The man. The myth. The goal machine. (Sort of.)
The Championship top scorers list after 10 matches:
The return of F FRIDAY to my Master League team’s fold has so far been an almost unqualified success. £17.9m for a player in the Championship? I hardly batted an eye at the cost. Worth every imaginary penny.
Many readers have already seen this highlights video of my 3-0 demolition of Leeds at the start of Season 3:
My favourite goal is actually Rice’s ruler-straight volley from 20 yards. But Friday’s goals were proper ‘black Schwarz’ goals: both powerful strikes from outside the box that the revered German striker used to be adored for.
Friday is 23 years old in my game. I should get 7-10 more good seasons out of him. Where will the story take him, and me? This is what Master League is all about.
The same goes for Rice, my star midfielder, the second coming of Coynborough in all but name. Master League is about building a story, building an experience, brick by brick.
My pre-season wheeler-dealering culminated in this First XI, this Squad – and this surprising new formation:
Talking points? Quite a few.
That startling 4-2-4 with WFs – a massive departure for me.
Depay in on loan, and surprisingly good. PES is individuality-lite these days, as we all know, but Depay feels like something different.
Regen Tim Cahill. He popped up on a search for header-friendly players. I’m interested in finding out if PES2017’s ‘famous’ header-friendly nature is real, or a vast unlikely conspiracy against me.
Son Heung-min. Or is it Heung-min Son? Whichever, just £8m from Spurs for an 80-rated quality player like that? How could I refuse?
Regen Aaron Lennon from my Youths. So far indistinguishable from Downing. I know they both need time though.
A few other Youths have been brought in to pad out the squad.
But what about that 4-2-4?
I’ve been tinkering with formations a lot recently, having admitted defeat in trying to stick with my favoured 4-2-2-2.
The 4-2-4 functions quite well. It is, of course, very goals-oriented, as can be seen by the table after 10 matches:
My current ratio of 1.2 goals per game across 10 matches is a step up from my 0.8 goals per game across the whole of last season.
Alas, swashbuckling as it is, the 4-2-4 is not going to last.
The table above suggests why. 3 matches lost already. 2 drawn. Only 5 goals conceded, but they were telling goals. That’s too many points dropped.
A 4-2-4 is such a fragile flower. It’s far too midfield-lite, and midfield is where the AI gets friskiest when it decides to get frisky.
Rice and Petsos cope well enough, as long as my front 4 are firing on all cylinders and pinning the AI back. But when the goals aren’t flying in, and the AI is in the mood to be stubborn – which is often – I really feel the lack of at least one extra body in midfield.
I’m toying with the notion of pulling back one of the front two to play as a central AMF. That would make it a 4-5-1 formation, and I’m not sure I can stomach that. 4-5-1 is one of the key factors involved in destroying ‘real-life’ football as a spectator sport.
Whatever I choose to do, Lobato’s days are numbered.
Lobato is a peculiar example of a player who plays below his stats for me. I’ve had him for almost 2 full seasons now, since the mid-season window of Season 1, and can barely remember a single good thing he’s done. I think I remember him getting an important goal in a match back in Season 1 or something. That’s about it.
I will be cashing in on Lobato in the coming midseason window, barring a miraculous Friday-style burst-to-life routine.
Lobato is officially a resounding flop for me. Proof, if proof were needed, that there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for Pro Evo success. Don’t even start me about these headers. I’ve now played lots of games with a 4-2-4, flung dozens of crosses of all types into the mixer, and scored maybe one header.
One final thing today – a video oddity.
For many editions of PES now it has been my habit to bring my GK up to take late corners when I’m behind. It enables me to have all my outfield players in or around the box. Leave it late enough and even if the AI wins the ball back, the ref usually blows the final whistle, so there’s hardly ever danger to your own goal.
We’re used to seeing AI teams fluff glaring opportunities like that. My respect for the PES2017 AI was already pretty high, but went up a notch when its advanced striker took that potshot from 35 yards.
The game was lost anyway, but I was still relieved not to concede there. I didn’t want my imaginary goalkeeper to feel bad about his life. Isn’t that peculiar?