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HAIL! GFOP

I am typing with fingers that can almost feel the contours of the hundred or so hotdogs I am going to down for July 4th. I say that as a gent who loves America more than Kenny Powers loves America. A bloke who has spent hundreds of hours in lockdown writing a memoir about how I was reared on American Soft Power, growing up in the murk of 1980s England inhaling everything American I could lay my hands on. The movies, television, music, books, clothes and an occasional pair of knock-off Ray Bans which made the United States my light in the darkness. A nation I could lean on and look to in order to feel better about the world. America existed almost as an alternate planet. A place filled with possibility and promise, in which life seemed to be lived with a different gravitational pull. One that could not just sustain life, but empower joy, hope, love and laughter. Even though much of that laughter was clearly of the canned variety.  
 
That memoir will be published next May to a very different America. It was surreal to finish this book against the dark backdrop of our reality and a time when the world cried out for global leadership. A remarkable moment to dig deep into my memory of a time when the United States played that role gloriously, with courage, tenacity, and wonder. Qualities which changed everything I thought was possible and gave me the confidence to chase those possibilities with all the passion Tracy Chapman sang about Fast Cars. This Fourth, I raise a glass to all of you, and to the profound changes - internal and external - that can lead, over time, to us again role modelling global leadership. To do that, we must grapple with our complex realities, exuding the same energy we used to project aspirations and ideals in the past.
 
 
2. Men In Blazers Crap to Avoid

i. Men In Blazers AT HOME television show returns Monday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. ET. It is properly magnificent: John Oliver joins us to marvel at Liverpool’s title season and Jurgen Klopp’s empathetic leadership. And Virgil van Dijk guests to talk about the unorthodox paths many members of this Liverpool team walked to achieve glory. 
 
ii. We taped a July 4th edition of WGFOP: The Bald going deep on Manchester United’s resurgence, the relegation battle and the contours of the USMNT’s potentially bright future. Worth listening to for the Scottish football terrace anthems and Rose Lavelle’s moment of world-conquering glory. LISTEN HERE. Phone in YOUR question over the weekend (646) 450-9472. We will be back on Monday. Courage. 🇺🇸

 
3. To the Football

Happy Liverpool “Guard of Honor Day.” One of football’s more peculiar traditions -- the humiliation, and the Salt -- will be revived at the Etihad as deposed title-holders Manchester City welcome new champions Liverpool at 3:15 p.m. ET on NBCSN. If you have not seen this savage piece of human theater before, here is what you have missed.

It will be fascinating to see how hungover Liverpool are. And how ferociously Pep will want to deliver a Red Wedding-style beatdown to signal intent for next season and vent his fury. Yet, everything is glorious for Liverpool right now. Klopp is talking about channelling the ferocious mental approach of New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team and says “'we will attack the title, not defend it” because he has “learned when you think you have reached the pinnacle, you are already on the way down." 

It gets better for Liverpool. Mo Salah has announced he loves it at Liverpool and wants to stay “a long time.” And to nudge this lovefest to near hysterical levels, run the rule over Liverpool’s next generation of kids poised to break through, including Harvey Elliot and Everton-slayer Curtis Jones.

B. Turns out, Chelsea are not so bueno after all. A week after stunning Manchester City, Frank Lampard’s lot crapped the bed against West Ham. A team David Moyes is working his hardest to relegate. Chelsea fan narrative has flipped in a week from “reach for the stars” to “we are just not good enough.” Rudiger, Alonso, Christensen and Kepa took turns displaying their inept decision making as the Hammers shot on goal three times and scored every time. Here’s their winner, a glorious 89th minute counter-attack in which Chelsea were wide, wide open. Do not be surprised if Pulisic starts in goal at the weekend. “This is just a sign of where Chelsea are,” sighed Frank Lampard. Bubbles.
 
C. Could be worse Chelsea fans. You could be Leicester City. Who lost again. TO EVERTON! The Brodge’s slapped-arse face was better than the three points at the end of this one. Everton were poor and barely hung on. But Leicester could not find a way. The sound effects were hilarious in this one as Everton sat so deep in the second half, which would 100 percent normally elicit groans, grumbles and moaning from the Goodison Park faithful, but the fake crowd noises kept things unnaturally chipper, upbeat and almost rousing all the way to the end. Here’s the pick of the goals, Richy-arlison finishing off a sweeping Everton move featuring young Anthony Gordon. Cue chicken dance.
 
D. Arsenal were terrific, thumping doomed Norwich whom they pressed the life out of. Savor the highlights, because they offer a glimpse of Arteta-ball. This win, being Arsenal, of course, came with magnificent fan gallows humor.
 
E. In La Liga, Barcelona are in Chaos. Sid Lowe looks at the Boardroom turmoil, troubling finances and Messi's influence: why Barcelona are a mess. “Missing out on the Spanish title is perhaps Barça’s smallest problem – decline is setting in and most key players are above 30. This will take a long time to sort out.” How do you say “Sunderland ‘Til I Die” in Catalan? 
 
In other Spanish footballing news, Real Madrid have launched a women’s team, completing a $338,000 buyout of Madrid-based club Tacon, which has now been officially renamed Real Madrid Femenino.
 
F. Enjoyed this look at the impact of fanless football in the New York Times. Do Empty Stadiums Affect Outcomes? Yes, they do in ways obvious and not. 
 
G. This is just fantastic. A campaign is under way in England to build a Statue for a black footballer denied an England cap in the 1920s because of the color of his skin. Plymouth Argyle supporters are now trying to raise £100,000 to erect a bronze statue of Jack Leslie outside the club’s Home Park stadium, to commemorate his impact on the game as well as the injustice he faced. Both the history and the campaign are remarkable, especially as Plymouth are co-owned by American-based English GFOP Simon Hallett. You can support the commemoration HERE


4.  That World Outside of Football

i. Manchester, the city that was the global epicenter of the Industrial Revolution, is now being remade by globalized post-industrial capital. This is one of the great spectacles of contemporary Britain. Two words: Marcus. Rashford. 

Also, check out our VisitBritain Trip to Manchester HERE, including an episode on the world's largest collection of throwback football jerseys

ii. Beach-shaming Britain: The real story behind coronavirus crowds is one of lack of access to public land and a long-standing connection between Britons and the beach.
 
As a kicker: Czech nudists told to wear face masks by the police. Bits out. Masks on.  
 
iii. Scots Gaelic will die out within a decade. Repeat after me. “am bu mhath leat peant de lager?” 
 
iv. I adore Angie McMahon. Her music (and that of Alex the Astronaut) has really helped me through lockdown. I have listened to this song, “If You Call,” on repeat this week while tapping out the newsletter. My lord, it grows on you. In other magnificent news, the world needs this 12-minute Sufjan drop tomorrow.    
 
v. Does Food Actually Unite Us? Nope. Only Football unites us. Only Football. 
 

When I said, “only Football unites us,” I meant music too, obvs. I loved this article in which Yo-Yo Ma Explains How Music Can Close Social Distances. It is packed with wisdom that will stretch your brain. “Everything is uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable. Everything is not yours until it becomes yours. And so every song is hard until it's not hard,” says Ma who concluded the interview by articulating the positive aspect of our dark reality, and I think it is really important to read this next paragraph at least five times: 
 
“This moment…is actually forcing people to be open because you can't get back to regularity. It forces us to think and really consider once again: What are my assumptions about life? What are my assumptions about work? About being in the office? About a career? About having a family? What kind of world am I assuming that we live in, or that we want to work toward? Suddenly, that's another moment where we can question and obviously feel very confused, but hopefully come back to some basic first principles of: What are your values? What do you treasure?”
 
Those are the questions I am thinking about. Those are the questions we are all thinking about. Consciously or unconsciously. I am going to be reading out that Ma at my July 4th table, and the below lines that we are also living out every day, with reaffirmed commitment, and love and hope for optimistic futures. 
 
“O, let America be America again
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be”
-- Langston Hughes 

Keep Couraging,
Wear a Mask.
Wear a Mask.
Wear a Mask.
Rog: @rogbennett 

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

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