Created in 1994, MCIVTA is the longest running unofficial Manchester City
related web site and e-newsletter in existence.
ISSUE DATE: Sunday 19th April 2015
NEXT GAME: West Ham United, Etihad Stadium, Sunday 19th April (13:30 BST)
OUT OF DARKNESS COMETH…
A Derby defeat always hurts, but that mental pain is amplified when the white flag of surrender is raised so willingly. Last Sunday, we witnessed the most abject surrender by a Manchester City side in a Derby for many years. It is not easily to forget or forgive the lack of application, effort and heart from experienced players who can perform far better than they did in that match and in other games, especially since the dawning of 2015. There was plenty to learn from this abject defeat. Not only do City need to make changes to the playing personnel, it has been obvious for a few weeks that City need a manager that can get the best out of the players he has at his disposal.
…KLOPP? ANCELOTTI? PEP? BENITEZ? OUR PATRICK?
City are pouring cold water over links with Jurgen Klopp, who announced that he is leaving Dortmund at the end of the season. That may be out of respect to Manuel Pellegrini, and it may also be because they don’t plan to hire him, or, less likely, to stick with Pellegrini next season. They have also had a similar response about Carlo Ancelotti, who like Klopp is a top drawer manager. Wouldn’t Klopp give us the “holistic” approach that City favour, bringing in young players from the academy (we do have some good ones), and improving them? City should be giving very serious consideration to Klopp being the next manager of City. Two Bundesliga titles, including one double, and consistent excellence in the Champions League, including reaching one final, is no mean feat. Only this season has been relatively poor being in mid table, but there’s only so long that a club can sell its best players before performances suffer. Klopp with his charisma, great man-management skills, and tactical acumen is ready for another big job.
So City have been outwardly indifferent on Klopp, Ancelotti and Benitez now – but who are they going to get to replace the sadly, increasingly lost Pellegrini? One would hope they are considering the former two privately.
There could indeed be another top class candidate for manager next season, if Pep Guardiola doesn’t get Bayern past Porto after their 3-1 defeat in the first leg tie in Oporto. A friend asked me the other day: is Guardiola all that? He is a very good coach. certainly, and his pressing tactics with the emphasis on winning the ball back quickly are excellentand had great success in Barcelona, but was he, like Soriano and Begiristain, lucky to have an excellent group of players, most notably, Messi, Iniesta and Xavi? A Bayern Munich coach should win two titles in three given their huge advantage over every other German club, and he is on course for that, but considering he inherited the Champions League winners, he has hardly pulled up any trees with the Bavarians in Europe. Who is to say he would do better with City, without the genius of Messi, Xavi & Iniesta? Guardiola is not the only good coach. There are other very good coaches – as well as Ancelotti, Klopp and Benitez, we might have one in our own Patrick Vieira, who is doing a great job with our youngsters. The impression is City are on hold, not waiting for Godot, but waiting for Guardiola, when he may never come – he has another year on his Bayern deal and this season and has expressed a desire to stay there for a few more years. Waiting for him when we should be getting on with making City better now could be a big mistake. MCFC should be living for now, looking to appoint the best coach that we can attract – not waiting for someone who may never come. Soriano has said he doesn’t see a manager being at City for many years. Why not if the manager is successful and progressive? If, say, Klopp stayed here as long as the seven years he spent with Dortmund, who knows where he might take us?
This edition, is unsurprisingly, reflects the concern and the frustration that so many Blues feel. Talking of frustration, how can it be that so many Blues believe that James Milner should be starting more than he does?
TEAM NEWS FOR WEST HAM
Our friends West Ham are our visitors today and one witty Blue suggested that we should sing “We’re forever blowing titles” to them! City fans, eh? No one let it ever be said that we can’t laugh at ourselves. Incidentally, there is an interesting piece on the official website which re-chronicles our warm relations with the Hammers support:
West Ham, as we found out in the autumn, will be no pushovers, and self-confessed United-lover Allardyce will have the Hammers well organised. Milner is ruled out with a knee injury against West Ham today, as are Clichy (groin), Kompany (also groin, but possibly for the rest of the season), Bony (knee/ankle) and Jovetic, so Pellegrini selects from a provisional squad of: Hart, Caballero, Zabaleta, Sagna, Demichelis, Mangala, Boyata, Kolarov, Navas, Silva, Nasri, Toure, Fernando, Fernandinho, Toure, Lampard, Aguero and Dzeko.
He needs to pick his strongest team, and that means looking into the eyes of his players and seing who is up for the fight. Come on City. We need to get back to winning ways today.
MANCHESTER UNITED 4 MANCHESTER CITY 2 (HT 2-1)
City’s problems were fully exposed in this chastening derby defeat. Whilst there is plenty of natural skill the lack of energy, desire, spirit and the tactical limitations of the manager combined to make City a poor second best on a thoroughly miserable day. It hurts that we have fallen so far, and that we were so badly beaten by our neighbours. Make no mistake, whilst 2-4 flatters City a bit, it’s difficult to even feel “relief” that it wasn’t a worse score line, when the prevailing emotion is a lasting, burning anger.
Pellegrini at least went with 4-5-1, but strangely with Milner in the advanced role rather than Yaya.
Both sides had tried to press in those opening 20 minutes but United sustained their high tempo football and City didn’t.
City made a good start when Milner found Silva with a superb pass and Sergio Aguero swept in the Spaniard’s cross. There were just 8 minutes on the clock. City could have been ahead before this when Navas was played clean through but he never looked confident and his finishing let him down but De Gea still made a good save.
United, however, upped the tempo and we didn’t try hard enough to live with them. City didn’t match their energy and desire in too many areas, and Pellegrini yet again didn’t have any answers. United were continually overloading City’s right by Fellaini running out in support of Blind and Young, leaving Zabaleta often dealing with them on his own, as he got precious little help from Navas and Yaya Toure.
Unsurprisingly it was the left where United did the damage all afternoon. Unsurprisingly three of their four goals came from open play down that side.
City’s lead lasted barely 7 minutes. Navas chased long pass out but De Gea arrived first and launched a long ball. An outnumbered Zabaleta felled under challenge from Fellaini (it wasn’t clear that there was quintessential United skulduggery involved) and couldn’t recover before a cross found its way to Ashley Young who scored after the ball ricocheted back off Clichy. United were buoyant.
City tried to restore the lead and a Clichy cross was scrambled away with Aguero closing in, but United were getting the upper hand with their energy and they took the lead in the 28th minute.
Young and Blind tormented the isolated Zabaleta with a one-two and the former crossed to the back post where Fellaini ran behind Clichy to head past Joe Hart. Replays showed Fellaini’s arm was offside, but visiting teams don’t get those sorts of decisions at Old Trafford.
Not that there is any excuse for the surrender that was going on. Fellaini was given the freedom of Old Trafford to run into pockets of space to flick the ball on or pick the ball up. Pellegrini said after the game that Yaya had marked him well in the first half. The kindest thing that can be said about that statement is that he must have been watching a different game, for whoever was marking Fellaini just let him get on with it, all the time that he was on the pitch. This was epitomised when Yaya didn’t bother to jump for one high ball in midfield, allowing the mop-headed Belgian a free header.
There were exceptions to the torpor of City’s wilting team, but the passion proved to be misguided: Vincent Kompany pulling what a muscle as he went for a ball and going in with a reckless late challenge that flattened Blind. There was no nasty intent, and Blind did get up eventually after getting caught, but it was a horrible moment, and Vinny must have been as relieved as the rest of us, not to mention lucky, that Clattenburg, who took his time to consult his linesman, raised a yellow card rather than red. It was still a very significant incident as Kompany asked to be subbed at half time as his hamstring injury means he will possibly be out for four weeks, or worse still, for the rest of the season.
Things only got worse in the second half. United still continued to exploit our weakness on the right hand side of the defence, and yet nothing was done to alleviate the problem.
Joe Hart was forced to push out a Rooney free kick between angle of post and bar and the ball was eventually scrambled away at the third attempt. City were pushed back and showed an alarming lack of fight. United took the “fight” word too literally at times. Fellaini was lucky to stay on the pitch for an elbow on Demichelis, and Milner picked up a knock by Jones. It was baffling though that Pellegrini had already decided to replace the Yorkshireman with Nasri beforehand. Nasri didn’t strengthen City and joined the general shameful waving of the white flag. With City not showing the character that we have come to expect over the last few years, it was inevitable that United added to their tally, and they duly did in the 67th minte after Demichelis gave the ball away for Rooney to release Mata down the left. With Demichelis dragged too far wide and up the pitch, Mata was free to advance unchallenged and slot the ball cleverly past Hart. Mata was clearly offside, but visiting teams rarely get those sorts of decisions either at Old Trafford.
That said, Pellegrini’s system has been rumbled. The best defence in the country has been turned into one that easily concedes goals, and City have gone from being hard to beat to one that has lost 6 of the last 8 games, and has only won 4 of the last 15. Players diving in on the half way line with full backs often too far pushed on is too high risk unless you have got Messi, Iniesta & Xavi to score more goals. This is compounded when our defence push out, leaving large spaces behind. Surely it is preferable to have defenders who defend and stay goal side are unless they are really sure they can get in front of their man.
The Old Trafford crowd roared their team on for more goals, and it was 4-1 after Young floated a diagonal free kick into the box and Smalling headed unchallenged into the net. Oh the ignominy. The useless Smalling not only getting an easy ride defensively but scoring against us. He and at least one other United player would have been offside had it not been for Mangala running back to play them on, which begs the question how much we practice set pieces in training. It almost goes without say that it was an excruciating watch for a City fan, not knowing just how much damage United could do to our vulnerable and wilting team. There were still 16 minutes to go plus stoppage time. Heaven forbid them making it 5-1…6…let’s not go there. Thankfully 6-1 remains a happy score line for us, but it seemed like a long time ago on this horrible afternoon.
Without wishing injury on anybody, luck shined on City in a perverse way. Having made his three substitutions, Van Gaal’s team was reduced to ten men when Carrick had to walk off with a muscle injury.
There was at last a little attacking threat from City with substitute Lampard on for the woeful Navas, exhorting his team mates to press United’s defence. The ex-Chelsea man created a chance in the 82nd minute, when he took a Silva pass and lofted the ball to the advancing Aguero who volleyed just wide.
Lampard then helped set up City’s flattering consolation goal in the 89th minute when he threaded a ball to the advancing Zabaleta who crossed from the bye line for Aguero to sweep in for his 100th goal for Manchester City. City’s lack of urgency to get on with the game and go for more goals was strange and betrayed City’s lack of fight in this game. Who knows what pressure they could have put on United had they gone for a 3rd goal?
Overall this was a pathetic surrender. It may not have been as bad a score line as the 0-5 Brian Horton’s men suffered back in the 90s, but this was a more abject surrender against a weaker team than back then when Giggs and Kanchelskis ran us ragged. Indeed it was the most spineless derby defeat that this writer has witnessed in more than 34 years of following City. There have been teams with far less talent than the current crop who have shown more desire and performed better, even in defeat. This current team have shown more desire and quality too.
Pellegrini was found wanting again tactically and never found an answer to Fellaini’s free role, Milner was played too far forward when we needed him in the engine room competing with United. It should have been Yaya playing further forward at the front of the midfield. However, it was less about the manager’s failings than about players who inexcusably didn’t try hard enough. The players have no excuses. They cannot hide behind Pellegrini. He cannot run, tackle or show the fight for them. The most high profile of these, Yaya sauntered round all afternoon allowing a player of far less ability like Fellaini to do damage, but he was certainly not alone. When the going gets tough, you have to stand up and show your character. City abjectly failed do that.
There have to be changes at the end of this season but any review has to be rational and thorough. Those who decide need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water, but it is likely that they will find that the rebuilding job is bigger than previously thought. Clearly City need an injection of energy, desire and quality. The players who are not hungry and up for the fight need to be moved on, no matter who they are. It doesn’t have to be done nastily or hastily. They should show the fight and desire to keep City in the top four (Liverpool are just 4 points behind and we still have to go to Tottenham and finish off our campaign with Southampton at home) and hopefully regain 2nd spot, and leave with their heads held higher than on this sorry occasion.
Hart: Blameless for any of the goals 6
Zabaleta: Had a difficult afternoon being constantly outnumbered and struggled to get close enough to either Young or Blind for the first two goals. He stuck to his task, though, made firm challenges and set up Aguero’s consolation: 5
Kompany: The captain was lucky not to be sent off and got injured in the build up to that tackle. If Navas or Yaya had done their jobs properly then he wouldn’t have been dragged out of position to have to make tackles out wide: 5
Demichelis: Also got dragged out of position, most notably when he lost possession just before Mata’s goal. Struggled against Fellaini but didn’t they all? 5
Clichy: Initiated the attack for the first goal, but was found wanting defensively thereafter, being slow to react for United’s first two goals – Fellaini should not have been allowed to run behind him for the 2nd: 5
Navas: Should have scored early on, some threat going forward in the first 20 minutes, but uncharacteristically failed to support Zaba. Went missing in action for too long and his absence was the chief reason why United got so much space to cross from our right. A Manchester Derby is no place for shrinking violets: 4
Yaya: The most high profile “missing in action” player, he sauntered round like it was s stroll in the park. Allowed United’s midfield, Fellaini in particular to run past him unchecked. The only way he should be playing is behind the striker in an advanced role now. The only way Yaya should play now is as an attacking midfielder, but at 31 he isn’t getting any younger. He doesn’t work hard enough to play in the engine room (yet Pellegrini still plays him there). He’s never been the quickest over five yards, and maybe time is slowing his legs but one can still reasonably expect that he should read the game better and work harder. He may be playing out his time before one last move but we’re still paying him so he should be giving his all and signing off like a great player should do. He was anonymous save for a couple of brilliant forward passes. This performance was so far removed from previous Derby showings, especially that memorable FA Cup Semi Final when he scored the winner in 2011. He was not alone in letting the side down though. So disappointing but not a surprise, sadly: 4
Fernandinho: Worked very hard – he had to – and did the work of two men again, but he shouldn’t have to. Passed up one chance to shoot: 7
Silva: Superb top draw cross for our opener and played his part in the 2nd, and he tried to create, but was unable to impose himself on this game. Booked for a foul on his friend Juan Mata: 6
Milner: Worked hard, but surely it would have been better for the team’s performance if he was further back in the engine room. Hopefully his knock won’t rule him out of Sunday’s game: 6
Aguero: Deserved a happier occasion to score his 99th and 100th goals for City: 6
Mangala (for Kompany HT): Played Smalling and others onside for United’s fourth. Chased round like a headless chicken, advancing far up the pitch, well out of position. Given a decent coach who can teach him defensive discipline, we could one day have a player here. If we’re going to get the best return for our £32m, he must have this. At least he played like he cared, which sadly didn’t apply to that many in Blue: 5
Nasri (for Milner 63): Made no impact: 5
Lampard (for Navas 74): Made a small positive contribution when he came on. A veteran he maybe, but it would have been better had he played the first hour than the last 16 minutes: 6
Best Oppo: Herrera: Classy addition to United’s midfield: 8
Refwatch: Clattenburg: Could have sent off one player from each side. Two offside goals were given that were more the responsibility of the linesmen: the 1st was marginal and difficult to spot in real time but the 2nd was obvious. Clattenburg cannot be blamed for this defeat: 6
Footnote: Never let a United supporter tell you that the City game isn’t important compared to Liverpool. They celebrated their win like they’d won the League or a Cup Final. Let’s hope it’s their last celebration for a while.
phil.banerjee AT orange.net
Can only blame an old squad of players with no organisation. Would they play to their capacity for a different manager?
City have been made to look slow, weak and frankly disorganised by the rags today, who may have been offside for half their goals but were in that position because Yaya Toure was neither attacking or defending when Fellaini had clearly chosen to sit 5m from the Ivorian and boss the game with Young. I am looking at a side who remind me of the Utd side we beat 6-1, don’t like each other, don’t know how to score when in position and are muscled out by any team with any solidarity. The last five minutes Yaya made some movement with Lampard on the pitch and we suddenly kept some
possesssion… Against ten men.
I can’t see what else Pellegrini could do with this squad tactics wise, the long sought holy grail of formation changes and Plan B personnel changes is not getting us moving. If we can’t find a new manager who can get this bunch of wannabe Galacticos to work for him, I can’t see the value of
changing manager. However the group who put together this miserable ball and chain of an aging squad has had zero success and needs to go as soon as, for me. That would be before we start buying more ‘who’s he’ duffers.
paul.h.a.hunt AT gmail.com
LACK OF BELIEF, DESIRE, CONFIDENCE
Well, writing this the day after watching city getting humiliated by the ‘Trafford’s’ . I had to endure watching it with my son who is a red and every time they scored he was texting with glee to some unknown source! If Pellegrini does get the sack it will not be for loss at the swamp, it will be for the utter garbage we have been served up since the turn of the year. Difficult to know where it has gone wrong but the fight in the team is no longer evident, players such as Nasri and Ya Ya only seem interested when we are on the ascendancy. To be honest I have not enjoyed watching city (albeit from afar) for some time. They were found out a long time ago and teams just park the bus and hit us on the break (I was at the Stoke match and saw early evidence then). No plan ‘B’ evident on so many occasions. Getting beat by teams who we should be wiping the floor with. What I am certain of these days is how significant confidence plays, irrelevant of the skill level. We have enough !
world class players that we can afford one or two having an off day, but of late their seems a lack of belief, lack of desire and a lack of confidence. I could go on to slag off a number of players but will not, that would only be disappointment speaking rather than sound logic, however, I am alarmed at how much we have deteriorated and only the replacement of the manager is going to restore that belief, shame really because I think Pellegrini is a decent bloke!
On another issue, I was there when Harry Dowd pulled us out of the mire against Bury! From memory we were getting beat one nil when Harry broke his finger. His headed goal was at the SCOREBOARD END and we scraped the draw! Looked like an American G.I. with his short, back and sides.
Tony.Higginson AT health.wa.gov.au
IT’S JUST NOT CRICKET!
By ‘eck! Been quite a couple of weeks, eh? A fortnight or so ago I was bemoaning that it was yet another international break weekend; now I just wistfully look back on those seemingly halcyon days.
Where do we even start with what is going wrong? And what is the easier question to answer: Who is to blame or who isn’t? Well, I’ll throw my tuppence-worth into the mix, and by the time you are
reading this I’ll probably be simultaneously wading through the myriad of postings and opinions of a good many equally irate other people around here. Or to put it simply, I’m expecting a lively issue.
I’m not going to comment too specifically on the last couple of performances, except to say that in the Palace match my thoughts went against the grain in respect to the general consensus that we played well. All the lethargic, plodding, go nowhere, possession in the world doesn’t prove a thing. We were typical of our season in that we couldn’t break down a packed, disciplined, defence. And as soon as we went behind it immediately felt irretrievable. At Stretford, it wasn’t even about being (deservedly from about 20 mins onwards) beaten by the eternally jammy lot, it’s an ever more serious worry that we’ll end up with Spurs in the Hell that is Thurs/Sun football.
As for who I want to see gone, come season’s end – at 6pm on Sun I was saying just about the whole bloody lot of ’em. Mercenaries! Yaya? Given the up and down nature of his effort all season I’d suggest renaming him Yoyo. Nasri is as bad Dzeko, Kolarov, Sagna, Jovetic, Fernando can all take both a hike and their sulks with them. Mangala is just a walking liability, and an enormous waste of money given FFP. Navas is someone whose attitude I have no desire to criticise but what does he do for us? I liken him to the hare at greyhound races: he is necessary to speed things up but is wholly
superfluous in the result statistics. Even proven fully committed players like Zaba and Vinnie seem to have lost it. Hold onto Silva, Aguero, Hart, and Fernandinho – and keep the faith for now with Pablo and Kompany. I’d also love to do what it takes to retain Milner but that’s not going to happen.
As for MP, I still tend to oscillate in my opinions of whether he should stay or go, but if he’s told to walk then please oh please not Rafa, to whom we have been linked. Klopp would be preferable but Ancelotti continues to be my first choice.
But as bad as we’ve so often been this season, and without trying to sound too self-pitying, sometimes simple luck can play a massive part, and we’ve had precious little of that lately. Despite my assertion that we didn’t deserve to beat Palace, we nevertheless were denied a blatant penalty – as we were against Burnley – and had an equally clear offside goal scored against us – as we did against Manure (so no surprise there, at least). Meanwhile, Chelsea haven’t so much won their last two matches as had both handed on a plate to them. Why oh why couldn’t Begovic have rolled the ball out to Sergio like that? And the same goes for Rob Green and that up and under which would have had Eddie Wareing salivating over (a reference for the teenagers there).
My previously mentioned concern that we might well end up with that millstone which Is Europa League is now starting to look much more like a distinct possibility. In these days of the cursed FFP, and with a need for “crack” signings, that really would be calamitous for us.
Whilst our run in looks kind enough, it feels as if we are capable of losing just about any match right now. West Ham are next, and they’ve been on the beach for months, but you simply know that Allardyce would love to get one over on City more than almost anyone else. Us and Arsenal. It’s something to do with his longtime man-crush on a certain purple-hootered Scotsman. If they ever wanted a DNA sample of Big Sam, they wouldn’t need to swab his tongue, just dab at Fergiescum’s rear end and they could get a 2 for1 discount. And the week after it’s Villa. Now I know that Sherwood as a person is a plonker who has seemingly studied the ‘How To Be a By-The-Numbers Cockney Caricature’ guide book so thoroughly that only Danny Dyer could play him in a film, and as a manager he is a one-trick pony, but that trick is something we could do with a healthy injection of – he brings undoubted passion, and whether or not he knows a tactic from a Tic Tac, this zest translates itself to his players. Thus they could be exactly the sort of lesser team to have been taking points off us all season.
Anyhow, before I get so depressed that I feel a need to retire up the stairs with a brown paper bag and a selection of cleaning and adhesive solvents, I’ll attempt to go out on a positive…albeit a rather qualified one. Forget the disappointments of the season thus far. From this point, in this current position onwards it’s a new game with new rules: From here on in, fourth place is a success (an automatic CL place a further bonus). And who amongst our more dedicated supporters wouldn’t prefer a pre-season trip to somewhere like Austria or Belgium to a series of mid-winter jaunts to
places so high in Scandinavia or so far removed on the frozen tundra of Siberia that even the holiday-making polar bears make sure to pack their thermal grundies?
Oh yeah, and there’s always those Barbados pics of Steve Bruce to make me smile…
Bodsnvimto AT googlemail.com
Further to a previous post- I’m wondering if there is profligacy measure in Opta stats or elsewhere as we must be close to a record- I can’t remember looking and City having less than 20 shots in a match- 22 at Palace and only 4 on target and one consolation goal. I also wonder about what a
waste of time our corners are- have we scored 5 goals from set-pieces this year (including penalties!)?
Can’t say better strikers are needed- we have the first team out at the moment but City’s play doesn’t have the vigour or direction of the early part of the year, or last season’s efforts.
paul.h.a.hunt AT gmail.com
Yet again we have managed to shoot ourselves in the foot whilst playing a lowly positioned club. What is going wrong?
Why does Manuel Pelligrini persist in playing Jesus Navas? He has the ability to run fast, past defenders only to get to the byline and then deliver poor cross after cross, he appears to lack passion and rarely tracks back leaving the right back exposed.
Why is Lampard not in New York? He might as well be there considering the lack of game time he is given. James Milner is another player who should be first on the team sheet, he gives his all every minute that he is allowed on the pitch.
Summer must see a massive clear out. Pelligrini as he only has plan A and nothing else and opposing teams have now worked out our system. Next in line are the people who have been responsible for the purchase of new players, we now have too many misfits on the club books.
Players to go:
Navas – for reasons stated above.
Nasri – makes only one or two telling performances a season.
Torre – give him a farewell cake and send him to Milan, his only decent performances this year have been for the Ivory Coast.
Mangala – totally out of his depth in the Premier League, a total waste of money.
Fernando – see Mangala
Sagna – why did we sign him? Was it because he cost nothing, we had a better back up that we shipped to Italy.
There are other border line cases such as Dzeko, Clichy and Kolorov.
Finally, someone should sit down with James Milner and offer him more starts so that he can remain.
rodney.stephens2 AT ntlworld.com
I was born in 1934 I saw Swift play but I never saw Trautmann play but I was privileged to see Harry Dowd in the 69 final. A vastly underrated keeper and a great chap he never lost sight of where he came from. Retainung his trade spoke volumes about the man. Another of the great team of the 60’s and 70s sadly gone.
brian.rawling AT ntlworld.com
I have not provided any contributions to MCIVTA, but enjoy the articles and debates within each edition. I have a couple of links below which have been written by my son, who is studying at Manchester Met Uni. he is following in the family footsteps in supporting City, and has enjoyed going to see both the first and youth teams this season. Please feel free to share these articles within a future edition if you feel it is appropriate.
“Points of Blue” committee : Sadly discarded.
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