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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Better Late Than Never – For City Anyway

Written by on May 14, 2012 | 24 Comments »
Posted in Winners and Losers

 

With the schedule being heavily weighted to Sunday and it being Mother’s Day and all in North America  it made yesterday a bit hairy. The regular winners and losers column is a bit more pointed than usual.

They scored one goal on their first 42 attempts on the QPR goal but it was efforts 43 and 44 that brought Manchester City a first title since I was a teenager. From tears of frustration and disappointment to tears of unbridled joy. Manchester City fans should be grateful that their players did not give up as easily as some of their fans did. I thought the most interesting reactions came from some of the older fans who probably remember the ’68 win. Few of them were jumping up and down – most just looked stunned unable to take in this very strange reality.

The only saving grace for Manchester United was that premature celebrations had not broken out at the Stadium of Light. With their game finished it was down to transistor radio and smartphones to communicate the dramatic events that were unfolding in Manchester.

Three moments that were worth considering from Sunday and they impact on the destination of the title.

1. Barton’s blatant stupidity,

2. the impact of the Stoke result being final and the City-QPR game still in progress

3. what was QPR doing with that throw-in with only seconds remaining? Bothroyd took up a position too far in field and City easily gained possession. A simple toss down the line to a more intelligently positioned Bothroyd would have in all likelihood gained 15 yards and another throw-in.

Juventus became only the third Italian team to go unbeaten in the top flight and the first team to do it over a 38 game season. They finished the season in fine style with another win. What a finish they put in.

Someone (or three) have to go down and when it comes down to it Bolton had their chance to survive another season in the premier League but they blew it. Losing a two goal lead to West Brom last weekend and then surrendering a 2-1 lead to Stoke tells you a story.

A first domestic double in their 103 year history and it was done in rare style. Borussia Dortmund slashed their way through the Bayern Munich defence in a terrific display of counter attacking and chance taking. The score finished up 5-2 with a hat trick from Robert Lewandowski but there were many Dortmund heroes on Saturday.

In 2002 Bayer Leverkusen finished runners up in the Bundesliga, German Cup and the Champions League Final.  Bayern Munich are two-thirds of the way there.

There is lots of talk about surprise call-ups for England’s Euro campaign. Gary Hooper has made a name for himself with his free scoring ways in the SPL. He scored all five of Celtic’s goals against Scottish Cup Finalists Hearts. An English call up for the Euros might be a stretch but a move back to England this summer might not.

A wonderful performance this season from Udinese in Serie A. Last season they finished 4th and made it into the Champions League qualifying play off round. This season they went one better but on account of Italy losing a Champions league spot Udinese will still have to qualify. I can’t think of any side that would want to draw them.

This season brought down the curtain on four Serie A stalwarts. Farewell to Inzaghi, Nesta, Gattuso and Del Piero. Each will be remembered for some special skill they brought.

Inzaghi – goal poacher extraordinaire. Gattuso – at his best he was a ball seeking missile. Nesta – the consummate defender and a connection to Maldini and Baresi. Del Piero – the reason Juventus allowed Roberto Baggio to leave; a fantastic club servant and simply one of the best of his generation.

Montpellier is now within one point of a first Ligue Un title. An injury time goal cut it close but it brought a crucial 1-0 over reigning champions Lille. PSG need to win and hope Montpellier lose in order to grab the title at the the last gasp in the final round of play. 

Montpellier is away to Auxerre who are already relegated while PSG plays at Lorient.

Big money Malaga made fourth place in Spain and so they will be in next season’s CL play off round.

 

A sad day for one of the great small clubs of Europe over the last decade. Villarreal started this season in the Champions League and next season they will be in Spain’s B division. Injuries did not help and you can expect an exodus of some very good players this summer. Time to start afresh.

Who are your winners and losers from the weekend.

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24 responses to “Better Late Than Never – For City Anyway”

  1. Roberto Senyera says:

    Thanks for mentioning Gary Hooper. His five (cinco) goal performance (cinco de Hooper) had me thinking of Messi’s five goal performance against Leverkusen (cinco de Messi). Hooper is the SPL’s answer to Messi.

    Joey Barton is a disgrace to not only football but also to humanity. Some ‘captain’. His dismissal had me thinking — hey, why not put on Balotelli? Mario is also a loose cannon but he can score you goals and the worst he can do is to also get sent off but that would still leave both sides at ten men. I thought Mancini waited far too long for Mario’s inclusion in this match, under the circumstances, and was fortunate to finally get those goals and ultimately save his job. But credit due to the Italian, begrudgingly. I’ve been slagging him ever since he’s been in the EPL, and I am still not a fan of his, but in the end he at least got the job done.

    This weekend was emblematic of the entire EPL season — a lot of poor defending and poor goal keeping. Lescott’s ‘assist’ on the Cisse goal and WBA’s GK Fulop come to mind. If it wasn’t for Fulop, Arsenal would not have got all three points this weekend and there would not have been a St. Totteringham’s Day this year (as belated as it was).

    The Spuds end up in fourth and may still not make the UCL next year. Come Saturday in this year’s UCL Final they will be rooting for Bayern Munich almost as much as the home team’s supporters.

    However, Arsene and Arsenal locked down third place and a spot in the UCL group stages. It’s the 15th consecutive year of qualifying for the UCL. A feat only matched by two other clubs in all of Europe. I never thought it would have been possible after the 8-2 Day of Infamy at The Swamp. So, chapeau off to you Mr. Wenger and the club for doubting you.

    I also believe Arsenal’s run without silverware has now come to an end. RvP won the English Pichichi. That’s a trophy. He also won PoY. That’s a trophy. MCFC won the league this year and have a number of Arsenal players in their squad or on their books (Nasri and Clichy started in the key matches at the end of the campaign while Kolo Toure was a squad player). Arshavin won the Russian league at Zenit and he’s out on loan. So, you see, we can stop saying that Arsenal hasn’t won a trophy since MMV (2005).

    Blackburn deserves to go down and stay there for a long time. A large proportion of their ‘support’ acted reprehensibly towards Kean. Even though the manager was out of his depth there’s no justification for the vile actions of those fans toward the man. Poor supporters, poor manager, poor ownership. That’s a Bermuda triangle. Go down and stay down.

    Finally, it was a good year for Robertos , I reckon. Mancini won the EPL. Di Matteo won the FA Cup and is in the UCL Final. Martinez avoided the drop. And then there’s me — I’m fantastic.

  2. Erik says:

    Obvious ones here are Man City and Joey Barton – but those are too easy

    Winner: Mothers worldwide for their special day on Sunday – although anyone who needs a designated day to show love to the woman who helped bring them into the world needs serious help.

    Winner: I know y’all are tired of seeing it – but the possibility is now very real that a tall and old piece of hardware MIGHT be making its home at 11th/Figueroa in Downtown Los Angeles. If you need to know what the reaction would be like watch what it was like Sunday @ The Etihad and realize our franchise came into existence in 1967 and we have had NOTHING to celebrate since then!

    Winner: Aston Villa supporters for seeing their side do the right thing and sending AMc packing. This after doing the wrong thing and hiring him in the first place. This cost them quite some money so I doubt they would do it but if I was in Villa management I call Wigan and make an offer they can’t refuse and get Roberto Martinez to my side. NO WAY IN………Wigan should have finished above Villa other than Martinez!

    Loser: How many times can I kee posting this………L.A. Galaxy. They look like a Mercedes Benz with a Yugo engine inside. I am going to the game Saturday vs Chivas so I will see this disappointing side from 5-rows up at midfield.

    Loser: Bobby hit it – Villareal going down. It just makes no sense, This would be like a US side making their sports’ Semi Finals one year then being relegated the next. Makes no sense!

    OK – one question out there hopefully someone can answer:

    Saturday @ Wembley: Reading vs West Ham……..How much money is at stake here? I have seen something like 90M British Pounds meaning about $140M USA but what is the approximate value on this game – the amount the winner will get as opposed to how much (little) the loser gets for staying in the LC and not in the EPL. Thanks to those who know

  3. J Rob says:

    Winner: Brendan Rodgers and Swansea. They added Liverpool to their home scalps after beating Man City and Arsenal.

    For me Rodgers is the manager of the season. Finishing 11th and effectively avoiding relegation in March are tremendous achievements. Even more impressive is taking a group of British players and in two seasons honing them into a mini Barcelona. Wayne Britton and Joe Allen were both very impressive again yesterday.

    As a LFC fan Rodgers is the one manager that truly excites me as a managerial prospect at Anfield. His track record is short but my gut tells me that he has what it takes to be one of the greats for all ages. I’d love it if Liverpool have the courage and foresight to make him manager if Kenny Dalglish is fired.

  4. texanspaniard says:

    Winner: Real Madrid become the first team in La Liga history to finish a season with 100 points. I know Reading & Newcastle went over 100 points in the Championship but that is not top flight football, so I think this may be the first time any top division European league has seen a 100point winner.

  5. fabr04 says:

    Winner: Wenger, because if Ben Foster hadn’t suffered an injury in training Arsenal would have lost to or tied WBA and had to sweat it out through the CL final. Well, Wenger wouldn’t have sweated it out – he still would have collected his fourth place trophy and his $12M salary – but supporters would have.

    Loser: Marton Fulop had one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from any PL player at any position. His performance might have been even worse than Joey Barton’s.

    Winner: England fans, because if there was ever any thought of Joey Barton getting anywhere near the national team, it died yesterday. Though I have to admit I was secretly hoping for an England team that included Shawcross, Cattermole, and Barton all at the same time, just for the spectacle.

  6. I spend the week shaking my head at the numbers that people come up with in relation to the promotion play off game. The answer is “show me your assumptions” then “show me your number.” Almost always the assumptions stretch credibility – if they actually have any. More often than not someone grabs a number and increase it.

    A simple check – use this rationale in the case of West Ham. If the number is said to be 90million pound then logic would tell you that demotion last season must have cost them just as much – otherwise West Ham would be making money from being relegated.
    The most credible number I have seen is between 25 and 30M pounds or $40 to $50M.

  7. Erik says:

    JRob mentioned something I forgot

    LOSER: Those who voted Alan Pardew as EPL MOY. This was a GOOD choice. But as JRob points out – Brendan Rogers was the BEST choice and with the exception of Roberto Martinez – the ONLY choice to make. Before the season began good luck finding someone who picked Swansea any higher than 18th place with most having them 19th or 20th and the fact they were never a threat to be relegated says a lot about the job Rogers did. Hopefully Bobby can bring back our pre-season predictions so we can all see how wrong we were about Swansea and for that matter Wigan, too. I know I had Swansea 20th and Wigan 19th (and QPR 18th).

    Bobby’s numbers do sound more realistic when you factor in “Parachute Payments” but w/o them – who knows. Regardless realize that history shows whoever loses Saturday in Wembley probably isn’t coming back next season, either. Reading became the first promotion playoff game loser to earn promotion the next season in some time so history shows West Ham or Blackpool might be in the LC for more than the 2012-13 season if they lose Saturday. And I sooooooooo wanna see Blackpol come back up. The style they play is so entertaining and Ian Holloway back in the PL is a dream come true – he is a breath of fresh air.

  8. Alberta Gooner says:

    Bobby,

    How far back are your columns archived? I’d love to dig up and dust off some of the comments directed at Arsenal and Arsene Wenger at various junctures during this season by some of the club’s (cough) “supporters” on this blog and repost them unabridged in this thread. Then we’ll know who some of the losers were on this weekend and during this season. UTA.

  9. Jay Houdini says:

    winners: Montpellier. Edge closer to winning Ligue 1
    Del Piero: nice farewell for Juve’s captain with a goal
    Inzaghi: goal on last Milan appearance for super Pippo
    Aston Villa: they fired their awful manager and hopefully, the last time we see Mcleish in England.

    Losers:
    Liverpool, Aston Villa: in a weekend where teams and games stood out in EPL, both managed another abject performance.

    I’m a gooner. I’m relieved the team managed to steer the ship, but the way the season started, the handling of nasri and fabregas cases, the late buys, has to be put on him, the hierarchy purposefully delayed buying players until the club assured Champions league participation.

    further, the club’s recent defensive problems are due to coaching issues. if he cant coach defense, then he should hire assistants who will do so and tinker his tactics. needs to review his squad rotation. unwilling to play benayoun for long part of the year, while being a good option and stuck with disinterested arshavin and a average Gervinho. hasnt given a chance to Ju-young park to play with the regulars and relieve RVP, we all know chamakh couldnt do it.

  10. Astronomer says:

    Roberto Senyera,
    Given your previous posts on Mancini in the last two months (you called him Al Pacino and a putz !), I am somewhat surprised to read your comments about him today.

    You are softening your stance toward him, my friend. Yes, he won the title, but look at the way he did it. First, he blows a fairly big lead (5-7 points) that he had over Alejandro during February/March); then yesterday he made a hash of what should have been a comfortable match for him at home.

    With the score at 1-0, was there any need to have most of his team so far up the field which resulted in QPR’s first goal? I am not saying that he had to park the bus with that scoreline (leading 1-0), but why leave such big gaps at the back at that juncture?

    It brought me back memories of similar situations in City’s games from earlier on this season against the following:

    Bayern (first leg), Napoli (both legs), Sporting Lisbon (part of the first leg and the first half of the second leg) and Sunderland (in January).

    This is a troubling pattern with this guy when it comes to organizing his defense in tight games against competent opposition (this is especially surprising, given Mancini’s reputation as a defensive-minded coach).

    I am just referencing those games above because they have occurred in recent months. But you go back to his Inter team and they showed similar tactical frailties in defense in clutch games both in the Serie A and the CL.

    As I said above, it is a bothersome pattern that one can see in the way he organizes his defense and his team’s overall playing style (in must-win or must-draw matches). I still think that Man City will underachieve with this guy in charge, especially in the more cut-throat CL knockout phase matches.

    ___________________________________________________

  11. everwonthetreble says:

    Bobby:

    Great point about the reactions of the older City fans. My mum is a long-suffering City supporter and barely raised an eyebrow when Zabaleta opened the scoring for City. In fact, she didn’t celebrate at all until Aguero scored in extra time. Happy mother’s day, indeed.

    City had a fairly similar season as United did last year in terms of wins and losses. The difference was that they bested United’s away wins by at least five games. That’s certainly deserving of the PL title. I don’t know about world domination but they certainly can compete with United win for win.

    With Fletcher’s chronic illness and Anderson now a confirmed flop, United must wake up to the fact that the midfield needs addressing. You’ve got two great passers of the ball in Scholes and Carrick but they lack speed and quickness in defense and attack. At this point a dynamic midfielder is a must have.

    Unfortunately any surplus cash that United have more than likely will continue to be spent on debts that the club should never have had. Should make for a very long summer.

  12. John Bladen says:

    Brendan Rogers did very well, as did Paul Lambert. My vote for MoY would be David Moyes, however. Yes, Everton is a bigger club than Swansea or Norwich, but given the abuse fans (particularly Liverpool fans) directed toward him early on, Everton’s finishing position (considering their injuries and player sales in recent years) has to be one of the greater achievements of the year.

    No disrespect to Martinez, he’s done very well (and scuppered my relegation picks… again!). But Moyes’ ability to get the most out of the relatively meagre resources he has gives him top spot for me.

    Finally, Tevez says something I can actually appreciate…
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/18067191

  13. John Bladen says:

    Roberto:

    Remind me again what you said about “relying on Barton” to win the title meant?

    See comments…

    http://www.soccerreportextra.com/domestic/english-premier-league/the-decline-and-fall-of-aston-villa/#comments

  14. John Bladen says:

    Bobby:

    Farewell to Gattuso. Every time I watched him play, I thought of how George Best or Stanley Matthews careers might have been different had they had to face him. Wallop. Down. Ug.

  15. Astronomer says:

    Roberto Senyera,
    The following is an addition to my previous post:

    If any of the following had been the manager of Man City, the title race would have been over by late April:
    Alejandro
    Guardiola
    Mourinho
    and even
    Capello (7 Scudetti, including the 2 revoked ones, and 2 La Ligas).

    So let’s not take our foot off the gas pedal in our criticism of Mancini. He made the title race so close and, yesterday, very nearly blew it (yes, I blame him — see my previous post above).

    ______________________________________________

  16. Bibs says:

    Thumbs down to who ever is in charge for cancelling Fox Soccer Channel in my area (Vancouver BC Canada)
    a month or so before the business end of european club competitions. Gol TV is not the answer.

  17. Roberto Senyera says:

    Astronomer,

    Don’t get me confused with becoming an admirer of Pacino’s all of a sudden. I simply gave him begrudging credit for steering the ship into port — even if he took out half the pier to do it (it wasn’t pretty by any means). Be weary of I-talian ship captains.

    Bottom line: ManC underachieved this season because of Mancini. ManU overachieved because of Old Red Nose (ORN). Swap the managers between the two clubs and it would have been over mid April.

    Trouble is, I don’t believe those four managers you cited are available. I would hire any four of those and axe Pacino this summer. ORN is not leaving The Swamp to go to the Noisy Neighbours. Pep is really going to take a year off but would be a good fit. I thought he might one day take the ManUre job after ORN’s retirement but as long as the Glazers own that Evil Empire, he shouldn’t. He’d be better off waiting for Pacino to inevitably slip up or just return to Camp Nou after a year off. Mou would be a big upgrade and follow after him as he did at Inter and take them to heights Pacino could not. But I don’t think Mou will go this summer as he thinks he has unfinished business in Madrid by not winning the UCL there. Capello is available and I’d take him over Mancini today. Trouble with Capello is that he might have had his fill with the English media and wouldn’t fancy coming back to the island. I’d also take Benitez today and sack Mancini.

    Problem is that I don’t think the ownership would do it as they are absentee landlords that are willing to grow patiently and relatively slowly — unlike, say, Roman at Chelsea and Perez at Madrid.

  18. Roberto Senyera says:

    Everwonthetreble — As I said above to Astronomer, I really love the Glazers!!! They’re the best thing to happen to Manchester since the formation of Oasis.

  19. Roberto Senyera says:

    JB,

    The last part of the article from Jim White of The Telegraph:

    “Though in truth, relying on Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Djbril Cissé to deliver your dreams brings new definition to the term hope.” — I very much concur with this statement.

    The entire article was written from Fergie’s perspective (not Man City’s). Therefore, Fergie should not have pinned his hopes of winning this year’s title on the likes of that lot before the match. Joey’s sending off certainly didn’t help ORN’s cause during the match either. And Cisse has been pretty good at sendings off this season, as well, although that tree did not bear any fruit on this occasion.

  20. Roberto Senyera says:

    JB,

    About that Tevez “Fergie RIP” sign:

    1) I really dislike corporate spokespeople who feel the obligation to apologize to whomever is offended or may be offended. Especially when things are said in jest and not to be taken seriously. Much of modern society has lost its sense of humour. Political correctness has certainly over reached in today’s modern world.

    2) If there’s anyone who has acted in a “reprehensible” manner since the formation of the EPL it has been the person issued that needless apology. It’s akin to the State Department issuing an apology to a foreign dictator because of something offensive the President said about that foreign dictator. Such as when George Bush said, “Wanted dead or alive” when referring to Saddam Hussein.

    3) In my mind the sign has two meanings. Not only does it refer to what Fergie said about Man City in the past. It also portends the future as Fergie won’t be winning another EPL or UCL title as long as the Glazers and their huge debt strangle that club.

    4) I wish Fergie a get deal of “distress” actually. Watching him in “distress” is time watching television well spent. Remember his shaking hands at Wembley against Barcelona last year? That was mint!

  21. Erik says:

    John: For my money David Moyes is the best Manager in the EPL – and it’s really not even close. Every year he is seemingly given “Chicken Bleep” and told to make “Chicken Salad” out of it. IF Everton could ever start the season like they finish it they could compete for a spot in Europe. I know it will never happen but if the EPL split the league into 2 halves of 19 games each the 2nd Half Everton would contend to win the 2nd Half.

    IF I am Man Utd – when SAF says “Adios” I IMMEDIATELY get all “important” people in a car and head over to Goodison and when I left the place Moyes would be the new Manager @ Old Trafford. I would speak to Everton brass and ask a simple 2 word question: HOW MUCH!

    How Much do I need to pay you to get Moyes to come to Old Trafford………..and whetever they say I cut them the check on the spot before they change their mind.

    If it was any club other than Liverpool I could see him taking the spot to be their new Manager when that time comes but I;d sooner bet on Blackburn or Wolves winning the 2015 Champions League than of Moyes going to Liverpool

  22. Ed Gomes says:

    Some thoughts.

    Winners: the American futebol viewing audience, which got to pick which game to follow or multiple games (pip) at he same time. We were also able to DVR matches if we wanted. Nice job by Fox.

    Winner: Drama. It was incredible to see the anguish of the City fans and then the jubilation. Nevermind Mancini and the players. Same could be said for Man United, Spurs and Arsenal.

    Winner: Wenger. Arsenal was very lucky to get a result. Somebody should check Fulops bank account for any recent large deposits.
    For those who are now praising Arsenal and Wenger, be careful. You got third mostly due to others mistakes than your excellence. I also saw a piece on Wenger saying how proud he was of his squad. Really? Are they that bad that earning 3rd should be a great accomplishment? I thought a title/silverware was the goal.
    Szczesny has also ended the season pulling a couple of Almunia’s. Oh, oh.

    – I know that everyone keeps mentioning how 4th might be lost due to Chelsea winning the CL. I want to point out that 4th only brings a CL Playoff spot so the Group Stage millions are not a guarantee. It means they would play in late July so preparation isn’t always at its best. Competition has also gotten better in the qualifiers, so EPL fans should spot expecting 4th as an automatic CL Group Stage spot.
    I wonder of funds would have been available if only a 4th place was earned. I have a feeling Spurs will be selling.

    Winners: All of City’s squad. Due to their big salaries, almost all other clubs won’t be able to pay them. So you will remain or still get paid a huge amount at a nicer place. City would have to eat some of that salary in the deal, sell or loan.

    – which brings to mind the FFP Rules. You would think that eaten salary would count against the club, no?

    Losers: Barton and Highes. Barton is an ass and. Has always been. Just because he’s able to be funny on Twitter, it doesn’t mean he’s always been a thug and plenty of past transgressions shouldn’t be forgotten. Hughes for making him captain and giving him any type of legitimacy.

    Winners: Real Madrid. 100 total points.

    Why all the hate towards the Glazers? Man United has become a solid brand that brings in a ton of money. As long as he debt is being eaten away and paid on time, what’s the issue? Again, Man United is doing great and have he available, funds to go out and get talent.
    Take a look at Arsenal in contrast. What was thought of as a great deal, their stadium and jersey sponsorship deal, looks like a stinker now. Spurs have been able to get a better deal from splitting contracts. Even Liverpool has a better deal. Keep in mind that Arsenals deal has a ways to go yet, so it could begin to look worse and worse. Yes economy is bad, so it looks safe now. But keep in mind that when the deal was made the economy was good.

  23. Alberta Gooner says:

    It’s amazing what you can learn reading comments sections on blogs from footballing experts. I didn’t realize Wenger is also single-handedly responsible for the impending collapse of the Eurozone, global warming, puppy abuse and breaking Jack Wilshere’s ankle to ensure he stays out of the Euros? And the Olympics. Is there no evil that villian is not capable of committing?

    A serious question for Bobby. Do you think Football Manager and other interactive games that allow people to role play as managers has dumbed down the game for younger generations? Because when I read some of the delusional shit posted on your boards, I can’t help but think there’s a growing disconnect between reality and expectations/knowledge of supporters.

  24. Ed Gomes says:

    Wenger is a very good manager and, I feel, a very good judge of talent. What he’s done at arsenal should be lauded.
    That being said, there have been question marks.
    The whole world knew Cesc was gone yet no plan seemed to be in place for his replacement. Actually his possible replacement, Nasri, also left. Defense continues to be an issue, which got exposed further after Cesc and Nasri left.
    Personally I also think Szcznesny will be more Almunia than let’s say AVDS.

    If they would have faced a competent goalie on Sunday, they would be in the CL Playoff which is no longer a cakewalk. Meaning no guaranteed millions.
    Much harder to have to play in July in order to get those guaranteed millions, especially if new faces are being integrated.

    Arsenal has had the talent and manager to have won something. So since they haven’t, a third place finish starts to ring hollow.
    Just a thought.

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