Something Great

Arsene Wenger cobbled together starting lineups with spit and duct tape and Denilson and somehow the team dragged its ass over the finish line in third or fourth.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stoke Fans and the Culture of English Football

I was scouring the internet today to try and find the Shawcross tackle on Francis Jeffers when Mr. Jeffers also had his leg broken by the "fantastic talent" that is Ryan Shawcross and I stumbled upon a very popular* message board for Stoke City fans. This is the type of forum where English soccer fans such as "Shrimp" post pictures that have been photo-shopped to reveal how Ramsey had broken his leg before the Shawcross challenge. Delightful. Anyway, enjoy a brief glimpse into the brilliant minds of England's finest Stoke City fans.

Mozzer68 says:
Don't change Ryan, You are a Stoke legend.

A seasoned veteran of 2.5 years in a Stoke Jersey and 94 appearances is all you need to be a legend in the Stoke ranks. Oh, oh, I almost forgot, you also have to have broken two legs.

Suck_the_mop_in_the_prem says:
go for it mate stokies all over are proud of you. p s sue the arse off wenger for his comments

Whenever Arsenal players injure someone I brim with pride. It overflows. As for the post script I'm afraid I must defer to our blog's esquire as to the legal precedent of said case.

Dano75 says:
Head up son, you have been selected for the national team on merit

The merit of Ashley Cole's broken ankle and the steadfast erection of John Terry.

Stokie23 says:
Complete blame towards Ryan...your the future England Captain !!!

Prophetic, poignant and two thumbs up for the grammar!!!

Wycombestokie says:
It should be the proudest day of his life. Ryan Shawcross is the legend he truly is, in my household. I didnt care about the result in the end, just felt for him, like every other stokie.

Hmmm. I'm a bit confused with the circuitous logic (is the legend he truly is) and the use of that comma. But I won't nitpick, he's right that it should be the proudest day of Ryan's life... wait what?

Northwichstokie, bring us home:
You have all our support, what happened was an accident it happens in contact sport;
In 7 years of running junior football teams I've had 3 broken legs a broken collar bone, a compound 90' broken wrist and a ruptured knee (still out after 2 years) , none have been malicous, all just accidents, it happens in a quick contact sport.

Um. Sweet jesus. Apparently we need to send out some more well-wishes to the junior players of Northwichstokie who has his kids auditioning for a future in the paraplegic world cup.

Northwichstokie brings me perfectly into a note about the culture of English football. Cesc Fabregas mentioned something during his postgame conference that got my attention, "I know it's England and it's a great game in this country."

Is it? Is it a great game in England? Well Cesc is right about something;
  • It is currently the most watched premier league in the world (2nd - La Liga, 3rd - Serie A)
  • It is currently the most lucrative football league in the world (see above**)
But is England the reason why it's a great game? I'm not so sure. Let's take a look at the Champions League, who's final last year surpassed the Superbowl in viewers to become the world's most watched single sporting event.

Since 1992, when the EPL formed, 317 different players have won the Champions League trophy. Of the winners, 18 of those players were of English nationality. Eighteen. That's 6%.

But Juan, you're not counting repeat winners. You're right voice in my head.

Since 1992, the Champions League Trophy has been kissed 398 times. 23 of those kisses came from an English International.
What about other nationalities? Here they are in alphabetical order:
Argentina - 11
Brazil - 30
England - 23
France - 30
Germany - 30
Italy - 68
Netherlands - 23
Portugal - 20
Spain - 93 (wow)
Uruguay - 1 (holler!)

If you equate "great" with "success" then you're definitely not talking about English players. They make up only 6% of successful Champions League winners. 2nd and 3rd place markets, Spain and Italy, pull up the slack (23% and 17% respectively). Those countries are the breeding ground for great football, not England.

You don't like the comparison at the club level? How about the World Cup? There have been 18 World Cups, England has won once. That is - drumroll please... 6% of the World Cup titles!

What do Dan Smith, Martin Taylor and Ryan Shawcross (and Kevin Nolan, Christ!) all have in common? They're all English. So when Fabregas says, "I know it's England," what he's saying is that he knows it's a physical game. Last year English players made up 34% of the league. That's (obviously) way way higher than La Liga and the Serie A. So, like Arsene Wenger, I too don't believe in coincidences. And while people coughxenophobescough complain that there aren't enough English players in the EPL, there may already be too many! If the difference between La Liga and the EPL at the player level is the amount of Englishmen and the result is leg-shattering tackles, then 34% is far too many. I watched Juventus a few months after I started watching Arsenal years ago, and yes, I've seen bad tackles. But again, I too don't believe in coincidences.

Furthermore, it's a regretful, agonizing shame that England is where all the money is. The TV deals that make England the place where the world's talent goes to risk their limbs against sorry English inbreeds is a tragedy. It's like putting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to play in the streets of East St. Louis. And I can't help but think that when Arsene Wenger says, "that is not football for me. It is not what I like in the game. If you have to live with that, I refuse to do that," he's feeling the same way.

*According to google as a search for "Stoke City message board" has the aforementioned site listed first.
** The bundesliga may be 3rd place, it doesnt change my point so I'm too lazy to look it up