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.

Sunday, July 1

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: Fulham F.C.

[a different time at Fulham] 

[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.]

Of course I failed in maintaining the 1st and 15th schedule because the entire world has been in World Cup mode, but that frenzy of football consumption has slowed down to its likely mundane grand finale, so might as well get back to my shit. On the agenda for the 1st of this month would’ve been Fulham, the third promoted team from the Championship, and the one that had to survive the additional three match slog of playoffs after the already sluggish clusterfuck of 46 match second-tier season. I am preparing myself for that as my beloved but wayward Swansea City have stumbled down a rung, and are getting ready to embark upon the attempt to claw back up to Premier League, like Fulham have done, and not be Sunderland (who have fallen another run down to League One). I don’t know, Swansea have felt like a really good Championship level club the past two years anyways so I’m expecting them to be a playoff contender then stay down. BUT NEVER MIND THAT, THIS IS FULHAM’S TIME TO GET THE SHINE OF A DORK AMERICAN MYSTIC METAPHYSIC FOOTBALL WRITER’S NONSENSE GIBBERISH! Here are the 25 men who have occupied the most minutes in most recent form of the past 100 non-exhibitional matches for these Fulham Wildcats (lol they are not really the wildcats)…

#1: TIM REAM – So look, if your top player according to this metaphysics minutes metric is an American, and not only an American but one who did not abandon America to enter European (or elsewhere) youth academy system but instead went to school in America and played at an American college and then turned professional in his early 20s like we do in America, before starting to develop professionally, you are probably not that great a club. Sorry. I am American and I know how fucked and backwards and elitist and counter-productive to actually developing true footballing talent our entire structure is over here. The elitism begins before the kids hit double digit ages, and money is more important than talent, so premier American players are like affluent but athletic but the venn diagram is more on the money side than the talent side until their late teens and then starts adjusting frantically to the talent side but by that point everybody who would’ve been awesome is already playing basketball or getting concusses to oblivion in American football. But hey, great news – Fulham just re-signed Ream to another two-year deal!

#2: KEVIN MCDONALD Former Kid in the Hall who has been key presence in midfield for Fulham for the past two seasons.

#3: STEFAN JOHANSEN – Another dude in midfield who’s been with Fulham the past two full seasons, a Norwegian who was once Celtic’s player of the year, which means he is likely a terrorist against state, all states. Speaking of politics, in stupid idiot America (where I live), the World Cup never once mentioned the intrigue of the dissolution of Yugoslavia until the final. Fuck it, there’s a Serbian dude on this list later… I’ll talk about it then.

#4: RYAN FREDERICKS – Fredericks was defensive mainstay for Fulham the past three seasons, but is part of West Ham’s improvement plan of signing a bunch of dudes either from newly-promoted or recently-relegated clubs. He’ll be part of the spice shelf for newly hired manager Manuel Pellegrini to attempt to prove he was involved at all in Manchester City’s success beyond having unlimited financial resources. HOW YOU GONNA COOK WITH A SHITTIER SPICE SHELF BRVH?

#5: RYAN SESSEGNON – The Sessegnon twins, Ryan and Steven, both play for Fulham, but Ryan specifically has been key player ever since he was old enough to play professionally. You see, the Sessegnon twins are only 18 (as of May), and Ryan joined Fulham in 2008 on their under-nine team. This also highlights the difference between American and English football, because my kid is 10, and I’ve coached youth soccer for like 12 years here, at age under-nine, I’m trying to get those fuckers to pay attention, not even thinking about skills. I literally had a kid last year who was good but would not stay focused but I figured out he loved to do cartwheels and skating tricks so I told him to do cartwheels on the field and play defense. So he did. And got way better at defense. Anyways, young Ryan has been strong presence along left side of Fulham, as winger and scoring threat but one who can cover on defense as well. He’s probably their most promising young player (thus most likely to be sold to bigger and better club eventually).

#6: TOM CAIRNEY – Not only team captain but that boy who scored the winning goal in the Wembley playoff that sealed the move upwards to Premier League. (Shout out to my one regular reader of this shit – Cairney grew up with miner/taxi driver dad who took him to Celtic matches.) Cairney was rewarded with big ass new contract, and Fulham has definitely doubled down on the guys who got them the promotion. It will be interesting to see (as always is with promoted clubs) how quickly they move to more prestigious talent in that second January transfer window. Fulham seems content right now to ride with what brung them.
#7: DENIS ODOI – Belgian defender who’s been with dem bois for couple years now, but most notably scored the second goal in second-leg of playoff with Derby County few months back, off a sick header angled to upper far corner, which allowed Fulham to advance to playoff final in Wembley.

#7: DENIS ODOI – Pretty sure I had written some sort of blurb here but it is gone now and my style of writing is “scattered among five files on three computers” so hey, this happens.

#8: TOMAS KALAS (previously #22 for Middlesbrough on 01-Apr-2017) – The Chelsea Czech wonderkid (now 25) who spent a pair of Championship season loan spells at Middlesbrough, and then the past two Championship season loan spells with Fulham. He announced his hope to find a permanent move, even if away from Chelsea – the last will and testament of wonderkids who grew too old to still have potential to crack a cracking XI like that – but the problem is even at Fulham he was sort of replaced last season, and they got promoted so it’s not like their situation’s going to get easier. I would suspect another loan to Championship club, let’s say Queens Park this time, to keep him in London again. This also reminds me wow Swansea City is back down to the Championship, which means I get to hate on Millwall finally. And Wigan Athletic. I SEE YOU LOOKING!

#9: MARCUS BETTINELLI – Bettinelli is the #1 GK now, after having gone back and forth with David Button the past couple seasons, and few years back (his entire pro career has been with Fulham contractually) had a knee injury in collision with teammate that fucked ya boy up, but at only age 26, he is about to realize that early promise of at least being a Premier League GK for the first time. So congratulations Marcus Bettinelli, enjoy your butterscotch scones!

#10: FLOYD AYITE – I am sure being he is of Togolese origins, his last name is pronounced with French inflections, but I am hoping beyond my better sense it is just an exaggerated version of how we mangle “alright” in America in the more beautifully belligerent underclasses as “ai-ight” and he is essentially Floyd Ai-ight because he is so goddamn wonderfully alright that it’s become his surname.

#11: DAVID BUTTON – The older slightly GK who had been the guy between the posts on back-and-forth basis before Bettinelli finally took the role and made it his, who was a Tottenham kid who spent five professional years there as well, getting a single appearance, but loaned out across fucking England. In fact, as is fun for journeymen, especially ones who don’t even leave a single nation, let’s list them all, in order of most played: 141 appearances for Brentford, 61 for Fulham (so far), 30 for Plymouth Argyle, 26 for Shrewsbury Town, 19 for Gray’s Athletic, 10 for Crewe Alexandra, 9 for Barnsley, 8 for Doncaster Rovers, 6 for Charlton Athletic, 4 for Bournemouth, 3 for Dagenham & Redbridge, 2 for Leyton Orient, plus unappearing stints for Luton Town and Rochdale, and that single appearance for Spurs in a 2009 League Cup match against Doncaster Rovers. And now he appears to be headed for Brighton & Hove Albion, so he’ll finally make it to Premier League as journeyman GK, just not with Fulham.

#12: OLIVER NORWOOD (previously #21 for Brighton & Hove Albion on 01-Jan-2018) – Norwood was a midfielder only on loan last season to Fulham from Brighton & Hove Albion, but now is back with Seagulls. Most importantly though is the fact to my American ears he has the most perfectly English name and this makes me imagine he’s a horrible asshole and were to meet in real life we’d have some sort of altercation over fried fish where he disrespected American catfish unnecessarily and somehow equated to a class issue (you know, because bottom feeders) and I’d have a new scar above my left eye, but you know I got the best of him though, lolol, that fucker.

#13: MATT TARGETT (previously #24 for Southampton on 01-Aug-2017) – Targett joined Fulham on loan from Southampton January of this year, and became consistent presence in their starting XI. Fulham swear they gonna sign him for this upcoming season on permanent transfer (which lolol is never permanent) but Southampton says they’re keeping him now after how wonderful he did with Fulham. 10 million of them moneys y’all use over there was not enough to lure him away from the Saints, so the saga continues (and also is funny in itself, because you have two lower half PL clubs negotiating crazily for a guy that would be considered useless for actual contender clubs. Then again, Targett’s only 22 years old, despite pictures of him making him look like a brutazlized and battered 37.

#14: LUCAS PIAZON – Brazilian young man who been with Chelsea for long ass time but not able to crack the top squad, so spending his young adult years in loan purgatory, including both the past two seasons at Fulham, which means he’s been loaned away far more than actually there. That’s such a weird contractual purgatory, and I’m sure these dudes when young, all full of the brim and vigor of footballing dominance, feel it’s only a matter of time before they actually play for Chelsea, when it never happens. In fact, as of today, Chelsea have 38 dudes who are in that “contracted to Chelsea but mostly just on-loan” status. I am briefly tempted to do a sub-list of the guys who have played the most loan matches while at Chelsea… in fact, fuck it, here are the top 10, in the middle of a Top 25… 10) with 87 loan matches, and last season with my Swansea boys but not quite enough to help, Tammy Abraham; 9) 90 loan matches, Michael Hector; 8) with 98 loan matches, and all set for Leeds this season, Jamal Blackman; 7) 102 loan matches, and also set for Leeds, who seem to be trying to replicate last season’s Fulham plan of “let’s count on Chelsea loans to save us”, Lewis Baker; 6) 103 loan matches, the last three seasons in his native Netherlands with PSV, Marco van Ginkel, famed children’s football book character; 5) 122 loan matches, Croatian just barely not good enough to make World Cup roster, Mario Pasalic; 4) 123 loan matches, and not related to White Neymar I mean Harry Kane, the lesser Todd Kane; 3) with 147 loan matches, the guy that triggered this list within a list, Lucas Piazon; 2) 154 loan matches, the last three seasons all in Turkish Super Lig with various clubs, Nigerian Kenneth Omeruo; and 1) with 203 loan matches and counting, and also #8 up above on this very Fulham list, Tomas Kalas.

#15: ALEKSANDAR MITROVIC (previously #18 for Newcastle United on 01-Dec-2017) – Mitrovic, a dirty fucking bastard Serb, had great run with Fulham last spring after coming over on til-end-of-season loan from Newcastle United, and then went with Serbs as part of their World Cup squad, scoring one of their only two goals before getting knocked out at group stage. In fact, speaking of dirty Serbs, that second game against Switzerland saw Mitrovic’s early goal equalized then topped by a pair of Albanian Kosovars on the Swiss team who brandished hand signals of the Albanian double eagle, because the former Yugoslavia has the most complicated and contested football culture going. I wish that our idiot American commentators didn’t refuse to talk about that shit, especially with Croatia making it all the way to the final, because it’s fascinating geopolitical metaphysics shit, and in fact, studying Yugoslavic football is how I expanded and developed my trademark raven mack the dirtgod personal brand of football metaphysics. But it’s also why I hate Serbs, so fuck Mitrovic.

#16: NEESKENS KEBANO – Democratically Republican Congolese in the house! In Football Manager-induced over-indulgence of soccer, one of the handful of clubs I’ve adopted as tacitly “my own” is TP Mazembe from the D.R.C. They’re a perennial African continent powerhouse, of course related to interior mining and giant holes in the Earth and likely corruption and all the same shit that makes men (always men) fabulously wealthy in any culture – African or western or wherever the fuck. Anyways, a benefit of separation is I know have dork cable and will get to watch African football sometimes on the lifelike screen inside my house, which helps keep me distracted from the wretched immediate world I have cultivated for myself, somewhat through neglect, and I can pretend to be cultured while actually just being a slothful fucking idiot wasting what precious little life I have left.

#17: SONE ALUKO (previously #25 for Hull City on 01-Mar-2017) – Nigerian winger who, after a strong season with Fulham, spent the entirety of last season with Reading. Also, not good enough to World Cup. By the way, my boy in Puerto Rico sent me a Nigerian kit right before them bois lost to Argentina, but still, got a sick new football kit to rock now almost never because I think I might’ve suddenly shifted into silk shirt and house slipper mode by accident. Ravens are tricksters.

#18: ABOUBAKAR KAMARA – Kamara is a striker who wears the #47. That about sums it up. If you are a striker wearing a high number like that, even if you briefly did have a run as starter and go-to threat, it is only a matter of time before people start writing things like “minutes given to Mitrovic”.

#19: SHEYI OJO – Ojo’s a Liverpool winger, still young (just turned 21), but not quite good enough for top club so is stuck in the sometimes permanent purgatory of being loaned to various second-tier clubs for years. He spent last season with Fulham, previous season with Wolverhampton Wanderers, and looks to be spending this season with Stoke City, which means he’s consistently on either an about to get promoted or just relegated club on loan. This means in a few more seasons, Liverpool will finally pull the plug on it and sell him to somebody like Bournemouth.

#20: RUI FONTE – Supposed to be part of Wolverhampton’s Portuguese influx; not sure why he took the wrong bus and ended up in Fulham instead.

#21: SCOTT MALONE – After six seasons toiling away at the second-tier of English football, including the season before last where he made 42 fluctuating appearances for Fulham, Malone made the jump to the Premier League last season, transferring to Huddersfield Town. But being my method of calculating these 25-man lists is highly scientific and has been tested on stainless steel frameworks time and time again, he still hovers towards the end of this list for Fulham, simply because his presence was so huge within the window of the past 100 matches. And ultimately that means he helped establish the energies which comprise the club that is jumping back into Premier League waters again after a four year absence.

#22: CHRIS MARTIN – The strange existence of an English striker contracted to a Championship level club in Derby County but keeps getting loaned out to other Championship level clubs – last year Fulham, this year Reading. In fact, Martin’s made 250 English Football Championship appearances, which seems to me has to be pretty high on that list, maybe. I don’t know. He did have five appearances at the Premier League level, from 2011-13, with Norwich City.

#23: MICHAEL MADL – Former defender who never really latched on in England, so was sold back to his youth years club of Austria Wien last January.

#24: IBRAHIMA CISSE – Belgian midfielder who came over before last season but only saw 7 appearances, so hasn’t exactly locked down a spot in the ol’ rotation. But ya know, the demands of Premier League football on a club means ya boy Ibrahima looking at some solid League Cup action!

#25: RAGNAR SIGURDSSON – One of them Icey boiz who appeared in all three of Iceland’s World Cup matches, where EVERYBODY MADE SURE TO POINT OUT IT IS A TINY ISLAND NATION OF 300,000 PEOPLE AND THEY DO A VIKING CLAP OH HERE WE GO THEY ARE DOING THE VIKING CLAP ISN’T THIS FOLKSY AND JUST WANT FOOTBALL NEEDS THIS IS WHAT MAKES THE WORLD CUP SO SPECIAL ISN’T IT BOB NOWHERE ELSE ON EARTH DO YOU GET FOLKSY DOWN HOME SPORTING GOODNESS THAT IS PURE AND PERFECT LIKE THESE ICEY BOIZ AND THEIR FANS CLAPPING TOGETHER IN ABNORMAL WAY. Also Sigurdsson went to Russia last season, first on loan then full transfer to Rostov, and he’d played in Russia before, and I know the rest of the world doesn’t have the same concept of whiteness that we do in America, I think elsewhere you code it as “western culture” but is there anything more western culture than an Iceland boy playing in Russia?

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