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HAIL! GFOP

I type with fingers that are filled with Thanks. This, after all, is an early Thanksgiving edition of The Raven. One in which I am Thankful for Brodge, but not as thankful as Brodge is for Brodge. (Though Producer JW told me he believes Men In Blazers may actually be the one entity that IS as thankful for Brodge as he is for himself.) 

I have talked often about how as a newly minted citizen, I am a gent who loves America as much as Kenny Powers loves America. Yet, I have found Thanksgiving the hardest tradition to make meaningful. Lacking the familial memories and childhood connection most Americans have to the holiday, it has taken time for me to connect to it in a deep way. This year feels different. A realization I had while reading Brian Koppelman’s piece about the tradition. The Billions creator and GFOP wrote a beautiful piece in Food and Wine Magazine in which he defines the meal as a sense memory experience which connects him to generations past and future. A framing I relate to, as it reminds me of the one I experience through football. And which I will start to inculcate this year. A year in which we have all struggled yet have so much to feel thankful for:

First and foremost, I am overwhelmingly thankful to every Healthcare worker, teacher, essential worker, and all members of the military for their sacrifice and service, which is humanly inspirational. I am also grateful to every athlete for playing sports, which have been the diversion that has kept us sane when we need it. To Americans playing meaningful roles on elite European football teams. Four of the best American footballers ever doing battle in Manchester. The NWSL. Son’s Joyous Celes. Harry Kane's long-hidden, suddenly unleashed playmaking ability. (Proof we all have unlocked talents within us!) Jose’s surreal Insta persona. Bobby Firmino's willingness to set the press. Robbo's crosses. Scotland in the Euros. Mike Dean’s ego. That Kolo Toure is on Brodge's coaching staff. Rabbit Hutch's Rebirth at Southampton. Bernard, for making us all feel that we're tall enough to ride this ride. The integrity of the Villa Frat House bit. (We are nothing without it.) Jack Grealish’s calves. Jack Grealish’s perfect bum. Jack Grealish’s children-sized shin pads. Michail Antonio's shoulders. Nuno's thatched roof beard. MARCUS RASHFORD, MBE. Truly great football venues like Selhurst Park. Leeds United's lungs. Bayyyycon. Everything about Tariq Lamptey. Hector Bellerin’s approach to life. Sean Dyche's voice. Fulham penalties. Slaven Bilic's earring. The Sander Berge Song. The Second G in Gregg. (Not particularly fond of the first or third.) Gio Reyna. The Simpsons. Especially seasons 4-10. Rebecca Lowe. Pulisic's beard. Everton's September Title. Carlo Ancelotti’s left eyebrow. DCL's eight-pack. Yunus Musah’s Mother’s vacation habits. Big Boi’s owls. Tyler Adams’ natural leadership abilities. The Rose City Riveters. Erling Haaland’s natural ruthlessness. And more than anything: for the love, support, empathy and kindness of our Men in Blazers GFOP community. Bud Fam Blud Fam, I raise my beer to better days ahead for all. 


2. Men In Blazers: Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

i. Men In Blazers Television Show returns This Monday, Nov. 30 at 5.30 PM ET with our Carlo Ancelotti Special. It gives me so much joy to present this to the world. It gives you a sense of how, first and foremost, Mr. Carlo is simply a remarkable human being, and treats his players with nobility and humanity. Watch this show. It will make you feel better about life. 

ii. Yesterday’s POD with Davo was a blast to record. I hope it fills your Thanksgiving with joy. The pod is made possible thanks to our partnership with those bookmaking monarchs at DraftKings, which has allowed us to grow our coverage. They are the Best King since King Ad Rock. Access its Sportsbook here. For a limited time, all new users can get a sign-up bonus up to $1,000. Just enter code MIB when you sign up.

iii. Our entire Mo Salah Interview now on Twitter HERE. We are releasing our Big Boi Pod Special, which is an extended version of the TV interview, this Friday.   

iv. WGFOP returns next week. Call us ANYTIME at (646)-450-9472


3. To The Football: 

i. Quite the Champions League night. First up, Olivier Giroud delivered heroic Chelsea justice with his Meaty French Forehead in the 90th minute. What a gent. Who says you can’t have it all? Manchester United also summoned bold, aspirational Donny van de Beek-inspired football!!!

b. Then, American footballing history made at such clip, we are in danger of taking these golden moments for granted: First, 22-year-old Weston McKennie from Little Elm, Texas started in the Juventus midfield to become the first American in our nation's history to start a Champions League game for an Italian club. May he be the first of many. (Note to Twitter warriors: Roma did not qualify for Champions League play when Michael Bradley was there.) 

At the same time, 20-year-old Sergino Dest became the first American international ever to score for Barcelona. An incredible moment for the Dutch-American. 19-year-old, Miami-born Konrad One Name also made his Barcelona first team debut in the Champions League as a substitute. Two USMNT players on the pitch. For Barcelona! Yes, this might be their weakest squad in 20 years, and yes, they might have an eye on brand building. But let’s revel in it. We are living in a Golden moment for the growth of the game in our nation and we should savor every moment. 🇺🇸

One more US-ish note: Yunus Musah back on Premier League radars, including Everton’s. I crap you not!

ii. In today’s Champions League Action: Liverpool face Euro-Darlings Atalanta (3 PM ET CBS All Access) with Jurgen Klopp taking a victory lap on the Crazy Bobby Firmino Public Relations Front, comparing his tactical importance to Liverpool to a musician playing “12 instruments in our orchestra.” 

Good piece here on the secrets of Liverpool’s Recruitment team. A blending of disciplines and, most importantly of all, true integration of analytics in a non-hierarchical fashion.

A note on Atalanta, whose ethos I love. They will field Swiss midfielder Remo Freuler who has been hailed as Europe's most underrated player.

b. An epic clash will go down at the San Siro where Inter Milan face up to Real Madrid (3 PM ET CBS All Access) with both Euro-giants in the unfamiliar position of filling the bottom two places in their group. A Battle over a Moon Door!

iii. Proof that the imminent return of fans to football, even in limited numbers, is a complex issue: 

Fans' return will not be cash bonanza many EFL clubs are hoping for.

Fans' long-awaited return to stadiums could be hit by shortage of stewards.

iv. In Spain, Diego Costa and Luis Suarez’s Atletico are title challengers again. “Something, something Cajones…”

v. The USWNT will take the field this Friday against World Cup finalists Netherlands (12.35 PM ET ESPN 2). It will be so good to see Vlatko’s Wonders for the first time in 261 days. Fourteen of the World Cup winning squad are available. The names remain the same, the clubs in many cases have changed. Manchester City’s Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis. Manchester United’s Christen Press and Tobin Heath. Tottenham Hotspur’s Alex Morgan and Charlie Morgan. I am most looking forward to seeing Kristie Mewis return to the international fold for the first time since a savage knee injury in 2018. I revere her play for the Houston Dash, and the tenacity with which she has forced her way back to become one of the most impactful players in NWSL. Great piece here on the Mewis sisters’ reunion.  

I also found this piece fascinating: Sam Mewis talking about how much she is learning in England tactically and technically: "I think for the first time in my career I'm really trying to learn how to read the other team.”


4. A Brand I Love: Universal Works

I adore, adore, adore Universal Works. The London-based designer which has specialized in simple, robust, functional design inspired by the work wear of Britain’s industrial past. In lockdown life, their arsenal of Chore Coats and Bakers Jackets in a dizzying array of fabrics is a national treasure. I can speak from experience, their customer service is magnificent, and they ship to the USA. I own a ton of their stuff and would love so much more. The sale section of the website is where you can pick up bargains that are clothing versions of Andy Robertson and Seamus Coleman. 


5. “More Football Did Ya Say?” 

i. Football’s Best Moustaches. Movember meets elite athleticism. Or, at least, mediocre athleticism.

ii. A big exposé dropped over last weekend with shocking new figures on brain damage reveals neurodegenerative diseases were a factor in deaths of 42 percent of top-flight footballers from the 1965-66 season. Easy to see a future of football… without heading… 

iii. Incredible piece that will fill your day with wonder: NPR go deep on the story of a 12-year-old Lego Wunderkind who has dedicated his life to engineering intricate replicas of German Soccer Stadiums. Thanks to GFOP @steveglaros007 for sending this in. 

iv. What if Wrexham’s takeover by Hollywood nudges football into a narrative first, football second reality tv show reality? “At some point someone will become the first Reality Show Football Club. Borussia Dortmund, say, with their photogenic young talent from across the world (Will Erling forgive Gio for compromising his lotus position? Is Jadon getting jealous of Jude?). Or, just simply, West Ham.

v. Desert Island Discs with Arsene Wenger. Simply a must-listen. Brodge Desert Island Discs gonna be amazing. Four hours of Brendan's club mix. 

vi. Incredible Story: Bodø Glimt, a little club from Norway’s Arctic Circle, became champions for the first time last weekend. Their story is a heartwarming, inspiring one of innovation, experimentation, and an elite military pilot who works as the club’s mental coach.


6. Non-Football and All the Better for it

i. Why is Thanksgiving on a Thursday? Thank President Roosevelt. And shockingly, it pre-dates the Europa League.

ii. Thanksgiving is one of our loveliest holidays. But that doesn't erase its origins. Important interview with the brilliant Tommy Orange on the trauma of Thanksgiving for Native communities during a pandemic. His novel "There There" is also a must read. 

iii. Weird sign of the times. Tik Tok mansions are publicly traded now. Mourinho is this close to moving all of Spurs into a content mill mansion.
 
iv. NC Dinos won the first Korean Series yesterday. The trophy was straight up just an enormous sword. Possibly the only thing that can match the grandiosity of the Champions League theme song blow for blow. UEFA interns frantically searching for giant swords on Amazon as we speak.
 
v. The town where people live alongside Polar Bears. “If it gets me, it gets me.” 
 
vi. From Producer JW: Scrabble games at the Williamson house rival any football derby for intensity. The dark art of playing world-class Scrabble.
 
vii. One of my strongest held beliefs is that we should all play much more chess. The world would be a much better, more thoughtful place. So this piece brings me hope. 'The Queen's Gambit' Send Chess Sales Soaring.
 
viii. These are the job interview questions interviewees hate the most. Here is another one: What will you tell Mr. Kroenke to persuade him to buy a center back? 
 
ix. You know an interviewer isn't messing around when their first question is simply: "Do you think music is fundamentally good?" Masterful interview with a true Master. Yo-Yo Ma and the Meaning of Life.

x. 5 Songs to listen to over Thanksgiving about… Thanks… 

Days by The Kinks
Gratitude by Earth Wind and Fire
Stowaway in Your Heart by Lucinda Williams
Give Thanks and Praises by Bob Marley
Thank You by Pale Fountains. A song I really only added for my brother Nige. Pale Fountains were a Liverpool band we loved when we were kids. They obviously had listened to a lot of Burt Bacharach and it gave them big ideas. Still sounds amazing. 


That’s it from me. What a weekend lies ahead of us. In this time of chaos, it feels so good to have the opportunity to take a day with those you love and reflect on how even in this time of struggle, we should remember all we are grateful for. I am reminded of Elie Weisel’s quote from his Nobel acceptance speech:

“No one is as capable of gratitude as one who has emerged from the kingdom of night. We know that every moment is a moment of grace, every hour an offering; not to share them would mean to betray them. Our lives no longer belong to us alone; they belong to all those who need us desperately.”

In that regard, we are grateful for you. 

Much Love. 
Rog: @rogbennett 

On behalf of
MiB: @meninblazers
Davo: @embassydavies
Producer JW: @JonoWilly

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“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”

Philip Larkin
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