Damm That Suarez

FIFA 19 Career Match (In Menus).pngLuis Suarez about to score another crucial goal, that’s what I signed him for, to grab goals that would help us stay in the Premier league, and that’s what he’s doing.

I’m experience a frustrating period at the moment, for every win, there’s two defeats, usually heavy ones, the quality of teams in the Premier League is a huge step up from the Championship, teams punish you, they press you, they harry you and give you very little time to decide what to do, its tough going.
In the games we have won, and nicked a 1-0, Suarez has been pivotal, either assisting or scoring, that 120k a week is proving money well spent, but he can’t do it all, Tammy Abraham has been pretty anonymous after signing for £20mil pre-season, and yet to score, Muto and Josh King have both scored a goal here and there but also failing to add much, the scoring is resting firmly with Suarez at present, never a good thing to only have one main goal threat.

Heres Suarez grabbing a well finished goal in a 1-0 win against Brighton

Jurgen Damm, last season’s top scorer and player of the season, is showing mixed form, he didn’t start that brightly, then grabbed a few goals and assists, then was poor again, so lost his place to Adama Traoré, there when he got back in the team, he started to show signs of last seasons form again, before picking up an injury.

Here Damm grabs a plate winner against Everton with a nicely slotted home  solo effort

Mixed league form has been interspersed with solid cup form, reaching the Carabao Cup Quarter final, where we played host to Liverpool in an extremely tight, tense affair with Mané, Salah and Firmino always providing a threat, the game was fairly even the first half with Liverpool then dominating the second half, some desperate defending saw us heading for a penalty shoot out after 0-0 at the 90 min mark, cue 3 mins of added time, and a 94th minute finish from Fabinho inside the box after a Liverpool counter attack and we went out, harshly.

This was followed either side by 2 league defeats, 3-0 and 4-1 respectively, and with 4 matches in a short space of time, half the first team squad were fatigued, so in the last league match of the session, I fielded a much changed team for the visit of Watford,  with several youth and fringe players slotting in, including promising CM player Rodriguez, signed as a 17yr old, I have had him on a training plan to develop his pace dribbling and shooting skills, he replaced team Captain, Dekouré.

Here’s how the Watford game unfolded

Watford take the lead just before half time, then Suarez turns provider and plays in another youth team promotee, Palmer, to finish neatly first time, to level the game at 1-1 in the 87th minute.
I switched to defensive and was keen to play out the draw and grab a vital point and halt our run of losses, then this happened:

A Watford attack breaks down, we counter,  Rodriguez runs from midfield, the ball gets laid off, a delicate first time touch at pace whilst dribbling to touch the ball past the onrushing defender, then a first time shot with his left leg which flies into the corner for the win, those training plans paying off and a youth team player scoring the winner at home, on his debut, in the final minute, a nice moment.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_2.pngDespite the run of poor form, we are still only 5 points off the top spot, in 7th, the GF column isn’t too bad, but the GA column is what’s hurting us, conceding 10 goals more than most of the teams around us.
The remainder of the season has to be focused around staying compact, and defending solidly, and grabbing what we can.

Bold New Beginnings

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Season 4 is underway, with a return to the Premier League. Firstly, EA have released update 1.05 for FIFA 19, there has been mixed views on the forums and even regular commenter Darryl has expressed concerns over it, my initial reaction is that I love it.
You can view the superbly detailed patch notes here: EA Pitch Notes, but in general, EA have adjusted how players react when blocking shots, defending, and increased the unpredictability of 50/50 confrontations, and also increased the fatigue suffered by players when playing a constant pressing game, in my opinion its a great update.

Admittedly the speed of the game has increased a tad but for me, not in a bad way, the game still has a considered pace, and fluctuates during the match depending on the situation, but it is definitely faster.
It is also worth noting that I am using the Operation Sports Slider set 5, which adjusts a few values to balance the game out, and for me, FIFA 19 is playing the best it ever has with these settings.

Now, on to the important stuff, season 4.
It started with a pre-season tournament held in Mexico, The Champions Invitational Cup, I was up against Benfica from Portugal, Monterrey from Mexico, and Athletic Bilbao from Spain, I lost a close game vs Bilbao 2-1, with new signing Spinazzola grabbing a debut goal, followed up by a thumping 4-0 win over Monterrey, with Suarez opening the scoring for his debut goal, and then another narrow 1-0 defeat against Benfica.

The short video clip below shows the goals, preceded by a great bit of crowd detail, these things, little touches, attention to match day atmosphere really make games ‘pop’ in FIFA 19 and add to the experience greatly.

A bit of pre-season squad business to sort out, I had been scouting for a good rated, promising young RB to provide cover for first choice Carrascá, and found him in Spurs 24yr old 74 rated Kyle Walker-Peters, who had a £2.8 million release clause, which I activated, and duly signed to a 5 year deal, then I was notified of my first choice LB Gurreiro being head hunted:

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Liverpool wanted him, and were prepared to activate his £30 million release clause, I really like that the game informed me and gave me the opportunity to then offer my player a new lucrative contract in order to persuade him to stay:

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I offered him a new contract and upped his wages to £58k a week, an increase of £10k, plus a £1.2million signing on fee, which Gurreiro accepted, he’s staying! Money well spent.

Next up was the opening day of the Premier League, away to Southampton, who dicked me 3-0, the scoreline flattered them, it was a very tight, close game, with the Saints leading 1-0 most of the match, they then got 2 late goals on the counter, a disappointing start, there’s always that hope and air of expectation when starting a new season, especially following a promotion season, but the class gap was evident.
That was followed up a home tie against Burnley, these are the types of games I am looking to take points from, and duly did so with a well oiled 2-0 win, goals from Muto and Spinazzola again grabbing us the points, Muto was only in due to a broken metatarsal in training leading to a 5 week lay-off for CF Josh King.

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Below is a short video showing Joe Hart performing heroics in-goal for me, he’s been a revelation between the sticks since singing last summer, and has kept us in games on many occasions

Finally here’s a video showing the 2 goals from the win against Burnley.
Mondays post will feature an Interview with Trees new star signing Luis Suarez, in the match day programme.

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:

stoke manager.png

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.

Out but not quite down

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That’s my usual first team selection above, with an average player rating of 75, it’s not a bad side, but life in the Premier League on World Class level, is frustratingly hard.
I have the worst defence in the league, and the weakest goal scoring ratio in the league, it’s no wonder we are languishing near the bottom of the table.

Josh King, an emergency CF signing from Bournemouth on the final day of the transfer window, has struggled to settle in so far, not living up to his 79 rating, and being pretty anonymous in most matches.
I only signed him because I had a cheeky £16 million offer from PSG for my star striker, Emmanuel Dennis, I did not want to sell, so thought I’d be cheeky back and counter with an ask for £28.5 million, to my surprise, and dismay, PSG accepted, and before I knew what I’d done, Dennis was gone, at least I had a chunk of cash to find another forward.

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Second from bottom, just, 2 wins could take me out of the relegation zone, so whilst it looks ominous, survival is definitely doable, it’s just going to be difficult.
I need to hope that the remaining 7 fixtures are against weaker sides whom I may be able to take points from, I know for a fact though that I have to play Man Utd at home and Liverpool at home, so plausibly 5 actual games to save my job.

Another new signing, Zambo-Anguila at DMF had all the stats I look for in a defensive midfielder, strength, agility, ball winning prowess, tackling, but again hasn’t overly impressed with anything he has done so far, usurped regular in that position, Tachtsidis, isn’t happy and demanded showdown talks.

player moans.pngI’m going to have to put him back in the side for a few matches to appease him as I can’t afford a low morale, under-performing player of his quality.

I have about £13 million in transfer funds and around £400k in wage funds left over, the transfer kitty could be boosted to around £15 million by adjusting the wages available slightly, this will carry over to next season and form part of my transfer war chest, should I keep my job.

Have also lost my Captain, and CB, Gurreiro, for 3 matches due to a straight red card, as shown below, which I don’t think was a Red. He may have come in from behind but was a stretch-tackle, and actually played the ball, harsh decision, second clip in the below video is the same match, coming back from a goal down and a man down to equalise through RMF Dion Cools.

Towards the end of my session last night, Josh King finally broke his duck since signing and bagged a couple of goals, the first being a typical goal ;poachers finish, and the second with a scorching mid-ranger. More of that please.

I should finish the season over the weekend so Monday’s post will wrap up season 2 and my fate as Nott’m Forest boss.

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

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

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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.