In this thread, I become an English Premier League fan.

It all started with the Sports Guy, as all good sports stories should. Bill Simmons, writer for ESPN's Page 2 website and all around funnyman, decided after the World Cup that he needed to get in on the English Premier League, a division of soccer play that ranks up there as one of the best leagues in the world. And when the sports are good, so are the fans.

Think of the EPL as 20-team league where everyone hates each other as much as the Red Sox hate the Yankees. Teams stand for their cities (or parts of cities; a few teams divvy up London) like the knights of times past, representing hundreds of thousands of people still pissed over 1,000-year-old territory disputes and who did or didn't side with the Roman Empire. And the teams are all a day's drive away from each other, so legions of supporters can inundate a rival town with different-colored jerseys on a whim.

It's a British civil war, and it's awesome.

Simmons put together quick mini-reviews of all 20 teams, focusing ultimately on six. I started talking to Shannon, our Industry Relations dude, and we both decided we'd read up a bit more on each of the teams and come up with favorite EPL teams of our own.

Ultimately, we both were able to narrow it down to two teams:

Shannon was tossed up between Chelsea, because he liked the idea of a Russian mobster who kills his business rivals playing the Russian national anthem before every game, and New Castle, because he really likes New Castle beer and behaving worse than Raiders fans.

I narrowed it down to Manchester United; being a Yankee fan, I'm used to catching hell for "money ball," and it's good to be the king. Also in the running was Liverpool, because Simmons described them as the Red Sox of the EPL, while Manchester United was the Yankees. I've always wanted to know how the other half lived.

But liking two teams didn't really make us fans, did it? No, you can't truly be a fanatic until you look upon all teams but yours as the scum of the universe; players you wouldn't brake in the street for, at least until they're wearing the right color jersey. So, we appealed for help.

We contacted one of the few British guys on our wavelength, our very own contributing writer, Spanner.

In an email, I described where Shannon and I were coming from, and asked him to evaluate our choices. In a couple hours, he returned with more help than we rightfully deserved.

Turns out, Spanner isn't much of a soccer fan, but he's been to New Castle, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester. So, instead of filling us in on the teams, he told us about each of the towns. And really, the team itself is less important than the people you're going to be in the stands cheering with.

As it turns out, New Castle is a pretty nice place to be, and if you order New Castle beer while in a bar (provide you pronounce it "Nuke 'Assle"), you're leaving that pub with friends for life.

Chelsea, however, sounds a lot like Orange County, CA, where your "butler has to drive a Range Rover" in order for you to fit in.

Shannon drives a Toyota, so he went with New Castle.

Spanner went on to describe Manchester as "cosmopolitan," with a thriving gay scene (not that there's anything wrong with that) and an awesome Chinatown. It's also in the northern part of the country. Sounds a bit like San Francisco, no? I like San Francisco a lot, but Liverpool spawned the Beatles (also, they're sponsored by Carlsberg, one of our first sponsors).

Well, that's about the only good thing Liverpool has ever spawned, and Spanner hears tell that John Lennon beat his first wife. He went on to mention that people from Liverpool barely speak English (this coming from an Englishman, so you know it's bad) and he mentioned something about "Scousers" only liking their own kind.

So, Manchester it is!

And with the help from a friend across the pond, Shannon and I were able to take our first step toward being right, proper Englishmen. We've already found scarves and jerseys on eBay, and we drink like fish. Now, I only have to get used to calling it "football."

So, I pose it to you, socc- football fans: Are our choices sound? And how does one "bend it like Beckham"?

I feel like a tourist in a strange land. I don't know the sport, I barely understand the lingo, and yet at the same time, I am very excited about being a member of the Toon Army.

I really think one of them should have picked Arsenal. They are amazing, and that isn't even counting Thierry Henry!

It's all about Joe Red, man.

Also, picking up some midfield help after moving Ruud to Real Madrid is only going to help Manchester this year.

(See? I almost know what I'm talking about!)

Well, I must say that this sound promising, though I've never really understood how someone so eagerly can support a team to which they have no real connection? This is common in Europe, many people are die-hard fans of teams from other countries. I belong to the minority in Norway since I don't have a favorite team from either England, Italy or Spain.

And a few tips: Don't forget to sit benched in your couch every time you team plays and shout obscenities at the judge, remember, as a supporter and football-fan _you_ are the one who knows best how one to play, what tactics to use and if that player was in offside (the officially "hardest" rule to understand in football, learn it and impress all your friends) or not.

PS: The football-team is called Newcastle, not New Castle.

Ummm....
Gooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!

Yeah Newcastle is two words. It was hilarious to read that, the inbalance of knowledge of eachother's cities across the Atlantic. I'd imagine everyone in the UK knows what "Frisco" is like, yet Americans have no idea about Manchester.

Just to warn you mancunians are also pretty hard to understand. Nowhere near as bad as scousers though, who manage to roll around a good deal of phelgm with every letter.

The fact Chelsea is a horrible part of London full of rich people doesn't stop other people all around the country supporting them though. If they're in the Premiership they are liked.

Couple of things:

In Newcastle they hate Sunderland, the town further up north, and vice versa

Newcastle people= Geordies (Name for type of lamp used in coal mining)
Sunderland people= Makkums (They made boats "We mak 'em")
Liverpool= scousers
Birmingham= Brummies
Manchester= mancunians.

Can't think of any more.

Northran:
Well, I must say that this sound promising, though I've never really understood how someone so eagerly can support a team to which they have no real connection?

Really, it's just more fun to be a fanatic than to not. It's easier to get into the sport when you have the frame of reference a favorite team can provide. Shannon and I went the way of EPL because the American MLS league kinda sucks. We picked pretty arbitrarily, but if someone from Europe were trying to get into baseball, I wouldn't be too surprised to see them pick in a similar way.

And a few tips: Don't forget to sit benched in your couch every time you team plays and shout obscenities at the judge, remember, as a supporter and football-fan _you_ are the one who knows best how one to play, what tactics to use and if that player was in offside (the officially "hardest" rule to understand in football, learn it and impress all your friends) or not.

As a longtime sports fan, I've become a pro at screaming obscenities at pretty much anything resembling a sports official. Bud Selig, I'm going to kill you someday.

Offside: When a player is behind the defensemen without the ball. The whistle's blown if the ball passes behind the defensemen. No? It's like hockey but the defensemen determine the offside rather than the blue line.

Northran:
Well, I must say that this sound promising, though I've never really understood how someone so eagerly can support a team to which they have no real connection? This is common in Europe, many people are die-hard fans of teams from other countries. I belong to the minority in Norway since I don't have a favorite team from either England, Italy or Spain..

When Dennis Bergkamp left Ajax (Amsterdam, Holland) to grace the English fields with his un-matched techniques and style, I became an Arsenal fan almost overnight.. (Go Gunners Go!)

What I'm trying to say is, it is not neccesary to be bound to a city to enjoy a certain clubs style of football. Barcelona is admired by ppl the world over because of their style of playing etc..

my two isk..

Man U is indeed the correct choice, the only choice a sane man would make!

Roman can go to hell with all his blood-money, disrupting Premier League, buying up a round of great players, and now they won the last two years! But now we are in the lead, and they are beneath us like the dogs they are.

We have previously kicked their asses, 93, 94, 96, 97, 99, 2000, 2001, 2003, all Man U's! First place.

Our players are some of the best in the world at what they do, and in their position, but Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Louis Saha is the most stand-out players right now.

Just take a look at what amazing things they can do with the ball:

Cristiano Ronaldo - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL5cSfxV5Gs
Wayne Rooney - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6joB2HvO4Ok
Louis Saha - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9rfgRmGxcI

These are just random videos I found right now, and in no way represent the best of these players, these are just glimpses of some of the marvels they are able to perform.

Cristiano Ronaldo

This is a player with amazing raw talent, young, and have time to grow, a lot, which he will, he's still a rookie in terms of play-time, and do rookie mistakes, he doesn't possess the breadth of view, yet, but in time he will. He has speed, finesse, shot. Ronaldo is the kind of player that can see a 30 meter pass coming, get in the right position when its heading down,
deaden the ball on the spot and go past three or four defenders and make the goal.

Wayne Rooney

Rooney is power. Simply stated. If you don't move he will run you over, his strength allows him to plow through players, and his shot will rip holes in anyone stupid enough to stand in the way. What he lacks in technique and finesse his strength, motivation and work-hard attitude makes up for, ten times. Because of this he will at times do things that seem impossible, defenders stands around looking like monkeys scratching their heads after his goals. They don't know how he got past, because they don't know what just hit 'em. Wayne Rooney, that's what. Now step aside.

Louis Saha

What can I say, the man always knows where to stand, he pick-pockets goals, and have the uncanny ability to receive any pass, no matter how hard, high or low, he can get it and let off a controlled shot, even direct ones. This, combined with his unnerving ability to always be in the right position, his cool head and confidence is what makes him a world class player and top finisher. Take notice.

BTW: If you are a Chelsea-fan (God forbid!), you are blue-blooded, as for us Man U fans, we're red-blooded, like any human being should be.

I just saw this thread and thought it was great!

I'm a Manchester United fan too and times have been good of late. We won the premier league in 2006-2007 and again in 2007-2008. Last season we also won the European Champions League and in December we won the World Club Cup. This year we have won the Carling Cup, are currently leading the league, are in the semi final of the FA cup and the quarter final of the Champions League.

Good times indeed.

 

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