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

Header img.png

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:

release clause.png

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.

Spinazzola performs.png

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.
Champions.png

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.
Goal Stats.png

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!

 

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.

 

Forest Losing Their Kekkle

Approaching the half way point of the season, and a run of 6 games without a win has put the brakes on the playoff places push.
Defeats to Ipswich Town, Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday, Rotherham and Preston North End have seen the Trees slip way down the EFL Championship table, the current league table is shown below, we languish in 16th place, 8pts off the bottom, but still only 5pts from the play off places, still lots to play for.

full league table

That is if I manage to survive the season, the board are not happy with me, as shown by my current trust rating below, I still have several objectives to fulfil, which is reflected in my low rating, managing to scout a few decent youth players to sign to defensive, midfield and attacking positions will help with my rating, but easier said than done, the rating for youth players is quite broad, so theres some guesswork needed to decide if a youth player may come good and fulfil their potential, any youths signed will immediately go out on loan to gain match experience, at the moment I need to do a Mourinho and just buy for the here and now, rather than building for the future.
I’m gagging to play in the Premier League, with all its realistic real world stadiums, and big match atmospheres.

board ratingYes, I have gone for the middle-ageing, bald, suited and booted managers avatar, there isn’t much choice in FIFA for personas to choose, I just fancied a Tony Pulis type character over the usual Damian Lewis lookalike.

Since my last post, over-performing Bojan has gone off the boil, he hasn’t scored in 5, and usually runs out of stamina around the 70 min mark so hasn’t been finishing many matches either, the club are devising a specific fitness regime for him with the chief fitness coach, in the hope of building upon his cardio base and helping him feature more prominently in the latter stage of matches.
New signings are needed, on a very tight budget, I did manage to put together a loan deal for a player I scouted heavily using the in-game search function, searching for young players with good finishing, and attacking prowess stats.

18 year old Jonathan David will be joining us in January on a 2 year loan deal, hoping he can provide some much needed firepower.

david stats

I have also switched my camera from the fixed custom Broadcast camera to the default broadcast camera, which is much more dynamic.
With the custom angle it stayed fixed that way for every match, with it set to default, the broadcast angle changes slightly depending on the stadium, which is a nice effect, every match feels slightly different and it adds to the atmosphere and experience.

The last match of my most recent play session was a Midlands Derby match, against Derby County, was great to hear the commentary team elude to this and provide location specific comments during the match, I lost that game 3-1, after levelling at 1-1, I was done on the counter attack twice after chasing a goal, World Class CPU will punish you if you don’t focus.

Below are the highlights from the Derby Match.

I was truly battered in that match, apart from the one goal we struggled to create anything of note, Soudani up top (the goalscorer)  is a great finisher, but with Grabban and Brewster as the other two CF choices, we are short of firepower, since this session, Jonathan David has signed on a 2 year loan deal and scored on his debut.

My next 3 matches provided one of the best sessions I’ve had on any football game, ever,
it truly was ‘the beautiful game’.

A Forest Bird Never Wants a Cage

League Table.pngAfter 18 games we currently sit 8th in the table, only 7pts off top spot. My objective for the season is to win automatic promotion, that’s a top two finish, the board expect a lot .

Playing on World class is tough, CPU teams close you down quickly, drop back and pack the defence and generally restrict space for you to play in, patience is key, if you can manage to pass sideways, backwards, trigger runs at the right time, and play the right ball, you will unlock defences, of course you need the players to make this happen.

Results have picked up in the last 5 games, with 2 wins, 2 draws and a defeat, Villa are up next and is already a 6 pointer in pushing for those playoff places.

Here is my current squad, starting eleven and subs, in the screenshots shown I have Brewster in the team at CF, he regularly interchanges With Grabban, Brewster is in there to gain match experience and develop, he’s on loan from Liverpool, this is what Klopp would want for him.

teamsheetAs you can see, fatigue plays a much bigger part in this years game, in previous FIFAs, as in PES, players were largely able to run around for the full 90 mins and be fine, and be ready to go on full stamina for the next match, not so much this year.
Players do tire during matches, to the point of needing to be subbed, visible fatigue is evident with their touches, runs and shooting as well as passing. Squad management is a must.

Sat at the heart of that midfield is Bojan, signed pre-season from Stoke for £5.2 million.
He took a few games to find his feet but since has been superb, he is the creative heart of the team, most moves go through him and he chips in with a few goals too, already on 6 for the season, with as many assists.
His passing and vision is superb, so with the patient build-ups he’s able to put a foot on the ball and pick out that slicing pass, he also seems to be settling in well at the club.

Newsapaper Bojan 4th Oct 18I have also setup two youth scouts, and recommendations are filtering through, its tough to gauge just how good a youth player can be at 15 or 16 years old, as even the most advanced scouting report only gives a broad range for overall rating and potential, but with another of my objectives being to sign a youth player to a professional contract in each of the 4 positions (GK/Def/Mid/Att) I will have to take a punt,  and have just signed 16yr old attacking player, Jobson, to a deal.

The video below shows a good move start in midfield with Bojan, he’s also involved in the pass and move to build up the goal, then finally doing what he does best by getting behind the back four for the opportunity to score

This next video shows a great counter-attacking move to bag an equaliser away to Blackburn, I like the way the winger, Dias, steadies himself before planting it in the corner

Lastly, something you don’t see in PES, a good clean powerful header on goal

 

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.