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Do Supporters Need A Villain?

Football supporters thrive on animosity. We need to be able to shake our fists in the air and yell all the bad words at our hated teams and players.

When Jose Mourinho left Chelsea, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, a gifted manager of a rival team was out the door. I wouldn’t have that same level of dread when Liverpool faced Chelsea. On the other hand, I knew I’d miss his presence in the league. The pacing. The brooding. The eccentricity. To me he was evil. But he was the ingenious side of evil. If he came to a match wearing a top hat, long black cloak, twisting a long, curly moustache I wouldn’t have been surprised. I didn’t want a Premier League without Mourinho. It would be like Star Wars without Darth Vader. I needed my villain.

With Mourinho gone, I had to turn to my reserve villain: Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s been the chief bad guy for most non-United supporters for a while and fills the bill perfectly. And I even have a couple United friends who seemed wary of expressing their love for him. They were thankful for his talents for sure, but one friend seemed almost relieved when he left, like: “Thank God I don’t have to defend his cheating anymore.”

But now Ronaldo’s off to Spain. I’m without a pure villain. I’m glad the threat he can create out of a millisecond of time and an inch of space is safely away from English stadia. But at the same time, I’ll miss his presence. I’ll miss despising him. Who’s going to fill his boots for me in the season(s) to come?

In looking for a suitable replacement I need to consider what made Ronaldo my top football villain. For me it boils down to three things:

1) The Cheating – Ronaldo’s prolific history of diving makes your average Olympic gold medalist look like an underachiever. While he toned it down the last couple of years, he still managed to make an art form out of it. It was almost an athletic feat in and of itself each time he did it.

2) The Smugness – Ronaldo perpetually gives of the air that he’s better than everybody and he knows it. It’s fine to be better than everybody. But, good lord, man, find a way to feign looking modest. As an overpaid world class athlete you owe it to us. Practice in the mirror in the morning.

3) The Greatness – Ronaldo is brilliant. His skills on the ball are unreal. His set pieces are often devastating. The true villian needs to be a great player. I need to despise him because the endless threat he poses to my side. Any Joey Barton can be irritating. But it takes a player of Ronaldo’s caliber to be a top-shelf bad guy.

4) Plays for a Rival – If Ronaldo had been at Aston Villa or Tottenham I don’t think he would have earned my ire in the same way. Since I support Liverpool and he was United’s top gun, he’s an easy choice. I can understand why Steven Gerrard fills the role for so many United supporters even if he’s my favorite player. That’s how this thing works.

So in looking for a replacement I turn to Liverpool’s rivals…


Fabregas –  He looks like he could be full enough of himself to fulfill condition 2) and he’s certainly great, but he’s not as devastating as Ronaldo and I don’t know him to be a cheater. He’s actually a player I’ve always liked so I don’t know if I could make a villain out of him. If he has more goals against Liverpool like his 80th minute scorcher in Oct 2007 I may reconsider him. But for now he’s out of the running.

Arshavin – This guy only enters the fray because he scored 4 goals at Anfield and crushed Red title hopes. I’ll need to see a lot more of him to know if he can fit top villain status. For now he’s just a one-off villain. He can’t touch Ronaldo’s consistent and long-standing work.


Terry – John Terry is certainly brilliant and smug and plays for a rival. His love for towering over a referee to intimidate and influence the call certainly hugs the cheating line. He’s on the down-slope of his career though. Too injury prone. If I make him a villain he’ll probably retire or move to the MLS and I’ll have to start this process all over again.

Drogba – Didier Drogba might be the best candidate I can think of. Olympic class diving. Top-shelf skills. Smuggly bursting with ego. I may have to wait and see how much of a role he plays for Chelsea though. Last season Anelka played so much as a lone striker and earned the golden boot and kept Drogba out of the running. If Drogba gets the starts this year he may be my man.


I know Everton are rivals, but it’s hard to make a villain of any of them since David Moyes gets so much out of  such an inexpensive side. I completely respect that and I hope they win the Carling or FA Cup in the near future to have something to show for their efforts. If forced to chose, I guess Tim Cahill because of his goals against Liverpool last season and for some reason I love seeing anyone named Neville see a red card, but in truth I can only feel ire toward Everton on derby day. The rest of the season, I have no problem with them.

Manchester United:

The rival rule alone suggests they should have the winner hands down. But while they collectively enjoy most of my football ire I just can’t feel that strongly against any individual United player now that Ronaldo’s gone.

Giggs – Filled the brilliance role in his heydey but is now on the wan. He’s one United player I’ve always respected. Can’t hate him.

Rooney – Doesn’t seem to cheat. Isn’t smug. He’s brilliant when he’s fit but that’s not enough to be my top villain.

Vidic – Top defender. He’s got the skills but not the Ronaldo-sized ego. Given the chance, I’d accept him as a Liverpool player. No go.

Owen – I don’t want to hate Michael Owen. If he scores ten goals against Liverpool or he gets the winner in a deciding match that gives United the title by a mere point over us, I’ll feel differently. For now, he can’t be my villain.

I am shocked United don’t have any better contenders. Hopefully it’s a sign they don’t win the league.

I’m afraid I have to go with Drogba. He’s been in Ronaldo’s shadow all this time. Now, I’ll give him this season to blossom into true evil glory and become my top football villain. Good luck, Didier. I believe in you.

So that’s my pick. How about you? I accept you won’t all share my perspective and some of you will pick Steven Gerrard. I’d like to hear your take on this as well. Just keep the language clean. It’s a family website.

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  1. JB

    August 14, 2009 at 10:24 am

    As a Chelsea fan with Ronaldo gone, the only person that really annoys me for whatever reason is Torres. There’s just something about him and the way he interacts on the pitch and the way he carries himself makes me wanna hurt him for whatever reason. Ronaldo annoyed me but in a Derek Jeter/A-Rod/Tom Brady kind of way.

    My wife feels the same way. Last year we watched a Chelsea-Liverpool game and about 20m in she said, “I dunno what it is about this Torres guy, but I really hate him already. I just want to wipe that smirk off his face.”

  2. gary debussy

    August 10, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    really strange to see a liverpool supporter criticise other players for being smug and diving when you have stevie me on your team. oh, and aside from being the top diver in the premier league, he also savagely attacked a dj for not putting on some phil collins. terrible footballer and an even worse man.

    • Gaz

      August 10, 2009 at 1:38 pm

      So I suppose yours in Gerrard, huh?

      Yeah, he’s a terrible footballer… that must be why you don’t like him so much, huh? 🙂
      In fact, he’s so terrible two people scored more goals than him last season in the EPL.

      PS: I’d fight for some Phil Collins too.

  3. Gaz

    August 10, 2009 at 12:59 am

    If you want a new Ronaldo to hate, look no further than Nani.

    He’s no where near the greatness of Ronaldo but the cheating and smugness factor comes in at 110%. Playing for a rival? Check.

  4. MM

    August 9, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    sounds like hate to me

    • you

      August 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm

      huh gaffer, did you read the hate here?

  5. Matt

    August 9, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    As a Spurs fan, I have to say Drogba has to be pretty high up there. At the same time, I don’t really hate him, he’s actually quite funny if you can get past the diving, etc.

    I think the another villain for next year has to be Man Citeh, just for what they’re doing to the game. I still don’t expect them to do very well, and the owners will lose interest in a couple of years.

    Overall, I can’t wait to see Arshavin crash and burn next year (and not just because of his comments regarding woman’s rights). He had one good game and two tap-ins against ‘Pool (hope you win the title, by the way), and everyone acts like he’s Superman. But really, the “shush” goal celebration is all the reason I need.


  6. United Amanda

    August 8, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Well I’m glad you’ve a begrudging respect for us – enough to not make Rooney your new villain at least! And as a United fan it IS nice to not have to defend Ronnie’s diving anymore!

    I don’t really think Drogba can be a real VILLAIN. I think he’s smug and petulant but I don’t think he really has what it takes to be the league villain. I don’t think he’s good enough to be quite honest. I think City might have what it takes in a season or two to produce someone. Keep an eye out on Liverpool perhaps? Maybe you’ll find in a season or two that you hate one of our youngsters enough? Or a solid transfer? Ronnie is certainly a hard act to follow.

  7. 50

    August 8, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    If you wear a Chelsea or manU kit,I can’t stand you…
    Especially if you happen to be JT,fat frank,or drogba the mule.

  8. ish

    August 8, 2009 at 2:00 am

    as a chelsea supporter.

    arsenal player i dislike – denilson.

    manU player i dislike – not any of them in particular

    liverpool player i dislike – lucas leiva

    the rest of them i have a grudging respect for. As long as a player is good enough and goes out to play the game i will like them but denilson and lucas are just lowering the standards of the league.

    Of the non top 4 i cant stand bellamy and tottenham. I dont even dislike most of the tottenham team(cept king i guess) but something about the team just shits me, like they think they are a big club and put on airs but when push comes to shove they pussy out.

    • QueensCountyRanger

      August 8, 2009 at 5:43 am

      I don’t think even Liverpool supporters, such as myself, lcan stand Lucas Leiva. Hopefully his kit changes come month’s end.

      Greatest EPL villain? The city of Manchester. It was bad enough to have one smug team in the city. I’m rooting for plenty of injuries and red cards for their derby. And Lampy should warrant more consideration. He

  9. Kautzie

    August 8, 2009 at 12:29 am

    As an Arsenal supporter it goes like this:

    1. Spurs- Not a particular player, but the whole organization and most of the fanbase, I could go on all day on why.
    2. Liverpool- No offense to the author of this article but other than Real Madrid they have got to be the most abrasive, pretentious club on the planet.
    3. Phil Brown- For lying about the whole Cesc spitting incident and because he’s Phil Brown.
    4. Cashley Cole- Your not a real gooner if you don’t hate this jerkoff.

    Also when talking about Arsenal I can’t believe nobody brought up Willam Gallas. I ‘m a fan of him now because he’s a great defender for Arsenal but I couldn’t stand him when he played for Chelsea.

    • RaiderRich

      August 8, 2009 at 3:04 am

      OK, #1 makes sense because that rivalry’s been around since the Romans founded London, #2 I can understand because they’re constantly in your way and they have the most top-level titles in England, and #4 is an a-hole who also plays for another team that’s constantly in Arsenal’s way.

      Why Phil Brown? True, he’s a liar, but he’ll be a relegated liar come season’s end.

      • Kautzie

        August 8, 2009 at 1:46 pm

        The guy’s a egomaniacal, self-promoting, jackass who’s still living off Hull strong first half run and hasn’t done anything since. The guy’s a joke and the players are starting to see it that’s why nobody wanted to sign their this summer. I feel bad for Jozy Altidore because he’s obviously getting bad advice, he would have been much better off at Fulham or a team in the Eredivise or Bundesliga than wasting a year of development at a doomed club like Hull.

        • RaiderRich

          August 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm

          Well, at least he’s out of Spain where they hate everyone of African descent.

  10. Patrick

    August 7, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    Isn’t that why the HotSpud even exist. No one besides Spuds fans like them. Its like there could a be a league with Spuds and Millwall to battle out who is the most hated.

  11. Lyle

    August 7, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    There is no way Arshavin can be your villain. He’s way too nice of a guy and too good a team player to dislike. You shouldn’t have even mentioned him, despite his four goal escapade on the Pool.

    Steven Gerrard is my villain for the year. Should have manned up and plead guilty to the charges against him, but instead he didn’t, got his smart lawyers to get him off the hook while his own buddies plead guilty. What a smug human being that man is. Not likable in my book despite his greatness as a player. He’s also more of a closed book than Ronaldo is. There’s something honest about Ronaldo’s arrogance, and he reveals a lot more of his humanity in the way he interacts with young children and even the media at times. Gerrard is kind of cold and a closed book, which is something I’m just not sympathetic to.

    • George

      August 7, 2009 at 11:48 pm

      I agree with you. Also, Ronaldo has always been made to be thise huge, egotistical nitwit, even though many of his teammates hail him as a true professional, who works solely on improving his game, no matter how many people like to call him out on acting like a superstar.

      I suggest, that the villain should be Manchester City. Wow, I hate those guys. All the spending, getting players like Adebayor, Tevez, Toure, etc. The only problem is, I still don’t think they’ have “great talent” haha..

      • Lyle

        August 8, 2009 at 1:38 am

        Yeah, Ronaldo takes his football very seriously and you have to respect that.

  12. wllmhll

    August 7, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    drogba will be the number 1 villain now ronaldo is gone.

  13. RaiderRich

    August 7, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Also, it’s not surprising that this is a Liverpool fan writing about something to hate.

    • Lyle

      August 7, 2009 at 11:15 pm

      This is true.

    • Yawn

      August 8, 2009 at 1:17 pm

      Paradoxical, considering you just scoffed at those who hate and dislike someone in football, and in less than an hour you return to insult supporters of Liverpool. But being on such high moral ground you need not concern yourself with such details, plus you have Lyle the toadie to agree with whatever you say.

      • MarkB

        August 8, 2009 at 1:30 pm

        Yawn, please don’t get the all seeing, all knowing one started again. He was on here all last night spouting his drivel

      • RaiderRich

        August 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm

        Yawn, you Liverpool fans hate that guy on Sirius because he’s Jewish so you people have no room to comment

        • Yawn

          August 8, 2009 at 4:26 pm

          Besides the fact that I’m not a Liverpool supporter, I think it’s awful how you manage to take every point to its most extreme and offensive–if someone is doesn’t prefer an announcer, clearly that person is sexist, racist, elitist, eurosnob, etc. Trying to sensationalize legitimate issues and then using them to make people feel poorly is just as bad as if these things were true, which I suspect in many cases they’re not. Taking issues that are worthy of discussion and essentially crying wolf about them to try to gain some sort of superiority detracts from any worthwhile conversation that can be had.

        • RaiderRich

          August 8, 2009 at 5:00 pm

          To sum up Yawn: “Racist, sexist and elitist commentary is perfectly acceptable”

          • Yawn

            August 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm

            Case in point.

      • Lyle

        August 9, 2009 at 8:05 am

        You need to stop with the name calling.

        • Dave

          August 9, 2009 at 12:23 pm

          Who, the guy who was calling people racist, sexist, and xenophobic? Or the guy who called you a toadie?

          • Lyle

            August 10, 2009 at 3:14 am

            Yep, the guy calling people for toadie for no good reason. It needs to stop.

          • Dave

            August 10, 2009 at 11:12 am

            Haha, you’re right, calling someone a toadie is much worse. You should really be upset, I’d rather be called racist or sexist than a toadie. Nothing like a little manufactured outrage to start the morning.

  14. RaiderRich

    August 7, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    If you truly appreciate a sport, you don’t need to hate someone.

    • Lyle

      August 7, 2009 at 11:15 pm

      I agree.

    • Yawn

      August 8, 2009 at 1:12 pm

      Pompous and belittling, all in such a short sentence, bravo.

      • Freddy

        August 8, 2009 at 11:10 pm

        wow yawn owns you

  15. Brian

    August 7, 2009 at 5:55 pm

    Your new villain is Manchester City, problem solved.

  16. miak

    August 7, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    i had fun reading your article. for me its the diving cheating, punch throwing, in the pub beating up dj’s, the one the only; STEVIE-GEEEEEEEEEE
    lets see how much furher behind torres he’ll have to play now that there is a hole left by the departure of xabi alonso. you never know that may weaken his “greatness” score next year enough to see him fall off the “greatest villan” post.

    btw, nice selection of four(4) criteria (cheating, smugness, greatness, playing for a rival) after sayng ” For me it boils down to three things:”
    not nitpicking…it was a good read.

  17. jordancda

    August 7, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    FERGUSON!!! How on earth did you not replace Mourinho with Ferguson?!

    • miak

      August 7, 2009 at 3:56 pm

      that’s SIR Alex Ferguson to you young lad/lass

      never mind me, i’m trying hard to be funny today:-)

  18. edgar

    August 7, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    As a Manchester United supporter, these are my picks:

    Liverpool: I don’t like Liverpool as a whole, but i can’t stand Mascherano. Even though Gerrard can be a diver, i respect his ability. Rafael Benitiez is a douche.

    Chelsea: John Obi Mikel, Cashley Cole(can’t stand that guy), Drogba(respect his ability though), Kalou, and Malouda.

    Arsenal: Van Persie can be a douche at times, but i don’t think i hate him. You have to respect the way Arsenal plays football. It’s brilliant at times.

  19. Carl

    August 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Robin van Persie.

  20. Kevin_Amold

    August 7, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    John Terry is my candidate for all the reasons listed above. He is very smug, looks like a general dirtbag, has been a top-class player, plays for Chelsea (COYW!), and constantly tries to intimidate referees, he’s a card snatcher, etc. Also, rumors of him parking in handicapped spots does little to endear himself to me.

  21. MarkB

    August 7, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Sir Alex Windbag and Fat Frank will do for me

  22. Bishopville Red

    August 7, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Drogba, John Mikel Obi and Bottler 26 are the easiest to hate.

    If Joey Barton finds his way back to the Premiership, he’s a universal asshole.
    Steven Gerrard sells himself as an honest chap, but he’s a whinging, diving prat, so that’s an easy sell too.

  23. Ellis Carver

    August 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I think Stoke City are prime candidates for a villain, primarily because they play like a bunch dumb overphysical a-holes.

  24. Gary Neville

    August 7, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    You forgot about me!

    • Ethan Armstrong

      August 7, 2009 at 1:54 pm

      I snuck you in to the Everton paragraph:

      “and for some reason I love seeing anyone named Neville see a red card”

      But you fall under the John Terry category of You’ll Propably Retire or Move to the MLS and I’ll be back to square one.

  25. Joaq

    August 7, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Drogba, to me, fits my “villain” need. He dives, he fights like a girl, he whines, etc.. Whenever I see him on the pitch I get that, “Jesus, I wish I could hit you so hard you’d be getting your nutrition from a straw for the rest of your life.” Honestly, any Chelsea player really sends the steam out my ears.

    I can honestly say that in the prem I do not have this much animosity built up towards any other player.

    One that comes close, however, is Bloody Jamie Carragher. The man is a detriment to club and country. He causes trouble on his own side and doesn’t shut up! Another prima donna, he is. Always complaining and yelling about something. Just shut ya hole and play on.

    You cannot say you’re a fan (short for fanatic for those who toss the abbreviated version around too casually) without absolutely hating someone or some team in your favorite league. If you’re a fan (see above) you live and die with your club. It is absolutely impossible to follow your favorite club without somewhere down the road developing an unquenchable hate for some opposing club or opposing player. I do agree with you Ethan, fans need a villain. It makes you more involved the match. You pay closer attention when you have happiness (your club) and hatred (strongly disliked club, manager, or player) invested in the match. The more emotionally invested you are in football the more rewarding it is to follow.

  26. thedoc

    August 7, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    i hold the deepest hatred for drogba. he is probably the player i hate the most out of any premier league team.

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