Climbing to the top of the tree

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Phil Foden is one of those young players that caught the eye during the England U18’s real world World Cup triumph 2 years ago, every time I’ve seen him play since he has impressed, if he was at any other club, he would be a regular by now and in the mould of a Sterling or Rashford, Man City simply have too many good players already, and so I took advantage of this but within FIFA 19.
When I signed Foden last January I expected him to be a backup player, but with Adama and Damm on one wing, and Mojica recently signed on the other, I played Foden at CAM position, and he was superb, and has been a starter in every game since.

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Footy games need individualistic players, players with identity that you can instantly notice, that feel different, that you can build an affinity with, Foden has all that, he won’t muscle his way through any midfield battles, but playing just behind the striker he has a great knack of picking the ball up in that hole and creating chances, or latching on to the ball from the edge of the box and snap-shooting, he has great technique and agility and stamina, still being only 22yrs old in-game.

Foden stats.pngConstantly high performing the heat map shows just how much ground he covers during a match, now at 84 OVR and still developing, possibly a future club captain?
I have already rejected various offers for him, including a £47million bid from Man Utd, We need to be challenging for honours in order to keep him at the club I feel.

Heres a brace of goals scored by Foden in a recent match vs Huddersfield.

Something happened in the following match vs Leicester that I haven’t seen before, the play was stopped mid-game for an injury:

Following the match, The news ticker presented an info snippet regarding the injury

Injury.pngNice to see the in-game injury followed through and represented in the ‘football world’ of career mode after the match, it’s these kind of details and flow of events that really do make FIFA 19’s CM very immersive and engaging.

Emmanuel Dennis Is firing on all cylinders and is the league’s top scorer with 13 goals in 17 matches, a great signing from West Ham, whom I pursued for a season before getting him, and another player with bags of individuality, a goal scoring machine,  here’s a couple of recent goals from him, including the second goal which is a bona-fide 100% overhead bicycle kick.

Heading into late December we are currently 3rd in the league, and in the quarter finals of the Carabao cup, lots to still play for, but we need some cover in the DMF position, I have a few scouts lining up possible out-of-contract players for January, so we will see who pops up.

Final match of my last session we played Liverpool at Anfield, a great, and very tough game, with their speed of play and intricate football its hard to get near them, we was 2-0 down before pulling a goal back to go 2-1, then this happened, to level it at 2-2, we attack on the counter and a side pass to lay in Adama for an open goal….

Unbelievable save from Allison, and instead of levelling it, it changed the game as we want on to be hammered 4-1.

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Wandering Youth

Late winner.pngThe match of my most recent session was a last 16 Carabao Cup match at home to Wycombe Wanderers. I made 6 changes for this match and chose to give a few fringe and youth players run-outs, a few of the newly promoted youths have been begging for chances kin the last few weeks, so thought this the perfect match to give them their opportunity, against a much weaker side.

The nerves on the young players could be seen straight away with misplaced passes and general anxious play, which was eased when Youth CF Price ran on to a through ball to put us one up.
Wycombe then dominated most of the play, and deservedly levelled through a good header, before going into the lead early on in the second half…

What followed was a late, great comeback performance, with Andre Silva levelling straight from kick off from Wycombe’s second goal in the 82nd minute, with Promising youth talent Gavilan (RMF) latching on and finishing well in the 86th minute to send us into the quarter finals 3-2.

It’s good to see youth players whom I have promoted and developed finally starting to stake claims for places on the bench, my plan going forward is to integrate more promoted youths into the first team rather than always looking for a named signing, FIFA can do the youth player affinity thing quite well too.

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Apart from a shaky 2-0 defeat to Bournemouth, our league form has been steady too, in the top 4, and in the UCL spots, heading towards November.
We are the league’s top scorers but have also conceded a few, something that needs to be tightened up heading towards December and the usual ‘ebb and flow simulation’ employed by the game where matches get decidedly tougher.
New signing Emmanuel Dennis is doing exactly what we bought him to do, score goals, with 7 goals in 11 starts, but also has 6 assists to his name, with Phil Foden also bagging 6 goals in 11 from the AMF role.

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Key transfer priority for January is a solid DMF, to cover for Decouré and Grujic, as I currently only have 2 youth players for that position, and also cover at LMF position as backup Assifuah suffered a broken toe after coming on as a sub in the cup win, and will be out for 2 months.

 

So Foden So Good

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A Great Start ….

Amazing what a fresh focus and different approach can make, off the back of a very poor finish to last season, season 6 sees the Trees sat 3rd in the league after 6 games, with the leagues best scoring record.
Pre-season I decided if we was to make progress I needed to ditch my tried and tested usual footy gaming formation of 4-4-2, and try something new, I wanted more of an attacking threat without having to rely on two CF’s, but also to tighten up the midfield and put more bodies in there, so opted for the real-world popular 4-2-3-1 or could even call it an attacking 4-5-1.

My current starting eleven and formation is shown below

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As you can see, two holding midfielders give us some protection in front of the back four, but a forward three of a LWF, RWF and AMF behind the main CF give us plenty of attacking options.
I took a fair bit of time going through the detailed team tactics options and setting up instructions for this main formation, with the CMF’s set to hold centre, Doukoré to stay back when attacking giving Grujic license to get forward, and AMF Phil Foiden has a free roaming role behind the forward.
My LB & RB overlap with their runs and support the wingers, who drop back and fill in when needed, so far its working a treat, I have so many more attacking options, whilst also maintaining good shape when defending.

I have a more defensive minded version of this formation set to my ‘Defensive’ quick tactic, which keeps the same shape but restricts forward runs and is more compact, and a more attacking one which pushes players forward and gets numbers in the box set to ‘Attacking’, whilst ‘Ultra Defensive’ employs a tight 5-4-1, and ‘Ultra Attacking’ goes gun-ho with a 3-4-3 setup, all switchable on the fly mid-game.

Pre-season also saw me sign 2 new players, a backup CB in the form of Bruno Martins Indi, rated 77 at 31 years old, and 86 rated Emmanuel Dennis, who I prized away from West Ham with a lucrative contract offer.
Dennis was my number one transfer priority after he ripped us to pieces last season for the Hammers, I eventually signed him for £46 million, and his pace and power is a great outlet to have, as demonstrated in the clip below where I play a chipped ball from midfield over the top for him to run on to.

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Phil Foden, signed from Man City in January last season has cemented his place in the starting 11 this season, and is revelling in the AMF role.
He’s becoming a master at picking the ball up on the edge of the area and hitting snapshots, his average performance rating this season so far is 9.3
His performances have been so good that Man Utd have been sniffing around, I politely declined of course, but could have made a £17mil profit inside 6 months.

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Club Captain Dekouré, who plays that traditional DMF role, has been training for positional awareness and long shots and its paying off superbly, in any footy game it’s almost a given that a good DMF worth his salt should possess a good long shot, it’s a staple of the game, so I’m pleased that Decouré is filling that role for me here in FIFA,

A couple of goals showing Decouré pulling it out of the bag.

I ended my last session, last night, with a Carabao Cup match against my bogey team Spurs, who always batter me, I went 1-0 up on the stroke of half time after a Spurs defensive error let Dennis in to nod in a cross at the near post, Abe (?!) then equalised for them midway through second half, before Kane bagged his traditional goal to give them a 2-1 lead.
Foden then levelled it before Doukoré let rip from 25 yards to win the game 3-2 (his first goal in the clip above), to finally beat Spurs, and send us through to the next round.

All in all a great start to season 6, I’m just wary of the mid-season form ebb/flow that the game likes to suddenly enforce.

Don’t Look Back In Anger ….

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Firstly, as this is the first post since before Christmas, I hope you all had a fun and enjoyable holiday period, and new year.
Now on to business, I last left off having encountered a grey period with the game, this period continued for the rest of season 5, with the odd win, and draw breaking up the monotonous pattern of defeats, in which the game felt totally different.
I’m not sure if EA changed something with the last patch but about a third of the way through season 5 the game just went tits up, matches started to feel like a chore instead of the usual joyful 10/10 experience that I was encountering up until that point.

Matches suddenly became extremely difficult, player individuality with the likes of superstar players such as Suarez waned, every pass was intercepted, attacks were breaking down due to players suddenly not being able to pass the ball 5 yards near the opposition goal, the Com felt overpowered, it was a drastic and sudden sea change within the game that vastly reduced my enjoyment, I don’t know what happened.

I pretty much stumbled through the rest of the season, picking up two new signings in January, shown below:

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Suarez left, and we recruited André Silva from Spurs for £52m and Balotelli from Madrid for £14m, a brand new front line. Silva is rated 85 and Balotelli 82, Silva’s class was apparent immediately with good speed and a good eye for a finish, his heading prowess also showed bagging a few good headed finishes from crosses.

The rest of the season Pretty much carried on in a similar fashion, lose four, draw one, lose one, win 1, lose 3 etc….
Here is the final league table:

League Table.pngA disappointing 12th place finish, only achieved with a flurry of 4 wins from the final 6 matches, missing out on the boards objective of a Europa League spot, I was 3rd and pushing for the title up until the game came crashing down around me.
A very frustrating experience all be told.

objectives summary.pngThe board informed me at the end of the season that my position was up for review, as I had missed several key targets and that results were not as what was expected, but as the season rolled over, my trust level stayed at 52, and the board informed me that they were going to give me another season to prove I could turn things around, I’m not sure what the threshold is, if its lower than 50 then you get the sack, but I just about scraped through.

Prior to starting season 6, I reviewed the OS sports sliders I have been using, and it was apparent that  the main issues  was having with the game, were linked to the biggest value changes within the OS Sliders, so wary of ‘fiddling’ too much I went through and slightly altered the slider settings to what I felt would be more realistic, keeping the values equal in each aspect for player and Com, so as not to skew the difficulty level by imposing any false handicap.

I have since started season 6, by entering the pre-season Champions trophy tournament, and making a new signing, more on that in Thursdays post, plus an update on how I’m finding the gameplay after my slider changes.

In a season of disappointment, there wasn’t much to show off in the way of goals, as mentioned previously, during the grey period every team seemed to drop back into a 10 man defence, pack their box and creating anything or shooting from outside the box was nigh on impossible, but below I finish with a small selection of goals from the latter stages of the season.

 

Timber, The Trees are falling.

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Self explanatory title. We have dropped right down the table from 3rd to 11th, from a Champions League place, down to 5 points off making a Europa League spot, all due to an absolutely torrid session, 0 wins from 6 games, 0 goals. Awful.

It’s just all fallen apart, simple passes are going to an opponent, chances created are not being finished, our play seems bogged down in midfield, I have no explanation for it, it’s very frustrating, if it is the game trying to impose a sense of realism and crippling my abilities in order to simulate a spell of poor form, then it’s definitely working.
We shouldn’t really complain, finishing mid table was the objective, its being achieved so far with 7 games to play, but to be so close to Europe and fall away is annoying.

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On to other business, the January transfer window came and went and we signed Phil Foden from Man City, for £20 million.
Rated 81 OVR at just 21, he has a potential of 91, so was a worthwhile investment, and gives good depth to the CM position.
I also acquired Solanke from Liverpool in a straight player swap deal, with Tammy Abraham going the other way, along with a few other players leaving which actually saw the transfer window end with us making a profit, got to keep the board happy.
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Remiro (GK) and Mojica (LWB) as shown above, were both signed on pre-contract’s and will be joining in the summer.

I will officially declare, Suarez has been a disappointment. 5 goals in 31 matches, he does top the assists chart with 9, but I bought him to score goals, and he hasn’t scored enough of them.
He tends, I don’t know if its his player traits or not, to play deeper, more in the hole behind the CF line, as a false 9 if you like, which means he’s more positioned to play a through ball into the box, hence the assists, but now the range shooting has been nerfed slightly, it’s harder to get Suarez in a position to score more freely.
I may not take up the option to renew the contract come the summer.

With the Christmas break approaching, it is highly unlikely I will get any game time over Christmas and new year, due to time away and spending time with family etc so this will be the last past until after the new year.

With that being said, I wish you all a great, safe and merry Christmas and New Year.

See you soon.

 

(Europe) The Final Countdown

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The end of the January transfer window is approaching, we find ourselves in the giddy heights of 4th place,  occupying the final Champions League spot, only 6 points separate 2nd to 8th place, it will be a tight run-in, it’s the final countdown as Europe would sing.

Due to busy times with it being Christmas and having lots on, I haven’t had much play time at all recently, squeezing in a few games here and there when I can, I’ve missed playing, and when I have played, I’ve wanted more, and have been sad to turn the PS4 off, testament to how well FIFA 19 is not just holding up, but providing a solid gaming experience, almost 4 season in.

I’m keeping an eye on board trust level, hovering around 70% due to one of my season objectives which is to grow a youth players OVR stats by 10 points, that is difficult to do without playing him regularly, which is not an option as there are many players better than your average youth player, so said objective is still to be accomplished.
I am constantly training and developing my youth and fringe players between matches, and keeping an eye on younger players who are also out on loan, the game provides a good way to keep track of players, see how they are developing and which areas they are gaining stats in.

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Tammy Abraham has dropped down to the subs bench, sometimes not even making the match day squad, the 81 OVR rated CF whom I signed pre-season has been one of those anonymous players, a player who never realises his stats-potential, any time he has played I’ve not even really noticed him, he will be one of the players I look to move on pretty sharpish come the summer.

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Suarez has also gone off the boil recently, scoring 4 goals in his opening 6 games, but none since, we are 23 games in, he has been involved in most of our goals and links the play up well as he tends to drop a bit deeper into the number 9 hole, rather than playing off the last defenders shoulder, but I expected more goals from him.

EA tweaked the effectiveness of range-shots in the last patch, so taking edge of box pot shots from Suarez are nowhere near as effective now as the shots tend to be charged down and blocked, and his pace at 34 years old isn’t going to see him burst into too much open space.

He did prove pivotal in a recent match against Brighton though, after they levelled very late on in the game, a Suarez dribble earned us a free kick, which he took….

Cracking a fine shot off the crossbar for last seasons top scorer, Damm, to pounce on and put in, nice use of the Goal Line Technology too, really adds depth and immersion to matches.

As I play on broadcast camera, one of the grounds I always love playing at is Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium, the real-life camera angle is replicated with it being a low-down, close to the pitch view, which looks beautiful in-game, I wish this was a selectable camera angle for all matches.

Shown below are the 2 goals from that match in a comfortable 2-0 win, 13 games left, a Carabao cup last 16 match against Spurs coming up and a possible European cup place, everything to play for.

Damm That Suarez

FIFA 19 Career Match (In Menus).pngLuis Suarez about to score another crucial goal, that’s what I signed him for, to grab goals that would help us stay in the Premier league, and that’s what he’s doing.

I’m experience a frustrating period at the moment, for every win, there’s two defeats, usually heavy ones, the quality of teams in the Premier League is a huge step up from the Championship, teams punish you, they press you, they harry you and give you very little time to decide what to do, its tough going.
In the games we have won, and nicked a 1-0, Suarez has been pivotal, either assisting or scoring, that 120k a week is proving money well spent, but he can’t do it all, Tammy Abraham has been pretty anonymous after signing for £20mil pre-season, and yet to score, Muto and Josh King have both scored a goal here and there but also failing to add much, the scoring is resting firmly with Suarez at present, never a good thing to only have one main goal threat.

Heres Suarez grabbing a well finished goal in a 1-0 win against Brighton

Jurgen Damm, last season’s top scorer and player of the season, is showing mixed form, he didn’t start that brightly, then grabbed a few goals and assists, then was poor again, so lost his place to Adama Traoré, there when he got back in the team, he started to show signs of last seasons form again, before picking up an injury.

Here Damm grabs a plate winner against Everton with a nicely slotted home  solo effort

Mixed league form has been interspersed with solid cup form, reaching the Carabao Cup Quarter final, where we played host to Liverpool in an extremely tight, tense affair with Mané, Salah and Firmino always providing a threat, the game was fairly even the first half with Liverpool then dominating the second half, some desperate defending saw us heading for a penalty shoot out after 0-0 at the 90 min mark, cue 3 mins of added time, and a 94th minute finish from Fabinho inside the box after a Liverpool counter attack and we went out, harshly.

This was followed either side by 2 league defeats, 3-0 and 4-1 respectively, and with 4 matches in a short space of time, half the first team squad were fatigued, so in the last league match of the session, I fielded a much changed team for the visit of Watford,  with several youth and fringe players slotting in, including promising CM player Rodriguez, signed as a 17yr old, I have had him on a training plan to develop his pace dribbling and shooting skills, he replaced team Captain, Dekouré.

Here’s how the Watford game unfolded

Watford take the lead just before half time, then Suarez turns provider and plays in another youth team promotee, Palmer, to finish neatly first time, to level the game at 1-1 in the 87th minute.
I switched to defensive and was keen to play out the draw and grab a vital point and halt our run of losses, then this happened:

A Watford attack breaks down, we counter,  Rodriguez runs from midfield, the ball gets laid off, a delicate first time touch at pace whilst dribbling to touch the ball past the onrushing defender, then a first time shot with his left leg which flies into the corner for the win, those training plans paying off and a youth team player scoring the winner at home, on his debut, in the final minute, a nice moment.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_2.pngDespite the run of poor form, we are still only 5 points off the top spot, in 7th, the GF column isn’t too bad, but the GA column is what’s hurting us, conceding 10 goals more than most of the teams around us.
The remainder of the season has to be focused around staying compact, and defending solidly, and grabbing what we can.