Sweet Carroll-fine

Another few days without football gaming. I’m still not missing it, and don’t feel especially anxious about not missing it. I feel okay, actually. The only wrinkle on the horizon is what to do with the blog.

I have played more NSS. After 5 seasons I still haven’t discovered the super-easy game that many other players report. I still have regular stinkers that see me subbed off in the second half. Maybe it’s because it’s the iPad version.

Over on my long-running Football Manager 2010 save, I had a decision to make that I’ve been putting off for months of real time. Tomas Necid arrived for £20m at the start of my fifth season, but he hadn’t scored, hadn’t looked like scoring, and was homesick.

Should I give my misfit new star a one-month leave of absence, or not? That was the dilemma.

I gave him the leave of absence, figuring that he’ll be back with weeks to go before the January window—plenty of time to see if he’s going to settle down and start scoring. I’ll sell him otherwise, and hope to recoup most of my £20m

The 3D match engine is the best innovation in these types of games since the games themselves. I never experienced the text-only Champ Man years (but still harbour a hankering to).

An example of the 3D match engine delivering the goods: just before I let Necid go on his leave of absence, he was clean through on goal. I actually thought, that’s it, first goal, great stuff, and even had time to wonder if I should switch to a defensive tactic for the rest of the game, maybe even go to two Defensive Midfielders, etc.

But the ball wasn’t in the net yet. My misfit striker visibly hesitated, giving the keeper time to rush out and smother the shot. It was so lifelike and reminiscent of a striker low on confidence. When you see a current-era Torres or a Giroud get a chance, it’s almost a hands-over-the-eyes situation as you wonder if they’ll fluff another one. Ditto my pixelated Necid.

So Necid has gone back to the Czech Republic for a month, and I’m making do with a front two of the veteran Kikin Fonseca and… Andy Carroll.

This is Football Manager 2010, remember—a game that shipped back in 2009, when nobody had heard of Carroll. I picked him up for a bargain £1m from Newcastle’s reserves.

He’s been good for a young target man, but his aggression and discipline is all over the place in this game, for me, right now. He keeps getting sent off. I’ve slapped fines on him to no effect. I’ll probably sell him, depending on what happens with Necid.

I’ve never won anything in Football Manager. My last big huzzah with the game was FM2005, when I got promoted via the playoffs (as I did this time). Never won a title or any cups in this entire series, ever.

I don’t reload games—whatever happens happens—so if I make a misstep, I’m stuck with it. The usual way my FM games end is with the sack. Most often, though, I’ve just drifted away, lacking the time to put in. Playing a few matches once or twice a week works out surprisingly well.

So this is my football gaming life right now. NSS and Football Manager.

I found myself eyeing my PS3 and its games the other day and wondering how much I’d get for them from Cash Generator (not much, I know, but the point is that I’m wondering about it).

Things can’t go on like this on the blog. PES Chronicles is a thrice-weekly affair for a reason. I need to be playing in order to fill these posts. The last week or so of ‘other games’ is okay for a short time, but not how the blog will operate permanently.

I’ll see how things go over the weekend. Monday’s post will be a proper one. I’m going to play a football game one of these mornings—probably FIFA—and see if that relights the fire.


  1. Werd(idontburnpans) Llitrah

    No sandwich droppage. That was a quite a long section. I did notice my ps3 is looking a bit on the tired side. I got it 2009. Good luck with the game pyromania.
    I still feel like playing twilight of the gods by wagner though…:(

  2. N-G – I actually think you should continue to stay well clear of football games – or games in general – until you actually feel the desire to play one, whatever it is. Maybe you never will again but to play one for the sake of this blog is not a good idea in my opinion.

    The thing is most if us have spells of not playing footy games or any games at all for that matter. Then we go back to them just because we want to. This blog has become something of a burden for you in times when you’re not playing. I’m not surprised.

    I won’t be playing this weekend either. I’m out tonight, have a busy Saturday, I’m watching The Masters and on Sunday…get this… I’m playing real footy. Yes, on real grass with no R2, X or anything. It’s a very casual kickabout with a military fitness group I attend that I hope will shake up my routine a bit. I haven’t played in years so I’m a bit scared to be honest while at the same time quietly hoping Gus Poyet might be walking his dog wondering how to solve Brighton’s lack of strikers. He looks up to see a baldy 39-year-old goalhanging for a decent triangle button through-ball.

  3. Selling the PS3 ???? not only have you gone off footy games, you’ve gone out of your mind!!!!

    Havent had any gaming for the last 2 nights either, and now wont get to play until Sunday at earliest. These mini breaks are good for the soul and I’m still at the point where i WANT to play but don’t cause its too late or have stuff to do etc.

    lets hope a superb, new fresh, exciting PES 14 re-ignites your interest, but keep us posted as to the future of the blog, I’m sure many of us would welcome prolonging the outlet to chat, discuss games and life in general so would be willing to help keep it going in any way we could,

  4. Werd Llitrah—I miss my old 60GB PS3 with PS2-compatibility. It was a dark day in gaming when Sony took that decision. The point was never how much it was used, but that the facility was available if you wanted it.

  5. John—I don’t really see FM as a football game, as such—more a strategy game with a unique twist. There’s really nothing else like it (apart from the baseball and other sports management sims). Immersion into the world you create is one of the key features, and I’m happy to report that my disinclination to play PES/FIFA right now isn’t affecting my enjoyment of FM in that respect. Real football has recovered too, and I was able to watch last night’s Europa Cup games with no ill effect, and like the rest of the world my mouth is watering at the prospect of Barca-Real at Wembley in the mother of all Clasicos. The Germans had better not spoil it.

  6. Paul—just a passing fancy. I’ll never sell the PS3! (But will it ever be replaced by the PS4? That is the question.)

  7. Werd(idontburnpans) Llitrah

    NG – I would give up my Mince and dumplings Tuesday for an all german final!!
    My PS3 is an 80g just missed the Reverse debacle. I still have my old ps2 (looks in better nick than the ps3). Medal of Honour has been looking at me from a box full of stuff.

  8. All this week it’s felt like the next blog post could be the last, things are changing up. It’s like when I watched the last episode of Friends – sad to see ’em go, but glad I was there all the way through to the end…

    Played FIFA13 at the office, it reminded me that 1v1 (against the human in the couch next to you) is probably the most fun way to enjoy footy games. Online is a bastard surrogate, it fuels competitiveness without the friendship factor, but that’s what’s offer, if you’re no longer a 10 year old having your mates over after school…

  9. “I’ve never won anything in Football Manager. ”

    You poor sod, I never realised. Is this because you’ve always started as a lowly side aiming to come through the leagues or have PL starts just not panned out well? I’ve won all of them once or twice at some point with different sides but there is definitely a scripting of AI results kicks in, and though I’ve never done it myself I’ve heard of continual play/quit/reloading that produces the same cup final result every time. My most prolonged success has always come when switching a top side to a 4-1-3-2 with an entirely defensive midfielder or a 4-3-1-2 highly attacking midfielder. A complete reversal of my PES back 3, wide play preferences. Despite that I always reckon CB is the most important purchase and will scout them out way more than strikers (sounds a bit Moneyball, it’s not I just reckon there are way more good strikers in the game). I hope you break the duck at some point, I can only imagine what that going to bed after such a success feeling would be like.

  10. Werd Llitrah—I have no special love for either Barca or Real, really—I’m definitely not a tippy-tappy lover, and heap scorn on the notion that you’re somehow obliged to love one or both of them (and the Spain national side)—but such a CL Final would be an amazing football event, a massive occasion that would energise a rather jaded football world and the wider world beyond.

  11. Ng-i think an all spanish might result in a negative match..then again a all german one could too..you know me and my pes 2008 bundesliga option file:-P

  12. Uncle Turf—nope, never won so much as a League Cup in any version of FM. Now I think of it, I did win the old D1 title with Coventry on Champ Man 4 when I got my very first laptop, but that was a stroll. I don’t remember doing much more than picking the team—there was little in the way of tactics and subtlety required.

    Modern FM games are so fiendishly complex by comparison. I’ve only once really carried on a savegame for more than a season or two, back on FM2005, when I got Coventry into the Prem via the playoffs, signed a young Iniesta, and then drifted away from it as I tend to do. I’ve kjept this FM2010 savegame going for a long time and intend to keep it going to its conclusion, however that comes about. My 5th season isn’t going well right now but I should have enough talent on the books to grind out enough results to keep my job.

  13. werd llitrah—chances are that a Barca-Real final would be an exercise in mutual 4-5-1 tactical sterility. 0-0 and penalties, probably. Remember the Italy-France World Cup final of 2006? No, me neither, Zidane headbutt aside. That’s what too much modern football is like at higher levels and it makes me so weary. But you never know, sometimes you get a cracker.

  14. Ng-or the red star belgrade vs marseille in the 90’s!…i had quick game of fifa before getting fish and chips..fifa still amazes with its options.a 2-1win over anderlecht with club brugges..with dutch commentary!!werd heaven

  15. Werd- Medal of Honour, do it, you know you want to!!

  16. Lloyd..everytime i go into the second bedroom the box shouts of memories past…i played in hd on the ps3 when it came free with moh..not the same though is it?

  17. My fondest memories of fps was playing Time splitters with my mate nearly every day one summer until we completed it.

  18. Lloyd-ive sneaked moh into the kitchen where the ps2 is…the original moh’s on the ps1 devoured my early twenties..sigh

  19. I love hearing FM stories – keep em coming, surely there’s enough detail & anecdotes to keep you going through the summer?

  20. NG – “to keep my job”!! – again the prospect of the sack for league results is just something I’ve not encountered. I have been sacked but only due to my apalling attitude or ultimatums (me being the worst kind of multi-club manager). Sorry if that sounds full of myself but I think it’s down to either starting massive and having loads of resources or small and having minimal expectations. I’d imagine the likes of coventry, blackburn, notts f, etc could be quite tricky to manage.

    I reckon 2010 is close to cracking towards the end of season 2. I now have a 9, 10, 10 record thanks to my January signings and am finding the cross and head/prod in quite a productive route. The defaults stand out in their ineptitude – no wonder shooting felt broken although I still think the goalies are a bit overpowered. Promotion aim in year 3 as usual, followed by tough season 4, top six in year 5, trophy in season 6, full challenge by season 7. It seems to be my PES ML pattern and I would be surprised if this version deviated much. If I achieve this I’ll try on 2011. By which point I suspect I will agree with Paul and those who highlight the sameness of ML year on year. 2013 gave me that weird early promotion and relegation but thereafter followed the same.

    Chris – here’s one: I can’t remember which CM it was (before it became FM) but I bought Michael Owen at the end of the season – when he was flying for Liverpool. The final piece in my jigsaw. Over the summer he was ‘involved in a car accident’ and that was the end of that, gone, without kicking a ball.

  21. Uncle-car accident!!!,,god thats a bit in depth isnt it? Lloyd-played moh last night for half hour..one word feckinmint!!

  22. werd littrah—the original MOH on the PS1 was the first FPS I ever played on a console (the N64/Goldeneye period was in my wilderness years). I remember being completely immersed in the world and the missions. Great game that I’ve never quite managed to recapture the magic of since. Quake II and Halo excepted. Alas, as with so much else in life, you can never go home again.

  23. Chris—it’s something I have considered, but I’m not sure I’d want to get too granular with blogging about FM. I’d prefer just to play it and let that be that. The occasional mention here feels right.

  24. Uncle Turf—no long-rangers in PES2010 yet?

    re. FM and my poor record in it, I tend to get into nosedives that I never pull out of. If there’s an easy secret to success, I’ve never discovered it (and I’m okay with just going on as I am really).

  25. Ng-same moh + underground were a for staple me. You may not be able.to go home but i stayed over last night..i played two games in fifa as well this pm..moh beckons tonight tho..just half an hour

  26. NG – two maybe three but more loopy long rangers from Oscar rather than thunderbolts a la Irjescu. The route to goal for me is reminding me strongly of 2012 and I’m sure I played this way numerous times before. Emile Heskey, Carlton Cole, Ribeiro, now Crouch (who is actually shit in the air but is tall enough for it not to matter) – I clearly have a thing for large men.

    My problem with FM is I love the close season and often fail to return when its time for the matches to start again. I’ve said before a ‘football director cum chairman’ game would be perfect for me.

  27. Uncle-didnt pes have a director mode in 12?..im sure you had to buy it at the shop though.

  28. So Sunday afternoon I had a little session on CoD and after I had a spare 45 mins so thought I’d play a few more matches of my ML on PES13, which I abandoned about a month ago. Just to see if there was any magic left in it.
    I expected to be deflated pretty quickly by the flawed game play, ie scripting etc but I wasn’t …… although my reignition with PES 13 lasted only 2 solitary matches.

    The game play was ….. OK. Nothing more nothing less, decent but no fireworks.
    I carried on my 9 season ML from a month ago, playing 2 pre-season (10) friendlies.
    It was the game environment, the ML mode itself that made my experience a very short one.
    The following 2 seasons I have won the premier league back to back, got to the final of the FA Cup both seasons, and 1/4 finals of the Champions League both seasons, am ranked 12th in the club rankings, out of 287 or whatever it is, and have £200million in the bank.
    The top 10 players in the whole game are filled out by 6 of my own players, all rated at 109 OVR, invluding Hadouir, a promoted and developed youth CM, and Sobiech, a promoted and developed youth CB.

    Suddenly I had bids for both these players, for paltry fee’s considering their OVR ratings, and as I naturally declined both offers, I then had both players come to me demanding a transfer request.
    WTF !?!?!?!?!?!?!?

    I could understand if it was Barcelona who had put bids in and Barca were winning La Liga and the Champs League every year but it wasnt, It was PSV who finished 8th in their league and are ranked 38th in the world, and some lowly team I’d never even heard of that were ranked over 100th in the world.
    Yet both players seemingly wanted to leave to further their career in lowly, unsuccessful mid-tier clubs in second rate leagues.
    And as a result of their transfer demands both are extremely unhappy and purple arrowed.

    So my 2 best players want to leave a highly rich, successful team, where they both play every game, and compete for 4 trophies every season, to join some shite side???? And as a result I cant pick them due to a sudden huge drop in form and happiness.

    Absolute bollox, at this point I turned PES 13 off and can honestly say It wont ever grace my PS3 again, its broken in so many different ways that it renders the decent game play unimportant.

  29. Paul—that’s a fair analysis IMO—the ML environment of PES2013 was ultimately the game’s undoing for me too. At some point I might get back to my Sheffield Weds non-dev ML (remember that?!), but I might not. Re. the old ML saves, I remember being most annoyed at my Defaults and Youths being so ridiculously overpowered, making the transfer market irrelevant. One or two would have been nice—but all of them? Nope. And what a shame. The gameplay is good.

  30. Paul – I tried the same thing a few days ago. Its even more of a shame due to the fact that 2013 was my first major punt at ML. I enjoyed my Fifa play a yesterday. I want my 2013 to work, as I’ve said my limited time may make four or five season(who am I kidding!!)durable until my players are superstars, then 2014 will be rolling along. Is it worth my time with 2013 or will I enjoy a 2012 ML more(Abbey, NG?))

  31. Not-Greg, My mind was made up by me not feeling a sudden surge of elation when sampling the PES game play for the first time in quite a while, but then for the ML mode itself to annoy me, that was the absolute final straw.

    And I don’t feel I’m being unfair when I use the term ‘broken’ – because it is, in terms of realism.
    How can a CPU player that’s rated 89 OVR and 29 yrs old be rated at £45 million, yet my 24yr old 109 OVR rated player, is only apparently worth £19 million ?
    It does get to the point, around the 5 season mark, where your own home grown players are so well developed, it renders the transfer market pointless.

    But the whole game world that ML unwraps within is nonsense, due to the points I’ve highlighted above, and more.

    Direct Comparison:

    PES – I cant sign ‘superstar’ players as even though I’m one of the top, most successful clubs in the world, can afford the transfer and pay massive wages, the players chance of signing is only 2%.
    Yet my best players wish to leave to ‘further’ their career with some bag of dross side.

    FIFA – I’m able to sign better than what I’ve got players on LOAN from top clubs as I’m informed that the parent club has high hopes for that player and they feel that he will develop well under my stewardship playing in an up-and-coming team, but realistically, have no chances of signing him permanently.
    My better players reject moving to other clubs, even slightly better ones, as they can see the progress we are making as a club and believe they can be part of a successful team in the coming years.

    The difference is night & day.

  32. Paul – I think it’s fair comment about pes, the ml environment is awful and riddled with holes. However, I don’t agree that fifa career is working well with the loan arrangements. My Rochdale side got players from bayern, Liverpool, Madrid, etc, in fact not one of them turned me down, you could dispense with half your team if you wanted. That’s clearly ridiculous. In my mind the only one that has that attracting the right level of players balance correct is fm.

    Another couple of 2010 games another two wins, from crosses, via headers. It’s becoming a bit samey already.

  33. Paul – I’m surprised you even tried PES 2013 again given your view of the game even before this weekend.

    There’s no doubt this year’s ML is broken due to the player development. I wouldn’t even consider going back to my original ML because of it. But I still maintain that the gameplay on this year’s PES is the best ever.

    I had time for a few matches of my Fifa CM last night and my feeling for the game is almost an exact opposite to yours of PES: I love the CM interface and all the bits and bobs but I still have a bit of a flat feeling about the gameplay. When I play it, I just don’t feel the same interaction with my players as I do in PES. I’m don’t want to compare the two because they really are two extremely different games but it feels like there something stopping me get properly into the gameplay on Fifa. And this is despite the fact I’m now scoring and winning games.

    I know it’s a boring old thing to say, but I really would be happiest with PES’s gameplay coupled with FIFA’s CM. Wouldn’t you? That’s never going to happen of course so it’s the old dilemma of what’s more important to you in a football game, your time on the pitch or your time off it?

  34. John – A PES/Fifa hybrid has been a major dream(along with Rachel Weisz beingmy boss). I think the gameplay is more important. I make up half the manager stuff in my head anyway :). I enjoyed my Fifa games last night Watford vs Derby(I had a weird itch I had to scratch with that one)it was quite tense match. But again that golden moment was missing.

  35. Uncle Turf & John –

    Uncle Turf – with Loanee’s coming to your club too easily, this doesn’t worry me at at all and I actually think its quite realistic. How many Rooney’s/Van Persie’s/Aguero’s/Walcott’s have you managed to sign on loan? Probably None.
    Its younger/fringe players, even if they do come from top clubs,l which often happens in real life.
    Try and sign those players permanently for your lowly club after the loan period – you wont be able to.
    So yes, you could replace half your team with players from top/decent sides, but when those loans end ad they go back to the parent club, you will be left with half a team.

    John – PES 13 is the best game play of any PES title to date agreed.
    But there’s no point in having good game play when the actual ‘world’ that you use it in is completely nonsensical, and dis-engaging.
    I also agree that whilst FIFA’s Game Play is very good (IMO) it lacks that magic PES feel, whatever that is, where you connect with players and form a virtual bond with them, but i believe that feeling only comes about through years of ritualistic PES playing and long engaging ML career’s – Give FIFA enough time and you may also get that feeling.

    Im not going to compare FIFA vs PES because they are 2 different games in their own right, and should be treated as such, but the more I see of FIFA and learn of PES’s faults, the more I realise the PES game play isnt that great really after all.
    Look at player runs, or the lack of them, and certainly the lack of any intelligence, positioning of defence, the way every single team plays in an identical way, the bugs/issues with the physicality, absurd refereeing decisions, …. its not really that good.

    For me the action ON the pitch is as equally important OFF it and vice versa, you have to have a happy balance, great game play with nothing to back it up gets boring quickly, and a superbly realistic mode and presentation, with shoddy game play doesn’t hold interest.
    PES11 was the last PES where the 2 found some equilibrium IMO, and even then PES11 had major game play issues.

  36. Paul – I fail to see half the faults you do on PES 2013’s gameplay. I just don’t. There’s faults and annoyances in both games of course but there’s nothing so bad in PES to make Fifa the easy choice. As you can tell, I’m still having to choose every time a fancy a game – which is not that often at the moment.

    Oh, has anyone had this happen on FIFA? I signed a young CB from free agents in my CM (Tate his name is) and when I play him he trots around the pitch wearing tight, black jogging bottoms. I double checked his stats, thinking I was playing a GK outfield but no, he’s CB alright and a pretty good one. But there he is, game after game, with the proper shirt but no shorts or socks. Weird.

  37. John – I must have a faulty copy of the game then, different from every other person in the world that has PES. Guess I got unlucky.

    And I’m not saying FIFA is the better game, it has many faults, just none as bad as PES.
    Im not a FIFA FanBoy, or a PES FanBoy and have no wish for one game to prevail, at the demise of the other, I’d LOVE two fantastically wonderful perfect footy games, I really would, but to turn your “I dont see any of PES’s faults” comment on its head …..
    I See PLENTY of faults and could argue you’re blinkered or just not very observant if you dont.

    Pages and pages and pages of posts, on various forums, all over the web would back up my claims.
    You haven’t had the ball in Midfield whilst playing PES and looked for a through ball behind the defense and not seen your CF’s just ambling alongside the defender, making no attempt to run, or arch or curve a run to stay onside or drop back for a short ball ?
    You’ve never been viciously assaulted in the penalty box only for the ref to act as if it was YOU that fouled?
    You’ve never seen a loose ball rolling at 1mph towards your GK and watched him desperately belly flop on to the ball like a wet migrating salmon ?

  38. Paul – Blimey, alright mate. I really wasn’t trying to force you to concede either is better or worse. They are very different as you say. But is certainly seems PES has had a profound affect on you this year – a very negative one.

    I don’t tend to look on the forums these days but I have no doubt there will be plenty hammering both game’s flaws. There always is.

  39. Paul – can I also recommend Brian Eno’s Music for Airports…

  40. Paul – I forgot to answer your points:

    1.”You haven’t had the ball in Midfield whilst playing PES and looked for a through ball behind the defense and not seen your CF’s just ambling alongside the defender, making no attempt to run, or arch or curve a run to stay onside or drop back for a short ball?”

    Cant say I have, no. Not that it’s been a problem, certainly. I have more issue with playing a ball up to a striker in FIFA and him running in behind the defence as the ball is coming towards him leaving the defender to take it.

    2. “You’ve never been viciously assaulted in the penalty box only for the ref to act as if it was YOU that fouled?”

    Yes on the former but no on the latter. But I don’t feel half as frustrated as the meh! feeling I got putting away two penalties in one CM match for what might have been a trip or a handball of some kind. As for conceding the same kind of penalties….

    3.You’ve never seen a loose ball rolling at 1mph towards your GK and watched him desperately belly flop on to the ball like a wet migrating salmon ?

    Yes, but as long as he holds the ball I’m really not bothered that a computer game goalie doesn’t exactly emulate Gordon Banks at every opportunity. Fifa’s ‘keepers are much better. No, they are much, much, much better. In fact they make such beautifully animated and brilliant saves at almost every opportunity – especially from close range shots.

  41. John & Paul (& George & Ringo)—I’m sure we’ve all had truly obnoxious moments with PES. The question is when you stop overlooking/forgiving PES’s well-documented faults, and start seeing them as actual impediments to enjoyment. I’m still, even now, in the overlooking/forgiving state: I see PES as bigger than its flaws, however horrendous, in the long run.

    I do wonder if I’ll ever get into FIFA enough to see its flaws, first of all (I don’t see many at the moment) and then go on to see them likewise in context as part of an organic whole.

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