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.

Thursday, January 16

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: AFC BOURNEMOUTH

{more exciting times at ol' Bournemouth} 

[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 FOR OUR METAPHYSICAL LABOR @ravenmack23.]

The footballing metaphysics I'm about to speak upon with regards to AFC Bournemouth could change at any moment, because currently manager Eddie Howe is the odds on favorite to be the next sacked Premier League manager. And it's that same old story of tradition and loyalty positioned against maintaining global wealth. Eddie Howe is a Bournemouth man, through and through. He joined the club as a teen on a youth contract, and played for them the bulk of his career. In 2009, at the age of 29, he was promoted to player-coach, managing the reserve team at Bournemouth, while still playing for the senior club. In December of 2008, the club was looking at relegation from League Two, the fourth level of English football, and then manager Jimmy Quinn got sacked, with Howe, who was a youth coach, appointed caretaker manager. This led to permanent hire, and he brought them out of the relegation zone, and then led them to promotion back to League One the following season. At that point, Russian fossil fuel oligarch Maxim Demin purchased controlling interest in the club. Howe briefly left to manage Burnley, but almost immediately regretted the decision and returned in October of 2012. A year later, he led them to promotion again, to the Championship. Two seasons after that, they won, earning automatic promotion to the Premier League - the first time they'd been in England's top flight since their inception in 1889. This is their fifth season in that top flight run, and though they flirted with relegation that first season, they finished 9th and 12th the following two seasons - a shocking success from the tiny south coastal club. (Their home pitch - Dean Court - is the smallest, by far, of all Premier League stadiums, about half of the next smallest capacity stadium, Burnley's Turf Moor.) So they've very much been competing above their level. But they got here, and now they find themselves having sunk into the relegation scrum, which was exasperated by a 3-0 stomping at home this past weekend against fellow relegation scrummee Watford, who leapfrogged past Bournemouth with the victory. Now the thing is, a couple good results - two wins - separates 19th place (and relegation) from 13th in the table. But other clubs are getting the new manager spike of adrenalin to get those couple good results. And Nigel Pearson's resurgence for Watford as an example suggests changes might be in order. But Eddie Howe has literally given his entire life to this club, and there's the risk of blowing up the foundational energy of what even created this shocking rise in the first place. So it becomes this giant gamble of what to do - sack the manager, hope for a couple wins, and maintain Premier League riches. Or keep Howe in place, accept that relegation might be inevitable, and ride that out as far as you can. Personally, I think you're better keeping Howe, even if you do get relegated, because they'd likely be one of the top clubs next season if that happened. But nobody who has invested in a club is going to want to squander Premier League money, especially a Russian businessman who bought into the club three levels down, so has already flipped his investment big time. They've already committed to building a larger, newer stadium, so the long-term game plan obviously expects to maintain their current stature. So Howe is likely going to get sacked after one or two more poor results. And sadly, but also entirely fairly, this will likely seal their removal from their current stature. They feel doomed either way, it's just one path of doom remains true to the integrity of what brought them up to this apex, while the other is more of the same greedy entitlement you see in modern football, which is true to nothing but the dollar dollar bills y'all (which I guess you say "pound pound notes, lads").

So let's get into these 25 men who have made the current Bournemouth experience one way above what should be expected from a club like Bournemouth. [RAVEN]

#1: RYAN FRASER (up two from last time Bournemouth was metaphysically ranked on 15-Feb-2019; also his FIRST METAPHYSICAL STAR) – I think I broke the unspoken rules of our three-fisted effort towards football metaphysics by taking the top Scotsman here. Paul tends to grab those dudes. We both have Scottish surnames and thus paternal heritages, but I ain't in touch with that shit like Paul. My "mack" is just the first piece of my surname but I gave up the rest of it because mack means son and I'm just a general son of the Earth. Paternal lineages overlook all the maternal influences, and shit even just a grandfather level, your last name ain't but a quarter of what you are. Fraser somehow, at only the age of 25, has been the strongest influence on this club, having already been settled in there since their League One days seven seasons back. The left side winger spent the Cherries first Premier season on loan at Ipswich Town, but has slowly grabbed a stronger stake in starting squad each season since, chipping in 16 Premier League goals over that course, but only one so far this season in 21 appearances. If he got hot, it'd do the club well, but at the same time, his contract expires at the end of June, and the lack of a new deal suggests that even though he's one of their top players, they're not all in on him yet? A lot of what's currently happening at Bournemouth feels like they're hedging their bets, not really committed to shaking things up, or sticking with what they have. That type of indecisive boardroom practices is exactly what fucks clubs up in the relegation scrum, because even if bad decisions are made, clubs that seal their direction have a better shot than wavering around hoping you get lucky. That's how you end up being this season's Swansea City, relegated to the eternal slog of trying to survive the Championship's constant battle royal to get back to Premier status. Of course, if Bournemouth are relegated, Fraser will likely just get signed by Celtic and go home to Scotland, making Paul happy. [RAVEN]

#2: NATHAN AKE (same as last time) – Young Nathan had aspirations of being a Chelsea boy before it became clear that he was not gonna make it in the rich kids world, which is okay, sometimes you just have to know who you are and rich kids are almost always jackasses, even the “nice” ones who get exposed when they get all liquored up and say and do jackass kind of things. I mean, it’s almost impossible not to be a jackass because your dad is rich which means he’s complicit with something shitty whatever it is and so dad is a jackass and what the fuck are the kids gonna do when presented with the jackass rich lifestyle, running boats in the summer, some fucked up quad snowmobile in the winter, becoming an alcoholic at 16 and fucking the rich girls and the poor ones too but you don’t talk about those ones with your jackass friends. This is the sort of life that seems appealing because you get to play with all the cool toys and fuck the blondes on ski trips, but then you figure out pretty quick that the rich kids are all fucked up and have no perspective on the world and are nasty as fuck. That’s what Nathan Ake had to learn in his Chelsea days, and sure he got his dick sucked by a blonde blue eyed girl, but that girl has no ass and she is a she-jackass and would only ever use young Nathan for his Poor Man’s Dick, which is bigger and thicker than most other dicks because it’s hard as fuck out there in the wild and the Poor Man has to grow a bigger dick to survive. It’s all basic science. So after fucking the blonde with his Poor Man’s Dick, Nathan Ake returned to his kind with Bournemouth, and apparently he doesn’t drink or do any drugs which is probably for the best because once you start making those Poor Choices, you probably will end up trying to get back with the rich kids because they have all the toys and that blonde really did suck that dick good, but you will never be one of them and they know that and they will use you and discard you when you don’t have anything left to give. And so it is good that Nathan Ake finds himself with the Bournemouths of the world because even though you are probably headed in a downward type direction there will probably be a Poor Girl with a Fat Ass, and that’s just how the Spirit Warrior energies get made. They don’t come from rich kids, they come from a Poor Man’s Dick meeting a Poor Girl’s Fat Ass, and maybe Nathan Ake has some of that in him. Or maybe not. I don’t really know. All I know is that he didn’t fit in with the rich kids and now he’s kicking it with the real people and hopefully he can tap into that kind of psychic energy and just have a real nice time. [NEIL]

#3: STEVE COOK (down two from last time; also previously THREE METAPHYSICAL STARS, all with Bournemouth) – Steve Cook's another defender who has: A) been with the club since the League One days; and B) had some injuries this season. That defensive back line has not been intact for more than a couple matches for my man Eddie Howe this season. But also Steve Cook played at one point for Havant & Waterlooville. I played the fuck out of that club in FM 2015, turning their uniforms pink and lime green, all the way to the fuckin' Premier League baby, mostly because I was picking from the sixth tier teams and for my southern American brain, there's no way a real soccer club could be called something so Seussian as "Havant & Waterlooville". But then I'll be on the wikipedia page of some random ass Bournemouth player, and sure enough, it's a real thing. That is, assuming any of this is real. [RAVEN]

#4: CALLUM WILSON (up four from last time) – Bournemouth's biggest problem has been lack of goals, and though Callum Wilson's scored a quarter of their 20 so far, he ain't hit shit since the end of September. Howe recently straight up called on Wilson in the media to score more goals, suggesting that with Harry Kane's injury, Wilson could make the case for himself on the national team at the Euros. He's hit that dry zone of no goals where psychology, metaphysics, and squad support all intertwine into a giant entanglement of fear and budding failure demons. Once the failure demons grow big enough to start swooping overhead regularly, then the home support starts to see them, and jeering accordingly, and fuck man, it all comes unraveled so easily but complexly. With Norwich, Brighton, and Villa three out of their next four opponents, it really would behoove both Wilson and the club for him to just crack through with a goal and slay the failure demons before they grow any stronger. [RAVEN]

#5: JOSHUA KING (same as last time) – Young bro was a Manchester United wonderkid who never achieved the wonder once the kid wore off, and has been with the Cherries since 2015. Recently suffered a hamstring injury so is sitting for a spell. Also, a Norwegian dude, whose middle names are Christian Kojo. That sounds sick. [RAVEN]

#6: JEFFERSON LERMA (up nine from last time) – Colombiano midfielder who was a record transfer for the club in August of 2018, but probably hasn't had the impact the club had hoped. He's a defensive minded midfielder though, often played deep as DM and also a right back at times. The big problem for Bournemouth has been lack of goals, and Lerma's not gonna be the guy to add that to the mix, but the young player was supposed to help initiate that attack. He's been battling nagging injuries, and looked pretty easily hassled when in possession against Watford. Perhaps things are doomed here. [RAVEN]

#7: ADAM SMITH (up two from last time) – There are probably a million Adam Smith’s in the world. It is pretty much the most generic Anglo-Saxon name you could come up with. So, what kind of Adam Smith is this Adam Smith? I don’t fucking know, man, he is just another Adam Smith. He plays for Bournemouth and has for some time now so he is at the very least a reliable Adam Smith. Boring and reliable, but there are no Spirit Warrior energies to be found in that equation. You have to really be a hell of a man to overcome being an Adam Smith, but I really doubt this dude is man enough to transcend his Adam Smith roots. It’s not really his fault. It’s just that Adam Smith just passed you in the streets and you looked back and there was Adam Smith, and then you looked the other way and there was Adam Smith again, and then you looked in the mirror and what do you know, there’s Adam Smith. [NEIL]

#8: DIEGO RICO (up twelve from last time) – The young Spaniard is just now getting his feet wet in the Premier League with Bournemouth after playing for Zaragoza and Leganes in Spain, and you have to imagine that he’s probably gonna end up back in Spain once Bournemouth goes down, which isn’t a for sure thing by any means, but Bournemouth is definitely one of the clubs facing down that barrel. For Diego Rico this probably will just be an excursion of sorts, kind of like when New Japan wrestling sends their young lions out to different parts of the world, whether it’s London or Ring of Honor or if they are lucky, Mexico. But anyway, that is a whole different thing but you get the point, which is that Diego Rico is likely not looking to settle down with the English, and in a year or two he will be back home and that’s just the way it goes sometimes. Of course, there is always the chance that Bournemouth pulls it together and sticks in the Premier League, and if that happens, maybe that excursion turns into the real thing. You never know where you belong until you’re actually there, and for Diego Rico, where he belongs is wherever he can see a path forward. If that’s with Bournemouth, great, but if it isn’t, home is always still there and at least he has that. [NEIL]

#9: DAN GOSLING (up one from last time) – A Gosling born in Brixham, which is literally true, but also Beatrix Potter as fuck. [RAVEN]

#10: SIMON FRANCIS (down three from last time) – English full back/center back and club captain with possibly the most Irish Roman Catholic name in football (taking over for former Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given and his fifteen first names). Simon is a seeming oddity in English football as he bounced around several League One/Championship liminal zone clubs for a decade before finding his way through three league levels in the EPL. By all rights, he should be plowing away as an emeritus CB for like Luton or Dag and Red at 34 years old. Yet he’s still holding it down as a more-or-less first choice in the Bournemouth backline, albeit it’s a defense that’s getting wrecked pretty consistently over these past few weeks. I’ll be honest—Bournemouth are in an EPL death-relegation spiral that I don’t really see them pulling out of. Francis and his boys have stayed up for an impressive three seasons prior, which for a club like the Cherries seems as impressive as Leicester pulling of that league championship. Francis will probably stay with them in the Championship and, appropriately, retire as a club legend. This is probably the most boring profile I’ve ever written in this project, because this guy is just some jobbing pro defender, with not one damn flashy thing about him, captaining a club that as far as I can figure doesn’t “mean” anything except representing a south English coastal town. Probably the most assholish thing I can say here is that they might as well be the Richmond Kickers, or really any other USL club. [PAUL]

#11: AARON RAMSDALE – Ramsdale's been the GK of choice this season, after a pretty successful loan spell last season at AFC Wimbledon. The jump from League One to Premier League is pretty big though, but the young Englishman, who has featured on the national youth teams at U18, U19, U20, and U21, is allegedly a promising star. He did miss this past match due to injury, but endeared himself to Bournemouth faithful by tweeting how they needed to absolutely support the club, and even sat in the stands with supporters to help cheer on the Cherries, who in turn suffered one of their worst losses of the season so far. When your club is failing to score, having a young GK holding shit together enough to eke out 1-0 losses is way less soul-crushing than a 3-0 drubbing at home. If Ramsdale's hamstring injury becomes aggravated and/or prolonged, it'll mean bad things for the club's hopes of surviving relegation. [RAVEN]

#12: CHRIS MEPHAM – Fuck, it’s like they just went and cloned Simon Francis for the other side of the Cherries porous-ass defense. For a second, I thought they both came through Brentford, but then one passed through Brentford and one passed through Bradford and I really don’t care which one is which and I’d like to go on my customary tiresome “fuck England and the ugly hot-tea-drinking horse it rode in on” but I’m a stupid American who grew up in Bedford County, Virginia, which is another stupid B-ford, so I can’t really grouse too much here. For all intents and purposes, Virginia is just another Great Britain, but with fetid swamps and mosquitoes: bunch of fuckhead Downton Abbey-ass Plantation wanna-be English-descended people in the East, bunch of degenerate ugly-ass Scots/Irish/Welsh-descended trash in the West, bunch of chill Afro-folk shaking their heads over the jackassedery of both of them. We even went and named half the damn places the same: Richmond, Norfolk, 12 different Hamptons, Glasgow, Dublin, 12 different Chesters, Kilmarnock, Ettrick, Suffolk, etc. etc. etc. Despite being born in London, Mepham reps Wales on some technicality and seems like he’s solidified his position there. At a relatively young 22, I’m guessing Bournemouth’s crash isn’t going to affect him too much, as it still gives him an EPL pedigree of sorts and he does at least “look the part” physique-wise. He’s pretty much out for the rest of the season injured anyway, so that’s another way to dodge relegation-responsibility and keep his potential fee steady. I’d imagine if the Cherries go down, he’ll probably earn them some cash moving to another EPL lower tier club. [PAUL]

#13: LEWIS COOK (down one from last time) – Being I don't really have shit to say about Lewis Cook, let me point out that last month I spoke upon the sartorial choices of Premier League kits, and how there's too goddamn much blue and red. It needs to be pointed out that Bournemouth rocks a very nice black and red striped kit, perhaps somewhat antifa, but definitely not just boring ass "blues" or "reds". I worry there's some conspiracy against colorful kits, or contrasts that contradict the Union Jack. Also will somebody explain to me why so many clubs (West Ham, Aston Villa, Burnley) have those same dull ass colors. Like I could see a bunch of clubs having different dull ass colors, but the same ones exactly? That shit's weird. But I'm sure there's some royal explanation some Duke of Glastonbury who once gathered the hawk's wind with an enchanted rapier with a bejeweled handle in those colours. [RAVEN]

#14: ASMIR BEGOVIC (down ten from last time) – It appears the lanky Bosnian's rise and fall through English football is complete, after having joined Portsmouth many years ago when they were actually a PL club. Stints there, at Stoke City, his pinnacle at Chelsea briefly, and then three seasons with Bournemouth. He fell out of top choice last season, and was loaned out to Qarabag FK in Azerbaijan for the first part of this season. Actually, let's just avoid talking about his recent loan move to AC Milan, and instead explore the football metaphysics of that 10-match stint. First off, you have a Muslim Bosnian born in then Yugoslavia, but due to the war, his family fled to Germany, and then ended up in Canada, of all places. A then representative paid to fly him to England for tryouts when he was 16, because he was excelling in Canadian youth soccer to a ridiculous level, with tryouts scheduled at Portsmouth and Tottenham, but Portsmouth signed him before he could even go try out for the Spurs. This led to over a decade in England, and in fact, from the age of 10 on, he's lived primarily in English-speaking countries. So the loan this season to an exiled club in the Caucasus Mountains. In fact, Qarabag's true home is Agdam, which was lost to Armenians forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1993. The city became abandoned, and looted of wealth. The area is now officially still part of Azerbaijan, but mostly an unpopulated buffer zone militarily controlled by Armenia if necessary. This particular region is Christian, while Azerbaijin is mostly Muslim, and Armenia is also Christian. The whole geopolitical make-up of the situation is remarkably similar to, but more obscure than the state of post-Yugoslavia Bosnia. Qarabag plays in the capital city of Baku now, and while Azerbaijin is a secular nation, it also has the second highest percentage of Shia Muslim citizens in the world (second only to Iran). So despite Begovic only spending a little over three months there in Baku, it must've been an intense experience for a man experiencing the downturn of his professional career, forced into an existential crisis already, then relocated to a space that strums the tight metaphysical tendrils of what composed him as a human. It will be very interesting to see what happens with him at Milan. [RAVEN]

#15: PHILIP BILLING (previously ranked #10 for Huddersfield Town on 01-Dec-2018) – Oh thank God—a Nigerian-Danish dude with a sikk hairstyle and a bunch of shitty tattoos. I keep trying not to pick white British defenders, but there are so many of them. It’s like drowning in mediocrity. My nightmare is that somewhere in the Malvinas, in the final Windsor-Nazi secret panic-room New Britain hideout, is a special laboratory where, once a month, a heavily sedated John Terry is flown in and for 24 hours is repeatedly drained of his rancid nut-juice, which is then stockpiled in vats, like some kind of dinosaur genome, so that when that heinous breed dies out naturally in a few generations, hopefully from Virgil “seeding” Western Europe with his superior genes of power and exquisite grace, whatever eight-legged cyborg Saxon monarch still residing in dusty hope, with its last dying exhalation of herring and Bovril, flips the switch that releases a pestilence of British center backs on the unsuspecting world. In fact, I need to break out the Book of Revelation again and do some reading—pretty sure that’s what it’s talking about.  [Don’t worry though, Virgil XI and 77 Toure dervishes, with Dembele cherubs and archangel Mdou Moctar, will crush them and usher in Jannah-on-Earth]. Billing is getting regular playing time in that central mid/defensive mid position, but doesn’t really seem to be doing anything particularly noteworthy, except picking up yellow cards, which at least shows a degree of passion. Bournemouth dropped a (for them) significant chunk of cash on the young man (to going down Huddersfield), and they’re giving him the playing time. Not going to look good for him though, if he rides through two consecutive relegation seasons with two separate teams—no way that doesn’t set a metaphysical precedent. Still, dude has a remarkably high valuation, so scouts must be seeing something there, but that next club pick is (obviously) crucial. [PAUL]

#16: CHARLIE DANIELS (down ten from last time) – People say I'm no good, and crazy as a loon, because I get stoned in the morning and drunk in the afternoon. Kinda like my old bluetick hound, I like to lay around in the shade. And I ain't got no money, but I damn sure got it made. You can still venmo us @ravenmack 23 though. [RAVEN]

#17: DOMINIC SOLANKE (previously ranked #24 for Liverpool on 01-Oct-2018) – There was a moment when Dominic Solanke was a fairly hot prospect. I recall him being picked up by Liverpool with the promise that he would blossom into a star one day, but that day never came, which is usually the case. I mean, everyone thinks they can be the best and roll with the ones, but most people are twos and that’s okay, it doesn’t mean you are shit, it just means that you have to find your level. Dominic Solanke’s level was never Chelsea or Liverpool. Maybe it is Bournemouth. It is such a hair sliver kind of thing, that difference between the ones and the twos sometimes, and really, it probably just comes down to bad luck more often than not. Maybe Dominic Solanke just needed a break that he didn’t get. Or maybe he will find his level and make it work there. It sucks that people don’t get the space they need sometimes to grow and find themselves. The world is mean sometimes and it will toss you out if you aren’t a big hit right away. Dominic Solanke has time now with Bournemouth, and maybe he will find his place there or maybe he will fight his way back to the Liverpools of the world. The important thing is that he finds himself. Once a man can do that, the rest are just details. You make the world you live in or you reject it and fight with yourself and end up a shadow of what you could have been. This is where Dominic Solanke finds himself and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out for him. [NEIL]

#18: DAVID BROOKS (down two from last time) – It royally sucks to have the same or very similar name to a right-wing shithead media personality—I’m stuck up against a hyper-constipated, beyond-senile Evangelical “broadcaster” myself. This Brooks is an English-born Welshman, who teased the English national setup with some U20 appearances before spurning them. I find this commendable, along with this general Dickensian street-ruffian look—some white British dudes just look shifty and trashy, all snaggle-toothed and probably willing to shiv you for a takeout (see: Griffiths, Leigh). This is exponentially preferable to that stalwart “Britannia’s Pride Astride the World” square jawed ramrod stance of your aforementioned Terrys and Shearers and Gerrards. Brooks here is, to put it mildly/kindly, beset by injury and to be getting the type of surgical overhauling he’s needing at such a young age doesn’t bode particularly well for his playing future—and he seems like he could be a halfway decent midfield number 10. Probably going to have to rebuild his career in the Championship—or maybe go with that ancestral Wales as a future Swan? Who can say? [PAUL]

#19: ANDREW SURMAN (down eight from last time) – This dude is a real vet, having done grunt work with first Southampton and then Wolverhampton and Norwich City before landing with Bournemouth. That sort of wandering samurai thing is something that can make for a Spirit Warrior. I’m not saying that this dude is or isn’t, but the potential is there if only for the whole wandering samurai thing. Born in South Africa to English parents, he’s a dude who has never quite closed the door on playing for South Africa, which is the sort of thing a Spirit Warrior would do. I don’t know this dude from the next dude, and I am just inventing a man here, as I have been known to do. But sometimes energies find each other, like when I started in on The Great Willie Young for my American football gibberish. I just took a dude who was a 7th round draft pick and breathed life into him. The cool thing is, is that the real Willie Young is that dude. He spends all of his time fishing with his boys. There is something cosmic in that. These energies seek each other out, these Spirit Warriors, so maybe I could do the same with Andrew Surman, wandering samurai footballer. The beauty of it is that if it is True then it will just work itself out and these energies will collide, and if it’s just me trying to breathe life into something that doesn’t want to live, that will work itself out too. Andrew Surman, I name you a wandering samurai Spirit Warrior. Kick it back to me, or just let it fade. I’m good either way, my energies are untouchable, even if the goddamn Failure Demons threaten and breathe fire. [NEIL]

#20: HARRY WILSON – Welsh winger on loan from Liverpool, who’s not really helping out with Bournemouth’s current turgid form. Sounds like some Benny Hill degenerate sexual euphemism—“gonna give ‘er the ‘ol ‘arry Wilson, are you ‘guv?!?” In my pervasive Anglophobic rage, Doctor Who, Monty Python, and Downton Abbey are easy enough targets (fuck it, I didn’t really get The Young Ones either), I don’t really know where to put Benny Hill. I spent many a late night in my preteens, turning that outside roof antenna (“roarrrr….roarrrr….roarrr….roarr”—holler if you know) to pick up Benny Hill airing, that for some unknown reason hit southwest Virginia airwaves at like 1:00 AM, just before that flapping flag and flying-ass eagle ended the broadcast day. And I didn’t understand shit of what I was seeing except…..there might be some titties—barely concealed, with some garters and stocking and lace, or, rumor always had it, but I can’t really confirm that it was true, you might see some full exposed nipple. When we first started getting basic cable in the holler, I’m fairly certain some Pentecostals and some boob-obsessed kids both got mightily confused by the Binny Hinn revival shows. This Harry Wilson is one of those not-really-young-anymore dudes stockpiled and tied down by the EPL Big Four, getting pastured out to the lessers in the Championship, basement EPL, and SPL. Wilson seemed to do more than OK in the Championship, but hot and cold this season in the EPL. He’s got Salah and Shaqiri ahead of him at Liverpool, so it looks like maybe one more season on loan, then a quick sale to, I don’t know, Newcastle or Burnley. [PAUL]

#21: JORDAN IBE (down eight from last time) – Oh man, Jordan Ibe. Jordan Ibe will always be a cautionary tale in terms of hype that plays itself. Once upon a time Raheem Sterling was the golden child at Liverpool. That marriage turned out to be False, like so many marriages, which all three of us at Football Metaphysics can attest to whether it was our parents marriages blowing the fuck up in a haze of disfunction or Raven and Paul, who have both had marriages go down in flames. Am I right, Paul? You were married once before, right? I have never married, being a fucked up thing in a fucked up world, and I can’t see myself ever getting married. But anyway, the point is that Raheem Sterling’s marriage to Liverpool was destined for failure, and when he left to go fuck a prettier chick, we scrambled wide eyed for the closest heartbeat and came up with Jordan Ibe. Young, hyper athletic, black like the one that ran out on us, Liverpool fans convinced themselves that Jordan Ibe could take Raheem Sterling’s place with no troubles, but you and I both know how that shit turns out. Poor Jordan Ibe was a dead thing before he even was able to live, and that’s not his fault, but our fault because we were all fucked up with our feelings with Raheem. It was never gonna work with us and Jordan Ibe, and so I am glad that he at least got a chance to find some love with Bournemouth. He was never gonna be Raheem Sterling, and it sucks that he got caught up in all that. But here is now, trying to make people see Jordan Ibe and no one else, and I am happy to watch him do it. Fuck the Liverpool fans, Jordan, and yes, that means fuck me too, but that’s okay, it wasn’t your fault. It’s not your fault. Go, and be you. [NEIL]

#22: JUNIOR STANISLAS (down eight from last time) – A big missing ingredient for the Cherries the past eight months as opposed to the previous few seasons was Stanislas missing on the wing. He only ever appeared about half the time, and was never their biggest goal threat, but he added to their offensive potency and helped create an environment where others had more opportunities. He's been out with a hamstring injury since this past April, only returning the past two matches, which both were losses. But perhaps the chemistry can get right again with what's in place already, and they can survive. Playing "perhaps" after January ends with avoiding relegation is a dangerous game to dabble in though. I mean, not literally dangerous. Nobody will get killed. It's just a stupid sport. But you are required to be overly dramatic when writing dumb shit about a stupid sport like that. [RAVEN]

#23: ARTUR BORUC (down six from last time) – A genuine “character” and possibly one of my top five all-time favorite since-I’ve-been-following-football players. “Mad Artur,” “King Artur,” “The Holy Goalie” set my template for the deranged Eccentricity 20 eastern European goalkeeper. When Celtic first signed him, he was this shaven-headed hulk that managed to look both baby-faced and scarred, as if he’d been born in a Gulag, escaped, then was raised by steppe wolves before being adopted by some esoteric militant Catholic monastic order. Over the seasons, Boruc’s appearance would morph alongside the peaks and troughs of his very obvious mental instability. After a particularly tumultuous off field episode that I *think* involved love-gone-wrong, Boruc lumbered back (because his…physique….also fluctuated wildly) with a delightfully shitty neck tattoo—the kind that wended its way to up behind the ear, so you know he wasn’t fucking around. I love the guy as a folk-figure, but to be completely honest, his form fluctuated along with everything else. His penalty save against Manchester United in the Champions League was 1) one of the best I’ve ever seen—the dummy he sells the poor dude…(and yes, he was off his fucking line, and fuck you VAR now and forever) 2) one of my favorite watching Celtic live moments and 3) was the first time I saw a goalkeeper break the soul-spirit of a striker (Louis Saha). But man, when Boruc fucks up, he fucks up—lost a goal from a halfway line shot and has the sorry distinction of being a goalkeeper that lost a goal to another goalkeeper’s clearance. Boruc was frequently in trouble with Scottish officialdom (both footballing and straight-up law enforcement)—he absolutely despised Rangers, possibly more than any other player except maybe Chris Sutton [as an aside, foreign players come to Celtic and end up hating the Blue even more than native-born Scottish/Irish players, in my observational opinion]. Boruc’s contempt was rooted primarily in his hyper-Catholicism, which he used to bait and psychologically pummel the blue-assed hordes baying behind his goal—he was the consummate heel: crossing himself as ostentatiously as an archbishop on Easter Sunday, whipping off his jersey to display a Pope John Paul II t-shirt that looked straight from a southside Virginia Latino flea market. Probably had the water in his sports bottle blessed before matches so he could hose them down prior to corner kicks. Possibly my favorite Boruc story was when a couple of Polish immigrant women were getting harassed in a Glasgow park by some Britain First-type shitheads, Boruc waded in amongst them (after taking his Rolex off and giving it to one of the ladies to hold), either chasing them away, or, I hope, laying a heavy beatdown on them. Oh, and watching him essentially choke out his own left back during a match for letting in one too many crosses, which taught me the thanklessness of the left back position and that you can’t get red carded for fucking up someone on your own team. I’d like to think Artur has at least one or more playing years left, and for some reason (and I know this is fucked) I’d really like to see him in the U.S., at some regional USL team. That would go well, I suspect. But overall, I thank Artur for firmly conflating complete unhingement with the goalkeeping position. I would’ve figured it out eventually, but I was glad to see it in full Celtic colors. [PAUL]

#24: JACK SIMPSON (same as last time) – Young defender who joined Bournemouth at the age of 12, and is almost a newer version of Eddie Howe, who just sort of pops in when necessary to support the club. He's mostly been a center back, but played left back against Arsenal, in one of the biggest tests to his ability to adapt and become more useful at high level football. He's still just a baby in this game though, but also somebody who'd likely become a key player next season if they did get relegated to the Championship. [RAVEN]

#25: NATHANIEL CLYNE (same as last time) – Liverpool loanee upon the defense. 911 WAS AN INSIDE JOB! [RAVEN]

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