Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Makienok makes three

Hot in the heels of El-Hadji Ba, we have today completed the season-long loan of giant Palermo striker, Simon Makienok. There was talk of 'with an option to buy' but no mention on the Club site that it's any more than a straightforward loan.

Makienok is 24 and has scored 57 goals in his native Denmark although his move to Palermo last year saw his opportunities limited to four appearances and he failed to score. That would suggest he might struggle in the Championship but having been handed the number 9 shirt, it looks like he's going to get his chance. The current Club strategy means you have go consider the trade-off and Makienok's arrival makes the sale of Igor Vetokele look more likely.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Ba makes two

Twenty-two year old rookie El-Hadji Ba has joined us on a three year deal from the Black Cats. His first team record is relatively light having only managed to get on three times for Sunderland and having broken his leg on loan at Bastia. If he lacks experience , perhaps he makes up for that in pedigree. A six foot central midfielder of Senegalese origin who has been capped at U18, U19 and U20 for France he clearly had enough promise for the Makems to take him on.

He would appear to have something to prove if he can settle in our side and ordinarily he ticks a number of my transfer boxes. The rub here, of course, is I suspect he is not coming into our side to strengthen it but to replace either Joni Buyens who is off or Jordan Cousins who is strongly rumoured to be off. News of Aston Villa's interest in youth product Cousins may well have affected the way he spent his Summer holidays. He has obviously avoided the temptation to chillout and put on a few pounds as is customary. He returned to first day training and shattered the club's 1500m record by 15 seconds. Perhaps his agent told him he needed to get to Birmingham as quickly as possible?

Friday, 26 June 2015

Scotland Forever

Off to Scotland this weekend for a catch-up with half-a-dozen mates from Aberdeen. We have hired a fantastic private house on a cliff overlooking the river Tay a few miles outside Perth (have stayed there before). There will be plenty of football banter and genuine interest in the plight of the Addicks and I will need to show an interest in developments at Pittodrie and the emerging dream of the Dons once again challenging the elite of Scottish football to regain their rightful place at the top of the tree. 

They begin their Europa quest in Macedonia in a couple of weeks and they are all going. One or two of them have been to Welling with me for our annual curtain-raiser and I will be asked if we are playing there again. Isn't quite the same but there you go.

We have a day of activities tomorrow before an annual meal in a restaurant that only has ten covers. Not sure Segways are going to be my kind of thing but Tank driving is right up my street. Hand me a shell please.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Roland sells the Mothership

News this morning that Roland Duchatelet has sold Standard Liege, the flagship of his football club network. He was undoubtedly unpopular with the Liege fans who have campaigned to get rid of him but I am reminded that he has been very adept thus far at not giving two hoots what supporters think.

There is also a question of him clearing up any possible contravention of Belgian club ownership rules following St Truiden's promotion, although I suspect he has acted primarily out of a desire to get out of Liege. I am left wondering again whether the effective failure of FFP has broken his plan to beat the system?

If it has, then you would want to sell your biggest assets first before the market tumbles you are heading out. Perhaps a big of a leap of imagination, but lo' and behold there are also rumours of a wealthy Nigerian Oil tycoon have expressed an interest in acquiring a non-Premier League London club. Duchatelet is also quoted as having said he may be getting out of SL but he's not getting out of football. Again, you don't signal your intention to the market or your prospective buyers lower their offers in the hope of securing a bargain.

The next few weeks could be interesting......

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Patrick Bauer

Confirmation that our first Summer signing is 22 year-old German centre-half, Patrick Bauer from Portuguese side Maritimo. His transfer announcement coincided with the finality of Joe Gomez's move to Liverpool reserves for £3.5m. The undisclosed fee will be around £3m more than we will have possibly paid Maritime and will effectively settle half of our last year losses. just another £4m to recoup and Katrien will have balanced the books.

I have no problem with us selling players when we have to - everyone does it and it's part of the game. The fee for Gomez isn't bad and if there was a buyout clause in his contract, then that might not have helped us but if we had been able to hang onto him for another season he may have flourished and that fee doubled. We would have seen more of our investment in him and the club's youth policy better supported.

Many will be reconsidering their subscription to Valley Gold on the back of Joe Gomez's departure - I am. Joe managed 21 appearances for the Addicks, one more than last year's loss of Diego Poyet. Joe will be aiming to improve on Diego's three appearances for West Ham in his first season there. 

With our best players from last season being auctioned off, I am reminded again about how Bournemouth managed to get promoted. They didn't break-even in their last few seasons but they didn't spend a huge fortune either. They achieved it through squad stability and strengthening with several better players each season. There is the dichotomy of having a wealthy owner with limited ambition and one who is prepared to invest in his club. The other, much more obvious difference is the quality of the football that supporters of the Investor get to watch. That, for me, is what really hurts.

Expect more burying of bad news in the coming weeks as we cash-in on who we can. The Bookies have us amongst the warm favourites for relegation. It would be great to see us prove them wrong but I am not minded to repeat my top-half season gamble of last year. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

QPR on the first day

The new season will open on Saturday 8th August with QPR visiting SE7. We follow that with three tough aways (Derby, Forest and Wolves) and a visit of also-relegated Hull City before Wolves away. The pessimistics are predicting an immediate relegation battle whilst the optimists think it will be good to play these games early on and that it could fire us up for a good start.

What will determine that, of course, is what shape our team is likely to be in and the signs here are not good. The squad that finished last year has already been depleted numerically without any significant loss, from my perspective, but   it's looking increasingly likely that some of our best players will be sold on to balance the books. Gomez already looks a goner and Vetokele, Gudmundson and now Cousins are being linked with other clubs. 

Probably best to assess things in early August but the pessimistics hold sway at the moment. It is hard looking down the fixture list for me to get too excited. The matches all look 'samey' and equally difficult. My love affair with Charlton Athletic Football Club is on the wane and I feel sad about that.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Republic of Ireland 1 v Scotland 1

Scotland are still in the mix for Euro '16 after a point in Dublin from what was a pretty poor quality game. Irish confidence looked low and Scotland played for the draw. This cheeky Paddy Power advertisement set the tone for for the match and the draw.

The two nights in Dublin were spent with good mates who had travelled from Aberdeen and Oslo as we enjoyed the 'Irish Temple Bar' and my favourite Doheny & Nesbitts. I have been to Dublin six times over the last twenty-five years and am used to seeing hardship, from drug-embattled housing estates with 'father vigilantes' patrolling to stop dealers throwing drugs to their children, to the more run-of-the-mill down-and-out. Perhaps it's a reflection on how much better London has become but the numbers of people begging on the Dublin streets was alarming. Most looked like young immigrants and the form is to clutch a sleeping bag around your body and shake a paper cup. Ireland's benefits were very good a few years back but that has been cut as the economy has suffered. Perhaps that's the explanation?

Anyway, Scotland now stand looking at three possible victories from qualification. Georgia away, Poland at Hampden and Gibraltar in Faro. No doubt it won't be that easy but we have edged ahead of Ireland in the race to France.