Join in the EPL fun

With another season of English Premier League soccer just over a week away, this is prime time for staking claims of the club you’ll support this season.

Don’t have a reason to like any particular team? Neither do we.

ESPN carries a lot of the games and it’s more fun if you have a team to root for. Most of the games are early in the day, so there’s nothing really good on TV anyway. Why not give soccer a shot?

Nick and Corey have already written good things about the upcoming EPL season. If you don’t know anything about the teams but want to join in the fun, Nick Mendola’s “Get yourself a club” post is definitely worth checking out.

Being a fan isn’t always about having the most rational reasons for following a team. In fact, most of the reasons someone starts liking a team (outside of being from that geographical area) are pretty silly if you think about it.

Drew Neitzel: Which hand will he shoot with? Nobody knows!

I’ve written before how I started following Michigan State because I bought a $10 jacket from Steve & Barry’s when I was in middle school. (You weren’t cool if you didn’t have a Steve & Barry’s jacket.) Since then, I’ve developed slightly better reasons for following MSU. Tom Izzo is one of the best college basketball coaches in the country and I really liked Drew Neitzel. The football team is a little bit harder to root for (because they usually suck), but I get a little excited when alumni, like Drew Stanton, get a few snaps in the NFL. Say something bad about Jeff Smoker and we might have problems.

As for my EPL team, which I formally chose last year, I just kind of picked one. I narrowed it down quickly, being smart enough to know that if you really want to pick a serious club, you pick one of the big four — Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool. They spend the money it takes to win and aren’t afraid of the transfer market, plus they’re usually at the top of the table (standings). Manchester City is becoming a big spender as well but lags behind in the championship category.

I knew I didn’t like Liverpool. Don’t ask me why (because I couldn’t tell you), I just don’t. So the Reds were out. I didn’t dislike Arsenal as much as Liverpool and I kind of liked United, but everybody likes Arsenal and Man U. If you really like them, that’s fine, but there’s too many bandwagon, wishy-washy “supporters” of those two clubs. I love the New York Yankees, but a lot of people who don’t know much baseball just say they like the Yankees too. I didn’t want to be one of those guys.

So I bought a Chelsea jersey.

My brother was looking online and there was a sale, so I picked one up for a good price and he bought an A.C. Milan jersey, the team I also support in the Serie A, but for a slightly more logical reasons.

The Terry Pegula do's and don'ts of Roman Abramovich: DO, win championships like him. DON'T buy 100 acres of land on the moon. I also wouldn't advise him to have a girlfriend like Abramovich, but if he wants to bring women like Darya Zhukova around in Buffalo, I'd don't think I'd mind.

I don’t know the history of the EPL like I know the American leagues but the more I read about Chelsea, it seems their recent success comes mostly from throwing big contracts at great players. But, as any fan of the Mets can tell you, that doesn’t always guarantee victory. There is definitely something to be said for the club’s performance under billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, who took over in 2003. In the years since, the team has never had a finish below third in the EPL: (starting with the most recent) second, first, third, second, second, first, first and second.

The club’s moves don’t always work out (looking at you, Fernando Torres), but if Terry Pegula has half the success of Abramovich, we’re in for a real treat.

Clubs that have somehow won my support in other leagues, usually for just as stupid of reasons:

  • Spain (La Liga): Real Madrid. The jersey hanging next to Chelsea in my closet.
  • France (Ligue 1): Olympique Lyonnais, or just Lyon. Several French championships and extremely efficient use of the transfer market. If they can replace you for an equal or better player at a cheaper price, they will.
  • Germany (Bundesliga): Bayern Munich. They’ve been pretty good and have had big-name players I recognized for as long as I can remember, though most of what I remember probably comes from FIFA video games.
  • USA (MLS): New York Red Bull. Started liking them when they were the New York/New Jersey MetroStars and had Eddie Pope, but probably just because New York City is so close.
  • Portugal (Primeira Liga): F.C. Porto. I own with them in FIFA. Kinda pissed they ditched the sponsorship for thier frog jerseys.
  • Turkey (Süper Lig): Galatasaray. Turkey is a lot more populous than you probably think. They love soccer and their teams, because of their population, are some of the most liked in all of Europe. I like Galatasaray, but mostly for the name.
  • Russia (Premier League): CSKA Moscow, but only because they’re money in ESPN’s Streak for the Cash.
  • Holland (Eredivisie): Ajax Amsterdam, or just Ajax. I don’t know, man. I just do.