This past weekend, bleary-eyed people started excusing themselves for an early morning drink at bars across the United States because the English Premier League started. With futbol reaching a fever pitch of popularity in the States, the Premier League has become the hot ticket to watch for people who will go out of their way to tell you they don’t even like sports.
But with the popularity of the sport on the rise, that means there is a lot of history, understanding and game knowledge that you need to learn. Who are the people worth paying attention to? What teams are worth cheering for? What teams are not worth cheering for? How do you translate your fandom onto an entirely new (to you) industry? More importantly, who should I cheer for?
I briefly followed some Premier League matches last year and plucked out of nowhere Aston Villa before sleeping in on the weekend just became too large of a priority. But it’s a new season, a new enthusiasm to get locked into the dense world of English Football. But where exactly does one start? There are primers based on which celebrity roots for the team, but if I’m going to choose a club to cheer for based on the most minuscule of pertinent facts, why not leave it up to you readers? There are some easy choices, so let’s get those out of the way
Arsenal seem like the standard fare for “American who watch EPL.” It’s a fine decision and lots of people like them, but it’s not a very interesting choice. We can do better!
Pass. I’d rather just watch Man U matches to see which version of Wayne Rooney’s hair shows up. Rooting for Man U is like cheering for a combination of the Lakers and Yankees; it’s not the worst choice, but you’ll probably come off sounding like this guy:
— Baseball's Best Fans (@BestFansStLouis) August 6, 2015
Sunderland, Aston Villa, West Brom, etc. (ie: The Middle of the Pack)
Teams that will stick around, occasionally keep it interesting but won’t move the needle into exciting championship runs or heart-deteriorating dives into relegation. They’re probably good starter teams, at least to get yourself familiar with the league and it’s movements.
The Relegation Teams
One of the more innovative aspects of the EPL is relegation—the worst teams are bumped down to a lower league while the best teams of that second-tier league are promoted up. It adds excitement and provides a reason for competition among the cellar-dwellers. Just nobody tell this plan to the NBA or Sam Hinkie is a goner.
This years three teams that were promoted are Norwich City, Watford, and Bournemouth. Norwich uses the nickname of the Canaries, while Bournemouth are the Cherries, which is delightful, so picking a team to cheer for based on their team name isn’t the worst idea for a sports fan.
So what should I do? Who should I start to follow? I’m open to any compelling cases even for the teams I’ve already written off (because I’m spineless, that’s why) and concede all Premier League knowledge to people who are smarter than me.