There’s something eerily strange about playing old sports games. Picking up and putting in an EA game from a couple of years back is tantamount to rubbing shoulders with the ghosts of the past, with names and faces that are both familiar and at the same time disconcertingly out of place.
I’m not quite sure what it’s like for your own team, but down at White Hart Lane there has been a reasonable amount of player turnover during the last few seasons. As new managers come in so do players that suit their style, and a broom is swept through the dressing room to remove those that don’t have a place in the new regime. Last minute transfers can play havoc with a developer’s nicely tuned roster but a season’s worth of change leaves it a mere shadow of its former self.
Spurs seem to have it worse than most, though. Despite only being FIFA 09, last year’s edition, our default starting line-up was ajudged to be Darren Bent and Giovani Dos Santos, strikers who are now plying their trade at Sunderland and Galatasaray respectively. The Sunderland connection continues with appearances from both Fraizer Campbell and Alan Hutton making the squad, with Didier Zokora, currently playing for Sevilla, playing alongside them.
The squad is completed with Chris Gunter (now of Notts Forest), Kevin-Prince Boateng (Portsmouth), John Bostock (Crystal Palace), Jamie O’Hara (Portsmouth), Adel Taarabt (QPR), Ben Alnwick (Norwich), Hossam Ghaly (Al-Nassr), Ricardo Rocha (Portsmouth), Paul Stalteri (Borussia Mönchengladbach) and Dorian Dervite (Southend). In fact, out of the whole squad of 30 players, only 11 are still with us this season. And do bear in mind this is only last year’s game.
When so many changes have been made, it’s hard to take the team seriously. The sense of playing a part in your club’s virtual success is soured by the history that has since been made with the players you are now making dance to your will. That star striker that left you citing his intentions to “take his career to the next level” is more likely to be plunged into dubious and red card inducing challenges. That defender with the now dodgy knee might just skirt the edges of the action as you resisting to urge to send him into the heat of battle for fear of recreating that career ending tackle.
Play as a team from a foreign clime and all might be well, but it seems easier to pick up SWOS and examine the Totttenham Hotspurs line-up of the early Nineties than it is to turn the calendar back just 12 months. It’s all too easy to see how EA keep making their money.