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.

Tuesday, May 15

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: West Bromwich Albion F.C.

[yes please, more managers that look burly af like Darren Moore, 
less pasty old lemonfaced fuckers]

[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.]

Now that I’ve cycled through all the clubs, even though I took a mental break (but back entered those missing entries, just without my HIGHLY CLEVER BLURBS), I figured I’m just gonna set the standard that mid-May is when I’ll cut off the season’s standings, even though Premier League is done, because there’s still playoff finals and the FA Cup final, so fuck it, we’ll do one more club before metaphysically introducing you to the three clubs who got promoted the next three times.
Of biggest note to me personally is my boys the Swans of Swansea City got their punk asses relegated, which to be honest outside of Carlos Carvalhal’s brief boost as poetic nonsense man who always smiled with giant scary eyes, they deserved getting relegated. Selling off your best talent, without brining anybody worth a shit, and slowly morphing away from good football is going to end up with bad football, always. Add in idiot American ownership consortium (which I feel metaphysically is partially my fault for having taking interest in the club and causing them to shine brighter within two hour driving distance of Jason Levien), and they were bound to get relegated. Lucky it didn’t happen last season to be honest.
Following my schedule would’ve given me West Bromwich Albion this time, and I’m sticking to that even though technically they’ve already been demoted and are no longer a Premier League club. They seemed a solid last place until Darren Moore, a rare Jamaican manager in England, took over and fired them up to at least stay in the mix until the Wednesday before the end of the season. That honestly didn’t seem possible three months ago, and Moore not only actually won PL Manager of the Year for April, but is sure to go from caretaker to official manager now that they’re a level down. Isn’t he? One can never tell what sort of fucked up thinking English football clubrooms will utilize though. Anyways, here’s your 25 men who have metaphysically domineered the Baggies on-pitch mindframe the past 100 for-real matches…

#1: BEN FOSTER (up from #4 last time West Brom got the 25-Man Metaphysical treatment on 15-Jul-2017) – Aging GK (35) who has pledged honor, obedience, and loyalty to the West Brom patch, which is to be expected from veteran footballer with over 200 caps at a club, because he ain’t trying to get attacked in the streets by supporters (does West Brom have supporters?) after they got relegated. Still though, it’s not like Ben Foster’s gonna get a lot of offers elsewhere on the upward incline at his age (and with “glass knees” as he called them himself), so perhaps he’ll still be in between the posts next season for the baggies.

#2: CRAIG DAWSON (down from #1 last time) – Despite West Brom’s relegation, Dawson is still an in-his-prime English-nationality defender, which means all the other middling non-Big Six clubs are already hinting at swooping in for ol’ boy. Literally half the Premier League from 7th position down is currently linked to moves for Dawson. And like most demoted clubs, West Brom will complement their PL parachute payment by selling off valuable pieces to either start again, or continuing spiraling further downward. It should be noted that last year’s Premier League 20th place club (almost what West Brom was before their late season run) Sunderland also finished last in the second-tier this season, and will start afresh again in August in League One. American sports lacks the brutal reality of multiple relegations (fuck, we don’t even have single relegation in our stupid corporate sports models) which can quickly sober a club up from drunk off TV money to “well fuck, are we still better than Accrington Stanley or not?”

#3: SALOMON RONDON (up from #5 last time) – Top striker for the Venezuelan national team, who are likely the worst national team in South America, other than the counties like Guyana that pretend to be part of North America because they’re so far behind the rest of CONMEBOL. Venezuela also has a smattering of midfielders that play in La Liga, but Rondon is the lone Venezuelan lobo in the upper echelons of English football.

#4: ALLAN NYOM (up from #10 last time) – Nyom’s one of those defenders that featured regularly for a West Brom side, and came to PL from La Liga when Watford was promoted a few seasons back, who is probably too good on paper to go down a tier, but also not good enough to really nail down a solid spot anywhere else in the PL. However, dudes like this float around the nether regions of Premier League forever, and it’s strange to think of how workmanlike it becomes, just living in some country you didn’t know really until a few years ago, but fuck it you’re sort of settled in, kind of. Life is a weird fucking thing. Sadly, we won’t be seeing Nyom or the Cameroonian national team this summer, as they were victims to the African qualifying group of death, which also contained Algeria and Nigeria (who did qualify).

#5: JONNY EVANS (up from #6 last time) – Evans was captain this season, so that’s probably a strike against him He’s also part of the small crew of Northern Irishmen that gave West Brom PL success in surviving last season, that has seen them not succeed this year. That motley crew perhaps was worn down a little by Northern Ireland nearly qualifying for the World Cup, eventually losing a UEFA second round of qualifying home-and-away with Switzerland, but already Evans has been linked to a move to West Ham, so likely he’ll still be performing for another middling PL club next season. Also, a nice side lolol is Evans sent a text message to pull himself out of West Brom’s last match of the season, which is probably not ideal captaincy act.

#6: AHMED HEGAZI – Much love to all Egyptian players as we head into this World Cup hype season. Hegazi, though suffering at West Brom, and infamous for giving Danny Ings of Liverpool a wicked punch a month back, was the backbone of the Pharoahs defense, which first gained notoriety in last year’s African Cup of Nations, where they went to the finals. Hegazi is essentially the opposite side of Mo Salah, the anchor on defense who is a punisher (ask Ings) but never misses time. Hegazi was key in this last run by West Brom too, so I’d imagine there’s going to be transfer interest galore around him, especially if Egypt shines in the World Cup spotlight, which is possible given their strange group of Uruguay, host Russia (who are not that great, but also football is fixed so perhaps host will move through), and Saudi Arabia (Egypt/Saudi Arabia group match on June 25 is group stage highlight match, especially if either of them will stand to advance if they win and Russia loses, which is what I predict, which also makes me sad I decided to not do my World Cup metaphysics book, mostly because life has been far too crazy, but also motherfuckers don’t care about football metaphysics, they just want stupid commentary on the TV and cool Coke commercials, wait maybe people do care but that’s what we’re fed, and I’ve failed my comrades in anti-capital football love; oh well fuck y’all).

#7: JAKE LIVERMORE (up from #16 last time) – Looks way more like an asshole than most human beings. Has a surname that suggests asshole nature may be genetically bred into his personality. (Apologies to any chill Livermores out there who stumble across this – not you, you’re one of the good ones.)

#8: CHRIS BRUNT (same as last time) – Classically dirt ugly Belfast-born Northern Irish boy who operates in multiple slots along left side for West Brom, and is loved by supporters because he does anything. Probably not demand enough for him to go elsewhere, so he’s a likely candidate to survive into more prominent role next season at second tier for the Baggies.

#9: MATT PHILLIPS (up from #12 last time) – Middling English attacker who had Scottish grandparents so despite living in England his whole life and playing in England his whole career, he plays for the Scottish national team. He wore the celebrated #10 jersey for the Baggies this year, but did not bring it great honor, scoring 3 goals in 36 appearances, and one of those was in the League Cup.

#10: JAY RODRIGUEZ (previously #17 for Southampton on 01-Aug-2017) – Accused of being a racist asshole on the pitch to Gaetan Bong (Cameroonian player for Brighton) a while back, but cleared of these charges by administrative footballing bureaucracy, so he’s now free to transfer to Burnley or some shit like that. Only 28 but spent long spells at Burnley in the second tier then with Southampton in PL before his transfer last summer to West Brom, which turned out how you already know. So yeah, probably going back to Burnley, going going back back to Burnley Burnley (going back to Burnley).

#11: KIERAN GIBBS (previously #20 for Arsenal on 01-Oct-2017) – Former Arsenal defender who moved to West Brom after a few seasons of not holding down prominent position in the Starting XI for the Gunners, and despite West Brom’s demotion, is still in his prime so stands a chance of making the move elsewhere this summer. In fact, he’s the perfect type that ends up transferring to one of the promoted clubs, so don’t be surprised by a move to Wolverhampton or Cardiff City. (Also lolol if you’re the type of asshole who would literally be surprised by a Kieran Gibbs transfer. What a corny ass pseudo-sportswriting cliché. Who the fuck would be surprised by some dumb shit like that?)

#12: JAMES MCCLEAN (down from #9 last time) – Good ol’ Jimmy McClean is an amazing character, who though Northern Irish born and raised (Derry City), and even playing for the U21 Northern Ireland teams coming up, became Celtic-woke, switched the Republic of Ireland national team, infamously refused to wear poppy patches during the stupid poppy remembrances English football forces on the rest of the world (lolol colonial remembrance). McClean’s motivated by growing up in the shadows of The Troubles, and the whole thing is so amazing because in America we have this vague sanitized version of “whiteness” that has laundered out all the cultural differences of people who form whiteness, without realizing the vast spectrum of oppressive abuses that powerful groups within whiteness have visited upon lesser groups (deemed lesser by socioeconomics and history’s re-telling, not my own personal opinion). Anyways, I hope McClean goes to Celtic now that West Brom is relegated, though where Celtic falls in the realm of English football is hard to gauge because they’re such a big fish in a small pond. Philosophically, he would fit though, and certainly he could go somewhere better than West Brom, where his activism would be better appreciated.

#13: GARETH MCAULEY (down from #3 last time) – Aging Northern Irishman defender with well over 200 caps for West Brom the past eight seasons, but played very sparingly this past one. He’s out of contract now, so it’s really a question of will he continue on, and will West Brom want to keep an aging defender or go ahead and gut this thing and start rebuilding? Also he’s the first of two Gareths on our 25-man list, neither of whom is Welsh, which to be honest confuses the fuck out of me.

#14: CLAUDIO YACOB (down from #7 last time) – Any Yacob is close enough to Yakub it just makes me study my lessons. Yacob is an Argentine Yakub, which is fairly complicated. Yacob also bailed out of the season finale against Crystal Palace, along with Jonny Evans, which means they closed out the campaign on a tantrum-y note. Yacob’s contract runs out though, and already Football Championship clubs are hoping to snag Yacob, which means his career has likely been relegated, even if he doesn’t stay with West Brom.

#15: GARETH BARRY (previously #7 for Everton on 15-Aug-2017) – The second Gareth on this list, neither of whom are actually Welsh, which confuses the fuck out of me. I have been married to a Welsh woman (who has never been to Wales) the past 19 years, but am moving out later this week. Somehow this relationship doomed me to pulling for Swansea City, which I guess I will carry with me moving forward. Life is full of poor choices.

#16: GRZEGORZ KRYCHOWIAK – Ya boy Krychowiak is a Polish defensive midfielder who landed in Paris Saint Germain two seasons ago, but never really got much playing time in the land of Neymar (signifier that PSG have more money than sense), thus ya boy got loaned out all this past season to West Brom, who got relegated, which you’d think has to hurt ya boy’s morale even more maybe. But to his credit, the Polish national team is in the World Cup (tough group, with Colombia the faves, but exciting Senegal and unpredictable Japan part of their foursome in Group H) so he can try and rehab his ailing ego in Russia. My maternal grandpa was son of Polish immigrants so I might pretend to give a fuck about them this summer (the Polish national team, not my ancestors, which is not to imply IDGAF about my ancestors, but tbh what do I give a fuck about any more?).

#17: DARREN FLETCHER (down from #2 last time; also previously #12 for Stoke City on 01-May-2018) – Another guy who went from West Brom to Stoke City, but featured for so long at the Baggies that he still hangs around the bottom part of this list. Most well-known for his decade long time at Manchester United though (over 300 caps) but he’s 34 and making media plays that he’ll stay in Stoke, which means after 340-plus Premier League appearances, he’s accepting a declining reality. GO BACK TO SCOTLAND BRO!

#18: NACER CHADLI (down from #13 last time) – Belgian striker who also had Moroccan national ties, and actually played a single match for Morocco, although it was an exhibition not official qualifier of any sort, so he pulled out and became officially Belgian in footballing terms. Long fall from Tottenham Hotspur attack option a few seasons back though, as he barely played for the Baggies, but still plays prominently enough for the Belgian team heading into the World Cup. Also it was clarified he has an opt-out relegation clause in his contract, so he’s likely gone from West Brom so long as someone wants to throw money enough at him.

#19: HAL ROBSON-KANU (up from #20 last time) – Soccer aka international football is so much fun because of shit like there being this dude with this name, and his parents are a Nigerian dude and an English woman of Welsh descent (meaning ol’ Hal’s grandma was from Wales). These are the geographic stories that intrigue and divide but ultimately unite us in football. I imagine US soccer’s going to be much better once we disintegrate into a fragmented smattering of Balkanized nation-states on the North American continent. Of course, we’ll no longer have a USMNT anymore because the “US” part will have lost the “U” but fuck it, that’s no real big loss with regards to football to be honest.

#20: JAMES MORRISON (down from #11 last time) – Sorry I was listening to an Your Ol’ Droog song featuring Danny Brown and the beat sounded like crazy DJ Muggs era beat that he hooked up for Funkdoobiest so I got lost there, and the way I got lost was pleasurable enough I don’t feel like going back to James Morrison.

#21: SAM FIELD (up from #23 last time) – 20-year-old midfielder who has played his entire career, both as pro and youth, for West Brom. Likely will be solid centerpiece to them claiming to be restarting their shit next season.

#22: JONAS OLSSON (down from #14 last time) – After nine years at West Brom, went back to his native Sweden this past summer, and in fact just this past week helped his new club Djurgardens IF win their first Swedish Cup since 2005. I have a maternal grandmother who was Swedish or Norwegian or something, and she looked it, but also she was homeless in like the 1950s outside of Chicago, so her life story is mad fucked up, and also she is dead. In her dying days, I went to sit with her, and she was in that in-and-out space of transitions between worlds, and would keep ripping out her oxygen tubes, and I’d fix them, and finally as I was fixing it she looked up at me, opening her eyes for the first time that afternoon, and said to me sternly, “JUST BECAUSE YOU LOOK LIKE THE WOLFMAN DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO ACT LIKE HIM!” As far as we know, those were her last words on this mortal coil.

#23: OLIVER BURKE – Young (21) ass ugly Scotsboy who SET THE RECORD FOR LARGEST TRANSFER FEE OF SCOTSMAN EVER this past off season by going to West Brom for 15 mil of whatever that money is y’all fuckers use over there. He signed a five-year contract, sucked, and now they’re relegated, so lolol. He’s young and the Baggies might be stuck with him, but he’s young enough they can pretend it’ll all work out.

#24: BOAZ MYHILL (down from #19 last time) – If you are going to be back-up GK on a middling Premier League club (well, not even middling any more lolol), you really couldn’t be a more perfectly simulated Football Manager regen IRL than to be a Welshman named Boaz Myhill. You know what makes it even crazier? Fuckin’ Boaz Myhill was born in California, USA, which makes him completely un-regenable (so please don’t try to regen him).

#25: SAIDO BERAHINO (down from #17 last time; also previously #22 for Stoke City on 01-May-2018) – Berahino the Burundian striker was dumped off to Stoke City like 16 months ago, but had been such a stalwart presence at West Brom that he still hung onto this late position on their 25-Man Metaphysical roster due to the data inputs it utilizes. Stoke’s manager Paul Lambert talked trash about Berahino once the Potters relegation was official, and it’s hard not to chuckle at a promising young striker getting dumped from the 19th place PL team to the 20th place PL team. I guess his star is not as bright as it once was, which either means a slow descent down the English footballing pyramid, or he goes to Turkey, where he re-establishes himself just enough to come back and fail afresh in England.

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