19 Sep 2012

'He was perfect! - Benitez explains how LFC lost out on £12m Man City star...

In the summer of 2008, former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez tried his hardest to replace Xabi Alonso with Gareth Barry, and as many fans will remember, he pursued the England international with barely concealed zeal and absolutely no respect or consideration for Alonso, who had been a consummate professional for Liverpool. Alonso later admitted that Benitez's actions forced him to leave the club, and now, Benitez has given his account of the situation.

In his newly-released book 'Champions League Dreams', Benitez explains exactly why he wanted to dump Alonso and sign Barry:

"Barry was perfect: he could play as a central midfielder, but he had some experience as an attacking left-back, which would be a useful option, and even as a left-winger. People who knew him told us he was a good professional, dedicated to his career, and a fine player. His nationality and price made him the ideal signing".

Barry was 'perfect'? He wasn't/isn't good enough to lace Alonso's boots, and it's depressing that the club was willing to sell a truly magical player like Alonso and replace him a typical 'huff and puff' English player. Benitez then explained how he tried to make the deal happen:

We knew we would have to sell players that summer, and we decided that the most likely candidate was Xabi Alonso, who had not quite performed to his best in the last couple of years. Juventus did not want to pay what Alonso was worth, and we could not agree a fee that we felt was suitable and it became clear there was no chance that a deal would be completed, so we pulled out of talks with Villa".

In my view, Benitez's pursuit of Barry is one of the gravest mistakes of his Liverpool career, and it still depressing to see Alonso at Madrid now and not Anfield. Jamie Carragher agrees, as he recently explained:

"It just sickens me to see Alonso in the red of Spain and not the red of Liverpool. We'd love to have him back - he was a fantastic player at our club"

Alonso is definitely open to an Anfield return, as he revealed in an interview last summer:

"I think that in football so many things change. I have my red passion and if circumstances arrived [for a return to Liverpool], then why not? I miss lots of things. I miss the lads, I miss the atmosphere at Melwood - it was a great place to work, and the scenario of Anfield is unbeatable.

"The special nights I have been privileged enough to live, those will be in my memory forever and they are difficult to compare anywhere in the world. At the moment I don't know what is going to happen, but it could be a possibility. Never say never"


In the same interview, Alonso also revealed that his biggest goal at Real Madrid was to win the La Liga title. He has now achieved that, which means he's won every major trophy out there. What better time to return to the club he loves so much, to work with a manager he respects? Said Alonso:

"I think that everyone is really optimistic about the new manager Brendan Rodgers. As a Liverpool fan it gives me hope for the future"

Alonso's contract with Real Madrid expires next summer, and he's reportedly set to turn down the offer of a two-year contract extension. If ever there was a player who would fit into Rodgers' football philosophy, it's Alonso.

Jaimie Kanwar


52 comments:

  1. Your opinion of Gareth Barry is utter crap!
    Good judges of a footballer at the highest level, managers and players, all rate him.
    You know nothing.
    Benitez bought players and sent out teams that won trophies for Liverpool.
    What have you ever achieved in the game?

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  2. There are a few constants in life, and one such constant is that people who play alongside or watch Gareth Barry play every week all rate him highly. Others, who watch him once or twice each year, or on television do not. Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Yaya Toure have all said that he is a great guy to have alongside them on the pitch.

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  3. Real Madrid 5-0, ManU 4-1, Aston Villa 6-0 say it all ^_^

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  4. Not saying he is as good as Alonso - few are. But there is a saying among City fans that the world is split into two bits, those that rate Barry as a footballer and complete ****wits (which are you?). He is the most underrated player at City (by those outside of City). We just do not play as well when he is not playing...not sure why but it is true.

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  5. Absolutely spot on. Benitez's obstinacy has put us back years and we are still trying to recover from his mistakes. That is not to say there has not been any after he left. God knows there has but he started the rot in his final 2 years.

    I'd love to see Alonso back but I doubt it will happen.

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  6. Agreed that Barry does not compare with Alonso. However, there is no doubting that Alonso had, at that time, had a couple of below-par seasons (barring a wonder goal vs. Newcastle from inside his own half). It was only when this transfer was discussed that Alonso then went on to have his best season (08/09) for us. Would Alonso have been so good that season if he wasn't out to, in a way, prove his worth? We'll never know.

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  7. I didn't say Barry wasn't a good player, just that he's not in Alonso's league (IMO)

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  8. Xabi isn't coming back any more than Torres or Benitez is, not while FSG are in town.
    BR may be in charge of what happens on the pitch, but that's where it stops. Clint Dempsey and Sigurdson prove that.
    There will be no earth shattering signings in January, either.
    It'll be £30M budgets + what you bring in per season, and it's spent up already.

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  9. The one thing you and others keep omitting in the whole Alonso affair is that his form had dropped significantly !!! Anybody who chooses to ignore this fact are not giving a fair and balanced account of the affair.

    I'm a huge fan of Alonso .. who isn't.. He started so well for Liverpool but there was a 12-18 month spell when he wasn't playing very well.. It was at this time Rafa decided (as is his right as manager to do what he deemed to be in the best intrests of the club) to look elsewhere.

    I can vividly remember watching Alonso during this period and loosing patience with him myself.. I don't think I'm alone. In the aftermath of the failed attempt to sign Barry and offload Alonso, it seemed to spur Alonso back into the form that had originally endeared him to the Kop .

    Rafa was IMO and based on his form over a prolonged period of time right to move for another player, I'm not say Barry necessarily, but he was right.

    I'm sick of people like you and others who have a selective memory about Alonso's carrer at LFC.. He was great ,., he was poor.. and he was great again...and it's unfair to keep attacking Rafa for wanting to replace him when he was underperforming for such a pro longed period of time .

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  10. we are recovering from firing rafa.

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  11. Look at the core, the spine of the liverpool team now, they're all Benitez players. Except for the last season, his squad improved year in year out and every player improved their game. The youth set up we have now was because of him. The players coming into the first team now (Suso, Sterling, Shelvey) were signed because of him. Sure, he had his faults. But Fergie smiled the day he was forced to leave liverpool, and he laughed the day Hodgson was appointed. One thing you'll see on the TV is Fergie laughing and joking with managers whose teams Manure will probably beat. By Rafas second season Fergie had stopped laughing and joking with him, 'cause he knew Rafa was building something special.

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  12. Alonso had had 2 seasons of poor form, whereas Barry had been phenomenal. With Mascherano , there was less need for a sitting midfielder who would direct play from a small section of the pitch; Barry, who was more mobile and dynamic, could come in and create more movement further up the pitch, whilst still having an engine that would allow him to get back. Alonso is a classy midfielder, and is showing that even more in Spain where he has the time on the ball to really pick his passes. With Barry, Liverpool would have had more fluidity and the ability to create movement to shift up a gear, rather than passing intensity. Some of Liverpools worst performances came from having high passing intensity but no penetration (sound familiar?) and Barry would have changed that.

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  13. it will be his last big contract, hence a little posturing. why on earth would he come back to play young boys and get beat by havant and waterlooville?

    He's undoubtedly a legend, but i could not condemn rafa for what went down. Alonso was really good for 2 of the seasons he was with us and average for the other 2. there was 30m on the table and we were broke. rafa did strong arm the situation , and that was one of his weaknesses, but its just one of those things.
    re barry id rather have had him than keane thats for sure. at least he would have played every week.

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  14. I don't think we'll recover from firing Rafa for a long, long time. He picked up some real gems for this club, and but for some cold feet from the people writing the cheques could have had Alves, Simao, Jovetic for peanuts compared to what they are worth now.


    JK - Rafa identified Barry to fit into a system of play that he thought would/could win us the League. It was never meant to be a straight swap between the two, it was purely the fact that the sale of Alonso would raise significant funds that could strengthen key positions.
    Alonso had had some mediocre performances over the previous 18 months. He is a magnificent player, but his form had dipped, and he wanted out. He always blames Rafa, but most level-headed people will acknowledge the fact that UK Tax laws ensured his pay at the end of his stint with LFC was not much more than it was when he joined. This was his major gripe, but he had a convenient patsy in the 'way he was treated'.

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  15. Barry was better than Alonso in Alonso's final season with LFC. He did have a bad year, don't you remember, he just couldn't do anything right. By the way, if it wasn't for Rafa, you and everyone out there wouldn't even know who Alonso is.

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  16. You must be mad! Skertl, agger, shelvey, reina all benitez players, the youth academy overhauled by benitez. Cop on lad.

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  17. Spot on, AJ.
    Ferguson is only bezzie mates with people who he doesn't regard as a threat - Allardyce, Curbishley, Hodgson etc.
    And for everyone who says that if it hadn't been for Rafa, Xabi would still be at LFC, I say that if Rafa was still at LFC then so would the likes of Torres and Masch. I also reckon that he could have enticed a few other gems to join us. And maybe Pepe Reina would have his head sorted too.

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  18. Benitez was our best manager for the last 20 years (at least). I love Alonso, but I have to remember that he was great at the start and the end of his career - and not so great in the middle off it. Rafa bring him to LFC for 10.000.000 pounds, make him blossom and then sold him for 30.000.000!!! To be fair, you have to remember that Rafa didn't have the Chelski or Man City economic resourses. He had always to sell and then buy something else. This means that in an "Arab - Russian" team, maybe he could buy Barry, keep Alonso and just boost the competition of our players for a place in the first eleven! And I think that one of many things that Rafa achieved and never had a real credit for it, was Steve Gerrard's stay, in an era that Chelsea was the next big thing in world football, when "special one" was buying any player he wish! Maybe we have to suffer more, just to understand how important was Rafa Banitez for LFC...


    YNWA

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  19. I'm quite comfortable taking Benitez's view in this instance. He's had mixed fortunes with different players but there is no question that some players advanced significantly under Benitez. Alonso was one of these, he found the form that has made him a Spanish regular under Benitez despite the personal issues. It's great to say with hindsight that Alonso turned out to be a better player, any fool can see that, but I think at the time it was a very reasonable assessment to make. Alonso had a poor season and Barry was up and coming. Benitez saw something he liked and I too believe that Barry would have been a very good player for Liverpool. Benitez remains a tactical taskmaster of the highest order and perhaps like Alonso, Torres, Carragher, Gerrard and other LFC stars, Benitez would have brought out the best from Barry.
    It was a transfer SNAFU and Rafa will have to take his share of blame (if there is even any point talking about it) but I think if plans were laid out and attempts made to get the right combination of players then the ultimate failure of the transfer is just a mistake the team has had to wear. Bad things happen, transfers don't work out and sometimes you don't get the players you want. I wouldn't have said that at the time the plans were made anyone was raising eyebrows except for the owners who obviously balked at the price tag. For me, pointing out the foolishness of transfer mistakes with the benefit of hindsight is something a 10 year old can do. If it were that easy in reality to predict then we'd all be Premier League managers. I agree with Rafa that Barry was a good option at the time and Alonso would have been the player to sell to make ends meet.

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  20. Bullshit. Alsono was fantastic in his final season. It was the season before that he was average.

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  21. Alonso hasn't won the epl...That's surely a majour trophy.

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  22. 100% correct mate, i have highlighted this fact a numerous occasions to people that appear to just think of Alonso at his best at LFC.

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  23. Besitikas 8-0 (CL all time record)

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  24. Liverpool fans's delusions of grandeur beggar belief.


    The biggest mistake recently was Dalgleish. He's set the club back a couple of years with some horrendous signings and failing to bring the best out of the players at the club. The Suarez affair summed up how out of touch he was. That t-shirt
    debacle was so misguided it was unbelievable. Did he consider for a moment how Johnson felt?
    Rodgers is a good coach. He must be given time. If he is, over time, the top four is in reach.

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  25. Rafa Benitez has been the best manager Liverpool have had, certainly since Dalglish's first reign and even, perhaps, since the great Bob Paisley. However this is one instance where Jamie's critique is justified. While Alonso admittedly had a bad season the year before and did not quite reach the levels demonstrated in previous seasons, Rafa should have realised the underlying importance of Xabi to the team. This is especially true since Rafa was the one who had recognised Alonso's tremendous potential and uniqueness as a player who can truly dictate the way the team plays in the first place, bringing this wonderful gem of a player to Liverpool from Real Sociedad for a mere £11 million.


    So yes, the decision to potentially sell Alonso that season, eventually leading to his departure in the following season, was probably Rafa's greatest mistake as manager of Liverpool. That it ended up costing him the Liverpool job was highly unfortunate for Rafa - and even more tragic for Liverpool. With Rafa still at the helm and the support of FSG, Liverpool would almost certainly be in the CL and fighting for the EPL title by now.

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  26. You said he wasn't/isn't good enough to lace his boots. Not quite what you are claiming now though is it?

    As others have said Barry is generally a better player than people give him full credit for.

    I am not sure what Alonso is like at lacing boots but I never saw that as a major indication of a players ability on the pitch.

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  27. Knowing Jamie's stand on Benitez, it is obvious he will forget this FACT

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  28. Fact is both Alonso & Barry have now won league titles, alas not with Liverpool. They can't be bad players if they can win the league. Both are class players and there is no need to debate that.

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  29. The reason Barry was such a good option at the time was his ability to play with Gerrard. You could see from the England games in which they played to gether that they had a great understanding and connection.

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  30. The reason Barry was such a good option at the time was how well he played with Gerrard. You could see from the England games they played together that they had a great understanding and worked well together in midfield.

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  31. Benitez' explanation makes perfect sense. Barry could cover for the injury-prone Aurelio and Agger, the inconsistent Riera, as well as centr mid. Would have been a perfect addition to the squad. Why did Alonso get so offended ? Probably because Gerrard wanted his england team mate at Anfield. In the end, given the needs of H & G to raise funds, well in that context it was great business. As ever, Jaimie, you are blindly anti-Benitez in everything that you write. Is it journalism or just a personal airing of one-sided ill-informed bias ?

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  32. Liverpool fans are not as deluded as your criticism. How Johnson felt ? He supported Suarez as we all did, and rightly so. He knew that Evra likes a race-card trick, he'd done it time and time again. Your last sentence is correct, at least. But delusions of grandeur ? Being the most succesful club in your country EVER, and the third best in Europe EVER, is not a delusion. Recommend you to specsavers joe

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  33. as a comment, as pointless as saying Gerrard hasn't won the spanish league .....

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  34. As much has i love Xabi Alonso, I dont understand these people who constantly pull Rafa Benitez, for what happend over Alonso, leaving our club. Gareth Barry, may not be as good has Alonso, but he is a better than average player Imo, he seems too be the heart of the Man-city midfield. And who wouldn`t like too see Xabi, back in the LFC red once again. And one more thing, If Brenden Rodgers, dosen`t work out, who wouldn`t want too see Rafa Benitez back at our club ? I hope Brenden succeeds myself. C.O.Y.M.R.

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  35. Totally agree, he was playing crap and then all the Barry talk and he bucked his ideas up

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  36. Gerrard has rarely looked good, let alone great, in a England central midfield, so not sure I agree on the Barry shout on the basis of a England central midfield as its been a woeful area for England for over a decade.

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  37. Well said, my thoughts exactly, Alonso's best season with us was the season after the "Barry debacle", however in the 1-2 seasons leading up to that, he was poor, Rafa was right to look for a better solution to the team, perfaps Barry was not the solution although he is a class player and had experience of a fruitful partnership with Stevie, he always worked better with Stevie for England than Lampard did

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  38. Jaimie,


    You seem to have omitted that is was Benitez that bought Alonso in the FIRST place.
    I agree that Benitez pursuit of Barry was stupid and at the expense of Alonso but there would not have been a Alonso had it not been for Benitez.
    I also draw everyones attention to the fact Mascherano,Alonso,Arbeloa,Torres,have stated on more than one occasion that Benitez is why they are as good as they are now.


    You may not like him, you may not agree with his style of management, however the players (with the exception of Carragher who has his own agenda) all state that tactically and in training he improved them.


    I'm not calling for his return, nor do I think he should be canonised,but please take a look at the players Rafa targetted now in the first team or on the verge of it
    Streling,Shelvey,Suso, and then you have the players he signed.
    Skertel,Agger,Reina,Johnson.


    Where are Roy Hodgsons contributions?
    How may of Kenny's have survived Rogers1st team? Only Suarez.


    If we are going to compare Benitez/ Barry lets compare Dalglish/Downing,Henderson,Adams,Carroll with Rogers only 5 games in.

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  39. He knew that Evra likes a race-card trick, he'd done it time and time again' = Myth

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  40. Traore surely wasn't that bad either, as he has won a CL medal ;)

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  41. Ditto the bullshit

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  42. I believe you mean in the season when Rafa tried to sell him to bring Barry in. But this was not Xabi's last season, his last season was the next season which was in fact his best season for us and was the season we nearly won the league. Also, I doubt your suggestion that no one would have known who Xabi was if not for us as we beat Real Madrid to Xabi's signature.

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  43. This Alonso myth is becoming tired now. Alonso played for LFC for 6 years he was at best average in 4 of them seasons, his best season coming when he knew he was on the transfer list. Benitez would have been thinking months ahead and when he decided to cash in on Alonso, it was probably at the end of what was one of the poorest seasons Alonso had when he first thought about getting rid. Benitez knew he had to sell before he could buy so why not sell a player who up to that point wasn't really performing and make a massive profit on the sale. Maybe if we had the finances Benitez would have preferred to keep him and see what happens but under the H&G regime Benitez always had to wheel and deal. Yes Alonso had a great final season at LFC, but what was he doing for the other 5?

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  44. Phil Battison - Holy shit! Likes a race card trick! Done it time and time again! That is an absolute disgraceful (illegal probably) comment to make. You're not the 'fan' that upset the 18 year-old Oldham player last year with racism are you? How you can post something as abhorrent of accusing a clearly racially abused person of pulling out a race card? His has every right to complain every time it happens. I sincerely hope this is your view only (and perhaps Dalgleish's). I tell you something else, if the club and fans were in support of Suarez at any stage you're basically endorsing racism and there is no way a black or mixed-race player would ever support a racist regardless of the racist being in his own ranks, FACT.


    To be racially abused is one of the worst things that can happen to someone. This is 2012 but is shows once again that racism is still here and will probably always be here thanks to you and possibly too many other football fans.


    On a brighter note, how are you measuring success now? Now you've been over taken by Man U? I take it it's just Europe as you'll probably never win the league again?


    Living in the past, with your questionable views, is where you belong.


    I actually hope Rodgers can do something at your place but I tell you now people with views like yours deserve nothing.

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  45. Please allow me to cut n paste your answer whenever Jamie start blaming rafa for selling alonso. It seems Jamie failed to give a response to your answer. Lol. What a load of rubbish report from Jamie.

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  46. Rafa booked his ticket out of Anfield when he hunted Barry and in return pissed off Alonso which saw him leave to Madrid and then Rafa went and wasted 20mil on a rubbish Italian who did not want to be at Anfield in the first place. There was also that time when Rafa did not want Xabi to be at his child's birth. That will make anyone show the finger to Rafa and rightfully so. Who dares to deny somebody the right to see the birth of their child?


    Xabi was Rafa's downfall, Just look at how utterly Rubbish Rafa lead the team in his final season. We still have not managed to find a replacement yet for Alonso but I may be proven wrong with Joe Allen who is going to be one of our most important players this season.



    Good riddance Rafa!

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  47. If rafa had not tried to replace alonso with barryalonso would not be the player he is today..simple..he needed the kick up the ass to perform and had the best year for LFC when he knew his position was on the line..RAFA is the only man to take liverpool back to the summit..I am just ashamed it took me years to see it

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  48. I remember many instances when Alonso comitted mistakes that immediately resulted in goals against us. I agree that Alonso's form at that time was poor, then he improved dramatically after the Barry issue. Proof was he wasn't a Spain starter till after the season we finished second in EPL. However, since he left, his void has never been filled, and the team went into decline. Honestly what a player, professional, and a gentleman. Only admiration for him, wish he was back

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  49. Started the rot in his final 2 years? That's funny, cause his second last season, we came 2nd.

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  50. Rafa is our best manager since Joe Fagan,

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  51. I didn't even get to finish the 1st paragraph, I was laughing that much. Jesus J-Hound, even by YOUR standards, this is straw-graspingly arseish. I'm not biting this time my dear boy!

    Go off, have a lie down, and rewrite this again later when the cocaine wears off.

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