Status update: automatic resize disabled

There is nothing much to say about. WordPress silently added an image rescaling functionality without any configurable UI. It automatically scales uploaded images when it thinks they are too “big” and thus “unoptimized for SEO”. The Football Manager game logs therefore have blurry images, while the Europa Universalis ones didn’t, because they were uploaded before the update that brought this functionality.

Here is the complaint: shouldn’t the default behavior be as straightforward as possible, and leave tasks like SEO to dedicated SEO plugins? That way, people who doesn’t care about SEO (like me) won’t need to worry about anything.

To make things worse, WordPress still keeps the original big images. There is just no button to use them. They just sit in a purposeless back store, wasting the space for no purposes. Speaking of which, vanilla WordPress should spend more time on media management, like, allowing me to organize my images with folders. Just a few years of Football Manager is already a chore, and I can’t understand how can people use WordPress as actual photo galleries. That is an area I am not comfortable with plugins, since I feel it is tightly coupled with all underlying mechanisms and is best not touched by any outsider.

OK, back to topic. I added this to my subtheme.

add_filter( 'big_image_size_threshold', '__return_false' );

Problem solved, but it’s a problem that should never appear in the first place.

Football Manager 2019 Shinnik Season 9

After an eventful Season 8, the game (and the player, that is, me) never ceases to excite!

In short, I set a very high seasonal goal, then brought in many free transfers. It turned to be a disaster: the free transfers took too long to merge in the squad, meanwhile dragging down the team and complaining about lack of first team opportunities at the same time. By the time I mostly sort out the problems, I had little time to turn the tide.

Players

Transfer-In

Evert Bijlsma (free tranfer). One of the top performers. Had I not have the other future star, Semenov, He would have been featured even more this season.

Alexandr Novitskiy (free tranfer). A solid goalkeeper that started most of the games. I am still not sure it is the wisest move to spend a foreigner slot for a goalie though.

Régis Chevallier (free transfer). As belligerent as his name (“King Knight”) sounds. Started the season extremely poorly, by getting himself a red card twice, and both times happened at the beginning of the respective games. However, he improved a lot in the season and by the end he seemed a reliable choice between him, the unhappy Hansen, the inconsistent Leovac and the injury-prune Capanni.

Sontje Hanson (free transfer). A real world Ajax production. Plays well as a striker, plays well as a shadow striker. Only problem, I thought I gave him enough time to play, but he didn’t agree. Sold as quickly as possible to reduce cost and avoid unsettling others. Overall, he is part of the sad story of this season.

Andrey Ivannikov (free transfer). Became the third choice for shadow striker after Bijlsma and Semenov, but due to being a Russian he has more chances to feature. Still, not as good as expected.

Raúl Gutiérrez (free transfer). Doesn’t complain but never get going either.

Viktor Claesson (free transfer). He had played in the Russian league for years, spoke good Russian, and thus almost immediately become a team leader upon joining. However, his preferred tactical role (a left-wing Raumdeuter) isn’t part of my default tactics and making way for a short term sign feels weird. Ultimately, I can’t figure out how to use an offensive player without pace nor stamina, besides as a super sub. He wasn’t flattered by the super sub idea, so another unhappy guy in the locker room.

And, probably due to his high status, the first time I heard he was unhappy he was already complaining to all players. The second time, already to the reporters. There was never a chance to settle this privately…

Alexandr Tashaev (free transfer). Screenshot taken at the end of the season. Another unhappy guy who quickly signed for another club. Admittedly, despite the scouts’ low opinion for him I should have him start a few games to see what happens. He was decent in the cup games he played.

Finally, Godfred Donsah (€300K) during the mid-season break. He scored a goal in his first Shinnik match, but afterwards, disappointing. He wasn’t unhappy yet, but there is always the danger…

Besides these, I signed lots of young players with good mentality but lacks ability or potential. Alexandr Kalinin (free transfer) might be an exception as he looks like at least a good backup player.

Transfer-Out

Berezov (€5.5M) was angry because I promised European Championship but only qualified for a qualification round. Andrea Marcucci fetched €115K, which still puts us at a loss because he was never good enough to play.

Hansen, Claesson and Tashaev have transfers arranged already.

Youth Intake

I sign young players for both high potential and good mentality. But there are nobody with good mentality this year, so I only signed the top three players.

Yegor Ryzhov. He turned out to be one of the top performers of the senior team, scoring one goal and contributing one assist in his 4 starts and 1 game as a sub. Now he is a fairly professional player whose stated goal is “feels the team has more potential and wants to help them realize it”.

Dmitry Galperin. Has the potential, but the casual personality is going to be troublesome. Imagine this: other guys are training hard, while this guy finds a corner in the training room, and plays Football Manager 2019 on his laptop! He even spends more time writing about what happens in his game on a blog, than improving himself!

Vladimir Kirillov. Short poacher-type strikers seem to be over-represented among generated young players. In other words, they get generated often but seldom make it to senior teams. I am usually not impressed with how single-dimensional they are. But Kirillov has heading and teamwork, so it might adds something to him.

Matches

European competitions were a disaster for us. In the Championship qualification round I met Sporting Lisbon, then in the Group Stage of the Europa League I met Chelsea. It always felt like uphill battles.

The domestic league was a mystery. At times I was four games behind top teams due to schedule problems. The team was at times ranked 7th or 8th but it was all bad statistics and offered little insight, but it prompted the club management to give me one final month for improvement. Thankfully, the month was packed in action and the team happened to be in a good run, so the improvement goal was easily reached. Then another poor run saw us ending up in the 5th position and missing out European competitions.

Player development

Semenov has been excellent in training and saw major development in key attributes. His actual performance leaves much to be desired though…

And Ryzhov… who only joined the team for half a season and already made a difference.

Few of other players have very notable developments.

Concluding Words

So the game is in its 9th season and it is ever exciting — now I escaped the board’s decision to fire me, but they remain unhappy about this season and I am now in a dangerous position.

Two seasons’ (mis)management left me a squad with a curiously high person count but still have a few positions (right winger, for example) seriously lacking. There are much work to do next season, and the allowed margin of error is narrowing…

Football Manager 2019 Shinnik Season 8

Yep. Another season. A season with the best results so far. A season with the worst events so far.

Seasonal Changes

The game engine has been criminally underestimate our income for quite a while. As a result, during the middle of the season I was unable to extend the contract of any player. The other teams seized the opportunity and bought players from me using the minimal price clauses.

As a result, multiple important players left.

Also, the season was marred by multiple terrible injuries leading to players resting for 5 months each. I had to buy players to cover the vulnerable positions. This was the theme of the season.

Transfer-in

Season Start

Igor Demenko (€1.2K)

Arsen Megamadov (€190K) was signed to replace Novichikhin since he has a better personality. Unfortunately, his ability turned to be low, which made him not very influential and instead he was influenced and soon changed to be a Fairly Professional team member.

Denis Dorokhov (€1.5M). He was signed because we were severely lacking in the left midfielder position. On one hand he was the last straw to the (imaginary) dire financial situation, on the other hand he was about the only left winger I would rely upon during the season.

Sergey Frolov (€1.3K). Signed for perfectionism, but again, without reputation or ability to quickly establish oneself in the squad, one would only be negatively influenced by the team and turn into yet another Fairly Professional player…

Mid-season

The mid-season window was one I lost lots of important players. So there were panic buys.

Danijel Goreta (€250K). Screenshot at the end of the season. Probably the future star, but foreign players tend to take longer to blend in.

Victor Yerastov (€1.2K). Screenshot taken at the end of the season. The goal is to add some flair to a mostly defensive group of midfielders, but he was unable to add to the team in this season.

Andrea Marcucci (Free). Probably shouldn’t have signed him.

And Magomed Smolkin (€1.1K), an attempt to sign a youngster before the scout reports. Which was a failure.

Transfer-out

Koleinn Birgir Finnsson was unhappy about the number of matches to play here. He left the team.

The mid-season fiasco began with an irrefutable request for Khetag Khosonov (€2.2M). Then Béla Horváth (€1.6M). Then Magomed-Shapi Suleimanov (€8.25M). I also used the time to sell Maxim Churkin (€450K), Alexey Litvinov (€120K) and German Novichikhin (€725K).

With only half a season in Shinnik, Khosonov still won the Head Coach’s select award.

Youth Intake

We have some good players and professional players, but not both. In comparison, Aliev from the last season was much better.

Some of the better players:

Vyacheslav Larionov

Radik Abdurakhmanov

Andrey Samoilov

Hasan Smirnov

Maxim Iljin

Season Summary

The season begins with the Russian Super Cup, a single match between the league winner and the cup winner. It ended up in our favor.

The Russian Cup, we were not lucky and drew Spartak Moscow in Eighth Final and lost. In Europa League we made it to the quarterfinal and lost to Arsenal. Ironically the eventual winner was Wolfsberg, which we encountered in the group stage and beated them on goal differences.

Finally, after a very long winning streak and a very long streak of not losing, the last few games were played rather poorly, and even a win against Dinamo Moscow in the last match was not enough for us to bounce to the top.

End-of-season awards and statistics.

Voronin and Kukushkin won the best player and top goalscorer for the B-team respectively.

Player Development

Nikolay Yarkin. Due to Horváth’s departure and Pinto’s injury, Nikolay Yarkin turned into a very important team member. His primary position is still right fullback, but his ability to play on both wings helped a lot.

Isaev and Berezov continued to improve, but they probably hit their potential limit now.

Ditto for Capanni, who had a very good season.

Mikhail Semenov, Mikhail Aliev and Ruslan Popov are able to start matches, albeit only occasionally.

Unfortunately Alan Yuriev mostly worsened.

And Pinto, plagued by injury, was also setback.

Concluding Words

It goes by the famous quotation “it’s the economy, stupid”, that without a solid financial foundation, the success won’t last.

Ironically, due to how economy is modeled in the game, perhaps the best way to stay financially stable is to stay in the European Championship as best as I can. The prize money would probably be my single major income source for the future years.

For the squad, it feels weakened when compared to it was one year ago, but it also felt that we no longer have particularly weak or vulnerable positions. Left fullback is probably the most problematic position now, but a healthy Isaev would suffice.

Also, now I am with a transfer budget larger than I ever had, it is time to look for useful additions to the team.

Football Manager 2019 Shinnik Season 7

Another few months have passed without me posting anything about the Football Manager game. During those months I was generally very busy, and when I wasn’t, I was playing MTG or No Man’s Sky.

Still, I actually left my Football Manager save game at the end of Season 7, so it is time to quickly document what happened in the season.

Seasonal Changes

Transfer-in

Mikhail Yegorov (€2.7M). He instantly became an important playmaker. However, before he blended in the squad, he was influenced by the team and his personality changed to Fairly Professional.

Vladimir Moskvichev (€2.1M). Defensive midfielder is a position I rarely use in this run, but he was also useful in the neutral position. He also turned into Fairly Professional.

Magomed-Shapi Suleimanov (free). A good player, but does not perfectly fit in our current formations. Still, he contributed a lot in Europa League games.

Bychkov (€1.3K). A transfer for the future, but due to injuries he actually started a few games.

Nikolay Yarkin (€1.1K).

Kirill Andreichenko (€1.1K). Started a few games. Determination dropped to 14.

Alexandr Goncharov (€300K). He has good personality, but his height might be a problem if he were to be the first pick goalie.

Transfer-out

AC Milan came up with a offer for Branko Hustic, which immediately unsettled the star of the last season. Instead of trying to force him to stay, I opted to negotiate a good deal. It ended with €2.1M with extra clauses that could potentially raise the value to €8M.

Youth Intake

Let’s be honest: before I am able to persuade the management to increase youth coaching budget, I will not put too much hope in youth intake.

Still, the top ones look promising.

Mikhail Aliev.

Andrey Vasiljev.

Kirill Balakhnichev

Alexey Fedorov

And Mikhail Semenov. I failed to take a screenshot during the youth intake, so the following image is at the end of the season.

Season Summary

We finished the premier league at 4th, and will be able to play Europa League again. However, we lost significantly more games. Still, we are very above the expectations, and the results brought me another Head Coach of the Year.

And now, the whole team agrees that we should be a Europa League regular.

Despite the worse league position, we made progress on other fronts. In Europa League, we made it in the second knockout round, only to lose to Bilbao.

And we won the Russian Cup.

And finally, here are the end of season awards.

And seasonal stats.

Player Development

Marko Leovac had a good season, though his attributes only increased a bit.

Ditto for Maxim Berezov.

Luigi Pinto turned into a key player.

Luan Capanni had a disappointing season, troubled by injuries and poor form.

Maxim Chernyshov is the best performing player in the league this season, and he improved a lot as well.

Alan Yuriev broke into the first team, as a rotation player.

Béla Horváth regained some of the lost determination, and his addition of the left back position enabled him, Isaev and Pinto to coexist well.

And the biggest improvement is probably from Alexey Isaev, whose continued improvement makes the loss of Titov rather forgettable now.

Concluding words

The league feels more like a grind now — instead of top performance, what matters is avoidance of poor runs. I am not expecting huge improvements in the short term now, since luck plays a big role. However, I expect to see gradual improvements in club reputation, facility, consistency in performance and depth in squad.

…and they keep dying and dying

In the beginning, I had disk A and B. Disk A died. I bought disk C. Disk C turned out to be faulty. I asked for a return and for the same time I installed a small Gentoo Linux installation in my SSD. Then Disk D came as a replacement for disk C. I installed another system on Disk D and copied the backup from Disk C. Then I discovered that Disk C has bad sectors as well.

I will write about the messy situation later, but apparently it is time for me to place an order for a new drive E, as well as a new power supply unit as the current one might be the cause.

At least, they say bad things come in three, right?

Hard disk died

My hard disk drive had died yesterday. I bought it in late 2015, and it died after being in service for about four and have a year.

I was playing Football Manager, and suddenly I noticed a different noise among my fans’ cheering. After finishing the match and the cheering sound effect had stopped, I could finally determine the noise: it was from the hard disk drive! Feeling a bad omen, I immediately checked dmesg, saw various SATA errors, attempted to call gparted only to be notified that my /usr/bin directory is already inaccessible, and basically my system was alive only because of Linux’s aggressive caching…

Read more“Hard disk died”