So I’m in a spot of trouble in my second season. That is the current bottom of the Premier League, above, after 10 matches. (It’s a bit of a weird table all round. Fulham are top at the moment, and unbeaten.)
I’m playing as Anderlecht in Master League in PES2011, on Top Player difficulty. I made a huge boo-boo at the end of last season. I accepted offers for five or six of my experienced, useful players. I blithely assumed that I’d have no trouble at all in replacing them with younger, better players during the transfer window.
It’s a lesson that I seemingly have to learn again and again in the new-style Master League that came into force over a year ago in PES2010. The old-school ML’s ‘negotiation window’, which was all but part of my DNA, is no more. The transfer window now is only that: the period in which transfers actually occur, having been negotiated weeks or months previously.
You can still make deals within the window. But the nature of it is such that you only really get one attempt at a couple of players (who could refuse), and then one attempt at another few players (who could also refuse), and then the window’s shut. That is what happened to me this time, and I’ll never let it happen again.
PES2011 can be very engrossing when played as if your life depends on it. Could I get a win? Could I hell.
I was 2-0 up against Everton. They came back to draw 2-2 with two late goals. I was holding Chelsea 0-0 at home. Desperate for something, anything. They got a late winner. I was 1-0 up against Sunderland and collapsed to a 1-2 defeat at the death. It was all getting too much for me.
The high pressure felt absolutely unplayable at times. I was getting no more than a second on the ball, with hordes of AI players constantly closing in.
I’ve been very vocal about deploring PES2011’s high AI pressurising. It seems to be a transparent effort to mimic the rhythms and imperatives of online multiplayer, a style of football gaming that I truly loathe. So it’s no surprise that I’ve struggled to like PES2011 for long stretches of its life.
Then I played West Ham, and got my first win of the season. The goal was… not memorable. Which means that I don’t remember anything about it. I think it was a Lukaku tap-in after a goalkeeper pat-away, but I could be wrong.
Speaking of Lukaku: his fortunes have mostly mirrored my team’s. He’s got just 2 goals in my 10 league matches. He’s been useful at times, but anonymous too often. I’ve struggled to maintain possession and create chances, so he’s been just another player for a lot of the time. I’m sure that with the injection of a few more players later in the season, he’ll be great again.
And so this is where things are. Near the bottom of the table with goals hard to come by, and relegation a genuine possibility. Roll on mid-season, when I’ll be bringing in four or five new players.