Make benefit glorious nation of New Zealand

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.

Updated: 23rd June 2017 — 00:32


  1. Good side, Uzbekistan.

    You could sign some of you Kiwi internationals so you can have a hand in their development, thus improving your chances of Pacific glory.

    I have recently purchased a 17yo Crouch for my ML for £4.3m. First time controlling the big man so we’ll see what he does, but he’ll mostly be backup this season, although I feel a change of formation coming. I’m just about to start my 4th season with Burton and we’re still in the Championship. The house rules are working really well, and although I’m starting to get hold of some quality players now, I can only really have a few in the squad at a time due to money restraints. It’s a strict one-in-one-out policy because of the budget. No signing youth team regens and turning them around for a hefty profit. I need to search for £300k wonderkids and try to turn them into a profit after a couple of seasons. A real manager feel about proceedings so far and I’m enjoying it.

  2. With all the discussions lately about revamping some of the rules of football, it’s surprising how few pundits have said maybe referees should uphold the ones they’ve got first.

  3. Good luck with the Kiwis n-G.

    I have also just signed up for some international action. I had the choice of managing Nigeria, Argentina and England and while I was tempted by a more exotic choice I ended up taking the Three Lions job – mainly on the strength that I noticed my very own Steve Sidwell is England captain.

    The rest of the England squad are an odd mix of those Under 21 youngsters the sports news is trying to get us all excited about and regens including a 19-year-old 90 rated John Terry. He won’t be getting a look in on my watch. On the subject of which, how and when do you actually get to choose your squad?

    In club footy, I started Season 8 (it is 8 I checked) with a Super Cup win vs Ajax. I blew a 2-0 lead but this time won a penalty shoot out to add this odd trophy to my cabinet which also includes a Premier League championship, A Europa cup and a Charity Shield.

    House Rules are making recruitment a lot more interesting. I’ve bought in a few decent players using only listed players (for sale/loan) and no youths or even freebies. I’ll see how this season goes plus a Euros in the following summer and then I might even lower my wage cap again from £2m to 1.5m.

  4. Tommy – Crouch isn’t too hot for me in PES2017 so far. In PES2015, he was instantly a star. Now, not so much. This is one of the ingredients in the PES secret sauce, the way players don’t handle the same from one edition to another, or even on the same edition for different human players.

    Chris99 – if only! It would totally transform the game. The attacker who twists to get away from a defender, only for the defender to automatically make a grab at him, even ‘just’ a glancing one that doesn’t really do much – instant foul and free kick/penalty, every time. That change alone would make the game of professional football interesting again. You don’t see American sports bedevilled by arguments like ‘but is that enough of a foul?’ or ‘if they were all given, there’d be too many given, so they can’t be given’. We’re a long, long way past the point where anything could be done about this in practical terms. The only chance football has to redeem itself as a sport is if a breakaway version of the game got going. This won’t happen either, of course, so we are stuck with the interactive dramatic performance that passes for a sport at the moment.

    Shed – I won that last match against Qatar with a truly heroic effort, and when the final whistle expected to see my players celebrating. Instead, I got the ‘gutted 1999 Bayern Munich’ scenes. I’d finished 3rd. I hadn’t looked at the group table properly. I won – but so did UAE, and they pipped me on GD or something.

    I felt I’d wrung every ounce of performance out of NZ that I possibly could, and decided to move on Internationally. I was offered England too and felt tempted, but I went for Japan instead. Better than NZ, but not much.

  5. Smart move on Watford, history has told me that the first ml move is enjoyable but more than one and you can start feeling unsettled with the whole game. Football manager it is not. Besides which Watford are one of those teams I harbour a long standing grudge against thanks to the actions of two fans back in the late 80s who came to st James park and waved tenners at us in the paddock alongside. Two fat f-ckers with curtain hairdos. If only we’d had military rule and I was head of the army, they’d be still breaking rocks on the outer Hebrides.

  6. From all the forum talk ,seems there is no change in the fouls situation for 2018. By design of course. Crap.

  7. Abbeyhill – played some more Lego city, the film references are great and sail way over my son’s head. He just looked bemused during the shawshank rip off.

  8. thanks Turf, it does sound good. Annoying that the Switch version requires an extra set of joycon controllers, which are ludicrously priced, for co-op

    have been playing some Lego Worlds on PS4 but none of us got really excited by it. Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8 remain the default family games

  9. Nope, me neither. The little fella loves Lego worlds as he likes the free form building stuff without the possibility of death but I find it clunky and difficult to work with. There seem a fair few bugs they’ve not fixed too. None of that in Lego city, it’s exactly like the marvel ones except they let you explore immediately without needing to work through the story. It obviously helps to unlock stuff though and there are hundreds of collectibles.

    Into 2015s transfer window and what a bloody awful dogs breakfast that is. It will have been said before of course but I have 500k in the bank and managed to sign the 2m rated loftus cheek for half his salary and no fee in January. It’s almost like the person who designed it had no idea how bosmans and transfer windows worked. That’s the sort of thing that makes it look amateurish and shambolic to FIFA players who don’t necessarily compare on field activity as the only benchmark. It looks that way to me and I’m loving my matches.

  10. Luca. Toni. What a beast of a big man. There is something violent and barbaric about scoring headers in PES 17. I love it.

    I also have taken the Italy job, to give my players more exposure. But it’s too easy.

    Has anyone ever gotten a job offer from South America’s clubs if you started in Europe?

  11. Noodles- i have. But you can also apply for jobs.

  12. Uncle Turf – not wanting to get into a hopping-around frame of mind was also a big part of staying put at Saint Etienne.

    I just looked at Lego City on YouTube and ended up landing on a vid from 2015 of some bloke’s 245 square feet actual city made of lego in the real world. The crazy thing is that I envied him for his creation. Not played Lego for 40 years. (And no, ghost of Paul if you’re reading this, Minecraft doesn’t count.)

  13. MrNoodles – yes, as #1 says, I can confirm that you get South American offers even in Europe, and you can request moves to any club anyway (I didn’t know this at all).

  14. Can any parents answer whether Lego is played with buckets of random blocks or is it more structured nowadays with specific kits? Or did I just have a deprived childhood by only having an assortment of spare parts rather than having Kit and Michael Knight in molded plastic form.

    I’m now half way through season 2 in my restart. My house rules haven’t achieved their desired objective as I charged into the Premier League after one season via the play offs and currently sit 6th in the Premier in season 2. So now I’m going to try building a team consisting of players who have played for Swindon in real life. Bearing in mind the robins currently play in Division 4 this will hopefully provide the challenge I’m after. There’s just enough players in the game if I include some Loanees who’ve made at least 1 appearance. John Bostock, your time has come.

    I know, I know this is getting a bit sad now.

  15. Cook – any time he has money my son wants to buy a Nexo knights vehicle/batman helicopter/ninjago dragon etc etc but ultimately I build them, he destroys them and the parts are scattered to the four corners of his boxes forever more. His long term interest is simply using whatever is at hand to make vast islands or castles with assorted areas for particular pieces of Lego e.g. ‘Ice region’ in his medieval castle grounds. I think the change came after I’d finished with the toy when they suddenly pushed minifigures. I had a few spacemen and knights as a kid but now there are thousands, all with some spin off car/plane/ship. I can only ever remember building houses, dragsters and home made stuff rather than any kit. So while they might buy them I think the underlying way to play with it remains.

    Having a torrid time in the back of season one. Switching off for spells has seen me ship 12 goals in three games. I have added a few players though thanks to the konami balls up of a transfer window – loftus cheek, Kane (woefully undervalued as a Spurs youngster if this were real life but I’m not sure he becomes a world beater) and some soton defender. I’m not house ruling this area as the search is so bad you can’t even see who might be in the last year of a contract, they don’t even show up in free agents unless they are already gone. It feels that with the manual/unassisted and crap management tools it’s 1-1 in terms of balance and I see yet more slog ahead.

  16. Cook – see my response to sirhc on the last post if you haven’t already. I really should have said ‘Pete and Cook’ when mentioning the kinds of footy game players whose customary experience of football games is one of ease. I think the giveaway sign of ‘one of you lot’ is the first-season promotion. Granted, plenty of lesser players also have that first-season promotion too, but don’t go on to win everything in the second season (or have successive promotions in FIFA, etc.).

    Your Swindon project sounds really good and engrossing. I shudder to think of an equivalent Coventry City project. It’d make my struggles with New Zealand look easy by comparison.

    Uncle Turf – ah, we’d have seen a proper ML transfer market in operation on the blog but for my abrupt about-face re. PES5. Which is still unfinished business. There might yet be a revisit to that one in late August, by which time I’ll have a home setup that makes it as easy as playing on a console. I don’t want to segue straight from PES2017 into PES2018 so there will be a gap of sorts that’ll have to be filled.

  17. Cook – Mini-Shed has a huge box of random Lego which gets played with less and less now he’s entered his teens. I miss helping him build vehicles and towers although there is something about Lego that gets me all obsessive about finding just the right piece. He also has bought sets which we built, only for them to be stuck on the shelf never played with: Daily Bugle building, Tony Stark’s house and the Ghostbusters Ecto 1.

    I did the exact same house rules once on PES 5. I started a mixed up ML with me as Brighton and my squad made up of just players with a Brighton connection. It would actually not be a bad squad now we’ve gone all phoenix from the ashes.

    No PES at all for me over the weekend – that’s summer for you.

  18. Had a magical moment on Minecraft this morning. I got out of my log cabin of my newly created woodlands setting that is reminiscent of Alaska. I was greeted by a Polar Bear, who was having a dip in the water. He got out and shook his fur, with water spraying off him. I have invested a lot of time in the game and every now and again something new suprises me. Wonderful.

  19. not-Greg – it wasn’t my intention to suggest that I’ve been disappointed in any way by PES 2013! Indeed, the opposite is true – I’m into the mid-season negotiations in my first season and am sitting second bottom from the table on Top Player. I won three games in a row at one point and thought I’d cracked it, but then promptly lost my next three matches by large scorelines. It’s the first time I can remember being challenged this much by a football game, and I’m loving it.

    As for your comments on the difficulty, admittedly my point about people I know having similar experiences on FIFA is only a small group, but certainly none of us would say we’re anything better than maybe above average. My suspicion is that my CM experiences will be very different to yours (or indeed, any other gamer who considers themselves more of a PES player) because I’ve exclusively played FIFA my entire life, and so it takes less and less time to become accustomed to each new game. The transfer market being so easy to ‘play’ doesn’t help either. The lack of team individuality may also be a factor, as by the time you’ve been promoted from League 2 you’re used to the ability of League 1 teams, and when you’ve been promoted from League 1 you’re used to the ability of Championship teams, and so on.

  20. Don’t worry Sirhc – NG will never shake the tag as the man who ‘won’ that treble on ‘superstar’… now myself and Abbeyhill of course couldn’t accept anything less than the highest difficulty with the worst squad and an uncomfortable chair from which to play the game. Usual pattern for me is to find the game becoming easier in season three, although recent titles have not been as challenging.

    Darryl – I find minecraft a chance to consider what the point of our lives is. Having travelled round much of it I’m pretty sure there are no villages in my world, just the odd temple and abandoned house. Consequently me mining the buggery out of redstone, jewels and all kinds of precious things is not particularly useful. I’m stockpiling vast reserves of all kinds of things when all I need is some food, a shelter big enough for a bed and the odd light here and there. It’s that kind of late night reflection that leads to selling ps3s!

  21. Darryl – when I got to the point in Minecraft where I think you are, I embarked on a gratuitous mega-project: ‘Hoover Dam-ing’ my main encampment area on the side that faced the sea. I.e. linking one mountain to the next by building a humongous great wall between them. The wall was about something like 50 blocks high, higher than my highest tower at the time. I was going to encircle my camp with this wall and then build a ceiling over the whole thing. I imagined the interior at night being like a Dyson Sphere. Crazy ambitious. I only got about 1/3rd of the way through building the first segment of wall, and still have the savegame on my old computer from 2010 – which is soon to come out of mothballs as I have something of a clear-out myself. If I can get the save working I’ll film my mega-project in progress and post it. Also my sprawling settlement! Minecraft back in my day was the best. None of this awful multiplayer nonsense. Just solitary living in a world of one’s own.

    sirhc – good to hear you’re enjoying PES2013. If you want to shock yourself, try PES2011 next, or even PES2014.

    I was just making a general observation that football gamers whose experience of football games is like the one you had with FIFA17 and others, assume that it must be the same for most (or all) footy gamers, and y’all often seem puzzled why it isn’t. A single football game lasts me many months, sometimes a whole year (as PES2017 is threatening to do). I imagine for you and others like you, a single game lasting weeks, before having to handicap yourself, is a good outcome.

  22. NG – that would be great if you could dig that footage out as I would be very curious to see it.

  23. That sounds a tremendous project NG, so far I’ve only really built towers on top of mountains but I’m liking the idea of an Astrodome or 3 Gorges type effort. I’ve arsed around in the nether for a bit but it all seems pretty pointless.

    I’ve added Disgaea 5 to the rewards earned from shipping the PS3, that alone should keep me entertained for decades but I’m still looking at £60 to spend and not much idea of what to buy. CEX remains overpriced for some games, especially as you won’t receive any dlc, but I was looking for a good Tiger/Rory game and a baseball one and was surprised they didn’t have any MLB and EA appear to have given up on golf with the last Rory being panned. Anyone recommend anything other than the usual GTA, zombie, uncharted type of stuff?

  24. werd – If you’re still floating around, somewhere… Foggia will be in Serie B next season.

  25. Uncle Turf – Elite Dangerous is released for PS4 today. It’d take most or all of your £60 depending on which format you went for, but it’s Elite. If ‘BBC Micro’ and/or ‘Lenslok’ mean anything to you…

  26. No Man’s Sky…promised so much, ultimately bored. I would worry about the way they dropped the Elite offline option for PC users and they seem to be a little vague on what can be done without engaging the masses. I was there for Elite but didn’t play more than a brief ‘what’s this’ before looking for something more instant.

    I had considered returning to NMS but ultimately I don’t think the dlc fixed my issue of same old planets with same old aliens, the much promised variety just wasn’t there. (Bit like Lego worlds really).

  27. Tommy – hope they last longer than Pisa

  28. And just like that keyser soze was back in the room

  29. werd – I will be choosing one of the newly promoted second tier sides from either England, France, Spain or Italy for my 2018 ML, depending on who is the worst, or just who I fancy. Foggia are in that hat, but tempted by Venezia purely as I’ve visited Venice.

  30. Lush strip Tommy. Been there many times in my childhood.
    Chateauroux also have been absent in ligue 2 for ages….nostalgia

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