Tuesday, January 31

Andy Carroll feels the love from WHU fans

A good interview with Andy Carroll talking to Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail today. He speaks about how the Payet sulk has sparked the lads and of "feeling the fans" when the London Stadium finally came to life in the Palace game. It's interesting that the players noted the change of atmosphere: "After that game, we were all talking about 'feeling the fans'. There wasn't so much of a connection at the new stadium. It's been tough but we felt that was a game when we all came together. We were talking about the noise they made. We were buzzing about it."

Andy also reveals that he doesn't like watching football on TV and that he's no longer having a party: "In the past I was a big drinker, I have been tarnished with that and I don't enjoy that.  That is the old me. I have regrets looking back. Maybe it would have helped me avoid injuries." 

At 28 he seems to be a more mature character, staying in to watch crap TV and training professionally. You also feel sorry for him when he says he never really wanted to leave his home-town club of Newcastle for Liverpool, although he now feels much more at home with the Hammers. Click on the link to read the complete interview.

Monday, January 30

Farewell Dimitri Payet: a diminished genius

The inevitable has happened and Dimiri Payet has been sold to Marseille for £25 million. The player has got his way, but David Sullivan and David Gold called it right in their press statement: "The club would like to place on record its sincere disappointment that Dimitri Payet did not show the same commitment and respect to West Ham United that the club and fans showed him."

Payet was probably the most skilful player I've ever seen at West Ham. There were plenty of moments to treasure last season; those free kicks against Bournemouth, Man United and Crystal Palace; running the length of the field to score against Blackburn; that dinked third goal at Palace; his brace against Newcastle; a late winner at Everton and the crosses that set up the epic final win at the Boleyn against Man United. What a shame that his quality as a man couldn't match his quality on the field. We sang your name and you repaid us by going on strike. It's a healthy profit on a player who is soon to be 30, but if ever there was a wrong way to leave a club, this was it.

There were a couple of great moments this season, such as his solo goal against Middlesbrough and free kick at Anfield. But after starring in the Euros it was soon obvious he was distracted back at West Ham and only playing at eighty per cent. Last season he had scored five by November, before he was crocked against Everton. This season he has scored only two league goals despite playing until January. He could still take a great set-piece, but sometimes he wasn't tracking back or pushing himself enough. Yes, he might have had family problems and the club didn't sign a quality striker, but that's no excuse for not putting in a shift and then refusing to play, all while on £120k a week. Dimitri and his agent should have been honest enough to make a written transfer request.

Yet ultimately Payet appears to have done the club a service, judging by the last two results without him. Even if you have a genius, if he's not paying at full intensity, it affects the morale of the whole squad. No player is bigger than West Ham United, but I just don't think Dimitri understands.

Saturday, January 28

Snoddy signs

Good news that Robert Snodgrass has signed for £10.2 milllion. What's encouraging is that this window West Ham have signed two players who are proven performers in the Premiership. Snodgrass has already scored nine goals for Hull this season (two are penalties) and Jose Fonte has been up through the leagues with Southampton as well as picking up a Euro 2016 winners' medal. Bilic himself has said that players from other leagues often need a season to adapt, so it's still a mystery why we signed so many players in the summer who hadn't done it in the Premier League before. Now at least it seems that some lessons have been learned. And if WHU can get close to £30 million for Payet the club will make a healthy profit over the transfer window.

Friday, January 27

Zarate kid goes to Watford

It will be interesting to see how Mauro Zarate fares at Watford. He was clearly high-maintenance, but you do wonder if West Ham might have made it to sixth had he stayed last season. He was certainly more of a threat than his replacement Emmanuel Emenike. Bilic at last appeared to be getting the best out of Mauro before he was surprisingly sold last January to Fiorentina for £1.5 million. Zarate scored quality goals against Arsenal (catching out Cech on the first day of the season) Chelsea (a fine snap shot) and West Brom (a great free kick), got the equaliser at Leicester in the League Cup and netted a fine solo effort against FC Astra in the Europa League. And at times, as against Stoke, when he beat three players and hit the post, he looked a real quality player — though at other times he could be infuriatingly selfish and drift out of games. Wonder which Zarate will turn up against us in a few weeks' time?

Thursday, January 26

Where would Snodgrass fit into West Ham's side?

West Ham have had a £10 million bid for Robert Snodgrass accepted by Hull City and you have to feel he'd choose the Hammers and higher wages over Burnley. Always liked Snodgrass as a player — he came up the hard way via Livingston, Leeds and Norwich. The Glaswegian plays with hunger, has a great shot and can score free kicks. The only fitness reservation is the dislocated knee that kept him out for a season at Hull. 

Though if he's mainly a right winger you wonder where he'd fit in as we're just starting to see the best of Feghouli and Antonio prefers the right flank too. Presumably Snodgrass's arrival would mean the departure of Gokhan Tore as we're now overloaded with wide players. The Scottish international can also play up front and might revel in a more central Payet-esque role. 

He'd certainly be a good player to bring off the bench and a record of 78 goals in 371 matches is impressive. As is his giant beard. Since the departure of Tomkins, the Hammers, bar Ginge and Big Andy, have been a little lacking in the facial hair department. In fact Ginge, Andy Carroll and Snodgrass could form a very impressive prog rock band…

Wednesday, January 25

Turning the London Stadium Inside Out

Should you blame tenants for the sins of their landlords? The BBC's Inside Out had a lengthy report on Sadiq Khan'a inquiry into the spiralling cost of the London Stadium, which rather unfairly focused on West Ham. What the critics frequently forget is that West Ham are not the only users of the stadium. The Hammers will play there for all of 23 days this season and it's also used for athletics, rugby, concerts and possibly cricket. There's no reason why West Ham's £2.5 million rent should be expected to cover all the annual running costs. It also has to be remembered that we gave up being ground owners to become council tenants. 

The blame for the costs is, as the programme admitted, down to Sebastian Coe and Boris Johnson for changing their plans mid-project and the suits of the LLDC who installed the wrong kind of retractable seating. Why were they surprised when Karren Brady negotiated a decent deal for West Ham? Have they never watched The Apprentice? She's a Tory businesswoman and you can't really expect her to accept a moral obligation for paying for security when it's already included in the rent. You do wish the media would make up its mind. Is the stadium a soulless corporate bowl or the deal of the century? At present we're being attacked on both fronts. Click on the link to view the programme.

Monday, January 23

Time for Payet to go

It says all you need to know about the wealth of modern footballers that Dimitri Payet is happy to forgo £25,000 a week appearance money through refusing to play. He's probably more upset about being removed from the players' WhatsApp group.

Andy Carroll spoke some sense after Saturday's win when he said: “Our response [to Payet’s strike] just proves what the lads have got deep down in themselves. It proves our passion for football, for the manager and for our club. It’s everything. No one player is going to destroy anything."

No doubt Andy likes dosh as much as the next footballer, but he gives the impression he'd always play and put in a shift whether on Hackney Marshes or the Olympic Stadium.

Marseille are said to have come back in with an improved £26 million offer and it's surely time to sell Payet. What's so sad is that all of this was avoidable. Payet and his handlers could simply have said that he is homesick and wants to return to France for the sake of his family. He would always be grateful to the West Ham fans for their support and to the club for getting him in to the French national side. He might have added that he'd play his heart out as a professional until he left, but regrettably he was putting in a transfer request. If necessary he'd stay until the end of the season.

That way he could have retained our affection and left with some dignity. But instead he's decided to sulk and then strike and turned himself into the Moriarty of E20. David Sullivan is right to insist on some sort of apology to the fans.

Sunday, January 22

Carroll and Calleri see off Boro

Middlesbrough 1 West Ham 3

So that's a 100 per cent win record post-Payetgate. Another great result for the Irons. Even with whiplash Andy Carroll managed to power home an unstoppable header from a corner. But after a bright start by the away side Traore threatened for the Tessiders and the unattended Stuani slotted home after a fine move. But the Hammers showed character to come back to lead as Valdes could only palm Antonio's shot into the path of Big Andy.

The Hammers had to repel a Boro onslaught in the second half as Stuani hit the bar, but Lanzini also missed a clear chance and late on Calleri hit a half-volley wide when he could have taken a touch and scored. Deep in added time Antonio broke and after Fernandes inexplicably opted to pass and not shoot, Lanzini kept the ball alive and crossed for Calleri to fire home a heavily deflected shot. We never doubted you for a moment, Jonathan.

After the game Bilic revealed that Angelo Ogbonna has played all season with an injury and following the signing of Fonte will now have an operation on his knee. So let's give a lot of credit to Oggy for his commitment — Dimitri take note. This also explains why we might have struggled at the back this season. We're now on 28 points, tenth, and things are looking up. Irons!

Saturday, January 21

Back to Fonte

Signing Jose Fonte is good news, even at £8 million for a 33-year-old. Always rated him as a defender and he made Lovren look a lot better player than he was while they were both at Southampton. Jose is a European Championship winner with Portugal and was captain at the Saints. So perhaps he'll provide more leadership in the WHU side. It's quite surprising none of the top six took a punt on him. 

The arrival of Fonte means West Ham now have four centre backs in Fonte, Reid, Ogbonna and Collins, plus Kouyate who can play both defence and midfield. Perhaps Bilic will play mainly three at the back now with Reid, Fonte and Ogbonna as his first choices. The right back problem hasn't been solved yet, although Byram being fit is a boost. But having Fonte in the squad can only add to competition and improve the side. And thankfully now the Insider column has been dropped from the WHU website we also seem to be doing our deals a bit more discreetly.

Friday, January 20

Andy's Whiplash and other bizarre WHU injuries

So Andy Carroll might be "slightly doubtful" for the trip to Middlesbrough having sustained whiplash scoring his epic goal against Palace. In terms of bizarre West Ham injuries it's up there with Enner Valencia injuring himself stepping on a broken tea cup a couple of seasons ago and getting crocked by crockery. Other strange WHU injuries have included: Steve Lomas injuring himself walking round Disneyland; Billy Bonds tripping over his slippers, and falling downstairs injuring his toe; Hayden Foxe injuring his finger by catching it in a bib and Christian Dailly going down with pleurisy. Not to mention Devonshire Flu and Trevor Morley's knife wound…

Thursday, January 19

Away daze

It's proving very difficult to get away tickets these days. Just missed out on Watford tickets because you needed 13 priority points. And there are a huge amount of times to factor in now. Depending on your points and status there were 17 different times to apply listed in the programme and if a group of you want to apply you are limited by the person with the lowest points. Stephen Hawking might struggle with some of the combinations. There are a lot more fans now and Watford is a low capacity, but you do wonder if first come first served for season ticket holders (or those over say five or six points) might be easier, followed by a general sale. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, January 18

Striker light

Good piece in the Guardian today by Jacob Steinberg on West Ham's astonishingly poor record of buying strikers under Sullivan and Gold. It mainly repeats what's been said on various fan sites before, but the stats are pretty damming. We've had "32 mishits in seven years" and no West Ham striker has ever scored more than 20 goals in a Premier League season. There's a clear pattern of buying cheap gambles that often don't work out. Only Sakho, Carroll (when fit) and Demba Ba have proved successes. Among the flops are Mido, Benni McCarthy, Modibo Maiga, Wellington Paulista, Maroune Chamakh, Robbie Keane, Mladen Petric, Marco Borriello, Nikica Jelavic, Emmanuel Emenike, Jonathan Callleri, Simone Zaza and a host of other names we'd rather forget. Click on the link to read the whole piece.

Monday, January 16

Is Sam Byram the right back West Ham have been looking for?

One of the most encouraging aspects of Saturday's win was the form of Sam Byram when he came on for the second half. We've not seen him since he injured his hamstring against FC Astra back in August, when he was taken off on a bizarre motorised stretcher car that looked like something from Wacky Races. 

Against Palace Byram looked comfortable on the ball and was immediately looking to get forward and also offered defensive cover for Feghouli on the right. It was a remarkably composed performance from a player returning from a long-term injury. He nearly scored with a dipping volley and also got in a couple of fine tackles at the back. Sam played with a bit of fire too and had to be separated from a Palace player at the end. Leeds fans really rated him, and although he needs to do some work on the defensive side of his game, he looked like the natural right back we've been missing. The Hammers still need to buy another right back to provide competition, but Byram returning is a major boost.

Sunday, January 15

Who needs Payet when we've got Andy Carroll?

West Ham 3 Crystal Palace 0

Plenty of colour before the kick-off. Nigel reports choruses of “F**k off Payet!” in the shouty tunnel near the Carpenters Arms, while he’s discovered a plaque marking the meridian line near the Builders Arms. Michael’s been to Upton Park to see the rubble of the East Stand and had lunch in Ken’s CafĂ© after picking up his signed Clyde Best book from the Newham Bookshop. Steve the Cornish postman is here to deliver a missive to Mr Payet, along with Scott and Joe, while Alison is rumoured to be in Maldon on strike wondering if the East Stand can match her ambition of a game without any glare from the sun (it can’t).

It's not a great first half. Feghouli releases Noble who gets in a cross that Andy Carroll volleys over the bar when he might have hit the target. At the other end Tomkins prods a dead ball across our goal-line, prompting a chant of “James Tomkins he’s one of our own!” But the positive signs are that Lanzini looks up to make the playmaker role his own and the side is working hard. Big Sam will be satisfied with a goalless first half.

At the interval I suggest that if Carroll scores Big Sam will be hoist by his own petard. “It would take a very strong petard to hoist Allardyce,” quips Nigel.

Bilic takes off Ogbonna and brings on Byram, reverting to a back four and pushing Antonio further forward. Young Byram has a fine game, getting forward well and also making some solid tackles.

Suddenly West Ham look fired up. Carroll fires wide almost from the kick-off. Feghouli starts to play really well, getting in a great cross that Tomkins heads away under pressure from Carroll. Feghouli then beats two players and wins a free kick. From the dead ball Big Andy fires into the side netting. A great ball from Obiang finds the overlapping Byram who sends a half volley just past the post. “Come on you Irons!” chant the fans as we start to find some belief.

After 68 minutes Noble finds Antonio who gets behind the Palace defence to send in an inviting cross and Feghouli has the desire to prod the ball over the line. The Algerian winger then kisses the turf — unlike his goal against Domzale where he kissed the plastic by mistake. Great moment for Feghouli, who is looking a different player when he’s confident.

“I never doubted you for a moment, Sofiane…” declares Mystic Matt. 

Will Big Sam’s men come back and sneak a point? Andy Carroll makes some great defensive headers and Collins and Reid are solid. Then on 79 minutes Lanzini finds Antonio who crosses into the box. Andy Carroll winds himself up like a medieval siege engine, connects perfectly with the ball and propels an unstoppable projectile into the top corner.

The ground erupts as Andy slides towards the corner flag, nearly taking the East Stand with him. Now that gives the stadium a bit of history. “Dad, how did he score with a backward kick?” asks a disbelieving Nell. Who needs Payet?

Suddenly our ‘soulless corporate dome’ is rocking to “SUPER SUPER SLAV, SUPER SLAVEN BILIC!” All the rubbish we’ve suffered this season seems to disappear, as finally, thanks to a certain Gallic prima donna, the club appears united once more. For the first time the London Stadium is starting to feel like a home. And Slaven must be moved by the support. He's a decent man who has supported Payet all the way and has not deserved the events of the past week.

West Ham stop another Palace foray and suddenly Antonio is running from his own half. He finds Lanzini who races towards the goal pursued by two defenders. With supreme nonchalance he produces a Payet-esque dink over the keeper and runs into the arms of the fans to celebrate, earning a booking, but who cares?

The team’s performance suggests that Dimitri had become a big pain in the dressing room. Antonio has set the tone by playing through flu and making all three goals.

For once there’s a happy hubbub on the way to Hackney Wick. After putting my daughter Nell on the train, I take the Overground back to Stratford, escaping the Stop/Go signs and making it to the King Edward, where Nigel, Michael, Matt and Fraser and joined by Gavin, who’s been to the club shop, getting a track suit for Stanley and quite possibly buying up all the Feghouli shirts he can find. All the Payet shirts have been removed. Strange days indeed. We might have lost a player and found a team.

PLAYER RATINGS: Randolph 6; Antonio 8 (Fletcher n/a), Ogbonna 6 (Byram 7), Collins 6, Reid 7, Cresswell 6; Feghouli 8, Lanzini 8 (Fernandes n/a), Noble 6, Obiang 7; Carroll 8.  

Friday, January 13

Dimitri Payet: You've lost that loving feeling

Back in February 2016 Dimitri Payet was interviewed on BT Sport. He said of his relationship with the West Ham fans: "It was very quick, after just a few months. They took the time to know me as I did them. It gave me a lot of confidence… I felt they they trusted me and were showing it by supporting me all the time. Today I often say, it is a love story. It's the first time in my career I have a song with my name. For me it's a love story." He described being close to tears at the reception upon his return against Liverpool and said, "I think it amplified even more my love story with the fans." 

Today it's a case of, to quote the Stranglers, "Oui, c'est la folie." 

Slaven Bilic certainly looked hurt, having protected Payet this season and celebrated on the table when he scored for France last summer. Now Payet is on a love strike and playing away on football's equivalent of Tinder.

I think we'll see a big reaction from the players against Palace as they try to prove they don't need Payet. Perversely, it could be what WHU need to play as a team rather than a group of disparate signings.

Thursday, January 12

We've lost Payet

Slaven Bilic has announced that Dimitri Payet doesn't want to play for West Ham anymore. The manager says Payet is "refusing to play for us" and this explains why he was only on the bench against Manchester City, with Slaven increasingly worried about his attitude. It's surely time to let him go because we don't want a discontented player at the club and it will affect the morale of the rest of the team. 

Payet hasn't been the same player this season, so let's get £30 million for a soon to be 30-year-old, save £120k a week and strengthen the rest of the side. Not having Payet as a get out of trouble option might make the whole team play better and inspire Manuel Lanzini to become he main playmaker. 

Payet arrived with a reputation as a temperamental player, but Bilic handled him well last season, though now we're seeing the other side of his character. To some extent his frustration is understandable. He was promised a tilt at the top six again and a world-class striker, but once we only got Zaza and Calleri it was always likely he'd end up wanting to go. West Ham had a world-class player in Payet but blew it through a summer of poor transfer dealing. 

Although Dimitri's gone about leaving in entirely the wrong way by apparently refusing to play, which is a sackable offence, though it never happens in football as no club will write-off a valuable asset. Payet should put in a transfer request if he's unhappy and remain professional on the pitch and in training. He's leaving with no class and will now be booed if he ever returns. You can understand Bilic saying, "I feel let down, I feel angry." But a hard line doesn't usually work, as West Brom have shown with Saido Behahino, who has lost value while frozen out by Tony Pulis.

We'll never forget Payet's goals or those moments of skill in 2005-06, but now the time has come to say au revoir. 

Wednesday, January 11

Hogan's heroes?

West Ham have had a £12.5 million bid for Scott Hogan turned down by Brentford, with the west London club holding out for £15 million. We're buying at a bad time and will undoubtedly have to pay over the odds for a Championship player. The 24-year-old Hogan had a decent season for Rochdale and then one and a half decent seasons for Brentford, but he would still be a gamble, particularly as he's already had a cruciate ligament injury. 

We should remember that Ashley Fletcher prospered with Barnsley in League One but is taking time to adjust to the Premiership. On the other hand, having come up the hard way, starting at Woodley Sports and playing for Haifax Town, Stockbridge Steels, Ashton United and Hyde, Hogan might have an Antonio-like hunger that some of our bigger players don't have. It's been a disastrous summer in the transfer market, so let's hope that at some stage we get lucky.

Monday, January 9

Martin Samuel on the Boleyn as Bernabeu

Martin Samuel's Mail on Sunday piece, "Upton Park was never the Bernabeu - Now the London Stadium is being used as an excuse for West Ham's failure", has certainly provoked a lot of comments in West Ham sites. Upton Park was something of a fortress last season, mainly because of the high-octane emotion of it being the last season at the Boleyn. But historically, as Samuel points out, the likes of Man United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City used to regularly beat us at the Boleyn. 

Yes, he ignores the understandable anger of West Ham have fans who were lead to believe the retractable stands would be much more efficient and there would be far fewer transition problems, but Samuel also has a point that West Ham would have been accused of a lack of ambition if they hadn't tried to match the 60,000-seater stadiums of Arsenal and eventually Chelsea and Spurs. The stadium is imperfect and needs more redevelopment — it might take a decade or so to get it right —  but the biggest problem is surely bad results and poor signings; if we'd won 5-0 on Friday there would be a lot less talk about the faults of the stadium. We all miss Upton Park but it's the players who are losing matches. Click on the link to read Samuel's full article.

Sunday, January 8

The wrong size of pitch?

Are we playing on the wrong size of pitch? Pep Guardiola appeared to have a point when he said that the London Stadium give players the illusion of having more time, partly because the crowd are so far from the pitch. Though actually the pitch is not that big. Looking at the stats, at 115 yards by 74 yards (or 105 by 68 metres) it's the same size as Wembley (though one yard less in width), Old Trafford and the Emirates. It's only five metres longer and four metres wider than the Boleyn Ground. Or to quote the rather unfortunate boast on the club website, it should be, "made for the exciting, passing football Hammers fans want to see."

Man United and Arsenal don't appear to suffer from a large pitch and if anything there's a case for making West Ham's pitch a yard or two wider to bring the fans closer to the action. It should surely be possible to add a few rows of temporary seats to the sections around the half-way line that are a long way from the action, though digging the pitch down further doesn't appear to be an option at present because of the toxic waste in the soil beneath the stadium. Though who knows what might happen if an eventual new owner throws some money at the LLDC.

The big problem for West Ham at the moment is not the larger pitch but the fact they've never won a league game by more than one goal at the London Stadium and have now suffered a good few tonkings there. It's worrying that Bilic doesn't appear to be able to organise the defence. For all the faults of Big Sam, his teams rarely looked as disorganised at the back as we did on Friday night. How does a club get to this stage of the season without a recognised right-back? 

There's a lack of spirit and leaders too. You can't see anyone bar Reid trying to organise the team when things go against us. Mark Noble tries his best as captain, but you really think West Ham need to sign some more characters with a strong presence in the dressing room. If results don't improve against Palace and Middlesbrough then Bilic will start to look vulnerable again.

Saturday, January 7

Home humiliation for hapless Hammers

West Ham 0 Manchester City 5 (FA Cup)

Inside the London Stadium Nigel and Fraser have discovered the programmes have sold out, CQ’s making her seasonal debut (and surprised that she can see the pitch as Nigel had led her to expect the summit of K2) and Matt’s had to buy a ticket away from the philosophers.

The first half an hour isn’t too bad, Antonio forces a save from Caballero and two excellent Reid tackles save the Hammers. City take the lead with a soft penalty after Kolarov zips into the box and draws the lightest of touches from Ogbonna. Michael’s dad phones to give the definitive opinion that it wasn’t a penalty. West Ham then have a great chance to equalise as Antonio fires at Cabellero and the ball falls to the hapless Feghouli who fires horribly wide of an awning goal.

West Ham stream forward and are picked off by City’s slick counter attacking. Nordtveit prods Clichy’s inviting cross into his own net as Adrian hesitates. A couple of minutes later the Hammers defence is horribly exposed as Silva has time to read the collected works of Charles Dickens before firing past the prostrate Adrian.

“Still, it’s not as if we’re on national television and everyone will see our humiliation… ah, hang on…” quips Nigel.

The second half is a training exercise as Aguero deflects in Toure’s mishit shot and Stones’ header crosses the line before Noble can clear. Finally Payet comes on. Is he tired, injured or about to go? No one knows why he hasn’t started. The mood is strangely lighthearted as we’ve long given up the luxury of hope and even anger. We’re finally making history at the London Stadium — it’s West Ham’s record home FA Cup defeat.

The best moment of the game is when fan a dressed as Spiderman invades the pitch accompanied by a gent in orange tights. Those life bans start to seem tempting and a few of us might bring superhero costumes to the Palace game.

Just as West Ham’s comeback is commencing the ref blows dead on 90 minutes despite numerous substitutions and injuries. Like us he's seen too much.

West Ham fans: please give generously to those in need
We escape through Westfield and into the Tap East. They’re out of absinthe and mescaline so we settle for Number Six Blonde. Michael muses about cats toying with injured mice, Fraser informs us he’s been mistaken for Jeremy Corbyn and CQ gets out her collection of Christmas cards before the bottom falls off her wine glass and the bottom falls out of our season. We inform Nigel that we’ll have our mobility scooters ready for the Cup Final breakfast in Kew come 2037. Nurse, the screens.

PLAYER RATINGS: Adrian 5; Nordtveit 3, Ogbonna 4, Reid 6, Cresswell 4; Feghouli 3, Obiang 5, Fernandes 5, Lanzini 4 (Noble); Carroll 5 (Payet 5), Antonio 6 (Fletcher 4).