RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Monday, May 15

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: A.F.C. Bournemouth

(A.F.C. Bournemouth owner Maxim Demin, who is superstitious
to the point of not attending matches sometimes for fear of
being a curse upon the team)

[25-Man Metaphysical Roster is a football dork methodology meant to establish a listing of players who have been most active for English Premier League teams in their past 100 non-friendly matches. Essentially, it is calculated by minutes played, but weighted towards most recent games. The end result is a listing of the 25 players in a team’s recent history who have had the largest hand on their metaphysical sporting trajectory. The English Premier League was chosen because it is the highest level of football played in an English speaking country, and I speak English. Also, it is what comes on TV here in the USA, where I fucking live. Should I not fail in maintaining my unpaid deadline, a new 25-Man Metaphysical Roster will appear on the 1st and 15th of every month.]

A.F.C. Bournemouth had never played at the top flight of English football until August of 2015, despite having been kicking around since 1899. But they finished 16th last season, to hold onto a second year, and could possibly finish with a top ten finish this season depending on how the last week shakes out, which is tremendous when you consider that essentially all non-Big 6 clubs are battling for the rest of the field. You might even be able to lump Everton in as a 7th. If you did, then Bournemouth could finish in top 3 of the rest of the league, which is maybe the most a lesser club could hope for.
What’s been the difference? They’ve had a crazy Russian petrochemical and banking oligarch owner since 2011, some guy with the most properly ominous sounding name Maxim Demin, which is pretty easy to just read as Maxim Denim. Demin lacks the deep pockets of other more famous Russian oligarchs, but also seems to be less of a Mafioso crony capitalist and more in-line with traditional “make sure you make money” capitalist, relying on soulless business dealings more than strong arming people.
Anyways, Bournemouth has locked up a third straight season in the Premier League, and this be the list of 25 figures who have featured most prominently in their past 100 non-friendly matches (thus helping them get to this previously unknown level)…

#1: STEVE COOK – Steve Cook is their captain, and he’s been there for the entire climb to the PL, having come over in 2011 on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion (who join the PL next season), then signing with the Cherries in 2012, and he’s been their rock in the middle of the defense ever since. His club history also shows a 5-game loan spell at Havant & Waterlooville, which when I was limited to my illegally obtained Football Manager, was always the team I started out with at level 6 of the English football pyramid. I always love guys like this who maintain their spot on the team sheet despite jumping up two levels of competition in four years time. It’s silly fuckers like this that allow teams to still have heart despite the immense money circulating at PL level. But it’s also silly fuckers like this pure Englishness and the same xenophobic nationalism that makes guys like Steve Cook or Jamie Vardy or Leon Britton the supporters’ fave.
#2: CHARLIE DANIELS – Another backline mainstay who’s been with Bournemouth since 2011 when Demin took over the team. As an American is it completely impossible to not make Charlie Daniels the country musician and master fiddle player jokes, but I got no idea if his music jumped the ocean to British pop culture. Then again maybe nobody British actually reads this. Maybe nobody actually reads this. This might be an elaborate waste of fucking precious life force and creative energy, cast into the oblivion, only seen by Big Data analytics, and even then passed over as meaningless.
#3: SIMON FRANCIS – A third defender who has been with the team since 2011, which perhaps you are seeing a pattern here, and could very easily posit a theory as to why Bournemouth have been successful enough to transcend leagues and tease a top half of EPL table finish this year. Having guys who have worked together for a number of seasons on that defensive line, and on top of that having one single manager in Eddie Howe since 2012 that entire time (which is unheard of at top levels of English football), makes a big difference. Stability. How long before the allure of PL-glory causes the inevitable craziness to take hold (as it did in Leicester City this season when Claudio Ranieri got sacked) and chase Howe off, and replace that backline (Francis and Daniels are aging, to be honest) with hotshot young transfers from elsewhere in Europe?
#4: ARTUR BORUC – Boruc is a relative newcomer compared to the fullbacks lined up in front of him, having only been with Bournemouth since 2014, but already held down goal for over 100 matches. Boruc fits my ideal notion of good GK – namely Eastern European (Polish in Boruc’s case), wearing garishly bright colors, hawk-eyed, and a good yeller. Plus, as he showed while at Celtic, he has a flair for attempting to incite riots in opposing supporters. At 37, he might be on the way out of his Premier League spot though. His most notable act of Eastern European GK wildness though was coming across an older Polish couple getting robbed in Glasgow once, and defending them, which included asking the elderly couple to hold his expensive watch while he finished kicking the assailants’ asses.
#5: ADAM SMITH – Former Tottenham academy wunderkid who got loaned all over creation, including to Bournemouth, before Spurs finally let him go to the Cherries. Big 6 clubs ever-expanding list of players they own that just get loaned out everywhere is so frustrating, because I can’t imagine an actual human being maintaining any passion for football in such circumstances. Then you are, by culture, turned into somebody doing it just for money, where the spirit of the game that drove you to it in the first place is completely gone. Fuck modern football.
#6: HARRY ARTER – Arter, an Irishman, has been with Bournemouth since 2010, thus during their entire climb from League One up to Premier League. And yet he’s still only 27. They’ve mixed the old and new. For Arter, this year has been more notable for having his firstborn kid (lolol with his unmarried girlfriend, in true Irish sporting figure fashion), after having lost a kid to stillbirth a year ago. (The kid – a daughter – is named Raine Arter, which if you believe in naming helping decide a child’s fate, as I do, that’s gonna be an enigmatic child.)
#7: JOSHUA KING – King was a Manchester United youth academy grad, who never saw the Starting XI for ManU, but was loaned out for a number of years (like a bitch) until landing at Blackburn. He moved to Bournemouth as part of their transfer class before their Premier League debut in summer of 2015, and has established himself as a real presence this season, netting 16 goals. Heavy transfer links to Tottenham have started early, so expect some bigger club to swoop in for King, who will not have the same attachment to club as Jamie Vardy did last year with Leicester. (Also, though finishing top ten is best all-time finish for Bournemouth, ever, it’s not like they won the Premier League.)
#8: ANDREW SURMAN – Surman’s another long-time figure with the club, having been there since 2013. In fact, he had an 86-straight matches played record going before dreaded hamstring injury struck last October, followed up by a knee injury last month that ended his season early.
#9: DAN GOSLING – Gosling is steady ground-covering midfielder for the Cherries, who consistently shows up on those “ran the most meters” lists. But more importantly, in terms of metaphysics, Gosling is a huge dumbass, who once while out with injury while playing for the dreaded Newcastle United scumfuck factory, got busted for betting on football. On one hand, it seems pretty obvious why that would be stupid; and yet on the other, aren’t like half the PL-teams main sponsor’s betting websites?
#10: MARC PUGH – Pugh has been the guy upfront the entire past metaphysical run of Bournemouth from League One up. As winger, he contributed goals galore at League One level to help them move, and was steady contributor at Championship level as well. In Premier League the past two seasons, he’s appeared less and only added five goals over those two seasons, but that’s still five goals in the Premier League, so he’s still a solid contributor, but another example of guy who’s been there for a while (age 30 now) who at some point the team will make philosophical decision to rebuild roster. That’s the tricky shit about metaphysics – how do you rebuild without upsetting what’s already been built? My club, Swansea, almost struggled with that battle this season to the point of relegation. They barely survived, and only did so by going back to metaphysical roots (thanks Leon Britton!). Bournemouth might be looking at a similar existential crisis, maybe not this coming season but definitely in the next couple.
#11: JUNIOR STANISLAS – Stanislas has been the other winger adding goal threat opposite Pugh the past three seasons. In fact, as younger and more potent threat, he may be justification to relegate Pugh to bench if someone else is brought in.
#12: BENIK AFOBE – Afobe is a young (24) striker who came to Bournemouth January of 2016, but really only found a solid place in the starting XI the past few months. In fact, after netting two goals his first month with the club, he hadn’t repeated that feat until last month. Afobe is perfect example of how the politics of football will hinder a dude, and also how quickly the footballing infrastructure will suck you up. He got signed to Arsenal’s youth academy at age 6, discovered in a Sunday league, but never appeared for Arsenal’s senior team, despite five years worth of loan spells. He moved first to Wolverhampton on contract, then Bournemouth the previous January. After having appeared for English teams at U-20 and U-21 level, he wanted to transfer to the DR Congo senior team, but the English FA fucked up his application, meaning he missed qualifiers last fall. Then, he was talked into not appearing for DR Congo in the African Cup of Nations, and to instead stay dedicated to club, but because that paperwork wasn’t right either, he had to sit out Bournemouth’s match at Arsenal – a return to the club he came up with. But abandoning national team duties (for which he only qualifies due to his parents, as he was born and raised entirely in the U.K.) did reward him with starting XI duties at Bournemouth, and he’s been more prolific as result of that. One can’t help but wonder will that be rewarded with long-term place, or will he be sold to bigger club in one of the Big 5 domestic leagues of Europe. Football is a fucking bloodsucker at the top.
#13: RYAN FRASER – Fraser is legit the smallest player in the English Premier League, at 5’ 4”. A Scottish kid who came up in Aberdeen youth academy, and went directly from Aberdeen to Bournemouth, and made news when he scored a goal against Arsenal in January, but had not been selected by a single player in the Premier League’s official Fantasy Football game. The little midget fucker made his folks proud too by finally getting called up to the Scottish senior team this past March, though he did not appear.
#14: JACK WILSHERE – Wilshere is the Arsenal hypebeast cursed with the fragile legbones. He broke a leg in summer of 2015, which sat him out big chunk of that season, and was part of the reason he was sent off on season-long loan to Bournemouth this season, where he’s done well enough. But then he broke a leg again last month in a match against Tottenham, where – as he hobbled off – Spurs supporters sang “It’s happened again, it’s happened again, Jack Wilshere, it’s happened again.” (You kinda gotta love the ruthlessness of hardcore football supporters, though they are obviously a degenerate class of cockroach people.) Arsenal recalled their boy, and Wilshere is currently kicking it in Dubai, in hardcore club expense to try and make the dude fully fit for next season, which likely will be his last shot at Gunner glory. Ultimately, maybe that’s best, so that he can move on to that “Jack Wilshere, Norwich City superstar” phase of his senior career.
#15: CALLUM WILSON – Wilson was striker of choice for big chunks of this and last season, but his constant injury status, specifically ligaments getting fucked up in January ending his season early, has helped make way for Afobe. Wilson may have injured himself out of a spot at the club, though Eddie Howe has affirmed he’s not for sale, this is usually manager speak of saying, “Yes, he’s very much for sale, but he may be more expensive than you initially think.”
#16: MATT RITCHIE – Also part of the League One->Football Championship->Premier League ascent, but after last season got sold to Newcastle United, moving back down from Premier League. He’s featured heavily for Newcastle though, scoring 16 goals in all competitions, so appears to be headed back for his second season in the Premier League come August.
#17: JORDAN IBE – Ibe infamously never really caught on with Liverpool despite years of them trying to make a star winger out of him, so he moved to Bournemouth before this season, where he has similarly underwhelmed. It’s not so much that he’s bad as it is he’s not as good as everyone feels he can be. This is shocking to me personally because at one point I built a solid core of under-23 players at Havant & Waterlooville who developed over the course of a decade into perennial threat, taking H&W all the way up to League One. But I’m also the greatest American manager English football has ever seen. I have news clippings to prove it!
#18: ADAM FEDERICI – Federici was the Aussie GK who came from Reading and was going to challenge Boruc for starting spot (or at least keep him honest). Australian style is bitch compared to Slavic style though, and Federici fucked up his knee cartilage in training back in February, and was lost for the season.
#19: NATHAN AKE(Previously listed as #19 on Watford 25-Man list, 05/01/2017) Ake is a Chelsea-owned youngster doing the “let’s loan you somewhere for the whole season every year until we figure out if you’re more valuable as a player to us or to sell to someone else” thing, last year with Watford, this season with Bournemouth. Being he was recalled this past January after appearing against them, you’d think he was finally getting a spot on the Blues proper, but he only appeared four times for them, and three of those were as part of FA Cup sub-squads.
#20: MAX GRADEL – I’ve been working on Football Metaphysics dork knowledge for World Cup 2018, so to be honest with Gradel I am far less concerned with his club allegiances that the fact he’s contributing player for Cote d’Ivoire, who may still be Africa’s best hope to make noise at international level, though the window may be closing on that. African national team football is so much more exciting than most of the rest of the world, yet all the best players get colonized off to European mainstays, and the existential conflict of Where I Am vs. Where I’m From plays out in so many of the potential superstars, and the national teams suffer any real sense of unity, which is only made worse by how openly corrupt many African football associations are. (This is not to say European ones are better; it’s just Europe is much more schooled at how to launder their corruption behind infrastructure and administrative abundance.)
#21: TYRONE MINGS – Mings is seemingly heartless defender who came to Bournemouth before their first Premier League season, but is most infamous for allegedly stomping on Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s head during a Manchester United/Bournemouth clash in March. A couple minutes later, Ibrahimovic followed up with a Macho Man elbowsmash during an aerial contest, and both players ended up getting multi-game suspensions for “violent conduct”. Mings has appeared sparingly this season, but Howe defended him as a decent human being following the Zlatan incident, and Mings showed himself to not be no Big 6 bitch. Lesser clubs love dudes like that.
#22: TOMMY ELPHICK – Elphick was another mainstay on the Bournemouth defensive line during their promotional run, featured heavily during their last season in League One as well as both years in the Football Championship. He failed to establish himself at the Premier League level during 2015-16, and thus was signed by Aston Villa after that club’s relegation to the Championship last season, as part of their second-tier retooling.
#23: LEWIS GRABBAN – Grabban’s one of those tweener strikers who actually helped Bournemouth back in the day move from League One to the Football Championship. He then transferred to Norwich City, whom he helped make the promotional jump from Championship to Premier League, but struggled at that level. He came back to Bournemouth before 2016, as Norwich City was relegated the same time Bournemouth moved up, but failed to nail down spot on roster, which led to him being loaned the second half of this season to Reading, who are currently competing in the Football League play-offs for chance to join Newcastle United and Brighton & Hove Albion as next season’s PL bottom feeders.
#24: LEWIS COOK – Young midfielder who joined Bournemouth from Leeds United before this season, anticipated as starting XI presence, but has a fucked up ankle which has hindered those club plans. On one hand, only 20; on the other, fucked bodies are fucked regardless of age (although then again if anybody can do sketchy sci-fi rehab shit, English PL teams can, so I guess spin the motherfucker’s ankle blood at a space station, inject it back in with some ionized fetus tissue, and see what happens).
#25: BRAD SMITH – Another Australian, one who came up through Liverpool academy, but was sold to Bournemouth before this season began, making a handful of appearances as relief for the Cherries’ more established defensive line members.

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