Portsmouth - Manyoo 0-0 Pompey (3-1 on pens)
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Manyoo 0 - Pompey 0


Sun 11th, 3pm

Attendance: 83,000+

Manyoo 0-0 Pompey (3-1 on pens)

This is not really going to be a match report, merely a serious of musings from the day put at Wembley for the charity shield. It is more of a 'it might not have been great, but it showed that we do have enough to have another fantastic season again' thing...

It was a strange day - and that was before the game even began! Weather wise it was odd, one minute baking hot the next raining, nevertheless humid throughout. Travel wise is was awful there and back for us... My sister-in-law did a cracking job with the driving, making a journey that she had never done before look easy, but a journey that we were hoping would be 2 hours max each way proved to be at least 4 each time as the traffic was awful, whatever we could hit to be trapped in you can be assured we did and would be trapped in it for ages! The organisation to get out of the Wembley parking was also abysmal they leave it as a 'free for all' and this sees things quickly descend into chaos!

Anyway, myself and the rest of our travelling party, which included my brother, the already mentioned sister-in-law, cousin - Pompey Bluto - and Saunders - PFCMatt - all had a good day out and enjoyed a decent enough game, which was all we wanted from the day. It was just a shame that we were held up for so long as it meant missing the chance to meet and catch up with some people that had not been seen for sometime, or meet some that had not been met before, but there you go...

I was astonished to hear that Linvoy Primus had not even made the squad, and this really put a dampener on things, but it was later revealed he had picked up a slight knock, which is hopefully nothing too serious. The team put out was one that was not too bad on paper, but clearly lacked any sort of width and so this showed, showed so very much! We need some wide options as Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch will not be able to feed on scraps for the season.

We contained Manyoo well enough, the lack of pace at the back was evident when the speedy - yet ineffective and willing to go to ground so easily - Nani got involved, but defensive quality and the ability to read the game saw others cover as you would expect quite often with all having good games at the back, Sylvain Distin showed his quality again and he is no slouch, Sol Campbell is clearly lacking in pace now and struggles with this big time but is still a quality defender who can read the game and this can compensate for his lack of pace - as long as he is rested sufficiently. Hermann Hreidarsson was fantastic once again, and whilst he might be getting on once again showed why getting a left back is not a priority as if it is not broken do not fix it! We have enough to cover him for injuries, suspensions and the odd game rested. As my cousin says he is a 34-year-old that does not play or look like a 34-year-old. Glen Johnson did not have the best of games, but we know what he can do...

Few chances were created as either end, with Pompey never really threatening Edwin Van Der Sar, when we did get in the final pass could not be found or there was not really anyone to get on the end of it. When we did break through, which in fairness we did several times from the midfield - which is impressive to see - we lacked the options due to the lack of width, there was rarely an option for this - and we cannot expect the fullbacks to keep going up and down all day long acting like wingbacks. When Manyoo did have chances David James was his usual fantastic self, coming for and claiming most things and saving what he had to including one brilliant save from Carlos Tevez - who somehow got the man of the match award! He was good, but not the best player on the pitch.

The midfield was not really overrun, as the worry had been for most but we continue to look so narrow. Niko Kranjcar had a mere, looked really short of fitness and was not up for it at all. His lack of pace really showed, if you have Gary Neville out-sprinting you you are in trouble! Pedro Mendes worked really hard in the middle of the park, with his quality showing as he passed it around nicely. His presence really allowed Lassana Diarra - who was the man of the match - off the leach, which I think is a real plus of letting Sulley Muntari go. Yep, he is a quality player but his style and his lack of discipline to play his role could have a negative impact at times and left Diarra having to be more of a holding player, with Mendes doing this the Frenchman gets free reign, and this saw his class ooze through as he was absolutely fantastic, easily the best player on the park. Manyoo are no mugs, but he was making them look like this, beating their players with ease - if not he had the wide option he so desperately wanted as he burst forward... I am not his biggest fan but to his credit Papa Bouba Diop had a cracking game, he still does not look comfortable on the ball, and when he has to look around for an option, when there is not one he struggles to know what to do with the ball - but in fairness he was often not given an option, due to the lack of width problem again...

It as hard for Crouch and Defoe to get into the game, as they had no service and without this they cannot be expected to prosper - but hopefully this will come. Crouch looked unfit, and needs to work on this but he will get there. As previously said though they cannot feed off scraps, without the supply they cannot be expected to deliver - but I am sure they will.

All in all though I enjoyed a good game, we held our own and showed that we can cope with the likes of Manyoo and are a quality side. The 11 players that started are more than good enough to compete this season and see us have a good season again, but those that can come in are also good enough to see us ok. The pending arrival of Younes Kaboul will make us even stronger at the back, which is a real strong point anyway - despite the pace thing being an issue against speedy sides. But we were again well organised and will be hard to break down this season.

I keep saying it but the lack of width was horrible, this desperately needs sorting. John Utaka cannot play on the left, he showed a few good moments but again drifted into the middle too much, but if up for it he could have a great season on the right... We need a left sided midfielder as cover for Kranjcar as without him we really do have no one else. There must be a left footer somewhere, anywhere to fill this void if needed - there are players out there, they might not be the quality people expect but they can do a job.

The penalties were awful, so we need to practice these as there is a chance we might have to go through some of these this season in various competitions but all in all I was happy with another great day out at Wembley, as this was all I wanted as who knows it might be our last...

It all kicks off for really on Sunday against Chelski - I go into this season with the faith that we have a good squad, as good as anyone outside the top 4 and good enough to again see us have another good season, which could bring a slight improvement on the last once again... We 'might' break the top 4, but this is highly unlikely and I hope this is not expected. I also hope that the fans do not turn if we have a tough opening 5 or 6 games - as they are. Keep the faith and keep the expectation level realistic. We are not 'little Portsmouth' anymore, but nor are we a Manyoo, Chelski, Arsenal or Liverpool and probably never will be. We will have a dozen or so real top, top class footballers, the rest of the squad will be quality players to do a job when asked but we will never be able to have 20 top, top class players in a squad - as they will not be happy to not be part of the starting 11 unless it is most weeks, financially too this in not viable but we are getting there, yesterday again showed improvements are still being made and the positives far outweighed the negatives!

Despite numerous reports that seem to say we were overrun in midfield, displayed a lack of quality I thought we were ok - looked a good side and were not made to look mugs by Manyoo. Anyway, I think I have rambled on long enough! It might be a bit of a 'beast' to read, but I hope I have made some points that give you something to talk about...


Join the Vital Pompey Debate

Prediction League

The Journalist

Writer: pompeyrug Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday August 11 2008

Time: 8:55AM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
Nice read Rug. Did you traval from Plymouth? It was 2 hours door to door from Reading...!! Regarding Kranjcar. He worries me. Can't see room for him in a 4 man mid-field unless we are playing some of the lesser teams. I can see him working well with Crouch in a 4-4-1-1 but where does that leave Defoe? I'm not as tactically aware as some of you guys - perhaps I've missed something?
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11/08/2008 09:13:00

In brief: Diarra was brilliant. We need width. We need to paly the ball to crouch to his feet more. Need to practise penalties as they take them in UEFA cup too!!!! Traffic was bollox.
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11/08/2008 09:14:00

it can't be ignored that every time we seem to play united we are "torn apart" - but they never manage to score. Glen johnson had an apauling game, but now he should be able to bounce back from that. kranjcar did too - but he has been behind everyone else in terms of fitness too. It wasn't a bad performance from us though, utaka did look like he good be intrested this season (I am tempted to have him in my fantasty football team).
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11/08/2008 09:15:00

Good reflection on what was a mised day for Pompey. Some good things Mendes and Diarra, Papa, Mvuemba showed his class as a sub, Distin mixed with some bad, Niko and the inability to create chances. I think 4-5-1 would have been better yesterday enabling us to get width into midfield even though we would have to lose a striker to manage it (Defoe could play on the right of course). All in all we enjoyed the day though a trip to Wembley and NO tension. Sorry we missed you Rug.
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11/08/2008 09:24:00

The quick Man Utd one touch passing looked class from up high and it really did rip apart our defence. The midfield seemed to stop as they passed the halfway line unwilling to push forward and support Crouchy and Defoe. Campbell looked very slow and Jonno and Nikko looked well off the pace. Some good performances from Diarra, Distin and Big Pappa though, and a really good day out! Finally got home at 11 last night!
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11/08/2008 09:56:00

Great article Rug, nearly missed the start got sat down with 2 mins to go. Thought Niko was poor in his delivery of the ball and gave it away far too many times. Do need proper wingers to get the most out of Crouch and Defoe, amybe we have got that though with Little, what about Aaron Lennon to join him?? Still just been talking about it at work, we were up against the European and premier league champions, so 0-0 after 90 mins wasn't too bad. like to more of Mvuemba this year though, the lad looks class.
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11/08/2008 10:08:00

According to the BBC match report we didnt even have a shot until the 70th minute?? Im hoping we can find some creativty very soon otherwise we are really gonna struggle to score, defensively we seem ok and it finally looks as though Kaboul is on his way.. Next final will be the Eufa Cup Semi's!! fingers crossed, money spent at the bookies ;)
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11/08/2008 10:46:00

I think all you chaps have covered everything. I would just like to emphasise a couple of points and what has been said before. Campbell cannot cope with a quick turning forward, how he thinks he can cut it for another three years is beyond me. Cannot see Crouch and Defoe continuing as a luxury pairing, especially away from home. A playmaker and some width are a desperate need. General fitness did not appear up to scratch. Did Kranjcar play? I did not see him, not a fan.
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11/08/2008 11:41:00

Pompey were lucky to make it to a penalty shoot out, and the resultant performance reflected the gulf between the two teams. Why do we keep on cencentrating our efforts on midfield players? We need fast, nippy wingers,able to attack defences in the way that Nani did yesterday. Wide players have been needed for the past three seasons, and yet still we do not have them. Utaka´s lack of belief in himself at running at defences is abyssmal. He stops, turns and passes back. The side play boring, dull football, there is no speed and penetration. Defoe and Crouch were waiting for service and never got it. Niko kranjcar was shocking yesterday , diop and diarra was great but we need to practice penalties as defoe nearly got save !! why do we always place pens to the right ?????
stfc ballboy
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11/08/2008 11:47:00

I think an intresting point is that last season, our two most creative players - Kranjcar and johnson - had absolutely apauling games. Myabe we can put this down to fitness, possibly bad luck, or maybe Man U playing them out of the game. either way when the season kicks off, it is unlikely that they will both keep having bad days.
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11/08/2008 11:51:00

stfc ballboy: did you see the completed passes stats yesterday? At one stage we were completing less than 30% of United's completed passes. If we had Scoles yesterday we would have murdered them. It's a midfield issue before it becomes a wide issue.
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11/08/2008 12:26:00

Chrisw, you and stfc ballboy are both right. There was no width and, consequenty, no real options open to the ball-winners (Diarra and Diop) in midfield. We won possession and then gave it straight back. The was no guille or creativity where it could do United any damage. Yes, Diarra did look class but in areas where he was not going to cause United any problems. Crouch didn't seem to win anything in the air until the second half and, if we're going to play the predictable little and large combination of Defoe feeding off knock-downs from Crouch, then I think it's resonable to expect an 6ft 7in England centre-forward who cost us the national debt of Peru to win at least 50% of the aerial balls. It can only get better.......can't it?
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11/08/2008 12:39:00

That said.....it was a day to remember all the same.
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11/08/2008 12:42:00

I echo most of the comments about our set up and execution yesterday. We couldn't have won that or scored if the game went onto xmas! I see that we are going to play that narrow boring hit and hope football we did last season. I dread to think what Chelski are going to do to us next week. Campbell has about as much pace as I do after 15 pints. Both Cardiff and WBA found him wanting in our last 2 outings at Wembley, it will only get worse for him. father time has caught up! Crunchie looked disinterested and overweight. Utaka looked to have the pace and ability at times, only to pretend to run into a brick wall and pass it back or sideways (must have gone to the Ray Wilkins school of Crab football) Johnson had an absolute mare, is he really an England bacK?...bet he plays a blinder next week, that will be typical. Pedro look ineffective, lots of huffing and puffing but little product. On the plus side St Jamo was his usual brilliant self. Lassie and Papa had ok games. Arnold looked good again (every time i've seen him play, he's looked good) You have to feel for the front boys, no service, and when they did get it, No back up!! Our tactics were so predictable, Fergie must have been laughing his socks off. Buying Crouch could yet come to haunt us as Harry will be scared stiff to leave either on the bench, limiting our tactics. Why the hell don't we pass to Crouches feet? he's more than capable of using them! Having had all my moans, Traffic was good into Wembley from Andover. Parking fantastic, a couple of hundred yards from the ground. got home at 7.45. My fears about my tickets in the gods were unfounded. What a fantastic view in the Chris Bonnington seats, i'd have them again...Happily. Good atmosphere inside and out, exactly what it should be at the Shield. I hope you all had a good day, what a superb way to spend 20 quid.
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11/08/2008 14:08:00

Too bad Kanu wasent in the "right" place to score!!
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11/08/2008 14:29:00

Am very pleased to read your article Rug, and to hear some of the other comments. As you all know, I am learning, and when I left the pub yesterday, I thought that we hadn't played too bad, and said so. I now know that we hadn't played too good, either. But when I herad yesterday that we had been torn apart, I thought I must have been watching another game. I thought we gave a respectable performance, (given that they are ManU and we are Pompey), certainly the stats at half time had us more or less level pegging with United. The Daily mail has us for an eigth finish next year, and my target for the year, based on yesterday, is to improve on that, which I think we will.
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11/08/2008 14:51:00

In fairness Gandor you're right. I was happy that at least Utd knew they had been in a game. Some points as I said i felt we lacked, and some people need to sharpen up and quickly. I still think Harry has a wide player in his thoughts, he needs too otherwise we are in for a lean time. If im being honest I thought a draw was a fair result. They had the better chances, but we kept them out, you can't win a game if you don't score.
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11/08/2008 15:02:00

Re Krancjar. I felt it wasn't at the races previously in the week at Oxford Utd - he only played 60 minutes and seemed never to get out of second gear. Wembley was the same and I wasn't surprised to see him taken off. Remember in his first season he was just played just like this - he needs to focus from next Sunday and stop thinking he's still on on his honeymoon!
FP Dec 16th 1972
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11/08/2008 17:42:00

crouch's one problem, is that he is too tall, and everyone ALWAYS ends up just "booting" the ball up to him - which never works. We have to imagine that he is as short as JD - but just very good at jumping (yes, I know he cant jump really...). he doesnt win the ball well in the air, but he can hold up play well. If Harry insists on always playing both crouch and defoe then our side will loose it's balance. I hope that against chelsea, defoe is dropped to the bench (not becuase he played badley) and we play with a 5 man midfield. we need to start strongly, we need to add width to our game, and crouch is like kanu - but younger (and admitidly slightly less skillfull). We cant comprimise our balance just becuase we have wo expensive strikers!
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11/08/2008 18:37:00

carps, you beat me to it, I was going to say am I the only one disappointed that we HAD to play the long high ball into crouch. I know (stereotypically) fottballers aren't the brightest bulbs in the box, but, surely, even they must have noticed that it wasn't right, and play the ball along the floor! and....if the players couldn't see it, why did no-one from the bench get up and tell them?
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11/08/2008 19:21:00

Tevez did deserve MOTM! He was everywhere. starting the attacks, tracking back nicely and very unlucky not to score. I do admit Diarra had a great game and how Arsenal let him go, I don't know but Tevez was MOTM. Also to the OP, Mendes played yesterday? I can't remember seeing him on the pitch tbh. It was all Diarra, Distin and James
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11/08/2008 19:26:00

As I missed the game seems we were happy with the 0-0 draw, but not so with the performance going by the comments is this a fair assumption ?
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11/08/2008 19:50:00

nail on the head yong. Some of the players and tactics were a little..... mystifying.
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11/08/2008 19:59:00

A clean sheet vs. Utd is no small feat, but we had horseshoes up our behinds to get away with it really. Thought Diop performed admirably out of position. Since Krancjar continues to drift in, maybe it's time we gave him a more central midfield role.He is a playmaker and there's enough room for both he and Diarra in the centre. The other option as I see it would be a 3-2-3-2 formation of sorts, (Johnson/Distin/Hreidersson, Diarra & Diop/Lauren, with Krancjar in front of them and two wide men (Govou ?). Everyone should calm down a bit. It was the Euro/EPL champs we just played, not Hull City. Having said that, there's no point in blowing 11 mil quid on Crouch if he'll have nothing to do all year. Hope Kaboul works out cos Sol looked like a dinosaur yesterday.
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11/08/2008 20:27:00

Wondered why Arry had Diarra take a penalty when he'd seen him Beckham the ball at least twice during the 90 minutes...and Mvuemba as a shooter ? Yikes.
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11/08/2008 20:30:00

Have you seen the 'report' on thier site?? Worst piece of journolism ever written. Have a look for your self, shocking!
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11/08/2008 21:45:00

Well on the more positive side I thought that we looked very positive for the final 20 minutes of the match. Even though he was not sticking to the wide channels Utaka looked impressive. The penalties were atrocious and were the biggest negative from the match in my opinion. The match as a whole was a scrapper though and I really was not at all impressed by Manyoo and even taking into account their absences don't think they will be challenging for a title this season. Those last twenty minutes give me hope for what we can be if we click though!
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11/08/2008 23:10:00

Blimey! Just seen the ManU take on the game. Talk about dillusional - are they the full shilling?
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12/08/2008 02:46:00

I think some of the piece is startlingly true! yes they have embellished it, just as we do, but some serious home truths in there. I've never made it a secret of this new Pompey way of attritional football being dull. Gone are the days of flowing football, even with lesser a'bled players, I far preferred to watch us play before we stacked our midfield with bouncers from a local night club! The truth for all; is that we did win the cup, but by god we rode our luck. We really were lucky to progress, but we did and we went on to win. We were prepared to put out strong teams and chance our luck, even to the detriment of our league form. This is what we will have to do every cup competition from now on, because lets be honest with ourselves. The cups are all we can win, the top four let alone the Premiership title is stuff of dreams. I know some of you will hate my comments and call me a traitor to the cause. Truth is I know deep down that we are just about as high as we can realistically go, for that im grateful. We average less than 20,000 at home. we do not have a bottomless pit of money. We are a very good provincial team in the hardest league in the world. We are not a draw for the best players never will be. I always feel proud of what we've achieved on our resources; long may it continue.
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12/08/2008 08:08:00

traitor to the cause...
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12/08/2008 08:12:00

... Only joking Penton .. I've read the article too and although there are some home truths in it the arrogant way they are atticulated is typical of Manchester United... The are wonderful, yet hard done by... As for your comments I agree with most wholeheartedly.. 38 points for safety with a bit of pride and passion will do me nicley this year ... 65 playing dull fotball by a group of players playing for themselves is not what I want.. I'm saying that's we have but just making the point..
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12/08/2008 08:16:00

Im off to the Tower and in through traitors gate..oh woe is me!... Hang on i sound like a Cockney Manyoo fan
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12/08/2008 08:25:00

Chix/Penton, I'm inclined to agree but no less a football journalist then Joe Lovejoy predicts that we will get it together and finish 6th this season. I hope we'll play with some flair but I'm not counting on it.
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12/08/2008 10:33:00

for the first few games i think we should go withthe tried and tested 4-5-1 formation, as we need the midfield to break down the stronger teams. we didnt create enough chances, but utaka looked more lively than crouch, so 4-5-1 seems the best formation atm, thats where kranjcar plays best too. then we could have diop, diarra, mendes in the middle, this is where all 3 play best, and i cant see many teams breaking down that central pairing. we need the width, which 4-5-1 gives us, as we didnt look like creating chances. our best chance was a really good run from defoe, where he was lucky to get away from 4 defenders.
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12/08/2008 14:19:00

Bakes, i don't much fancy being in Harry's shoes. Trying to keep two strikers happy who have been signed on the promise that they will get a game every week.
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12/08/2008 15:43:00

Did someone say that Defoe could play on the right wing as a forward.
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12/08/2008 18:39:00

Well Gandor Harry did play Benjani there in a lot of away games & also played Defoe there towards the end of a game at home last season, but I would not think he would start him there. Partnership with Crouch is what Harry wants, thats why its difficult to play 4-5-1 with him.
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12/08/2008 19:06:00

Learning how to take penaties may be a good idea next time.
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15/08/2008 00:37:00

I've just got back from the other side of the world, where I only managed to catch some brief highlights and the shoot-out (pitiful!) so its great to catch up on the site with what happened and everyone's views about it. I think a lot of the problems, esp fitness ones, are fixable, and a match like this is a good way of bringing out what needs to be done. I am a bit concerned that what I thought was our great strength (Crouch/Defoe) could turn out to be a weakness. And we do have to remember we are not Real Madrid, we do struggle at times, but hopefully we can carry on pulling some success out of the hat and attracting/keeping top class players. I have faith in Arry. Glad to see Jamo was on form as always - interesting new hair.
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15/08/2008 09:01:00


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