Season two in my master League quest to return Sunderland back to the Premier League came to a shuddering climax last night.
As you may recall last season, we finished 6th, just about squeaking into the play-off’s where we was beaten in the final by Stoke to condemn us to another season in the Championship, well deja-vu strikes, end of season 3 saw us once again make the play-off places, this time we was determined not to slip up.
A slow start to this season saw us hovering around mid to lower table, but then a surge in form and performances, due to new signings making a difference and increasing team spirit, lifted us up the table, a run of 13 games unbeaten lifted us to 3rd spot, where we maintained our position, at least until the last month of the season,
With 6 matches left to play, we suddenly hit a patch of very poor form, now we all know that PES session variance is an absolute thing, it’s been in the game since year dot, one session you can play flowing, smooth football, the next session, your players feel heavy, unresponsive and poor, this was the case for this whole passage of matches, in the run in to the end of the season.
One win, two draws and 3 defeats saw us settling for third place, as our hopes of catching Villa in 2nd, and Palace at the top not so much slid away, more like plummeted with force.
Palace were actually top from the very first week, with Villa always chasing them, until the final day, when palace drew and Villa won, seeing them leapfrog the eagles into top spot by virtue of goal difference and win the title in epic fashion.
here is the final league table:
So back to the play-off’s it is for us, my board objective at the start of the season was to win the league, promotion via play-off’s would surely suffice.
For information purposes here is the final premier League table:
We faced Brentford in the play-off semi’s, a team who beat us 3-0 at home during the bad patch of form just a few weeks ago, revenge would be sweet, and it was, winning 1-0 at their place and drawing 1-1 back at home to send us into the play-off final 2-1 on aggregate.
Our star player and formidable striker, Kean, had been quiet during the bad spell but was hoping he’d come good in the final, his scoring record this season was second to none, as shown below:
34 goals in 43 appearances, formidable, I rejected several £25mil bids for him, we would need him in the prem, and we need him to work his magic in the play-off final.
Also note Kean’s strike partner, Gassama, finishing runner up with a respectable 19 goals, deadly duo.
I found it interesting that title winners Villa, only had one player in the top scorer charts, Traore, with 12 goals, looking at their stats, they had several players with 11 goals, some with 9, others with 8, all amassing up to their 77 goal tally, goals spread evenly all over the team, whereas 53 of our 85 goals were scored by just 2 players. that’s 63% of all goals.
The Championship team of the season reflects our third placed finish:
Before we get to the play-off final, one thing that occurred during the poor run of form, was this, I instigated the double d-pad tap for offside trap when I could see the Ai looking to play in behind, and thought I’d timed it to perfection, only for the AI player to play the pass through and the CF run on unchallenged and score.
Upon viewing the replay and playing the footage back frame by single frame, and pausing at the exact moment when the Ai player played the pass, you can clearly see the scorer was totally offside
And here’s another view, taken from the viewpoint of the AI player playing the pass, from the exact frame that the ball left his boot
As you can see, clear daylight between the AI CF and my last defender, not even VAR could get this one wrong but somehow the game failed to recognise this as offside, and the goal stood, resulting in a 1-0 defeat.
On to the play-off final, we would play West Brom, for the chance to secure promotion to the Premier League, worth £100mil to whichever club wins:
What a crazy game, was it more poor form, session variance, scripting? Whatever it was, it was clear we was NOT going to win that match, the keeper pulled off so many point blank saves, it was ridiculous, and to lose with a last minute own goal, no idea what Danso was trying to do there.
So another play-off final defeat, 2 years running, and condemned to another season in the Championship ……… Or are we?!
Click the pic link before reading on:
Incredible. I didn’t think you could be sacked in ML anymore, failing to win the league, or be promoted, proved too much, the board lost patience and gave me my marching orders.
This came as a real shock, and was a bitter way to end the season, 2 mins away from extra time in a play-off final, to being sacked, I’m now officially unemployed, all that hard work building a team, making signings, all comes to a premature end.
So what next? I have received several job offers:
I’m ruling Villa out straight away, as its too easy a choice, and too unrealistic, they have just won the Championship title on the final day, and are now in the premier League, why would they be parting ways with a manager who had just achieved that?!
That leaves Huesca, a club bottom of Spain’s La Liga, or Atlético Goianiense, a Brazilian club, or Norwich. I like playing in England due to having all the Championship and Prem team stadiums, but also really enjoyed my Brazilian test ML before it crashed, so decisions to be made.
45 thoughts on “All to play-off for”
Ooft, not the kind of shuddering climax you would have been hoping for Paul. Your avatar certainly looks rather disappointed, as well he might. Look forward to watching the videos later. Norwich are beneath a manager of your standing although I guess it would be satisfying to recruit some of your best old players and subsequently beat Sunderland to promotion?
Abbeyhill. Came as a shock more than anything.
Looks set to be Norwich that I take over from, would love to steal Kean from them but his 25mil price tag would probably be out of reach.
Isn’t that player onside in the picture as he is behind the ball when the pass is played?
Commiserations, I had exactly the same experience in 2020, being stunned that you could still be sacked in such a bust of a master league. Given how long seasons are now it’s a particularly nasty payoff.
Turf – as gutted as I was, its added an extra layer to the journey, I guess promising a title and failing to be promoted was sack-worthyand if I do take over the Canaries, there will be some grudge matches to be had, and be interesting to see how an AI controlled Sunderland fair in the ML world with all that I built there.
Chris99 – Blimey. You’re right. Just. I didn’t even think of that at the time. The receiver does look to be very slightly behind the ball. Good spot.
Too many years reading https://www.theguardian.com/football/series/you-are-the-ref at work.
Chris99 – of course being behind the ball is a basic part of the offside rule, and playing professionally and having FA coaching badges, I should have known that, but it just completely slipped my mind for some reason.
The next chapter of my ML journey is up and running anyway, more details soon.
Don’t worry Paul, it’s just your age. I suspect it will happen to me eventually too 😉
Certainly feeling old at the moment Chris. Suffering a bad lower back, after a day fishing in the cold.
Some goals from the last few weeks.
Loved the goals Lloyd – the likes of Mbappe and Sancho playing for Exeter City, incredible scenes!
personally struggling to get into FIFA20 after so long on the sumptuous FIFA19. Off the ball movement is dreadful, my player can go charging up the field with the ball while the others just stand around watching him doing nothing to help. It seems impossible, at least with lower league players, to score from crosses, long shots, dribbling or long balls, all that works are dinky little through balls from the edge of the box to players running in unmarked. Virtually no fouls and completely no injuries either on or off the field. Therefore it’s the same starting line-up every single game trying to tiki taka it up the pitch until we’re in the through ball sweet spot position. Horrendous. Maybe it’ll grow on me
Thats surprising Abbeyhill, as my own FIFA 20 experience was one of complete enjoyment, I was playing with PC Mods, but core game play such as runs etc were pretty much same as vanilla version.
think theres a hidden Tesm Spirit setting in FIFA, you just dont see it, but under the hood, taking over a new team, making signings etc definitely affects team cohesion and takes a while to bed in and for the flowing play to return.
I actually remember seeing multiple team and player chemistry values when I was modding and editing FIFA, so theres definitely something there.
Turf – Had an email from Shopto saying my PS5 has been despatched, tried to email you but couldn’t find your mail address and weirdly my mail app didnt auto-find you despite being a recent contact.
have any of you guys seen the next-gen features list for FIFA21 on PS5, which comes out on the 4th Dec?
I was planning a PC Modded FIFA 21 career again but the PS5 features have changed my mind.
Season 10 concludes with Carabao Cup victory, defeat in the Europa League Final(to follow on from last seasons CL Final defeat) and a 5th place finish in the League. Close but no cigar.
Sold Sancho and Vinagre, splashed the cash on 29yo Joao Felix. All out for the League this season and reserve teams in all the cups.
Absolutely Paul, seems like PS5 version is far better than PC this year, was wondering if you’d change your mind on platform. Some of these haptic controller features sound amazing, e.g. greater resistance from right trigger when sprinting with tired players. Remains to be seen if it makes a real difference to the gameplay experience, will find out on Friday I guess
Managed to get sacked in season 1 on FIFA20 although by the end I had stopped caring and couldn’t be bothered answering all the messages from needy players which didn’t help.my approval rating. Restarted, playing with a narrow 442 diamond rather than the previous 433, more enjoyable so far
Paul – emailed you
Abbeyhill – my only gripe between FIFAs has been the lack of change. I’m not subtle enough to pickup on some on the field alterations (skill moves? As if) but it’s the poor initial free transfers (India seems overly represented in the 40 odd strikers in the world), the broken contract renewals and daft job offers that get me. 20 has seemed just a bit more of 18/19 to me, with admittedly fewer successful shots from outside the box but they are certainly there. Early on I had off the ball issues but a bit of squad time and tweaking the numerous individual player actions in the tactics menu did the trick-ish. There are still times when I have to simply wait for something to happen. All things being equal, if both were at the top of their game, patched and happy I’d still be a PES person because of the fifa tiki taki stuff.
Abbeyhill – comiserations on the sack, but if its helped you restart and find a balance you’re more happy with then its been a blessing in disguise.
The PS5 features do sound really cool, not just the controller haptics and stuff but the added graphics and presentation scenes in the PS5 version such as the players arriving in the team buses, mascots, press rooms etc.
Turf – there was a big change in style of play from FIFA 19 to FIFA 20, EA went down the much more simulation route, and stuck to it for a long time but ultimately the little kids who love FUT whined and whined and EA caved and released patch after patch which slowly degraded the game back towards a more online-centric game. I was playing the PC modded ver so didn’t have to go that route, FIFA 20 stayed a superb game for all of us PC players, especially with the FIFER realism mod.
Not so sure about FIFA 21’s new agile dribbling mechanics, from what i see of it, it makes players look like dancing crabs, but I guess just don’t use it, the 3 days EA early access I had with FIFA 21 showed signs of another promising game though, so will look forward to F21 on the PS5, when I have naturally concluded my ML.
Early Xmas present to myself 😍
Paul – yes I had also messed up my transfer planning so was quite happy to scrap it and start again. Had a thoroughly enjoyable session last night alternating between a 4132 and narrow diamond, much greater variety of goals.
That pre-match presentation does indeed look spectacular, we’ll see how it holds up on a cold Tuesday night in Grimsby
Superb! Well done getting hold of one
The really strange thing Paul is that it looks like you took that photo in my kitchen.
Obviously a good taste in decor then Chris99 😉
Thought the kitchen was chrome? That’s more polished walnut butchers block and cream shaker cabinets. We’ve been labouring under false thinking all along – he’s yer country squire type, all llama tweed underpants and a gun dog decked out in Burberry. I like the hooks though, a small nod to some sort of Dexter vibe going on – roll out the plastic sheeting and dispose of some local crime lord.
How did you manage to get one btw when uk stockcheckers are reporting all sold apart from resale? Just good timing with a resupply or did they contact you as an original pre order?
Turf – Cream and Chrome 😉
Definitely more modern minimal style., with the high gloss cream curved cabinets.
Pre-ordered the PS5 through Shopto about May/june time, i didnt get in quick enough for one of the release day consoles, but they put me on the priority list for next round of stock, had an email from them last friday saying my order had arrived at their warehouse, and then boom, today the DPD man turned up. Result.
Pretty slick impressive bit of kit, the whole look and feel, its a sizeable unit, had to rewire all my other gadgets in the tv unit to fit it in, and the new dualsense controller is sleek as hell.
Ah right. My mate is desperate for one, and as he’s a postman it’s probably just as well they are going out by courier…
Turf – Couriers don’t seem to be any guarantee https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/technology-55044178
Mine came encased in a plain brown outer cardboard box, the ps5 box was hidden inside that and it was all security seal taped. DPD have always been really reliable.
Looks like the PS5 FIFA21 upgrade is out early, must take a look tonight
You played anything on the new machine yet Paul?
Is it abbeyhill? Thought it was the 4th? Where did you see that?
Only played astro’s playroom, very cute and quirky. Love it.
Article on eurogamer. Quite excited about, for once, being among the first to play!
I have FIFA 21 PS4 ver downloaded on the PS5, will this pick it up or need to download ps5 ver fresh?
I’m assuming there will be a free PS5 version available in the store, separate download, although this is only a guess
Just deleted old copy and bought and downloading ps5 ver. 114GB.
Early impressions are good, I thought it would be a novel thing but the adaptive triggers stiffening up as your players stamina drains is a really cool feature.
Was having to really clamp the trigger down late on as it had tightened right up, and was struggling to sprint. Also the thumbstick haptics when jostling for balls, or whistle blows, hitting the post etc is very responsive too.
This weeks post is delayed guys, been a realy busy week and just haven’t got round to compiling anything yet, hopefully later today, if not over the weekend.
Listen to them…get a room with your filthy ps5 talk. The rest of us are happy with our old companions rather than running off to Gretna with the new girl.
gameplay feels identical though Turf, I wouldn’t get too envious!
Yeah its mostly aesthetics and enhanced controller functions. They haven’t changed gameplay at all. Promising for the future of footy games though with the ps5’s power and controller functions. Be interesting to see what they do with next years pure next gen title.
I’ve gone and spoiled my plans for a very long drift from self employment to retirement by getting a job with one of the uni’s more motivated and workaholic professors. On the upside I was asked during the interview if I had any problem with travelling to the project meetings that are scheduled next year in Sri Lanka. Really not much point me chucking my hat in the ring for a ps5 for the foreseeable, but I’ll let you know if Paul’s old PS4 turns up with something akin to that supposed scent of aftershave all over baresi’s worn match shirt.
congratulations on the new job Turf, sounds very exciting. I always think those dusty crumbly clay based test pitches over there could do with a bit of work
The new EA Sports GameCam camera angle on FIFA21 is pretty good, I do like the isometric angle and vast view of the pitch. Probably too zoomed out for your tastes, Paul? Even if the underlying game engine is the same old, playing in 4k with the new camera angle and controller feedback makes it feel fresh and different. Had some really good sample games so far, slower and more sim like than I was fearing, possibly because of the zoomed out camera and playing with crap teams i.e. Plymouth v Ipswich. Maybe more attacking threat from AI too, I was 4-0 down by half time in the first match on world class before getting to grips with it. And that right trigger resistance with tired players is remarkable, feels almost painful trying to get them to run
Cheers abbeyhill, I’ve got nothing to do with turf though, outside of the u.s there just isn’t an academic turf sector now. It’s tropical agriculture, something I need to rapidly get up to speed on as I become more of an uncle coconut. So don’t invest in tea futures or the wholesale price of rice in the near future. You’re right about the spin friendly pitches though, must be like batting on the surface of the moon.
Sorry for the lack of a post this week guys, been a hectic time, with work commitments, and also had a few days of which have been planne dout meticulously by the wife, with her xmas festivities spreadsheet that has us busy every hour.
Will definitely be a post up by 12 noon this Thursday as usual.
Turf – Do you have any idea how incredibly difficult it has been to get hold of bubble wrap!?!?!?
Every shop and post office ive been able to get to has sold out or is having supplier issues, but finally managed to get some so will be boxing up your PS4 later today, will be in touch via email when all ready to ship.
Been playing a bit of FIFA Ultimate team on PS5 – my god what an abomination of the sport!
Was half expecting to see NG photo bombing in the background this morning as reports of the worlds first ever Covid-19 Vaccine happened at Coventry Hospital. Didn’t spot that brown Cov shirt anywhere though.
Paul – I thought exactly the same, an announcement that chronicles is back up now that Coventry nhs has saved the world!
You should have said, I have tons of bubble wrap here…cheers, I’ll await the details to sort the necessary. Been dicking about on minecraft as I can dive on for ten mins when fortnite has to have a break. I really despise that game now, being owned by teens and their bollocks speech. Mini turf is all but lost to quality gaming.
Turf – Thanks but not much use over a your gaff lol.
Re: FIFA FUT, I played division rivals, you play 5 placement matches to determine your skill level, Im not a bad FIFA player, but as a brand new FUT team I had a team of very average 65-74 rated players, and a team chemistry of 70, every match i was placed against teams full of world superstars.
Aguero and Suarez uop top, Salah and Hazard out wide, De bruyne and henderson in midfield, VVD, Ramos, TAA and Chilwell in defence, Becker in goal, pretty much every gane, or just swapout suarez for MBappe or Neymar, totally ridiculous, they just totally overpower and exploit you, and then you get out in Div 10 after losing every game, totally pointless.