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HAIL! GFOP

I type with fingers that are as confused as you are. We are living in extraordinary times of chaos. In which every day throws up something that takes the previous day’s unprecedented, unbelievable breaking news and makes it seem like nothing. I can’t keep up. None of us can. I want to apologize for all my statements of the past decade in which I slandered the 1-877 Kars for Kids commercial as the single worst thing human civilization has ever puked up. Upon reflection, I would rather listen to that jaunty jingle on a loop than relive this searing darkness. And on top of it all, Allan is injured.

One uplifting experience this week was interviewing Marcelo Bielsa. The mythical genius who has resurrected Leeds United, avoids interviews, and loves buckets. The interview was for the upcoming Leeds United Promoted show we are making for NBCSN. And it did not disappoint. Bielsa insists on using a translator, even though his English is said to be strong. He looks down at his feet while he speaks. He dead bats questions, I imagined he would revel in answering (“Rog: How would you describe Bielsa-Ball?” Bielsa: “Pressing.”) and then, when I least expected it (“You are known as an obsessive manager, how do you replenish your own energy?”) went off on a poetic long answer which encapsulated the limits and dangers of obsession, the search for human beauty, and why managers should not be blamed for losing. As I listened to him, it was a reminder of this human truth that I truly cling to right now: It is possible to experience joy right now. It may be fleeting and unexpected. But when you are exposed to that emotion, revel in it and never take it for granted.
   

2. Men In Blazers: Crap out more 💩 than Eric Dier
 
i. Our Weekend Premier League Spoiler Alert Preview can be found here. A new feature powered by our partnership with those bookmaking monarchs at DraftKings. We are so grateful to them for our partnership, which has allowed us to grow our coverage. They are the Best King since Ledley. 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. This Week’s Pod was magnificently cathartic to tape. Listen to it HERE. Thanks to all of you who now just listen for the commercial reads…
 
iii. USWNT international Midge Purce is an inspiration. A young star in the making, an incredible, thoughtful activist, a Harvard overseer. A chicken wing hot take controversialist. Who says you cannot do it all?  I loved, loved, loved talking to her this week on our Budweiser Happy Hour. The whole interview can be found on our instagram. Here is a taste of her wisdom, comparing football to Chess HERE.
 
iv. Today we unleash the latest WGFOP: The Bald Podcast, previewing the weekend’s action with your questions. Call (646) 450-9472 and we will feature your voice on next week’s show.


3. To the Football!

A. Big news ahead of last weekend’s debacle: The Premier League will lobby the rule-making International Football Association Board to change the handball laws following last weekend’s march of folly. Sorry Mike Dean. You are NOT why we watch. 

B. Chelsea against Crystal Palace - Saturday at 7.30 a.m. ET Peacock. Davo’s emotions at war with themselves. The good news for America: Christian Pulisic will return to the squad, but will not start as his return to health needs to be managed. We will take whatever we can get right now!  

I look forward to watching the Thiago Silva Redemption Story. After last week’s baptism of fire, the 36-year-old center back will no doubt look forward to the prospect of Wilf Zaha, an Ayew Brother, and avant-garde performance artist Eberechi Eze charging towards him, a headbanded blur. Godspeed Edouard Mendy who might make his debut in the Chelsea goal.

C. Everton welcome Brighton - Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN. My Lord how I fear this game. Graham Potter has Brighton playing such tactically cohesive football. Everton are swaggering. Like the White Sox after that Lucas Giolito Game 1. Everything is almost going too right. That is exactly when it normally goes wrong. So very badly wrong. I am braced for Icarus-Wax-Wings-Crash-Down-to-Earth. Which makes me very sad, as the Everton of the first three games of the season have objectively been a team that bring the world such joy. My only mild sense of optimism is that I will be watching with my adopted Bichon Frise ratdog, Hibbo. We never lose when Hibbo is watching. 

D. Leeds United against Manchester City - Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on Network NBC. OMG. Porn for tactics lovers. Marcelo Bielsa, the head of a pressing-coaching tree that includes Pep, Poch and Diego Simeone. This is Sorcerer-Apprentice stuff and it is happening at an incredible time. City coming off that bare-bottom spanking of a beatdown against Brodge City in which they could not defend. All Leeds United know how to do is attack. Is Guardiola’s intense search for perfection starting to grind his team into being less, far less, than the sum of the parts? I cannot believe a team with Raz, KDB, and Pep’s Son Phil Foden can crap the bed two weeks in a row but…

Good Read: How Marcelo Bielsa inspired Pep Guardiola into management. 

E. Manchester United mano a mano Tottenham Hotspur - Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN. As Monday’s transfer deadline ticks on, Manchester United’s squad still seems a striker, midfielder and defender light with not a Jadon Sancho in sight. Ole ominously has changed his tune. The Manager who previously said his club could ‘exploit’ the transfer market is suddenly musing on how “United have lost loads of money” and that he is happy with his squad. “It’s different now. There is more competition for places.” I know I’m convinced. 

Perfect timing for Jose Mouirnho to arrive back at Old Trafford, yanking Eric Dier out of the bathroom for his fourth (!) game this week. Brace yourself for Subplots, wheels within wheels, mind-games, expensive watch cutaway shots in the coaching areas, and some genuinely mediocre football. I cannot wait. 
 
F. Rest of the Schedule HERE. Including Ross Barkley’s single-handed destruction of Liverpool. Aston Villa vs. Klopp Sunday at 2:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN. 
 
G. Incredible watching U.S. International Sergiño Dest walk onto Barcelona's Nou Camp to take it all in after his $24M move from Ajax. The Dutch-born 19-year-old is the son of a Surinamese-American U.S. Service member father. Our U.S. Men's Team is soaked in optimism. Proof, Out of Darkness Cometh Light. We are living in Amazing Days. When newspapers publish articles headlined, “Is the USMNT in danger of developing into a world-class outfit?” and it is not an Onion article.

ii. Huge kick out of Dest’s efforts to do keepie-uppies at his unveiling. Thinly-veiled euphemism for America rn.

H. Thought-provoking big picture analysis of how Pandemic Football may change the English game forever. Barney Ronay: Is it too late to halt football’s final descent into a dystopian digital circus?


4. English Women’s Football

Sam Mewis scored her first goal in English football yesterday. If there is one thing we all know about the Weymouth, Mass. Tower of Power, it is that she proper HATES Arsenal. Her goal fires Manchester City into the FA Cup Final at Wembley, where they will play… Everton! The prospect of my favorite duo, Mewis and Rose Lavelle, American football’s Hall and Oates, going up against the team I love is the latest manifestation of the dual allegiances this exodus of American Women’s Footballing talent into Europe has created. While I hope Sam’s goal is the first of many, I pray she goes easy on the Blue Bellies in the final on Nov. 1. 


5. MiB x Umbro Collab 

We are teaming up with our friends at Umbro -- the OG football brand -- to create some sweatshirts and some of those tasty Umbro shorts that are up there with Eric Wynalda’s chest hair when it comes to gear that defined ‘90s American soccer. The latest limited-edition Men in Blazers National Team gear won’t go on sale until early next year. But we’re calling for GFOP-designed flare for these beauties. A club crest, of sorts, to adorn them. We want to see all of your designs, GFOPs. The only rule is we are looking for something that is 3.5-inches by 3.5 inches and - this bit is very important - circular. Send them to us at HERE or via social using the hashtag #MiBUmbro. Winner gets a complete set of the new limited edition emblazoned with their design. Early leaders in the clubhouse HERE, HERE and HERE


6. More Football? The numbing effect never more needed

i. I haven't stopped thinking about FC Vitebsk's El Lissitzky-Inspired Kits. 

ii. Landon Donavan: San Diego Loyal manager 'proud' of walk-off over alleged homophobic abuse. Huge, huge respect for Landon for what he did on the field. But what he did off it this week transcends all of that. This is a story that should be shouted from sport’s rooftops. 

iii. I love my NWSL Hoodie. I know it makes me look like Rob Lowe at the Super Bowl. But I could not be prouder to support this magnificent league and all the athletes who are living out their dreams in it. Support their efforts by buying yours here. 


7. Not Football. And because of that, all the lovelier

i. I revere Doris Burke. Her insight. Her wisdom. Her patience and tenacity. Her relentless genius. She should broadcast all sports on all channels. And her thoughts on Life Inside the N.B.A. Bubble are must-read.
 
ii. "I would gladly sleep in my truck for the rest of my life to have our mountains back." Genuinely heartbreaking rancher's account of the North Complex Fire.  
 
iii. "I suddenly understand how Houdini must have felt, punched in the gut before he had the chance to clench his muscles." A Bellevue Doctor’s Pandemic Diary. Important read if you're willing to shed some tears. 
 
iv. Few things brighten the mood more than Twee Architecture: When Life Looks Like a Wes Anderson Movie.
 
v. An Oral History of ‘Wishbone’, the gold standard for beagle-based adaptations of classic literature and a sleeper contender for best TV series of the ‘90s. 
 
vi. These parrots in a British wildlife park had to be moved after repeatedly telling visitors to fuck off. The Logan Roy of parrots.
 
vii. South Florida Condo Covered in Bud Cans Receives Multiple Offers. I love America.
 
viii. 1980s road trip down the A1 in Pictures, to remind you bleak as things are right now, they'll never be as bleak as a road trip through Northern England in the ‘80s. THIS is the England I grew up in.
 
ix. I adore Sufjan Stevens. Over the past six months, I have thought a lot about the artist I am most looking forward to seeing live again post-Covid, and it is him. At the King’s Theater in Brooklyn, if I could choose. His new album Ascension is loaded with meaning, anger, and empathy. Here is a track
 
x. I am reading this: “Hit Factories: A Journey through the Industrial Cities of British Pop,” by Karl Whitney. If you have wondered how Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull, Glasgow, Belfast, Birmingham, Coventry, Bristol all developed distinctive sounds, this is the book for you. 

xi. We all need a break. We all need a release. Thank the Lord for this video of Mike Parry eating a Mouthful of Cinnamon, which resurfaced yesterday. Savor the great writing of this swaggering character stuffed into his Canada t-shirt boasting “believe me I’ve faced worse challenges in my life… I’ve head-butted them away.” What follows is the Most English thing that ever Englished.

b. In related news, the whole of the classic “I’m Alan Partridge Show” is now streaming on HBO MAX.


That’s it for today. Again. I wish you love and strength and joy. I am going to leave you with a line from Victor Frankl’s classic Man’s Search for Meaning, which I re-read this week. Frankl's notion of Tragic Optimism feels evermore relevant, especially this final line. “The world is in a bad state, but everything will become worse unless each of us does their Best." Let’s channel that this weekend. I am now braced for the worst Brighton can throw at us.

Keep Couraging,
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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