RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Saturday, July 1

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: Stoke City F.C.

(Stoke City fans harassing Wayne Rooney years ago)

[25-Man Metaphysical Roster is a football dork methodology meant to establish a listing of players who have been most active for English Premier League teams in their past 100 non-friendly matches. Essentially, it is calculated by minutes played, but weighted towards most recent games. The end result is a listing of the 25 players in a team’s recent history who have had the largest hand on their metaphysical sporting trajectory. The English Premier League was chosen because it is the highest level of football played in an English speaking country, and I speak English. Also, it is what comes on TV here in the USA, where I fucking live. And yet still I should clarify I hate English, and also America. Thus maybe I hate myself. Should I not fail in maintaining my unpaid deadline, a new 25-Man Metaphysical Roster will appear on the 1st and 15th of every month.]

July is upon us, unleashing the corporate chaos of transfer season is full blossom of ridiculous financial figures which only seem to be growing more insane. Whatever though. There are legitimately only six clubs in the EPL who have legitimate power roles, and those are the ones who shall contend for European football moving forward. Of course, the past two seasons have seen clubs from without the European football window (meaning no Champions or Europa League) with Leicester City coming from nowhere, and Chelsea recovering from Jose Mourinho running them into the ground the previous season by being able to focus on the EPL and run away with it last season. Will some club outside the top seven do that again this season? Who the fuck knows, but probably not. But I’m not here to speculate about all that, mostly just trying to maintain my first of da month it’s da first of da month (and fifteenth) regular routine of dropping another one of these damn thangs on the nowhere that is my dark corner of the internet (but not deep web, just shallow web, but not algorithmed out maximum style). What I know about Stoke City FC? I like their kits, the striped red and white joints, and they’re called The Potters, which is better than what it could be. But beyond that, they’re not one of the biggest clubs deserving of my anti-corporate born loser contempt, and they’re not a direct rival to my beloved idiot Swans of Swansea City, although I guess Stoke City occupies that same realm of lesser but potentially good but also potentially relegated clubs, which shit, that’s about half the Premier League. Right? Anyways, here are the 25 men who metaphysically and mathematically have had the biggest roles in the past 100 non-friendly competitive matches by the Stoke City Potters of Stoke-on-Trent, England, Premier League, Earth…

#1: ERIK PIETERS – Dutch left back who’s been consistently their go-to guy since 2013, but caught shit last season for falling off his high horse of supporter esteem. Thus, the Potters starting that easy talk of getting a teenager challenger/support player to, ya know, just prepare for the future (aka either motivate the fucker or give the club enough promise of an excuse to let the veteran go).
#2: MARKO ARNAUTOVIC – Austrian winger who’s also been with Stoke City since 2013-14 season, when he came over from the Bundesliga. My personal familiarity with Arnautovic was the two minutes that the failure demons disappeared from Swansea City’s season last spring, and I knew metaphysics was on our side, as Arnautovic was about to take a PK which would have drawn Stoke City even at 1-1, and likely doomed the Swans to Hull City’s place in the Football Championship. But for some reason (metaphysics, the football Gods, whatever) Arnautovic bizarrely shanked it high, and then a minute later Tom Carroll lobbed a second goal over GK Jack Butland’s head, Swansea City went up 2-0, and went on to survive another Premier League campaign. He’s been Stoke City’s main point of attack, and should continue to serve that purpose, as other attack options they’ve brought in have all failed to live up to the potential hype.
#3: RYAN SHAWCROSS – Center back captain who’s pulled a decade of service with the club. He had an injury-plagued 2015-16, but came back strong last season, missing just three matches all season long, all competitions.
#4: GLENN WHELAN – Whelan, an Irish midfielder, will come up on a decade of service on Stoke City’s squad this coming January. He is however being linked to moves to both Derby County and Aston Villa, though this time of year, everybody is being linked to moves everywhere. I did an ego search of my own name the other day and saw I was linked to a potential move to Blackpool FC, as cover at left back. I had no idea.
#5: BRUNO MARTINS INDI – Porto defender who played 37 of 41 matches last season for Stoke City while on season-long loan. With him gone, they’re forced to go to who they already have, but if they depended so heavily on a loanee last season, one has to believe manager Mark Hughes not exactly keen on his back line entirely.
#6: GLEN JOHNSON – Aging right full back who just signed a contract extension to get even older in striped Stoke City kit. Has also appeared extensively for the English national team over the years, most notably in 2014 World Cup, where he fed a beautiful assist to shithead Wayne Rooney for their only score in 2-1 loss to Uruguay.
#7: JOE ALLEN – Welsh midfielder who brokes all of Wales hearts by going to Stoke City before last season instead of coming home to Swansea. Allen played his youth football there, and is Welsh as fuck (meaning he speaks Welsh, which is all you really have to do to make Welsh people happy as fuck about you, even though they teach it in the schools there now, AT ONE POINT THEY DIDN’T SO MOTHERFUCKERS GET HYPE, OKAY?). His only time outside of Wales at club level was his previous stint for four years at Liverpool, but he settled in well with the Potters, and it’s a good squad for him because he’s one of those players who can excel at middle of the table clubs and help push them into that 6th through 9th zone, but he’d get lost in the crowd at one of the big six clubs (as happened with Liverpool).
#8: GEOFF CAMERON – AN AMERICAN BOY, and one who has made the very rare jump from U.S. college soccer, then from MLS to Europe, as usually they fall backwards to the MLS. He’s been midfielder for Stoke City since 2012, and despite missing a chunk of last season with knee injury, signed an extension in May. He’s a serviceable enough midfielder by EPL standards, but he’s not challenging Joe Allen for stardom or gonna contend for a captain’s armband any time ever, but just by being a steady presence in EPL for a few seasons, he’s one of the USMNT MOST AMAZING PLAYERS AND A SIGN WE WILL CONTEND TO WIN THE WORLD CUP IN 2018, because really all you need is a halfway serviceable midfielder and an American birth certificate. We’re that fucking exceptional, ya bish.
#9: XHERDAN SHAQIRI – Shaqiri is young winger who has previously been in high profile clubs Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. But for me the most intriguing aspect is his Swiss citizenship, due to living there after immigration, though is was born in Kosovo to parents with both Kosovan and Albanian descent. Kosovo, of course, gained admittance to UEFA World Cup qualifying, which complicated group draws since that happened late, as the continued literal Balkanization of Yugoslavia makes all these national teams that *may * have conflict any moments, like when Albanian supporters flew drones with Albanian flags dangling during Euro 2016 qualifier against Serbia. Did Shaqiri have any interest in playing for the Kosovan team if he knew they could be part of UEFA? I don’t know. Looking at their national team roster, it’s a hodgepodge of Eastern European club players, with the occasional guys from second level of English or Italian football, or from prominent Dutch teams.
#10: LEE GRANT – Joined Stoke City a year ago on loan from Derby County, where he’d spent a number of seasons, and did so well they signed him on a permanent deal in January. With Butland returning in April, it is expected Grant will be back-up. Grew up a Watford fan, and attended their youth academy, so probably hoping for dream transfer there still too.
#11: JONATHAN WALTERS – Ode to the White Striker, meritocratic relic forced to maintain prominent role in English football due to racialist supporter base. At top of White Striker pyramid is heritage White Striker like Wayne Rooney, though perhaps transfer of Harry Kane directly to Manchester United creates challenge for top White Striker in England. Then of course you have the supporters’ faves like Jamie Vardy, because despite there being athletic excellence there, the drunken fuck can go “That could be you or me, Charlie!” And then holding down the bottom of the upper portion of the White Striker pyramid as visible in the Premier League is the Jonathan Walters level, where you’re good for a handful of goals every year, against other clubs more on your level, but you ain’t gonna break shit wide open for nobody no time soon. And you’re not gonna transfer to Galatasaray any time soon.
#12: CHARLIE ADAM – Midfielder now in his 30s who’s been holding it down for Stoke City since 2012-13 season, but starting to get lost in a more crowded midfield. There’s been rumors (look at all these rumors, I can’t take it no more) of him returning to native Dundee to play for his hometown club, which follows earlier links to a Rangers transfer. Dundee makes sense if football was only about being happy, but this motherfucker probably gonna keep getting an EPL paycheck for another season, unless they send him off.
#13: MAME DIOUF – Senegalese attacking winger that as I looked at his club history, made me sad about football, as young west African kid possessed of the football blessings heads off to Europe and after a couple of Molde seasons is snapped up by Manchester United as they acquire and stockpile raw gems just for the sheer decadent fuck of it. Over the course of four seasons, he makes five appearances for Man United, before being cast asunder. I mean, he landed in the Bundesliga for two years, and did really well, which is how he ended up back in EPL with Stoke City, but his productivity at scoring has steadily declined. I guess he’ll inherit more time if Walters does leave, but seasonal goal contributions trending down (12 to 5 to a single goal last season) suggests if anyone goes, someone else might come. How the fuck do you end up washed up feeling at age 29? You sit on the bench at one of the big Manchester clubs and have your football passion sucked right the fuck out of you, that’s how.
#14: PETER CROUCH – Supporters complaint about the Potters is that they are old as fuck, and only getting older. Nobody on the team is older than Crouch. (That may or may not be true, but he’s an old fucker, and goofy as shit looking too, like if you made a British version of Shaggy from Scooby Doo but one who kept his hair well-trimmed yet looked just as stupid somehow, due to the eyes I guess; and I don’t feel like double-checking this “fact” because likely there are three people reading this. Hi Paul. Hey Jude.)
#15: JACK BUTLAND – Regular GK for Stoke City who missed big chunk of last season with fractured ankle which had originally happened in March of 2016. He was their player of the year for 2015-16, so his return this past April was more than welcome, although Lee Grant did well enough in his absence. Butland’s also the GK for the English team, moving into probably starting role there as well, as he’s a young fucker.
#16: PHIL BARDSLEY – Defensive member of Stoke City’s aging posse. Before coming to the Potters, Bardsley spent a long stint at shitty Sunderland, which would sully anybody, and before that did a five-year stint technically contracted to Manchester United but it just meant they loaned him out all over the world.
#17: PHILIPP WOLLSCHEID – German defender who spent all of last season on loan back to Germany, for Wolfsburg (the team with those ill ass green VW kits), but he got suspended early on for fighting with the manager, then had tinnitus surgery, and finally came back to play for their second team before making about a half dozen appearances for Wolfsburg finally at the end of the season, helping them narrowly avoid relegation out of the Bundesliga. Contractually, he’s back with Stoke City, but it’s hard to imagine his position is secure.
#18: IBRAHIM AFELLAY – Dutch fucker of Moroccan descent who has been injury plagued since joining Stoke City in July of 2015. Got knee injured in April of 2016 which put him out for 8 months, returning day after Boxing Day against Liverpool last season. Performed well enough to get a contract extension in March, but then fucked his knee up again in April requiring another surgery, thus his future is on the shelf until he regains fitness post-rehab. Also of note is he is a Berber. The Berbers will rise again, fyi.
#19: GIANNELLI IMBULA – Belgian defensive midfielder who came over from Portuguese league February of 2016, and has performed horribly, and the club is planning on dumping him off as soon as they can.
#20: MARC MUNIESA – Sexy young Spaniard defender who came up through Barcelona youth academy, and played extensively for Barcelona B from 2009-2013, but never broke through with the A team. Muniesa’s role increased the second half of the season, and he is one of their younger players, so it’s hard to imagine him being allowed to get away, but links sending him back to Spain are out there. Again though, it’s July, everybody is rumored to go anywhere.
#21: BOJAN – Spaniard with Serbian bloodlines who was not finding playing time at winger/forward under manager Mark Hughes, and got loaned to Mainz 05 the second half of last season, who were at the bottom of the Bundesliga table. He scored against Bayern Munich, making him one of only seven men to have scored in the top leagues of England, Germany, Italy, and Spain. Has been promised a chance to continue to have role with Stoke City by Hughes, but who the fuck can trust managers.
#22: RAMADAN SOBHI – Young Egyptian winger (only 20) who previously spent his entire youth and club career with Al Ahly, which is one of the more amazing club stories in all the world. The rivalry – both in terms of football as well as culture – between Al Ahly and Zamalek in Cairo is like if you made River Plate/Boca Juniors rivalry highly political as well. Has not as of yet scored in EPL, but did cause Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson to deflect a cross into an OG. His club future is still to unfold, but he is seen as Egypt’s next big scoring threat. Thus far, in both 2017 African Cup of Nations as well as World Cup qualifying thus far (Egypt leads their group), he has played tertiary role behind Mohamed Salah and Abdallah Said, but if they gain qualification, perhaps next summer in Russia will be his breakout.
#23: SAIDO BERAHINO – Came to Stoke City from West Brom this past January, after failing to impress and losing clout there. In 13 appearances for the Potters, he failed to score though, and a drug suspension previously having been served was revealed as well. Still only 23, but there’s swirls of chaos around the young Burundi striker, so this is likely important season for him to either settle himself or become nomadic football vagabond forever.
#24: JOSELU – Joined Stoke City two seasons ago, but spent all of last season loaned to Deportivo de la Coruna in La Liga. Currently telling the press that standard thing players who could end up anywhere say, that he’ll work hard to perform well for Stoke City, or for wherever he goes, because you know football kayfabe.

#25: WILFRIED BONY – When I first fell in love with EPL fascination, and Swansea City specifically, it was when Wilfried Bony was in top form, before Manchester City came swooping in. The few months when Bony was leading the league in goals was amazing to watch, because his technique was so west African, so impossible to stop when he turned it on. It has made me sad to see him waste away in Manchester City contractual stagnancy, and after causing nothing but problems during his short time at Stoke City, his options look even more limited this season. But nobody’s gonna pay what Man City paid for him (it’s a lot), so they’ll have to find a sucker somewhere on this Earth, perhaps in China, likely in Turkey, who will take at least a fat chunk of the wage bill. And Bony’s only fucking 28. Corporate football will eat motherfuckers up, and most people who might accidentally read this would blame the whole thing on Wilfried himself. Brexit MAGA ass bitches.

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