I don’t know about you, but I’m one of those people that can watch and re-watch a good YouTube series more times than I can count. And I ain’t changing for nobody!
A creator of multiple inventive FIFA series in his time, Spencer Owen (‘Spencer FC’) really did something with ‘The Zarate Kid’. Treating us all to a format which morphed the randomness of FIFA packs with the satisfaction of seeing out a ‘Career Mode’, we were all collectively introduced to the player right at the heart and centre of the action.
The focus for this innovation (and brilliant title, might I add) was ex-West Ham United and Argentina striker Mauro Zarate. At the time, the forward had signed a three-year contract with the Hammers (though he would only end up serving one), which was music to Owen’s ears – who’d been waxing lyrical about the once-wonderkid’s talents long before he wound up at his favourite team. So, all in all, it was a series tailor-made for the ex-Copa 90 personality.
On the game, the digitised version of Mauro Zarate had some of the most definable hallmarks one needs to be successful … on FIFA. He was skilful, difficult to keep up with on the turn and had a finesse shot as delicate as his knuckle ball was firm. Certainly an arsenal of skills that Spencer more than worked with throughout the filming of ‘The Zarate Kid’ – with his ‘Ultimate Team’ improving in stature game-by-game as a result.
Though, where Spencer could use FIFA Points to improve the team around the Argentine to make better use of his abilities against stronger opposition, Mauro Zarate was somewhat left out of most forms of ‘comfort zones’ when his real life self was put in front of the Upton Park faithful in the big, bad world of the English Premier League.
Historically a competition ‘not for the feint of heart’, the game has come on leaps and bounds to accommodate for players cuter and less restrictive than those who triumphed in times gone by. And so it appeared to be, when Mauro founds some space in the opening game of the 2014/15 season against Queen’s Park Rangers, before unleashing an impressive half-volley from distance to confirm a 3-1 away win.
However, what should have been the lighting of the torch in what would turn out to be a great period of Mauro Zarate’s career in London – not too dissimilar from another Argentine who set the stadium alight during his time there – he was set to learn a lesson about how difficult it is to incorporate juxtaposing systems in football.
Making a name for himself in that ‘Trequartista’ position every self-respecting Football Manager gamer knows and loves, ‘The Zarate Kid’ was most comfortable when deployed in that ‘do whatever you want, just get us into the penalty area’ position with his eyes set firmly on the opposition goal. In fact, his preceding (and most successful to date) campaign with Velez Sarsfeld serves to confirm his preference on the football pitch.
But, as we know, our game doesn’t work like that. Sometimes you are made to work within a system that doesn’t work for you, and that’s what ultimately stifled Zarate’s time in claret and blue. Where not even a relegation-threatened spell with Q.P.R. could fix it. Because that fixes everything, right? No? No.
Alas, Zarate wouldn’t go anywhere near the heights he achieved with EA and Spencer Owen for the 2014/15 season. But his name will go down in e-football folklore thanks to his mere affiliation with West Ham and how that enabled Spencer to go ahead and give him that right. All’s well that ends well, right?