Month: December 2018

No seasonal turkey sandwich analogies here

My final post of 2018 is a short one. These days between Christmas and New Year might as well be deleted from the calendar. They might as well not exist. They’re peculiar days.

First, my current table:I’ve got a 10-point cushion between me and the relegation zone, so there’ll be no relegation battle this season.

I still have a chance of hauling myself into Europa League qualification. That’s what the chairman wants me to do.

But overall, it looks like this season is going to be a rare one without any Last Day Drama – but we’ll see. With 9 matches remaining, anything is possible.

The above were my results for the month of November, which started with that 5-0 mauling at the hands of Liverpool, but which then saw me accelerate (briefly) into my best form of the season so far.

What’s put me mid-table this season is starting to win a few matches I would have drawn last season, or even lost, and that’s made all the difference.

I’ve been through the mid-season transfer window and picked up two new players.

I sold JOAQUIN. Not individual enough.

The two new players were ENACHE, a right-back who will purely act as cover for Giorza. And step forward ADURIZ. I finally plucked him from the Free Agents list. He’s getting an eye-watering £1.8m per year. In his first few matches he’s been so bad that I genuinely nearly sold him in the same transfer window that I bought him in. But he will get a season at least.

I’m not happy about a few things that have started happening in PES2019. 1000mph online-style matches where none of the players really stand out. ‘No fouls football’ seems to be a thing again. I haven’t scored a long-range goal for six or so sessions, and it’s definitely not for want of trying.

I suspect the worst, but it’s hopefully a random wrinkle in the stretched-out blanket of ML. Hmmm. We’ll see.

A clip to end with that features two interesting moments.

First, I scored what I thought was a fine hook-volleyed goal with Gomez to seal an important win. But the game awarded it as an own-goal. Check the replay and decide for yourself. Technically, I see why the game did it. But is the flight of the ball really affected? Looks like a clipping issue, but that happens all the time in PES.

And then there is a red-card moment for my keeper. My second such in this PES.

And that’s me done for 2018.

Have a great whatever’s-left-of-2018 for you. No new post on New Year’s Day itself (a Tuesday). See you next week, 4th January, when normal service will be resumed, and Christmas-New Year will seem but a fading dream.

#gladitsallover

 

That Friday Feeling

In the August transfer window of Season 8, I couldn’t resist bringing in (on Loan) one of last year’s heroes.

Yes, it’s the return of a hero of yesteryear: F FRIDAY.

Nope, it never really works out, brining back the heroes of previous PES instalments, but I do keep trying. Veldwijk of PES2018 didn’t work out in PES2019 (most of you will barely even remember that I had him).  Forlan of PES2012 isn’t quite doing the business yet either. But this is the kind of thing that’s part of the allure of Master League.

PES2019’s Friday still feels pretty useful. He’s already got a couple of vital goals, leading to some legendary scenes of celebration.Friday is strictly only here as cover for Gomez. PES2019 favours the big, strong type of striker who can receive a ball and turn into a defender. When Friday moves on at the end of this year-long Loan spell, I don’t believe I will miss him greatly. But you never know.

The financial conditions of the game have changed for me. I’m easily in surplus on the wages bill at the moment, which means that the era of relying almost entirely on Loan players is over.

Here is my complete Squad and First XI for Season 8:19 of these 22 players are my own. I only brought in three Loanees – FRIDAY, ENOMOTO, and MIDDLETON – to act purely as cover in their positions.

BENAT and DANNY are two promoted Youths – again, like Joaquin and Cesar Navas, they’re two older Youths that I had to watch mature over the past few seasons when I couldn’t buy any new players. I’m curious how they’ll do.

Special early mention for FAZIO, a promoted Youth CB. I’m going to say something very bold, which is that Fazio could be PES’s most individual-feeling CB since Vornander. There. I said it.

I think this is a great squad and can’t wait to find out what I can do with it. I also still have about £1.5m left in the wages budget to spend in January if I have to.

The financial squeeze is over – for now. Just wait till my top players’ contract demands go up another few notches, which they will.

I had the worst possible start to the season – 3 straight defeats out of 3 matches, on the bounce. I rallied a little to reach mid-table after 8 matches, but my W-D-L record is still a pretty poxy 3-0-5.I’ve played a bit beyond the pictured table – a brief session yesterday (Thursday) that saw 3 very decent matches, including against one of the top teams, which for once wasn’t a 1000mph frenetic blur.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: the fast and furious, Old Boys/Rivals type of gameplay – that nuPES throws up all too often – might be the worst football gaming I have ever had the misfortune to experience, and I’ve played FIFA2003.

I’d score those kinds of PES2019 matches around 3/10, at best. I’d score a good match of PES2019 at around 8/10 or 9/10. The gap in quality between the two is a wide one.

PES2019 generally continues to play a good game. I’ve given it way more time than I should have done. Really and truly there are other things I should have been doing over the past few months. One of my 2019 resolutions is to spend more time doing other things that I need to do, by force if necessary. I’m considering a self-imposed cap of X hours per week.

The thing with football gaming is that it’s so easy. It fits into your routine like a hand into a glove. Regular games can’t really do that. Who would boot up Red Dead Redemption 2 for a quick half-hour before work? I’m sure some people would – but only football gaming lends itself well to that kind of convenience.

–———————–

No post on Christmas Day, a Tuesday this year. I will return this time next week – Friday 28th December 2018 – with a new post, as I will certainly find time to get on the game between now and then.

Bah, humbug.

The Bournemouth Identity

I stayed up with 1 game to spare.

Season 7 had been a struggle all along. It was my maiden season in the Premier League, and the teams have mostly brushed me aside. I’d got into winning ways toward the end of my time in D2 and it was a shock to suddenly be the whipping boy.

The number of straightforward wins have been very few. Thumping defeats were plentiful. The amount of sweaty, stressful wins and draws proved to be just enough to keep me up.

In previous years I’d have played this season on Top Player, but it’s not an option this year with the re-zoning of the difficulty levels making TP much too easy.

Here are the March results:That point against Liverpool, at Liverpool, was huge for me. It was the first time I’d come away with something from one of the big teams.

Those two wins against my fellow lower-half-of-the-tablers was pretty good too.

Heading into the final 5 matches of the season, I was 5 points from safety and not picking up any results. It seemed likely that I would be relegated. I had to win matches that I was routinely losing earlier in the season.

April:Those two defeats put everything back in the balance. At this stage I had 3 matches left and was still 4 points away from safety.

And then the win against Tottenham – my first 3 points against one of the Big 6. Are Tottenham a Big 6 team in PES? Very much so.

Which meant I had two matches in May to secure my survival. Away to Bournemouth, home to Brighton.

One win would do me, and the next match duly provided it as I romped to a straightforward 3-1 win, at Bournemouth.My keeper is right to have a grumble about not keeping a clean sheet. I was 3-0 up when the game went very weird and suddenly it was impossible for me to play two consecutive passes correctly. I’ve been playing this series long enough to know when shenanigans are afoot. PES2019 blatantly decided to take that goal. I’ve succumbed to the catchup script before when 3-0 up. Fortunately it was too late here to do any damage.

I then lost the final match at home to already-relegated Brighton, but it didn’t matter.

The final table:The Team of the Season – I had one player in it:Gomez got 20 goals, which was good for me and good for him. Gomez is going to be one of my all-time PES Legends. The goals were the difference. I would sell all my other players to keep him if I had to.

Forlan had purple patches but was mostly underwhelming. He will get another season to show more consistency.

And that was Season 7. One of the toughest, scariest seasons I’ve ever played in any Master League. I would never usually persevere at a difficulty level that’s a notch too high for me right now.

Season 8 has of course already begun at the time of writing, and I can report that my time of relying on Loan players is now pretty much over. A clutch of new players have arrived for me to get to know and see if they can become PES legends too.

The plan for Season 8 has to be to try my best in the FA Cup, and see if I can sneak into the top 10.

Life at the bottom

I’ve zoomed ahead to February of Season 7 in my maiden season in the Premier League.

Life is tough. To put it mildly. No messing – here is the table after 24 matches:

Bottom of the pile. 24 matches played. Won 5. Drawn 4. Lost 15. Scored 24. Conceded 51 (FIFTY-ONE).

No, it’s not hard to see the problem. Too few goals scored up front, and far too many conceded at the back. A Goalkeeper and at least one defender were on the shopping list heading into the transfer window.

I needed them. Here are December’s results, which show a reasonable cross-section of results, including a nice couple of wins to finish the calendar year:Those two matches versus Arsenal and Man Utd were representative of how things tend to go for me against the Big 6. I tend to get absolutely thumped. Typically I go a goal down, and then take a few risks to try and get back into things. So I’ll push up. Then I’ll get done on the break. Now I’m 2-0 down. Still in the game, really, if I can just get 1 goal back… So I continue taking risks – and get done on the break again. That’s how the big teams punish you in the Premier League.

The matches against the top teams are not the most enjoyable matches in PES2019. In fact they’re very similar to the accursed Old Boys match and the Rivals matches – fast and furious arcade-style crap with minimal interruptions. Mostly. There are some good spells in these matches, but I don’t have the players yet to live with the opposition, and so they’re 80% tedious button-mashing slogs. It worries me that anyone (at Konami, or in the wider PES-playing community) thinks this kind of football gaming is good football gaming. All action! Thrills! Spills! Turnovers!

I vastly prefer meeting the Brightons and Huddersfields of this division. There’s the PES2019 I’ve come to know and love.

How has Forlan, my big Season 7 signing, got on?

He’s been worryingly anonymous for too many matches. Only 8 goals so far all season, which is a low strike rate compared to what I need.

But I have come to sense it’s my fault for not being good enough, frankly, and not getting Forlan in the game.

He had a great December, scoring 4 goals in a purple patch spanning 3 consecutive games.

Below is a brief video showing all 4 of those Forlan goals in December.

The first goal here was a consolation goal in a defeat, but it seemed to bring Forlan to life, and all the others came in much-needed wins soon after – including my only free kick goal of Season 7 so far. The final goal is a PES2012-style ‘turn and shoot’ jobby, which I am starting to get some joy from again.

Highlights aside, Season 7 is a grind and I love it. I’m rock-bottom of the league and facing a genuine battle to avoid the drop.

After well-documented financial struggles I have finally got myself to a place where I have a steady income of £550,000 per calendar month. It all flows into the wages budget. For the first time I feel comfort on that front – but how long will it last? The next round of contract renewals will likely give me something to think about.

I’ll focus on the here and now. In January I had enough spare cash for my first real shopping spree.

First I picked up two older Youths from my Youth team. I’ve had to frustratedly watch several decent-looking youngsters come to maturity over the past few seasons without being able to sign them.

JOAQUIN (SS, 80 OPR) and CESAR NAVAS (CB, 81 OPR), both aged 20, both come in. I’ve had the former before (in PES2017, I think) and he was great, so I’m hoping for more of the same. Navas has gone straight into defence.

I also carefully picked out a 20-year-old Goalkeeper from the Free Agents list – J PELE (79 OPR) is already more solid between the sticks than Mannone ever was.

My shopping still wasn’t done. I still had cash to spend! Ah, life in the Premier League…

Time for me to look for a proper DMF. I haven’t had one this season. My Loanee Jack Wilshere’s aerial passing has impressed me this season. Obviously I’m not going to keep the 30-something Wilshere. I wanted a DMF with the same kind of Passing stats and skills (Low Lofted Pass and Weighted Pass) as Wilshere has.

This fella popped up as one of only 4 players who fit the criteria:Riccardo Montolivo, who has the kind of facial profile up there that you might see on the front of a Roman coin. I got him for a bargain £6m from one of the Chinese sides. £1m per year salary, so it’s a risk. He’s a Regen, currently aged 20, and already impressive. Not so much on the going-forward front, yet, but he breaks up play and distributes well, and that’s the first job of a DMF.

I have a feeling that Konami nerfed the traditional swashbuckling PES DMF a few editions ago now. It feels like a long time since I had a stormin’ DMF in the Mathieu/Camacho mould.

And so that’s the state of play. My Premier League £££s have enabled me to kit myself out with 4 top players in the mid-season. It’ll be another season or so before I’m totally done with Loanees. Maybe I won’t ever be completely done with them, if I continue to struggle and future contract talks go the ridiculous way I suspect they will.

My relegation battle is close to the end of the season at the time of writing.

I’m about 7 matches from the end, still in the bottom 3, and 5 points from safety.

There is a very real chance of relegation, I sense. I would not like to see what happens to my finances if I do drop back to the Championship.

I’ve got enough 6-pointers against fellow strugglers coming up that I’m 95% confident of survival. Maybe it’ll all go to some Last Day Drama…. There’s a near-100% chance of that, I suspect.