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Who Should My Premier League Team Be?

January 6th, 2009 · 18 Comments · Hong Kong, soccer

I’m looking for help here.

Soccer is probably the biggest sport in China. And certainly in Hong Kong. Though the Chinese barely play the game, themselves. And pretty much ignore their worse-than-MLS domestic league.

What they seem to prefer … is watching the English Premier League. Which is being shown almost 24-hours-a-day on English-language cable. And can be seen in the TVs that all the coffee shops have.

I’m aware of the main names. Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal.

But which should be my team? The one I want to win every time out?

I have no childhood connection to anyone. None passed on by relatives.  None connected to geography.

So, I’m asking any and all of you: Which team should I support?

Manchester United clearly is huge. Probably the most popular team on the planet, is my impression. They had David Beckham, and now they have Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville … so they have star quality.

But there is a sort of “Yankees” feel to them, of having more resources than others and just spending their way into quality. I’m not sure I like that.

Liverpool seems a bit more homegrown, and currently leads the league (if I want to go with the front-runner syndrome), but I’ve been to Liverpool, and it’s a nasty place. (Or was in 1982, anyway.)

Chelsea, a London team, seems interesting. Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Didier Drogba … But is this a hated team, for some reason? Too preppy, or something?

Arsenal looks interesting. So does Aston Villa, another London team. Not one of the Big Four (the previously mentioned four teams), but they’re pretty good, and they’ve got Brad Friedel, the American, in goal. But, then, I’ve never really liked Friedel, and I hate Aston Villa’s uniforms, a hideous combination of purple and baby blue. (What?)

I’m probably leaning toward Arsenal. They play attacking soccer, perhaps to excess (not milking leads), and Arsene Wegner, the French coach, seems like a class act. AndTheo Walcott (the man who took Becks’ job, with the English team), Robin Van Persie and Denilson are interesting players. But, then, there’s something a little unsettling about an English team going years without starting a single English player. (That was Arsenal, wasn’t it?)

But I can be talked out of this. Maybe for something weird, even.

Like Nottingham Forest, which just upset Manchester City 3-0 in the FA Cup. Forest used to be a big player but now is in a lower league. I love the name, and the Robin Hood images … and they played out of their mind against City. But will they ever be at the top level again? Is that like rooting for the Toledo Mud Hens?

I need some help here. I will carefully consider any opinions. If I’m going to be bombarded by soccer,  I may as well have a rooting interest.

Or should I just drop England and go straight to a team in Italy or Spain?


18 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ryan // Jan 6, 2009 at 2:21 AM

    Go with Tottenham Hotspur. They’re based in London, have nice colors and uniforms (white and blue), have a lot of history, have amazing fans, are young with a good manager and aren’t one of the big four so there’s no issue with jumping on the bandwagon.

    Spurs have a long and illustrious history that dates back to their founding in 1882. Their two greatest achievements are being the first team in the 20th century to win the League and FA Cup double (1960-1961) and being the first British team to win a major European trophy when they won the European Winners Cup in 1963. Spurs won the Carling Cup last year making the 2000’s the six consecutive decade they have won a trophy, a feat only matched by Manchester United.

    Spurs play at White Hart Lane, a 75 year old stadium in the heart of North London. It’s charming and a great place to watch a match. They are moving out of WHL soon though as they’re building a new 60,000 seat stadium that will increase revenue and allow them to compete with the big 4 for a Champions League spot.

    The Spurs fans are absolutely amazing. They have a large following and a very vocal one. BBC or Sky Sports, I can’t remember which one, has been measuring decibel levels at EPL venues all season long and WHL has been the 2nd loudest venue. When Spurs play on the road they have fantastic support as well and fill their away support section each and every match.

    Currently, Spurs sit only one point out of the relegation zone, but don’t expect them to be there for long. The squad started off the season horribly under the direction of Juande Ramos, but he was sacked and replaced by Harry Redknapp. Since ‘Arry took over, Spurs have been playing much better, moving 4 spots up the table, advancing to the 4th round of the FA Cup, Round of 32 of the UEFA Cup and Semi-Finals of the Carling Cup. Every competition that Spurs entered this season they are currently still alive in so it should be a fun final half of the season.

    Spurs are led by the 23 year old midfield maestro Luka Modric, who transferred to the club this summer and is a Croatian international. Also playing prominent role in the club is 21 year old English international winger Aaron Lennon who suffered a dip in form following his participation in the 2006 World Cup, but has played at world class form this season. 24 year old midfielder David Bentlety, another English international also moved to the club this summer as did Euro 2008 sensation Roman Pavyuchenko and 19 year old Mexican international Giovani. On the back line Spurs has Jonathan Woodgate, who is playing like one of the league’s best defenders this year.

    Spurs are not content with their current form either so they will make moves this January to improve the squad. Michael Downing is a target right now, as is one of ‘Arry’s favorite Jermaine Defoe. One of the world’s premier defensive midfielders Stephen Appiah is a current target and I like our chances to bring him in. There was also a rumbling that Tottenham may make a play for Landon Donovan and Marcus Hahnemann, but I don’t see either of those going through If Appiah makes the move to the Lane and we can add a forward and central defender, Spurs should continue their excellent run of play and delight all their fans (which could include you).

    To make things more fun, Spurs are also part of one of England’s best rivalries. They and Arsenal take part in the North London derby, which dates back over 100 years and has an interesting history. The two teams play only four miles away from each other, making them natural rivals, but the hatred really began in 1919. Following the end of WWI, the First Division expanded by 2 teams and the league held a meeting to decide which two teams would join. Chelsea, who finished 19th in the prior season and would have normally been relegated was the first team chosen. Most expected either 20th place Spurs or Barnsley, who finished 3rd in the Second Division to get the second spot, but instead 6th place Second Division Arsenal were given the spot. Spurs accused Arsenal of bribery and the two clubs were never friendly again. Arsenal had dominated Spurs recently, but last season Spurs beat Arsenal 5-1 in the 2nd leg of the Carling Cup semifinals and the two squads played to a 4-4 draw in their first meeting this year. The rivalry between the two teams is arguably England’s finest and a treat to watch.

    There’s my (long) argument for Tottenham Hotspur. It never meant it to be so long, but in reality I could have gone on for much longer. Spurs is an amazing club with a bright future and are a treat for all Spurs fans to follow. We play an exciting brand of soccer and could find ourselves playing for a trophy again this season between the three Cups we are still in. Become a Spurs fan and I guarantee that you won’t regret it. If you’re not going to be a Spurs fan, just don’t be an Arsenal fan. They’re scum and even if you like their play, it may not be that way for long as they have cash flow problems due to the high cost of their new stadium and there are rumors of Wenger taking the Real Madrid job.

    P.S.- The reason people do not like Chelsea is because they were a bad to mediocre clubs for decades, but were bought by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. When Abramovih bought they club he brought Jose “the Special One” Mourinho in and gave him an unlimited bank account to sign the world’s top players. Mourinho did that and the club won a couple Premier League titles, although they came up short in the Champions League. People despise Chelsea for buying success and the millions of fans worldwide who jumped on the bandwagon of the winning team with all the world’s stars. Much to the Chelsea haters delight, Abramovich lost millions in the recent economic downturn and has reportedly told current manager Luiz Felipe Scolari that he will not have any money for transfers this winter.

  • 2 PZ // Jan 6, 2009 at 5:53 AM

    “So does Aston Villa, another London team.”

    Villa are actually based in Aston, a borough of Birmingham. They are owned by Randy Lerner (also owns the Cleveland Browns) and have been improving their overall results the last couple of years.

    Surprised you aren’t considering Newcastle as one of your choices. Granted, they are the ultimate underachievers but for someone from LA, they might be a good fit (though weather is slightly colder in Geordieland than So Cal) Also, they were the featured team in the first Goal movie.

  • 3 Ian // Jan 6, 2009 at 7:01 AM

    If you’re looking for an American flavor, Aston Villa is a nice team to like right now. They play really spirited football, they have a great manager in Martin O’Neill, and they have a REAL chance to crack the top 4 this year. And they’re owned by an American who has put a charitable organization on the front of his team’s shirts instead of a corporate giant. And they have Brad Friedel in goal, which is always nice.

    Fulham has Clint Dempsey really starting to make a name for himself.

    Everton has Tim Howard, who has kept the Toffees in more games than they deserve this season.

    The problem with Arsenal is that they’re going to turn into a whine-fest the second half of the season without buying players. Yes, they have some good talent, but they are WAY less of a team without Fabergas, and he’s out till at least April.

    I’ve been a Man Yoo fan since you’ve known me, which was before Beckham, but these days, I really enjoy watching Villa, so you could pick a worse team.

    If you just want to choose an underdog, watch Hull City have its ups and downs. They’re a lot of fun, too.


  • 4 Ian // Jan 6, 2009 at 7:04 AM

    I missed your Friedel knock. Oh well.

    Villa is still a hell of a lot of fun to watch, even in Claret and Blue. And at least they’re better than West Ham United, who have the same crappy colors.

  • 5 David // Jan 6, 2009 at 7:50 AM

    Check out this article by Bill Simmons…good read, and helpful for this task.
    I chose Fulham back in the days when Brian McBride went overseas.

  • 6 Dave Gaytan // Jan 6, 2009 at 9:59 AM

    You can’t go wrong with a name like Sheffield Wednesday.

  • 7 Dennis Pope // Jan 6, 2009 at 11:11 AM

    I picked up on Reading, currently second in the Championship, when USMNTer Bobby Convey signed there in 2004. They also have former USMNT goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann.

    Convey hasn’t really done anything since ’05-’06, when he led Reading to its first-ever promotion to the Premiership; Hahnemann has four clean sheets in 22 matches this season.

    After two seasons in the Premiership, the Royals were relegated on the last day of last season. They look poised for a return, though, and are locked in a tight battle with Wolverhampton and Birmingham for promotion.

    They date back to 1871 and were formerly called The Biscuitmen, after the main trade in town, Huntley & Palmers’ Biscuits. They’re now called the Royals, in part, because the biscuit factory closed down in the ’70s, but also because of their association with the Royal County in Berkshire.

    Their most hated rivalry is with a team that no longer exists, Aldershot FC, although Reading fans still reportedly maintain tensions with residents of Aldershot. I find that interesting.

    Also, and I don’t know if this helps or hurts, but actress Kate Winslet in their most famous fan.

  • 8 David Lassen // Jan 6, 2009 at 3:27 PM

    Funny, I just went through this and, within the last week, settled on Aston Villa — mostly because they aren’t in the Big Four (which would seem too much like suddenly deciding to follow baseball and choosing the Yankees or Red Sox) but are playing some really entertaining games every time I see them.

    I thought about Tottenham, too — how can you not like that name? — but ultimately their astonishingly boring uniforms did them in.

  • 9 Dan Hawkins // Jan 7, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    I know it will be difficult but trust me, Ryan is right: You want Tottenham. My sources are excellent, and I do recall circa ’86 that we esteem soccer — from the spectator’s perspective — about the same. Plus, you’re no babe in the Nottingham woods on these relatively exotic rivalries (or on much else). You did after all assign me to Aussie Rules Football during our few seasons in the Sun.

    Peace out,

  • 10 Brian Robin // Jan 8, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    I love this subject. In fact, whenever I talk to someone from the UK, I always ask them who their team is and how they came about that decision.

    Feel free to ignore everything Ryan said, PaulO. You don’t want to root for the Spurs, because they are a mediocre franchise without any redeeming qualities, other than being in London.

    Their overall idiocy and ham-handeness in the transfer market will remove what’s left of your hair. Besides, that “exciting” brand of soccer in Tottenham’s case means they don’t play a shred of defense, although that may change under new manager Harry Redknapp.

    Like you, I’m a relative arriviste to soccer, enjoying my crash course through my kids and through one Damian Secore.

    When I pondered my decision, I immediately ruled out ManU and Chelsea (more on them in a moment) for the same reasons David Lassen did. It’s like coming over here and rooting for the Yankees.

    I looked at Fulham because of all the Americans. At one time last year, they started six Yanks. But I didn’t need the aggravation of rooting for a team constantly in danger of relegation.

    My grandmother was born in London, so I gravitated to Arsenal. Behind Arsene Wenger — one of the greatest managers in the game today — the Gunners play the game the way it’s supposed to be played: free-flowing passing and constant movement.

    Yes, Cesc Fabregas — one of the best midfielders in the world — is hurt. He’ll be back later this spring.

    Unlike other teams, you’re not going to see trench-warfare soccer with a Wenger team. And feel free to ignore the Wenger-to-Real rumors and the stadium cost issue. Even with the cost of moving to the Emirates, the team is bringing in more than a million pounds more per game as a result of their new digs.

    I’ll agree with Ryan on one issue: the Arsenal-Tottenham rivalry is one of the more entertaining ones in all of sports.

    Just whatever you do, PaulO, don’t jump on the Chelsea bandwagon.

    Aside from the obvious bandwagon implications and Steinbrennerian comparisons to Roman Abramovich, Chelsea has long been the darling of the anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobes in England.

    That Abromovich is a Russian Jew doesn’t detract one iota from that blotch. I’m not sure that little tidbit would go over well with you — or on the homefront.

  • 11 Brian Robin // Jan 8, 2009 at 1:25 PM

    And BTW, if I didn’t give you enough reasons to dislike Chelsea, Ashley Cole is a tool.

    We’re talking about a player who demanded a transfer from Arsenal because 110,000 pounds a week wasn’t enough.

    Theo Walcott is one of the most exciting players not many casual soccer fans have heard of. Gael Clichy is one of the best wing defenders in Europe and even without Thierry Henry and the craziness that was Jens Lehmann in goal, Arsenal is a logical choice.

    It’s the best of all worlds: a good team in a great city that isn’t a bandwagon jump.

    Stick with your gut and join me as an Arsenal fan.

  • 12 Cindy Robinson // Jan 9, 2009 at 8:53 AM

    well, you could choose the way I would…who has the best looking team? LOL

  • 13 Jason // Jan 18, 2009 at 1:52 AM

    Personally I support Newcastle and then Tottenham and possibly Liverpool. Obviously you can have some leaning to a big four team, but don’t make it your first one. Look up some of the team songs on youtube and see if their “personality” sways you, like Blowing Bubbles (West Ham) or Blue Moon (Man City). Newcastle is quite good as people are surprised and impressed if you choose it, (not exactly a fashionable club.) At the end of the day though, just choose a team and follow passionately, there’s nothing I hate more than a Chelsea or Man United fan who doesn’t even know what their players are or where they play, (I once met a Celtic fan who thought they played in Edinburgh.)

    P.S: You could support Wolves? (Coolest name ever, full name :Wolverhampton Wanderers.)

  • 14 jared // Jul 18, 2009 at 1:58 PM

    hi. i have had the exact same problem yet im english and ive been changing teams for a while now. so here is my reasoning.
    although many people like arsenal, who wants to support a team with the word arse in it, i mean come on its just embarrasing.
    personnaly aston villa’s kit colour isnt very nice and i do know teams that are more fun to watch. if it were me support a team who are in the middle. its more fun. eventually supporting one of the big four teams is boring as when they always win there just isnt any point.
    i quite like man city as their kit is unique yet i find them pretty interestiong to watch.
    also tottenham hotspurs is a good team and are fairly consistent. (although there was one bad season at 08/09) but still a good team.
    stoke and hull have come up last season and both managed to stay in the premier league. this is a good thing and hard to do. so why not support them.
    also portsmouth are hilarious to watch when they always lose yet they still mange to stay in. its great! i love watching portsmouth play and i think i sway toward them alot.
    i hope you have enjoyed my comments and for the love of good please dont be a scouse and support liverpool or everton. thankyou

  • 15 MavKing43 // May 4, 2010 at 8:04 AM

    Liverpool,because of Torres and their spaniards, and then Tottenham !
    Both for their history !

  • 16 Shanghai Dutchman // May 14, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    I have a similar situation here in Shanghai, problem is, I already have my team to support in the Netherlands, SC Heerenveen, though Dutch football is almost never aired here in Shanghai, let alone SC Heerenveen matches… its almost exclusively EPL… now, a mate of mine supports man city, so I’ve tried them on for size, but they’re not really my taste, dunno, something about them just doesn’t speak to me, may also have something to do with them being bought by I beleive some Saudi and now suddenly having an endless amount of funds for transfers…
    then I tried Newcastle, wich really is a team I like, though I’m choosing a team to follow here, and relegation threats kind of negates that.. finally I’m settling for Liverpool… several reasons for this, first of all, even though I’m dutch, they’re the first team I’ve ever seen live when I was 6 and living in Singapore… was a friendly with Man U.. secondly, Their Goalies’ name is Reina, which is my mother and my daughter’s name, and finally I like the support and history, especially the respect the supporters show for the 96… I’m still a little on the fence, I’ll get a feel for it in the next season, but I’m pretty sure this one will stick.

    its a process

  • 17 Arsenal Is My Team, After All // Sep 14, 2010 at 2:22 AM

    […] is the end of a process that began in Hong Kong nearly two years ago when I did a post entitled, Who Should My Premier League Team Be? and got lots of […]

  • 18 Barry Horton // Jan 28, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    My ancestory is from counties of Yorkshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Wiltshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire…I am US born and finally really getting into Primer League thank to FoxSoccer network. From an ancestory perspective of residence, which team should I follow?

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