Mid-Table or Relegation Battle – Sound and Fury


…So go back to Harrods, have a nice little slice of Filet Mignon while I tuck into my meat pie.

Would you rather be a fan of a Premier League Team locked into a mid-table position – no hope of qualifying for the big tournaments – or be a fan of a team mired in the relegation battle throughout the season?

Credit, YouTube
Credit, YouTube

Joe Bianchino: This may not be the most pragmatic or…sane way of thinking, but 100 times out of 100, I’m taking the relegation battle. I know that sounds ridiculous, me choosing to root for the terrible team over the mediocre one, but it’s not about talent for me, it’s about interest.  I can’t imagine a fate worse than being able to turn the page on a season mid January.

I live, in the sporting sense, for those hectic moments at the death of a big game, clinging to a one goal lead with the opposing team on the attack – though the blood pressure readings, swearing, and mashing of teeth may show otherwise.  That’s why I love sports so much, the high drama, the intensity of the big moments.  And when, less than halfway through a season, I know none of those big moments are coming, I’d almost just rather not watch.  At least a relegation battle is rife with this kind of intensity.

Much the way Foreigner wanted to know what love is, I want to know what drama is.  And I need my sport teams to show me.

Mark Graydon: As a long suffering supporter of West Ham, I can say I am involved largely in the battle for 17th!!

But to be honest, other than the final couple of weeks when you may live or die by a ‘Carlton Cole off the shin screamer’, being pitched in a relegation battle all year is depressing.  The years West Ham finished in the top half of the table were joyous ones.  Finishing above Spurs is like Rooney finally seeing some ‘Butt Hair’ sprout out on that caveman-like dome.  If you usually battle relegation, you love having a mediocre season, unless you were relegated the year before that is.

It really is only magnificent or demoralizing for two or three games.  The highs are amazing, but not at the expense of an entire season.

Although Arsenal seem to be trying really hard to become a mid-table team.  C’mon boys, keep selling your best players to the competition and you’ll be there in no time.

Jeffrey Simpson Day: Wow, a rare and terrifying glimpse into the world of being a West Ham fan. That’s just really no way to live, is it?  I mean, at least I know the Cubs aren’t in danger of being demoted to AAA every year. Oh, and on a semi-related note, if I ever start a band, I’m totally calling it “Carlton Cole Off-The-Shin Screamer.”

As for you, Joseph, every time I think you’ve peaked in your wrongness, you take it to another level. Or, in this case, you add a new wrinkle: Not only do I think you’re wrong here, but I’m pretty sure you don’t even believe in the premise of your own answer. Which is actually impressive. Pretty much anyone can answer a question ridiculously simply to make an impact (some people can even make a career out of it…I’m looking at you, Colin Cowherd), but it takes someone special to give an answer when they don’t believe in the answer’s underlying logic. Kudos. So, rather than tell you why your answer to the question is wrong (which would involve fancy words like “myopic,” “debacle,” and “WHAT?!”), I’m stepping back to tell you why you don’t even believe your own answer. It all revolves around these two statements:

“I want to know what drama is. And I need my sport teams to show me.”

For people who are simply fans of their chosen teams, that fantastic Foreigner reference probably holds true. If all you’re really interested in is how your teams do, then it’s entirely on them to bring you drama. But, if you’re not just a fan of your teams but also a fan of sport in general, then you don’t “need” drama from your teams, you can get it other places. And I’m pretty sure that you’re a fan of sport, Joseph, not just teams. As support for my belief, I give you this question: What recent event have you repeatedly said was the best sports drama in years? I’ll give you a hint, it’s this:

(Or here’s the Cliff’s Notes version, with Bart’s babysitter playing the part of City and Bart playing the part of United:

Now, that moment involved City and United…but you root for Chelsea (plus the Rangers, the Giants, and the Yankees). So, why did you enjoy the drama of that so much? I’ll tell you why, because that moment was awesome for everyone. Sure, it was amplified for City and United fans, but that was fantastic drama regardless of for whom you root. And you’re personally a fan of sport not just your specific teams, so you don’t really “need [your] sport teams to show [you]” drama. And that’s why the answer to your question for true fans of sport is that it doesn’t matter whether you pull for a mid-table team or a perennial relegation candidate. Because the drama will be there no matter what.

Joe Bianchino: While I understand your point, Jeff, and while I am a fan of all sport, no matter how much drama a Pirates-Astros Tuesday night, mid-July affair boasts, there’s no way in hell I’m watching – even when Pretty Little Liars is out of season.  Yankees-Astros, though?  Yeah, I’m watching.  Because interest, and every emotion, really, is multiplied by a factor of ten when your own team is involved. Yeah, that Aguero goal was probably the best bit of sporting drama I’ve ever seen.  Would it have been better if I had a rooting interest beyond hating United?  Absolutely.  And while I know you, a Chelsea fan, stipulated that, above, I think you underestimate how much more amazing that moment would have been if it was Lampard with the goal and Chelsea with the win.  Try imagining that.  I can’t.  I probably would have dropped dead, I don’t know.

My point is this: though I often piss and moan about how no Giants win is easy, or how the Rangers can’t play a third period without bringing me to the verge of a massive cardiac episode, the truth is, I like it that way.  I don’t want it easy.  The rare 41-14 Giants win is one I spend perusing Facebook for the length of the second half.  I’ll take the win, but it won’t be one I remember.  It’s not a classic.

Fandom isn’t built on blow-out wins.  It’s built on the impossibly close ones, and the frantic nerves, and blood pressure spikes they bring.  I don’t want to breeze through a second half.  I want to painfully agonize over the drama of it for as long as possible.  And while I can get some of that with a third party, it’s never as fresh or as biting as it is with my regular guy.  I NEED THE GOOD STUFF, JACK!

You’re a Chelsea fan. Do you think the second leg against Barcelona in last year’s Champions League would have been as good if we were Stoke supporters?

At least in a relegation battle I’m living and dying with every game.  Stuck in mid table purgatory, I’m doing neither.  I’m just existing.  Get busy living or get busy dying I always say…

Mark Graydon: “At least in a relegation battle I’m living and dying with every game.”  BULL SH*T!

I’d like you to both know the ridiculousness of this West Ham fan having to debate this with two Chelski fans!  Bemoaning there under dog status in the Champions League no less. Waking up, surrounded by millions and likely to hear “possibly Naymar or Falcao.”  But really… “I wish I could enjoy a nice little relegation battle.”  Crap!

Maybe fun the first time, never for a life time.  So go back to Harrods, have a nice little slice of Filet Mignon while I tuck into my meat pie.

…ok so I then chose The Pats, The Heat and The Yankees when I moved here.

A man cannot live on pies alone sir.

Jeffrey Simpson Day: Mark, I couldn’t agree more, it would be great if Chelsea signed Neymar. Wait, that wasn’t the point you were making? Really? Because that’s totally what I took away from your response.

Joseph, I think you and I are officially out of our depth on this one. The Chicago Cubs lost 101 games last year…I’ve twice lived through seasons where it was a very legitimate possibility that the Colts might not win a game…but I’ve never had to constantly worry that one of the teams I root for might be so bad they might be kicked out of their respective leagues. So, I think I’m deferring to the West Ham fan on this one.

Joe Bianchino: Yeah…I was going to talk about how awful it must be to be a Pirate fan and never having anything to root for, and how having to win to avoid spending next year in the California Penal League could add some excitement but…yeah.  I’m just gonna call game, blouses.

And by blouses, I mean Mark. Well argued, sir.

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing – Shakespeare

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