RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Thursday, June 1

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: West Ham United F.C.

(highly sensible art investment, imo)

[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.]

West Ham United aka the Hammers is a strange one this past season, because on paper, they’re a club who has some wealth to make noise. I mean, they’re not Arab tycoon money levels where they can splash out on anybody on earth, but they’ve got the funds to position themselves to challenge for European competition (that coveted 7th place!, which has apparently been forfeited by everyone else to Everton in the current era). They also of course have a long history, in London proper, and a fairly infamous supporters group.
So what’s the deal? They actually flirted with relegation zone second half of the season, even though they’re full of international talent. Slaven Bilic certainly seems like an old school style manager with that classic Balkan mentality about all things on Earth (including Football).
A big strike against their century long path was the move to London Stadium, which tinkered with team metaphysics it appears. The space is a cavern, which ideally is meant to upgrade facilities from the old Boleyn Ground, which was outdated and over a century old. Seems simple, according to capitalism at least – big bright shiny new stadium to replace old decrepit one, gotten on the cheap because it had to be built for Olympics anyways. Football don’t work according to the simple rules of capital though, especially perhaps not one associated in its beginning with steel workers. I mean fuck man, they have half of the hammer and sickle as their fucking crest. This should’ve been obvious.
Capitalism is stubborn, and the modern football that media-branded hooligans speak of when they say “fuck modern football” is really just capitalism, not football. West Ham’s gonna have to do some weird ceremonial shit I guess to reclaim their power. East Stand at old Boleyn was a crazy space; the East Stand at London Stadium is a car park away from the pitch. Gonna be hard for supporters to reconnect, but they’ll also (as supporters should) feel like the team is their’s, not whoever owns or plays for it, so ultimately it’s more about team reconnecting with the world around them.
Anyways, here are the 25 men who have kitted the fuck up the most minutes the past 100 non-friendly WHU matches, in a weighted fashion so that more recent fuckers rank with heavier hammer strike than fuckers further back. That is the math behind this shit…

#1: CHEIKHOU KOUYATE – I love West African football, so I enjoy Kouyate, the Senegalese wonder. My favorite role in football team as well is a solid defensive midfielder, who can hold the back end together but also trigger attacks suddenly. West Africans have fared well in that role (thinking of them Toure boiz here), and Kouyate certainly a great example of that style of “defense is important but also fuck it, we would like to punk these other fuckers at the same time.” My man had been concealing injuries though and underwent wrist surgery last month, so got a summer of healing, which football people call “regaining fitness” which I love to use as metaphor for recovery time between first orgasm and regaining dick hardness.
#2: MARK NOBLE – Team captain, who – other than two brief loans over a decade ago – has been on West Ham roster since 2004. When you think about the amount of money in Premier League and how many new playing saviors are brought onto each team every transfer season, not to mention the entire world is what they cherry-pick from (like true colonialists), it’s amazing Noble’s not only had that long a career with one time, but that he’s still relevant for them. You add in the fact he spent from 2000 to 2004 in their youth academy, and he’s spent over half his 30 years there. Apparently at first he was at Arsenal’s youth academy, but his dad couldn’t get him to all the sessions from where they lived in East London, so when West Ham came calling, it solved the dilemma. But c’mon man, you know Noble’s dad was blowing bubbles his whole life, and pushed the kid into the local academy. Mark Noble also had surgery last month, and of course having had been there for a thousand years, is captain.
#3: AARON CRESSWELL – Cresswell had been go-to left-side defender for the Hammers, but got supplanted in line-up (and Slaven Bilic’s mind) by Arthur Masuaku this season, so he will likely be elsewhere. Liverpool links have cranked up as likely spot, although Everton has been mentioned as well. Oddly, despite all this falling out of favor, Cresswell got called up for upcoming England qualifying fixtures, which from what I can see online, has not made sense to anybody.
#4: MICHAIL ANTONIO – TOOTING & MITCHAM UNITED YOUTH ACADEMY PRODUCT! (I will refrain from writing anything real after that fact, because that’s some Hobbit-level magical sounding shit, and reality of football will just crush it. More football writing should be Hobbit-level in my opinion. The problem is, smart mark football fans feel like they are better than Hobbit-level writing, that they are social scientists, not fucking football dorks.)
#5: WINSTON REID – As a big fan of the Oceanic Football Confederation, I know that Winston Reid is one of the top players on that continent, which is not a continent at all, but a bunch of islands in the Pacific. Also I am not a big fan of that football confederation, I just thought it would be funny to say. But I do like the fact they have elaborate qualifying for World Cup like any other confederation, which generally since Australia left for Asia (despite plate tectonics) has meant New Zealand has a series of exhibitions before losing an inter-federation play-off, and part of their qualifying process includes an island tournament over the course of a week-and-a-half where half the teams are eliminated. I dream of doing a World Cup qualifying book one day where I go to shit like that, and refuse to attend any of the big matches (because I wouldn’t be able to afford it, because even in imaginary book deal realms of my mind, I am incredibly stifled financially), and you know the OFC Nations Cup would be part of that. Anyways, expanded World Cup field pretty much guarantees New Zealand a spot in World Cup moving forward, which also means if Reid can keep playing another five years, he’ll get to go to a second World Cup. (New Zealand actually went in 2010, where Reid scored his one goal at the international level, against Slovakia.)
#6: MANUEL LANZINI – Spent a loan year with West Ham from Arab news organization Al-Jazeera (RIP Al-Jazeera America… I loved the fuck out of you), scoring 6 goals, which justified permanent transfer (which are never truly permanent) and him netting another 8 goals this past season. Holds both Italian and Argentine passports, which is a really tough pair of national teams to try and become top level football player for. Thus far, he was called up for Argentina’s U20 teams a handful of times, and was supposed to be on their Olympic squad last summer, but had to pull out due to injury. However, he has been called up to be on La Albiceleste for a pair of friendlies later this month, so the struggle for his soul between Messi and Maradona begins. (Always root for Maradona in these struggles. It makes for a more entertaining world. Clinical greatness is stupid and boring compared to drug-fueled peaks and valleys.)
#7: ANGELO OGBONNA – Ogbonna spent all his previous pro career in Italy, as a native Italian, which made me wonder, do they say “African-Italian” there? Likely not, as I would imagine most people with African origin may know where specifically that origin comes from, whereas here in America it’s this sort of blank passage from Africa, not tied to any nation. In fact, most nations actually in Africa were created in post-colonial division of the continent well after the time most slaves were transported to the New World, thus whatever nation they claimed beforehand likely is not even a recognized nation at this point. Anyways, all this came to mind as I wondered what the experiences of a black Italian guy must’ve been like in notoriously nationalist (meaning racialist) Italian football leagues.
#8: DARREN RANDOLPH – Randolph came to West Ham from Birmingham City as back-up to Adrian in goalkeeper spot. But then Adrian started fucking up, and then allowed Stoke City to draw them with an idiotic rush off his line last November, which was the last straw for Bilic’s Balkan brain, who has had Randolph as his number one GK ever since.
#9: DMITRI PAYET Payet came over as big name signing from Marseille in France in summer of 2015, and was a top player for the team. When Marseille got new owners last year, part of their new branding was to rebuild Marseille as champions, and fans and management wanted Payet back. Obviously, some reaching out must have been done, and Slaven Bilic is a no-bullshit type so he straight up said that Payet didn’t want to be on the club any more, and benched him. They had to have security put up around the mural to Payet at London Stadium to prevent degenerate West Ham supporters from fucking it up. Finally, Payet completed his transfer back to France at the end of January, and his mural in the stadium was immediately replaced. Obviously, Hammers supporters fucking hate Payet now. Hate him.
#10: PEDRO OBIANG – Obiang been in East London for two full seasons now, though Fiorentina is calling from Italy, which might be bad news because Obiang was one of the more solid pieces for West Ham this past season, at least before ankle injury in March ended his season early. But football don’t give a fuck man, and it’s not like West Ham can make the honest claim they have a core that will contend for Europa League at this point.
#11: ADRIAN – Adrian came to Hammers under then manager Sam Allardyce in summer 2013, and survived the transition to Bilic two seasons later, but gradually fell out of favor, notably due to being not good at times. He is now being dangled as part of a package to get Jordan Pickford from Sunderland as new GK, to sort of give the freshly-relegated Sunderland somebody they can slap into goal that supporters can pretend is still Premier League quality despite being relegated.
#12: JAMES COLLINS – Cardiff City trash.
#13: ANDY CARROLL – Came to West Ham in 2012 on season-long loan from Liverpool, with full transfer the following year. Leaving behind Anfield allowed Carroll to fully transform his style game, and he’s led the Premier League in man-buns three seasons straight.
#14: SAM BYRAM – Joined West Ham from Leeds United January of 2016, working his way up to appearing about half the time for the Hammers, despite looking to still be 14 years old. There is talk he will become their first team right defender moving forward, if he puts in the work, but he also has the feel of that classic young white English guy that teams say is “our guy of the future” who never ends up being the future of anything, anywhere, until he ends up at like Charlton Athletic in League One promotion campaign.
#15: JOSE FONTE – January transfer who took over steady role as center back, but hasn’t exactly wowed supporters thus far. At age 33, he should still have a few wily seasons left, and you’d think savvy international like himself (21 Portuguese national caps, including part of the squad that won last year’s Euro 2016) would make himself loved, but the transition from having spent seven seasons at Southampton has not gone easy for the Portuguese fucker Fonte. He’s doing all the press kayfabe, talking up how he wants to make the fans love him, have an improved showing next season, all that shit, but we all know it’s just media kayfabe meant to keep angry supporters from revolting against not only the team but civilization itself, and throwing the entire world into disorder. This is the type of fake news that truly affects the world’s course to be honest.
#16: ANDRE AYEW(previously ranked #14 for Swansea City, 02/01/17) I keep my main twitter account’s trends set to follow Ghana, though I bounce it back and forth between that and Nigeria, so that I can stay in touch with African twitter. African twitter is pretty great a lot of times, a much earthier meme humor about it. One of the great moments in recent memory was during African Cup of Nations earlier this year… which man, African twitter was all on that African Cup of Nations shit. Honestly I think continental fervor for AFCON is way more than Euro Cup, like not even close. Motherfuckers have riots and horrible viewing party tragedies galore for AFCON. I mentioned the World Cup qualifying book earlier but honestly the one trip I really hope to do, I guess in 2019 now, is African Cup of Nations. If I could go to one sporting event on Earth, that’s the one I’d pick, believe it or not. Anyways, a great meme moment for African twitter was when Ghana was not only upset by but destroy by Cameroon, and Dede Ayew (how Andre is affectionately referred to) started crying, as he is wont to do during extreme emotional losses, which historically for him has meant African Cup of Nations every other year. The “crying Dede Ayew” memes were out of control, how it wasn’t a real African Cup of Nations until you had a crying Dede. I laughed like a motherfucker, inside, in the way the internet has trained us to show emotion now, but I felt conflicted, because my man Dede was with Swansea just last summer, and I actually witnessed him yelling at his lazy lethargic teammates who weren’t trying against shitty Richmond Kickers second-American-level soccer team. I was in the front row, corner kick area, because it’s second-American-level soccer, and most folks there were either cosplaying hooligan as art school grads, or suburban parents tricked into taking their children by the local youth soccer league. Anyways, I have no further input on Dede Ayew for West Ham, other than I wish him well. I always liked him, and kind of hated his younger brother when he first came to us, but now that little Jordan Ayew fucker is growing on me, so I may turn on Dede. This is how football works.
#17: SOFIANE FEGHOULI – Feghouli was a big signing last summer for West Ham from Valencia in La Liga, making a big splash by scoring his first goal in home 3-0 romp of NK Domzale in second leg of Third Qualifying Round of Europa League, helping push West Ham forward. But he only followed up with 3 goals over 21 appearances in the Premier League, and was in fact red carded his first actual Premier League game, 15 minutes in. (Officially, the red card was rescinded a few months later, but that didn’t change the course of West Ham losing their first Premier League home match in London Stadium 2-0, and perhaps that is part of why the stadium is cursed and the team has struggled, or perhaps that is symptom of it. Maybe Feghouli is doomed because of all this. Metaphysics is fucked, bro.)
#18: EDIMILSON FERNANDES – 21-year-old Swiss midfielder who spent his entire career there in Switzerland up until transfer to West Ham last summer. Also made his first Swiss national team appearance last November, and certainly appears to be a more truthful version of building for the future, one whom the supporters are already behind after his performance in their curtain calling match against Burnley last week of the season.
#19: HAVARD NORDTVEIT – Norwegian defensive midfielder, who was once stupid American Michael Bradley’s replacement for Borussia Monchengladbach in the German Bundesliga, which is where he came to West Ham from. Scandinavians have as strong a defensive midfielder culture as West Africa does, but Scandinavian DM culture relies more on tactic than a more natural physical intelligence. I believe this is due to weather, so culturally West African players would be stretching out, basking in the sun, thus their style of play matches that physical act. Scandinavian fuckers are gonna be cuddling in, but lashing out more suddenly in reserved moments of energy. That is my cultural analysis of defensive midfielder. I’m available for local youth league TedX style talks, with topics such as FOOTBALL METAPHYSICS: HOW TO MANUFACTURE MAGIC WHERE NONE IS BELIEVE TO EXIST.
#20: ARTHUR MASUAKU – Joined West Ham last summer transfer season, and despite only 13 appearances in the PL, was a fairly constant presence in Slaven Bilic’s lineup sheet from mid-March on. Though this was partially due to injury of others, and he himself suffered setback last month at end of season, should Masuaku survive all the ridiculous summer transfer links, he should have a more prominent role next season (so long as Bilic is still in charge).
#21: ROBERT SNODGRASS(previous ranked #8 for Hull City, 03/01/17) Jumped from Hull City’s sinking ship in January, making 8 appearances at midfield for the Hammers, thus will likely continue streak of 6 out of 7 years in Premier League for middling teams. A true career middling midfielder.
#22: ENNER VALENCIA – Valencia’s been an enigma, having shown (with his brother) flashes of brilliance during Ecuador’s early World Cup qualifying campaign, but he’s faltered at West Ham recently, falling out of favor with Bilic. There was intense shopping of him around during last summer’s transfer window, but nobody bit, so all they could do was loan him out all year to Everton, where he did okay but didn’t set anything on fire. Not what you’d expect considering his potential. At this point it is unclear if he did enough to warrant Everton buying out his contract, or if he’ll get another chance under Bilic, or what the fuck will happen to him. As an American who has watched football for a handful of years, I’m guessing nobody will want him to buy, so he’ll get loaned out somewhere again, likely some place like Newcastle United or maybe even Huddersfield Town. They’re gonna have to upgrade having won promotion, but without committing too intensely to surviving more than a year, so getting Valencia on loan might be perfect way to cover both hope and reality.
#23: JAMES TOMKINS(previously ranked #14 for Crystal Palace, 03/15/17) Tomkins came up through West Ham youth academy and spent eight seasons there before moving to Crystal Palace last summer.
#24: JONATHAN CALLERI – Spent the past season on loan from Deportivo Maldonado in Uruguay, making his European club debut, but did not really impress in his time with the Hammers, and is now being linked to move to Malaga in Spain. To his credit, Calleri won a lot of future pretend trophies for me in Football Manager 2015, especially during my time managing whatever Diyarbakirspor name FM gave Amed SK to keep it from being too political. I had a great run with them, and Calleri.
#25: DIAFRA SAKHO – Senegalese compatriot for Kouyate with Hammers since 2014, but had a horrible injury-plagued 2016-17 campaign, with only 4 actual appearances. Going through an intense rehab program this summer to probably have one last shot at holding his spot on team in the fall (or doing well enough to earn the dreaded transfer dump-off to another team).

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