It wouldn’t have been right to have introduced you to The Versus Series without trying it out for myself first would it?
To start off I thought I would lay down the challenge to Ed from the Deep Lying Podcast. Firstly, if you haven’t listened to DLP yet, get some headphones glued to your ears for a day to catch up on all the episodes you’ve missed. Secondly, if you have been listening, you’ll have heard Ed waxing lyrical about his all-conquering Stoke side. He’s won the Premier League and Champions League with them. Could my domestically-successful-but-not-yet-doing-anything-noteworthy-in-Europe, Morton side upset the odds and come away with a result? Read on to find out!
Before you do anything though, you need to export your current team and get the Versus Series match set up. You might well already know how to do this, but if not, first off, head to your squad screen, and hovering over Players opens up this. Click on the bottom choice, ‘Export Team for Versus Competition’.
Arranging the time to face off is always going to be the tricky part of any of these Versus Series matches. Ed and I added each other on Steam, and arranged things from there. One of the other potentially tricky parts to this might be the setting up and finding of the online Versus competition. With a bit of playing around and patience, it’s easily done. Stick with it, and it’s worth it. It’s pretty self-explanatory once you’ve had a quick look around, and I’m sure you’re all avid FM players that you’ll be able to work it out, but if not…
That’s enough of that. If you’re having issues, give me a shout or post on Twitter and I’m positive someone will be able to help you out.
Back to the good stuff. FMSamo versus Ed from the DLP. Greenock Morton versus Stoke. Let’s have a look at the starting line ups.
Just before we get into this, another caveat (early excuse) is that I was in a transition period between the end of one season and the beginning of another. My incoming free transfer of Mikkel Duelund hadn’t even arrived yet! All the signs pointed towards an Ed victory.
Anyway, my starting XI. The big man, Milinkovic Savic in goals, with a back four of Morton stalwart Kavanagh, Scottish starlet Willis, the ever-solid Humphreys and recent January arrival, Tyrone Mings at left back. Arsenal youth product and future Morton captain, Isaac Hayden protects the back four, and allows everyone’s signing of the season, N’Golo Kante, and major coup of the club, Lucas Andersen, to roam free. On the wings, both Swiss newgen, Kern (who I’d later sell in the summer in a £14m deal) and Ryan Christie are inside forwards with the aim of cutting inside and getting up to support lone striker, Portuguese newgen and the striker I love to hate, Bernardo Brito. He started the season awfully, but then ended it with over 2o goals.
We’ve all heard about Ed’s Stoke side, but we haven’t seen it until now. What a team. Full of the must-buy players on FM16.
Rulli in goals behind an, slightly weird albeit strong looking, English back four of Kyle Walker, John Stones, Calum Chambers and Aaron Cresswell. A flat midfield four sits infront of them, Leroy [In]Sane on the left, a central pairing of the Romero brothers (are they actually brothers? That’d be pretty cool. I’d check, but you know, I’m writing this. Anyway, they’re both utterly immense), and a hot prospect newgen, Jevdjovic. Playing in the hole, another phenomenal player, Angel Correa, just behind yet another phenomenal player and one that needs no introduction, Gabigol.
Quite frankly, Ed’s Stoke team is frightening and is far superior to my Scottish Premiership side.
In the introduction post for the Versus Series, I outlined that one of the areas for discussion could be where do you see your side getting any joy up against the opposition? My answer for this match, I don’t. With that confidence in mind, let’s see how the match went.
It didn’t take long for Stoke to find their stride, after less than a minute, there was 2 clear cut chances on the match stats board. Jevdjovic beat Mings on the right, and crossed for Gabigol. It looked like it was going to be a definite goal, but all 6 foot 8 inches of Savic in goals kept out his shot, and then outrageously kept out Correa’s follow up which looked like a certainty to put Stoke into an early lead. Warning signs.
After 9 minutes…
Ed’s newgen right winger skipped past Tyrone Mings again on the right and hit the byline. Our DM, Hayden has pulled across to close down and help out, things don’t look too dangerous in the middle though. Gabigol and Correa are being picked up by our central defenders, with Kante having dropped back in, and Kavanagh well placed to pick up the opposing left sided winger. Things don’t always go to plan though, especially with a player like Gabigol in the box.
Jevdjovic fires the most dangerous of crosses into the box, and Gabigol makes his move, beating all defenders to the ball and hitting the back of the net. 1-0 Stoke.
But then, something remarkable happened. We equalised.
The ball broke just inside our half to Brito, who spread it nicely out to Kern on the left hand side. He’s playing as an inside forward remember, so he’s drifted slightly inside. This gives Tyrone Mings (he seems to have been involved in everything so far) plenty of space to bomb on down the left.
Another cross, another goal. It wouldn’t be a match on FM16 without at least one, would it? Unfortunately it’s wasn’t my much maligned Portuguese striker that got on the end of it though, it’s Ed’s right back, Kyle Walker. 1-1 at half time. Pleasing for me, but most probably frustrating for the manager in the opposing dugout (/living room sofa).
The second half went much the way of the first in all honesty. My Morton side were having the same troubles we’ve been having in the save in Europe. Really struggling to assert ourselves on teams with a higher calibre of players. Domestically, I know we can compete, as the treble in the 2020/21 season more than proved, but we aren’t there yet when it comes to beating the European heavyweights, and I’d class Ed’s Stoke side as one of those.
They regained the lead in the 58th minute. A throw in on their left hand side this time, Mings not involved surprisingly, Cresswell receives the ball back and fires a cross into the box. It looks like a simple clearance for Hayden but, uncharacteristically, he miscontrols it in the penalty area and the ball falls straight to…
The one person in the opposing team you wouldn’t want it to in that situation. Gabigol grabs his second of the match with a really nice finish into the opposite corner. Poor mistake from Hayden gifting them a completely avoidable goal.
Ed’s Stoke then wrapped the game up 10 minutes later. This time from just a simple set piece. Versus mode obviously doesn’t give you the option to train your team on defending set pieces before a match, not that that would have made a difference here anyway.
Cresswell floats a simple corner into the danger zone where you’d imagine the ball would either be cleared by a defender, or my 6ft8 goalkeeper would come and claim it. Nope. Gabigol completely loses whoever was man marking him, and is all alone just inside the 6 yard box to head the ball into the back of the net and to complete his hattrick. Game over and the final score read, Stoke and Ed 3 – 1 Morton and me. How did the match stats look?
As you’ve probably guessed by now, it was the right result. Stoke dominated and we didn’t create much in the way of actual chances at all.
I’m a very superstitious FM player, and constantly feel there’s little nuances to the game that always seem to happen. Yes, I’ve already admitted that Ed’s team is considerably better than my Morton team, and if a smaller team goes up against a bigger team in real life, they’re going to be up against it, for sure. But on FM, you see it all the time, and none more so in European matches, which I alluded to earlier. We’re the best team in Scotland, which you could argue isn’t hard (!), but we’ve done nothing in European competition yet, constantly outclassed. Suddenly your tactic becomes void and the players make more mistakes. That happened in this match too. I’ve never seen Hayden make a mistake for my Morton side yet, but he’s suddenly miscontrolling a ball in his own box, or Gabigol is suddenly completely unmarked from a corner for a free header in the 6 yard box. Like I said, I’m very superstitious, and I know there’s plenty of real life examples of this happening, but it just irks me!
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed your read of the first ever match in the Versus Series. You can read Ed’s version of events here. I hope they encourage you to go aand make a challenge to someone else in the FM Community. Who fancies challenging the mighty Morton?