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, November 1

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: NEWCASTLE UNITED FC

{All dislike of the Magpies aside, I will never not love this dude just standing there then sucker punching a police horse. This is next level hooliganism.} 

[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 discussing the footballing metaphysics of Newcastle United, I should perhaps disclose my own personal animosity to the club, mostly because they occupied the same metaphysical space as my beloved Swansea City bois there for a number of seasons, where both were in that general lower half of the Premier League relegation scrum zone, so they felt too much of the same, yet the polar opposite in a way. This makes geographical sense, as Swansea City was a Welsh outlier to traditional English football power zones, so far west it ain’t even English actually. Likewise, Newcastle is way the fuck north, about the same distance away from the Old Firm Scottish rivalry of Celtic and Rangers as it is to Manchester City and United, and even further away from the big city of London. So the same sort of player ended up in both places, and there’s an unsurprising number of Swansea veterans on this Newcastle squad. We all know the whole realm of middling performers who ride the waves between low-level top-tier and top-level second-tier – those who may drop 15 goals a season for two years straight in the Championship, once on loan from a big club, once owned by an actual championship club, but then when it’s full-blown Premier League time, they’re chipping 5 if you’re lucky. You hope they’re young and develop into full-blown big-time players, but more often than not they’re not young any more, have already exhausted their big club possibilities, might not be an international player so no real large market on the rest of the globe for them, so they just sort of… dawdle around for a surprising number of seasons. And this is the essence of Newcastle United, to be honest.

And yet, Newcastle (along with Aston Villa) is the Co-King of Middlingness, with both them and Villa having been in the Premier League for all but three seasons. For Newcastle, the first season of Premier League spectacle, they were in the second-tier, but got promoted, and have only suffered two other single-season relegations (in 2009-10, and then three seasons back as well). And yet, here they are, flirting with the relegation zone again, just barely above fellow scrum regular Southampton, and the Swans are floating around potential Championship playoff spot. Might I be previewing all the secondhand crap talent that jumps from Newcastle to Swansea this summer? God, I hope not. But nonetheless, me and Paul and Neil have ran through the bigger clubs, so now have to work our way through the dregs again. These chunks of metaphysical analysis won’t be as highlight reel, and much like an actual football club, I’m gonna have to work to motivate Paul and Neil to remain as hyped up for these Carabao Cup quality clubs as they are for the ones that feature prominently in continental competitions. I may not be the right manager for this job, but fuck, I was manager enough to recruit two other suckers to help assist with this shit. So we at least share the misery of tiptoeing through the shitfields that is Newcastle United… [RAVEN]

#1: JAMAAL LASCELLES (up from #2 last time Newcastle United was metaphysically ranked on 15-Nov-2018; also his FIRST METAPHYSICAL STAR) – The Newcastle captain came to them via Nottingham Forrest which is some real live Robin Hood shit. He has performed adequately, but who knows what he could get up to if a bigger club took a chance on him? He’s only 25, and while Newcastle loves having him around, there is only so much time a dude has before things get real, and no one wants to waste their life toiling for the Newcastles of the world, right? I don’t have anything bad to say about Jamaal Lascelles, other than he should have stuck around Nottingham Forrest and turned to brigand behaviors and petty theft, robbing from the rich and if not giving back to the poor then at least having enough to buy drugs and then doing those drugs to forget that nothing in this world is real and the only thing you owe it is to say fuck it and play with your brain. It might not be a glamorous life, but neither is wasting away with Newcastle. I like Jamaal Lascelles, but I just wish he would abandon the rich man dreams and just learn how to make a bong out of an apple because there is a sad shortage of good tradesmen these days. [NEIL]

#2: MARTIN DUBRAVKA (up from #9 last time) – Ol’ Martin here is Newcastle’s keeper, which is an odd place for a young Slovak to wind up as he chases his football dreams. Dubravka cut his teeth in the local Slovakian leagues before getting involved in the Danish wars, which was apparently enough to get him to travel across the North Sea to merry Old England, where he has served as Newcastle’s keeper for the last couple of years. Sadly, our boy Martin has been dubbed “the reluctant keeper” due to a desire to play a midfield role instead of keeper, and has even been pushed by some of Newcastle’s trainers to chase that dream. Now, I’m no expert or anything, but when your own team’s trainers are encouraging you to find a better position to play you might have to start worrying about whether they want you around. Still, he seems to be a talented enough keeper, but a boy’s dreams will always be wild and it would be sad to crush them just yet. Here’s to Martin Dubravka, who just wants to play with the boys. [NEIL]

#3: MATT RITCHIE (down from #1 last time; thus also has TWO METAPHYSICAL STARS from previous two times Newcastle United was metaphysically ranked) – More English-Scottish, or Scottish-English dross that bounces around the English Championship, League One, and then, on occasion, the (very) lower reaches of the Premiership. Scotland took a chance on him (I guess), but my only memorable association before writing this piece is groaning whenever I saw him on the Scotland team sheet in a match. I see that after a handful of appearances, he gave up International football for no clear reason (“no clear reason” being that Football Metaphysics brain-trust favorite James Forrest owns that right-mid position in perpetuity). I don’t know—I’m going to struggle with this here list, because I give less the ¼ of a fuck about Newcastle United. I have lukewarm contempt for them because of associations with Newcastle Brown Ale, because 1) I contend it was the first American “hipster” beer; and 2) I’m allergic to it—drink one and I’m puking everywhere and feel like death. I’ve tried the experiment multiple times. I guess to add to my customary Anglophobia, I think Newcastle sucks because they’re all wack NORTHERN English and I can’t understand their accent in the least (and I can watch Scottish movies without subtitles). It seems like England—the greater spread of the London Southeast, wants nothing to do with them and essentially sees them as some Scots-English cultural abomination. Yet I get the impression NE England-Newcastle-ites double down like a motherfucker on their Englishness, which is a white-assed type of behavior that knows no continental boundaries. Some bois I know from the English west coast are all down with their Northwest/Merseyside/Lancashire halfway to Welsh and/or Irishness selves to contrast that Londonium bullshit, and they consistently heckle Greater Yorkshire’s very existence, so I have to go with their perspective. So maybe Matt Ritchie is perfect for Newcastle: mediocre in talent, trapped between identities, and overpriced on the basis of location (supposedly worth 10 million pounds?) [PAUL]

#4: AYOZE PEREZ (same as last time) – Ayoze Perez was really the heart of Newcastle's success last season, where they finished 13th in the Premier League, far above the melee of relegation at the end (though that's a slim margin, always). He got 13 goals over all competitions last season, including a big hat trick towards the end of the season against Southampton. That got the attention of others, so he moved on up to Leicester City, where he's already contributed 3 goals for them in their pretty shocking run. For the record, all three of those goals were in that 9-0 crushing of Southampton, where Perez scored the 3rd, 4th, and 6th goal of the match. That means he's had two hat tricks against the Saints, so lolol he must really feel it when he's against them. His next time against Southampton will be January 11, 2020, at home in Leicester (although Perez has made statements about how he prefers to disappear off to London because Leicester is boring), so if you're anticipating a match to bet on somebody knocking in some goals, there's one for your list. Also if you have such a list, you probably have a problem to be honest. [RAVEN]

#5: DEANDRE YEDLIN (down from #3 last time) – It is no secret that here at Football Metaphysics we consider ourselves un-American. This often translates into a general dislike of the U.S. soccer structure, both at professional level and especially at national level, because it's a bougie ass pyramid built off the same levels of privilege every fucking other thing in America is built off. So for the most part, we probably shit on American players. But I'm gonna be honest here, I see DeAndre Yedlin as the antithesis of a Christian Pulisic. Yedlin was born and bred in the American system, yes, up in the Pacific Northwest, which seems to have a stronger grasp of how this shit works, even within how screwed the American system is. He's got Latvian Jewish heritage, through a young mom, and never knew his dad, but got raised by his mom's dad (aka grandpa) and a step-grandmother. First off, my grandma got remarried twice after my grandpa fucked things up, so the usage of a "step-grandma" or "step-grandpa" is automatic points for realness. Yedlin did the standard U.S. college thing, but that was after already having been part of the Seattle Sounder youth academy, so he only played on season in college before turning pro with Seattle, because if you're even halfway decent at soccer, what the fuck are you doing playing in college? He ended up getting signed by the Spurs to make the big jump across the pond, but only appeared a single time for them, getting loaned out. That's okay, because he's an American kid, and really American kids shouldn't have earned the level of the Big Six unless a complete freak like Clint Dempsey, or I guess maybe Pulisic (we'll see). Like metaphysical Reaganomics, he trickled down to a more rightful fit at Newcastle United, where he has settled into a regular rotational player at right-back. This season he's played a little more sparingly, but again, that's okay. American soccer has this inflated sense of self where Pulisic, upon landing at Chelsea, SHOULD HAVE STARTED IMMEDIATELY to the average U.S. soccer mark. But the notion that all these other players can hone their craft in the famous guy retirement league of MLS is out of touch. There needs to be a lot more dudes fucking around in the relegational/second tier promotional muck of places like Newcastle United or Huddersfield Town or Queens Park, and shit like that. This idea that we as American should automatically be the greatest at anything we want to be great is some mythological bullshit planted into our heads far too much. So because of that I truly appreciate DeAndre Yedlin, because he's in the prime of his career, and rather than being heralded as some sort of American great, featuring for an MLS club that nobody cares for outside of a small fringe fanbase in America, he's slogging through the mud of being a rotational player at Newcastle United. And for my thinking, that's EXACTLY the type of player the USMNT should be full of - gritty, uncoddled, miscreants who have had it beaten into their head you ain't getting shit if you don't bust your ass. [RAVEN]

#6: PAUL DUMMETT (up from #7 last time) – Another English dude tapping up that Celtic-fringe grandparent to play-pretend at International football before not really cutting it and then calling it quits. [Really, the only impact this dude made on International football was getting the entire nation of Uruguay looking to cut his ass for maybe/possibly/no one really knows precisely injuring Luis Suarez. Shit, I’d like to think some Montevideo ultras mused over a plan to kidnap Dummett, roast him in a brick oven, then leave him fresh, steaming, and garnished outside the Uruguay training center.] I don’t really know what’s up with this convention, now that I start thinking about it. It’s not like Wales or Scotland or Ireland (or Jamaica) are so geographically and culturally separated from England and English football that they’re incapable of nurturing “homegrown” players. I know that their local development set-ups are not on that precious English standard. But you got your Gareth Bales and your James Forrests, your Roy/Robbie Keanes. I guess I’d feel different if I believed that most of these English born-and-raised dudes really gave a shit about their parent’s/grandparent’s home country instead of just turning out for said countries because they know they can’t cut it for the English squad. But surprise—that usually just means they ain’t cutting it for the subaltern either. For sure the “quality” or “standard” of English football is better than the SPL, but not to the extreme that these dudes are just gonna walk in a take-over from players that don’t really have that choice in which country they rep. I don’t know, I had to watch Oliver Burke’s first touch and finishing suck abysmally in the SPL every bit as much as it did in the English and German leagues. And I guess I have to give credit where it’s due—English-born Hun-ass Oli Burn-Dogg is all about repping Scotland, so there are exceptions. Maybe Newcastle is, as I said above, this place where hybrid dudes with unsure identities and unsure talent pitch up to ply their trade in that listless zone of upper Championship/lower Premiership. Limbo City, F.C. The black and white stripes alternating forever. The Magpies mimicking other species in the emptiness of their own associations. [PAUL]

#7: ISAAC HAYDEN (up from #15 last time) – A goal-scoring defensive midfielder, which is one of my favorite roles in the football metaphysics. Preferably, you need some sort of fucked up bloodlines to excel in that role, either a colonized African lineage or some fucked up corner of the British Isles that got bludgeoned into submission by the English. Hayden's just an English guy, though hardcore Brexiters would point out he's not, uh, true English, because he's not lacking in melanin. [RAVEN]

#8: FABIAN SCHAR – When we were doling out Newcastle players to write about like glops of gruel into a plastic bowl, I thunk to myself as Schar was relegated to my list, "How the fuck do I remember this guy?" And then I realized he's yet another dude from the Swiss national team from the World Cup 2018. That team really made a weird impression on my brain for some reason. Like I remember so much about that team's run in that World Cup, more than I remember great American runs from the past (if any existed). Well, Schar was on that team. And he's only 27, and climbing up these Newcastle charts. He also is a talker, not afraid to weigh in on how Arsenal should treat his Swiss homie Granit Xhaka better, or claiming that Newcastle are actually a better squad than last year's under Rafa Benitez, which of course just has supporters being like THEN WHY ARE YOU ALMOST IN THE RELEGATION ZONE YOU FUCKERS? Schar has suffered an injury, which means he'll get to answer more questions in controversial fashion for a brief window. [RAVEN]

#9: MOHAMED DIAME (down from #6 last time) – Our star crossed lover here was born in France but did the right thing by deciding to rep Senegal internationally instead of hanging with his colonial oppressors. He has bounced all around Europe, and seemed to find a role as an adequate midfielder with middling clubs like Newcastle here, including stops at Wigan, West Ham and Hull City. But the English life must not have agreed with Mohamed Diane, the Senegalian Spirit Warrior, because he is now playing for Al-Ahli, a Qataran outfit, which is some real blood money he’s getting there to be a big star for them. I don’t even want to know how many young virgins had to take their turn on the yachting scene to pay for Mohamed Diame. At the very least, he can treat Qatar as his own personal harem now, I imagine. Fuck the white men over in England, get your dollar bills from these oil men and fuck their women. An Arabian beauty is worth being a sinner before the eye of Allah, and Mohamed Diame is just a dude who chose his Senegalese blood over the false lies of his French oppressors and I am happy that he is now living the good life, all praise be to Allah. [NEIL]

#10: CHRISTIAN ATSU (same as last time) – A Ghanian dude who’s struggled to find a home in European/English football—with stints in Portugal, Holland, Spain, and England. He looks to have found a home of sorts in Newcastle. Given his exceptional performances for Ghana in International competitions, it’s hard not to think he’d have more solid stats in a better club team that wasn’t having to play conservatively in staving off Liverpools and Man Citys week in and week out. I mean, nine points from ten matches to this point? Fuck. But I do see that he’s recognized as their best player, so maybe Newcastle get relegated and he gets a move into the upper half of the EPL table. Or I don’t know, hop on over to Spain or France to get some love the likes of which he probably ain’t getting in dreary-ass Newcastle. [PAUL]

#11: SALOMON RONDON (previously ranked #3 for West Brom Albion on 15-May-2018) – The last time I gave a shit about NBA basketball was the Boston Celtics taking the 2008 Finals. My wife has Boston ancestral associations and she is down with basketball to the exclusion of all other spectator sports—and it took me years of working out the grief of knowing she’s absolutely bored out of her mind over the world’s football. She’s gamely come with me to supporters club matches (even wearing a strip I bought her) and suffered through the World Cup on the television constantly. But she could care less aside from her deep and abiding love for me. So we watched the Celtics of the New England variety that I halfway had an affinity for because green-white-Celtic mark and I grew up in the casual racist milieu of the 1980s where you put a Larry Bird K-Mart framed print on your wall in a Southwest Virginia trailer because he’s the greatest active basketball player there is. But all that identitarian trash aside, that was a tight as fuck team that I still recall fondly—Pierce, Garnett, Allen, and Rajon Rondo wrecking fools at point guard. [There was some wack Appalachian-associations moving through that team as well, as I try to justify even temporarily supporting anything out of Boston]. So every time I see a BBC Football scores reference to Salomon here, I can’t help but think of Rajon Rondo, who probably would’ve made a sikk as hell no. 10 attacking playmaker in a better life than the hellscape of American professional sports. But this here Rondon is a Venezuelan dude who’s collected them stickers on his suitcase across Europe, pulling one season with Newcastle where as a bruiser center forward he racked up a decent scoring record for an EPL dreg club. In fact, he’s been a pretty consistent-ass net-burster throughout most of his career, in top European leagues. He’s now fucked off to China to make shit-tons of money in that emergent market—and man, does it piss me off in Football Manager when some solid old-ass player I want is “unhappy” at his Chinese team, but is pulling in like 90,000 pounds a week. [PAUL]

#12: JONJO SHELVEY (down from #5 last time) – There’s nobody I dislike more in the PL than Jonjo Shelvey. Towards the end of his Swansea time, he was sandbagging it so hard, it was unbelievable. When he finally left, everybody hated him, acting like he was fuckin’ Mesut Ozil out there, not just shitty ass Jonjo Shelvey. It doesn’t help matters at all that for whatever godawful reason he has decided to embrace the human embodiment of a mushroom dick in appearance. These are always the worst, most reprehensible human beings possible, hell bent on upholding patriarchal bullshit to an extreme extent. Because of this, they tend to be the types of dudes who say “pussy” for weak, which I’ve come to replace in my personal lexicon with “danawhite” as a sign of masculine weakness, an homage to the figurehead fuckface of UFC, who uses that word a lot openly, at press conferences and shit. I’m not sure if “danawhite” translates globally to be used in this place, so I suggest to all my friends in the British Isles, call a weak man unable to handle the demands of 21st living a “jonjo” instead. What kind of fucking name is Jonjo anyways? When Jonjo got sent off to Newcastle, then relegated, it was a double piece of greatness, because Newcastle got relegated, but also it was most likely Jonjo’s fault, as a metaphysical influence on them. To be honest, I was surprised they got promoted back up after one season without dumping him. He hasn’t really played this season, but with Sean Longstaff suspended following a red card last time out, manager Steve Bruce is gonna have to throw somebody into the midfield that has openly and obviously sucked to Newcastle supporters angst in the past – either Jonjo or Isaac Hayden. Nothing is more low-PL/upper-Championship than being “well stocked” with midfielders that you don’t really feel comfortable playing. [RAVEN]

#13: JAVIER MANQUILLO (up from #17 last time) – Strangely, Javier here suited up for my Liverpool for a ten game stretch in 2015 but I have no memory of him. The revolving door for young talent has to be stressful. You never know when you are gonna get a crack at Liverpool or whether you will be shunted off to, well, Newscastle. Manquillo came up in the Athletico Madrid system who loaned him out like a whore to various squads, including my Liverpool, before finally selling him off to Newcastle where he has established himself as a middling right back who probably won’t last too much longer before getting sent to some shittier club, but that is just what happens sometimes to good Spanish boys. It’s not his fault. Well, I mean it is in the sense that his play has caused this to happen, but, well okay I guess it is his fault. Sometimes, you just don’t even want to get out of bed Javier, but the Spanish plains are always more inviting than the cold English dreer, so maybe your future lies back home. Take these energies with you and nurture them. [NEIL]

#14: FLORIAN LEJEUNE (up from #16 last time) – Lejeune was briefly part of the Manchester City chest of jewels, not a featured one, so only loaned away to polish, and even then just for a single season. He’s been at Newcastle for a couple years now, though out for the past six months with a knee injury, which has shown its effects on Newcastle’s defensive line in that time. He just got a 45-minute chunk of action in for the U-23 Newcastle squad, so his return to the starting XI seems imminent, which is good news for a club that needs something to turn their fortunes around towards a better direction. Really, all these clubs sitting in this danger zone just need a good run of four or five matches to survive relegation. The problem is if you have it too early, and then someone else is motivated to do it later, and you can’t recover. Having watched Swansea City navigate relegation zone a few years in a row, that was always the case. The final year, when they got relegated, they had a burst early – like around now – but then other clubs behind them had bursts later in the season to leapfrog past, and there wasn’t energy in a club of men to have two bursts in one season. That’s a little much to ask. But Steve Bruce needs to spark them at some point, or his successor, which is usually how clubs generate these survival sparks briefly. But Bruce is in his first season at the helm here, so you have to think he at least rides it out through Boxing Day before getting canned, and even then if it goes even worse for these fuckers. [RAVEN]

#15: SEAN LONGSTAFF – Look, you and I both know I only picked to write about Longstaff for the dick jokes. I don’t care about this idiot and neither do you. He’s a Newcastle native, born and raised, so I imagine he is having the time of his life with his long staff. Is he a good football player? Who cares? This man is named Longstaff and that comes with certain responsibilities, although he can’t help how he was born, it still fits inside. If young Longstaff fails to live up to his game, he can always get really good at eating pussy. What does his have to do with Newcastle’s football team? Nothing, really, only that good pussy eaters are always strong Spirit Warriors. You can’t join the club unless you know how to work that clit. If Longstaff can bring that sort of energy to Newcastle then the future is all his to behold. Bless him and his long staff. [NEIL]

#16: CIARAN CLARK (down from #8 last time) – Clark's a natural defender, English-born but to Irish folk, and came up through the Aston Villa youth academy, and played for them for a number of years professionally before moving to Newcastle. He also was prominent player on the English U19 team, being captain of the English U19 team during qualifying stages of the 2008 U19 Euros. But he jumped to the Irish national team at senior level, where he's had over 30 caps. He's a goal-scoring defender though, and even as he fell out of favor last season under Rafa Benitez, he was able to net 3 goals in a limited 8 appearances. That's pretty wild for a defender. [RAVEN]

#17: MIGUEL ALMIRON – I think I might like this dude. Parguayan national, with hardscrabble uprbringing. Got that “livewire” attacking midfield/inside forward-playmaker look. Managed to somehow escape Major League Soccer for better fields (an instance where I’ll admit Newcastle is a definite improvement). But seems to be stalled out there now, despite getting the minutes as they’re ravaged by pretty much the rest of the EPL. With a value of 15 million+, I don’t know where he’s going in the English League system after Newcastle—maybe Wolves, as he would seem to fit that style. But there aren’t many Paraguay dudes bounding around the upper reaches of Euro Leagues (like Rondon’s Venezuela, and this seems strange to me, but not strange enough that I’m gonna rush off to some research on the how and whys—this week, anyway). Liga MX maybe, in a Santos strip? Just not back to the US, young man. [PAUL]

#18: KENEDY (down from #12 last time) – Kenedy is a young winger actually tied up by Chelsea, but he spent about 18 months on loan at Newcastle. He is in La Liga, at Getafe this season, getting a little international seasoning, also because Frank Lampard didn't really want him in Chelsea, even with the transfer window ban. Kenedy didn't inspire under Rafa Benitez at Newcastle either, so he will likely be loaned around until somebody decides to take him. [RAVEN]

#19: FEDERICO FERNANDEZ (up from #21 last time) – Fernandez is yet another Swansea City guy, who I thought for sure would remain with the club when they went down to the Championship, because honestly he's not all that amazing. But he is consistent at least in his serviceability, and also is Argentine, which has a magical appeal. Like, as a supporter of a club (and this was true when he was with Swansea) you might want the flash and solidness of a star at every position, but you're not gonna get that if you're not a fan of like Liverpool or Man U. Fernandez never outright fucked up, all the while not ever outright being awesome. You kinda just plug in as many dudes who don't really fuck up like that in there, and hope you get a Gylfi Sigurdsson in his prime (or an equivalent, which Newcastle lacks right now) to be the fire. And then you draw the fuck out as many matches as you can, and hope the fire gives you a couple of stolen wins against the actual great clubs like Liverpool and Man U. This is a recipe for continued PL presence. It's also weird to think about how many dudes me and Paul saw at a shitty exhibition against the Richmond Kickers a few years back, like all these Swansea dudes for the most part, and Tammy Abraham (who has gone on to bigger and better things, potentially, lolol). [RAVEN]

#20: KI SUNG-YEUNG – Ki is another Swansea veteran, and classic example of the type of players that occupy so many spots on these clubs that will never be top flight of the top flight, but absolutely will be top flight of the second tier should they get relegated. These are guys who have those flashes of brilliance, maybe 15 minutes a match, or for like a 5 match spell during a season, and you thinkg, “YES! FUCK YES! THIS IS WHAT WE’VE KNOWN COULD HAPPEN!” because they’ve always had that potential. And yet somehow they never hold that potential for long, either injury or lethargy (which is an injury of the mind) or some other shit knocks them back to their majority of the time self. Ki was classic this, so much so I came to accept it, and learned that there’s people for whom the concept of reaching your full potential is a foolish endeavor, because that full potential is like a sunspot at the periphery of your vision, you can’t ever grasp it, and sometimes you see it clearly, and it’s really great to see it in that moment, but before you try to figure out how to grasp it and hold it, it slips away again. That is just how some people are, and I’m not even really sure you can be mad at them for being that way. Not everybody reaches their full potential; in fact, most of us don’t even get the opportunity to try. So Ki is the perfect guy for Newcastle (or Norwich, or Swansea, or Watford, or West Brom, or Southampton, or…) because he has the exciting supporter dopamine dribbling possibility of that full potential, but he’s also never gonna hold it consistently, thus he’s affordable and at your level. And this contributes to the overall metaphysics of a club like Newcastle too, who will do the same, and perhaps have a good run for a short period, maybe even an amazing one and finish like 5th in the Premier League table (if they REALLY hit it), and play a couple Europa League matches the following year. But they may also just slip into collective lethargy and finish 17th, or 18th. And it’s not really a gamble, or something that you can actually fix… it’s just what they are. And you sort of just have to accept that reality and enjoy it the best you can during the high moments, and ride out the low tides. [RAVEN]

#21: JOSELU (down from #14 last time) – Joselu has left Newcastle and is back in his native Spain, except he's also not in Spain. He's playing for Alaves, which is one of three clubs in La Liga located in the autonomous Basque region. Of course notably the other week, El Clasico got postponed due (officially) to security concerns because people in Catalonia are protesting for independence. Along with Barcelona, Espanyol is located in Catalonia as well, so you have a full quarter of Spain's La Liga located in territories desiring autonomy. I am endlessly fascinated by this type of stuff, as football transcends geography and politics. And Joselu actually was born and spent the first part of his life in Germany. Early on, he was a star for Real Madrid's reserve team, and it seemed like great things were his destiny, and he certainly still had that appearance during a period in Germany for multiple clubs. But the transition to the English Premier League never worked out as well for him, at both Stoke and Newcastle. He was most productive during his contractual years to England during a loan spell back to Spain, so it makes sense he went back this season. He only appeared less than half the matches for Newcastle last season, chipping in 2 goals in those caps (along with one in the FA Cup), but it wasn't enough to justify keeping him considering they needed a striking striker who strikes a lot of strikes. And in fact, Joselu has already netted three goals in 10 caps for Alaves already this season. The paycheck might be most proper in the Premier League, but that doesn't mean a dude's gonna be who he needs to be. [RAVEN]

#22: JOELINTON – Damn, almost done. And I’ve been suffering through this with a mini-flu reaction to getting my vaccine. Seriously, it’s kinda kicking my ass. Keep having to remind myself that I can’t mention it to my mom if/when she calls next because she’s on that InfoWars-Q-Tip anti-vaccine thing, and man, I just don’t need anymore mom-grief. Does Joelinton have mom-grief? I doubt it—she (I’m hoping) gave him that sikk name, like a masculinized version of “Jolene.” I bet she makes him mean coxhinas whenever he comes home, or maybe she lives in his expensive-ass north-England house and churns them out? [The metaphysics, as usual, are strong—I search for “Joelinton’s mom” and of course he very much loves his supportive-ass mother and she’s a cook by profession]. Joelinton got picked up for crazy-cash (by Newcastle standards, which while absolutely ridiculous by 95% of European clubs, still is another orbit-ring out from those London clubs + Liverpool) on the basis of power-potential (dude is BUILT). But herein lies a problem with taking the cash from a club of Newcastle’s status and ability within the English system—at 23 Joelinton’s polished attributes, his future, his reputation are in the balance. This season, or maybe one more, makes or breaks him as a top player. From all appearances, Newcastle was most definitely not the right choice, as he seems pretty rank-rotten to this point in the season. Yet he was doing pretty solid in middle Bundesliga land and probably should’ve stayed there to build his rep for a way better team than Newcastle. Maybe he’ll tear up the Championship next season and that’ll be somewhat of a positive. [PAUL]

#23: JACOB MURPHY (down from #18 last time) – Murphy is essentially a loan machine. In four years with Norwich City, he spent stints loaned out to Swindon Town, Southend United, Blackpool, Scunthorpe United, Colchester United, and Coventry City. In the three years since that, with Newcastle, which he said was his boyhood club, as his parents were born near there, after a brief 18 months of playing for them, he's had loans the last half of last season to West Brom in the Championship, and he's back at that level with a loan to Sheffield Wednesday this season. He has a twin brother who also plays in the Championship, for Cardiff. [RAVEN]

#24: DWIGHT GAYLE (down from #11 last time) – I don’t consider myself bisexual at all, but I’m comfortable enough in what I am to admit that I’ve always found Dwight Gayle dreamy, at least when he was with Palace. Once he went to Newcastle, I don’t know, that knocked him down a peg or two, and he got loaned out last season, and has played sparingly this season. He used to be #9 (which means I’d get #6 I assume), so has had to take the #12, and though the black and white prison-like stripes of Newcastle don’t accentuate his gorgeous eyes quite as well as Crystal Palace’s red and blue, in researching him I just found out his middle name is Devon. What a lovely name. [RAVEN]

#25: JETRO WILLEMS – Jetro Williams grew up Dutch and black which is likely due to some World War 2 shenanigans or maybe not, I do not have his genome right here in front of me. But anyway, yeah, he is a Dutch dude and a black dude, two great tastes that make for a Fine Spirit Warrior, with his inherent First People of Man thing going for him and also the hedonist Dutch side, which is both sexually and poor choice permissive, so all in all, a bunch of good people combined to make this dude named Jetro Williams, who is getting his first taste of Premiere League life after spending years in the Dutch system before a brief stopover in Germany where he kicked it with Eintracht Frankfurt. It's his days at PSV Eindhoven though which has made him such a desirable prospect and I suspect his stay in Newcastle won't be a long one. After all, there is a premium on fine young black Dutch left backs that Newscastle can't possibly afford to match when this dude is ready for bigger things. It's a good life for Jetro Williams, who is just a young dude making his way in the world and that is some positive Spirit Warrior energy that cannot be denied, Mean Gene, oh no, I say, slipping into Macho Man voice for a moment. I dub this man the black Macho Man and hope to see him do good things with his life and when it is done, maybe pick out an Amsterdam whore from the windows, get high as fuck and remember that he had a lot of fun while he was young but the fun is just beginning as he lives a hedonist's paradise of a life. May Allah bless him and all of us as we strive to find a world with perfect pussy and perfect drugs. Go on, young son, and take what is yours. [NEIL]

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