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.

Tuesday, May 1

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

[an alley in a Stoke-on-Trent slum]

[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.]

This has not been a good season for Stoke City, who finished 13th last season, but could not find that middle of table form this year. Paul Lambert replaced long-time manager Mark Hughes in January, but has not sparked the necessary resurgence to survive, though there’s still a chance. With West Brom locked for the drop, Stoke sits as the lesser of five clubs looking at those last two drop spots, so they have an uphill climb out of the relegation zone. So it’s great I get to return to this idiotic project with them. (West Brom will be next one, on May 15, which is traditionally the cut-off point before I drop relegated teams from my dumb ass project. Lucky them.) [Also FYI I loaded up all the ones I skipped, but blurbless. That way I can pretend this thing has stayed complete while my life has been chaotic.]

#1: Joe Allen (up from #7 last time Stoke City was 25-Manned on 01-Jul-2017) – Wales’ favorite son was rumored to be going to Swansea last silly season but then Swansea office naturally fucked it up. Luckily for them Stoke likely going down so they already got Allen back on the table. Wolverhampton Wanderer Wolves already take the early lead, trying to splash their way back into EPL prominence (or at least mid-table solidness), so ol’ Joe gonna be re-situating himself again next season. But that’s okay, Wales fucked up on qualifying for World Cup, so he’s got time to look for a place.

#2: Erik Pieters (down from #1 last time) – Dutch left back who’s been holding it down at Stoke for a number of seasons, but of course, that means not holding it down so well this season. Been on a downward trend the past two seasons, but remains a fixture at the club because lolol that’s how shit goes for some clubs. His whole aura, despite Dutch heritage, is no longer blaze orange. (See Charlie Adam blurb below.)

#3: Ryan Shawcross (same as last time) – Imposing English center back who has spent a decade at Stoke City, and currently wears the captain’s band. In fact, Shawcross’s first campaign with the Potters was the 2007-08 season when they finished second in the Football Championship to gain promotion. Thus he will have seen both their rise from and likely return to the second tier of English football.

#4: Xherdan Shaqiri (up from #9 last time) – Shaqiri got one of my favorite names in EPL, and of course is Yugoslav diaspora guy, who plays nationally for Switzerland, where he landed as a youth, but is Kosovar Albanian, which means he probably loves Action Bronson. Also if that last sentence gets enough algorithmic data behind it, Action Bronson will likely make a song called “Xherdan Shaqiri”.

#5: Jack Butland (up from #15 last time) – After injury-ridden last season due to ankle surgery, Mr. Butland has finally settled back into the GK role Stoke City saw him owning after letting Asmir Begovic slide into other location. He’s actually not bad either, but sort of in that low level club high-level Englishman stage where he might get a few caps for English team, can hold a steady position with mid- to low-table club, but isn’t going to be anything more than that. I’d hope at this point an Englishman would be okay with that and not think he’s still entitled to colonial roughshod over the Earth.

#6: Mame Diouf (up from #13 last time) – Senegalese striker who spent time but never caught on at Manchester United, then was successful in Germany before coming to Stoke City and leading their African continent contingent (two Senegalese, a Cameroonian, and an Egyptian). However, he has never had a season like his first for the Potters, and though he has also been shifted around to non-striker positions as well. He is true Senegalese too, having started his professional career in Dakar, and most notably scored the winning goal against West Ham on the last day of the season in 2015-16, giving Stoke 9th place on the season. He dedicated the goal to his mother, who had been trampled to death during a stampeded during the 2015 Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

#7: Bruno Martins Indi (down from #5 last time) – The “Bruno” part is nickname from full moniker of Rolando Maximiliano Martins Indi, which is an amazing name. RMMI was born in Portugal to African parents, but moved to the Netherlands when he was three months old. I learned that from Wikipedia. A lot of times when I am lazy because this is a free dork writing service on a barely read website, I just look up this shit on wikipedia and make up some dumbass commentary. Of course that’s how 85% of all internet freelance writing is done anyways, and we’ll continue to see diminishing returns in actual knowledge base until eventually people will be trying to change the alternator on their car by googling memes.

#8: Kurt Zouma (previously #18 for Chelsea on 15-Sep-2017) – Zouma is a French center back on loan all season by Chelsea. Chelsea’s on-loan roster is a constant source of stupid commentary by football dorks who say something about how it’s wrong they have that many players on loan. I don’t really care. One day Chelsea will answer to the Wretched of the Earth. But where do men like Zouma fall? Are we to blame them and attack them when the global class uprising happens? Or are they just victims of circumstance? Intersectional theory gonna get complicated as fuck. I hope somebody builds an app to figure that out. (Lolol please don’t.)

#9: Geoff Cameron (down from #8 last time) – Not only the rare American sighting (go Amerikkka! hurry up and planned obsolescence yourself!) but also a dude who made it through the backwards and counter-productive American collegiate soccer system. But also he’s almost 33, getting less and less minutes on a relegation zone club, so likely to make a HUGE SPLASH coming to play for Minnesota United in MLS or some shit like that. No diss to Minnesota, but I can’t think of a worse place to come be a soccer pro in America, although hopefully their Academy team is full of relentless Somalians who give thanks to Allah every goal like Mo Salah.

#10: Peter Crouch (up from #14 last time) – A 37-year-old, 6-foot-7, English striker. ‘Nuff said. He will play forever in legends leagues.

#11: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – Possessor of long ominous name which sounds vaguely super heroic, except it hasn’t helped the Potters not appear to be about to be relegated, nor did it help the Cameroonian team qualify for the World Cup. He has not brought as much honor to himself as he did in Germany where he was born and raised. Why does he even have the #10 tbh?

#12: Darren Fletcher (previously #2 for West Brom Albion on 15-Jul-2017) – Old Scotsman who played over 200 matches with ManU before aging into downward trend through West Brom and now at Stoke City since last summer. Playing less so moving down this list from last time we did it.

#13: Ramadan Sobhi (up from #22 last time) – I got much love for Egyptian players going into the World Cup, especially on the heels of Mo Salah’s amazing run the past year. Sobhi is a top player on that national team as well, and Salah played in Egypt until the uprising caused him to relocate to European club as the nation’s domestic league was put on hiatus. Sobhi, however, came through Egyptian club soccer at top level there after the uprising, and was in fact in Al Ahly’s youth team through the revolution. Al Ahly and Zamalek SC are Egypt’s Celtic/Rangers (with Al Ahly playing the role of Celtic… hopefully that means something to you), so Sobhi is from battle-hardened good stock. In fact, it was he who scored an equalizer for Al Ahly in the first meeting between them and Al Masry after the Port Said riot in February 2012 where Al Masry supporters invaded the pitch and attacked people, allegedly because of how heavily involved Al Ahly supporters were involved in Tahrir Square protests that ushered in the revolution. Thus Port Said riot was sort of also Al Ahly’s Hillsborough, with 74 dead at Port Said. All this football metaphysics for a 21-year-old dude playing about half the time for 19th out of 20 Premier League club. FOOTBALL METAPHYSICS IS FUCKING DEEP.

#14: Lee Grant (down from #10 last time) – Lee Grant is the back-up GK who also filled in heavily last season while Butland was injured, and also helped end the American Civil War at the Battle of JD Vance.

#15: Glen Johnson (down from #6 last time) – Former Liverpool defender in his third season with the Potters but has been relegated to playing sparingly, and the window appears to be closing for the 33 year old defender. Always interesting in cases like this to see where the guy goes – does he take the relegation with the club, or try to bounce elsewhere in Europe (because doubtful he will be seen as EPL material, at least not one that plays), or what? But 200 caps at Liverpool in all competitions will be his career mark. (Also did they at one point actually get a cap? I am American, explain these things to me please.)

#16: Marko Arnautovic (down from #2 last time, also previously #14 for West Ham United on 01-Apr-2018) – Arnautovic had been a top star for the Potters before but joined West Ham last summer, where he has more than lived up to his negative reputation in Austrian football as a self-important fuck-up. Slaven Bilic couldn’t really do shit with him (or anybody) perhaps due to Serb/Croat conflict deep in their DNA, but when David Moyes came in, first thing he did was essentially say “lolol fuckin’ Marko gotta tighten his shit up.” Arnautovic’s recent form has been better, but that is for West Ham, and it’s taken a while, and been expensive, so Stoke City can’t be disappointed in letting him go.

#17: Charlie Adam (down from #12 last time) – Long-term Rangers boy back in the day, but in his sixth season at Stoke. Also played a couple strong seasons at Blackpool, a club most notable for having a cheap as fuck orange kit at classic football shirts dot something or other which ya boy the Dirtgod bought and looks fly as fuck in. It’s some weird manufacturer Errea, but looks good with some Tims and blaze orange socks. My whole aura is blaze orange, unless it’s electric lime green.

#18: Kevin Wimmer (previously #21 for Tottenham Hotspur on 01-Nov-2017) – Austrian defender who had been at Tottenham but never made solid impact in the starting XI with Spurs, so ended up at Stoke City this season, where he has mostly failed, and been catching extra shit from manager Paul Lambert, who came in to try and save the sinking ship in January.

#19: Glenn Whelan (down from #4 last time) – An old Irish midfielder who spent nearly a decade at Stoke and had over 300 caps in all competitions, but was sold to Aston Villa before this season, so made the transition to the Football Championship twelve months earlier than his old compadres.

#20: Moritz Bauer – Bauer first came onto the scene as a young farmboy in The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, before his breakout supporting role as a drunk mechanic in Stroszek. He came to Stoke City in the January transfer window.

#21: Badou Ndiaye – Part of a Senegalese national team that’s got West Africa hyped for this summer’s World Cup, and also a hero in Dakar because he legit got his start in African football before going to European continent. Impossible for me not to hear the “Rimshot (intro)” to Erykah Badu’s live album either, going “badou… badou… badou…”

#22: Saido Berahino (up from #23 last time, also previously #17 for West Brom Albion on 15-Jul-2017) – On one hand a kid from Burundi who was once chastised for having videos of him doing nitrous show up online. (I consider this a plus.) On the other he’s a christian who supports Manchester United in his heart. (Obviously that’s all very negative. Corporate conversion is late capital’s equivalent to old colonial religious conversion. Every time you see some poor Third World kid in a secondhand ManU kit, you should be sad.)

#23: Jonathan Walters (down from #11 last time) – Another guy who escaped the Potters’ sinking ship to Burnley, though he’s hardly appeared but that’s okay too because he’s an old ass Irish striker so he’s lived his life enough. Being mad at that would be like being mad at a 15-year-old black lab that leaks piss all over the place when sleeping on the floor… just be happy they made it this far, scratch them behind their ear, and enjoy their twilight.

#24: Phil Bardsley (down from #16 last time, also previously #21 for Burnley on 15-Apr-2018) – Bardsley was a Manchester United youth wonder, but never caught on with the first team, so spent 8 years in Sunderland then three at Stoke. Last summer he was saved by a transfer to Burnley. Also he is Scottish so it is important to those who read this that this is important to for me to point out his Glaswegian club allegiance lies with Rangers, where he spent one season on loan, and scored a single goal for them, which is like the mark above his metaphysical door which shall leave him banished to the dark side of the aether wars.

#25: Tom Edwards – Tom Edwards is last on the list, thus he gets minimal effort on my part. Sorry Tommy boy.

No comments: