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, August 30


laborwave callouswave 
brokewave serfwave peasantwave 
beebalmwave creepingphloxwave forsythiawave 
synthiawave synthwave mystwave 
starrcadewave royalrumblewave 
brazodeplatawave doubledropkickwave 
heelwave sheikhwave fireballwave 
vistawave vaporwave mistwave 
chincoteaguewave ocracokewave lordsburgwave chillicothewave 
thegreatwillieyungwave catchemslippinwave 
halfpricethighswave 8piecewave alldarkmeatwave 
gothiccwave fvtvrismwave 
skynyrdwave freebirdwave 
pawgwave dawgwave 
gaspwave okiewave 
backroadswave twofingerwave nodwave 
crowwave vulturewave 
tendrilwave melatoninwave 
metastasiswave saviourwave 
thriftwave fleawave junkwave floatwave driftwave 
globalsouthernwave newearthwave oceanraftwave 
thorheyerdahlwave joyharjowave 
rustwave phosphoricacidwave omega3wave reishiwave 
paintfumewave huffwave courtorderwave 
recoverywave harddrivewave 
slawwave purplecabbagewave 
purplehazewave beezlewave bezelwisdomwave 
dhikrwave tasbihwave martyrwave 
zincwave cubiczirconiumwave blavatskywave 
snakewave adrianstreetwave welshminewave 
hustlewave strugglewave jihadwave 
validwarrantsonlywave marginallyinnocentwave acabwave dornerwave doomerwave 
segundavaporwave maradonawave chivowave gringowave 
alhamdulillahwave subhanallahwave 

Wednesday, August 28

SONG OF THE DAY: Scuffle Town

Thankful people don’t actually read websites any more so that nobody actually sees this and either gets mad at me or has their feelings hurt. Punk music has always seemed like bourgeoisie bullshit to me, a performance of rebellion before slowly leaking back into the cul-de-sac futures your parents envisioned for you all along. Richmond in the ‘90s built that perception for me. The punk scene was insular, self-important, and progressively misogynistic, not to mention mostly afforded to folks to at a higher class status level. For as much posturing of slumming it up that punk does, there’s still a basic financial investment in wardrobe and constant shows that an actual poor can’t do.
The local scene was dominated by one group, and I dealt with all those dudes to one extent or another at some point in my time. Some were more chill than others. They had a set of reunion shows recently, and it was very weird to see the old class hierarchies back in effect, people clamoring for elusive tickets and making a high school reunion-like weekend of it. I’ve never been one to really understand the notion of being like “oh 20 years ago was the shit!” because shouldn’t your creative drive continue throughout life? But what struck me most was the level of economic comfort how many old punks had achieved. Having access to wealth, even through family, even if it’s tacitly, to get down payments on homes in cheaper neighborhoods you swear you’re not gentrifying, or to be able to support self-employment efforts that wouldn’t be sustainable without that adjacency to wealth from time to time… I don’t know, it’s weird, and it again confirmed all my suspicions about the class issues inherent to punk rock. Back then, a lot of the punks felt like assholes, and not in a fun “let’s be contrarian to the system” sorta way, but just in a regular old white guy asshole type way, juts with tattoos and patched hoodies instead of normal white guy asshole attire. Age has probably mellowed that outward expression of asshole, but that’s also because a certain level of comfort has afforded them that.
Clique-y scenes will always be bullshit, and just extensions of the existing status quo bullshit, but done through the act of being different. It is far easier to assimilate and appear counter to mainstream culture when you have access to the safety nets to make your daring countercultural jumps not a danger to your existence. There’s a lot of old punks, in Richmond as well as many other cities, that have been part of older gentrifying waves of urban spaces, and somehow consider themselves a voice of everyday people, or the poor and marginalized, or at least feeling sympathetic to those causes. I don’t know man, you’d think I’d not be shocked at people’s hypocrisy in this pyramid scam of wealth that is American existence, but I still am shocked by it.

Monday, August 26

freestyle sonnet #103: RECESSION IS COMING...

Recession is coming, but I'm already broke, 
duct taping my minimum payments together, 
economic vegan when it comes to making 

ends meet, plus completely paralyzed by too woke 
timelines streaming my consciousness into whether 
my children will survive in-real-life Earth shaking 

with more climactic extremes turning dreams to dust, 
no gods left to entrust; plus, feeling my own age 
and knowing I can't fend off the wolves like once could. 

Feeling the heat, while knowing this cold world's unjust, 
unsure of whether to grab white sage or 12-gauge - 
through techno logic, they've even gentrified "good", 

so that ev'rything feels bad, poisoned, and polluted... 
deep breaths to keep heart unmuted, mind heart-rooted. 

Sunday, August 25


I suffer from lack of a circle, where most of my brainstorming is done solo style. The place I live has a conflated sense of self due to the large university here that's listed as a public ivy, but a lot of the shit I see coming out of here artistically lacks a certain possessed spirit. Maybe I expect too much. Maybe I'm full of shit. I don't know. But I know most of the ramping up of my self, the inspiring of self, unfortunately has to come from myself. That shit is tiring, and also leads to being too secluded without outside shit being funneled in.
Couple years back I was reaching out to various folks, seeking mentors so to speak. I've been very lucky to have navigated the self-destructive minefields I have without fucking myself up so far, but also realize I never had access to mentors, to people to guide me through the shit I don't understand culturally coming from the direction I came from. None of them really worked out. It left me feeling unmoored.
Fuck it though. Do what I can even if as lonely nomad without elder guidance. That makes me weaker, especially as I get older, but this world is poisoned by a culture of possession, where folks are either monetizing their elder knowledge, or their charging for lesser knowledge when they're not even elder status because everyone's so desperate to have better understanding. We've got no lineage of culture, no chains of deep knowledge. The older I get, the more lost I feel, and the more times I make a big circle around this American land mass, the more I realize the only real solution to most of what is fucking up everything is a return to ways more akin to what existed pre-Columbian, albeit complemented by modern technology. But fuck, I wish I had somebody other than the mirror to give me guidance.

Thursday, August 22


There shall be a cosmic space jam/southern gothic futurist haiku slam in about a week in Blacksburg, featuring my man Boogie Brown and his Blue Globe Beats, as well as me doing whatever the hell it is I do. I am hopeful we have competitors. I don’t recruit people hard enough, but all this shit I do is a lot of work sometimes, and I’m fucking wore out. All I wanna do is sleep, like for 29 days straight, catch up on my lifetime loss of sleep partially. I’m excited about the event in Blacksburg though, mostly because it’s beautiful people that I know are involved. I hope to connect with more beautiful people too.
Everything feels fucked up in this world right now if you focus on the information you’re being fed, but if you walk around outside, talk to actual people, there’s still a ton of beauty to this world. It’s not as bad as it seems. Even the animosity humans feel for each other, it’s all magnified by these digital splitting mauls we get channeled with. People are people, and that remains a natural fact.
Too many manmade facts today are not natural facts. We need more natural facts. Also, yesterday I thought about giving myself a “takin’ care of business” tattoo, like throwback trash ‘70s style. Why? Because even if I don’t recruit competitors for slams like I should, or contact local media, or do all the normal people shit that normal people would do, I’m takin’ care of business. It’s just my business is more loungin’ than all that other stuff.

Monday, August 19

SONG OF THE DAY: Beautiful Mistake

(ten beautiful mistake haiku)

beautiful mistake
walking this bizarre life path
entrusting magic

beautiful mistake
broken brain whole-heartedly
still moving forward

beautiful mistake
of existing while brainwashed
that bootstraps are real

beautiful mistake
car won’t start by the river
forced to sit idle

beautiful mistake
fading tattoos which record
heart on piecemeal sleeve

beautiful mistake
considering nation-state
perfect, without fail

beautiful mistake
wasting time at work (meaning
indulge self instead)

beautiful mistake
honeysuckle and kudzu
reclaims factory

beautiful mistake
of “fuck it” thoughts triggering
greyhound destinies

beautiful mistake
created by accident
blossomed as dirtgod

Saturday, August 17


Went to a demolition derby at a country ass fair last night, in the borderlands blue ridge areas that make up a certain dynamic of VA/WV/KY/TN/NC - that central Greater Appalachia area. I consider myself culturally a greater appalachian, because I read the relevant parts of that academic dork book, and that shit all made sense and applied to me. Demo derbies have always been big part of trash culture (lol as I explained to my gf's friend last night assorted nonsense about demolition derbies, I remembered to say I was a "trash culture anthropologist"), but in the feature event, the big body welded classics, there was a fuckin' car flying an Army flag and a goddamn Blue Lives Matter flag. This disgusted me, and I was actively and openly rooting against this fucker (unsettling the people I was with, as they looked around at our budding fascist footsoldier environs) because the act of wrecking up fucking cars is a desperate art built from fucked circumstances, and in no way whatsoever should somebody from that environment be flying a goddamned Blue Lives Matter flag (which is thinly veiled racism, and not even veiled fascism). Fuck that.
I'm often thankful my dad died when he did because sometimes I'm afraid if he was still alive he'd be pro-Trump and talking to me about Q Anon shit. As it stands, he was frozen in time and I can hold him as a good-hearted addiction/alcoholism-inclined man who disliked government and cops, which is how it should be. HOW THE FUCK DO YOU LIKE COPS?
Anyways, the stupid blue lives matter car was painted nicer than all the rest, and barely got smashed before breaking down along the way and just sitting there, looking nice to the undiscerning eye, but ultimately fucking useless during actual conflict, so I guess it ended up being a good metaphorical representation of cops. But the abundance of boot-licking foot soldiers for fascist ass military police states who have had their thin suppressed racism be switched into outward expression of lack of tolerance because somehow they feel like they're the ones who have been oppressed because they can't say dumb shit to everybody, the sheer abundance of these types that have been fermented in rural America really has started to freak me out. On a personal sense, I'm not into having guns, because of personal history and shit that has happened, but I've never been against them in principle, although I think the way people's brains are broken as fuck today, we probably don't need everybody having assault rifles.
And yet, these blue lives matter fascist adjacent fuckers who somehow think they are about god and freedom even though they're thinking is full of judgment and hate and fear, the preponderance of them, and how armed up some of them are, it has me worried about the immediate future. It's just dumbass message board people going wild with these shootings so far, who fell down rabbitholes and broke their brain too hard to think straight. But wait until something happens (or some bullshit leader like the one we got dog whistles people into action, around an election or something) and all these militia wannabe fuckers with blank gazes go wild. They are the fuckin' police, or at least cousins with the police, so it's not like any public officers gonna stop that shit right away.
Thus I'm re-evaluating my guns stance, on personal level. I think more folks need to have better critical thinking skills (to reduce the blank gazes) as well as weaponry skills (to reduce the sitting ducks I see on the horizon). Writing poetry and practicing shooting - draw up that venn diagram, and where it intersects you'll find your real soldiers.

Thursday, August 15


Been seeing way too many white dudes in that weird pseudo-para-military gear of black shirts with blacked out American flags, always some military blue lives matter adjacent bullshit. Y'all gonna end up being Amerikkkan Death Squads, I know it. Fuck y'all. Fuck America if that's what America is. You suburban redneck clean new truck two-story house with a basement asses didn't get enough chicken grease on your shirts growing up. Chik-Fil-A ass eating bitches.

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: CHELSEA FC

{dumbass cops executing a raid on Chelsea Headhunters back in the '80s}

[25-Man Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology utilizing dork methodology of minutes played over the past 100 club competitive club matches to determine which 25 players constitute the strongest psychic force on a club’s current trajectory. Then intuitive analysis is conducted utilizing football metaphysics, performed from an un-American soccer fan’s perspective. We do this every 1st and 15th of the month, cycling through the 20 clubs currently in the English Premier League, because it is the top domestic league based in an English-speaking country, which as un-American miscreants, we were all born to be saddled with this limited, segmented tongue of the global colonizer, oppressor, and capitalizer. Also, it is what comes on TV here in the USA most prominently, where we live. And yet, it is really important we clarify we hate English, and also America. Maybe we hate ourselves. Our panel consists of chairman Raven Mack, director tecnico Paul Robertson, and director rudo Neil Bulson Our individual contributions to this 5000 words of gibberish will be noted by our name at the end of the blurb. If you enjoy this absolutely free internet content from an un-American soccer perspective, venmo us tips @ravenmack23. You may also enjoy the Sportsball 69 podcast.]

Let us discuss the footballing metaphysics of this Chelsea club, what which is a popular one among not only the actual English humans who claim original ownership of the sport and in fact much of the Earth, but also with the American humans who have proudly and bravely stepped into that role of claiming the Earth, albeit in a more faux-deferential way where the beating we all get from empire is gonna hurt them more than it hurts us, and is for all our own good. It’s been an up and down couple seasons since noted asshole Jose Mourinho guided them to a PL title, where they then crashed to 10th place (which is like getting relegated for a Big Six club), but rebounded under Antonio Conte to win the title again. Conte was replaced by Maurizio Sarri, who left this past summer (American summer) to take over Juventus, considering Chelsea an inferior position. On top of this, Chelsea was given a transfer ban by the footballing administrators, which means instead of loaning out 30 dudes and signing 4, they’ll actually have to pick an XI from their vast stocks of not quite top-shelf top-shelfish talents. (Say hello to Tammy Abraham, y’all!) Frank Lampard, former club golden boy on the pitch, was brought on to manage, after a successful enough first season campaign at Derby County, and it’s the “let’s circle the wagons with our own!” type of performative club action that strengthens support even if the club’s gonna possibly struggle. And sure enough, already they got waxed by Manchester United in the first week of action, then edged in penalties in the UEFA Super Cup match against Liverpool. I fear this is gonna be a rough campaign for the boys in blue. But let us look at the 25 men who hath clocked the most metaphysical minutes in their last 100 matches, and use that as a springboard for deeper analysis of what Chelsea is all about – immediate past, questionable present, and rapidly unfolding future. [RAVEN]

#1: CESAR AZPILICUETA (same as last time Chelsea was metaphysically ranked, on 01-Sep-2018; and his THIRD METAPHYSICAL STAR) – It feels like our dude here has been at Chelsea a million years, a steady if not spectacular defender, just holding things down while the Eden Hazards of the world run wild. But those days are passed, Eden Hazard and the gang have been sold off like sex trafficking victims in the night, and now Cesar Azpilicueta is being asked to hold it all together while Christian Pulisic and Tammy Abraham grow up, but I’m afraid that is probably too big a burden for him to carry. Chelsea is rebuilding a bit, trying to get their shit together and poor Cesar here is gonna end up being the fall guy for them, and he’ll look around at this dreary England and he’ll wonder when he can just get back to his sun baked Spain and maybe ride out his career with one of his native clubs. But for now, he’s stuck with Chelsea, and what will probably end up happening is he gets sold to some Turks, and he’ll spend his 30’s trying to avoid smoke bombs and riot police and wonder how the fuck it all happened this way. But that’s just the kind of shit that happens, man. One day, you’re young and you’re part of something special, and then all your friends leave and you were never really The Guy and people are just waiting for you to leave now too, and you might as well jump ship now because you’re gonna fucking drown if you try to ride it out with Chelsea, who will abandon you because you are just a dirty Spaniard to them, a hired hand, skin just a touch too olive for them white as white folks and when you go to drink champagne with the bosses on your way out don’t be surprised if it’s just old piss. [NEIL]

#2: KEPA ARRIZABALAGA – Another Spaniard, this is the keeper Chelsea is counting on to be the man for the next decade or so, which is a lot of pressure for a dude who probably just wants to splash around Ibiza with some human fuck toy. He’s young, and Chelsea is rebuilding a bit, and this could end up with him getting scapegoated when shit doesn’t go so right the first couple of years and you have to feel a little bad for him, but on the other hand he is the keeper for Chelsea so fuck it and fuck him. That is brutal and unfair, but Kepa has to take the ride now that he’s bought the ticket. There is no easy way out of this, and you will crumble under the pressure and your own people will turn on you and spit on you and you’ll fuck off back to Spain, embittered and embarrassed, only to find that the country is blowing up in Civil War over autonomy issues, and this whole thing will have felt like a bad trip when it should have been so promising. It’s not Kepa’s fault that he picked the wrong time and the wrong club to make a move with, or I guess maybe it is, and if he’s dumb enough to think that he’s gonna save Chelsea then he deserves all the shit he gets. Don’t blame me, I don’t make the rules. [NEIL]

#3: N’GOLO KANTE (down from #2 last time) – Kante’s entry into the Premier League was with Leicester City the season they shocked everybody and won the title. Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy got most of the notoriety for that run, but Kante was the fulcrum who initiated much of fluent motion that caused them to be so amazing. A transfer to a bigger club seemed likely for all three men, but Kante’s was the only one that happened right away. He repeated as PL champion that first season with Chelsea, a rare back-to-back winner with different clubs. He was no small part of that. And though nagging injuries are sometimes an issue, when healthy, Kante remains a somewhat quiet force. He doesn’t command the same press as other names, but he’s consistently been considered a top player internationally, even being nominated for the Ballon d’Or award last year (finishing 11th in voting, ahead of such commercial luminaries as Neymar and Paul Pogba). Even with the two window transfer ban and abundance of ifs, Kante could help hold this thing together in decent shape for Lampard if he can remain healthy. [RAVEN]

#4: JORGINHO (up from #25 last time) – Born and raised in Brazil, and with the single name footballing tradition of Brazil, Jorginho is officially, through lawyer ball applications, an Italian, because of 1/16th Italian heritage plus a grandfather in Brazil who had maintained Italian citizenship. Sometimes I think about how bullshit national allegiances in football are, but then other times I wish we could all do that, like everybody on Earth. That would mean, as I sit here a stupid American, I could switch to Norwegian or Polish, maybe Scottish but I’d have to find some paperwork on some fucked up Appalachian paternal folks first. Also, legally, I’d still be married to a Welsh woman. Lolol, nationality is so fucked and arbitrary, it’s hard for me to imagine how fucking stupid you’d have to be to be a hardcore white nationalist. [RAVEN]

#5: EDEN HAZARD (down from #4 last time) – Eden Hazard leaves after a pretty monstrous run with Chelsea, and his psychic energies are gonna linger for a while here. Bolting to Spain was always gonna be the move one day, and now that it’s happened, it’s left Chelsea having to try to build anew even while Hazard’s stank is still permeating the club. He’s a ghost now, a haunting figure, reminding Chelsea supporters of what they used to be and what they aren’t anymore. He’s still a top level dude and Chelsea will be worse without him, and that’s always a biting kind of pain, but then again fuck Chelsea. Hazard is now the new golden boy at Real Madrid, but there’s a bad energy here because it sort of feels like a dude cashing in and buying a condo on the beach, but that is Real Madrid’s problem now, not Chelsea’s. [NEIL]

#6: DAVID LUIZ (up from #15 last time) – Luiz was a presence at Stamford Bridge for 6 of the past 8 seasons, but made the move north in London, from the Blues to Arsenal, where he is expected to give them false hope of being an actual contender. For me personally, I have always thought how David Luiz looks like Night Ranger, so I just think, “Oh, there’s the Night Ranger” when I see him during a game. This fit Chelsea’s kits better than Arsenal’s, so I may have to switch this to calling him the Queensryche now that he’s wearing red. [RAVEN]

#7: ANTONIO RUDIGER (down from #6 last time) – As Raven mentioned in our last 25-Man Metaphysical roster, certain media-types were lauding the French win at the 2018 World Cup as the “first African title” owing to the massive presence of players with family backgrounds in the French colonialist project. I am sensitive to this viewpoint, while admittedly I did pull hard for France to win based on the preponderance of lanky Black dudes in their starting line-up. But arguably, Germany did this non-white-ass-European-but-still-European sympathy push when they took the 2014 World Cup. It was wack to watch, and back, GERMANY, with their continued earned reputation as practitioners of the racialized ethno-state 20th Century Champions (the United Kingdom won the 19th Century Cup, the French the 18th Century Cup, and the Spanish the 17th Century one, if you want to keep track). Maybe I am “too” sensitive, what with the media-studies representational sign-symbol academic thing I got going on in my real-not-so-real everyday life, but Germany still wears that stark white-and-black home strip (and for a time were even working a full SS black change kit) with that straight-up fascist Prussian eagle in the badge. I mean, minus the swastika, they pretty much turn out like the German team in Escape to Victory [if you haven’t already noticed, that film is pretty much the foundation, for good or ill, of this here hillbilly perspective on the world’s football—no matter how sophisticated, complex, and experienced our knowledge of soccer gets, it still goes back to Michael Caine, Pele, and Sylvester Stallone’s non-effete-European, all-American hands freedom-dicking Hitler’s boys]. And yet, the German squad was stocked with dudes from a commendably diverse array of ethno-national backgrounds: Turks, Ghanians, Tunisians, and even POLES for fuck sake. All put together by this sleazy looking dude that could’ve been Kyle McLachlan’s body double in Showgirls. It was hard, even impossible, not to root for them out of the European colonial powers that make the later stages of the competition. Rudiger is one of these dudes, with a Sierra Leone mother. He plays naturally as a center back, which to be honest he looks a bit slight for. But he seems to make up for it with a respectable collection of yellow and red cards indicative of defensive footballing passion. Looks a solid player, ability-wise, but if I was scouting him it’d be hard to overlook his propensity for injury—which is where he’s at right now, with Chelsea supposedly desperate to rush him back into action in the hopes to staving off an early season free-fall after that ass-beating by Manchester United. I’m writing this before the match, but it seems likely the physical demands of marking Salah and company in the Super Cup will probably see him re-injured and back in the stands because of course an EPL club like Chelsea is going to chew up and spit out disposable human capital. [PAUL]

#8: WILLIAN (up from #10 last time) – I will be honest and say I love Willian. When feeling good, he always has such a positive spark to the team, and that smile is infectious. End of last season, talk was strong he’d be moving to Spain, which I was hopeful for, because he always felt under-utilized at Chelsea, even though he is advancing in age. The transfer move did not come, so he’s still in place, and Lampard gave Willian the #10 jersey this season, which has pissed off Chelsea supporters who feel it’s a dishonor to Eden Hazard. This makes me sad for Willian, because in a sport that has become one of rapid movement and constant shuttling of players, with little loyalty from players or management, Willian seems like one of those simple assed dudes who just wants to enjoy his life. He’s not bounced between clubs maniacally, having made his move to Europe from his native Brazil’s Corinthians over a decade ago, but he spent half a decade in the Ukraine, then the briefest of stints in Russia (well, for Anzhi Makhachkala, which is contested Dagestan, not Russia proper, during their brief flurry of financial waste), before joining Chelsea (primarily owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich) back in 2013. Sadly, if Chelsea struggles this season, that #10 on his top is gonna make Willian a target of ire, and I can see him getting thrown under the bus by blood-thirsty supporters and football media. BUT HE’S SO DAMN CUTE! I hope he has a final run back with Corinthians through Copa Libertadores before he’s done. [RAVEN]

#9: MARCOS ALONSO (down from #3 last time) – Spaniard defender expected to hold down the back line in front of Kepa. More importantly, I’d like to mention he once killed a woman who was riding with him as he drunk drove and wrecked into a wall in Madrid. His BAC was 0.93, but that’s Spanish BAC, which equals 0.093 in America. At first when I read it I was like HOW IS HE NOT DEAD but that BAC wouldn’t have even been drunk in my teen days of American blood alcohol content laws. And yet he still wrecked into a wall hard enough to kill a woman, driving 70 mph in a 30 mph zone while it was raining. He was sentenced to 21 months in jail, but being a footballer has its perks, so instead it was tied up in appeal and changed to a monetary fine with a driving ban of 40 months, which had already passed while he was waiting to be sentenced. I guess ultimately he paid the victim’s family, said sorry, and that was enough. Money buys freedom, that translates across borders. [RAVEN]

#10: PEDRO (up from #11 last time) – Pedro made the switch from Barcelona to Chelsea, and to be frank, that’s not going to endear him to me (even more than the baseline fact of playing for Chelsea). I’ve not watched him much personally, but this is going to make me think of Deco, another Barcelona fucker who made that same club switch. And man, do I fucking hate Deco—one of the nastiest bitch-ass midfielder shitheads I ever had the displeasure of watching play. A convention I hear about in the world’s football is players finding their “spiritual home”, with variants like “born to play for -----“; the implication being that a given player’s abilities, disposition, ethno/national/ideological background are such that he melds seamlessly with the mytho-ethos of a given football club. I’m not sure if I heard it used specifically in Deco’s situation, or if it was the first time I applied it of my own volition in regards to him, but that little turd going to racist-ass, blue-assed, pro-English-ass Chelsea made all the sense in the world. It’s particularly hard to take considering that Barcelona, in more hype-than-reality no doubt, bills itself as a Lefty, de-colonial, outsider club [lolol, me even typing that shit] and Chelsea is a hardcore Euro-Whitey Establishment club, and that switch is jarring. I’m sure Raven is discussing Didier Drogba at length in his portion, and how you square-up essentially a beloved prince of sub-Saharan African football so intimately connected with such a club, to the extent of there being way more everyday African dudes running around in Chelsea tops than is metaphysically comfortable. Anyway, Pedro: over 30 attacking winger who still seems at the top of his game despite crossing that 30 year-old barrier, makes a shit-ton of money playing for evil-ass Chelsea; regular for the Spanish National Team without ever being one of their star players. Probably finish his contract at Chelsea this season and fuck around in midtable La Liga, or maybe a MLS run if he’s feeling impoverished and lackluster. Boring as fuck, to be honest. [PAUL]

#11: MATEO KOVACIC – CONTINUING ANALYSIS OF THE YUGOSLAVIAN DIASPORA as it applies to every dude at this age of footballing who is Croat, Serb, Bosnian, Albanian, Kosovan, Montenegrin, and others. Kovacic’s parents were Bosnian Croats, so had moved to Austria in the ‘90s, where Kovacic was born. He became a youth sensation in Linz, Austria, where his family lived, and at the age of 13, had attracted attention from youth scouts for major European clubs like Juventus, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, and Ajax. His family – devout Croats – chose instead to move to Zagreb for the young Kovacic to enter the Dinamo Zagreb youth academy. After three professional seasons with Dinamo Zagreb, he transferred to Inter Milan, who had kept him on their radar, and eventually moved to international powerhouse Real Madrid. A monstrous club entity like that is hard to maintain a spot, so he was loaned last season to Chelsea, where he dominated minutes but not play as was expected. The pending two-window transfer ban, and the fact they could squeeze his signing in a couple days before that went into effect, plus the potential of a 25-year-old MF with such high pedigree of promise, meant Chelsea sealed the deal. Last season, Kovacic made 51 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea, yet didn’t score a single goal. Thus, he is another contender to receive a public media lashing should Chelsea struggle. In fact, the more I think about this, the worst look this is for Lampard. He’s fucking doomed. [RAVEN]

#12: ANDREAS CHRISTENSEN (same as last time) – Andy here looks like a typical stockpile type EPL player—bought at a young age by the English overlords and farmed out to a top European League mid-upper table club (or clubs) for two to four seasons and then either introduced to the parent club first team, or sold for an exorbitant fee down the EPL table. Again, nothing new here, just standard scumfuck EPL operating procedures. Christensen seems to be making the grade at Chelsea—though hopefully that won’t mean much if/when they get consistently wrecked in the league this season, which I am obviously hoping for. In our national-positioning stereotypes, I contend that Scandinavians excel as center backs. Some fuckstick on a white-nationalist messageboard is probably arguing something similar on the grounds of “Viking shield wall” or “check out my ‘Lothbrok 5’ Denmark top!!!” But no. I think it’s because Scandinavian dudes perfectly blend hard-assedness with goofy-assedness—that “eccentricity” so prized in a goalkeeper needs to extend to the central defense in front of him. Look at Dolph Lundgren—big chiseled alabaster stoned-eyes sexy goofy motherfucker [goddamn I bet him and Grace Jones had some hot sex]. Even that Alexander Skarsgard dude that my wife is all Southern-white lady vapors over: hot, solid actor….but goofy as fuck. So Christensen seems to meet the requirements—looks all big-toothed and curled-lipped eager in his pics. If Saleh doesn’t break his spirit/ankles (which of course I’m fine with, because if you play for Chelsea, you get what’s coming to you), I’d probably like him if he moves to another club. [PAUL]

#13: EMERSON PALMIERI (up from #23 last time) – Emerson Palmieri is a great young progressive defender, but I kinda would prefer Anderson-Bruford Wakeman-Howe myself. [RAVEN]

#14: ROSS BARKLEY (up from #24 last time) – Man, you could not test-tube grow, bioengineer, lock in a bunker and subliminally program a football player that I would so….thoroughly….hate as Ross Barkley. I don’t care if he has a Nigerian grandfather to otherwise compromise his deep, abiding English white-assedery. Fuck it, that even makes it worse as I rep Biafra strong to the point of rooting against Nigeria in international competitions and refuse to sign Nigerian players when I’m on a Football Manager binge. This cannot be overcome even with sikk green-and-white-based kits. But the dude is named “Ross Barkley”, which sounds like it could be some English variant of McGruff the Crime Dog, but wearing that stupid-ass British Bobby checkered cop outfit instead of the sex predator trench coat. Now I’m thinking about how Raven and I had a brief twitter exchange about fucked up middle-class Americans (and almost certainly fucked up middle class Englanders) have wack ways of anthropomorphizing their pet dogs and I think “Barkley” anything triggers this in my head as a cutesy naming convention for dogs. But Ross here heaps it on further—born in Liverpool, but turns out multiple seasons deep for Everton (our boy must really like that queen-analingus blue color). I suspect also that Barkley here is yet another English/EPL/top six hype player—one season of consistent appearances for Chelsea and one several years back solid season for Everton, plus a regular England bench player—but not much else. I’m going to want a supposed powerhouse attacking midfielder at the peak of his career to weigh in with substantially more goals. And finally, even Wikipedia gets in on the act of forever damning Ross in my eyes, comparing him to flute-playing Hun-souled Paul Gascoigne and Wayne Rooney. Man, I fucking despise this dude. [PAUL]

#15: OLIVIER GIROUD (up from #18 last time; also previously ranked #22 for Arsenal on 15-Sep-2018) – I have an internal rule I guess called the Maroon 5 Rule, where if a dude looks too much Maroon 5, then I hate them. I know that Maroon 5 is a group, but that one dude who is their singer and famous and on TV all the time, he is essentially just Maroon 5 to me. He has that super-trimmed beard, styled hair, stereotypically good-looking white man look which is not really all that handsome necessarily but checks off the boxes for what mainstream normalcy says is handsome. And generally speaking, dudes who look like that also drive corny ass sports cars, and are huge flaming assholes in all aspects of interacting with other human beings. Olivier Giroud fits the Maroon 5 Rule, to a tee, thus I can only assume he is a horrible human being with little redeeming value. He cannot fail enough to satisfy my hatred. [RAVEN]

#16: RUBEN LOFTUS-CHEEK (previously ranked #17 for Crystal Palace on 01-Jan-2019; also last ranked for Chelsea at #22 on 15-Sep-2017) – Yung Loftus-Cheek is only 23, but unlike many of their young talents, has only spent a single season loaned out (two seasons back with Crystal Palace), and last year appeared about half the time for the club. Look for the young midfielder to start gaining more prominence this season, as somebody has to become the new Chelsea goal-masher. And without being able to hire an outside assassin to come in and take over those duties right now, somebody from within is going to have to try and fill that role. Loftus-Cheek has been bandied about as perhaps the one to breakout into that role, and it would make supporters happy, him being a Blue since the age of 8, as a young fucker from London. He did get 6 goals in PL action last season, and added 4 in Europa League play, so maybe he is that guy. But I don’t know, it feels like he might not quite fit those cleats at the level expected from a Chelsea environment over-inflated with Earthly worth. [RAVEN]

#17: GONZALO HIGUAIN – I kinda love Higuain, because he’s a rare example of a dude who could’ve had European team paperwork (he was born in France) but chose his global southern roots instead (Argentina), which normally is only done because you wouldn’t be good enough for the European national team. Not the case with Higuain. Also he looks like Rafi from Club de Cuervos TV show, so that makes me like him as well. He’s a little too old to keep that striker spot at his parent club Juventus though, so just like he took a 6-month loan to Chelsea last season, Higuain’s likely to be loaned elsewhere again, until he finally retires. Rumors of Roma have been high for this season, but Higuain’s passion seems to have waned, so who knows? Who the fuck ever knows? [RAVEN]

#18: ALVARO MORATA (down from #13 last time) – We compose these blurbs out of love, but also for the sad dopamine spike of internet attention and likes and shares and the weak adulation of other dumbass dorks. Sadly the pyramid scam of modern existence makes us all then want to be paid, even token pittances, for doing well on this dopamine chasing bullshit spectacle of digital existence. And nobody’s ever once venmo’d us money for these blurbs yet. It’s just more triflingly long free content for dumbass dorks like ourselves to consume and further clutter our brains with useless language acting as inane analysis through some sort of convoluted filter applied to popular culture. So fuck you, I’m not writing an Alvaro Morata blurb. Venmo me bitch. [RAVEN]

#19: CESC FABREGAS (down from #7 last time) – Another one of these players whose name floats around as one of the modern greats of world football, but who ultimately means nothing to me. I’ve watched him in both Arsenal and Barcelona matches, and of course as a mainstay of the Spanish National Team, but nothing has really made an impression on me about either his abilities or his metaphysical weight. Cesc is not a spirit warrior, not in the least. But then that inspires an intriguing question: can any of the big National teams ever really have a spirit warrior, in the truest sense? To be even more specific, can England or Spain ever produce metaphysical presences like, for example, the Touré brothers for Ivory Coast or little tow-headed scamp Modrić for Croatia, or EuroHyksos-decimating Salah? I would argue “no”—if anything, they thrive and succeed around anti-spirit warriors—craven idols, too awash in lucre and hype-beyond-product, with no time-served among the fellaheen of world football, to learn their trade with modesty, compassion, and willpower. Your Rooneys, your Ronaldos, and yes, as a Spain icon, your Fabergas fall into this category. [PAUL]

#20: CALLUM HUDSON-ODOI – The metaphysical resonance of smashing a Gaelic-ass Christian name with an Anglo-fied hyphenated Ghanian surname will make me mark for a dude. Yung Callum had a breakthrough with Chelsea last season, particularly in their Europa League run. This is….surprising, counter to standard channels of “development” in an EPL club for an 18 year-old to force his way in like that. But I’m worried for our man, because he just signed a five-year contract with Chelsea and I don’t know if they’ll be willing to nurture and development a talent over the coming seasons, what with all that television money to burn on BIG ESTABLISHED EXPENSIVE TALENT NOW. So, unless he really grabs his opportunities hard this season, Hudson-Odoi will probably get shuffled back into the normal EPL flow—at 18-19 I suspect he’ll be loaned out to either a Continental top-tier mid-table club (or even a top four one, given his hype-talent) or a top club in an unsexy league. In fact, I have a baseless premonition this dude will pull a season in Scotland when/if it don’t happen immediately at Chelsea. I don’t know, looking at all the media articles and database information on Callum, reading between the lines it’s anxiety-provoking (insomuch as an American hillbilly goofball academic middle-age football nerd can have anxiety for an 18 year-old already obscenely wealthy kid in England)—he’s either going to succeed as a top-tier English player, or slowly fade into middling (rich as fuck) obscurity over the course of that five year contract. [PAUL]

#21: DAVIDE ZAPPACOSTA (down from #16 last time) – This dude has never really quite found a spot for himself at Chelsea after coming over from his native Italy, and to be honest I don’t really give a fuck one way or the other about this dude, but he has a hell of a name, and I imagine that Frank Zappa would have better things to do than to have his name vaguely conjured up by some Italian wastrel but that is just the way of things, I guess. One day you’re a musical genius, making wild ass records that no one else can figure out to read let alone play, and you’ve fucked a lot and you’ve told Congress to go fuck themselves over censorship issues, and the next, you’re dead and now all that’s left is this Italian hanging around the fringes of Chelsea, fucking with your energy, and what can you do but haunt him? And this is what Davidde Zapacosta brings to Chelsea, haunted by Frank Zappa, and he doesn’t have time for fucking Chelsea and so Frank will poltergeist the shit out of these Chelsea fucks, Christian Pulisic will be found naked, screaming, all of his hair shaved off, while the Central Scrutinizer looks into his soul and finds it empty and it’s all Davidde Zapacosta’s fault. [NEIL]

#22: WILLY CALLABERO (down from #17 last time) – The life of a backup keeper must be a lonely one. You’re a member of the squad, but not really because you’re just the dude who’s there to stand in front of the net when the real keeper goes down injured or needs a break to get treated for some weird sex disease. It wasn’t always this way for Willy Caballero, who did good work with Malaga back in the day, but that was when he was young and he was playing in his native land. Now he is old, the backup keeper, and none of the good rats want to fuck him whenever the team rolls into a new town. He might as well just carry their luggage. It has to sting a bit that Chelsea is rebuilding and instead of turning to you, they go out and by a younger Spaniard who will fuck all the best girls and you have to just sit there and watch because they aren’t gonna just let you walk away, you might have to make an emergency appearance in between shining them shoes for all the bosses. It’s a tough spot to be in, but fuck it, Willy Caballero chose this life, and even though he is in a foreign land where people just see him as some dirty Spanish dude, he can still always find his way back home, where they will love him and honor and cherish him. Fuck Chelsea, Willy, go home and fuck Spanish damas, maybe get a dog, forget that these awful fucking Anglo people even exist. [NEIL]

#23: GARY CAHILL (down from #8 last time) – The old defender had clocked almost 300 caps for the Blues before getting released at the end of last season, after eight at Stamford Bridge. Add in another eight previous PL seasons with Bolton Wanderers and Aston Villa, and my man was sitting at 349 PL appearances. Crystal Palace signed him a few weeks back, beating out other lower-level PL clubs like West Ham, Aston Villa, and Burnley, to keep the English fucker in the Premier League. It’s also funny because some culture’s just don’t have the capacity to trigger the Maroon 5 Rule. Like Cahill can trim up his beard and style his hair, but he still has the inherent ugliness of an Englishman oozing through his narrow eyeballs. It is interesting how racists use evolution and the comparison of primates to non-light-skinned people as a sign of superior evolutionary intelligence. But I don’t know man, you look at a narrow-eyed Englishman like Cahill, and it’s easy to theorize some folks evolved beyond progress. [RAVEN]

#24: VIKTOR MOSES (down from #9 last time) – In my footballing metaphysics preferences, there’s a small arsenal of phrases that automatically bring me great joy. One such phrase is “Nigerian winger” which is what Viktor Moses is. The problem with football metaphysics and the English Premier League is that English morality was built upon conquest, and the Premier League itself is an attempt at corporate conquest of the footballing landscape. Metaphysics is often overlooked by the philosophy of conquest, because conquest is a brutalist science, based on simple maps with defined borders. Metaphysics is too complex for simplicity, and the borders are forever fluctuating. So of course Viktor Moses fell out of favor at Chelsea, because the only reason he was in favor was because of the potential human resource he was, not the actual human spirit he already is. Nobody gave a fuck about Viktor Moses the spirit warrior; they just wanted a goal machine who would stuff his personality into a Chelsea blue box. After Antonio Conte left, Moses was deep in disfavor, which led to an 18-month loan to Fenerbahce, which added a second of my arsenal of phrases I enjoy, “currently playing in Istanbul.” So now we have a “Nigerian winger currently playing in Istanbul” combo piece of footballing metaphysics greatness. My Swansea City man Andre Ayew was also on loan to Fenerbahce last season, which gave me a few months of the double of joy of watching tiny streamed matches of both Moses and Ayew hustling like raindrops together in the blue and yellow stripes so beloved by Rambo. (Please google “Rambo Fenerbahce” if you don’t know what that means. I’m not going to put a link; you have to work for metaphysics.) But as is the case with most domestic league giants like Fenerbahce, they just signed a younger Turk from a lesser Turkish club who now apparently will threaten Moses’ spot. But also there’s talk of him transferring to Inter Milan and being reunited with Conte. But regardless of what happens, he is only 28, and he is a Nigerian winger, which means there has to be a place on this Earth where this man can thrive still. His life story is pretty nutty (parents were Christians killed in religious riots in Nigeria when he was 11), and despite this making no sense at all, I’d like to see him go to Celtic and score a thousand goals. [RAVEN]

#25: THIBAUT COURTOIS (down from #5 last time) – Why did I choose to write about all the fucking keepers? I don’t know. Maybe I was just in a mood, remembering a girl I used to know who was a keeper for her club. But that is all ancient history, like 20 years ancient, and she is married and happy and we can all move on. Which is exactly what Thibaut Courtois is doing, joining his pal and countryman Eden Hazard in bolting to Real Madrid while Chelsea rebuilds. He was an important piece for Chelsea when they were kings, and like Hazard, his psychic energies will linger, reminding all of Chelsea’s supporters of what they used to have. That is unfair for the new dudes who try to get after it in his shadow, but fuck it, that’s just the way life goes, man. Thibaut Courtois is many things, a hell of a keeper, but also a spectacular asshole who once dogged poor Simon Mignolet for not being as good as him when they were on the same national team. He and Hazard are living fat at Real Madrid now, and while they definitely worked out for Chelsea, their absences will be felt for a while, a reminder that Everybody Dies and that glory is fleeting. That is the psychic energy Thibaut Courtois brings now to Chelsea. [NEIL]

Sunday, August 11

SONG OF THE DAY: Put Your Love In Me

I am regressing momentarily, to recharge. Or maybe forever. JUST GONNA KEEP PUSHING THIS ROCK UP THE HILL I'M SURE IT'LL REMAIN IN PLACE ONCE WE GET TO THE TOP!

Wednesday, August 7

SONG OF THE DAY: Wrestling Rock'n'Roll Girl

everything is stupid, including this song
I'm too damn tired, and trying to cut down on impositions including self-imposed ones
things I don't have enough of in my life right now:

  • crowbars
  • down time
  • 20 mile hikes on railroad tracks
  • $10 supporters to my patreon
  • crows
  • joy
  • ciphers
  • alone in the woods time
  • 80 mile hikes on railroad tracks
  • horseshoes
  • chicken flocks
  • finished books
  • 300 mile pilgrimages on railroad tracks
  • passport
  • rest
  • actual rest
  • actual restorative rest

and yet thankful for what I do got. it could always be worse.

Tuesday, August 6

Monday, August 5

SONG OF THE DAY: Quarter Life Crisis

Culture is trash. There is a Wikipedia page about quarter-life crisis, and it all comes from presupposition that one is going to have higher education and move out on their own from family and wrestle with career choices and romantic relationships and shit like home ownership or investing. The majority of people don’t live like that. Stop assuming your bougie ass existences are the foundation for everybody. But that is the basic way for those with wealth, or discretionary income, and most generational labels are not scientific, even socially, and more about applying marketing techniques to those who come from wealth who have money to spend. And most of marketing, which has always been justified as psychological so the individual allegedly has free will, is likely more neurological than psychological. So if marketing and cultural norms are all built from the perspective of those with wealth, who have discretionary income, that means the rest of us suffer these neurological triggers incessantly, literally everywhere (alongside the road in billboards, shit I was just at the beach and they were flying overhead), thus the rest of us who are not beneficiaries of the wealth of this trash culture we’re living get neurologically triggered into feeling guilty that we’re failures, that we’re not normal, feel emotional depression because we don’t have access or the ability to achieve what is displayed as our cultural norms. So fuck western culture.


basement wrestling matches held
in abandoned buildings ten
dollar cover charge you dorks

Saturday, August 3

Friday, August 2

Thursday, August 1


my English isn't perfect
but the woods always made sense;
that's why I write poetry


Got to see Ibeyi perform earlier this year, which was cool because I didn’t really know shit about them but had enjoyed some of their music. It’s two sisters and they obviously love each other deeply and are both hugely talented. My takeaway as an observer is that one sister is like a really good Democratic politics PSA, which sort of turned me off because I have no faith in electoral politics or voting or politics or democrats or America or shit man I barely have any faith in faith itself any more. The other sister who maybe didn’t have the same level of perfect voice the political sister did had a beautiful voice with just a touch of harshness, which somehow made it better in my fucked up opinion. Also the second sister (who might be the first in their relationship, but is second in how I retell this as an outsider observer) could twerk with abandon, in a way that showed she enjoyed enjoying herself, despite how fucked up the world is. This perhaps will sound fucked up and objectifying, but you can actually tell a lot about a personality by their twerk. Much like scrawny white girls used to pretend they had ass back in the old days of Sir Mix-a-Lot, a lot of people who lack twerk personality will performatively twerk, mostly due to social media posturing. But there’s a certain metaphysical aura about being able to shake your ass with apparent abandon while still being in control – definite metaphor for how you live your life. Some asses lack the abandonment foundation, or just don’t even have the ass meat (which is metaphor for life experiences) to truly twerk. Other asses are just too wild, and you know that person is fucked up and you will make horrible mistakes ever involving them in your life, even for something as simple as bumming a cigarette. But some folks can shake with reckless abandon, all while maintaining perfect control, and you know they got their shit together but also will let loose when they need to, which is for me the perfect politics. Too much politics is goddamned serious and always woke and still somehow in that woke state from an extremely economically privileged position where you can afford to stay woke all the time because you are sheltered from the storms of actually existing like a piece of shit in a system that works to crush your spirt every goddamned day of your life. Fuck politics and fuck being comfortably woke. But good lord, the lumpen masses plumpy asses that can be woke but wild, educated yet feral, can be politically aware enough to know the world is fucked and we should fix some shit, but also self-helpful enough to know you gotta still shake your ass and get wild and rub on each other and try to manufacture some serotonin and dopamine in the ancient ways to stay hype enough to remain properly woke… that’s what the other Ibeyi sister was doing. And it made me love her, forever. She is the one singing on this song, and her voice crackles with imperfection in the most perfect way. Nothing real is perfect. Political purity tests pasteurize us of being real. Fuck politics, shake your ass, smother the patriarchy in enjoyable ways. Hard work will always be hard work, but if you don’t make it fun, everybody will just quit and go fuck around behind the building instead.

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: MANCHESTER UNITED FC

[25-Man Metaphysical Roster is a football metaphysics methodology utilizing dork methodology of minutes played over the past 100 club competitive club matches to determine which 25 players constitute the strongest psychic force on a club’s current trajectory. Then intuitive analysis is conducted utilizing football metaphysics, performed from an un-American soccer fan’s perspective. We do this every 1st and 15th of the month, cycling through the 20 clubs currently in the English Premier League, because it is the top domestic league based in an English-speaking country, which as un-American miscreants, we were all born to be saddled with this limited, segmented tongue of the global colonizer, oppressor, and capitalizer. Also, it is what comes on TV here in the USA most prominently, where we live. And yet, it is really important we clarify we hate English, and also America. Maybe we hate ourselves. Our panel consists of chairman Raven Mack, director tecnico Paul Robertson, and director rudo Neil Bulson Our individual contributions to this 5000 words of gibberish will be noted by our name at the end of the blurb. If you enjoy this absolutely free internet content from an un-American soccer perspective, venmo us tips @ravenmack23. You may also enjoy the Sportsball 69 podcast.]

Let us discuss the football metaphysics of this here Manchester United Football Club, what which has colonized the globe in the Premier League era due to their rich history, as well as the domineering management efforts of Sir Alex Ferguson, who held them to the highest levels possible in the first two decades of Premier League, winning the league title 13 of 21 years. Since Ferguson’s exit, they’ve been 0 for 6. And the club has been operated as if the Ferguson successes were innate to the club itself, and their just destiny within football, rather than a combination of a singular managerial mind combined with deep coffers.

And yet, you cannot throw a Millwall brick in a circle of soccer aficionados without hitting somebody in a ManU top. They are the New York Yankees/Dallas Cowboys/Los Angeles Lakers of English football, meaning they have an oversized fanbase, including large amounts of minority supporters, and an equally oversized sense of expectation.

Thus, it is with great joy to watch them struggle and finish in the bottom of the Premier Premier League (last place among the Big Six clubs) last season as well as in three of the past six seasons. They never plummeted as far as Chelsea, who finished 10th one season a few back, but ManU has remained the clear favorite to finish last in the Big 6 again this season. And really that’s all that matters. Going to the Europa League means nothing to a club like Manchester United. Mourinho openly stated that at times during his tumultuous period in charge.

Now we get to enter the possible first full season of the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer tenure. (I am being too lazy to type the actual dipthong there, because it would be Eurocentric of me to start that type of shit now instead of having done Spanish enyas the right way all this time.) Mourinho was finally run off last December, and Solskjaer gave the club the initial dopamine boost you’d expect with a managerial change, but it’s hard to expect some level of continued success. He keeps the supporters happy, as their infamous Baby-Faced Assassin from the ‘90s period of roaring victories under Sir Alex. But this is a high-priced squad which has not lived up to expectations, and has not been able to draw in with the same unwavering appeal to players it once was. The addition of Daniel James, as a Swansea City supporter, was likely a good one, and I’m thankful they gave my favorite club loads of cash to squander on their previous poor choices recurring payments, but they hadn’t drawn the interest of a Pogba-level superstar since Pogba, who seems passively disinterested in remaining at the club, though does so. But just as it was with Mourinho, this current set-up is going to be about how do the manager and star player co-exist, and how will everybody else fill in around that?

Spoiler alert: it’s going to be a train wreck. Still though, for a Premier Premier League club, what’s the worst that could mean? Well, as mentioned before, recent history shows that to be 10th place like Chelsea landed. Are there enough non-Premier Premier League clubs to potentially push ManU that low? I’d say probably not, but I’m certainly hoping so. I am a heartless bastard about wealth inequality, at both human and club level, and would enjoy seeing every single Big Six club plummet to the Championship, and hate Manchester United even more than the rest, so if they became the new Sunderland, my dick would get hard. [RAVEN]

#1: DAVID DE GEA (same as last time Manchester United was metaphysically ranked on 15-Aug-2018; his third METAPHYSICAL STAR) – Perhaps it is because de Gea plays for Manchester United, which is arguably the most overhyped football club in these United States, that I have never viewed him as the amazing-ass goalkeeper that the media swarm around his team wants the world to believe. He’s made some admittedly remarkable saves over his career, but I don’t think that anyone in good, clear-sighted conscience could call him consistent—and when he fucks up, man, he really fucks up (that absolute doing by Manchester City admittedly might have done in lesser “characters”). Taking a metaphysical approach (naturally), I’m going to speculate that what fucks de Gea is the focus that’s been on him since an early footballing age—something that should never, ever happen to a goalkeeper. You can ooh and ahh, and positively get tumescent over the next worldbeating striker, or midfield playmaker, or  winger. But the psychic weight of the keeper position demands that a successful goal-minder essentially live in the shadows, tucked away in their own pathological self-derangement. Notice how the best quality keepers outright despise acclaim from their teammates—maybe they accept a little hand tap/pat from their central defenders, but I love nothing more than a jubilant fullback trying to jump on his goalkeeper to congratulate him/her for some extraordinary save, only for the latter to shrug them to the ground and mouth “get the fuck off me” in their native tongue (ideally Polish or Serbo-Croatian). Try and hug a quality keeper, and he’ll look as if he’s contemplating wading into the stands to break your mother’s nose. In short, do not fuck with a keeper’s head by forcing him to engage with the world at large, particularly in regards to acclaim and hype. For all his awards and press, de Gea is particularly fucked by the transfer run around that happened to him in 2015-16 when he was all but out the door to Real Madrid (supposedly with a partial exchange for Keylor Navas, which just blows my mind because bland-ass de Gea is not half as good as him). Yet the move fell through under contrived circumstances and if you consider the whole situation of paperwork not being submitted in time, and some odd behavior on the parts of involved parties, someone was getting gamed (the money not going into the right hands, etc. etc.) Plus getting a big transfer to the bitter derby rivals of the club (Atletico Madrid) that reared you up is a platinum-grade psychic transgression. De Gea is obviously psychically done with Manchester United at this point—they may keep playing him for the coming season, but there’s not going to be some full-potential revelation and he’ll never be classed with Schmeichel, Trautmann, or Yashin—or that cyborg-bioengineered  Courtois someday . When a keeper checks out of club, as de Gea did with this Real move, he can’t really call his soul back fully if shit falls through. United are still in the wilderness after Ferguson’s retirement and the accursedness of Mourinho. De Gea is part of that. [PAUL]

#2: PAUL POGBA (up from #6 last time) – When Pogba came to Manchester United from Juventus, I really wanted to hate him. First off, it was Manchester United. Secondly, he was a French player, which is another personal bias, despite their multicultural makeup, it’s still the end results of rampant colonialism which often left original homes of previous generation broken and fucked up. Like, I’m highly influenced by Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth, and Fanon played football, so I’ve got all these fucked up tendrils of thinking in my mind based off imagining Fanon’s analysis of 21st century football culture. Part of that is not being hyped to tout the French World Cup team from 2018 as “the first African team to win the World Cup” which is what was done, in good faith, by certain segments. Human resource extraction under a national flag is still colonization in my opinion. But fuck it. All that said, when inspired, Pogba is a beautiful player, at both raw normal level and metaphysical level, and also rocks the power zone aesthetic of frosted tips on (partial) African hair too. So despite immediate thoughts of “man, fuck ManU, spending more money than anybody else can to get this ridiculously talented midfielder... I hope he breaks his leg,” I moved to at first a quiet and then an outright respect for him. He’s amazing. And also uninspired at United, which luckily, works well with my belief system of it being a soulless global corporate entity devoid of any true football spirit for decades but marketing itself as exactly the opposite of what it is. So it plays into my personal biases, where the young talent, one generation removed from Guinea (in fact so close his older brothers were born in Guinea proper, and one – Florentin – plays for Atlanta United and will cause you to do a foggy double take if passed out half-asleep on the couch watching American world football on the TV, and he’s put into the game), who simultaneously finds a wealthy new life in this new world of “western” culture, but also has lost direct connection to the roots of his existence. Pogba becomes at the same time the spoiled superstar who threatens to leave the club at the end of last season, as well as the exploited resource somehow. It doesn’t make sense to think a guy paid like Pogba is, and regarded as highly as he is, and pampered the way he is pampered, is still exploited in any sense. And yet he is exactly that. It’s completely fucked up. So it makes you wonder what’s next for him, when this season goes off the rails for Manchester United (as it will)... Where will he go next? There’s only one French club with that money, but there’s no competition nor realistic expectation that PSG will compete for UEFA Champions League title. Germany doesn’t seem a good fit, and a return to Italy would seem like perhaps a step backwards. That only leaves the big two in La Liga of Real Madrid and Barcelona, with constant rumors and hints of Pogba wanting to go to Real Madrid having happened all break long. But Real Madrid already sunk a ton of money on all the big signings, yet there’s still talk they’re ponying up huge money for Pogba still. And on the other side, the move of Lukaku to bring in Paulo Dybala is meant to keep the star satisfied. But with the transfer money, the club could sign a pair of young stars to make club supporters feel like ManU is still a pre-eminent location to go play, only to have the pair fail in pretty much the same way Pogba is considered a failure. It’s diminishing returns at this point, and I’d love to see Pogba get out and have passion (briefly) again. But ultimately I just wish guys like that would sink their money into purchasing and running African clubs in their later years. Imagine that, if all these African dudes who never got to play professionally in Africa reinvested all that “western” money into their parents’ native lands. I am not lying when I say I enjoy the African Champions League more than the European one, at least in the later stages, so having guys like Pogba be involved would be wonderfully enjoyable, and probably make Frantz Fanon happy. Then again, he was all about the lesson of how revolutions always tend to make the mistake of recreating the exact same power structure as what it's looking to revolt from. Lolol people are fucked. That means us – you and me. We’re so fucked. It’s hilarious. [RAVEN]

#3: ASHLEY YOUNG (up from #7 last time) – Forever young until you’re not, which is where Ashley Young’s psychic energies have brought him, to ManU where he has signed on for another year, but no one is gonna get excited for Ashley Young, who is pretty much just taking up space until they can smuggle in some hairless wunderkind the scouts found roaming the beaches of Brazil. That has to be tough to face, when you’re no longer the golden boy, just another dude who floated down the river starting as the new young boy, all fresh and hopeful and cocky and ready to show everyone why you were worth getting plucked from the Aston Villas of the world, and then you spend all your time on the river diving for no good reason and then one day you’re old and no one really likes you any more, mostly because of all the goddamn diving, which has upset the river’s ecosystem and now people just want you to get out of the fucking river. It has to be tough to face, but at least you didn’t drown you goddamn fool. Get out of the fucking river, its people are tired of watching you make a diving ass out of yourself. [NEIL]

#4: NEMANJA MATIC (same as last time; also previously ranked #22 for Chelsea on 01-Sep-2018) – A Serb born in the far western parts of that territory when it was still Yugoslavia, who by the age of 12, after Yugoslavia had fallen apart in chaos and ethnic-based turmoil, was youth player at Red Star Belgrade. Strangely moved to their bitter rivals Partizan briefly around the age of 16, and then on more. Only brief period of professional time in Serbia was for small Kolubara, before moving onto a Slovakian club and then to Chelsea in his early 20s. Spent two spells at Chelsea as well as doing a couple seasons in Portugal for Benfica, and is entering the twilight of his career perhaps, but has been solid figure for United, enough so that the dudes I know who mark for the club were once always meme’ing about how they pulled one on Chelsea by getting Matic. For me personally, he is: A) a Man U player, and B) a dirty Serb. Thus I am thoroughly like whatever about his existence. [RAVEN]

#5: CHRIS SMALLING (down from #2 last time) – Dude of Jamaican descent who was a poor kid growing up, and spent a few years of his early teens, before the age of 16, at Millwall youth academy. That whole sentence makes me wonder the stories this dude must know. And in wonderful “poor kid who came up through sports” fashion, he’s married to a lily white Page 3 model, and now of course is also a vegan who promotes that vegan lifestyle. I bet he and Jay Electronic have played whatever the rich fucker version of Cards Against Humanity is, which I guess is probably just actually destroying humanity. That’s why when poor kids become successful like Smalling, it’s so important they do good community service shit like promote veganism, because it helps reinforce the illusion that anybody can become great, which keeps the rest of complacent enough the wealthy can finish destroying humanity in peace. [RAVEN]

#6: VICTOR LINDELOF (up from #14 last time) – A young Swede, Lindelof cut his teeth with Benfica before ManU decided to take a shot with him, and so far he hasn’t really impressed too much, which doesn’t really mean anything bad on a metaphysical level because he’s still young and on the big club now and probably living bigger, although I see he just had a kid with his Swedish wife so now that’s gonna be weighing on him as he tries to make a name for himself in England, where they admire you for your Nordic sensibilities, a deep perversion owing to their cuckolding by Vikings a thousand years ago. But admiration is one thing, and being the hot young boy is another, and if you can’t get your Nordic dick hard when it counts, you’re gonna be on your way back to Sweden, probably via a stay at Aston Villa or some other dump, and your Swedish wife will ask why you don’t just come home and you’ll remember when you were in Portugal before she had the baby, and things were good then, better, and these are the pressures of being counted on to grow up quickly on a huge club that won’t think twice of selling you off to some Turks or whoever is in need of a fresh Swede to show off to Arab slavers. It’s not Victor Lindelof’s fault that he’s been sucked into the hedonistic hellmouth of Manchester United, but the only way out is to become a full-on Aryan fuck machine and then what are you gonna do with a Swedish wife and baby when you’ve got dick rot and you can already see some younger dude eager to take your spot and send you back ruined to the North? I don’t know, but that’s why you don’t play for Manchester United. [NEIL]

#7: MARCUS RASHFORD (up from #8 last time) – Rashford is #10 by default, only 21 sure, but I don’t know man, I just don’t know. It has always felt like he will never live up to the potential expected of him as United’s highest profile youngster superstar. It is somewhat unrealistically expected he be the absolute best in the world, and that’s just not really possible most likely. So no matter what he does, it won’t be the best on Earth, so he’ll get shit on. But then again at least he’s actually playing for his parent club instead of suffering endless loans to lower level clubs. He did get 10 goals last season though, and I’m sure even more will be expected this time through the PL fixtures cycle, but he feels sort of doomed somehow, even though so good. [RAVEN]

#8: LUKE SHAW (up from #19 last time) – Luke Shaw does not receive the same ManU hatred from me as much of the rest of the club, for a simple dork reason – Football Manager 2015. I still play the same FM as I have for years because fuck capitalism, I’m not buying new shit every goddamned year, fuck you. So about a third of the time I decide to start a new career in classic mode, I manage a sixth-tier English club, and decide to only sign the best English players age 20 or under. Then I romp my way through a few tiers before having to start signing non-English players, unless some nextgen wonderkids develop into fake ass English Messis, which has happened a couple times actually. But this method which I always seem to go to every now and then has meant that I’ve pretend managed hundreds and hundreds of matches with Luke Shaw, often with Havant & Waterlooville or Halifax Town. (Hahaha, actually the only reason I’ve actually contemplated buying a new Football Manager is so I could do the exact same stupid shit, but while managing Dulwich Hamlet and playing in pink kits, which I generally change my club’s kits to pink and lime green stripes anyways. So all this is to say most of my personal Luke Shaw memories are of him performing really well in a pink and green striped kit, and helping me lift a shitload of FA Trophies, so the IRL Luke Shaw is of no real concern to me, other than when I go, “oh, hey, that’s that guy from my team,” and then I end up feeling halfway motivated to sim my way through another half season, hoping to lead Halifax Town to the Premier League title in 2042. I hope to get to 2069 eventually, before the IRL Earth ends. [RAVEN]

#9: ROMELU LUKAKU (down from #5 last time) – I personally love me some Romelu Lukaku, and his final seasons at Everton plus his performances for the Belgian national team during their golden era apex were some beautiful times. As you may have gathered, most of my footballing loyalties have been applied in English football to the Welsh club Swansea City. Wilfried Bony was at one point an unstoppable PL force while with Swansea City, which led to him being sold to Man City. Anybody with a single ounce of footballing metaphysics sense new this was going to be poison for a man like Bony, who would not excel in a crowded environment like that club, and the time sitting on the plus leather sidelines would only ruin his desire and love for the game. That’s exactly what happened with Bony, and somehow Swansea City were stupid enough to transfer him back after he was ruined. Lukaku going to Man United had the same possibilities, and to this point, to some extent, that has played out. He’s still a threat, but lacks the passion and dominance he had with Everton, and that’s transferred over to his national team performances as well. Thus, the news that he’s agreed to a transfer to Juventus is welcome reading in my opinion. Lukaku’s only 26, so far from past his prime, and hopefully a move is going to invigorate him. It might not though. But you know what? If his passion is still waning and he sort of goes through the motions in Serie A as well, that’s okay. You know why? LUKAKU FENERBAHCE 2021 KIT BABY! LET ALL THE GREAT STRIKERS OF AFRICAN DESCENT HAVE THEIR SEASONS OF PROMINENCE IN INSTANBUL! (And then let the jerseys be available for cheap on one of those football shirt outlet websites, so I can get one.) [RAVEN]

#10: JESSE LINGARD (down from #9 last time) – Jesse Lingard always makes me think of the kama sutra. Appropriately enough, he caused a controversy for sharing a snapchat video of himself pretending to fuck some hotel pillows earlier this summer. I am mostly disappointed he felt the urge to pretend to fuck pillows and record it for social media, rather than being confident enough in both his self and his sexuality to actually fuck hotel room pillows with no regards for sharing it in social media. That’s what I would’ve done, except in a motel, not hotel. And by “motel” I mean sitting in my car at a rest stop, hoping the caffeine pills wear off and I can sleep a few hours before sunrise. [RAVEN]

#11: ANTHONY MARTIAL (up from #12 last time) – You would think all the angels of heaven had ordained young Anthony Martial, once proclaimed all of Europe’s Golden Boy, but it hasn’t quite played out like that yet for him at Manchester United. He’s still the hot young thing to a certain extent, but to be honest, he was at his best in his first year with the club and hasn’t really built on that success like everyone thought he might. But he is still young and still valued by the club and this upcoming campaign is probably critical in determining whether he will be the next Thierry Henry or just another flash in the pan. Life is still good for Anthony Martial, but ManU will be looking for scapegoats before too long, and no one is gonna have any sympathy for a French dude who looks like he could spend a lifetime hustling cougars in Monaco. Anthony Martial got sucked into the ManU Hellmouth at a particularly bad time in their history, and it’s not his fault, but that hardly matters when it comes time to start handing out guillotine sentences. [NEIL]

#12: ANDER HERRERA (down from #11 last time) – Amazingly enough, Man United found a sucker to take on Herrera, in Paris Saint-Germain, which is the Man United of France, meaning they have tons of money and enough history to pretend it’s their tradition not their wealth that causes them to be successful. PSG is also one of the great money mark clubs in Europe right now, so congrats to Herrera for bouncing from one money mark to another, where he can reunite with Angel Di Maria to reform their hugely expensive and highly overrated midfield. Unfortunately, nobody will notice with Neymar rolling around all over the place up front. [RAVEN]

#13: JUAN MATA (down from #10 last time) – That dude Mata got a late penalty against a shitty Norwegian club to give Man United a thrilling 1-0 away victory in a pitiful test of their preseason fitness. This club has all the build of a huge letdown, but man they also have a pretty great press manipulation machine, full of more false information and hope than a U.S. Presidential election. It’s gonna be fun to see this shit come crashing down this season. [RAVEN]

#14: PHIL JONES (down from #13 last time) – Token prominent white Englishman on defense, to keep the marks happy. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a large, brutish player who in this day of position specialists can actually play a few different roles on the defensive end of the line-up. A “throwback” player, which is a dog whistle sort of way to say an old school pre-diversity English player to keep the club from being all guys that would make Morrissey feel angry. [RAVEN]

#15: SCOTT MCTOMINAY (up from #21 last time) – One of a very promising group of Scottish central midfielders coming to prominence at the moment—such that I’m almost about to make it another national archetype position, a box-to-box ball-hound with that non-stop “engine” that I think we here in America refer to as “diesel”. Used to be Scottish central mids excelled due to a single-minded (some might justifiably call it “brainless”), barbaric “BALL MINE!” mentality, running around the midfield like a pitbull with a broken chain still around its neck, and smashing shins before powering forward and nailing a rocket that usually flies about 10 yards over the goal because only poofs pass the ball. See old school hard scumbag Billy Bremner, ugly-ass Hun-lord Barry Ferguson, and Celtic’s Scott Brown for examples of the type. But of late we’re seeing some culture in this position, some really impressive tactical control and ball usage (actual footballing intellect, in other words) and McTominay seems to exemplify this. Probably my one fear for our boy moving forward is more of that hype mentioned with de Gea above—is he really that good? Or is it just because he came through the setup at an EPL team and therefore he has to be good until the media says otherwise? As a follower of Scottish football (the league, they players, the national team), I’d hold up Oliver Burke as a cautionary example of this—Scottish repping lad with an impressive physical presence, a gifted natural ability (ridiculous speed), and the blessing of an English club background and thus worth millions and millions of pounds in transfer fees on the basis of pedigree and that English-kissed potentiality alone. And yet….Celtic got this dude on loan for half of last season because he’s now struggling to cut it in the English Championship…..because he has no first touch whatsoever, and might (*might*) can get a shot on target if he’s two yards out from the goal-line. McTominay looks solid, and I hope he succeeds, but I’m just not quite sure yet. [PAUL]

#16: ALEXIS SANCHEZ (same as last time; also previously ranked #16 for Arsenal on 15-Sep-2018) – There was a moment, not too long ago, when Alexis Sanchez was primed to be A Really Big Fucking Deal, occupying places only the Messis of the world had access too, and while he is still A Big Fucking Deal, it’s clear that that moment has passed and he probably won’t be anything more than a dude who almost touched the sun. He’s 30 years old now, his first year with ManU was spent half coming off the bench, and while he may be a beloved icon in his native Chile, the English swine are not so forgiving and will not balk at burying him in drunken beratements. You should have chosen Liverpool Alexis, but you didn’t, and while you were hot shit with Arsenal, you didn’t win anything and now you’re with ManU and the whole thing is starting to come off as a little desperate. Maybe he takes control of this thing and both he and ManU recover some lost glory or maybe he just fucks off to China or some place where he can be Alexis Sanchez, Chile’s favorite son, and not just another big money disappointment in the Manchester dirt rags. Either way, this thing is coming to a head and you can never be quite sure where the metaphysical energy of this thing will bust loose at, and that will probably go a long way in explaining where ManU is or isn’t in the next few years. [NEIL] 

#17: DIOGO DALOT – I like Diogo Dalot because his name sounds like doing drugs. I don’t do drugs any more, at least not good drugs, as I’ve gotten older, and when you get older you deny yourself pleasure because the general meritocracy myth has been hammered into your head and often combined with growing debt to make you believe there’s some point to existing as a human being within the societal structures we currently have. But there’s not. So instead of getting lost in an endless fog of comforting opiates, you pretend not doing that is somehow better, but end up writing ridiculous blurbs about Portuguese football players that just show how much you with you actually were wasting your life high as fuck babbling at the sky. (And even referring to that as “wasting your life” is sign of how meritocracy and purpose has poisoned my thinking. As penance I’m going to do 150 mgs of hydrocodone by this time next week. I’ll eventually learn.) [RAVEN]

#18: FRED – My grandfather’s name was Fred. He was the son of Polish immigrants who came through Ellis Island. He never appeared to give a fuck about soccer, but he also never talked a whole lot about his early life until he was older and I’d go visit and sit on his porch with him, which was a pretty raggedy porch to be honest. Like you’re probably thinking of young me being like a kid sitting with my grandfather on a nice old Southern American porch, with steps and a light blue ceiling and shit like that. But actually I was grown and had a ponytail and goatee, and he was old and frail and the porch was just concrete laid out outside the front door and likely I might’ve even used a cooler as my chair. He told me how he fell in love with a creole woman in New Orleans but got sidetracked up to Chicago where he met my grandma, who was widowed and living in a car with her two young sons, so he ended up marrying her and adopting the boys (my uncles). But he never talked about soccer. [RAVEN]

#19: ANTONIO VALENCIA (down from #3 last time) – A true footballing story the way you expect it – young wonderkid in Ecuador grows up with raw talent and becomes domestic league hero, makes his way to one of the big European leagues through post-colonial linguistic channels, and after establishing himself on the European continent (with Villarreal), gets a big money move to THE major club in England, where he spends a decade consistently leading the club to trophies, and earning the captain’s armband eventually. After being all used up at that level, no Chinese or American tours – just a free transfer back home to Ecuador, where he will surely be worshipped (and need a security detail). Part of the reason for this move back to L.D.U. Quito is because they are making a run at the Copa Libertadores, where they just advanced to the quarterfinals where they’ll face Boca Juniors, who also have a former European superstar who has returned home in Carlos Tevez. Tevez left Man United for Man City in the same transfer window that Valencia came to Man United. A decade later, in a few weeks, these two guys are gonna have South America hyped as fuck for a two-leg quarterfinal. [RAVEN]

#20: ERIC BAILLY (down from #15 last time) – Because of Kolo Toure, I will always love Côte d'Ivoire central defenders. Poor Bailly seems especially injury-prone, though still the premier central defender for the national team. In our stupid social media age, where people think it’s super important to put one or more (usually three) emoji flags on their bio-profile, some Celtic-supporting dude invariably fucks up and has a Côte d'Ivoire flag instead of a Republic of Ireland flag in his profile. And then cue a bunch of stupid call-out chatter, etc. etc. and concern that the orange comes first in that particular tri-color configuration (and then admitting that I’m psychically bothered that Côte d'Ivoire home strip is orange and I’m relieved when they wear they’re green change top). Now I feel pretty damn stupid because 1) I have goddamned flags in my twitter profile and 2) I let exclusively Euro-centric color-connotations (white-ass protestant superiority Orange Order shit) detrimentally affect, even to a small degree, my affection and support of an African team made up of Francophile mostly Muslims and Catholics. [PAUL]

#21: MAROUANE FELLAINI (up from #22 last time) – I’ve always loved Fellaini because when inspired he covers so much ground, and is such a huge presence with giant hair and amazing heading abilities with that giant hair and really he’s just a pleasure to watch despite having been in stupid red Chevrolet kit the past five and a half years before going to China. Obviously his best days are behind him, but at age 31, he’s still got a few good seasons of cashing in on his fame in places like China and America where they pay good money to pretend their soccer is relevant. Fellaini’s also one of numerous players who had to choose between European and African identity, picking Belgium over Morocco, as he was born in Belgium, and has been key figure in that nation’s golden age (along with Lukaku). Fellaini’s pops was actually a GK for one of the top clubs in Morocco (Raja Casablanca) who was denied time playing in Belgium after his family moved due to his former Moroccan clubs not releasing the proper paperwork. Instead of going back to Morocco, Fellaini’s pops chose to retire from playing and drive a fucking bus, later on retiring early to help oversee his son’s pro career. In that sense, it’s easier to see why somebody would choose Belgium over Morocco as national identity, when the bureaucracy crushed the previous generation’s hopes already. Also, there’s mad money out here, which is why Fellaini is now in China. But the thing I’ve always loved is his somewhat goofy yet competent demeanor. His time at United was never as dominant as it was while he played for Everton (again like Lukaku) but he never seemed bummed, even if he was apt to do something physically violent from time to time and catch a red card. In fact, is there anything wrong with giant goofy fuckers who are apt to just get a stupid red card at any time? I say no, not at all, and in fact this a true footballing spirit that can’t be capitalized on correctly by an international magnate like Manchester United. Fellaini was bound to do nothing more than help sell jerseys. God bless him. I anxiously await his first MLS red card next year. [RAVEN]

#22: ANDREAS PEREIRA – Andreas is one of those players identified very young, in their early/mid teens, and then stockpiled by top tier EPL clubs. I suppose the debate is such an acquisition gives such a player access to world-class development resources and that they can blossom accordingly. Yet the counterargument is that they never really get a chance to settle with their senior home club, being funneled through an array of U18, U21, and reserve team bullshit before embarking on a piecemeal tour of mid-table clubs in major non-English European associations—so that I imagine said yung dude’s Burberry/Vuitton/Guicci suitcase is covered in stickers like in the old Warner Brothers cartoons of Bugs Bunny tunneling his way over the globe. Andy P’s loan soujourns at Granada and Valencia remind me of the symbiotic/parasitical/competitive relationship between the EPL and La Liga (which factors in to de Gea’s career as well). Liverpool may be upsetting the apple cart with their recent Champions League win, but for the past decade or so, despite English (and probably their white-ass American cousins) howling to the contrary, the Spanish League has been the dominant force in world football, to the point of causing a legit derangement syndrome in EPL partisans. I don’t LOVE Barcelona, because at level they’re just another rich-ass club hoarding talent and banking on a brand empire. But, I have default supported them as the best bulwark against English dominance—which I guess if we were to get all geopolitical-historical comes to down to battle between two evil ass Colonial European powers. And yet still, I have to factor in that at least two cinder block auto-repair shops on Jefe Davis Highway near me, run by some amalgamation of Mexican/Central American dudes, have amateur-painted Barcelona crests as murals and integrated into their business signage. [An aside—Jefferson Davis Highway, or US Route 1, is the non-interstate way for me to travel between my shitty, dilapidated, “ruin porn” small Southern city and the big, financial-hipster-university-amenities city in which I work; as Confederate president Davis is probably the closest thing America has to a hard right Latin American dictator along the lines of Trujillo or Pinochet or Videla AND the portion of the highway I drive through is hella populated with Latinos to the point of a full-blown praise God white genocide takeover—so I’ve defaulted to non-self-consciously calling it “Jefe” Davis, which might be kinda fucked up and unwoke, but at the fringes of wokeness, I don’t even know anymore. Predictably, I engage in stupid brain-over-heart debates on my commute about whether this demographic shift is a big middle finger to Davis and the heinous American white-assedery he represented, or if an impoverished community of brown people subsisting on the fringes of a regentrifying metropole is exactly what he wanted.] In other words, I ain’t seeing no autobody shops anywhere around here with Manchester United crests painted from a can of Rustoleum and a stencil—which is a short segue into admitting that I even rooted, in a true heart vs. brain moment, for Barcelona over Liverpool in the Champions League semifinal. Because my sincere joy in Salah and Van Dyk and a player with my last name playing like spirit warrior poets could not surmount the existence of those autoshops. R.I.P. the deep manly love that existed between Neil and me. Anyway, Andy P. looks like he might be that rare example of an EPL youth stockpile player that really does make the steady first team breakthrough—I see he just signed a new fat contract and should be sniffing around the first team. Good luck to him, and props for choosing Brazil over Belgium to represent. [PAUL]

#23: SERGIO ROMERO (up from #24 last time) – Among my many stupid footballing prejudices is a tendency to mistrust goalkeepers from countries renowned for their attacking players—like Argentina. But I like Sergio here. His career to date seems like one of hard graft and quiet, under-the-radar confidence that stands in stark contrast to de Gea. Plus, in true goalkeeping eccentricity fashion, Romero broke his hand punching through a wall because he fucked up in a match. That’s what you want from your goalkeeper—and I bet all the other players in the locker room had the good sense to not say a word to him before, during, and after this act of self-mortification. The goalkeeper situation at Manchester United highlights a convention that I keep seeing in world football, and from which even my beloved club that I follow closely is subject to. I’m sure it’s a much more complicated interplay of player £ £ £ valuation and psychological man-management than my hillbilly brain can compass, but I hate seeing a manager/club persist with a premium costs-a-lot-of-money, media-hyped player when a cheaper non-hype player obviously performs better, more consistently. I get that even if you’re like “this dude kinda sucks, we need to get rid of him”, dude still get played because you have to keep their value-hype up for when you find someone fool enough to offload them on for at least (or close to) what you paid. I see this countless times with outfield “flash” players like strikers, attacking midfielders, and wingers in the stupid-ass financial feeding frenzy that is the English League system. But up until this contemplation on Romero and de Gea, I’d never really seen it played out in regards to the usually undervalued (financially anyway) goalkeeper position. In short, Romero seems like the much better player—doesn’t fuck up as much, has a quiet but potentially volatile self-confidence, and has a commendable unkempt dirtbag look about him. De Gea makes huge fuck-ups to go with his “television saves”, has an entire media apparatus telling you he’s world-class, and generally looks like he’s putting on a hipster grooming show, with the bushy-beard-but-not-really, the undercut, and that stupid white boy top-knot thing. But shit, it’s Manchester United, so it shouldn’t be the least bit surprising which player they’re gonna stick with. [PAUL]

#24: MATTEO DARMIAN (down from #17 last time) – For a club with so much star power, it’s shocking how many of these dudes have been on the club’s books for four or five seasons, all while being considered a flop. Darmian is one of the more for-real flops, but fuck man, it’s all highly touted dudes who came in and don’t end up winning the entire Universe and a piece of the literal sun as a trophy, so they’re all bound to be flops. Kinda bums me out for Daniel James to be honest. Anyways, there’s SHOCK TRANSFER talk this week of Barcelona taking on Darmian as cover on defense, but who the fuck knows. Darmian’s only played in Italy and with ManU, and he’s always seemed uncomfortable in England. Maybe a move to Spain would help shake things up, but he’s also turning 30 in December. Why the fuck just not go home to Italy? Wouldn’t one of the Milan clubs want a hometown star to come back? Then again, that’s one of the greatest things about Man United – they boost people’s price so high that nobody but them can afford to fuck up and sign the dudes. [RAVEN]

#25: MARCOS ROJO (down from #23 last time) – Like almost everyone else associated with ManU, Marcos Rojo is kind of an in a wait and see place in respect to metaphysical energies, which is not a bad thing necessarily, but more an indication that things have gotten out of hand over there and no one knows quite how this shit is gonna sort out. Marcus Rojo, for the most part, is an innocent bystander in most of that, doing the best he can while fucking his Portuguese lingerie model wife and fending off the advancements of club rats while ManU just sort of drifts in the wind, nobody knowing whether it’s gonna find its way back out to sea or just crash on some rocks again and leave everyone on board bloodied and ruined. For now, nobody really knows and that’s just the way of things. Live big while you can, Marcos, and if people remain unimpressed, fuck it, go back to Argentina with your hot wife and be happy that you don’t have to try to impress these swine anymore. [NEIL]