Confessions Of A Neutral Premier League Soccer Fan

Photo by bmeabroad

I tried. Really. For five years now I’ve been waiting for some team to strike me as my favorite. In the meantime I’ve gone with local “omens”. I live on Chelsea Circle so at first I went with them for a while, but it just didn’t click. I loved Drogba’s skill, but was dismayed at his seeming lack of ability to stay on his feet when challenged by some 150lb midfielder (how’s that for avoiding the “D” word?). Whether Chelsea won or lost didn’t seem to matter to me, so I moved on.

Fulham. Hey, Craven St. is just around the corner. Why not? I enjoyed watching Fulham. I liked the players and the Cottage is a unique venue. I was certainly concerned this year when they flirted with the relegation zone a little too much for my liking, but again, whether or not Fulham won or lost didn’t really eat me up. Time to face reality. I’m a neutral and probably always will be.

Maybe I needed to be born into it like my love for the Eagles, Phillies and Penn State. Although, since I moved away 12 years ago that has lost its edge, too. The teams, games and players aren’t in front of me every day like they used to be. Maybe it’s my age. Maybe it’s because I’m a Pieces. Who knows? So what’s a fan of the game supposed to do without a team? Plan B.

Relax and just enjoy the competition, the Championship as well as the Prem. Root for underdogs or anyone dressed in tangerine, pink, yellow, etc. Hope that someone, anyone, beats out the big boys for a cup, title or CL spot, just to shake things up. Enjoy the moments, no matter who produces them. A laser-like Delap throw-in that befuddles a defense even though they know it’s coming. Chicharito’s exuberance. Cesc leaving someone’s jock on the pitch. Great goalie saves. Blind passes. Big upsets.

After all, the stories I enjoyed the most this year were Liverpool’s rise from the ashes under Dalglish, Stoke’s run in the FA Cup, Blackpool’s roller coaster ride (I hated to see them go down, but you can’t give up 78 goals and expect anything better) and the Championship Playoffs. At any rate, for next season I’m going to keep that up. Not focus on a “Team” as much as the stories and events. I can stop waiting for lightning to strike and just enjoy the competition for what it is. I think that will suit me just fine.

Anyone else out there with my affliction?

NTID! (though I kinda like the Swans……*sigh*)

33 thoughts on “Confessions Of A Neutral Premier League Soccer Fan”

  1. Some guy was writing on this site last fall about his pursuit to find a team, and it was met with a lot of anger. What happened to that guy? Did he pick a team?

    I’m generally of the mindset that in sports you can like whoever you want (or not like as is the case with you), and I have no problem with it. The only exception to that (for me…) is that if you go to a major university you have to support that schools teams. None of this “I grew up a USC fan, but I went to Cal so I still support USC”. No man. You go to Cal you support Cal. Thats your school.

    In pro sports there are shades of grey. Especially in modern times when you can use mulimedia to follow any professional sports team you wish. The notion of neighborhood teams is almost extinct at this point.

    I’m sure most people will violently disagree with this, call me names, maybe even Wanker. Whatever.

    1. I remember after the World Cup last year, I decided to give the Premier League another go. I watched a few games 4 years before and was kind of loosely rooting for Reading but due to lack of free TV coverage, I lost track and it never really caught hold of me. I responded to a thread right before the Premier League season, explaining how I was going about choosing a team to support. I mentioned that I didn’t want to choose one of the rich clubs (because I thought that would be like being a fan of the Yankees), I wanted an American on the team and I wanted a club that was fairly secure from relegation because I didn’t think I would be able to stay with them in the championship (due to poor Championship coverage in the states). Quite a few people got on me for that.

      I believe I had narrowed down my choices to Everton, Fullham, and Aston Villa but I was leaning towards Everton because of their history, players, coach, and Landon Donovan had just finished a great spell with the club and was wanting to go back. After watching for the first month, I was hooked. Everton had me. I’ve watched all but one of their matches this year and obsessed over them every week.

      I’m glad I found my team and hope Guy find a team for himself. It makes watching the Premier League that much more thrilling.

  2. I feel like I could have written this article myself, I’ve flirted with Tottenham, Fullham, Everton…hoping QPR will stick for next season.

  3. Wow. I could have written this, up to and including the part about the Eagles, Philles and Penn State…

    I’m new to the sport in general and the Premier League in particular, and at various points in my first season following the league I considered my a fan of Everton, Chelsea, Tottenham, etc. Ultimately I came to the realization that I was just a fan of the whole league and the season long drama that it entailed.

    Maybe at some point a team will take hold as “my team”. But it’s possible that it will never happen. And I’m cool with that.

  4. Hard to say I really have any strong feelings toward any team, but I do have a soft spot for Fulham, and I’d probably say that’s my club.

    However, I tend to root for certain players/squads more so than a badge.

    For instance, I had a hard time rooting for Rafa’s Liverpool the last few years, but now that the side is filled with Carrol, Suarez, etc. I like them a bit more.

  5. I must say, i did watch around with many other clubs before i felt comfortable with one. My family moved to Manchester from Bosnia well before my father was born. So i inherited a love for United. But that’s not to say that i didn’t dance around with the idea of supporting another club.

    In fact, i can say i’m a full supporter of Tottenham. I also love the way a lot of other clubs play. Q.P.R., Blackpool and a few others that play football the way i love to see it played.

    Furthermore, One thing i cannot stand the most, is someone who supports one single club and that’s it. Not watching any other game that consists of a club that is not their own. That’s a great way to miss out on the incredible action and drama that the Premier League is so famous for. The north London Derby and so many others that blew my mind, and had nothing to do with my club.

    To be open minded in your football is to be wise, in my humble opinion.

    1. “One thing i cannot stand the most, is someone who supports one single club and that’s it.”

      I am so glad you expanded on that sentence because, for a second there, I was thinking to myself, “What!?”

      Personally, I do not get upset if a person only watches matches involving one particular club. In my mind, at least they are watching football, which is always a good thing.

      That being said, I do feel a bit sorry for them because they inevitably miss out on a lot of fantastic football.

  6. I am a Manchester United fan but can support different team also. Funny thing, I have favourites in each league: Barcelona in la Liga, PSV in Eeredivisie, Milan in Serie A and Dortmund in Bundesliga. People sometimes mistaken me as a glory hunter but after I explained to them why I liked these teams and how long I’ve been supporting the teams, they understand.

    I became United fan when watching the Battle of Old Trafford in 1989 – when United wasn’t really good yet. PSV back in 1988 – I watched the Champions Cup final and decided I liked them more than Benfica (that was before the shoot-out, so I didn’t know who would win) and Milan back in 1989 when they crushed Real Madrid. With Barcelona it was in 1989 – they played well and entertaining. With Dortmund, they were in a three way race with Frankfurt and Stuttgart and there were 3 of us picking who would win the Bundesliga that year. Not sure why I picked Dortmund, probably because I liked their uniform. Dortmund lost on goal difference but I always love Dortmund since.

    I can still support / root for or enjoy Liverpool, Ajax or other teams, no matter how small they are or whether people think the arch rival of United or PSV. I think I’m lucky because I can enjoy the beauty of the games regardless who are playing. I like Norwich, Coventry and Forest. I was upset when Forest lost in the FA Cup final and was ecstatic when Coventry won 1987 FA Cup. I can support Parma or Sampdoria or other clubs when they play beautiful football.

    There are several clubs that I can’t root for: Juventus, Inter and Real Madrid and Bayern – probably I have been turned off by how they play (and with Madrid: how they conduct themselves) but I have no problems admitting that they are big clubs with rich history. I can’t also support clubs that merely buy success like Blackburn in mid 1990s, Newcastle, Man City, Chelsea (I used to be a fan of Chelsea in the 80s). I don’t like Benitez because of his personality. I don’t respect Mourinho too because of the same thing.

    I traveled to Europe couple of years ago, visiting Amsterdam Arena, Phillips Stadium, Old Traffrod, Emirates and Anfield and I could appreciate the history of the clubs, the history of those stadiums (except Emirates since it was new) and other things.

    I don’t hate any clubs or certain fan base. Football/soccer is too beautiful to be spoiled by hatred. I went to Anfield and said a prayer for the Hillsborough victims – no one should die when watching sports.

  7. I have a similar problem. The season that just concluded was the first time I followed the Premier League. I, too, was waiting for some team to woo me, but it didn’t happen. Then I thought, well, maybe it takes a few years. But if your story is anything to go by, even years of watching this league may not do the trick.

    There is one difference between our circumstances, though: I have no EPL team I support, but I do have teams that I dislike intensely, and I always wonder if that makes me a true neutral.

    1. Interesting. In five years I haven’t even found anybody to dislike. I can’t even begrudge Man City their newfound (or bought) success. Is there any fan who wouldn’t want that cash inflow for his club? I think not.

      There are managers I don’t care for, but that doesn’t color my feelings for their clubs. I was glad to see Rafa go. I wouldn’t care if I never had to hear Arsene again in my life. I wish SAF would stop whining. However, I don’t think I could carry anything to the level of “dislike”…..well, maybe Rafa. 😉

      I say you’re still neutral. :-)

  8. Also a Philadelphia guy oddly, I have supported Arsenal for quite a while.
    I became interested in the sport because I played soccer when I was younger and it was my favorite sports to play. There was no club team in Philadelphia at the time and I wasn’t ready to support any New York team.

    Weird thing is that I did not go through any “selection” process. Watched a match one day (wasn’t even live), Arsenal was involved and I thought: I am going to follow this team. And that was it. Did not even know, let alone consider, the other teams.

    I knew they were a good team by the way the commentators spoke about them. Something just clicked. Not sure how not sure why. I knew nothing about the history of the club.

    So my conclusion is maybe it is better not to think so much about what club to support.

  9. It’s funny how people say they support Chelsea, Arsenal or Man Utd, then promptly say that they aren’t a glory hunter. bullshi*t

    1. How do you know that they are glory hunters ? A lot of people who grew up in Manchester / London and they were born and raised United or Chelsea / Arsenal supporters. Are they glory hunters too ?
      And what team do you support ? When did you start becoming a fan of the team ?

      1. Riiiiiiigt. Supporting Arsenal is really about being a glory hunter. Look at all the silverware we’ve got.

        You are clown sir.

  10. Enjoyed the post– Other than your opposite-side-of-the-state perspective (go Pitt, Steelers and Pirates!) those are my sentiments exactly. I’ve had alot of fun the past few years being a neutral. I may not get the thrill of the weekly up-and-down rollercoaster that goes with supporting one side, but a part of the fun is not knowing where the excitement will come from each match day. I tend to gravitate towards a few sides more often than not (Spurs, Fulham, Bolton this year) but for the “Big 4” clashes and the relegation battles I still get drawn in because of the importance, etc. If I ever do “claim” a club it will be a natural evolution of some sort, because I’m really not even looking for it at this point.

    1. No hard feelings. :-) I did despise Pitt when I was at Penn State, but that was back in the day when they played every year and were bitter rivals. Now I’m glad to see any PA team win in any sport. When I left PA for NC twelve years ago I left everything behind except my sports “fandom” and now that I have the Big Ten Network I’m looking to get really fired up for Penn State’s season! Roar Lions Roar!

  11. Articles like this are why most Europeans and ACTUAL supporters of the teams laugh at Americans and others for their fake support

    1. Fake? I’m not sure what an American who finds English/European football interesting is supposed to do. It is natural to latch on to some team for whatever reason. Fans like to have a team to root for. I don’t see how not being born to it makes anyone’s support “fake”. Of course it can not be exactly the same as that of someone who is born to it, but it can be passionate nonetheless.

      Just out of curiosity, what is an ACTUAL supporter?

  12. There are some aspects that I agree with in the original write up, how the ties to a team wain once you move from an area and the difficulty getting into a team that is thousands of miles away. I grew up in Wisconsin, have always been and will continue to be a Green Bay Packers fan and a Wisconsin Badgers fan because I grew up in the state. For baseball, my favorite teams have changed greatly, grew up a Twins fan, then a Brewers, and now a fan of both because I currently reside in Minnesota outside of the Brewers’ viewing area. I went to a D2 university that during my time there won two men’s basketball titles in three years, I will always be a fan of my college because of my experiences as a student and fan of the teams. This isn’t to say I don’t like teams from other areas of the country in various sports because of my location.

    In terms of “football,” my fan-hood varies based on the week almost. There are a few times I don’t like because they have similar ownership styles to teams I do not like in the states. I do not like teams that freely throw their money around to buy any player they want, Manchester City. Although Arsenal has the ability, and to some extent does the above, I have liked them since I started to follow the sport. Thierry Henry got me hooked way back, and I have followed the team since. My second favorite team is Wolves, no idea how or why I started to follow them, just have for a few years since they moved up to the Premier league. The uniforms, manager, and other factors like the stadium, ownership style, and players are what drew me to the team. If I can’t watch either team, I root for the team that I know more about, which is usually Newcastle, Bolton, Tottenham, and ManU.

    Depending on the sport, I say follow whoever you feel like cheering for during the game/match. There isn’t a written rule anywhere I don’t think that says you have to follow the team from your hometown, state, or whatever it may be. I agree with the poster who said if you go to a major university, it’s inevitable that you follow the teams from that college. The worst is the people who are diehard Badger fans, but attend the University of Minnesota and switch like they have been life long fans. Anyways…that’s enough. Great topic!

    1. “There isn’t a written rule anywhere I don’t think that says you have to follow the team from your hometown, state, or whatever it may be.”

      It may not be written, but it’s certainly implied. Clearly it doesn’t count for Americans when it comes to English or Welsh or European teams in general, but when it comes to American sports teams, you should support your local team.

  13. It’s all about truly loving your team, whether they are successful for not. Because seriously, if you’re not even from the country of the league you’re following, it really comes down to doing a Wikipedia research extravaganza of the league and its teams. I can’t stress that enough. ‘Cause you’ll just be a bandwagon idiot if you mindlessly choose a team. It might sound strange to others, but even someone that decides to pick Manchester United to follow or Chelsea or Liverpool, if they have done their research and actually know about the team, to a certain extent, then I can at the very least respect them. The ones I don’t respect are the ones who don’t even live in or didn’t grow up in Manchester and follow United because ‘Rooney’ or ’19 leagues’ etc or because ‘they are popular’ or because ‘they win’.

    1. Just want to add that I agree with you. This is what I mean – we can dislike certain clubs but we can respect them. I don’t really respect glory hunters either but sometimes you can’t help that certain people got their first exposure with, let’s say manchester united when David Beckham became a famous brand name. A lot of people in non-European countries have this experience: their first experience was watching let’s say Liverpool won the European Cup, Milan won European Cup.
      A true fan of football can respect other clubs and that’s why we call football/soccer a “sport”

  14. There’s a few things people have posted that I don’t understand.

    1) Making choosing a team seem like a hard thing to do. Here’s a good tip (besides obviously watching matches): Go to Wikipedia and read up on the club. A team’s history is very very important and can easily guide you into picking a team faster.

    2) ‘Supporting’ multiple teams.. within the same league. That just makes no sense. At the end of the day, you can do whatever you want, but it seems strange and foolish to support and ‘root’ for both Arsenal and Chelsea, and Man Utd.. All in one. It defeats the purpose of being a fan. Be a one team man, it’s actually rewarding that way.

    1. I agree that it seems impossible to support two teams in the same league, but I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to have your favorite team and at least a following interest in or soft spot for, say, some underdog.

      QPR, Norwich City and Swansea City are sure to pick up a lot of secondary support next season. Personally, that’s fine by me.

      1. I second Guy’s comments. When they’re not playing United in the EPL, I can support certain teams like Blackpool, Sheffield Wednesday, Coventry, Norwich, etc (in the past). Same thing with in Italy: I could still support Parma as long as they don’t play Milan.

        And you don’;t have to decide which team you have to support. IMHO, you’re not less of a soccer fan if you don’t support particular team. You can just enjoy the beauty of the game. And you’re definitely better than a glory hunter.

        1. Agreed. I am a Villa fan, but I was enamored by Blackpool’s style of play this past season. Would’ve been nice if they could’ve shored up their defense, but they played a very entertaining brand of football and I found myself rooting for them in 36 of their 38 matches.

  15. I am the guy who posted from Philly who supporters Arsenal. Some people have suggested that Americans who follow top four clubs as “glory-hunters”. I would like to say that I and some of my friends do not fall in the “glory hunter” category.

    I am the kind of guy who never misses a match, no matter what. If I have to use a sketchy Russian feed at work, then I will do that. If Arsenal are playing a meaningless game against Fulham at the end of the season, I am not going to miss a minute.

    I would never root for any of the other English clubs. I am a fan of the US national team (of course) and have gone to several of the (recently formed) Philadelphia Union matches in the summer to get my fix. Certainly would never root for Chelsea or Tottenham unless it meant that Arsenal would win the league.

    Many people look at Nick Hornby, the author of “Fever Pitch,” as the hardcore football fan. He was not born in North London or even London at all and he is a passionate supporter of Arsenal. Is he a glory-hunter?

    1. The term ‘glory hunter’ is very misleading sometimes and equally unfair. As I alluded to in my earlier comment, the true glory hunters/bandwagoners are people who follow clubs only because they win and are successful, and hardly know much about the club. Someone who decided to support Man United isn’t a glory hunter if they care enough about the club to truly support and follow them, even from across the ‘pond’, as they say. Someone that cares enough to know of the history and the tradition and legacy, etc..

      To suggest that I should support a club that isn’t a ‘big four’ club for the sake picking a club that isn’t in the ‘big four’ is preposterous and just as despicable as being a true ‘glory hunter/bandwagoner’. I don’t see how this isn’t more apparent to people. I support Arsenal because that’s the club I fell in love with, not because of winning but because they are the team I loved watching and the ‘Official History’ DVD solidified it.

      People can be really judgmental sometimes, it’s hilarious.

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