Ferguson. Moyes. Mancini. Scholes. Barbara Walters. The greats say good-bye and heads roll at season's end. Michael Davies and Roger Bennett dissect the decapitations and even find time to debate the origins of pie with special guest and Manchester City lover Marc Stein.
It hasn't been the finest vintage, this Premier League season. But most football fans agree, they will drink anything if the price is right. Chelsea, Arsenal, and Tottenham all got what they needed over the weekend, even if there were a string of rather uninspiring 1-0 victories. In this week's podcast, the Blazers consider them all, with Michael taking particular glee in Chelsea's late win at Old Trafford.
The pod then takes a somber tone as ESPN's Sir Ian Darke joins from the road to reflect on his past three years as the voice of English football in America, while Roger offers a couple of ideas for his farewell sign-off. Until next week. Dominate.
The Battle for Third and Fourth is now officially under way. On Monday, Manchester United and their ragtag ensemble wrapped up their 20th league title in impressive fashion (move over, Don Nelson, the mad scientist officially resides at Old Trafford). Still, few headlines were devoted to Sir Alex & Co.'s accomplishment. Earlier in the weekend, Liverpool's Luis Suarez once again proved there was still plenty of crazy left in England's top flight when he gnawed on Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in the course of a 2-2 draw. In this week's pod, Michael and Roger review the implications for Liverpool and their American owners as well as what's in store for Suarez's 72 pearly whites.
The Men in Blazers revel, as always, in their weekly telegrams from GFOPs across these fine lands, inquiring about footballers' peculiar sweating habits and how to best consume a midgame pint or five, and end the pod with breaking news about the Men in Blazers National Team. Courage.
Old-school fan violence reared its ugly head this weekend, from the hallowed terraces of Wembley to the streets of Newcastle upon Tyne. Even hardened criminals from the depths of Her Majesty's Prison Service were in disbelief over the audacity of one horse-punching Magpie supporter.
Somewhere amid this nonsense, football was played, and in this week's suboptimal podcast the Men in Blazers consider it all — from the Chelsea–Man City FA Cup semifinal to Everton's continued late-season form, courtesy of a win against relegation-threatened QPR that sent Harry Redknapp into his ritual comical rage. Now, with just a month left in this Premier League season, Michael and Roger handicap the race for Arsene Wenger's coveted "fourth-place trophy."
In a weekend of weird, deflected, and unintended goals, Sergio Aguero's wonder winner for City in Monday's Manchester Derby stands apart. And while there were plenty of other moments worth celebrating, the Men in Blazers commence this week's Churchill Day pod by marking the passing of Great Britain's first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Speaking of Iron Ladies, the Blazers are then joined by a less polarizing one: Abby Wambach, of the U.S. women's national team. Calling from The Hague, Wambach chats about playing in a men's league, Fernando Torres stealing her do, and why the latest women's professional league — NWSL — can succeed where others have failed. May the third time be a charm.
With Michael Davies away, Rog goes solo, welcoming USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann to the pod. Fresh from the March of the Penguins win against Costa Rica, and a gutsy draw in the Azteca thunderdome, Klinsmann candidly discusses his own identity, management style, change strategy, and vision for American soccer's future. He is also willing to broach the big topics, including the heroic role Kyle Beckerman could play for the U.S. team at World Cup 2014 in Rio.
Normal suboptimal Men in Blazers service will be resumed next week.
Getting all hot and bothered over a 0-0 draw in which the United States was outshot 17-1 by an uninspired Mexico side will have to wait another week. With Roger away in Liverpool stocking up on Boddingtons and pies, the Men in Blazers offer GFOPs an extended interview with Leyton Orient chairman Barry Hearn in place of the regularly scheduled suboptimal sounds. The legendary sports promoter, raconteur, and East End hard man offers a unique perspective on what it means to own a European football club in the modern game. He is, without a doubt, the Most Interesting Man in Britain.
The cherry atop the proverbial sundae comes at the end of this week's pod, though. While we don't want to reveal too much here, those that applied to play on the Men in Blazers national team might just want to start polishing their boots.
The unpredictable predictably happened again over the weekend. Manchester United marched on ever closer to its 20th league title, Everton came back to life against Manchester City, and Liverpool's momentum came to a grinding halt thanks to surprising Southampton. Welcome to the Premier League. In this week's pod, Michael and Davies recap all the happenings, answer telegrams, and welcome U.S. forward and digital philosopher Herculez Gomez for an inclusive interview on the eve of two crucial World Cup qualifiers. The Las Vegas native opines on Twitter, team chemistry, and Mrs. Guzan blow-up dolls.
Viel Glück to the Von Trapps as they enter the uncompromising bear pit that is Azteca Stadium.
The FA Cup, a.k.a. the Budweiser Cup featuring the Football Association, made headlines again over the weekend; there hasn't been such a resounding return to relevancy since Betty White bit into a Snickers. In this week's pod, the Men in Blazers review Chelsea's game of two halves against Manchester United, touch on Everton's alarming slide, and discuss what Tim Howard's injury means for the U.S. men's national team's World Cup qualification chances. Plus, Michael and Roger answer telegrams on home/away tactics, MLS's intrusion into the South, and "Car Talk." And after announcing the winner of the Great Becker, Man Hair Swap, they double down with a new competition to find "America's Next Top Soccer Fan."
The song remains the same. Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, and Chelsea all managed wins. But while there wasn't a change in the Top Four, the weekend wasn't without its drama. Gareth Bale was like clockwork in Spurs' all-important triumph over Arsenal, leaving their North London rivals with more lingering questions about the club's direction. In this week's pod, Michael and Roger analyze all the ramifications from the derby, turn their attention to the relegation battle, and reflect on the opening weekend of MLS.
If that wasn't enough, the Blazers also speak with iconic ESPN broadcaster and jolliest man alive Bob Ley about his days as the public-address announcer of the Cosmos, how the culture has changed in Bristol over the years, and what truthfully is the secret to eternal youth. Horse placentas are about to have their moment in the sun.
Enough talk about the dire states of Arsenal and Liverpool, it's time to get #Positive. In this week's pod, the Men in Blazers revel in the otherworldly form of Tottenham's Gareth Bale as well as the first-ever trophy for Swansea.
More trumpets! A new season of Major League Soccer is upon us! Just as two former MLS mainstays, Brek Shea and Kei Kamara, made an impact for Stoke and Norwich last weekend, it's now time for the league's 18th year. To mark the occasion, Michael and Roger celebrate the MLS-ification of the EPL by welcoming GBOP (Great Bro' of the Pod) Kyle Beckerman for an in-studio visit to the Crap Part of Soho. The Real Salt Lake veteran discusses his love of Ping-Pong, how the league has grown since he was just a dreadlock-less lad, and his preference for grass. A true American hero.
It was a snowy weekend of mid-season football in the Premier League, with the weather providing a cleansing effect for Clint Dempsey in Tottenham's home meeting with Manchester United. After close to 93 minutes of disappointing form, Deuceface slotted home the equalizer as America, Andre Villas-Boas, Manchester City, and Under Armour all rejoiced. In this week's Men in Blazers podcast, Michael Davies and Roger Bennett review the title race that's back on, only because it was never really off. But it's not only the glory of the top of the table that's up for discussion. The Blazers also consider the relegation battle and bid sacked Southampton manager Nigel "Happyface" Adkins farewell.
To add a modicum of intelligent insight, Fox Soccer's very own Rob Stone drops in to recap the Brek Shea saga and shed light on what life is like these days for a soccer- and cheerleader-lovin' American at the network that gave us Cleatus the dancing robot.
Apparently, England's antiquated past is the new present here in the U.S. The weekend offered a welcome return of everyone's favorite aristocratic family, the Crawleys, of PBS's Downton Abbey. We laughed, we cried, we gasped at the audacity of Sir Anthony's bold sexual advances upon Lady Edith's virtue. Elsewhere on the dial, the FA Cup made its network broadcast debut in suitably dramatic fashion, proving there's still life in the old dog yet. Needless to say, both developments brought much joy to the Men in Blazers in this week's pod, as Michael Davies and Roger Bennett borrow George Michael's Sports Machine, traveling across the English countryside to recap these far-flung matches featuring the likes of Mansfield Town and Cheltenham. Get ready for a geography lesson, America.
Of course, the biggest story from the weekend was Luis Suarez's handball game winner, dashing the hopes of Mansfield's escort turned CEO. To examine just how Liverpool supporters can stomach their morally dubious striker, the Blazers welcome GFOP, comedian, and Liverpudlian John Oliver back to the pod to offer his thoughts and expectations for his beloved club. If you're a fellow fan of the Reds, prepare to lower the bar.