Finding the right EPL club is like a lot of things in life. It takes hard work, a little bit of humour, and more work. After being totally apathetic towards the game of soccer (sorry, I don’t want to piss off Europeans, let’s call it football), just like the NHL did, slowly and slowly they brought me back into the fold. It helps that I actually for the most part now know some things about the game of soccer. Like the NHL, it hasn’t been overruled by advance metrics. Like the NHL, coaches (again sorry, managers) matter. Unless the team is a modern reincarnation of the early 2000′s Real Madrid side (and even then, they underachieved), chemistry matters, and most importantly, the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed Euro 2008 (year of upsets), 2010 World Cup (crappy quality, but drama filled. Just ask Ghana), Euro 2012 (best tournament in terms of quality of play since the 1998 World Cup), semifinals and finals of the 2012 Champions League (the end of Barcelona’s march to the Mount Rushmore of club sides. At least for now) made me finally say “why not, let me pick an EPL club to support.” It also helps that Manchester United’s 3-2 comeback win over Aston Villa spearheaded by a hat trick by a guy name Javier Hernandez sealed the deal. (By the way, his nickname is Chicharito, which apparently means “little pea” in English. I somehow find that amusing, don’t ask me why!)
Why the EPL you might ask, well here’s the thing. Again, being a intermediate soccer fan, I can’t name you 20 players from either Seria A, La Liga, and the German League. Plus, I’m not paying for soccer packages considering that I’m a university student with student loans and shit like that, so the EPL was the only league that I can kind of follow well, and hopefully become fully immersed in due time. Plus, and this goes for every major European league out there, I love the crowds. It’s amazing the amount of energy that fans spend during a 90 minute game. contrast that to an average NBA/NHL game. Remember when the Miami heat fans were dressed in white almost like tennis players who play in Wimbledon. Every NHL teams now basically steal Roger Nielson “white flag” trick and waves them during playoff games even though it’s an embarrassment when franchises such as Florida, Phoenix who have 35 fans combined suddenly come up and try that. It’s one thing when franchises such as Montreal, Boston, and New York do it, it’s another thing when shitty franchises try to pull that trick.
While the disparity between the great sides and the good/average/poor sides has never ever been as wide, just the drama of three teams being relegated to the second division just can’t be duplicated. Can you imagine if the NBA did this,, and basically said, “the three worst records in the NBA will go down to the D-League, and if we have a tie for 26th and 27th, we have a play-in game.” How awesome would that be. That would basically kill the Charlotte Bobcats creating a dispersal draft for players such as Michael Kidd-Gilcrhist, BJ Mullins, Ben Gordon etc…
I kept a couple of goals in mind during the process:
- Do not go into a team that has a humongous bandwagon. I don’t want to be the losers who suddenly cheer for teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea etc.. Just because they spend globs of cash.
- Don’t pick a tortured club, doing that already with the Leafs, don’t want to add two to the menu
- If I can, pick a team that will either be on TSN2, Sportsnet enough times.
- Pick a team that at the very least won’t be relegated to the second division
Currently there are 20 EPL leagues. (A perfect amount by the way. The NBA should probably reduce the league by about 3-4 team. The NHL as well, but that’s another story for another day). Here’s the one’s who didn’t make the cut for the top 8:
Manchester United: The New York Yankees of the EPL, although their rivals in City are giving them a run for their money. Have won the most Premier League championships in history. One of their signature wins was a comeback victory against Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final. Their best player, Wayne Rooney, had a hair transplant and regained his hairline. The most obnoxious fan base by far in the world. The best EPL team currently in the league, and if you get the chance, go on twitter and see their fans just poop themselves whenever they win. Their youth academy is second to none, and in some ways, are like a European dream team. Plus, what does it say that an 18 yr old Canadian suddenly became a Man U fan? Actually, that’s going to happen either way with one of the remaining 19 clubs.
Manchester City: Just remember that they spend gobs of money, became this mutant version of the LA Clippers where they just outspend everybody. They’re coach wears a different scarf for every game, and it’s a circus wherever they go. Intriguing, but I’ll pass.
Fulham: On the bright side, They’ve got a guy named John Arne Arise who looks eerily similar to theScore’s James Sharman. Their only celebrity fan I’ve ever heard of is American’s own Hugh Grant. They’re another club currently owned by a Arab (Mohamed Al Fayed), and uhh…
Southampton: As recently as 2009, Southampton were relegated to third division English soccer although now have played themselves back up to the big league. Their nickname is the “Saints” on account of being a church football team way back in the late 1800′s. According to Wikipedia, it is a UEFA 4-tar rated stadium, so you know its legit. I already follow one crappy club already, let’s not make it tow.
Chelsea: As much as I want to follow a club who’s owner is the Russian version of Mark Cuban, they follow under the whole bandwagon club thing. Plus, their captain? John Terry. Only the guy who banged a former teammate’s girlfriend. Ohh it gets better. He was charged with racially abusing Anton Ferdinand during a Chelsea QPR match in 2011. The damages you might ask? his English coach Fabio Capello quit as manager of England. He retired from international football, and now has become the whipping boy (deservedly so) for racial abuse during games. It’s one thing to follow a team who just suck (see, Leafs), it’s another to be a fan of a team with this twat on it.
QPR: See answer from Southampton
Stoke City: I have one question, would you ever play with Stoke City on FIFA 13? Can you name 5 players from Stoke? Didn’t think so.
Sunderland: According to Wikipedia, the club has major supporters from countries such as Australia, USA, Cambodia, and Canada. On a related note, some of their celebrity fans include Heather Mills (Paul McCartney’s ex) and Sugar Ray Leonard. Uhh…
Reading: Their nickname is The Royals which I kind of dig, recently promoted to the Premier League. True story, in the 2012 League Cup (don’t ask me what this tournament is), Reading somehow lost 7-5 after holding a 4-0 lead near the end of the first half! I don’t know why I brought this up, I kind of just felt like it.
Now to the three who just missed the cut. The next three did warrant extra consideration, but ultimately didn’t make the cut.
Swansea City: The only Wales based club in the division, surprisingly finished 11th in the Premier League on their first season in the league. A Canadian by the name of Jonathan De Guzman plays for the team. Their star player in Michu along with Chelsea’s Juan Mata and Arsenal’s Santi Cazorla recently bought shares for their former club Real Oviedo. It brought a tear to my eye (not really). I seriously considered putting them into the top 8. Here’s the problem, They just let their manager Brendan Rogers go to Liverpool (a team I like better). Plus, their nickname is The Swans. Why the hell would I want to associate myself with a nickname like that. It’s disappointing considering I was digging the whole players buying a stake of their old, struggling club.
Norwich City: Founding member of the Premier League in 1992-1993, actually finishing third in the inaugural season. They are nicknamed “the Canaries” from 1907 on on account of Norwich being known for Canary breeding. If I could have found more fun facts such as this, They might have sneaked into the elite 8. On the flip side, their stadium was built somehow in 82 days. I swear, it’s true. I know this isn’t the goal, but Stadium safety should probably be high. Just saying.
Everton: The toughest emission by far. Their best player Marouane Fellaini sports this incredible afro like lid. His playing style could be described as brute, physical, tough. Basically, its everything you wouldn’t expect from someone with a French background (I’m kidding). They are a perennial top-6 team, which is good for me. They were part of the Heysel Stadium disaster as a result of being banned from most European trophies, and sold Wayne Rooney to Man U in 2004. One problem, I kind of like Liverpool better. Scratch that, I like Liverpool much better than Everton. Sorry about that. Plus their nickname is the Toffees. Enough said.
Now we’re on to the top 8. If you still are reading, god bless you. Here’s the top 8 for me, and maybe for yourself.
In a Nutshell: One of their greatest players was Robbie Keane, a guy who’s notorious for his crazy celebration after goals. They once had a coach named Martin Jol who has brothers names “Cock” and “Dick”. I wish I could say I’m lying. Their current coach is Andre Villas-Boas who looks eerily similar to Juan Mata. A perennial top 6 team, just like Everton. Their best player is Clint Dempsey who is almost universally recognized as one of the best players in the EPL. Their nickname is The Spurs, and one of their celebrity fans, Steve Nash!! One of the 40 greatest players in NBA History.
One reason not to pick them: Their chant involves the word “Yid Army”, I kind of don’t want to be involved with any anti-semitic chants. Now its becoming a big issue with the Society of Black Lawyers. Again, I kind of don’t want to be involved with it. Thank you though.
7. Wigan Athletic:
In a Nutshell: Their name is Wigan and they’re really athletic. I’m kidding. Their biggest rival is a team by the name of Bolton, a team that isn’t in the EPL. Their best season was in 2006 when they finish 10th in the league. Their biggest loss was to Tottenham in 2009 by the score of 9-1. Jason De Vos, soccer personality for TSN, was voted best player in Division 2 in 2002-2003, so that’s.. something.
One reason not to pick them: Their nickname is the Latics. That might be the laziest nickname I’ve ever seen. That’s like giving the Washington Redskins a nickname called “the Skins”
6. West Ham United:
In a Nutshell: Steeped with tradition and history, great players such as George Hurst and Bobby Moore played for West Ham, especially during the 1966 season in which England won their last World Cup. Known for having a physical approach to the game, their nickname is “The Hammers.” Their anthem is “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” by John Kellette, and uhh. Did I mention that their nickname is “The Hammers”? Seems like something people should remember.
One Reason not to Pick Them: During the 1970′s and the 1980′s (an era renown for fan violence) according to Wikipedia, “rival groups of West Ham Fans from neighbouring areas often did battle with each other at games, most often groups from the neighbouring districts of Barking & Dagenham.” Lets assume that this was true, I kind of want to not have hooligans in my life. It’s been a successful 18 yrs without them, lets keep it going. (Cut to all Vancouver Canuck fans nodding violently).
Now to our top 5, an anticipated top 5. Who will end up #1? That’s for me to still find out, so uhh.. Tune in Sunday and you’ll find out.
Part 2 coming Sunday….
About the Author
Written by Mohamed Mohamed
I'm an 18 yr old avid hockey/basketball fan who currently resides in Edmonton Alberta doing pharmacy courses in university. I look forward to writing some wacky columns with a biased but humorous point of view. I look forward to provide NBA content and interacting with fans across. Follow me on twitter @moesquare or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org