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Game of Thrones ended its decade-long story last night, and fans are split on its controversial ending.
That’s a sentence I could’ve written years ago when the show’s plans for its conclusion were first revealed. It’s impossible to please everyone, and today’s viewers feel increasing ownership over the content they consume. Every day we’re mashing react buttons on every one-liner, video, webseries, podcast, etc., etc. But there’s a reason why everyone isn’t helming their own multi-million dollar television series.
As the remaining lords and ladies of Westeros laughed off last night: If we give everyone a vote, what’s next? The dogs?
So, sure, decisions were made that I personally would not have willed, and, in my humble opinion, some emotional moments lost some impact due to pacing. But, overall, looking back at what many (myself included) consider the last great watercooler television show, the series concluded the story it set it out to tell.
With the understanding that this is a piece of art created by a team of artists and not a committee of fan theorists or Reddit fiction writers, let’s discuss the epic series’ finale in our recap below.
We begin where we left off last week. Daenerys has thoroughly nuked all of King’s Landing. Tyrion and Jon Snow walk the streets full of scorched skeletons still in shock at their queen’s lack of mercy. Tyrion heads off to find what remains of the Lannisters, while Jon and Davos come upon Grey Worm and the Unsullied about the execute some Lannister soldiers.
Like their Queen, the Unsullied are not really feeling forgiving. Jon tries to step to them, but he’s outnumbered Davos de-escalates the situation, leaving the army to carry through their orders to punish those that fought against Dany.
Tyrion heads down to the secret tunnel, finding it blocked by rubble. He digs around a bit until he uncovers the corpses of Jaime and Cersei wrapped in a strange lovers’ embrace. (Or was it more like twins in the womb?) Either way, unlike a lot of folks, I think it’s a fitting end to their story, even if the final leg of the journey to get there was a bit spastic at times.
In one of the most incredible shots in the show’s history, Dany comes out to address her armies. As she does, Drogon takes flight behind her making it seem momentarily that she has some badass black dragon wings.
It’s a lewk:
She gives a speech to the delight of the (surprisingly still huge) Unsullied and Dothraki contingent. I was truly shocked seeing so many Screamers still kicking after the Battle of Winterfell. The address is all about “liberation” in that very uncomfortable dictator-y way where folks are “liberated” by being burned alive in the streets. The armies are loving it, but Tyrion is less dazzled.
He calls her out on slaughtering a city, and she snaps back that he committed treason by freeing his brother. He quits in a snit, throwing his fancy Hand pin down, and she has him arrested.
Jon visits him in his cell, where Tyrion is real, real distraught. Varys was right, and he had him killed. Now, Jon has to do something. He knows what’s right, and he’s always tried to do the right thing. Jon is obviously torn, but Tyrion reminds him that Dany will soon turn her attention to him, and then to his stubborn sisters.
He goes to meet Daenerys (after a really cool moment where he passes a snow-covered Drogon). She is walking up to the throne she’s been so focused on for the first time. Just like her earlier vision, there is snow falling, and just as she finally is able to touch it, Jon arrives. She asks him to rule with her, to be with her. He tries to reason with her about her actions, but she swears it’s all for the greater good. When he asks her what about the other people who think what they’re doing is also good? She waves him off, because they don’t get to choose.
It’s those final words that seals her fate. She is a dictator. She believes she knows what’s best. And, yes, often in the past she was right. But that’s not a blanket way to rule. They embrace once more, and he tells her she will always be his queen.
Then he stabs her right in heart, killing her.
Is it the most bombastic death in terms of violence? No. Look, not everyone can go out Roland Emmerich-style in the Sept of Baelor like Margaery Tyrell, or get out a few last quips like Lady Olenna. Not everyone gets a deeply poetic twisted end like Ellaria Sand or Septna Unella. (Coincidentally, it was Cersei that orchestrated all aforementioned. That’s just her style.) I liked the end of Dany’s story, personally. All this time, she has been focused on getting back the throne. Yes, she defeated a lot of evil, but it always felt like that was more in service of restoring the good Targaryen name. At its heart, it was all about righting the wrongs committed against her family. She did it. She got the throne, she defeated her enemies. Even conquering — I’m sorry, “liberating” — beyond King’s Landing feels like it was outside of her mandate.
As Daenerys dies in Jon’s arms (seems to be a popular spot for anyone he sticks his own longclaw in, if you know what I mean), Drogon senses something is amiss. In one of the most emotionally devastating moments, Drogon nudges Dany’s lifeless body and lets out a deep, guttural roar. He’s heartbroken. It looks as if the dragon is going to torch Jon, but instead he melts the Iron Throne down to nothing, which … sigh.
I guess my biggest beef of the episode was here. I get the symbolism, but just how aware is Drogon? How did he not eat Jon on the spot? Even if I suspend my disbelief and assume Jon’s Targaryen blood keeps the dragons from attacking, how did Drogon know to torch the throne of all things? Now I want to know all about Drogon’s apparently very rich internal life.
He grabs his mother’s lifeless body in his talons and flies off.
Then, my second biggest beef, we jump ahead in time. Tyrion is being brought out of lockup to stand before a panel of the remaining lords and ladies of the great families. All our faves are here: Bran, Sansa, Arya, Brienne, Yara, Gendry, Sam, Davos, Edmure, some dude from Dorne, a few other randos, that weird kid Robin Arryn who breastfed way too long. (Though, I gotta say, milk does a body good, because he’s sort of hunk now?) Anyway, the big disagreement is that Unsullied — who somehow are still kicking about the totally torched King’s Landing — want to kill Jon Snow.
But, like … hold on. How did we get here? Did Jon confess? And the murderous, blood-thirsty Unsullied and Dothraki didn’t just rip him apart on the spot? Remember when all those dudes that pledged their honor all took turns stabbing Jon because he was too nice to the Wildlings? And yet here, the most vicious armies in Westeros are totally cool with someone killing their queen? There’s suddenly due process? Very strange.
No one has any authority to decide Jon’s fate. They need a leader. Sam tries to make the case that maybe the best way to break the broken system once and for all is to let the people vote, and I start rolling my eyes so hard I actually think I warged into one of Taylor Swift’s cats.
Luckily, everyone laughs off this idea as ridiculous. It might be the right answer philosophically, but what an insane development it would’ve been if this whole series full of political maneuvering and dynasties actually boiled down to getting the people of Flea Bottom to Casterly Rock the Vote, or whatever.
After a very awkward silence, Edmure attempts to make a case that he should be king (lol). Sansa’s like, sit down, uncle, ya big dummy. Yikes.
Finally, Tyrion — still in handcuffs, mind you — is like “Did someone say they needed a classically trained actor to give a speech that would be perfect to play over the intro to the next Emmy Awards about the power of storytelling?” And so, he launches into a fairly overwrought monologue that ends with the recommendation that Bran takes the throne.
Her? Really? Is she funny?
While not my personal favorite choice to sit atop the throne, Tyrion’s logic is sound. For too long, Westeros has been all battles and bloodshed because people feel entitled to the throne and are driven mad by their ambitions. Bran is a good choice precisely because he doesn’t want it. Plus, he can’t sire a child, so the entire system of succession would have to be re-examined.
The fact he went from a little boy who miraculously survived a terrible fall to a survivor of the untamed North to the Three-Eyed Raven is also pretty incredible. (Incredible to hear about, at least. Watching it was often my least favorite part of an episode.)
All the lords and ladies support this idea. The only person not totally on board is Sansa. When it’s her turn, she tells him that the North will remain independent. Bran accepts, but only if Tyrion agrees to be his Hand. I mean, again, wouldn’t be my first choice. That’s like the next President deciding to give Betsy DeVos another go. However, it is an opportunity to right all the wrongs, so let’s assume Tyrion will make the most of it.
So, Bran rules the Six Kingdoms, Tyrion becomes Hand and Sansa becomes Queen of the North. It’s a pretty fitting end for all three. Sansa in particular seems better suited to rule an independent North than to serve in any capacity in King’s Landing, the site of so much of her suffering.
But what about Jon?
The compromise reached is to send him back to the Night’s Watch. What are they watching for, exactly, is unclear. The Night King has been destroyed; the Wildlings are friends now. Whatever. It beats being beheaded by Grey Worm. (Grey Worm, by the way, takes the Unsullied — and I guess the Dothraki too? — on ships to Missandei’s old stomping ground, Naath.)
On his way out of King’s Landing, Jon sees his Stark siblings on the dock. He says goodbye to Bran, the new King of the Six Kingdoms; Sansa, the new Queen of the North and Arya. Her plan is to set out on an adventure to find whatever’s west of Westeros. (Now there’s a spinoff I want to see!) At first, I didn’t really understand Arya the Explorer, since that never really felt like what she was about. She was a fighter, a protector, a righter of wrongs. She abandoned her quest for vengeance, but I didn’t think she abandoned all the VIOLENCE with it.
However, on further reflection, it feels like a good use of her skills and smarts. She was never going to live a traditional life, but something that honors her independent spirit and fearlessness without the darkness does fit as a rather nice ending to this chapter of her story. It also harkens back to Nymeria, her direwolf. She too left her family to set off on her own.
As the Hand, Tyrion has assembled a stellar council. Bronn, now the Lord of High Garden, is the new Master of Coin. Sam is the Grand Maester. Davos is the Master of Ships. Brienne is the head of the Kingsguard (and she made Podrick a knight!). What a team! Sam unveils — groan — a book detailing the story of life after Robert’s Rebellion called “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which is too cheesy for me, personally. Tyrion may not have been included in that in-story story, but at least we get a callback to Tyrion’s famous jackass and honeycomb in a brothel joke.
Earlier, Brienne updated the White Book, which chronicles all the accomplishments of the Kingsguard. (You may remember Joffrey once mocked Jaime for how short his entry was.) Brienne updates Jaime’s entry with lots of new info, and ends it with “Died protecting his queen,” which is a pretty generous epitaph.
We get a gorgeous montage of the Stark children preparing for the next chapter, including Sansa getting crowned, Arya getting aboard her badass S.S. Stark and Jon arriving at Castle Black.
He’s met by Tormund and — I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING — Ghost. He finally pets his trusted companion, and my heart grows about 10 sizes. In a finale sure to piss off lots of viewers, this will likely be the one universally beloved piece of fanservice.
Then, Jon rides off north of the Wall with the Wildlings to … I don’t know? Escort them? Join them? Unclear.
Jon rejoining the Night’s Watch (and/or the Wildlings) isn’t the easiest pill to swallow. He was brought back to life by the Lord of Light, but didn’t kill the Night King. He had the strongest claim to the throne, but didn’t get to rule. All of the greatness we always thought he was destined for (or at least the heroic death that seemed to be awaiting him) just never came. But, it’s no coincidence Aemon was referenced in this episode. Aemon too joined the Watch when it looked like he was going to be conscripted into seizing the throne.
Jon did his most good with the Night’s Watch. And the Wildlings are another sort of family for him. Just as his admiration of Ned honors his Starkness, and his relationship with Aemon turned out to be another connection to his Targaryen heritage, I can’t help but think how Mance Rayder is another father figure whose background and qualities impacted Jon as well. Like Rayder, Jon abandoned his duties to the Night’s Watch. He was also considered a King by the Wildlings. Jon’s life here ends up making the most sense to his character, even if it’s not the typical end of a Hero’s Journey we’re conditioned to expect.
Was this finale a perfect masterpiece? Of course not. I’ve noted lots of things I would change, or I would’ve personally preferred. However, I’m satisfied with these conclusions. I see the showrunners’ intent, and I think they were overall successful. I really think the series could have benefitted from four more episodes to make some of the more sudden turns feel a bit more earned, but that wouldn’t necessarily change where everything landed when the dust settled.
Now, I know you’ve got some opinions. Let ’em loose in the comments!
The post ‘Game of Thrones’ Delivers a Divisive Series Finale [RECAP] appeared first on Towleroad Gay News.
Brown’s issues with the Steelers boiled over before a vital Week 17 matchup.
Antonio Brown missed an important Week 17 game against the Bengals — and it may not have been because of an injury. Instead, the All-Pro wide receiver may have been held out of the game due to disciplinary issues that tie back to an increasingly volatile Steelers locker room. That’s not where the drama ends, either.
After the Steelers’ season finale, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staff writers Gerry Dulac and Ed Bouchette reported that Brown’s trip to the inactive list wasn’t due to a balky knee like head coach Mike Tomlin told the press that Sunday. Instead, his absence was a disciplinary reaction that came after a week filled with missed team activities and an argument with an unnamed teammate.
While the Steelers were able to win without their star wideout, a sputtering offense made things much more difficult that expected against a spiraling Bengals team. While that gave Pittsburgh the victory it needed to stay alive in the playoff race, the Ravens’ nailbiting win over the Browns clinched the AFC North for Baltimore and all but eliminated the Steelers from playoff contention.
Since then, Brown has not spoken to anyone in the organization. Team owner Art Rooney II also told the Post-Gazette that while the Steelers would not release Brown this offseason, “all other options are on the table.” Brown took the small step of removing “Pittsburgh Steelers” from his Twitter bio.
This all culminated in an offseason trade to the Raiders, where Derek Carr will now have the duties of keeping his star wideout content.
What did the reports say about Antonio Brown’s Week 17 absence?
While Dulac and Bouchette don’t name who the confrontation was with, NFL Network scribe Aditi Kinkhabwala reported that multiple sources had told her Brown and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had “a little bit of a disagreement” during Wednesday’s practice. According to Mark Kaboly of The Athletic, Antonio Brown threw a ball towards Ben Roethlisberger before walking out of practice.
Was told this afternoon by a source during Steelers locker room clean out that Antonio Brown threw a ball near/at feet of Ben Roethlisberger and walked out of practice. Post-Gazette reporting Brown skipped Sat walkthrough and expected to play Sunday. He didn’t. @TheAthleticPGH
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly) December 31, 2018
He did not attend practices the rest of the week, including Saturday’s walk-through practice, and skipped the Saturday night meeting at the team hotel. Brown never took the field for the start of the game against the Bengals and left Heinz Field at halftime, according to multiple sources.
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown did not play in the season-ending game against the Cincinnati Bengals because he elected to sit out practice last week after an unspecified heated dispute with a teammate, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has learned.
Several sources said the Steelers’ decision to not play Brown against the Bengals had nothing to do with any type of knee injury.
The disagreement occurred Wednesday morning during a routine walk-through practice that precedes their regular afternoon practice on the South Side. Brown became disgusted and threw a football in anger at one of his teammates, several sources said.
He did not attend Saturday’s walk-through practice and skipped the Saturday night meeting at the team hotel — the latest in missed meetings by the All-Pro receiver. Brown was never on the field for the start of the game against the Bengals and left Heinz Field at halftime, according to multiple sources.
Dulac and Bouchette’s report also suggested Brown showed up to the locker room on Sunday morning expecting to play, only to be shut down by Tomlin. This further annoyed teammates, who called Brown’s behavior “embarrassing” and “the worst I’ve seen.”
Brown got upset that Roethlisberger wanted to run a hot read over again during a walk-through, so coaches sent another player to run the play, a source close to the situation told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Brown got upset, left practice and talked with Roethlisberger afterward, telling the quarterback that he felt underappreciated and had issues with people in the organization, the source told Schefter.
However, Roethlisberger said the reports were blown out of proportion and that everything between Brown and him is fine — despite Brown not replying to any of his teammates’ texts in the past few days.
“That’s what baffling to me, people are making a big deal about a walkthrough on Wednesday, a fight between he and I,” Roethlisberger said on his weekly radio show on 93.7 The Fan. “If there was a blowup or something, I sure of heck didn’t see it. I’m not sure where that comes from.”
Former Packers receiver and current NFL Network analyst James Jones said that he has heard that Roethlisberger and Brown have a bit of a shaky relationship and Roethlisberger could be an antagonizer to Brown.
“I have talked to a couple people in the Pittsburgh Steelers organization and they told me this has been lingering on,” Jones said. “I’ve been told in meetings [Roethlisberger] would take shots at AB. Like, ‘I don’t got to throw you the ball,’ and things like that. Wednesday in practice, I heard he ran the wrong route, Big Ben threw the ball on the ground, said, ‘Get him out of here. Get somebody else in there,’ and that’s when AB was at his boiling point and that’s when he went off.”
Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner refused to discuss Brown’s absence after he missed Thursday’s team activities, an out-of-character response toward a player working through an injury, but a telling one for a healthy scratch from the mid-week practice.
Months later, Brown would take to Twitter to expand on his issue with the veteran quarterback.
No conflict just a matter of respect! Mutual respect! He has a owner mentality like he can call out anybody including coaches. Players know but they can’t say anything about it otherwise they meal ticket gone. It’s a dirty game within a game. #truth https://t.co/MsSyBVd3Ny
— Antonio Brown (@AB84) February 16, 2019
That may not have been the only time, though.
“He left the team three times,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette said. “Once for a week in training camp that they covered up. They said he had an injury and he really didn’t. Once on a Monday after they lost to Kansas City and he threw a fit on the sidelines and didn’t show up Monday, and then at the end of the season.”
On an episode of ‘The Shop’ that aired on HBO on Mar. 1, Brown explained the final week.
“I’m a little banged up so I meet with coach Tomlin and I’m telling him, ‘Hey man I’m banged up so I’m gonna need some time to get right,’ and he was like, ‘If you’re banged up, you can just go home’,” Brown said. “Like you ain’t even gotta be here, so I’m like ‘Damn, that’s where we’re at?’
“I’m going to war for these guys, putting my life on the line but it’s an unknown when it comes to me just like right now with the write-ups. They control the narrative. We ain’t standing on good foundation, and they can just paint you any kind of way. That’s the thing people don’t know, it’s kind of a controlled environment to where they can kind of determine if they want to let me in or not.”
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) March 2, 2019
On his relationship with Roethlisberger, Brown on ‘The Shop’ claimed a clash of egos between the two. “I don’t have an ego,” he said. “I’m just trying to win.
“All year dude called me out. We’d lose a game and he’d be like, ‘AB should have ran a better route’,” Brown said. “That’s the type of guy he is. He feels like he’s the owner. Bro, tou threw that shit to the D-line, how the fuck am I running a bad route? You need to give me a better ball.”
Roethlisberger wasn’t hurt by Brown’s comments, apparently. In May, he returned to the airwaves to apologize for calling his former star receiver out in the past.
“I took some heat and deservedly so for some of the comments on that show and especially towards [Brown],” Roethlisberger told Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan. “I genuinely feel bad about that and I’m sorry. Did I go too far after that Denver game? Probably. …
”That’s the thing about media and social media, As soon as you say ‘sorry’ it only goes so far. You can’t take it back. And I wish I could because if that’s what ruined our friendship and relationship, I’m truly, genuinely sorry about that.”
What did Mike Tomlin say about Brown’s absence?
Tomlin met with reports for his end-of-the-season press conference and outlined what happened with Brown’s injury in the week leading up to the Bengals game. Tomlin said the wide receiver “expressed soreness in his lower body” on Wednesday, specifically his feet, ankle, and knee. On Thursday and Friday, Brown was still experiencing discomfort, so he was placed on the injury report and then was sent to get an MRI. Tomlin said that Brown did not end up going through with the MRI.
Tomlin said that Brown did not communicate with him on Friday evening and Saturday, as expected. It wasn’t until Sunday morning, when Brown’s agent Drew Rosenhaus reached out to Tomlin to let him know Brown was feeling better, that the team had any updates about Brown.
At that point, Tomlin told Brown that “the best thing was to be there and support his teammates.” Because Brown was MIA from Friday evening until Sunday morning, Tomlin said the team didn’t know the extent of his injury and that’s why he didn’t play.
“He was absent due to injury and lack of information,” Tomlin said.
The two spoke prior to the game, but they haven’t had any communication since. Tomlin added that he doesn’t know if Brown left the stadium during the game.
“Obviously we take his lack of communication, his lack of presence particularly on Saturday prior to the game, to be something that is very significant and it will be handled appropriately so. I’m not going to speculate on trades and things of that nature. We haven’t formally received a request in that regard, so I’m not going to speculate in terms of where the discipline might go and things of that nature. Just know that it’s going to be addressed, and it will be addressed, it needs to be addressed, for obvious reasons.”
This wasn’t the one time discord leaked through the seams of the Steelers’ locker room
Pittsburgh has courted drama throughout the season, though much of it came as a function of Le’Veon Bell’s year-long holdout in hopes of a lucrative long term contract. Bell’s absence put a strain on the rest of one of the league’s most talented offenses. While second-year back James Conner was able to pick up much of the slack, the club still struggled early and then spun out late as a 9-6-1 season ended without a playoff berth.
But while Bell may have been the focus of Pittsburgh’s locker room drama, Brown also made his issues with the franchise known throughout the season. A slow start led the All-Pro wideout to vent his frustrations both on the field and off. He wasn’t shy about expressing his concerns about Fichtner’s playcalling to his face in a Week 2 loss to the Chiefs:
— SteelVideos (@SteelVideos) September 16, 2018
The following day, he’d take to Twitter to respond to a Steelers’ PR staffer’s praise of Ben Roethlisberger and his role in the team’s success. His since-deleted tweet was succinct: “Trade me let’s find out”:
Both Brown and his agent Drew Rosenhaus would deny Brown wanted to be traded out of Pittsburgh, but the wideout’s discontent was clear. He’d skip team meetings the following Monday, though those came with Tomlin’s blessing. He returned to practice the following Wednesday after dealing with private discipline from Tomlin and the rest of the Pittsburgh coaching staff.
Despite reports that Brown requested to be traded after the latest dustup, that doesn’t appear to be the case, as Tomlin said:
My understanding of the situation surrounding #Steelers WR Antonio Brown: As he exited the field in frustration on Wednesday, he yelled, “I’m done!” Then wondered why they don’t trade him. More venting in anger than anything. He has not made any actual trade request, officially.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 1, 2019
But just months later, Brown was packing his bags and preparing for life with Jon Gruden.
For Europe’s repeat champions, being the best at home may no longer be enough.
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Tactically Naive, SB Nation’s weekly soccer column. This week we’re walking along at just the right angle so a giant pair of pigeon wings appear behind our shoulders.
Meet the new champions! Same as the old champions!
For the first time in history, the champions of European men’s football’s five Big Leagues have all retained their titles. Barcelona, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain picked theirs up a few weeks ago, Manchester City took care of business last weekend, and now Bayern Munich have rounded out the set. Congratulations to anybody who had money on all five. Enjoy your twelve euros.
(The five Big Leagues are England, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The trick to identifying a Big League is to ask yourself the question: does this league contain a club rich enough to pay Neymar’s wages and famous enough that Neymar would play there? If the answer is yes, that’s a Big League.)
This being the end of the season, it’s natural to want to look back and consider things in the round. What does all this mean? Does all this mean anything? What does it mean, that we ask if it means something? And can we keep these questions going all the way to the start of the World Cup?
If we’re looking for common themes, then we have to start by noting that the paths to the titles weren’t all quite the same. Barcelona, for example, were given a pretty light race by their usual antagonists, Real Madrid, who were busy having one of those seasons where they tear themselves to pieces.
Over in France, PSG should have picked up the trophy in early April but decided to have a nervous meltdown with the finish line in sight. Fortunately, the combined powers of Kylian Mbappe and A Huge Pile Of Money, No, Even Bigger Than That One You’re Imagining saw them over the line.
Meanwhile, Juventus were given a strong assist by the rest of Italy, which doesn’t contain a single sensible football club. This is a good thing for the tenor and mood of Italian football generally, as beautiful men in beautiful kits lurch from farce to crisis and back again, but it doesn’t make for great title races. (Between the predictable victors and the constant dribble of institutionally-ignored racism, Serie A is so hard to love these days.)
City and Bayern, however, were pushed closer toward the brink: City by an almost-as-perfect Liverpool, and Bayern by Borussia Dortmund, who led the early stages of the season, but couldn’t match the relentless pace of the eventual champions. Since December, after they fixed their mini-crisis, Bayern have dropped a mere nine points. That’s pretty tough to keep up with, even if the race did go to the final round of fixtures.
But while the details differ, perhaps the unifying theme is a kind of ambient sense of incompleteness. As highlighted by Gab Marcotti here, winning a title doesn’t quite have the same resonance as it used to:
Allegri has left. Kovac could yet leave. And many would not have been shocked if Valverde and Tuchel had been asked to leave. That’s four title winners from the Big 5 leagues. Kinda extraordinary. Game has changed.
— Gabriele Marcotti (@Marcotti) May 20, 2019
It’s possible, of course, that Allegri just fancies a bit of a rest before the Manchester United job comes up again, but the other three have all underwhelmed in one way or another, even as they picked up their trophies. Their league titles, lest we forget. Their official certificates of being the best in the country. Shankly’s bread and butter.
The spectre of Europe looms large here, particularly for Tuchel and Valverde, who both oversaw hilarious/humiliating implosions in the Champions League. That made two in a row for Valverde, who now stands accused of one of football’s most egregious crimes: wasting Lionel Messi.
Kovac’s Bayern were knocked out by Liverpool in more straightforward fashion, but they were still gone before the last 16: that’s not very FC Hollywood. Nor too that strange beginning to the league season, with back-to-back losses against Hertha and Borussia Mönchengladbach. And Kovac suffers generally from being having been a bit of a left field appointment, at a bit of an odd moment, and taking to the job … fine. Maybe OK? Well enough. All words which leave plenty of space for: could be better.
Obviously City won’t be moving Guardiola on any time soon, not after modelling the entire club around his particular needs. They have a scouting department that exists only to deliver Guardiola players for the present and the future. Every seat in the Etihad stadium is molded to perfectly fit his saintly buttocks. And at some point this summer, club officials will take Mikel Arteta aside for a quiet word, and he’ll return to public life entirely bald. He will not be taking questions.
Yet even Guardiola has been musing this week that his City, this 100 point-getting domestic treble-winning juggernaut, “will be judged at the end on whether we win the Champions League.” He may only be speaking for himself, but that is telling enough: he, after all, knows his performance review targets better than anybody else.
There is, perhaps, a delicate irony here. These are the clubs that have best weaponised their huge piles of money, and they’re obsessed with the one trophy that is most vulnerable to football’s occasional eruptions of weirdness. City survived their 3-2 Premier League loss to Crystal Palace because they had 37 other games and they knew that most of them wouldn’t be even slightly weird. But a few moments of explosive oddity against Tottenham, and the Champions League was gone.
On the other hand, the attitude of the super-rich towards delicate, inconvenient ironies is to throw more money at them and see if there’s any way to make them go away. Plans to spend millions of euros on new players are already in motion; plans to render the Champions League a closed shop are being discussed, if not universally welcomed.
And of course, it seems likely that all five teams will be favourites to retain their titles next year, no matter who’s in the dugout, nor how little their victories please anybody.
Save us, Real Madrid, Liverpool. You’re our only … wait, no. That doesn’t sound right at all.
We hinted in last issue’s BTW that this would be our last waltz with former U.S. Congressman Aaron Schock (R–Illinois). So we lied! Aaron is back in the news, and in a way that shows how much he doesn’t want to be forgotten. Looking as buff as ever, there he is posing with […]
Life is all about balance.
Tom Brady joined Twitter on April Fool’s Day and now, he’s learning about life on social media, and being confused in the process.
I’ve seen this a lot lately in my replies. Is it a millennial thing to want your face broken? Very confused. https://t.co/ePbWTQSZDr
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) May 19, 2019
Tom Brady is your dad, and it’s kind of delightful. I legitimately love that a man who eats avocado ice cream as his desert is here trying to understand the strange and confusing ways of millennials.
For the uninitiated, this is a classic case of “please notice me.” Someone saying something utterly ludicrous in the hopes of a celebrity sharing your tweet. By now most celebs are inoculated to twitter speak, but Tom is new to all this, after all.
Just in case you want to to notice you I’ve formulated a foolproof list of “dos” and “do not dos,” when it comes to tweeting at Tom Brady.
- DO compliment him on his football ability.
- DO NOT ask him to remove your spleen with a bullet pass.
- DO tell him how the TB12 method changed your life for the better.
- DO NOT tell him how the TB12 method gave you dysentery.
- DO share anecdotes about your favorite movies with him
- DO NOT tell him how you want him to torture you like Jigsaw from the Saw movies and slowly watch you bleed out on a bathroom floor over a closed circuit television.
- DO tell him if you saw him on TV and he looked great.
- DO NOT tell him that you saw him in his living room with binoculars, and he looked great.
It’s all about boundaries, and Tom isn’t ready to cross some of those and smash your face into a million pieces just so you can say “Tom Brady smashed my face into a million pieces with a football.”
Telling him to smash the Jets into a million pieces is still acceptable and he would enjoy it.
DEUTSCHE BANK. Anti-money laundering specialists recommended watchdog look at transactions by legal entities controlled by Trump and Kushner: “The transactions, some of which involved Mr. Trump’s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity, according to five current and former bank employees.”
KAMALA HARRIS. Penalize companies that don’t pay women equally. “Harris’ plan, which broadly mandates that companies prove they aren’t discriminating against women, proposes to fine corporations that don’t close their pay gaps between women and men — with the proceeds going toward building out universal paid family and medical leave.”
GUCCI. Fashion label facing backlash for Full Indy Turban. “It’s religious and cultural. And Gucci modeled it on a nothingburger white dude for the runway show. That’s bad enough. But it got so much worse.”
PORTUGUESE JUNKYARD JESUS. Madonna does Eurovision.
ROBERT DE NIRO. Actor calls for Trump’s impeachment during speech honoring Al Pacino. “You didn’t think you were going to completely get away without a ‘f**k Trump’ moment, did you?”
JAMES CHARLES. YouTuber responds to sexual predator claims: “First of all, I’m a 19-year-old virgin. I talk about boys quite a lot on my social media networks. Clearly at this point it’s not acceptable anymore… just thought I’d bring it up, put it out into the universe, I don’t really get a lot of action. You have probably guessed that at this point.”
MALE MODEL MONDAY. Ivo Buchta, Alex Sewell, Christian Hougue and more HERE.
TWISTER OF THE DAY. Storm chasers watch as tornado overturns semi truck.
THOM TILLIS. A ‘pro-LGBT’ Republican? “As speaker of the N.C. House, Thom Tillis helped place a ban on same-sex marriages in the state constitution and then defended the amendment in court. As a U.S. senator, Tillis has consistently received low marks for his voting records on gay rights from the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights organization.”
MUSIC VIDEO OF THE DAY. Vampire Weekend “This Life”.
WALKOUT OF THE DAY. Boy George storms off the set of The Voice Australia
TRAILER TEASER OF THE DAY. The official trailer is coming on Tuesday, but this teaser of Mr. Carson came out today.
IDOL RETURN OF THE DAY. Adam Lambert performs “New Eyes”.
MONDAY MUSCLE. Naor Yazdan.
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