Season 2 of my time with Saint Etienne has yet to get going. I’m also now the manager of New Zealand, and there’s a summertime tournament to play – the Asia-Oceanian Cup, no less.
I’ve played the two opening matches. Drawn one, lost one, as above. Thumped by Uzbekistan – the shame. In my last few friendlies before this tournament I seemed to get into the groove playing with the New Zealand lads, scored a few goals, and got a few good results. But it all went to pot come kick-off here.
Here’s the Group Table with one match remaining, against Qatar – victory will see me through:
I’ll be playing that over the weekend.
It’s the perfect real-time time of year to be playing this new-to-me segment of Master League. The sun beating down. June. No domestic football. That latter one is a huge bonus. PES – and even FIFA – long ago overtook ‘real-life’ football in relevance for me.
This time next year we’ll be watching news footage of fans being tear-gassed and baton-charged in Russia – I predict the Russian police will win every single one of those encounters – and when the matches take place, I’ll be fulminating about the unpunished penalty-box grappling that has all but destroyed football as a legitimate sport. About 30 penalty-box infringements will take place per match. but there’ll be maybe 1 penalty awarded per match – if the referee feels like it. Usually none of them will be awarded. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this phenomenon isn’t that it completely destroys football’s credibility as a sport (which it emphatically does), but that precisely nobody really cares about it. I know exactly how that kid felt when he announced that the Emperor was in the buff.
But I’ll save that rant for next June. Now, today, I’ve got a one-time effort to stay in the Asia-Oceanian Cup.
I’m also searching for new players for my forthcoming Saint Etienne campaign. These are my current search criteria:Using my squad of average players (Peter Crouch and Regen Ronaldo and others are in the high 70s, but all others are high 60s/lower 70s), I need to take Saint Etienne back to the big time. When I pitched up a season ago they’d just won Ligue 1 and were in the Champions League. I avoided relegation with them on the last day of this season. In real life I’d have been sacked. Here and now, in fantasy life (fantasy life is best life), I get to go on and see if I can turn the ship around.
Just before the season ticked over to the next, I was offered the manager’s position at Watford. They were relegated from the Premier League last season. I admit I was tempted at the notion of another battle to get out of the Championship and then take on my old club in the Premier League. My finger hovered over the accept button…
But I backed off making another move. I’m all about stability in Master League. I felt that to move again now would only invite the devil in, and then I could easily find myself moving on at the end of every season.
Besides, I’ve only just got to know my players here at Saint Etienne. And having led them to the brink of disaster, I feel like taking them back to the top.