Friday, 31 December 2010

Takeover complete - it's Jimenez

Well 2010 finishes with announcement of one of the most protracted takeovers in footballing history.  Richard Murray has finally found a buyer who passes muster and hands the baton on to Tony Jimenez, through his Swiss-based CAFC Holdings Ltd. Jimenez's partner in this is Michael Slater, "a lawyer and businessman." Both men are in their forties.

Murray will remain on the board as a Director, although Slater is named as Chairman. Peter Varney is named as Executive Vice-Chairman and Stephen Kavanagh stays as Chief Executive.

The rest of the blurb is predictable enough in terms of ambitions and managing the club prudently etc. No announcement of January spending budgets or any mention of Dennis Wise, although he can't be far behind. It would appear that most of the rumours were right after all.

League One Weekend Preview, Game 21

First, Happy New Year to you all! I know we all want promotion this year above all else and we should be encouraged by our league position, if not buy the quality of our football. Whilst I don't believe we are currently good enough, I am conscious that there evidently isn't a lot to beat and it will only take a modest overall improvement for us to kick on. two or three better players could make the difference but we need our takeover to go through and to find that the new owners have several million to spend now. The immediate priorities are a creative midfielder and a real striker.

After a week of Sunday's at home, I am now wishing I had made arrangements to go to Colchester tomorrow. Stir crazy and a house of snappy females! I know I won't fancy it tomorrow after a few light ales this evening. 

Secondly, it looks like we might get something close to a full schedule of games played tomorrow so I'm back to having a closer look once again.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Leyton Orient
Pressure on Brighton to win this after being held to a draw by our boys on Wednesday. They will face an O's side who haven't played a competitive match since 11th December and should be good enough to win this although Orient are unbeaten in seven.
Prediction; 2-0

Brentford v Dagenham & Redbridge
Whilst the Daggers continue to scrap at the bottom, Brentford are sitting mid-table but are only a win away from fifth such is the nature of the division this year. They should see the Daggers off here.
Prediction; 2-1

Carlisle United v Huddersfield Town
Carlisle have dropped off to 14th in the table and will need to re-focus their efforts if they aren't to say good-bye to their play-off hopes. They need to win this one then and do us a favour in the process but that might be a tall order against a Terriers side desperate for a result after two consecutive losses.
Prediction; 1-1

Colchester United v Charlton Athletic
Colchester can overhaul us on goal difference if they manage to repeat last year's 3-0 win at the Weston Homes Tiny Community Interest in Football Stadium in the Middle-of-Nowhere. They have drawn too many games this year but have only lost three. Manager John Ward may be trying to manage expectations in his pre-match comments about all the "wealthy" sides his club face in the coming set of games but he's also guilty of setting the bar low by suggesting they will do well to hold their existing position in the table.

The wheels are due to fall off our bus at some point and in the absence of takeover news that might just galvanise a performance from a few more of our players, it could be here. Dave Mooney to show Paul Benson how it's done.
Prediction; 2-0

Hartlepool United v Oldham Athletic
Surprisingly, Pools can join the play-off race if they win here and on form they should. Oldham's season has been built at home and this could be a fourth away defeat of the season.
Prediction; 2-0

MK Dons v Bristol Rovers
MK have won an impressive seven of their ten home games so far. I'm going to stick my neck out here and say Rovers will avoid becoming victims number eight. They are desperate for the points to clamber out of trouble and with Plymouth at home on Tuesday, will be looking to do just that.
Prediction; 1-1

Plymouth Argyle v Yeovil Town
Argyle having brought Peter Risdale in to help them escape financial ruin is akin to a dying man inviting the Grim Reaper in for a cup-of-tea. It really is bizarre but maybe they are trying to force any potential investors into the open as well as off-loading all of their assets? The uncertainty and disruption won't be helping team affairs and Yeovil could be eyeing a rare away win.
Prediction; 0-2

Rochdale v Tranmere Rovers
Nineteenth play twentieth here, so a dour affair in prospect. Rochdale were looking good for so long and yet find themselves knocking on the trap-door. I thought they would go back down at the start of the season but they have shown spirit and this is a big opportunity to steady the ship.
Prediction; 1-0

Southampton v Exeter City
Saints fought back from an early goal down to Huddersfield on Tuesday to hit four and they will be raring to get at the Grecians here. I suspect this will be the game that sees them move above us for the first time this season. 
Prediction; 3-0

Swindon Town v AFC Bournemouth
Two crucial home matches in three days for Swindon which could turn their season one way or the other. The Cherries are hanging on in sixth at the moment but their away form has seen them manage only one win. That doesn't look good enough in the long run.
Prediction; 2-1

Walsall v Notts County
It's tempting to see Walsall in a new light after their controlled and winning Valley performance. However, the table doesn't lie and we were dreadful on the day. Notts County are no great shakes mind you and the Saddlers could be eyeing a rare double.
Prediction; 1-0

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Brighton & Hove Albion 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Technology seem to be extremely challenged this evening. I couldn't get on CAFCTV and the Charlton Life and Forever Charlton sites appeared to be on a go-slow. Server trouble in Paradise I guess. So my knowledge of the game is very patchy and thanks largely to the BBC whose site is built for midweek football volumes.

What is evident to all is that Gus Poyet played a technical masterstroke by ensuring his side went down to ten men inside ten minutes. Having gone behind to a Jackson penalty on three minutes, Poyet signalled to Calderon with the old finger across the throat move and Inigo duly obliged with a reckless, studs-up challenge to earn a straight red. It was a bold move but it ensured Brighton would not risk their unbeaten home record and the ten men recovered predictably enough to get an equaliser and then match our eleven for the rest of the game. It is a bold strategy but Poyet had obviously done his homework.

From the rest of snippets I managed to glean, we looked short again up front with Benson drawing particular criticism from Steve Brown who made it very clear to radio listeners that Brighton are currently helping pay his bills.

I'm guessing Parky will be pleased with the point at the leaders and I would have taken it before the game. We will need to be more ambitious at Colchester on Saturday if we are to avoid slipping down the table.

Tough test for Addicks at the Withdean

Our match against Brighton & Hove Albion this evening looks certain to go ahead as we close out the 2010 fixture list. The southerly latitude and cooling effects of the sea should be enough if the current thaw doesn't do it. After the lay-off and the Christmas temptations, it will be interesting to see just how we fare.

The Seagulls will be hot favourites to record an early double here following their October romp at the Valley. They are unbeaten at home this season having won six and drawn three of their nine league matches at the Withdean. That's a remarkable transformation from last season where they had the worst home record for most of the season. Indeed, I was down there for the 2-1 victory in the dark although the viewing experience was so poor I swore I wouldn't be back and I'll be listening in instead tonight.

I'd like to say I am confident of us getting a result but I can't see it. Brighton are on familiar territory and their 4-0 rout of us will still be fresh as in the minds of their players as it is the fans. If we go behind, I suspect it will be curtains. Colchester will be another tough match on Saturday before we play Swindon on Bank Holiday Monday. 

Monday, 27 December 2010

North Stand wrangle?

I've heard a whisper that the "acquisition" has been delayed by a legal wrangle involving ownership of the North Stand? I am told KRBS have a stake in the North Stand (remember when it was only ever referred to as the Covered End?), although that's not something I was aware of and would question the logic in us ever having extended any legal claim to KRBS. I suppose it could have been done in exchange for increased sponsorship or even one of those moments, like selling the pitch to your fans, to help safeguard football at the club in the event of Administration or a crisis of ownership?

If there's any truth in that, presumably it will be settled quickly although I guess the chances of getting two lawyers into work this week might not be straightforward when they can put it off until New Year..

The Dennis the Menace rumours persist and he now appears favourite to be installed as Director of Football. Surely not. I don't know of a Director of Football who has earned their highly inflated salaries at any club. It's just a job for the boys at clubs with more money than sense. Maybe the truly huge club's can justify one in terms of splitting the workload but not a Coca-Cola League club. Wise's experience at Newcastle in this role is typical of the ridiculous waste of money involved. Let's face it, it comes down to two managers, one who bears responsibility for the results and another who swans around "looking" at players and wasting money and presumably interferes with team selection. Just how many players do we expect to be buying? Necessity has meant we have churned the majority of the squad in each of the last two seasons but you would hope we won't do that again this year unless the new owners have serious money to spend and I am guessing they won't have. We desperately need to get maturity and familiarity into the existing squad. That might be all we need to improve as a side sufficiently to get promotion.

I really do hope this all proves to be a dark figment of our collective imaginations. We desperately need more financial security but we do not need a Director of Football and the appointment of one will be the first sign that it will all go Pete Tong.

On a more positive note, we improved our position yesterday as Huddersfield crashed at home to Hartlepool. Just one of those Boxing day turn-ups I mentioned yesterday, even if Hartlepool appear to have hit some rich form - again, perhaps our postponement there the other week was a blessing in disguise.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

It's not right is it?

How can one man go against the view of dozens and both sides in terms of calling a game off? I don't believe our club were so desperate to get the game on that we would have risked anything. Southampton were evidently satisfied and so it should have been played. That was without Andy D'Urso, star of the show, who managed to call it off less than 60 minutes before kick-off. Tough on the Saints fans not to mention the Berlin boys I met after the game who had travelled over for the match.

In an age where we are about to legislate against airports for failure to keep runways open in the snow, it's high time games were called on or off twenty-four hours ahead of time assuming no deterioration in the weather. Pathetic.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Hoping for a Boxing Day upset

It looks very much like tomorrow's match with Southampton will go ahead. The streets around the ground are clear and the pitch should be playable as temperatures are expected to get to a balmy 3C.

I will be interested in the pre-match odds here because I make Southampton warm favourites. Their recent form has been pretty good and they will come with what I am guessing will be close to a 3200 following. Our own recent record has been comparable but we all know we have not been playing well. Our own horror showing against Walsall matched the Saints own 2-0 home defeat by Brentford. Ordinarily I would take a 0-2 defeat here so I am pinning my hopes on one of those wild Boxing Day results. You know the ones, where inexplicably half your squad is missing or you play out-of-yours skins. In years gone by, my suspicion has often been that unprofessional behaviour involving partying and over-indulgence has played it's part either for or against us. Perhaps things have tightened up so much in recent years that there won't be any chance of that.

In that case, I will clutch at the proverbial straw and hope that the rumoured sell-off by the Liebherr family may be causing an under-current, the first impact of which was the home loss to the Bees.

Normally this would be a bumper gate and Southampton will play their part but our football at home has been poor and the Walsall wounds had salt applied as we rolled out of the JPT live on Sky. I'm guessing between 17-18,0000.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Acquisition "at advanced stage"

That's the official statement as of 5.15pm on Christmas Eve. I refer readers to my earlier post.

The suspense is killing me

It's Christmas Eve. A day normally associated with relaxation after the hectic preparations for Christmas; the mad rush for last minute Christmas shopping and the close-down at work. I am normally enjoying a good few beers in my local with friends and neighbours at this time.

Truth be known, I have been over the road for a couple but there's hardly anyone about (the pub trade is finished) and I keep looking at my phone every three minutes in the hope there will be hugely significant news. You know, a Star in the East and all that. As a result, I am back home and logged on at top speed but still there's no news.

I am getting concerned. No-one but no-one wants to be working at 4pm on Christmas Eve. If you are a genuinely wealthy individual with prospects of owning a football club, especially if it's your club, you would want to be working to a timetable that got things done and dusted before Christmas Eve. That should be the day for the early announcement. The trumpeting of the deal to the waiting world and a photo-opportunity for the clinking of shampoo glasses. If you get delayed into Christmas Eve, you would expect a concession and an early close to the negotiation, unless of course there is a major stumbling block.

I am tempting fate here by posting this, of course, but my suspicion is that we either won't have an agreement today or that the announcement of any deal will be a relative disappointment. The haggling that I am guessing is going on is because Richard Murray is simply not getting the basic offer he requires in order to pass the baton on or the bidders are trying to force every last penny out of the deal. Either way, I think we can rule money-no-object buyers out of the equation and instead focus on the sort of people who might be seen as relatively short-term incumbents. I'm not getting a warm feeling.

There, I've said it. That should force an announcement of a stupendous deal. 

It may, of course, already have happened and been announced but I am getting error pages from the Official Site and Charlton Life, neither of which, presumably, can cope with the volume of Desperadoes looking for news.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Internet Nativity

I don't normally circulate these things but I really enjoyed this one and wanted to share it.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The only way is up?

Two days to go before the expected confirmation of a takeover at the Valley. The secrecy over the identity of the new owners has been maintained impressively so far but it's only natural to assume that we can expect some leakage ahead of the formal announcement as those in the know might succumb to the temptation to share their knowledge and bask in some reflected glory.

As I have already said, I hope the reports of Dennis Wise being spotted at the ground and training ground have either an innocent explanation or that they are scurrilous rumours by those who are convinced Wise is involved. 

Whatever happens, we need to be prepared to accept that after three years of looking, whoever's stumping up the cash has to be a better bet going forward than Richard Murray on the basis that he cannot continue to run the club and keep us out of Administration. So we should be looking to assess the news in terms of how good it is for the club irrespective of who's involved. In the meantime we can dream although I'm in the Chicago Addick camp on this, in that I expect it will be a consortium of interested individuals, none of whom have the money to risk having gone it alone and that their ambitions will be relatively limited.

The prospect of their first game in charge being at the Valley on Boxing Day against former Premiership rivals, Southampton, is looking odds-on. The thaw that started yesterday has continued and we didn't get the 5-10cm of snow that the Soothsayers were predicting. Ordinarily, I can see Southampton piling on the pressure by beating our boys but maybe a positive announcement on Friday might focus minds and competition for places. I am also clinging to the hope that the Brentford home defeat that the Saints suffered last time out was a reflection of unrest at the club and that it will hang over into Sunday.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Nothing going on

Saturday's mini-blizzard in South-East London was pretty impressive. I had togged-up and gone for a walk down to the shops at Peninsula Park looking for some Christmas inspiration. I must have spent half-an-hour in HMV browsing DVD's because the wind had got up and was blowing snow heavily by the time I left. I wandered down to W H Smith's, a shop I love to look around but rarely buy anything because the queue is hardly ever worth it for whatever I might be holding in my hands. A couple of Christmas cards were returned to whence they had come and I was off out into the Call of the Wild. 

The snow was thudding onto me as I headed east along the Lower Road. By the time I reached the Rose of Denmark, there really wasn't anything else to do but shelter from the storm. Safely inside, I joined the gaggle of early regulars and settled down to the first-half of the Sunderland game. Amazingly, the Stadium of Light was lit by bright sunshine and no sign of any snow. Global Warming has a lot to answer for.

As soon as the snow let-up, I was off home and that was it for the day. An afternoon indoors amusing the kids and an evening spent in front of the fire with The Prophet, one my earlier purchases. If you haven't seen it, it gets a rare 9 out of 10 from me.

The whole family made the trek up the hill to my Mum's yesterday where we enjoyed an impromtu lunch before slithering back down Sherrington Road and across via Floyd Road. Like Charlton Casual, I witnessed an accident in Hassendean Road as, ironically, a four-by-four slid on turning at the top of the road and nestled gently into the bodywork of a VW. The owner had the decency to get out and leave a note having knocked at the nearest couple of houses to try and identify the owner. 

That left the Apprentice last night and I was really pleased to see Thamesmead's own Stella English win the job with Alan Sugar. There was a laugh-out-loud moment when she was asked during the final task about whether her new alcoholic drink, "Urbon" might not appeal so much to country folk. Her response was that if she won the Apprentice, she hoped to shortly be moving to the countryside and that she would continue to appreciate the Bourbon drink. She's been the best candidate throughout the programme and overcame the obstacles of being  a bit older than many of the other participants as well as being accused of being "corporate" at every turn just because she's spent ten years working for a Japanese Bank. I dread to think what they would make of me, thirty years at the same institution. Sugar knows he's got a pair of safe hands. I suspect he needs another Apprentice as much as we need Dennis Wise involved with our football club.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Game in hand

Another hectic week at work ended last night with my team's, er, Christmas night out. Five pints of varied real ale at Ye Olde Watling and a curry for those who didn't need to be on trains to Leeds and Nottingham. The Romford commuter didn't make it in due to the snow, nor did the Southampton one. Cambridge was already committed elsewhere but we had a Wycombe, Huntingdon and an Ipswich commuter who hung on with the London boys 'til the end (Ealing, Charlton and Bexleyheath).

My boss is taking his team out on Tuesday to a posh restaurant - another curry - and then that's my lot for Christmas. I'm not complaining as I have started my January diet earlier-than-normal in an attempt to weigh less on new Year's Day than last time around. It'll be a lean weekend to atone for last night and I will need to be disciplined next week if I'm out on Tuesday.

So I'm catching up with Charlton news this morning and it's no surprise that our game at Hartlepool is off. It's good that they have managed to call this early to avoid additional expense and inconvenience for the die-hards who were planning on being there. I also think we might stand a better chance in the replay if it's delayed. I have commented before than we have been fortunate so far this season in largely playing sides at the right time. Tomorrow wouldn't have been the right time to play Hartlepool who have found a rare bit of form and scored four at home in the week. Let's hope we hold this game over until the business end of the season.

So, just another week until The Big Day. The suspense is killing me as the speculation builds over just who is behind the takeover at the Valley. The natural born optimistic in me is confident that Peter Varney intuitively knows that all Charlton fans are looking for the signal that our fortunes have finally turned and that the timing of the confirmation of the new deal has been carefully staged-managed as a Christmas present for us all. The deeply rooted pessimist, however, is suspicious that the time taken to sell the club means that the new owners are perhaps third choices and that ownership is being handed on as a forced sale to avoid the ignominy of the Big A.

I will look for the positives from whoever the new owners are but I have one wish from Santa. Please, please don't let that urchin Dennis Wise have anything to do with it. 

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Bye bye Avram Grant

Avram Grant was a strange appointment at West Ham however you look at it. After the eventual split between Zola and Clarke, Gianfranco's time at Upton Park was limited and I thought the new owners, Gold & Sullivan, would move for a "West Ham" manager in search of a bit of stability.

Instead they chose Grant which baffled me. Grant was another non-West Ham man who, frankly, has a patchy CV. Mysteriously appointed at Chelsea to replace Jose Mourinho, the only link appeared to be his Jewish faith that he shares with Abramovic. Barely 18 months later he was paid off at Stamford Bridge but found another Premiership side prepared to pay his salary and he signed on at Fratton Park. He lasted 18 months at Pompey too and whilst he took them to F A Cup glory with a hugely expensive squad they bought on tick, he also took them down. Why then, was he seen as the ideal candidate to takeover at West Ham this year? It looked like an accident waiting to happen and sure enough the Hammers have been relegation candidates all season.

You could argue that it's hardly a surprise West Ham are struggling again and that Grant has not been given a fair crack of the whip. Trouble is, West Ham fans have known from early on that Grant was not the man to instil the spirit required to over-perform and turn their fortunes. 

I should point out that he's still the manager but he's on borrowed time and has reportedly been given three games in which to save his job. If the players know that, I suspect two more poor performances should be enough to see him shown the door. At that point you wonder what Gold & Sullivan will do next? They need to throw a double-six or they will be taking a huge financial bath on their West Ham "investment," the one they promised potential investors would return a dividend, just like they managed at Birmingham. 

Adrift at the bottom, the managerial hot-seat at West Ham at Christmas is not a genuine long-term prospect and the likely takers would be in the mould of the unemployed, desperate or opportunist. They will want another "name" and that combination at the moment points to another potentially disastrous appointment in the form of Sam Allardyce. Don't get me wrong, I like Big Sam but I think he has his place in football management and it isn't as the Manager of The Academy. I hope I am proved wrong but West Ham face yet another relegation, one that will test the patience and pockets of the current owners even further.

With Fulham also hovering above the relegation zone. the Championship could potentially be a mini-London league next season if QPR, Palace and Charlton can all get their acts together!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Brentford 3 v Charlton Athletic 1

A hard-fought cup-tie at Griifin Park this evening finished 0-0 at full time. The tie was then decided on penalties and Richard Lee won it single-handedly by saving Charlton's first three kicks. Elliot saved Brentford's third attempt but Gary Alexander slid the fourth in to win it. Johnnie Jackson's first penalty was saved as he once again went for power down the middle and Lee stood still to block the blaster. He acknowledged afterwards that the Bees goalkeeping coach, Simon Royce, told him beforehand what to do if Jackson took one.

The Charlton performance was an improvement on Sunday although it would have been difficult to imagine eleven players managing to play as poorly again. The match was short on goal scoring opportunities for either side but Brentford should have won it at the death when they hit the bar and missed two others. We can have few complaints on the night and simply lacked the quality to open Brentford up. I can only remember one first-half effort on target from Kyel Reid.

Looking for positives, we have obviously saved ourselves two southern final legs against Exeter in the New Year and Carl Jenkinson had a very impressive right-back debut. The defence looked better as a result and with Dailly returning we looked less fragile. The game was lost for me in midfield where it was hard to see what formation we were playing. McCormack looked to have been given a free role and our only outlet was Reid on the left wing. Semedo and Racon failed to give us any time or space and it ws all too frantic. Martin had another shrugging, spitting and muttering performance as he failed to make any impression. Pawel Abbott did nothing once again either, so all-in-all we got what we deserved.

Johnson's Paint Tuesday

Fifty-odd hours after the Walsall shambles, Phil Parkinson tries to motivate his side again this evening as they run out at Brentford for a Southern Section semi-final in the JPT. Ordinarily, there would be a fraction of the 1200 or so Charlton fans who suffered the indignity of being outplayed for the opening 45 minutes in early October when we lost our league game there. If you add to that the fact that it's a night game and it's being televised by Sky, expect to see an embarrassingly small turnout behind the Addicks goal. No doubt they will all congregate behind the goal and as the top tier is rarely seen on TV, you should only notice when the ball goes out for a corner.

Fans up and down the country will be puzzled at the tiny London following - "they get 15,000 at home" and "they are challenging for promotion" will be the simplistic refrain. Unfortunately, only the sufferers know the uncomfortable fact that we have flattered to deceive this season. Whilst a home season-ticket has provided poor value-for-money so far - fractionally over one Charlton goal per home game, we have at least found space to play away and that looks like our best hope this evening.

Oddly enough, another win here would see us carry our season forward on three impressive fronts with the Walsall defeat being a game we can make up whereas losing either the two Cup games that sandwich it would clip our wings.

The fact is, we simply don't have the quality throughout the side required to sustain a successful season, even in League One. Our three preferred centre-backs are ageing and look incapable of providing frequent shut-outs. Miguel Llera looks an average League One defender and Yado Mambo is still considered too inexperienced. We look vulnerable at right-back. Simon Francis needs more all-round experience and whilst he's getting plenty of games and making solid contributions at times, his pace is suspect and he has a tendency to panic when under pressure and make mistakes. Matt Fry has proven he can play at the top of this division and probably higher in a better side.

In the middle, Semedo and Racon are simply not a good enough pairing to help orchestrate our attack; Jose's strengths are barrelling about the park breaking up opposition moves and Therry simply isn't a good enough footballer to play the attacking foil. He passes back more than forwards and his first touch is poor for a midfielder. 

Wingers tend to blow hot and cold and that's what we seem to get from Reid and Wagstaff. It probably doesn't help that they aren't getting too much close support from their full-backs who don't like coming across the halfway-line too often and Semedo and Racon are usually so deep that any ball back to them looks like a back-pass. Johnnie Jackson deserves a call-out for his contribution, although the automatic tendency to move him back to full-back when we bring on Reid in the second-half is probably unjustified when Matt Fry has been having a perfectly satisfactory game, like on Sunday.

That leaves our forward-line which we have to conclude isn't really good enough to dominate this division. Pawel Abbott has been a flop so far and I can now see why Oldham fans weren't particularly concerned when he left to join us.  I hope I am wrong but he's looking like another Andy Gray to me. Paul Benson has at least started scoring and he works hard on limited service but he's not got any obvious strengths to his game. Joe Anyinsah is similar to Benson, although nothing was expected from him, so he looks like a relative success at the moment. That leaves Akpo who looks incapable of playing and performing for 90 minutes. His value is as an impact sub when we need to unsettle the opposition defence but it's hardly a permanent job.

There, I feel better after a good moan. I suspect we will have more to groan about this evening if Brentford manage to raise their game at home under floodlights as they have on a number of notable occasions so far this season.

If we do go out, then it looks like our fatigued players will get another rest as it's hard to imagine any pitch being playable in the north-east this weekend, let alone one in Hartlepool.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Charlton Athletic 0 v Walsall 1

I'll keep this short because like most of the team, I can't be bothered.

No energy, no pace, no movement, no threat, no goal, no points. Instead we wandered around admiring what Walsall were doing. Two long shots in the first half were all we could muster and at half-time we were all left hoping it was another game of two halves when we might see some Charlton football. 

Instead, Walsall continued to press and the inevitable goal when it came was very well worked and thoroughly deserved. If Robbie Elliott and Gary Doherty hadn't been working overtime, it could have been another Brighton. Christian Dailly will walk back into the side. Jonathon Fortune looked like he was sulking because he was missing his Sunday Lunch.  

The rest of it was a dogs dinner. Full of mistakes and frustration. I'm seriously worried about White Hart Lane in January. On this form it will be embarrassing.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The stage is set

Not a bad Saturday at all for Addicks fans. Of the five around us, Bournemouth blew it at home to Hartlepool, Brighton lost the lead at Huddersfield to be beaten again, Wednesday romped home against Bristol Rovers and Colchester could only manage a bore-draw against Yeovil Town. If you add Southampton slipping up at home to Brentford, then not a bad days work all-in-all and surely some motivation for the lads tomorrow? 

My pre-season prediction of Brighton, Huddersfield and Southampton isn't looking too shabby as things stand but I am warming to our chances on the back of what is the most unlikely looking unbeaten run which should reach 12 games tomorrow. We are 20-odd games in if you include the cup and we haven't had a thoroughly impressive 90 minutes yet and we find ourselves competing strongly for the automatic places. If we can up that level of performance in the second half of the season, we could end up skating it. If we can't, then I don't see us having enough for automatic promotion and we will do well to finish in the play-offs.

Tomorrow is a classic Charlton banana-skin. Every time we have a game like this I kick myself for not having backed our opponents and swear I won't make the same mistake next time. Trouble is, Walsall are such a rubbish side that I can't bring myself to lay-off anything on them. If we are going to batter anyone at home this season, tomorrow is the one.

Already I am looking ahead to next week when eight of the top ten are away. Hartlepool's win today at Bournemouth should set them up for next weekend but it could also work in our favour if they are a tad more relaxed after winning three unexpected points.

Before then, of course, it's Brentford in the JPT, a match which they should be favourites for. After our winning performance at Luton, I don't see why we shouldn't have serious expectations of making it to the southern section final. Speaking of Luton, I picked up my Spurs tickets this morning. It felt strange seeing our name printed on match tickets against Premier League opposition.

League One Weekend Preview, Game 19

This weekend's games are already up-and-running, Peterborough having seen off Rochdale 2-1 at London Road last night. We have the relative luxury of knowing how all of the others have fared before we do battle with Walsall at 2pm tomorrow afternoon. I am looking forward to the game and think we can move to within a point of Brighton. The unlikely prospect of going top at New Year remains real.

AFC BournemouthHartlepool United
The Cherries have the best home record in the division and Hartlepool would do well to get a draw here. A home win would see us slip temporarily at least below Bournemouth in the table.
Prediction; 2-0 - too much incentive for the home team.

Carlisle United v Dagenham & Redbridge
The Daggers have managed only five points away from home so far and this long trip promises to be pointless. Carlisle remain in the hunt and may make quick work of this.
Prediction; 3-0 - Dagenham are struggling to make the grade in League One

Colchester United v Yeovil Town
Colchester's home form has not been nearly as impressive as last years but they have improved away which has them up in seventh place. A win here would move them onto five home wins with four draws and two defeats with a positive home goal advantage. Yeovil have lost seven on the road and this looks like being number eight.
Prediction; 2-0 - Yeovil not good enough to get anything here.

Huddersfield Town v Brighton & Hove Albion
An obvious Match-of-the-Day contender. Town are yet to put a run together this season and are blowing hot and cold. They are usually quite strong at the Galpharm but should be tested here. Brighton have slowed down of late and a reversal here could be the start of some Christmas blues and bring an overdue sense of perspective to the South Coast where Seagull fans have been getting rather carried away.
Prediction; 2-1 - Huddersfield hot?

Notts County v MK Dons
A derby of sorts and Notts County go into this one knowing that home wins will be crucial if they are to step out of the drop zone before the end of the season. They have won five and lost four of their nine games played so far and will see this as another winnable one - MK have only managed six points away and have lost seven.
Prediction; 0-0 - a rare draw for these two.

Oldham Athletic v Swindon Town
Oldham's undersoil heating, hot-air balloon and retractable stadium roof have failed to prevent their permanently sodden pitch from freezing Tundra-like in the recent snow and ice.
Prediction - they might not get to play a home game until March.

Plymouth Argyle v Exeter City
The Devon derby and both of these sides are fighting to establish some form. Mid-table probably beckons for both.
Prediction; 1-1 - hard fought draw.

Sheffield Wednesday v Bristol Rovers
Wednesday remain in close contention and a sixth home win here would see them move above the Addicks. Bristol Rovers might prove hard to break down but you have to favour Wednesday here.
Prediction; 1-0 - one goal might be all that's needed.

Southampton v Brentford
The first rumblings of board-room uncertainty have emerged this week. The commitment of the Liebherr family to former Chairman, Marcus' dream are being questioned. Not sure how much is in that, although the logic appears sound - not sure how much his daughters are really into football? It probably won't permeate through to the playing staff but we can live in hope.
Prediction; 2-0 - Saints into the play-off places.

Tranmere v Leyton Orient
Trap-door scrap this one. The O's have shown some sparks of life in recent weeks but their away form remains historically poor and Tranmere can invariably raise their game at Prenton Park when they see a real chance of precious points.
Prediction; 2-1 - Rovers hungriest.

Charlton Athletic Walsall
Drum-roll for the big one. I would hope we might see a bigger gate and a better atmosphere than of late but Christmas looms and Walsall are not exactly a fan-magnet.
Prediction; 2-1 - another game of two halves?

Be bold, get your arse down to the Valley tomorrow and support your team!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Luton Town 1 v Charlton Athletic 3

My pre-match hopes of watching this game on ESPN  were cruelly dashed by a Millwall resident of Cyprus who confirmed that you needed a season ticket in terms of annual subscription. Poke that. Instead I wandered around to the Con Club and watched it there with 15 other Desperadoes.

We were poor first-half and they deserved the lead. Unfortunately for them, our only real attack of the half came just before the break and Scott Wagstaff stole in to the near post to head home a fine cross from Simon Francis. It gave us parity after a well-deserved Luton opener and came against the run of play.

The second-half was much better for us and we closed the game out very well with a Joe Anyinsah touch to a free-kick and a deflected free-kick which distorted the scoreline.

Luton can have few complaints on the 90 minutes although Richard Money was less than gracious in his television interview after the game. Parky was word-perfect and he deserved his moment in the sun. Maybe there will be more to come?

If we can do what we should do on Sunday and take the game to Brentford on Tuesday, I believe Phil Parkinson may have finally turned an enormous corner in the minds of the Addick faithful. I will be amongst the first to salute him.

F A Cup Thursday

As the working days race by for me at the moment, my various gadgets are reminding me that the mighty Addicks are in F A Cup action this evening. The chances of me forgetting are pretty slim but if you have a gadget, of course, you have to use it. I have also got the relative inconvenience of having to go for a farewell drink with a short-term colleague this evening after work. As his line manager of three months or so, the short straw falls to me to say something appropriate about him and justify his 25 years service. His previous boss has wriggled out of it and I don't want to let him down. I will do my best but at 6.30 I will be taking my credit card and fleeing.

I won't be heading north. Instead I will be racing home from Cannon Street in the hope of getting to see the game on ESPN rather than have to suffer Emma's commentary, for which I was recently stung for another years subscription. The fact that the charge appeared on my statement as "Premium TV" had me worried for a minute that I might have strayed momentarily on the internet and clicked something I shouldn't have. The penny dropped eventually.

I was worried to read Wynn suggesting that you could get a two month subscription to ESPN because it implied we might need to make some arrangements prior to kick-off. I've just checked my Sky programme guide and strayed into unfamiliar territory but think I have managed to locate ESPN on channel 417. It looks like I have it, so maybe I'll get a slap in the face come kick-off because I need to subscribe. Let's see, I haven't got time or the where-with-all to sort it out now.

As far as the match is concerned, too many fellow Reds are already seeing this game as a foregone conclusion and worrying about third round tickets. I have to think about the first 90 minutes when we were fortunate in many ways to get a draw. Luton may have looked vulnerable at the back but the fact is they played all the football and took the game to us. Jose Semedo could make the difference if he can break up the Luton midfield but I suspect Luton will make the most of their home advantage and it will be very difficult for us this evening. Whilst a trip to White Hart Lane would be most welcome and bring back some big time memories, the excitement could prove to be short-lived and potentially damaging for an emerging side like ours.

If we do go out this evening, I will settle for an attacking and winning league performance against Walsall on Sunday and a better showing against the Bees on Tuesday (Sky), when we can move one side away from a fifth Wembley appearance since the war and our first at the new stadium. 

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Alan Pardew - you've got to hand it to him

Charlton Athletic apart, Alan Pardew has a decent managerial record. His 31% win ratio at Charlton was bettered at West Ham (41%), Reading (48%) and Southampton (53%), not to forget an F A Cup final with the Hammers. His failure at Charlton was all the more disappointing then, on the back of the disastrous Dowie and the inept Reed. However, what made him really unpopular at the Valley was his unjustifiably large ego.

That ego would appear to have cost him his job as he failed to see eye to eye with incoming Chairman Nicola Cortese at Southampton and he was outed after a decent first season with the Saints which included lifting the JPT trophy.

After only a few months away from the managerial hot-seat, he looks set to land a Premier League job at Newcastle United. Yes, the club that loves itself - a marriage made in heaven? I don't think so. The Newcastle job is a thankless task, as Chris Houghton has found out, but it's a good payer and, my friends, that is the special ingredient for Pards who has arguably made more money from being sacked than from working. I'll give him 12 months.

Sunday, 5 December 2010


A quick internet search will tell you that the cleverly scripted television programme, "Never mind the Buzzcocks,"  is far better known than the group, the Buzzcocks. That may be because the Buzzcocks are a 30 year old band who never achieved any real commercial success.

That means they are still gigging to pay the bills. Last night I saw them, embarrassingly for the first time, at the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford. It's their fault really because they split up for the entire 80's when I would probably have got to see them. They did a cracking set straight through for 90 minutes with a proper encore that sent the largely middle-aged audience home happy. Their material hasn't changed and they are honest enough to give you what you came for, which is just as well bearing in mind the audience. A high energy guitar thrash with a decent drum-role and some straightforward lyrics. 

I have to say I was only really familiar with "Orgasm Addict,"  "What do I get" and the ridiculously titled "Ever fallen in love with someone you shouldn't have fallen in love with." The latter is an obvious favourite and a classic punk track with perfectly simple if largely repetitive lyrics that nail the track.

As I stood queueing in the toilets that are far too small for a venue of this size (a great addition to a school), the silence was broken by a balding 50 year old who turned to look around those behind him and said "yeah, this looks like a Buzzcocks gig, all we've got to look forward to is prostate cancer." That's as maybe but the spirit of my youth means I'm not going to wear beige trousers, start drinking halves or not being bothered any time soon.

Friday, 3 December 2010

2066 and all that

The fallout from England's failed 2018 World Cup bid has only just started. I think we have passed through the denial stage very quickly and anger is upon us. The role of the British media is already being scrutinised and the BBC will come under a spotlight this week.

The irony, of course, is that the price for looking for evidence of dodgy dealing is that those involved are likely to close ranks and shut you out. England's miserable two vote first round showing would appear to demonstrate just that or else our bid leaders were extremely naive. Perhaps it's a bit of both. As we begin to rationalise this, we should look at the other side of the coin and consider the merits of a Russian bid.

Russia is global powerhouse with a population of 140m. They have a long footballing heritage, established leagues and export players around the world. Arshavin and Pavyluchenko are two immediate Premier League examples and even us lowly Addicks fans can think back to Alexey Smertin. Sure they have the corruption and misery of the best part of a century of communism to deal with but their rapidly expanding middle classes are keeping European holidays resorts open and their billionaires have much to answer for in the English game. I can see why Russia might have earned their opportunity to host their first World Cup Finals.

Qatar however? Less than a million people in the desert? Footballing heritage? Can't think of a single Qatari player. What have they got going for them that might have persuaded FIFA's elite to vote for them? Oil and gas maybe? Highest per capita GDP in the world? Lovely jubbly.

League One Weekend Preview, Game 19

Come on!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Peter Varney to lead Charlton recovery

I finished working today at a quarter to ten this evening and I am getting dirty looks for blogging whilst I enjoy the fag-end of the day with Mrs Peeps. I don't want any sympathy for my long hours, but merely want to explain the delay in responding to the potentially massive Charlton news that began to trickle through mid-afternoon whilst I was in the middle of a meeting of significantly less importance.

The club have gone public in terms of announcing a takeover deal subject to successful completion of Due Diligence prior to Christmas Eve. The key piece of information in all this is that the buyers are a consortium lead by former CEO-extraordinaire and die-hard Addick, "Sir" Peter Varney.

As New York Addick says, we need to exercise some caution here because we are easy target right now and Richard Murray has been under increasing pressure to pass the baton to someone else and may have had to be less choosy in order to sell the club on. Irrespective, the good news is that Varney has brokered the deal and whoever Richard Murray is passing the reigns to, we must acknowledge that he's done the best for the club that could reasonably have been expected. When this is all finally said and done, I suspect we will hear plenty about how Richard Murray turned down numerous offers which may have been financially attractive to him but which may have left him feeling uneasy about the medium to long-term future of the club.

Varney was the front-man in a previous consortium bid over a year ago which didn't come off. The Rumour Mill at the time had and "Irish consortium," a "Dubai-based investment business" as well as "Local Businessmen" in the frame. Speculation will no doubt be rife between now and Christmas Eve as the spotters are out looking for evidence of Due Diligence. Knowing how much Varney knows about Charlton and how transparent I believe Richard Murray will have been in lining this up, I can't believe this will fail on Charlton's part and if it's the second time of asking from these buyers, then you have to think the deal will get done. 

The timing for Christmas Eve is also near perfect. A possible present for all of us and maybe investment just as the January transfer window opens.

Ere we go, 'ere we go, 'ere we go!

P.S. Russia for the 2018 World Cup? Nah. 

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Fixture congestion means Thursday and Sunday

The current snow blanket covering the country may well disrupt this weekend's fixtures. They have had it bad up north and I felt a bit guilty complaining to a colleague today about the two inches we've had overnight when he's got a foot of it outside York. Rochdale must be a major doubt.

Irrespective, our continuing cup engagements are clogging up the calendar and we face four games in nine days. Our Luton replay will now be played on Thursday 9th December to accommodate a live airing on ESPN. That means our home game against Walsall moves back to Sunday 12th. It's Brentford away on the Tuesday (14th), live on Sky, before we trek north to Hartlepool the following Saturday. Too early, of course, to be talking about defining moments but our results in these games will give as a strong indicator to the potential success of this season.

The three leagues games give us a solid opportunity to maintain our unbeaten run and to hold our place in the top two. Rochdale is the hardest of these on paper but not beyond us and there's every chance it'll be off as I've said. We simply have to beat a very poor Walsall at the Valley and whilst Hartlepool have beaten Brighton in recent weeks, we have to fancy our chances of repeating last year's victory.

The cup games offer the promise of a two-legged southern area JPT semi-final against a side below us in the league for a place at Wembley and a third round F A Cup trip to Tottenham Hotspur. Whilst I am bullish about our league games, I don't rate our cup prospects. A win in either will, frankly, be a bonus. Brentford have raised their game against the bigger sides at home this year and will relish getting at us again after already having beaten us at Griffin Park. Luton Town will have little fear of us in their replay and I believe they will want a trip to White Hart Lane more than our boys will. Perhaps beating Brentford in the JPT offers more reward than playing Spurs, although Richard Murray might disagree?

Sunday, 28 November 2010

And the reward for winning at Kennilworth Road.....

Is a third round F A Cup clash with Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane! Just the incentive Luton need. Spurs on fire at the moment are likely to hit a hatful against a lesser side. Still, it would be a day out...

What on earth were the F A doing with that draw on ITV? Noel Gallagher and one of the blokes from Kasabian? Jim Rosenthal asks the Kasabian bloke "how does it feel" and the unconvincing reply is "yeah man, it doesn't get much better than the third round." They actually managed to pull the clubs they follow out against each other, Leicester v Manchester City, which produced an unedifying fist squeeze and hug. How standards have fallen.

Elsewhere, Arsenal entertain Leeds and Liverpool go to Old Trafford. Palace face a tough trip to Coventry and Millwall host Birmingham City. The Spanners will be praying it remains goalless so they get the chance to play-up in the replay. If Brighton can overcome FC of Manchester then they will welcome Pompey to the Withdean.

The importance of season ticket sales

I've woken up this morning feeling a little depressed, due in large part to events yesterday at the Valley. Scraping a draw against non-league opposition at home would probably be enough to depress anyone but it was the embarrassment of our home gate and the lack of any home atmosphere that hurt more.

The gate given was 8682 which meant approximately 5600 Charlton fans scattered around 24,000 seats. The top tier of the West was closed which at least made the concentration in the lower tier look a bit better. The Covered End was woeful and even the singers in the top tier were huddled together in the central block. I couldn't see the East as I was in it but it was dire around me and the few regular faces who were there raised their eyebrows in acknowledgement that it was a poor showing. Our visitors were clearly perplexed and you could forgive them for their view of "we've got more fans than you." When you combine that with the fact that they largely bossed the game, "football league - you're having a laugh" was a pretty obvious song. 

We are actually averaging 15,382 in the league but many of these gates are boosted by absent season-ticket holders, so the gates look a good bit worse at the match. Tuesday's game against Bristol Rovers was a prime example. In our defence, we have just played four successive home games and it was freezing cold yesterday, but 5,000 home fans is pretty much close to our die-hard, watch paint-dry, Valley following. This was the F A Cup after all and whilst the opposition were non-league, it was Luton Town and not Northwich Victoria. If you consider that it was only a tenner to get in yesterday and a fiver for concessions, I think you have to acknowledge that we attracted hardly any neutrals or walk-up interest, something that used to have a key contribution to gates at football matches.

I am left with the conclusion that our league home gates are actually much better than perhaps we have a right to expect purely based on the football we are playing and our league position. The club obviously understand this, which is why they target renewals so effectively each year. 

It doesn't help that we have not played particularly well at home all season and are having to scrap to get results. I believe our league position is false based upon the quality of the football I have seen at the Valley so far. Based on yesterday's gate, I suspect many of our fans feel the same. 

We are averaging a couple of hundred more than Palace as things stand, and whilst our season-ticket base is probably close to better than Millwall's average gate of 11,300, I suspect Palace will pip us before the season finishes.

Perhaps there is no easy answer to this conundrum beyond Phil Parkinson managing to improve the quality of the product on offer at home. Strong, free-flowing and winning football is compelling to watch and is the best advertisement we have for attracting fans and encouraging newcomers to return. Perhaps our efforts over the last four years have been counter-productive because of four lean years and our tendency to under-perform on the big occasion?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Charlton Athletic 2 v Luton Town 2

A draw against non-league opposition in the cup? Progress, I suppose.

The 5000-odd Charlton fans who bothered to attend today were embarrassed at being chastised by our lowly visitors who were obviously unimpressed with our home support or by the class of our football which, ultimately, was to earn a replay which looks like mission improbable.

Credit to Luton. They came to play football and stuck to their game plan and on both occasions they found themselves behind they simply pressed on. They were actually a yard short of pace when it came to it but they more than made up for it with their running and movement. That Charlton took the lead twice disguised the fact that Luton were doing most of the attacking throughout and our players looked like they were simply trying to get the job done by expending the least effort necessary.

Joe Anyinsah's early opener was a simple goal that reflected poorly on non-League football. Kyel Reid did well to fashion a cross but his arrowed near-post ball was uncontested and Anyinsah didn't even have to jump to steer home his header.

Luton pressed throughout the first-half without looking really dangerous but they got their reward after half-an-hour with a soft looking penalty when the lively Morgan-Smith made the most of a tackle from behind from Miguel Llera. Drury took the penalty which Rob Elliot saved but he was able to follow-up and head home the rebound. Charlton restored their lead within five minutes when Johnnie Jackson headed home after a goalmouth scramble and the ball bobbed up for him ten yards out. 

Two-one at the break then and it looked like Luton were going to be outclassed. However, they stuck to the script and continued to pass and move around a Charlton side who simply weren't able to put their opponents under any sustained pressure. You can guess what happened next. Substitute Walker broke strongly for Luton and carried the ball from their half to ours before rolling it across to Drury 25 yards out. We had plenty of men back and ready but Drury was left to his own devices and he simply stepped up and chipped home into the Jimmy Seed Stand which sent the excited visitors into raptures.

We weren't able to up our game after that and have the unwanted re-match to play as a result. We have better players than them but it will take a major effort for us to win this tie and I am not sure we have the commitment to do it. I expect we will now slump out in favour of a concentrated effort in the league. Not a good day.