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.

Reds Resurgent

Firstly, apologies for the late post, I was away all weekend and only back Monday afternoon so hadn’t had time to prepare Mondays post, but here it is a day later.

 league.pngAs the league table above shows, we have mounted a resurgence, and thanks to a run of 6 wins from 8 games, have climbed up the table from 20th to 8th.
The only defeat in that run was a 4-0 Quarter final defeat away to Everton, to send us crashing out of the FA Cup.
Everton were just stronger, faster and more organised, you could really tell the difference in quality and the game really felt like an away FA Cup match against a big side, I love that about FIFA 19, the games all feel different.

During that run of 6 wins, we scored 3 several times and even a 4-1 win against Blackburn Rovers, we are playing well, scoring, and most importantly I think I’ve got a handle on FIFA’s defending.
Up until now defending has felt clunky, using the tactical defending system, has often felt like I was never in control of my defenders and just couldn’t get close enough to opposition players to defend effectively, but the key is not in pressuring all out and jumping in to tackles, but more jockeying, covering passing lanes and runs, and good timing of the tackle button, I’m getting much better at this as the goals against ratio during the 6 wins would show.

One of the teams despatched was Hull, grabbing a 3-0 victory, highlights of the best goals are shown below, a nice stretched chip shot from my CAM Goncalves, who is keeping Bojan out of the side, and the other goal was a well taken volley from Emmanuel Dennis, who is proving to be a great signing with his potency on front of goal.

The next match was against Sheffield Wednesday, the team placed level with us, on equal points and the other team in contention for a possible play-off place, in this respect it was a 6 pointer, and the commentary team hyped that match top by mentioning that it was a vital game in respect of play off positions.

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_1

We won that game 1-0, followed by wins against Blackburn and Villa, goal highlights can be seen at the bottom of the post.
It appears the board still aren’t happy though, despite achieving my objective of signing youth players to each of the outfield positions, and signing a crucial attacking player, my other key object was automatic promotion, and that is not possible, my trust rating currently sits at 60, and I have been notified that the board will soon be reviewing my position as their faith in me wanes.

I’m hoping to see out the season, there are only 4 games left, I can only finish 6th at best, it will be tough clawing back the 4pt deficit that Norwich have over us in that 6th, and final play-off position, but if we can achieve play-offs and promotion, I might just get to keep my job.

FIFA 19 continues to play a solid, enjoyable and very realistic game, you are rewarded for patient play and punished if you don’t focus and concentrate, and this is only in the EFL Championship, I can only imagine the big match atmosphere and carrying team play styles and skill levels are exponentially heightened in the Premier league and Europe.

Goal highlights from Villa, Blackburn & Sheff Weds games:

 

 

 

Leeds to the Slaughter

FIFA 19 Career (In Menus)_8.png

Approaching the middle of March and league form has been awful, a few draws and mostly defeats have seen us slip down to 20th in the table, perilously close to the relegation zone, but the signing of Emmanuel Dennis at CF and Jonathan David who can play on the wing or as a Striker, have given us a  bit more potency in front of goal, w are going to need their goals if we want to stay up this season.

Leeds Utd were the side that were defeated in order to put and end to our poor run of draws and defeats, always nice to get one over on Leeds, even a virtual Leeds side.
A double-header awaited as we played Leeds firstly in the league, then again straight away this time in the FA Cup, securing back to back wins lifted the lads and gave us fresh belief heading into February.

Highlights are shown below.

A defeat away to Bristol City and a draw at home to Norwich wasn’t the best form heading into our visit from Premier League side Crystal Palace in the FA Cup 4th  round, Extra training sessions were put on in order to get the boys focused and match-sharp, I also fit in time to do an interview for the local rag.

Notts Reporter Newspaper page.pngPalace were duly despatched 2-0 in a game that we had to fight hard to earn anything from, they were strong and organised but had a bad day in front of goal, Roy cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines and booted a few of the water bottles at the final whistle.

We are turning into a cup team, and need to transfer some of the focus and discipline we show in those matches across to our league form, our position isn’t acceptable and the fans demand more, rightly so, as do the board, me and the players.|

FA Cup highlights vs Palace shown below

As I said in my interview, we are trying to. build a solid base and platform from which we can push on next year to mount a serious title challenge, I think the fans know that this year is about setting a template, getting in the players we need and taking consistent, steady steps towards next season, they have been brilliant so far this year, always giving the lads their support on the pitch.

Tuesday saw EA release their first title update on the PS4, after positive reviews from PC players that had it a week previous, I’m not sure, but the game feels much harder since, defending seems to be more manual and the COM teams are closing down like Liverpool at Anfield on a European night, I’m having a tough time of it at present.

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.

 

FIFA 19 Kicks off!

 

grass sport game match

With FIFA 19 set to release Worldwide this Friday 28th September, I will be running a ‘FIFA Chronicles’ style Career Mode Series, detailing the highs and lows of my clubs journey through the leagues, including signings, contract disputes, formations, tactics, and highlights from various career mode matches.

To start with, which club?

I am keen to choose either a lower half Premier League team or EFL Championship side, and will be playing on World Class difficulty, so help me choose a starting team.

I have provided some options below, will leave voting open until Sunday, with Career Mode proper starting on the Monday.

Get voting!