Thursday, March 13, 2008
The title of the post ‘losing my favourite game’ is based on the Cardigans song which has just inspired my current blog. I think the Cardigans must be football manager players, as two of their songs in particular highlight the problems some people are finding in the transition from FM08 to FML.
In FM people like to talk about their records as managers, which teams they got promoted, e.g. how they got Oxford United to the Premier league etc. In the original version of CM I used to take over at Man Utd and systematically destroy them, selling their whole team and replacing them with a full squad of second rate goalkeepers they couldn't get rid of. I was young back then and my brothers were all Man City fans so I had no choice it was my duty. The point is in the old CM and the standalone FM games you could rewrite history the way you liked it and kind of leave out the details of how you managed to guide Man U to the bottom of the old 4th Division.
When the Cardigans play FM they probably cheat I base this assumption on the basis of their song ‘erase and rewind’ which I don’t know the words to but am sure it is about their path to FM success. It is ok getting Oxford to the Premier league, but if you reloaded your last saved game every time you lost or manipulated the finances in the data editor then this is a bit of a fake victory (like the current rise of Chelski). How you play FM is up to you but I always played the game fairly (apart from my early Man Utd years) and took the rough with the smooth. I remember playing an all night session of CM 98 when at university with a friend. I was Barcelona he was Real Madrid. I had piped my friend to the La Liga by a single point but he made the champions league final again Lazio. Having taken an early lead and looking comfortable my friend was already thinking about his victory speech. However Robberto Manchini popped up with two late goals in the last 10 mins to kill my friends dreams of European glory and ruin a days hard work and planning. Sure he could have reset the game, played the match until he got the victory he wanted, but no he took the bitter disappointment like a man. He first gave a speech of the nature ‘If you say what he said about a man like Manchini’ (Think Keegan meltdown attack on Fergie), then he calmly ejected the CD-Rom from the computer and snapped it in two and we never talked about the Manchini final again (this is the first time I have retold this story).
To me this is how real FM players take defeat, sure it can hurt, sometimes it hurts like hell when a days worth of play is pissed up the wall by the superhuman efforts of an aging Italian, but you just had to deal with it and move on (my friend did replace the CM CD-Rom the next day).
The people who shielded themselves from such cruel nights in FM by adjusting their finances and/or replaying disappointing matches, I think are the ones beginning to feel the strain in my current FML game world. These people tend to moan a lot as they are not used to baron times and lean spells. They will lose a few games and start to blame bugs in the match engine which no one else can see and they cannot provide evidence for; they will over spend by a lot and wonder why they cannot have Drogba, Gerard and Torres in their teams (as if this was possible they would have been the first to think of it). Asking why they have been put into administration.
FML is the great leveller for all who like to boast about their FM records and achievements you all start off with the same resources and how well you use them determines your place in the FML pecking order. In my opinion I think Beta testers have a slight advantage over non-Beta testers (which is why I am writing the blog so you don’t make my mistakes) in terms of transfer targets, some of the long term Beta testers know who to buy and who they can turn a quick profit on. I may be mean and post their squads in my blog at some point to try and offset this insider knowledge (if I do please don’t tell them!).
In FML everyone wants to win, everyone wants to better their team as much as they can, it is not just a generic computer AI you can out maneuver in the Transfer market or create a killer tactic against which leaves you with a passive role in the game. In FML you always have to evolve your team and tactics, because you can bet everyone else is. I don’t mean you have to play the game constantly, but you cannot just buy a few players, set one tactic and watch the victories pour in.
My striker Gomis (source of all my FML blogging frustration) is a perfect example of what I mean by evolving your team. I bought Gomis in my first days on FML, and once he got match fit he would terrify defences who could not handle his pace and general skill. But these people did not just take the defeat as one of those things and moved on to the next game, they got smart they brought in better players they evolved their teams. This resulted in the situation I have at the minute whereby my initial favourite formation playing Gomis as a lone striker is becoming less and less effective he is just not up for it against the current FML teams. I had to draft in help for Gomis (see previous posts) and develop my tactics. Even old Goran was brought in to play centre midfield, but due to the rising quality of other players, I am having to play Goran in defence in place of Jack Hobbs who is finding life difficult. For me this is one of most enjoyable parts of the game, I feel more like a football manager than I ever did playing other management games, you have 1000 football manager terminators out there, these people want to beat you, will adapt their tactics to cope with your team, will go for the players you want, you have no choice but to evolve or fall behind.
The point I am trying to make is that in FML everyone wants to win and past glories mean nothing. As Thom Yorke is now softly singing to me: If you want a quiet life with no alarms and no surprises you should probably stick to FM08. Now where is that bloody plane...
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
As I had previously reported that I was in federation hiding, due to the two best teams (on current results) continuously circling looking for a quick kill. Two things prompted me to end my cowardly exile, the first was the signing of another player (my eighth!): Pascal Feindouno for £600,000 yet another St Etienne player, but my biggest named player. I bought Pascal as someone I though would help support Gomis who at times appears upfront with the ball on his own, not knowing what to do. Hopefully Pascal's better footballing brain and pace would either help create more chances for Gomis or give Gomis more options. The second things which prompted my return to federation football was an e-mail from the bank manager telling me that it was time to stop buying players (see screen shot) meaning I had to work with what I have got.
Playing the top two teams in my qualification group would determine whether my recent resurgence in the qualification group would be cemented, or whether I would remain at the back of the chasing pack. I set myself the target of getting 4 points from the 2 games as this would keep my in the pack of teams chasing the top two and hoping for a place in the premier league next season (needing a top 6 finish). Although I had games in hand I knew these teams had all played the top two so bad results would put me in an impossible position.
I played just one friendly before hand not wanting to get players injured I decide to wait for my federation window and get the games out of the way.
First up was 1st placed Bayer Neverlosen I did not know that much about, they had constructed a team using a similar tactic to me, opting to bring in a few good players at the expense of not having a 'star'. Both games were close and a bit dull to be honest not a lot of chances, both teams playing variations of 4-4-2. Towards the end of the first game though things did get interesting, with me taking the lead on 79min, before Neverlosen equalized on 83mins only for my new boy Pascal to net the winner on 87mins. The defeat I felt was unfair on Neverlosen they where definitely good for a draw. I was also glad my hide like a coward tactic (which I advised another guy in my league to do as he was losing a lot, and he now seems to be getting a good team together) had worked as I felt my team now had that extra 10% which made the difference. The second game was a very forgettable 0-0 but having played the first off my two big opponents, I already had the 4 points I was hoping for, which was a good thing as next up were FC Technostars who had in their team Ronaldhino.
FC Technostars chose the alternative starting route to teams like me and Neverlosen, they opted to shell out most of their money on a star 'Ronaldhino', and then made up the rest of the team with lesser quality players (I doubt Ronaldhino was wearing his trademark smile when he turned up to his first training session!). On evidence of Technostars ranking which had improved dramatically since the buck toothed wonder had signed, it seemed like this may be a good initial tactic. I had spent most of my afternoon when I should have been working, thinking about what I was going to do about Ronaldhino, was I going to be very English and try and kick the crap out of him, or should I try to keep Technostars on the back foot which would limit Ronaldinho's effectiveness. I opted for the later and after scouting Technostars recent games I knew he liked to play a very attacking game, so I picked a team I thought would control the midfield and keep the ball off Ronaldhino's toes.
In the first game I had limited success, I managed to control the game most of the time, but on a few occasions Ronaldhino wriggled free, only for my keeper to save the day. I took the lead after 67 mins an as the lesser players in Technostars team started to tire, I was able to hold on for the win. On reflection I feel I just shaded the game and was happy with the 1-0.
The second game is perhaps a cautionary tale to people who are thinking of the star player route. The game was 0-0 and not that interesting to be honest, but the difference in terms of our teams performances was quite marked, in terms of shots on goal, possession and general performance my team played much better (Technostars keeper was man of the match). The reason why I was much better in the second game than the first was simple, Ronaldhino put in an indifferent performance which brought down the level of his team.
Players have ups and downs, and if you have a squad of ok players, then when you spot one of the players is not playing so well you can change him, if you build your team on the back of one star then you don't really have a plan B if he plays badly or more importantly gets injured. I have this dilemma with Gomis at the minute, he has just gone 4 federation games without scoring so I have the option to drop or sub him while he regains some form.
After a poor start I am starting to establish myself in my federation qualification group, the matches will probably dry up for a while as I have played most of the regulars in my group, all we can do is sit and wait for the irregulars to show up!
Monday, March 10, 2008
Saturday, March 8, 2008
As that first deflected shot somehow ended up in the Newcastle goal, closely followed by a nice second, I knew Keegan was sunk, he knew it himself though he was still going to be forced to endure another 45mins from the sidelines.
As I smiled at poor old Kev I started to wonder what his life is like when he goes home, how does he manged to sleep after a game like that, when which they had played ok until the first goal and then folded. I also started to think about my first week with FC Kennington in the FML beta so far my team had played really well and won much more than it had lost, even though I did not really have a 'star player' in my team is football management really as torturous as Keegan makes it look?
As the 3rd Liverpool goal went in, and my Federation game window grew closer I decided it was time to stop watching and start my federation matches, you know show Kev how things are done. I should point out that confident football manager player are not usually words I would use to describe myself, I prefer to manage a small unnoticed team and toil away for many thankless years trying to give the team a bit of glory. So as I logged into the game knowing that according to the FML ranking system I was now the second best team in my qualification group, I was starting to believe my own hype, and thought lets give these kids a lesson in football management.
What happened next I can only describe as the curse of the Keegan.
I started off with a game against a team which was doing pretty poorly so I though I should be good enough to win (I wasn't!). In the second game I was playing an early high flyer so I did not know what to expect, as it turns out he had signed a star player (Wagner Love) who gave me a torid time and I slumped to my second defeat. I was starting to get quite deflated (more Avram Grant like than Jose Mourinho), I decided to play the guy with Wagner Love in his team again (just to get it out of the way) but somehow conspired to beat his team quite convincingly Love had a poor game and it seems under those conditions his team were a lesser force. With my fourth match against a guy living up to his team name (he had just beaten the top team who then stopped with all the banter and disappeared offline, Oh dear!) I managed to win a tight game and felt we were closely matched.
At this point I should of logged off and cut my loses for another day my team was doing ok, but my lone striker Gomis was not playing great, I should have just left the fed matches alone or played a few friendlies to see if I could sort my team out. Alas like the gambler chasing his losses I wanted to play just one more game to try and get the 1 more victory so I could claim my night was a success. Up next was a team called Toxteth Tigers, I had never played this team but their rank and run of recent results suggested I should have the upper hand. The first game starts and I go 1-0 up, playing well making chances I felt I was right to have that one more game... come full time I have lost 2-1 having 18 shots on goal to Toxteth's 3! I could not believe I had lost I was totally shocked. To deal with occasions like this on fml you can set your online status to do not disturb which means other managers cannot challenge you. This gives you time to regain your composure and perspective chill for a minute, decide that your losing streak is not going to end tonight. I on the other hand did not do this as I sat there stunned Toxteth sent my a challenge to play our second match, I could not resist the temptation to right a footballing wrong!
However by this time I was not thinking straight the panic had set in I started to make strange choices in both tactics and player selection, I was starting to feel very much like Keegan at this point. Had I walked away I would have known the way I was making choices would only lead to defeat and I really regret playing that last game last night. I lost 1-0 and played very very poorly. I now felt completely deflated (again) and the chances of my qualifying for the Premier league of my federation have probably died out.
So as I stood there last night doing the washing up replaying the games I played and the bad choices I had made I had the distinct feeling that the fml honeymoon period was over and that I would be in for a difficult federation season this was probably very much how Keegan was feeling at the same time too though I bet his hands were dry.
I should lastly point out that all the fed games were played against really great guys we had some good banter and it was all very light hearted, and if any of you ever read this I do wish you all the best of luck!
Friday, March 7, 2008
Thursday, March 6, 2008
So knowing I had a new player and also knowing that new players usually arrive lacking match practice, I logged on to try and blood old Goran before lunch. I had time for one friendly at to be fair Goran played a bit like a man possessed, I bought him to stabilise the midfield, but the guy must have just watched the new Rambo film as he was battling away in enemy territory, trying to score and felling my opponent. This type of high intensity football in a player lacking match practice cannot last and as his influence wained in the second half he was rested to fight another day. The only other notable player was Gomis, I have been slagging him off since I signed him and today he seemed to want to prove his worth and actually put in a good performance. I was quite happy with this test on my new boy in the system until I discovered that the guy I played it was his first game ever on FML. (see picture 2)
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
This means pre-season will last 1 more day. In preseason you generally play as many games as you want, and there are two ways to do this. The first is to click on find opponent this takes you to a wizard but basically you play a friendly against someone else in your game world who is looking for a friendly. At the minute there are so many users that taking this route will have you playing in seconds. The second option is to either create and join a cup or tournament in which you specify the number of rounds, group stages, entry fee (although lots of these cups are free), game times etc. the second option is a lot of fun as group stages and two legged matches can be really exciting, though you have to commit yourself to be online during the specified cup times, which for me at the minute is not possible. I will leave you with 2 more screen shots the first is my results list to show you how many games I have been getting through and the second is shot of a custom tournament to show you what I mean by that