Cellino’s Guilt: The Reason for Leeds’ Late Stumble Can Be Found in the Accounts – by Rob Atkinson


cellino no

Cellino – we still need him gone

The basic reason that Leeds United, from a position of apparent strength within the play-off zone, tonight find themselves outside those play-offs, can be summed up in six simple words. The squad is not good enough. Elements of a successful force can be found within that squad. Certain players would be a shoe-in for just about any other side in the Championship. That’s as far as it goes on the positive side. 

But the whole is lacking; there are massive gaps in the first eleven picture and the shadow squad lacks any real strength in depth. There is little by way of a creative, guileful alternative to Pablo Hernandez, little by way of attacking support for the reliably prolific Chris Wood, little consistency out wide despite forays into the loan market – and the centre-half berths may yet be our undoing, in or out of the play-offs. That our major shining star other than Wood lately has been over-worked keeper Rob Green, tells its own depressing tale. Set against various other squads in the league, including those of clubs currently below us, our “group” is just not adequate. It’s not fit for purpose, if that purpose really was promotion. It can’t be. Other clubs have invested as proper clubs at this level ought. We haven’t.

And it’s no mere assertion that the squad is not good enough; it is simply a glaring fact. If we do scrape into the play-offs, there is not one potential opponent I’d be confident of us seeing off over two legs. It would perhaps be best if we stayed outside – do we really need more end of season knockout heartbreak? The fact is that we’ve tried to fulfill the former outright owner’s foolhardy pledge to make the play-offs on the cheap – and it’s beginning to look very much as though we’re doomed to fail.

You don’t have to look too far into the finances, and you don’t have to be an accountant, to see the reasons behind the inadequacy of the squad and the pending failure of our season-long quest for the play-offs. Ironically, the most telling fact to be gleaned from the recently released financial information is that Leeds United has devoted the lowest amount, as a proportion of turnover, on player-related expenditure – in the whole league. That was hailed in certain quarters as a model of prudence and good business; another point of view might well include the words “you have to speculate to accumulate”. 

While money has been frittered away on ego projects and the expensive pursuit of satisfaction in the courts, not enough has been invested, for a club of Leeds United’s size, to propel it to a higher level via achievements on the field. Clubs with smaller budgets, smaller crowds but seemingly bigger ambitions have out-played us on the field and out-performed us over the season. The abilities of Garry Monk and his staff, together with the few diamonds we do possess on the playing strength, have enabled the squad as a whole to over-achieve notably through much of the campaign. But you can’t fool all the people all the time, and United are now getting found out. 

One man is to blame for the way this season is likely to collapse, and that man is Massimo Cellino. It is devoutly to be hoped that this summer will see the end of his Elland Road tenure, with a fresh start possible and ambitions to match the fantastic support. At this particular juncture, following the brittle euphoria of nicking a point at Newcastle after being soundly thrashed for the majority of that game, and in the immediate aftermath of an appalling and depressing defeat at home to Wolves, this blogger would take a guarantee of a new beginning, under new 100% ownership, in next season’s Championship.

Personally, I don’t need the play-offs. They’ve been nothing but heartache in the past, and the kind of luck and breaks you need to go up via that route just doesn’t visit LS11. I’d be all for re-grouping, getting rid of the deadwood at the top of the tree, and having a real go at winning this league next season. Let’s get back to the Promised Land in a fit state to stay there, and in time for this great club’s Centenary. By that time, Cellino should be nothing more than a distant, unpleasant memory. We have the leader we need in the dugout, we just need him to be backed properly now. That will not happen while Cellino hangs around.

Those are the facts, as I see them. I’d be very surprised to be proved wrong about the prospects for the remainder of this season and, sadly, I don’t think I will be.

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50 responses to “Cellino’s Guilt: The Reason for Leeds’ Late Stumble Can Be Found in the Accounts – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I can’t do anything other than agree with all that you have written!

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  2. Much as I would like to disagree with you about the strength of the current squad, unfortunately you are absolutely spot on. Take nothing away from the side for all their effort this season but the squad is lacking in depth and that will always find a side out in the end.

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  3. Cellino is a tosser without equal.

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  4. mrbigwheels

    What to say?….. You’ve said it and there can be no dispute.

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  5. Mike Riley

    The lack of investment is plain to see and a sort of parody of how things are now – compared to 20 years ago, when a selected fan could win a Fiat at half time by scoring a goal through a little hole in front of the goal – is that the hapless fan of today tries to score a goal after getting dizzy running ten times around a football. The prize is a dozen pies!! I wonder if the club buy those in for abour 25p each – so the prize fund is just £3 !! And who actually wants 12 pies??!!
    There were almost a dozen (bar one) stodgy pies on the field today – huffing and puffing but achieveing nothing. A sad state of affairs – but yes – let’s do it properly next season.

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  6. Questions have to be asked about why Cellino did not invest in the team in January and why he advised new (half) owner, Andrea Radrizzani this was sound; given the potential Leeds was showing. Is there something more to the deal that Bates set up about repaying creditors if Leeds returns to the Prem before 2018? Or is Cellino such a cheapskate that he’d rather not have Leeds promoted for the sake of paying off less than £5M debts?

    Italian owners of English clubs, in general, seem like bad news. Massing Cellino is not much better than Leyton Orient owner Francesco Becchetti – should we be thankful for small mercies?

    Now that another year in the Championship seems likely, can we expect better stewardship of our club from Italian owner Radrizzani? Or, like Bates selling the club to GHF and GFH selling to Cellino, are we being handed from one crook to another?

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    • Can only hope not. I never believe in generalising on race or nationality grounds – Cellino is receipted and filed for the fraud and crook he is. But Radrizanni should be given a fair go.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. absolutely 100% correct though I’m hoping we make it with luck.I warned in December that unless we added at least 5 new quality faces we would struggle to make top 6. we got two wingers on loan,and they came in in the last hours of the transfer window and did not feature till almost march,while Barrow isn’t even being used. Cellino told Radrizzani there was no need to buy any players in January
    But,in reality,they needed to spend roughly 10 Million on at least 2 quality Creative midfielders who would add goals from midfield,plus,another strong Centre-back and a strong holding Midfielder. and perhaps a better winger than what we have at the moment. we did not see any goal scoring midfielders coming through the door and no extra striker.
    thank you Rob for your true assessment of the reality of what the problem is at Leeds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Monk repeatedly stated that he was reluctant to risk disrupting the squad by signing much fresh blood. Evidently he believed that the existing squad was good enough to achieve the play offs. So did I and still do. We have been relatively lucky with injuries (Charlie Taylor excepting) and suspensions. So far as we know Monk’s only dissatisfaction was with the length of time it took to sign the two wingers.

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      • I can’t help thinking that’s slightly naive. Any manager sees part of their role as a PR mouthpiece to sweeten bad news from club to fanbase. Monk in my view was waxing diplomatic, and I honestly believe his dissatisfaction went further than you seem to think.

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  8. Real leeds

    At the beginning of the season we would all have been pleased to be in this position,the main thing is that the club has grown this season and squad limitations will be addressed in the summer,put things into perspective,look at other clubs such as Derby etc who have been in our position year after year,spent heavily and still failed,that’s football.

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  9. Brilliant, succinct article Mr Atkinson.
    With an average squad Garry Monk has done a remarkable job this season, but I do fear for our future without enormous financial backing.
    Failure to gain promotion this year and the ownership still in complete limbo could herald a difficult summer with no guarantee Monk will stay.
    We know little of Radrizzani apart from a few meaningless tweets, but there has to be a plan and strategy moving forward that requires investment on and off the pitch.
    To me still too many questions remain for to allow any positive feeling for the future.
    What is certain that with Cellino still involved nothing good will forthcoming.

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  10. I disagree. Misplaced loyalty or indulgence to certain players and a certain weakness of mind are the reason why we have just dropped out of the play off zone. In addition searching for something better than the (‘merely”) good plays has played its part too. Taylor, Doukara and Sacko should all be starting games – they were fixtures in our successful pre-Xmas run. Instead we have played a ‘rookie’ on the left, bottled the Roofe/ Hernandez conundrum by playing the former out wide and not stuck to the better of the (admittedly imperfect) midfield combinations viz Vieria and Phillips. It gives me no pleasure to say that these are views I have held for some time. It dismays me to learn that fans who dislike or disapprove of Cellino are so ready to blame him when things are not running as smoothly as we would wish. It speaks of prejudice. We will make the play offs if the management sets aside preconceptions and draws the right conclusions from their experience of the actual games. Our first halves are poor because the selection was wrong: it is no coincidence that we have always looked brighter when Taylor, Sacko, Doukara and Roofecarecon the field together.

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  11. Michael Foley

    Spot on Rob as usual,feel Celino has got away with a lot of slack of late,he is most certainly the root of most of our problems.

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  12. David Dean

    Spot on once more Rob but I would love them to make the playoffs even though I agree that they will not go up. It will be heart ache but worth the risk of an outside chance of a miracle. I will be delighted for The Monk and the fans even if they don’t make Wembley. Rad will buy the club and the false messiah will be gone! Next season will be even better.

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  13. After Sprake, Reaney, Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Jones, Giles & Gray we only had Madeley & Bates…..that squad was wafer thin!!!

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  14. Scally Lad

    Rob, you’re spot on on all points but one: we ARE going to the playoffs this season. We are momentarily out of the playoff zone solely on goal difference to Fulham. Two of Fulham’s three remaining fixtures are to Huddersfield and the Wendies. They will survive neither. We will get into the playoffs thanks to the Wendies who will open that door to promotion for us by sending Fulham down. No one below us can catch us. No panic, Rob: we’re in.

    Liked by 1 person

    • But, if we’re in – then what? Humiliation and disappointment? I’ll be in Spain in June, looking forward to wearing the Shirt. Hopefully with justified pride.

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    • Fulham will beat a kanacjered huddersfield. Fulham are probably the third best team in the league player for player and will come good

      And Leeds would then need 4 points from 2 away games and a home match against Norwich – also a better side than seeds man for man.

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  15. The phrase speculate to accumulate is pertinent to United’s loosening grip on a play off place. There was an enormous clamour from fans and media alike for significant outlay and recruitment in January, most of which centred on the need for a back up striker to help or deputise for Chris Wood, and a solid and ideally experienced centre back to at least provide cover for the inevitable injuries, suspensions, or loss of form. Optimism was high that with such recruitment the club could really push on and maybe even finish in the top two.

    Sad to say, all we brought in were two more wingers. Garry Monk must have been tearing his hair out. It has been suggested more than once that Cellino told Radrizzani not to spend any money in January, but as ownership of the club is purportedly on a 50-50 basis surely Signor R could have done so anyway if he felt it appropriate. The fact he did not, perhaps does not bode well. Some will argue that the club were being prudent, others that we were going for promotion on the cheap and on the off chance of success, but as things stand tonight the latter approach hangs by a thread. Ok, we could win the final 3 games, and other teams’ results could go in our favour, but based on recent performances I could not honestly see the play offs bringing anything but heartbreak. Having to admit that hurts like hell, because for God’s sake we were 8 points clear of Fulham very recently, coasting towards the play offs, and now they have overtaken us.
    I agree with Rob that some squad members need to be moved out, and personally I would include in that Cooper, Grimes, Sacko, and Doukara. Others such as Dallas, Hernandez, Phillips, and Bridcutt need to perform more consistently if they are to stay.
    With the right players brought in for team strengthening, and with Garry Monk and his team at the helm, this club could achieve much next season but I fear it will be in the Championship, and possibly without Bartley and Jansson as Prem clubs apparently want them both.

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    • One reason why Fulham have caught us up is that a couple of the players you don’t rate haven’t been playing ….. And Dallas – really ?
      We have been good enough to stay in the top 6 for 26 games, so it seems illogical to attribute us dropping out now to inferior players. Today is better explained by misplaced loyalty to the ‘heroes’ of Newcastle and gratitude for services rendered: Managers do it all the time, it’s one way of keeping squads happy. We’ll be OK if the management gives us the best chance by starting with the more dangerous players in the squad – namely the ones that got us into contention, in the first place. I find it odd that our one truly Premiersip class player – Charlie Taylor – can’t make he starting-line up (Green excepted). Don’t you ?

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  16. “…Generalising on race and nationality grounds” FFS, Rob! I’d never do that. Birds of a feather stick together, as the saying goes. My point was that one crook Leeds owner sold to another. Cellino told Italian media that it is easy to make money in English football because of the lax rules. Cellino blocked other bids to take-over Leeds but accepted Radrizzani as co-owner. Radrizzani may be an OK guy but his association with Cellino invites questions about his integrity. Bear in mind that when Cellino bought Leeds from GHF we all rejoiced. And the pressing question about something toxic in the Bates’ administration deal that deters the Club from wanting promotion until 2018 can’t be avoided. Radrizzani has a hill of trust to climb; a hill built by Cellino, and the crooks from whom he bought the Club.

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    • No, I didn’t mean to imply you’d do that, merely that it’s dicey ground and open to misinterpretation. My apologies if I gave the wrong impression, I know you well enough through your contributions here not to believe that of you. For the rest, I honestly think Radrizzani can only be fairly judged when he’s had a spell in sole charge. The proof of the pudding, etc.

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  17. Sadly you are correct why didn’t we go for or at least approach Robbie kean a free agent old but can hit a barn door and at any level with all the rewards for going up it just doesn’t make any sense do other players practice shooting at goal? Because that’s badly lacking from this team

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  18. Summed up nicely Rob. Sadly it’s not to be and to be honest I didn’t believe it would. Transfer deadlines came and went and what did we get, nothing. True to form, no investment, no ambition from the board. How could they sit there and look at the faces and hear the roar of those supporters and do nothing. You say give Radrizzani a chance, what, just like every other owner we have seen in the last decade or more?. What we have achieved this season is far, far more than we would have given at the start. All credit to Monk, lousy pre season, weak and unfamiliar squad, no money. We peaked at the wrong time and now we look tired and jaded and past our sell by date. To get nine points from three games and still rely on our two rival to slip up is just too much to ask.
    We won’t succeed until we have owners with an empathy for what is Leeds, and a true empathy with those of us who live and breathe this club. It will come.

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    • But you’ve seen Reading and Wednesday – can you honestly say they have better players than us because I can’t. The team that started looked jaded but they’d had an exhausting game at Newcastle, so why not use the squad, which includes our second highest scorer, a class left sided player and a very fast and fit winger who puts defenders on the defensive ? Keep the faith !

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think they’re both currently better functional units than we are, and that both are likely to carry a better and more effective momentum into the lottery.

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  19. Mike Durham

    Spot on Rob…. I feel as flat as Southern beer tonight!
    It was always likely that we’d fall away at the business end of the season due to a criminal lack of investment in the transfer window but I genuinely felt that Charlie Taylor might have masked our obvious shortcomings as he has been the most effective “winger” in our team for some time now. Sadly, he seems to be playing well within himself since his return to the team and those marauding runs have been pretty non-existent. Next year it is then!

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  20. NickB(50yrsLU)

    Now my irrational fantasy-bubble has burst, I do worry about where we go from here. Taylor will follow Byram and co., but would Wood be prepared to wait around to see if Cellino goes, and does he believe Radrizzani’s attitude to player investment is any different ? Wood might not even have a say in the matter, because if a Premiership club offered £15M for him, his sale would be forced by either/both owner(s). I couldn’t believe it when only a couple of weeks ago one of the team boasted that this is the best squad since the Revie era. Talk about deluded ! There are two or three class acts, a gaggle of young players with potential but many rough edges, a vast majority of journeymen who Monk somehow managed to mould into quite a decent defensive unit, and a lone striker who’s had a phenomenal season, just as McCormack did a couple of years ago (ironic that Fulham might pip us to that sixth place !). When we’ve played any of the teams now above us, it’s been painfully apparent that we have no shape or balance, and the single tactic is to pack our defences and hope we catch them on the break. It’s all very well to say that in this league it’s about grinding out the results, but these other teams play attractive, meaningful football. The owners had the nerve today to announce the freezing of season ticket prices – the old blackmail trick ! If we don’t scrape into the play-offs, then would be the time to snap up top quality for a serious push next year; but Cellino will still have his veto, so no money will be spent, and we’ll almost certainly have an exodus of any decent players who want top flight now. Next season we could be back to the situation Warnock walked into. It’s not a bad thing to get back to reality, so thank you Garry Monk for your amazing man-management skills that have turned around the belief of Wood and Green to give us a rare memorable season, but it looks like normal service has resumed and that we are still weighed down by the curse of Bates, our proclaimed rescuer from oblivion ! (By the way, pleased I’ve found this site today – darned sight better than YEP, and the article-writer is way more literate and informed than Hay and the other hacks !)

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  21. Nail on head hit

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  22. You may be right but come the final whistle at the playoff final I hope you will eat your words! Nothing in life is guaranteed!!

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  23. There was no point spending money in January if the players that were available were no better than the existing squad. Players such as Barrow have come in, are costing money and not even making the bench. I believe that Monk was working hard behind the scenes to bring new players in but potential deals fell through. He therefore had to bring a couple of loan players in at the eleventh hour.

    To drop out of the play offs is disappointing, but how about a bit of optimism? Gary Monk has been in place for less than a season. We were in the top six for 142 days. Radrizzani looks likely to take control over the summer. All positives. We’re in a much better position to attract high calibre players who wouldn’t have come anywhere near the turmoil of Leeds a year ago.

    We’ve been over achieving for the past few months and have a decent chance of making the top six with three matches to play. If things don’t work out this season, a few strong signings over the summer and we’re in a great position to challenge next season.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Excellent article Rob and well summed up, but what is it about our team that has us pulling our hair out? they are almost schizophrenic in that we never know which Leeds United are going to turn up, how many games have we seen when they don’t seem to play until the the opposition have put one or two in the back of our net and then they decide to have a go? “OK lads all hands to the pump, this is getting serious now” too often, i get it that more money could have been spent on the squad or the same amount spent only wiser but it seems that our owner has has a habit of just spending the minimum amount of cash and relying on a couple of jewels coming through from the youth team every season to supplement a paper thin squad which is all well and good if we can keep them but what usually happens is we just turn into a feeder club for other clubs with inferior support but better and wiser owners, and whats more i’ll lay a £ to a pinch of sh!!!t that our illustrious owner is still with us next season in some capacity because why else would he consider leaving what is such a lucrative cash cow.

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  25. Let’s see what pans out at the end of the season pointless spreading doom n gloom now b4 the last 3 games give the team everyone our backing they want to get up too!

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  26. Late to the party but here’s my thought’s,, there’s a lot of twists and turns left in this season , leeds have a potential golden boot man in wood and a center half we’ve been craving for years in jannson , both are in the EPL team of the year , Green has been in form and so therefore it’s not rocket science to find the problem , midfield !!
    It’s so frustrating, which hernandez will turn up,, who is there to snuff out the opposition play makers like team snuff out hernandez?? Why sell mowatt and not replace him ? We are good enough for the playoffs rob , never thought we’d win it , but we have to build on this season , Brighton are the perfect example of building and building till finally it all pays off

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  27. Mind if I take a seat on the reality bus as well Rob? Incredulity stretched to breaking point after reading the “bit of optimism” contribution above. The term “a few strong signings in the summer (in January etc”) has become more prevalent around LS11 than a “Cellino let off by Italian court” report. We have certainly over achieved spectacularly this season, for which Monk deserves some credit – qualified by the fact that some of his team selections and tactics (esp at ER) leave me struggling to retain understanding.

    We played really well at Wednesday and we sparkled v Derby at Elland Road. In some other games we have done OK or earned a result. But in many matches I have been left wondering just how we managed 3 points or a draw. Newcastle springs to mind. Yes we showed spirit and commitment in defence – but as an offfensive unit we were once again notable only in our inability to pose any kind of threat or even to string a few passes together – whilst the wasteful Geordies managed 37 attempts at goal. The creativity is woeful. There is no back up to Wood – and we have overstretched our aspirations only on the back of a determined and well organised back four. That said, any kind of recognition of these obvious and glaring shortcomings in January and we could have sustained momentum – and been in with the same chance as the other runners in the Playoff Lottery Sweepstake. Wednesday have Forestieri, Hooper, etc and they still go for Rhodes. Town are a very impressive offensive unit and Fulham are, on their day, the best team in the division IMO. Conversely, I often watch Leeds and wonder just where a goal is likely to come from. Without CW we would have been holding on at the wrong end of the table.

    “The best team since Revie’s lot”? That kind of sentence sums up perfectly what is wrong with the attitude of some players – who clearly retain a false impression of their limited prowess. However, the real problem at the club remains the same as it has been for the last couple of years. Until he has sold up – or finally been convicted by the 50th tier of the unfathomable Italian Judicial system etc – we will remain a very average unit IMO. Agree with all you have written Rob. Jury still out on Cellino’s overly silent partner for me.

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  28. I for one am hoping we make the play offs,I’ve been living in hope all season. I tell everyone that Leeds don’t do play offs but theres a glimmer of hope I suppose. I thought a while ago that Fulham were the ones to watch and that was before they got into the top six. Theres just something better about the standard of players at our promotion rivals,superior technique and class. I was close up to the Leeds players warming up on Friday at Newcastle and noticed Liam bridcutt and why he’s so poor. He’s all muscle and that’s it,legs like tree trunks and very limited ability. Its no wonder Pontus has so many yellows as he has no one decent in front of him. As for Cellino, he’s brought in Garry Monk and that’s about it and like one of cellinos predecessors (The C–T Of Monte Carlo) when he brought in Grayson was eventually going to pick one winner after so many attempts. Now eff off Massimo.

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  29. Branching out to the Yorkshire post eh rob ?! Good on yer lad

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