It has to be said: I’m not a team player. There is no I in team, and more’s the pity. I’m heading towards the end of my first season in Become A Legend in PES2009. The stupidity of my AI team-mates is starting to grind. Suspension of disbelief—that most critical component of not just gaming, but of life in toto—is getting harder and harder to maintain.
So much of football, and PES, takes place down the wings, but the AI players just can’t play down the wings. They will just keep on running into trouble, getting tackled, losing the ball, dribbling the ball out of play… Even if you play a great through-ball that sets them loose in a few yards of space they’ll slow down, or even stop, and let the opposition defenders surround them. Fully 80% of my runs into the box—using up precious, irreplaceable stamina—are wasted.
I slightly exaggerate, of course. The AI isn’t all that bad. It does sometimes do what it’s supposed to do. The trouble is that those times are all too infrequent.
Another frustration (can you tell that the BaL AI annoys me?) relates to passages of play in the congested midfield area. Let’s say my fellow CMF has the ball, just a few virtual yards away. OK, so I make a little darting run into a bit of space, and I’m clearly the right man to pass to. But no: the AI decides to lay off the ball to another team-mate on the other side of the pitch, who is usually further away, switching focus all the way over there and virtually guaranteeing that play will go on without me for a while. It’s at times like these, I think, that so many BaL players (myself included) tend to squeeze down on the sprint button and try to get over there and get involved. No. You absolutely cannot do that. Not as a raw Youth player anyway.
So I was stuck in the Villa ‘B’ team, but putting in some good performances in my favoured CMF positions. If I’d stayed at Man City I’d probably be starting in the first team by now. It really was a big error to move teams in the transfer window. Man City played a 4-5-1 as its main team formation. There were lots of opportunities for midfielders like me to play, and to experience different roles in midfield to boot. I was in the best place. Here at Villa, the first team formation is a 4-3-3.
I had one game in the ‘A’ team. It was one of my worst performances of the season. I was rarely involved, and when I was involved I was ineffective. We lost 1-3, a terrible result. I was put back in the ‘B’ team straightaway.
Eventually, I clawed my way back, and got back to the subs’ bench for the First Team, playing in proper matches, with about a quarter of the season remaining. I found myself understanding why young players in real life feel the need to move to smaller clubs to get regular first-team football. Aston Villa were challenging for the title. They were in the Masters Cup (i.e. the UEFA Cup). And they were in the final of the D1 Cup. A pretty big, successful team. And they usually played with only three central midfielders. No wonder I was finding it hard to break into the first team. That decision to leave Manchester City was looking more and more premature.
I watched the ENTIRE D1 Cup final from the bench. I hated every second of it. After 65-70 minutes, if you’re not brought on you’re not coming on at all. I hope the neighbours didn’t hear me turning the air blue when I knew I wasn’t going to be brought on. They think I’m such a nice young man.
I’d had enough of life in claret and blue. I simmed the last few matches of the season, completely uncaring. In the first week of negotiations I had 3 offers, one of them from Villa. I ignored that—Villa scum—and took a very nice-looking offer from Portsmouth instead. I’ll state right now that I plan to stay at Portsmouth and make my Become A Legend name here. There’ll be no more moving around for a couple of seasons at least.
To mark the occasion, I grew some hair and dyed it blue. New team, new beginning. Maybe the wingers will be better. Maybe it’ll all be better.