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A New EPL Fan’s Search For a Team: Episode 1 – Everton

Louis Saha Everton 2010/11 Richard Dunne Aston Villa Aston Villa V Everton (1-0) 29/08/10 The Premier League Photo Robin Parker Fotosports International Photo via Newscom

As a lead-in for this ongoing series, I am new to the English Premier League. Well, I’ve known about the Premier League since my college years. Sophomore year, I roomed with a guy who was a sanctioned FIFA referee for youth leagues. He told me about this new league, The Premier League, and it was the greatest thing that would ever happen to soccer. It only took me 15 years and an eye-turning 2010 World Cup to realize he was right.

So, as a new fan, what else do I need but a favorite team? I will chronicle my search for a team in this series.

I will start with what I learned from the World Cup. As an American fan, it would seem on the surface that Everton would be a wise first choice. Tim Howard, a goalkeeper that was supposed to bring America deep into the knockout phase, is the keeper at Everton. Landon Donovan was loaned to Everton, so he’d be there this fall, right, transferred for a hefty fee? Plus, they’ve been a mid-tier team, poised to breakthrough into the top of the table. So for me, at first it seemed like Everton would be the clear-cut favorite.

It has taken three games to sour to the Toffees. This team reminds me of a romantic comedy that frustrates the crap out of you because they have to write in a bunch of heartache, pain, near misses, and unfortunate strokes of horrible luck. Unfortunately, Everton has not provided me with that end-of-movie smile that left me deciding that the drama and tension was worth the happy ending.

Take for instance the game Sunday at Villa Park. How many times can a team NOT put a ball on net? Brad Friedel made a couple of outstanding saves, but the number of chances that were close-but-no-cigar left me wanting to strangle the entire team and myself with it. I know, that’s soccer, but for Everton that’s been the early trend.

For the first three weeks, here are their numbers:

  • Week 1, at Blackburn, 0 Goals, 16 Shots, 4 Shots On Goal
  • Week 2, vs. Wolverhampton, 1 Goal, 13 Shots, 2 Shots On Goal
  • Week 3, at Aston Villa, 0 Goals, 21 Shots, 7 Shots On Goal, 19 Corner Kicks

By the statistics, Everton seems to be able to generate chances, but their finishing ability is nearly non-existent. It could be a stroke of bad luck, or an early season slump, but the games have been excruciating to watch. Nothing is more annoying to me than to watch a team make the wrong decision, or even when they do make the right decision, convert horribly with a ball that bounds off into the stands. I’d even take a shot to the keeper’s chest, at least give the ball a chance to get through!

Everton has therefore dropped on my list. At the very bottom will likely remain the Big Three throughout my search, because I can’t bring myself to root for the most decorated teams. I consider the groups to be a) ruled out, b) not likely, and c) most likely.

  • Ruled Out (3): Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United
  • Not Likely (7): Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic
  • Most Likely (10): Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Blackburn, Blackpool, Fulham, Newcastle United, Stoke City, Sunderland, Wolverhampton

In two weeks, I’ll be back with my next impression. Until then, I’m open to your suggestions and advice.

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  1. Footballfool

    August 30, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    I am in the same boat as you . It was not until this World Cup that I got into soccer/football/futbol. Now I can’t stop. Recently Wifey called me obsessed.

    On July 15, I posted this to another forum message board.

    So….I am new to soccer. Of course the World Cup sucked me in and now I am looking for more. I would like to find a team to follow. Premier League I guess since that is what I’ve read about most. I even signed up to play in their fantasy league. I know from playing fantasy baseball and American football….it is a great way to learn the players and teams. So…my goal for this post is to ask some of you more knowledgeable fans help me choose a team to root for and follow and why. Thanks in advance for the “education”.

    The natural choice (for me) would be to pull for Man U since the owners also own my hometown American football team, Tampa Bay Bucs. I just don’t really like the owners all that much so I kinda did not even entertain liking them. (The Glaziers still own Man U, right?)
    I guess that’s not really a good reason now is it?
    I do however want to like a good team since this is new to me and don’t want to be put off and disappointed right off the bat. I also want the entertainment of an attacking team.

    Since then, I have just sat back and watched as many games as possible. I read up on just about every team and chosen sides to follow and support for various reasons. It has bee extremely fun and enlightening.
    Enjoy the experience !

  2. Vious

    August 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Since 99% of Americans are gloryhunters that root for a team due to their success, just write about United/Chelsea/Arsenal

    • GuitarearI

      August 30, 2010 at 4:41 pm

      I’m giving that one a thumbs up! It actually made me chuckle!

  3. UpTheBlues

    August 30, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    I don’t think you can really ‘rule a club out’. Don’t be turned off supporting a big 4 (well, big 3 because the Scousers are awful…) club because of being called a gloryhunter. Think about it this way:
    If the club were to be relegated, would I still support them?
    If the answer is a resounding ‘yes!’, than you’ve found your club, my friend 🙂

  4. Mark

    August 30, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I started the process earlier this year and settled on Everton.

    The way I went about finding a team was to think about the characteristics of my favorite sports team in the States, the Texas Rangers. I love the Texas Rangers because of how they have built their team into a potential powerhouse despite not being as financially fortunate as other teams. They did this by amassing one of the deepest minor league systems in Major League Baseball and making great deals. I find it extremely rewarding to watch players you’ve only heard about reach the Major Leagues and tear it up. Knowing that your team is having success because of their practices and not their pocketbooks is an amazing feeling.

    With that in mind, I did some research and learned about Everton’s history as a successful club as recently in the 80’s and how they are now similiar to the Rangers in many respects. They seem to be a squad that is relatively well-constructed in spite of their finances, not because of them. I’ll admit that the first 3 matches have been frustrating, but to me, they’ve been frustrating in the same way Texas Rangers games used to be frustrating – it’s only frustrating because you KNOW they can and will do better. This was just 3 matches into my journey as an Evertonian, and I already feel a sort of bond with them that took me years to create with the Rangers.

    So I would suggest that you think about what makes you love your favorite sports team (besides locality) and try and find a team that has many of the same characteristics. You might find out that you’ve been a fan of theirs for years without even knowing it.

  5. VillaPark

    August 30, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    I’ve heard a wide variety of reasons for why someone I know became a supporter of a certain club. One guy I know just happened to catch a handful of Wigan games when they were on tv, then decided to play a lot of a FIFA video game as Wigan and became much more familiar with their players as a result. He ended up getting more and more into their games and style of play and is now a Wigan supporter. Here in Illinois, he is basically a lone wolf, as I have never seen another Wigan fan at any pub or anywhere else for that matter. He gets to enjoy their games and suffers through their 6-0 losses to Chelsea and takes the good with the bad.

    I also had a friend who was getting into the World Cup and was going to start supporting Aston Villa along with me. But he has really started to take to Manchester City as they have brought in a ton of players (I think he likes Tevez and wanted Argentina to win the WC). While I initially thought he might be joining up with a team that looks on paper like they could compete for a championship, I quickly decided that would be cool because I would have someone to root against.

    Third, my nephew just played in his first game last weekend (at five-years old). The next morning, my brother woke up to find him watching Arsenal-Blackburn on ESPN2 on his own…and now, I’m pretty sure he really likes Arsenal.

    Just thought a few of those were interesting stories to share…

  6. PinkToffee

    August 30, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Goals will come for Everton, you can believe that.
    I have been an Everton fan for many a year now, through good and bad, if you really want to find a team to support, go to the fan forums, talk with some fans, and listen to their stories, when you choose a club, it should be for life.
    Being a Toffee has been some of the most fantastic times and also some of the worst times of my life, if you find a club you generally feel for, stick with it, whomever they are, because you will finally understand why football is the biggest sport in the world.
    If you can sing your heart out for a team on a rainy Decembers night, if your heart skips a beat every time a corner comes over your defence, if you find yourself screaming at your strikers to chase a ball, make a pass, or just shoot, then my friend, that is the team for you.
    Good luck on your search 🙂

    • Duke

      August 31, 2010 at 10:37 am

      “if your heart skips a beat every time a corner comes over your defence, if you find yourself screaming at your strikers to chase a ball, make a pass, or just shoot, then my friend, that is the team for you.”

      And that’s exactly how I realized I was a Chelsea fan. I knew nothing about “tables” or “Big 4” or Abramovich or player’s loutish behavior. For reasons I still don’t understand, I was emotionally involved. I don’t know how or why.

      I think that being a sports fan is a completely illogical thing, anyway. When you think about it, you’re basically rooting for a uniform; the guys in the uniform change all the time, often coming back as a member of the hated opposition. Picking a team seems destined for failure. The team picks you.

  7. Ethan

    August 30, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    I’m 15, and an Arsenal supporter, and no, I’m not ashamed to support a Big Four club. First of all, I lived in London from the ages of 1-6, and essentially, I used geography to figure it out. Where I lived was essentially equidistant from Stamford Bridge and Highbury. However, my stepdad is a Gunner, and has basically forced his allegiance upon me, so that became the dealbreaker. Look, I won’t lie, I still do wonder about supporting a Top 4 club, just because others will view you as a bandwagoner, but I know I’m not, and I’m definitely comfortable in knowing so.

  8. Kris

    August 30, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    First of all I’m also an American fan that has been following the EPL for about 4 years now. I started following Fulham when Mcbride and Bocanegra were the cornerstones of the club. It has been a hard not to follow Fulham with there last day of the season to stay in the league. To there Europa league Final. The one thing I like about Fulham is that it is the average Joe playing out there. We don’t have the Messi, Ronaldo, or Rooney but we can play the game!! For an American fan it would be either Everton(which they always start out slow) or Fulham.

  9. Steve H in SLC

    August 30, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    “Jay is right on the mark. My suggestion is don’t think about it at all. Just let something strike you.”

    This is how it happened for me. I started looking after the World Cup in 2002. I figured I would follow Blackburn because of Brad Friedel, but I was watching just about everything FSW was showing, and a Monday Night game at St. James’s Park between Newcastle and West Ham, with Newcastle winning 4-0 with four second-half goals, hooked me completely on the Toon.

  10. Guitarearl

    August 30, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I want to thank all of those who commented thus far, especially those who gave plenty of great advice going forward about how I might come to like (or simply observe) a team. My plan isn’t to turn this into a critique of one team every week. I think it will be an evolving process, and personally I hope that one week down the road there is a “Eureka” moment where I realize one particular team is the team for me. Another thing that I’d like to point out: I’ve been taking in a bunch of games. I’m not watching only Everton’s games. My intent was to get to know as many of the 20 as I could, in order to inform myself of their play, their squads, and their history. That’s the only way I know how to get acquainted enough to declare your devotion to anything.

    Thanks again! Wonderful discussion!

  11. Jay

    August 30, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Interesting! I did the same thing this year. Decided it was time to pick an EPL team. My brother in-law (from England – he’s a Crystal Palace fan), actually suggested Arsenal, as did a few other friends (lots of hating on Chelsea and Man U). This kind of surprised me but after reading more about them, it seemed like a good fit. I’m sure it’s a trendy pick and too bandwagon-ish, but I don’t care. Plus, they’re on ESPN quite a bit, which is nice.

    I had to start somewhere, so Arsenal it is. So far, I love it (both Arsenal and the EPL). It’s amazing how much I’ve learned the past month (and amazing how infinitely much more there is to learn!)

    But…what’s up with this international break??? Things were just getting going and now…??? I’m also really surprised by the length of the season, and how many other championships there are. Like I said, lots to learn but I’m really enjoying it.

  12. erik

    August 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Call me a gloryhunter if you will, but back before I got FSC through my cable provider, the Champions League on ESPN was all I got for European footy. Therefore, my choices were significantly slimmer then. It made no sense to pick a team I couldn’t watch, and since the language barrier to find coverage of the “big 4” didn’t exist like it did with the Spanish, German, or Italian sides.

    The moment I became a Chelsea fan actually came during a rare EPL game being shown through a local Fox Sports affiliate. Chelsea-Arsenal, 2006/07 season I believe. I saw Michael Essien’s wonderstrike and I was hooked. Chelsea was my team, Essien my favorite player. The other members of the Big 4 had these long histories of winning championships, Chelsea, while being around forever, had “no history” as Liverpewl fans love to say. Well, I didn’t have any history with football either, so I thought it was a good match. Plus, I loved how they were universally hated by the rest of the continent.

    And since I have started religiously following Chelsea, there has been much more bad than good. I’ve seen United win 3 championships back-to-back-to-back, watched John Terry slip up and lose the CL finals, not to mention the Barca semifinal disaster. Last year’s double was a welcome break from the heartbreak.

    F*ck the haters, Comon Ya Blues!

    • Terry B

      August 30, 2010 at 1:29 pm

      I’m similar to you. What actually got me into football was the ’06 World Cup. Germany was a real joy to watch and Michael Ballack in particular. So, logically, I found out what club he played for. He had just transferred to Chelsea and I was pleased to see they had just won the title twice after what appeared to be clear dominance by ManU. So, I figured I’d toss in my hat with them and see where it took me.

      Well, I immediately fell in love with the club and its players. At the time, soccer in the states was far from popular so I wasn’t worried about being a “glory hunter” because nobody knew or cared about soccer, let alone English football. Also, like you said, the next couple of seasons weren’t exactly stellar, but I was hooked.

      After Euro 2008, when I noticed people actually starting to care about international football, nobody was calling me a “glory hunter”. In fact, people felt bad for me because I called Chelsea my club. Scolari had just been given the reigns and well, we all know how that ended.

      Now, though, we’re riding high and I couldn’t be happier. I’m proud to support the Blues and no name calling or labeling is going to change that. KTBFFH.

    • UpTheBlues

      August 30, 2010 at 3:13 pm

      Great comment! I could care less what other fans say about my support of the Blues. The John Terry and Ashley Cole sagas last winter has made me love the club even more, for some reason… Maybe because it is incredibly fun to be hated by the rest of Europe 😉 (I’m a Patriots fan in the NFL, so I have experience).

  13. HeWhoWillNotBeNamed

    August 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I started out watching Spurs but grew to love Aston Villa. I liked that they had a good group of young players, had a tough back line, were dedicated to helping a charity (Acorns) and were in the middle of the pack – having never been out of the PL. Keep watching as many games as you can. You’ll eventually have a team pick you. I also didn’t see Bolton listed. They are my 2nd favorite team to watch. Villa have had a hard time getting points at Reebok. Very scrappy!

  14. bradjmoore48

    August 30, 2010 at 11:36 am


    It’s honestly not a bad thing if you don’t want to follow a side in the EPL. I don’t. I usually maybe match 1 or 2 EPL matches a week – usually the ESPN2 matches since they’re the only ones I get in HD (sigh), watch Match Of The Day highlights of the others, and listen to the EPL Talk and Guardian Weekly podcasts. I watch plenty of Champion’s League, so English teams get followed there as well. But it leaves me open to check out other leagues and teams in Europe. I’ve watched a couple Bundesliga matches this year, and have been impressed with the competitive nature of the league. On Friday, Kaiserslautern, a newly promoted team, beat Bayern Munich 2-0. Compare that to the 6-0 thrashing Chelsea gave West Brom.

    Disclosure: My adopted team is Barcelona.

    • HeWhoWillNotBeNamed

      August 30, 2010 at 11:47 am

      I have a favorite team that I follow in each of the major leagues. Kaiserslautern (Bundesliga), Villarreal (La Liga), Motherwell (Scottish PL) and Columbus Crew (MLS). For some reason I don’t really like any Italian teams enough. Though the league is my least favorite.

  15. nc

    August 30, 2010 at 11:31 am

    That Simmons article was terrible. I don’t see how you can pick a favorite team in any sports league with no prior knowledge. The only exceptions are if you live in the city and support the home team, or your Dad supports a team and you are born into it that way. Outside those two reasons I think the process of adopting a team should be slow and involve taking in as many seasons/games as possible and follow your heart. Simmons is insuferable. His piece turned into a “lets see who most closely resembles the Red Sox” article. The fan letters were all “here’s how my team is like the Red Sox”. It actually made me dislike Spurs (whom he “selected”).

    I look forward to reading the rest of these entries. One thing to keep in mind is that defining trendy can be difficult. You could argue that it is trendy to avoid picking a Big Four team. I certainly appreciate the logic, but whatever, as long as you really like your team and stick with them through good times and bad, then you made the right choice.

    • Duke

      August 30, 2010 at 12:50 pm

      Well said. Simmons is insufferable in general, and his “choice” of Spurs makes me glad I’m a Chelsea fan.

      • titsmcgee

        August 31, 2010 at 2:26 pm

        Agree with both of you guys on Simmons being a clown…he did kind of inspire me to pick a team, though. Not surprising that Spurs are in the Champions league and we haven’t seen a single tweet about it…only the red sox(sick of those and i’m from boston)

  16. jackhammer

    August 30, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I live in Philly and, like many here, became more interested in following the EPL after the World Cup this year. I was looking for a team that had a storied history with near mythical disappointment, devoted yet drunken fans, and a bit of an underdog-with-promise feel. (in other words, just like my Phillies) I also fell in love with the NE of England last year, so in the end Newcastle was indeed an easy choice for me. I’ve really enjoyed their matches so far this year and Hughton seems to be a doing an amazing job getting this team back in form. They’ll be the surprise success of the season. We also have the MLS Union in their inaugural season so that’s been great to follow as well.

  17. CTBlues

    August 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I don’t think you should write any team off. If you watch a team and you like how they play root for them who cares if they are currently a winning side. If someone calls you a glory hunter or front runner tell them to fuck off. Who is to say I have to root for a team that isn’t good or is mediocre. So because I didn’t watch soccer when Chelsea was a midtable team means I can’t root for them? When Chelsea was a midtable team I hated soccer with a passion and it was very hard to watch the EPL in the states at that time. I say if you like what you see root that team no matter what.

    Up the Chels! and ya can shove that history up your up your arse.

  18. Sir Guy

    August 30, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Jay is right on the mark. My suggestion is don’t think about it at all. Just let something strike you.

    Four years ago I chose Chelsea because I live on Chelsea Circle. I found the experience less than fulfilling for reasons I won’t bore you with. I looked for another sign…and found it. See avatar. 🙂

    Three years later there is no question Fulham is my team and always will be. May they get relegated? Well, they have certainly tried. Can they be frustrating? How do you like three draws in a row to start the season? (but the one against Man Utd was sweet)

    As Americans we can not have that “born with it” feel about a team our English friends have, but I would warn against being too analytical in your quest. In the end I don’t see how that can be very fulfilling.

  19. Drew

    August 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I can’t tell you who you’ll like best, especially since so much of that is based around what type of soccer you like to see played. However, You’d be in for a real treat watching Newcastle this year.

    Not only has their Manager, Chris Hughton, turned around a relegated team full of infighting and mediocrity into a group of people who have learned to play for each other, and are finally going to become a force to be reckoned with again.
    Then add this with the skill of all our new transfers, including Ben Arfa Tiote, and now possibly even the young dutch striker, Ricky Van Wolfswinkel.

    It’ll be a great season for the Toon.

  20. Scott

    August 30, 2010 at 10:45 am

    Hey there. I did this a couple of years ago and ended up picking Sunderland. Seemed to play with passion and I enjoyed watching Darren Bent. I was rewarded yesterday with a huge win over City.

  21. Jay

    August 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I don’t know that searching for a club is really the way to go.

    Watch games, have fun, eventually a club will just feel right, and then you know.

    • VillaPark

      August 30, 2010 at 10:46 am

      True. And maybe watch a variety of games and teams before making a decision.

  22. Greg

    August 30, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Can I have one GOOD reason why you’ve ruled out Chelsea, Arsenal, and Man United. I’ve heard many, including “too trendy/popular, too big, too much $” yada yada yada. I find routing for a big four team very enjoyable, there’s the chance they’ll actually compete for a trophy, the media coverage is more extensive, and you’ll actually get to watch them on TV regularly. I’d simply like a better reason of why not to consider them…

    • IanCransonsKnees

      August 30, 2010 at 11:37 am

      Because he may not want to be considered a glory hunting twat maybe?

    • Jake Islas

      August 30, 2010 at 11:57 am

      I feel he has ruled those out because he doesn’t want to be called a “glory-hunter” by the self-righteous people from the UK, which as we see was unavoidable anyway. However, I say, who cares what they think and just enjoy your football. If you fall in love with a top club then support them, no reason to feel like you have to support a team not in the trophy hunt just to apease other people whom you’ve never met, who will still find a way to make you feel like you can’t even like football because it’s not a “primary” sport in the US.

      • IanCransonsKnees

        August 30, 2010 at 12:52 pm

        Because it’s the easy option. I can appreciate the way that the top 4 teams play but I don’t have to jump on the bandwagon and join them. In all honesty it matters not a jot who GuitarEarl picks as it will only effect football over here in terms of the foreign TV rights going through the roof, foreign shirt sales and where the top 4 choose to tour during the off season.

        Or he can choose not be a sheep.

  23. VillaPark

    August 30, 2010 at 9:49 am

    It’s probably not a good sign that after three results you are basically deciding not to support Everton. While this search for a team can be difficult, choosing a team based on whether they are currently winning games will make things tough.

    One thing I can point out however, is that when you watched the Everton-Villa game, you probably noticed the teams giving an all-out effort and playing without any theatrics. Villa scored early and then tried to lock things down at home while Everton did everything they could to try and get an equalizer in the closing 30 minutes. I mention this because choosing a team’s style of play might be just as important as if they are currently on form or struggling in a short period of time. If Everton’s efforts at the end of the game to score didn’t have you riled up and behind them, then you might be better off looking elsewhere.

  24. Neal

    August 30, 2010 at 9:36 am

    So, wait, let me get this straight, … you were considering rooting for Everton until they had a few tough games? And then you just dropped them in the “Not Likely” category? The effort they displayed against Aston Villa yesterday only made me prouder to be a supporter of theirs. They have a lot of fight and heart, and that’s all I can ask for from my club. Here’s a protip: teams you root for are going to suffer tough losses and give you some heartache. Deal with it, because those tough times make the victories that much sweeter.

    • VillaPark

      August 30, 2010 at 9:56 am

      Agreed. As I said below, if he didn’t like the effort that Everton was putting into that game, then his search is going to be highly difficult.

      As a Villa supporter, I had the same experience during yesterday’s game from the other side of the spectrum…every clearance, save, or missed header from Everton meant one less chance for them to tie the game. After last week’s losses to Newcastle, Rapid Vienna, and James Milner to ManCity, it only made me want to get behind them even more, and the last 30 minutes of the game yesterday were agonizing and yet amazing.

      There’s a reason why I mark the Villa-Everton games each year darker on the calendar than most other games, mainly because of the effort that both teams put into each game.

  25. Brian

    August 30, 2010 at 9:23 am

    If you’re working this hard to find a club, then you won’t stay with it once you finally do “support” one.

    The support comes naturally – not from the results the club puts up, but from the football the players show and the amazing support of the other supporters that makes you feel drawn into that club.

    • Duke

      August 30, 2010 at 12:42 pm

      I have to agree with Brian. I discovered EPL football essentially by accident, catching FSC replays of Premier League matches and live Champions League matches on weekday afternoons – and at the time, I really didn’t understand the difference between them!

      My team (Chelsea – deflector shields up!) picked me, not the other way around. Yeah, I look like a front-runner, but it was a natural progression, and there’s no going back now. If I was going to pick one, it would probably be Everton or Villa, or maybe even Pompey, but it just hasn’t worked out that way.

      My advice: Just keep watching. Sooner or later you’ll find yourself getting worked up over a team. And then your search is over! 😉

  26. paul

    August 30, 2010 at 9:13 am

    This was lame when the Sports Guy did it 5 years ago, and it’s even worse now…


    • The Gaffer

      August 30, 2010 at 10:01 am

      Paul, I believe there’s nothing wrong with a soccer fan writing his sincere thoughts about searching for a Premier League team. If you don’t like it, don’t read it. But just because an ESPN pundit went through a similar search a few years ago doesn’t mean that no one else should write about a similar quest.

      The Gaffer

      • VillaPark

        August 30, 2010 at 10:37 am

        Agreed. Simmons’ article might not have been good to a football fan already knowledgeable about the game, but I know of a few people who read it when they were considering whether to begin following the Premier League after the last World Cup.

        As a knowledgeable fan, you could have found holes in a lot of the things he was saying, but for non-fans, it had the right amount of info and humor to open the door.

  27. Guitarearl

    August 30, 2010 at 9:12 am

    To lump answers to three separate comments (fantasy, Evan, and Drew), I’m glad there are others in my boat. At first my thought was to have this be a kind of Survivor­­™ “Off The Island” sequence where each week a team got banished. Then I realized that I may be selling the process short with that kind of hasty decision. Thus my negatives will be less final; I haven’t completely ruled out Everton. Advice is definitely helpful, a lot of the league’s lore can only be learned from those who have endured. While it may not actively turn me towards one team or the other, it will shape the process of observation, discussion, and ultimate decision that leads me to a club.

  28. Erik Hymel

    August 30, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Bill Simmons at ESPN went through the same process in the summer of 2006 (I haven’t followed his writings since, so I don’t know if he stayed committed to his choice Tottenham). His search prompted me to do the same. I landed on Liverpool for a variety of reasons. Notably, I also ruled out the same three that you have for exactly the same reasons. Today, I’d lump Man City in with them even though they haven’t won anything yet.

    You need to resign yourself to frustration, especially if you’re ruling out the richest clubs. It’s just a question of how high your tolerance to it. If you’re following from America, be careful of choosing relegation risks; they’ll be a lot harder to follow in the Championship (unless you don’t mind switching allegiances repeatedly).

    European competitions can give you additional opportunities to follow your club, but again, that’s going to rule out about half of the league.

  29. Jason

    August 30, 2010 at 8:58 am

    I’m am on a similar search. Although a few years dated. the book Bloody Confused helped a lot in understanding the complex tourney and league play. I’d like to know why you eliminated the Spurs. I like watching them play, and have followed them more than anyone else. Like you, I eliminated Everton, more b/c I read they invest in youth players, but not in their EPL team. I’m also interested in Aston Vila b/c they are owned by an American, who gave away their kit sponsorship last year to a charity. Pretty cool. Haven’t seen them play yet, though.

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve already forwarded it to a few friends I’ve had this conversation with.

    • Guitarearl

      August 30, 2010 at 9:21 am

      I listed Tottenham in my “not likely” bin. I actually find them a compelling team to watch, and they may draw my affection as the season progresses. The fact they finished at the top of the rest of the pack last season makes me hesitant to fall in love, because I don’t want to be a bandwagon jumper. We’ll see…

      • Jason

        August 30, 2010 at 9:26 am

        I agree. Although, their participation in UEFA does afford us a few more opportunities to watch them. Plus, they have a super cool loo with a gamecock sitting on a ball.

        • Sir Guy

          August 30, 2010 at 1:13 pm

          “Plus, they have a super cool logo with a gamecock sitting on a ball.”

          Probably as good a reason for an American to pick a team as any. Now, if I weren’t committed to Fulham……. 😉

  30. BBC

    August 30, 2010 at 8:47 am

    Choose City so in 10 years time, you can look back at their glory years…and give Everton more time. They look nothing like the tough, scrapping bunch they were last season. I think they’re mudders.

  31. LC

    August 30, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I am also fairly new to the EPL, though not new to soccer. Fell in love with the league after a recent trip to the UK. I recently settled on a team myself. I am also of the attitude that I refuse to hop on the bandwagon of the most decorated teams. That would be like picking the Yankees, Cowboys, or Steelers, all teams I hate with a passion. I also didn’t want to hitch to a team that fell in danger of relegation.

    My adopted team is Tottenham. The Spurs have a good tradition, a great manager in Redknapp, and are not the free-spending type like Man City or Chelsea. Gareth Bale is a phenomenal talent. They are perhaps a player or two away from really hanging with the big boys. They’re fun without being flashy, and they’re on the verge of greatness. Can’t wait to see how they fare in their Champions League group. Very disappointed with their loss to Wigan, though.

    Everton was also a contender for me, especially because they have arguably the best Academy program in the EPL, if not the world. However, I am not a fan of Howard or Donovan. I’m not a fan of Dempsey either, so that eliminated Fulham.

    Arsenal had no chance. In addition to being one of the “top” teams, I coached against a youth team called Arsenal. I could not stand their coach, as he was totally into robotic soccer, calling every move that the kids should make. Just let them play! Plus, it turns out that they are Tottenham’s natural rival, so it worked out well.

    If I were to choose a big four team, it might have been Liverpool. Huge fan of Steven Gerrard. However, the ownership situation is such a mess that it’s like walking into a relationship with someone who already has too much baggage.

    Newcastle is a team that’s caught my eye. I know they were recently in relegation, but I’ve enjoyed their games so far this year.

  32. Drew

    August 30, 2010 at 8:11 am

    Great to see another American in search of a team. I’m pretty much in the exact same boat, except I started with Fulham (Dempsey!) before starting to sour. Still not sure where I’ll end up, but I suspect given all the sturm und drang I’ve felt over Liverpool thanks to my fantasy league may mean I’ll end up there.

    Still, I asked a bunch of people about which team to pick over at Ask MetaFilter, so you might find their advice helpful:

    (Their first bit of advice was I spelled Premier wrong,)

  33. SKMDC

    August 30, 2010 at 8:10 am

    I took this journey 3 years ago. Everton, Fulham, and Aston Villa were my final three, mainly because of US players I already knew. (Freidel, Dempsey, Howard.) Eventually Villa took on Brad Guzan, who played college ball at my school, so that made my final choice for me…

  34. Evan

    August 30, 2010 at 8:04 am

    I would ask you to be a little more patient with Everton. As an American, when I first decided to start following the EPL, I too was very much against the idea of rooting for the “Top 4”. So with those teams, (Chelsea, Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool), out of contention for my devotion, and I was drawn to Everton for the very same reasons.

    You can consider last season as a good example of why you’d want to be patient. After a horrendous start to the season, and injuries to many key players, they came alive in the latter part of the season beating all the big clubs, and managing to finish 8th in the table.

    Of course it’s a personal choice, and being we don’t have any geographic loyalty, you will find a team that speaks to you. Good luck.

  35. street end

    August 30, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Evertonians are born not manufactured, we do not choose we are chosen, those who understand do not need explination, those who dont understand do not matter. NIL SATIS NISI OPTIMUM

    • Guitarearl

      August 30, 2010 at 8:16 am

      I, for one, am a sports fan who can appreciate this type of sentiment.

      • street end

        August 30, 2010 at 8:36 am

        Sorry if it sounds a bit contrite , but I am an Everton season ticket holder who was born 100 yds from Goodison. But look at it another way Everton are a team who have finished 5th twice, 4th, 6th and 8th in the last 6 seasons and the net spend for the last 10 years is less than Man city spent this summer! The team and the fans are a band of brothers and we are all in it together. A founder member of the Football league we have been longer in top flight football than any other club in England. And as one of our famous players once said “once Everton has touched you nothing will ever be the same”
        Good luck with your search but remember its a marathon not a sprint.

        • loyalty? whats that?

          August 30, 2010 at 11:02 am

          man city again? i agree with your point but the man city references are getting a bit old

    • loyalty? whats that?

      August 30, 2010 at 10:57 am

      plz tell these retards about loyalty especially the fulham fan with a giggs shirt?? doh!

    • faboofour

      August 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm

      As a near-sixty year old New York native now in Seattle, who discovered soccer less than two years ago, the EPL (and Everton) a year ago, and who now and will forevermore bleed True Blue, I agree 100% with the absolute facetthat Evertonians are chosen. I became an Everton fan before Donovan came over. I became an Everton fan as the season began last year even worse than it has this year (at least we’ve not lost 1:6 this year…yet). It was through circumstances beyond my control that I became a supporter of the Toffees. I don’t understand it, myself, and I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t lived through it.

      Three matches aren’t enough, mate. Give ’em time and they’ll root into your heart like a baobab bush. Yes, there’ll be heartache. But that’s what being a fan is about.

  36. fantasy

    August 30, 2010 at 8:00 am

    cheers i am also looking for a team and i hope these articles help me also. i follow my fpl team but would love that passion for a team. birmingham have been good to watch, like the way they go about it. Good luck with it

  37. RobG4

    August 30, 2010 at 7:52 am

    It took me almost 10 years to finally pick a favorite team (Fulham). Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just watch as many matches as you can and eventually you will find one.

    It’s ok if you change your mind a few times too. I was a fan of individual players before I was a fan of any team, and there are some pictures of me in a Giggs jersey floating around out there.

    My recommendation to you would be Tottenham. They are a great squad, with fun players, and a good chance at glory.

  38. Alex

    August 30, 2010 at 7:25 am

    I’m (obviously) a Liverpool fan, and would advocate them, but it’s totally understandable why you’d look elsewhere.

    I seem to know a lot of Fulham and Newcastle supporters. Fulham’s dream Europa run last year aside, I don’t know how much they offer in terms of future success, but you could do a lot worse.

    • loyalty? whats that?

      August 30, 2010 at 10:55 am

      omg glory hunters or what? ten years to pick a team…ppl changing teams wtf? “My recommendation to you would be Tottenham. They are a great squad, with fun players, and a good chance at glory.” you make me sick this is not fifa or pro evolution lol as much as i dont want to believe it america ruins everything it touches

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