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HAIL! GFOP


I type with tired fingers from Chicago, where I have taken shelter, overwhelmed as I am with apprehension about the Massive Derby Weekend ahead. Everton travel to Liverpool [Sunday 9:15 a.m. ET on NBCSN]. Then Manchester City head to Manchester United [Sunday 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN] in search of their league record fourteenth straight win. These derbies are a strange beast. Games against local rivals that matter almost too much and exist within their own ecosystem.   

To the outside world, the Merseyside Derby may just be a regional scuffle between the Blues and the Reds, but growing up in Liverpool in the 70s and 80s, it always felt like something more. The game was nothing less than a savage battle against which I would fine-tune my sense of good and bad, truth and injustice, reward and punishment. This edition, featuring Jurgen Klopp, one of the best managers in the world, and Sam Allardyce, one of the best managers in the city of Liverpool, makes me "Nervo-mistic." The only thing I know for sure is that, in contrast to the prevailing atmosphere of carnival that grips the city in the week up to kick-off, the actual experience of watching the game will be tortuous. The football will be inevitably helter-skelter as the adrenalin-fueled atmosphere infects the players, local-born and foreign alike. Tackles will crackle. Headless decisions will be made (not just by Simon Mignolet). Red cards will be brandished. Not In The Face.

The Manchester Derby promises to be a defining moment of the season. City have sputtered in recent games, needing a late moment of majesty to extract their contractually guaranteed three points. Even with his United Pogba-less, the Dark Knight Jose Mourinho would savor nothing more than rendering his antonym Pep Guardiola impotent by All Means Necessary. Those All Means will revolve around David DeGea Plus Ten.

Derby Sunday in the Premier League follows a seismic clash on these shores Saturday. Toronto FC host Seattle Sounders in MLS Cup [4 p.m. ET on ESPN], a rematch of last year’s final. Each team completed remarkable campaigns with Toronto earning the Supporters Shield and collecting more points during a single season than any other club in MLS history. And, even more impressive, Seattle made it to the final after kicking off the year by hosting an MiB Live Show, featuring Sir Mix A Lot [LISTEN HERE]. I am fascinated by this title matchup. It’s a chance for redemption of sorts for Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. In the other corner, Clint Dempsey, who was absent last year with a heart condition. He will want nothing more than to prove the doubters wrong one more time. It’s a fascinating, evenly poised clash of U.S. legends with tons to prove.

2. It is with great delight we release our Crap Cat Club Tie. And because you, dear GFOP, are a Raven subscriber, you can purchase RIGHT NOW HERE. They will go on sale to everyone else Monday. It is our second Limited Edition collaboration with the great tie makers at General Knot. Our last release, the Warpig Tie, sold out in a moment, and it has taken us a while to come up with a second run. We could not be more thrilled with how this has worked out. It gives me an enormous amount of pleasure to see Crap Cat move from being a sub-optimal character on our show to something so beautiful. Woven out of Silk in Suffolk, England, then shipped over to the States to be cut and sewn by hand in Queens, N.Y., the tie is a really optimal piece of work. However, it is, sadly, a limited-edition, with just 1,000 of each colorway being released. Once they are gone, that is it. Your support of this will enable us to make more Crap Content in the year to come. And please support General Knot. They are a tiny, but brilliantly creative company. The David Silvas of the Tie Space. #GFOPs #Courage  

3. Speaking of our Crap content, we have loads of it for you in the next few weeks, with no less than three television shows to round out 2017. The Men in Blazers show is back Wednesday, Dec. 13 at 6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN with Special Guest and massive Liverpool fan John Lithgow. And Monday, Dec. 18 at 5:30 p.m. ET, it’s our Half Year Holiday Special with Mother of Dragons/Golden Blazer winner Rebecca Lowe, during which we’ll give out mid-season superlatives. To finish it off, we have a Boxing Day special with the one and only John Oliver. It is scheduled to air Tuesday, Dec. 26 at 4 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET. The holidays will be much happier if you avoid all of this. Next week will also be our last regular Pod of the year before we break for the holidays. Look for that to drop toward the end of next week.

Us Like Snacks,
Rog @rogbennett

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

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I. Men in Blazers Mood Table (Beep Bop Bow Beep)

Last month, we unveiled a project that has been rattling around our bald, hollow heads for years. A Premier League table, based not on points, but on the mood of each club’s collective fan base at the final whistle of their last game. Last month, the Men in Blazers Mood Table became a reality. This week’s table sees Everton surge from worst to first thanks to Big Sam’s 2 - 0 debut win over Huddersfield. The Big Sam Bounce, one that’s a 10, regardless of Richter Scale.

Since launching the Mood Table last month, we’ve received a lot of questions. Who? When? Why? Whither? We are happy to say that this human triumph came to fruition, like so much of what we do, thanks to a GFOP. Matt Gordon is a Spurs fan from Lexington, Ky. He is also a data architect and consultant (Here’s what that means: 1. He designs hardware and software to store data. B. He uses that data to answer questions and make business decisions. iii. He is smarter than us.) for a company called DMI, which is actually helping out with this project. Check them on Twitter, HERE.

Football hasn’t always been Matt’s sport of choice. But when his son was born in 2009, he found himself up at odd hours with not many viewing options. So he turned on Premier League coverage. In need of a team, he put the question out to soccer converts. He wanted a side that could play nice stuff, but wasn’t a bandwagon club. The answer, for better or worse, came back a resounding... Spurs.
 
Fast forward eight years and Matt is full-on hooked, a co-chairman of Lexington Spurs, leader of American Outlaws Lexington, and a consumer of our crap. While catching up on Pods during a work road trip in October, he heard us bandying around the idea of the Mood Table, and being a person of action, rather than token gestures, he tried it.

Here’s how it works: Matt setup a program that collects all Tweets containing a club’s official Twitter handle sent within roughly 5 minutes of either side of the final whistle of that team’s latest match. The program then scores those Tweets based on the positivity or negativity of the language. Each team receives a score based on their fans’ collective optimism/pessimism. They are then ranked to make the Mood Table. For those slightly more technically-inclined, Matt has a blog that explains this at a high-level HERE. For those very technically-inclined, a deep dive can be found HERE. These went live just before this Raven took off.

In a Garry Kasparov-themed, machines are not perfect example… Matt did reveal a quite enjoyable flaw of sorts in the system when Everton were battered 4 - 0 by Southampton, but still, somehow, weren’t dead last. This was because so many fans were Tweeting out they were “happy” it was David Unsworth’s last match. Asked about other surprises, Matt cited his beloved Spurs and the fact they have been finishing relatively low on the mood table in recent weeks, even in instances where they haven’t been woeful. 

“We’ve been spoiled the last couple of years. We expect to win every week, every match day.”

Statistical proof that Spursyness is back.
 

II. MiB MixTape Vol. 13: 2017 New Year Edition

Rog Writes: 2017 has been a year of challenges. In the world. And even more importantly, on the football field. When I look back at the music I have listened to a ton this year, the melancholy just edges the tracks that can renew hope. 

You can listen to the new MIB Mixtape on Spotify HERE. The track list is:

Look at What the Light Did Now - Flo Morrisey and Matthew E White (Rog) The single track I have listened to more than any other.

Movie - Tom Misch (Davo) Best thing out of South London since Wilfried Zaha.

Don't Huzzle for Love - The Apostles (Rog) The great energizer that got me through the Koeman wilderness months.

Forging - Xylouris White (Rog) This track is just sensational. Give it a chance. Use the back half of the track in emergencies. Play it in the last half of a run and you are guaranteed a PB.

Sign of the Times - Harry Styles (Davo) Just like KDB, not fashionable, but brilliant all the same.

Tangerines - Peckham Boys (Rog) This reminds me of Davo.

K. - Cigarettes after Sex (Rog) This song got me through the Gold Cup.

SGL - Now Now (Davo) Not sure if this was from this year. Don’t care.

Crash - Hogni (Rog) A reminder of everything that is good about Iceland, who will win the 2018 World Cup.

Shallow Digger - Siv Jakobsen (Rog) Rarely has someone who sounds like an Everton player from the 1990s created something so beautiful.
 

Producer Picks

Forget Me Not (JW) - Brian Fallon - Featuring GFOP and Watford supporter Ian Perkins on guitar.

Wolves - Selena Gomez

Bad and Boujee - Migos


III. The People’s History of American Soccer Hall of Fame

Your amazing artifacts continue to pour into the CPOS for The People’s History of American Soccer Hall of Fame. Good news, everyone! It’s visor week. And not just any visor. We’re talking a New England Tea Men visor. The short-lived NASL team only played three full seasons in the league (not including indoor) before relocating to Jacksonville, Fla. GFOP Niall Quinlan sent them to us and tells us, “Growing up in New England, I’ve been a Revolution fan since Alexi Lalas’s swashbuckling red hair was zipping around Foxborough. So, needless to say when I learned that there was not only a team before the Revs, but that they were called the Tea Men, I had to see if I could find some merch for the American Soccer Hall of Fame.” Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.  

Please keep sending the American soccer flotsam and jetsam that is gathering dust in your finished basements and attics with a note telling us about its meaning to you. We are sending patches to everyone who contributes.  Please post everything to:

Embassy Row Studios
Care of Men in Blazers
325 Hudson Street 7th Floor
New York, NY 10013
 

IV. #PatchAtThePark

This week’s edition of #PatchAtThePark features submissions from Arsenal’s 6 - 0 bludgeoning of woeful BATE last night in La Europa League, a first voyage to Goodison to see Big Sam’s Big Head, and a frigid Friday night in Bloomington to see Indiana take on Sparty in the NCAA tournament. Oh… and this one from Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund (eyes emoji).
 

But our favorite comes from GFOP English Bob who put us in the holiday spirit and brought his patch to meet and greet Santa Claus.

   

Good Reads

Leroy Sane: The making of Manchester City’s flying winger. Adam Bate for Sky Sports. READ HERE


Teenage talisman, poster boy and the hope of a nation - life isn't easy being Christian Pulisic. Jack Pitt-Brooke for The Independent. READ HERE


Sunil Gulati decides not to run for re-election as U.S. Soccer president. Sam Borden for ESPN. READ HERE

Podcast

Rog and Davo break down a thriller between Manchester United and Arsenal, recap another late Manchester City win and celebrate the beginning of Big Sam's reign at Everton. Plus, the World Cup draw and MLS Cup Final. LISTEN HERE

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

Philip Larkin
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