This is part of a series of shorter posts recapping some of the more whimsical aspects of 2011, and not necessarily having to do with any of the main topics covered by this blog.
To many out there, the whole idea of Stoke City represents everything that football should not be. The Britannia Stadium where they play seems to always be cold and wet at night even before having to face a team of 11 huge men who are thought to be technically limited and only excel at the physical aspects of the game. No doubt it can be effective as they have not been involved in a relegation battle since promotion to the Premier League and seemed to have adjusted to playing in Europe at the same time.
Symbolically, there is more to this picture than Stoke managing to keep their place in the top flight, rather they are a contradiction personified. Take this joking phrase for example:
Barcelona couldn’t do it on a cold, wet night in Stoke.
At this point, Stoke are both the underdogs and the team bullying plucky little Barcelona. That would be the same Barcelona who are arguably the greatest technical team ever assembled. There’s nothing wrong with their approach, though, as it is within the rules and it is effective enough to stop even some of the best teams from imposing their strength on them.
Stretching that thought out just a bit to the world that I normally write on, success is measured by income rather than quality of the work. In this case, the Stoke equivalent would be a series based entirely around marketable characters with the plot itself being a a secondary concern. There’s also the massive franchise that has broad appeal, who have already won the marketing game but are reaching out to make more money. Finally, there’s the new series which tries to go the third way with a focus on putting together a quality story first. Usually, the 2nd example will continue to rack in more money, the first will manage to just about make a profit. With this all being zero-sum in terms of money available from consumers, the third way almost always loses out.
So in conclusion, marketability will just about do for succeeding commercially and unadulterated physicality can keep you up in the top flight.