When we say we hate a team, do we really "hate" them? I hate Arsenal, but I have a feeling I would never wish ill harm upon Aaron Ramsey or Per Mertesacker. There is the term "sports hate" which more accurately sums up how much we hate a player/team/conference (ESS! EEE! SEE!). We’d never, ever want to see another player get hurt or relive the horror of a team perishing in a plane crash. But on the field? Oh I weep for the day where Ashley Cole is ritually embarrassed all day on the wing and craps himself on the sideline. The purpose here is to quantify sports hate, and see how it fits in.
The teams are ranked 19-1 from "You know, I actually don’t terribly mind them at all" to "I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND!"
I…DON’T…ACTUALLY HATE THESE GUYS
The plucky little team on Merseyside did the Lord’s work last season by finishing above Liverpool. They have a steady managerial situation, unearth great talent that works in there system, and are the classic "If we weren’t playing them this week, I could easily root for those guys" team.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Tony Hibbert
He’s been with the Toffees his whole career, and he’s made over 300 appearances with the senior team. Oh, and he’s never scored, so we all root for the day that happens (as long as it’s not a match winner against Spurs).
Cross-Sport comparison: Los Angeles Kings
Seriously, there’s really nobody that hates the Kings. They’re mainly inconsequential, but we were all rooting for them to win the Stanley Cup last year. Plus, they beat the Canucks, and that’s glorious in and of itself.
If there was an analogue to us in the Premiership, it would be Fulham. They live in the shadow of a more successful club that is rife with bandwagon fans, so whenever they do win, you always have a soft spot for them (see: 2010 Europa Final run)
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Martin Jol
Seriously, is it possible to hate the big teddy bear?
Cross-Sport comparison: Detroit Lions
Everyone was excited to see the Lions in the playoffs last year, and we all enjoy seeing Megatron find new and interesting ways to catch the ball. Plus, we just really want to see them win a Thanksgiving day game (most of my family is from Michigan, so this tradition is pretty painful in our house).
17. Swansea City
They’re Welsh, and it’s almost impossible to hate anything Welsh. Seriously, the only hateable Welsh thing is Ioan Gruffudd’s performance in the "Fantastic Four" movies, and even then, it wasn’t that terrible because his eyes are just so dreamy and…
Sorry about that. Anyway, they do play a smooth, slick, attractive style of football that Brendan Rodgers and Michael Laudrup are terrifying teams with.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Nathan Dyer
Sure, Michu and Danny Graham are more dangerous, but this guy is infinitely more fun to watch, possibly because he’s only about 4’8 and hasn’t stopped running since his debut in the Premier League. Seriously, I love watching this guy play.
Cross-Sport comparison: Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto states right out how they’re going to beat you. They’re going to hit home runs and when they’re done hitting home runs, they’ll hit a few more home runs for fun. Plus, the only Canadian team in the majors made this one easy.
If you forgot that West Brom was in the Premier League in years past, nobody could blame you. They had a very blah feeling, but have been a happy revelation in that they are doing extremely well with what could be best described as likeable no-names (and Romelu Lukaku, who can be best described as a Mack truck masquerading as a center forward capable of rending a fullback in twain). Also, the kits are beautiful.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Shane Long
Shane Long is the classic "I came here to chew gum and score goals, and I’m all out of gum" player. This refreshing honesty in his playing style fits the West Brom model to a T: show up, do your job, and good things happen.
Cross-Sport comparison: The Moneyball era Oakland A’s
A bunch of guys cobbled together that are playing well and are fun to watch? This one was too easy.
MIGHT AS WELL BE INDIFFERENT
A classic "If they’re playing a team I don’t like, sure, I’ll root for them, but I really couldn’t care less how they do on a game to game basis" team. Seriously, if Danny Rose wasn’t up there kicking ass, I’d have almost no reason to watch their games.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Martin O’Neill
Apparently Martin O’Neill wears 31 as the manager, as if he’s in the dugout spitting sunflower seeds and avoiding hot foots from Lee Cattermole. He’s also not a very good manager and probably won’t make it to New Year’s Day.
Cross-Sport comparison: Sacramento Kings
Sacramento plays their games in a building called Sleep Train Arena. That’s all you need to know about them.
14. Norwich City
Norwich seems to be doing the Chivas method of signing players only from the British Isles. They’re getting tremendous home support (which helps when you’re over 100 miles from another Premier League team), and their owner is a crazy chef. Nothing really to hate there.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Grant Holt
He’s big, he’s ugly, and he terrorizes back lines for a hobby. It’s more than a little surprising that he’s still in canary and green.
Cross-Sport comparison: Green Bay Packers
This one owes to the color comparison more than anything, but it’s the same kind of rabid support from a small town.
13. Wigan Athletic
Wigan ascribes to the exact opposite theory of player development as Norwich. They are set up as something of a refugee spot for moderately decent players worldwide. If Roberto Martinez had a calendar where every month was April, Wigan would win the title every year.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Ali Al Habsi
When Spurs were a CLUB IN CRISISTM this summer, I was a big advocate for this guy being the backup signing over Glorious Lloris. He is the Timex of keepers (takes a licking and keeps on ticking), mainly due to the fact that his back line selected to not play defense some games.
Cross-Sport comparison: Montreal Expos
In the early to mid-1990s, the Montreal Expos played the role of farm team to the rest of baseball, developing John Wetteland, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson into award winners before shipping them off. Antonio Valencia and Victor Moses don’t have the same change-ups as these guys, but the comparison fits.
The Saints have been a frisky team that has battled a couple of the big guns close, but just cannot seem to get over the hump unless they play the dregs of the Premier League. They’re probably going to lose to every team above them in the table and beat every team below them.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Rickie Lambert
He’s not terrible.
Cross-Sport comparison: Edmonton Oilers
It's not a perfect comparison (the Oilers used to be really, really, really good), but a rather inconsequential team nowhere near the rest of the league whose biggest rival is another inconsequential team nowhere near the rest of the league that will never keep its best players but every now and then will play frisky in a game.
Seriously, you couldn’t play defense for, like, 30 more seconds in the Capital One Cup?
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Adam Federici
What must it be like to be the second best keeper in Australia?
Okay, Adam, put down the Foster’s and you might be able to have Mark’s job. If he ever, you know, retires.
Cross-Sport comparison: George Mason Basketball
This one owes to the fact that nobody had heard of them for years, then they made the Premiership for a couple seasons, and then vanished back into obscurity again before this season. George Mason made a Final Four, but other than that, doesn’t have a whole lot to show for their history.
10. Newcastle United
Sometimes, you watch this team and wonder how anyone can compete with them and score at their pace. Other times, you wonder if they’ve been taught the rudimentary skills of football such as "dribbling" and "passing."
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: The Fans
This iteration of Newcastle doesn’t have much to hate…until you look in the stands and see some overweight shirtless foul-mouthed fan you can’t understand and her husband.
Cross-Sport comparison: Philadelphia Eagles
Obnoxious fans? Check. Crazy Rivalry that doesn’t matter whatsoever in the title race? Check. Can’t understand a word anyone says? Check. Haven’t been successful for years? Check.
THE LITTLE BROTHER IN THE BACK SEAT GOING "I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU! I’M NOT TOUCHING YOU!"
9. Aston Villa
They’ve gone from being one of the most successful teams in the English First Division (Seriously, they won a European Cup. It really happened. Stop laughing! No, really, stop laughing! That’s why they have a star on their crest and everything. No, really! I’m serious, it’s not like Manchester City’s stars, it really means something!) to a team barely solvent in the Premier League
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Stiliyan Petrov
I feel so bad for this guy. He was one of the most consistent performers in the Premier League. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Leukemia in early 2012 and has not played since. As a Colts fan, I know that feel bro, I know that feel. Get back out there soon, man. We want to see you back just like we want to see Villa be a good team again.
Cross-Sport comparison: Cleveland Browns
A team with a once great past that is now horrendous and unwatchable yet still has crazy fan support? Again, too easy. At least Randy Lerner got away from that truck fire.
I’ve seen "Green Street Hooligans." I read Mechanick’s piece from early this year. I’ve seen Andy Carroll play. This is the part of the list where we go from "don’t really want to watch" to "Ugh, those guys?" Plus, lasagna…
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Sam Allardyce
Big Sam and his stupid bus parking road draws. I have a feeling after spending about five minutes with this guy I’d probably be staring at my phone hoping that someone – ANYONE – called me so I could go take it. In my car. As I drove away.
Cross-Sport comparison: Michigan State football
We get it. You want to be a big deal. You want to gain respect. You make rivalries out of things that aren’t really there. Here’s the thing: no matter what happens, you’re still not going to be the big dog in town.
7. Stoke City
The first World Cup game I ever remember watching was in 1998 when Argentina beat England on penalty kicks. It was a crazy, fun, end-to-end game (as my 13 year old brain remembered it, don’t try and correct me!) and featured some beautiful, free-flowing soccer. It was also the complete opposite of every Stoke City game ever played.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Rory Delap
The man has one discernible skill (aside from destroying Ledley King): he can throw a football from here to Cheshire. If it weren’t for the anti-football that Stoke City employs, he would be sitting on a couch in Ireland eating whatever it is the Irish call food.
Cross-Sport comparison: 1990’s New Jersey Devils
When the Devils won their first Stanley Cup in 1995, they did it with the most loathesome tactics ever. They defined the Neutral Zone Trap and slowed games down to 1-0 slugfests with their future Hall of Fame goalie Martin Brodeur. Seriously, these things write themselves sometimes.
QPR is the kid we all knew in high school whose mom married some rich guy and one day stared wearing Tommy Hilfiger and Polo and driving a car built within the last five years. He has no shame flaunting his new found status, and nobody wants to hang out with him anymore
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Tony Fernandes
He bought the team 2011 from Bernie Ecclestone (another Hall of Fame wanker…ask me sometime about the USGP) and started spending money like it was going out of style on a 2008 fantasy team that plays like they just met 5 minutes before every game. ‘Arry is gonna have the opposite problem of what he had at Spurs financially.
Cross-Sport comparison: Chicago Cubs
Spend a whole crapload of money on a product that is utter bollocks but still fire managers and collect crazy revenue? It must be a good life.
I’D RATHER DRINK BLEACH THAN WATCH YOU WIN
We’re really splitting hairs at this point. How on earth does this freaking team keep finding ways to win? I mean, their midfield is old as Methuselah’s grandfather and about as stable as Jenga tower 20 moves in, but they continue to find ways to beat teams and come from behind to pull points back.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Sir Alex Ferguson
Was it going to be anyone other than SAF? I mean, for heaven’s sake, we have Fergie time named after the bloke. But this comes more from the way he could put Rooney, Scholes, Giggs, and eight drunks he met at the pub the night before and still steal a point against almost anyone right now.
Cross-Sport comparison: Duke basketball
Seriously, they’re the most punchable team in history, especially because they’ve got friends in high places propping them up as the best team ever (I’m looking at you, Dickie V), but it’s painfully easy to be a fan of a team that’s always good and has an annoyingly good coach that gets every break in the history of ever.
4. Manchester City
This kid is exactly like the QPR, only he’s also the captain of the basketball team now and dates a cheerleader. And not a good looking cheerleader, but the bleached blonde who has a snaggletooth. But he’s also throwing keggers every Saturday when his parents are out of town volunteering for Doctors Without Borders, so they think he’s awesome.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Mario Balotelli
Balotelli is one of 17 forwards on the first team roster, and the biggest jerk of the group (which includes a guy who left the team to play golf for 6 months). He is also almost unfathomably talented and yet still capable of producing moments of soul-rending petulance and idiocy, as though his brain left for 30 second to chat up the cute redhead in the 23rd row. The man shatters -- and I do mean SHATTERS -- the unintentionally comedy scale.
Cross-Sport comparison: Boston Red Sox
Terrible for years, but new owners come in and revitalize everything and just buy players. They cobble together a team that wins, and now all of a sudden everyone’s a fan no matter how unlikeable the product on the field is, as long as they keep winning. In fact, we sometimes even root for them because their main rival can be even worse.
This team hasn’t been relevant in the Premier League for a few years, but is still bandied about as though they’re a title contender. Their fans treat their place as a "BIG CLUB" as their birthright, but they’re a truck fire. It’s a shame Brendan Rodgers had to soil himself with this club.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez and John Terry are drowning, and you only have time to save one. Do you go see a movie or go grab lunch?
Cross-Sport comparison: Notre Dame football
There are countless fans of Notre Dame worldwide that could not point out South Bend on a map of South Bend and could never academically qualify for the school, but treat their fanhood like something that should be respected and be put on a resume. This for a team that has not been relevant to college football in almost 20 years. Sound about right?
I feel that if I were ever hired as manager of Chelsea Football Club, I would not even bother unpacking my boxes and just bring what I needed that day out of my Range Rover to the training pitch. I’d also look over my shoulder while I knew Roman Abramovich and John Terry planned my demise.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: John Terry
Cross-Sport comparison: Ohio State football
This team has had success recently, but has found new and unique ways to crap themselves on the biggest stage. Their one title was won under particularly shady circumstances and crazy good luck that could probably never be repeated. Oh, and they suck and are already discounting the fact that they could beat whoever wins the national title this year.
The evilest of evils. This team would probably kick its parents in a father-son game. They’re not afraid to dive, act petulant, and embarrass the game to get what they want, and then act like they earned it outright.
Player/Coach that best exemplifies the reason for this ranking: Arsene Wenger
If there’s a manager who believes his players are above reproach while vilifying anyone on the opposite side, it’s Wenger. He wants the book thrown at divers unless they’re advertising for Emirates Airlines. He employs a keeper that looks like Bert from Sesame Street. He looks stupid in a puffy jacket. He assaults water bottles. He probably kicks dogs off the pitch. This man is a tool.
Cross-Sport comparison: Indiana basketball
They’re the least likeable bunch of thugs on the planet who get away with cheap tactics to find ways to win and get every call in their favor. And Jordy Hulls and Jack Wilshire both deserve to be kicked in the balls nightly. Nobody likes Tom Crean either, but he somehow swindles kids into wasting time by going to Bloomington to wallow away their college years (COME AT ME, MENNO!). In a related story, I really hate living in Indianapolis right now.
Let me know what I screwed up!