For the first time in five seasons, I completed the four-week mid-season negotiation period without signing any new players. That’s how it has to be sometimes.
It wasn’t for the want of trying. I need new players. My squad is a little top-heavy. I have a good First XI, with several established stars and stars-in-the-making (such as Marcos, pictured left). There are some good players in the rest of the squad; a few of them are great players, who I leave out of the First XI for other reasons.
Shaw, with his dodgy Stamina and Body Balance, is a case in point. He’s come on a lot in the past season, as I’ve spent two pre-seasons training him on nothing but Stamina and Body Balance. He’s only a season or so away from being an automatic first choice again.
But looking at players such as Boyd, Folan, Frutos (all three are big, lumbering kinds of strikers, long past their best); Weir and Cafu (Cafu in particular has been somewhat disappointing; he has a shallow development curve that doesn’t peak for about eight more years yet); and even my old warhorse Donadel (despite his excellence in my Division 2 struggles) – all of these have to go, I think, and be replaced by players who can perform reliably week in, week out, if I’m to have the kind of squad that can challenge for trophies in Division 1.
So I’m not buying new players any more just for the sake of buying them. That’s a routine you get into when you start out with the Default players in Master League. They’re so rubbish that you become focused on getting any new players – doesn’t matter who, just anyone – to replace them. Anyone else is better than the Defaults. It takes a few seasons to shake the feeling during Negotiation periods that you must, must, MUST buy new players no matter what.
Armed with my new Team Ranking – ‘C’ – I hoped to at least get past first base in my usual attempt to buy Mathieu. (If and when I finally do get Mathieu, I will speak at length about why this player is so important – even talismanic – to me in PES.) His club has so far blocked all efforts to negotiate directly with the player. This time, however… This time, permission was granted. I was talking to Mathieu!
I slapped in a hefty bid straightaway. I looked down my list of players and decided that Mathieu’s club should find Frutos+7000 points completely irresistible. Mathieu himself should be unable to resist a three-year contract worth 1300 salary points.
I always bring the length of the contract down when I think a player might be difficult to sign for the full five years. After a shorter contract, the player gets a chance to negotiate with you for a higher salary a lot sooner.
Some tipsters in the wider PES community recommend offering key players one-year contracts at ridiculously high wages. They report success using this method, but how crippled is their wages budget afterward? If they’ve offered Thierry Henry, say, a one-year deal at 3000 salary points, after the year is up he’s never going to agree to take anything less than 3000. You’d have to offer 3100 or more to keep him. Then you’re stuck with that ridiculous figure (the salary, not Henry…) for good. Unless you ship him off. In which case, why the fuss to get him in the first place?
So as much as I value Mathieu (and any other great players I’ll be going for in the future) I’m not going to threaten the stability of my entire Master League career by offering them silly wages. No player is worth sending your budget all out of whack for. It’s Master League, not Mathieu League.
I went to the next week, all excited. I hadn’t even looked at any other players. I thought: this is it! I’ve got Mathieu. Bwahaha, as they say.
I was disappointed to see a notification message saying ‘Negotiations broken down’ instead of the hoped-for ‘SUCCESS’. However I was cheered to see an encouraging message in the main menu window. It looked as if I was on the right road, in the ball-park, and so on. I just had to make the right bid, evidently.
I went back into negotiations, and this time offered the club Braafheid+7000 points, and Mathieu himself a two-year deal worth 1350 points. It was a wrench to contemplate getting rid of Braafheid – he’s been a great SB for me so far. But I figured that the prospect of getting a really good, rising star might tip Mathieu’s club’s hand. I thought the two-year deal on offer to Mathieu would clinch it.
Again to the next week, and again no joy. There were two weeks left. I started to think I’d better look at a few other players. It might not be the time for Mathieu after all. My Team Ranking was probably the culprit. Mathieu just didn’t want to come to me right now. His current club was ranked ‘B’. Mathieu himself was an ‘A’-ranked player.
I made bids for Mathieu, and again for Micah Richards. Just the two of them. (I checked my List again and tried to negotiate for Maldini (a 20-year-old youth at this stage of my ML), who is at Manchester United and not really playing for them. Man Utd refused to negotiate.)
Went to the next week, and the Mathieu and Richards deals had both broken down. I concluded that it was the players themselves who didn’t want to come to me right now. I got the message. I gave up for now. I didn’t want any other players. I wanted to hold onto the excess points and try for Mathieu and Richards again in the off-season. I went past the final negotiation week and into Week 19 of the season without placing any new bids.
Despite knowing that I don’t have to buy new players in every single negotiation period, I did feel that I’d wasted this one. I could and probably should have looked for another top-drawer striker. A superb CB would also have come in handy. The dead wood in my squad is still there, gathering dust. They only play when there is absolutely no one else available, which isn’t very often.
I also feel that I have a few too many players in the squad. 32 players is the maximum size allowed, and having 32 players limits my opportunities to get new players from the Youth and Unbelonging lists. At the end of the season I’ll be looking to get the squad down from 32 players to about 26 players. Make room for the next generation.
For now, it’s back to the ups and downs of my season. I took a look at the Calendar before Week 19, and was shocked to see two games per week for the next several weeks. Of course, when I won the Division 1 Cup last season, I automatically qualified for the PES equivalent of the UEFA Cup – the European Masters Cup. Caught up in a tense relegation battle at the time, I hadn’t realised.
So. Two games per week forever, eh? No problem…