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Season 2011-12

Time to Change the Record

By Lyndon Lloyd   ::  17/10/2011
 25 Comments (Last)

Chelsea 3 - 1 Everton

Some of the records that Everton have developed in recent seasons have been fodder for the media build-up to their last three games against the now de facto "big five". The proud run of victories over Manchester City's millions, the avoidance of back-to-back Premier League defeats over the past couple of seasons, the five-season unbeaten run in the League at Stamford Bridge...

All were used to bolster the Blues' chances ahead of three tricky games in the middle of a very daunting part of the fixture calendar and all now lie in tatters following a third successive loss by a two-goal margin that has sowed more seeds of doubt about just what can be achieved this campaign given the realities under which the Club currently operates.

Chief among them, of course, is a chronic inability to compete financially with the League's moneyed elite. Moyes bemoaned the hundreds of millions at Roberto Mancini's disposal and set out his defensive stall at the Etihad Stadium three weeks accordingly, and the gulf in resources was uppermost in the manager's comments following this fairly comprehensive dismantling at the hands of Chelsea.

The "haves" are clearly pulling away now thanks to a depressingly uneven financial playing field but where Everton are concerned, that is only part of the story. No one denies that Moyes is working with one hand tied behind his back but there is a section of the fanbase that feels he is tying his shoelaces together at the same time with his ultra-cautious approach and a growing number of fans who feel that if we're going to get beaten anyway, can we not at least have a go at entertaining the poor buggers who pay to watch each week?

If Moyes came in for some stick from a good many Blues for parking the bus in Eastlands with predictable results, he at least gave cause for hope that he'd seen the error in that strategy with the deployment of Louis Saha up front at Stamford Bridge. Indeed, while some would have had misgivings with a couple of other selection choices ? more on that later ? it was a starting XI that at least gave a nod to the notion that scoring goals is the way to win points.

And, to be fair, the Blues had a decent half hour against a Chelsea side that, like previous games against Everton on home turf, at times looked sloppy, profligate in possession, and vulnerable if the visitors could just put something meaningful together. Indeed, Moyes's side looked very comfortable in the early going, exhibiting some patient passing in midfield and forcing the first save of the match from Petr Cech when he spilled Saha's low shot but gathered the ball at the second attempt after 10 minutes.

A couple of corners aside and a succession of offsides at the hands of Chelsea's unusually high defensive line, though, the Blues weren't much of an attacking threat. As has been the case since the departures of Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta, there was a depressing lack of creativity in the Everton ranks so the reliance was once again on graft and pressure.

Seamus Coleman has never lacked effort or enthusiasm but he has been bemusingly ineffective this season, the frustration he is becoming encapsulated when he had acres of space to deliver a telling a cross to the waiting blue jerseys in the penalty area but chose instead to dribble inside, was dispossessed and a rare chance to create a chance for the forwards was lost.

Leon Osman, another whose effort cannot be faulted but who is proving to be less and less effective with each passing week, was similarly guilty of allowing himself to be muscled off the ball on a number of occasions and that put the onus for containment and attacking momentum on the central midfield duo of Jack Rodwell and Marouane Fellaini, neither of whom was able to maintain a scruff-hold on proceedings against a team like Chelsea.

So it was no surprise that, having sorted out their clumsiness in defence, Andre Villas-Boas' men eventually assumed control over the game midway through the first half. Though Everton were reasonably comfortable in the first half-hour, they did offer their hosts a couple of hints as to the defensive lapses to come: first in the 17th minute when Phil Jagielka got too tight on Didier Drogba and allowed the Ivorian striker to easily roll around him before just doing enough to prevent him punishing the error; then in the 23rd minute, a couple of moments of madness from Tony Hibbert eventually allowed Ramires the chance to curl a shot wide from 20+ yards.

On the half hour, though, Everton's defence was breached when Juan Mata's impressive ball over the top caught Hibbert out of position and Coleman flat-footed, allowing Ashley Cole to steal in behind, clip the ball across the six yard box and present Daniel Sturridge with an easy, close-range header to make it 1-0.

Getting to the break without further damage became the priority for Moyes but he probably ripped up his half time team talk in first-half injury time when Coleman was adjudged to have conceded a clumsy free kick wide on the Chelsea left and Mata whipped the ball into the six-yard box. Either Jagielka or Distin, I don't recall which, lost John Terry, Fellaini failed to jump for the ball at all, and Tim Howard flapped embarrassingly as Terry glanced a header off the goalkeeper's arms to double the lead and effectively kill the game at the halfway stage.

It was going to be a long second half ahead for the traveling Evertonians who had, for the bulk of the first 45 minutes, been making the most noise against an apathetic home crowd, but who knew that Moyes was never going to make the kinds of positive, caution-to-the-wind changes that the scoreline demanded. No surprise then when the same eleven emerged after the interval and though Osman clipped the outside of the post less than a minute after kick off, the match resorted to a familiar pattern of Chelsea's comfortable domination.

By the time Moyes did decide on a change, a full 15 minutes into the second half, Tim Cahill had dropped so deep into his own midfield that the manager may as well have thrown another striker but Royston Drenthe, possessing that rare Evertonian commodity of pace, was a welcome introduction with Coleman the obvious candidate to be withdrawn.

The Dutchman had only been on the pitch a minute, though, when the contest was ended with Chelsea's third goal. A quick break with pace and fast movement of the ball was again the key to opening up a leaden-footed Everton rearguard, with Mata feeding Drogba before continuing his run to receive the exchange pass in the visitors' box where he crossed low for Ramires who couldn't miss.

As if the Blue faithful weren't deflated enough, Moyes's next move ? again, a full 11 minutes later ?would confuse and anger in equal measure. Cahill, who had run himself ragged for 72 minutes, was removed and Phil Neville of all people was put on his place. It was a nothing move that offered just as much, except the home fans the opportunity to jeer when Neville jumped into a lunging tackle near the touchline and missed both player and ball completely.

A neat interchange between Leighton Baines and Osman ? the latter would somehow play the full 90 minutes ? briefly threatened a consolation with 11 minutes to go but Osman's shot from the edge of the box was awful. But that consolation would arrive a couple of minutes later when Apostolos Vellios was introduced for Saha and would score within 18 seconds of taking the field.

Drenthe picked up Fellaini's header on into the left channel and fired a low ball across the Chelsea area where Vellios reacted quickest to stretch out a leg and prod it past Cech. A terrific striker's goal, perhaps the sole silver lining on an otherwise dark cloud, and another indictment of Moyes's refusal to grant the promising Greek more playing time in a game that was lost before it was half over.

And therein lies what I sense is a growing frustration and impatience with Moyes. At 2-0 down, everyone knew the game was up, so why not try something adventurous and unpredictable? Throw on a substitute or two with something to prove... The only thing left to hope for by 3-0 was that one of the lads patiently awaiting their chance could stake a claim for greater involvement with a goal.

And so it proved when Vellios scored with his first touch of the ball from an assist by another sub who should really have been at the start of the second half. But while the manager adheres so doggedly to his methods and the same players to carry them out, this Everton side will remain predictable to opponents and dull to watch for its supporters.

The top handful of clubs with the bulk of the money, with the obvious exception so far this season of Arsenal, are moving on, improving, pulling away from the rest. Everton under Moyes are still playing the same formation built around Cahill as seven years ago, still going to places like Chelsea with a defensive game-plan of containment and damage limitation, only now it's not even yielding hard-fought draws. We're getting soundly beaten with very little prospect of coming back once the better team has made the breakthrough.

Moyes will argue that the huge disparity in resources demands such a pragmatic and, dare one say, boring approach but as was shown this weekend and also in past performances at Stamford Bridge, if you take the game to Chelsea they can be vulnerable. The Blues probably delivered at most three decent balls into the box all afternoon but scored with one of them with two players who demand to be given a greater role in the side.

Osman, for all his service, must now be phased out in favour of Ross Barkley. Wrapping the youngster in cotton wool to such an extent that he doesn't play at all after his error at Blackburn is doing neither the lad himself nor the team that needs him any favours. If he were old enough, he should be in the side full time based on what he has shown so far this season ? in a nutshell, a good deal more power, pace and muscle than Osman ? but he obviously needs to be brought in slowly.

Coleman, as much as I love his enthusiasm, also needs a break and Drenthe has surely earned a start based on his unpredictability and pace alone. This is as one-paced an Everton side as I can remember and it makes them awfully dull to watch.

Given that almost every time Vellios has taken to the field he has either made something happen or threatened to, he needs to be brought off the bench a lot earlier than the 80th minute. And it probably wouldn't hurt to see if John Heitinga can bring more positional sense and consistency to a central defensive partnership with Sylvain Distin than Jagielka can because Jags' form is poor and getting worse right now under stern examination by the league's best strike forces.

The change has to come from Moyes, though. As long as he feels it's more useful to throw on a 33 year-old defensive midfielder at 3-0 down than to at least have a go with another striker or while he's chasing the likes James McFadden when he has better players sitting on the bench week in, week out, you sense we're doomed to much more frustration as the season progresses.

Player Ratings: Howard 6, Hibbert 5, Jagielka 5, Distin 6, Baines 6, Coleman 5 (Drenthe 6), Rodwell 6, Fellaini 6, Osman 5, Cahill 7 (Neville 5), Saha 7 (Vellios 7) 

Reader Comments

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Paul Gladwell
1   Posted 17/10/2011 at 07:45:46

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Leon Osman has been less and less effective each week, well I wonder why? The lad was in the form of his life for the last two or three months of last season when played in a role that suits him; now he is getting it from the boo boys again, he is not a wide player and we have all known this for years.

It's about time too Cahill was dropped as he is offering nothing, how many chances have we created in the last three games?

Moyes is just so negative, his "keep it tight and try and nick one from a set piece" is old hat and never works; you are better going out like Blackpool did last year as you will at least grab a win one day. Playing it Davey's way is embarrassing to watch... we defend so deep, it shows what our aims are before a ball has even been kicked.

And I am sick to death of him whining about money; if you don't like it, fuck off somewhere else. You are forever bleating about your chairman, how good he is, then in the next breath moaning about being skint.
Steve Turner
2   Posted 17/10/2011 at 08:12:46

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A good article that needs to be ammended with the comments of *1 Paul Gladwell above and the fact that I disagree with the Coleman negativity.

We might as well cut and paste our comments each week ? same old, same old (actually I may do that), because we are just regurgitating the same comments to DM's same tactice.

We obviously have a few massive problems, some new this year though. My first beef is Jags; since the end of last year and inclusive of pre-season games, he is absolute shite and I blame him as a big part of the last 3 losses at least ? so yes, JH in until he gets back in shape. (I just wonder ho all the transfer talk affected him ?)

Lack of money, no new signings ? fuck waffling about that, we have all heard it before, but you would think after all these years about moaning about lack of strike power, we would learn!

DM in general ? Okay, sorry, but I am still backing him, but as most getting frustrated about negativity. Bring on the young guys ? try them out, fuck it if we loose ? we are loosing now. The fans WILL get behind the team, BECAUSE we are trying (they certainly will), their confidence grows and you never actually know, maybe it just throws the other teams, good and bad (if there are any bad ones now).

As Lyndon infers, we are too bloody predictable ? remember, before the matches, the other teams do do their homework.

The season is long. IMWT (but he better become more positive).

Oh yes, sell Cahill, Jags, Fellaini and Saha ? bring Faddy in, as squad player (remember doesnt matter how good a striker is, he can have bad days or his play is too easy for opposition ? need variety), give all the nippers a chance.

Write this season off but don't get relagated and if it comes good, it's a bonus.

Oh yeh, sell Rodwell, I think he's shit.
Kevin Tully
3   Posted 17/10/2011 at 10:36:16

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At the moment, Everton remind me of Audley Harrison.

He went into the ring against Haye, and never threw a single punch.

It's not the fact we are getting beat at the likes of Chelsea, it is the manner of those defeats that make me want to pack it all in.

It will be interesting to see how Norwich line up at Anfield next week. Will the newly promoted club play without any forwards?

Moyes has always been ultra-cautious, he has always looked for forty points before our football has improved. Add to this mix no new players and fans will be leaving in their droves.
Stephen Kenny
4   Posted 17/10/2011 at 11:48:21

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The ridiculous thing is Vellios is now our top scorer!

Drenthe has the best stats of all our midfielders.

And the man who's been wearing the captain's armband can't defend for Toffee while a World Cup Finalist CB sits on the bench!!!

If he want's to moan about money then stop bigging your mate up as the best chairman in the league. Say it like it is or do one, I'd be happy with either!!!

I want a manager who's proud to manage our club and can instill a bit of positivity in me and the players, instead of misery guts who forever putting the club or the players down.

He's Gary Megson with an eye for a player!
Tom Owen
5   Posted 17/10/2011 at 12:16:38

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Sadly Jagielka has become a liability for Everton. Jags for me was one of the best defenders in the league 'that season'. He's struggled to find his form since the injury. I think the best solution is to drop him from the team for a short period.

It is easy to get on Osman's back when things aren't going so well. Again, he is a player that is going through a period of poor form. I disagree with the criticism that he gets. For me, Leon is a central midfielder and not a wide-man. He gets ousted out on the wing and doesn't have a great impact on a game out-wide.

But then again you ask the question, who else did we have to play on the left? Moyes has been correct in leaving Drenthe on the bench, as you can tell he was unfit when he came, and needed bringing in slowly. I think we will start to see Drenthe starting games on the left now though.

The derby game you couldn't blame Moyes or the players. We were unlucky that day. However, the City and Chelsea games have been nothing but a disgrace.
Dick Fearon
6   Posted 17/10/2011 at 12:33:47

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Paul # 1, Seeing as you are an admirer of Osman, I put to you this long standing challenge: Name a slower Premier League midfielder, or one with a weaker shot, or one who gets nudged off the ball as easily, or one who is as piss-weak in the tackle.

Go on, Paul, be the first to take up my challenge; you have a whole division of midfielders to choose from ? let's have a few names.

I'll give Osman one thing, he does have dainty footwork, the problem is that daintiness is more suited to Ballet.
Anthony Newell
7   Posted 17/10/2011 at 13:21:05

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Or Come Dancing!

The sight of Moyes actually makes me angry now. His overall approach and hang-dog attitude goes down like a pan of cold sick.

Do us all a favour and fuck off. We maybe paupers but we still have pride.
Ray Robinson
8   Posted 17/10/2011 at 13:17:48

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To my mind, the Neville substitution was similar to the infamous Hibbert substitution against Spurs some seasons ago and encapsulates why, despite my having the utmost respect for what Moyes has done for us, I consider it time for him to adjust his mindset ? or go.
Andrew Laird
9   Posted 17/10/2011 at 13:31:28

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As much as Paul #1 has a point about Osman not being a wide player, Dick #6 has set out a formidable challenge! Does Jose Baxter count??
Kevy Quinn
10   Posted 17/10/2011 at 13:53:03

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That Chelsea game was the first time I've never sat through and watched the end of an Everton game.

I was heading out to watch the boxing after it and it was depressing me, so I went for a shower during the second half. From now on, I think I'm just gonna check the final score.

Our games are so boring and the team line-up and pattern of play is predictable. Also Moyes's comments after games about teams being better are pissing me off. He is beaten before the game starts.
Paul Holden
11   Posted 17/10/2011 at 14:29:08

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Reading between the lines, when we play the "big" clubs, we are there just to make up the numbers. No chance of winning, so park the bus as they're better than us. Go a goal or two down and it's game over.

Then you look at Newcastle and Spurs, who go all out to win, entertain the fans, shit or bust. When was the last time the Blues went out to entertain the fans?

Three shots at goal per match would do, or maybe a cross from the byline with a centre-forward steaming in. Maybe a defence-splitting pass once a game, or am I asking too much?
Paul Holden
12   Posted 17/10/2011 at 14:34:06

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And it's obvious Jags is thinking about January's transfer window ? same body language as Lescott in the dying days.
Guy Wilkinson
13   Posted 17/10/2011 at 17:21:55

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Dick @ 6

Steven Pienaar - weaker shot - check

Charlie Adam - Slow as a milkmans horse - check

Paul Gladwell
14   Posted 17/10/2011 at 17:57:32

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Dick, you made a point last year of being obsessed with Osman and the lad was the main reason we kept away from a relegation dogfight and many match going blues agreed
Your shouts are right regarding shots etc but name a centre mid player at Everton who can score goals? give me him in the middle over Rodwell everytime, weak shot or not he has scored a few crackers in his time and he deserves to be played in the middle as the other two are doing sod all, he can make things happen and the other two dont.
Andy Crooks
15   Posted 17/10/2011 at 18:28:05

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Paul, I don't think he kept us from relegation. Still he is a decent central midfield player and a real Evertonian. Moyes is destroying him.
Michael Winstanley
16   Posted 17/10/2011 at 18:37:38

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Moyes won't change anything so forget getting your hopes up. I'm sure we'd all like to see Drenthe, Velios, Saha start each week. Cahill & Jags on the bench and Neville nowhere near the first team. But it ain't going to happen. Oh and there was that lad Barkley who showed some promise and Gueye who has a bit of pace and trickery...never going to happen.
I can see Baines & Fellaini and few others fucking off sooner rather than later and I'll include young Barkley in that and sadly I wouldn't blame him.
Chris Butler
17   Posted 17/10/2011 at 21:07:32

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I think Everton fans have lost patience with Moyes. Never have I read such negative but true comments on this site. In my opinion we can't get rid of him until the summer. The pundits on ESPN were defending him but I simply believe he's taken us a far as he can.

Everton fans have become sick of watching football played sideways. it's so bad even Liverpool fans feel sorry for us having to watch it. I'm sick of this cautious approach, yes sometimes it odesn't work but to play negative football every game is ridiculous.

Negative football against City and Chelsea away is 1 thing but at home against Wigan and QPR. I'm tired of Tim Cahill he's a good player and I accept he's scored some important goals througout his career at Everton, but he needs to be dropped. When we had Arteta and Pienaar he was decent as you knew crosses would come in for him to get on the end of, not anymore. He slows the play down and just gets in the way sometimes.

Fellaini is a great player but too often he's expected do everything in midfield. Jags is a nice guy and very decent individual but he and Distin just don't click. When we played Stoke away in 2010 Distin and Yobo seemed to really click they both had great games. Coleman is simply not good enough anymore to be in the first team, he seems to be tired and he deserves a rest.
Martin Mason
18   Posted 17/10/2011 at 22:46:30

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I've lost all confidence now even in Moyes. You have to play so that you have the potential to score goals. You can park the bus to try to get a draw where you know you can't win but if you pick sides like Moyes is this year then you can't get 40 points whatever you do.

Vellios and Drenthe, etc, give you the potential to score and win games and they must be given the opportunity to do so. Neville and Cahill give you no potential for anything.

I believe that we are now in very serious trouble, we've lost our best players, our marvellous youngsters aren't there yet (and might not make it) and we have a bunch of players who are nothing better than premiership survival material. However Fellaini is playing now he will be gone. I now believe that Moyes and Round are liabilities but whoever we get has zero chance as we have a weak squad and no money for rebuilding. How does that awful song go now? We'll support you ever more - - - - - - .
Eugene Ruane
19   Posted 18/10/2011 at 09:11:23

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Anthony Newell (7) - you say..

"The sight of Moyes actually makes me angry now. His overall approach and hang-dog attitude goes down like a pan of cold sick. Do us all a favour and fuck off. We maybe paupers but we still have pride".

This sums up PERFECTLY how I feel right now.
Michael Evans
20   Posted 18/10/2011 at 09:21:05

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Anthony Newell@7 "... but we still have pride"

Well said, Anthony, and I agree totally with Eugene's sentiments

Jon Cox
21   Posted 18/10/2011 at 18:09:28

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It almost feels like Moyes is trying to assemble a new team and he's working out who plays best in certain positions. It's like that cliche, a team in "transition".

I'm not trying to defend him because so far this season he's been a wanker.

I'm just trying to work out why he's doing what he's doing. Neville out for such a long time. Caution when playing Barkley and the same with Vellios Drenthe and gueye.

Add the arrival of Fadds as a midfield playmaker or just behind Vellios then if looked at in a certain way it would look good in respect of Moyes as a manager working out a transition.

Guys, I may be wrong but I just wanted to throw open the hypothesis and see what everyone else thinks. Or, if you enjoyed the film "Knowing" 33......

Of course I could be wrong and Moyes is a useless, dour, uncompromising, non communicating, zero motivational, negative, boring, glass half empty, moaning pile of crap!

Richard Dodd
22   Posted 19/10/2011 at 08:54:12

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Is the real problem not with the tactics but with the fact that our established players have forgotten how to defend and the new ones don`t know how?

By Christmas, the training drills will be perfected and normality (a tight ship) restored.
Terry McLavey
23   Posted 19/10/2011 at 13:36:46

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I genuinely think we are contenders for relegation this season, even the most average teams have developed while we have been treading water! Even the most staunch Moyes supporters can't now believe he is good for the club; he is a good Championship manager and, if we're not careful, he'll be one again WITH US!

Also, the chances of him being sacked, should this happen, are pretty remote as I think the the "old boy" network is alive and well at Goodison, which could be another reason for lack of a buyer!

Our football is Sunday League (apologies to anyone who plays sunday league but you know what I mean!) and is embarrassing to watch. I abandoned the Chelsea game after the second goal and went to watch television; I won't allow myself to be subjected to panic performances by a team I love because the manager doesn't have a clue how to win a competitive game... where's Martin O'Neill when you need him?!!
Henry Jones
24   Posted 21/10/2011 at 13:54:48

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Brilliant report. Says exactly what I saw and feel. Moyes is boring and negative. I am bored and fed up having to pay money to watch dross. I watched Norwich City (and Blackpool last season) the other day and was entertained. This is a poor.

Please play youngsters and lets have some entertainment.

I predict Norwich will beat us. Perhaps both home and away this season.

Does anyone else think that leaving Barkley out after his mistake will make that mistake sit on his mind? Surley he should be played to allow him to show that was a one off?
Mick Gallagher
25   Posted 21/10/2011 at 14:16:13

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Richard #22 ? are you serious? Wait till christmas?!? For fuck's sake, the season starts in AUGUST every fucking year ? unless I've missed something.

"Training drill perfected" ? I thought you did all that in pre-season... or are trips to the States just for fun and a bronzy.

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