May you live in interesting times

My Cambridge United save is barely 10 matches old but has already sunk deep roots into me.

After 9 matches I’m sitting not too far outside the playoff zone, and I fancy my chances of doing well in my 1st season.

The Board Expectations are not very high at all – I believe I could finish anywhere and keep the job – so this season is effectively a blank canvas where I can lay down a few markers for the future and set myself up properly for the seasons when I really will need to get something done.

There’s a very good chance that FIFA, and Football Manager, will be the only meaningful football action on any plane of reality in my life for some weeks and months to come. With all the exciting lore around post-apocalyptic times, we never anticipated the pre-apocalypse part being so tiresome to live through, but of course it would have to be, how could we have been so naïve, etc.

If the final Collapse of all societal infrastructure can please hold off until I’ve got my teams – Cambridge Utd in FIFA20; and BK Avarta in FM19 – into their respective top divisions, I’ll be content.

The formation at the top of the post is the one I am going with. It fits my players and their modest abilities. A defensively-minded variant of a traditional 4-4-2. I have other formations, attacking and more defensive, mapped to the ‘Game Plans’ feature, and switch to them on the fly when required.

I’m starting to get to know the players, and will speak about them some more in Tuesday’s post, if there is a Tuesday of course. My strikers are poor but when one of them gets a goal I celebrate it with true joy.

For example, this goal, which I consider the Most Important Goal Yet in this career.

Why is that the most important goal yet?

Because I was 0-1 down, and I was down to 10 men at the time. I dug in and ground out a result. This 1-1 draw was epic. And the goal itself was not too bad. Notice the run of the striker at the middle-rght of the screen – I spotted the run and played that through-ball, which found its man in space (throwing the AI CB into a tizzy), and then I had to keep my nerve and (just about) finish.

This match was an important one in my still-continuing journey from PES to FIFA.

I’m still adjusting in so many little ways. I had a CB sent off for an innocuous-seeming tackle. That was with some time left in the first half.

In PES of recent years I’d got into the terrible habit of simply not doing tactical rejigs following a sending off. It never felt as if you had to bother to cover gaps, because the series has become auto-balanced to the point of ridiculousness.

FIFA is different. In FIFA, it matters. I was punished for ignoring the sending off. Just before half time the AI got behind my full back (for a change) and squared it for their striker to sidefoot into the net – exactly where my sent-off CB would have been, and where a subbed-on CB should have been if only I had ignored my bad PES habit and got him on immediately.

Goals are like gold. Goals make points and as you can see I am still in touch with the playoffs:

I’m quietly anticipating a classic with FIFA20. Career Mode is what I have been waiting for.

Those of you who regarded me switching so wholeheartedly to FIFA as a sign of the End Times… er… well, what can I say?

Updated: 14th March 2020 — 00:30


  1. NG – I’m looking forward to the day when Cambridge come up against Coventry and wonder if you will implement a no celebration rule….. Are you getting many goals from crosses? I’m still trying to find the way to do this.

  2. It just doesn’t work for me. There’s always been something light about FIFA, a floaty feeling I can’t shake. Those few games on pes made me feel that, despite the myriad of awful other issues. The key one not being no fouls, for such is the future, it’s the lack of long rangers. Removing that, or making it so unlikely just kills the fun. I blame klopp and guardiola for this new wave of walk the ball in.

    Btw I’ve been told to stop site visits. Because the most likely way of transmitting a virus is two blokes standing on a football pitch with no one else within 100 yards. F’king madness, we’ll be recycling our piss and beating relatives to death at the first sign of a sniff next. Consequently I have bugger all to do.

  3. Turf, this is modded PC FIFA, nothing light or floaty about it, heavy, solid feel to players and the ball.

    I can’t help but smile when reading NG’s comments “In FIFA it matters” Joy to my ears and eyes after all this empty hollow feeling in FIFA malarkey of the past, I always defended its corner, and I was right.

  4. PC….Fifa….this blog is dead to me.

    To be fair, yes you have Paul. Every year you’ve said Fifa is more than just a proper set of names, badges and accurate commentary. I still hate the player search, transfer system and cut scenes though. Unchanged in any meaningful form for years.

  5. Paul — I stand by my view of FIFAs in the past as being ’empty’, which was always about it feeling light and floaty in gameplay, the same perception Uncle Turf has of it. You have always seemed to mistake my ’empty’ thing as a verdict on the amount of content of FIFA. Not so — always gameplay, which I found shallow and unappealing after initial enthusiasm.

    FIFA20 has changed all that, and I think the PC platform is largely responsible. Although the few weeks when I played vanilla and loved it are most interesting. Maybe my tastes have changed and it was always this sturdy and I had to approach it by this means, who knows.

    Uncle Turf — I never really thought I’d cross over, but it really is the end of days, isn’t it? In conversation with others about ‘the virus’ they always think I’m worried about the virus itself. No, no, I tell them, I’m worried about the stage when the lights go out and never come back on. There might only be days left of our world (all fans of post-apocalyptic fiction must agree that all the beats of the collapse process are currently being gone through; all it’s missing is a military clash of some kind right now). I will use the last volt of electricity playing FIFA20. Amazing game.

    Keith — more goals from corners than crosses for me at the moment. I think the mechanics are solid, it’s my delivery that’s at fault. I overhit crosses most of the time, and put them in the keeper’s gloves a lot too.

  6. NG – I agree as the play is being set up nicely. The concern is probably Russia who may take advantage of the fact that the main players in the western world are at breaking point.

    Meanwhile back on Fifa 20 I have moved up to World Class difficulty for the Premiership. The opening games have shown that my Defending on Tactical has improved. Fantastic start to the Premership and difficulty movement. Opening results:-

    Man Utd (1-2)
    Cardiff (2-0)
    Burnley (0-1)
    Doncaster (L Cup) (2-1)

    As for Fifa improvements I think the turning point came from Fifa 18 onwards.

  7. NG – that moment came for me driving down to Leicester on Thursday with the announcement of Tom Hanks testing positive. It was then that I knew we’d end up with an us v them future, where at the first sign of cough you are condemned. People will plead ‘it was a hiccup’ but it will be too late as the militia drags them away. And underneath it all it’s a mild flu. Imagine what it will be like when it’s something seriously nasty, I am Legend…

  8. At least it’s not Dean Kootz’s Wuhan virus.

  9. NG – you always also used to say that matches in FIFA felt like they didn’t matter, that you wasn’t playing for anythig, which I always found incredible given the absolute shallowness of PES with its omissable trophies and other crap.

    Anyway, regardless, FIFA 20 has taken it up another level from FIFA 19, which was very good, and with the added PC mod, even further, so glad more people are seeing just how good the game is once it’s given proper time to adjust and floourish.

    Finished Season 2 last night, interesting run-in, will save details for a FIFAFX post which may come early this week, possibly Wednesday.

    New kits loaded in, some new adboards, a new FIFAFX branded ball, and raring to go for season 3.

  10. Darryl – in the fictonal lore of these times one country makes a grab for resources (face masks, ventilators, food, etc.) and that triggers other countries, making shenanigans on top of the shenaingans that were already going on, accelerating the collapse even more. Countries starting to close borders (pure pandemic theatre, i.e. ‘look how proactive we’re being!’) is an early sign of this. I’m not even slightly worried about the virus. It’s people we’ve got to worry about.

    Paul – loving my fictional football worlds all the more right now. You must be gutted with so-called reality. With one thing and another it now seem likely that if things don’t resume on April 4th, they won’t resume for up to a year.

    I don’t think I mentioned yet that I grabbed FIFA19 as part of my Origin package. A finished game of course with no new patches means that all the mods available for it are finished and done with. I really am so into 20 that I’ve done no more than play 1 game of my modded 19 – didn’t really notice a difference from what I remember of vanilla to be honest and 20 is a much better game.

  11. I reckon you have a couple of possibilities here – you do the sensible thing and shut down Cambridge United as a precautionary measure…or you don the reverse baseball cap and make a mint streaming your matches to a sport starved public. We will shortly be viewing indoor pub league type stuff once sky runs out of repeats.

  12. Our company is one of Bournemouth’s sponsors, just heard one of our sales managers attended a meeting at the vitality, and one of theclub officials said that all clubs have been consulted by the premier league and its possible the following will happen, this is just what I heard, cant state it as fact:

    – Season to be ended now, with Liverpool crowned as Champions
    – No relegation, top 2 teams from Championship will be promoted
    – Euro 2020 to be postponed to give players a break
    – Next season will start early, if possible, with 22 teams in the premier league
    – 5 teams to be relegated at end of season, streamlining it back to the normal 20 for the following season
    – Carabao cup to be scrapped, FA up will remain.

    This has been stated by 2 different club officials, one from Bournemouth and one from Villa, independently of eachother.

  13. Time to get the solar panels on the roof nG, providing just enough power to run your PC on a dimmed screen. You’re sat surrounded by car batteries acting as a power bank and pallets of canned goods. Yummy, peaches again and the toilet stopped flushing last week but at least I made it to Football League Trophy semi-finals.

  14. Paul – I’m suprised there was a meeting at the Vitality, as it was stated on the local radio that five club employess are self-isolating after testing positive including Artur Boruc.

  15. Just sharing what I was told Chris99 – could all be bollocks.

  16. Paul – something like that would have to happen I think, sounds plausible to me – with the caveat that your club would never escape the stigma of failing to actually win the league, it would always be open to friendly ribbing/outright jeering, perhaps even in your fans’ own minds it wouldn’t be ‘proper’. The Liverpool fan I work with is very glum about it and why not? Best Liverpool team in more than a generation having the ultimate prize so cruelly snatched away.

    Uncle Turf – the baseball-capped streaming thing might actually happen at one point, although I think it’ll be voice only. I would wear a facemask but that joke comes under two no-no categories. ‘Too soon’ for one, and others will have already done it I bet.

    Cook – now is the time to get your last orders in with Amazon if you’re eyeing up any of their competitively-priced solar battery chargers (which can also can charge laptops, albeit very slowly) or their more pricey briefcase-sized solar power generators. I’m a long-term Prime member and their dates have started slipping. This time next week I wouldn’t want to be relying on anything ordered online. I got myself a 30 quid solar battery pack to keep the phone etc going in a worst-case scenario. The ship has hit an iceberg but everyone is worrying more about the iceberg than the big hole it’s left in the side through which destabilising energies are pouring. ‘We will be all right, madam, this thing is basically unsinkable.’ Capt. John Smith of the Titanic, reported actual quote, 2 hours before he shot himself on the bridge.

  17. NG – of course it would be a ‘tainted title’ no getting away from that, and the chopsy Man City/Man Utd fans would be saying it wasnt an actual proper trophy, and Liverpool fans would alsodisregard it in many senses, even though we are so far ahead in the league its a forgone conclusion.

    I ordered something for mothers day, completely unrelated to the nasty cold stuff thats going on, and even as a Prime member was quoted a 7 day delivery time so have had to pay express shopping to get it here for the weekend.


  18. Paul – if they do go for the ‘award the title to Liverpool’ option it would make the following season so interesting, at least. Point to prove or what.

    Post-apocalyptic literature is one of my top-3 favourite genres of reading (and viewing), so bear in mind that I’m self-programmed to see the signs, but I see the signs. They’re everywhere, in everything, right now. In fiction of course, the phase we’re in now happens quite fast in order to get the central character(s) to the main action (vampires or Mad Max-style marauders or whatever), but in reality of course it has to happen slowly. The Titanic didn’t drop like a stone when it was hit. Until it did. Extrapolate to a world civilisation etc.

    Agree with the subtext of you calling it ‘nasty cold stuff’ as well. All the elderly and unwell people I know cheerfully accept that they’re at risk every winter. This new one is that few % worse though that it can easily overwhelm health service capacity, which it is reasonable to take action to prevent, but switching the world off is a bit of overkill to say the least.

    Very strange to see the world’s populations asking for – demanding, and applauding – the most extreme measures from governments. I’m far from being a tinfoil-hat-wearer but this is precisely the scenario they’re gone on about for years. The way to control a population is to make them want to be controlled….

  19. NG – 2 and a half hours to sink, letting in over 1000 gallons of sea water every minute. Watched a documentary on the Titanic only the other night.

    I call it a nasty cold, well flu, because thats all it is.
    Corona virus, or COVID-19 to be specific, was doing the rounds here before xmas, I had it, my mum had it, people at work were dropping like flies, many saying it was the worst flu they’d ever had, and mine started ironically 2 days after I had my flu jab.

    Despite that, it was just a bad cold,I felt crap for a week, and that was it, my mum had it and had the nasty cough and chest infection bit for 3 or so weeks after, but that was it.
    I get that Old people and peole with underlying conditions are much more prone but exactly the same as with the common flu, and you will know full well working bin the NHS that the common flu kills around 600 people a year in the Uk on average – this whole corona crap is being blown epically out of proportion, and then you have morons like Piers Morgan venting his spleen all over Twitter demanding the government put us all in lockdown and end the world.

    Its crazy, people must be bored or something.

  20. Paul – 600 is a conservative figure for the annual death toll from common cold and seasonal flu. In so many deaths, cold or flu is the instigating factor, and if you count these you could probably tack aanother 0 on the end of that 600 and still be well short. They’re certainly counting them now. Anyone who dies of anything is deemed to have ‘been killed by COVID-19’ if they test positive.

    Everyone is saying more or less the same thing about the virus itself, but it’s not important how bad/moderate the virus itself is, how dumb the panic buyers are being, etc.. Those are the first twitchings of a spasm of societal panic that could do irreparable harm. Probably already too late for it not to. As long as they can keep the power on, water coming from the taps, and petrol flowing into engines we’ll probably be all right, but it wouldn’t take much at all for us not to be.

    I’m gobsmacked at all the populations of Europe calling for mass lockdown and waving flags from balconies as if it’s all a magnificent patriotic triumph. Call me Mr Nasty but the scenes of the Italians all singing absolutely sickened me. In a non-jokey way. Anything like that ever happens here, I’ll drink a pint of Covid.

    Got a lovely long session of FIFA20 coming up. Audiobook on in the background (not The Stand). It’s a pretty good world we’ve got.

  21. Its sheep mentality, one small pocket of people go out and mas spanic buy, and more follow, then more, and more….. until we get what we’ve got today and thats bare empty shelves and people acting like they are needing to and underground apocolypse bunker for thousands.

    Dried pasta, rice and toilet rolls!!
    The cold soes not even give you the shits and surely a pot noodle would be less hassle!?

    Back on to FIFA 20 and FIFER himself has been private messaging me asking for help with animated adboards, so i’ve taken the opportunity to ask him about the player name indicator.

  22. Paul – good on you for pitching in with FIFER. And the flip side of the whole ‘Liverpool wait 30 years for a title and then THIS comes along’ has to be, surely, my ‘finally I get into a FIFA and deep into Career Mode, and then…. Coronageddon!’

    The toilet rolls thing is very interesting indeed. In no version of any fictional scenario I’ve ever come across have toilet rolls been the number 1 purchase for pre-apocalypse panic-buyers. A great example of a meme in action, leaping from head to head like lightning between poles in a mad scientist’s laboratory. Maybe everything that we think we think works like that…

  23. Not sure if it’s such a good idea to try to influence people’s attitudes to coronavirus on a soccer gaming website. The expert views that I’m hearing indicate that the main danger at the moment is that the virus could cause health systems to collapse. The fact, if it is a fact and I hope it is, that most people who get the virus won’t die or won’t experience it as anything more than a normal flu is not sufficient reason for not taking it seriously, it would seem. The health professionals that I’ve spoken to (mainly in radiation oncology) worry that their teams are far more open to the virus than society as a whole and could be rapidly depleted, which would be just one of the possible knock-on effects on the health system, without going into the area of ICU units without beds for people suffering from ailments other than COVID-19. Just my view. Don’t want to offend anybody.

  24. Rhymes, of course the dangers of the virus are much wider spread than just contracting it personally, where 98% of all people who do get it, recover fine.
    The are the knock-on effects like you mentioned of strained health services, then less people to treat those seriously ill with other conditions, unemployment through redundancy of jobs where businesses have been affected by travel restrictions and all that jazz.

    We are not playing that side down, we was disucssing purely the actual virus itself, in that its nothing more than a medium strength flu for 99% of most normal people, and that all the stock piling, hoarding, panic buying of items is completely unwarranted, and over the top and nonsensical, which it is.

  25. rhymes450 – it’s the proportionality of the world’s response to the virus (NOT the lethality of the virus itself) that I am deeply sceptical about.

    The response has the potential to do as much or more harm than the virus itself in the long run. Or even the short run.

    There is a plausible chain of events from now that could end daily life as we currently know it forever, or at least for a long time. I’m not talking football matches, I’m talking jobs, livelihoods, all the ripple effects from all the consequences. Up to and including the biggies, famine, war, etc. I seriously doubt that Covid19 on its own warrants that sort of sacrifice. Flattening the now-famous curve is what it’s all about of course and who knows, locking us all in our homes and getting us singing and flag-waving (retch) might be the way to do it, but it strikes me as the first stage of something potentially more worrisome than the virus.

    One of the nasty effects of Covid19 is the way it prompts the body’s immune reponse mechanisms into a ‘cytotonic storm’ that causes the fever and breathlessness that kills many of its victims. Their own disproportionate immune response is what kills them. Likewise with public life, society, civilisation – is the ‘immune response’ out here in the world proportionate or disproportionate? Might there not be an analogous cytotonic storm in progress in the world as we know it right now? I read a book about the Spanish flu years ago (my interest in the mechanics of catastrophe is a lot more than superficial) in which the author off-handedly remarked that a similar flu in the 21st century would not only threaten its victims but everyone else too, because of the extreme lengths a scared and pampered populace would go to to try to protect itself. Toilet paper is the tip of a very dirty iceberg that may be heading our way – or may indeed already have taken a chunk out of us. It’ll already take a lot to get back from here and we’ve only just begun.

    And I am not even being slightly facetious when I say that I would prefer death over a patriotic Blitz spirit singalong with my neighbours.

  26. N.G. – Interesting and well-informed perspective. What’s proportionate and what’s disproportionate is the key and maybe also what’s most difficult to measure. The panic buying in the supermarkets seems very disproportionate and may be indicative of an underlying lack of solidarity, which is a bit scary but perhaps not very surprising, unfortunately. Coronavirus has already proved to be more than a single-issue phenomenon. Maybe the measures used to combat it will prove worse than the disease. Hopefully, it won’t trigger economic meltdown, famine and war. But I’m sure you’re not wrong in thinking that it could, along with other factors. My hope is that we’ll be back here in September cheerfully debating the relative merits of PES 2021 and FIFA 2021, and that the coronavirus scare and the fears of what it might lead to will have receded. Time will tell I guess. Echo the feeling about patriotic singalongs. Bad singing and patriotism…lethal combination.

  27. I second that – a nice normal boring summer would be nice too. I also can’t shake a hope I have that somehow the projections will turn out to be wrong, for no good reason of course. It’s looking bumpy ahead. Like I say, if the core utilities stay up and running and the food trucks and cargo ships keep moving, things will probably be more or less okay out here in the world and we will manage the health side of the crisis as best we can. I have very little faith in people to act rationally though, particularly governments, and the way I see peoples everywhere calling out for extreme measures and celebrating them as if they’re great triumphs of their national ego or something – worries me a lot. I’m like the opposite of ‘every schmaltzy faith-in-humanity speech you’ve ever heard’. I watched Contagion a few weeks ago (before it became a toilet-paper-like meme), and while it is a good film with an old-fashioned all-star cast, I don’t think it’s all honest about how the mass of people would behave.

  28. One thing I’m sure of – no way our generation would have got through the war. Six years, our grandparents and great grandparents were made of stone. One week and people are rushing Tesco to get at Andrex and Spaghetti? NG – I’d imagine you might emerge on the other side, a sort of Lord Haw Haw who jumps ship rather than getting behind Vera Lynn.

  29. I don’t know about Lord Haw Haw, nG’s comment on anonymous streaming made me think more of Gerry Adams.

  30. One thing you can be absolutely sure of is that come September I will NOT be here debating the merits of PES 21. That shit show is dead to me, I’d rather be corona virus inundated than play anything Konami ever have to offer again.

  31. Paul – if we’re all still able to talk about football games in September, I’ll be happy about anything. NB: once again must note that I’m not talking about the virus.

    And I think both PES and FIFA may struggle to get a product out on time, if at all.

    I screwed up with the windows update again. I thought when you said Frosty wasn’t working you meant the Editor only. So I had another emergency session on vanilla yesterday – and it was great. My tastes have definitely changed.

    Uncle Turf – a generation that has never known anything but satisfaction in every aspect of life is about to be tested. Including my own generation. The teens and twetntysomethings don’t remember anything but instant gratification of course. I think in a few months we’ll be in interesting times indeed, and these right now will seem like the good old days.

  32. NG – totally agree with you. Back in my Fifa world I had another great 6 match session on Fifa last night and am 15th with 11 matches of season 4 played. However, I am only one point clear of safety and play Southampton next, who occupy the 18th spot.

  33. NG – it will defiitely be strange times, alteady seen weird things happening with ever-reliable internet connections, Sky Q boxes etc, the world and its infrastructre is slowly crumbling around us.

    I also fell foul of the windows update thing, after playing sunday night, I powered off the PC and the only options were update and restart, update and power off, sleep or hibernate, so i chose update and power off, but first, I created a windows restore point.

    Turned on last night and launching the game via Frosty Mod manager would flick up the Origin window, but wouldn’t launch the game, tried with all mods, and no mods, of course the pure vanilla game loaded fine but I wanted the GFX Mod camera tool.
    I restored back to the restore point i created the night ebfore and it still wouldn’t work, in the end I had to update the FIFA game to latest Title update 13, then frosty mod manager would load again, except all the FIFER 2.0 mods are incompatible with it, so I just played some of the new Conmebol tournament as Argentinian side Nacional, using the new GFXMOD V Ultra tool just released that has a new broadcast cam and pitch turfs, very nice it is too.

    Woke up this morning and FIFER had sent me a private link to an early release of his new 2.1 CM mod, so I should be all back up and running ok tonight.

    Strange though how a windows update had broken frosty’s runtimes.

  34. Paul – when it restarted it took me through a portion of the first setup routine (PIN and OneDrive stuff etc.) which only happens after a core update. Windows 10 was pretty good for not nagging about a year ago but has started doing so more often now.

    If/when the oil and petrol stops flowing is when we’re in real trouble. Up to that point we will stumble through well enough. If anything at all stops food supply chains, this will be our reality:

    ” alt=”” />

    Got a link for the new Broadcast mod?

    Darryl – I will play something or other to the last amp of electricity! I can always read my books by torchlight as the ship sinks.

Comments are closed.