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.

Tuesday, March 10

25-Man Metaphysical Roster: WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS FC

{the Holy Spirit of Nuno!!!} 

[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.]

We are discussing the metaphysical properties of this Wolverhampton Wanderers club, all the while the world seems to be on a downward spiral into pandemic and depression, as our protocols for productivity do not allow for shutdowns of material consumption, and then our economic systems struggle. The wolves are at the door, waiting on things to fall apart. My own personal life is a clusterfuck of poorly booked dramas that, though I do well to manage, is just a stressful gut punch on a daily basis. It is no coincidence I have the wild esoteric unorthodox priest’s blackberry bush beard, as does Wolverhampton’s manager Nuno Espirito Santo, who has arrived at Wolverhampton a few years back, and brung in an arsenal of fellow Portuguese, who have turned the club’s trajectory entirely around. But this is also in Brexit England, and now with a global coronavirus that only enforces the manufactured border walls of the xenophobic nativists. Nuno’s holy spirit of football, which feels more akin to a Paulo Coelho piece than any Brian Clough-esque managerial tradition. Nuno stalks the sideline like a footballing monk, and Wolves play with a passionate style of a club on a pilgrimage. But here’s the thing that hits all clubs on just such a pilgrimage, from the tiers below, who climb to the Premier League, and rally themselves into Europa League form, but then hit the wall that is the Big Six, which is a financial cartel that doesn’t easily allow new members – what do you do when the pilgrimage hits that wall? There is nowhere left to climb. On top of this, those clubs looking over the wall at you start to poach top players, and you are in no position to deny the riches. This is still a business after all, despite all the supporter talk of glories and building new powerhouses and all the delirious shit we as fans get ourselves into frenzies over. Somebody who owns the actual shit is still trying to turn a million dollar bill into a ten million dollar bill in some backroom or luxury suite overlooking the whole affair playing out in front of them. Most of us are but ants at the periphery, not even real humans as we have no economic value. And as the psychic wolves are at the door right now, pandemics and abstract wealth market crashes and nativist xenophobia all swirling around like a buffet of conditions to give the wolves another empire, another civilization to start nibbling around the edges at, these pilgrimages into the wall become harder. Motivating one’s self in front of an empty stadium takes an entirely different type of human psyche than playing for a large crowd of marks who have paid for the privilege to be a mark in public, wearing the right colors, saying the right chants, performatively creating ambiance. Remove all that and all that is left is raw fucking individual spirit. At the club level, I think Nuno’s a great person to have in charge during such times. But what competitions end up getting cancelled before this is all said and done? Serie A in Italy continues on, but is playing in empty stadiums for the rest of the season. Might they abandon play, to save the amount of money they’re losing? Is the end goal of these massive footballing league productions to have sporting competitions, or to make money? Are we making a pilgrimage to spiritual glory through the football pitch as our mosque, or are we just unwitting pawns being played for someone else’s profiteering, behind the big wall we’ll never cross? And how strong are those walls in actuality? If they are built upon abstract wealth, and the abstract wealth inadvertently crashes, some of these walls will come down too, and others will gain the abstract walls of wealth and put them up. New money marks will take over the old clubs. All of this is incredibly fascinating to me, and I couldn’t think of a better person to be in charge than a weird old footballing poet monk of alchemical gibberish than Nuno of the holy spirit. And here are the 25 men who have been the largest disciples of his in this recent process to make the Wandering Wolves of Wolverhampton FC a snarling challenge at the walls currently erected as Premier League power structures, saying, “WE ARE HERE FOR YOU FUCKING ASSHOLES!”… [RAVEN]

#1: CONOR COADY (same as the other two times I did this for Wolverhampton, last time was 01-Apr-2019; thus THREE METAPHYSICAL STARS in his metaphysical crest) – A dude with two assholish names all in one name is someone who has to overcome his parent’s poor choices, and as much as I want to whip up on a dude with a name like this, I can’t, because he’s one of us and by us I mean a Liverpool supporter so he’s a good boy. I know he wants desperately to play for Liverpool and maybe one day he can, but the Wolves are a good place for him for now. It’s like when kids go missing, and they end up being adopted by a pack of wolves and they come back all feral and don’t know how to talk and shit. That is the journey Conor Coady is on. He is running with the wolves, and when he comes back to Liverpool he’s gonna need some time to adjust to the life he wanted as a boy, but he’ll also have a bunch of crafty wolf tricks to bring to the game and hopefully, that’s what will happen here. I know this is gibberish to most of you, but fuck it, it’s important to point these things out and tell you when a dude might be a feral wolf boy. The world is hard for people, but for Conor Coady, he can shed his douchebag name and run with the wolves and discover the wild man inside and then come back and fuck the world right back newborn as a wolf and a man. [NEIL]

#2: JOAO MOUTINHO (up from #9 last time) – A veteran holding shit together for the Wolves as he plays his way into the dust one day, I have nothing bad to say about this dude. He’s been one of Portugal’s stalwarts from the time he was 18 until now, and after doing it up in Monaco which probably was a loaded deal with rich chicks everywhere and young Joao needing to fuck them as the dark and captivating Portuguese athlete, but while that world was probably a dream come true for him, eventually, he probably realized that there was an emptiness to it all, rich girls from all over come and go but poor Joao needed something that would stick around, and that is how he has come to the Wolves. Here, he can know that this isn’t just some mirage that will leave him feeling empty and alone, used while the blondes cavort on daddy’s yacht somewhere in the Mediterranean. Monaco is a trap, a fun trap, but a trap. But now he is with the Wolves and he can have something real here, which he has for the most part. I imagine home is calling in a few short years, but for now, Joao Moutinho is very much a wolf and he has a lot to give before he goes back home. [NEIL]

#3: RUI PATRICIO (up from #11 last time) – One of my favorite goalkeepers in football, probably on the basis of 1) his long (really, really fucking long for a dude just in his early 30s) association with the green and white hoops of Sporting Portugal and 2) his surname reminding me of the San Patricio Battalion. On the first point, show me green and white hoops and I will be in affinity—which extends even to my home state/commonwealth of Virginia choosing to issue incarcerated individuals with green and white striped prison gear. Sometimes on matchdays, I wear Celtic home tops and wonder if state troopers are going to show up and taze me while I’m picking up hummus from the supermarket deli (but only if they got one of those “buy one get one free deals”; otherwise I’ll be getting got by the Man in the seltzer aisle, probably). Meth slinger that climbed the wires at the Nottoway Correctional Center, or internationalist college English professor? Light ‘em up and let the magistrate sort ‘em out. On the second point, in some of that “secret history” they withheld from you in 10th grade public school U.S. history, the San Patricios were a group of mostly Irish-immigrant U.S. soldiers that took part in the invasion of Mexico during the Mexican-American War (1846-48) who, owing to being treated like subhuman trash by their officers (what with being dirty Irish famine Catholic) and being ordered to ravage another rural under-siege Catholic country (Mexico) said “fuck this shit!” and switched sides. And then proceeded to lay a hurting on white-ass U.S. forces until they were mostly captured and then, naturally, mass executed. To this day though, there’s a lot of Irish-love in Mexico owing to this. Throw in the IRA getting very down with FARC, and Che Guevara’s part-Gaelic ass, and you realize that only in America (and maybe Australia) have people of Irish ancestry really sold their souls for that certificate of verifiable whiteness. But Rui here is Portuguese, like most of this contemporary Wolves squad. After doing anything and everything that should’ve endeared him as an absolute Sporting CP legend (400+ appearances), seems he got mauled by some pissed off supporters unhappy at their club’s final league position. I’m going to hope/assume he maybe got hurt trying to protect some other player from getting fucked up, and wasn’t targeted directly by said fan. Rui seems like a solid dude, unworthy of such treatment. Anyway, that got him the move to Wolves (which to be fair, he was maybe already angling for, because you can be a club legend AND want to try something new). Regardless of Rui’s career trajectory in the EPL (which is looking good, to be honest), I really hope the Aztlan movement succeeds and by 2050 there’s a FC San Patricio Liga MX club in Los Angeles (maybe playing in yellow and green hoops, so as not to fully crimp Santos’ style). [PAUL]

#4: RAUL JIMENEZ (up from #8 last time) – Because the USA sucks at football, and I watch a lot of Liga MX on my Spanish language sports package (not a euphemism, believe it or not), I gave less of a fuck about that one white dude Christian Pulisic going to Chelsea than I did Jimenez getting hyped for his second season at Wolves. Jimenez is a Mexican national, and featured prominently this past summer in the Gold Cup, winning the Golden Ball award for the competition, scoring five goals in playing in all six of El Tri's matches (which they won). MLS hypes Carlos Vela as the man in Mexico, but Jimenez proved himself to be the actual man. Nuno let my man rest during Wolves Chinese hype trip, and has rolled into action in Wolverhampton big time. Let's compare him and Pulisic, fuck it. Pulisic has 6 goals in 22 appearances on an obviously crowded Chelsea squad. Jimenez has 22 goals in 43 appearances, including 9 in 12 appearances thus far in the Europa League. He had 17 goals for Wolves last season. Jimenez is absolutely fucking lighting it up in England (and Europe) and has to be seen as the biggest offensive star my home continent currently has going on the global stage. So why the fuck are we still worried about what the fuck Christian Pulisic is doing on the bench at Chelsea, or Carlos Vela is doing at fucking LA FC? American-centric football is fucking trash. I have already metaphysically emigrated to the Comarca Lagunera region of Mexico. [RAVEN]

#5: MATT DOHERTY (down from #2 last time) – I think we can go ahead and declare that an Irish fullback (right or left) is an officially-sanctioned footballing archetype upon which one might build a competitive as fuck club. In addition to his long and acclaimed service at Wolverhampton, through three league levels and not looking out of place in the Premiership nor in European competition, Doherty also weighs in with the goals (not necessarily a strong suite of many/most fullbacks). Dude also looks like a complete goofball, which adds to my speculation that he is probably a current Wolves Spirit Warrior, or at least the non-Portuguese one in the team. I can’t tell from photos if he’s purposefully working a ”Donegal” beard (what we here in the U.S. call an Amish beard and what also seems to be favored by harder-edged Islamic folk) or if he just can’t really get a good moustache going. Either way, like the mullet, when sported unironically these beards usually connote a dude you do not want to fuck with. If, on the other hand, it’s some hipster fucker with 19th century seafaring tattoos and a leather messenger bag, take the piss out of him—I suspect that Matt here would. [PAUL]

#6: RUBEN NEVES (down from #4 last time) – So many of these dudes are so young, and beyond the Portuguese connection, it really goes down to the long-term relationships Nuno Espirito Santo cultivated at Porto specifically, where he coached and Neves was a youth player. Neves is only 22, yet he's in his third season under Nuno at Wolverhampton, all the way back to their last season in the Championship. Neves is the vice captain, and if you throw out the sport side of this and consider football club mentalities a cult-like spiritual process, Neves is a key disciple to the spreading of Nuno's holy spirit of football. He's a defensive midfielder in the spirit of distribution of both the ball as well as the spirit. Sure, Neves scores goals, but his job is more to create the environment that goals happen more so than be the guy that does the scoring. Again, how many times do I or Paul or Neil go through one of these clubs, and an aggressive but balanced defensive midfielder ends up being a philosophical key component to this? It's always true when beautiful football is being played, there's gonna be a fucking bad ass international defensive midfielder involved in the process. In fact, if I was a nation that suffers from underperforming from national football identity, which is true for both England and the USA, albeit at different levels, I'd ask myself, "What can we do to encourage more native defensive midfielders?" Fuck it, I might open up a defensive midfielder academy, outlaw style, FUCK US SOCCER SUGGESTIONS, here in the Blue Ridge, for immigrant youth, a hybrid Sufi/Soccer academy in fact, where Ibn al-Arabi's writings are as important as Yaya Toure highlight clips. [RAVEN]

#7: LEANDER DENDONCKER (up from #16 last time) – Leander here is the son of pig farmers, which means that he is just an old Belgian country boy. He apparently has had issues in the past fitting in and accepting the multiculturalism of the urban world which makes him a bit of a shithead. It doesn’t matter if it’s an Arkansas redneck or a Belgian hick, they are all the same idiot. I imagine he has gotten straightened out just by being in contact with all sorts of peoples traveling as an athlete but that inner idiot is almost certainly still there and he probably will fuck up and say the wrong thing to the wrong person and get wrecked because of it but that’s just what happens when you throw these pig farmers into the big city. His ignorance will cost him, but he’ll always have home and the pigs and the country which isn’t a bad thing necessarily but the reality is a lot of those people tend to be ignorant shitheads. My own dad is like this so it’s something I am very familiar with. Sometimes you get lucky and get a dude like me or Raven or Paul who comes from this sort of thing but has a goddamn brain in their head to know that we’re all just people trying to find our way in life and it should all be peace and love. But I suspect Leander Dendocker is just another shithead who will bury that shit of a head in the ground where he was born and he will revel in his own ignorance even as it kills him. Or maybe a teammate straightened him out at some point. I don’t know. I am just a dude writing this gibberish for you and hoping that some wisdom is buried inside of it all. I don’t know what this dude is up to in his head or his heart but I can project on him and that’s what I’m doing. He is an avatar for that ignorant shithead and if that’s doing him bad, so what? He will be fine, a rich dude who will go back to the pigs and his ignorance one day, but for now he is hiding amongst the wolves and pretending to be a dude who gets it. These dudes will seem cool until one day they are just gone, back to the pigs and a life of ignorant idiocy. [NEIL]

#8: JONNY (up from #10 last time) – A Spaniard who spent a lot of years at Celta Vigo, Jonny is one of those one named dudes which is a tough thing to pull off if you can’t back it up. But I guess Jonny has backed it up enough and he is an important part of the Wolves defense. A one named man is someone who has to have a lot of strength and charisma and I imagine Jonny is one of those dudes. But those dudes can also be mercurial and divaish so he has to watch himself or at least he has to have people around him who will check him before he turns into a jackass. But being a rich young athlete with one name is probably too much for anyone to overcome and Jonny will probably have some issues in the future, like getting all coked up and sucking dick in strange places kind of issues. But that’s all in his future, and for now, he is holding his shit together with the Wolves. [NEIL]

#9: ROMAIN SAISS (down from #7 last time) – Damn, I think I really like this Wolves squad. Here again we have a peak player that seamlessly made the transition from the Championship to the EPL. Saiss is the defensive midfield disruptor that is usually instrumental to a team’s metaphysical success—like, if your DM is characterless, soulless, cold and uncontroversial, chances are you’re finishing in the bottom reaches of your respective league. Thinking about this now, I posit that the U.S. in particular cannot produce a DM of any impactful substance for the world’s football. Perry-fucking-Kitchen is really all I need to say. Romain is also going to appeal to me because, in a circumstance we all rejoice over in this project, despite his French birth and raising he chose to represent his ancestral Morocco over the colonial oppressor. I have, on at least one other occasion, emphasized that footballing support is very much about quite literally representing the club (or country) with which you ride to other folk both inside and outside the madness of football obsessiveness. On this point, I am always going to be a Morocco supporter because several years ago one of my wife’s old school friends came to town for a visit with her new husband, Omar, from Morocco. School friend was a very (VERY) white girl from, if I remember correctly, Indiana. She went hard into learning Arabic, and consequently went for an extended learning stay in Morocco, wherein she met and fell in love with our man Omar here. Dude was sweetness incarnate, who left his fucking falafel/kebab stand (it may be called something specific in a Moroccan context, so please don’t mistake my lack of research for cultural callousness) for love, to come to the U.S. and work as a cook in one of those heinous lower-middle-class-night-on-the-town-something-on-the-menu-is-all-you-can-eat chain restaurants. He told me of his laments at not being able to close his shop so he could run down and take a cooling swim in the Mediterranean for an hour or so when that North African midway heat got to be oppressive. Ain’t happening in the North Carolina Triad, my brother. But Omar loved football, born of a father who played for the national team (and I think still has some kind of coaching role at a club) and his own youthful promise as a winger, until some injury he could not come back from ended his career before it could really get started. Anyway, we watched football together, assessed tactics (my man loved a good cross, and humbly conceded that such was his especial skill) and players, around a (very) mild language barrier (“football is the universal language”) and now I back Morocco and players like Saiss—all because of those righteous connections with chill and sincere people. [PAUL]

#10: ADAMA TRAORE (up from #18 last time) – Traore has been an absolute beast for the Wolves, and is built like a New Japan wrestler from 1999. We often babble about spirit warriors, and Traore has shown his ability to occupy that role, but there’s also a separate existence when someone has achieved full beastly mode that suggests spirit warrior, but does not translate when the environment has changed. I kinda think Traore is that, and this unique set of circumstances both in club psyche, manager, and current squad culture has all come together, and Traore can just excel as a footballing barbarian savant in this special way he’s able to do. But it reminds me as a Swansea City fan of the Bony effect too, when Wilfried Bony was a dominant force in the Premier League, and got cashed out to Manchester City, and has never come even close to replicating the magical run he had at Swansea, like never close to it. I can’t help but feel like the exact same thing would happen to Traore, who much like Bony, rarely plays a whole 90 minutes during a Wolves match. This suggests a mental psyche-up that requires a lot of adrenalin and dopamine and all that brain chemical shit that gets us to perform at spirit warrior levels. It’s not a casual process for someone in this beastly mode. So when the environment is switched, the conditions aren’t the same, and the alchemy doesn’t work as well. I’ve been extra conscious of this actually, especially when there was a lot of transfer speculation around Traore in January, which means there’s even more likelihood of that talk this summer, so long as he continues performing well, because I want to see him play as a Wolves squad member up until that time. It’s not going to be the same at all, wherever he goes, and that means we’re seeing a player in his peak mode, right before our eyes. To be honest, as a fan of the beauty of this fucked up sport, it’s a joy to watch him. The whole club though seems to be suffering from a little psychic exhaustion, perhaps the lingering effects of Europa League extra fixtures, or perhaps you just can’t keep doing that – running head on into the financial wall of the bigger clubs that I mentioned in the intro. Even in a pack of wolves, one wolf will be the biggest and baddest as the pack descends upon helpless prey. But they also hit an electrified fence that won’t let them cross, and even the biggest baddest wolf can’t pass. Someone might capture him, and attempt to domesticate him into something he’s not, which is what will happen to Traore, and he’ll make a lot of money in the process. But he’ll never be the same when he leaves Wolves, so enjoy it while you can these next couple months. [RAVEN]

#11: DIOGO JOTA (down from #6 last time) – Diogo Jota is my favorite name in football currently. That shit just sounds nice. This fucker's only 23 too, commandeered from Atletico Madrid on a loan/then purchase deal back in 2018. Like it's easy to be like "oh haha Nuno has just stockpiled a bunch of Portuguese dudes at Wolverhampton," but this is dismissive of how fucking good some of these dudes he has gotten are. DON'T COMMIT ERASURE ON THE BRILLIANCE OF NUNO OF THE HOLY SPIRIT! [RAVEN]

#12: WILLY BOLY (down from #3 last time) – Rappers in the '90s used to say their style was "the Willie Bobo" who was an actual dude who did a lot of great work as a Afro-Latin percussionist on old school jazz funk genres. I can't even look at Willy Boly's name without thinking he's just the result of an old '90s boom baptized hip hop head half-sideways off some codeine cough syrup trying to freestyle "Willie Bobo" but it turns into Willy Boly instead. [RAVEN]

#13: RYAN BENNETT (down from #5 last time) – Bennett got himself a little loan to Leicester this past transfer window, mostly because Romain Saiss suddenly established himself as a fucking 6-foot-3 monster of a center back, after having mostly been a defensive midfielder last season. This is a pretty shocking development actually because as recently as Europa League group play, Bennett was not only defending competently but adding in goals as well. You don't often let a center back who can occasionally score go on loan, with an option to buy, which is likely what Leicester City will do with Bennett. But that's what Nuno has done here. [RAVEN]

#14: RUBEN VINAGRE (up from #20 last time) – Dude has not even turned 21! It's like there was a cultural logjam behind Cristiano Ronaldo at the Portuguese national team level, and all these amazing dudes were standing outside the practice facility, waiting to be admitted to the national team, and Nuno was just kinda circulating, handing out business cards, saying, "Hey, you wanna go to Wolverhampton? It's a place in England." [RAVEN]

#15: PEDRO NETO – The 7 and 6 of Pedro Neto and Bruno Jordao are a tandem in a deep sense, having both been with Braga in their native Portugal, both having been loaned to S.S. Lazio in Italy for two seasons, and then both coming to Wolves this past August. The two were both in Braga’s youth system together before being adults. Neto is the more initially promising of the two, functioning well as a speedy young winger for the club, feeding off their spiritual attack for 2 goals in his initial Premier League campaign, as a 20-year-old, when English wonderkids at the Big Six clubs are still getting loaned out to Derby County or Preston North End. But also Neto literally just turned 20 this week, and was born in the year 2000. That shit’s wild (with my old ass). [RAVEN]

#16: MORGAN GIBBS-WHITE (up from #19 last time) – This dude is a baby with the whole world in front of him still. He has come up through the Wolves system from the time he could first dribble a ball and while this probably won’t be the only place he makes his name it will always be home for him. He is a native born wolf and that is something to be commended and respected. He actually has done some damage internationally playing as a teenager, scoring a couple of goals against the United States which is something to be proud of for sure. Apparently, he was racially heckled by some dipshit Spanish fans during that same international tour which has to suck and I can’t even begin to understand how shitty that must feel. People are fucking awful and will make you feel bad about yourself if you let them so I hope that young Morgan doesn’t let those assholes get to him as he fucks the world through his twenties. Fuck the haters and the racists Morgan, the world is full of love and is just waiting to be fucked. [NEIL]

#17: JOHN RUDDY (down from #12 last time) – Possibly the only non-Fraser Forster English goalkeeper that I like, owing to his jobbing away at Norwich City, which I think of fondly because of their pleasing kit colors and association with Paul Lambert. I think for a while I also had it in my head that Ruddy was Scottish, because I figured that surname was some kind of Anglicized derivation of “Ruaidh” (which “ruddy” is anyway). John here also doesn’t have that aforementioned military-school white boy look of the high profile English keepers like Hart and Pickford—just some bullethead bald dude with some scruffy facial hair and no pretensions. Ruddy here is at goalkeeper peak-age, so I doubt he’ll want to stay Patricio’s backup past this season and the end of his contract. Thought surprisingly for a keeper in his early 30s, he’s already making noise about getting into coaching. Especially if they go down (which seems a foregone conclusion), he’ll probably be back at Norwich. [PAUL]

#18: MAX KILMAN – The child of two parents who are both half-Ukrainian/half-Russian, who wears the #49, as a defender in the Premier League. Max is short for Maximilian, which is what I'm contemplating changing my last name to - Raven Maximilian from now on. All in all, I don't really know shit about this dude, but he's got a quality young swirl of metaphysics going on. I think what he could really use is a half-season loan in Istanbul, preferably on a club with a GK from the Yugoslavian diaspora, who yells at him during matches all the time in a mangled English they both barely share before realizing they both speak Russian too. [RAVEN]

#19: PATRICK CUTRONE – I’ve actually been watching a bit of Serie A this season on the ESPN+ shit I got that goes with that Disney+ shit I got for the kids, and Cutrone already got crowded out of Wolves squad – I guess he wasn’t Portuguese enough – and has returned to Italy on loan to Fiorentina. Even before Serie A suspended fans attending matches, I watched a couple Fiorentina matches in front of sparse crowds at best, and Cutrone actually took over one Coppa Italia match I watched. Maybe that’s why the crowd was gone, as that’s Italy’s FA Cup. Nonetheless, that one showing gave me the false impression that Cutrone wasn’t fucking around at all, and just stomping on bitches in the Italian league. But his stats suggest that was a one-off situation, because he hasn’t scored otherwise for Fiorentina. What the fuck? How can you be a brutal bastard who is kissing your crest and mocking opposing fans sparsely attending a mid-week tilt, but not be doing that across the board? What’s the fucking point of excelling in a low moment, but just sort of shiftlessly wandering around the rest of the time? No wonder he got shipped the fuck away from the Portugese embassy in England. [RAVEN]

#20: JESUS VALLEJO – Damn, how did this dude even make the list? Real Madrid stockpile youth player (who’s not youth anymore) that got a loan to Wolves and proceeded to unimpress Nuno Espirito Santo [why haven’t I typed that more in these write-ups? There is no better manager name in football right now]. Now loan-shifted on to Granada midseason in La Liga midtable, where I’m guessing if he plays well enough they’ll buy him off of Real as his contract winds down. I’m so used to writing about mildly-hyped but ultimately forgettable interchangeable English central defenders that I neglected to account for the existence of mildly-hyped but ultimately forgettable interchangeable Spanish central defenders. [PAUL]

#21: HELDER COSTA (down from #13 last time) – Costa got loaned for the whole season this season to Leeds United, which is interesting because in the intro when I was talking about the wildness of Nuno as a manager, I had thunk briefly about how much I hope Leeds United gets promoted (which it looks like they might) because Marcelo Bielsa is a fuckin' kook too, albeit a different variety than Nuno. Costa had been a solid contributor to Wolves two seasons ago, but started taking less of a role last season, thus the loan move made sense. He's gone back to his productive ass self with Leeds too, even in a non-entire role, 4 goals in 40 appearances, and the biggest chunk of that has come in the past couple months. I guess Bielsa's nuttiness is partially displayed in his personal fitness standards he demands of his players, and it took Costa a while to get up to that. But holmes has played the full 90 for the majority of Leeds recent fixtures, even in the intensely congested Championship schedule, which makes this an interesting loan with possible permanent move, because if he's getting up to Bielsa speed the same time Leeds might get promoted. Costa could be back in the PL next season, in a different kit, and making noise around the middle of the table. And man do I fucking love the notion of a middle of the table full of kooks like Nuno and Bielsa and Graham Potter and those types who will never be acceptable at the big clubs managerial spots but can thrive in the middlings. [RAVEN]

#22: IVAN CAVALEIRO (down from #14 last time) – Nuno Espirito Santo seems like he favors a smallish squad, judging by the Wolves senior team list. I myself believe in a rigid 25-man, no more, no less, senior squad—every position duplicated, with a third keeper, a fifth central defender, and a fifth striker. Cavaleiro here, after a respectable (but not standout) EPL season with Wolves in 2018-19, went on loan to Fulham and then joined them permanently at the start of the year, leaving Wolverhampton with only one natural right winger (though he wasn’t getting played there anyway). Likely he was looking for more playing time, but it’s doubly confounding because of Ivan’s Portuguese repping (although he hasn’t made a competitive senior appearance yet, and there’s still time to go with his father’s Angola). [PAUL]

#23: DANIEL PODENCE – This dude has a lot of darkness following him but that doesn’t mean he can’t turn it around and be a warrior of light. He was abandoned by his Portuguese parents and was raised in the football system almost like how monks would take in an abandoned child and make him one of their own order back in the day. I don’t know if they still do that but it would be kinda cool if they did. But poor Daniel didn’t have monks. Instead, he had dudes who would kick a ball to him and he would kick back and I guess that’s how an orphan finds love in Europe. He played for Sporting CP which was probably all the family he knew until one day when the team was attacked by their own supporters. I don’t know the details but apparently, Daniel and his boys were jumped by their own posse which is some messed up shit especially for a dude who was abandoned by his parents. This dude must have serious trust issues and probably can’t let anyone get close and can you blame him? Parents leave him and then his surrogate family that cared for him through sports jumps his ass and sends him on a journey alone through the world, finally ending up with the Wolves who he hopes won’t eat him and can teach him to love again. And really, that’s all any of us can ask for. I hope young Daniel gets to be loved and doesn’t get fucked over again and again by people. It’s a fucked up world and people are shitty, but sometimes you meet the right people and everything works out. Hopefully, that is the story with Daniel and his wolves. [NEIL]

#24: TAYLOR PERRY – Young (18) midfielder who mostly appears in League Cup ties thus far, but did pop in as a sub against Besitkas in the Europa League. Dude has been at Wolves as a youth academy member since age 7, deeply steeped in this club's culture, and incubated in Nuno's effect since the arrival of the holy spirit. He got to play in the Premier League Asia Trophy competition, including the final against Manchester City, where he scored in the penalty shootout which gave the Wolves that friendly global marketing trophy. This is truly a club built with the possibility of a number of years of quality play, so long as they can keep it together. I'm sure they'll sell some shit off, but something wonderful has been put into place, that feels larger than just a single guy or two. [RAVEN]

#25: BRUNO JORDAO – Godly number 7 who arrived with that dude Neto by way of Italy's S.S. Lazio, which means they escaped early coronaviral quarantine vacations. The question remains, will football help deliver the coronavirus across the globe, passing it around like a triangular offense hellbent on full distribution? Perhaps the European Champions League, with its global cast of superstars, will be the breaking point for global capitalism. Perhaps its fitting it shall be in Ataturk Stadium on the European side of the Bosporous Strait in Istanbul where we've always pretended some sort of giant chasmic divide exists, between continents or cultures or ways of life. Virus and football recognize no border, and the ones we establish are always proven to be arbitrary at best, and require constant bureaucratic maintenance to stay in place. But even after empires fail and Premier League's lose their luster, football will remain. Pele was right, Africa will one day win the World Cup. In fact, there may be a day where Africa is the only continent competing. Who the fuck knows what winds shall blow the football pass that is history from the present to the future? [RAVEN]

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