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HAIL! GFOP

I write with fingers that are both nourished by the thing I love, football (of the Premier League and NWSL varieties), being back, and at the same time, horrified by the fact that the sheer volume of games, and storylines, and Christian Pulisic stutter-step wonder goals can inure me to the darkness that surrounds us.  
 
Out of respect for the people in my life who are doctors, nurses, and medical workers -- all of whom are physically and mentally shattered right now -- I have to say this: The Coronavirus does not have to overrun America in the disastrous way it is, and we must never become numb to that. If we consistently take simple steps, social distance, wear masks outside, and stop travelling unnecessarily to states that are currently spiking, we can do this. It requires discipline, a modicum of sacrifice, and a whole lot of empathy. Enough with the magical thinking, self-destruction and thoughtlessness. I know you don’t come to our newsletter for this. So we will dive into the football. But please, let’s stop the madness and bring only Love. 
 

2. Men In Blazers continues to be an American Scourge
 
i. Davo and I podded to discuss whether we would prefer to manage Liverpool or Manchester City next season. We also wonder why Ross Barkley never passes to our Lord and Saviour CP. LISTEN HERE
 
ii. Virgil van Dijk joined The Men in Blazers TV Show to sully his title-winning season. Here is the full interview. Auba is jumping aboard next week. Show airs Friday, July 17 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. 
 
iii. Our hotline (646) 450-9472 is open for YOUR BIGGEST MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS. Phone us and we will use your voice on our WGFOP: The Bald podcast on FRIDAY!!!!
 
 
3. To the Football

A. Christian Pulisic scored again. His Third goal in Five Premier League games since the restart. Throw in the two penalties drawn, and his post-pandemic pause contributions are at astounding levels. This goal was special. As soon as the ball arrives at his feet, his only thought is how to hurt his opponent, and the separation he creates is straight out of the NBA. Let us savor this and hope Christian can stay fit enough next season to be able to deliver highlights like this consistently. There are so few Americans in the English top flight right now, so it is thrilling to see one surging with Confidence.  
 
ii. Chelsea maintain their Champions League push, but right now, they look like 2018 Liverpool. Magical going forward, brittle across the back. Wolf Blitzer? Wilf Blitzer!
 
B. Eddie Nketiah’s four minute “Grandpa Simpson walks into a bar” red card cameo turned an Arsenal stroll against Leicester into a grim hanging on for a draw. The Gunners will both rue the dropped points and derive strength from the fact that they were able to dig deep and display sufficient tenacity to keep that unbeaten run going. Their goal, though, was a work of art. The Ceballos pass! The Saka assist! The Auba finish! Every game is sharpening this collective.
 
ii. In other Arsenal news, Guendouzi hasn't trained with Arsenal first team in two weeks and is on the way out. Is it possible that Arteta thinks he is punishing David Luiz?
 
C. Savor this goal: A Danny Wellbeck is alive moment of wonder, AKA Come and Get Me MLS highlight tape. 
 
ii. I really enjoyed this interview with Sheffield United’s record signing, Sander Berge, which is a tribute to team spirit and collective culture. “I came in, the skipper made me a song and now I'm home.” 

“He’s Norwegian. He plays for the Blades with John Egan. We’re playing in Europe next season. Sander Berge.” Sung to the tune of Oasis’s “She’s Electric.” 
 
D. The Premier League Five Substitute Rule is set to be extended next season, despite the fact it favors richer clubs with deeper squads. Cue Moise Kean deep sigh of relief.
 
E. Why do clubs seem safe midtable for several seasons then nosedive into relegation like Stoke, Swansea or now Norwich?  Stasis kicks in, according to Miguel Delaney. “The brutal reality of the Premier League is that you can’t come up without generally going down. It has happened in over 86 per cent of cases, a proportion that will inevitably increase as time goes on. The average length of those cases is a mere 3.84 seasons.”
 
ii. What can we learn about Norwich, and their attractive-football/little resistance/”Todd Cantwell buttons at half-price in the club shop” nosedive after one season? This thought-provoking piece by Vithushan Ehantharajah argues it is not all bad, “If they return in more robust shape next season or even the season after, with or without Farke at the helm and Cantwell as their totem, you could argue everything has gone according to plan. Swallowing relegation for the greater good is a damning reflection of what modern football has become. Norwich can’t change that - but they can at least try and game it.”
 
F. Powerful message: The top-flight club paying men and women the same. *Orders kit from Lesotho immediately*
 
ii. and on the subject of kits…Here are all of next season’s Premier League shirts that have been leaked so far. Thank you to all, leakers.
 
 
4. The World Outside of Football
 
i. The Mississippi Town Where Elvis Tribute Artists Are Made. Tupelo, birthplace of The King, is the global hub for aspiring Jailhouse Rockers, all of whom look like future Aston Villa midfielders.
 
ii. The Colorful Blooms of Castelluccio, Italy. Take two minutes. Scroll through the pics. Feel better about life.
 
iii. We’re Going to Run Out of TV. There's always the Men in Blazers Show! 
 
iv. There's a "World-Wide Shortage of Roller Skates"…and they were all bought by Everton defenders.
 
v. How Free Black People helped fight America's First Epidemic and transformed the Nation's Capital. History is different when you know where to look.
 
vi. What was it like working at an English pub surrounded by boozers out on the lash for their first night of Lockdown? This reads like such unnecessary madness. The kind that is going to prevent there being a Premier League season next year. 
 
vii. Philip Larkin’s Hull revisited. A place that gave the world Steve Bruce’s management career and inspired the poet to write “Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.” From GFOP Claudia Bushee.
 
viii. The rise and fall of Adobe Flash. The Everton of technologies. 

 
Last word. Manchester City play Newcastle at 1 p.m. ET today. For different reasons, neither team has much to play for in the league, yet I shall be watching. One of the aspects of fanless football that irks me most is that 34-year-old David Silva will not receive the true farewell from Premier League devotees. I adore watching the magical Canarian playmaker. A gent who, since his arrival at Manchester City 10 seasons ago, has almost singlehandedly re-written the longstanding English football rule…that size matters. Four titles won speak to his brilliance and this piece by ex-teammate Micah Richards captures Silva well. The humility coupled with the killer instinct and supernatural vision. What I adored about David was his decision making. He once told me “The game is so fast in England, you need to decide where the pass has to go before you have received possession,” and that is what has made it a sheer joy to watch him deliver from a human perspective. David Silva proved that  massive football games can be won with sheer ability, creativity and a brilliant mind, rather than just brutal strength. Gracias, David.
 
“And I sing, the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs
The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs.”
Littlest Birds -- Be Good Tanyas
 
Keep Couraging
And let’s stop effing around: Wear A Mask.
Rog: @rogbennett 

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

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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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