Greetings soccer fans and Americans. As NBC has picked up the rights to all English Premier League matches this year and Yanks can now watch more matches than anyone in Britain (blackouts prevail) it seems like a good time to get other sports fans into a lather about a 2 hour game that might end in a 0-0 tie. Here’s how you too can get involved in the action:
Pick a team. There are 20 teams in the PL (1st division), the bottom 3 get relegated at the end of the season and the top 3 in the PL Championship (2nd division) get promoted. Only 5 clubs have won the title (Arsenal, Blackburn (a one-off), Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United). As Americans, no one cares who we support. If we had the misfortune to be born in the UK we would be bound to support our local club and odds are they would be horrible. The PL has 20 teams and London alone currently has 6 teams in it. Growing up in NJ, I had friends who were NFL fans of the Cowboys, Raiders, Broncos etc, in England you are a ‘plastic rent fanboy’ if you are a Londoner supporting a Manchester team.
Ferguson being Ferguson refused to apologize and Beckham being Beckham forgave him anyway. Ferguson hand-picked his replacement, fellow Scot David Moyes formerly of Everton FC.
Other top teams to consider are:
Chelsea – Bought 10 years ago by a Russian oil Mafioso who has paved the way for other worldwide oil barons, tycoons and Mafiosi who are wont to change the teams logo and colors on a whim after 120 years of consistency. He has pumped over $1B into this mid-level London side and turned them into Champions and perennial contenders. Chelsea have won 11 trophies in 10 years under Roman with TEN different managers. He recently rehired Jose Mourinho after firing him years ago mid-season after winning the title the previous year, Jose once referred to himself as ‘the Special One’ and has coached Porto, Intermilan, Chelsea and most recently Real Madrid, generally to huge success. Chelsea might win it all this year, they are a good team to be a fan of if you like to cheer on a bunch of bastards and villains as the apple doesn’t fall far from the Russian oligarch.
Arsenal (the Gunners) – This is a great London team to support if you enjoy past success and fiscal solvency. Led by the great Arsene Wenger, a French manager who is derided by opposing fans as Big Sesame Bird and ‘pedophile’ (for the record he is neither). One of his claims to fame is having coached the Invincibles in 2003-04 season. This team did not lose a single game and went on to win the title but also played ‘beautiful’ football which is very important to most fans who seemingly would rather lose playing ‘beautiful’ football than win ugly. This is another concept that makes bridging the gap difficult for Yanks. Arsenal have won fuckall the past 8 years (there are 4 trophies a team can win over the season, the League Cup, the FA Cup, the Champions League and the Premier League title) but more importantly, have spent no money on players the past 8 years but have the highest ticket prices in the League. Fourth place is still very important in the PL and Arsenal pretty much have a lock on 4th place trophies if they existed. Arsenal lost the opening game this past Saturday at home to an average Aston Villa side so it’s looking like more of the same for them.
Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool. These 3 teams round out the top 6 you might choose to cheer on. Manchester City was bought by Arab billionaire Sheik Mansour who pumped $1B in to win one Championship title as the formula seemed to work for the Russian equivalent. Tottenham are the rivals of Arsenal as both are North London teams, they are a good team for members of the Tribe (not the W&M one) as their stadium, White Hart Lane is located in the Jewish section of London and supporters proudly refer to themselves as ‘Yids’, even the non-Jewish ones.
Liverpool is a great team if you are a Dallas Cowboys fan. They have worldwide brand recognition and are the Grand Dame of the PL in terms of tradition and history. All home games are opened with a rousing rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and the supporter’s section is referred to as the Kop. Unfortunately, much like the Cowboys they’ve not tasted success for a while and last were Champions in 1989 but have never won a Premier League title as it’s current iteration was formed in 1993.
Lastly, Fulham are also a good team to support if you don’t want to take it too seriously and not too concerned about winning silver. They are usually mid-table and have had many Americans on their roster over the years, furthermore, they have a statue of Michael Jackson outside of their fantastically named home ground, Craven Cottage in West London.