Friday, September 14, 2012

LIVERPOOL (how I became a fan)

I have long been a fan of the English Premier League (EPL).  Every chance I get I’ll watch just about any game.  Being a soccer (football) enthusiast, I love their style of play and the intense competition.  However, over the past few months, I’ve taken my love for the EPL to a new level.  I’ve mastered FIFA ’12 on Play Station 3.  There is an option where you get to be a player/manager, which allows you to set line-ups, sign players, buy and sell players, and develop youth squads.  I’ve used a number of different teams and won with all of them. 
However, the time has come for me to stop being a league generalist and become a true fan to one team.  I’ve never been to England (though I hope that changes in the future) and picking a team seemed like a daunting task.  How could I possibly know which team I want to throw my support behind?  So I decided to make a point system and rank all the eligible teams (more about that in a second).  After looking at a number of factors, it turns out that from now until forever more, I will be a fan of Liverpool (a.k.a. The Reds).    
This is my weird, completely subjective, and maybe crazy way of ranking each team.  I looked at 4 categories for each team and gave them a point value (1-5).  Here’s what I wanted in a team:
1) Team Uniform: Since I will probably buy a jersey, it has to be something I would wear.  Factors were color, sponsor, and design. 
2) Home Stadium: Eventually we will make it to Europe.  When we do, we’ll be making a trip to whatever team I pick and going to their game.  Their stadium had better be worth the trip. 
3) Their Team Logo: This might seem to overlap a little bit with the jersey, but the logo is vitally important.  It will go on hats, tee-shirts and just about anything else.  The logo has to be good. 
4) Players/Team Identity: How many players do I know on their team?  Are there any American players on their team that I could really root for?  Or is there any historical player or something special about that team? 
Now, I said I would do this for the “Eligible Teams.”  One of the things I really dislike in sports is the bandwagon fans.  Therefore, I had to throw out the top 4 teams in the league: Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea.  In my estimation, they are the top 4 most popular (trendy) teams right now—and for good reason, their good!  However, I am looking for a long term relationship, not a one year fling. 
Second, I have experienced enough pain as a Chicago Cubs fan to last a lifetime.  I can’t support another team that will consistently be at the bottom of the barrel.  And in the EPL that means you get relegated down to the next lower league (the Football League Championship).  So I need a team that isn’t  going to get relegated anytime soon.  Therefore, I eliminated Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Reading, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion, and Wigan Athletic. 

After all this, here is how the points shaped out for the eligible teams:
#1 Liverpool with 17 points.  Uniform: 4 points (here), Stadium: 4 points (This is Anfield), Logo: 4 points (here), Players: 5 points (Gerrard, Carroll, Cole, Carragher, Skrtel).  Icing on the cake: slogans like “You’ll never walk alone”, songs about their players, Iconic figures like Ian Rush, Beatles Museum in Liverpool and founded in 1892. 
#2 New Castle United with 12.5 points. Uniform: 4 points, Stadium: 3.5 points, Logo: 5 points, Players: 0 points.  Kick ‘em while their down: Nickname: The Magpies? 
#3 Sunderland with 11.5 points.  Uniform: 3, Stadium: 3.5, Logo: 5, Players: None
#4 Everton with 10 points.  Uniform: 2, Stadium: 3, Logo: 3, Players: 2 (Phil Neville & Tim Howard).  Kick ‘em while their down: Nickname: The Toffees (and your next to Liverpool).
#5 Aston Villa with 10 points. Uniform: 2, Stadium: 4, Logo: 3, Players: 1 (Eric Lichaj, US defender).  Icing on the cake: Nickname: The Villains.    
#6 Southampton with 9 points. Uniform: 2, Stadium: 4, Logo: 2, Players: 1 (Rickie Lambert).  Icing on the cake: Nickname: The Saints (which would be cool for a Chaplain to like the Saints).
#7 Tottenham Hotspur with 9 points. Uniform: 2, Stadium: 2 Logo: 2, Players: 3 (Friedel, Dempsey & VanderVart).  Kick ‘em while their down: Nickname: Lilywhites.
#8 Fulham with 8 points.  Uniform: 3, Stadium: 4.5, Logo: .5, Players: 0. 
#9 Stoke City with 7.5 points.  Uniform: 2, Stadium: 3.5, Logo: 2, Players: 1 (Geoff Cameron, US Defender). 
#10 West Ham United with 5 points.  Uniform: 1, Stadium: 1, Logo: 1, Players: 0, Iconic: 2 (Green Street Hooligans and the famous GSE given them 2 bonus points). 
There you have it.  While I will continue to be a general “fan” of the EPL, I will now always have a rooting interest in how the game effects my Reds.  Next purchase, probably a Steven Gerrard Jersey.