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.

Monday, September 30


county fair turns empty field
to hallucinogenic
playground two weeks out the year

SONG OF THE DAY: Brown & Beautiful

I don’t compile those BEST OF YEAR XXX lists because it’s just trying to trick people into always buying new shit all the time, which is what helps prop up this unfulfilling dissatisfying capitalist system anyways. Also calendars are bullshit, we ought to be going by the moons instead of this Gregorian crap, think how dope it would be to finally be able to go to the beach in February or have a snow day in September. But if I was the type of self-important jackass who felt like I not only consumed so much of the consumptive arts but that I also possessed a better-than-most-others knack for discerning what is quality and what is trash – you know, basically an internet person – I’d definitely have Black Beans by Choosey & Exile on my best hip hop albums of 2019 list. Except most people don’t put out actual albums, and we either stream it or you’re old as fuck like me and still illegally obtain mp3s, so you never listen to the whole thing in order like an album is conceived ideally; you just blast pieces of it a lot and forget other parts ever existed. Shit, I bet there’s songs on this album I listened to once and forgot to listen to again. But also I don’t do those types of lists, which is lucky, because it means I can keep listening to this even when it’s not new or important to mention to people to show how hip my opinion about buying shit that nobody actually buys is.


small town inns on former blue
highways - lost to the progress
of far more rapid transit

Sunday, September 29

S0M3T1M3S Y0V W4LK TH3 T1GHT R0P3...

sometimes you walk the tight rope,
sometimes the tight rope flips the
script and wraps around your neck


It still freaks me out that the story of Nipsey Hussle’s murder was so shared in the immediate aftermath, and the guy that shot him was referred to as Shitty Cuz, which appeared not to be the name he went by, even on the streets, but instead the one given to him by others when he was gang raped after accusations of being a snitch. Like I obviously don’t claim to know shit about all of that situation, because it wasn’t my circle, but if you’re a dude who got gang raped by other dudes, and (according to legend) you got given the nickname “Shitty Cuz” in the act of that gang rape, and not only did that become your nickname on the streets who had turned on you, but you then became famous with that name, that’s fucked up. But also according to grand jury documents from later this summer, Hussle was calling Holder out on this in their conversation before the murder, including claiming people had documents on Holder’s snitching.
Holder will be in jail forever now, and likely solitary confinement for killing Hussle, where retribution awaits. It’s also not out of the question (as people suggested at the time) that if Holder was working with authorities, he may have been put up to the murder as well. It may still be hard to believe for those who believe in institutions, but they do try to assassinate upwardly mobile figures who are out here empowering the fucked to not feel fucked.
The whole shit’s like seven sediments of sad – young man who was doing great things killed in his prime, another young man’s life to be spent behind bars, both young men grown in an environment where one is channeled into self-destructive paths, the false promise of economic salvation which unfortunately rested on the efforts of a sole figure to certain extent… and it was all anybody was reading on their algorithm feeds for a week, and we ain’t heard shit about it since. We’re all fucked to one extent or another, by this simulation of a system we’re living in.

S0M3 F0LKS D3ST1N3D T0 G3T L0ST...

some folks destined to get lost
in hotels on old highways,
forgotten like the decades

Thursday, September 26

WH3R3 TW0 0LD R04DS 1NT3RS3CT...

where two old roads intersect -
what once must've been bustling
store, rotting back into Earth

SONG OF THE DAY: Living Legend

Hip hop is such a force across the Earth, after only like half a century of existence. Doe is a local rapper, and wild ass dude, and this song is such a fuckin’ jam, like on its own even if you’re not from this place. But the beauty of how far hip hop has grown is that so many places have these amazing scenes percolating beneath the surface, that mainstream world doesn’t know about. Doe has a line in here, “You don’t wanna be a target, catch your grandma coming out Reid’s market” which is the actual independent grocery store here in the Ville. I get chicken feet from there regularly (lol, for real). When all these little scenes have the capacity to make great art that is immediately relevant to local people’s real life, I don’t know, maybe I’m getting old but I feel that’s more important to some extent than blowing up. Everybody wants to go global, be a worldwide superstar. I see that with local dudes too, putting these airs on social media like they’re jet-setting, staying in hotel swimming pools all the time… and I’m not mad at nobody for dreaming, but damn, that’s not real. And I guess it goes back to the system too, because local people don’t support local music or artists – they support famous shit. That’s what we get fed. And even if you do have local systems put in place, a place like Charlottesville has so much institutional racism, they’re looking for reasons to shut down any club that has hip hop shows to a predominantly non-white, non-affluent crowd. Which makes me think the whole thing is so fucked up and annoying that I just wanna escape.
That takes me back to the beginning though – you escape through good art, and this song’s a fuckin’ classic. How many living legends are out there in all the various scenes, that most of us don’t even know about? The mostly unknown living legends who fuckin’ do it, blessing their corner of the world. I love that shit, way more than the people that blow up. A lot of moral compromise and exploitation of self goes into blowing up. But you can happily not give a fuck about all that, and be a local living legend, and ain’t no shame in that. In fact, it should be seen as a great success, even if there ain’t a lot of dollars behind it.

Wednesday, September 25

R00ST3RS 1N 4 C4MP3R SH3LL...

roosters in a camper shell -
metaphor for rural men's
performative hard assness

SONG OF THE DAY: Mo Money Less Problems

Rocking citrine crystal next to my heart, with the self-besmirched crooked homemade yin yang tattoo done stuck and poke decades ago, angled too oblong for external views but perfectly round from my eyeballs looking down. Rocking citrine crystal for prosperity, constantly struggling against the riptide, like my whole life, and generally don’t think about it because it feels natural normal nothing extraordinary, but the more I know people with more, the more I realize how different how I am is from how others are. Wouldn’t change none of the past, because that path got me here, but damn if I could have it where I wasn’t fighting so hard every damn week in the future, I’d do that shit in a heartbeat. And yet at the same time can’t ever be co-opted by the capital dreams of escape from suffering without remembering the fact that nothing makes you special for being blessed to escape the struggle, and there’s plenty of folks left behind in the riptide still struggling, and I’d rather have the whole carnival game cancelled than me win the big stuffed animal finally.

C4SS1NGL3 0F 1'V3 G0T TH3...

cassingle of "I've Got the
Power!" on repeat in first
boss's beat-up pick-up truck

Tuesday, September 24

SK1N T0N3S S33N 4S 4L13N...

skin tones seen as alien
and unwanted which once was
all that was known in these parts

SONG OF THE DAY: Summer 1984

The 1984 Olympics being held in Los Angeles was used as justification for one of the earliest militarizations of modern police departments, with massive gang sweeps leading up to the event, where many known gang members were rounded up and jailed on various charges that could've been enforced at any point. One should always remember existence can always be deemed illegal, because there's enough laws on the books that any of us can get put in jail should a police state choose to enforce what it wants to enforce. For African-Americans and norteno Latinos, this meant jail at the time, but for many immigrant communities, this meant known gang members (which means they were on gang task force lists, not necessarily known in any other capacity, basically a list police made) got deported back to wherever their family was from, despite many of the alleged gang members not having ever known the place.
For central Americans, this was a huge issue, because a lot of refugees of civil wars and unstable states in those nations, caused by direct and covert US interference, relocated to Southern California, where they found a gang culture that required organizing their own protective gangs. This manufactured new gang members, who were exported back to the native nations of their parents, where gang networks connected tendrils. This also imported the gang problem seen in El Salvador and Honduras from the US to central America, which - thirty-some years later - has become the justification of some alleged invasion of criminal elements which requires giant walls and militarized police forces working covertly in various American cities. The whole thing has been this self-perpetuating cycle that has ultimately depended on the dehumanization of minorities. And in fact, a lot of what is really fucked up about America right now was initiated during the Reagan era.
I find all this interesting because none of this is new, but we have been trained to have such a micro-focus, probably by design because if we have a micro-focus, we are always excited by what's new, instead of content with what already is in our possession. Capitalist economy requires constant dopamine rush of newness. Unfortunately in terms of larger critical thinking, this sort of destroys our ability to see longer term patterns, and instead we focus on the immediate - that somehow Trump is an anomaly that has upset America's prestige, when in actuality he's just a less PR-savvy version of what's been going on constantly for a while.
Police militarization has only gotten stronger since 1984, with surplus weaponry from constant wars, not to mention police just straight up being down with purchasing military style shit, all of which is justified by a war on mysterious terror. What happened in LA in 1984 helped lay the tinder in the metaphysical environment that exploded in the '92 riots, because Rodney King getting beat by the LAPD was not shocking to a lot of residents, nor was the cops getting acquitted. But it was too much to have it all out in the open like that, without giving a fuck. Essentially that's why bourgeois have a problem with Trump era America, is that it's just out in the open without giving a fuck. But Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama all escalated these federal executive powers pretty steadily, without any thought that it could go wrong. They didn't care. They imagined the sustainable growth of executive privilege with no repercussions. Obama had pretty great PR skills, so it's been a big hangover to drop to Trump, but it's really not all that different in terms of what's being done, just the corruption is more open and doesn't give a fuck. More metaphysical tinder is being scattered.
If you are excited by that tinder, and look forward to an explosion, I hope you realize how many of these people out here support the militarization of the police, without question, and have militarized themselves to a large extent. These people don't give a fuck, and when the explosion happens (which it will), I hope people are ready for what that entails. It's gonna be some ugly things happening, and you can't unexperience what you experience. And not everybody can afford therapy either.


consumer trinkets of good
luck, mass produced to filter
positive vibes from gross world

Monday, September 23

Sunday, September 22

Saturday, September 21

M0R3 T1M3S SP3NT 0N 1NT3RST4T3S...

more time spent on interstates
than I ever expected;
dirt roads mostly in rear view

SONG OF THE DAY: 1 Jvst W4nt T0 C3l3br4t3

ghostly wails stumbling through life, carrying too much baggage I ain't even mean to accumulate
mostly sober of substance but for what not sure
the days still feel like cobra clutch
running between designated meeting spots
points on the grid
let this tired dirtgod run free along the railroad tracks
a couple hours tomorrow please
today's already been divvied up into minimum payments
honoring responsibilities
ancestral voices whispering that it's all a trick
a trap an overly-complicated scam conning away your days
embezzling life

Friday, September 20


don't discuss politics with dudes
displaying classic cars, not
unless you got two right hands

SONG OF THE DAY: Slow Spinnin'

World still spinning slow, at same pace as ever through same space as ever, despite the malcontent machinery manufacturing mad anxiety that we’re gonna walk into a giant blank wall marked END TIMES GAME OVER any year now. Is the cataclysmic change of climate true? Sure. But lolol you ain’t dismantled the device in your hands have you? Any time shit falls apart, part of it grows back together – that’s the natural way of things. Scars get left, sometimes things get wiped out, but people ain’t gonna stop scrabbling across the surface of this Earth any time soon, albeit the herd may get thinned. Mushroom spores will scatter, the poison clouds will eventually dissipate, and sure it takes many half-lives for some of our poison to decay, many of us are already living half-lives ourselves, so maybe shit needs to fall apart and get pieced back together anyways. Unfortunately, people tend to be complacent, and it takes trauma to wake us up at times. Nonetheless, it’s Friday, it’s chill outside (at least where I am), so walk around outside (if you are able) and scatter some metaphysical spores amongst the industrial detritus of our these days American lives.


folks hustling after fool's gold,
hoping for economic
salvation from the system

Thursday, September 19

Wednesday, September 18

SONG OF THE DAY: Extra Consent

We can’t have nothin’ nice. The brief bright trajectory of Lizzo soon to be crushed by Democratic Party speaking engagements, Nissan commercials, and other types of neoliberal homogenization. Of course the automatic reactionary rebuttal to this is WELL JUST ENJOY THE THINGS YOU ENJOY WHO CARES? and yes, that is very much true. But also, they (the big inexplicable Shadow People type but not in the shadows at all but instead living on top of all the pyramids of wealth) have a way of bleaching the soul out of everything. By soul I mean that gut tingling don’t give a fuck makes perfect sense like sunshine on the river type shit, which makes perfect sense yes, but then somehow they dam it up, put the shine through a filter, and it just hits awkwardly after that. Ain’t no scientific explanation for it (likely because the same they that’s THEY control scientific method) and it is what it is. Go ‘head Lizzo – get that bag.

D1G1T4L P0L1C3 ST4T3 D1GS...

digital police state digs
deeper into subconscious
of these blue lives bootlickers

Tuesday, September 17


hermit's cave in Buckingham,
underneath highway fifteen
bridge over the James River


E-scooters are the fun new way to signify gentrification of a space, although actually it's for the community's good, and they'll promise to station them all over the city for people who don't have easy access to affordable transportation, except then it's just at colleges and around gentrifying neighborhoods or from bars to apartments, it's not like you see a hard-working person with their metal lunch pail riding the Lime to the ol' nuts-n-bolts factory. I mostly like to use them in one of two ways - either driving them into public housing and leaving them there, which I guess unfortunately might be giving the company false data which supports their claims that it actually serves the community instead of their profits. So maybe I'll do the second one more, which is drive them down to Moore's Creek, leave them, and once they've sat there for a day or two, throw them in the creek. Nobody's going back up that hill on one of those things. I keep waiting for my account to get locked for always driving them to a place where they end up disappearing but it hasn't happened yet.

3V3RY 4LL3Y H4S 1TS...

every alley has its
own security eyeballs,
hovering above, watching

Monday, September 16

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: LIVERPOOL FC

{Spirit Warriors & Failure Demons - the yin and yang of sporting metaphysics}

[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.]

Before I speak upon the footballing metaphysics of Liverpool specifically, let me speak upon the footballing metaphysics philosophy in general. All three of us who write this (myself, Neil, Paul) are Americans, but likely kinda un-American in most eyes, despite all three being identified externally by our racial social constructs as white boys, and as such we grew up with futbol americano as our preferred sport. Both Paul and I grew up under the TV signal of the Washington football team with the racist nickname, and Neil was doomed to Lions fandom in the nether lands of Michigan. As such, all three of us were doomed (much like America itself). The Washington football team was a great success in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, but was purchased by a megalomaniac idiot, with greater wealth and thus access to far superior health care, so will likely outlive me easily, so there really was no point in me continuing to be emotionally invested in American football. I don’t know Paul’s full story of breaking away, and Neil’s is constantly documented online, including in shared websites of the past, so he’s just hopelessly fucked for some reason.

The American way of football is very American, where you are encouraged to and respect those that run themselves brain first into doom. The neurological effects of American football are about as destructive as American foreign policy in the Global South, but the American football fan is trained to respect the willingness to destroy one’s self as sign of great footballer. But ultimately the sport at the NFL level is a corporate entity and it is exploiting you. Sure, NFL athletes get paid great sums of money, but it’s not guaranteed money when they sign those contracts, they’re later in life health care is largely uncovered by these contracts, and their actual salaries combined are a small percentage of NFL revenue. So they are exploited. And to some extent, anybody who is great a sport knows they’re fucked and doomed and being exploited by the owners of their body, whether American football or world football or basketball or whatever sport in any corner of the world is actually making bank.

That is where the concept of the spirit warrior comes in. The spirit warrior knows it’s all fucked up and we’re all doomed, but the spirit warrior somehow still seems to find great joy in participating in this pointless Sisyphean exercise. And the spirit warrior may not necessarily ensure titles and success, because often times the spirit warrior’s avant garde nature is not respected by the modern corporate types who own sporting institutions. There are always people with great talent who can win titles, but that does not make them spirit warriors. And as a fan - a pure and in love with your club fully and foolishly emotionally invested supporter - you will always take a spirit warrior over a proven talent. The spirit warrior is a joy to be around and emanates beauty, albeit a fucked up and ugly beauty oftentimes.

Here’s the rub - sometimes magic happens and spirit warriors become successful, and in fact, become successful in the face of more talented opposition. This is the Maradona/Messi Law. There is no doubt that Lionel Messi is perhaps the greatest football talent we’ve ever seen; but he is no spirit warrior, and in fact his lack of spirit warrior capabilities has become a failure demon that hovers over him in every international competition, heavier and heavier shadows cast as he gets older. On the flip side, any dork ass takes-themselves-too-serious soccer pundit has no respect for Diego Maradona, despite him having conquered any obstacle there is to conquer. He has proven himself greater than the originators of football in England, with the football gods having a hand in helping, and on the more metaphysical scale of all-time, he continues to show himself the true Argentine God of football as well, despite all his demons. I mean fuck man, Diego was tecnico directing a second-tier Mexican club last year, and had them dancing in the locker room and almost getting promoted through the notoriously corrupt Mexican football pyramid. True fucking spirit warrior.

How does all this relate to Liverpool, and their footballing metaphysics? Jurgen Klopp. Klopp is obviously a man that understands this transcendence, and the power of spirit warriors. In breaking down who would write about who, I had to pass up on two of my favorites - Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk, both men whom I’d consider true and living spirit warriors. And it is no coincidence that Liverpool is a rare situation where multiple spirit warriors have landed in the same physical mortal space together, a situation that oftentimes blows up into conflict and chaos. (Remember when Maradona was managing Messi in the World Cup? That’s such an example.) And yet, it has not blown up for Liverpool. In fact, strangely when I (Raven, the one who does the dork math part of compiling these lists through how many minutes players have played in the past 100 club matches) was doing the math, Liverpool had a far smaller pool of players than most other Premier League club and definitely any of the other Big Six Clubs that they were utilizing on the field. Most of the larger clubs would alternate people out for continental matches, and actually had a small handful of guys who would only play in one or the other competition as they navigated multiple trophy chases. Not Klopp at Liverpool. He plays who the fuck he trusts, and he knows they are led by spirit warriors who shall help hold it all together with pure beauty of existence.

We only cover the Top 25 in each of these lists, but most clubs have an extensive list of people, with new names moving up and old names who were stalwarts of the club fading slowly. Liverpool has a pretty set field of less than two dozen guys who are the heart and soul of this club, and have carried it to this amazing place it is currently at. Who the fuck would’ve thought they’d be 5 points clear of Manchester City this early? That’s crazy. And yet here we are.

Here is the thing though about spirit warriors and the soulless number-crunching nature of modern football… it can’t last forever. Injuries happen, and that is usually the justification for a club to move a spirit warrior to another place. It’s hard to maintain this metaphysical pace. From the Champions League loss two seasons ago, to last year’s CL victory and the crazy run to second in the Premier League, to the potential for pulling the double this year… is that too much? It might be. But also it just might not. But what I can tell you is, even though I’m not a Liverpool supporter (Paul and I remain contrarians to the English, him being a Celtic supporter, and I have pledged lifelong allegiance to Swansea City despite now being separated from my wife of 20 years who has Welsh heritage which justified this ridiculous choice to me in the first place), there is no club I more enjoy watching. And it’s not because it’s winning football, but because it’s the beauty, and the passion, and that starts with Jurgen Klopp, but it also shoots through those aforementioned spirit warriors Salah and van Dijk, as well as a slew of other men on this club who are spirit warrior-esque as well. It is a period to enjoy as an un-American soccer fan enjoying the sport at metaphysical level, not consumptive level, and I will be sad when it ever comes to an end.

Nonetheless, here are the 25 men who comprise Liverpool’s Metaphysical Roster of prominence over the last 100 competitive club matches…

#1: VIRGIL VAN DIJK (up from #10 Liverpool was metaphysically ranked on 01-Oct-2018) – So I’m going to just jump right in here: Virgil is the greatest living avatar for the destruction of white-ass, western European, colonialist patriarchal dominationism. He is all the fears of the hashtag white genocide fascists made righteous flesh. He will tread on them, oh yes, he will tread on them so fucking hard. Let me break this down using my professiorial deconstruction mode. First, Virgil’s mother hails from Suriname, one of the most beautifully ethnic-racial demographic blenders in the world: indigenous Americans, enslaved Africans who escaped and fled into the dense foliage, large numbers of Indian subcontinent immigrants, Javanese, Chinese, Lebanese, Jews, and who can say what else? Perhaps Virgil himself can say with a sense of certainty what his ethnic heritage is, but I suspect that if he took one of those stupid as fuck [never, ever fucking do one, if you haven’t been fool enough already] ancestry dna tests, the power of his sheer HUMAN admixture would destroy the whole essentialist algorithmic dna-helix beast once and for all. Almost certainly, Virgil cares not one shit for any of that type of associational garbage, because he is VIRGIL—the post-hegemony tan-brown-beige-caramel lustrous Superman that skins the Aryan Superman alive and wears the milk-white hide for a loincloth. Second, he rejects the Western-ordained patriarchy, with that big “VIRGIL” emblazoned across his shoulders. His father is some smirking, baldy-assed European white dude, adding to the symbolic weight of the estrangement—and the fucker even claims, in keeping with the paternalistic modus operandi of the Man that HE is responsible for cultivating and inspiring Virgil’s greatness. Typical White Man bullshit. Seriously, at this point, I commit to never even using “van Dijk” to refer to Virgil again. All he needs is that one powerful name. Which leads to…..Third. What’s in a name? I teach a lot of Southern (U.S.) literature classes, and I invariably remind my students, when we’re reading some antebellum work and they’re curious why the enslaved people have names like “Cicero,” “Agamemnon,” and “Minerva”, that white plantation fuckheads got some shits and giggles out of endowing their supposedly lowly, intellectually-limited, and instinctually servile slaves with grandiose names drawn from the heights of Western antiquity. In essence, an exponentially sadistic variant of calling a tall dude “Tiny” or a short dude “Killer.” I do not know who named Virgil, nor the circumstances that led to that decision. Perhaps it’s a family name—likely from his mother’s side, handed down the generations and having its origins in the aforementioned whims of some whip-cracking European piece of shit. I’d like to think that, to be honest. Because this new Virgil, a new “divine poet” has come to wreck all that lost-to-history shithead held precious and dear. To pull back from these deep metaphysics for a bit, as a Celtic supporter of long affinity and deep passion, I have watched Virgil probably more than any other player I have yet wrote about in these screeds. He was joy itself to watch—composed, menacingly quiet in his intensity (a shout here, a growl there) and just POWER in form—speed, strength, will. He’d stride forward with the ball out of defense with the confidence that he owned the whole damn pitch. But he could fuck up sometimes, as I told a Liverpool supporting friend as they were about to sign him and he was having Lovren-inspired anxieties over the transfer; Virgil could get bored, and when he got bored, he maybe got lazy, or sometimes rash to liven things up. He got at least one absolutely asinine red card that I remember. Despite our understandably (I hate to admit it) low reputation in wider European competition, Celtic does build winners (when they move on to bigger clubs, sadly but predictably) because of the domestic DEMAND that they win every fucking game, and win them both comfortably and in attractive fashion (legit, I remember a match years ago where we won 4-2 and the entire team was raged upon by the fans, specifically a player that had SCORED TWO GOALS). In the right player, one with loads of talent like Virgil, it facilitates a sense of dominance that, for the most part, serves them well when they step up the footballing ladder. But he left at the right time, before it could (and this was a big worry in his case) turn into a kind of jaded narcissism that still probably lurks somewhere in his psyche and likely requies regular repression. In a sense, Virgil knows that he is a god-come-to-earth, but needs to keep that seed of doubt, an occasional small, non-match-losing fuck-up, to keep a spark of humility burning. My final Virgil assessment is one I find integral to an elite footballer, and one which will endear them to me forever: he’s a fucking goofball. For all his ability and physique (seriously, look at pictures of Virgil on vacation, I have never ever seen a more well-proportioned human form), he seems like a big geek off the football pitch. In his first or second season at Celtic, he came out for a trophy award ceremony wearing a damn go-pro camera strapped across his chest in a harness—and you could tell that all the scumfuck Scottish players were giving him good-natured grief for it, and you saw this sheepish side of Virgil, who was still going to get that footage with his new toy. His goal celebrations and congratulations of team mates were also kind of lovingly wack, if I remember correctly. [PAUL]

#2: MOHAMED SALAH (up from #4 last time) – Whew, this is gonna be a big one. It’s hard to say just how important Mo Salah is to Liverpool, but beyond that, he’s so important to Egypt, to an entire world who rarely get to see a dude of such grace and spirit, combining together to create the perfect Spirit Warrior. Too often, the big names are prima donnas, pretty boys, your Ronaldos and such. Or they are tempestuous, flitting from one club to the next and all the time holding the club almost hostage, like Neymar or Coutinho, always trying to climb the ladder to get themselves prime real estate. But once in a goddamn lifetime, maybe less, comes a dude like Mo Salah, who combines an otherworldly talent with an earthy presence, grounded in what he knows is real. This man, this Egyptian Pharaoh, came into our lives, plucked from Italy, and instantly started a fire in our hearts, and yes, I am slipping into “our” and “us” when discussing these things because I have been baptized by the Liverpool faithful. And Mohamed Salah is my prophet. He is a singular figure, both larger than life and down to earth at the same time, dancing proudly like a lion, yet still humble. This is a dude who only walks the earth once every thousand years or so. This is a man who has taken to Liverpool, has made them champions, and who has made himself a golden god, a hero worthy of all the worship we can give him, but he does not require that. He knows that he is not god, but a prophet, and he is speaking to anyone who has ears to hear, and he is still young, and the world feels full of impossible dreams because this man, this Egyptian Spirit Warrior, has the whole world in front of him, and he is the only man who knows what to do with it. He scores at will, the ball dancing like a marionette off of his feet, and it is this transcendent grace that carries him to glory both on the pitch and off, eyes fire sworn, heart too goddamn big to live without running like lava over anyone who gets in his way. His every movement is a poem, every goal scored a thunderous thing, a man who bewitches everyone, even the announcers who begin to break into hysterics, speaking in tongues, screaming his name like they just awoke primal in the Amazon or some shit. This is a man who makes other men lose themselves in their wildness. He is a man who makes other men scream and cry and shout in strange tongues because they know that this “civilization” they live in is just a trick, an illusion, and it is only when men like Mohamed Salah come around that they are reminded of what a person can be, of the primal Spirit Warrior within, calling them all to dance naked in the rain and fuck in the clouds. He is Mohamed Salah and he is my prophet. [NEIL]

#3: ANDREW ROBERTSON (up from #8 last time; also previously has ONE METAPHYSICAL STAR with Hull City on 01-Mar-2017) – Another boy what passed through the ranks of Celtic, although he was jettisoned at a young age after not cutting it at the developmental level. Andrew actually makes me doubt my ability as any kind of football assessor, and maybe proves that as much as we disparage professional scouting networks, a select few at least see things our dumbasses miss. I watched Robertson play regularly for Dundee United when Celtic regularly smacked them around in SPL matches, and even accounting for his age (like 19-20 at the time) there was nothing particularly eye-catching about him. Mediocre. His move to an EPL (at the time) club like Hull City was surprising to me, and I don’t think he particularly excelled there either (but again, not outright sucking again). Yet since moving to Liverpool, he seems to keep getting better and better. In fact, it’s pretty cool, as a Scotland supporter at international level, that the country has produced two of the best left backs in world football—Robertson and Kieran Tierney. I can’t recall if someone else wrote about this on here, but Left Back is the most difficult position for a club to fill. Sure, you can find any old left back, but by and large a genuine quality player for the position is hard as fuck to discover. I’m not sure if it’s a chicken and egg situation, but in my time watching football I think the amount of rage I’ve seen directed at any given left back is equal to the rest of the team combined (excluding the goalkeeper, maybe). It is not a forgiving position, anything less than near perfection is fodder for the supporters. And yet, something about Scotland and Celtic seems to be amendable to this position (and yung Greg Taylor, redeemed from the taint of Hun-hood, might be the next one coming through). Metaphysically, I’m of course drawn to Andrew because we share a surname and perhaps share some fractional amount of genetic connection, at least more so than the guy from Pennsylvania that lives across the street from me. I’m bummed that he didn’t ever make the first team at Celtic, so I could get a player jersey with “my” name on it. Recently, the Celtic store sucked me in with their last season’s jerseys on sale shit and I couldn’t resist buying this sweet pearlescent white tartan and green third strip with alternate old-school badge (you know, the one that they maybe wear in two unimportant matches that season) and it was equally cheap to get a name/number on that bama and I usually do because strips don’t seem right to me unless they got that on them (which isn’t to say I don’t have a couple of “blanks” in my closet), but this time they didn’t have any pre-made ones in the drop down menu for current players, so I was like “fuck it” and went ahead and did a customized “Robertson 19” (because 19 is my prime personal sacred number). And while it came in the mail, and looks sick as fuck, and it’s probably my favorite jersey in my closet right this minute—it don’t feel right. There’s some other Robertson kid in the Celtic youth reserves right now and I’m hoping he comes good just so I can get a legit strip that I feel 100% good about. [PAUL]

#4: SADIO MANE (down from #3 last time) – One of the highlights of summer football for me was watching the African Cup of Nations. I think it’s unparalleled in terms of non-World Cup competition for how stoked people get. Euro gets a lot of attention, but most all the top European players get to compete in their home continent. All the top stars of Africa are working elsewhere, so when AFCON happens, it’s a triumphant return to their native continent, to play in front of actual Africans. Usually the tournament happened in January/February, but the big European clubs were bitches about their expensive players leaving for international duty a whole month out the season, so I’m sure a few strategic bribes were passed along from UEFA to CAF, and they moved it to June/July. This all relates to Sadio Mane because one of the glorious things to watch at this most recent AFCON was his Senegalese Lions team, managed by Aliou Cisse, an actual black African from Senegal. African national team football remains sadly colonial in that there is this belief that the raw talent of the players must be taught and molded by European men, so that the majority of the squads in AFCON feature some grumbly ass German or French guy stalking the sidelines coaching. And in fact, the remnants of colonialism are obvious as it is very often a French or Dutch man coaching a former colony’s national team. So Cisse leading Senegal was wonderful to see, and Mane was the key up front, not sharing the stage with Mo Salah (whom crashed out shockingly early in AFCON with Egypt, who were hosting the event, but failed miserably, not even making it to the knockout). Mane led Senegal with 3 goals in the tournament, but the final against Algeria was a brutal affair, with Algeria scoring early (2nd fucking minute!) which allowed them to rest on their historically Algerian defensive style of pummeling people. Senegal could never get that flowing rhythm they depend on, and which Mane excels at, and they lost the final. But similarly, that’s an underrated aspect of what Klopp has built, and also why van Dijk is so important to the overall flow, is that rhythm of attack doesn’t just happen up front. There are ripples of movement that begin in the back, continued by middle, and once that front line strikes first, it just opens it up even more. Liverpool is so beautiful to watch because it’s not going to be Algeria and sit on a single goal and pummel you into a plodding loss from 1974 style football. They’ll just keep rippling the flow forward, which is why they’ve been so constantly barraging the goals on opponents. It’s beautiful. Klopp is playing Football Manager out there. [RAVEN]

#5: GEORGINIO WIJNALDUM (down from #2 last time) – Ol’ Georginio may not have been everything he was expected to be for Liverpool his entire time there since joining the Reds in July 2016 after his previous squad Newcastle United got relegated. But all of that means nothing because of glorious evening, last May, in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. Liverpool had dropped the first leg in Barcelona, 3-0, and it seemed an impossibly daunting task to overcome. There would be no second chance to make up for the previous season’s loss to Real Madrid in the final. Even as the second leg went to half in Anfield, they’d only managed a single Divock Origi goal, so were down 3-1 on aggregate, and how the fuck could you expect to hold off Messi and Suarez and company for the entire match? At halftime, Klopp subbed Wijnaldum in for Andy Robertson, and in his first 12 minutes on the pitch, Wijnaldum shocked Barcelona with a pair of goals, to draw the two clubs even on aggregate. Hope had been restored, and the home crowd was insane again. And once Divock Origi added his own brace in the 79th minute, destiny had been changed. The argument of spirit warriors vs. non-spirit warriors can’t be lost here either, as Messi again had a notable failure, against a team full of spirit warriors. And sometimes when that type of environment is created, strange sparks happen. Georginio Wijnaldum only got 5 goals all of last season, three over the course of the entire Premier League season, scattered across 35 appearances. But then he got those 2 goals in 12 minutes, against Barcelona, to help create an improbable result. Sometimes people aren’t full spirit warrior who are able to live their life on that level at all times. It’s exhausting. But people have the capability of absorbing that energy and having moments that remain the little sliver of their life when they were able to step into that role, albeit for a brief blast. No doubt when Wijnaldum is old and grey, were he to have the opportunity to reflect upon his life all at once with death standing at the door, that twelve minutes will still trigger the rushes of serotonin and dopamine and adrenalin that mark our greatest experiences. [RAVEN]

#6: ROBERTO FIRMINO (down from #1 last time; also the previous TWO METAPHYSICAL STARS for Liverpool) – Often overlooked in the glory of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino is every bit a world class magician, combining with Salah and Sadio Mane to create a three headed nuclear supernova of goal scoring and good times for the Liverpool faithful. Brazilians tend to run a little divaish, especially strikers and forwards. But where this will get you a Coutinho, there is also the rare Brazilian like Firmino who comes along and just goes to work and dazzles and makes babies with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane and then gets serenaded by a bunch of drunk Liverpool supporters who know him by one name: Bobby. Yes, he is our Bobby Firmino, and in that name you get a sense of his earthy connection with the people. It is nice, really, that Liverpool have gathered like minded dudes, guys like Salah and Bobby, who don’t have that jackass streak that you find so often with other top talents. Bobby Firmino is beloved by Liverpool, and it’s that sort of rare connection, that goes beyond the Euros and makes something that feels permanent, that feels like home. That is true of Mo Salah too, and Bobby Firmino is a dude who belongs to Liverpool, not just on a sheet of paper, but in the hearts and souls of everyone who sings his name. And that, bitches, is what prime Spirit Warrior energy is all about. [NEIL]

#7: TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD (up from #9 last time) – Born and raised in Liverpool, young Trent is a damn good boy made good story, but there is some wild shit in his background. Like, did you know his grandma used to fuck Alex (Turd) Ferguson? Yeah, apparently, they used to fuck back in the day before she moved to America and started fucking Americans. This is some weird energy to be throwing out here. I mean, of all people, Alex Ferguson? Grandma, pls. But young Trent here overcame all that, became a chess prodigy, and, oh yeah, got pretty good at the football for the local club. And now he’s our dear boy, a young star who gets better every day, and somewhere an old lady is laughing about Alex (Turd) Ferguson’s tiny dick and watching her beautiful grandson dominate Turd’s old squad. It’s a fucked up world, especially with grandmas out fucking around, but in the end it usually turns out okay because a young dude like this comes along and starts playing chess and laughs at grandma’s old tales of dickery doo, and he grows up to be the right back for Liverpool F.C. [NEIL]

#8: ALISSON (up from #22 last time) – Much as I have mad-love for Mo Salah, Alisson is the reason Liverpool won the Champions League last season. He came in at the start of the season and righted a position that was absolutely fucked for Liverpool—like they had a straight up goalkeeping curse. I hate the sweeper-keeper concept, but I abide it in Alisson because despite his abilities with the ball at his feet, he seems to be an instinctual shot-stopper first and foremost—the distribution just seems to be a hella sweet bonus. Plus, it fucks up other clubs psychologically because they’ll still think it’s possible to get a total goalkeeping package like our dude here, and so they keep trying keeper after keeper, but never finding the rare balance that Alisson represents. I don’t know who is in charge of scouting for Liverpool, or if it’s some kind of Divine intervention, but they keep signing these dudes that physically and technically are as close to perfection as you could ever hope to get in any given position player. And none of them seem to have glaringly auspicious pedigrees. Alisson, along with Robertson, Virgil, and Salah came from, if not exactly nowhere, at least from unfancied clubs. Roma is fine (plus the distinction of being the one club in hyper-racist-ass, fascist-ass Italian football that I kinda abide). But not one of the top rich glamour clubs that wheel-and-deal players amongst themselves in a bid to assemble a GDP of a South American country team that will dominate for a season or two (not un-reminiscent of disgusting-ass US sportsball practices, now that I think about it). [PAUL]

#9: JORDAN HENDERSON (down from #6 last time) – Every team still needs that white guy, which in English football terms just means “English” but that’s also code speak for “uhh you know a normal English person not like an immigrant” Brexit talk. Let’s be real, a lot of supporters of all clubs are fucking racialists, so having that “English” guy as stalwart whose been with the club forever is always gonna be needed. And Henderson’s held that role well, appearing over 300 times for club, and wearing the captain’s armband. But he’s also been passed over of late by Klopp, his spot being given to other people perhaps more capable. Henderson also has taken some heat for (along with head asshole of the world Harry Kane) taking a pretty self-serving deal for competing for the national team. Much like Brexit, and the changing demographics of a nation, the real test will be how well he adjusts to this new role. Can he be part of a lesser role? Or will he throw a fit come January and get transferred to be the big new face at like Everton? I don’t know. I actually don’t care. Dudes named Jordan kinda freak me out tbh. [RAVEN]

#10: FABINHO – Fabinho has been very strong for the Reds as a defensive-minded midfielder, helping defeat opposing thrusts and triggering the counter. A basic football metaphysics foundational philosophy is a strong but attack-minded defensive midfielder is able to cover tons of the pitch, help grab possession, and when that possession is regained at his feet, launch beautiful lofting counter-thrusts immediately, thus not only stopping the opposition’s hopes but also killing their spirit. Fabinho’s been a monster in that role thus far this season, just furthering the squad’s overall depth of spirit warrior types at so many key positions. [RAVEN]

#11: JOEL MATIP (up from #13 last time) – I remember having a debate with a Liverpool-supporting friend [I’ve mentioned you this week twice Jude, damn] about how it seemed to me both Dejan Lovren and Matip were equally atrocious in central defense, and that Matip was maybe somehow even slightly worse, yet it was Lovren they seemed to fixate on as the primary problem. I am admittedly not watching as many Liverpool matches as a die-hard supporter, so they obviously were seeing some seeming intangible that I was missing, because Matip and Virgil seem to be dominating just fine. Although Virgil could perhaps make any given defender from USMNT look solid and capable as his partner, I don’t know. Maybe Lovren sucks so bad (at this level) that he can bring a solid player down. Perhaps I am prejudiced in my observations because I have this not-readily-explicable contempt for Schalke (from whence Matip came). Regardless, in keeping with our de-colonialist thread, props to Matip for disavowing allegiance to the Germany of his birth in favor of coming out for Cameroon. [PAUL]

#12: JAMES MILNER (down from #5 last time) – I remember when James Milner came over from Manchester City, and I remember it well because he was very vocal about being a starter for Liverpool, but he was caught in the ol’ talent shuffle and could have been a cancer, but James Milner said fuck it, became a sort of jack of all trades for Liverpool, and we wouldn’t be sitting here celebrating our Champions League good times if it wasn’t for his efforts. This is a dude who could have said fuck all y’all and demanded a transfer to some podunk club, but he didn’t, he stayed and he did everything from man the last line of defense quite literally to hold down the fort in the midfield for Liverpool. James Milner is a solid dude who probably deserves more than he gets, but he’ll always be overlooked for flashier dudes and better stories, but fuck all that, he’s a Red and he’ll go down as one of us. [NEIL]

#13: JOE GOMEZ (up from #14 last time) – I just finished re-watching Breaking Bad so I just wanna call Joe Gomez “Gomie” a bunch. So I will. Gomie began last season looking like him featuring with van Dijk had firmed up that suspect defensive line, but then Ben Mee mangled Gomie in December, and that fractured leg has continued to be an issue, though he has allegedly regained full fitness. For some reason, Joel Matip has decided to be better thus far this season, which has allowed Klopp to leave Gomie idling on the sideline a little longer, but let’s be honest – anybody’s gonna look more solid at center back next to Virgil. (I should start calling Virgil van Dijk just Virgil, like his shirt, to honor his desires to not honor his father.) I refuse to believe a Virgil/Gomie combo is not gonna obliterate people, but hey man, if Gomie’s getting over his broked leg still, or even if he’s not and Matip is holding his shit together currently, it’s gonna be a long haul through next May’s end of the Premier League, and June Champions League final, so let ol’ Matip haul the wagon for now, and Gomie can sit there and get stronger. But barring injury, there’s no fucking way it’s not Virgil/Gomie in the middle in front of Alisson come the end of the season. And if it’s not that line-up, that’s gonna be a chink in the armor. [RAVEN]

#14: DEJAN LOVREN (down from #7 last time) – Man, I wish this whole thing could just be a love letter from me to Liverpool, but sometimes, it doesn’t always go down so good, and such is the case with poor Dejan Lovren, who more than anyone symbolizes the defensive breakdowns that haunted Liverpool before Virgil showed up and fixed that shit. But there was always a question of whether Lovren was to blame or if it was just him being hung out to dry in shitty defensive formations. Most of the time, the dude just looked shell shocked, like he couldn’t handle the shit going on around him, which is weird given his Croatian roots. I mean, this is a dude who grew up in literal warlike conditions. But maybe that broke him in a way, I don’t know. His family fled Croatia when he was only 3 and spent seven years living in Germany, growing up in those prime years of 3-10 in another land, learning to speak a new language, which is brutal for a developing kid. I mean, you get those kids who go feral and live with wolves and they lose their capacity for speech because those years are so critical in linguistic development. Funny thing, though, it turns out Dejan’s parents didn’t have the right papers and they were kicked out of Germany and sent back to Croatia, where Dejan Lovren, now ten years old, had to try to learn his native language all over again. You take that sort of whiplash development and you can start to understand why he gets that terrified look in his eyes, that lost look like a soldier whose seen one too many of his boys die right beside him. I feel for Dejan Lovren. To be something, Croatian in his case, but to not really be that in your heart because you spent those critical years developing in Germany, is a fucked thing to have to deal with. But it does go a long way in explaining why Dejan Lovren is Dejan Lovren. [NEIL]

#15: NABY KEITA (up from #25 last time) – Keita, for non-denominational football metaphysicians, filled an important role in the creation of Liverpool as failsafe club to root for. He took the #8 from departed fuckwad Steven Gerrard and has cleansed it of the foul stank. The #8 it should be noted is the infinity symbol sideways, and the #8 on the field, ideally, should display that infinite philosophy, able to work box-to-box, go from defensive posture once possession is regained and trigger attack. The striking ability of the 10 cannot flourish with devastating crushage without a solid flowing 8. Keita is that 8, where Gerrard wasn’t, and I don’t know if Jurgen Klopp understands these things, or if they’re things beyond even understanding and you sort of just magically stumble into having them work this way, at universal level. Success is as much blind luck as it is skill, and blind luck involves a lot of unexplainable magic. Keita was injured at the end of last season, he has yet to regain full fitness, but is one of a number of guys just lurking in the shadows, waiting to get back onto the pitch. And this for a club that has not left a point on the table thus far in the Premier League season. [RAVEN]

#16: XHERDAN SHAQIRI (previously ranked #4 for Stoke City on 01-May-2018) – Wrote about Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri’s pro-Kosovar exploits in the World Cup for the Swiss team last time out, but in that combo, Shaqiri’s presence was unmistakable. He controlled the flow of the Swiss national team, and despite being a short stocky pitbull of a human being, he’s explosive on the dribble, and able to make magic happen. Klopp just now seems to be inserting Shaqiri more prominently into the lineup, and fuck man it almost seems unfair that a guy this amazing is an extra piece of support that front three. He’d be a scoring winger at most any other club in the Premier League (as he was at Stoke before coming to Anfield). Culturally, I’m always intrigued still by the Yugoslavian diaspora of players, and Shaqiri is the perfect example of why. Culturally, you have a kid who grew up in Switzerland, but his pops didn’t speak Swiss German so worked construction. His moms cleaned offices, which he and his siblings helped her with. Straight working class background (which is economic speak for broke fuckers), and he idolized Ronaldo. Our concepts of dominant/less dominant continents in terms of economics aren’t whole, because there’s swaths of Europe that are not European according to the stereotypes in our head. This dude is a global southerner, and he plays like it, and I’ll be honest, after the last World Cup, he became a favorite of mine. Liverpool, with Salah, Mane, and Shaqiri, is laden with Muslim scoring threats. Interestingly enough, Liverpool was the site of England’s first mosque, after Abdullah Quilliam’s conversion in the late 1800s. In fact, Quilliam (from a wealthy family) purchased three terrace buildings (with assistance from the Crown Prince of Afghanistan at the time), and opened the Liverpool Muslim Institute in 1889, three years before Liverpool Football Club came into existence. So the layers and sediments and spirit warrior attraction and accumulation here are perhaps deeper than the normal consumptive behaviors of modern football. Manchester City or United or Chelsea accumulate players, like a store room of talent. Somehow, in unexplainable ways, something different has happened in Liverpool, inshallah. [RAVEN]

#17: DIVOCK ORIGI (down from #14 last time) – No Liverpool fan will ever forget Divock Origi showing up out of nowhere to wreck Barcelona in that wild night that burned all of these dudes into our hearts and souls and made us all one big soppy family. And then, of course, he was the dude who put the final nail in Tottenham’s coffin as Liverpool took home the Champions League crown. It’s especially cool because for a while, it seemed like Origi was gonna wash out. He was always out on loan and it seemed inevitable that he would want to find a new start somewhere on the continent. But then there he was, pulled back into the fold at the last minute because we always knew we needed someone like him who could step up and deliver, and step up and deliver he did. And now, he’s a folk hero in Liverpool, caught up in the surge of love that has made Mo Salah and Bobby Firmino kings. I mean, this all looks very different, maybe even a little desperate if Divock Origi didn’t come through against Barcelona. But he did, and he did so emphatically and now all our days and nights are golden. That’s the big energy that can carry a team like a tidal wave to even greater glories. And we’re all here for it thanks to our man Divock Origi. [NEIL]

#18: LORIS KARIUS (down from #11 last time) – A agonizingly tough call as to whether Karius or Mignolet is the pinnacle of the steaming, festering shit-garbage-mountain that was Liverpool goalkeeping before Alisson’s arrival. To be honest, as much as I adore his German sex-phreak vibes, Klopp is probably responsible for much of the goalkeeping fuckery of those seasons—keeping with Karius through that Champions League run-in Karius Klown fest could maybe, kinda, be termed “unforgivable.” When a keeper goes over the edge psychologically, fucks-up multiple times in a given match, with another even more intense upcoming, you have to pull that shit—even if your second choice keeper picked up an injury in training, you best be putting in the U21 guy, Champions League final or not. You’ve got a better chance of yung dude pulling off the game of his life at a tender age, before stepping back into middling competence for the rest of his career (what up David Marshall), than you do of your mentally compromised first choice keeper not FUCKING UP TWICE AS HARD AS HE DID IN THE PREVIOUS MATCH. Anyway, it’s fixed now. Klopp is solid and Liverpool are a well-constructed powerhouse. But it was tight here, not getting this shit right almost could’ve made it not happen. Such are the vagaries on which world football turn. [PAUL]

#19: ALEX OXLADE-CHAMERLAIN (down from #16 last time) – Oxlade-Chamberlain as a youth was that rare triple sport English threat, being a quality player in the scrum of rugby, keeping the wickets of cricket, and as a footballer. He had prominent offers as a youth in all three, but settled on football. Growing up an Arsenal fan, perhaps his time with the Gunners was too intimidating, because he never seemed to be as great as they wanted him to be. Moving to Liverpool three seasons back, he mangled his knee in the Champions League semifinal against AS Roma. That left him expected to miss most of last season, though he did get on as a substitute for a match against Hudderfield Town in April. More fully fit, he’s been available this season so far, and it’s interesting to note how seamlessly Klopp seems to juggle injuries. Is it possible to wonder, to dream if Klopp can Sir Alex Ferguson this motherfucker? [RAVEN]

#20: DANIEL STURRIDGE (up from #23 last time) – There was a moment, half a decade back, when Daniel Sturridge ran with Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez and Phillipe Coutinho, with Brendan Rodgers managing the club, that we all thought the glories that we feel today were going to come true then. Of course, it turned out that we were wrong, and the entire thing had to be rebuilt. Take away Sturridge and Sterling, Suarez and Coutinho, swap in Bobby Firmino, Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, Divock Origi and maybe a Fabinho or Naby Keita. Turn out Brendan Rodgers and bring in Jurgen Klopp and holy shit, this was all gonna work out okay, we just needed the right dudes. It’s kinda crazy that Liverpool rebuilt so quickly without really changing philosophy. I mean, Klopp basically just took what Rodgers had done and ran with it. But the dudes were not quite right, and unfortunately for Daniel Sturridge, he got hurt and then when he came back, it was a whole new world. Raheem Sterling and Phillipe Coutinho weren’t waiting for him. They were gone. Instead, it was Bobby Firmino and Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, and he just never got back to where he was before. Still, he gave us some good times, usually off the bench, in the following years, and no one ever had a bad thing to say about Daniel Sturridge, who was our hope before hope turned into promise and glory. Liverpool sold him off to some Turkish club, which means that he is probably gonna crush a lot of golden skinned ass and score a lot of goals as a big stud in a smaller league. Don’t get me wrong, some of those Turkish matches can get rowdy as fuck, but all in all it’s on a little bit lower level than what Sturridge is used to running with. I hope he gets fat and happy down there. I hope he makes a bunch of Muslim babies. I have nothing but love for Daniel Sturridge. [NEIL]

#21: ADRIAN (previously ranked #16 for West Ham United on 01-Mar-2019) – Not exactly sure why this dude made the list. Seems like a solid goalkeeper getting a bump up to the big time relatively late (but still at the peak) of his career. On the one hand, I’m down with a dude that once laid the hammer on James Vardy. I’d love to see more shitty-ass English-as-fuck center forwards taking cleats to the face from goalkeepers. On the other hand, he looks like a store-brand version of de Gea and that’s boring. Wishing Klopp would just say “fuck it” since he’s got a sold back four and put that yung Gaelic-Irish keeper in—I really can’t imagine he’d be any less competent than this guy and the intangibles of looking forward like that would be pretty sweet. Plus, a commitment to Irish/Gaelic/Celtic-ness would kinda win the war for the soul of Liverpool—a club that sits finely balanced between the holy righteousness of Celtic-dom and the abject heinousness of Rangers Hun-fuckery. Kenny Dalglish, worthy king of two clubs; Graeme Souness, cop-mustached NASCAR-driver-looking king wanker; Virgil/Robertson; Stevie G’s English Hardman couldn’t manage a TCBY dumb ass; “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in unison [ours is better Jude, ours is better]; the shitty longstanding English pub hereabouts that is owned by Liverpool-mad expats, but who once did an ad campaign mocking Irish Catholics during the Troubles and who festoon their establishment with more Butcher’s Aprons than a Dr. Who/Downtown Abby/Harry Potter/The Beatles convention. Amongst the EPL shittery, Liverpool is the closest I have to a team—but the balance is fraught, ever so fraught. [PAUL]

#22: ADAM LALLANA (down from #21 last time) – Adam Lallana is what you might call a luxury. He is good enough to be a top of the line player for just about any club, and the star dude for any number of lesser clubs. But he has found a home as a reserve at Liverpool and there’s nothing wrong with that. He is a solid enough dude who does a decent enough job when he’s called upon and sometimes it’s not any more complicated than that. He’s also a fashion model for some French outfit, which is not really important or anything, but it’s nice to know that our dudes probably fuck on the regular. [NEIL]

#23: ALBERTO MORENO (down from #18 last time) – No one dude represents the failed empire of Brendan Rodgers more than Alberto Moreno to me. It’s not just Rodgers, it’s the early days of Klopp too, when the Liverpool defense was little more than a couple of cans strung together to trip up poor Alberto here who was tasked with holding down the left side of the defense. The problem was, of course, that young Alberto liked to live it up a little too much and get involved in the offense only to see himself get burned on the other end time and time again. It’s a memory that is permanently seared into my brain, the sight of him failing to get back again and again and again while the world burns, this little Spanish prick who never found his footing here. But Alberto is back in Spain now, with Villareal, that Castellon town in the east of Spain. It is a city of oranges and ceramic tiles, speaking perhaps to its forgotten days as part of a larger Moorish empire, and it is here that Alberto Moreno has finally found a home, and I wish him the best, but I also wish that he had never shown up here on our doorstep. [NEIL]

#24: EMRE CAN (down from #12 last time) – After Real Madrid submitted Liverpool in the 2018 CL final, Emre Can, a budding young full of shit, decided he wanted to go elsewhere, where he could win hardware like that. Liverpool let his contract expire, which suggests – when you are a highly-touted guy in your early 20s – that there were issues there that maybe weren’t made entirely public. Can bolted to Juventus, joining Cristiano Ronaldo as part of an incoming class of players that were going to help the Italian club become continental champions again. Fast forward to two weeks ago, when clubs announced their Champions League group stage squads, and Juventus left Can off of theirs. So now Emre Can is full of himself again, complaining about being held back, and wishes they had let him go to Paris Saint-Germain, who apparently want him. This is a case of an asshole player working his way through the most asshole clubs he can. I’m not sure where he can land after Paris Saint-Germain, as there’s not really anything more overrated and ugh-worthy than that. I guess he’ll come back to England for Manchester United. [RAVEN]

#25: SIMON MIGNOLET (down from #15 last time) – Many experts, both in the media and around barstools, have suggested the real difference between Liverpool coming up short in the Champions League final two seasons back and winning last season – aside from Mo Salah getting piledrived into injury – was Simon Mignolet being replace by Alisson. Mignolet wasn’t necessarily a bad GK, but the defensive line they had at that time combined with Mignolet’s ability to have strange lapses all combined into his ass got replaced. Last season, he only played in domestic cup appearances for the Reds, and that justified him sliding back home to his native Belgium to play for Club Brugge. [RAVEN]