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In the parlance of our former oppressors: it’s all about to kick off, mate. With just nine weeks remaining in the Barclay’s Premier League season, four teams remain in contention for the Stanley Cup-ish silver trophy: Boring, boring Chelsea; suddenly disinterested Manchester City; Arsenal, currently smoking nervously in the corner and reading Gogol; and Liverpool, who don’t have nearly enough ill-begotten oil money to be in the title race, but here they are nonetheless.
It is, as they say on the other side of the Atlantic, squeaky bum time.
Have you spent the last six months gorging on Doritos in a crumb-covered NFL Red Zone stupor? Fear not, friend. We’re here to catch you up on all the diving and faux-headbutting, the absurd haircuts and namby-pamby chicanery before the frantic — yes we said frantic — end to the season. (Disclaimer: All games could end nil-nil.)
Jose Mourinho is a web troll sprung to life ala Weird Science
You have to give the guy credit. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who returned to Stamford Bridge this season after a half-decade building his own little psychological Carcosa for the press corps in Milan and Madrid, is back in England and more infuriating than ever. Last month, with his £345 million squad hovering near the top of the league, Mourinho sheepishly compared Chelsea to “a little horse that still needs milk and to learn how to jump” and insisted his poor team had no chance at the title.
Then, after eviscerating a hapless Tottenham 4-0 last weekend, Mourinho didn’t even stick around for the final minute, opting instead to bid adieu to opposing manager Tim Sherwood with the most patronizing handshake in recorded history.
The Grandma Double-Pat! Calculated. Artful. Devious.
Malnourished Ponies FC currently sit at the top of the table, proving once and for all that our creator is uncaring and cruel.
Manchester United is gloriously irrelevant, for once
Schadenfreude alert: Manchester United is spinning wildly in the mid-table void with nothing to play for except perhaps the livelihood of manager David Moyes, whose face is slowly being Shar Pei’d by stress winkles. Worried that an aging and hapless United means a more likable United? Don’t fret. Precocious 18-year-old winger Adnan Januzaj is imminently hate-able. Look at this flop:
Nevertheless, look out, world! All will certainly soon change for the better, as United has a brand-spanking-new, world-class digital scouting system. Ready to be blown away by BIG DATA and top-top-top-class analytics? According to the Telegraph, Moyes is now armed with iPads (!), PowerPoints (!!), and a “bunker” style setup that allows him to electronically access information on the world’s footballers with “the touch of a button.”
Fancy! But hold on a minute—the idea of a top-secret bunker seems oddly familiar. In fact, I often spend lonesome weekends in a dark basement scouring the globe for the hottest young talent ...
Yes, that's it! They must have bought Moyesey an Xbox! (360, I presume.) Armed with FIFA 14 Manager’s Mode, there’s no stopping the Red Devils next season. Can’t wait to see what Achievements they unlock.
Manchester City is a metaphor for the soulless global luxury economy
ICYMI: Manchester City is owned by Sheikh Mansour, the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. Mansour is — and you can fact-check this — a gazillionaire, which means that City has plenty of liquid cash to prop up the absurd bubble of debt and speculation that is world football’s transfer market.
You know the feeling when you’re perusing the line-itemed extortion of your Time Warner Cable bill and suddenly one of those twinkling commercials comes on the television showing heavy-sweatered white people buying luxury cars as Christmas presents? And you think — swallowing a panic attack — who in this economic miasma is fueling the Pursuit of Luxury microeconomy?
The answer is Sheikh Mansour. He’s Pokémoning all of the stuff.
But, silver linings, people. City has committed the only crime worse than being woeful: They’ve suddenly become very dull. A dreary February of 1-0 wins, dread-soaked scoreless draws, and a meh victory against Sunderland in the League Cup Final have put City seven points back of Chelsea with a few games in hand.
As the great David Roth observed after visiting Qatar this summer, there’s something unsettlingly hotel lobby-ish about all these hyper-lux vanity projects, be they oil-buffed cities or oil-buffed football clubs. Sure, there’s ice sculptures of majestic dolphins (Kun Aguero) but there’s also elevator doors that open to nothing but a bottomless pit of despair (Martín Demichelis).
On the bright side, watching City is briefly great fun because they always provide THE SHEIK OF THE WEEK, like this excited fellow below.
Liverpool is the most fun team in the league
Even the most intelligent managers in sports are total blowhards. Case in point: Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who is currently leading a Beautiful Football (™) revolution at Anfield while simultaneously being an IRL David Brent.
Before the start of last season, Rodgers stood in front of his squad holding up three manilla envelopes. “I’ve written three names in these envelopes,” he whispered. “Three players who are going to let the team down this season. Don’t be one of these names.” Then he set the sealed envelopes on a desk and walked away.
Oooohhhhhh. That's the perfect speech for people who are very passionate about the metabolic differences between WHEY and CASEIN protein powder.
Campy high school ferdbawl lugheadedness aside, this proposition doesn’t even make any logical sense. Don’t be one of the names, coach? You already wrote the names down! You licked the envelope shut! Barring an intervention from Doctor Who, the deal is done.
Alas, you’ll never guess the psychological trick the ol’ ballcoach had up his sleeve. At the end of the season, Rodgers revealed his motivational masterstroke.
“There were no names written on the cards,” he said.
This would have been poignant if Liverpool were actually any good last season. They were pants.
And yet despite all the cringe-worthy theatrics, Liverpool are downright magisterial on the pitch this season, playing arguably the most attractive attacking football in the world. If you want to be awed by the possibilities of human spacial awareness and creativity and also horror-show defensive calamities, Liverpool is your team the rest of the way. Watch this minor miracle, from Grown Man Who Bites People and EPL leading scorer Luis Suarez.
This is what counts as malicious physical violence in English football these days
Ready to be shocked? This is the sinister!, devastating!, game-changing! attack by Newcastle manager Alan Pardew on Hull City’s David Meyler that had the British media in a state of delirium.
Not even a headbutt, but more a suggestion of a headbutt. Watch your tone, old chap, or I’ll administer a gentle cranial nudge!
Pardew has been handed a seven-match ban for his uncouth manners. Odd as it sounds, English football managers could learn a thing or two about subtlety from their American counterparts. This is proper sideline subterfuge.
Arsenal’s impotence is summed up by Arsene Wenger’s stubborn zipper
The decade-old story: Flashes of early brilliance, a mid-season malaise, lots of pouting and self-pity, all culminating in another off-season Googling teenaged transfer targets with surnames containing Wingdings.
This was the season for Arsenal to finally break through. And yet they seem destined for third. When people say Arsenal lack confidence and decisiveness, I respond: Watch their manager battle with the zipper of his puffy coat.
Does that not inspire confidence, Gunners?
At the very least, Mesut Özil is a joy to watch on days when he doesn’t look like he’s about to crumple in a pile of bones at a mere shin-grazing ala the Skeleton Koopa from Super Mario Bros.
Arsenal also scored the goal of the season, which is something. They get the Teamwork Award! Yay! Orange slices for everyone!
They should just relegate the entire bottom half of the table and be done with it
Bad news. Soul-crushing economic disparity is now invading that last bastion of escapism, the one that helped you forget about our soul-crushing real life economic disparity. Turns out the EPL table is just as stratified as the unforgiving game of life. A whopping 10 clubs are still in danger of relegation to the second division. Cardiff! Sunderland! West Brom!
Why should I care if they fall into oblivion, you ask? Aren’t these clubs mostly run by despots, their stadiums filled with the cider-swilling secondary market for goofed-up True Religion T-shirts, their rosters made up entirely of late-career auto-spawning pluggers and long-ball hoofers?
Actually, that’s all very true. These teams are all bollocks and no one will miss them when they’re gone — with the exception of Fulham. Craven Cottage looks like something out of Downton Abbey fanfic. Underneath the pitch, poor little Daisy's running frantically in a hamster wheel to keep the flood lights on.
Fulham’s probably sunk, but at least we can look forward to glorious shots of children having their dreams crushed for first time in their young lives when their favorite club falls through the trap-door to second division irrelevance. Guess who’s sponsoring the kits next year, Joey? The Kebab Stand!