Start as you mean to go on

SUAREZ MATCH DAY PROGRAMME.png

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

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.

Season One Finale

FIFA 19 Career Match 0-0 SHU V NFO, 1st Half.pngThe league table above shows the task at hand, claw back 4pts with 4 games to play, and overturn Norwich and Villa to claim the 6th position and final play-off spot.
Much easier said than done. Another season in the EFL Championship could well see me lose my job at Forest, as the board expect promotion.

That was the picture heading into last nights session, what entailed was a late night 6 game session that may be the most tense, realistic, enjoyable and smile-inducing session I’ve ever played on a football video game.

My run of good results continued with some blisteringly good football, winning 3 matches on the bounce whilst seeing Villa and Norwich both drop points, heading into the final game of the season, I was up against an in-form Bolton side, who had won their last 3 games, Villa and Norwich played each other on the final day, I needed to win to guarantee a play-off spot, lose or draw and either Villa or Norwich win, and it was another season in the Championship for us.

The 3 wins on the bounce included a 4-0 away win at QPR. It was joyous, Loftus Road is replicated beautifully in FIFA 19, the broadcast camera angle is a slightly closer to the pitch view, making it more intimate, but also making space on the pitch more difficult to hunt out and play into.
The atmosphere was electric, the QPR fans loudly singing “Come On You R’s”, closely followed by a din from the away end shouting “Nott’m Forest FC, by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen”.
The QPR fans booed their team off the pitch at full-time as my players celebrated wildly.

The sense of occasion was also added to throughout these run-in games by the intelligent commentary commenting on the situation, and by the live score updates from Alan McInally, which I had chosen the key games involving Villa and Norwich, So I knew what had to be done all the way.

You can see a few of the goals from those 3 matches below:

I was now in that 6th and final play-off spot, Villa and Norwich are 2 points behind me in 7th and 8th respectively, and play each other in the last game.
I needed to win, I didn’t. late on in the game Bolton went 1-0 up, I switched to a very aggressive and attacking style, meanwhile scores from the Norwich vs Villa game filtered through that it was 1-1, more high up the pitch pressing and attacking play saw me get done on the counter attack, twice for a 3-0 defeat. My turn to be booed off by the fans.

I was sweating on seeing that final score from the other match……… 1-1.
I’d secured a play off place by a single point.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_2.pngMy opponents were West Brom, who finished 3rd.
I scraped through the home leg with a 2-1 win, only grabbing the winner late on. The away leg was a more comfortable affair, packing the midfield and stifling West Brom’s play proved effective as they created very little, I managed to capitalise on an error and grab a winner too, 3-1 on aggregate and into the play-off final at Wembley

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus).png33OkBMkSo from being 17th in January, to playing for a place in the premiership, this season has been a topsy-turvy one, but most enjoyable.
FIFA 19 is standing up as a fantastic game, so rich in presentation, immersion and realism, but with solid, fun and sim-like game play to match.

You can watch the goals from the Play off match vs West From below, Mondays post will be a detailed highlights package from the play-off final vs Derby County.

The Premier League awaits.

See The Forest Through the Tricky Trees

So we have Kick off!
My FIFA 2019 career is underway, with unanimous poll winner Nottingham Forest.
A club with a rich and storied history, previous league champions on two occasions, and former ~European cup Champions, now a fallen giant languishing in the EFL Championship, it will be my job to rebuild them and restore their place at the top of world footballs elite, no mean feat.

I have set up my career mode as shown below:

FIFA 19 Career Settings.pngI  will be playing on World Class difficulty, 5 main halves, and early signs are that the game plays very nicely indeed.

Upon starting I took a good 25 minutes to set up the team as I wanted, checking over player stats and traits and studying various formations.
This year, FIFA19 introduces ‘Dynamic Tactics’ which are a set of pre-defined formations and associated tactics and instructions that can be applied to the various attack/defence levels and applied on the fly in-game.
I have varying takes on a 5-4-1 set to the Ultra defensive and Defensive levels, with the former being an all out ‘defend in numbers’ and ultra aggressive style, and the latter easing up a little, still defending tight but allowing the counter attack too.
Then I have my ‘regular’ balanced formation of 4-4-2 diamond (or 4-1-2-1-2) for general play, and two varying styles of 4-3-3 for attacking and ultra attacking.

This allows you to dynamically change your team shape and style of play instantly in-game with no need to access menus, it’s a great addition and you can really see the changes take effect and shape the game.

FIFA 19 Career Notts Forest Setup.png

My objectives for the season, set by the board as shown above are to win automatic promotion, so a top two finish, and sign a top class player in an attacking position, and also promote a youth player to each of the defensive, midfield and attacking positions.
I started with an £18 million transfer budget, and immediately identified the need for a creative attacking midfielder, after setting up global scouting networks and searching the free agents, I settled on the idea of poaching fellow championship side Stoke’s CAM, Bojan.

Negotiation went back and forth and finally I managed to land Bojan in a £5.2 million deal, I had to guarantee him first team football in order to seal the deal.

FIFA 19 Career Sign Bojan.png

I also love the training options in FIFA, whereby you can assign 5 training schedules per week, and assign whichever player you want to various training drills, then save them as presets, so I went through and setup various schedules for Defending/Midfield/Attacking based around dribbling, tackling,  shooting and passing, and simulate all the drills so that I don’t have to play them myself, a good way to develop players skills and increase their overall rating, and worth.

So on to the games, at the time of writing I’d played 6 league matches, losing the first 3, with Bojan largely being ineffective, but a slight tweak of tactics and team shape , as well as dusting off the old PES muscle memory, has seen me since pick up 3 wins on the bounce and a draw, and am currently sitting 10th.
Bojan has scored 3 in his last 4 matches, and a final day of the transfer window also saw me bring in Adekanye, a RMF, from Liverpool for £2million, and I also took Rhiann Brewster from Liverpool on a season long loan.

The video below firstly shows the single goal I lost by in my opening game, and the one and only chance I had all match in a game where I really struggled to create anything.

Lastly this second video shows a couple of nicely taken goals, the first a finesse placed shot from the edge of their box, and then a dink cross into the box for a close range acrobatic finish.