more so than in PES2012. It took a lot to bring me back from FIFA12. The sheer staggering depth of PES2012′s player individuality and tactical options were a huge factor. John Barnes being a talented-but-luxury item is just one facet of PES2012′s very sparkly diamond of player individuality.
RMF: DOOLIN. This player annoys me more than a little. He’s not a Classic. He’s a Created player that came with the excellent Option File I’ve been using since the start. Problem is that for all his attributes, he’s another PES2012 player who cannot shoot.
Weak shots so feeble they might as well be underhit back-passes are the order of Doolin’s day. I don’t think I’ve scored 10 goals with Doolin altogether in the 5 or 6 seasons I’ve had him. All tap-ins. I think one was from the edge of the box.
I keep trying to sell him, but nobody’s buying, and anyway—who’ll come in to replace him? I have other midfielders in the squad with booming shots on them (see below), but none of them with Doolin’s passing, dribbling, pace, and stamina. Or his versatility: one of his alternate position is at right-back, where he becomes a very useful 87OVR right-back—better than Soares—and never embarrasses himself.
AMF: FORLAN. In 10 years’ time, when people ask me—as they will!—about PES2012, saying, “not-Greg, who was your player of Master League that year?”, I think I already know who I’m going to say. It won’t be Hagi or van Basten or Dordo or any of the other candidates, any of whom might easily take the crown.
I have a strong suspicion that I’m going to answer “Diego Forlan”.
It’s still very early in his career. Forlan’s a promoted Youth player, and he was special from the start, but not yet fully-rounded enough to become a regular starter. Partway through last season, he became a first-choice player.
First up front, alongside van Basten, where he was good but never really fully convincing. Then I played him at AMF and he was a revelation. A great attacking midfielder in PES is one of the joys of the series, simply becuase he can get the ball and leather it home when required. Forlan can do that.
SS: SAVIOLA. A bit of an experiment, this one. He came up from my Youth team at the start of season 9. I don’t remember mentioning it on the blog (mainly because I was packing up in readiness to jump ship to FIFA12 at the time).
In PES6, Saviola was a very useful player. In PES2012, he’s deceptively good. He’s fast and nippy and can link up well, but… yet again, the shooting prowess just isn’t there. His current First XI status is strictly probationary, and his time is running out. I’ll give him 5 more matches, then Stoichkov is coming back in.
CF: VAN BASTEN. One of football’s goal-scoring princes, the Classic PES2012 version of van Basten is doing the business for me too. 24 goals last season in the League, about 8 in the Cups—meaning that if he’s not on the pitch, my goals tend to dry up.
In an edition of PES that’s pretty parched for goal-scoring action in any case, a player who can put the ball in the net is priceless.
I get constant £50million+ bids for him every transfer window as well, and I turn them all down.
He’s not that great an all-round player. His value is almost entirely putting the ball in the back of the net when he has the ball at his feet in and around the penalty box. And that’s all he needs to do, really.
Whew. This is already the longest single post I think I’ve ever posted on the blog. So I’ll only glance briefly at most of the rest of the squad.
STOICHKOV: 33 this season and long past his peak. One more season in him. Still has that fearsome left foot, but it’s a rarer sight now.
HAGI: Ditto to the above, really. The Hagi of those first few seasons with me is no more. I can’t remember the last time he even had a decent shot on goal. I tried to sell him mid-season, but sentiment got the better of me.
CAMACHO: Ah, the PES2008(PS2/PSP) legend. Not quite the same in my ML world, but a fine understudy to Neeskens. Always reliable.
FALCAO: When I play against the big boys I play with two DMFs in front of the back 4, and Falcao comes in (replacing Doolin). Has a great booming shot, but isn’t as good defensively as Neeskens, nor as good in attack as Doolin, so he’s not a first-choice player.
T. MANFREDINI: a promoted Youth. I thought I sold him last season, but it turned out to be a Loan agreement, and when he came back he was a very competent young CB indeed. I believe he’ll turn into a minor star at the very least.
SCIFO: Yes, it’s the Enzo Scifo. Skilful, good passer, and has a good shot on him. Somehow I never feel compelled to play him, though. Always moaning.
RIVALDO: No longer an automatic first choice. Don’t be misled by the 97OVR thing. He’s fading almost as much as Hagi has faded. A worthy stand-in for Barnes and Forlan when required, though. A great header of the ball still.
GILLET: A decent resevre keeper, nothing special.
D. BULTHUIS: Reliable left-back, been with me for donkey’s years now. I can barely remember a time before D. Bulthuis was in my squad.
GERA: a disappointing promoted Youth player, never quite convincing me he’s worthy of cultivating. On the Loan and Transfer list for 2 seasons now.
ALDAIR: Good, experienced CB, subs for Nadal/Ruggeri when required. 33 now , but that’s a good age for a CB. Might be time to move him on, though.
CARACCIOLO: A minor PES legend in PES2008(PS2/PSP) for me, a major one for others. Another promoted Youth whom I thought I’d take a gamble on. Only a few sub appearances so far. Early days.
PERROTTA: Yet another promoted Youth. I have high hopes for this one. He plays almost anywhere. He played a few consecutive matches as an emergency RB for me towards the end of last season, and was superb, even getting an assist.
MANCINI: Yes, it’s the Mancini of Lazio fame, and latterly of Manchester City management fame. I’m old enough to remember Mancini as a very stylish player of the early-to-mid 90s. Every time I see fat old Steve Bruce on TV, I also remember him playing as a young kid for Norwich. “You know you’re getting old when…”
Mancini is skilful and has a good shot, but just like Scifo, somehow I don’t mind leaving him out. Always moaning too.
RIBEIRO: The prodgal son returns. After reading all about his heading prowess, I took a risk and brought this player back to the club where he started out. The transfer fee was only £300k. He’s 28 now and not going to get any better, but if he can get me 5 headed goals this season when I’m up against it, it’ll have been worth it.
NATALI: Another promoted Youth, and another one I have high, high hopes for. He’s tall and built like the proverbial brick shithouse. With his blond hair, it looks as if I’ve got Thor playing for me. THOR will be his Hulk-style nickname, if all goes according to plan. What’s the plan? For Natali and Manfredini to become my replacements for Ruggeri and Nadal as the seasons go by.
And that is finally that. I know my squad is too big. I know that I took the fast-track to riches (but not success) when I unlocked the Classics. I know.
I’ll be getting rid of at least 4 players before the transfer window shuts, prior to season 10 really getting underway.
Either Scifo or Mancini will have to go. Rivaldo’s on the list and I should still get a nice wad of cash for him. If I can’t sell Gera, I’ll release him. Caracciolo might well be surplus to requirements too. I’m toying with the notion of just putting Hagi out of his misery.
All in all, whatever happens, I will go into Season 10 with a great squad. I’m really looking forward to seeing where they take me, and where the young ‘uns end up, further down the line. Remember their names: Natali, Manfredini, Perrotta, Forlan.