Episode 2 of the ‘Roker Rebuild’ continues, my quest to lift Sunderland back to the Premier League, and keep them there.
Things have been tough in these early stages, as they always are with the fledgling phases of a ML, my players are no better than if I had started with the ML defaults, a squad average OVR of around 63, too many goals conceded, led to 8 defeats from our opening 12 matches and staring relegation places full in the face.

Team spirit (TS) rating has much to do with this, whilst so low, the coherence of the team is substantially low, lack of runs, player awareness, and general overall performance, add another layer of difficulty to proceedings, as it stands now, in January, my TS rating is still only 62.

I knew this was going to be a long journey, a tough challenge, the squad simply isn’t good enough to compete, key focus was to make some signings, bolster the squad, free up some wage budget and slowly start to cobble results together, to increase the TS, and morale.

I made a few additional signings in the January window, as well as shipping out some surplus players, the below starting lineup shows the new additions, slowly but surely bringing in better, more able players.

Gassama (CF), Mbenza (CF), Rick (RMF), Rui Peres (DMF) and Arce (GK) were all brought in, we needed some added firepower up top after losing our recognised striker, Danny Graham to a 2 month injury, which left us with just one CF.
Mbenza was signed after he scored a hat-trick against us, Gassama picked up on a free, as was Rui peres and 70 OVR rated GK Arce was a direct replacement for Stockdale who is only rated 63.

Gassama has been the surprising star signing, netting goals regularly, whilst Mbenza had failed to score in any of his first 6 matches, but has since found form, netting 3 in 3. McDowall (RB) was also promoted from the youths.
Of course new signings takes a hit on the team spirit whilst they bed in but with the added little bit of quality, results have picked up, losing only twice in our last 9 matches, to help us climb from 20th, up to 9th.

With just under half the season left, realistic aim has to be to push for at least 6th and squeeze into the playoff places, we need to lock up the defence a little more though, far too many goals being conceded still, even a 3-1 lead isn’t safe with us, back to the old tried and tested method of keep a tight ship and try to grab the win.

The mods I’m using and the game play patch are all superb, but you still cant hide the fact that ML remains very hollow, I find myself literally playing matches back to back with nothing much else to do in-between, other than the odd negotiation, accept/reject bids etc, it is what it is, but not sure how many seasons it will be tolerable for, the 10-12 ML season days are well behind us I think, until Konami actually put some effort into offline and redesign ML from the ground up, I expect major changes for PES 2022, with the new engine and unparalleled power of the PS5.

Rounding off with a compilation of goals from recent sessions, showing various different Championship stadiums, Graham on fire before his injury, tidy finishing from new signing Gassama and other new signing, Rick, scoring a belter.