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World Cup diary: Progress? What progress? England were witless

20 June 2014

9:23 AM

20 June 2014

9:23 AM

The pundits will be doing some quick revisionism. Far from ‘making progress’ if not being “quite the finished article” (© everyone), England has performed less well than they did in the last tournament in which we took part and when everyone agreed we were shite. In fact so far this has been England’s worst ever performance in a world cup.

Again – wasted set-pieces, defensive torpor and vulnerability and a complete absence of wit in attack. These are fairly serious flaws, to which you can add another woeful performance from the ubiquitous Stevie G. I think it is a delusion to suggest that progress has been made. I notice some commentators already sticking the boot into Roy Hodgson, albeit in a comparably gentle manner (because he’s a decent bloke). I find it hard to blame him – he doesn’t have the players. And increasingly, Raheem Sterling is looking like just another Winger of the Week.

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Show comments
  • dado_trunking

    Where’s my free daily fix of insightful reporting, Rod?
    England are pants, we all knew that after they failed to beat Honduras.
    Why is that stopping you from deliberating over Ghanaian dance rituals, bloody German foreheads and how our new mates from Iran nearly beat our worst enemy, Argentina?

  • Pier66

    trolling EVERYWHERE !!!

  • Sean L

    England have played worse and won. If some of their numerous chances had gone in, a matter of inches, the pundits would have been lauding their “performance”. Scoring goals is so much a matter of chance that the better team often lose. Thus Wigan, who were relegated, beat Manchester City who were champions. They also beat Manchester United. While both Uruguay and Italy both lost to Costa Rica.

    Journalists, who must start their copy while the game is still being played often have to alter the entire tenor of their match reports in the light of goals scored in the last few minutes. Thus an entirely contrasting bunch of cliches will be trotted out to report the same performance.

    Iran could easily have beaten Argentina. Spain, the champions, lost twice. Yet had one of their early chances gone in they’d probably have won by a large margin hitting their opponents, who’d be obliged to chase the game, on the counter- attack. Once a team reaches a certain level of competence, as all Premiership and World Cup finalists must have attained by definition, any team can beat any other on the day.

  • MikeF

    Joe Hart has delivered the most stunningly perspicacious analysis of why we are out of the World Cup. Who says footballers can’t think:
    ‘we’ve not scored enough goals and we’ve let too many in.’

    • Amanda

      Laugh!

    • Pier66

      Hart is one of the BEST keeper in the world!

  • sunnydayrider

    God Sir Alf had it easy. Write two Bobby’s and a Gordon on the team sheet and make up the numbers with any other eight who are handy. Any of which, by the way, would waltz into poor old Roy’s hapless mob.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Part of the problem may be that almost half the team isn’t even English.

    • DaveyT

      I agree. If they were all foreign we might actually win something!

  • DaveyT

    I think the reason the England football team always do so badly is because of the weight of expectation on them. Half the country is in a deep depression today because we lost a couple of football matches. I’m not sure what that says about us and our very fragile national pride and identity. Do we have nothing else to live for?
    The whole team plays like they are shitting their pants, and it’s been like that ever since I can remember. I’m sure if we all took the silly flags from our cars, gave Lineker and other assorted pundits 4 weeks off, and completely ignored them next time, they’d do much better!

    • Puss in High Wedgies

      At least they don’t get tortured for losing, as the Iraqi team did under Saddam. Of course, removing that psychotic regime from the face of the planet was an ineffable crime on the West’s part — according to our less thoughtful citizens.

      • DaveyT

        Oh right……………’course, those poor souls are a LOT better off now…..

        • Amanda

          Yes, they are. To the extent that Iraq is still a basket-case of a country, in a basket-case region, it’s not our fault, is it? If the West can manage decent society, you have to ask what’s wrong with the others that they can’t.

  • Liz

    It’s because English men aren’t very good at stuff. They never were, don’t believe their hype. The only reason they succeeded in days of yore was because they hobbled their competition.

    If you want to watch England winning at things watch women’s sport.

    • Puss in High Wedgies

      English men, along with the Scots, were good at giving the world the British Enlightenment, which is superior to the French Enlightenment (see the bloody and awful French Revolution and Gertrude Himmelfarb in her book on the British Enlightenment). English men gave us good humour and gallantry all in one person. They gave us a constitution that puts freedom and the rights of the individual above the power of the state except in the case of the worst crimes (with some exceptions, but no regime is perfect). English men have lovely accents, by and large, and most of the natives are uncircumcised, which is unfortunately more than can be said for most of the men on my side of the pond.

      • Liz

        Scottish and Irish and Welsh men, sure. English men not so much.

        • MC73

          Rubbish. Rubbish trolling even.

    • Pier66

      I watching also that and are much much WORST then Men squad!
      They always lose…never win big tournment
      YNWA AND TORY ALL THE WAY

  • bleachedAvenger

    It’s because as a nation we are paralysed by a fear of failure, it permeates every aspect of our existence. Teams like Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador etc etc play without fear and so with a sense of liberty which means they punch above their weight. In England we spend our lives seeking permission every time we want to fart and worrying about whether what we want to do is ‘allowed’. Couple that with a particularly mean-spirited streak in the national character which revels in the failure of others and a distrust of innovation so profoundly conservative it can only be described as ‘constipated’ and you see the problem.

    I’ve never been to any of these places but I would imagine that in Chile, Ecuador and Costa Rica, they’re not too worried about licensing laws, the smoking ban, health and safety regulations and even turning up to work on time. They play football and at living, we approach both joylessly like a job of work.

    Too abstract? Probably. Easily disprovable? Probably also – and written emotionally and on the spur of the moment to boot. Until the way we learn to approach things differently on this dank, polluted little island of ours though, it’ll be ‘as you were’… now come on Chile 😉

  • Kitty MLB

    Now now! no need for too much bewailing Italy could win
    twice and rescue England.Fearful were the Romans and
    all might not be lost.But I do wish they’d lose Rooney.

  • cromwell

    What a load of rubbish England are, no talent no heart.

    • Kitty MLB

      If Wayne Rooney was the best they could offer then
      the battle was already lost…but honestly, ‘no heart’?

  • http://semipartisansam.com/ SemiPartisanSam

    Ah, that article just got started with the makings of a good polemic, but then it came to an abrupt halt. Did Rod Liddle use up all his vitriol on Yasmin Alibhai-Brown? The inept Roy Hodgson is a much better target…

    • Puss in High Wedgies

      Yes: I would have liked more and I don’t even know what he’s talking about! Heh heh. You should see him when he’s talking about medical conditions or publicly bared body parts: sheer pleasure!

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Shall I keep the engines running, Sir?

    • Darnell Jackson

      Yes, and fetch my best dog.

  • Wessex Man

    I’m not surpised that England are nearly out of the World Cup, to be confirmed later, The in the main pampered little rich boys are just not good enough.

    I didn’t bother watching, in fact although a season ticket holder at a lower league club, who will even watch non-league is allowed to, I haven’t bothered to watch any game with Rooney in since his rant against England fans after the fiasco in South Africa.

    Greg D****’* ( have to spell his name like that or the comment gets taken down) idiotic plan to have a division for Premier League young players will only ensure that the young of every nation on earth will be playing here to get experience!

  • Pier66

    3. And not one of them ever will be and nothing will ever
    change until dads stop standing on touchline in school games and
    shouting at their kids ” get stuck in “.
    That’s right again …but you had to serch in deep and other things
    about eg just think England havent a place where to training until time ago with St George…

  • Pier66

    2. Liddle’s right. We simply
    don’t have the players, RIGHT now
    ask yourself A QUESTION WHY?
    YNWA AND TORY ALL THE WAY

  • john

    The Premier League is to be renamed the Moderately Decent League.

  • Fraziel

    As a Scot. much to my surprise, i have found myself supporting England.They are exciting to watch even if its not for all the right reasons. I cant help feeling too that they have turned into Scotland of old to an extent. From 1974-1998, with the exception of 94, we had to win our last game , or avoid defeat, to go through and we all know how that ended. In several of those tournaments we had the players too. England sadly don’t but they should improve with age and can still get through. I hope Italy do them a favour and we can see the odious Suarez sent home. Good performance against the vile Yasmin on ch4 by the way. You kept your cool in the face of ridiculous provocation.

  • DougS

    All that any country (however small) needs to beat England is one world class striker.

    Whether it’s Ibrahamovic, Suarez, Balotelli or whoever, they all seem to get through and score.

    God help us if we ever come up against Holland; with two world class strikers……..I dread to think!

    • Nigel Tipple

      As Adrian Chiles said, ‘Thank God Suarez wasn’t fully fit’.

  • Nigel Tipple

    I thought they were rather good. Bear in mind, they were up against a fella with one leg, and a team drawn from a population the same size as the number of people in my sitting room. It was always going to be a tough game for our Brave Lads.
    Do you think they’ll put Corrie back on now?

    • jargee

      Listen here Tiger Nipple–that’s a bit difficult to swallow.

      • Puss in High Wedgies

        ‘Tiger Nipple’? Woooooh! :^0

  • JonBW

    I didn’t ever expect to write this about one of your articles, Mr Liddle, but what drivel.

    Last time England failed to beat either Algeria (mainly French 2nd division players) or the USA; we scraped a win against Slovenia, then got thumped by Germany. Against Algeria we looked the less competent side.

    Italy will probably make the semis this time, and Uruguay could reach the quarter-finals: if we’d gone out in the knockout stages to either team by a single goal everyone would be saying we’d done reasonably well.

    In other words, we had a horrible draw with two teams that are amongst the best 6-8 in the world in our group.

    And actually, we didn’t play too badly: there was less of the usual panic when we had the ball; there was some (not enough) incisive passing; we got back into both games after going behind; and we had a bit of pace.

    What is striking is that nobody seems to have noticed that Holland hammered Spain mainly because they compensated for a lack of quality in defence by playing 3 centre backs and 2 wing-backs; i.e. they showed that if you get the defence right, you can give your forwards a platform from which to score goals.

    I think your expectations are too high; it probably comes from following Millwall.

  • Derek_V

    As a German native I can only remind how the German squad hit absolute rock bottom between 1998 and 2004 (disregard that 2002 World Cup final). Germany changed strategy in 2002 and completely overhauled their youth development system. The results we can see now. Doesn’t mean they will win the cup but the chances are quite low that they will utterly disappoint like the English did yesterday.

    • arnoldo87

      Reaching the World Cup Final is the sort of rock bottom that I would settle for.

  • artemis in france

    My husband summed it up, Rod. England have no world-class players. This was why we were beaten by a team with just one world-class player. And hé doesn’t think a change of manager will make any différence at all. Even I, not a lover of footie, noticed how most of the time our players were outrun by the Uruguayans and when it came to simple tackles skill seemed to be sadly lacking among the English.

  • Sideshow Bob

    The EPL is the choice of sports fans around the world. Probably because of the quality of the football which may well have something to do with the quality of the players. While having the best players makes all the clubs rich it obviously detracts from the quality of the English national team. Suarez, Bolitelli etc why give them the practice to be able to beat England in an International or if the clubs are more important then these results should be expected.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    World Cup Dairy: Time will tell whether Uruguay’s victory will spur it’s milk production and consumption. For a few years now the business has flatlined – partly due to a fairly static population – so could this victory be a much needed shot in the arm?

    • Puss in High Wedgies

      A much needed yank on the udder?

  • FrankieThompson

    It is often stated that the Premier League is “The Best League in the World”. On one view, the excitement factor, that is almost certainly true. But not on ball skills, tactics, fitness,or football intelligence. But ,nevertheless, the English national football team are woeful underachievers and should do much better.
    Historically, the FA seem congenitally unable to pick the right manager, going back to the ridiculous decision to overlook Clough.

    Greenwood, Taylor , McLaren, and Hodgson were obviously not good enough, and were picked because the FA could control them. Venables was cast aside because of reasons which remain obscure,Hoddle was stuck on a pyre for his religious beliefs, and Redknapp was too Del Boy for the FA, despite being clearly suited to the job.

    So you end up with this fiasco. Plus some players are horribly over-rated , the best example at this world cup being Hart. I would suggest that both Italian goals, and Suarez’s second, might well have been saved by a better keeper

  • Marquess of Salisbury

    The fact is that the forward-line for England isn’t the answer one or two of those players may have great individual careers, but players like Sterling and Welbeck are not the first of their kind as Rod points out. Rooney sadly hasn’t turnes out to be a Cruyff, Pele, Maradona at a big tournament. And England’s defence is utterly atrocious so much for the Premier League!

  • Malcolm McCandless
    • Kitty MLB

      Andy Murray slammed wee Alec Salmond for waving the
      Saltire during Wimbledon last year, the thought it was
      somewhat foolish.Especially as Andy Murray playes tennis
      for England and as done so since a child.
      Saying that I adore Scotland, the land of brave warriors
      in kilts, beautiful mountains and the warmest wooly
      jumpers on earth.

      • Amanda

        Brave or bloodthirsty, depending on how picturesque one’s view….

  • dado_trunking

    Now hang on a minute here.
    England was not beaten by Ecuador. England was not beaten by Honduras (!)
    England only trail Italy by one goal. England only trail Uruguay by one goal.

    Yes, England’s Footballer of the Year single-handedly beat England, but we are still no. 10 in the world, well above Belgium and Greece, right?

  • Mark McIntyre

    As someone suggested four years ago – it be time to cull those pretentious Three ‘Lions’ – they have not put fear into any of our opponents for over forty years

  • Eyesee

    One word summary of the way England played: complacent.

    • Puss in High Wedgies

      I doubt it. How can you run like h*ll and be complacent?

  • jargee

    The football game may or may not have progressed—but there is one statement that is a rock solid fact : the two foreigners who slaughtered a soldier in Woolwich, were indeed ‘ black ‘ and they were indeed, ‘ savages ‘!

    • Max07

      Savages of other colours are available.

    • jesseventura2

      And our jails are filled with black drug dealing robbers and rapists but still these vermin allowed to enter UK?

    • Kaine

      Being born in Lambeth makes you a foreigner now?

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Having no interest in football makes you a foreigner to the xenophobic racist nutters that inhabit these pages.

        • George Smiley

          Thank you, Japanese Jack.

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            The same incurable malady, you just can shake it can you? But that obsessive compulsive disorder for you. Anyone want to borrow my stalker? The ultimate fashion accessory that says “you’ve arrived”.
            Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

            • George Smiley

              Which is about as British as “Mirpur Brit”, “Sylhet Brit”, “Amritsar Brit”, “Ahmadabad Brit” or “Chennai Brit”.

      • George Smiley

        But the surnames are Nigerian. If you were born in a stable, does that make you a horse?

        • Kaine

          Horses aren’t the only things born in stables. According to around 2bn people a god was as well.

    • Wessex Man

      you sick half wit.

      • jargee

        Mummy and daddy should have told you that you should begin every sentence with a capital letter—are you sick ?

  • arnoldo87

    You certainly shouldn’t blame Roy Hodgson, even though he was slow to change things that were going wrong in both games.

    This is sow’s ear and silk purse territory.

    The basic problem is that our top players don’t work hard enough at their skills and technique. Gianfranco Zola told the story of when he was a young player at Napoli when they signed the great Maradona. Realising that his chances of a game had reduced all of a sudden, he devoted his afternoons and evenings to practicing and honing his skills. We all witnessed the result of that activity when he was at Chelsea.

    Can you imagine an English team member doing the same thing and giving up golf, racing, PR activities etc. in the afternoon to do something so utterly boring and unrewarding?

    But until they do, Groundhog Day will return every two years.

    • Pier66

      Maradona the great player especially with the HAND
      drugs…even HE did NOT PAY Italian TAX…..
      HE IS THE WORST PLAYER IN THE WORLD
      YNWA AND TORY ALL THE WAY

  • misomiso

    It was a mistake to not take Gareth Barry I think, as in the modern game that three man midfield with one designated defender is very important.

    Barry, Wilshire and Barkely Midfield, with Rooney, Sturridge and Stirling as the attack three.

    • Pier66

      wilshire is smoking in front at the telly watching Arsenal in defeat!
      YNWA AND TORY ALL THE WAY

  • Fraser Bailey

    I had money on England not getting out of the group so I am pleased to have been proved correct. In that sense, England will never let you down. That said, they did at least provide one or two moment of excitement over the two games, which is more than they have delivered since 2004.

    But it’s the delusion and the lack of historical perspective that drives me crazy. The majority of pundits seemed to think that England would beat Uruguay. Why? On what basis? Why are these people paid?

    Equally, some of them thought we would beat Italy. Why? England has never beaten Italy in a game that matters. Never.

    It’s amusing, as always, to note the population of the country than has beaten England. Uruguay’s population is 3.5 million, approximately the same as that of Hounslow if you include all the shacks in the gardens.

    • Baron

      We also played Uruguay in the 1966 World Cup when we came top, the result was a draw.

    • tjamesjones

      Germany has never beaten Italy in a game that matters either. Never. Despite winning 3 world cups and however many Euro cups. You can make too much of this, the real issue is that decent teams rarely play each other, so nearly every result is the first win/loss or draw for a decade or two.

      • Pier66

        never say never again!

    • Puss in High Wedgies

      In that sense, England will never let you down.
      If one cares about that sort of thing, how depressing.

    • Kitty MLB

      But is there any comparison between Luis Suarez and
      Wayne Rooney, he that is quite witless and looks without
      the enegy to schlep himself off the sofa.
      Those South Americans are a sprightly bunch of men
      and although Uruguay won’t win , Brazil probably
      will.
      But what about Italy..Romans could not rescue England
      this time…remember boys there is honour in losing,
      sometimes.

      • Pier66

        Romans give us ( as ever) a GREAT HELP to come out
        this BIG MAFIA TOURNMENT….leave this kind of games to brazile argentina, germany, france holland all mafia SCUM
        ynwa and tory all the way

  • Baron

    More than a fairly accurate set of faults, but as the Sun may have said ‘it was nerves what did it’, throughout the ninety minutes, with only few short bursts of confidence, the boys couldn’t shake off being anxious, fearful not so much of the Uruguayans, but of the huge burden of having to win.

    Pity, but a relief as well, the last thing Baron needs is another heart attack.

  • disqus_JXTaH3N9kU

    The penny never drops in all the absurd over analysis that has already started to follow the defeat. There are only
    three facts that really matter : 1. It is irrelevant who manages
    England. We’ve tried God knows how many since 1966 – English, foreign,
    exciting, boring – and not one has ever got us to a final. 2. Liddle’s right. We simply
    don’t have the players. Nor do we ever have them, by which I mean any truly world class midfield or attacking players. Simple
    test : In every single era of the last fifty years (with probable
    exception of when Gascoigne and Lineker were around, not surprisingly the era in which England got closest to reaching a final) list the ten
    best midfield and attacking players in the world and none of them has
    ever been English. 3. And not one of them ever will be and nothing will ever
    change until dads stop standing on touchline in school games and
    shouting at their kids ” get stuck in “.

    • Mynydd

      Lineker’s golden boot is nothing compared to Rooney’s 1st goal in three world cups. That’s how far English football and the so called experts has sunk.

    • laurence

      Excellent post. Point three in particular.

    • dado_trunking

      Engerland need to urgently team up with Iran and create a shaving cream
      league of losers. Add Ronaldo and sell it to the plebs. They’ll buy any
      shi’ite.

      • Wessex Man

        SNP again, to you pal.

    • FrankieThompson

      A decent manager did get England to the semi-final in 1990 and could have got the final easily enough. The manger is vital.

      • Puss in High Wedgies

        The manger is vital.

        It needs a lot of hay!

    • Pier66

      but it is not ‘just this, they lack the right people in football league association institutions are all fucked lib labor and work against England interest
      since 1966
      a succession of errors from so many points of view
      ’cause they do not put a limit to foreigners?
      because they think only about money that they stolen
      because we do not have men of power in the FIFA and UEFA,
      we suffer because ref. outrageous that the other teams never suffer?
      give me feedback if you have

  • Ricky Strong

    Rod, how on earth did you keep so calm in your interview with Yasmin?

    • MikeF

      Yes I was a bit concerned about old Rod – all that ‘bigotry’ that was ‘bursting out’ of him can’t have been easy to cope with.
      But more seriously what an utter waste of space Yasmin is – she can do nothing except spew out bile and catchphrases. I note also that she admitted that she ‘loathed’ Rod. But then she is a ‘left-liberal’ so presumably that is OK. People like her are allowed to ‘loathe’ though, of course, they never ‘hate’.

      • Max07

        Notice that she doesn’t hate the white working class … she just finds it hard to love them.

        • Damaris Tighe

          Notice that she directed her bile against the white working class as a whole for the attempt to set her home on fire. If the position were reversed, if we were encouraged to hate all muslims because of Woolwich, she would be the first to condemn us for ‘generalising’ or whatever.

          • Max07

            I think what we’re really saying is that the woman isn’t very bright, and if she didn’t have the right credentials to pontificate on this sort of thing she’d probably have difficulty holding down a job at her local Co-Op.

      • jesseventura2

        Has old Yasmin still got her clitoris?

        • MikeF

          Judging by last night I’d say it was her faculties that were in question.

          • Max07

            I think Rod’s broken the poor old biddy, really I do. Soon she’ll be spending her days sitting on park benches screaming abuse at passers-by.

            • MikeF

              I don’t think she has never needed any help from anybody else to go off the rails. But then, remember, she has to live every day with the fact that she is a victim of ‘racism’ – but the real racism in this case of when she was kicked out of Uganda by a black nationalist and then given refuge by a white Conservative government of the UK. How can a ‘left-liberal’, ‘feminist’, ‘anti-racist’ cope with that? It goes against everything she purports to believe in.

              • La Fold

                I did actually just LOL at that.

      • Ricky Strong

        I remember an episode of Question Time when Douglas Murray lost his temper with her because she was really upset about how we disposed of Bin Laden – should have shown him more respect apparently.

    • edithgrove

      Yes I wondered about this also. Rod has lovely eyes, I’d not seen that before. Alibhai-Brown seemed like an hysteric and I think there may have been some apres foot-stamping from the lady chairperson, she wasn’t very bright.

    • Max07

      It was the best thing he could possibly have done. It upset poor old YAB so much that she could only blurt out her personal loathing – a bit like the intellectually-challenged kid in class who shouts ‘well anyway, you smell!” when he knows he’s lost the argument.

    • Kitty MLB

      Yes well done Roddie for not blowing a gasket when dealing
      with that wretched and pompous woman.
      I think the words being gallant under adversity can
      Be used, Ricky hope you agree. Rod was almost heroic.

      • Ricky Strong

        He defended the voice of reason very well indeed.

  • tjamesjones

    It’s true, and the reason nobody could see it was this pathetic obsession with blaming rooney for not being the number 1 player in the world. He’s the best England has got, for better or worse, and there are plenty worse out there. What the heck has happened to England’s attacking from set pieces? What were all those weak shots that were simply passes to the opposition goalkeeper?
    But it’s easy to just hate on rooney when in fact there are 10 other blokes who should be hanging their heads.

    • MikeF

      Still a poor selection from Hodgson – frankly rank bad management. It was obvious from the Italy match that overloading the team with strikers – all three of Sturridge, Welbeck and Rooney – deprived us of the ability to get a grip of the game in midfield. Welbeck should have started on the bench with Lallana or Barkley in midfield – it was notable that the one period of the match when we looked like we might nick it, just after the equaliser, was when we had Rooney and Sturridge as a strikeforce with four midfielders behind them. If Italy win tonight then there is still just a glimmer of a chance.

    • La Fold

      Rooney, although good has been like a lot of other England internationals since the early 2000s. Far too overrated. See others Beckham, Gerrard, Owen, Lampard, Cole, Terry etc. Would go far to say the last great England team was the euro96/ france 98 team.

  • Flintshire Ian

    Sadly you are right.

    BTW I really enjoyed the tape of your Channel4 News interview with Alibhai-Brown via the Huff Post. (Not my usual reading – there was a link from either the ToL or DT )

    • La Fold

      Nor I, apparently the Huffpo said that Rod took a bit of kicking. But then again the Huffington Post also said black people ate another in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

      • Damaris Tighe

        He did seem to take a bit of a kicking – seemed to be on the defensive. Mind you, perhaps Rod is like me, much more comfortable writing than talking. I recommend Rod’s book – haven’t lol’d so much in years.

        • La Fold

          Horses for courses fella, but I wouldnt call that a verbal kicking, i’d call that the oldest trick in the schoolyard. No skewering, no systematic dismantling of argument or well constructed counterpoint, just two on one eye rolling blustering.

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