Norwich City squander another shot at the high life

Norwich City squandered the chance for Premier League progress against Fulham on Boxing Day. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd Norwich City squandered the chance for Premier League progress against Fulham on Boxing Day. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Friday, December 27, 2013
7:30 AM

This was Norwich City’s most dispiriting Premier League defeat of the season.

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"A struggling Fulham, shorn of their best players through injury and a new, inexperienced manager at the helm, marked virgin territory in Norwich’s unerring ability to squander the initiative"

Paddy Davitt

Hammerings against the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool can always be legitimised by the financial disparities that exist within the pecking order amongst the elite. Aston Villa at Carrow Road earlier this season, with all the Machiavellian sub-plots that accompany a reunion with Paul Lambert and his familiar backroom team, was at least notable for a genuine commitment to attack. Even Hull City on the road, and Norwich’s inability to overcome a newly-promoted club despite a numerical advantage for an hour on Humberside, looks less of a missed opportunity with each passing week the Tigers’ underline their competitive credentials.

But a struggling Fulham, shorn of their best players through injury and a new, inexperienced manager at the helm, marked virgin territory in Norwich’s unerring ability to squander the initiative. City were even given the benefit of a fortuitous opener to set them on their way to another positive uplift when Gary Hooper’s deflected strike spiralled up and over David Stockdale. Fulham’s stand-in keeper and his fragile visiting defence looked vulnerable to each fresh home incursion during the early sparring.

Stockdale and Aaron Hughes dallied long enough for Johan Elmander to gather and cut-back for Robert Snodgrass, but the blunt incision allowed Hughes to intercept. Stockdale and Sascha Riether then contrived to turn an intended clearance into an assist for Hooper’s second of the afternoon. but the prolific frontman attempted an ambitious clip with the outside of his right foot that spiralled wide with Stockdale stranded.

Even in the competitive landscape of the Premier League this seemed a ridiculously routine afternoon that would end with Hughton’s squad ensconced in the top half of the table approaching the half-way point. What transpired was more frustration for a home support who had read this script already against Villa, Cardiff and arguably the opening period against West Ham.

Norwich must earn the right to accumulate points in the Premier League - Hughton knows that better than most - but there is something particularly galling in watching opponents leave Carrow Road with a helping hand in their endeavours.

Scott Parker’s urgings shook Fulham out of their early lethargy and Norwich out of the comfort zone. Hughton spoke afterwards about stalled momentum and it was painfully evident within one 90 minute outing. Patjim Kasami emerged as the creative counter-point to Parker’s manual toil. Steven Whittaker’s miscued clearance was dragged the wrong side of John Ruddy’s far post. The Swiss international then crafted an inviting cross that Damien Duff wasted. Ruddy’s intended punt slammed against the upper body of Parker and the assistant referee intervened to correctly halt Fulham goal celebrations for a clear handball, but it was no surprise when the Cottagers’ did level. Nor was it was a revelation Kasami was the source, although the disintegrating Norwich wall which allowed his free kick safe passage will irk the meticulous Hughton.

City tried to raise the tempo before the interval but Nathan Redmond’s pointed display of frustration towards his team mates was in itself revealing. Norwich had let Fulham back into a contest that was there for the taking in the opening quarter and everyone inside the ground knew it.

Leroy Fer thundered forward after the interval with two close range headers that required timely interventions from Riether and Stockdale. Elmander was convinced he should have had a penalty for an apparent shove, but these were slim rations from the home side following the resumption.

Adel Taarabt slid a shot straight at Ruddy after Michael Turner was unable to anticipate the trajectory of Kieran Richardson’s flighted pass. Sebastien Bassong threw himself in front of Sidwell’s attempted strike with Fulham sensing a late winner. Even second half subsitute Wes Hoolahan was required to man the barricades, in conjunction with Ruddy, to thwart Hugo Rodallega.

It was frantic stuff from a home side who looked ill at ease.There was little of the cohesive defensive resistance displayed on Wearside just before Christmas; this was just desperate individual acts of interventionism.

Parker and the Fulham midfield looked far more energetic that their direct opponents, who appeared physically off the pace and naïve in the decisive moments. Parker was fortunate to escape punishment for a scything challenge through Ricky van Wolfswinkel, which appeared no less brutal than Wes Brown’s red card offence at the Stadium of Light, but there was little doubting his willing appetite for the battle.

Parker’s match-winner revived memories of Ross Barkley’s hammer strike for Everton in these parts on the opening day of the campaign. Ruddy may have had to dive despairingly to his right instead of his left on this occasion, but there was almost a fatalistic sense of the inevitable when the ball left Parker’s foot. City’s efforts in the intervening period since Barkley’s show-stopper have been fitful and sporadic. That is a depressing cycle that must end.

53 comments

  • Well, yes, we know that PL is not good in THAT job, but it doesnt follow that he wouldnt be good in another job. PL and AV don't fit. CH and NC don't fit. If the cap doesnt fit don't wear it.

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    Cecil

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Too many players looked as though they had just finished their Christmas party yesterday and simply could not be bothered to play. I presume they all get appearance money, hence they reluctantly put on the shirts. The board did not bother to replace the management team when were were getting stuffed earlier in the season so I see nothing changing now. A good captain figure on the park might help but their is nobody there with the Scott Parker influence I am afraid. He made Fer look very poor yesterday.

    Report this comment

    TrevorKeith

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Trevor, I completely agree, we don't have a captain on the park putting fire in the belly's of his teammates! That and the fact that Hughton is not a manager but merely a coach (and looking at the distinct lack of desire and basic footballing skills amongst the team "Coach" is a bit of a stretch!) who has been devoid of tactics since the day he set foot at the club. I have been a long time advocate of the board at City and if they feel another run in the Championship is what they want then I will swallow it and sing as loud as I always have....

    Report this comment

    Yeller feller

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • If City are to get players in in the January window the manager has to go now as he has done nothing to improve the team up till now. Althought I think the board have probably left it too late to get another manager in in time to buy fresh players.

    Report this comment

    goldie

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • La Barbe was just about to write the same comment. A change is needed to someone tougher and who does not accept poor and mediocrity because the opposition was a good team.

    Report this comment

    MichiganCanary

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • "You don't get much for £28m", quite right Liz. Bet it would be enough to buy your club twice over. Then again that wouldn't be much would it?

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • At half time Hughton should have put all three subs on in one go, anything to buck up the teams poor performance, might as well lose 5 - 0 as go under without a wimper.

    Report this comment

    goldie

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • No good sacking Hughton now, you will only get managers that have already been sacked. Some of the players need accounting for

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    Derek McDonald

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • So we want a manager of a team thats got two points less than we have.... Strange. I like Malky as he had a bad deal here, but sorry NO.

    Report this comment

    sharky

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • If the players are good players but not playing well, it's the manager's fault. If the players are poor players and the manager bought them, it's the manager's fault. Theres no way out for CH. Except I hope through the exit door.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Why is it always' the inept performances of the management team'? Are Norwich's players technically perfect androids that we simply need to give to the right programmer a couple of hours before the match. I read the same criticisms here week after week. 'We should be going for it playing two strikers'. That's what we had yesterday. 'We need Wes.' Wes got his chance but no magic happened. For his part Hughton set up everything right to attack with the best lineup that could be mustered. When things weren't going right he made the substitutions to pep things up to no avail. Beyond the substitutions he made, the injury list is so big there were hardly any options to consider. The fact is the team started off well, scored, sat back and tried to be too clever, buggered up, let Fulham in and lost it. I'm starting to feel we're this seasons QPR.

    Report this comment

    LittleYellowBirdie

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Disagree with you ET! The manager IS to blame if the team is underperforming. It's his job to get them to perform.

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    Cecil

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Headless chickens on and off the pitch yesterday. 90 per cent of the Barclay knew it but not Board or Management. Get Hughton out now. Ps hard luck Malky but I don't think they're smart enough to offer you this gig.

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    el dingo

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • At the end of last season, even the most ardent Hughton lovers were saying give him until Christmas. We saw Hughton's Christmas present to us yesterday. The last five months have been as bad as some of us expected. No more benefit of the doubt? No now the board have a problem. Let Hughton buy more players and risk failure? Get a new manager who may want to spend more than Hughton and still fail? How about the old favourite, the ditherers' solution ie stick with the devils you know but don't let them spend any money. Then if we get relegated it is Hughton's fault not the board's. Criticism for doing nothing is always less harsh and easier defended than being criticised for doing the wrong thing.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • I think January may be a blessing for us... I don't really like Hughton but I think it's a case of like it or lump it for now, and the patience will thin out if there is no development after January. However I do think there will be investment, and it seems clear where the investment needs to be... Right back for me is an extremely weak point, as well as holding midfield, and it could boil down simply to money... Martin and Whitaker have a combined price of 100k, and Johnson and Tettey have a combined price of 600k. In those areas we do look weak, given Snodgrass' lack of pace I think he needs a nippy full back outside of him, and it is clear that with Johnson and Tettey there is not much quality, especially with distribution, and it's important to have good cover if Fer or Howson aren't available. Improve those two areas and we may see more continuity in our play.

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    Willem

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • LY Birdie, youve been far more patient than most of us, but your last comment says it all, Great squad on paper, useless in reality. Only 1 person to blame for that dont you think ?. We havent played well for ages and get a few odd wins but its just not getting better, the players are like strangers at times, frustrating to watch.

    Report this comment

    Jimhow

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Melvyn Parkerson, you could ask exactly the same question regarding money of the players themselves. It's not a factor.

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • No good just blaming the manager guys. This was a team non-effort of the highest quality. Once in the final third we always seem to want to force it. Sloppy. Careless. Without the ball you cannot win. Simple. Why treat it like the enemy when in the most important part of the pitch. Crazy as it sounds, we just did not seem to want to win. When Elmander created something out of nothing down the right, I did not see one player busting a gut to get in the box. Result. Another pathetic attempt that fell short of Snodgrass. Mr Hughton should show a clip of that challenge by Parker on the Wolf, that nearly snapped him in half. Hard, fair and from a man who epitomises what the game is about. He wants it desperately...and shows it.

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    Erpingham Tractor

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Quite so lingo dingo.

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • A very few of the braver players even had the temerity at full time to approach the fans claping their hands when they should have been bowing their heads in shame after such a poor days work.

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    goldie

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • They don't have the cojones Baldy Bill. We're Hughton till we die. Which we will. In May.

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Reading this morning's Telegraph it is apparent that Lambert is far closer to the trapdoor than CH. The first few lines read 'PL is on the brink of a crisis and facing growing mutiny from AV supporters after another chastening afternoon. The boos that accompanied a demoralised Lambert off the field are becoming the soundtrack of Villa's season.' Sounds like he has been an abject failure.

    Report this comment

    Steely Dan

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Pierre, I don't know why Lambert and AV are not working out. But look you hire someone to do a job, they don't do it well, they blame everyone else, you get rid of them. That is the way the world works, or ought to work. Apparently not at Carrow Road.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Bring Back Malky Was treated badly by Worthington when he moved him on after promotion , Always gave 100 % as a player for the club and now a proven manager would be a massive lift to have him as the boss.

    Report this comment

    Melvyn Parkerson

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Say not so Goldie. Dial 07999 999 999, and say 'Good morning, is that Mr Mackay?' Better still, make that 'Good evening'

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • It's difficult to keep finding ways of describing the inept performances of the team and the management team this season - suffice to say they were awful once again - and still no tangible excuse or apology by Hughton. For goodness sake the board need to act now before Hughton gets more money in his hands. He must be sacked right now.

    Report this comment

    VictorM

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • yesterday was down to the players; they owe us a 'blood & guts' game tomorrow

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    A Fan

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • I'm a little unsure about Malky too. Could be a case of frying-pan-to-fire.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • One-sided argument? How many sides should an argument have, Sharky? Either my argument is right or it's wrong. It's right.

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    Cecil

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Agree with you Erpingham Tractor

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    Kriza

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Ok Cecil so its ok to make excuses for PL but no one else. Bit one sided argument, dont you think.

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    sharky

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • With the transfer window almost upon us,one would assume that CH and his team have new players on their radar. Accordingly, the powers that be will probably not be considering giving the incumbent the big 'e', as these new, sk illful and vibrant players will be able to save us from the impending doom. In other words, if a new man \ woman came in now, it would be too late for him \ her to dabble in the transfer market and would, therefore, have to work with what he \ she has already got. Hope Powell for NC manager, or is that manageress.

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Everyone walking out with me yesterday was saying the same thing "when will the board listen or see, and sack Hughton and company". Dont tell me that the majority of the fans want to spend their hard earned cash to go and watch this rubbish week in and week out.

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    Jim

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • If the team management are not responsible for these inept performances what the hell are they paid massive amounts of money for .

    Report this comment

    Melvyn Parkerson

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • I see that Malky Mackay has just become available. Sign him up now!!

    Report this comment

    la barbe

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Some good objective comments here. City lack leadership and organisation at the back. A few players would rather have been celebrating Christmas than playing. The results on Boxing Day were incredible. Both Manchester clubs had fortune on their side and bottom three had a good day. Table far too tight now. City in the middle of half a division of strugglers. The Canaries were complacent after the 10 match unbeaten run last season. The Fulham result is a wake up call.

    Report this comment

    Capri

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • With the transfer window almost upon us,one would assume that CH and his team have new players on their radar. Accordingly, the powers that be will probably not be considering giving the incumbent the big 'e', as these new, skillful and vibrant players will be able to save us from the impending doom. In other words, if a new man \ woman came in now, it would be too late for him \ her to dabble in the transfer market and would, therefore, have to work with what he \ she has already got. Hope Powell for NC manager, or is that manageress.

    Report this comment

    Lobbo

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • It's difficult to keep finding ways of describing the inept performances of the team and the management team this season - suffice to say they were awful once again - and still no tangible excuse or apology by Hughton. For goodness sake the board need to act now before Hughton gets more money in his hands. He must be sacked right now.

    Report this comment

    VictorM

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Cardiff have sacked Malkey, how long before fans start calling for him

    Report this comment

    Derek McDonald

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • This was a serious failure by City. Six points lost. At home. Even Paddy's intimating Hughton should go.

    Report this comment

    Cecil

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Ironic but no co-incidence that the three clubs who sacked their managers had good wins yesterday. Sunderland looked really energised, full of running and commitment and took full advantage of their man over. Palace were also worth their win - great goal. Meanwhile at Carrow Road....the same old, same old, rubbish. We are now at the tipping point, or even past it. Surely the Board cannot let this drag on because as sure as night follows day we are heading for relegation under Hughton. No leadership on or off the pitch. The players practice all week. Doing what? Can't say it shows when Saturday comes. They look disorganised and the midfield - which is the engineroom of a team - has gone AWOL. Which puts the defence under constant pressure and also fails to deliver to the front men. As for the wall at the free kick - what is the point of having one if it dissolves as soon as the ball is kicked?! It was sheer schoolboy stuff, now what you would expect and demand from a team of full-time professionals. We have spent nigh on £30m this season but got nothing back on our investment. In fact we are worse than last season because the one thing we were half good at - defending - has now also gone. It is just embarrassing.

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    malaga flier

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Are our players coached as to what to do and are NOT doing it, or are they Not coached as to what to do?

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    Lobbo

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • There was nothing inept about the management yesterday. The ineptitude was rooted firmly on the pitch. Ricky couldn't realistically start having only just come back from injury. Our midfield is hopelessly weak and the defence is buckling under the added pressure. All this reinforced by complacency and sloppiness, probably inspired by Fulham's position in the table. No mention of the 'magic bullet' that is Hoolahan, that Hughton is criticised for not starting week after week, coming on to no avail I note. Hooper and Elmander were the two players on there with the most to offer in my opinion, sadly let down by the quality behind them.

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • For me the major problem is that Mr Hughton is not a Manager, he is a coach. It should be abundantly obvious to anyone Watching the game against Fulham that he has completely and utterly run out of ideas (or space on the back of his fag packet) and is now employing the hoof the ball over the top and hope for the best tactics. Very poor football, how anyone can endorse the current tactics and Management team at the club is beyond me. Another thing that grinds on my nerves is the lack of a decent captain, has anyone seen Bassong actually rally the troops on the pitch? We lack fire in the belly which we need in abundance to make up for the shortfall in skill on the field.

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    Yeller feller

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • I am brassed off watching this rubbish week after week!. Do we have a manager on site or does he just turn up for the matches. If it's not right at the top, it's no good blaming those further down the chain! We have NO system of play! Each player seems to be an individual, and if it wasn't for wearing a similar coloured shirt, I feel sure they wouldn't have a clue who their team mates were! There is NO interplay between them, and our only attacking ploy appears to be a long ball over the top and trust in HOPE! We should therefore consider playing Hooper, Elmander, van Winkle , and Benchio in a 6-4 line up. Yep! 6 at the back, and a long ball over the top to 4 up front.

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    Pa Snipps

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Seriously, I'm starting to draw comparisons to us and QPR last season. Great squad on paper, hopeless in reality.

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    LittleYellowBirdie

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Cecil (and others); if failure is always down to the manager, what is the explanation that Lambert (meteoric 3 years at Norwich) has spent more at AV than CH since Summer 2012 but has amassed marginally fewer points and secured only a marginally better goal difference in a long period now covering approaching 60 games? Many AV fans are sure they are going down. They keep losing and they keep failing to score. Many of them them want to send him back.

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    Pierre

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay, Malky Mackay................

    Report this comment

    green tiger

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Always gets me that sk ill \ sk illful word. The archant machine blocks k ill don't you know.

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    Lobbo

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • LYB, Despite the fact that I have more tha once stated Hoolahan should have been introduced during the last couple of games before this, it is not as a right winger. I know he has his limitations as he cannot tackle and takes all free kick too quickly, but surely he should have been played wither as a left winger yesterday or behing the front two in the hole. Given that Redmond cannot really deliver from the left but shows great prospect when on the right, why persist with wrong sided wingers that clearly do not deliver results. I would have taken Redmond off previous games then play a three man midfield of Fer, Johnson & Snodgrass so that Wes could play in the hole to supply the pair of strikers. CH does not seem to be able to read the game in progress and certainly makes too many bland substitutions, if results go against us tomorrow we may well be back in the bottom 3 and I fear we will not get out of it this time around. I would love to be positive but that has been beaten out of me with successive poor home performances.

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    TrevorKeith

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Its true that the Lambert recipe appears to have been overcooked, and just because it worked in the fine city of Norwich, doesn't mean to say it will go down well in the flea pits of Birmingham, but Sharky, while accepting the point that Mackay's point tally may be suspect, he has achieved this in the face of what Pierre might refer to as opposition from un psychopathe extraordinaire. Its amazing they've done as well as they have. The key question is, is it worth the gamble, and I have to say, it looks by far the best option, if such option does exist. I have to say, that if we stick rather than twist, I do worry that we'll get our fingers burnt. Just about got away with it last season. Add to that that the man is valued very highly by almost everyone at Norwich,, and you have the sense that moral, mood and points total might just lift

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    Bill Punton's bald patch

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • ... in short," Premier Legaue , yer 'avin a laugh"! You dont get much for £28m these days it seems .

    Report this comment

    Liz Knott

    Friday, December 27, 2013

  • Whatever line of work you are in, most of us want to be successful, both personally and as a group. To that end most of us work hard and try to bring about that career success. There is nothing more demotivating that feeling that you are prevented from achieving success by inept management. Look at the "Trio Of Idiots" from the players point of view. Most of the players will be used to the ups and downs of football but I doubt if any has experienced the lack of managerial ambition and confidence currently on show at The Carra. None of the three has any great reputation as a player or in management and I am sad to say that being a nice bloke is no substitute for being a good manager. In fact it may well be what is preventing Hughton from being successful. He can't be enjoying it and m,ust at some time run out of stupid things to say to the press. Time for him to retrain as a librarian, I'm afraid.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Saturday, December 28, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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