Well... if you thought Fifa 09 was something, you'd better believe me when I tell you that Fifa 10 goes that extra mile you never thought it would!
The Demo left me with a mediocre feeling about the game, but of course - if you're a true Fifa fan, you'd have bought the game even if there were any doubts.
Well, I've been indulged in the new authentic (and upgraded) Manager Mode. I decided to go local, and go for the "build your way to the top" scenario with Southend United.
The team started with a really average performance, and I was struggling to scrape a point on Professional difficulty in the Coca Cola League 1.
I'd already created a Virtual Pro, and E. Richards (me) was one of the brightest stars in the pack. Though he was only slightly above the rest, his performance was constantly crucial. Despite his low stamina, due to frequent use, he would always put a 5 star performance in!
I exited the Carling Cup very early on. My first match was against Chelsea, which was a mighty tough challenge for my poor team. We were put down by Penalties. I shrugged off the loss, and looked onwards and upwards.
I eventually won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, sinking Dagenham and Redbridge in a classic final. It was very one-sided.
Later on in the season, I defeated Liverpool in the FA Cup Semi-Final. It came from a very unexpected 120th minute winner. E. Richards provided the crucial, crucial goal that avoided the Penalty Shoot-Out that took us out of the Carling Cup months ago.
So we had a little bit of momentum for our side, and soon I could feel a dramatic improvement in the team, and its performance collectively. Despite low fatigue, every player put 100% effort into every game. And E. Richards started racking up a list of goals.
Soon, Southend United were in the home run for winning the League. Huddersfield had played a very great season, but eventually our consistancy prevailed, and as Huddersfield dropped vital points here and there, we were well clear of any threats. And soon, we could confirm we'd won the League, but we still had to play for pride and practice.
We did just that, only drawing one game, before winning the rest to finish on 124 points. Scott Richards (Me as Manager) was delighted with the emphatic win. I'd won the Boards confidence long ago throughout the Season. I'd won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, and I had an FA Cup Final to look forward to, in a last effort to bring home some silverware to the club. And of course, we won the League, which placed us in the Europa League next season. It also meant we'd been promoted to the Coca Cola Championship next Season!
The FA Cup was on course. Manchester City had defeated their rivals Manchester United in a stunning derby. That left them against me in the Final...
The first half was full of back and forth action. We looked favourable to score, but each attempt was cut down by City's defence. A few good efforts were seen off by City's keeper too.
Soon enough, the first half had ended goalless, and we went in at half time level.
The second half began, and I brought a tired Betsy off, and replaced him with Chrisophe on the right wing. We were deep into the second half, and I brought on E. Richards for Laurent, who'd scored a few good goals at the closing of the Season, but hadn't managed to produce anything spectacular today.
It was the 70th minute, a Andy Grant, my fresh Central Defensive Midfielder I'd never used was blossoming. And he was really showing off his potential to me! I have a fond memory of him carrying the ball out of defence, taking deep strides, and having yards of space where City's defence couldn't get back in time.
Soon, he was pacing up towards the left wing, to take the ball past a few Defenders. E. Richards was running ahead of him, and as he stepped on the gas, the pass from Grant had sent him behind the defence, and one-on-one with the Goalkeeper on the left hand side of the box. He cut inside on his right foot, and tried curling one past the keeper into the bottom-right. SUCCESS! Wembley Stadium erupted.
We were 1-0 up against City in the second half, but we had all of 15 minutes to play (plus stoppages), and City were coming at us with everything, seeking for an equaliser to spoil our afternoon! Despite strong possession, and attacks on our goal, we held on my the string of a thread, and before I knew it, Grant was carrying to ball out of our half again...
Grant took it down the left, and Richards was waiting for a pass down the centre. Richards ran into the box, and as Grant passed it into the centre, Richards beat the Defender to the ball, and slid along the ground to poke the ball passed the Keeper, into the bottom right corner. 2-0! Wembley erupted again, as this time Elliott Richards had hit the back of the net in the 90th minute to confirm victory! Would you have it any other way?
The final whistle was blown, and City held their heads down as Southend United celebrated an eventful and historic win, and another addition to their silverware since Scott Richards took over as Manager this Season!
Scott Richards had gone from a half star Manager to a 3 star Manager. This emphatic win meant that Southend United had won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, the FA Cup and Coca Cola League 1, meaning a promotion to the Championship.
Over the Summer, Scott Richards agreed to staying with the club. I also made a number of signings. I'd been left with a £5m budget after such a successful first season, and my first purchase was Seydou Doumbia. An Ivory Coast Striker, who played for Hearts in the Scottish Premier League. He cost a hefty £4.8m, which left me pretty skint to say the least.
After simming a few of my Friendlies, and selling 3 useless Strikers for about £800k each, I earnt a little more cash to spend. Noticing my need for a new right winger, I searched for the fastest, and most skilled winger I could find. I ended up snatching myself a bargain. Alossio Sestu. An Italian Right Winger, who's pace is incredible. He cost me £1m, which left me with a bit of cash left over.
I knew my defence was pretty tired, and I had fewer substitutions for my defence than I did for my attack. So I searched for another pacey defender. I snatched another bargain. David Limbersky. A right-wing back whose pace is also incredible. He cost a mere £800k. I very intelligant addition to my now revitalised squad.
I played a few of my first games of the Season. Starting off with a 90th minute winner. An unconvincing, yet satisfying victory. New signing Doumbia wasn't playing this match. I decided to try and use my strikers legs before I find an excuse to use him.
After 2 matches, I decide it's time for him to make his debut. And what a success he was! His runs, and tactical awareness is unreal. And his pace coupled with those features to make him a perfect striker! He was tearing apart the Championships defence! He scored several goals in his opening games, but eventually he grew tired, and I decided to sit him out for a while.
I forgot to mention my FA Community Shield match against Liverpool! We met for the first time since the FA Cup Semi Final, and it was just as boring. Back then, we scored a last minute winner in Extra Time to avoid Penalties. This time around, we went to Penalties with a 0-0 draw.
Dirk Kuyt didn't set a good example for his side, hitting the Post for the very first Penalty of the shoot out! Nobody missed from then onwards, until the final Penalty taken by my Left Back Hert, that Pepe Reina saved, and put us into Sudden Death.
Many more Penalties were scored, and Reina thankfully kept going the opposite way to me. Finally, I saved Skrtel's Penalty. And in the long build up to my final Penalty, I scored to win the match 8-9 on Penalties. A promising start to the Season. Some more Silverware added to Southend United's trophy cabinet, in a match that Southend would probably never usually be in!
I'll keep you posted on how the rest of Season 2 goes. We're currently 1st place, after 10 games. The League is tight, and we're waiting to break away from the pack in the early race to win the title! We're still contending for the Carling Cup, defeating Fulham a mere 1-0 after a goal in the First Half of Extra Time. At least we're through to the next Round!
And we're still going after our FA Cup again, after defeating Newcastle confidently, at 3-0.
And to top things off, we won our first two matches in the Europa League. The first being a 90th minute winner by Doumbia against AS Roma! A lucky 1-0 victory there.
The second being a resounding win against a "nobody-team", which we won 4-0.