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HAIL! GFOP

I type with fingers tingling with an awareness that we are living in incredible times: Chicago Bears 4-1. Everton 4-0. And an International Break to cryogenically freeze my joy and extend it for at least another week.

Which I have mixed feelings about to be honest. Carlo Ancelotti’s transformation has been humanly astonishing to experience. I have spent the week receiving emails from distant cousins and old friends I have not heard from in eons, all of whom have been moved to reach out and just savor Everton’s Dumbo flying. Yet next weekend’s Anfield Derby quivers in front of us. Pulsating like an orb whose power eclipses my own, filling me with fear and trepidation, born of dark memory after dark memory. I am a big proscriber of ripping bandaids off in life. I fear a rude awakening awaits. Yet, at the same time, I want to savor this innocent triumphant pleasure for just another week.

I will fill the time by watching Diego Schwartzman, one of my top five male tennis players all-time. A gent whose tenacity makes him the Everton of clay court-play. I should also say, I am interviewing Carlo Ancelotti himself next week! An honor and a joy up there with speaking to the Oracle of Delphi. Let us know what questions you have for Carlo Magnifico HERE.


2. Men In Blazers Forever Onwards

i. Our International Break Spoiler Alert Preview can be found here. A preview of the greatest games of the weekend powered by our partnership with those bookmaking monarchs at DraftKings. We are so grateful to them for their support, which has allowed us to grow our coverage. They are the Best King since James. Access its Sportsbook here. For a limited time, all new users can get a sign-up bonus up to $1000. Just enter code MIB when you sign up. 

ii. I loved podding with Davo this week. More than ever, our tapings provide an incredible release for both of us. An unbridled joy. We broke down the bonkers, surreal Premier League action, Everton’s Charles Atlas Moment, and wondered whether The Brodge, as great a coach as he thinks he is, would make an even better televangelist. LISTEN HERE
 
iii. MiB Show Returns! Monday, Oct. 19! On NBCSN! And our guest is… the magnificent Niall Horan, a Derby County fanatic, with whom we talked about the peculiar joys of fandom and Derby County’s infamous 2007- 2008 11-point Premier League Season O’ Disaster. Save the Date: Nov. 2nd is the next show. Gio Reyna - American Soccer Tyler Herro - guests.


3. To the Football

We are in an international break. Up top, I should say, amidst a Global Covid Crisis, gathering these players from all points, mixing them all together, then sending them back might not be the smartest thing football has done in the world. Miguel Delaney makes that case in his thoughtful piece “Misguided international break exposes football’s lack of truly collective thinking over Covid-19”: “If you wanted to test (football’s protocols) to the limit, one way would be to take hundreds of players out of their club bubbles and send them in different directions all over the world across multiple national borders. That is how clusters can spread.”

Thus we are treated to the nonsense spectacle of an international team having to dress a 45-year-old retired goalkeeper in their squad, because three other keepers tested positive for coronavirus. Having said that. Let’s dive in:

ii. England beat Wales 3-0 in a meaningless friendly ahead of their mouthwatering Nations League clash against FIFA’s top ranked Belgium on Sunday at 12 p.m. ET on ESPN+ with an experimental inexperienced team and, in Dominic Calvert-Lewandowski and Connor Coady, two debutant goalscorers. DCL’s goal, from long range, by his standards, after a poetic cross from Cazoo Twin Jack Grealish, was another exclamation point in his month of wonder. A kid who has ground his way from non-league loanee to English hero, with true humility and perseverance in the face of doubters.  

When I watched him score, my mind went back to our DCL special in which he said the following: "Playing for England, it's every boy's dream. And I would wish I could play for England one day when I was a young kid, so to be in the position I'm in, I'm fully focused to try and achieve that." Keep dreaming, GFOPs. Keep Dreaming. And listen to our conversation with Dominic Calvert-Lewin here. It is inspirational.

iii. Big win for Andy Robbo, Scotland and IRN BRU. I watched this game rooting for Israel. I would love, love, love to watch them play in a major tournament in my lifetime. It was not to be. They are like Spurs. But as a National Team. Sorry for Ireland. I long for you, too. 

iv. It should be noted how genuinely sad it is that COVID prevented our U.S. Men from coming together in this window. Out of Darkness cometh Light: A record 10 players have made Champions League squads. We are living in incredible days in terms of a rebirth of our men’s team. Young players willing to grind their way to top levels of the European game. In making their individual dreams come true, may they make our collective ones real, too.

For now, let's settle for word that U.S. Soccer is working through details and logistics for a camp with Euro-based players during next month’s window, with two friendlies rumored -- one at Wales, the other TBD. Doug McIntyre salivates over potential squads.


4. Club Football. Where our mind is really at

i. In Premier League news, after a transfer window which demonstrated fanless football does not mean the poor house, the big question: How did the Premier League spend £1.2billion in a pandemic? “Billion, did ya say?” 

ii. Chelsea fans grimace: Goalkeeper Mendy injured his thigh whilst on Senegal duty. The club are waiting for an assessment of the severity of the knock.  

iii. “Manchester United will continue to waste time, money and transfer windows with the wrong men in charge.”  
 
iv. We love Emiliano Martinez and believe Aston Villa got a true winner on the cheap by signing him: “I always wanted to leave Arsenal on a high and I’m so proud. It was time to say goodbye.” Must've had inside info Gunnersaurus was leaving.

v. America: Two U.S. Internationals are playing for Barcelona!!! 
Rest of the world: Barcelona are in chaos and falling apart. Understand the latter view and brace yourself for turbulence in Catalonia.

vi. The Next Generation 2020: 60 of the best young talents in world football. There is an American on this list, but not a household name. 

vii. Argentina. A deep pool of soccer talent is drying up. Why? Rory Smith follows the money.

viii. Fulham fans. This season is shaping up to be filled with hard yards. Revel in your golden memories. Relive the magical Fulham run to the 2010 Europa League final. Proof you can have nice things. Clintu Dinks

ix. Genuinely sad to see Ben Olsen fired as D.C. United coach, ending a lengthy tenure amid miserable season. We have oft joked Ben was the American Wenger. A gent whose personna so infused the club he managed. This dude IS DC. Up there with Ben's Chili Bowl, Lucky Bar and Go-go. We loved him as a player and a manager. When you talk about tenacity, you think Ben Olsen. So many nights at RFK watching him steam into tackles and square up to bigger boys. And that doesn't even count his playing days. I have to say though, when I think about Ben, first and foremost, I think about a true mensch. He is an incredible human being, filled with empathy, warmth, and joy. We wish he and his family all the best and hope for better days ahead for all.


5. WoSo

i. Good news: Rose Lavelle nonchalantly scored her first ever Manchester City goal with this neat near-post volley. Bad news: it was against Everton. May it be the first of many.

ii. 'Heartbreaking': survey reveals extent of gender discrimination in football. Sexism experienced by two-thirds of women working in football.
 
iii. Alex Morgan meditating on the balance between a return to football and mothering. Proper Hero.


6. Icons: Holiday Present for Myself given by Myself

I have started holiday shopping like a mad man this year. Put it down to Isolation. Insomnia. Loneliness. And have been hitting Icons pretty hard. It is the store where footballers sign stuff. I started with a Maradona poster, moved to a James Colombia shirt, and ended up going all out on a pair of Duncan Ferguson pair of boots. Enough damage for me to end up on their radar and get a reduction that I am going to pass on to you. If you have a football fan in your life and a finished basement with a space on the wall. This place is pretty bonkers. The code they gave me is MIB10, which entitles you to 10% off. Genuinely love flicking through this site. This paragraph was typed whilst wearing a pair of Big Dunc’s Cleats. 


7. Not Football. But you can deal with it

i. Cyclists fined for wearing what can only be described as MC Escher meets disco meets Donald Duck. Strong contenders for best kit of the year: Future Manchester United kit designers feast your eyes on that psychedelic, MC Escher, hypebeast glory

ii. Honest, delightful profile of one of the most exciting artists of the past five years: The World According to Bad Bunny.

iii. Searching for a more secluded locale to weather the second wave? The Island That Humans Can’t Conquer.

iv. Never thought I'd write these words, but Sacha Baron Cohen wants you to take this situation seriously. Chaotic times make for strange heroes, and Sacha, whom I grew up with as kids in England, has bravely stepped forward in the most articulate of ways.

v. The Nation as Disney Channel Original Movie: An emotionally complex story of how our inside information about the White House came to hinge on the caprice of one 15-year-old girl.

vi. "It’s really hard to quit a serialized narrative full of dramatic twists and turns once you’ve so deeply committed to it." How Fox News molds reality into a serialized TV drama.

vii. Weekend poetry primer. Louise Glück: where to start. The New York Times calls the new Nobel Prize winner’s classic book “Ararat,” “the most brutal and sorrow-filled book of poetry published in the last 30 years.” Is it just a metaphor for Everton?

viii. @ all francophiles: The BBC wants us to stop lying to ourselves about Paris. Why film always gets Paris so very wrong.

ix. Reading Too Much Political News Is Bad for Your Well-Being. Pair this with a good obsessive angry-scroll through Twitter for an effective lesson on masochistic decision-making.

x. We know it matters to Twenty-First Century Hero Héctor Bellerín, but do sports teams’ sustainability efforts matter to fans?

xi. Let Haim’s one-take live parking lot performance of Gasoline mesmerize you.


That’s it for this week. Huge love to guitar innovator, Eddie Van Halen, on his passing. “Why Can’t This Be Love” was playing during my first kiss, as Sammy Hagar bellowed “Oh here it comes/That funny feeling again winding me up inside.”

I leave you with this 12-minute guitar solo which conjures all the moods. I love the bit he does with the Cigarette. Living proof that in life, “You only have 12 notes. Do what you want with them.” Wherever he is right now, I have no doubt he will keep shredding.
 
Courage, 
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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