Diehl ’18: Picking an English Premier League team — part three

Sports Columnist
Friday, October 9, 2015

Here begins part three of my pick-your-EPL-team series.

13. Southampton

NFL team comparison: Indianapolis Colts

A few years ago, Southampton was in League One, equivalent to a third-tier league. The year Peyton Manning got injured, most of America wanted to export the Colts to the same league. Now both teams have climbed their way to respectability within both of their leagues powered by young, promising cores. But both lack the complete rosters to contend for the titles at the moment.

Sports-hipster category: Man bun bearer

Man buns are still cool, and a lot of people wear them. But they will never be “the” haircut, and they apparently pull out the roots of your hair. Supporting Southampton is cool right now, as they’re moderately successful, but expecting anything big out of them will also leave you pulling out the roots of your hair.

14. Stoke City

NFL team comparison: Chicago Bears

Stoke is a cold and miserable part of England, and it has a relatively mediocre squad. Chicago is pretty miserable for most of the year too, and it has also produced a sub-par NFL team. And they both need to get rid of something: The Bears need to get rid of Jay Cutler, and Stoke needs to get rid of its terrible location. Both look unlikely in the near future.

Sports-hipster category: The gloomy meditator

The gloomy meditator sits in the corner of the youth hostel, sipping his beer and occasionally muttering that he “meditates” and knows the real purpose of life. You wouldn’t know it if you saw it, though, because you’re busy playing drinking games with everyone at the hostel bar. Supporting Stoke will keep you in the corner.

15. Sunderland

NFL team comparison: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, if they played in the NFL

In what is becoming a common theme, Sunderland is also a terrible squad that plays in a sub-optimal climate (hint: lots of rain). Somehow it just survives every year, even though it doesn’t belong in the EPL, just like the CFL’s Blue Bombers don’t belong in the NFL. If only Sunderland could also be prevented from playing in the Premier League.

Sports-hipster category: The comparative literature major who became a hobo

You studied comp lit in college, decided to go into consulting, couldn’t break in and said “screw it” and became a hobo. You don’t have a home and you’re barely getting by. Sunderland shouldn’t have a home either because it doesn’t belong in conventional soccer leagues.

16. Swansea City

NFL team comparison: San Diego Chargers

In Swansea, which is in Wales, the main sport is rugby. In San Diego, the main sports are surfing and fake tanning. Both cities have decent teams that their residents don’t pay too much attention to.

Sports-hipster category: Beanie-wearing gym frequenter

Someone who wears a beanie to the gym shouldn’t even bother trying to be a hipster. After all, you’re going to the gym. If you’re American, don’t try to support a Welsh team. You’ll stand out in a bad way.

17. Tottenham Hotspur

NFL team comparison: San Francisco 49ers

In the past few years, each of these teams has been oh-so-close to being consistently elite. Unfortunately, following the loss of Gareth Bale for Spurs and Jim Harbaugh for the 49ers, both teams have taken a step back.

Sports-hipster category: Proprietor of an online balsamic wood glasses shop that only accepts bitcoin

If you were to start this business, you would be trying way too hard to be trendy, and you would surely be broke and depressed by the end of the year. Picking Spurs as your team is way too trendy these days — they’ll never be what you want them to be.

18. Watford

NFL team comparison: Cleveland Browns

Watching the Browns trying to play football is cuter than watching your five-year-old nephew’s peewee game. New boys Watford will also run around this year in their cute yellow uniforms attempting to play soccer.

Sports-hipster category: The dad who gave his four-year-old clear Ray-bans and an undercut

Yes, his kid is probably adorable. But c’mon, undercuts and clear Ray-bans exist to make young adults, not toddlers, look dumb. It’s a mismatch of categories, much like Watford and quality soccer.

19. West Bromwich Albion

NFL team comparison: New York Jets

We’ll keep this simple: Both are unexciting, struggling teams that somehow have good fans. Yes, a recent study listed Jets fans in the top five. Meanwhile, West Brom manages to have some of the most loyal supporters around.

Sports-hipster category: The joy-ridden, impoverished yoga enthusiast

She lives on her sister’s couch, she’s been unemployed for two years and yet she wakes up every morning feeling on top of the world. Or at least that’s what her Instagram tells us. Eventually, you begin to wonder: why is she happy? Can 5 a.m. exercises, tea and Instagram likes really make her this happy? The same thought process occurs when you see a West Brom fan turn on a game that results in a 3-1 defeat for the fourth week in a row.

20. West Ham United

NFL team comparison: St. Louis Rams

Both clubs are hoping to move into new stadiums that exceed the quality of the teams they house. West Ham and St. Louis both have plenty of young talent and exciting players, but the production still needs to meet potential with both squads.

Sports-hipster comparison: The person who reads “Catcher in the Rye” once a year and lets everyone know about it

At the beginning of each year, your friend announces he is going to actually try to live a productive life. Three job rejections later, his mind returns to Holden Caulfield land. The amount of angst in his every life decision leaves you astounded. West Ham’s inconsistent form will leave you equally confused, hurt, angry and frustrated as your J.D. Salinger pal.

Now you might ask, “Why even bother picking a team if they all have such glaring faults?” The answer, simply put, is because it’s an opportunity to create a unique sports experience. Being able to choose a new team to root for as an American should be a treasured opportunity to mess something up that isn’t your midterm or job interview. The Premier League is full of faults — not the least of which is a competitive imbalance that Americans scoff at.

But I challenge you to pick a team and watch a few games. Pretty soon you’ll be waking your roommate up at 8 a.m. screaming “bloody wanker!” at your goalie as he is beaten for the third time in the first half. This all probably sounds ludicrous if you’ve never watched, but I’ll take the maddening chaos, nonsensical results and downright absurd antics that characterize the EPL over any peace, tranquility and sanity I once had in my life.

Joe Diehl ’18 sports a pretty stupid undercut himself. Send haircut suggestions to


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