“Where were you when we were S***?” is a popular football chant sung out by the die hard supporters of any club that had, at one time, fallen onto harder times and lower leagues, and aimed at the more fair weather fans who seem to always turn up once their club has resurfaced into the light once more.
Now I could be wrong, but I am going to take a guess that this is a chant that is foreign to many American supporters of Premier League clubs. Mostly, because in my experience, a lot of football chants are foreign to us, but also because generally when looking at the teams most popular among Americans, there is a clear pattern that goes:
Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
Is there anybody else who sees this pattern? I would assume so. What it comes down to is this, and I’m aware of the amount of stick I’ll probably get from this, but I feel like it is something that is rarely addressed in this style, usually it’s just seen in the comments of articles and posts, or banter between fans.
Americans like the teams that win.
Goal.com did an article this past December stating that Americans thought Wayne Rooney is the best EPL player. Robin Van Persie was in second and Ryan Giggs was tied for fourth with Steven Gerrard. Anyone who has followed the league this year would know that out of those four men, RVP is the only one who deserves to be in the top four.
I am in no way suggesting that Americans go out looking for a Premier League club by checking the league table and decide whichever team is on top is going to be theirs, but it can be said that that it’s not far from the truth. It’s obvious that the big reason for the massive support for these teams is because, for most of us, they are the only ones we know about. Someone decides they want to start following soccer because they watched the World Cup. So they decide Manchester United because they’ve heard of them, or a player they like plays for them, or one of their friends likes them, so they become a Man Utd supporter.
Contrary to that, maybe they think everybody knows Manchester United and wants to support one of the “underdogs.” A team that has that real chance at a title race, but it isn’t going to be so easy for them. This excitement you can get from teams like Chelsea or Arsenal. They’ll thrash a team 5 or 6 to nil, but the drama is still there. Sometimes they play at home to the bottom place side and miraculously come away the loser!
Obviously I’m getting into hypothetical situations, but what is the truth is that I have met and heard testimony from American supporters of top clubs in the Premier League who say things like, “I still support Man Utd, but I like Blackpool (or QPR or Wolverhampton etc.) I hope they don’t go down.” I have heard, and said such things.
Give a group of people a game to watch between two teams none of them have any allegiance to and the majority of them will pick the underdog. So why when they are picking a team to support long term do the majority of people pick the team more likely to win?
Being an American supporter of a club much lower in the league, and at one point being a [fair weather] fan of Manchester United in my younger years, I’ve come to notice that Americans recognize the amount of commitment and emotion it takes to support a club that truly faces the threat of relegation, but it appears they can’t handle the negatives that come with actually supporting one of these clubs.
Truth is, if you follow the top teams when you win, it’s good. When you lose, it’s bad, and by the end of the season if you’re disappointed, at the worst, it’s most likely because you didn’t finish in a Champions League spot. But if you support a team that’s in the bottom half of the league, when you lose it’s absolutely detrimental. But when you do win, it’s the greatest feeling in the world. And that’s the win that people want to feel. When you’re supporting a top team, you’re never the real underdog.
People can try and justify it by saying they’ve been supporting their team for years, and trash-talking the bottom table teams, but even as I draft this, the most popular categories of any football site are the top teams (including this one). I’m not telling anyone to change their teams. I am just simply hoping future new fans will branch out a little farther down the league.
If you think I’m wrong (and I’m sure many of you do), feel free to give me your own suggestions as to why these teams are so popular in the USA, and why we don’t see more Americans supporting Stoke, Wigan, Villa etc…
Comment if you are an American who does support a team that isn’t top of the league and why you support them. And sorry guys, Fulham and Everton don’t count. We all love Donovan and Dempsey.