I write this with fingers shaking from Premier League withdrawal. It’s the first ever Premier League Winter Break. Lean Times. Just four games this weekend and six the next. Which means we might be down to averaging just seven Beers and Half a Pie a day.
Of the four games this weekend, I am obviously most excited forEverton to host Crystal Palace [Saturday at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN] to fight out the Cenk Tosun Memorial Derby. Last week’s glorious come-from-behind-with-10-men 90th minute win against Watford has raised my hopes. The only reason an Evertonian has their hopes raised is to have them dashed. This week my thoughts have flickered between two ideas:
A. We are only eight points off a Champions League place. B. Francesca’s quote from Dante’s Inferno: "There is no greater sorrow than to be mindful of the happy time in misery."
2. In other games, Brighton battle Watford [Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET on Network NBC]in a tactically ambitious relegation six-pointer. Great piece here on the cup half full aspects of Brighton’s Graham Potter-era. There is also the intrigue of whether inertia’s Manchester City can be bothered to muster the second gear they will need to crush David Moyes’ West Ham [Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN].
3. One bright side of this weekend? At least we don’t have to watch Liverpool win again. So there’s that. We Pod Tuesday to break down all the (in)action.
4. The Premier League Winter Break doesn’t spare you froma Double Dose of Men in Blazers on TV… Bald Eagle Alex Caruso joins us next Friday, Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. ET after Wolves vs. Leicester to talk about the singular path he has walked from undrafted rough diamond to Lakeshow Cult Hero. As a football fan, I admire him so much for his full-throated embrace of Premier League football in general and Manchester City in particular. A remarkable feat for a kid from College Station, Texas, who grew up dreaming of being able to dunk and never so much as kicked a football. I have rarely met a more humble athlete. Loved that bloke and I believe you will, too. #GigEm
Then, Monday, Feb. 17 at 5:30 p.m. ET, we return for our Visit Britain x Men In Blazers Premier League Weekend 2 Electric Boogaloo Special, in which Davo and I venture North of the Wall to watch Liverpool defenestrate Manchester City at Anfield, and to revel in the swaggering characters in the two cities including Juan Mata, a 98-year-old Manchester City fan, and my Dad, Judge Ivor. If you missed any of our digital episodes of this magical travelogue, you can check them out HERE. The latest features our visit to the Salford Boys Club which inspired the music of The Smiths. That place should be a National Heritage site. WATCH IT HERE
5. Talking about my Dad, Judge Ivor On this week’s podcast [LISTEN ON APPLE, SPOTIFY, SOUNDCLOUD], he tells the story of how, as a nine-year-old, he almost became a Liverpool fan. A story which would have Sliding Doors-changed my life. A Rog who wins would be a completely different person. The reaction to this podcast has been an incredible joy to behold. I have savored each one of your Ravens and Tweets. I particularly enjoyed GFOP @androog’s suggestion that if I had grown up a Liverpool fan, then Everton would be sitting atop the table undefeated and invincible and Liverpool would be a smoldering pile of mid table mediocrity starring Theo Walcott. The power of a butterfly flapping its wings…
6. Two Magical American Goals Football gives me more joy than ever right now. A calm in the storm. I was genuinely thrilled by these two wonderstrikes: The first a surging run and finish by Christen Press in Olympic qualifying. When she feels the confidence flowing through her veins, there are few finer. The second, an exclamation point of a debut goal for 17-year-old American Gio Reyna for Dortmund. May it be just the first of many to come. Gio is exactly what America needs right now. Fearless kids unafraid to live their Dreams and test themselves against the best in European play.
7. Tampa/St. Pete Next week JW and I head down to spend some time with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman. A remarkable gent who lives for Manchester United. We cannot wait to visit the town Lee Roy Selmon built. EMAIL US your questions for Victor and your food recs for the city.
8. What is the proper way to pour a beer from bottle to glass? Every week when we tape the pod, I take a ton of crap on social media for the size of the head on my beers. So I sought the advice of Brewmaster Jeremy Duncan and learned the proper way to pour a lager.WATCH HERE. Stop pouring down the side of the glass people!!!
9. Random Crap
i.A Book: “Apeirogon: A Novel,” by Colum McCann. Staggering work. Cannot put it down. I mean. Bloke is the KDB of writing.
ii. A TV Show: “Giri/Haji” (Duty/Shame). A Japanese crossover thriller made by the BBC. And it is yet another piece of television everyone should be talking about that no one is talking about.
iii. Music: “Everybody in the Place," by Jeremy Deller. Watch this brilliant film about the rise of the English Rave scene between 1985 and 1993 and its roots in American House music, and you will understand much of what you need to about English Football fandom too. It is just over an hour. Stick with it. It is mind blowing.
Iv. Clothing Brand: Long adored Gitman Bros. They make really well-crafted shirt staples. GO HERE and scroll down to find the remnants of the sale shirt maker. I own two of THESE. THIS though is super, super tasty.