Start as you mean to go on

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Firstly, apologies for the delayed post, a busy life schedule and time off work meant that I did not get chance to play much at all, thus gathering material for the post and making time to edit it all up had to take a back seat.

Life in season 4, back in the Premier League for the second time, has started ominously realistically.

After the summer signings of Suarez (CF), Torres (CM), Spinazzola (LM), Adama Traoré (RM) and Balbuena (CB) I had optimism going into the new season, picking up four wins and a defeat in the opening 5 matches, to take an early lead at the top of the Premier League.
Much like any newly promoted team who want to make an impact on the division and get as many points on the board as early as possible, we played solidly in those opening five matches, with a 1-0 win over Liverpool at home being the highlight, and a thumping 4-1 win away to Huddersfield showing that the newly acquired firepower was paying dividends.
Suarez has started as expected, his deadly finishing on show, and his movement really adds to our forward threat, Spinazzola has been surprisingly good also, a Left Mid who joined from Juventus, always seems to be in the right place.
Jurgen Damm has kept his place on the right-wing ahead of Adama Traoré but has so far only chipped in with a couple of goals and is finding it harder in the better division.

Then came a 5 week injury to CF Josh King, so as backup, on the closing day of the transfer window we managed to grab Tammy Abraham from Chelsea on a 5 year deal worth £18 million.

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The next 3 matches consisted of a draw, against a superb Chelsea side and a 2 defeats, to see us slip down to 8th in the table.
Chelsea were a cut above anyone we had played up until that point, with Hazard always a constant threat, they moved the ball well and played with pace, and the match against them was one of the most enjoyable for a long time.

Chelsea went 1-0 up mid-way through the first half, I needed a tactical change, so brought on Adama Traoré to use his pace down the right-wing, moments after he came on this happened ….

A driven pass seeking out Adama, who took a great first touch to race down the wing with pace and cut inside the Chelsea full back, who lunged in and brought him down for a Penalty, which Suarez duly converted, 1-1.
Chelsea then went 2-1 in the 67th minute, Hazard again, at which point we switched to a high pressing, attacking formation, and in the 88th minute, Adama once again staking a  claim for a starting place by dispossession the Chelsea full back just outside the box, and laying a nice pass inside the box to a waiting Suarez who drilled home inside the near post for a last gasp equalizer.

I probably should have altered the tactics and formation to maybe a 5-4-1, or 4-5-1 to stifle Chelsea and try to hit on the counter attack, but I wanted to see if we could hang with the big boys playing our usual style, and to come from behind twice to earn a draw against one of the leagues best teams was satisfying.

Next up was Spurs, who hammered us 4-0, we didn’t play very well at all but that’s more credit to Spurs, hands down the toughest team I’ve ever faced on a football game.
The pace and way they moved the ball, the constant pressure, and their deadly attacking trio of Kane, Son, and Delle Ali, was just impossible to play against.
We was lucky to get zero.

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So quite realistically, we have started well, and then started to fade away a bit, but I’m confident we can pick up enough points against the rest of the teams to remain in the division, which was the target from the outset, and what is expected from the board.
After all, we are 8th but still only 3 points off the top.

We also have some promising young players who I have promoted, trained and developed and are getting games in cup matches, and as subs in league games, more on these players next time.

A few goals from the opening matches, and finished off with a stormer of a goal from the CM against me.

FR SUAREZ INTRERVIEW

Season Finale

results.pngOnly one defeat in our last 12 games would usually be a great record, leaving January we had a 13 point lead at the top of the table, but only 5 wins and 6 draws from our final 12 games meant that second place Watford, who kept winning, had clawed the lead back to just 4 points.
No league table scripting helping the player here, this was a raw, tense and difficult run-in to the title.
I’m pretty sure the difficulty is ramped up when you are chasing a title in FIFA 19, these matches felt much harder than the previous games, teams were tighter, pressured me more and more clinical each team wanted a say in the where the title was going, and it showed.

During the run-in, due to injuries and an already thread-bare squad, I promoted Youth Player, Palmer (CF) to the first team, and gave him his debut, in which he showed great promise, a stocky, powerful player with a 92 OVR potential, I’ve been training him up to increase speed, agility and finishing, all these traits were on show as he grabbed a goal on his debut appearance, out-muscling the defender and finishing neatly off the bar, the other goal in the clip below shows RMF Damm grabbing his 19th of the season to claim the league top scorer award.

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So, with 2 games left to play and a 4 point difference between us and Watford, the title race was on, a two-horse race, here is how it played out:

I Love the commentary, setting out the requirements, the atmosphere, and the general big-match immersion that FIFA 19 creates, it adds so much more to the experience and enjoyment and reward of winning a title.

Champions!!!
We did it, a draw was enough to clinch the title, finally edging out Watford by just 2 points. An amazing, and thoroughly enjoyable season, topped up with my first trophy within the game.
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As mentioned, Jurgen Damm was m top scorer with 19, goals were quite evenly spread throughout the squad, with Josh King bagging a respectable 13 goals too.
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Budget.pngThe Title win and promotion saw the board grant me a £90 million transfer kitty, enough to prepare the squad for a tough season in the top flight, I have already made 3 pre-contract signings in Suarez (CF), Olivier Torres (CM) and Balbuena (CB), and also added to these with the £24 million signing of Adam from Wolves at RMF and the £13 million signing of LB Spinazzola from Juventus, we now have good players in each position, some good cover and a host of promising youth players in reserve who will be trained, developed and loaned out.

Of course, the Flagship signing was this guy:

Really looking forward to playing with Suarez in the Premier League.
This will be my likely starting XI for the first game of the new season:

Team Sheet

And finally, a nice goal scored by Olivier Torres on his debut in the Pore-Season Champions Cup tournament, in a narrows 2-1 loss to Athletico Bilbao:

Roll on Next Season!

 

Title Deeds

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Just entered February and we currently sit Top of the league, a chasm of a 13 point gap separates us from second placed Villa, the league table scripting has been kind to me, I have drawn a couple of games and lost one, the teams all around me also drew and lost, keeping my hefty advantage in tact, had they won their games, the lead could have been reduced to a more manageable 7 points, but it didn’t, and I am still on course for the EFL Championship league title.

I was however dumped out of the FA Cup in the fifth round by League One Oldham, I nonchalantly played my fringe squad for that game, accessible easily from the team sheets option within the game, you can have multiple team sheets setup and flick between them with the RS before starting a game, I have one setup with my starting XI as default, one for fringe players, mainly subs who don’t always start or get a game, and a third team sheet for youth players, to blood them.
Despite Oldham’s lower status, they were up for it, harrying and harassing me all over the pitch with frenetic pace, you could instantly tell the difference in quality of squads as their passing was often astray, first touches poor and relied on long balls and fouls, but somehow they ran out 2-0 winners, after going ahead from a headed corner, then hitting me on the counter for the second late in the second half, from then on they played a 5-4-1 defensible formation and just clung to the lead.

Frank Angolo Zambo Aguissa (what a name) has cemented his place and the vice captaincy, at the heart of my midfield, he is my Dodo, my Gerrard, my Kanté, a solid DMF who breaks play up, his performances have been solid and earned him the Player of the Month award for December.

Aguissa POTM.pngHowever, when it comes to shooting, as all legendary DMF’s should be able to possess a slamming shot, this is usually the result:

One match in particular, against an in-form and high-flying Bristol City, came just 3 days after the FA Cup defeat to Oldham, and my thread-bare squad were struggling with fitness, the 2 games in quick succession really took its toll with half of my squad starting with 60% or less stamina, and it really showed, our passing was off, inaccurate, first touches poor, and Bristol City played around us With ease, finishing with 62% possession.

I tried purely to get a draw from that game, as anything else would have been very difficult with the shattered squad, City went 1-0 up late in the first half then after sliding a nice pass between defenders into the box for my CMF to run on to, this happened:

Great save from the keeper. I rode my luck at times then in the last-minute of the first half, I managed to bag an equalizer with this fine effort from League top scorer, Jurgen Damm:

Here is my full squad, very thread bare, and this was after signing a handful of youth team players just to give cover, I’m going to have to sign some quality to have in reserve for the Premier League, if we suffer injuries we will be left very short.

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Talking of injuries, my captain, CNB Vranjes, went down under a challenge against Watford and has to be stretchered off:

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The final day of the January transfer window saw me scouring about for out of contract players, and free agents, nothing of. note was found, but I did scout and then shortlist a quality looking winger, all ready to pounce at the end of the season, only for Lazio to come in last-minute and snatch him from under our noses

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I should have the season (3) wrapped up by end of next week, hopefully as Champions, my key priorities for pre-season will be to flesh the squad out in key positions with players good enough to do a job, but that won’t moan too much if they don’t play week in,  week out.

FIFA 19 continues to amaze me with its detail, realism and pure enjoyment of matches, the crowd atmosphere, commentary and general all round presentation, a solid 9.5/10 for me so far.

Lastly a couple of nice-ish team goals from various matches, nothing sensational scored recently, The defence and midfield is too well-drilled and keeps its shape too well to pick the ball up in midfield and waltz 40 yards unchallenged and unleash a 35 yard generic arced finesse curler past a flapping keeper 😉

 

 

All or Nothing

league.pngTop of the EFL Championship heading into January with a 9 point lead over second place, I fully expect to win the title this season, barring a complete disaster we will be returning to the Premier League.
It’s all or nothing because I have put all my eggs into one basket with the expectation of Premier League football, and finances, next season.

If my last promotion season was anything to go by I should get around the £50 million mark in transfer funds for winning promotion, maybe a bit more as Champions, and I will need it.
Last time round we just wasn’t good enough to compete with the big teams in the top flight, not enough strength in-depth, and it showed, finishing bottom, I’m desperate this time to avoid relegation and build season upon season and turn Forest into a permanent Premier League fixture,  in order to do that I will need more, and better players, which leads me on to some big news.

I have a very thread-bare squad right now, with the starting 11, 6 subs and 2 reserves.
A few players left on loan, a couple returned to their parent clubs after finishing their loans, but I’m confident I have enough within the squad to see out this season and finish as Champions, but as I mentioned earlier, to compete in the Premier League next year we need good quality, m first team ready players, and I have managed to secure the services of three very capable players to help me compete with the top teams.Transfers.png

The January transfer window has just opened, this is prime time for scouring players who are within the last 6 months of their contracts, if you can secure a pre-contract agreement then you can pick up some massive bargains as there are no transfer fees to pay, you just negotiate With the player, so you can afford to offer them lucrative deals, and I feel with the players I have secured above they will definitely add quality to my squad for next season.

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All three are superb players, who’d not renew contracts with their clubs so were all picked up on a free, Torres was signed from Porto on a 3 year deal for a £1.2mil signing on fee and £35k wages, Balbuena from West Ham for a 500k signing on fee and £65k wages, and finally the infamous but superb Luis Suarez from Barcelona for a £2.5 million signing on fee and £100k wages, only on a one year deal but if its enough firepower to keep us in the Premier League then it will be money well spent.

If I’d had signed those players from the clubs, then I would have had to pay £140 million upwards easily, so pre-contract deals are a great way to sign quality for much less cost, obviously this calibre of player only agree to join on the promise of playing in the top league, I would not have been able to sign them as a mid-table Championship club, of course there is a risk that I still may not be promoted, but its unlikely, all or nothing.

I continue to have superb session after superb session on FIFA 19, still as immersed and engrossed in my ever-evolving career mode story as I was on day one, player individuality is there in buckets, matches have a realistic feel, and pace to them with teams playing differently depending on the situation, and coupled with the excellent presentation and match-day atmosphere, every game feels important.

I’m also into the 4th round of the FA Cup after beating Coventry City 2-0 at home, so the league title and a good cup run would surely see me meet board objectives.

A short video clip to finish, firstly showing an amusing moment in a match, loving the attention to detail, then a few goals scored in recent league matches, including a nice goal from Albrighton in the Snow.

 

Damm He’s Good

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_10.pngThat’s my RMF Jurgen Damm, signed pre-season, collecting his Player of the Month award for October, he uses ‘Jurgen’ on his shirt, and is fast becoming my go-to player in FIFA 19.
One of those players that oozes individuality, he has pace to burn and a canny eye for a finish, he reminds me very much in his playing style as a taller Mo Salah, not a bad thing at all, Damm his also the league top scorer so far with 11 goals in 15 matches.
His goals  and general wing play have contributed heavily to our good start to the season, a third of the way through the season, the table is shaping up, I have an idea who my title contenders are and which teams will pose difficult matches, although there is rarely an easy game.

I decided to rest 6 first team players for a match against Sheffield Wednesday, when are mid-table, and almost regretted it after trailing 1-0 for a large portion of the game, after re-introducing several key players around the 70th min mark, we started to get a grip on the game, Wednesday were playing very tight, packing midfield and giving us no real room to pass around, but a counter attack and break down the left-wing in the 84th min saw LMF Guerrero smash home in the top corner for a well deserved 1-1 draw which kept us topping the table.

table.pngBelow is my current starting XI, playing in a 4-2-2-2 formation, the two DMF’s give me some central stability and protect the defence, with Tachtsidis anchoring back and keeping a defensive position, whilst Doukouré has more freedom to join the attack, and actually has a decent shot on him, which I am also focusing on in his training schedules, he’s chipped in with a few goals already this season.
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Subs (not shown) include:
Albrighton LMF (74)
Soudani CF (76)
Cools RMF (76)
Aguissa DMF (77)
Guerrero LMF (69)
Figueiredo CB (75)

I will be looking to sign a backup right back come January, but I’m pretty happy with everything I have in the other positions, I plan to give some game time to some promising youths too at some point, maybe in cup games, which will also help satisfy the board objective of developing youths and having one youth player play ink at least 70% of matches over 2 seasons.

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Lastly is short video showing a few goals scored this season, some nice counter attacks and good finishes, first clip in the video shows a. nice goal scored against me by the COM, with the CF pulling off some stopovers to wrong foot my defender then planting a daisy cutter into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

There won’t be a post Thursday this week as I am away from Thursday morning all weekend, so won’t be about to post, but normal service will resume again next Monday.

The King is Back

FIFA 19 Career Match 0-4 MID V NFO, 2nd Half.pngSeason three has started well, off the back of last seasons relegation the boys had a point to prove, the board and fans expect immediate promotion, we can’t let them down.
The first few matches were tough, but after tweaking any formation to now play a 4-2-2-2, with two DMF’s, 2 wide midfielders and 2 up top, our play has started to balance out, we have more cover in the centre of the field, and with the instructions for one of the DMF’s to always hang back and take up a defensive role, we aren’t getting caught quite so much, although the essential quality of a good DMF has always been to be able to pop off shots from range, and neither of my two DMF’s can shoot for shit, Decouré is the better of the two, chipping in with the odd goal but nothing from ‘PES DMF’ territory.

Also, watching a few FIFA 19 tips n tricks videos on YouTube has made a big difference.
It was nothing I didn’t already know, or knew that I should be doing, but in the hustle and bustle of a live match you often just forget the discipline and go into button mash mode, proper use of jockeying and contain when  defending and laying off the damn sprint button has made a huge difference, and my play has improved.

Muto, a CF signing from Newcastle, hasn’t really done much since joining, he got a hat-trick on his debut in the pre-season tournament but since then, only a single league goal.
Josh King, a signing last January from Bournemouth, is now starting to settle in to his role as the main striker, bagging a couple of braces and being pivotal in most matches, along with another January signing, Jurgen Damm, from Middlesborough, who is also now starting to shine out on the right-wing.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_7.pngTop of the league after 7 matches, but still a long way to go, I will be disappointed if we are not in the title race come April time, I have invested around 48 million into the squad, in order to gain promotion back to the big time, we cannot afford not to go up this season.

Pantimillion in goal, has been really good but he’s only rated 71, I needed another keeper, and managed to bag this stalwart on the last day of the transfer window, aged 33 but an experienced keeper and 76 rated, he will do nicely, has already made a great legs save from close range on his debut in a good 3-2 win over relegated Watford.

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I also adopted the Operation Sports (forum) sliders for FIFA 19 at the start of this season.
After trialling them in a friendly I was so impressed with much more balanced the game play was, and realistic, that I kept them, in short they only change a few stats, mainly the run frequency, pass speed, and first touch error, for both Player and COM, this keeps it balanced but introduces more randomness into proceedings as the ball bobbles about more and there are more midfield battles.

I shall not be tweaking anything, it’s the OS sliders, or vanilla, no messing about wasting time.

Lastly, I leave a short compilation of goals scored so far this season, nothing stand-out, a few nice team goals but some of them were at critical points of the match, and a result of tweaked tactics, play style, so meant more in-the-moment.

The Final Day

The above video shows a few goals scored in the last 4 or 5 games of season 2, including a nice 2-0 away victory against an under par Liverpool side at Anfield, unfortunately I only won one, drew two, and lost 2 of those final games, leaving me in a very precarious position at the foot of the table.

Here is the league table going into the final day of the season:

League table 1 game left.pngAs you can see, I’m 18th, only a win in the last game against Chelsea, and a defeat for Crystal Palace at home to Stoke, would see me survive, it’s out of our hands, World Class has been a cruel mistress, it’s very hard, especially against the top sides.
I’ve conceded far too many goals, and as a result far a far inferior goal difference, so not even a draw for Palace would let me off, they had to lose, we had to win, against Chelsea, who were top of the league, it wasn’t likely, or was it?

So there we have it, we got battered 4-0, as expected, another haul of goals shipped, another defeat, it summed up our season really, too inconsistent, and not good enough players or depth to be able to cope in the Premier League on World Class level, so down we went, here’s there final league table.

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Second bottom. Down and out. Didn’t deserve much more to be honest.
Now I had to wait to see if I still had a job, as the board objective, the sole objective was to avoid relegation, and I didn’t even manage that.
There was no massaging of the table or fixtures to ease up on me and give me a glimmer of hope, no fixtures going my way, it was just pure realistic hardship all the way, Palace drew in the last game so even if I’d have beaten Chelsea 10-0 I still would have been relegated.

In an attempt to pre-empt the sack, I applied for the vacant managers position at Stoke, who remained in the Premier league, this was their response:

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They didn’t want me, can’t blame them.
SO down to the Championship I went, and plundered through my pre-season dealings before finding out if I’d kept my job our not.
Parachute payments from the Premier league gave me a decent transfer kitty in the Championship, around £45 million, I signed Muto at CF from Newcastle for £15mil, Damm, a pacy gherkin RMF for £12mil and Denswill, a strong CB for £9.3mil.
I also let Bojan go, and chose not to renew loans for a few other players.

Then the review meeting from the board came in:
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I kept my job, just.
So at the time of writing, I will be taking Forest through another EFL Championship season, my board objective is to win the league, nothing less.
Have a few new signings, and a few mil left in the kitty, so onwards and upwards.