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:

Villa snatch the title by GD on the final day

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:

City romping the title by a massive 23pts

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

above, the Ai player on the far sideline, plays a pass across to his CF who looks to be clearly 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

Clear offside, not given

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:

Play-off final highlights

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:

Click Pic

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.