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HAIL! GFOP

I type with anxious fingers ground down by the fog of our reality. We are living in spiritually exhausting times. I am trying to channel positivity wherever I can find it, working to hit the deadlines on the second draft of my memoir, which is incredibly uplifting to write against the backdrop of the elections. The book is a love letter to the America I came of age with -- that of Fantasy Island, Hart to Hart, John Hughes, Mellencamp, Miami Vice, Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX, Public Enemy, and Tracy Chapman -- and how it shaped my identity as an American trapped in an Englishman’s body without ever having set foot in the USA! It has been nourishing to reconnect with America as a place of nourishing dreams, warmth, joy and wonder.  

Just as healing was the recent morning we spent with Gio Reyna. The 17-year-old Dortmund sensation who grew up a quarter of a mile away from where I type in snowy Bedford, NY. The interview will run as part of The Men In Blazers Show This Monday at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and it is genuinely inspirational. Gio is as humble as he is naturally gifted. But it was fascinating to hear him discuss his own growth as a footballer, his moments of loneliness as a Rising Junior attempting to crack a Bundesliga first team, and what it feels like to be part of a wave of young American footballers impacting Europe’s biggest men’s teams together. I found this remarkable: How Gio talks about Christian Pulisic. He does not see him as a young starlet. Rather, as a mature pathfinder who has single-handedly shattered the stigma that has existed for decades around American male footballers, and whose path he aspires to follow. May Gio succeed and may many more follow in his footsteps. 🇺🇸


2. Men In Blazers. Only Thing In World More Endless Than The Election

i. As noted above, Gio Reyna joins us Monday, Nov. 2 at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The show is followed by the 60 minute debut of my Promoted: Leeds United show, which includes interviews with Marcelo Bielsa, Jack Harrison and Hattrick Bamford.  
 
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 Bernard. 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 is HERE. We discuss United and Chelsea’s challenges in depth, and bend the knee to Brendan Rodgers. Today, we will release an edition of WGFOP: The Bald, previewing all the big weekend storylines with your questions phoned in at (646) 450-9472. 
 
iv. Buy the Holiday Present of the Season for the football fan in your life at Icons. We adore their collection of signed footballing memorabilia from the likes of Messi, Maradona, Neymar and more. I have personally snapped up a ton of stuff for the United and Arsenal fans in my life HERE. Visit ICONS DOT COM and use code "MIB10" for 10% off of items for your own gifting.


3. To the Football

The big game of the weekend pitches Manchester United against Arsenal [Sunday 11:30 a.m. ET P’Cock].

United enter with a ricocheting narrative. The dust of the dismal performance against Chelsea last weekend blown away by a Champions switch to a midfield diamond that demolished Leipzig by shoehorning in the creativity of Donny Van Der Beek with Pogba on the left and Matic’s security blanket at the back. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the formation offered Fred a chance to shine as the team’s energizing pendulum.

Arsenal’s optimism is suffering a buffering after back-to-back 1-0 defeats against Manchester City and Brodge City. For all the progress Arteta has made with his team’s shape and organization, the frontline has become utterly constipated since Auba signed Da Ting and the vaunted pressing  game has evaporated. Miguel Delaney asks why.

Great, sad, complex read here. The Erasure of Mesut Ozil.

ii. Liverpool host West Ham [Saturday 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC Proper].

Draws-That-Feel-Like-Wins specialist West Ham have not won at Anfield since 2015, when the comedy-styling backline featuring two of my favorite Liverpool Players All-Time, Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren, leaked three times. Injury-crisis Liverpool would bite your arm off for either of those central defenders right now, after Fabinho was injured midweek, joining Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip in the Liverpool physio room. West Ham have injury problems of their own. Michail Antonio, who would have forgone cheat day at the prospect of facing up to either Hendo or 19-year-old Rhys Williams, is set to be out for a month with a hamstring tear. Speedy recovery to the injured at both clubs. 

iii. Burnley against Chelsea [Saturday 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN] in a game known the world over as “the Christian Pulisic Hattrick First Anniversary.” 

A fine week for Chelsea's Frank Lampard to deny “doubting Christian Pulisic's quality.” But has Ross Barkley ever denied intentionally not passing him the ball? 

This game kicks off against the backdrop of a Burnley takeover! We should have started a GoFundMe. Some Egyptian-Britons may have gotten there before us with a $254M bid, which is the going rate for a Nick Pope and half a Ben Mee thrown in.

iv. Sheffield United host Manchester City [Saturday 8:30 a.m. ET P’Cock] hoping for something more than a moral victory in defeat. For City, let the “Pep Guardiola’s return to Barcelona” narrative begin. 

v. In other games of note, Gareth Bale will have his 17th straight fake out of his first Premier League start whilst Tottenham reinforce their stealth dark horse title contender bona fides against Brighton & Hove Albion [Sunday 2:15 p.m. ET P’Cock]. Jose will hope his team are as good as his Comedy Instagram Skills.

b. Everton, without the injured James and Seamus and the suspended Digne and Richarlison, hope not to crap the bed too badly at Newcastle [Sunday 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN].

c. Stealth Game O’Week? Leeds United vs. Leicester City [Monday 3 p.m. ET NBCSN]. Bielsa vs. Brodge! Humility vs. Hubris. Buckets vs. Teeth Bleach. 


4. More Football Magic of Note

i. Of course, Barcelona sign an American and then implode. Sid Lowe explains why the club president resigned and announced the European Super League in an attempt to defend his legacy.

ii. The Secret Art of Pressing, the evolution of the strategy, and the danger youth development may just produce “energetic pressing drones.”

iii. Sunday is Women’s FA Cup Final Day. Everton against Manchester City (FA Player). Please Rose Lavelle, and Sam Mewis, Don’t Hurt ‘Em!

City, defending Champions, aim to win “their second FA Cup of the Season.” Women's FA Cup Final Preview: Subplots & Narratives.

Revisit our convo with USWNT and Manchester City’s Sam Mewis, who talked about her dream of playing on English football’s biggest stage HERE

iv. All Hail Faiza Heidar, who has become the first woman to coach a Men’s Pro-Team in Egypt.

v. Diego Maradona turns 60 today. Here are six of his greatest goals for Napoli. Many happy returns to the man who has packed 120 years of living into 60 years of life. 

vi. How FC Midtjylland started football's data revolution. The Danish champions have been the poster child for using metrics to gain an advantage on the competition.

vii. The Mystery of Andres Jaso Gardo: Sporting de Gijon's Fearsome Striker and Missing Victim of Fascism and a great thread on the history of Osasuna on their centennial! 

viii. This clip becomes funnier the deeper into it you go: Inverness Caledonian broadcast games with a robot camera programmed to follow the ball in their Scottish second-tier matches. The commentator had to apologize as the camera kept on mistaking bald linesman’s head for the ball and simply followed it up and down the field. Balds Win!


5. Three Questions With Esmeralda Negron, co-founder of Atalanta Media, who are changing the way Women’s Club Football is televised around the world.  

"I never had an idea of playing for a professional club. I only thought about making the Women’s National Team. Young girls haven’t cultivated football role models because they haven’t had access, aside from World Cups and Olympics." READ WHOLE STORY HERE


6. Not Football and All The Better For It

i. Extraordinary. A historical and cultural epic in seven minutes. And then you get to the final 20 seconds and just lose it. Frank Prentice, an assistant purser on the Titanic, describes how he survived the sinking of the ship.

ii. 2020 is a year to celebrate heroes. Essential workers, medical professionals, educators. And now, the man keeping Paris safe from murder hornets.
 
iii. I personally haven't been south of midtown Manhattan in many moons, but if you're itching to spend some time abroad, it is possible.
 
iv. Mark my words, we are on the precipice of a Juicy Tracksuit pandemic comeback. Juicy Couture's Tracksuit: An Oral History Of The Blinged-Out, Era-Defining Outfit. Only tracksuit Tony Pulis will not wear. 
 
v. Had the honor of interviewing Big Boi earlier this month. A legend and an absolute gent. Interview coming soon. To hold you over, The Ringer on The Technicolor Legacy of Stankonia.
 
vi. "Dwight is, in his contours, Mitch McConnell. He is Brian Kemp. He is Donald Trump. He is someone who imposes his will on everyone else and then says, when they object, That is the law according to the rules." Great piece from The Atlantic on Dwight Schrute and What The Office was Trying to Warn Us About Him.
 
vii. If you had a different vision of how this year was going to go, you're not alone. Here's What 2020 Looked Like to the Sci-Fi Writers of 1974.
 
viii. Watch What Happens When Real Housewives Don't Wear Masks. Shout out to our studio-mate, Andy Cohen, who's out there doing God's work, making sure the Real Housewives are properly shamed for not practicing COVID hygiene. 
 
ix. Winter is coming. If you're looking for an actually useful visual aid to help you parse the risks of covid in different indoor scenarios -- rooms, bars, classrooms -- this is it. 

x. The ungentle joy of spider sex. High brow or low brow? Sort of like The Men in Blazers Show.

xi. A song with a sentiment I am trying to summon. New Feeling by Greta Stanley.

xii. I am reading Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan. A magnificent novel about friendship and chaos in 1980s Scotland. If ever a novel had me as the target audience! O’Hagan is an unbelievable writer. Every sentence is filled with human wisdom. 


That is it for today. I am going to leave you with a video, sent to us by GFOP Spurs fan Caleb Hersch. Long story, but his mum is a long time jazz player on the West Village scene. Caleb writes: 

“I grew up following her around in the late 80s and early 90s to the backs of folk clubs in New York and Boston. She was the resident bass player for the godfather of the Village Fast Folk scene, Jack Hardy, and recorded dozens of albums with him. If you've never heard Jack Hardy’s incredible mixture of sorrow and hope, listen to "The Tinker's Coin" whenever Everton lose this year. You'll know even on the coldest and dampest of nights in Stoke, there is always hope when you have company, stories, songs and a pint. 

My mother wrote a poem a few months ago about the state of our country. Wynton Marsalis then read the poem and laid down some trumpet with a brass band backing him. Here is the video. It’s a powerful and positive statement in these unusual times.”

Thank you Caleb. Please Vote, GFOPs. Huge Love to You All. Each and every one of you.

Keep Couraging.
Rog: @rogbennett 

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

Please Consider Supporting: 
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“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”

Philip Larkin
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