Month: May 2020

Wot iz goin’ on, guyz?

The Europa League. The Carabao Cup. The Premier League. All these competitions have bunched up together at the start of Season 4… I’ve played 5 matches in the Europa, 2 in the Carabao, and 13 in the Premier. I almost feel like I’ve played a full season already. Seasons in FIFA20 are true marathons. Endurance required.

My lightweight squad is being found out already. The glamour of Europe has tempted me to play with my strongest team in the Europa League for most fixtures, which weakens us for the following League matches. Here is that domestic League table currently:World Class difficulty really showing up in the goal-scoring difference from last season. I was comfortably on the positive side of the equation last season. This season, firmly in the minus.

My sacrifice in the Premier League hasn’t really reaped any palpable reward in the Europa – here is the group table with ONE match remaining (exciting setup):I play Sevilla in the final fixture, knowing that if we beat them, we qualify. That will be my match of the season so far, and looking at my League progress, perhaps this competition is my best chance of meaningful silverware. This is probably me dreaming, as I have had proper pastings on World Class so far and imagine that the bigger teams in this competition will be just like the bigger teams in the domestic league competition, i.e. bordering on the nightmarishly unplayable.

There were a couple of group matches in the Europa that would have been top of the bill in a hypothetical MOTD-style running order of video hihglights reels. And some great goals too. I was very pleased indeed with this one, a dipping volley from just inside the area:

Barbosa with the finish there, but I went on to lose that match 3-2 after leading twice, an unpardonable sloppiness that reminded me yet again of just how punishing the FIFA20 AI can be. I need to learn some game management and sit back a bit more when leading, particularly away from home, and particularly in big matches. These are tactical choices that really matter.

Barbosa was my first big signing of Season 1, as I recall. He’s one of my triumvirate of top strikers – Barbosa, Lacazette, Deulofeu – who all have great plus-points in their own ways. Arguably Barbosa is the most valuable of the three, as he seems to contribute steadily over entire seasons, rather than in short bursts like the other two.

I’m probably going to go all-out for the win in the Sevilla match. It’s at home and it’ll be a big occasion. Three up front? I’ll see.

The Sevilla match is an opportunity for something. I’ve been mulling over producing some proper video content for the blog. I don’t mean me wearing a baseball cap and keeping it real in the corner of the screen, asking the viewer ‘what’s up’, and screaming about things all the time. I mean something more considered such as proper meaningful TV-style highlights of key matches, perhaps with an audio-only voice commentary from myself. I may use this key Sevilla match as the inaugural effort. Depends if I get time, because time is what video editing takes.

Finally, it has happened to me

They said I was crazy.

They said it was a waste of a corner.

They said it would never work.

They said I would be better off working out a ‘normal’ routine, and maximising my percentile chances of netting a goal via graphs and pie charts and the like.

They sent me videos of Pep Guardiola scoffing at the idea that any football player should shoot from more than two yards out.

They said…

They said that THIS could never happen:

It happened at approximately 18.30 last night, Bank Holiday Monday (for what that’s worth).

They probably heard my yell of delight next door. Which is small revenge for all the shrieking and howling that their children have been doing all through lockdown, but god bless them, the cheeky little freckled urchins.

The player was Ward, who is my Youth promotee from Season 1 who is on his way to becoming not just a) my most important player because of the way he opens up the wing and creates chances (he has 99 for Agility and Acceleration), but b) one of my greatest players in football gaming ever. I’m focusing on Training him up in shooting as it remains one of his weak points.

I caught this volley sweet as a nut.

Timing is everything in FIFA shooting, and my timing was perfect here, for once. All the hundreds of miscued attempts at this have taught me well. You cannot really store up your shots in advance, as you can in PES (most notoriously in the case of PES2017’s heading, where you could press Shoot several whole seconds in advance of the ball arriving on your player’s bonce, and the game would kindly remember it for you).

As can be seen this goal made the score 2-2. I had been 2-0 down in this match. The excitement of this goal knocked me out of my stride and I went on to concede a sloppy late goal and lose the match 3-2. But it didn’t matter. I had got what I came for. I’ve been trying to score this goal from Day 1 on FIFA20.

As a postscript, here is the first goal I scored in that match, when it was 2-0.

Zlatanovic with a finesse-clipped long-ranger. This is an arguably ‘better’ goal than Ward’s corner volley (I don’t think it is, but it arguably is):

Need I say that FIFA20 is the springtime gift that keeps on giving?

 

Curb Your FIFA20 Modded PC Career Mode Transfer Negotiations Enthusiasm

The remainder of pre-Season 4’s August transfer window came – and went.

I continued my track record of being Shit-Hot At Negotations. Take this lower-division journeyman squad-filler who was on £5000 a week at his current club, and I offered him a deadline day £15,000 a week with a £100,000 signing bonus:

So, as expected, my squad for the first half of Season 4 is still the one I’d haphazardly scratched together in the last post.

A decent First XI, but that’s as far as the quality goes. FIFA20 piles on the fixtures and inflicts significant stamina penalties, so this is going to be a challenging 4 months to the January window (when I will beef up this squad).

I can report that playing with this lightweight squad is a compelling, fascinating, rewarding experience. I’m only ‘performing’ these concerns about their strengths and my regret about not getting a quality last-gasp signing in August. My squad’s strength, and lack of, is perfectly suited to the exact kind of football game experience I want to have, and am having, with FIFA20. It’ll almost be a shame to change things by getting newer, better players. (I know what that logically suggests, and I am thinking about it. An informal transfer freeze. As it stands, FIFA20 more or less imposes a transfer freeze anyway with those incredibly demanding and temperamental players and agents.)

Regular commenter and FIFAFX maestro Paul was kind of enough to supply another couple of Leeds Utd kits, both modelled on classic designs.

Home:And Away:Here is the League table after 5 matches:

This is on World Class, now, remember. Every match is superb. I mean, they already were superb on Professional. But now on World Class, my eyes are opened. They’re superber.

I have played the opening match of my Europa League group stage, vs Olympiacos. Here is the full match, which at least has 5 goals in it, most of them in the first half – note the curious amount of space the game seems to afford me. World Class is not predictable. You can find the gaps and exploit them. Olympiacos did seem surprisingly lightweight in this match.

And for those who are not keen to watch a full match (which will be nearly everyone), here is a 90-seconds-long Miscellany from the opening matches of the season – including both my goals in a wonderful 2-1 victory away to Man City:

Different Class

World Class difficulty is here and looks like staying. The decision was cemented in classic fashion. I paused the game to go and do something that ended up taking several hours. When I returned I forgot I’d changed the difficulty from Professional to World Class, and found myself wondering why the matches suddenly seemed so tough and midfield-y. I played two of the most amazing matches I’ve ever played on FIFA20 (or on any football game) before I remembered I’d changed it to World Class.

It’s probably too soon to go up just in terms of how strong (or not) my squad is (see below). But I need that extra layer of toughness. Professional was still giving me a good game but nearly every match was too comfortable, and too open by comparison to World Class. A rolling end-to-end procession of chances for both sides. World Class is much tighter. I can never go back to Professional now. Unless World Class proves too difficult as the season unfolds, in which case I will shriek like a girl and run back to Professional for a bit.

I will be heading into Season 4 without the exact kind of squad I wanted. Yet again I have annoyed and aggravated a broad swathe of the world’s top managers, players and agents with my completely reasonable offers. I just won’t break the wage structure at the club. No way am I paying a bench-warmer £40,000 a week when my star striker is on £30,000 a week. Not happening.

There is still a week or so of August to run at the time of typing, and I am still looking for that one extra player to slot in, but it’s just as likely that this is the squad I will play most of the coming season with.

Here, for I believe the first time in this Career, is a complete picture showing my First XI, my subs’ bench, and the rest of the squad – every player at my disposal:

Picture was assembled after a tough match, so excuse fatigue.

As can be seen at a glance, I have a decent First XI but no real quality outside it – not even on the bench. I will do well to improve on Season 3’s 7th position finish for Season 4.

The First XI is the team I want to take on all big matches. The rest of the squad will take on the Carabaos and the lesser matches of all kinds. Being in the Europa League this season has great disruptive potential to my cosy plan. We shall see.

I’m firmly immersed in the fate of this squad. As much as with any Master League.

Look at Ward (LW, 69) on the bench. He is my star Youth who has really surged up the reckoning. He started many matches last season, but after I noticed that Deulofeu is an accomplished LM/LW himself, Ward has dropped down to the bench. Nevertheless his appearances from the bench, and his still-frequent starts (because of stamina) show me that here is a virtual player whose name and destiny I might well remember for the rest of my football gaming life. See today’s Miscellany clips below for a decent goal of his.

Bello at LB is one of three (3) LBs now at the club, thanks to my cack-handedness in the negotiations market. (It’s a long and boring story.) Anyway, Bello was the one I really wanted, and got, because of his insane SPEED. It really is a joy to watch him overtake and tackle a sprinting AI winger, à la peak Michael Owen. Ayling on the RB side isn’t as pacey so when the AI attacks down that wing I still find myself in trouble.

I don’t like having two players named Torres who are so similar, and one of them will be sent out on Loan or sold before the end of August.

A word about Roberts, my young 61-rated CB. He had to play in a league match against Leicester in which I got thumped 4-0 (the World Class factor coming into play there), but his performance was a bright spot, with a saving tackle at the end preventing a truly humiliating 5th goal for Leicester. Arguably I wouldn’t have lost 4-0 if I hadn’t had to play Roberts and other squad players, and even more arguably this result does not bode well for my World Class future, but I’m thoroughly relishing the pressure and the challenge and the squad juggling, and that is what counts in a football game. These are the factors that I’ve been looking for and missing for so long.

A little clips Miscellany to end with – the key goals from the 1st leg of my Europa League qualifiying round match against Aalborg of Denamrk, who I know very well from Football Manager 2019. Also featured is a lovely 20-yard curler from young Ward, with his wrong foot, against Wolves in the Premier League – the winning goal in that match.

Also featured is a goal from my 4th-choice striker, Zlatanovic, a ferocious first-timer to the near post when I was in a spot of bother in the (World Class) return leg vs Aalborg. I went on to win that leg as well, and then faced another qualifying round vs Rosenborg, which I squeaked through (on World Class!). And am now in the Europa League group stage proper. Phew.

Onward and upward. FIFA20 is taking up a great deal of time that I would usually spend playing my other key games (the XCOMs and the like). I am addicted to progressing this club and this squad and cannot wait to find out what my young players will do in the matches to come.