Aston Villa - Lion Bar Was Nice
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Aston Villa 1 - Wigan 1

Villa Park


Attendance: 31 920

Lion Bar Was Nice

I've spoken about this season being one of transition before and to be honest, I'm talking total crap. What this 'transition' means is we've frankly been awful this season and things can only get better.

I have to ask myself (mainly because no one else listens to me anymore!) why we have settled, with only the slightest murmur, for second best for most of the year? And further to that, why do we all seem happy that we MIGHT just reach 40 points. FORTY BLOODY POINTS.

Lets call a spade a spade (although you could call it Trevor if you wanted, it isn't as if a spade will get offended is it?) and admit it, this season has been dreadful and the end is worse than the start, an alarming trend for sure.

I know, I know, I'm doing the unmentionable and actually criticising, I'm sure I'll be taken and shot for such heresy but what the heck, I'm nothing if not straight.

So lets give it straight.

Today was low on quality, high in incident and relatively entertaining for all the wrong reasons. The weather was nice and I always enjoy watching the Mule falling over like the lump of lard he is, other than that there is little to applaud our team for. We might have huffed and puffed, and I'm begging to think David O'Leary was right, they are an honest bunch of lads, I've certainly never had my pockets picked by them and my stereo remains in the car, but honest as they are, they can't shoot for toffee and the new additions have to be lumped into that.

What is the use of Stiliyan Petrov? We are told he will be better next season after a full pre-season. Cool. Lets face it, Mr Backward/Sidewards passer cannot be any worse, not for the £8.5million layout. Why he can't shoot just, I don't know, once every five or six matches I'll never understand, although to be fair to him today he did at least shape up to shoot once before passing it back.

Ashley Young? Could be a very interesting player, could become awesome in fact, today he was very less than interesting and a million miles from awesome, in fact my Lion Bar was closer to awesome, especially as I didn't have to pay for it. Free chocolate, now that is interesting. The Lion Bar cost a £1.00 Ashley Young £9.5million. Yes, I have lost the plot and yes, I am comparing the player to a Lion Bar. Trouble is, I'm now finding it difficult where to go with the analogy and am feeling rather foolish. What was the point I was making? Oh yes, one very expensive player, one totally incomplete player, one player I hope becomes a star but at that price, I'd expect us to be closer to the finished item, he is very far from being finished, the Lion Bar on the other hand...... you get the gist. Well, actually you probably don't, but ........

The game was turned on its head today by a bizarre referee, step forward and take a bow Mark 'I aspire to be Uriah Rennie' Halsey who seemed to give the opposite decision to what he should have given at every opportunity. I'm all for players to be able to go near goalkeepers without the ref blowing the whistle but I draw the line when a Wigan player took out a snipers rifle, aimed and killed Sorenson dead, passed to that Mule who put the ball in the net and the goal stood. What was the ref doing, what was the assistant ref thinking - or more to the point not thinking - when that goal was allowed to stand? I might watch the highlights and retract my statement but I very much doubt it.

I'll watch the high (starts to laugh at the thought of their being highs) lights tonight just to double check, but to me that was never a goal and I've have laughed my socks off if we'd been given a similar one, I'm sure the 3 Wigan fans who attended today were all laughing theirs off, 1 up and they'd done sod all for it.

Didn't stop Paul Jewell, who must be suffering from terrible pms the way he behaved today (I was going to say he lost his rag but that would be stretching it even for me), from moaning about everything. I reminded the scouser we'd given him a goal, what else did the miserable git want?

That was basically it for Wigan, they had very little to offer apart from a lunging tackle by whateverhisfaceis which earnt him a red card. I'll enjoy watching that on the replays tonight as I'm not sure if it was a red or not, my mate Reza was watching the game in South Africa, he assured me it was a fair straight red and I'll take his word for it.

So 1 up and 1 down and Villa still hadn't scored.

Is anyone still reading this? I think I'm having a nervous breakdown you know?

The thing is, people will say we deserved to take all the points today because we played the most attacking football, but I'm sorry, running so far up the pitch and passing backwards or sideways isn't actually that attacking and playing one man up front - this time Gabriel Agbonlahor, or was it Maloney, I really do get confused with who is doing what in this team at the moment as the shape just isn't there - is also not that attacking an idea. It might work for Chelsea and their playboys, it does not work for Villa. So did we deserve more? No, you get what you deserve and if you don't put the ball in the net (which I don't think we did today despite drawing!!!!!) you don't win games.

Gabriel Agbonlahor put away a lovely chance against Blackburn at the weekend, he was given a similar chance today and really did fluff his lines by showing too much of the ball and allowing the Wigan keeper Filan to gather the ball.

The chances were at a premium for the whole of the game, we were playing against ten men remember, well nine bearing in mind the Mule was on the floor most of the game, the big girls blouse. 4-4-2 I think would have seen them off, but the Wigan defence isn't exactly the smallest in the league and once the Wigan boys started kicking out a bit, our lot weren't to keen to get stuck in. At times I just could not figure the shape of the team or understand the theory that if you pass the ball sideways you will build for an attack.

Gabby did pop in on the 50th minute and scored (sort of, I think, or at least the ref said he did, the replay on the big screen wasn't conclusive but put it this way, if that goal had been given against us we'd be spitting feathers!) and from there you thought there would only be one winner - wrong. More huffing, more puffing and to be fair, a little excitement (I dropped a £1 and my mates and me had a fight to retrieve it) but no amount of time on the pitch would see us pick up all 3 points against a team struggling for their Premiership survival - well, you buy a Mule and that is what you get Mr Jewell. The most entertaining part of the afternoon was watching Jewell blow his top at everything, especially when a Villa fan very kindly passed the ball back to him. Relax Paul, relax.

Player Ratings

Thomas Sorensen 6


Olof Mellberg 6


Martin Laursen 7

seemed to win all the headers.

Phil Bardsley 6

better than of late

Wilfred Bouma 7

looked in agony after the challenge (came off on 38th minute) Most improved Villa player this season?

Gareth Barry 7

not sure if there is a blade of grass on the pitch he doesn't cover.

Stiliyan Petrov 4

don't worry, he'll be 10 out of 10 next season.

Craig Gardner 6.5

I like Gardner, gets stuck in and could develop well, certainly a step up from Gavin McCann in his current form (missing today due to suspension)

Shaun Maloney 6.5

looks full of running, might just have a 1m bargain.

Patrik Berger 7

we are better for him, although he went quieter after picking up an injury, just his luck that, hopefully just a knock.

Gabriel Agbonlahor 6.5

should have scored in the first half but made up for it by taking his chance in the second half.

Ashley Young (on for Bouma 38 - Barry to left back

Average today, hopefully a pre-season and some quality around him will see him come good, only young, lots of time and all the other nice things to say.

Luke Moore (on for Maloney 73)

great to see the Villa youth player back.

Manager Rating

Martin O'Neill. Didn't look very impressed with what he was watching and if only I could lip read I'd swear there were a few naughty words muttered under his breath!

Opponent Rating

Paul Jewell. Good young manager but for gods sake, grow up man. And 6m for the Mule? You having a laugh?

Lion Bar 8

Thanks Bedders, went down nicely!

The Journalist

Writer: J P Fear Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Monday April 9 2007

Time: 9:59PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

Change to most recent first
JF players expect praise when they win a game they should not be surprised if people criticise them if they perform no better than an over priced choccy bar. Villa have lost their way but today was one of those day, Wigan scrapping for a point, Jewel scrapping with a supporter for trying to assainate him with a football. One of those Matches in one of those seasons. Time to finish this season and move on.
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09/04/2007 22:08:00

It's frustrating that we didn't take the full 3 points in this game despite having so much possession we didn't have much class in finishing them off. If only we had Carew fit today, he'd have put some of those chances away, (that is assuming Olly, and Bardsley wouldn't have been punting the ball up to him long ball style) Grrrr, Villa you are sooo frustrating!
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09/04/2007 23:30:00

I didn't expect anything different this season. We are where we deserve to be. The league doesn't lie. The team is basically the same as last year with a few additions. I have been coaching for ten years now and one thing I have noticed is over the coarse of a season the performance of the better players are adversely affected by the performance of the poorer players. So with the import of quality players in the summer the likes of Petrov,Young etc will improve. So the important thing this season was always going to be survival. I will be honest say that I thought we would be relegated this because of a decade of neglect. MON has performed a miracle in keeping us up and in a position to kick on next season. It might be a bit premature but I say Well done Martin!
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10/04/2007 02:30:00

4 is very harsh for Petrov. I think that he had a decent game and is now an easy scapegoat. Gardner was awlful.
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10/04/2007 08:51:00

I don't know whether its just Mr Jewell who is suffering from a bad dose of PM Mr Fear, you seem pretty over the top yourself today :) Not surprised to see the continued slating of Petrov, after all he was no more than average like the rest of them and how dare he keep the ball and keep things ticking over. I mean everytime he gets the ball he should try and defense splitting pass, lose it a lot of the time and then get crucifed for that too. No he wasnt great yesterday but watch it back, when you play against ten men you need to keep the ball moving, you need to use the width and thats exactly what he was doing.
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10/04/2007 08:55:00

Petrov is a joke. He has ability but no confidence! He scared to shoot, scared to play a long pass, scared to play any kind of defence splitting ball. Anyone can stand infront of the back 4, pick the ball up deep and play the simple ball time and time again, thats not what you pay 8million for!!! The guy needs to sort his head out!
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10/04/2007 09:18:00

As for people who say Petrov has become a scapegoat. You don't just become a scapegoat, you earn it by playing crap. Simple.
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10/04/2007 09:21:00

The simple ball...not so simple for McCann when he plays is it? Who played the ball through when Mellberg clipped it over the keeper, who played it through when Young should have scored with the header? Switching the ball from side to side, encouraging the keeping of the ball will never be a bad thing in my mind. But like I say the guy cant win, so whats the point.
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10/04/2007 09:48:00

petriov had an alrite game, i rember wen he was back to goal runnig for the ball nd every1 shouted shoot! we expect too much from him lay off him give him a pre-season and we will see the best of him, is it true that good foregien players in the prem take a year of setteling in? drogba is a classic example but some players can do good in there first season e.g berbatov and martins arteta a few years ao and most famously c.ronaldo so maybe he will be better than those like drogba (maybe not c.ronaldo) but i think he will be a good player he is just low on confidence mayeb we shoul;d send him off to stoke it worked for berger, thinking of that mabye recall hendrie and he will be the player were missing a youngerish beger. (mind my spelling)
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10/04/2007 10:17:00

I don't think Petrov is a scapegoat, just on current form, I think he is awful. I don't have players that I go 'hate blind' with. If they play well, they play well. Just thought he was below the standard you'd expect from a 8.5m player.
The Fear
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10/04/2007 10:19:00

you might be right aronno7, I do like my meladramatic moments! I do walk close to the line of having no marbles at all left, that said I am fed up of saying all is well when it so clearly isn't. I expect and I'm sure there will be major improvements next season, but there aren't any excuses for some of the perforances this season and any player that doesn't know that shouldn't be lining up for us next.
The Fear
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10/04/2007 10:37:00

I don't think we do expect too much of him Newman. We expect what he is capable of an no more. The showing v West Ham set the standard, he was truly outstanding. So why should we settle for less? These fellas have a good life, they are well paid, they should be able to settle and do the business. I'm not saying he should be 10 out of 10 each game but he should be giving 100% and at least trying to get the ball forward once in a blue moon. Hopefully he will come good, he has shown what an amazing asset he will be if he does, as you say, a good pre-season blah blah blah, but ... For me, at the moment, he has been awful, no good making excuses for him, first month or so to settle fine, but not now. Think Hendrie is already gone Newman, MON wouldn't have allowed him to go back out on loan if he was in his plans surely?
The Fear
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10/04/2007 10:40:00

Disallowed goals. Shots off the line. Great saves by their keeper. Hitting the post. And Wigan score a goal with their only effort on goal after a blatant foul on the keeper. It happens that way sometimes. Look at the Arse against West Ham on Saturday. As for the stick Petrov is getting it is wrong imho. I was glad that we had players who were prepared to pass the ball on the floor instead of taking the easy option and just launching it in the box. My gripes were once again corners, both taking and defending. We had several and never really looked like scoring and Wigan scored with their first (only??)one. Because we played the ball to feet and out wide (well done Petrov) instead of launching it, we managed to get around the back of Wigan on several occasions (that is why players keep the ball and sometimes go backwards, in order to find the route through). The disappointment (other than the goal) was how we then used those situations. I can't remember us pulling the ball back once. We generally put a poor cross in that beat everybody or went out of play. That was not the fault of Petrov who had conducted play to pull open the Wigan defence, it was mainly Young, Barry, Gabi and Berger who failed with the final pass. As for the season as a whole, we always said anything more than 10th was a bonus. We have become difficult to beat and that is great grounding for the future. We are not far off being a good squad. Summer will be important on to how we develop next season but I still believe season three of M'ONS reign is the one where we will really start to assert ourselves. Keep the faith.
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10/04/2007 10:43:00

The problem with Villa this year is simply we have not had the killer instinct to see teams off. We have lost fewer games than any other team out of the top 4 with the exception of Everton, an achievement which tells its own story.
Hoss The Villain
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10/04/2007 10:46:00

Sun: Aston Villa: Sorensen 6, Bardsley 6, Mellberg 7, Laursen 7, Bouma 6, Gardner 6, Petrov 6, Berger 7, Barry 8, Maloney 6, Agbonlahor 6. SUBS: Young (for Bouma, 37mins) 6, Moore (Maloney, 72) 5.
The Fear
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10/04/2007 11:29:00

Totaly agree that the 3rd season under MON will be THE season to really see where we are going.
The Fear
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10/04/2007 11:30:00

Telegraph: Man of the match: Patrik Berger (Aston Villa).
The Fear
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10/04/2007 11:31:00

Has this season been poor? Of course, but given where we were headed with Ellis and DOL, survival was always the objective. Only 3 players in the starting line-up were signed by MON! Just lifting the fog of negativity around the club was a monumental task for the new owner and new manager and that has been achieved. The only surprise would be if start next season with more than 2 or 3 players in the team, who are pre-MON. My guess is, very few of the current squad will survive this summers axe, may be only Mellberg, Bouma, Barry and some of the kids.
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10/04/2007 13:32:00

Hoss the Villain - you make an excellent point. Lost fewer games than all except the top 5. Just imagine some of those games that were ready for the taking. Bolton, Liverpool, Middlesboro, Wigan, Everton, West Ham away etc. Just 3 wins would have put us above Reading and all of us would be satisfied with progress made. Tight margins but it's the truth. UTV
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10/04/2007 14:42:00

I watched the match last night on TV and have to say we have played a lot worse than that. I understand your frustration and loved the reading the article but at times we did play with flare and speed. We are more comfortable than the position last year, so although we dont play with the grace of Arsenal, we do at times. That has to be an improvement, we all love the club and want us to do well and I think once MON has had a 55 weeks on the job we will see a vast improvement. Hoss the Villain - you make an excellent point!
NY Villa
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10/04/2007 15:47:00

Yes, it has been poor. I don't think survival should have been the objective, we have a squad surely equal to Reading for instance? Yes, the lifting of the clouds is a GREAT thing and God knows it took long enough, but that must not cover up problems on the pitch, given time these will be overcome but that doesn't mean the current state of play shouldn't be analysed and at times slated surely? Was talking with a mate at the match though, and I'm sure many have had the same conversation, IF a few of the draws (as Hoss said it isn't the losses that are a problem) had been converted into wins (and who can forget the Bolton loss when we bossed the game?) the confidence would have been higher, etc etc. So in some ways we aren't that far away, but I seem to have said that in most match reports this season, I wanted something different this time and I quite enjoyed writing that one, got to go down as one of my more bizarre moments!!!!!!!! I'd expected 10th at the least (could still do it) and hoped for maybe 8th giving us something to build on. Seems a lot of hope for all is pinned on this comign summer, but as I've said before, it is also about Jan and the summer after, then we'll maybe be pushing 6th. In the meantime, some of the players in the squad at the moment COULD have stood up and been counted, they haven't and by next summer (not this summer as we need to build before clearing out squad members) I'd assume they won't be around.
The Fear
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10/04/2007 17:23:00

JF - Agree totally with you. Under DOL the excuse was lack of managerial motivation. What's the excuse under MON? Maybe a few players out of position like Gabby who's proved in the right position he can be good. 9 goals so far in his debut season is superb considering what the strikers have been banging the last few years. Yes, the players should be playing for their futures. It doesn't appear they are good enough does it. Next year though there will be one more striker (Bellemy, Keane, Defoe etc). That will mean Carew, Gabby, Luke and the one more. Not forgetting Young and Maloney. Will Luke be happy be this? He has the makings of a good player but will he develop now? The summer will be so interesting!!! :-)
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10/04/2007 17:55:00

Jon, great read and subsequent responses too...and yes i stand by what i said in my text to you during the game....definate red....and their goal should NOT have counted....oh and ofcourse....i also said we were hardly entertaining...or thereabouts....but..we have next season dont we ? (deja vu moment ...again)...and as a measure of expectation....i want maximum points in the games that remain... ;-)
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10/04/2007 18:56:00

Villa just don't have the players yet. Ask yourself this, in your heart of hearts... What Premiership teams would trade their starting central midfielders for Petrov and McCann? I bet very few Prem. managers would take you up on that trade. The dominant teams have dominant CM's, not just good or decent CM's.
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10/04/2007 19:03:00

I thought Petrov played well,Young,Bardsley,Gardner were worse - really wasteful with the ball in good areas - is it a football law that old Blues players must be allowed to score against us ?
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10/04/2007 19:23:00

JF good read and fantastic replys. Aspinall yes it is mate ask Vassell ;) .. As for our team strengh wise (on paper) we have a good team and thats everyone (yes even Petrov), but they are and we can all see it strugling, but as many before have said that can be turned around with the right motivation and i do belive that we have that in MON . Most of these players have been programed (yes brainwashed if you like)to play in the sad state that they are at the moment bye the sad excuse for management/owner/directors that we as fans have had to suffer over the last few years and it will take more than one season to kick the habit. I belive this will happen over time with RL/MON but it will take time.... The great Purple Nose(SAF) him self had a few bad years too and look at them now... Anywhoo JF dont fear (ahemm class pun) we will survie and i do belive that we will finish above the Villa reserves (borough). UTV
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10/04/2007 21:53:00

I thought it was a load of *****e and the the artical wasn't much better
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10/04/2007 22:01:00

JF, your article was ok by me. As for Villa, have played worse than this under the old regime. Need a bit more quality, improvements are there and going un noticed. Under Dol we would have lost that game and played worse and gone down and had less than 20,000 gates and played small heath next season (cos they are going nowhere) and lost to them twice in the season and fighting relegation into the first-----etc. We are at present turning the corner and it is happening.
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10/04/2007 23:01:00

Petrov was ine against wigan, but did any one see him and bardsley exchanging words towards the end of the game..??
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11/04/2007 02:35:00

Fine not ine...:D
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11/04/2007 02:37:00

Pwtrov is the target for the boo-boys today, it'll be Ashley Young tomorrow. This was Bolton all over again. We cant score goals. There's the problem, pure and simple. If you watch us regularly it hits you in the face, you cant avoid it. Its been that way since The Emirates.
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11/04/2007 03:10:00

we really are the most impatient bunch. i know we've had years of hurt under doug, but these things take time. the same goes for petrov, he's come from a slower league and from a team that can win things with there eyes closed, now he's at a team who are underperforming in the best league in the world, he'll come good. it took angel how long to have his wonder season? 2 years? you also have to take into account that he's not from the UK, probably only knows a small amount of scotland and now he's in a new city miles away from the epople who kept an eye on him when he did move to these shores. i've been in this situation, moving cities for a new job and i can tell you its hard. just because someone earns loads of money doesn't mean they dont feel the pressure, in my experience, the more money, the more pressure. there's a belief that footballers have an easy life. could you cope with 30,000 people standing around your desk telling you that your *****? most would crack up i imagine. a wage reflects the amount of money a person makes a company, not how customer focussed they are. a big name new signing pre-season probably boosts shirt sales by 30-40% which is a big chunk of dough. this is why nurses get paid less than someone who kicks a ball around for 90 minutes. how many players would think '***** this, i'm being slagged off by 30,000 people for 10k a year' you could earn more working in a pub. 3 months away from us lot ripping on him every week will do him the world of good. an analogy- at the start of last season our cake was put in the oven to bake, start of the next we'll be told we can eat it. its gonna taste good!
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11/04/2007 18:47:00

I knew Dwight would come good when people slated him and so will Petrov,give him Joey Barton in the summer as a present with 2 Centre halves that win headers and we will really be eating slices of lovely Football pie(carrying on the food theme)
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11/04/2007 19:34:00

Is this why Burger has been our best player recently followed by Baloney on the wing. Angel delight... no I don't think so. Can I have some Moore please sir...........
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11/04/2007 20:11:00

I think Gabby A-Bon Bon-lahor has been best player recently - fishing in the box and wrigleying through defences,he`s been sweet,a cadburys dream and never flake-ing.
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11/04/2007 22:33:00

I like McCain oven chips with peas from the Gardner.
Hoss The Villain
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12/04/2007 08:39:00

One thing that is certain, is that if what we are all calling a transitional, bedding-in period is repeated next season, i.e., flirting with relegation and a collection of blatantly unacceptable displays, then the mood amongst supporters will be one of anger and deep annoyance, accompanied no doubt by heated calls by the majority for changes to be made. So much for a five year plan, consistency, and time to allow complete rebuilding.
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12/04/2007 15:06:00

I think Toffo sorrensen is a bit sticky.
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12/04/2007 21:13:00


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