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.
ii. 🚨 Men In Blazers Television Holiday Schedule 🚨
Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 6 PM ET after Liverpool vs. Spurs with Jordan Pickford and Bob Costas.
Monday, Dec. 21 Our 87th Annual John Oliver Special.
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.
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!!!
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.
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”
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.
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.