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HAIL! GFOP

I type with fingers in awe of Steve Kornacki. The election is still undecided as you read this. The most agonizing “squeaky bum time” ever. The past 60 hours have felt like the longest penalty shoot-out of all time. While I expect the mood to turn soon to Aguero stoppage-time vibes, I am not going to lie. It has been a mentally and physically gruelling week for all of us. There are smarter people than me who can write about the political, cultural and societal divisions that have been exposed. But I have spent the week thinking about the things we have long taken for granted in the United States. This has been a reminder to me that nothing is forever. Everything takes work. I write that as a gent who was privileged to cast a vote for the first time ever as an American citizen. An overwhelmingly meaningful experience that I have dreamed of since I was a kid growing up in Liverpool. I tried to do it with love, unity, optimism, and a sense that the good I believe is in most people will win out. I do not take that act for granted and am now looking for a way to invest some energy in reinforcing the democratic system in a non-partisan way, so that everyone can vote safely, passionately, and meaningfully, as I just did.  

In lovelier news, we woke up earlier this morning to film with Mo Salah. It was a remarkable experience. Mo talked about digging deep to find renewed motivation after achieving his goals with last season’s title win. We also discussed the conflict between trying to balance humility off the field with being single-minded on it. Mo’s answer, about wanting to be known first and foremost as a good human being warmed even this bluebelly’s dead heart. Mo’s interview is coming soon alongside an all-time conversation: Big Boi 🇺🇸 🙌  


2. Men In Blazers. Even Political Pollsters are more useful than us. But Here’s More of Our Crap.

i. The one thing All Americans can agree on: Gio Reyna is amazing. Our podcast with the 17-year-old USMNT sensation is HERE. The television version of the interview is now available on Peacock Premium, along with every episode of our crap show from this season. That includes Jurgen Klopp, Steve Kerr, Sam Mewis, Jack Harrison, Niall Horan and Gio. Spread the good word.
 
ii. Our weekend video Premier League Preview presented by DraftKings can be found HERE. 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.
 
iii. This week’s Pod with Davo, in which we discussed if Brendan Rodgers has launched a new dating app named Brodgster where he is the only member, making it guaranteed that he will find the perfect match HERE.
 
iv. Holiday gift for the football fan in your life? Messi, Neymar, KDB signed memorabilia here. I love this ICONS site and have snapped up a TON of Everton Goodness. Look at this HERE and find out how to get 10% off.
 
v. Call WGFOP: The Bald with your big questions ahead of the weekend at (646) 450-9472. Let’s do it!!!
 
vi. MiB Feedback. Is there anything we can be doing better? TV show? Pod? Newsletter? How can we make our crap less suboptimal and better serve you. Email us HERE.


3. To the Football

i. Manchester City vs. Liverpool (Sunday 11.30 AM ET P’Cock) 

An epic clash: the two most recent title winners face off with two surprisingly skittish backlines. Klopp has called it “the most difficult game in the world,” but both managers have been at pains to ensure we all know this time, the result will be no title-decider. Pep suggests this is because we are experiencing a campaign with many challengers. Klopp’s message was, “It’s early in the season and so many things are different.” However, the German has beaten Pep Guardiola more times than any other manager, emerging victorious from nine of 19 meetings, along with two draws. Miguel Delaney handicaps the clash and the complex issues facing both coaches.

The big tactical question going into this one is who will play up front for Liverpool? Red Hot Diogo Jota has Klopp forced to defend Bobby Firmino. The ex-Wolves winger has been the signing of the season. How does Liverpool’s recruitment department do it? A look at their methodology.

ii. Everton vs. Manchester United (Saturday, 7.30 AM ET NBCSN)

After comedy slapstick defeats to Arsenal and Basaksehir, Ole Solksjaer’s team wobble into another game in nadir form. Only his United can deliver an apex 5-0 win against Leipzig and fritter away the largesse so quickly. This means they will probably smash Everton, who are on a two-game losing streak of their own. Them’s the Ole rules.

Read more here: Manchester United risk more drift if they stick with Ole Gunnar Solskjær.

iii. Arsenal vs. Aston Villa (Sunday 2.15 PM ET P’cock)

Mikel Arteta feeling tactically confident enough to exert his own true wardrobe style on the sideline. Turns out it is very Christopher Moltisanti Season 4. 

Aston Villa fans have suffered two losses on the bounce but are making the case that shot shy Arsenal are the perfect team for Dean Smith’s mob to face.

iv. West Brom vs. Tottenham (Sunday 7 AM ET NBCSN)

Jose Mourinho on his instagram methodology. Turns out, he is just an Insta Influencer after all.

v. Southampton vs. Newcastle (Friday 3 PM ET P’cock)

The football starts early Friday afternoon. If Southampton win, they go TOP! Ralph Redemption is all kinds of endearing yet terrifying. Here is the best piece you will read on Southampton today: James Ward-Prowse: 'If I put the ball where I want to, no keeper can save it.’ Great read on the art of the dead ball from JWP.

vi. West Ham vs. Fulham (Saturday 3 PM ET P’Cock) 

David Moyes has brought stability to West Ham. We should not underestimate him. 

vii. The entire Premier League schedule for this weekend can be found HERE.


4. “More Football Did Ya Say?”

i. The Champions League has been even more bonkers than the Premier League, giving the people what they want: slapstick errors, the possibility of shock exits, and total entertainment. Martin Skrtel and Demba Ba returning to global stardom. Most 2020 thing ever

ii. In the Bundesliga, it’s Der Klassiker weekend. Second place Dortmund host perpetual league leaders Bayern Munich Saturday at 12:30 PM ET on ESPN+. Dortmund's Gio Reyna and Bayern Munich's Chris Richards may both take part, meaning U.S. nationals could line up on opposing sides of this vaunted fixture for the first time ever. Here’s a complete history of North American participation in Der Klassiker.

iii. All Hail: Weston McKennie. An American leader on and off the field. An optimistic profile that made me feel better about life when reading it.

iv. The hits keep on coming for the USMNT! 17-year-old sensation Yunus Musah, who was born while his mother was on vacation in New York, is lighting up La Liga. He has agreed to attend USMNT camp this week, even though he has captained England U-18s and can play for Ghana or Italy.  Brian Straus on the courting process for this young prospect.

v. A list of the best football documentaries

vi. I enjoyed this essay in praise of “The joy of an indirect free-kick inside the box.” The indirect freekick. Football’s equivalent of waking up hungry in the middle of the night and finding leftover pizza in the fridge. 

vii. The Fall: how diving became football’s worst crime. When my mother was really upset with me, she would say, “Roger, you are worse than a murderer.” This piece reminds me of that. 

viii. Most Spanish end to a game ever?  A lower-league keeper thinks he's the hero after scoring super equaliser from outside the box in the 95th minute... until he's lobbed direct from kick-off for the winner.

ix. History of American involvement in English football by David Squires. Worth looking at just for the Clint Dempsey-Roy Hodgson panel.


5. A Brand I have come to Love: Yogi Footwear

I have always been a Clarks fan. Worn them since I was a kid. But as that classic brand has veered ever more into an influencer marketing wormhole, I have fallen in love with Yogi. A London-based brand that cuts Portuguese leather into stunning, stocky shapes that have gotten me through lockdown. I have snapped up a couple of pairs. The soles alone are works of wonder! Have a look here.


6. Non Football. And probs better because of that

i. Much love to everyone over in England, embarking on their sequel lockdown, Lockdown 2, Lock Harder. As Britons prepare to enter a second lockdown, they reflect on what they learned the first time around.
 
ii. "Wilbur is officially the fifth Rabbit Hash dog mayor." A dog was just voted mayor in Kentucky. When democracy is allowed to work the way it's supposed to, it is a beautiful thing. 
 
iii. Intrepid investigative journalists out to answer the political question on all of our minds: Where does Steve Kornacki Get His Election Night Khakis? All Rise you Normcore King.
 
iv. Phenomenal read: Long, fascinating piece from the Guardian: Why athletes choke and become suddenly incapable of doing the single thing they have trained their whole lives to do, or “the Everton Story.”
 
v. Billy Ray Cyrus x Hip hop is the strange gift that keeps on giving. His new cover of LL Cool J's Mama Said Knock You Out is oddly compelling. 
 
vi. Inspired by last week's Atlantic piece on niche Ivy League sports and wondering how much your future Harvard-squash-playing children stand to make when the NCAA lifts their athlete compensation ban? ESPN is on the case. 
 
vii. Behold the Largest Congregation of Bald Eagles in the United States. Finally, the definitive piece on U.S. goalkeepers we've long cried out for.
 
viii. An Oral History of 'Marge vs The Monorail', the Episode That Changed 'The Simpsons'. Simpsons is like the Wayne Rooney of television. You have to appreciate its longevity, even if it's not what it once was. And when it was good...there were few better. Respect. Always.
 
ix. Russian Oligarch Nicknamed "The Sausage King" Killed In Sauna With Crossbow. And yet another possible Newcastle takeover falls through. (PS. Love an oligarch who names himself after Abe Froman.)
 
x. Great Rolling Stone interview with the vastly underappreciated Becky G, former Dr. Luke child protogé turned Spanish language popstar and social justice warrior. 
 
xi. Mask Doubters. Read this. Please.
 
xii. This beautiful book has given me such joy this week: Accidentally Wes Anderson by Wally Koval. A collection of user-generated photographs from around the world of places twee enough to be in Rushmore. You can gain a sense of it here.   
 
xiii. Three tracks with slightly different yet haunting moods which have gotten me through this week:
 
That is it for today. I leave you again with one of my favorite poems, which sears my soul this morning more than ever. Let America be America Again by Langston Hughes. These are the lines: 
 
Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.
(It never was America to me.)
O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.
 
I love you America. Courage. Courage. Courage.
Rog: @rogbennett 

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

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Philip Larkin
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