"But could he do it on a cold, rainy night in Stoke…"

I’ve dabbled in games over the years, going through phases. I might get stuck into a few open world games a year and then watch as my interest slowly fades. I’ll try and play some First Person Shooters with my brother and get slaughtered enough times that I’ll rage quit for another year. Some days I’ll get a sudden urge to buy a Nintendo, crack open a fresh Poke Ball and start another journey. Eventually I’ll forget to keep playing and my poor Pokemon will be without a Master.
There is one game that I’ve always played consistently (not always well) and religiously. Fifas 2002 through to 2019 have been bought, played and well and truly paid for. Starting off on my Playstation 1 with no memory card, myself and my brother would play Fifa 2002 morning, noon and night. Due to the lack of the aforementioned memory card we would get up, immediately start a season of the Premier League or the World Cup and play through until we were knocked out or won the tournament. Normally we were knocked out.
We graduated together along the years, playing every single Fifa game up until Fifa 20, crossing enemy lines by buying the Xbox 360 before coming to our senses and finally settling on the Playstation4. I have a feeling I haven’t played either Fifa 10 or 11 but the rest have definitely passed through our various consoles. This year, though, we didn’t so much hang up our boots as keep them in the year 2019. I don’t have the same desire to play as much as I did in previous years. The new game wasn’t bought and we’ve made do with the outdated version from this year. The love for the beautiful, virtual game was gone. That was until tonight.

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Rooney and Ronnie

Having grown tired of constantly choosing Manchester United and leading them to glory year after year I finally decided to change it up. Fifa ’06 changed the game for one year only as you couldn’t choose any of the top, top sides. You had to earn it. I chose the boys in blue from Merseyside. Rooney was my favourite player and he had come from Everton. They weren’t a supremely talented team but they were solid and looked the best of a bad bunch. Also, Fifa ’06 was an extremely tough game. It was hard to score and easy to concede. That meant that every victory and point earned was a mighty battle won. James Beattie was my new favourite player and Alan Stubbs and Leon Osman became heroes of mine. Everton were my second team. Of course, you’re not supposed to have a second team and United are my true love but I have a soft spot for Everton and Goodison Park. I thought that I might try and find a new team to add to my list of favourites.

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Leon Osman, James Beattie and Andy Johnson.


I delved a division deeper and trawled through the 24 teams for my chosen vessel. Who would I guide through the murky waters of the Championship? Would I go for a team that I didn’t really know or would I go for one of the top contenders for the title? Aston Villa looked tempting but after United drew with them recently I couldn’t stomach it. After much thinking I settled on Stoke City. Tony Pulis’ once rock solid defensive unit had just been relegated when the game came out. A mix of youth, experience and untapped potential lay within their ranks. I felt I could make a winning team out of this freshly demoted squad.

I didn’t really look at the squad before I picked the mighty Stoke. Jack Butland, one of England’s best keepers, manning the goal gave me a solid start. Pieters at left back with Ryan Shawcross and Ashley Williams as centre-halves looked solid. Joe Allen, the Welsh Messi, stood out in midfield. James Mclean and Tom Ince pushed out wide with Benik Afobe heading up the attack. That starting 11 looked promising enough for a Championship side and the bench looked every bit as good.
Saido Berahino, Mame Biram Diouf and Peter Crouch were an odd triplet of strong substitute options. Bojan and Ibrahim Affelay also looked a little bit too good to be on the bench, but we all know what Bojan is like in real life and I don’t fully trust the Barca reject.
All in all, a good squad with a big enough mixture of young and old to see me out to the Premier League in our grand return: Premier League 19/20: StokeBack Mountain….

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Jack Butland

I can already see some future problems. While there are some technically gifted players in the squad, Fifa’s fitness levels are ruthless. It is quite an old squad too and I’m going to have to raid the youth of the Premier League if I am to have any chance of not petering out straight away. I shouldn’t think too far ahead but I am fairly confident that I will get promoted somehow this season. How will I get on in the world’s most competitive league while probably still relying on Joe Allen and Charlie Adams?? I mean, it’ll be a bit of craic, anyways.

Every Tuesday and Thursday I will update with how my squad is doing and how I am faring on my road to the Premier League with an aging Stoke side in World Class difficulty. I have decided to try parts of the below challenge. A top four finish will be difficult but with the great Mr. Manager on the case I’m sure it will be fine.

Interesting….

I'm a Statman!

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100 posts! Well, this is the 101st post but I have surpassed 100 posts! God, this would have been so better if I made this my actual 100th post instead of putting out that money diary. Well, at least that got some likes and some interaction on Facebook. I guess that shows that I’ve still got a lot to learn in this blogging game. ‘Coz I’m going to the top and I’ll stop at nothing to get there. And by nothing, I mean any slight convenience that manages to make me doubt myself. Nerds.
Anywho, I’d like to run some stats by you guys and put them into context with my effort levels and the lessons I’ve learned as a result. Sit back and enjoy the self deprecating ride.

Stats

  • My work has been viewed 4’004 times since I created the blog. 4’004! If we bear in mind that I rarely posted at the start and could never be accused of being consistent with my uploads, I’d say that’s pretty good going! An average of 40 views per post which isn’t outrageous but it means something to me, dammit!
  • 2’862 people have visited my site and read some of my work. They might have accidentally logged on when looking for a Rathpeacon themed lead singer of a travelling band but they’re still counted here!
  • My posts have been liked 270 times. Not an awful lot when you look at it compared to the amount of views but that figure has increased six fold over the last year. If only it went one better and I could have made a pun about Avenged Sevenfold. Ha. Music.
  • Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress have been my main outlets. My Twitter views went up by 25% this year while Facebook and Instagram views both went down by about 20%. I found it odd that Facebook was down but then again, I’ve been very sporadic.
    As well as that, my Instagram views went from 76 in 2018 to 62 in 2019 and I stopped pushing my blog on Instagram back in May. Perhaps I need to revisit that medium.
  • My writing has been viewed in 54 different countries. Madness. Among some of the more obscurer countries to glance upon mine tomes are Hong Kong, Kenya and Madagascar?! Manny and the boys reading my blog and they jungle animals and all, ha? Movies.
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Lessons

  • I think the most important and glaringly obvious lesson I should take from this is that I need to be more consistent. Myself and my girlfriend looked through my activity for the year and I’d be great some months to churn out posts and articles and then other months I might post one? Sure who is going to care and click in if I’m constantly starting anew?
  • I also need to write more. I can’t just post once a week and let that be that. I have had great ideas that have slipped by because I’ve been too lazy to give myself a fair chance of developing as a writer. Maybe I have a distinct style that will one day make me millions. Until then, you guys are stuck with me😎
  • I should write what I want. I know that if something isn’t working and is getting no likes then why bother, some might say, but if I’m enjoying writing the odd piece about United and more movie reviews with the odd sarcasm filled opinion piece then so be it. It is my blog after all and Sandra got the kids in the divorce so THIS IS ALL I HAVE, ARE YOU HAPPY NOW SANDRA???!!
  • Oh, I lost the run of myself there, my apologies. Sorry kids. Daddy loves you. Mommy is a lovely woman who is certainly not a whore who I caught with the milkman. I mean the milkman, for Christ’ sake, Sandra. Although, maybe I’m the fool for thinking….wait a minute….hold the phone….Fernando was never a milkman was he?
  • My life’s a lie. Stats are lies. Love is a lie.
  • I tend to skip the editing process and just hope I got rid of anything I didn’t mean to write.
  • I sporadically post instead of posting at the right times, like when people are on lunch. or commuting home from work. Will work on that.

Thanks

On a semi serious note, thanks so much to everyone for reading the blog. Whether you read it whenever you see a post or you’ve read it once and never thought about it again, I thank you. I definitely thank my regular readers more.
To all the bloggers on WordPress who are sharing a similar journey to mine: You are all so talented and I need to practice remembering to hit the like button because I genuinely enjoy so much of your work.
To my friends who read and support me: Thank you, you don’t understand how much I appreciate the help and support.
To my girlfriend who supports me and advises me: I love you to bits and would be lost without you.
To Brie Larson: I think you’re great and would love to meet up sometime.
To my girlfriend once again: Totes lol JKs, Brie who? Love you, boo.

Here’s to a great Christmas everyone. Happy drinking and happy writing!