Paul Faulkner has been speaking, and the piece in the Birmingham Mail makes for largely encouraging reading. Now granted the headline will not be a surprise, for the squad is in need of some major work. Still it’s encouraging to see a senior figure address the subject, and realise the need for some quality reinforcements.
Faulkner is an interesting character, and is another that polarises opinion. They got it horribly horribly wrong last season, but he was quick to address that. He’s done well with regards to striking deals, with the links with Genting and Macron reported to be among the most lucrative in our history. I’ve always felt the board could do with a real ‘football man’ on the board, but after the appointment of Lambert and if they invest decent money for players, I’d be relatively happy (and just try and block last year from my mind).
Here are a few little sections from the piece:
“It is still early June. We have just under a month before the players come back for pre-season and just under ten weeks until the Premier League season kicks off so in football that’s quite a long period of time. We know we need to freshen up the squad, there will be players coming in and players going out. That’s the next order of business.
“There’s absolutely no doubt there will be ins and there will be outs. We’ve got some good players here at Aston Villa already. Maybe last season, due to injury or just under-performing, it didn’t click.”
Few interesting pieces, and despite the clamour for everything to happen in the here and now, we do have a bit of time, especially with the Euro’s taking place. A good point is that like Mr Faulkner, I also believe we do have a number of good players here. We need new additions, and a number of them but the core is definitely decent, and should have done much better last season, even given who we had in charge. I’d say it was a mix of injury, and under-performing and a manager that was just never going to work.
Lambert will come in and hopefully revitalise the remaining players, and as we’ve mentioned previously if he gets the likes of Makoun and N’Zogbia firing, that’s like two new signings already. Equally if he can get players like Albrighton, Agbonlahor and others playing as they have done previously, we’ll be reaping the benefits.
All of this is encouraging for me, and the good feeling since Lambert was appointed is still sticking around. It looks like we’ll be in the market for players, we have a top new manager and the fans are all back onside.
Given where we were a month ago this is all very much welcome.
After a period where it seemed the press were keen on winding us up as much as possible (Karl Henry, Mick McCarthy), they’ve been slightly more kind to us recently, and now keep on linking us with decent players! It’s more than welcome, and despite these links not coming to fruition more than often, it’s nice to have a bit of light relief.
Following on from the link to Kyle Naughton yesterday, we’ve switched sides today and have been quoted by the Daily Mail as being in the market for Danish international left back Simon Poulsen. I liked the Naughton link, and I like this link, and if they were both correct and these two were lining up for us next season you’d have to imagine the majority of fans would be very happy.
It’s another short report, and there isn’t really worth quoting any part of it as we’re covering it here. Still I vaguely remember reading somewhere that we’re looking at a number of players currently taking part in the Euro’s, so maybe he’s one of those we’re keeping track of.
We’ve done well with some Scandinavian defenders in the past (take a bow Mellberg and Laursen) and it seems players from this part of the world usually have little difficulty in adapting to life in the Premiership. It reminds me a bit of the Bouma transfer where we managed to get a quality international for a good price, and while there is no mention of a transfer fee in the Daily Mail report, you wouldn’t envisage him costing the world.
Regarding Poulsen specifically he looks a more than capable left back (he’ll probably have a mare the rest of the tournament now!) who also gets forward extremely well. During their slightly surprising win over the Dutch in the first round of games, he did stand out bombing forward and supporting the midfielders, and considering the fact he used to be a left winger it’s little surprise to see he’s so adept in an attacking position. There were a few gaps left behind, but that’s to be expected when looking at how the majority of full backs play in this day and age.
He’s probably better than anyone else we have at left back at the moment. Warnock actually looked better in midfield towards the end of last season, and I think he might be one of those Lambert lets go if a decent bid is made. Lichaj looked more than capable, and as mentioned previously I have a lot of time for the player. Ultimately though I’d like to see him right back, or used as a first reserve for either position. Stevens is also in the mix, but considering he hasn’t made a first team appearance yet, it be a bit of a surprise to see him starting for us next season, at least initially.
So once again hopefully there is a hint of truth to this one, and if not please keep linking us to decent players press, it’s a lot more enjoyable to write about.
The transfer links return again today with another link to a player plying his trade in Scotland. This time it’s Steven Naismith, the 25 year old Rangers striker.
These links are easy to make when taking account our manager used to manage Rangers previously, and I imagine the speculation will increase with regards to players north of the border. With regards to Naismith, he is a striker who has progressed steadily throughout his career, and since making the move to Rangers from Kilmarnock, he has recorded slightly less than a goal every three games.
He’s started this particular season in electric form however, scoring eight in eight to date, although he was recently handed a two match suspension after elbowing Dunfermline captain Austin McCann. I don’t think he would cost the world, though the question that needs to be asked is do we need another striker?
While we haven’t scored as many as we would have liked this season, we have four/five strikers who look like they’re competing for one ‘true’ position up front. You’d imagine that when Bent returns to fitness that will be his position, with Gabby and Heskey playing off him if we continue with the formation we have largely used this campaign. That leaves Delfouneso and Weimann competing for a back-up role, and both have seen game time in recent outings. For me personally, I would prefer to see us strengthen elsewhere, although if we do make a change and play two up front, the extra competition up top would be welcome.
Speaking of strikers, quotes have surfaced today that Darren Bent wants to take the penalties upon his return from injury, and for me at least, that’s the way it should be. Barry Bannan stepped up when we needed him too, and took a cracking penalty that the QPR keeper Paddy Kenny couldn’t keep out, despite going the right way. For me though, when you have a £20million plus striker on the pitch who is confident in his ability from 12 yards, he should be handed the responsibility all day long. Bent does have a terrific record from the spot, and after many season of never feeling too confident when we were awarded a penalty, it’s good to know that we have at least two players who want to take them, and are normally pretty successful with their efforts. Here is what Bent had to say:
“I, 100 per cent, want to keep taking the penalties. I was delighted to see Barry slot that one away, it was a top spot-kick.
“It was his first goal in the Premier League too so I really couldn’t have been happier for him. It must have been a big moment for him.
“But as a striker, if I’m on the pitch, I want to take them. Alan Shearer once said to me ‘what striker wouldn’t want to be on penalties?”
What do you think Villans? Let us know your views as always.
In a pretty good initiative on Villa’s part, fans are now given the chance to vote on the man of the match after every game, with the overall winner (highest point accumulator) being named player of the month. Anything that get’s the fans involved is a good thing and this has resulted in Mr Gabriel Agbonlahor being named our player of the month for August.
After each match, the player with the most votes is awarded three points, with two for second and one for third. Our top five is as follows this month, with Agbonlahor taking the crown after receiving more individual votes than Fabian Delph in second.
1st: Gabriel Agbonlahor (4 pts)
2nd: Fabian Delph (4 pts)
3rd: Shay Given (3 pts)
4th: Chris Herd (3 pts)
5th: Barry Bannan (3 pts)
Agbonlahor earned four points from finishing second against Blackburn and Wolves while Delph finished third against Fulham and first against Blackburn.
It seems that our fans can read a game pretty well as Given won the Fulham vote, Herd won it for Wolves while Bannan was first against Hereford. All correct decisions in my opinion.
For me personally the player of the month would have been between Agbonlahor or Given, with Given just about pinching it if I was pushed. They’ve both started the season in fine form though, and that’s all that really matters.
Agbonlahor seems to have recaptured the form which makes him so dangerous, and even though I still would ultimately like to see him as a striker, he’s looked very impressive playing on the left hand side. He’s already popped up with two important goals, and his celebration against Everton tells you everything you need to know about how much the Villa and it’s fans means to the player, great to see.
Fabian Delph has the makings of a top player, and it’s great to see him getting more game time as he looks to develop into the player we all hope he can be. After a hugely impressive start to the season, his performances have slightly tailed off in the last couple of games. Still, the potential is there for all to see, and at 21 he has plenty of time to develop into a top top player. At times he seems to be trying too hard, and this does on occasion cost us, as shown when conceding a needless penalty against Everton. There is plenty more to come though from this exciting young talent.
Given has been somewhat of a revelation, and already a candidate for ‘signing of the season’. He clearly needed to be playing, and it’s great that he is for our football club. He was sensational against Fulham, and has performed well in just about every game to date. We’ve always been aware of his goalkeeping qualities but what I love seeing is how he seems to be inspiring the rest of the defence to up their games. Collins and Dunne look like the players of a couple of seasons ago, with Dunne in particular excelling with his International team-mate behind him. A brilliant bit of business on our part.
Chris Herd has only played the one premiership game this season, but what a performance it was. He was sensational against Wolves, and kept an England winger (Matt Jarvis) extremely quiet, eventually resulting in his substitution. Phenomenal in the air, strong in the tackle and has a terrific attitude to the game. He almost knocked himself out in the aforementioned game, after colliding with a post yet stayed on the pitch and was correctly awarded Man of the Match. Like many of the youngsters, he has a genuine affinity with our club and plays like a fan, always giving 110%. Expect more from this versatile young star.
And finally we finish with Barry Bannan, who you get the feeling is on the brink of something very special. Us fans have been aware of his talents for a while, and on the occasions he has played this season, he has looked a star in waiting. Blessed with an otherworldly left foot, he also has a football brain that belies his young age. He was awarded man of the match for the Carling Cup game against Hereford, and you feel this may be the first of many. He has shone for Scotland this season, has impressed when coming off the bench for us and you feel a starting role is just around the corner, perhaps this weekend against Newcastle. Like Herd he has a genuine connection for the club, and I’m incredibly excited to see what he can achieve this upcoming season.
So how about you? Let us know who your player of the month is for August by getting in touch either here in the comments section, or on our Facebook and Twitter pages (links above).
Let’s face it, after the first 45 minutes yesterday we all would have taken a point, and over 24 hours after the final whistle blew, I’m still delighted with the spirit and character shown by our Villans to come back not once, but twice. This was NEVER going to be the easy game that a lot of people seemed to think it would be. Regardless of the problems Everton are going through they are still a more than decent side, with Internationals throughout the starting eleven. I would have been happy before the match with a point, and after the way we fought for a hard earned draw, I was delighted after.
While the first half was disappointing, I was amazed to see the reaction of some Villa ‘fans’ when we went one nil down. I always try to be positive with regards to the Villa, but when we do play badly (like the first 45 mins yesterday) I’d rather discuss it sensibly than begin criticising everything to do with our great club. Comments like ‘McLeish and Lerner out’ after 45 minutes of mediocrity do no-one any favours, and I’m genuinely worried how some will react when we do lose our first game this season. It seems some people can’t wait to get the knives out, but I’m sure the majority won’t overreact, and won’t think the world is ending. It’s all about the bigger picture and for me at least, McLeish has had a very promising start to the season.
Anyway enough of that! On to the players ratings after a battling point yesterday. As always feel free to get involved, and share your views (Twitter and Facebook links are at the top of the page).
Shay Given: 7 – I love seeing him in nets for us, and as mentioned a number of times this season his communication is a joy to watch. Made a couple of vital stops, and although he almost got caught out towards the end of the match, he made a great save in the last minute from an Everton corner. Could do nothing with either of the goals.
Alan Hutton: 5 – Not the best debut for the former Tottenham man, who looked off the pace throughout. Poor in possession, and Everton were successful with far too many attacks on the left side. He needs games and to build his match fitness but this wasn’t the best start for the Scottish international.
James Collins: 6.5 – The whole defence were found watching for Everton’s opener, but he grew into the match as the game went on. As always a beast in the air, and put his body on the line on more than one occasion.
Richard Dunne: 7 – After one of the best defensive performances in recent memory for his country in the week, Dunne continued his good form with an impressive performance. Looks more calmer with Given behind him, and is continuing to read the game extremely well.
Stephen Warnock: 5 – He’s started the season extremely well considering his issues last campaign. Poor game yesterday though, and he was beaten far too many times by Seamus Coleman. Poor in distribution, hoping for an improved performance next time out against Newcastle.
Fabian Delph: 5 – I’m a big fan of the player, but he needs to learn to tone it down at times, as he’s almost trying too hard. Neat and tidy at times, though our midfield was often dominated throughout the game. Gave away a needless penalty just as we were getting back into the match.
Stiliyan Petrov: 7 – As mentioned our midfield were overrun at times, though he tried his best to keep us possession and to allow us to get a foothold in the match. Stepped up when he had to with an absolute peach of a goal. The reaction of his fellow players tells you everything you need to know about the how much they respect him.
Charles N’Zogbia: 5 – Just waiting for him to really announce his arrival at the Villa, as he put in another poor performance yesterday. Showed some nice touches, but just not clicking for him yet. Was once again taken off in the second half.
Emile Heskey: 5 – No time for him to make an impact as he was withdrawn after 15 or so minutes with a hamstring strain. Disappointing after a promising start to the season.
Gabriel Agbonlahor: 7 – Quiet for the first half (along with the rest of the team) but looked much more threatening in the second half. A cracking run deserved more before he popped up towards the end of the match to rescue a point for us with a well taken header. His celebration showed just how much he loves the Villa and the fans.
Darren Bent: 5 – A poor display from our main man up front, who didn’t look quite right after his recent injury problems. Missed a good chance at the start of the second half, and while yet again the lack of service to him is a worry, he needs to make more of an impact. Saved us early on with a header off the line.
Barry Bannan: 7 – Replaced Heskey early on, and his enthusiasm for the game is great to see from a Villa viewpoint. Always wants the ball and tested Howard with a few efforts from distance. Needs to work on the defensive side of his game, and was extremely fortunate to not give away a penalty as he appeared to catch Baines in the second half.
Marc Albrighton: 7 – Came on when we were chasing the game, and did what he had to do, putting in a peach of a cross that Gabby couldn’t miss. Very encouraging cameo after a pretty disappointing start to the season.
Stephen Ireland: 6.5 – I was impressed with Ireland when he came on, and I’m hoping he uses this appearance to push on for the rest of the season. He wanted the ball, and made a number of cracking runs. Positive signs.
Man of the Match: It’s tough this week as there was no real stand-out performance. For stepping up yet again though, I’m going to award it to Agbonlahor, who has started this season in very good form.
Summary: After a first 45 minutes that were pretty diabolical, a draw at Everton is not to be sniffed at. We came back not one, but twice, and it’s great to see our Villans display such character. A cracking goal from our captain and Gabby once again stepped up when we needed him. We’re still unbeaten, and hopefully we’ll get the three points next week and that will represent a very promising start to the season.
Under 21 roundup, star would have quit had Houllier stayed, more links to an old boy and Bent update….busy day!
The encouraging start to the season continued last night as some of Villa’s young stars impressed while on under 21 duty with their respective countries.
Nathan Baker started for England U’21′s but his night was cruelly cut short as he suffered a knee injury just before half time. During the game he look composed on the ball, and spread it around nicely from his centre-back role. Could do nothing about the goal as Israel broke from a corner with Baker out of position after pushing forward for the set piece. No news yet on the extent of his injury but we wish him well.
Nathan Delfouneso and Gary Gardner both made appearances during the second half, coming on side by side with around twenty five minutes to play. Gardner was making his debut at this level and while he didn’t get many chances to show what he can do, he did spray a number of cracking balls out wide, and it is only a matter of time before he makes an impact at first team level. I thought the Fonz looked really sharp, and deserved his goal for his lively cameo. It came via the penalty spot, and despite a rather awkward stop, start, step back, run forward run-up, he still finished with aplomb, slotting the ball into the bottom corner. The game finished 4 – 1 to England and our young Villans should be proud at their performances.
Another young striker, Andreas Weimann, currently on loan at Watford scored a goal in Austria’s under 21 victory against their Greek counterparts as they won 3 2. This was in addition to the two he grabbed last Friday against Luxembourg. Not a bad few days! He’s very highly rated at the Villa and I would like to see him given a chance this season. The Championship is a very good league so the loan should stand him in good stead. Good luck for the rest of it!
As I write this Richard Dunne has just finished performing heroics in Russia, and has made a quite incredible goal-line stop which you need to see. Given was also sensational behind him and this can only bode well for the Villa, well in boys! In other Dunne news though, the defender has admitted that he would have ‘probably left had Houllier had stayed’. Now we all know about the infamous fall out last season, and his form was inconsistent at best last campaign. I don’t think it’s worthwhile talking about the past, and you can see from his performances already that Dunne, along with Collins are enjoying playing under the new manager. We’ve only conceded the one goal in three games, and I hope that this impressive form continues as the season progresses. A Richard Dunne playing at his best, can only be a good thing for the Villa. You can see the difference having Given behind him makes, and I hope we can get back to being the defensive force we were a few seasons ago.
The links to Villa old boy Steven Davis first came up towards the end of the transfer window, and now it appears as we were genuinely interested in the midfielder as McLeish has revealed the following:
“Steven Davis is a Rangers player. We asked about him, but we know how much he means to Rangers”
“We never pursued it because they made it clear he wasn’t for sale.”
I was a fan of Davis during his initial tenure at the Villa, and thought he performed well albeit in a very poor Villa side. Despite links to Man Utd he went on to Fulham where he did very little before shining in Scotland with Rangers. He does have talent, but for me we have too many similar players here, and I’d prefer to see the likes of Bannan/Ireland given a go before we wasted money and wages on a player we don’t really need. We’ve been burnt before on signing players from Scotland, and I fear we would again if we were to bring Davis back to our club.
Lastly today and a quick update from AMC who has said Bent is ‘touch and go’ to face Everton this weekend. Now this doesn’t sound too promising, and while I hope he makes it, if there is any doubt we’d be better letting him sit this one out, rather than run the risk of losing him for a longer period. If he is out then we have to find a way of creating, and taking our chances. I would like to see the aforementioned Delfouneso given a run-out, but I expect that Gabby would move up, with perhaps Jenas or Bannan taking his place on the left. Time will tell but we hope it’s nothing too serious!
As always, feel free to share your views on here, or via our Facebook and Twitter pages.
So far today we’ve seen the usual amount of Villa transfer madness.
Here is an update:
It looks like young Irish left-back Enda Stevens has all but confirmed his proposed move to Villa, and will be joining in January after Shamrock’s Europa League campaign.
We were apparently in talks with Joe Cole, but he has completed his year long loan move to Lille.
Still looking likely that the Hutton move will be completed at some point today.
The latest link is with Jermaine Jenas, with Sky Sports News (SSN) reporting that we’ve made enquiries for the England midfielder.
Latest update is that Villa and Tottenham are discussing a loan move for Jenas.
Despite reports linking Fulham with a move for Hutton, the Birmingham’s Mail Mat Kendrick understands that the player is en route to Bodymoor Heath for a medical. Talk emerging of Jenas to Stoke.
It has been confirmed that Villa have completed the signing of the aforementioned Edna Stevens and he will join the club in January.
Hutton fee has reportedly been agreed and a medical is close. Jenas deal edging towards being completed as well.
Still waiting for an update on Hutton and Jenas. It is understood we have a 6% sell on fee for Gary Cahill should he move to Tottenham or another club.
After a quick break from reading football to play it, come back to read official Villa announcement that Jenas and Hutton are undergoing medicals. It seems that these two will be the end of our transfer dealings and the latest news that Hutton has turned down Fulham surely means an announcement is inevitable.
And we’re done! Villa have completed the signing of Alan Hutton on a deal until 2015 and Jermaine Jenas has signed on a year long loan. Good deals in my opinion and we have a very promising young left back to come in in January.
We here at Up the Villa love seeing pictures of our beloved football team winning. With that in mind, we’re starting a new feature and will string together a collection of photos every time the Villa wins. We’re hoping we’re going to be busy this season. The first set of pictures features images from our first two victories of the season against Blackburn and Hereford.
You may have noticed the website has also been given a bit of a spruce-up and for that we’d like to thank Alex Currie (link on the right!) for all his hard work.
Please let us know what you think of our new feature, it was enjoyable putting it together, and we hope you like watching it!
It was a struggle, but we got there in the end and the most important thing is that we find ourselves in the draw for the next round. We’ve all seen Villa fall victim to upsets previously, and there’s no denying it sucks. I was therefore pleased to see McLeish take the cup seriously and despite making eight changes, we put out a strong side. It appears that we’re placing more emphasis on the cups this season and that’s the way it should be. Only a few seasons ago we reached the final of this very competition and despite the tournament having plenty of detractors, there’s no doubt that winning it would be a huge boost to the fans and the club itself.
Focusing on the match and ultimately we did enough to see off the challenge of a spirited Hereford team. There were plenty of positives we can take from the match and the most important thing in my eyes, is that we kept the momentum rolling to continue our very encouraging start to the season. Habib Beye also earned his wages for once, and we kept another clean sheet. Eric Lichaj also grabbed his first goal for the Villa, and boy did he celebrate in style! It’s also refreshing to see how much it meant to him, and soon after the match he ‘tweeted’ the following:
‘Think I’m deaf now… Never heard my mom scream so loud and for so long after her son scored. Happy man ’
Now that’s what it’s all about and I love knowing that Lichaj, and the rest of the youngsters seem to have a genuine affinity for our football club. This is the best group we’ve had coming up in a long long time, and I’m so excited to see how they progress. Barry Bannan again ran the show yesterday (sorry Blackpool he’s not going anywhere) and looks like he’s going to play a big part this season, and Weimann and the Fonz also impressed when coming on. I would much rather give these players a go, than spend money on a player who may not necessarily be needed. Which brings me nicely on to my next point!
A number of sources have linked us with a move for Manchester United midfielder Darron Gibson with a fee of £3.5 million mentioned. Now he’s only 23, and anyone coming up through the Old Trafford ranks must have something about them. For me though, I wouldn’t be too keen on bringing him in. I don’t think we need him and while the squad could do with one or two new faces, surely other areas are more of a priority? I think we could do with a defensive midfielder, not someone like Gibson who is more of an attacking option. Yes he has a great shot, but that is not reason enough to bring him in. The fact a lot of Man Utd fans don’t rate him says it all, and I would much rather us use our existing players than waste unnecessary money and wages on a player we don’t really need. The aforementioned Bannan is a much better option, and we still have players like Ireland and Makoun sitting on the bench.
So to finish, well done Villa for negotiating your way to the third round. On a night where a number of other Premiership sides were ‘upset’, it was important for us to progress, and to keep the positivity around the club before the top of the table clash against Wolves this Saturday!
As well as comfortably beating Blackburn this weekend, a number of stories surfaced about Jean Makoun, our enigmatic midfielder who seems to be polarising opinion at Villa Park. Despite only being a Villa player since January, there have been numerous posts suggesting that he may soon be departing, with Greek side Olympiakos heavily linked in a loan deal.
There can be no doubt that Makoun is a quality player, and you only have to look at his performance against Manchester United last season to see signs that he can make it in the Premiership, and can make an impact. It is worth pointing out though that he has only made seven appearances for the Villa, and taking away the display at Old Trafford, he has certainly struggled to adapt to top flight football in England.
This season has seen Makoun named on the bench for our opening two games, and not make it off it as he has remained an unused substitute. Indeed in our last game against Blackburn, McLeish chose to bring on Barry Bannan (who did his prospects no harm with a great cameo) leaving our Cameroonian international frustrated yet again. At the moment is appears he may be no higher than fourth in the pecking order for our central midfield, and with Petrov and Delph forming a very encouraging partnership, he may find chances limited in the upcoming months. I imagine Makoun, along with a few others will get a chance against Hereford this week in the Carling Cup, and an impressive performance might go some way to changing our managers opinion of him.
Even in the last 24 hours or so there have been conflicting stories regarding Makoun, and here is a little snippet to give you an idea. The Daily Mirror reported that Makoun could leave but despite the story seeming to not carry much weight, Mirror journalist James Nursey ‘tweeted’ a few direct (or so he says) quotes from Alex McLeish that would seem to suggest Makoun doesn’t have much hope of a future at the Villa.
‘Gents, about Makoun, I personally asked AM directly about JM (leaving Villa Park) and that was his response. AM clearly doesn’t rate Makoun. sorry’
‘The only way JM will stay is if no-one comes in for him. He’s lightweight, has not settled on or off pitch and AM clearly don’t rate him.’
This would make it seem like the player has little chance of success at the Villa, but in the last few hours the player himself has spoken of his desire to stay a Villan for the foreseeable future.
‘I want to start games, the new manager has come in and I need to impress him. I want to fight and prove myself in the best league in the world – I love English football.’
So is he staying or going? Personally speaking I’d like him to stay, we saw last year the massive impact multiple injuries can have. His quality is not in question, and he’s played regularly in the Champions League. I can’t see him going without someone else coming in, and we’ve been linked with a number of midfield players in recent times. Scott Parker is the link that won’t go away and while I’d be loathe to spend anywhere north of £5 million on him, there can be no doubting his qualities as a footballer. A newer link is to Celtic’s Israeli internation, Beram Kayal. He does look like he can play, but we’ve been burned before on players coming to the Premiership from Scotland.
With the transfer window shutting soon we should get our answer. As I’ve said personally speaking I would keep him here, he hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he can do and his knitwear is a constant source of amusement.
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