Friday, August 26, 2011

Premier League Best (Worst) XI Hair Side

There used to be a time when if you were clad in white boots on the pitch and weren't a straight baller (even if you were a straight baller) some thickly proportioned center half would make it his duty to break both of your legs just above the ankles of said white boots. Real players wore black and had conservative haircuts and certainly didn't wear their socks above their knees. Times have changed. Just the other day, some teammates and I rested between matches at a tournament and watched a goalkeeper ply his trade in an all hot pink kit. He also wore white boots and had his socks above his knees. The consensus was that this kid needed to ball all the time. I mean really, you're in all hot pink. Yes, I want to see you fly and pick the ball out of the top corner, but I also want to see you command your box, make the easy save look easy, and drop dimes on your strikers and wingers while they're in full sprint in behind the defense. Pinky didn't quite manage to do any of those things. Now days, U-15 center halves have bleach blonde faux hawks, high socks, and shoes like this. Seriously, Dawg? Seriously.

When I was a U-15, we might have had this conversation before a match:

"Dude, number nine is rocking white shoes."

"Seriously, Dawg."


"If he makes you look stupid, kick him."


It's a brave new world and professional footballers are leading the way. Gone are the days in which one's skills determined what sort of equipment one could wear. I'm not against this because, full disclosure, I mostly foul people and only rarely score goals. I play my borderline dirty and relatively goaless game in white boots and high socks. I tell myself it's about self expression (it isn't) and point to a plethora of decidedly average pros with ridiculous senses of style to justify my own suspect choices.

Where I don't have much of a choice is in the hairstyle department. Genetics have blessed me with incredibly strong tooth enamel (awesome) and male pattern baldness (not awesome). Additionally, I work in one of those fields that limits my hair choices to neat and neater. My secret desire for a massive mop of unruly dreads with bleached tips will have to wait for another life, but it got me thinking, what would a Premier League Best XI Hair side look like? Well, I'll tell you!

Premier League Best (Worst) XI Hair Side


Tim Krul
It's not that Tim Krul's hair is really that bad. To be honest, there really aren't that many bad hair styles in Premier League goals this year...or any year, for that matter. It seems that goalkeepers go with either some derivation of the faux hawk or have given over to the stress of the position and just shaved off whatever they were left with. Poor Krul is just the worst of what's out there. It's sort of a modern day Village Idiot do and strikes me as an homage to the pageboy haircut of the early nineties. As my best friend in high school said once in reaction to my decision to let my scraggly, teenage facial hair grow out, "Dude, cut that shit."

Right back

Bacary Sagna

What can one say about this hair? Well, I say this: It looks like the kid has a gay tarantula perched atop his head. The shocking thing about Sagna's hairstyle is that he's had it for the last 4 or 5 years. Seriously?! No one has ever once said to Bacary that perhaps it's time for a change? In my experience, people with attention getting hairstyles have a tendency to change them fairly regularly. Apparently, Sagna has decided that no, he's quite happy with the homosexual arachnid do and it's going nowhere anytime soon.

Center back

David Luiz

David Luiz is a real talent. The kid came into the Chelsea side in the January window last season and looked immediately at ease. He's listed at 6'2, but 4 inches of that has to be hair. I have no questions about his game, but often find myself wondering, "Can David Luiz wear a hat? Does one size really fit all?"

Center back

Fabricio Coloccini

Fabricio gets the nod here for two reasons. 1: I love the idea of an Argentine and a Brazilian playing in central defense together. 2: I love the idea of poor Timmy Krul constantly shouting, "No Sight!" as he struggles to find the ball around the massive Sideshow Bob like tufts of hair obstructing the view in front of him.

Left back

Benoit Assou-Ekotto

Benoit has had a lot of hairstyles over the years. This one is the most ridiculous. It's sort of a Superfly/Bride of Frankenstein look. Lots of things go together. Chips and salsa. Peanut butter and jelly. Yin and Yang. The internet and porn. Superfly and Bride of Frankenstein is not one of those combinations.

Right wing


This hairstyle is fucking awful. Granted, Gervinho's tarantula is significantly less gay than his teammate Sagna's, but where does this kid's forehead end?! I am tempted to think that Gervinho is some sort of Sith Lord and that after matches he retires to a secret chamber in the locker room where a robotic contraption lifts his hair helmet off to reveal a burned and pasty looking Dath Vaderesque super villain a la that one scene in Return of the Jedi when the Imperial Officer accidently walks in on Darth getting his head recharged.

Note: It could be another Star Wars movie. I'm not sure. I've had sex with a woman.

Defensive Central Midfielder

Marouane Fellaini

I'm a huge Fellaini fan. Which, in addition to sounding like I'm an obscure Italian film fan, also means I like brutal tackles and moments of madness lightly dusted with moments of brilliance. Fellaini gets the nod here because I couldn't resist having three ridiculous afros right up the middle of the park and also because my friends say I play a touch like the big Belgian. In other words, I sort of lumber around, unleash a number of harsh challenges, and can, on occasion, find a clever pass and/or score a goal (never both). In all honesty, I'm hugely flattered by this.

Attacking Central Midfielder

Joey Barton

Never mind that I put Barton and Gervinho in the same side. I'm sure they'll work out their issues before the first match. What's important here is that Joey Barton's hair is ludicrous. It's sort of like a Nazi faux hawk with a touch of Morrissey for good measure. I love the idea of Barton, who is arguably more over the top with his challenges (and nightclub assaults) than Fellaini, hearing The Smiths in his head as he punches someone (maybe one of his own teammates) in the face for an offense that only Joey Barton really understands. Having said that...God, is he fun to watch.

Left Wing

Steven Pienaar
Ok, ok...Steven Pienaar's hair isn't really that bad. And he's not really a true left wing. So what. What gets me about Pienaar's hair is that it seems like he actually wants his hairline to recede farther back than it actually does. For real. It looks like the kid shaves his bangs. Steven, take it from me, hang on to that hair just off your forehead. Love that hair. Include that hair in your cornrows or mop top or dreads or faux hawk. That hair is valuable. Priceless even. If you continue to forsake it, God will strike you down and leave you looking like Danny Murphy. Take heed, Steven Pienaar. Take heed!


Didier Drogba

When Didier Drogba isn't scoring goals and/or wondering why on earth he's been benched for Fernando Torres, he's straightening his hair and slathering it with what must be honey. Given that he's not scoring many goals at the moment because of the aforementioned benching in favor of Fernando Torres, he has lots of time to straighten his hair and slather it in honey. Lots and lots and lots of time. Mmmmmm...honey.


Marouane Chamakh

What. The. Fuck. Marouane Chamakh has a barber. Marouane Chamakh's barber is a blind epileptic with Hodgkin's Disease. Marouane Chamakh's barber's right hand has no idea what Marouane Chamak's barber's left hand is doing. If this isn't true, then Marouane Chamakh has actually walked into a barbershop and uttered these words: "Hello, I'd like you to cut my hair to look like a flamboyant seagoing rooster who has been caught in an oil spill." There are no other possibilities.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Best (Worst) XI Premier League Hair Side. Go on boys!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Touche, Manchester City, Touche...

Well, a full 72 hours after I picked Man City to finish a disappointing 4th in the Premiership table, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United, City's most obvious title challengers, all failed to impress, and the Sky Blues absolutely walloped poor Swansea 4-0 at Eastlands...or Etihad...or I-Wish-Maine-Road-Still-Existed Stadium after David Silva and Sergio Aguero put on a master class...

...But let's not pump the tires too much just yet. I mean, it was Swansea. It's not like City mopped the floor with United or Tottenham or even Arsenal (although, in the case of the Gunners, I bet that happens). It's early days and I still have every expectation that City will find a way to not live up to its payroll (see: Real Madrid; Miami Heat). For now, I'm kicking myself for not throwing Kun "I'm sleeping with Maradona's Daughter" Aguero into my fantasy lineup. He looked like a world beater...against Swansea. Again with the tire pumping thing.

So on to the next week of fixtures and a table top clash between Bolton and Manchester City! $10 says no one has ever written that sentence before today.

Stay tuned for a midweek post in which I field the Premier League's Best XI Hair Don'ts. Hint: Marouane Chamakh has a barber. Marouane Chamakh's barber's right hand has no fucking idea what Marouane Chamakh's barber's left hand is doing.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Opening Weekend Impressions Or Why Anyone Who Says They Know What's Going to Happen This Year Is Full of It...Myself Included

Non Indianapolis readers of this blog, allow me a brief, geographically specific indulgence. Of the soccer bars in Indy, there's really only one place to watch a match without being annoyed ad nauseum by the conversations around you. That place? Chatham Tap on Mass Ave. I spent the better part of the morning there yesterday and as the only Fulham fan present, was forced to watch our frustrating 0-0 draw at home to Villa sans sound on the telecast. No worries. Surrounding me was a trove of Liverpool fans hanging onto every touch of the ball at home to Sunderland and a few delusional Arsenal supporters pre-drinking for what they must have known was going to be an underwhelming visit to Newcastle. C'mon, Gunners, the writing is on the wall. Still, I admire your fantasies.

Anyhow, these fans were genuinely knowledgeable. Everyone was abreast of the new singings for his club and those of the other clubs and everyone posited well informed opinions of how his team should play, who was injured, and what substitutions made sense. Compare that with today's adventure to Union Jack in Broad Ripple. Now, I like Union Jack, don't get wrong. The Chicago style pizza is first rate as is the meatloaf. Plus, it's only a block or so away so going to watch a match between two teams I don't really care that much about (United and West Brom) is not too terrible an undertaking. Having said that, I wanted to strangle the fans sitting near me. Actual conversations heard amongst the gathered at Union Jack:

"I think it's a ninety minute match. I guess this is overtime given that they're in the 93rd minute." It's injury time, ass.

"Danny WellbAck is sooooo much better than Dimitar Berbatov." Berbatov scored 20 goals last season and it's WellbEck.

"How did City do this weekend?" They play Monday.

"Anderson doesn't have a first name. No one in Brazil does. It's a Portuguese thing." They all have first, middle, and last names, they just put one on their jerseys.

"Why aren't Chicharito and Evra playing? Ferguson must be getting old." They're both hurt. Ferguson is old, but not old enough to name two crocked players to the bench. He sends crocked players to Sunderland.

"Bud Light is so good fresh out of the tap." Bud Light is terrible no matter where it comes from.

"Why isn't Scholes even on the bench?" He retired.

Ok, now that I've gotten that off my chest, onto impressions from the weekend!

Liverpool V Sunderland - I still stand by my claim that Liverpool can win the league this year. They looked bright going forward and Charlie Adam seems perfectly suited to be a great KOP hero. He's got the right amount of steel and quality to really stake a claim to the Liverpool midfield and that incredible gap toothed scowl has "Scouser" written all over it. If Suarez converts his penalty in the first half, Liverpool cruise. Also, Sunderland are not the Sunderland of years past. There's real quality in this team and the new signings, given some matches to gel, should see them finishing comfortably in the top half. Seba Larsson's goal was a thing of beauty.

Bolton v QPR - Half empty stadium. 4-0 drubbing. Inept defending. QPR is going down. Bolton looked good. Admittedly, this was against QPR, but Bolton were without Stuart Holden and Lee Chung Yong. Owen Coyle has completely revamped Bolton's "hit it long and hope Kevin Davies kills a guy and then hammers it home" style of play. They actually play football and should also look to finish comfortably in the top half.

Blackburn V Wolves - Is it any wonder Steve Kean immediately called upon Venky's to open up the transfer coffers following Rover's loss to Wolves? The writing was on the wall and now it's been read by anyone associated with Blackburn. This is not a good side and I stand by my claim that they are relegation front runners.

Wigan V Norwich - This was like watching the Special Olympics.

Fulham V Aston Villa - The Cottagers looked a little out of sorts for the first half and seemed to run out of ideas once they got into the offensive third of the pitch. Having said that, the second half was much better going forward and Fulham settled for the draw only because they couldn't finish. As for Villa, Emile Heskey is still alive? N'Zogbia is a great bit of business. Shay Given may be the signing of the year.

Newcastle V Arsenal - Listening to the Arsenal supporters critique the match was hilarious. Is there a group of fans in the Premiership more like their manager? If only this, if only that. Sorry guys, but it just isn't happening. I could write on and on about what a truly inept talent Theo Walcott is or how passing the ball a minimum of six times in the box is not a way to score goals or how Arsenal is now a glorified feeder club, but that would just be cruel. Additionally, how fun is it to watch Joey Barton and his faux Fascist faux hawk wreak havoc on everything? I hope he stays at Newcastle if for no other reason than it's obvious he gives two shits about anything other than being Joey Barton and he has to know he's the best player Newcastle have. His Premiership greeting card (red card) to Gervinho was priceless. Also, do Gervinho and Sagna have the same hairstylist? It looks like they both have two gay tarantulas perched atop their heads. And speaking of ridiculous haircuts, quote of the day from my buddy Rich, "Song is only one mistimed tackle from being sent off and one frilly shirt away from being part of Prince and the Revolution." Indeed.

Chelsea V Stoke - Granted, the Britannia is a tough place to play, but you're Chelsea. All the other front runners drew yesterday. Go on and stake a claim as a title favorite...or don't. Asmir Begovic stood on his head to keep Stoke on even terms. Quality goalkeeping.

Manchester United V West Brom - Speaking of staking a claim, an own goal doesn't exactly put an exclamation mark on a title challenge. Still, United found a way to win and that's what champions do. Having said that, if Evra and now Vidic and Ferdinand find themselves in the training room with injury layoffs, things could get dicey for a while. What's a back four of Fabio, Smalling, Evans, and Jones look like in the matches to come? Combine that with de Gea flapping at every ball served into the box. Again, I think he'll come good, but it's going to be that much more difficult with a makeshift back four in front of him. West Brom can consider themselves unlucky to not have come away with the draw.

Manchester City V Swansea - Tomorrow's match will be telling. If City do anything other than destroy Swansea it's almost as if this weekend didn't even happen for the legitimate top four challengers. C'mon Swansea!

Final thought: A disturbing number of Google searches for "Charlie Adam's teeth" led UK readers to this blog. Hope you found what you were looking for. Charlie Adam could kill a man at twenty paces with a toothpick with that kind of front tooth gap.

Friday, August 12, 2011

This is What Will Happen in The Premiership this Year. Trust Me, I'm a Blogger.

I had this history professor in college who must have been 237 years old. His suit hung on him like he was a coat rack and he smoked like a chimney (Is there anything that smokes more than a chimney? Because that would be a more suitable comparison.). Seriously. The majority of the history classrooms were on the second floor of this building and Dr. Smokesalot had to take the elevator because his lungs simply could not make it happen. A flight of stairs might as well have been Everest. His exams were memorable in that they were so ridiculous and tended to award trivial knowledge and rote memorization over actual substance. For instance, after having read a 400 page biography of Harry Truman, one would not have been asked to write a cogent essay on something like, "Discuss Truman's policy toward an ascendant post World War II Soviet Union and its effects on the Cold War." No. Instead, one might expect a question like, "What was the name of Truman and Jacobson's Haberdashery in Kansas City, Missouri?" Needless to say, I did not do well in this class. Incidentally, the name of the haberdashery was Truman and Jacobson Haberdashery. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

On another exam, one was asked to list Abraham Lincoln's civil war generals in order of Lincoln's personal preference. Seriously? We're talking double digits of generals here and although I can be one bastard of a know-it-all, I cannot presume to know the personal feelings of a long dead American President toward a bunch of guys who prosecuted a war 150 years ago. I could probably get "most favorite" and "I fucking hate that guy," but is there really much of a difference between numbers five and six? Which, in a very roundabout way, brings me to my predictions for the 2011-2012 Premier League campaign. You didn't think I'd get there, did you? Shame on you.

Let's be honest, the Premier League is about the top four and the bottom three. Places five through seventeen are largely indistinguishable despite some European spots up for grabs and a fairly meaningless pat on the back for finishing in the top half. I say this as a supporter of a club that falls in the middle ground, so don't get all up in arms, Stoke fans. The two main goals of any Premier League side are to push for a top four sport and the Champions League and, barring that - and if you're not Manchester United, Manchester city, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, or Tottenham I hope you are barring that - to not get relegated. Everything else is gravy.

Let's start with the top four. I pick them to finish like this:

1. Liverpool - I know, I know. What the H? Liverpool?! Yup, Liverpool. I've thought about this quite a bit and I cannot convince myself that Liverpool aren't legitimate challengers for the Premier League title. There's a lot of quality in this side from back to front. Luis Suarez and his ridiculous overbite were a revelation in the second half of last season. Andy Carroll and his ridiculous hair should be healthy and provide a nice foil to Suarez. The midfield is stacked with Raul Meireles and his ridiculous full sleeve tattoos, Dirk Kuyt and his ridiculously hideous bad looks, Jordan Henderson and his ridiculously boyish good looks, Charlie Adam and his ridiculous front tooth gap, Stuart Downing and his ridiculous ability to serve a ball (alas, there's really not that much ridiculous about Downing), and Steven Gerrard and his ridiculous newly acquired honor of being named the most attractive footballer in England...according to Gay men. Seriously. That happened. Additionally, the back four, although not endowed with quite as much ridiculousness, is experienced and solid and although Pepe Reina is prone to the odd howler, he's no Heurelho Gomes.

With Adam, Downing, and Henderson, Kenny Dalglish made quite the stir in the transfer market and can now probably field an entire team of midfielders, but those signings give Liverpool incredible strength in depth, a good mixture of experience and youth, and the option to play Gerrard, Mireles, and Kuyt in any formation at any time. I predict many a drunken celebration for the KOP...hide your wife, hide your kids.

2. Manchester United - I struggled with this one more than any other prediction. On the one hand, it's Manchester Freaking United. No matter who gets a run out, they always seem to play for the shirt, believe in the their ability, and find a way to score one more goal. As a non United fan, it's disgusting. Having said that, you've got to respect the club and Sir Alex. Simply put, they're winners.

On the other hand, you don't win championships with young goalkeepers. I think David de Gea is a great young player and will be a good goalkeeper for a very long time, but it's Manchester Freaking United and he's following a legend. No one wants to be the guy after the legend. You want to be the guy after the guy after the legend...and sometimes not even that guy. Ask Fabian Barthez.

Still, United have plenty of firepower in Rooney, Chicharito, Berbatov, and Nani and Vidic, Ferdinand, and Evra are rocks in the back. If there's a question mark for me, it's central midfield. Anderson is going to be asked to step up and contribute more than he's done so far for the club and Sir no longer has the safety net of bringing Paul Scholes on for twenty or thirty minutes to say, "Seriously guys, calm the fuck down. Now watch me while I ping this sixty yard ball directly to Rooney's feet while he's in full a downpour...blindfolded."

3. Chelsea - What can you say about Chelsea? Well, they're old, or at least getting older. Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, John Terry, and Petr Cech have been the spine of this team for years and that spine has a lot of miles on it. Still, all three of those players are world class and it shouldn't be that big of a deal if, and this is a big if, the young guys can step up and everyone buys into what Andre Villas-Boas is selling. Actually, that's two ifs, but who's counting? Oh, and if Fernando Torres can finally, you know, put the ball in the back of the net. Damn! Three ifs! Side note: How did Torres not get the Hottest Player in the Premier League Among Gay Men award? Seriously, look at the guy! If I'm gay I hit that every day of the week. Twice on Sundays...but only if Chelsea have a Saturday or midweek match...and I'm a Chelsea fan...otherwise, I hit it on Sunday and then brag to all my gay buddies that Torres didn't score that day because he "scored" that day. I finish my comments with a "Hey-O!". I digress.

Another big question mark (four ifs?!?) is whether or not Michael Essien can ever get healthy. Lampard needs freedom in midfield to create and if he doesn't have someone like Essien putting out fires for him he has to play deeper on the pitch. Mikel is a decent second option for that role, but he's no Essien and is always just one insane challenge away from a ban. Still, Chelsea did some good business in the transfer market and young guys like Gael Kakuta and especially Daniel Sturridge could find themselves finally getting quality minutes in the first team under a new coach. If I'm honest, and I try to be, I could easily see United and Chelsea trading spots here. Maybe I'll switch them. It was the Fernando Torres talk that caused me to second guess my initial decision. And by "initial decision" I mean putting United at two and Chelsea at three, not my sexual preference.

4. Manchester City - I hate putting City here. I'd love to see Tottenham or Arsenal in this fourth spot, but let's be honest, Tottenham need to score goals and Crouch, Defoe, Keane, Pavlyuchenko, and Dos Santos don't exactly set the world on fire. As for Arsenal...where do I start? Frankly, I think they're screwed, especially if Fabregas and Nasri leave. I could see an epic collapse that has Arsene Wenger throwing one season long hissy fit, pointing fingers at bad challenges and referees, and sinking into a Colonel Kurtz like void of insanity. God, that would be fun to watch!

Back to City. If there's one word to describe my feelings toward City, it's schadenfreude. There's no team in the Premier League I like to see lose more than City. I wholeheartedly believe they're everything that's wrong with world football at the moment and a complete implosion would just tickle me to death. If Dante were alive today, he'd put Wal-Mart and Manchester City together in a special ring of hell.

On paper, this squad is ridiculous. There's literally a world class player...or every single position. In practice, they're two losses away from complete dysfunction. Mario Balotelli is the Terrell Owens of big time club football, Carlos Tevez wants away from everywhere, Craig Bellamy HATES Roberto Mancini, Roberto Mancini HATES Craig Bellamy, and some seasoned international stars and young, exciting players can't get anywhere near the first team. Add to that a wage bill that prevents anyone from going anywhere in the transfer market and I see the potential for City to go up like a poorly fried turkey at Thanksgiving.

Regardless of what happens, I think Mancini is done after this season. The only way he stays, as far as I can see, is by either winning the Premiership or going really far in the Champions League. I don't see either happening. I can, however, see Sheik Mansour FC...I mean Manchester City, limping to an underwhelming fourth spot in the table, losing their manager along the way, having periodic public displays of infighting, and teetering on financial collapse. I can't wait.

Now that the top of the table is set in stone and all of my predictions are well on their way to becoming true, let's take a look at those three unfortunate sides who will spend next summer preparing for life in the League Championship, shall we?

It would be too easy to predict Swansea, Norwich, and QPR as the clubs to be relegated this year. Plus, history dictates that at least one of those clubs will shock enough of the Premier League's returning clubs to get a few results and hang on for dear life.

My bottom three, in no particular order, are:

Queens Park Rangers - As spendthrift as Manchester City are, QPR are equally cheap. You get the sense that the owners are all about cashing in a Premier League paycheck and then slinking back to the Championship without feeling particularly bad about it. Their ticket prices are though the roof and Adel Taarabt, their best player last year, was immediately put in the shop window once they were promoted. Add to that the fact that Kieron Dyer and Daniel Gabbidon were brought in as marquee signings and that their last four matches of the season promise to be pretty brutal and I feel reasonably confident that QPR's days in the top flight are numbered.

Norwich - I want Norwich to stay up. I really do. Mostly this is because Zak Whitbread plays for them and it's always nice to see another American player with a top flight side. Again though, not a lot of action in the transfer market and a brutal run in to the final day. Plus, they're the Canaries. Canaries die in mines.

Blackburn - You barely survived last year. One of the players who helped you stay up was called back from his loan spell. Your squad is aging. Your best young player was sold for boatloads of cash that you haven't reinvested in new players. You bought a guy named Goodwillie, seemingly because it's a fun name to say. Your manager believes he's managing a top four side. You're owned by an Indian company that seems wholly disinterested in opening its checkbook. What's that spell? Relegated.

Other contenders for the drop:

Wigan - No N'Zogbia. This is a problem. I could be talked into them going down, but I find Roberto Martinez just so damned likable.

Wolves - I mean, it's Wolves.

Swansea - A Welsh club in the Premiership? I'll be a monkey's uncle.