Re-Post: Your Guide to Becoming a Premier League Fan

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This article first appeared on the site a year ago. Re-posting. Some of the team stuff might be a hair dated. COYS.

If you want to become a soccer fan, or even just sample what the sport has to offer, then I suggest you start with the English Premier League, which opens its season on Saturday.

I jumped in two years ago and haven’t looked back.

Soccer can be an extraordinarily confusing sport to follow. Forgetting for a second about learning the game, there are countless teams in countless leagues in countless countries with countless titles and cups and championships. It’s like the first time you played Mario Kart and tried to figure out the difference between the Star and Gold cups, and then you had to select for 50, 100 or 150 cc. The fack?! For a new fan of the sport, it can be an extremely daunting task to jump right in. That’s why the English Premier League – also referred to as the EPL (by lifers), Barclays Premier League (by people who want to acknowledge a large multinational bank every time they talk about their favorite league), Premier League (by everyone else) – is for you. It’s the most watched and probably the best sports league in the world. All the teams are in England or Britain or Great Britain (the differences have been explained to me three times and I still don’t get it, nor do I care) and there’s one winner at the end of the season, with no playoffs, no tournaments, no divisions, no conferences, no bullshit. Just soccer. Three points for a win. One point for a tie. None for a loss.

Perhaps you’ve heard of some of the more popular teams: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Newcastle.

This isn’t a column on what team you should choose to root for (Bill Simmons already wrote that)– it’s a post on why you should choose the league.

High-level European soccer teams play in a variety of leagues, tournaments and cups. Each team has its national league (English Premier League in England, La Liga in Spain, Serie A in Italy), often a secondary regional league (Champions League, Europa League), friendly matches, and random national and international cup tournaments. It’s a dizzying array of matches that can be difficult to keep track of, especially from across the Atlantic. That’s why you should start with one league, the Premier League. Or the Barclays Premier League, if you’re an asshole.

The season is long (August-May). Games are played almost every week (soccer has breaks for international competition and local cups, and it will piss you off when you turn on the TV one Saturday morning only to find archival footage of things with weird names like the London Derby). It’s easy to keep track of. And many of the world’s best and most recognizable players are in the league (the two best, however – Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – play in Spain).

There are 20 teams in the league. No playoffs. The team with the most points at the end of the season wins. It sounds anti-climactic, and it can be, but take, for example, the 2011-2012 season, when Manchester City beat out Manchester United (bitter rivals) on the last day – no, the last minute – of the season.

Manchester City needed a win over lowly Queens Park Rangers to win the league. A tie would give it to Man U, who, while the City game was drawing to an end, had just beaten Sunderland, 1-0.

City was down 2-1 in extra time. They needed two goals in four minutes, which is unheard of in soccer.

They got it, much to the shock of Sir Alex Ferguson and Man U, who learned of their misfortune while still on the pitch.

That was how the season ended. Two games, in two different places, drawing to an end at the same time. It may be the greatest finish to a sports season ever.

Now, not every season will conclude that way. 2012-2013 didn’t. Man U ran away with it, because they’re the Yankees and you should hate them accordingly. If you’re finding any of the information in this post to be new information (as in, you’re not already a soccer fan) and you decide to root for Man U, I hate you, and so does every other soccer fan. You’re the guy who likes the Yankees, Cowboys and Lakers. You’re a sick fuck. And a frontrunner.

But there are other things to consider besides first place:

1) The top four teams in the league gain entry into the following season’s Champions League– the best teams, from all around Europe, competing in a season-long tournament. Depending on your viewpoint, this may be the most prestigious league in the world. Problem is, games are played on weekdays at, like, 2:30. Eastern. It’s harder to follow and there are many games with obscure teams from obscure cities in obscure venues with fans that look like terrorists. It sometimes freaks me out. The final 16-team tournament, though, which takes place in the spring, contains some of the best soccer you’ll see. But it takes a while to get there. Watch the EPL through the winter and you’ll naturally want to see what happens in the Champions League. Ditto for the other, smaller cups and tournaments. Let the Premier League serve as a foundation for your fanhood. You’ll gradually start caring about the other stuff.

Finishing in the top four and getting into the Champions League is a goal for most teams in the EPL.*

*Chelsea didn’t finish in the top four in the EPL in 2011-2012, but they won the Champions League that year. As such, they received an automatic bid for the Champions League the following year, knocking out fourth place finisher, and my chosen squad, the Tottenham Hotspur.

2) The bottom three finishers get relegated to a lower league. Imagine if the Phillies lost their division and got sent to AAA the following season. It’s kind of like that. So, even the worst teams in the Premier League have something to play for, and the best teams, during off years, have something to be very afraid of besides just the prospect of another year of Ruben Amaro.

To recap: No playoffs, lots of other stuff going on. Excitement!

Like football, most Premier League games take place on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Thanks to the time difference, games start anywhere from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. On Monday, there’s one game at 3 p.m.

It’s the perfect thing to watch on weekend mornings, especially now that NBC is making it possible to watch every. single. game. Two uninterrupted 45-minute halves and a 15-20-minute halftime mean that matches are played in under two hours– the perfect amount of time to catch one, or two, at a local pub.

There are many places if you live in the city – Fado, Tir Na Nog, The Dark Horse and others – but fewer options in the suburbs. Easily the best place is the Iron Abbey in Horsham. They have a ridiculous beer selection, gastro pub style breakfasts, and every game is shown on one their many TVs. It’s… kind of a Liverpool bar, which can be off-putting to some when the Reds are playing (think Pittsburgh fans with shitty accents), but it’s usually all in good fun. And you can almost always get a seat. In other words: happening, but not too crowded. You’ll find me there quite a few times this year.

Warning: Be careful if you get caught up in this sort of thing. You’ll be going down a dark path that will leave you feeling hungover every Saturday by about 2 p.m. and, even worse (or better, depending on your perspective), you’ll develop an uncontrollable urge to drink beer every time you smell fried pig, which, if left unsatisfied, may lead to your harming of coworkers or small family pets and or assorted children. And if you have a girlfriend, fiancee, wife, house, golfing addiction or anything else that might demand your attention on the weekends, you’ll want to limit yourself to two 8.2% ABV breakfast stouts with your bowl of eggs, cheese and meat. Trust me on this. Shopping for mulch is even less palatable when your head is bursting and your intestines are producing a steamy mess that, quite honestly, would be a whole lot more potent and cost effective than said mulch. You may or may not end up testing out that last sentence.

Screen Shot 2013-08-14 at 4.28.13 PMThe Premier League is really competitive. Teams have storied pasts and rivalries are deep-seeded. Hell, there’s like five teams just in London. And the entire country is about the size of Alabama. Imagine if the entire NFL was located in the Northeast– it’s that. Teams and fan bases hate each other, possibly because of their close proximity, or possibly because they all call their friends “mates.” There is a drop-off from the top of the league to the bottom, but most games are close and hard-fought. Other soccer leagues, like La Liga, have huge deltas between the best teams and even the mediocre ones. Also, pitch (use that word) sizes vary in soccer, and Premier League pitches are somewhat smaller than in other leagues. The matches are more… intimate. Think of Eastern Conference hockey compared to Western Conference hockey. It’s that style of play. But there’s a focus on offense more-so than in other countries and leagues. Also, there’s not as much diving in the EPL. It still happens, but the more egregious offenders are the Spaniards, Italians and Latin Americans. Draw your own conclusions from that.

I won’t try to help you pick a team (because I probably don’t know enough), but here are a few things you should know about the most popular teams:

Man U: The Yankees. Don’t do that.

Man City: They became the trendy pick after their season in 2011-2012. They have long been in Man U’s shadow (Yankees, meet Mets, Mets, meet Yankees). They, too, have money and will spend it. Acceptable to root for. Cool kits:

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Chelsea: From a very rich part of London. Lots of history, won the Champions League a few years ago (with a new manager and then fired him six months later!). Bit of a front-runner squad. My bro-in-law-to-be chose them and then moved to London in time to be there when they won the Champions League. So now I hate them. Their new manager is Jose Mourinho, who had managed Real Madrid the last few seasons. He’s ridiculously good-looking and also ridiculous:

Liverpool: Do you smell? If yes, root for Liverpool. Very blue collar. The team has been a laughing stock the past couple seasons and they’re owned by Red Sox owner John Henry. I probably don’t need to say more.

Arsenal: Also from London. Rootable, if only so you can live and die with Piers Morgan’s crazy Tweets about his favorite team.

Tottenham: The Spurs. My squad. Also in London. Very Phillies-like. Play in a blue collar part of the city, storied past, often good, never seem to win anything. They’re just a notch below the other teams. They currently have Gareth Bale, who is all the rage, but he’s likely going to be bought by Real Madrid for 100 million pounds(!). They, too, are trendy right now. Really cool stadium though. Here’s me there:

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Everton: Their goalie is Team USA goalie Tim Howard, and I think he’s a dick. He yells at his teammates after every play. But they’re an acceptable pick if you’d prefer not to go for one of the big-name teams.

Stoke City: This thanks to my buddy Larry: Stoke City is gonna be fun for Americans– they basically bought every American player in the past year. Cameron, Edu, Agudelo, and one other guy I forget off the top of my head.

Newcastle: And there’s Marla Hooch. What a hitter!

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That’s your Premier League in a nutshell. It starts Saturday and I think you’ll be surprised just how many of your friends watch it. NBC now has the rights and they will show every game on TV or online. You can see details about that here. My squad is Tottenham. Come on you Spurs!

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123 Responses

  1. Kyle, since you fucked us over with the CB Xmas party and the golf outing you should do a Saturday 7am soccer happy hour. Make it right make it right

  2. Is this the new direction CB is going? I would like to know so that i can delete it off my daily routine of websites if i have to wait 6 hrs between articles about sports i give a shit about but soccer articles are flying out of you.

  3. Good post. Glad to see you are a soccer fan. Premier League is alot of fun to watch but other leagues can be tough to watch, even for a soccer guy like me. FYI, my team is Fulham.

  4. Yep, another (overseas!) soccer post.

    This is what happens when the teams haven’t made a playoff appearance since May 2012 and, more importantly for bloggers, haven’t even threatened to do so in the intervening 5 seasons.

  5. Kyle,
    Man U is nothing like the Yankees. Watch the movie united. It is more like Marshall football except they came out of it really awesome. Much of Europe respects them because of the travesty of the plane crash. Sir bobby Charlton survived the crash. My dad was born in Greece and europe sort of adopted the team after the accident. Yes they win and spend, but it wasn’t always like that. Watch the movie or read the story and you will get it. Only new fans hop on because of the dominant team. Oh, and also before the glazier family bought them, they will like green bay because fan share holders owned them.

    1. Also historically Manchester United have produced legendary talents through their youth ranks (Scholes, Giggs, Gary Neville) as opposed to freely shelling out cash on any flavor-of-the-month player (Looking at you Man City)

  6. I honestly don’t mind soccer and will watch occasionally and enjoy with diehard soccer friends …but to say the best ending to a sports season ever is one where the two teams vying for the title don’t even play each other is like saying you think college football doesn’t need a playoff. Who enjoys a crap team spoiling a season for a good team when the good team should be playing the other good team to decide who’s better ..that’s just dumb.

    1. is it really a good ending if a 9-7 NFL team is considered “the best team” ?? How many of those 27 rings do the Yankees win if the money-hungry sport-corrupting owners abandon traditional (and much better best team in the regular season plays for the world series) the playoffs decades earlier. Playoffs are fraudulent in a league unless there is 200 teams (NCAA). Somethings wrong with the 100+ win baseball team having to play the hottest 85 win team in the league in a 5 game series that they will likely lose…therefore no one gives a shit about the regular season. Premier League regular season is SO intense, every game truly matters because it’s not “well shit we lost guess we dropped from a 5 seed to 6 seed” or “damn we just lost home field advantage.” That’s the beauty in it, and that was the beauty of baseball and winning pennants. There are games in January (season ends in May) that can knock you out, and you can not get away with losing to a bad team ever.

  7. I was in the United Lounge at heathrow airport watching this, I had gone to the Man U swansea match at Old Trafford the week before, tore my heart out.

  8. Liverpool are actually the “yankees”, they still have 3 or 4 more trophies then United. Just ask James the bartender Kyle.

  9. other stoke city guy is Brek Shea. Man City is not an acceptable team to adopt, would be a violation in my opinion. I would say they are now more like the yankees than man u is bc they spend an insane amount of money on top tier names. Man u does a great job of getting top tier talent, and letting other players come up through them, but they won’t go insane and spend tons of money on a few people every transfer window like man city did since the shieks bought them (even though they kinda took it easy recently and said they will cut it down a bit). Tottenham=very acceptable team to adopt and are pretty much my team as well (since Portsmouth dropped out of the premier league and haven’t sniffed it since)

  10. Also, I am an original american soccer/futbol snob who hates when people jump on this bandwagon (it’s in our nature, and it is also somewhat responsible for it’s slower growth in america. ask me why i think that if you have an hour). So if you’re gonna write about it, you best not miss.

    1. Whoa hold up everyone! We’ve got a badass over here! This fucking guy is an ORIGINAL American soccer fan. Kyle, I demand that you run every soccer related post by him before you even think about submitting it.

        1. Yeah I’m sure when you said that stuff about bandwagon fans being responsible for the slower growth of soccer in America it was totally sarcastic huh?

          1. yes bc that is exactly what a lot of soccer snobs say dingleberry as Fartman mentions below…while people like you, actual douchebags, just like looking forward to fabricating arguments in comments sections of websites to achieve an erection

    2. Just so you new soccer fans know, soccer fans in general are the fucking worst, especially in America. Know-it-all nerd turds. There are some cool soccer fans who will help you along but most fans are fucking unbearable.

  11. i would have compared Chelsea to the Red Sox. Really went forever with being good but not great but had a huge fanbase (not many titles before 05), and then something happened (Chelsea = got money from roman, Red Sox = all their players juiced) and then suddenly started winning.

  12. You do realize that Tim Howard has tourettes, which is why he is yelling all the time. Also, fuck the spuds and fuck arsenal. Keep the Blue flag flying high! CFC!!!

  13. hahah, howard’s tourettes only makes him clear his throat a ton, and have a facial tick (maybe responsible for some of the screaming), but he’s screaming at his teammates all the time bc he is a goalie and they are supposed to do that.

    1. It was also said during the last world cup that sometimes it makes his screaming at teammates worse. Like in the fucking game against Ghana…

  14. Hello! I am a sick fuck, but not a frontrunner as I first started following Man U back in the days when David Beckham and Ruud van Nistlerooy patrolled the pitch at Old Trafford. With Sir Alex having retired, it’ll be interesting to see how David Moyes runs the team, and while the ever dangerous Robin van Persie will get his goals, lots of them, I’m kinda bummed as it looks like Wayne Rooney is headed to Chelsea. Still, it should be a fun season.

    1. I’m the same way. I’ve been following Man U for years. Def not the Yankees. Yes they are the most successful team in England and richest team in the world until recent reports that Real Madrid are now. Who knows. But they don’t spend like some of the other teams. They have a tremendous staff that build top class players trough their youth ranks and will only buy the pieces they need. Not overspend like some teams with more money. They barely spent this transfer window (Kyle you left that out).
      I really don’t see them selling Rooney to a rival. Especially since Mourinho is an ass. I hope they add to CM thought.

  15. my wife is from England, i’ve been a Spurs fan since we met 10 years ago. i love that you equate them to the EPL Phillies. and this is the best article i’ve read in a long time.

  16. Gotta respect Man U and their ability to develop talent… That said, they are the front runner team so if you pick them up you are a wank. Before premier league was created liverpool was the frontrunner. Only Chelsea, arsenal and man city have won premierships. The only faulty thing in the Yankees-Liverpool-man u metaphor is that Manchester and Liverpool are gritty ass dirt cities and New York is the financial/cultural capital of the world even though it can mostly suck my ass.

    Go man city!

    1. *besides Man U the only teams to win premierships are city, arsenal and Chelsea. Actually rovers won early but were relegated last year. Sad.

    2. What talent has Man U developed lately? They barely have anyone good on their team who they didn’t buy from someone else. Their youth academy doesn’t produce well at all.

      1. Danny Welbeck for one, Gerard PIque was an academy player (at barcelona now), Ryan Giggs came up through the academy and still on their team 40 years later, Cleverly, macheda, gibson, fletcher, even giuseppi rossi was there, both neville brothers, paul scholes, john o’shea, wes brown, good ol nicky butt. kieran richardson, David Beckham who I am sure you are familiar with…and I’ll just stop

          1. well academy players are young, and it takes time for them to come up to first team, so the few that stick out as current players would be cleverly, and welbeck, and pique and some of the other names if you are looking at other teams

        1. All that is like saying the phillies have a good farm system cuz they developed Utley, Howard, Hamels and Rollins. Just because they used to doesn’t mean they do now.

          1. Ok, so do you want me to list current academy players who have a bright future? what exactly are you looking for, bc it seems you have all bases covered in your air tight arguments

  17. Make some great points Kyle. EPL is getting popular in America and I love to watch, I’m a canaries fan, which is kind of like rooting for the blue jays (ish).

  18. Soccer is still boring as all hell. Sure when somebody wins a championship or the final seconds of a crucial game any sport looks like the most exciting thing on earth. All I can think of is the rest of the 87 minutes where a bunch of guys kick a ball back and forth the length of the field – barely ever making it to the goal nor taking a shot. No thanks.

    1. like watching a 3 hour baseball game with 12 minutes of actual action boring? I totally get off on the 30 seconds between pitches. i love baseball and soccer but this is just a lame excuse. It’s boring because you don’t understand it (just like every other sport in this world, baseball is just throwing a ball around and guys hitting pop ups, football players need to suck on oxygen tanks after running 20 yards so they make them wait 40 seconds between plays, basketball isn’t fun until the last 2 minutes because the first 160 points in a game mean nothing, hockey is just guys passing a puck around and scoring 2 goals on 80 shots, etc)

  19. Silly me. I thought we were in the United States. Why should I give a f–k about English soccer, futbol, whatever? What’s next, South African rugby on Fox Sports 1?

  20. A couple questions from a novice who admittedly has never given soccer a chance.
    Is Christiano Ronaldo considered to be the best player in the world, and if so, how does he stack up against the greatest players ever (I always assumed Pelè was the GOAT?).
    Also, was David Beckham in his prime the real deal or was he just a creation of the media with the whole Victoria Spice Girl thing, etc?

    1. I may not be fully qualified here, but: Lionel Messi is considered the best player in the world and, I would think, could probably go down as one of the best ever. He’s ridiculously good. Ronaldo is a bit of hype, partially because he’s very good-looking (he is and don’t pretend he’s not). He’s more a scorer where Messi is just all-around good. Beckham was legit from what I gather, but certainly aided by media. Teams like Real Madrid don’t pay that kind of money for a player if he’s not good. He’s also won wherever he’s gone. He’s just old now. But he was very good.

      That’s my take from watching the last two years and trying to read up on a bit of the sport. Someone who watched BECKS throughout his career could probably answer this better.

      1. Messi is clearly the best player in the final 3rd, Ronaldo plays the length of the field and is almost as good as messi in the final 3rd. It’s debatable. Ronaldo is 27, happy birthday old man.

      2. Beckham highly overrated because he was English. If Gareth Bale plays like he did last year i’d take him 100 times over Beckham. English (the nation) has a superiority complex that makes them think they are better than everyone because they invented the game and what not, but it’s really just not true. They had their own “savior” come around who was great, but I would find it hard to place him in a Top 5 list if he was playing in his prime today.

        Ronaldo is a Barry Bonds / Carmelo Anthony / Kevin Durant type superstar. They simply score, and that’s their end-goal. They are probably the player you want stepping up to the plate in the bottom of the 9th, and there’s no one i’d rather have at an important moment, especally taking free kicks. Just because you score more goals doesn’t instantly make you the best player in the world (or have the highest PPG or hit the most HR/RBIs)

        Messi is more like the Miguel Cabrerra / Lebron James who is simply good at each and every aspect of the game. They may not lead the world in total scoring, but they are by far the best all around, being a “point guard” on the field and setting up a ton of plays on top of scoring. General consensus is that they are the best in the world, even tho players have more goals / more assists / etc.

        1. Messi is the greatest player in the world currently, and will/should go down as best player to ever play the game. He also scored in like a million straight games at one point. has the best touch ever, incredible nose for the goal, hardly ever misses a scoring chance but can make the passes too

          I think beckham was hyped for a lot of different reasons, but at his prime he could put the ball on a dime from 40 yards and his free kicks were magic. i dont think you could ever say he was 1 of the best 11 in the world at any time, but he was the best at certain things.

          1. Messi also has 2 of the best midfields in the game feeding him the ball. Yes Real Madrid’s players are nothing to sniff at but with Xavi ad Iniesta on the pitch it makes a difference. And yes beckham in his prime was one of the best 11 at the time. Hype helped it but his midfield play was tops.

  21. You can also say Man City went 44 years without winning the league and were playing the 3rd division of English Football in the late 1990s and were almost relegated from the Premier League in 2006-07. They finished 10th in 2007-08 and then in the middle of 2008 the team was bought by Abu Dhabi. Yes they invested a ton of money in the team but every top team has to spend money on players to compete at the highest level. Manchester United do well with their youth system, but they spend plenty of money too (Van Persie, Kagawa, De Gea just to name a few). Another way to describe Chelsea is the team that fires their coach every year (9 managers in 10 years). Arsenal can also be described as a mixture of a team that won a lot (11 trophies from 1997-2005) and hasn’t won since with the same manager running the show who’s turning into the Andy Reid of the Premier League. Team always finishes in the top 4 (17 straight seasons) but in the past 8 years haven’t won a trophy. Everton are like the Tampa Bay Rays. They have a shoestring budget but always put themselves in the top 6 every season. Swansea City are an up and coming team with a world class player as a manager and some very exciting players (Michu and Wilfred Bony will lead the team). They’re a little like the Pacers in which they’re quickly rising as a very good team. They got promoted in 2011, played well in 2012 where they finished 11th. Their coach left and four of their top players left. Last year they won the Capital One Cup and finished 9th. This year they kept the coach and all their players and added new ones.

    Most compelling thing about this season: open title race with 4 of the top 6 teams from last year changing managers (United, CIty, Chelsea, Everton). First big match day is September 1 with Liverpool v Manchester United and Arsenal v Tottenham. This will be a great weekend to get a taste of what England’s top division is all about

  22. @Davis,

    As per your question, I’m looking for players who graduated from the youth academy in the past 5 or so years who are good players right now. Hence why I asked “who has Man U developed LATELY?” I didn’t ask “who have they developed historically?” Or “who is good in their system now?”

    Reading comprehension, dude.

  23. you said they don’t have anyone on their team who came up through the academy so i was listing a few players who did…they have 3 players who are consistently in starting 11 who came up through the academy, which is a decent amount when compared to other major squads. for example man city, 0 academy players in starting 11. when ur a top team in england it is tough for young players to break right into the squad, which is why many are loaned out to other lower/mid tier teams so they get first team burn. i get that i look like a snob now, but i’m going to respond, man u does a decent job of developing talent, as well as buying it

    1. I think the main point is that a lot of people rag on united for being the Yankees in terms of buying up all the top talent, when in the not too distant past (first decade of premier leagues existence) they won because they did develop a lot of good talent… It’s kinda like how the Yankees brought up jeter, Rivera, pettite, posada, and bernie, then got a bunch of other studs to lock it down. Anyway screw the Yankees and united

    2. I never said they have no one I just said they haven’t been doing a good job of it lately. It’s not like they need to though since they always buy great players. But as a whole I think their youth academy is overrated and people who are in awe of it are more clinging onto the past than looking at the current status.

      And who are the 3 you’re referring to? I’ve seen some projected starting 11 for this season that have 0 of 11.

      1. I was referring to cleverly, welbeck, and giggs but as you mentioned starting 11’s that are projected may be different….however, they do a good job of rotating as well so they as most teams don’t have a concrete starting 11 that is firm every week/day/month…in comparison to other top teams in the premier league their academy does a pretty good job of developing talent…i wouldn’t say i’m in awe of it, but i get your point

      2. it’s really nothing like America sports in how teams get good. It’s more important to sign the young kid for cheap who becomes a superstar (when Manchester United signed Ronaldo from Sporting for under $20 million USD, Neymar signing with Barca, Arsenal signing Henry from Juventis for $11 million, Tottenham signing Gareth Bale for $7 million, Chelsea signing Frank Lampard for $15 million, etc.

        there’s no debate that Barcelona has the best academy in the world, but Manchester United’s is one of the best for English-speaking players….that’s the big part. Hardly ever does anyone outside of the UK go to Manchester United’s academy, with Pique being one of the very few to ever be successful and not English in the academy.

        It’s almost like going to college overseas in a nation that doesn’t speak English.

    1. I was gonna pick Everton. But then you mentioned Hartnell, so now I’m back at square one. Anyone have other suggestions?

  24. Amateur here, so apologies up front. I have a vendor in Telford, Shropshire. I polled all The Lads saying I wanted to root for their local team (several have adopted the Phils out of mutual kinship, etc.) But I’m confused. They all seem to follow Liverpool even though (they say) Aston Villa is closer. Is this front-runner rooting-for-the-Steelers bullshit or is it legit. Also, one referred to the Wycombe Wanderers. How many of these dinky little teams are there (non-EPL) and is this really like AAA baseball or are these legitimate squads that will be heard from someday? Willing to learn but The Lads aren’t being much help. in their defense, it’s beer o’clock over there and they’re gone.

    1. well there’s 53 million people in England, which is roughly the size of the state of Oregon. There are also approx 7,000 teams in England alone, so it’s flooded. There aren’t affiliates, so think of every minor league sports team as their own entity, owning their own players. So while you are probably a Philadelphia Phillies fan, teams like the Wilmington, Reading, Lakewood, Camden, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Lehigh Valley all exist and you could technically be “a fraud” for cheering for a super team like the Phillies instead of the small club (with worse talent) across the street.

      Can also think of it like NCAA. Sure you are a Penn State / Temple football fan but I guarantee there is a college closer to your house with NCAA sports, even if it’s D3 or D2.

    2. the Wikipedia page for English Football League is the best teacher. They have an entire pyramid showing how it works. Technically you could build a team in your back yard and if you kept winning, be in the same league as Man U / Chelsea / City. It’s kind of amazing how it works, and it’s all based upon promotion (if you finish top 2/3/4 in your league you move up) and regulation (bottom 2/3/4).

      The best comparison I can think of is that if Temple finishes bottom 2 in the Big East, they would be “relegated” to a worse Atlantic League while the top 2 teams in the Atlantic League got promoted (and replaced) Temple in the Big East.

      1. Thanks, Steve. Good work by you. I wonder though about people in Telford rooting for the more storied Liverpool if Aston Villa is closer. Iwould equate that with someone on Reading being a front-runnig Steeler fan. Isn;t there some obligation to root for the Eagles or are these areas “no man’s land” where it every team for itself?

        1. gotta remember the history of it too. if you parents moved from an area, you may still be a fan of your old squad. If I moved to Boston tomorrow, i’d still be a proud Phillies fan. From my experience, most people end up liking their local club and a super-size club…much like I love Chelsea and Philly Union (and take in some Harrisburg City Islanders games, they are about to build a $7 million dollar stadium).

          It’s a lot easier to see your team, as everything in England is within a ~4 hour train ride. I have met a couple people in the states who would make it to each home and away game, the English rules allow for something around 10% of a stadiums seating to be sold to away fans, which is why you can see a packed Old Trafford and maybe 50 fans in the one corner. But since that’s universal and a rule, it makes it cheap and easy to see away games.

        2. and you obviously have the “fans” who just like whoever wins. Just like that kid with a Heat jersey and a Yankees hat with a terrible towel in his back pocket. That isn’t just an american problem.

          1. So if I can pick up on this a little – now that I’ve learned something about how this whole premier league thing works – Liverpool obviously have a long history. I know nothing about Aston Villa. Have they always been premier league or are they one of these lower tier league teams that have moved up? If that’s so, I can see where a kid in Telford would want Aston Villa to do well because their local, but if Liverpool were the only EPL option Way Back When, liking both hteams makes sense in a Big 5 sort of way. What’s Aston Villa’s history? Any?

          2. both have been around for as long as i can remember, but Liverpool has been more successful, especially recently. I’ve only been following since ~2005 (im 23) and Aston Villa has been a mediocre team, while Liverpool has had some success. Liverpool is also owned by an American (and I think Lebron James is part of the ownership group) and they are having a big fiasco on the ugly ass jerseys Warrior keeps making them (yeah the American LaxBro/Hockey brand of New Balance stuff)

  25. Kyle, sorry to nit pick, but Citeh won the league in Stoppage/Injury Time, not Extra Time (extra time is only in knockout competitions when the match is still tied and has to have a winner. Two 15 minutes halves and then penalties and all that).

    Gotta defend Liverpool. Historically England’s greatest club (18 leagues and 5 European Cups, most recently in the greatest CL Final of all time in ’05, and a smattering of other trophies to go along) and we have the best player in the EPL in Luis Suarez (a racist biter and all around shithead but we love him) and EPL legend/England Captain Steven Gerrard.

  26. You’re going to ruin it for all the people that go like me! Don’t tell these trolls anything about the Abbey!

  27. lots of spurs fans here at my office…probaly bc they sponsor their kit. but it is nice to see american fans that dont support one of the two manchester squads or chelsea

  28. On top of the last minute finish, what also made the end of the 2011-12 season exciting was that City hadn’t won the Premier League since 1967-68. Would have been interesting either way but a 44 year drought to end like that is crazy.

    Also, fuck City.

  29. The ManU are the Yankees BS has to stop. They aren’t owned by a crazy Russian Billionaire or Arab Oil conglomerate who’s spent half a billion dollars buying players in the last 3-4 years. They don’t churn through managers every 6-12 months.

    The most they’ve spent on a player was Berbatov (30 mil). They’ve traditionally bought younger developing players who are on the cusp of doing bigger things (Rooney, Ronaldo, DeGea, Evra, Vidic, etc), rather than splashing 50 million on an established star. I don’t believe they’ve ever spent more than 50 million in one transfer window. Man City seems to spend 50-100 million every summer transfer window.

    1. if anything, Real Madrid or Barca is your Yankees comparison. I would call ManU the New England Patriots. They win, have(had) a very controversial but great coach, and everyone in the world either loves or hates them.

    2. The Yankees also aren’t owned by foreign billionaire tycoons and they’ve only had two different managers since 1996. They’ve also had the same GM since 1998. So in that way they are similar to Man U in terms of recent stability and success in multiple eras.

      But I think a lot of the Man U Yankee comparisons people make aren’t because of payroll and player transaction habits. A lot of it has to do with them being the most iconic and popular franchise in their league and being highly polarizing teams. It’s either love or hate not too much middle ground. Also, both tend to have a lot of front-running fans with no regional ties to the area just because of the teams’ popularity and constant high level of success and multiple league titles.

      So they are similar in a lot of ways. Often times, there’s more to the comparison than money spent on players.

  30. You’d be surprised at how much you can learn about soccer and the teams by playing FIFA 13 for a few days, that’s how I learned

    1. playing a career is how i figured out transfers, and promotion/regulation. it’s amazing how 13 has everything so accurately shown with all the different tournaments (in England at least)

      1. in fifa the transfer window is almost as much fun as playing the game, building a small team, fighting relegation, and getting promoted etc.

        1. the most fun i’ve ever had was switching MLS teams with the English League 1 (the 3rd tier, two below the premier league) and playing with the Union. You should have no problem winning the League 1 but then entering the Championship it gets tough, fighting it out to just get promoted to the premier league. I did 12 or 13 seasons, still trying to win the Premier League but have a $40 million dollar team salary.

  31. i find it extremely difficult to root for any team other than my home city which is why it took me some time to get into EPL because i don’t have a strong affiliation to any team and therefore can’t be a diehard fan. that being said, when picking a team i figured out who in the EPL i hated the most (man u) and decided to root for the team that would piss off any man u fan …city baby! this was before the money and the title which almost made me want to change my affiliation because people (like yourself) think of it as a “trendy” pick. anyway, it’s a fun league to get into but please don’t take yourself too seriously because you don’t have a birth right to cheer to any of these teams

    1. That’s bullshit. You don’t need a “birthright” to cheer for a team. Cheer for whoever you want to, and fuck anyone who tells you differently. Take it as seriously as you would any other sport.

        1. I don’t really watch college football. I will catch some of the bigger bowl games and the bcs, but other than that I don’t care about it. I just look out for good players. Nice try though…

      1. You’re right, you don’t need a “birthright”, but I mostly agree & fully understand the poster’s reasoning for not really cheering on one specific EPL team.

        It’s probably a tad unreasonable to adopt your mentality of “cheer for whoever and f_ck anyone who tells you differently.” You just come off as some d-bag, the typical American soccer fan who desperately needs to pick a team in order to “join the rest of the world.”

    2. I get the same shit for picking Chelsea in 2005 when Lampard was young and they just signed Drogba. now that they have actually won, I turned into that “bandwagoner”

      but really, who cares. it’s not like you are going to have a good time if you wake up and decide to be a QPR fan….that’s like someone who has never watched NCAA Football and decides to be a Southern Miss fan.

  32. Thinking of getting into the EPL this year now that the games are easily accessible. Do not really have a squad to root for so I am just picking one and seeing how it goes. I am thinking Liverpool, and I don’t smell, Kyle.

    I know they have a strong history, but that isn’t why I am picking them. They seem like a team that contends most years, despite not having won in something like 25 years, something I can relate to being a Philadelphia sports fan. So they are not at risk of being relegated. Process of elimination got me here. Not Man U. (don’t want to be that guy), not Man. City (not a bandwagon type guy), not Arsenal or Chelsea (same reason as Man City.) and not Tottenham (seems trendy at the moment). Is Liverpool a decent choice or am I way off here?

    1. You’re not off base at all. Despite Kyle’s arguments otherwise, Liverpool is the closest thing to a Philly team in the PL. Liverpool is a blue-collar port city, with fans that care way too much about their football club. They are generally regarded as the best, most informed fans, and despite the fact that Anfield is smaller than several other football stadiums in the country, it is considered the loudest and one that opposing teams hate coming to. Sound familiar?

      In addition, they have the greatest English player of his generation in Steven Gerrard. The Liverpool and England captain is an association football equivalent of Chase Utley if there ever was one. He’s a lead by example, leave it all on the field, legend of the sport. He’s a local boy playing for his boyhood team, and years back when Chelsea came calling with all their oil money, he told them to shove it up their arse.

      They’ve recently fallen on tough times (relatively speaking – they’ve finished between 6th and 8th in the league the past few years, but still managed to win the League Cup and reach the FA Cup final in 2012) but are on the upswing. They’ll be at times breathtaking, at times frustrating, but always fun to watch (which is exactly how I feel about most Philly teams). They’re not trendy (I’d say they’re always in style) – but they’re beloved the world over. Oh and if “You’ll Never Walk Alone” doesn’t give you goose bumps, you have no soul.

      1. I’m not saying Gerrard isn’t a great player. But I’d put Lampard ahead as greatest English player of their generation.

      2. Their song, Fields of Anfield Road, is easily the best in England. Worth becoming a fan just for that. Google it. But I still think their fans smell.

    2. Lebron James does own some part of Liverpool…….If you can live with that. I also love the comparison between Gerard and Utley. Liverpool hit a big fiasco with investing in the wrong player (Andy Carrol = Andrew Bynum) and are still reeling from that, but it could be a lot tougher if Suarez is sold. He is the cannibalistic cousin of Sidney Crosby…very good, but you would probably flick him off if he was walking down the street. Sterling is a great young talent and Sturridge will be a quality fit as well.

  33. Kyle, love the fact that you wrote this and you’ve caught on. I just only hope you (and anyone else who is new to the sport and follows the Premier League) will soon give MLS a chance. The product on the field gets exponentially better every year while owners have rebranded teams across the league, making cringe-worthy brands like the Kansas City Wizards a thing of the past. The crowds are growing and younger players are coming. It’s really fun to watch the growth from year to year.

    1. It’s hard to applaud MLS branding when “Real Salt Lake” exists. That club would probably be better off with a Tiger-Pirate nickname.

      1. I can understand not liking “Real”, but I am not just talking about names. RSL is one of the best brands in the league and consistently put out an attractive, winning product. Modern soccer specific stadium, attractive kits, and a .willingness to pay for talent all really help their image.

  34. City is where its at. Always has been. When claudio Reyna was the us team captain and there starting center midfielder. They were awful. It is sad that similar to the 08 Pillies so many have jumped on the bandwagon. Aguero may also be one of the best players in the epl.

  35. You left out my team, West Ham United aka the Hammers aka the Irons. You also left out how most teams have a few “nicknames” which aren’t disclosed as openly as most teams in the US are so watching today’s game between West Ham & newly promoted Cardiff might confuse a new fan hearing someone yell “Come on Hammers” or seeing COYI on a friend’s Facebook page.and wondering what game they were watching.

    That being said, which MLB team would you compare West Ham to? I’d think of them as being a hybrid between the Phills & the Orioles or if you’re thinking NFL, the Eagles or Bears.

  36. much love to CB for showing proper football some love. No one is asking for extensive coverage of the epl….just acknowledgement is nice…

  37. How ignorant are you? You don’t care about the difference between Great Britain, Britain and England ?! Yet you want to say you support our teams ? Daft yank. Stick to what you know eh? Rounders and rugby with pads and helmets 🙂

    I feel sorry for the Spurs fan I really do. You have no business being in White Hart Lane.

    Why can you lot just follow your own teams, that’s what we do! Hence why London lads will attend Upton Park and Glasgow lads will attend Celtic park. You follow your local team! Hence your team picks you. You don’t pick your team.

  38. I’m not looking back but I’m fairly certain Kyle used BPL just the other day or week. I remember thinking who the fuck says that instead of EPL. Then a repost of this is too funny.

  39. Sad to look back at a good discussion of over 100 comments and to see the names of some good commenters that we no longer see. Now each post seems to have only 6 or 7 comments and they’re typically dick jokes that aren’t funny. Not saying it’s all Kyle’s fault. More of an observation I guess.

  40. Is still liking Man U considered a front runner since they suck the last year and r showing the same signs again after losing to Swansea

  41. Funny, I need a guide to becoming a soccer fan? If I remember correctly, I didn’t need a direction when it came to being an NFL fan, it just happened by watching my hometown team with my father and brother on t.v., and then eventually buying season tickets with my good friends. Same with hockey and baseball, there was no guide to becoming a fan, its a subconscious thing that just happens. If I have to be told how to be a fan and how to choose my team, what’s the point? Nothing against soccer fans, maybe it happened for them like it did me. But if you have to write an article on how to enjoy the sport more, you’re missing the point. One thing I will say about soccer fans, and I’m not trying to generalize here, just from experience, they will mock you if you don’t know every inner working of their sport. This makes it a pain to try to casually enjoy their sport. Rather than teach, they insult you, fuck that. I’m sure there’s someone who hates those fans of soccer, that is a soccer fan himself, but I haven’t found them yet.

  42. Rooting for an EPL team seems completely arbitrary and frought with weird white identity issues.

    Viva Liga MX.

  43. Kyle, you could have at least updated the Man City video to something that wasn’t taken down over a year ago, ya fuckin CUNT.

  44. Haha I love it how all these johnny come lately wannabe hipster fans like Kyle all picked Tottenham as their team. They tried to act like they weren’t being front runners by not picking any of the “big 4” at the time, but clearly tried to pick the next best team at the time. Spurs had some great young talent like Bale, Modric and Dos Santos, but all those guys are gone and they’ll likely be on the outside looking in to qualify for the champions league once again

    1. No, Mr. Laskowksi, Kyle did not pick Tottenham. Tottenham picked him. The blue-collar roots of Spurs just spoke to Kyle, the blogger from the Main Line.

      Who cares if he fucked up the first aspect and referred to them as “The Spurs”?

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