Season 10 has begun, and once again I changed both of my strips, home and away. For the home kit I went with a very fetching hooped shirt. Colour-wise, I stuck to the traditional Coventry blue, better known as sky blue. I seriously thought about going for a red- or green-dominated home kit, just for variety’s sake. I hear it’s the spice of life. But I stayed my hand on that front. Red is much too associated with other teams. And I once dabbled with a green kit on a former PES, but could barely see my players on some pitches.For the away kit I decided on something a bit different. It’s a red-orange that’s very similar to the Shakhtar Donetsk home kit.
I really like the hooped home shirt. I am considering making it the basis of a permanent style. I could make the hoops a permanent feature of the shirt, and confine any future changes to the sleeves, collar, shorts, socks, etc., like Celtic’s or QPR’s traditional kits.
I did quite a bit of business on the transfer market. My finances were in a poor state. Even with the £3.5m for finishing 9th and several more millions from my sponsors, I was in debt. Not as much debt as at some points in this career, but enough for me to need to sell players to balance the books.
I finally released Giersen and Libermann. Doing so only cost me a few thousand in each case. I put up with the rest of the squad having angry faces for a few weeks. With no matches being played, it didn’t really matter.
I sold quite a few players—probably too many. Ruskin, Hutchinson, Iakovenko, Voavy, Duffy, Tulasne, and Silanok. I got a lot of cash for all of those players, as can be imagined. The only ones that hurt even slightly were the first and last names in the list: Ruskin and Silanok. Ruskin had to go, really, but he’s been such a faithful servant, and he was my last link to the Defaults. I got about £200k for Ruskin, a good price for an ageing, fading player. Silanok was a useful player to have, but the offer—£4m—was too good to turn down. Castolo has finally disappeared from my Youth team, and if what I hear is true, he won’t reappear anywhere, in any form, in thsi career. If this career does indeed turn out to be my only career in this year’s Master League, I won’t see Castolo again until PES2011. That’s fine by me. In fact I almost wish he would reappear, so I could once again have the pleasure of ignoring him.
I’ve left myself a few players lighter than I would have liked. A squad of 20 will make things uncomfortable at times this season, but I should cope. I’ve got my backroom staff levels high enough for fitness not to be too much of a worry. What if I get an 8-month injury to a key player? I’ll deal with that if/when it happens.
I brought in only a few players. CEJUMI, CHIGRAT, TANAKA. The first two are Youth teamers and defenders, both good enough to go straight out and do well. Tanaka was a bit of a panic buy, I’m afraid, and I don’t think he’s going to work out. I’m sorry to say I splurged £3m on him as time started to run out in the transfer window. His 71 OVR rating in the picture is misleading. He’s really a WF/SS, and rated 80 for both. But he’s slow! And at the age of 25, he might not get much better in that respect. This was a lesson to me. Scout early, all through the season. Waiting to do the bulk of the transfer work in the two windows is a lazy carry-over from the old Master League.
I sailed through the first round of the D1 Cup (as I still call it; I know it’s the ‘England Cup’ now, but the new name hasn’t stuck for me yet). With some excellent league form at my back, I was hopeful of a great Cup run. Sadly I was eliminated in the second round on away goals.
No Europa League for me this season. Whatever freak conditions enabled me to qualify for last season’s competition didn’t apply this time. I’m oddly relieved. This squad would have been stretched.
The main story of this season so far is my League form. I’m top of the table after 12 matches. As can be seen from the table, I’m not scoring many goals. I’m keeping them out, though. That’s why I’m top. For the future, I doubt I could win the league this way, or even finish in the top 4 (that’s my aim). I need to change formations, and jettison this rather stale-feeling 4-3-3, which I think I’ve wrung every drop of value from in PES2010.
The highlight of this opening third of the season was an incredible victory over Porto. They’re the giants of the league, and they gave me the toughest game I can remember having on PES for many a year (their current squad, pictured right, may prove interesting). Twice I took the lead; twice they pegged me back, both times with awful, scrambled goals that I felt helpless to prevent.
Their second equaliser came in the last minute of the match. It was from a corner. I was 2-1 up, and had everyone back, on high alert. But none of my players jumped as the ball swung into the 6-yard box, despite me hammering the relevant button. The ball ricocheted off a Porto head, struck a Coventry shoulder, landed at a Coventry foot. That player didn’t move. He was selected all right, he should have done something, but he would not move, would not do anything, for a critical half-second. I hammered the square button, desperate to hoof it clear, desperate to secure my precious 2-1 win.
A Porto striker nicked the ball, and slotted it into the net. I was crestfallen (and, naturally, furious). My kick-off took place in stoppage time. The game would end 2-2, but it felt as if I was facing defeat. Unless…
I would have one attack left, just one, before the final whistle. I worked some space for the most hopeful kind of hopeful 25-yard shots. The ball deflected out for a corner. I selected my goalkeeper to take the corner. I pushed everything to all-out attack. I had every outfield player in or around the Porto box as my keeper took the corner. It was a hell of a risk. Despite being in stoppage time within stoppage time, I feel sure now that the game would have allowed Porto to have an attack on my empty net, had they recovered possession from the corner. But they didn’t recover possession. Instead, this happened:
Goal. Goal. GOOOOOOAL…… Regular PES players, particularly Master League players, will be able to imagine my reaction. There was no time for even the sneaky PES2010 AI to come back. The final whistle went almost immediately after their kick-off. 3-2 to me.
Will the good form last? And how will I take to the change of formation?