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 1

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: Watford F.C.

(Watford's former President, Elton John,
having some 3-way fun)

[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.]

I am an American, which means I don’t know shit about U.K. geography, other than London is in the southern part of the country, and Manchester is upwards heading to Scotland, and I know where Scotland and Wales are because I hate the English, like all good and decent folk do. But I don’t know shit about where Watford actually is, and though if this were an actual paying freelance gig, I’d google it and pretend to know-it-all, this is not, this is a labor of newfound love for the form of football called soccer where I live, one that I love enough to call it “football” in passive aggressive challenge to the idiots I call fellow citizens.
I do know that Elton John is one of their most famous fans, so much so he was club chairman and at one point even appointed lifelong President of the club, which is really funny to imagine. Also I know their team logo looks very non-updated for Premier League era, which I appreciate, because it’s like I rode my time machine back to the Food City in 1983 Pikeville, Kentucky, again, and was buying some Watford butter. Unfortunately, I do not have access to my time machine due to a falling out with my mother, and the time machine is situated on her back acres. That’s how things are handled in the rural fringe southern part of America I call home – lifelong grudges, and fissured family trees. Is it like that in England too? I don’t care to be honest. Fuck the English.
Also I know that when Watford popped back up in the Premier League last year, they became part of that fine swath of mid-table teams for which “I do not mind”. With football it appears your team allegiance is where you start first. Mine is not done through geography, as is normal, but it is married geography, sort of, because my wife is Welsh, though she’s never been there that she can remember. From your team allegiance, you then have your mortal enemies, which come in two classes. First class is forever enemies. They do not change. Second enemy is teams that have fucked you over in horrible situations in recent memory. Those are not necessarily lifelong grudges, but until something happens to unfuck that team, it might be lifelong, even longer than you remember why sometimes. After mortal enemy teams, in the Premier League, come the Big 6. Individuals may justify a love for a Big 6 team, may have accepted it, but with that comes a hatred of all the other Big 6 teams. They all suck to you, except for your team, which somehow you view as entirely different, and then maybe one other team. (That “one other team” tends to be Tottenham, about 75% of the time for some reason. Most folks don’t actually like them, but nobody actually hates them either. So they tend to be your Big 6 exception team.)
After that is like 10 teams that you have no opinion about, so long as they’ve never slighted your favorite in some big manner. Maybe their kits are chill (Watford has this, but so did Norwich City), or maybe a player you used to worship ended up there. But they fall squarely into that teams I do not mind about. This means, because of previous mortal enemy lists and Big 6 hatreds, you’ll actually root for Watford about half the time, because they’re playing somebody you hate. Sports is fun; it’s not tribalistic at all, and humanity has really progressed over the centuries.
But to Watford is cool beyond that because this is their third time making the promotion to Premier League since Premier League corporate brand professional footballing was manufactured in the early 1990s, but the previous two times they were one-and-done, back to the Football Championship the following season. Last year, they survived, and having done so again, next season will be their first three-season-straight stint at the top level of English football since the terraces were banned. I bet you Elton John is stoked.
Anyways, here is my idiotic American write-up about the Watford FC team…
#1: TROY DEENEY – I will be perfectly honest here and admit up front that Troy Deeney might be my favorite player with no attachment to Swansea. Why do I like him so much? Because in the age of the quick-to-fall dainty striker who almost always seems like a horrible asshole in real life, Deeney is as barbaric as they come. Unlike most strikers, he does not get subbed out. Unlike most strikers, he does not fall at the whiff of an opposing defender within 9 inches while in the box. Unlike most strikers, he is not pretty. He is a big ugly brutalizer of an attacking player, who will go the full 120 if there is extra time, and likely flirt pretty hard with a yellow card somewhere along the way. I love Troy Deeney. And thus far, the Premier League has not sucked that spirit out of him.
#2: HEURELHO GOMES – Gomes previously made a Premier League name for him playing for Tottenham, but aged/performed out of that role a few years back, so trickled down to Watford. His potential call-up days to the Brazilian national team are long gone, so his return to the PL with Watford is sort of last hurrah for the ugly-assed guy, making that classic mid-30s GK run of wily resilience. Technically he still has another year on his Watford contract, and it’s hard to imagine a better front end/back end metaphysical pair for mid-table scrap team than Deeney/Gomes. But then again, this is the Premier League, so I’m sure somebody prettier and more marketable will come along any transfer moment now.
#3: ETIENNE CAPOUE – Capoue is a French national DM who joined Watford after their promotion to the PL, and due to deep indoctrination to Football Manager multiverse realities, combined with the eventually developed dedication to pure 4-2-3-1 diamond attack mode at all times, I’ve become very aware of most all the good Defensive Midfielders. In my fake world realities, DM is one of the most important positions. And while Capoue is no Yaya Toure, if you have not allowed yourself the benefit of unlimited funds, which is the case with Watford, then Capoue is pretty good more moderately priced alternative.
#4: MIGUEL BRITOS – Center fullback who made the classic Argentina to Italy entry into European football (aka The Diego), and then was part of the cash splash transfer before last season once Watford was back in the PL. The greatest tidbit about Britos is in his first appearance for Watford, he was sent off. Also he just scored his first goal in the Premier League play a month ago against Sunderland, which technically still is Premier League competition.
#5: SEBASTIAN PRODL – Prodl was Watford’s first signing before that return to the Premier League, coming over from Werder Bremen in Germany, where had had played for seven seasons.
#6: JOSE HOLEBAS – Holebas was also part of the Premier League influx, though his transfer from Roma in Italy did not go as smoothly. When a deal was first reported, and he was contacted while on holiday, Holebas claimed he didn’t know shit about it, claiming he was home in Germany and neither Watford nor Roma had even discussed the shit with him. Watford eventually did sign him, but that sort of unexplainable wavering has been consistent personality trait, and earned him spells on the sideline his first season, and this second full season with Watford, he’s leading the Premier League in bookings, and even had a fight with a teammate after one match. His father is Greece, and he has appeared regularly over the past decade for the Greek national team, though he retired from international football last October, his last appearance being against Cyprus during World Cup qualification. Of course, he wasn’t played the game after that, so he might’ve resigned in a huff, too.
#7: ODION IGHALO – Ighalo was a Nigerian goal-scoring beast for Watford since 2014, but took some of that Chinese money this past January to play for Changchun Yatai. He also, due to his time at Watford, started getting capped for Nigeria’s national team, and I recently did some work bullshit with a Nigerian dude who was a football fan. You got no idea how proud a moment for that nation it was in the ‘90s when the Super Eagles put high-paced, frenetic African football on the world map. Nigerian national team (and many prominent African nation teams actually) has been a clusterfuck of corruption and ineptitude ever since. It makes no sense though, when you see the quality of players that come from some of these nations. And when you pull for African football, that 2010 quarterfinal match in the World Cup between Uruguay and Ghana is such a heartbreaker, and always will be. It was a moment when Africa was finally meant to be, metaphysically, and would make the semifinals, and perhaps affirm those words Pele promised way back when about how African football would one day dominate. But the penalties turned the metaphysics around, and Uruguay advanced, and Africa remains fucked in terms of football, and in terms of politics. But I will always pull for that continent in the World Cup, probably more so in fucked ass Russia, but always, in the hopes that raw spirit somehow overcomes politics and footballing colonialism. (It likely will not. Life has no happy ending; we are all fucking doomed.)
#8: CRAIG CATHCART – Cathcart was a Northern Irish wunderkid in Belfast, and ended up in the Manchester United School of Excellence there. (Colonialism lives strongly through football.) He eventually moved to Manchester United facilities proper, where he became captain of the youth team, before getting called up to the main team briefly, without ever appearing, as blowout knee injury ended that possibility. Upon his return to healthy, he got loaned multiple places, including to Watford in 2009 at the Football Championship Level. He was sold to Blackpool, who were wallowing at bottom of Premier League table at that point, and got relegated with the team, where he spent three seasons with them in Football Championship, before coming back to Watford in 2014-15 season, helping them secure promotion (as well as himself) and returning to the Premier League triumphantly. He has appeared for them sporadically this season though, due to injury and competition in the defensive line.
#9: VALON BEHRAMI – Behrami was born in the former Yugoslavia, to Albanian parents (which, of course, makes him Albanian), and escaped the disintegration of Yugoslavia because both his parents lost their jobs, so they moved to an Italian town in Switzerland. Thus, he’s played for the Swiss national team. In his younger days, he spent three-year stints with high appearance numbers each year for both Lazio in Italy and West Ham United in the Premier League. After bouncing around Italy and briefly Germany when he left West Ham due to injury proneness, he finally landed back in the PL with Watford in that transfer class of summer 2015. Most of their team feels like it came in on that wave, but it’s kept them up two seasons now, so fuck it, right?
#10: BEN WATSON – Watson has spent the entirety of his life since 2004 at the top two levels of English football, at five different clubs, and yet English people will tell me America is racist. How the fuck does some ho-hum white-as-fuck looking dude like this survive forever in that cut-throat corporate environment unless there’s not still serious racial preference for normal ass looking English dudes?
#11: NORDIN AMRABAT – Born in Holland, and went through the Ajax youth academy before being dropped due to being too small, he did appear for the Dutch U-21 team before he and fellow Moroccan heritage compatriot Ismail Aissati decided to play for Morocco. Bounced through Turkey and Portugal at club level (including Galatasaray, probably his highest profile gig to this point) before transferring to Watford January of last year. Despite upwards of 40 appearances for Watford, he’s yet to score in his 16 months there, perhaps the speed and passion of his youth not clearing that 30-year-old barrier. But also fuck that.
#12: YOUNES KABOUL – (Previously listed as #21 on Sunderland 25-Man list, 02/15/2017) Younes Kaboul is not Yaphet Kotto. Despite being French, after coming to England to play for the Spurs in 2007, he has not left the country. He also is not Yaphet Kotto. Two summers ago, he signed onto Sunderland (poor guy) but was lucky enough to move to Watford this past summer. And he is definitely not Yaphet Kotto.
#13: ALLAN NYOM – Nyom was defender for Watford that first PL season, joining July of 2015. My man made the slide over to West Brom before this season, and was expected to mostly be back-up cover to keep starting defenders on their toes, as the Cameroonian had pretty much played at right back almost exclusively. But somehow (due to injuries, and chance) he found himself player a winger role, heavy on defense, along the left side, and somehow became a West Brom fan favorite. He’s added a tall, lanky, burst along the edge for West Brom this season, and developed into a far more solid player than ever before. It’s interesting how despite all the academies and coaching and shit like that, where staff think they know everything about every player ever, some dude just gets jettisoned into a new spot due to circumstance, and ends up being the best he’s ever been his whole life. Proves the point my dad used to always make that “most people don’t know shit about shit.”
#14: ADLENE GUEDIOURA – Spent a few years at Watford, the Algerian is known for highlight reel long range goal-scoring ability. He was downgraded professionally in January transfer window to shitty ass Middlesbrough though.
#15: ALMEN ABDI – Swiss player with Yugoslav diaspora roots (Albanian and Bosniak, born in Kosovo) who spent most of 2012 through 2016 with Watford, either on loan to them or permanently eventually (which, of course was not permanent; it never is). His productivity for the Hornets was not as strong once they made the jump to the PL, and he transferred back down to Football Championship with Sheffield Wednesday before this season, where he’s been instrumental in helping them qualify for the Championship playoffs and potential promotion to Premier League. But he also just had season-ending knee surgery, so he won’t be around to finish the deal.
#16: ABDOULAYE DOUCOURE – So French midfielders of African descent are pretty much everywhere now it appears. Doucoure is Watford’s version of Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante. Doucoure came up through the Rennes youth system, and worked up from their B team to A team before being sold to Watford. The inconsiderate nature of the English game struck quickly, as he was immediately loaned to Granada in Spain, not actually playing for Watford until this season, including scoring his first goal ever for the team this past March against Southampton.
#17: DARYL JANMAAT – Janmaat joined Watford before this past season, a sort of opposite flowing contractual force when compared to all the guys Watford signed the year before when they made the jump to the Premier League. Janmaat was on Newcastle United, who were relegated, so he made the transfer to Watford to stay at top level of English football. Dutch + Newcastle United means he equals fuck off to me though.
#18: TOM CLEVERLEY – Cleverley is one of those midfielder types who is supposed to be good, so top teams own, but never actually play so much as loan out elsewhere, waiting for them to magically be the best. Cleverley was with Manchester United at the beginning of his pro career, which led to extended loans in Leicester City, Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic, and his first time with Watford back in 2009-2010 at the Football Championship level. Then Everton bought his services, but he never really took hold there, so got loaned out to Watford in January of this year, with the likelihood of a full transfer happening this summer. Oddly enough, despite 10 games with Everton and 13 with Watford, this is currently the first season since 2011-12 that Cleverley has not found goal.
#19: NATHAN AKE – Young Dutch dreadlocked potential wonder defender who came up through Chelsea youth academy, and is still contracted to the Blues. He spent the entirety of last season loaned to Watford, where he shined, and has been on loan to Bournemouth all this season.
#20: JOSE JURADO – International footballing nomad spent last season in Watford, but around the age of 30, moved back home to Spain to play for Espanyol.
#21: M’BAYE NIANG – Senegalese heritage kid (he’s 22) who is owned by Milan, but young and still developing. They see him as being a potential Balotelli, but that development has seen him sent off Montpellier in France (4 goals in 19 appearances), Genoa in Italy (5 goals in 14 appearances), and now with Watford, where he has scored 2 goals in about a dozen appearances since arriving this past January. A permanent transfer has been hinted at in the media, but fuck man, the football media’s a bunch of cackling bitches that hint everything you could possibly think of. Still though, a guy who was once gonna be the next Balotelli, motivated to re-ignite his career at age 22 could be the type of boost that helps one of those “don’t mind them” Premier League teams have those flash seasons where they challenge for a Europa League spot.
#22: IKECHI ANYA – Anya is a Scottish dude who is son of Nigerian Igbo scientist father and Romanian economist mother. According to his Wikipedia page, his dad moved to Scotland to get his doctorate in metallurgy. And now Anya plays for Derby County. The whole thing sounds magical to me.
#23: ROBERTO PEREYRA – Low on the list because he just came to Watford this past summer transfer. Came up through River Plate youth system in Argentina, so you know he’s a different breed. Plus his middle name is Maximiliano. Obviously the perfect metaphysical complement to Deeney’s barbarian ass, and helps cultivate strong football aesthetics for Watford.
#24: STEFANO OKAKA – Italian national with Nigerian parents who spent better part of his career in Italy but came to Watford last August. Prominent goal scorer previous couple seasons at Belgian and Italian employers, but has only netted a handful in the Premier League, though he did get a brace against Everton back in December, and got man of the match for the Hornets that day. Also wears #33 because using Igbo math it equals 69.
#25: CHRISTIAN KABASELE – CONGOLESE IN THE HOUSE, but born back when it was still Zaire (Lubumbashi birth), and of course appropriated by the Belgians in terms of national team servitude. He in fact made his first team senior team appearance for Belgium last fall, in a friendly against the Dutch. Before signing with Watford previous to this season, he’d played professionally entirely in Belgium or Bulgaria, and has mostly been a substitute or lesser competition competitor for them this season, though he has scored two goals in only 11 appearances.

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