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, June 1

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: Wolverhampton Wanderers F.C.

[as you will soon find out, about half of the Wolverhampton squad is actually Portuguese] 

[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.]

Wolverhampton ran away with the Football Championship this past season, locking down their promotion early in the spring. Their 99 points total was the highest since Leicester City stormed into the Premier League at the end of the 2013-14 season. That same season, Wolverhampton had hit their lowest point in 25 years, having dropped all the way to the third tier in League One, which they won their way out of. They have top level experience, having already spent four seasons in the Premier League, as well being regular inhabitant of pre-PL Division 1 every season but three in the half century from 1932 through 1982. Thus, there's a history there which old supporters probably have felt the club has betrayed by not having been in the Premier League the past six seasons.
How they did it was sort of strange though, because before this past season, they appointed a new manager in Nuno Espirito Santo, who had been sacked from managing Porto in his native Portugal, because they hadn't won any trophies, which is a constant at that club. So he fell down, so to speak, to Wolverhampton Wolves (who it should be noted are officially the Wolverhampton Wanderers but called "the Wolves" and have crest with wolf head), where he definitely brought in a philosophical style of managing. He also brought in a seemingly endless array of Portuguese players, to where the club is as Portuguese as English (or more so) when on the pitch. Also of note is the club has been owned by a Chinese company since 2016, who is willing to spend the money to make a return on their investment in the club. So along with Portuguese success has come heavy marketing in Portuguese language markets, to carve out a niche product in the PL.
It's worked so far. They got promotion, easily, and now move back into the Premier League waters hoping to repeat last season's three promoted clubs' feat of remaining in the PL. So let's take a look at their 25-man metaphysical roster, but let me also mention that of course all our minds have turned to the World Cup. I get it, but I have a fake schedule to maintain, so here's the 25-Man metaphysics for Wolverhampton, and if you enjoy this type of nonsense (but metaphysically sensible) gibberish (but makes perfect sense tbh), please support me, Raven Mack, America's Shittiest Poet™…

#1: CONNOR COADY – Anchor presence in defensive back line, who is that veteran presence despite only being 25 years old. A Liverpool youth player who made a single Premier League appearance back at the end of the 2012-13 season for them, then loaned away, and finally sold to Huddersfield. He spent four years toiling in the Championship, the last three of those with the Wolves, before helping guide them to their dominant performance last season. So the former youth prospect has earned his way back to the PL. Congratulations English guy with weird fake sounding English name.

#2: MATT DOHERTY – Former small forward for those dominant UNC basketball teams of the early '80s, who played alongside Michael Jordan in his heyday. Somehow morphed into a weird looking half alien coach, who failed at UNC after Dean Smith retired, but had already tapped into lizard bloodlines as exposed by David Icke's research, and time traveled back to an Irish Home Farm to relive his defensive youth all over again. While obviously a lot of David Icke's theories have been dispelled by a jaded and cynical public, perhaps it is of note that UNC wears an almost turquoise color and Icke's turquoise period was one of his most powerful times. (Also, perhaps related is Manchester City, who also wear similar turquoise-esque color, ran away with the Premier League this season, their first under the guidance of noted amphibian overlorder Pep Guardiola.)

#3: JOHN RUDDY – This is Ruddy’s third stint in the PL, having played at top level a decade ago with Everton, then again for a spell with Norwich City from 2011-16. But even more fun is when a dude is a long-time veteran English player who never really held his spot on a bigger club, as was the case with Ruddy at Everton, and you can list off all the clubs he was loaned out to, but say them really loud like a drunken belligerent riding the bus, babbling nonsense. WALSALL! CHESTER CITY! MOTHERWELL! STOCKPORT COUNTY! CREWE ALEXANDRA! WREXHAM! BRISTOL CITY! RUSHDEN & DIAMONDS! RUSHDENNN & DIAMONDDDDSSSSSSS!

#4: ROMAIN SAISS – Saiss is central defensive presence that stabilized the back end of Wolves XI, and has the added business of representing Morocco in the World Cup later this month. Apparently despite their long history, he's only the 15th Wolves player to be called up for a World Cup squad. This is also an interesting fact because with like half of Wolverhampton's squad being Portuguese, but none of them on their World Cup squad, it shows you Nuno is doing well with players who are not necessarily automatically higher quality than Wolverhampton's level.

#5: BARRY DOUGLAS – So I got given an iMac that I'm using as my main work station now that I'm separated, and I don't know if it's polluted by previous searches from before I got it or it's my new internet provider but when I go to zippyshare links to steal music, there's outright porn ads on there now, which didn't use to be the case at my old home. Also, when I am doing a google search, it does not matter what footballer I type but google is going to suggest "… wife" as an add-on. Like just now, I was like, "let me look up Barry Douglas" so I typed in "Wolves Barry Douglas" and google automatically suggested I search for Barry Douglas' wife. The weird thing is I actually looked up a couple of these since it was suggested to me, for some of these Wolves players, and wives didn't even show up. So I don't know if the guy who gave me the computer is a perv who was looking up everybody's wives, or if the thing is trolling me because I'm freshly separated and is like "lolol, let's suggest he have to look up everybody's wife since he no longer has a wife really." I don't know man, but it's kinda fucked up tbh.

#6: RUBEN NEVES – Neves is the young thrusting midfielder from Portugal that really helped set Nuno’s vision in motion, also coming from Porto, who just turned 21 this past March. He’s already been heavily linked to a move to Liverpool, but of course he is saying he wants to stay at Wolverhampton, and it’s hard to really see, if you’re young and love playing still, outside of money what benefit there is to be had to move to one of the big clubs where you’re not going to get playing time. Fuck man, he might transfer and then get loaned back (although that’s more of a Man City move than LFC). At 21, he could enjoy the PL spotlight next season with Wolverhampton, see what happens, and surely the offers would still be there come January or next May/June.

#7: DIOGO JOTA – Portuguese scoring machine who, at only 21, had been mired in lack of playing time at Atletico Madrid, so spent a season back on loan with Porto, where he fell under the tutelage of Nuno, and did well, and thus got loaned to Wolverhampton this past season, where he led the Football Championship in goals. Wolves are close to sealing a permanent move for the young Portuguese to keep their young star striker.

#8: WILLY BOLY – Boly is actually a Frenchman but spent time in Portugal, with Porto, so was funneled through that same process as half these guys, and also had an option to buy clause triggered so is permanent move to Wolves now, and they’ve done that with a number of guys from last season. So what if they suck in the PL? And Wolves are stuck with all these guys? Or how will the Portuguese clique act if Nuno gets run off mid-season. But more importantly, in my opinion, is the illness of this guys full name - Willy Zobo Boly.

#9: IVAN CAVALEIRO – Cavaleiro was the Portuguese dude that broke the seal, two seasons ago, ushering in the migration of Wolverhampton into orange-clad non-English force. The Premier League is less forgiving, especially when a club feels the need to tinker and upgrade and disrupt the chemistry that worked so well at second tier. Football Manager-esque experiments like “let me sign all the Portuguese I can who have highest value and are under 25 years” might get you there, but then you have to figure out a way to clutch some talons into the middle of the table, and stay mired in the money.

#10: HELDER COSTA – There’s this fuckin’ nice ass jam called “Ladies Night” by an Angolan dude named Helder Rei Do Kuduro, and honestly that’s all I can think about with the Helder name. I guess it’s likely a common Portuguese name (Angola was colonial possession of Portugal, as was Brazil). It’s a great fuckin’ jam, especially with summer coming up on us. The Helder Costa dude named Helder is (yet) another Portuguese cat (by way of Angola) on the Wanderers, who actually came over on season-long loan the year before Nuno showed up, but certainly began thriving under Nuno’s tutelage, and also signed a permanent (lolol) transfer last summer. Of course, he’s another one being linked to moves to bigger clubs now, having excelled in his winger role. Also only 24, which means with some of these young blossoming talents, the Chinese company that owns Wolves will have to decide whether they sell off rising stars or keep them and try to build permanence at PL level. Usually that seems to mean they’ll half-heartedly complement the roster, see what happens coming out the gate, and then either sell off talent in January transfer window, or keep trying to appear to permanent.

#11: RYAN BENNETT – Sounds like one of those indeterminate Nascar drivers who talk with nasal squeak voice like someone who has had their testicles scrambled for years by powerful engines buzzing underneath them. I can't tell all those guys apart, and Nascar is basically the only thing on Earth (that is considered sport) that is more boring than golf. I mean even golf, you're walking around in grass, albeit Nazi grass. Driving in fucking circles, with a bunch of guys who lack facial hair now, and have names that sound like white polo shirt wearing middle management fuckers, who also are prime white nationalist aka Nazi material. Why are all the Nazis such middle management types? What happened to all the shithead dirtbags on this Earth? Have they even gentrified the white underclass at this point?

#12: DANNY BATTH – Batth is a mad interesting character, with Indian/Sikh roots, but also has been with Wolverhampton for just under a decade as a professional adult (which I’ve never been, for what it’s worth), and spent his entire youth career at Wolverhampton Academy as well. However, as the quality of the club rose this past season, Batth - despite still being captain - did not appear as often, and there is talk of whether or not he is of high enough quality to remain on the club roster this coming season. That type of shit is sad, because by all means he DESERVES to be there, as he’s put in the work over the years. But if he’s not gonna play, what’s the point? The situation makes me think of Leon Britton with Swansea City, who was a tiny midget spark plug who probably was not good enough to remain in the PL, but also whenever he was involved the squad played to a higher level. How do you quantify shit like that in this age of metrics and data and pseudo-science being used as ultimate law? If you’re a Premier League club, you throw it out the window, unless you’re afraid of making supporters pissed, in which case you begrudgingly keep the dude around in a barely used role, and he suffers from an endless array of pretend minor injuries to help cover the fact you not gonna play him. The problem with Batth in this Leon Britton metaphor is Batth is only 27.

#13: LEO BONATINI – Bonatini’s a striker who, though not Portuguese, fit the language as Brazilian, and came over on loan (like everybody) but from the odd starting place of Saudi club Al Hilal. Scored 12 goals in 26 Championship level appearances, but club decided not to make permanent move for ol’ Leo.

#14: ALFRED N’DIAYE – Contracted to Villarreal, who had plenty of talks about Wolverhampton bringing him back permanently after solid loan service, but that talk has stalled, and now the Senegalese dude is set for heading to Russia as part of his nation’s 23-man squad, hoping to be one of the guys that helps the team be more than just Sadio Mane to the rest of the world.

#15: DAVID EDWARDS – Spent like a decade at Wolverhampton, with over 300 caps, before moving to Reading last August. Also was roommates with Joe Hart at one point. I lived upstairs from them. They were fucking annoying, so I'd play DJ Screw real fucking loud and just jump up and down in Timberlands (which being from the American rural south, I call "timba lands" with extra drawl on the "…andssssss" part) just making as much fucking noise as I could. Also my bed was just a twin but metal frame and I would scrape it around the room whenever possible late at night, sometimes while fucking, being really obnoxious with the motions to just annoy the fuck out of stupid fucking David Edwards and Joe Hart sharing a place downstairs. The whole thing sort of backfired on me though because it was actually Joe Hart's second uncle or some shit who owned the building, and they screwed me out of my security deposit, claiming the wood floors were all scuffed up.

#16: RODERICK – A role playing Portuguese, known simply as Roderick, with 18 appearances in all competitions, but supplied cover at center back, known simply as Roderick, like a guy I used to buy dime bags from in Church Hill back before it was gentrified, before the pastry shops and pastel porches, when you might get fucked up in Chimborazo Park if you got lost on a Saturday afternoon, but I still pushed it at times, to try and find my man, known simply as Roderick.

#17: KORTNEY HAUSE – Hause is a burly defender who’s already been rewarded with a new contract extension after they were promoted, but what I love about him is his name sounds like a sick grime rapper’s name. And he actually is, except his rap name is Alpha. He dropped a track called “Cheques” last summer which is okay I guess, not that great, but he’s definitely got all the visuals down. English rap with U.S. capitalism gone black market dreams shit doesn’t really appeal to me as much as good-n-nasty grime, because grime music fits my post-Dickensian nightmare inner-visions of what England actually is much better.

#18: BRIGHT ENOBAKHARE – Young Nigerian player (just turned 19) who has appeared about a third of the matches for Wolves the past two seasons, and has been retained by the club. Their core base of young talents is good. But also Bright is a great example of the wonderful naming conventions employed in Nigeria.

#19: JACK PRICE – Many of these blurbs are boring as fuck, sorry, I don't really care, this is a free service I provide to you (who are what? like five people maybe?), for nothing. I also now have latino sports stations so might just switch to South American futbol exclusively because honestly watching a couple of Copa Libertadores matches was way more hype than top Euro shit. Then again, I've always preferred shitty pro wrestling to polished corporate offerings like fuckers act is good on the internet. I don't like nice things, thus when I get into this sort of coasting zone and write perfectly acceptable but bland blurbs too much in a small sub-sample like this, it pisses me off, and I want to take a bunch of datura seeds and tell myself to write space poetry about Cardiff City for the next 25-Man Metaphysical list, because is it really metaphysical if I'm just regurgitating shit from wikipedia but with a pretend quirky line thrown in for good measure? Of course not. About Jack Price though, fuck Jack Price.

#20: BENIK AFOBE (previously #18 for Bournemouth on 15-Mar-2018) – Afobe’s an interesting story, in that he’s been around forever, and yet still is only 25. He was a star youth player for Arsenal but never broke into A team (fool), and spent years in various loan spells, most of which at Championship level, before finally getting a transfer to Wolverhampton back in 2014. His second season with Wolves, he was excelling, and transferred up to Bournemouth in the Premier League, finally cracking the PL. He got 4 goals for Bournemouth in that half a season, then six more the following season, before starting to fall out of favor with them his third year last season. He was loaned back to Wolverhampton this past February, and scored 6 goals in 16 appearances for Wolves to help them seal their first place finish. A permanent transfer appears to be in place, so the young Congolese national’s return to the PL will be in orange, not back in Bournemouth’s black and red.

#21: NOUHA DICKO – Had over 100 caps for Wolves, but moved to Hull City last August, but had prominent enough role still holds onto low position on this list due to my dork methodology.

#22: RUBEN VINAGRE – Only 19, and of course Portuguese, but only had 13 appearances for Wolves, and is not even their number one dude named Ruben from Portugal, so likely to return to home club of Monaco as he was only in Wolverhampton on loan, but also Wolves was the first time the young man has played at pro level, so likely to get loaned again one would think. Kinda wish my work could loan me to be honest. I wouldn’t mind spending a season or two somewhere else.

#23: BEN MARSHALL – Looks like a total asshole, and only had three appearances this past season, but that's enough with his previous time spent at Wolverhampton to hold down the 23rd spot, which is like 4th highest for a non-Portuguese speaker.

#24: ANDREAS WEIMANN – My mans spent the first half of last season with Wolves on loan before returning to the club that owns him in Derby County, who made the Championship playoffs but lost to Fulham. Soccer is weird how some Austrian dude has played his entire adult life in England, at first with Aston Villa in the PL for five seasons, but now has become a constant presence in the second-tier.

#25: CARL IKEME – Okay look man, Ikeme is a Nigerian GK, and we are all shifting into World Cup mode, I know. But don’t try to say anybody has a better kit than Nigeria… that shit is fucking ill. But beyond that, look, Ikeme has fucking leukemia, and is in the hospital, and Nigeria just announced Ikeme had an honorary place on the World Cup squad. All signs point to the Super Eagles as being a team to enjoy in Russia.

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