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HAIL! GFOP

I write with fingers that are proud and excited. Our Umbro x Men in Blazers National Team 2: Electric Boogaloo collaboration is out in the world today. AVAILABLE HERE.

This Strictly Limited Edition collection is an homage to the Double Diamond and the way it manifested itself into football’s DNA on both sides of the Atlantic.  

From England, where Umbro is synonymous with so many English legends and memories, the Drill Top is an iconic design. A thick quality fabric to keep out the fiercest winds up north, and soak up sweat and the occasional post-training beer spill down south. Proper Football. 

Anyone who came of age in the United States recognizes the Umbro Checkerboard Short as a classic pillar on which the American game was built. 
 
At Men In Blazers, we are beyond honored to partner with this historic brand. Just 750 pieces of each have been handcrafted by Ravens. The design features two GFOP graphic designs from Judd Meche and Jaden Stevenson. We are also proud that proceeds from the release go to the magnificent veterans charity, Hope for the Warriors. All we ask is this: Please, please, please, send us photos of yourselves in this Double Diamond Magic on social using the #MiBUmbro. 


2. Men In Blazers. The Streets will Always Forget

i. The Men In Blazers Television Show was beautiful this week, featuring a double portion of inspiration: Miami Heat’s tenacious underdog Duncan Robinson and Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin, a singular individual who has pioneered his own path on and off the field. All of our shows this season can be found on P’Cock.   

ii. Here’s the latest news from my only friend, our Google Weekend TV Schedule Video. I revealed that I actually schedule my Sad Naps in my Saddest Google Assistant conversation of all time.

iii. I loved podding with Davo this week. Even in the wake of El Blazerico darkness. To feel any emotions is a gift right now and to watch football and discuss it with friends is to feel alive.  

iv. Our Jagermeister toast this week was very cathartic. Marking the one-year anniversary of the last Premier League game played in front of a full stadium. May we return safely to that full glory again soon. We will never, ever, take it for granted. 

v. Our Weekend Preview Video, replete with Score Predictions is HERE.  

Know this: We remain incredibly grateful for our partnership with those bookmaking monarchs at DraftKings which has allowed us to grow our coverage. They are the Best King since Billie Jean. 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.

b. Our WGFOP: The Bald Weekend Preview pod drops today. Call in your questions at (646) 450-9472. Courage.


3. To the Football

Breaking news: Sheffield United have not made this official at time of newslettering, but all signs point to the fact the clubs Saudi owners have fired lifelong fan-turned-player-turned-manager Chris Wilder, a gent who bleeds Blades, and is a victim of his own over-performance. Let’s remember the good times: a drunk Chris Wilder celebrates promotion.

i. Arsenal vs. Tottenham (Sunday 12.30 PM ET, NBCSN) 

It’s North London Derby Weekend! I know, North London football fans. I can’t keep up with the twists and turns either. Both teams have lived out careening, rollercoaster footballing campaigns akin to the Sock and Buskin theater masks in which comedy and tragedy are eternally intertwined. Mikel Arteta has his team in 10th place, and is desperate to conjure signs of progress week-in-week out. There could be no better way than to deliver victory against dread rivals Spurs who are currently on a Gareth Bale-man bun-fuelled resurgence. Their fifth or sixth Second Coming of the season, depending how you count. The only surefire winner in this one is rubbernecking neutrals who watch NASCAR for the pile-ups and driver fist-fights in the pits. You know who you are… 

Gareth Bale’s delayed resurgence down merely to “time, patience and psychology.”

One for the Arsenal fans. All other clubs, especially you City and Bayern Scouts. You are not allowed to watch. Stay away. Bukayo Saka is on ANOTHER LEVEL in 2020/21.

ii. Fulham vs. Manchester City (Saturday 3 PM ET, P’Cock)

Fulham have clawed their way back from the edge of the Relegation Moon Door. A month ago there was a 10 points gap between them and Brighton. Now only goal difference separates the two. Scott Parker’s optimistic football has led to wins in three of the Cottagers’ last 6 games. He will be showing his players sensational English articles like this one, which is trying to spin Manchester City’s Derby loss into a “Mini-slump.

'The jacket will stay on': Fulham's Scott Parker on his pioneering inflatable blazer touchline style. 

iii. Manchester United vs. West Ham (Sunday, 3.15 PM ET, NBCSN)
 

Hell hath no fury like a David Moyes Spurned. The unblinking one returns to Old Trafford searching for his first win there since being dumped by United. His fifth place West Ham are a fierce collective and have been the stealth delight of the season. I imagine he is motivating his squad to push for the Champions League, an idea which is an anathema for West Ham, by selling it to them as an opportunity for a “Lads Weekend in Europe.”

United fans have a new hero in the making. Eighteen-year-old Amad Diallo, who demonstrated his prodigious talent with this chef kiss of a finish to Bruno’s exquisite pass. Drink it in.

iv. Leeds vs. Chelsea (Saturday, 7.30 AM ET NBCSN)

#FreeChristianPulisic. Hard to believe that Christian, who was the first name on Chelsea’s team sheet, with his surging runs and explosive play during Project Restart, has not played more than 45 minutes in a Premier League game under The Tuchelverse. The American needs playing time with World Cup 2022 on the horizon, so the English transfer rumor mill is now churning. Hershey Messi is linked with a move away to Liverpool and Bayern. His arc at Chelsea has been emotionally confounding. The slow start overcome with tenacity. Playing the football of his dreams, only to be kneecapped by the management transition. Tommy Tuchs has Chelsea unbeaten, and keeps preaching patience to Christian, but I hope the young American, who must be bewildered, draws strength from the likes of KDB, Mo Salah, and Romelu Lukaku, and is prepared to see being ditched by Chelsea as a springboard to fulfilling your potential. 


4. Women’s Football

i. NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird celebrated a year in the job yesterday. It was my honor to spend the afternoon with her on Instagram Live, re-living the 12 months in which she led pro-team sports by re-emerging first in the Bubble, looked ahead to the 2021 Challenge Cup, and beyond at what NWSL could be in 10 years time. What a tenacious, improvisational leader she has been. I look forward to watching what Lisa can do in, what I hope, are calmer days to come.

ii. Massive Weekend in France. Two Giants rumble:
Olympique Lyonnais v. Paris Saint-Germain (Saturday, 3.00 PM ET. ESPN+)

iii. 'It’s a constant fight': Four top global players discuss the future of women's football around the world. There is so much work to do, but “nothing now is impossible.”

iv. “LFG” - a trailer for HBO Max’s documentary following the 2019 USWNT dropped. It was produced by an old friend of mine, Abby Greensfelder. Those hoping for the Becky Sauerbrunn biopic the world has long cried out for…get hyped. 


5. More Football

i. Marcus Rashford. You will revere him even more after reading this terrific Wall Street Journal feature on his work, his platform, and his childhood—with those who were there. “I felt like I had to go through that period. But…no one should feel like that’s normal—because it’s not normal.”

ii. How Neymar’s transfer changed football forever. An important big picture read on how the tectonic plates beneath European football are shifting and why.

iii. ‘It’s not easy to survive’: How cage football shaped a generation of Premier League players. Read this through an American lens: More freeplay football, less overcoaching. 

iv. Want to compare keepers fairly? Take a deep dive into their clean sheets. Goalkeeper Sabermetrics are the best Sabermetrics. 

v. The unlikely story of how 'Dundee United' became an insult in Nigeria.  This is the kind of investigative journalism the world needs more of.

vi. Big games in Germany this weekend:
  1. Werder Bremen vs. Bayern (Saturday 9.30 AM ET, ESPN+) Josh Sargent. American DCL on phenomenal form.
  2. RB Leipzig vs. Frankfurt (Sunday 10.30 AM ET, ESPN+) 2nd place Tyler Adams plus 10 look to close the 2 point gap at the top of the table.

6. Not Football and all the better for it

i. If ever an article was written for this newsletter: Bald for lockdown, bald forever. “Some men are embracing quarantine head-shaving and for the first time, becoming comfortable with the bald truth.”

ii. The Wiggles cover Tame Impala’s Elephant. Even better than the original? You decide.

iii. In 1977, the "world's last lost tourist", bound for San Francisco from Germany, mistakenly got off the plane in Maine. "The rusted green bridge that links Bangor to neighboring Brewer was clearly not the Golden Gate, but Kreuz carried on regardless and became a global hero." This story reminds me of how my family ended up in Liverpool!!!

iv. A Brief History of Sea-Monkeys. Brine shrimp to Sea Monkeys was the greatest rebrand of all time… until Happy Mourinho came along.

v. Mixtapes are one of the few pieces of old technology whose loss is still very palpable. RIP Lou Ottens, Inventor Of The Cassette Tape.

vi. We found them: They're the worst team ever. The Yonkers Hoot Owls. God Bless America. 

vii. A Short History Of Unofficial Music Journalism In The Soviet Union, 1977 - 1991. The Rogest Article to Ever Rog.

viii. The Lost Year: What the Pandemic Cost Teenagers. Important read from an important outlet. 

ix. Great news for frosted tips enthusiasts: Video Games Are Leading the Return of The Y2K Aesthetic

x. A Portrait of Freddie Gibbs Atop the Mountain. Most consistent in the game for the last 5+ years. Don't @ me. 

xi. The Best Movie Performances of the Century So Far. Can't believe Alex Morgan doesn't even get a shout for her work in the classic film Alex and Me. List is rigged.

xii. Some great young De Niro photos in here: The making of a heavyweight: Scorsese and De Niro behind the scenes of Raging Bull - In Pictures

xiii. How to stop your smart TV from spying on you. How do you get it to spy on you better though...need more Kars 4 Kids. 

xiv. There’s No Real Reason to Eat 3 Meals a Day - Your weird pandemic eating habits are probably fine. Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. 

xv. Interesting read about the future of the NBA. Teams are shooting more from deep than at any time in NBA history, and it’s causing problems.

xvi. My favorite TV Show of the Week. Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan. A Netflix documentary series in which 16th century feudal clans’ grapples for power are re-enacted. There are a few too many scenes of angry Samurai standing around war maps and ripping up message scrolls sent by adversaries, but the power games and battle strategies are fascinating. 

xvii. Songs that have kept me sane this week:

Move On by William the Conqueror. Life Affirming

Headmaster Ritual by the Smiths. If the first third of my memoir was a song… 


That is it for this week. I leave you with something that has been on my mind since I read it. A recent survey that purports to have “collected responses from Premier League fans about whether they'd rather have sex or their team win.”  Twenty-one percent of Everton fans chose victory, a percentage topped only by Burnley’s 22 percent. The two teams clash this weekend. I am sure the survey was conducted in the most scientific of fashions. With its results front of mind, I have to wonder whether there has ever been a higher stakes game played in human history. To love. To life. To Glory. To more Sean Dyche-inspired Romance Novels. 
 
Courage, 
Rog: @rogbennett 

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

Please Consider Supporting: 
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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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