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.

Friday, September 8

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: Manchester United F.C.

(scene from infamous Manchester United away match to Galatasaray in '93)

[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. And yet still I should clarify I hate English, and also America. Thus maybe I hate myself. 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.]

[Note: this one came a few days late from the normal schedule because I guess I took an international break of my own. Fuck it though… I don’t have anybody to answer to. Except my creditors. And you ain’t one of them.]
Well, another insane transfer season for the English Premier League has come to a ridiculous close (three weeks into the season, while on international break), and do to the scheduling implications I created for this project, Manchester United is due up for today’s footballing metaphysics discourse, which seems appropriate at close of a transfer season because nobody is better example of being able to blow big money on whatever you want, year in and year out. And I can’t really fault a club that has type of money in doing so, because fuck it, I guess if you got it, flaunt it. But what I can do is fault any human being who thinks somehow that they’ve accomplished anything by being a supporter of Manchester United. (And honestly, the grossest kit/sponsor combo in all of footballing history is the stupid fucking red ManU with Chevrolet logo across the front.)
So I will warn anyone reading this month’s metaphysical explication of an English football club’s most notable players that this will not be your regular excursion into footballing metaphysics but instead a rogue’s gallery of tales of how wretched and horrible all of these men are for even being complicit in the existence of a Manchester United Football Club. Sure, it’s easy to ask, “Well, wouldn’t you take that money if you could?” But it’s also easy to answer that the ability to compromise my morality by the crushing mechanisms of late capitalism is not exactly a good arbiter of whether something is okay or not. I would likely stab second cousins for $700.
I will also clarify (because the internet is made for getting mad, and manufacturing unnecessary hatred and drama) that if you actually reside within three industrial smokestacks’ view of Manchester, then hey, by all means, ignore my hateful babbling. Enjoy what you’ve stumbled into as a supporter. But I also think with the existence of prominent phoenix club FC United of Manchester, if you really look into your heart, you know this club is soulless. At least during the era of Sir Alex Ferguson you could launder the immorality through the concept that someone built the club. You can’t do that any more. Mourinho (and van Gaal before him) creates a wish list and gets whatever they wish, like an 11-year-old kid being funded to cook wild Alaskan salmon steaks for a youtube video. (I could not think of something more ridiculous than an 11-year-old being allowed to waste money on cooking wild salmon steaks, which should give you a firm idea of where I stand on socioeconomic scale. A KID? BEING ALLOWED TO COOK SOMETHING THAT’S LIKE $9 A POUND? ARE YOU FUCKING INSANE?
So sure, the idiot rich 11-year-old eventually will cook a good chunk of salmon. That’s kind of what we might be looking at this year. And with that, here are your 25 men most metaphysically prominent in past 100 non-friendly matches for the Manchester United Red Devils of Fuck Modern Football…

#1: David de Gea – de Gea was a young Spaniard, born and bred in Madrid, part of Atletico Madrid academy since his early teens, and everything seemed perfect – de Gea was one of the top young GKs in the world, but maybe not quite the best. Then along came the red devil at a midnight Madrid crossroads to whisper promises of eternal fame and recognition. de Gea jumped to Manchester United. It turns out his soul was not as powerful as originally projected, and this has led to some moments of criticism during Sir Alex Ferguson’s final years, and also under that fat faced fuck Louis van Gaal, but de Gea has solidified himself as not only ManU’s main man minding the goal, but not really questioned in that role now, getting Team of the Year and clean sheets and all the manufactured rewards the devil promises young recruits.
#2: Paul Pogba – The remnants of colonialism in both national identity as well as corporate overlord. Kid born in France to immigrants fleeing the post-colonial wasteland of native Guinea, attempting to find “better opportunities” after their native land was pillaged economically. The child is a gifted athlete, natural born footballer, no longer Guinean, now “French” and excels. The French team has gained  lot of strength in recent years through this method of post-colonial immigration. Pogba became a star, often doing that blonde highlight thing top African footballers do – the touch of European purity as a shock visual. In Italy though, the nasty nationalism of fans likely wore on him, constant whistling at any black guy touching the football, straight up fascists, and not to mention the fact that nation-based colonizing of humans is no longer necessary now that rampant corporate capitalism is allowed to do whatever it wants. “Everybody has their price” went the old Million Dollar Man refrain, and certainly it was nothing for Manchester United to shell out €105 million transfer fee to bring him back from Italy (a record transfer at the time, which was a time only about 13 months ago). United will buy whatever they want, even if they sold it off a few years earlier. The colonialism of corporate states is insidious, and will over-value you on the way out, bring you back at exorbitant prices, and yet somehow still be making far more off of you than you yourself do. Pogba is a great player, but it’s impossible to feel good about him in that red.
#3: Antonio Valencia – A young kid from the Ecuadorian Amazon helps his madre sells sodas outside a soccer stadium, learning to love the sport, playing in stereotypical barefoot dirt style, to grow into a young force in Ecuadorian football. Following the same post-colonial path backwards as Pogba’s family, Valencia sails off from Ecuador to former conqueror Spain to ply his athletic talents in Spain for Villarreal. This exposed his human resource as footballer to the wealthy Europeans, and had him snapped over to England for Wigan Athletic before too long, which eventually allowed the overlords of Manchester United to realize they should purchase this human’s professional services. There’s been a lot of come and go on United’s roster, newer shinier stars filling the space of older ones, but Valencia has remained one of the more constant presences over the years.
#4: Ander Herrera – Another Spaniard, though in terms of international reputation not at the same level as perhaps de Gea or normal United regulars. In fact, only got his first national team starts the past two years in 2018 World Cup qualifying, which – at 28 – not the sign of a wonderkid. But the red devil doesn’t just need superstars (though he does certainly love them so very much); he also needs just below superstars to fill the rest of the gaps. Herrera has been that, though perhaps this season the luster will start to be lost. But also with the offensive blitzkrieg they’ve shown thus far, Herrera will not have to be as lustrous.
#5: Daley Blind – I realized about 9 days ago that I was going to have to abandon my stupid fantasy premier league team because I found myself hoping Daley Blind did whatever the fuck a defender has to do to get points in stupid shit like that. Once you are compromising your own morality to pull for a player for on a club that is the antithesis of all you love about humanity and spirit and Earth. No stupid internet pretend point game is worth that. One must have limits or else capitalism will squeeze every fucking moral atom out your body for cheap payoffs that are broken by the middle of next month.
#6: Marcus Rashford – Rashford has not won over the United faithful as of yet, but he’s only 19 (and number 19), and has been solidifying a regular role on the starting XI the past twelve months. Growing up in Manchester, and excelling at youth football, he was enrolled in the Manchester United Academy at age 7. This is really unfathomable to me, as my youngest child is 9, and loves soccer but also gymnastics, and the thought of her going to a gymnastics school – even as she loves it – is some insane shit. How does a young man maintain his heart when cultured in such an environment? Does heart come automatically as a kid, or does it slowly grow in the first decade and a half of our life? If so, did Rashford grow his heart, or is he simply a Manchester United cyborg at this point? And what happens if the supporters turn on him, and he’s already been cyborged, and a new shinier Rashford is brought in? What’s left? Other than money.
#7: Eric Bailly – Bailly, an Ivorian, was the first transfer signing of Jose Mourinho era, for €30 million in June of 2016. He scored his first Premier League goal ever a couple weeks back against Swansea City, following up a Pogba header that got rejected by the crossbar.
#8: Marcos Rojo – Rojo Diablo, no nekku to him.
#9: Chris Smalling – Life is strange how one turn here or there changes everything. The psychic implications of a young Jamaican kid being in (of all places) the Millwall youth academy and then a magical place called Maidstone United into adulthood. Imagine the possibilities of such a life path. But then he ends up a 20-year-old wonderkid sucked into the Manchester United machine from Fulham. Somehow he’s become a regular contributor, though if you were to ask casual football fan to name Man United players, I’m not sure Smalling would be near the top of the list. Perhaps when such grand metaphysical characters such as is potential in this dude end up at some highly sterilized cultural petri dish like Old Trafford, this is what happens. Of course you compound the devilry of Man U by having a shithead like Mourinho in charge, and you end up with Smalling being put on backburner, and then didn’t even allow him a transfer this week. Good luck weird Maidstone United/Millwall/Jamaican fullback, in navigating the dark labyrinth you’ve found yourself in.
#10: Juan Mata – Ol’ Johnny Kills has a long on-again, off-again history with Jose Mourinho, and at this point has taken on elder statesman role with United. He also has always reminded me of a Spanish clone of Wayne Rooney visually, like one that got a pinch too much of anger and a touch less smugness, so he turned out as Juan Mata instead of exact duplicate Rooney. Of course it goes without saying, fuck him for as long as he is Manchester United, and likely for all of eternity because he has been stained too deeply by Red Devilishness at this point.
#11: Zlatan Ibrahimovic – I see after the one season squeeze for value they did where he blew his leg out, they re-signed him to bring him back, even giving him the coveted #10 jersey, which was a nice gesture I guess. Zlatan kinda freaks me out because A) his name is Balkan sounding variation of “satan” and B) he does look devilish as fuck, though it’s hard to tell if it’s hard corporate evil devil or weird “let’s listen to Master of Puppets while we drive this $500 vehicle 10,000 miles for no reason” devil. I hope the latter, because those kinds of devils are greatly needed on this pasteurized ass Earth.
#12: Michael Carrick – Team captain, and has been there for over a decade, which means he must be a first class fuckface.
#13: Anthony Martial – The World’s Golden Boy award winner (best footballing footballer under the age of 21) two years ago, which meant before Rooney left, they had three of the Golden Boys (Rooney, Martial, and Pogba). Swansea just snatched up the latest Golden Boy, Renato Sanches, on loan for the season, which is giving me false hope for amazingness, even though ManU crushed us 4-0 like it was an exhibition a few weeks back. I like Martial in every way other than his club, but that’s a pretty big way. If he crashes out of the Big 6 and has a productive spell somewhere like Bournemouth, I’m sure I’ll love the fuck out of him then.
#14: Henrikh Mkhitaryan – I have a long distrust of Armenians, which when I wrote about it years ago, somebody got on me (early internet) because of the Armenian genocide. So I try not to be so openly biased against Armenians, and a person’s native state does not necessarily dictate who they are as a person, because fuck man, I’ve had to break some horrible cycles myself. If I applied the same lack of respect for breaking cycles to other’s, I’d be the worst kind of hypocrite (which maybe I am; maybe we all are). But I can be tolerant and not expect the worst while still having a distrust of Armenians due to some shady dealings earlier in life, specifically this one guy Tigran. I don’t know if Tigran is still alive or even fucks around with the internet if he is alive but in case he is, and in case he’s reading this by chance, fuck you Tigran. Fuck. You. Tigran. Henrikh looks enough like Tigran I’m not trusting him at all, and plus Henrikh is like the best Armenian footballer alive right now, and thus if Tigran is still alive, I bet Tigran loves Henrikh. I will always hate anybody Tigran loves, and have love (and solidarity) for anyone Tigran hates. Fuck. You. Tigran.
#15: Marouane Fellaini – Honestly I like Fellaini because he’s so damn goofy looking, and most ManU hardcore faithful tend to disparage the dude. I figure if you are an unloved member of ManU squad, then maybe it’s because you’re actually still a decent human being down underneath all that global branding.
#16: Jesse Lingard – I use “jesse lingard” as a euphemism for penis, and somehow this is related to casting I Ching sticks while under the boom of hydrocodone a few months back.
#17: Matteo Darmian – Milan youth system to Manchester United club is a rough combo on a human soul. Darmian was a big ticket purchase for Louis van Gaal, and there’s been some bit of speculation that Darmian was gonna exit this window. He hadn’t played in all three EPL matches thus far, but ended up still there. The Jose Mourinho method requires jerking a few people around but keeping them around to have them as cover if somebody gets injured so that you can win a title in your second year, but also to help poison everybody little by little as the anger and resentment for your asshole manager slowly grows like kudzu vines, so that Jose can be run off in his third year.
#18: Phil Jones – If there’s anything close to a blue collar bruiser of a defensive minded, it’s Jones. He can fill in at multiple slots after Jose pencils in all this superstars. And still he only plays about half their matches. It’s difficult to crack a starting XI when they purchase 2 to 4 newer shinier players every window.
#19: Wayne Rooney – Rooney is the epitome of smugfaced asshole in my estimation. Like, I could run with my theme here and talk about colonialism and privileged fuckers who get all the benefit of the doubts, like Rooney, which is why he stayed striker years past relevancy at Old Trafford, but now that he’s at his boyhood faves of Everton again, I don’t know, it feels gross. Like he’s gross, and there’s no feelgood to this story for me, although people try to paint it like that. “English superstar returns to boyhood club!” It’s not like he did this in his prime, or out of some charitable act. He transferred there for an undisclosed sum (why undisclosed?) because the super club he was part of no longer had any fucking use for him. So not only is he privileged enough to have his lack of skills overlooked, his shitty attitude overlooked, but he gets a much ballyhooed balloons falling from the sky transfer where the sum is undisclosed (as personal favor likely) and he gets to keep making more money than he should. AND on top of this, English assholes complain that there’s too many foreigners in the game which is ruining the English players’ ability to develop. What the fuck? Fuck Wayne Rooney and everything he represents, whether you can layer that with geopolitical corporate colonialism through commoditized sport, or not. He is an asshole either in the academic sense or the common one.
#20: Sergio Romero – Romero came in during the van Gaal era to replace David de Gea who was going to go elsewhere, except he never did. Romero – an Argentinian – has hit 30, which is prime GK time, but also when whispers of reuniting with his home country, like what happened this past January when he was gonna go home to Boca Juniors. He didn’t though. It seems odd to me that the world’s best can only make that money in a handful of countries, and most of the best players from most continents cannot work for footballing art in their native land. Instead they are forced to practice football commodity in the most valuable leagues. I’d prefer a world of football where Eduardo Galeano’s words make sense, not one that listens to spreadsheets and metrics. WHERE’S THE FUCKING PHYSICAL POETRY YOU ASSHOLES?
#21: Ashley Young – I’m kinda shocked Ashley Young still maintains his spot on their club, because there’s nothing outstanding about him. And yet here he is, still puttering up and down the wing, falling like he just got shot if anybody gets too close. Young is the epitome of classic flopper, and it is perfect he plays for ManU, a team so full of expensive talent that it makes no sense anyone would feel the need to cheat for an advantage. But that comes from the meritocratic mythology that those who are great don’t need to cheat. In actuality, those who are great tend to cheat, and that’s why they are great. This is perhaps how Young remains a solid Red Devil, despite not necessarily being a shiny or glossy as other players’ superstar status. He’s just a workhorse in the cheaty, sketchy relative realm of being great at diving, and teaching others by example how to do the same, and enabling an environment of such behaviors.
#22: Luke Shaw – Played him a while in Football Manager because I didn’t realize at the time his ManU ties, and I was trying to run a team from 6th tier of English football all the way up using guys under 21. Don’t worry though, I won’t be giving Luke Shaw any time in fake worlds now that I know his real world version is this. I imagine multi-verse string theory has a lot of dumb shit like this, like it’s just random dork projects that create all the infinite versions of yourself, not some beautiful fractal geometry. Life in infinite space is just some wretched disgusting Bixian nightmare.
#23: Nemanja Matic – As fan of football metaphysics in general, but the disintegrated states of Yugoslavia in particular, I tend to pull for all dudes rocking the –ic status, even Serbs (who are my personal least trusted of the former Yugoslavs, though the one I knew in real life was a fairly nice lady who made good baklava, but was also perhaps untrustable). Matic would be somebody I loved if he played for a middling PL club, but he has gone from Chelsea (ugh) to United (oh boy) so it’s impossible to overlook his corporate and nationalist ties, and assume he’s probably related to the cop that Zvonimir Boban kicked in 1990.
#24: Romelu Lukaku(previously ranked #1 for Everton on 15-Aug-2017) Perhaps the reason Man U signs up new star players so often is exactly what we are seeing with Lukaku (and perhaps saw with Ibrahamovic last season) – that there is a limited window of maintaining that apex waviness before the psychic sludgery of the club sucks you back down to Earth. Lukaku will likely have an amazing season, though I have my doubts he (and the club) will maintain their top position pole-to-pole. Mourinho’s bound to burn fuckers out, and his penchant for toasting people’s psychology combined with the aforementioned psychic sludgery is probably going to be a hilariously doomed endeavor at some point (much like van Gaal before him). It’s fun to see, no doubt, as a hater, but I also don’t really mind Lukaku at all. He played passionately last season, and it was a joy to watch, and I’ve almost tricked myself into enjoying him this season in the evil red kit. But football metaphysics has a lot of collateral damage; there’s no escaping that.
#25: Morgan Schneiderlin(previously ranked #17 for Everton on 15-Aug-2017) I get Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger mixed up, and Schweinsteiger is the one I’m afraid is going to murder me, so I just automatically assume Schneiderlin is going to murder me too. Like I have these recurring nightmares where Schweinsteiger (and thus Schneiderlin) is a monster in a resort and he smears me into nothing, like literally. You know how a scraped knee feels? He does that to me until I dissipate into blood and muck that washes out into the sky blue sea waters. (It’s a really nice resort, other than the murder part.) So now Gylfi has gone to Everton, leaving behind Swansea, because he wanted it, and I get it. I’m not naïve enough to hold it against anybody, plus that was big money. But now what if my Schweinsteiger fear (and thus Schneiderlin) is real and he murders Gylfi? I’m gonna feel horrible, and also complicit because my brain dreamed it up, and then gibbered about it at the end of an unread blog post. But now it exists, and has been manifest unto the universe. Shit is horrible. 

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