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:

Release clause neg.png

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.

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.

Palmer Debut Stats.png
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.

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

Vranjes Injury.png

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

Transfer Target.png

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.

Torres.pngBalbuena.pngSuarez.png

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 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.