SEC Football Fans, Here’s How to Pick a Premier League Team
Yes, I (Jason) am still writing about soccer.
Why, you ask? Well, a lot of you really enjoyed the World Cup this year. A lot of you want to keep watching soccer. Do I have any evidence to back any of that up? Any mentions on Twitter asking me for more soccer posts? No, but I know you’ve just been too afraid to ask. I’m anticipating your needs. I’m cool like that.
Next week (Aug. 14th), the Barclays Premier League—in my opinion the best soccer league in the world from top to bottom—will kick off its regular season. If you enjoyed World Cup Soccer I think you will enjoy the Premier League. Why? Because as I said before, soccer played at the highest level on the biggest stage in the world is great television.
But the problem you might have is feeling completely uninvested in any team in this “Premier League.” With the World Cup you had America to root for. Now, what are you gonna do? Just pick a team? That makes you like those people in high school who were randomly Auburn fans all of sudden in 2004. No one likes to feel like a fan with an illegitimate rooting interest.
Here’s the thing though. You don’t live in England. You didn’t grow up a fan of a certain soccer club. So you’re not going to have a legitimate rooting interest anyway; at least, not in the way we judge legitimacy for college sports fandom here in the US.
You are totally allowed to just pick a team.
Afterwards, however, you must follow the rules of fandom:
1.) The Miami Heat Rule: Don’t switch teams if your team sucks.
2.) The #FSUTwitter Rule: Don’t be a jerk to other fans in person or on the interwebs. Remember, you’re just in this for fun. And doesn’t that sound like a huge relief for some of you football fans out there?
So, now that we’ve established the ground rules let’s talk about which team is right for you.
I’m going to start this guide off by pointing out the central problem of the Premier League (and most of the major soccer leagues in the World, for that matter): a complete lack of parity.
Here’s the only stat you need to see in order to understand this: Since 1992, the year the Barclays Premier League was founded, there have been only 5 different champions. Yes, you read that correctly. For the past 22 years of play only 5 teams have won the league title. They are Manchester United (13), Chelsea (3), Arsenal (3), Manchester City (2), and Blackburn (1).
That stat is flat out staggering. To put it in perspective, imagine if USC, Florida, Oklahoma, and Alabama had been the only national champions for the past 20 years.
The same BPL teams that have always been great are the same teams that will be great this year. There are Cinderella stories out there, but they don’t typically end in Championships. Thus, if you want a team that won’t be stuck down at the bottom of the league (“bottom of the table” as they say across the pond) you want to focus your attention on the following teams: Man U, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham, and Everton.
You can also pick a total Cinderella if you want, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
In fact, one last warning. There is this thing in the Premier League called “relegation” and another thing called “promotion.”
Basically relegation boils down to this: the teams that finish in the last three spots of the Premier League get dumped out of the league and into the 2nd-tier of English Soccer. In American terms, this would be like if the Kansas City Royals got dumped into the minor leagues for finishing last.
Add to that promotion, which means that the top three teams of the 2nd-tier get promoted into the Premier League. So not only do three major league teams get dumped down but three minor league teams get promoted up to English Soccer’s equivalent of the MLB. It’s pretty awesome. And it makes those end of the season games between the two last place teams mean EVERYTHING. All of a sudden you’re really interested to watch the crummiest teams in this league play each other.
BUT. If you pick a Cinderella and they end up sucking then next year they could no longer be in the Premier League.
Here’s how we’re gonna do this. I’m assuming most of you know absolutely nothing about any of the teams I mentioned above, except for having seen their names trending on Twitter (we soccer fans own Twitter, btw). So the easiest way to do this is to give you an American equivalent of the BPL teams I already mentioned and—hell let’s get crazy—the rest of the league. There are 20 teams in the BPL. Just so you know before we start, I picked Liverpool. I don’t judge though. Before our comparisons watch this awesome video of Jason Sudeikis comparing every BPL team to the Dallas Cowboys (who do not appear on this list, btw).
Now on to our comparisons. I’ll also give you a Top goals of the year video because, who knows, maybe a certain goal will win you over.
Arsenal – Auburn
They don’t have the most titles. They don’t have the most money. They don’t have the worst fans. They’re also unquestionably not the greatest. They’re just good. Always. Like clockwork. They have the coolest logo and the best nickname in the entire Premier League. They’re also damn fun to watch, like a Malzahn offense. If you pick Arsenal you’re gonna see some great stuff. Like this goal, which is the only one you need to see from Arsenal last season.
Aston Villa – Houston Rockets
Aston Villa is a really successful club. They’ve won several championships but those championships were a long time ago. And yet they haven’t fallen out of relevancy somehow. They’re usually middle of the pack. But they’re always there. Just hanging around. Also, they’re in an absolutely terrible geographic location. Let’s be real, so are the Rockets.
Burnley – David Duval
Ok, this one is a little weird but hear me out. Burnley holds the odd distinction of winning all four of the top English Soccer professional divisions. They are recently promoted to the Premier League. In other words, they won something really special once (i.e. the Golf trivia question waiting to happen that is Duval’s British Open win in 2001) but haven’t won anything in a long, long time. Comparison seems accurate.
Chelsea – Alabama if coached by Steve Spurrier
This one was a tough one which made the hybrid a necessary choice. Chelsea is a team known for their defensive prowess. Hence, Alabama. But they also have a coach that everyone other than Chelsea fans absolutely loves to hate, even though he is undoubtedly a genius. Moreover, he’s a smooth, suave, no holds barred media troll. Like an ol’ ball coach we all know. Hence, Bama as coached by Spurrier. If you like that sort of thing then go ahead and pick them. I’m not gonna judge you. Well, maybe I am a little bit. I’m probably still bitter about this though…
Crystal Palace – Memphis Grizzlies
You never really know what the hell you’re gonna get from Palace. Their uniforms are two different colors set side-by-side and man is that fitting. But there is one thing that is an absolute guarantee when it comes to Palace and the Grizz: they’re cold-blooded giant killers who ain’t scared to play any-damn-body. Every single “power” of the Premier League have been victims to their buzzsaw. Furthermore, Rebecca Lowe, the very beautiful Chief Presenter for NBC Sports, is also a Palace supporter. So you’re in good company.
Everton – Los Angeles Dodgers
This club is old. They are a founding member of the pro league in which they exist. Furthermore, they won lots of championships back in the day. Then they went through a drought of sorts but have since rallied back to form. The real kicker in this comparison: they have a great young pool of talent behind that revival and everyone (even rival fans like me) know that it is better for the sport when this franchise is good. Also, Everton goals are better in French….
Hull City – Milwaukee Brewers
They’re not really any good. They’ve never been all that good. But they have cool uniforms. Not much else here really. ‘Cept awesome goals sometimes….
Leicester City – Ole Miss
They are perennial bottom feeders. They have never won a championship. They are recently promoted. They might actually be decent this year. And no one will be upset if they are. Not a team to pick if you want a shot at ever seeing your team win a title.
On a more fun note, their nickname—as you might guess from their crest—is “the foxes.” All that means is that you’d better be ready for me to tweet out the following every time they score a goal…
Also be sure you catch the third goal in this montage. Just how…?
Liverpool – Chicago Cubs/University of Georgia
This club is a top tier team year after year with a rich history and an outstanding fan base. They have by far the most famous chant in the BPL (“You’ll Never Walk Alone”). They have had some of the more memorable moments in league history. They also have several championships in their history. But that was a long, long, long time ago. Or at least it feels that way.
Liverpool’s case is not quite so bad as the Cubs. The difference is that Liverpool has never won a Premier League title. They won several championships in the top league before the PL. But none since. And the bad beats that prevented them from finally capturing that title have been absolutely brutal. Last year gave you a perfect example. Liverpool was up 3 goals on Crystal Palace. If they were to go on and win the league title would’ve been all but their’s. Then in the 78th minute they began the slow motion car crash of epic proportions that only teams like Liverpool, UGA, and the Chicago Cubs can pull off.
Sure, join me in supporting them if you want. But as a UGA fan, which I assume are most of you reading this site are, I can tell you that you probably don’t need another team in your life that is going to gut you and leave you for dead.
Awesome things will also happen though. Like this game (even though Suarez is gone)…
Manchester City – Boston Red Sox
You know I had a really tough time getting to this one. Looking back it shouldn’t have been that difficult seeing as we all know who Manchester United really are. Man City are the Boston Red Sox in that they are a team that have been around forever and have a storied past. Then there was a long long title drought (No title since the 70’s for Man City). After all of that history the team was purchased by an ownership group of oil barons from the Middle East. Then voila! Two championships since the 2010’s. Money can fix anything.
Manchester United – New York Yankees (duh)
You can’t get away from this comparison. And I really don’t mean for it to carry the usual negative connotation that non-Yankee fans intend when they drop the term “Yankee.” Man U are the Yankees because they have lots of money, they’ve always had lots of money, and they win everything. Man U has won the Premier League title 13 out of the past 22 years. If anyone in the SEC did that we’d be calling them the greatest college football dynasty of all time and it wouldn’t even be a conversation.
Man U is the best soccer club in the Premier League’s history. Granted, they had an absolutely horrible year last year. They lost their “Bear Bryant” to retirement in Sir Alex Ferguson. And sure enough they hired their “Ray Perkins” in David Moyes right afterwards. Man U finished 7th, their worst finish since the 1980’s. They won’t be down for long, and if you pick ManU most people will judge you. But not me.
Newcastle United & Sunderland – Cleveland Browns & Pittsburgh Steelers
I put two teams together here because they only work as a pair. Newcastle and Sunderland are two separate clubs that hate each other. They’re from North England and they are as blue-collar as they come. But they hate each other. They’re not usually all that great and Sunderland has Jozy Altidore, but man do they hate each other. Did I mention that they hate each other? Because they do.
Their matches against each other are dubbed “Tyne-Wear Derby” (‘derby’ is British for ‘rivalry’) and they are usually exceptional entertainment. Check out the sheer amount of police it took to get Sunderland fans into the stadium last year.
And then Sunderland won on a last second winner and basically rushed the pitch…
This year will be a little bit different due recent to tragic events. It turns out that two Newcastle super fans were aboard the shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. There will obviously be very emotional tributes to these guys and we can only hope that some of the insanity will be tapered by shared human decency.
Queens Park Rangers – South Carolina
They’re pretty good. They’ve been around for a while. But they’ve never really won anything worth winning. And no one really knows if they ever will. But there are people who somehow still root for them.
Although, even this writer has to admit that the way they gained promotion—a last second winner in a playoff final—was magnificent.
Southampton – Florida Marlins
They’re the furthest South team in the Premier League, and all they do is produce the best players in the world then sell them to everybody. And I mean errybody. They’ve sold pretty much their entire team this offseason. Should be fun to watch.
Speaking of, I tried to find a goal video for Southampton but literally every good one was by a player who is no longer there. Sheesh.
Stoke City – Harvard
Are Stoke City fans the smartest fan base in the BPL? Hell no. Is the area the team occupies a center of intellect and culture? Nope, nope, nope. Fact is, the comparison works because Stoke is super old. Like the oldest old to ever old. They are the oldest football club in the Premier League and the second oldest in England. They’ve been playing soccer officially since 1863, i.e. since the middle of the Civil War. If old is your thing then here is your team.
Also, their goalie scores goals!!!
Swansea City – Winnipeg Jets
Yeah so the Winnipeg Jets aren’t American. I know. Fun fact: Swansea isn’t in England it is in Wales. So you see, both of these teams are from—as Forrest Gump would say—“like a whole other country.” They’re also not super good but it would be cute if they were. They are better than most at the bottom but nothing super special happening here.
Tottenham Hotspurs – New York Jets
They are one of the most storied teams in the Premier League and, thanks to that Jason Sudeikis video I embedded, one of the most popular choices for new fans. Yet, in spite of their ubiquity you might be surprised to know that they haven’t won all that much. They’ve only won the top league in English Soccer twice. They’ve won the assorted Tournaments and Cups a good bit, especially in the 60’s. But still, in spite of just hanging around without winning anything significant, people still love to love this team. And that’s not a bad thing. Hopefully they won’t draft Tim Tebow any time soon.
West Bromwich Albion – Arkansas
You know that team that has a rich history but it’s not really a history you wanna remember? Yeah, this is West Brom. Like Arkansas, West Brom was an original member of a great soccer league. West Brom has actually been playing soccer under that name since 1888. The real link to Arkansas, however, is this: West Brom has the best—and by best I mean the most ridiculous—cheer in all of the Barclays Premier League.
They literally just say “BOING” a lot. Here’s evidence:
And now some goals:
If I’m being real, I really like West Brom it’s just that they suck so I don’t see rooting for them paying out many dividends.
West Ham United – Oakland Raiders as coached by Dabo Swinney
Crazy ass fans that brawl all the damn time coached by a guy that seriously is sometimes unintelligible in his post-game press conferences. The Hammers are for the folks who just want to have a good fight every now and then. And win just about as often. You’ll find them right smack in the middle of the table and, typically, not going anywhere.
Well, that’s it. You can watch every single match live on NBC, NBCSN, or on NBC’s live streaming service NBC Live Extra (free so long as you have a cable package with NBCSN). So no excuse for missing a single game of whichever team you pick. Now, in the immortal words of @celebrityhottub,…
Posted on August 10, 2014, in Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Blog, Georgia Bulldogs, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, SEC, South Carolina Gamecocks, Tennessee, Texas A&M, The UGA Vault, Vanderbilt, World Cup. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.