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HAIL! GFOP
 
I type with fingers that are proud to present our new podcast: HBO’s Succession Podcast. I cannot overstate the number of times during lockdown I have yearned to hear the distorted majesty of that Succession theme song crackling across my television screen once again. I adore the show, with its manic takeovers, eye-watering putdowns, fleeting glimpses of humanity smothered by greed, aspiration, desperate cries for attention, and Logan Roy shawl-collar power cardigans. So I am thrilled to have partnered with HBO on this series of longform conversations with every character who has come close to the Waystar Royco executive suites.  

The series kicked off with a magical chat with Brian Cox, my Rushmore hero, who plays the legendary Logan Roy. That monstrous patriarch L to the OG. We talked about being the black heart of the show, Boar on the Floor, and Hibs or Hearts.    

I have one single favor to ask: please SUBSCRIBE, RATE, REVIEW. I know it is a cliche. But it is a cliche because it works. Subscribing, punching in a Five-Star rating, and adding a kind word helps more than I can say. So if you value this newsletter as part of your daily regimen, please take a second of your day to do this now

Here is where the podcast can be found. Please spread the word with all the Cousin Greg fans in your life.

Apple: https://tinyurl.com/y75s4dtq
Stitcher: https://tinyurl.com/ycq6vxne
Spotify: https://tinyurl.com/yalj7bqz

Kieran Culkin, Roman Roy AKA Ron Rockstone is my guest in Episode 2. Send me your questions for him HERE.


2. Men In Blazers Doing The Dances

i. Davo and I podded yesterday analyzing the North London Derby, Chelsea and Leicester’s nosedives, and Jamie Vardy’s Vardy Tramp Stamp. LISTEN HERE
 
ii. The MEN IN BLAZERS TV Show, perpetually trying to fend off relegation, returns THIS FRIDAY at 5:30 p.m. ET to break down all of this week’s action. We’re also joined by Canadian Young Gun Alphonso Davies. And Monday, it’s our season finale. 5:30 p.m. ET. NBCSN. 

iii. Call (646) 450-9472 and your brilliant questions on football or life could be sloppily answered by Moi on WGFOP: The Bald this Friday.

iv. I love, love, love this video, which features the best of our Budweiser NWSL Happy Hours. In the early weeks of lockdown, these conversations kept me sane. The USWNT players are such a light in the darkness. Huge respect to @budweiserusa for supporting the growth of Women’s game in the USA. May it continue to go from strength to strength. 


3. To the Football.

A. Manchester United Crap the Bed. In a league of wildly swinging narratives, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s mob have been one constant. They were headed triumphantly into Third Place…until they weren’t. Harry Maguire appeared to mark his own teammate leaving Michael Obafemi free to head home a 96th minute equaliser, which changed everything, grabbing a draw for Southampton and keeping United in fifth. What a weekend. The speed of narrative flips in this post-pandemic football is incredible. One minute Chelsea/United/Arsenal are BACK. The next, they are in peril. Keeping up with the storylines is like drinking from a fire hydrant.  

B. Manchester City defuse their Financial Fair Play “atomic bomb,” which leaves Uefa with their own explosive problems to solve. Barney Ronay rues the fact Manchester City are taking a victory lap after “beating” UEFA at the Court Arbitration for Sport. Final score: New Money 1 Old Money 0 (aet). Damn. New Money Didn't even need away goals: “It is worth remembering this in any debate about fairness. There are no Ewoks here. Everyone is Darth Vader. And money – either the money you like, or the money you don’t like – is always winning this game.”
 
Sports Economics Guru David Conn maintains the Manchester City decision does not mean the end of financial fair play. An article that co-exists side by side with this one: Pep Guardiola prepares to spunk $190 million into the wind of the upcoming transfer window.
 
C. “It happens every day”: Wilfried Zaha calls on social media companies to act over online racism. We talked about this at the top of the pod yesterday. Enough hand-wringing and tokenism. Social Media companies have to take responsibility and act. This is not about football. This is about football revealing a horrific, daily human reality. No more. No more.
 
D. Frank Lampard calls on quiet Chelsea players to make some noise. Is this the “be more like John Terry” Speech? 
 
E. Why fears over Roberto Firmino’s Liverpool goals record, especially his inability to score at Anfield all season, are unfounded. “He is the System.” Bobby Chompers has two things that sabermetrics can't quantify. Heart. And Sauce. 
 
F. The Football Association to begin to start interviews for England Women manager role after huge interest. More than 140 applications. Which means at least 10 that are not from me. 

ii. The opening round of NWSL’s Challenge Cup wrapped up last night. Goals from GFOPs Sam Mewis and Crystal Dunn dropped Sky Blue and empowered North Carolina Courage to maintain their perfect 4-0 record as they head into the knockout round, which begins Friday. Their game against the blunt-force Portland Thorns [Friday 12:30 p.m. ET on CBS All-Access] is must-watch.
 

4. The Real World
 
i. In pictures: The non-running of Pamplona's Bulls. Five years ago we were there. Feels like a lifetime ago. I miss Spain so very much.
 
ii. Everything You Need to Write and Publish Your Book using NYPL's e-Resources. As I embark on a second draft of my book, you should start on yours. 
 
iii. The visual storytelling of Run The Jewels. The pistol and fist.
 
iv. Time to tell America's dogs this arrangement won't last forever. “Dogs are in paradise (during lockdown)… certain...this newfound dynamic will last forever. They assume it’s a new lifestyle...They’re thinking, ‘Finally our owners know that we want to be with them 24/7.’ But there’s a problem: Dogs are becoming “overly bonded.” How to avoid canine separation anxiety.  
 
v. Big Scrabble’s decision to eliminate offensive words has infuriated players like never before. I have a complicated relationship with Scrabble, but this story is fascinating. “Words aren’t in a dictionary to honor them.”
 
vi. If you only watch one short piece today, make it this one: How Well Do Masks Work? (Schlieren Imaging In Slow Motion!) 
 
vii. How to Handle Reopening Anxiety. This article reads like a good mid-table football manager: Focus on controlling only what you can control.
 
viii. 2020 Audubon Photography Awards: Top 100. Send your spirits soaring. If only for a minute. 
 
ix. I am listening to a New Zealand singer Nadia Reid as I type. Her ruminative music is morning-perfect. Savor her album “Out of My Province.” It is a gift. Sample Track: “Oh Canada.”


I will end with a burst of human joy. Adebayo Akinfenwa is a 38-year-old cult hero who last night won promotion to the Championship (the tier below the Premier League) with miracle minnows Wycombe Wanderers. Wycombe are a wonder-story. Operating on a tiny budget, going into pre-season with just eight players, they were favorites for relegation but ground their way to glory. The squad is packed with characters, Akinfenwa lead amongst them. The Hodor-sized striker has been rejected, discarded and derided throughout his career. The energy and emotion of his post-match words will give you Life.
 
Akinfenwa, known as Beast Mode, is a real GFOP. He joined me for a pod special back in 2015. A beautiful conversation which sets out his story of struggle, tenacity, and triumph. He also joined us for our Newsletter for a Three Questions feature. Akinfenwa loves the United States. If I ran an MLS club, I would be on the phone to his agent right now, working out a deal to ensure this poetic man of wonder could bring his energy, personality and life to my locker room pronto. Beast Mode is why we watch sport and his words are ones to live by:

“Life in football is all about opinions. I hope my story shows that the only opinion that matters is the opinion you have about yourself.” 
--  Adebayo Akinfenwa
 
Keep Couraging.
Rog: @rogbennett 

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

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Philip Larkin
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