First Cuts: English Premier League
The U.S. advanced today by scoring at the 91-minute mark. Pretty crazy that that goal gave them first place in the group, whereas they would have been going home without it. Just one goal makes that much of a difference!
Anyway … as a continuation of my search for an English Premier League team to get behind, below are my first cuts … in order of how I axed ’em. Keep in mind that I’m always a fan of the underdog (my second favorite MLB team (after my hometown Chicago White Sox) is the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates. My favorite NFL squad after my beloved Chicago Bears? Why, the mighty Cleveland Browns, of course!)
BUT the EPL does things a little differently. The three worst teams each season get relegated down to the Championship League. Basically, they get sent down to the minors. I’m not willing to weather an indefinite stint in the booney leagues.
- FIRST CUT: Manchester United. By all accounts the New York Yankees of the EPL, this was a no-brainer. They have won 11 championships out of the 18 in EPL history. Congratulations to Manchester United for being the easy first cut. I hate you.
- Chelsea. Win all the time. Lots of money. From the most uppity part of London. The only thing holding them back from being the first cut is the existence of Manchester United. If your team is the answer when using this criteria to find a favorite club, you can rest assured that I hate you. Eat it, Chelsea.
- Wigan Athletic. When it comes to English soccer clubs, these guys are the youngins. I don’t dig newfangled teams, and they’re too much in danger of being relegated, having come in 16th in the EPL last year. Their tree logo is also quite lame.
- Bolton Wanderers. Newfangled unis. Stupid logo with ribbons. Dumb looking stadium complete with Reebok sponsorship. 14th place last year puts them in too much danger of being relegated. Don’t let the door hit ya.
- West Ham United. As close as one can get to the edge of the cliff without going over, they came in 17th last year. I’m not a fan of the Colorado Avalanche color palette, and while their grounds have history, I am simply not digging the castle motif. LAME.
- Blackpool. I don’t really dislike them much, but their chances of remaining up in the Premier League after this season are almost nil. Blackpool came in 6th in the regular season of the Championship League last season, and they were only able to advance to the EPL by miraculously winning the league tournament. I like the grit. I don’t like the longevity. You’ve gotta love their quaint, old little stadium, though. Capacity below 13,000? How cute.
- Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves). 15th in the league last season. And while I can identify with ’60s and ’70s kitsch in baseball and (American) football, I just don’t have the history with soccer. Sorry.
- Birmingham City. Not sure what it is, really. I’m just bored by everything about them. That’s all I got. Next.
- Manchester City. You’d think that given that evil club with which they share a city, this could be my White Sox to their Cubs. But much like Birmingham City, I’m just underwhelmed. No good explanation, really.
- Newcastle United. Kinda dorky unis. Weirder looking fans. Part of me wants to like their blue collar persona, but they’re also just too close to relegation danger zone. And I think I’m scared of them.
- Arsenal. I loved London when I visited. Seems like this should be THE London squad. But something just doesn’t sit right with me. Seems like their logo is a little too sleek and self-aware. Seems like they’re too much of a big dog for my taste. It also seems like every EPL fan stateside I have met who isn’t a Manchester United fan identifies with the Gunners. And a lot of them are douchebags. I just don’t think I identify with this fan base. No thanks.
- West Bromwich Albion. I actually like everything about them. Historic, no-frills grounds. Classic, simple uniforms. They’re strictly a casualty of fear of relegation. They’re just back up in the EPL this year from the Championship League, so the dangers of them going back down are just too great. If they can improve and stick around for a more extended stay, though, this club could easily rise through the ranks as a favorite of mine. If I declare now that in the event they make an unlikely run for it, I’ll be rooting for them — does that exempt me from being called a bandwagoner? Is it too late to not cut them? I think I love them. Oh, but the heartbreak of almost certain relegation …
So that leaves eight clubs remaining. In alphabetical order, they are:
I honestly haven’t made any final decisions yet, so make the case for your team. Or against your enemies.