Saturday, 27 October 2012

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Yet another very competitive outing and another draw. We went with the same side that started at Leeds but didn't dominate the midfield in the same way we did at Elland Road. Wolves created more in the first-half, but we came back strongly and Rob Hulse squandered four good second-half chances to have opened his account for the Addicks and won the game for my bet.

The good news is that Lawrie Wilson was on hand to knock home one of Hulse's   missed opportunities and that was enough to earn us the point. Lawrie Wilson was roundly criticised after his first couple of appearances by a large number of Charlton fans, many of whom, quite frankly, were looking for their next scapegoat and are pretty clearly poor judges of a player. Hats off to Chris Powell again here for bringing Wilson to the club. Lawrie has played wherever he has been asked to and, for me, he has been one of the highlights of the season so far.

Middlesborough and Cardiff to come at the Valley next and we really must be looking to record our fourth win of the season having performed so well at Leeds and Wolves. Rob Hulse must be pretty frustrated but he is an experienced professional and he knows the goals will come. Wright-Phillips should also respond well to getting back in the side but the big question will be whether or not Chris Powell is prepared to give up a five-man midfield. The new look five have earned their corn and, much as I prefer a more attacking formation at home, I won't complain if he starts again with the same line-up.

We are sitting in 20th place this evening which feels completely false given how competitive we have been in every game. I think of the Barnsley game when they looked very well organised and in control and yet we matched them for most of the game were by no means outclassed. Palace pressed us and got the lead but we threw everything at them and should have snatched a late equaliser. As I have said before, I think we showed Forest too much respect and were far too unadventurous, but everywhere else we have been in with chances and have been unfortunate not to score a few more goals which would have brought us another eight or nine points. I am expecting things to even up a bit and for us to be mid-table by New Year. Cliche I know, but we are still learning in this division.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Can we follow up?

After the stirring performance by the new look midfield on Wednesday, will Chris Powell be bold enough to go with the same again at Molineux tomorrow? I certainly hope so.

I am a bit surprised to note that the Wanderers are up to fourth in the table. They don't seem to have been setting the division alight but have clearly caught up on the rails. A 3-2-1 home record is supported by 3-0-3 away, so obviously those defeats have caught my eye.

I think the trick in this division is not to stand on ceremony and get about your opponents. Playing for draws doesn't look profitable and hopefully Chris Powell and the boys are coming to terms with this. We have the defence to contain Wolves and with a more competitive midfield we should begin to get a better points return. 

I haven't seen every game by all means but have listened to those I have missed and the Forest away showing was probably our poorest of the season so far, although I have to say that tactically speaking we handed it to them on a plate that day. Other than that we have been far more competitive in most every match and more tomorrow please.

I have been to Molineux on a number of occasions but the last was that fateful F A Cup match in 1998 when that disgrace to football, Kevin Muscat, broke Matty Holmes' leg and ended his career. For those of you too young to remember this, Holmes was told by the Consultant who operated on him that he was lucky to save his leg. Holmes was later awarded £250,000 compensation but Muscat carried on injuring players for years after that. To appreciate just what a dirty bastard he was, I am linking to his Wiki entry which spells it out. A man I would love to punch hard on the nose to this day. 

I will be tuned in tomorrow afternoon hoping we can get what we deserved at Leeds - three points. The bookies appear to have their bottoms hanging out of the window on a Charlton victory at 7-2. Get on it.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Leeds United 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

The battle for points continued this evening with a well deserved point from Elland Road although we were unlucky not to have won it.

A far stronger performance as Chris Powell made a number of personnel and tactical changes. Cedric Evina finally came into the side at left-back which allowed Chris Solly to resume his rightful place on the other side. That allowed Powell to push Lawrie Wilson up onto the right flank to provide a probe to challenge Kerkar's on the left.

It was a five man midfield with further surprises as neither Stephens or Hollands started for the first time since they were joined at the club. Instead, Johnnie Jackson and Bradley Pritchard were joined for his full debut by Dorian Dervite who was presumably playing as the disrupter in front of the back four. Stephens failed a late fitness test which, I believe, allowed Pritchard into the team. In the absence of Ricardo Fuller, Rob Hulse got the job of lone combative striker.

We dominated possession in the first half but fell behind in the 36th minute after Cort was pushed to allow the ball to fall for Norris to fire home. Cort himself had headed wide earlier, Jackson missed a glorious chance within a minute of the Leeds goal and Hulse struck the woodwork before the whistle.

Four minutes after the restart and with Addicks bemoaning their luck again, Dorian Dervite arrived in the box, met a ball from Lawrie Wilson and he swept home an unlikely looking shot which beat Paddy Kenny into the far corner. There can't have been that many Reds up there but it sounded like plenty as they celebrated and broke into "Valley Floyd Road!" One who was there was Rob Elliott, who was down from Newcastle to join the lads in the away section - you can take the boy out of Charlton....

Leeds tried to take the momentum after our equaliser but Charlton stood up to them and Lawrie Wilson broke away again down the the right and picked out Salim Kerkar with his cut-back but Kerkar shot wide. 

Luke Varney was subbed in the second-half as Leeds tried to change things and the next Leeds substitution saw ex-Addict Andy Gray lumber into the fray. Paddy Kenny was taking any deep free-kicks as things as Leeds tried to apply the pressure but our players played like they had something to prove and something defend which they had fought very hard for. 

With ten minutes to go we caused panic in the Leeds defence as Hulse, Pritchard and Wilson combined before Chris Solly's drive was deflected for a corner. The commentary was annoyingly interrupted in the last ten minutes to bring us Perkins' equaliser for Barnsley against Palace whose side had travelled in the knowledge that Dougie Freedman had signed to move on to bigger and better things in the metropolis of Bolton (no contest really).

Time yet for Salim Kerkar to screw a shot wide from six yards before Bradley Wright-Phillips came on for Rob Hulse. Vile animals that they are, of course, the Elland Road faithful gave old boy Rob Hulse a very generous round of applause as he left the field. 

At the death Paddy Kenny made a point-blank save from BWP after Wilson had fed Pritchard as the Addicks carved another lump out of the Leeds defence. If that wasn't enough, Pritchard broke again and with four Reds streaking forward with him he picked out Wright-Phillips once more and his rocket shot was tipped over the bar by that man Kenny again.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Let's play "Who's Next?"

News that Wendy Perfect has resigned her job with Charlton after umpteen years is the latest sad step in the demise of the running of our club and reflects poorly on the previous sackings of the most experienced and emotionally involved individuals. Whatever your view on the rights and wrongs of what Tony Jiminez is driving here, there can be little doubt that the club is being taken in a direction that is not supported by the Charlton-fans involved in running the club.

So, the obvious question is "who's next?" It also throws up a great gaming opportunity we can all play. You don't need to know the individuals or have any great knowledge of the club and it's workings. All you need is yesterday's programme. Pages four and five layout the names of all the candidates, the remaining Directors and Officials down the left and the shrinking Operational Management Team on the right. 

To give it a bit more spice, let's start with some odds for the key players:


Michael Slater - 3/1 - Recently knocked sparko in Spain when confronting Spanish police whilst watching his beloved Man City. Reputed to be The Mysterons front man and whose interest will depart shortly once a replacement bank-roller can be found.

Tony Jiminez - 4-1 - "Spanish Tone" looks to be caught in a difficult position with the loss of The Mysterons cash. He needs to broker the re-sale of the club, something he is apparently good at, in order to get himself off the hook. In order to do this, he needs to ensure the club remains a going concern and that we look as attractive as possible to would-be investors. Struggling in the league, losing our manager or any changing room upheaval would be disastrous. As for Administration.....

Richard Murray - 6-1 - Poor Richard is now a minority shareholder and is, presumably, suffering what's currently happening. Perhaps he will sell-out when the time comes and no-one can really blame him if he gets to bow out and enjoy the rest of his retirement. 

Martin Prothero - 4-1 - Anonymous new "supremo" supposedly responsible for the management of the club on a part-time basis. We've seen or heard so little from this bloke it's hard to know what he's really doing. Linked with the Nike sponsorship and increasingly closely with the sackings and resignations, you have to believe he won't survive new ownership.

Chris Powell - 7-1 - The Manager and his staff don't usually get involved too much in club affairs. They have enough to contend with in getting results and as long as they are all being paid and have sufficient financial backing, they will be happy enough, although Powell has sufficient history with the club not to have a personal view of some of the recent decisions. Can't see the Board shooting themselves in the head by sacking him, so the only risk would be him leaving for another club if he is disillusioned but I think he knows he still has a job to do here once we are under new ownership.

Keith Peacock - 6-1 - Peewee is "Football Advisor" which is probably more of an honorary position and I am guessing he gets very little for doing little more. I hope I am not wrong in that opinion as his Charlton credentials are beyond question. He knows he will outlive the current regime but Keith could just decide to make a point if he feels the club is not being run in it's best long term interests.

Chris Parkes - 5-1 - Chris' Charlton Story could be a very good read. He has been working for the club forever and has seen it all before. His role is very specific and I am guessing relative non-contentious. He doesn't strike me as someone who would argue long or hard against his bosses but maybe there is far less room for conflict with his role. However, a like Keith Peacock, he could decide he's had enough if disillusioned with the direction being taken.

Operational Management

Dave Archer - 5-1 - I grew up with Dave Archer as a kid in the flats in Greenwich. He has done a visibly good job over a long period of time at the Valley in a number of roles and is now responsible for Commercial Sales. He is another fan but his sacking would be of a more immediate impact than say Rick's. He would be more likely to resign.

Matt Wright - 3-1 - Head of Club Propaganda Communications. An unenvious position of having to spin everything negative about the club and, I assume, often against some of his own views. Goes with the territory but he would have instructed the air-brushing of Rick Everitt from yesterday's programme which failed miserably to recognise the work he lead on in the day's successful Football for a Fiver promotion. Very unlikely to resign but a fall-guy candidate. Unlikley to survive regime change.

Mick Everett - 4-1 - Long time Operations Manager and someone like Dave Archer who would be hard to replace effectively at short notice given his intimate knowledge of getting games on. However, he is another fan who may feel disillusioned?

All entries welcome.

Final note of personal thanks to Wendy. She picked the phone up to me after I was critical of Valley Gold ticket allocation once and was word-perfect, encouraging me to renew my membership which I had cancelled in a fit of pique. She is a face that has been known to me for what must be 25 years and I know she will still be there at matches supporting her team.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Charlton Athletic 0 v Barnsley 1

I should have known better. Bumper, expectant Valley crowd, mate's grand-childrens' first ever football match and you know we are going to end up fluffing  our lines.

The margins between winning and losing are very slim in the Championship and it was another very competitive game this afternoon. Barnsley deserved the one-nil result, so we need to look very carefully at what we could be doing better that will make a difference.

After winning at Blackpool fielding a 4-5-1, Chris Powell was tempted to do it again at home and I think that was a mistake. We changed to 4-4-2 after the break and effectively lost the match to a second-half goal, so there will be plenty who will say 4-5-1 was the way to go. The trouble is, when you set your stall out with a busy midfield and fail to take advantage, you hand the initiative to your opponents. Perkins, Dagnall and Cywka bettered us first-half and with their tails up we needed to do much more second-half when switching to a two man attack. 

The Charlton back four were solid throughout and Leon Cort was head and shoulders man-of-the-match as he shackled the dangerous looking Craig Davies. I thought Stephens had a decent first-half and was benefitting from the extra man but we didn't take advantage and we didn't see enough from Green, Kerkar or Hollands. Rasak played in the hole and did ok for his first "pairing" with Fuller but they both needed more ammunition and Barnsley weren't giving it up.

I would have done precisely what Chris Powell did after the break with the bold double substitution of Hollands and Rasak for Wright-Phillips and Jackson. It worked to some extent because we began to get the ball further up the field and Fuller saw more of it, but we lacked the sense of urgency needed and we failed to put Perkins, Dagnall and Cywka on the back-foot. 

The Barnsley goal, when it came was unfortunate in that Danny Green was skinned in the box by Cywka who closed in from the goal-line and Hamer was then fooled on the near post to move to defend a cross as Cywka fired in from an impossible looking angle. It was probably what the Tykes deserved and we couldn't up the ante after that. Green was subbed for Pritchard in a move that looked a trifle like a punishment and we then lost Fuller with a hamstring which meant we had to play the last ten minutes with only ten men.

As I said at the start, small margins and we must keep our heads up. Three successive home defeats are relegation form but we must be prepared to be more ambitious and look to win games from the start and not contain opponents for an hour before trying to throw a double-six.
PS I thought we saw the single best refereeing performance I can remember.

Friday, 19 October 2012

First win of the season please

Mid-October and I have yet to see us win this season. That's a personal record but I am confident it will end tomorrow. 

The Tykes are not firing fully yet this season and are a point behind us in 19th position. They have managed only three points away from Oakwell and those came courtesy of a bizarre 5-0 away win at Birmingham City in which Craig Davies scored four times in 18 second-half minutes against his boyhood club. As long as Davies isn't similarly inspired, we should be able to match Wolves, Brighton, Blackburn and Leeds who have all sent them packing empty handed.

We finished the match at Blackpool pumped and with Johnnie Jackson being fit to return, most likely from the bench, we should have more than enough threat in front of 20,000 plus spectators to send a bumper gate home happy for a change.

The day may well have some added spice for us old dogs who are following Sacking-gate. Having broken his silence over his dismal dismissal as the Club's Development Officer, Rick Everitt may have been busy launching a revised and re-energised version of Voice of the Valley which promises to shine a bright light on the behind-the-scenes going-ons since last season in the SE7 Boardroom. Having said that, I am sure Rick wouldn't knowingly do anything that could significantly damage the club or it's prospects, so perhaps the worst might wait until a more appropriate time.

More importantly tomorrow, is that none of Sacking-gate begins to affect the players or the coaching staff. I don't suppose the players are particularly close to the day-to-day running of the club although it's inevitable that poor morale amongst the workforce and uncertainty in the Boardroom will find it's way through to playing performances if it continues.

Tony Jiminez, Michael Slater, Martin Prothero and the Clubs' anonymous financial backers may be acting ruthlessly behind the scenes but they will not want to damage their asset as they try to sell it on, and cannot be criticised in terms of having failed to support Chris Powell and the team to date. Our home form trails our away form so far and tomorrow is time to adjust that.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Two Sackings

Confirmation today that Rick Everitt has been sacked from his job of 14 years working for the football club he follows so passionately. Rick is being understandably tight-lipped but this reflects very poorly on those responsible. I look forward to hearing the Club's explanation on this. They broke their silence this week to deny the Daily Mirror rumours about Paul Elliott being appointed Chairman, so I assume they will be preparing an appropriate statement on Rick's dismissal in Saturdays programme.

We have to be asking what on earth is going on under the West Stand? I don't expect candour from the Mysterons for obvious reasons but I am pretty sure we will hear it sooner or later from someone who knows and cares enough to tell us. 

This caps off a miserable 24 hours in which I saw Scotland hit a new low and the class gap expanded to a size that makes watching them painful. I have a ticket for Wembley in August but it will be a long time before I am tempted to travel overseas again. Oh, the second sacking? That will be Craig Levein but there won't be a post or a thread of unhappy supporters complaining to the SFA about the loss of "Brussel Sprout."

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Paul Elliott and the Russian Mafia

The latest rumours filling the communication vacuum at the Valley tell us that Paul Elliott will be appointed Chairman and that mysterious Russian money men are set to take financial responsibility from the Mysterons. I'm not really sure what to make of these.

The Daily Mirror has put it's neck on the line about Elliott but it looks like an "exclusive" and there is a risk that they are taking a punt on the story. Paul Elliott is a very well respected ex-footballer and Addick who has made a living as a politician in the ranks of the football authorities tackling racism in the game but I do wonder where the motivation and qualification comes for him to be Chairman of Charlton Athletic Football Club.

Yes, he learnt his trade at the Valley and the boy from Blackheath Bluecoats making 67 appearances for the Addicks before being sold on the cheap by hand-to-mouth Chairman Mark Hulyer. There is undoubtedly a fondness in his heart for the Addicks and certainly from us fans but he made his name, his career and his personal wealth at bigger clubs which I am sure are closer to him as a result than Charlton Athletic. 

The notion of being the first club to have a black chairman as well as a black manager and assistant manager is a good news story and would undoubtedly help draw more black fans to the Valley but that's not a good enough reason on it's own to do it.

I'm pretty sure Paul Elliott is comfortably financially and he drives a baby Bentley but he won't have the kind of dosh needed to Chair a modern professional Championship football club. He also has no experience of running a club although I have no doubt he could hold his own in a Boardroom. He has continued to earn a living as an advisor or consultant of sorts on tackling racism but this is miles away from chairing a football club. As a figurehead for anti-racism in football, he is an ideal candidate and I am sure he could perform a similar role for a football club if he was the figurehead and the club was run day-to-day by a hard-working and driven Chief Executive Officer. 

In the past, football club Chairman have been the owner-managers of their clubs in the same way as other small to medium sized businesses. However, with the millions pouring into the game at the top end, the bigger clubs are being run like the much bigger businesses they are where the Chairman is more of a figurehead and the financial backing comes from people who do not have the time or inclination to chair their clubs and who rely on CEO's to really provide the direction and energy. Therein lies my scepticism in this story as things stand. 

We are a business that really needs a Chairman with deep pockets, especially if the current money-men want out and new investment or ownership is being sought. I am pretty sure Paul Elliott would want (and need) proper payment for a role as Chairman and he would want a CEO doing all the work for him. At the moment we don't appear to be able to afford either and I am certain he is nowhere near being able to buy the club and he wouldn't want the personal risk.

That then brings me on to the gossip about Russian backers and this looks even less convincing so far than the notion of Elliott as Chairman. There is no other detail behind this rumour than they would be paying in roubles. Presumably they are "billionaires" with more money than sense like Roman Abramovic or Alisher Usmanov, although we are plainly not Chelsea or Arsenal. More likely is we would appeal to the likes of Sascha Gaydamak who has played his part in the ruin of Portsmouth. I wouldn't trust Jimenez and Slater not to sell us off to the first bidder who appeared to have the money but Richard Murray spent a very long time and part of his personal fortune as a proper former old-time Chairman to avoid precisely this scenario, although ultimately he sold out to the Mysterons. Trouble is, he now a minority shareholder and could only voice his opinion and perhaps beggars can't, ultimately, be choosers.

Something is definitely going on and we are short-staffed behind the scenes following the sackings and resignations of the most committed and hard-working individuals. They are also the ones who would be most vocal in the event of the club being sold on carelessly by individuals who don't have the emotional attachment or supporter commitment of their predecessors.

Last word on Paul Elliott. I will never forget the reassuring and humble appearance he made at Charlton Cemetery when he sidled quietly up alongside the other mourners at the funeral of former Greenwich schoolboy and Addick, Barry Little whose life was cut tragically short.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Bale 2 v Scotland 1

I deliberately avoided the B word yesterday when posting. I didn't want to tempt fate and you don't lose to one player do you? There's no avoiding it this morning. 

Gareth Bale is clearly modelling himself on Ronaldo and last night he looked like a taller and stronger version if slightly less attractive to the opposite sex. He paces himself back from free-kicks and stands hands on hips measuring his shot. Playing in a Ronaldo attacking role on the right, he looked wasted all of a sudden as a full-back. He gave the Scottish defence a torrid time and having fallen Ronaldo-style in the box for a penalty, he got up to snatch the ball from their penalty taker to stroke home the equaliser. After that, he went up a gear, just like Ronaldo and smashed an unstoppable 25 yarder into Alan McGregor's top left hand corner to give Wales a victory they scarcely deserved.

Bitter? No, not really but extremely disillusioned following Scotland. Imagine we had missed out on promotion at the death last season and were now struggling badly in League One. That's the feeling.

As for missing the match last night because of ticket shortages, I was unimpressed to see big gaps in the Cardiff City seating amongst the home fans.  More than 7000 Scots could have been accommodated if the Welsh FA had been more considerate. On reflection, quite a good game to miss and I suspect Belgium on Tuesday will be my last journey for awhile following my national football team.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Wales v Scotland

Big match in Cardiff this evening. Having failed to get a ticket I decided not to waste my time travelling down on the off-chance and am now committed elsewhere. I was offered a ticket yesterday as a mate who was going is now in hospital - Sod's Law. It does mean that we have one more ticket for Brussels but there are two of us without....(get well soon Mr C).

The Welsh may be having a few problems of their own at the moment but I am not confident Scotland can get anything here. Wales still have a handful of players who would command places in the Scotland side and they will be smarting after recent reverses. If we don't come away with three points, the pressure will build on Tuesday's encounter with the Belgians and an early exit from Rio may be on the cards as I feared.

I expect to see Craig Levein looking more uncomfortable than ever this evening as he goes paler and paler. Expect his glasses to mist over and more defiant stubborness as he refuses to make blindingly obvious changes the fans will be bellowing for because they are just fans and he was once a professional.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Jonjo chooses Engalnd

Jonjo Shelvey has been selected for the England squad and whilst unlikely to get a cap this time around his decision closes the door on his options to represent Scotland. Obviously a tough decision to make and I hope he doesn't regret it.

Granny Shelvey clearly donated the genes that have allowed Jonjo to make raking runs, tough tackles and accurate passes. I am not sure which club she played for but will assume it was Heart of Midlothian as players tended not to stray far from their home towns in those days.

Like all Addicks, I am really pleased that Jonjo looks so close to fulfilling his potential and with so much time on his side promises to become a truly great player of the modern age. He could well eclipse the achievements of Scott Parker and Darren Bent in recent years.

Oh how Scot;and could do with his services at the moment. We go to Belgium next week facing another Mission Improbable. I booked travel and hotels months ago but the stingy Belgium ticket allocation means I have no tickets and  prospects of getting any look slim. We had 13,000 there for a qualifier in 2001 and we all had tickets. Renewed Belgian interest has cut our allocation to 3,000 although plenty more. like us will be travelling ticketless.

It's such a shame after so long following Scotland away but without attending most of the friendlies, being a member of the Travel Club is not enough to get you a ticket. I had to rely upon the Spanish ATM ticketing system to get in against Spain in Alicante last year but no point from the STC as the ticket didn't come from them. If I can find one for Belgium on the streets of Brussels, that will be without a point either. Wales was out-of-reach in spite of an extended allocation because the Welsh aren't that interested. There's always the rugby I suppose...

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Blackpool 0 v Charlton Athletic 2

Well, well, well. Don't think too many saw that coming. Powell's 4-5-1 took on promotion fancied Blackpool, matched and then bettered them on their patch this afternoon. The three points move us up to 15th and all of sudden we are high again.

I would have preferred a more conventional 4-4-2 because I felt sure Blackpool would score and that we might struggle to change our game. As it was, Ricardo Fuller lead the line brilliantly and was too hot for the hosts. He crashed a header off the underside of the bar and saw a shot saved low down at Gilks' post in the first-half.

After the break we moved up and at the first corner I thought of New York Addicks astute view that Cort was a great all-season bet for first goal at circa 16-1. He buried the header and we had our noses in front. After that we coped really well by the sounds of it and the champers arrived with screaming commentary as Sir Chris Solly, playing on the wrong side, met a ball miles out and drove it with the outside of his trusty right boot straight into the top corner to win the game.I don't know how many Addicks were there today - I think Airman must have been warned about posting on Charlton Life - but however many or few, you could hear them loudly and clearly. Even after the whistle and the commentary had stopped, you could hear the wooooo-haayyys as Chris Powell made his victory leaps from the Blackpool tunnel.

We are struggling to get momentum at the moment and what we don't need is a two week lay-off. Still, we may get one or two fit again - Green limped off after twenty minutes - before we face a Yorky double-header against T'Barnsley and T'Leeds. Turned out nice again Mother.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Anything in the next two aways is a bonus!

A long and difficult trip to the north-west tomorrow to face Blackpool. The Seasiders still have a whiff of the Premier League about them and the personnel to hurt us.

Addick talk in the run up to this match appears to be relying upon a 4-5-1 formation to keep us in the match and a chance of something. I disagree. For me, our side plays defensively with 4-5-1 and invites pressure. When we do look up, we tend not to commit players and go forward as a unit but to go forward looking to pump a hopeful ball up to the one. The extra man in midfield can work at home in matches where we may be pressing but away from home and defending, it can cause players to be less decisive about making challenges or picking opponents up.

I agree with the views that we probably need to defend well and be looking to score two or three ourselves but the set-up for that is 4-4-2. You need the personnel to play like this and the confidence in your back four but we should have both. Midfield is a problem because of Stephens and Hollands but bringing another player in and forcing our lone striker to face two or three defenders is not the way to beat opponents who will be coming at you for most of the match.

Chris Powell has a naturally defensive outlook and I don't expect him to go 4-4-2 and I don't expect us to get anything at Blackpool. Similarly, at the next away game at Elland Road. Perhaps we will have more chance at Leeds playing 4-5-1 but they are going for it at the moment and if we are well beaten on Saturday, we could face a double away defeat.
I salute those who are making the trip this weekend. Blackpool can be "a laugh" but it's a cold, wet and depressing place to be once the alcohol has worn off. Even worse if we have been beaten and left bloodied at the bottom of the table.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Charlton Athletic 1 v Watford 2

A deeply frustrating night's football at the Valley in front of another disappointing gate. The gate wasn't given out this evening as in customary towards the end of the second-half, almost as if not to rub salts into the wounds. It was miserable, wet evening but the home stands were lighter than of late and I am guessing we struggled to break 15,000 in spite of 1500 visitors. Five points squandered at home in four days is not good enough and won't get the fans flooding back.

It all started so relatively positively. We began 4-4-2 at home with Green and Kerkar on the flanks and Wright-Phillips partnered by Fuller up top. Hollands and Stephens were started again in the centre and the back five were as was. 

The first-half was pretty competitive as both sides felt their way into the game. Lawrie Wilson seemed on a mission to get forward this evening and he was guilty on occasions of trying too hard. Danny Green was less effective than in some recent games and Kerkar also struggled to make space on the left. Too often we lost momentum when the ball got to Stephens or Hollands.

Once again we went a soft goal down at home. A Watford corner was fired across the box and missed by a number of players including Hamer until it appeared to bounce off the incoming Hoban and end up in our net. Watford broke quickly when they got the chance but we hardly looked stretched and were level before the break from the best move of the game. We had been pressing for the equaliser when Kerkar won a cut-out and turned us back on the attack. With colleagues going left and right of him in midfield, he held the ball for a split second before threading it diagonally through the Watford back-line to the bursting Fuller who collected it yards clear and poked in past the advancing Almunia. It got slightly better on the stroke of half-time when the hapless Forestieri was booked for a blatant dive as he sought to gain advantage from a corner and was then flashed a red a second later presumably for dissent because I can't remember him being booked already at that point.

So, forty-five minutes in which to pummel ten men and take the points? Nah! This is the Valley, this is Charlton Athletic. Instead we put Watford under the requisite pressure for twenty minutes but were too hurried. Too many overhit balls and too many players wanting another touch or another pass. Watford blocked, headed and smothered everything and then the pressure eased. With it came a succession of free-kicks as every frustrated Charlton tackle was judge a foul. Three of them saw Watford advance up the field from their box to ours and from there, Pudil curled a peach over the wall and away from Hamer's dive. 

There was still plenty of time for a Charlton comeback and we pressed again but we lacked the urgency in possession that Watford had and we failed to break them down. Plenty more deep crosses and several penalty appeals which looked more desperate than usual given the scoreline. The first substitution was late coming and Green made way for Pritchard and Rob Hulse got on for a debut.

Once again we finished with the ball flying around a congested opponents goal but no killer touch. Watford added to the frustration even further by playing for time and picking up a couple more bookings in the process. We are making this season much harder for ourselves than we need to and if we aren't careful we risk finding our confidence going missing. There is no doubt that we have the personnel but our central midfield is pedestrian with Hollands and Stephens and I believe we will be forced to change it to find a combination better equipped to compete as well as supply the wingers and strikers.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Razak and Hulse

I am still getting over the emotionally draining Ryder Cup.  It really was brilliant and as good as anyone could have hoped for. Ian Poulter, the nearly man of the world stage, has managed to put himself centre-stage and what a reward for his personal display of defiance in the weight of overwhelming odds. Probably not enough to challenge for Sport Personality of the Year but what about the team award?

In the meantime, the Board have backed Chris Powell again in ensuring we do not suffer unduly for the loss of Yann Kermorgant and Johnnie Jackson by bringing in Abdul Razak and Rob Hulse on three month loans. Both are currently squad players at Man City and QPR respectively, so longer term deals should be available if either man can earn them. I can't really recall seeing Razak previously or he didn't catch my eye if I have, but Rob Hulse is a player I would love to have signed six or seven years ago. He has played by little football in the last year or so and at 32 is on the run-down in his career but maybe he still has something to prove and something to offer us even if it is only until Yann Kermorgant returns to action.

Bring on the Hornets.