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HAIL! GFOP

I type with fingers filled with joy. Last night we partook in our Jagermeister Happy Hour Zoom with a huge corps of GFOPs whom you can see HERE. It was genuinely a giddy, glorious night. In a normal year, we would be doing our live Holiday show with you and communing in person. Yet, to raise a glass or two on Zoom with GFOPs who have powered us through the darkness of the past 10 months with their love, empathy, creativity and kindness was such a humanly rewarding experience. A reminder of the life-affirming connection we all feel through football, which allows us to feel emotions we would otherwise be numb to. We will do more of these in 2021 and revel in the football fandom which binds us - a fandom built on love not hate - and the awareness that we are building collective memories together, even whilst atomized in lockdown.
 
We are entering the crazed, frenzied stretch of year’s end at Men In Blazers. On Monday alone, we are filming with Jordan Pickford, John Oliver, and taping a podcast. It is an exhausting time, but an energizing one. The John Oliver interview, which has become a tradition like no other (his 9th appearance on MiB), is always the joy of my year. We are blessed to have had an incredible run of guests, but John is so smart, so quick, and such a remarkably athletic listener, it is the perfect way to end our 2020. He is like us, but funny and interesting. Send us your questions for John HERE. Details on the John Oliver special and all of our upcoming TV-sullying experiences below.
 
 
2. Men In Blazers. UGGHHHH. The Worst.

i. Our DraftKings Weekend Preview in which we talk about bedwetting, Ole, and that Zoolander face off that is DCL v Olivier Giroud. We are 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 John. 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.
 
 
ii. 🚨 Men In Blazers Television Holiday Schedule 🚨
  1. Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 6 PM ET after Liverpool vs. Spurs with Jordan Pickford and Bob Costas
  2. Monday, Dec. 21 Our 87th Annual John Oliver Special.
  3. Wednesday, Dec. 30 Rog and Arsene Wenger Special which is not to be missed.. 
 
iii. This week’s Pod with Davo is HERE. It is quite good.
 
iv. Today we preview the weekend’s games on WGFOP: The Bald. Call in your questions always at 646-450-9472.
 
 
3. To the Football

Meaning in Life returns this afternoon with Leeds against West Ham (Bielsa v Scottish Bielsa) (3 PM ET NBCSN) and then moves to true heavyweight games on Saturday:

i. Manchester United v Manchester City (Saturday 12.30 PM ET NBC)

In a season of surreally inconsistent Mancunian footballing storylines, United enter as the team under pressure after their Champions League humiliation in Leipzig midweek. Yet, United are never better than when Ole has a foot on the edge of the Moon Door and just one hand on that wheel. He has dodged the boot by ripping off three straight wins against City. The remarkable aspect of United’s story is, they enter this game with four league victories on the spin, yet the narrative feels so bloody grim. An absence of proof that there is anything being built is a large part of the problem, as Jonathan Liew notes: Manchester United need a structure to break the blame-and-burn cycle. Four league wins in a row and THIS is the narrative. 
 
City have been showing signs that they have shaken off the strange fever which gripped them at the start of the season and are returning to their true avant-garde, purring, cashmere knitwear best. Clinicality in front of goal remains a slight concern. Hence the nagging fear in this headline: Sergio Aguero won’t start Manchester derby, Pep Guardiola confirms.
  
Miguel Delaney on Manchester United’s Pogba Problem: Pogba is a 27-year-old star coming into the prime of his career, who was signed to be the Old Trafford club’s own transformative player and the totem of a new era - and yet it’s not like there would be much disappointment if he left.

ii. Everton v Chelsea (Saturday 3 PM ET P’Cock)

A terrible, terrible time for El Blazerico. Chelsea are on imperious form. Yet, what a cruel trick this season has been for Everton fans. Even by our standards. The form table for the past seven Premier League games have Carlo’s mob fourth from the bottom, with only abject duffers West Brom, Arsenal and Sheffield United below them. Worst news of all: No James!!!

Everton’s Ben Godfrey on his career journey that has been pockmarked by multiple rejections at youth level: “I started a mission to prove people wrong.” 

Ben Chilwell ominously states the obvious ahead of Everton. “We feel we can’t really lose.”

iii. Crystal Palace v Tottenham (Sunday 9.15 AM ET NBCSN)

Wilf and Eze-Company against the best defence in the Premier League and, in Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, the most game-changing transfer of this season. Come for the football, stick around for Jose’s Insta Influencer Bantz with Roy Hodgson, a man who is old enough to remember a world without electricity. 

iv. Fulham v Liverpool (Sunday 11.30 AM ET NBCSN)

Tune in for one of the greatest shocks in Premier League history. Then prepare to be disappointed. Alisson may return for Liverpool. Jota faces a fitness test.

v. Let’s wrap this section with some heartwarming news: Raul Jimenez: Wolves striker visits training following head injury. Unleash all the heart emojis.


4. To the Women’s Football
 
i. The 100 best female footballers in the world 2020 as chosen by 88 judges around the globe. Brace yourself, America. Many of your favorites do not make the list. And there is rightfully a lot of love for Lynn Williams and Kristie Mewis. Like it or hate it, it is honestly fascinating to look at this terrain from a non-American POV.
 
ii. Big Game of the Weekend: 
Manchester City v. Arsenal (Sunday 9.30 AM ET NBCSports.com)

iii. Sarah Fuller. The trailblazing Vanderbilt college football player says her background in soccer and the support of her family helped her make history this season: My male teammates call me “Champ.”


5. A Brand We Love: Icons

What Holiday gift can you get for the football fan in your life that has already purchased this year’s home, away, and alternate jersey? Icons is a veritable house of treasures that can transport you to the pitch next to all of the greats. Jerseys and memorabilia signed by all the greats. Not just Messi and Maradona, but Thierry Henry, KDB, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, Trent Alexander Arnold and more. Finished Basements cry out for this stuff. I have just hung a signed Messi jersey, a Carlo Lloyd 2015, and an Everton 1984 FA Cup Final winners jersey in mine.  

Get 10% off your purchase! Go to ICONS.com and enter code “MIB10”

For more… watch this video!


6. More Football did ya say?

i. Massive game in La Liga: Real Madrid v Atlético Madrid (Saturday, 3 PM ET beIN) Atlético top. Wounded defending champion Real in fourth. Ray Hudson, perpetually the champion.

ii. In Germany: RB Leipzig v Werder Bremen (Saturday 9.30 AM ESPN+) 21-year-old Tyler Adams, The Pride of Wappingers Falls, NY, goes head to head with 20-year-old Josh Sargent, St. Louis American Soccer Gritty, in the battle of two of the most underrated American talents in Europe.  

iii. Football lost another World Cup Great this week. Paolo Rossi, the man who made “all of Brazil Cry.” I revered him as a kid. He seemed so laid back yet clinical, and the Italian kits were always so suave. His story was also one of redemption and human resilience.
 
A life in pictures: Paolo Rossi.
 
iv. 18-year-old wonder Gio Reyna talks beautifully about his older brother’s passing and its impact on his life and career. A Must-Read. For Jack.

v. Enough with racist incidents in Football. It was incredible on Tuesday night to split screen two remarkable scenes at PSG and Millwall: A night football took a knee and truly made a stand.

vi. Huge respect to Chelsea, who have teamed up with a British street artist, Solomon Souza, to launch 49 Flames, an exhibition about Jewish athletes who died during the Holocaust.


7. Un-Football
 
i. The Last Kamikaze: haunting telling of generational trauma, sacrifice, fear, that flips the narrative on a horrifying  aspect of history in the most human of ways. “We were the same age as today’s high school students and college freshmen. There wasn’t a single person among us who would have decided on their own to die.”

ii. The World According to Frances McDormand: “In the real world, female depression and rage are not uncommon, human faces age, and women continue to lead lives after 60—lives that often have little to do with men. If your reference point is the real world, McDormand isn’t bringing the margins to the center so much as she’s bringing more of the world to the screen.

iii. How ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ Is Inspiring Women to Take Up Chess. Women in sport and chess is a match made in Rog heaven. 

iv. Lovely drive-by profile of an underrated actor: Zosia Mamet Is a Horse Girl.
 
v. Ten months in, we're finally getting to the important stuff: The Atlantic breaks down our fraught relationship with the sweatpant
 
vi. Not sure if this is good news or bad, but Your Brain Doesn't Work the Way You Think It Does.
 
vii. "I pictured a giant slush pile, scientists frantically bailing out glaciers with buckets. Antarctica’s high drama compelled me. I had to see it before it was too late." Didn't think I'd ever get the opportunity to put these words together in one sentence, but Lorde wrote about Antarctica for Rolling Stone. And it's deeply moving. 
 
viii. Rolling Stone going 2/2 with female popstars this week: great cover story on Miley Cyrus, who is finally getting the musical respect she deserves.
 
ix. How To With John Wilson is the best new show of 2020. Watch it. It will make you see the world as a smaller, stranger, and kinder place. 
 
x. Don't know where this weekend is taking you, but in case you need it: How to Build a Covert Fire. When this saves your life, remember the newsletter’s role in doing so, and refer it to a friend. 
 
xi. A Book I Love: Chernobyl: a Stalker's Guide! If you are obsessed with the historical event and the television series, this tour of Chernobyl’s very much intact ruins will make you want to travel there now. Stunning.  

xii. The author and designer Peter Mendelsund is one of the most talented human beings I know. His latest book about books, The Look of the Book: Jackets, Covers, and Art at the Edges of Literature. Mendy, a chronic Arsenal fan, is one of the world’s greatest book designers of all-time. Here he asks a basic yet profound question: Why do some book covers instantly reach out and make you feel the deepest emotions, while others make no impression whatsoever. This beautiful volume is one of the best books I have read this year. 
 
xii. A song that helped me through this week: Emerald City by Luluc. Haunting in the most lovely of ways.
 
That’s it for today. I leave you with this twitter thread, which gave me untold joy. It tells of a TV showrunner encountering a paparazzi frenzy in New York City, only to discover the cameras clicking were not for a celebrity, but for a rare bird. The Western Tanager, which has been absent from the city for four years. A reminder that there is beauty to be found all around us. Sometimes, we just have to look up. And also...We are healing. We are healing.
 
To life. To Love.
 
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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