(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


Not much to tell.

Add to Technorati Favorites

Monday, December 26, 2011

FIFA 12 -- Achieving Goals

I once spoke at a professional seminar, and the topic of creating balance in one's live and having diversions came up. It was a very driven group, so I got their attention by talking about how you can always figure out how to achieve goals on a given day -- even when everything can go haywire at the office.

I told the group that after a long day I would go home into the kid/man cave in the basement, put in the FIFA soccer game (then on PlayStation, but now we have an XBox) and play a very good English Premiership team (usually Arsenal) against a League Two team, play at the amateur level (there are five levels, and amateur is the lowest) and then win something like 12-0. "So," I offered, "if you can't achieve any goals at the office, you can go home at night and score tons of them in this video game." You probably had to be there, but I recall that the audience laughed at my suggestion. Given all of the connectivity we have and the fast pace of the world, I think that it was hard for them to find diversions. Or so it seemed.

Now I have discovered one of the best video games there is -- "Manager Mode" in FIFA 12. Basically, you get a team and a salary and a transfer budget, you get to sell contracts of players, buy them, loan players to other teams for experience, hire scouts to sign teenaged prospects, offer them contracts for the big club and then run your lineups. Players have a bunch of grades -- overall excellence, some subgrades for about 6-8 difference competencies depending on their position and then are evaluated on a color-coded system for morale, energy and form, and they can get suspend for red cards or accumulating too many yellow cards, and they can get hurt. Translated, if you play a 4-4-2 formation, you'll need 2-3 goalies, 9 defenders, 8 midfielders and 5 strikers to get through a season, plus a bunch of junior players whom you loan out to other teams, either with the hope of playing them in your rotation the next season or, alternatively, selling their contracts to create more funds to purchase more or better players. You also negotiate contracts and have to be sure that you have enough budget at all times to extend contracts (or not). Finally, you'll get emails from the ownership about your performance and from players asking for more playing time or telling you that they're tired. And, yes, you'll see newspaper headlines about the major leagues in the world.

Put simply, it's a comprehensive game, and here's what we've learned. First, you need a very solid back line. Sure, you need to score goals, but if you have shutdown defenders the way the NFL has shutdown cornerbacks, it helps. Having one of the best goalies in the world is helpful but not essential. Then again, the top teams's goalies typically rank among the world's best. You need all sorts of players at midfield at up front -- defensive midfielders, playmaking midfielders, speedy wings and strikers who can create shots in very little space. It's probably good to sell players' contracts when they hit a certain age, and it's wise to sell a player for whom you get a significant over-market bid if you are not the best-funded team, because you can parlay that money into 2 or 3 key signings that can help fortify your team. Most goalies and defenders don't sell for as much as young, playmaking midfielders (among the up-and-comers, the Dane Christian Eriksen and the Brazilian Lucas) and strikers with significant potential (Man City's Mario Batelli and Chelsea's Romelu Lukaku come to mind).

As you can see, the realism and the combinations of activities are captivating and a worthy diversion from the rest of your day. Your career can go for 15 years, after which you'll get an e-mail from your management congratulating you on your retirement -- in 2026. At that time you'll still be coaching against Man United's Sir Alex Ferguson, who will be a chipper 82. I took Man City in one simulated career because of the oil money that fortifies the team and won 13 premierships and 12 champion's league titles (hint: it helps if you play the games yourself as opposed to simulate them, because typically you'll fare better). By 2026, when I had a bunch of youth squad players whom I had developed into regulars, the game retired me.

It's a great way to learn the international game, who the key players are, who the established stars are and who the up-and-comers are. During that career, I was offered the top jobs at Inter Milan, Juventus, Athletico Madrid, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Schalke 04, Borussia Dortmund, Newcastle, Arsenal, Paris St. Germain, PSV Eindhoven to name a few. Okay, so perhaps I'm just a kid at heart, but it was fun playing games in the large stadiums with English announcers talking about the pitch, using the word "nil" for zero and marveling about my team's patience and passing ability.

Check out the game yourself -- set goals for yourself as manager, score a few, while you're at it, and have fun. And tell me if you think that this is a good team:

GK -- Manuel Neuer
RB -- Subotic
CB -- Pique
CB -- Hummels
LB -- Criscito
RCM -- Wilshere
LCM -- Bale
CAM -- Fabregas
LW -- Balotelli
ST -- Neymar
RW -- Lukaku, with, among others

Ramsey, Gourcuff, Song, Acerbi, Benedetti, Walcott, Sturridge, Baumann and others on the bench.



Anonymous klaas said...

Great post. I'm in season 2023-2024 with Club Bruges. Your squad looks nice, mine is very different. I worked a lot with my scouts. In my youth academy there were 3 top 5-star scouts who were permanently in scandinavia scouting for talents. Scandinavia usually gives me big, strong and fast players. I found a LB, aged 16 with a rate of 73. Also a striker of 70, left and right winger and many others. They all developped in top players (86+). If you use the scouting well, there is a lot to discover. But you really have to be patient.

I dislike when players ask to leave. This is usually provoced by offering a new contract in the beginning of the season. The best thing you can do is: sell the player and buy him back asap.

Retirement at 2026 is a bit silly, too early if you ask me. All the hard work you've put in a team, comes to an end.

Great post and keep up this blog

2:06 PM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Thanks, Klaas.

It may be that in my next FIFA life, I'll take a team trying to fend off relegation and do what you have done with Club Bruges.

We've developed a few strategies. First, sell players out of your league if a team offers (way) above their market value. Second, sell a star on a lesser team for a big price and parlay the proceeds into 2 or 3 pretty good players. Third, scout well as you suggest. Fourth, if you really want a difference maker, you might have to overpay (for us, that's been someone like Gareth Bale or Romelu Lukaku). Fifth, add some over-35 veterans for low prices to populate the end of your roster. I had Ruud van Nistleroy on my team and, after a bunch of injuries, he scored 2 goals with a "71" rating to help me clinch the Premiership and then 2 more to help win the Champions' Cup. And then he retired.

At any rate, it's really a fun game and a good distraction from everything else.

Keep on playing!

10:09 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home