Saturday, 31 May 2008

Do I suck?

See this is what I'm talking about. For 60 mins we dominated this game the tactics were right the players were right. We create chance after chance.

I know it's football I know this sort of thing happens you dominate and don't get results. The MASSIVE amount of frustration is that the game has decided that it's your turn for a bad run but you have NO IDEA how to end it or what caused it.

The game before we lost to Mitsubishi Warriers in an U21 game he has spent millions on his youth and frankly he has better players we lost 2-0 and to be honest after I tweaked for his tactics it was fairly even. It's fine though I can accept that if I wanted to do the same at youth I could.

However the senior game before the one shown we did the same thing dominated lost 2-1. Av Ratings are fine the players are fine the tactics are fine but the game has decided nope you're on a bad run so here is bad luck for you.

I've seen on the forum that kids will be erratic but I've only got 3 u21's playing I just have no idea what to do.

In this game I think it was 60 mins and we were cruising at 1-0 then it's like a switch goes on, defenders I know you've a 1000 games with a 7+ rating and a proven track record but you will stop tackling, in fact the entire team goes to sleep. You sit there and you think well what can I do I've changed tactics players and the game is giving me no visual or statistical clues as to what to do to correct the problem.

Then you think OK maybe this isn't for me, maybe I just don't get it then I look back two seasons Champions League football, top five finish's in the NFA Premier League, NFA U21 winners, NFA U19 winners, NFA U17 winners. Top 60 ranked senior team, top five ranked youth team it's not me that sucks!

Friday, 30 May 2008

Yet another bad run

Everything going ok, then I started a little shake, then I lost 6-2 to AFC Plymouth then 4-1 to another team ranked 180+ then another.


I suspected my keeper so I brought my U21 back in. At U21 level he’s awesome makes some amazing saves etc. At Senior level he stands there I really just as well put a scarecrow there. He’s had a good few games at senior level so surely that can’t be it.

Here comes the point where FM Live really starts to wear you down. Why? It could be this and it could be that and really to play twenty games to maybe find out why and I know come a few days I suddenly it won’t be a problem anymore the run will end.

After three seasons you start to stop caring just shut the game off and play something else. I know what other managers have done what did I say a few posts back, 300+ managers go idle a season.

It’s just a game and you have to keep it in perspective but at times like these I think I’ll become another statistic and worry for the future of the game.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

I'm with Stupid

Ha forget to mention this, the wage auction season. I had a utility player that was ok, he could play CM, DC, LM AND LB nice sub to have on the bench but I found him to be inconsistent and really lacked a touch of class. The wage was low and I would have kept him but I was out of auto's. I advertised him for £100k instant. He doesn't sell so I think well no one will offer silly money now. Boom, in come three bids and he goes for £7500 a day £36k Aq fee and £5k above his Wage Demand. In 14 days time he starts losing money over the £100k insant!!?

I then made a mistake myself, I had a fancy that Arda in the middle with Lucho would be ideal. So thought I'd have a scout for a Left Winger. I eventually found Andersson with a Wage Demand of around £10k a day. Seemed to fit the bill... age, skill and rep etc. He was at Toxteth in wage auction and to be honest I'd normally try elsewhere as he was an active manager.

However I do recall losing Petrov at the end of Season One to Toxteth so didn't really have second thoughts. As it turns out this was a mistake, despite Andersson being a fine player he's only as good as Kim Hueng Song and a long way of Arda standards.

Finally Pablo, and not Arda in the middle is very often a vital requirement, especially if the opposition is playing narrow (almost all top teams play a variant).

So Andersson is going to need to move one just hope I can sell and he doesn't cost me that much.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

GW6 on it's last legs

It's surprising how quick a GW goes into decline. Every season so far we've had a fresh influx of managers to replace the idle ones. SI have to get new Gameworlds up and are not bringing in fresh faces this close season. Combine this with five or six previously very active managers leaving, the close season, and the Gameworld feels it's on the floor.

A desperate plea went out on the forums but SI clearly have commitments elsewhere so no real time to address our issues.

In a desperate attempt to inject some life into things the Active FA has been borne. The basic premise is that playing AI games will be punished heavily. How you can accommodate this I have no idea...

I can jump on during the day but really can only say with certainty that I'll be on from around 9pm - Midnight. So if I was 6th and had a six pointer against the guy who was 5th he could easily play a system where he gets AI rights.

In the meantime the once proud NFA has just 30 members underling the Gameworlds collapse.

One of the members that left was Andrew Potter his entire squad of about a million players went in auction. Quite a youth set-up however whilst I have a minor shotgun approach to Youth a U17 level it starts to filter down at U19 / U21 levels.

Andrew Potter's Kingshill Ajax had a totally shotgun approach all over. Regardless of ability, stats, type of player, if the youth had a potential stat he was signed.

Every one of these 100+ players was in £1 auction and it was not a surprise that only one or two produced a flicker of interest. One however was cheap and was actually a 7+ rated player.

Despite Ajax's abundance of talent it was always a team chucked together without any finesse. We had played Ajax a lot and the Manager wasn't around much. So a 7+ rated player in a good side but bad team did suggest that this kid had a little bit of something.

He was a 19 year old left winger I thought had the basics in place (a touch of pace etc) namely Kirov. For a £2 bid he packed his bags and headed for the Jakski.

On handing him his debut I didn't expect much. Well if his debut is anything to go buy it's like I've set him free. Pace, skill, power and a desire to win. We'll see how he plays over a series of games.

Keir Wanderers were another team to have gone and they did have some extremely good players. One of these was Preub a 15 Year Old (well a Peter Pan so could actually be 19) player with a bit of pace and a lot of skill.

He hadn't an amazing goal scoring record but you had to assume that would come eventually. I did have a tickle on him at £4.4m but really knew he'd go for more. I think his final figure was £6.8 not far off Lucho money!

Seems to be the latest 'fashion' in GW6 is going with a youth only policy. I know Martial from Bliss is well into this endeavor and Benchwarmers have spent a lot of cash at this level.

It's a lot easier at Youth level with only 300 active users and around twenty teams actually caring about youth rank it's not exactly hard. So chuck all your resources at that and easy peasy top 3 shouldn't be a problem.

Meanwhile the senior team is on a run of good results but it all feels a bit empty and stale. Still I have enjoyed the Beta and the game will be great when it comes out. Maybe the time has come to move and to revisit FM when it's actually out we'll season how this season pans out

Friday, 23 May 2008

Flat and the One

Whilst the game has turned a little flat of late, mainly due to close season and several very active managers leaving for new Gameworlds and another load that have gone idle. I have continued with preparations for next season.

With Casas nearing the end of his contract I offered him out for £400k, he's actually worth a little more but I wanted to get set for wage auctions. He went quite quickly. Looking at the team then I've got three young options for left back, Diaz (a Peter Pan 3 Seasons at 16), Mounmouni (can play left awesome mental stats) and Piagio now 18 and has played a handful of games at senior level and done well.

So as things stood I had a back four of :-

GK Johnson (cheapo 30 year old keeper with high attributes including eccentricity, should be fun!), Meretta RB (19 and done well in this position so far), Daikte (22, amazing DC), Basa (26 Year Old DC proven record £4m signing).

In the middle:-

Left Wing Kim Hueng Song (20, can be amazing a bit early for him senior level so is inconsistent), Arda (23, slightly out of position should be on left), Pablo (25, a rock!), Right Wing Tarik (23, consistent since 20 great winger).

Up front from a choice three Macualey (19, has a lunatic mode which is a joy to watch, just starting to turn it on at Senior level), Sene (18, natural left footer quick, strong tall, deadly finish), Malonga (21, pacey, very strong great in the air and a right handful).

So what I now was looking at was a very talented bunch of kids what I really needed was a world class player and the one big gap was in the centre of midfield. One that was a leader with a proven track record. Lucho was in auction and with a bid of £5m already in and an instant buy of £7m. Auctions tend to be ebay like and people leave things till the last minute with a few days to go this £5m was likely going to go up.

I suspected it would go up to around £6m maybe more, for some time now I've been coming to the conclusion that there are no bad players in FM there are only the right type of players at the right price and vice versa.

Lucho was just what I needed, every box was ticked a little old at 29, dare I risk missing out for the sake of million every other player I had looked at had involved a compromise, great talent but young, no influence, a great player but not enough class and so on. So £7.1m poorer, Jakswans transfer record broken, let me introduce the latest arrival to the Jakski:-

Monday, 19 May 2008

Plan D: Not as bad as I thought

Well after a few days for morale and the team to settle things have turned just fine. Nick from Inter has agreed that Montero is on an extended loan the only downer was Wendall. Actually Wendall did have a weakness, very short, and it's a shortcoming I'd would never have faced.

I suspect I lost £4m ish on Wendall but there you go.

The rest were going anyway, Malonga contract up, Sousa Contract Up, Sammorco not very good, Thornhill not very good and finally Moya. Well over £2m and it was something I was going to do was move him just not yet. I had a contract lock on him and my U21 goalie has been amazing in the last three seasons and deserved a shot at it.

Rodriguez, he was a fine RB was another, but it's about time Meretta made his move into first team so he can cover there.

Thus far after a very shaky start (expected) the team then started to play quite well. I decided to be bold and just leave Maltriz on the bench, Arda in the middle with Pablo and Meretta in at Right Back.

Owen Jones the goalie is a wonder only 5'8 but he's a bit like the the Barnsley Keeper that kept Liverpool out, just all the time. He has moments but half his games it's a clean sheet. Moya was one in three. Naturally this will be helped by £4m DC Basa. Malonga the £2.5m striker had a sensational start but got injured in his first senior game.

I actually think a lot of my problems have been as a result of being lazy. Maltriz went to wage auction last season and I had cash in the bank ready to buy a DC looking back I should have done that then.

Over the last few days the team's shape is such that I'm facing too many young players again. I have to find left back but in Piaggo who is 18, very steady, Sene is simply going amazing 6'4" and now oozes pace. Since trying Sene up front at youth he bags more goals than Macualey, I'm playing him Left Wing Seniors but I need to give him a punt up front. Replacement at Left Wing no problem but a 20 year old, the Oriental guy. I've got £5m and either it goes in the midfield or at left back...(Arda moves to his natural position then on the wing).

I'm sorry as well if your reading this with a few potential superstars in your squad on massive wages. It defo means that they player will improve, how far depends and is fairly random. The player actually needs to play well to start with he just doesn't grow from like 7 pace to 19 or tackling 6 to 15. Sene and Montero are both 3 stars as far as I can see and basically eat some 4/5 stars for breakfast :)

It's a never ending search for U17's Sene wasn't that great at 16 I had about four more that I thought were better. It is just a case of running them through a lot of games and watching the player play. Then there is Evina he's 3.5 stars area and over two and half seasons didn't improve at all. He's a quick left winger though and I couldn't find better at the right price. Tail end of this season his critical stats start to shoot up, it was really touch and go if I renewed his contract last season.

The worse thing though about doing it this way though is you have accept that your going to give them a chance I often feel a weakened team at U17 level just to see who starts playing.

Over the next few days I've got to deal with contracts expiring and give everyone a chance to bid on players at a level that will mean another drop in Morale I suspect but hopefully we should be a steady ship by the time the new season starts.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Trackmania Vid

I was playing Track Mania the other day and it seems Nadeo have released a new theme. Basically the racing cars go on dirt tracks now. Pretty awesome support for a free game.

Plan Drunk

Not a good idea to lose a few games whilst having enjoyed a few beers, I found that out. Actually there was some rationale behind the plan at the time.

I have often convinced myself something sounded like a good idea at 1am after a few beers but come 9am sounded like ramblings of a madman. Well actually that's not technically true, historically something has looked like a good idea and then, well, it's not unfamiliar territory from my single days.

The plan was along the lines of season over (true) rebuild (good idea). However you make rash judgments in that frame of mind, it's all a blur but Wendall went and Montero. It all started with a fairly innocent 3-0 defeat to Vanquishers, the score flattered them a little although they deserved the win then another 3-0 defeat to Dundee Rio. Clearly something was wrong so Plan D was kicked off.

Wendall went for £300k I think, so that's a fair bit shy of his market value, doh, at the time I was thinking low ranked team Wolves. Wolves? Well charity was in order! :)

Montero I had put on a £25 instant pretty crazy but I think Nick from Inter got him maybe we can consider it a loan deal. I'll chat to him later.

Actually the rest is pretty good most players in £1 auction luckily for me a semblance of sense had told me to withdraw Arda, Macauley, Daikte, Tarik, Pablo. So the rest of the seniors are up for grabs and actually I was going to sell most anyway.

So not so bad, now the only issue is 24 Hour Auction and the servers have gone down. Could cost me around £10million that. Still it's going to be a challenge to see if we can bounce back and it's Beta after all.

I think now I've talked myself into considering the game to be a bit more dynamic and managing the Jakswans is temporary, a learning process for the game proper if it's released in a few months.

Meanwhile SI seem to have got this stability issues sorted I think that their doing it in baby steps. Fix Release Fix Release etc.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Other Games Trackmania United

Whilst the servers have been down I've been flirting with other games. I'm yet to fire up Team Fortress 2 (if I did I suspect the game would pull me back again and then no more FM Live) but Trackmania is A1 for 30 minutes at a time. A free game as well in which you race online around insane tracks at insane speeds.

Screenshot below and download link here.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Speculation and Server Crashs

The server crashes \ outages of late it would seem are as a result of SI making some serious changes to the infrastructure to the servers. It used to be that you were on a cluster and now this has gone and there is only a server farm.

Again pure speculation on my part but I think this had to be done to support players moving gameworlds. Further evidence of this is found in that you can no longer change your team name, according to SI team name is a global variable that must be unique across gameworlds. Interesting.

Even more intriguing was that as the servers came back up instead of logging in you were greeted with a mock up of 'Choose which team you want to manage' and a long list of blanks. According to SI this was to 'enable support for those with multiple accounts'. It was then odd that OV said it was a 'glitch' and then Marc Duffy said it was 'no more than two accounts'.

I'm curious because the screen clearly was designed to list more than two, and, this may be wishful thinking, but I don't think this is what this screen was designed for. The single most important feature yet to be in the game is the manager / club are separate entities.

Having got the game stable, and I suspect that recent server outages were down to a big change to architecture, thoughts need to move to a more long term view of the gameworlds. Take Gw6 every season around 300 users have been kicked for being idle, you could argue well it's beta but I don't think so. FM Live, it's been said so many times, is extremely hard, no save games, no database hacking and the competition is from humans is a millions miles away from AI in FM08.

So this begs a question are they really going idle because it's a beta or because it's too hard. What makes it worse is that your stuck, bid £100k for a player in a wage auction and feel the pain for two months. So with all these managers leaving, the clubs die as well, and another 300 clubs are created.

The established clubs can cream off the talent that's released and if your new to the Gameworld you've no chance of securing anything decent and will be forced through months of of pain before being able to secure some really great players.

So you try the beta in an established Gameworld and stare into the face of two months hard slog to get anywhere at all, most won't do it so the next month another load go. So it goes on.

Now imagine a new Gameworld starts only 1000 clubs can be created after that the only way into the gameworld is by taking over an existing club. Now you may think that this is a pain but in Gw6 Ronaldo is with a idle team, going to be a bit easier than starting from scratch if you get to take that job on!

You may bugger it up but at least you can get a job somewhere else, different types of job, a team once renowned throughout the gameworld fallen idle and now a sleeping giant. A team that has remained small and you've a chance turn things around. A club up to it's eyes in debt and your brought in to bring stability and turn the corner.

Heck you could have a FM Live carear as a hard nosed troubleshooter just putting things right financially before moving on elsewhere. You could become a trusted 'babysitter' and take over the reigns during someones summer holiday, a temp if you will.

If you wanted you could form new clubs stay for a few seasons get a youth policy going and hand over returning years later to see if you founded a club with worldwide stature. Then you could play the old fashioned way sticking with it through thick and thin year in year out.

It's not impossible that you could aquire earnings and be able to buy clubs in your own right. In other words instead of the club having a bank balance it's your bank balance! Heck you need not even be able to be just a manager anymore you could become Chairman or own a bulk of shares. Wow the ideas, the stories, the game!

Ok getting carried away but prior to the change to the servers this sort of thing was not possible now it is. The team at SI got Championship Manager running on an Amiga you better believe that they have the vision and ability to truly turn FM Live into something amazing!

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Champions League Woes

I knew I'd be on a hiding to nothing in the Champions League it's just full of teams that look to me on the limit. AC Gloomanti (guess at name as, yep you guessed it, the servers are down) we gave a good account of ourselves away from home but their quality won through in the end two late goals and 2-0. So we're 1 point from three games and looking like we're going out of the comp, still I think we did well to get there.

The limit is so tempting for many teams, basically you keep the players to a minimum have no youth policy and get the most quality on the pitch at a high average wage. It definitely works in the short term Gloomanti had a squad with players at the peak of their game, mostly 29 - 30, on sizable wages and pushing over £200k a day wage. You then gamble that you can sell one of your prize assets for a younger version and just do that a few times a season and you should carry on.

Other clubs trade like heck to sustain their position, it's all good and one of several ways you can macro manage your club. My route has been to really try to find a young core back it up with good youth policy and hopefully I should be able to build something sustainable with less risk. Time will tell...

The temjptation is always there is to do the same thing I could slap £7m on the table for a big name and make the final push to this level but I would be cutting myself up over how I would sustain it.

On a more positive note we bagged another three NFA Premier League points against a team that I wasn't confident of beating at all, AFC Plymouth. It was scrappy affair at home and that point was underlined with the only goal coming from a mistake as Wendall pounced from a bad back pass. This really could have gone either way as Plymouth had several chances to win the game.

At youth level we continue to do well I can't really do better than rank of 1st. In saying that the pressure is always on to recruit more talent I keep bringing in the odd youth that i think is good now with low potential and hope I see some improvement. The best prospects I have are not necessarily those with high potential which sounds odd but is true.

My biggest gamble (apart from Macualey) is Hefferson (I think that's his name) basically this kid is 16 and has breathtaking pace, mental attributes that are good for a striker (composure etc) and Technicals all in the 8 or 9s. The gamble is a £5k a day one. Quickly working it out, £5k x 30 x 4 (takes him to 20) and a £600k gamble. I'm pretty sure I could get that for him now so no gamble really. He's actually not bad in the air and for a 16 year old isn't weak so he could really become something special.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Another Update - Another Crash

Sadly I think FM Live is not moving much closer to release every other update causes the servers to crash and I would estimate the playable uptime in peak hours over the last month is around 70%. It may be more but it's a long way short of commercial.

The game is in feature lock but I'm sure I've read that on release you'll be able to move gameworlds this surely has to be tested for a few months prior to release. You could make some horrific miscalculations on the numbers moving and have massive knock on effects months later.

So release date is not much closer than it was a few months ago. The potential of the game remains though, it is fantastic if a little too addictive. Moving on NFA Premier League:-

As you can see the only other team to have played a quantity of games and have got close to 2 Pts Per game is Trumptonville. Ever more impressive is their eleven games unbeaten run in this league. In saying that a wage bill of £261k a day from a squad size of 17 and five players aged 31 or over it's make or break season for them. Unless they get extremely lucky with transfers then their going to need a few seasons to rebuild after this one.

Firefly are running with a bizarre 4-2-4 formation which I'm sure will catch a few teams out, it's a gamble and certainly gave us a scare despite winning 3-2.

Bliss play narrow and have a strong team but 17 points from 13 games is some way short of champion form. CUJimmy I'm sure will be a team fighting for a top three finish (3rd last season). Boaster are flirting with relegation unless their form improves.

The next two clubs must have title aspirations as they finished 2nd and 1st respectively. Dundee Rio have not started well but on paper they have one of the strongest squads and of course Rafalution's aging but star studded team will give a game to anyone.

The biggest surprise to me is AFC Plymouth as at all levels (Senior, U21, U19, U17) Calv's teams are hard to beat so I can't believe his early form will continue.

It's so early in this competition that really all we're seeing here is a current form chart and personally don't think the Jakswans have enough quality all over the pitch yet. It's a season too early at least to even think about titles. You don't win anything with kids everyone knows that!

I fancy we're still a little weak on the left or in the centre depending on your point of view.... I often question if Arda is worth his £33k a day some games just pass him by, however, he often chooses to turn it on when the competition is toughest. His tackling is not great for someone in the middle of the pitch yet I feel he's not really suited to out and out wing play either. I start thinking like this and then he produces game winning moments, as I said when most often when the opponent is at it's toughest.

In the close season we've got some major signings to secure and big players leaving the club. Sousa (substitue), Maltriz (captain, DC) and Casas (left back) will go. Thats £24k off the wage bill. I then plan to spend big on a DC and use kids in the left back position. The 'core' or the chosen five are Moya Goalie (26 ish), Daikte (22), Pablo (25), Arda (23), Tarik (22) and Wendall (21) all of whom are yet to hit their peak. Wendall is a free extend as he's been at club since 19. This is then nicely complimented with depth to the youths at the club, the U21's / U19's / U17's all have players in their squads that are unique to that squad and contain players that I think will make it.

Youth development is a part of the game I really enjoy. I think I'm not alone but I do have a thing for strikers and currently in a dilemma as to what to do with five U19 strikers (yes 5). Patrick is a big strong 19 year old with a bit of pace and awesome in the air. Macualey £33k a day is at this level amazing, Teheri has a little pace is not bad in the air but a really cultered footballer, Murillo 18 and doesn't really have the 'ohh la la' factor so he's under auction (despite being the best prospect), and Sene.

Everyone wants a striker that's 6ft 4, can run like the wind, finish, create, can pass, is powerful, and consistent. Sene I've had since 16 and occasionally puts in the sort of perfoamnce that wins games. The frequency of these games is now starting to morph from sometimes to often and for this reason he now starts up front. Potentially he is the complete striker. Time will tell.

Season 3 - Blissless

We went through a few senior games with Martial's Bliss, One a cup game and home / away in the league. Away from home I think they could have argued that a draw would have been fair but the other two games we dominated from start to finish. However we lost two and drew one in these encounters. I don't really care about any of them apart from the league and being 2-0 up at home and still only drawing 2-2 was disappointing.

We then entertained Boaster FC at the Jakski, in the first ten minutes Arda made a mistake to gift Boaster an early lead, he then went ballistic and laid on two goals, scored one to make amends. He can make a mistake a game if he plays like that every game! We also got a Penalty to make it a nice 4-1 to us.

Next up were newly promoted Chatsworth FC away from home, their a decent outfit and had started their campaign with a win. The game was a tense affair, early in the second half a free kick on the corner of the box caused a bit of confusion in their defence and Wendall was the first to react and bagged a 1-0 lead. Chatsworth put a lot of pressure on and had a string a half chances but we managed to hold out for the 1-0.

In the league we're 5 Pld 3 Won 1 Draw 1 Defeat, Ten Points from five games, impressive, the focus initially is on staying up but the fans are starting to think top 5 is not beyond us..

Meanwhile the UFFA Champions League qualifications have gone dreamily well. A string of big names in the Group and we needed a top four finish to get through. Duly obtained with one game to spare. Despite us only being ranked Top 80 we're one of only Thirty Two teams to be in the Champions League!

The only big disappointment thus far has been Macualey's unimpressive start at senior level and he's a long way from earning his massive wage. At youth level it's all very well and he does boss games in fairness. In fact our rank at Youth level is 1st all very nice but youth is only a means to produce talent for the first team it's pointless chucking too much money at youth as it kills the entire reason behind doing it in the first place. The debate I have is that there is some sort of code in the game which dictates the performance of a player at senior level, it could be experiance in terms of youth games don't know but something....

Next game up was away to the Tangerine Seasiders I've been away for the last few days so literally getting 10 minutes a day log in play a game and out, so flying blind a bit. Last season this fixture signaled a change in form for us as we went from genuine title contenders to UFFA qualifiers. It was a fairly even game until the Seasiders opened the scoring late in the second half however from there on in we laid siege. Although the chances were at best half chances they came thick and fast by the 90th minute we had managed to pull one back and it duly fell to Macauley to allay some fears about his wages and grab a late goal and another three premiership points.

Six games and thirteen points and frankly the only team at this early stage to show some consistency. One game at a time...

Next up Rafalution current champions at home. Took the lead they came back but a late winner resulted in an impressive 2-1. Draws with Servants of the Eye away and Trumptonville home and finally a 3-2 win over Firefly see's us leading the Premiership.

Not such good news from the Champions League Groups though despite going 2-0 up in our first game we only ended with a 2-2 and lost 1-0 away.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Tactics Again

I generally start with a simple 4-4-2 with Counter Attack and try to keep things tight and take it from there. It's taken a long long painful time of experimenting mostly at youth level to have a feel for what works against what. The dreaded narrow formation I finally have a kind of counter to. Actually it's not a counter as such but it at least brings the game back to something resembling football.

Normally in a 4-4-2 one of the midfielders will push forward and one stay back, the narrow formation involves literally six players all coming at you from the middle of the pitch. In proper football this would get battered with wingers but sadly doesn't quite work in the default 4-4-2. My efforts to counter have been to keep both midfielders back to deal with attacks better and to allow the full backs to push forward.

It's not a killer fix as what tends to happen is that you drag the opponents players out to mark the attacks from the wings but at least it turns back into a game of football. Counter attack needs to be off. I'm debating that I should push the wingers further forward and turn a MR into a AMR as width in narrow is normally offered by their full backs pushing up.

This combined with playing a high line and offside really seems to kill narrow dead but you are prone to accurate balls over the top and quick strikers. 4-4-2 is better than diamond at coping with narrow however I myself now struggle against diamond sometimes so further experiments are needed to fix this. In fact with further tweaking I'm fairly sure I could actually turn playing against narrow to my advantage.

The other one is 4-3-3 and counter attack needs to be off for that as you don't want to be sitting coping with three strikers, you've a man extra further up the field so you need to take the game there...

The entire tactical thing is not really my bag but it's a must if your going to really push on. My tactical tweaking really is done in effort to negate the opponents tactical advantage. We're still a young side and there are still a number of teams that simply have a better line up. However over the past two seasons we've closed the gap and have steadily climbed the rankings.

Slightly controversial is the certain teams have made a play for the top spots by going for big names. One of the these is Rafalation, last seasons NFA Premier League winners. The team is mostly 28-31 year old big names, he clearly hasn't got a massive surplus to cover the squad ageing so unless he gets some lucky trades then over the next few seasons their going backwards. Admittedly their falling from the very top but they are falling none the less.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Youth Tips and Season Three Start

I feel a bit silly writing this after only a few seasons but heck I'll give it a go. I've enjoyed a degree of success over three seasons bringing kids on in FM Live. The youth side of the game is one that really is great as you have little mini dramas in players devolpment.

The first thing, in fact the ONLY thing is that bringing on youth is not the end game. Being 1st in youth rankings is all very well but it will not increase your rep as a club or bring any money coming in. My sole aim for doing youth was secure talent for the seniors.

I don't really understand the thought process behind paying huge wages to kids. I've seen some recent ones go for over £20k a day. Having had some experience with youth at senior level i find them inconsistent. Generally it's your 23 - 31 years old that'll be getting ratings of 7+ and maybe you'll find the odd 16-18 year old that'll be able to do the same but they'll be rare.

At senior level you'll get the odd flash of the future potential or maybe one will get carried through games by the senior players, generally though your really young kids will get slapped about at senior level. So assuming your £20k a day potential superstar has to wait three years for regular first team action it's going to cost you 30 days x £20k x 3 to get him there. Almost £2million! Even at 18 / 19 he may well be hit and miss sometimes if he's a defender that's a liability!

Well you don't need to be a brain surgeon for this piece of advice just go buy a £2million player!

I'll take you through what I did to find a centre back. I got around six centre backs with stats that looked average in the right areas. After a season, two were gone, another season another two, I was left with two. One I have left is great, strong, quick, cultured. He's 18 currently and I hope he'll improve over the next few seasons and work his way to senior level he is fantastic at youth level and now plays U21 and U19. The remaining one will leave at end of season.

These were all sub £300 efforts, total cost to find one very good DC £18,000. I can easily afford to do this all over the pitch every season filtering out players till I'm left with the best.

I've asked other managers, Montero (although he suffers from the age bug and doesn't age, badly needs fixing SI!) he would be 17 now and not 16, has three stars from most managers. Yet I get asked a lot if I'll sell...

Sam Deering 'Highly Unlikely to improve' was a fast winger I had from 16 did a good job at U17 level and at 18 did start to improve, in the end I let him go. If he'd had an improvement at 17 I'd have kept him, even now I still think with enough games he could have become a decent winger.

I think many managers miss the point sometimes you have to field a team that you think might well lose just to try and filter out the good from the bad. If you've got just a few £20k a day jobs then your options are going to be very limited.

Moving on season has now started and generally results have been good despite Pablo being out for six days :(

We've started well in the champions league Qualifiers. The only league to date was away against Boaster FC, very decent side and it was a tight game. My best signing of all time ever Kim Heung Keun pulled off a delightful goal, a long high ball was sent in his direction his first touch left their full back on the floor leaving him with a 40yd run for 1on1 with their keeper. At just 20 years old he sold a dummy and bagged the goal and a vital three points for us. Here is the kid in question:-

Bring me back to the point I raised earlier this kid was like literally hundreds I'd looked at only when I saw him in action did I realise I'd struck gold, BIG GOLD!

Finally apart from the almost unforgivable age bug (some players have been 15 for three game years!) I have to say SI seem to have server stability issues almost nailed. They did go down 1am Sunday morning and were fixed 2am Sunday morning, awesome!

The age bug is more worrying apparently this has been an issue for a long term, I've got four players that are still sweet sixteen and was looking forward to some new kids this season.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Third Season Preview

With the third season about to kick off thoughts and hopes...

All of the stars in the team are young so I'm going to stick my kneck out and say we should be safe from relegation given our 4th place finish in the Premier League last season. (Hopes)

In theory you'd have thought that we'd be able to improve but with Sassine and Plymouth coming up we'd be doing well to maintain a top 10 finish. That's the target at least top 10.

Rafalution still have a small squad full of stars some of which are 30 or just over so assuming they'll stay injury free they would remain favourites. According to the team sheets Sassine would be second favourites but they consistently fail to hit the Top Six in Rankings and with teams having more tactical focus on FA games they may struggle to mount a serious challenge.

Plymouth led by Calv are going to be the ones to make an impact I suspect. At every level his teams are hard to beat and he's got the players to really push on at senior level. Dundee Rio will, as ever, be strong,. CuJimmy has kept his team together and will be up there come the end of season.

If it goes with rankings then Bliss FC will be a handful. Yikes I'm talking myself into relegation again.

In terms of Youth at every level apart from U17 Chris can play and I will use him a lot in youth FA games. Birmingham have left the NFA and they offered the biggest threat at U21 level. This will be Wendall's last season in Youth and I expect a lot from him.

U19 I have quite a lot of options Montero, Bracke, Sene, Patrick should now be coming good, I have three full backs who all play great. Kim Heung Keun an out and out winger is pure and simple entertainment if he improves it's going to be a fun season.

I'm not sure what Calv (Plymouth) has done at U17 level for this season but if they've improved then they'll be deadly. We have a lot of kids moving on and I'm not sure what the new lot will be like. Just trying to figure out the shape of the team after ageing takes place. The core of the team will be Montero and Bracke with £5k a day boy Herfferman providing the entertainment up front.

Finally rather than trying to explain why I pay Chris so much perhaps you'd like to see the through balls. He does the striker thing 0.6 goals a game but through balls like these...

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Rankings and Selling Out

I'm also coming to a conclusion on Youths. The more you play them the better they get, losing is actually good for them. So this season as well as entering all the usuals and quite a few unranked comps to give them a solid grounding and a few tough games.

Today Justin Jones of Matalan Utd was going to restart so he did the decent thing and put fantastic squad in Wage Auction starting at a £1. Ronaldinio and Robben were just some of the big names in auction.

I do know I'm a superstar short of being a great team and I've got the surplus to slip a big name in. Ronaldnio would have been ideal but I was getting nervous of his 29 years. The auction started to head up over £4m and I thought I'd pull out.

Robben didn't really fit as Arda is the star of the team in that position. My thinking was that I'd try Arda as MC and fit two in. I tried this in a game against Monkey Rovers (who oddly just sold Tetteh for £3.6m and bought a 29 Year Old £250k Aq Fee player for £2.5m!) and Arda played a commanding role in setting Wendall loose for an easy 3-0 win.

So this could work and I felt that £3m was good value for Robben even at £3.8m he was still value but decided to let it go. If he'd been an AMC I'd have pushed just a little more. FC Dino eventually bagged him at £3.9m ish. Odd as he's already up to his eyes in wages.

So the position that still isn't right is MC. One thing I'm fairly sure of is not to panic and just go overboard for the 'right' player. Sousa sits there at the moment and he is inconsistent, he goes from Awesome to average and Montero at 16 does the same thing so worse case scenario is rotate the two.

More recently results are still going steady / great it's noticeable that Franco is in covering for Derds (injured). I got Franco as a big man up front, strong with a touch of pace. In terms of ability I think he's a lot worse than Derds but he's more of the right player needed for the team. Mainly he's an old head at 30, an experienced old pro....

I have five player locks and one is on Derds so after two seasons and over 300 goals maybe it's time for him to move on. Maybe I'll catch him again when he's mature and I need an old head. Shame as this season he's broken the first team with some style. Also helped us to finish Runners Up NFA U21 League Season One and a league and Cup U21 double season two.

The other area I'm considering at the moment is at the back, Merreta a fanciful £2million purchase from Costa Curtis at 18 has not really been used much in the first team. I've made him Captain of the U19's and have noticed how rare it is for us to concede at that level. Fitting really that we' played Costa Curtis and Daikte was suspended and Meretta was drafted in to cover. Costa were in the middle of a fine run of form and their Manager was surprised and telling me with us 2-0 up how rare it was for them to concede two goals in a game, must have been quite shocked with 4-0 then.

The run in form I'm fairly sure is a combination of Franco and one other thing, players being match fit. Basically every single player now gets a game and stays match fit. I'm pretty sure SI have coded this in for two reasons one realism, footballers not playing games that would be silly and to keep a check on squad size. It's fairly hard work keeping 60 players fit I've seen some with more than 100 players and that must be close to impossible keeping them fit.

Selling Out
Chrisantus I had this kid on trial last season and he's a powerful and quick 18 Year Old that scores goals from everywhere. There are loads of players like this in the gameworld and generally their a very valuable commodity. He can jump so that's a bonus and he was bagging just over 0.5 goals a game for a team ranked 300.

This would normally put him on £20k area, this would represent very good value. He's 18 though so a free lock if he can bag first team... When I had him on trial in around 20 games I saw him make two or three 60 Yd through balls that would have been fitting of a Gerard. He's quick, can jump, has stamina and 14 Strength for 18 isn't bad.

So what then? He's a target man, play maker, goalscorer who's quick and over 6ft. Errr well I'm just telling you what's in front of me.

You don't need to be a genius to know that Henry is going to be worth £40k a day do you. It's hardly a hard decision, it's not exactly taking a risk is it. We've seen some £100k a day jobs this close season. Torres is one, is he worth £100k a day? He's worth 40k - 60k but 100k no. In two months you can save enough money to pay for someone like that cash.

So I did the silly thing and chucked in £33k a day bid for Chrisantus, one season. If I really really think he's not worth that I'll release him which will cost £1m. The reasons for this radical move are:-
  1. I think he's worth £20k now
  2. I think he'll be worth £35k soon
  3. At 18 it's a long time I have with free auto extends.

There I've talked myself into it now :)

Ohh recent Youth results with Wendall and Chris up front; 4-0, 4-0, 2-2, 4-1, 5-0, 6-0 maybe it'll work out after all.