Not So World Class

World Class level on FIFA 19 is hard.
World class level in the Premier league with a newly promoted side and hardly any World Class players is even harder.

We are currently 19th, approaching mid-January and time is running out to escape the relegation places, with little to no funds to aid new transfers, and a run of tough matches coming up, difficult times lie ahead.
I had a run of 4 or 5 matches where results picked up, 2 wins and 2 draws, I thought I had finally cracked the defending, including a well-earned point at Old Trafford after leading until the 88th min, and a good solid 3-1 win at Stoke, but have just lost my last 2 matches, 4-1 vs Chelsea and 4-0 vs Liverpool, before grabbing a 2-2 draw at Leicester, and that’s where FIFA 19 stands out.

The elite premier league teams are just that, the likes of Chelsea, City, Liverpool, Spurs, they just blow you away, slick fast passing, control, ruthless attacking and tight defence makes playing against these top teams extremely difficult with a weaker team, and you can really tell the difference between the teams and individual players, and their playing styles.
Chelsea put everything through Willian and Hazard, they ran the show, ran me ragged, I just couldn’t cope, and as I’ve remarked before about key players not playing true to life, or standing out in PES, they certainly do in FIFA.

The video below shows a couple of brief clips of Hazard causing chaos against me, doing what he does in real life, dribbling, running at players, snap shots from the edge of the box, dragging markers out of position, was a joy to see, if you can take joy from being battered.

My standout players so far have been Osborne at LMF, and to a lesser extent, Dennis at CMF, Bojan has been making a welcome return to form too but rarely lasts the full 90mins.

Osborne got Player of the Month For December

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_8.png

We also lost CF Jonathan David to a Long injury which restricts CF backup options to just Brereton.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_9.png

My objective was to avoid relegation, and finish mid table in season two, I feel relegation surely would bring the sack, it’s going to take a late surge much like last years unbeaten promotion run to stay safe, but this time the ask is much bigger.

Finally, another nice headed goal, love the meat you can get behind these shots.

Baptism of Fire

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_2.pngThe league table doesn’t lie, we currently lie in 19th position, one-off bottom, having conceded the most goals in the division.
The Premier league is hard, the quality of the teams is a distinct step up from the championship, players are faster, stronger, more skillful, with the current squad we cannot cope.

I’ve had a few decent results, a 2-2 with Arsenal, a 0-0 with Southampton, but those five defeats have included 3-0,4-0, and a 6-1 drubbing away to Bournemouth.
I love playing at the Vitality stadium, the camera angle on broadcast is very low and close to the pitch, it looks superb, but you see less ‘open space’ so tight midfield play is harder, Bournemouth were superb and just overpowered me, it was 4-0 at half time.

I’m going to have to think about changing my 4-1-2-1-2 formation to a more defensive minded one, play for the draw and nick anything I can,  my squad just isn’t good enough to compete currently.
I did sign a few new players pre-season, Vranjes at CB, Cools on the right of midfield, and Brereton returned from loan to give us another attacking option, but with the exception of Tachstidis at DMF (76), Dennis at CVF (78) and Osborne on the left wing (76), most of my other players are low 70’s, subs are high 60’s/low 70’s and it shows.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus).png

Still very happy with how FIFA is playing, each team feels so different, Bournemouth’s bullish tactics, Spurs quick pass and move play, Southampton’s Pack Midfield but few attacking options, you have to think and adjust each game, it adds more realism and immersion.

One bright spot of a so far miserable season came in last nights session, coming from behind to knock Coventry City out of the Carabao cup.

The Sport reported on our woes too:

Daily Sport Paper

Red Dead Redemption 2 has been purchased and downloaded, all 90GB of it, it unlocks and is playable from Midnight tonight, this is bound to affect my time with FIFA, but the blog shall carry own with the regular schedule regardless, there’s always something to report.

Will finish off with the goal highlights from the 2-2 draw with Arsenal.

 

All to play-off for

defrby forest title.png

This is it. The culmination of 46 hard, gruelling games, the reward for putting together a final 12 match unbeaten run to climb the table and secure 6th place, the final play-off spot.
After defeating West Brom in the first play-off match, we are now in the final against local rivals Derby County, who finished 3rd, all to play for, a multi-million pound promotion to the Premier League hangs in the balance, so does the sacking if we fail.

Here’s what happened (Full Match). Condensed Goal highlights are available after the full match footage for those who prefer not to watch the whole match.

Full Match Footage:

Condensed Highlights:

So there we have it! Success! Play-off champions and promotion to the Premier league in our first season. I was still sweating over my end of season review with the board, wondering if promotion via the play-offs rather than automatically, as was my objective, would be enough.

eos review.png

They gave me another chance. That was big of them, last 8 of the FA Cup, installed a solid youth team, and promotion in my first season, bloody should be enough to keep my job, so into the Premier league we go.
I declined the invitation of a pre-season tournament as I wanted to focus on my transfer dealings and club business rather than having to play non-important matches, during this window I was informed that several players would be leaving as their loan period had finished.

Dias (RMF) 76 OVR, Janko (RB) 76 OVR & Brewster (CF) 62 OVR all returned to their parent clubs, Dias and Janko were both first team players and will leave a substantial gap in the side, so priority is to sign a new right midfielder, right back and also a centre back as I will need more solid defensive options in the Premier league.

I was presented with this nice message, good to see my hard work being recognised.

club value rises.pngI immediately checked the finances to see how promotion had affected my budgets and was satisfied with the money I was given:

budget.png£65 million transfer budget, which  have revised to around 45 million, freeing up more money for player salaries, which I can revise at any point should I need to.

I have set up my global scouting network to search for players, specifically the positions I mentioned above, but also identified I need another left back as my back-up had also returned to his club after only being on a loan.
One of the CB’s I scouted is a player called Vranjes from Anderlecht, 76 OVR but good solid defensive stats, I managed to sign him  for £5.4 million and on 28k per week.
He’ll add the good defensive abilities  needed to cope with Premier league players

cb signing.png

Finally I checked my objectives for the coming season set by the board, very realistic I thought and was relieved to not be tasked with winning the league or anything silly.

objectives.pngFinish mid table at best within two seasons, whilst avoiding relegation, that’s proper sensible expectations from the board right there, and am confident of achieving that, hopefully bettering it.
I’m also looking forward to playing in a fully licensed Premier league with official broadcast presentation elements and all 20 official stadiums too, but more looking forward to seeing how the differing play styles present themselves with better teams, and the 38 game season is much more convenient too.

My first season on FIFA 19 could not have been any. more enjoyable, the up and downs, the final push, the play off success, the immersion, the big match atmosphere, it’s all there, easily the best FIFA EA have pushed out to date.

Here’s to season 2 …….

Season One Finale

FIFA 19 Career Match 0-0 SHU V NFO, 1st Half.pngThe league table above shows the task at hand, claw back 4pts with 4 games to play, and overturn Norwich and Villa to claim the 6th position and final play-off spot.
Much easier said than done. Another season in the EFL Championship could well see me lose my job at Forest, as the board expect promotion.

That was the picture heading into last nights session, what entailed was a late night 6 game session that may be the most tense, realistic, enjoyable and smile-inducing session I’ve ever played on a football video game.

My run of good results continued with some blisteringly good football, winning 3 matches on the bounce whilst seeing Villa and Norwich both drop points, heading into the final game of the season, I was up against an in-form Bolton side, who had won their last 3 games, Villa and Norwich played each other on the final day, I needed to win to guarantee a play-off spot, lose or draw and either Villa or Norwich win, and it was another season in the Championship for us.

The 3 wins on the bounce included a 4-0 away win at QPR. It was joyous, Loftus Road is replicated beautifully in FIFA 19, the broadcast camera angle is a slightly closer to the pitch view, making it more intimate, but also making space on the pitch more difficult to hunt out and play into.
The atmosphere was electric, the QPR fans loudly singing “Come On You R’s”, closely followed by a din from the away end shouting “Nott’m Forest FC, by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen”.
The QPR fans booed their team off the pitch at full-time as my players celebrated wildly.

The sense of occasion was also added to throughout these run-in games by the intelligent commentary commenting on the situation, and by the live score updates from Alan McInally, which I had chosen the key games involving Villa and Norwich, So I knew what had to be done all the way.

You can see a few of the goals from those 3 matches below:

I was now in that 6th and final play-off spot, Villa and Norwich are 2 points behind me in 7th and 8th respectively, and play each other in the last game.
I needed to win, I didn’t. late on in the game Bolton went 1-0 up, I switched to a very aggressive and attacking style, meanwhile scores from the Norwich vs Villa game filtered through that it was 1-1, more high up the pitch pressing and attacking play saw me get done on the counter attack, twice for a 3-0 defeat. My turn to be booed off by the fans.

I was sweating on seeing that final score from the other match……… 1-1.
I’d secured a play off place by a single point.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_2.pngMy opponents were West Brom, who finished 3rd.
I scraped through the home leg with a 2-1 win, only grabbing the winner late on. The away leg was a more comfortable affair, packing the midfield and stifling West Brom’s play proved effective as they created very little, I managed to capitalise on an error and grab a winner too, 3-1 on aggregate and into the play-off final at Wembley

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus).png33OkBMkSo from being 17th in January, to playing for a place in the premiership, this season has been a topsy-turvy one, but most enjoyable.
FIFA 19 is standing up as a fantastic game, so rich in presentation, immersion and realism, but with solid, fun and sim-like game play to match.

You can watch the goals from the Play off match vs West From below, Mondays post will be a detailed highlights package from the play-off final vs Derby County.

The Premier League awaits.

Reds Resurgent

Firstly, apologies for the late post, I was away all weekend and only back Monday afternoon so hadn’t had time to prepare Mondays post, but here it is a day later.

 league.pngAs the league table above shows, we have mounted a resurgence, and thanks to a run of 6 wins from 8 games, have climbed up the table from 20th to 8th.
The only defeat in that run was a 4-0 Quarter final defeat away to Everton, to send us crashing out of the FA Cup.
Everton were just stronger, faster and more organised, you could really tell the difference in quality and the game really felt like an away FA Cup match against a big side, I love that about FIFA 19, the games all feel different.

During that run of 6 wins, we scored 3 several times and even a 4-1 win against Blackburn Rovers, we are playing well, scoring, and most importantly I think I’ve got a handle on FIFA’s defending.
Up until now defending has felt clunky, using the tactical defending system, has often felt like I was never in control of my defenders and just couldn’t get close enough to opposition players to defend effectively, but the key is not in pressuring all out and jumping in to tackles, but more jockeying, covering passing lanes and runs, and good timing of the tackle button, I’m getting much better at this as the goals against ratio during the 6 wins would show.

One of the teams despatched was Hull, grabbing a 3-0 victory, highlights of the best goals are shown below, a nice stretched chip shot from my CAM Goncalves, who is keeping Bojan out of the side, and the other goal was a well taken volley from Emmanuel Dennis, who is proving to be a great signing with his potency on front of goal.

The next match was against Sheffield Wednesday, the team placed level with us, on equal points and the other team in contention for a possible play-off place, in this respect it was a 6 pointer, and the commentary team hyped that match top by mentioning that it was a vital game in respect of play off positions.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_1

We won that game 1-0, followed by wins against Blackburn and Villa, goal highlights can be seen at the bottom of the post.
It appears the board still aren’t happy though, despite achieving my objective of signing youth players to each of the outfield positions, and signing a crucial attacking player, my other key object was automatic promotion, and that is not possible, my trust rating currently sits at 60, and I have been notified that the board will soon be reviewing my position as their faith in me wanes.

I’m hoping to see out the season, there are only 4 games left, I can only finish 6th at best, it will be tough clawing back the 4pt deficit that Norwich have over us in that 6th, and final play-off position, but if we can achieve play-offs and promotion, I might just get to keep my job.

FIFA 19 continues to play a solid, enjoyable and very realistic game, you are rewarded for patient play and punished if you don’t focus and concentrate, and this is only in the EFL Championship, I can only imagine the big match atmosphere and carrying team play styles and skill levels are exponentially heightened in the Premier league and Europe.

Goal highlights from Villa, Blackburn & Sheff Weds games:

 

 

 

Leeds to the Slaughter

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_8.png

Approaching the middle of March and league form has been awful, a few draws and mostly defeats have seen us slip down to 20th in the table, perilously close to the relegation zone, but the signing of Emmanuel Dennis at CF and Jonathan David who can play on the wing or as a Striker, have given us a  bit more potency in front of goal, w are going to need their goals if we want to stay up this season.

Leeds Utd were the side that were defeated in order to put and end to our poor run of draws and defeats, always nice to get one over on Leeds, even a virtual Leeds side.
A double-header awaited as we played Leeds firstly in the league, then again straight away this time in the FA Cup, securing back to back wins lifted the lads and gave us fresh belief heading into February.

Highlights are shown below.

A defeat away to Bristol City and a draw at home to Norwich wasn’t the best form heading into our visit from Premier League side Crystal Palace in the FA Cup 4th  round, Extra training sessions were put on in order to get the boys focused and match-sharp, I also fit in time to do an interview for the local rag.

Notts Reporter Newspaper page.pngPalace were duly despatched 2-0 in a game that we had to fight hard to earn anything from, they were strong and organised but had a bad day in front of goal, Roy cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines and booted a few of the water bottles at the final whistle.

We are turning into a cup team, and need to transfer some of the focus and discipline we show in those matches across to our league form, our position isn’t acceptable and the fans demand more, rightly so, as do the board, me and the players.|

FA Cup highlights vs Palace shown below

As I said in my interview, we are trying to. build a solid base and platform from which we can push on next year to mount a serious title challenge, I think the fans know that this year is about setting a template, getting in the players we need and taking consistent, steady steps towards next season, they have been brilliant so far this year, always giving the lads their support on the pitch.

Tuesday saw EA release their first title update on the PS4, after positive reviews from PC players that had it a week previous, I’m not sure, but the game feels much harder since, defending seems to be more manual and the COM teams are closing down like Liverpool at Anfield on a European night, I’m having a tough time of it at present.

Forest Losing Their Kekkle

Approaching the half way point of the season, and a run of 6 games without a win has put the brakes on the playoff places push.
Defeats to Ipswich Town, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham and Preston North End have seen the Trees slip way down the EFL Championship table, the current league table is shown below, we languish in 16th place, 8pts off the bottom, but still only 5pts from the play off places, still lots to play for.

full league table

That is if I manage to survive the season, the board are not happy with me, as shown by my current trust rating below, I still have several objectives to fulfil, which is reflected in my low rating, managing to scout a few decent youth players to sign to defensive, midfield and attacking positions will help with my rating, but easier said than done, the rating for youth players is quite broad, so theres some guesswork needed to decide if a youth player may come good and fulfil their potential, any youths signed will immediately go out on loan to gain match experience, at the moment I need to do a Mourinho and just buy for the here and now, rather than building for the future.
I’m gagging to play in the Premier League, with all its realistic real world stadiums, and big match atmospheres.

board ratingYes, I have gone for the middle-ageing, bald, suited and booted managers avatar, there isn’t much choice in FIFA for personas to choose, I just fancied a Tony Pulis type character over the usual Damian Lewis lookalike.

Since my last post, over-performing Bojan has gone off the boil, he hasn’t scored in 5, and usually runs out of stamina around the 70 min mark so hasn’t been finishing many matches either, the club are devising a specific fitness regime for him with the chief fitness coach, in the hope of building upon his cardio base and helping him feature more prominently in the latter stage of matches.
New signings are needed, on a very tight budget, I did manage to put together a loan deal for a player I scouted heavily using the in-game search function, searching for young players with good finishing, and attacking prowess stats.

18 year old Jonathan David will be joining us in January on a 2 year loan deal, hoping he can provide some much needed firepower.

david stats

I have also switched my camera from the fixed custom Broadcast camera to the default broadcast camera, which is much more dynamic.
With the custom angle it stayed fixed that way for every match, with it set to default, the broadcast angle changes slightly depending on the stadium, which is a nice effect, every match feels slightly different and it adds to the atmosphere and experience.

The last match of my most recent play session was a Midlands Derby match, against Derby County, was great to hear the commentary team elude to this and provide location specific comments during the match, I lost that game 3-1, after levelling at 1-1, I was done on the counter attack twice after chasing a goal, World Class CPU will punish you if you don’t focus.

Below are the highlights from the Derby Match.

I was truly battered in that match, apart from the one goal we struggled to create anything of note, Soudani up top (the goalscorer)  is a great finisher, but with Grabban and Brewster as the other two CF choices, we are short of firepower, since this session, Jonathan David has signed on a 2 year loan deal and scored on his debut.

My next 3 matches provided one of the best sessions I’ve had on any football game, ever,
it truly was ‘the beautiful game’.