Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Who to support?

Football's back. Normally this would feel more like 'FINALLY! Football's back'. But not this year. The Euros and the Olympics filled the void nicely. So did my love of basketball. But now that the football season is up and running, I'm faced with a yearly dilemma. A dilemma that only really affects how I watch the EPL. I don't have a team. I have teams I can't stand. But loathing teams only gets you so far. Using my old mantra of 'anyone but Chelsea' is all well and good but hating more teams than you actually enjoy watching starts getting old fast. This season, I need a team to support. To want to win. And not just because they happen to be playing Chelsea this week.

Years ago, I supported my local team. I was a strong believer that you had to be able to attend games and be in the same city to love a team. To follow it. To be a real fan. But around Euro 2008, the Spanish national team ripped every team they played apart and opened my eyes to what I had been missing in football. Being narrow minded and only following this local team, who's style of play I despised, made me grow pretty tired of football. Going to games felt like a chore. Watching them slug out 1-0 wins against teams they were far superior to but, because of their ultra defensive style, had no other way of beating them. When I first started watching La Liga seriously in 2008 after the Euros, I had the fortune of my new found interest coinciding with the beginning of the Pep Guardiola era at Barcelona. This team and their manager's philosophy on how football should be played changed my opinions on everything that I had before I ever saw them do their thing. Watching Xavi, Iniesta, Messi and friends made me realise watching football should be about enjoyment and not about loyalty. If the team you've followed for the last 20 years starts playing atrociously negative anti-football and starts signing players you can't stand, why keep supporting them? I don't see any real need for loyalty in football. Teams change, fans change, coaches change. The team that you like now, should best reflect the characteristics that you find appealing about the game. If you're old team of 20 years doesn't reflect these things, then it's time to move on. Who cares? Change is good. Keep things fresh. 

And anyway, who doesn't love these 3 guys?

So I'm covered for La Liga and the Champions League. Two of my three most watched competitions. But what about the EPL? I've found the EPL difficult to get into the last few seasons. Partly down to not having a team, and partly down to having the concept of 'THE BEST LEAGUE IN THE WORLD' constantly shoved down my throat. I hate being told, every time a great game is on TV, that this 'proves once again' that the EPL is the greatest league to ever grace our lives. Sure, it's a great league. It's strong. It's enjoyable. But isn't the 'best league in the world' the league that you have most interest in? I always wonder if Germans or Spaniards or whoevers sit around thinking the EPL is the greatest thing they've ever seen. Would Germans not think the Bundesliga is the world's best? I used to think La Liga was, but now I just think it has the two best teams in the world. The rest of the league, while of a good quality, mostly, is basically cannon fodder for Barca and Madrid. 

So, to enjoy the self-styled 'best league in the world' I need a reason to care. A reason other than watching in the hope that Chelsea might get embarrassed. This season, Spurs seem to appeal to me. I can't stand any of the established big teams in England. As you've already guessed, I loathe Chelsea (anti-football loving, Billionaire's plaything), the arrogance of Man United puts me off them and City are similar to Chelsea but without the anti-football. Arsenal I don't mind, but they kind of strike me as a team that's always destined for failure. Especially when they sell their best players every summer. So that leads me on to my new potential club, Spurs. My main reason for finding them appealing this season is AVB. I hated the way Chelsea treated him last season and I loved the way he had been treating their established stars. Putting Lampard, Terry and Cole's noses out of place was amazing and having the guts to stand up to these divas as the new man in charge was really bold. At Spurs, he doesn't have these kind of 'bigger than the club' drama queens and I'm genuinely excited to see what he can achieve this year. He has the Barca football philosophy of playing attractive football, closing down the opposition and building attacks from the back. No sitting in and punting long balls to a lone centre forward then. From his undefeated year at Porto he has obvious potential and given the right group of players, he could do a great job. And I hope he does. But more than anything, I hope that he goes back to Stamford Bridge with Spurs this season and absolutely destroys his former employees. I hate teams that treat managers the way Chelsea does and AVB had it worse than most in recent seasons. I love his enthusiasm for the game on the sidelines and the passion he shows at every goal. He seems like a good guy. He has the potential. Spurs have the potential. Spurs seem exciting. Let's see how long I can latch on to them and AVB for.

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