Old imaginary footballers never die

Season 15 of my so-far-epic PES2019 Master League career has got off to a decent start.

4 wins, 1 draw, 1 defeat.

I’ve had great starts before and won nothing, so this means nothing right now.

My new signings are struggling to bed in. Only one is standing out at the moment and feels like part of the team.

Hamsik at CMF is almost on the verge of becoming a regular starter in my midfield. Xavi and Mascherano are immovable, so if it happens Hamsik would probably see Buonanotte move to the bench. Or even (whisper it) the ageing Castledine. Yes, I am thinking about retiring the old man to the subs’ bench from now on.

It’s been a few seasons since the now 33-year-old Castledine was able to wrap his foot around a loose ball in the AMF area and give the GK something to think about.

Hamsik was bought with that exact purpose in mind. Even if a long shot doesn’t score (and it almost never scores), a corner or a rebound can result.

Castledine’s passing years are manifesting in two ways.

First is his now very poor stamina – he’s usually almost done by halftime, and always has to go off around 60 minutes.

Second, that famous left foot possesses a lot less venom than it used to.

I’d be satisfied if Castledine announced his retirement at the end of this season, as it would get me off the hook of a difficult decision. I doubt I could ever sell him, but with his rate of decline he would become a very occasional player.

The young pretenders, Xavi and Modric and Hamsik, are more than capable of filling his boots. But even if they have another 15 seasons at the club, they won’t come close to emulating the esteem and affection that Castledine has earned for himself. As soon as he does retire and then pop up as a Regen, he’ll be hired again.

Before anyone writes in, I am 100% aware that Castledine is ‘only’ a bunch of pixels animated by computer code and imagination.

The table:Promising, but we’ll see. I’m conceding too many goals for comfort right now.

Mathieu is settling in reasonably well. He plays a bit more than I thought he would. The fixture pileup of League, Cup, and Europa League, all see to that.

He’s big and cumbersome, not great, but dependable, a true individual. I miss the magnificent Footballer Of The Century that he was in PES5, of course.

In PES2019 his most notable contributions are first-time sweeping crosses to the far post. Like this one:

Updated: 24th May 2019 — 10:59


  1. Truly a sign of a great ML if a) you reach 15 seasons are are still eager to carry on and b) build such an affinity with a player that decisions about playing him become difficult, moral dilemmas.

  2. Paul — Castledine is tied with Forlan for MVP of PES2019 (so far), but he has been running on fumes for a few seasons now, truth be told. I really wanted to see him lift a trophy and that finally happened last season, so this might be his twilight season as a regular. Shades of Stevie G of course.

    Looking ahead, I intend to win the title this season. It’s not a vague hope, it’s a definite intention, and it will happen. I will be treating every single match like a major final, maximum concentration and focus, in an effort to win the title this season — and then if that happens, who knows if the curtain will come down. That taster of FIFA19 the other night whetted my appetite for different flavours and textures in my footy game diet.

    If you’ve noticed the tables in nearly every season in this ML, the title has been won by teams who’ve lost 6-10 matches, which of course is an element of the ML table scripting, with the game doing its best to ‘keep the human team in it’ until as late as possible. If — IF — I have the kind of season now that I think I’m going to have, where I lose only a few matches and stay at or near the top to the end, it’ll be interesting to see the proof of ML table scripting (not that such proof was needed) in the form of the AI teams keeping pace with me.

  3. n-G – Would you say you are more fond of this Castledine than Castledines of nuPES past?. Personally, I’m always reluctant to invest in a player I have had on the books in a previous PES. I’d rather a new story play out.

    That said, Jaric, Ruskin and Ivarov are still pulling out all the stops for me in my revisit to PES5. Ivarov has just achieved hero status with a penalty save and more heroics in a Champions League final that finished like this…

    View post on imgur.com

    You don’t see stats like these in footy games any more…

    View post on imgur.com

  4. If I can stick it something that has never happened to me in any Pes ever is going to occur with 2017. Ie this couldn’t have happened when I first played it two years ago. I can’t sign a single player. Not even a 50 overall free agent. No one in the game has a more than two bar affection for me, even when I’ve sold players to make room. And with its negotiation settings you can’t even pay way over the odds to sweeten the pot. I can of course get youth but none of the new pes crowd have ever amounted to anything. I am genuinely baffled and it makes the games really quite grindy – offsetting the somewhat easier difficulty (which I think is quite clear with this revisit). It’s really quite disturbing to think I will have to reach January with hettich, salhoune, seiffert etc

  5. Ng – do you think that i you have only lost 2 or 3 games heading into the final few fixtures, that the teams around you would only lose a similar amount too, to ‘keep the interest’ ?

    I remember in my FIFA CM a few seasons back, Man City winning the league by 11 points, there was no rubber banding there, other seasons have been much more close, like my Premier League win last year coming down to the final day.

    Interesting news coming up on the next FIFAX post regarding the league table.

  6. I think I made my avatar go all posh above (used the wrong email). Sorry for making you have to approve my pics n-G

  7. Shed — what wonderful scenes there, and no, you do not see stats like that in football games anymore. More free kicks in 1 (ONE) match than in 10 (TEN) average nuPES matches. Literal truth. Occasionally a match comes along where the AI bites into the tackle and it’s like playing 1970s Leeds, and it’s glorious, but to get that nearly all the time we have to pop into the time machine as you have done.

    Castledine is the best of the nuPES bunch for me, and is probably third in line in the Cas-characters overall only to the original ISS/PES Castello and PES2015’s Castolis. (No matter what abbeyhill says, they are clearly all meant to be the same recurring character, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned before.)

    p.s. good going to get the Champs League with your squad, even on 5* (or are you 6* now?). Just shows how all the years since have made you more expert. When I played PES5 I just kept going and going, trying to win back-to-back Trebles in consecutive seasons, and never quite managing it.

    Uncle Turf — what happened to you last time on PES2017? You might find playing with lesser players is the only way to play nuPES. I remember you being appalled at how samey Messi felt one year, possibly PES2017.

    Paul — I’m saying now that if I follow through on my vow to treat every fixture like a major final and really max out the focus and determination, then yes, all the teams with me at the top will match my results. It’s what the script is for. Can you really see me being ‘allowed’ to win the League by 10 points, or even going 10 points clear at any stage. If I’m not forced to lose/draw certain matches, the other teams will simply win to keep up with me. But I’m getting way ahead of myself here. I need to bring the results before we can see what the script does.

  8. I can’t remember but I have never failed to buy at least a goalie, centre half and striker before the first window closes. Likely I played for four scruffy seasons, scoring a silly amount of goals and finding it a blur of samey amfs and cfs. I think Messi was 2016 but they all blend into pulp after 2015 and it’s editing headaches.

  9. Turf – I dont recall it being difficult to sign anyone in PES 17, money permitting of course.
    Are you shortlisting players through the scout? always a much higher chance of signing for you.

    This was my goal of PES 17

  10. Can’t remember any such problems Turf, although that being said I did play PES2017 as a defaults challenge

  11. A snorter there Paul but clearly I’d put the free kick over the bar.

    Yes, Abbeyhill – the only reason I can think, apart from a secret patch, is me choosing Lens in ligue 2. Not a single player outside the defaults or youth team will join me. I even checked to see if I had it on challenge, but of course that didn’t exist. I may have underestimated 2017.

    Stranraer are having a poor time in fm too. Every player is a part timer, I’m treading water really, but thankfully no ridiculous Colchester scorelines.

  12. n-G – I’m on 6star difficulty for PES5. Thankfully, I still have my original PS2 memory card with all the kits and the PES Shop all bought out. The Champions League win was unexpected – especially as I thought I was playing in the Europa for half of it – and easily one of my greatest PES moments ever.

    I finished sixth in the league, well off the top two so there’s plenty of life left in this old ML yet.

  13. I was in Game on Friday and they had copies of both Fifa 15 and Fifa 16 for 20p. At that point it dawned upon me that I have never played Fifa 16. I remember playing the demo but can’t think why I have never played the full game. The only explanation I have is that I wanted so bad for PES 2016 to work and kept re-starting the game. This was the first year you could download kits, so spent ages trying to get them sorted. Then after the game was shelved I must have played something else. Anyway it is quite exciting and have started a new career. I have turned off the internet as I remember negative feedback to the patches. Only 6 games into a Portsmouth career and so far so good. I love the heaviness of the game and it follows Fifa 15 in it does have fouls. I would say a healthy average of 5 a game so far. The fewest has been 3 fouls, with 9 the most.

  14. A quick look through the archives here has jogged the memory. I bought PES 2016 that year first as we weren’t as well off back then. I tried to like PES up until November but faced the innevitable wall that came along. I then traded the game in for Rory McIlroy golf that had not long come out. Before Christmas I then traded that in for Fallout 4. The in-laws bought me Fifa 16 for Christmas but it didn’t get a look in as I played a lot of Minecraft for a whie after hitting a block with Fallout 4. So poor old Fifa 16 never came out of its wrapper.

  15. Darryl – only ever played FIFA16 in a pre-release Career Mode closed beta, was unbelievably excellent, all the great things about 15 but slowed down with a more rugged style of player movement, but as you say apparently watered down by updates so keeping internet off sounds a good plan

    not-Greg – my Castledine approaching the peak of his powers now, starts every game as a left sided AMF like I think you use him, or more centrally when we are 5-2-1-2. Despite not great strength or pace it’s that venomous left foot that on its own yields a great return of goals and assists

    progress on PES2019 with Red Star obviously slowing down this week with Chelsea Flower Show on TV, but nevertheless made it up to late January in season 5, placed nicely in 3rd in Ligue 1. A title challenge is possible as we were top at Christmas and still just 3 points behind PSG but I would be very happy with European qualification.

  16. I don’t think I have ever seen the Chealsea Flower Show listed down on here as reason for a slow ML progress. Sign of tbe Times?

  17. The jump the shark moment?

    Personally I despise the Chelsea flower show. I find it completely fake, things grown in unrealistic conditions then uprooted for an all important 24 hours of judging, then a roll call of who has bankrolled the project. I understand that garden designers get something out of it, and maybe the rest of us could pick up the odd inspiration or new plant idea but otherwise it’s as close to nature as I’m a celebrity, or bear grylls suggesting he’s in peril (with his camera crew, director, driver, etc etc). Nothing personal Abbeyhill, I’m just a Geoffrey smith/Geoff Hamilton muck and nettles kind of gardener. The idea of someone ordering a garden, like a kitchen, is just unthinkable.

    Stranraer rallied, beat rangers and went on a run (they were still in league one in 2014) but then a stupid sending off (4 game ban!) ended the good news.

  18. I notice that geums are very much ‘on trend’ this year Turf, might be worth updating some of your borders accordingly…

  19. Darryl – you’ve ‘missed an episode’ at some point, the Chelsea flower show is a beloved staple of the footy game calendar… re. FIFAs 15 and 16 I was most struck by seeing two games that once cost so many millions of pounds of development and made so much money themselves, now going for a handful of coins in a bargain shelf. Along with every other football game too of course. Footy games depreciate at a greater rate than other games doubtless because of that annual instalment edging out the previous one and the ones before. Because all you can now really do with old football games is play the AI in the modes on the disc, their cheapness is also a sign of how the single player football game experience is valued in the wider gaming culture. I.e. barely at all.

    Looking in at the Reddit PES forum this past week, it’s really striking how much the multiplayer/myClub experience is the unstated baseline for all discussion. E.g. someone will start a thread saying ‘so what do you think of PES2019’ or the like, and their post and all the replies won’t specify what mode they’re talking about, but it’s always online multiplayer. Just as Call of Duty talk is, I imagine, all about the experience of playing it online, so too the footy game experience now.

  20. The idea that flowers should be ‘in’, ‘hot’, ‘this years must have’ or any other such nonsense is beyond me. Funnily enough I think I must have brought home some wood avens seeds on a shoe a few years back as they crop up everywhere in the garden now. Hideously ugly plants with scrubby yellow flowers like a poor man’s geranium. Needless to say I never ever buy bedding plants, annuals or any other instant type colour. Hard work, sweat, a fair bit of blood and the odd dead rat is the essence of my garden.

  21. Anyone got a cat? I’ve always been the natural enemy of the things but the family finally wore me down and I agreed to adopting one. One day in and I’m baffled.

  22. Turf – currently have a dog but have had quite a few cats in the past. What is the matter? How old is it?

  23. Uncle Turf – felines tend to look after themselves alone and only gradually warm to humans, if ever. Exceptions happen – I’ve met quite a few cats who were just as sociable and playful as puppies, but most do conform to the cat stereotype of being aloof and distant. If yours is a rescue cat they’re almost certain to need time to scope out the new territory and all the new humans in its life. I’ve always been a dog person as I thought but am warming more to cats in my middle age.

  24. Wonderful to see the moral dilemma issue arise NG. Truly a sign of a game that has it’s hooks in.

    I, too, was a huge Mathieu fan in the golden PES days. I believe he was the first player that I actually got the hang of free kicks with. I also recall having to adjust my style to suit his dominant left foot. Ahh, good times.

    Now, while I am still going strong on PES, FIFA 19 (standard edition) is currently only £12.49 on Amazon UK at the time of writing, and my son has bought it me for my upcoming 46th birthday while it’s so reasonably priced. I’m genuinely excited to try it. Who knows. Maybe I’ll end up with 2 cracking footy games that I enjoy. Here’s hoping!

  25. SockWulf – I played the FIFA19 demo last week for the first time and it felt really good, I was surprised how much. It felt so good that I was looking for the cheapest possible FIFA19… I will certainly conclude business with PES2019 before straying to the other side, though.

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