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MIB is driven by a belief that Soccer is America’s Sport of the Future. As it has been since 1972.

Hail GFOP!

Welcome to newsletter #9

I write to you after recording the first pod of 2012 and then drowning my sorrows in the wake of Wednesday afternoon’s Premier League action. After centuries of false prophecies, few could have foreseen that The Rapture would take place on a wet and windy night in which Everton hosted Bolton. Landon Donovan’s Second Coming. He Has Risen!

It all began so brightly. Ahead of the game, Manhattan was awash in Landon Donovan Everton jerseys. A city buzzing with anticipation. As I scurried down Broadway moments before kick-off, the streets were deserted. Cupping my ear, chants of "USA! USA! USA!" became faintly audible at every door way. America was ready for America’s team.

Such is The Mystery.

The Weather was terrible. The football was worse. The first-half felt like a scrimmage. The second was as ugly as Denis Stracqualursi. A striker who Everton only wish could be as useful on the field as he is on the Scrabble board (22 points.)

The USA! USA! USA! chants soon resounded. But Timothy Howard was the worthy recipient. After executing two fine saves, he thundered home a freak goal  -- with an assist on the miracle by St. Landon no doubt. Howard now stands a solitary goal behind Fernando Torres and Andy Carroll in the scoring charts, the kind of form that according to @Killzilla may make him the answer to Jurgen Klinsmann’s prayers as the next great American striker.

The less said about the rest of the game the better. America’s Team were roughed up by cellar-dwelling Bolton. A side whose manager, Owen Coyle, looks like George Clooney if he was beaten up in a pool hall.

Looking on the bright side, Landon will now be fully aware just how bad this Everton team are: Andy Carroll bad. An impotent bunch who can dominate possession without mustering any real threat. St. Landon will add quality to this side. But so would noted fashion photographer, Terence Donovan, Big Audio Dynamite’s Dan Donovan or Shaun Donovan, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. I only wish the last three were available on loan deals.

We will break out the game in great detail on our SiriusXM show on Friday (9am ET) and we welcome your emails at meninblazers@gmail.com and tweets discussing how the next eight weeks will pan-out for St. Landon.

He Has Risen,
Rog
@rogbennett

on behalf of
Uncle Mikey Davies
@embassydavies
@meninblazers




I. AMERICA! HERE ARE YOUR WEEKEND PLANS

- Macclesfield Town v. Bolton (FA Cup)
10:00am ET on Saturday, 1/7  Fox Soccer

- Real Madrid v. Granada (La Liga)
2:00pm ET on Saturday, 1/7 GolTV

- Manchester City v. Man United (FA Cup)
8:00am ET on Sunday, 1/8 Fox Soccer

- Palermo v. Napoli (Serie A)
2:45pm ET on Sunday, 1/8 Fox Soccer


II. WHAT DO YOU BUY THE REFEREE WHO HAS EVERYTHING?

If you like being conned, this coin is for you. Eagle-eyed GFOP @THATJoshKail found this latest offer/scam dreamt up by the devious minds at the Royal Mint. A limited edition 50 pence piece depicting the offside rule. Priced to go at 2.99 GBP. A cheap educational tool for the Football Association to invest in to improve the standard of Premier League refereeing perhaps.


III. TWO BOOKS: ONE TO READ. ONE TO AVOID LIKE THE CLAP

We mentioned two books on today’s pod. Davo referred to one I have written about before but it is so good it warrants multiple mentions. Robert Enke: A Life Too Short by Ronald Reng. A beautiful volume about Enke, a young German goalkeeping superstar who suffered from depression and took his own life ahead of the 2010 World Cup. I cannot recommend it enough.

We also mentioned John Terry’s autobiography JT: Captain, Leader, Legend, which Davo sent to me as part of his holiday gift.  I only mention it here, because after I tweeted the cover, I was deluged with responses from GFOP’s asking why JT appeared to be giving a Nazi salute on the cover. An unfortunate coincidence, I imagine.


IV. GFOP LETTERS: CURTIS HAS WIFE OF THE WEEK

Curtis Pierce: I wanted to share an incident that happened to me last week...

On Christmas Eve, I was walking on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills with my wife and two-month-old daughter. And who do I see approaching me but Piers Morgan. Now, as a Chelsea fan, he represents everything I loathe about Arsenal and its supporters. So, my mind starts spinning as I try to come up with something snide to say.

As Piers gets within range, I look straight at him, smile, and say the only thing that comes to mind in the moment... "Go Chelsea!" Looking back, this wasn't the magical statement I'd hoped to summon. However, Piers seemed to take it that way. After I said "Go Chelsea," he looked completely shocked as if I'd slapped his mum in front of him, then the shock changed to utter disgust. He quickly brushed past me without saying a word... Not even a clever quip.

My wife did though. All she said was, "I don't even know who you are anymore." And off we went in silence.

Rog: But we do. We do.


V. INDULGE ME WHILE I LOOK AT HOWARD'S MIGHTY GOAL ONCE MORE

Watching this feels as medicinal as shot-gunning a can of Boddingtons. Question is, was he really being modest with his non-celebration or was he channeling Mario Balotelli?


VI. ROY HODGSON IS A VIRAL VIDEO WAITING TO HAPPEN

You may know Roy Hodgson as the avuncular manager of West Brom. Last season, you may have savored his viral video masterpiece, the Fractious Hamster. Last week, you must have been thrilled by his sequel, The Wall Headbanger, which inspired GIF artists to unleash some of their finest work. We think Roy does not get enough credit. He may be an old man. But he consistently demonstrates a canny awareness of how to own the internet. In our eyes, he is the OK Go of football.


VII. MY TWO LOVES UNITED: EVERTON AND TONGA

GFOP Kevin Palmstein sent in this fascinating graph comparing Premier League club’s revenues and sovereign state’s GDP. I'm not sure if the numbers are accurate (have submitted to Harvey, my accountant, and await his response), but as a long-time admirer of Tongan football, all I can say is, I am elated.


VIII. SONG OF THE WEEK

Never let it be said that MiB did not do its bit to resuscitate Liverpool Football Club’s image in the wake of the Suarez case. Time to re-air the 1988 classic Anfield Rap, featuring, among others, Steve McManaman. "The Kings of Rock, There is none higher…"


IX. A POEM TO HELP YOU MAKE IT THROUGH THE WEEK

In honor of Landon's Return, "Happy Is England Now," by John Freeman:

There is not anything more wonderful
Than a great people moving towards the deep
Of an unguessed and unfeared future; nor
Is aught so dear of all held dear before
As the new passion stirring in their veins
When the destroying Dragon wakes from sleep.

Read the rest here.


X. PROBE OUR ANNALS

Past editions of the GFOP Newsletter can be accessed by viewing the newsletter in your browser and clicking on the banner item, "View Past Issues," which refers to past issues of GFOP, not our emotional issues which we try not to burden you with.

New listeners to our show can listen to all past episodes and uncover such tiresome mysteries as how we came to call our beloved US Men's Team “The Von Trapps” and when The MLS officially became AN MLS. The archive also contains our OFF THE BALL show, which we trundle out for World Cups, both Men’s and Women’s. It is kind of like a Men In Blazers prequel.


Please forward this to your football curious friends. Let's see if we can bring them over to the dark side. The Ian Darke Side.


PODCAST

Release the hounds... In this week's pod, Michael Davies and Roger Bennett make their valiant return to answer all of the questions raised by the EPL's helter-skelter winter onslaught.

BEST READS

> We talked about the transfer window on this week’s pod and referred to this excellent bird’s eye view written by former Liverpool Managing Director Christian Purslow.

> If you want to read the full Football Association report on the Suarez incident, here it is. We would love (LOVE!) a GFOP to turn this into a screenplay.

> In our end of year round-up, we wondered what Liverpool’s American owners thought about the club’s stance on the Suarez issue. Martin Samuel examines the issue in depth.

> Producer Greg savored Ben Lyttleton’s expansive predictions for the year ahead.

> The Economist chimed in on why China won’t be a soccer super power anytime soon.

ABOUT

Michael Davies and Roger Bennett believe that soccer is America's Sport of the Future. As it has been since 1972. Listen to the weekly MIB podcast exclusively on the Grantland Network and the live satellite radio show on SiriusXM, Mondays and Fridays 9-10am ET on Sirius 92 XM 207 with replays Monday through Friday 10-11pm ET on Sirius 92.

If that's not enough, visit our Tumblr, "like" us on Facebook, follow the show on Twitter or email us at MeninBlazers@gmail.com.
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Listen to the weekly MIB podcast exclusively on the Grantland Network and the live satellite radio show on SiriusXM, Mondays and Fridays 9-10am ET on Sirius 92 XM 207 with replays Monday through Friday 10-11pm ET on Sirius 92. See more at our Tumblr, "like" us on Facebook, and follow Michael (@embassydavies) and Roger (@rogbennett) on Twitter.
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