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Mercurial Mentality; Boot and Brand Bias, Signs and Symptoms

Mercurial 1998

The Nike Mercurial; since their initial introduction in 1998 gracing the feet of Ronaldo (not Cristiano), they have been the most popular series of boot on the market – only rivaled by the Adidas Predator in terms of success. As far as I can see, there are only a few things that set these boots apart from the rest such as their fit, comfort (not in terms of the Superfly) a unique stud configuration and the simple fact that they grace the feet of many top performers.

They are currently worn by players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eden Hazard just to name a few. They are geared toward pacey players (forwards and wingers) but can often be seen all over the field. They are also very flashy and streamlined, which gives them a very sleek look and vibe. I’ve had the chance to wear the Vapor V and they did not leave a lasting impression on me. Then there was the Miracle III, although I found them to be enjoyable…for the most part. Honestly, I still can’t see why the series is so idolized other than the fact that they are used by some of footballs greatest.

This article may make a few of you angry but lets face it, there are many good boots out on the market and the Mercurial is only one silo that is priced at a exaggerated price point.

Nike Mercurial Collection

After seeing the Nike Vapor VIII win the SoccerCleats101 Best Boot Bracket 2012 despite their glaring durability issues (I’ve heard of dozens of cases where the upper rips, tears or separates), sharp and awkward stud configuration (I’m not at all comfortable using them on turf or hard ground) and easily stained upper has shored up my belief that they are the most overrated boot series of all time in addition to the most popular.

My main question here is whether or not their popularity has mislead or even brainwashed some into becoming loyal or in some cases fanatical about the Mercurials. I noticed this a lot in following the voting war of the best boot bracket that there was a lot of hostility on the part of these “Vaporheads”. Here is one of the less offensive quotes by a Vaporhead with poor grammar railing on the adiPower predator.

Vapors are awsome Adiddas are peices of (insert naughty word here) that shouldnt even exist they are way to expensive for a peice of (insert another naughty word here).

There are also people who have amassed obscene collections of Mercurials, hording them and not even using them regularly. This behavior is classic consumerism and Mercurial fanatics are falling hook line and sinker for that mercurial mentality.

Nike Vapor Heel Crack

I tried many times to get a pair of Mercurials on eBay but they were always overpriced (even when used I’ve seen the low tier Mercurial Victories sell for $50 and that was used!) or fake. The boot that I see the most counterfeits of are the Vapors themselves. I think that this “Mercurial Mentality” has blinded those who use them to their obvious failings such as durability in many of the past and current incarnations. One thing that is extremely negative about the Mercurials is that the top tiers are ridiculously overpriced and still have many kinks and areas that need to be worked out, for example the Superfly.

Originally selling at around $450, the Superfly III is the most expensive football boots ever and people line up to buy them despite the fact that they are only .2 ounces lighter than their vapor counterpart and they are also very difficult to break in. Bryan had a lot of trouble breaking them in and getting them to work for him, I can only compare the break in and price tag to an extravagant form of torture. In my opinion, the $450 price tag should mean a breeze to break in, durable enough to withstand an atomic bomb, give you top notch performance and put the ball in the net for you.

I know that Vapors were and are still top dogs on the boot market but there are several other top tiers that are just as good if not better. I would hate to think that people are missing out on experiencing the right boot because they are busy using the most popular boot. I admit that testing out the Miracle III has been a unique experience (I’ve thoroughly enjoyed testing them out but there are many things that don’t sit right so testing is still going on) and I have to agree that there is something special about the Mercurial range having used the Vapor V at one point. Frankly, they don’t necessarily deserve the shower of praise they have received for what ever reason.

Nike Vapor Up Close

What it all comes down to is opinion. There are many Vapor crazed people who will stay by the Vapor and miss out on all the other amazing boots on the market simply because they don’t want to try out anything new or change but there are also some Predator fanatics who are just as bad (though the Predator LZ has been making some waves with Pred fans). Many are also brand loyal, Nike fans in particular scoff at Adidas, Puma, Umbro (which was recently owned by Nike) and any other brand not “Nike”. You can’t say a boot or brand sucks if you haven’t tried them out yourself.

I’ve been seeing the same thing happening with the Hypervenom. Nike’s ad campaigns designed to hype up the Hypervenom by using Neymar like they have used CR7 is turning the Hypervenom into the next over rated boot on the market. I might even use the recent miadidas vs nikeid colorway competition as an example of this. I already see people starting to hoard Hypervenoms! Sure, many people want to play like Neymar or CR7 but you aren’t going to get that way by hording boots. Nike is an expert in this area and capitalize on it with each special/limited edition release, just look at the latest buying frenzy we saw with the GreenSpeed or the significant Vapor IX SE. A boot is never worth more than $300 but closer to $100 in my opinion.

Vapor XV

Most players go with what they think is popular and what they see their favorite footballer wearing rather than what is the right boot for them which in turn effects performance (like I say the boot doesn’t make the player but it can still have an impact how they play). I would rather have a boot that fits my foot, style of play, gives me consistent performance and don’t fall apart on me. I for one like getting my feet in as many boots as possible and finding the ones that give me the best output and I’ve run into boots that work or don’t work for me from every brand. Some of the more unsavory experiences have been with some of the most popular boots. So, if you ever give advice to your friends on what boots to get or if you have to get new boots yourself don’t just follow the crowd, follow your feet.  This behavior has been called out by rapper Macklemore in his single “wing$”

The song “Wings” is about the pursuit of identity through the means of consumerism. The attempt is to dissect our infatuation and attachment to logos, labels, brands and the fleeting happiness that is intrinsically linked to the almighty power of the purchase. The subject I use in the song is shoes, but its aim is to paint a broader picture of being a consumer and tracing the lineage back to my first memory of retail infused desire

I know that I may have offended some but my goal was to inform and get people to be a little more excepting of boots other players choose to wear or are considering purchasing. Get out of your comfort zone and find the boots that make your game the most enjoyable! If the boot that works best for you just so happens to be the Vapor then stick with them, same goes for the Predators.

If you have anything to say about the topic leave a comment in the comment section.

About Jim Gauthier

Jim is a a licensed massage therapist with a vast knowledge of anatomy and injury. When he is not healing people with his magical abilities, Jim's goal is to provide everyday players with in-depth knowledge from an amateur players perspective. Find him on his Facebook Page for any personal questions or injury help!

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6 comments

  1. ozil wears preds and demspey wears hypervenoms…

  2. You have a lot and very valid points here but it's kinda harsh criticism considering you haven't tried the vapor ix but hey you're the one who's posting on a soccer cleat review website and not me. But I completely agree with what you said with the superfly. But I am by no means a vapor fan boy but they are my favorite to wear out of the 10 cleats I own currently. I found them very comfy and the touch they provide are quite amazing. Although I haven't tried the new adidas predator lzs I just got in.

  3. Thank you!! I want to say this targets more of the younger players when it comes down to buying cleats. It's because it's nike, or cause of the crazy colors. Don't get wrong Adidas fan can get like this too but one thing I have always told my cousins who are young and becoming great players is what you said earlier, follow your feet not the crowd. Look for comfort and durability. I stick with Adidas and the preds but like you said the new ones kinda throw me off. I do how ever wanna try CTRs/legends/ the new Nike ones that are like copas. As well as umbro pumas

    • The nike premieres are freaking fantastic. So are the tiempos! They are so comfy! And I’ve had them both since they were released. (Tiempo ivs)

  4. Personally I have never worn a pair of Mercurials long enough to say I like or dislike them. What I can say is that although I am not a boot reviewer, I have worn boot reviewer amounts of boots when it comes to different brands. Personally the only shoe that I have and will always have is the Copa. I tried them for the first time this summer and I think it is clear that I need them in my bag at all times. However just because I wear the Copa as my go to cleat when I cant get comfortable in other boots, doesn't meant that I have a biased towards adidas. Me personally, I have a biased to who ever is going to produce a fantastic shoe. For example in my current (and smallest collection) collection of boots I own the Diadora DD-Eleven K, Puma EvoSpeed 1.2 L, Puma V1.11 K, adidas F50 adiZero in leather in the Euro 2012 colorway, adiPure 11Pro 1's, Concord Techno K, Concord Aston K, Two pairs of Pirma Monaco Win, and a few more.
    As you can see I don't even own one pair of Nike's, but you also can't say that I am biased. I think people should really learn to open up their minds and take a chance. I have done this many times, and to be blunt, there are gonna be chances that you didn't like taking. However it is important to find your best boot.

  5. You've definitely hit something, though I think it extends beyond vapors, predators and hypervenoms. I think there are a lot of people that have very different kinds of rigidity. For instance, I've noticed the following groups too:

    1) F-50 fans: Basically the same as the mercurial mentality, but it allowed a silo to go multiple iterations without any real improvements or changes (the new Samba Adizero is a welcome departure from that).
    2) Boot "purists": Insist on wearing nothing but Kangaroo leather, and oftentimes black Kangaroo leather at that. It's fine to like certain colorways, but it seems silly to me to believe it effects your performance. Kangaroo leather is certainly a good material, but it has its drawbacks and there is nothing wrong with trying new things every now and then.
    3) Copa Mundial fans: A specific subset of the boot purists, these people believe the Copa Mundial is the be all and end all of boots and all other boots should be judged by how similar they are to the Copa. These people oppose bladed studs, different colors, newer materials, etc. simply because these things are not on the Copa. It's a nice boot, but innovation is also good.

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