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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Charlton 2 Villa 1

So its little old Hughsey to the rescue as the Addicks at last grab 3 vital points. The midfielder came on at half-time for the flagging Kish and bravely got in front of keeper Gabor Kiraly in the last minute to head the Charlton winner from a HH knock-down and rightly brought the house down.

All this after falling behind to what many saw as a debatable penalty given against HH in the 40th min for a sliding tackle on Barry somebody. After sterling words from Pards over half-time tea, many mans' player of the game Elk provided the break-through when he lifted a long punt onto Darren Bents head in the 57th min for Darren to score the equaliser with his 10th goal of the season.

As for the papers, after last weeks inept, appalling and relegation fodder we can now read such words as "tower in defence, sterling midfield work, enterprising" in the independent. Amazing what a new Manager can do. More good stuff from the Observer who made Darren Ambrose Man-of-Match with "a purposeful display".

If you are desperate to see how everyone performed then take a look at the points per player in Wyn Grant and he gives MOM to the the Elk.

The telegraph calls us "sharp", tells us Jimmy-F hugged the ref at the end and also gives M0M to Talal El Karkouri. The dailymail provides rather a emotional report entitled Lifeline of Bryan and reckons "that Pardew is likely to remain Manager so for several more weeks at least"

The times appears still to be sleeping off the excitement while there's lots of quotes and stats from the sportinglife including apparent digs at his former employers by our Pards.

Meanwhile the bbc's a bit bland ( probably written by "Mr Lets Move On" ) but gives a couple of quotes.

The Addicks: Carson, Sankofa, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Traore, Ambrose, Kishishev (Hughes 46), Holland, Rommedahl (Thomas 83), Marcus Bent (Hasselbaink 80), Darren Bent.
Subs Not Used: Myhre, Fortune.
Booked: El Karkouri, Sankofa.
Goals: Darren Bent 57, Hughes 90.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

21 of 38 - Aston Villa (home)

After the appalling refereeing error on Wednesday nothing short of a victory against Aston Villa can be contemplated. We need 3 points from every Home Game starting today.

And as against Blackburn in early December we meet a team that are badly out of form. Plagued by injuries that are effecting their small squad, Villa are currently bottom of the "current league table" with only 2 away draws against Portsmouth and Sheffield to show from their last 6 games. They have now gone 8 games without a win but before everyone gets too excited it has to be pointed out that their away record is still impressive with only 2 defeats in their 10 away games. Althought seven of these games have been draws it remains worrying that 2 of these were at The Arse and Chelsea.

For the Addicks, we'll still be without the influential but hamstrung Andy Reid, Amady Faye with his ankle problem and Luke Young's dodgey knee ligaments while Jerry Thomas looks unlikely as well due to a virus. Presumably the defence will remain as per Wednesday night so the only expected change will probably see Rommedahl starting on the right with Ambrose moving to the left, although the return of Hughes is a distinct possibility as he definitely made less mistakes than Ambrose. The two Bents seem to be getting to understand each other at last and with no other alternative they'll be up front. The midfield will consist of the willing Kish and Matt Holland.

To improve our mood a bit, Wyn has spotted an article in the Times that reminds us that Pompey only had 14 points this time last year and due to Harry's shrewd buying in January managed to survive the drop. Something everyone else seems to have forgotten.

And if the team needs any more encouragement the good news is that "Mr Lets Move On" predicts another 1-1 draw. We should be printing his predictions on the Dressing Room Door to encourage the players to shove his words back down his throat and get another "wrong" result.

The Result? A 2-0 Home Win.........................

Thursday, December 14, 2006

18 of 38 - Liverpool (home)

I'll start with the amazing and shocking news hot from the BBC Sports Desk that Mr Lawro seems to think that "looking at the Addicks from outside they seem to be everyone's favourites to get relegated."

Well, stone a crows. How does he come to that conclusion? Must be reading them Addicks Blogs I reckon.

Anyway, back to the game of football with the visit of Liverpool on Saturday. For a Champions League winning team like Liverpool, their away record in the Premiership this season has been nothing short of appalling, with only 1 win and 2 draws against 5 defeats in their 8 matches. Their results have been Sheffield Utd 1-1, Everton 0-3, Chelski 0-1, Bolton 0-2, Manure 0-2, The Arse 0-3, Middlesbr' 0-0. Of course the very bad news is that in their very last away game they managed to turn everything around and beat the pants off Wigan to the tune of 4-0. Before that they'd only managed to score 1 goal in 7 matches, then they get 4 all at once. And we're next!

Of course the Addicks at home are a different keetle of fish to them Wigan Pier folk. The Addicks take note are currently 1 of only 6 teams that have not been losing at home at half-time. Amazing. The poor old Arse have been losing 3 times at 45 minutes, Sheffield U 4 times and Middlesbro 5 times. Those poor old Middlesbro fans have only seen 1 goal at home in the first half in 9 games - No wonder they stay at home! And the Addicks have only conceded 1 goal in the first half at home, only 1 team, Man. City can beat that.

Another thing we're good at is scoring in stoppage time. We've done it twice - no other club in Premiership goals has beaten that this season. So you says we give up.

And if you believe in fairies and good omens, last seasons 3-1 defeat at Spurs back in February was followed 3 days later by a 2-0 win over none-other than Liverpool at the Valley.

Three Wins out of Last Four
As for the past years we are 9 wins down with Liverpool having won 28 of the games between us and the Addicks only 19 with 13 draws.

But just recently, much like White Hot Lane!, we havn't done too bad. It doesn't do any harm to reministe on recent games, so to recap, we won last years game 2-0 with goals from Darren Bent and Luke Young in the last 3 minutes before half-time. A reverse the previous year of 2-1 after leading 1-0 at half-time through Shaun Bartlett and of course the previous year 2003 was Lisbie's day with his hat-trick in a 3-2 win. A 2-0 win was ours in 2002 as well. In 2001 we lost 2-0 ( but recovered to win 4-2 at Highbury the following week). And the previous season to that is also best forgotten with a 4-0 beating leading to Liverpool capturing the final Champions League spot.

So this century, in the 6 games played at the Valley we've won 3 and lost 3 with our three wins coming in the last 4 years. In total at the Valley is very close with the Addicks having 13 wins, Liverpool 12 and 2 draws.

The Opponents
Only One Away Victory
Top goalscorer is Dirk Kuyt with 6 goals then Craig Bellamy with 3. And surprisingly for someone so cautious as Rafa they certainly have plenty of people who can score goals with 11 different scorers of their 23 goals in the Premiership. Shows you what lots of money can do.

The Addicks
Same Team?
There's no news on the injuries to Kish and Reid last Saturday so we can only keep our fingers crossed that at least Reid makes it. Our best player for the last 4 or 5 games, he has been the only creative spark this season. Kish had a good game for a hour at the weekend and if fit will surely make the squad. Although he'll want to return, its probably too early for Traore to return.

As for the rest, and casing a quick look at the bareness of the bench, its clearly more than possible that Lou will put out the same team, if he can.
Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, Hreidarsson; Kish, Faye, Hughes, Reid; Sam, D Bent.

Subs: Myhre, Fortune, Rommedahl, Holland and Hasselbaink.

Home Win
Mr Lawro sees a 0-3 away win and of course he's always right as far as we're concerned. But for me its a 1-0 Home Victory against all the odds.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Total Support!

There's a lot of talk these days about the Addicks needing to prepare for the Championship. Its all going wrong they argue, irretrievable mistakes have been made, it's getting too late to save ourselves, nothing can be done, be sensible and face the facts we just ain't good enough. Plan Now for Relegation.

So it therefore follows that there's lots of suggestions and helpful hints on how we should handle the situation and plan for the worst. First and foremost seems to be the suggestion that we should cash in now on our biggest asset - Darren Bent.Now I'm not saying that that may not be a bad idea in a business sense but business sense is a quality I expect from the Board.

And if its a one-to-one in a pub I wouldn't mind but here we are broadcasting to the world ( well, OK a couple of dozen ) lots of negative views and it doesn't feel right. It implies one thing - Giving Up.

At this point I must admit to believing a lot in what the Seneca, the famous Roman Stoic had to say. Being a Stoic is defined in the dictionary as "a person who can endure pain or hardship without showing their feelings or complaining." To come to believe in that he must have a supporter of a former version of the Addicks. He understood that life was difficult sometimes and there were always things that you couldn't change and therefore it was best to accept them without making a fuss.

But he never talked about Giving Up, quite the opposite.

And the reasoning for all these arguments is not fair. Number One Rule is that we demand that the man in charge never gives up. He's always got to be there encouraging the team, trying to get the best out of them and always demanding Passion and Committment in every game. You can argue that the players are not good enough and he or somebody else shouldn't have employed them in the first place but that's irrelevant. Today that's what he's got.

But it seems that on the other hand the fans can just give up. This is hopeless, we're never going to survive, we're going down.

The main problem with airing all those thoughts is that we are in the business, not only of playing football, but of winning. Its a business of success. There's no border line. Score more than the others and you win, pure and simple. You can be crude and play like Wimbledon and Sheffield Utd or you can try to play pretty. But it doesn't matter really as long as you win. Failure to win and you go down.

And, of course, as everyone will know when they play any game against someone else be it a game of football or cricket, or even Monoploy, its not only your ability and experience that matters, its also your Confidence. Confidence and belief can win almost anything and can make up for any deficiency in skills ( just look at Sheffield ) and here we are being negative and basically giving-up and undermining the efforts of the management in trying to build up belief that we can get out of this by talking about accepting defeat and its not even Christmas yet.

Now call me simple but I've always believed that the supporters main function is to get behind the team and support them. That's it first and foremost. Reed wants to build up belief in a Fortress Valley and its part of the fans job to make it so.

So make no mistake, and my apologies to all the unfortunate people in the world who have suffer a Real War, but for the Addicks this is a war and every game is now a battle. And any defeatist talk is Out, ask Churchill. The thing that's needed now from us is - Total Support!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Superman Flies to the Rescue, Supposedly...

I'm sure there's not many people out there that bother reading the Guardian's "Clogger" section in the football pages. Its full of silly pictures, an on-going conversation between Pardew and Boothroyd ( which I suppose will now thankfully end ) and other meaningless paragraphs that appear to have wandered over from Private Eye.

So I suppose I shouldn't pass on what is probably either a complete load of nonsense or one of their little jokes about little old Charlton, that yesterday they had one tiny paragraph headed "Money Man Li Ka-shing - Charlton Athletic."

The "report" reads: "The worlds 10th richest human - one place higher than Roman Abramovich - has made a fortune out of electricity so should be able to create another shock by giving a struggling side the power to surge up the table. Should know when to pull the plug."

And that's it, no further explanation is given. Its not April 1st and I can find no other mention in any other paper so I don't know what they mean. But before we throw the story into the rubbish I can tell you that Li Ka-shing is from Hong Kong, is 72 and is called Superman.

And to prove that the report is best ignored, Li Ka-shing is not Mr Electric as stated but is into Ports, Phones and Oil with a few flowers thrown in. His conglomerate, Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, is the world's largest independent port operator, with facilities everywhere from China to Panama to Britain. He has control of Canada's Husky Energy Inc. and has gained from rising oil prices. His decision to sell his stake in the British telecom company Orange PLC in late 1999 sparked a rush into European telecoms. By the time the dealmaking was complete in February, Li and other Hutchison shareholders had netted a $22 billion profit.

Like all good Chinese businessmen, Li, was a refugee from China who started out selling plastic flowers in the 1950s. The very bad news is that he is a renowned and cold-blooded asset swapper. After a hard-won battle for a German telecom license, Li backed out of the deal in August, saying it was too costly. Since then, telecom stocks around the world have tumbled.

Apparently his ability to sniff out good deals and walk away from bad ones has made Hutchison one of Hong Kong's largest companies. He won't think much of the Addicks then.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday Medicine - Part 17 of a Continuing Series

"General lethargy and waywardness" , "shockingly naive " and "the manner in which they crumbled was disturbing".

As we seem to spent most of our time trying different ways of cheering ourselves up especially on a Monday morning, my eye wandered to the state of our fellow strugglers in the Premiership. So you'll be gladdened, if that's the word, to read that the descriptions above not only referred to the Addicks but were also to be found in reports on West Ham and Fulham performances last weekend. In the Guardian, West Ham were termed lethargic and naive whilst losing 4-0 at Wigan while Fulham visibly crumbled losing by the same score at Anfield. And its more of the same in other papers, with the Independent telling us that Fulham's "strength, structure and spirit disintegrated".

Not surprisingly, these are the only teams below us on current form, West Ham with only 3 points from the last 18 while Fulham, like ourselves and Blackburn only have 4 to show from their last 6 games. West Ham's problems seem the greater though and stem from takeover talk affecting the players and injuries changing the lineup and don't look like improving with the visit of Manure to Upton Park on Saturday. They have now lost 5 out of the last 6 games, scoring but one goal in the process, and are also the only team to have suffered more Premiership defeats this season, 11, than the Addicks.

Blackburn are also struggling at the moment with another player sent-off on Saturday and they comfortably lead the Bad-Boys table with 4 reds and 36 yellows and more importantly have only won 1 of their last 9 games. And they too face a tough Christmas with Reading, Arsenal, Liverpool and Wigan next on their shopping-for-points list.

Elsewhere around the country there's a little bit of feative cheer as well. The Independent continues to do its best with little jokes and tell us that "The only threat posed by Middlesbrough's forwards on Saturday was to future Riverside gate receipts." But then reminds us that their forthcoming match on December 23rd against the Addicks is crucial to their season. That makes two of us..

And although the reports on Everton 2-0 defeat at Portsmouth remind us that we really should have beaten them two weeks ago it does at least tell us that other strikers apart from ours are also finding trouble scoring, "Andy Johnson's prolific spell is but a distant memory. He has not scored for 11 games."

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Spurs 5 (FIVE) Charlton 1

"Hi, Doc."

"Hello Nelson. Whats the problem today?"

"Well, Doc, I'm getting these violent mood swings that I don't understand. One minute I'm up in the clouds, on top of the world, and the next I'm down in the gutter with my chin on the ground. What can you do?"

"Well, I think I know what it is. I've seen several people this very morning with the same symptoms. Its a new affliction that I'm terming CRAP - Cronic Recurring Addick Syndrome."

"But that would be CRAS."

"Yes, I know, but they all come in there mumbling 'its crap', 'its crap'."

"But do you know what causes it?"

"I think its caused by too much dependence on a single thing, in this case something called addicks. Don't know what they are, some new video game I suppose, but everyone comes in here on a Monday morning complaining about them. You need to get out more at weekends, get a life, go out for a walk in the country. No more scanning Teletext every minute on a Saturday afternoon, desperately hoping that things will change."

"But can you do anything for it?"

"Well, there's no magic formulaes, no 442 or 4312, although there's hope around Christmas, of course, January always appears to give people hope, something to do with the Sales I think."

"Can't you give me some pills, or something?"

"No, there's no pills that will solve this problem. It comes from somewhere deep in peoples psyche due to bad upbringing, lack of proper parental guidence. However, people seem to pick up a bit when I offer them one of my red and white smarties."


And if there's anyone out there with the CRAP who has the stomach for it the papers can explain everything. "Early sharpness" but then "woefully ragged capitulation" in the independent while the dailysnail calls it a "turkey shoot". The times seems strangely to have a hang-up with Rommerdahl and Dowie's dismissal while the observer simply calls it an "humiliation" and points out that Andy Reid was again our best player. The telegraph tells it like it is and calls us a "shambles" but then makes the "amazing reflection that for a third of the afternoon Spurs had been even worse than Charlton....."

The sportinglife report doesn't say much but the stats kindly supplied point out that we had earned more yellow cards that had shots on target. Says it all really.

Charlton: Carson; Young, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Diawara; Kishishev (Rommedahl 53), Faye, Hughes, Reid (Hasselbaink 67); Sam, D Bent.
Subs (not used): Myhre, Fortune, Holland.
Goals: Dawson og 42
Booked: Hughes 12 (foul on Lennon), Sam 86 (foul on Stalteri), Diawara 88 (foul on Lennon)

Friday, December 08, 2006

17 of 38 - Spurs (away)

This week we can offer two contrasting views of the game between Spurs and Charlton Athletic tomorrow.

First a look at the fixture from the point of view of one of them Spurs fans.
Yeh, well tomorrow we've got them fishcakes that call themselves the addicks. As you all know they're hopeless away from their little home down in SE7. Twenty-Two (22) games on the road without so much as a single win and only 5 points out of a possible Sixty-Six to show for it. What a useless bunch and with stupid fans too, for it seems they are so determined to suffer even more that over a 1000 of 'em have brought tickets to see another rout at the Lane. Nothing stranger than folk, apparently a 1-0 demolition of Blackburn makes them think they're gonna come here and win.

Well, hell'll freeze over first, I reckon. After our 8th (8) home win in a row over Middlesbrough on Tuesday, we can't wait to make it nine with a thumping 3-0 victory. Injuries to Keane and JJ and no Zokora don't worry us, 'cause we've got more than enough quality to make mincemeat of 'em. We'll wheel out Spud for a game just to show 'em what they're missing and old Edgar Davids will give us the bite to stop 'em getting uppity.

The Addicks Viewpoint
Eight Straight Wins
In their home games Spurs started the season with an easy home win 2-0 over Premiership new boys Sheffield United back in August but then suffered a surprising reverse by the same score to Everton. This proved a minor set-back however as a goalless draw with Fulham followed, then 2-1 win over Pompey just as they were starting to lose games, a 1-0 win over West Ham followed and then the priceless 2-1 win over Chelsea for the first time in donkeys. ( please note: this was followed by a 3-1 reverse away at Reading ), then a 3-1 win over Wigan and finally another win, 2-1 over Middlesbrough. So 8 Premiership games at home, 6 wins, a draw and only that 1 defeat by Everton......

Also to be added to the list in are a couple of home UEFA Cup victories over Slavia Prague 1-0 and Club Brugge 3-1 and also a win over Port Vale 3-1 in the LC 4th round. So in total their record now starts at 8 home wins in a row....

They are currently 6th in the Form Table over the last 6 games with those three consecutive home victories. In fact they're the only team in the top 15 not to have won an away game, so it shows how important is their home form.

The last time the Addicks enjoyed back-to-back wins was back on 24th Sept 2005 with the 2-1 win at West Bromwich. Our last away win followed a month later at Pompey in October, now 22 games ago... But although we are without an away win so are 4 other teams and we can score away from home. There are 7 teams that have scored less than the Addicks on their travels. Our problem is that although we have had 4 clean-sheets at home, we've got only 1, at Newcastle, away from the Valley.

The History

Only 1 defeat in last 7 at the Lane
Just to put the match into some perspective, our recent record against Spurs at the Lane is very good. In the 7 games played since our promotion in 1998 we have won 3, drawn 3 and lost only one, the lastest, last February. Overall at White Hart Lane its not bad either with Spurs having 11 wins, Charlton 8, and draws 5. In fact of all the 48 games between us they've beaten us more times at the Valley than at home. Overall totals are: Spurs 23 wins, Charlton 16, draws 9.

Last season's game saw a 3-1 win for Spurs who were 3-0 up after 46 minutes and then relaxed enough for us to bring on Jerry Thomas who scored our consolation goal. Two years ago, of course, we enjoyed one of best away days with a 3-2 win after being 3 goals up in 50 minutes. Then three years back we also won 1-0 with a Carlton Cole goal.

In December 2002 we were again 2 goals up but two goals in the last 20 minutes from Spurs meant the game finished 2-2. And in the 2001/o2 season we finished up 1-0 winners with the goal coming from the knee of none other than Chrissie Powell. And the season before that it finished a goalless draw. Even in our relegation season in 98/99 we managed a 2-2 draw with both goals coming from Andy Hunt.

The Opposition

Top goalscorers in the Premiership for Spurs are Kish's Bulgarian teammate, Dimitar Berbatov and the charming Jermaine Defoe with 3 Premiership goals apiece but Berbatov has plundered another 4 in other competitions to head the list with 7. Last Tuesday their midfield was Lennon, Zokora, Huddlestone and Malbranque with Spud getting on for a minutes running around at the end. Unfortunately their version of Makelele, Ivory Coast player Zokora was red-carded and will therefore be missing from Saturdays game.

Other problems for Spurs are the injuries to Keane and Jenas. Keane has a medial ligament strain and will be out for five to six weeks. Jenas took a blow to his ankle against the Arse and he'll probably be out for four weeks.

Of course, a worst case scenario would see Spud Murphy curling in a free-kick from another Faye foul and Defoe tapping in a Lennon cross while standing off-side.

The Addicks

Will Reed keep the team that did so well on Tuesday? It seems highly probable with the only questions being, did Kish, Hughes and Sam do enough to retain their places? With the team selection settling down at last its quite possible that the same team will face Spurs although Diawara will return due to Traore's hamstring keeping him out of the game.

So: Carson; Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, Hreidarsson, Kish, Faye, Hughes, Reid, Sam and D Bent.

Subs: Myhre, Rommedahl, Holland, Fortune, Marcus Bent.


To recap then, Spurs have won their last 8 games in all competitions at White Hart lane. The Addicks have gone 22 away games without a win and 14 months since back-to-back victories. So it doesn't take a genius to predict the result in such circumstances and if Mr Lawro was not on an apparent holiday, he'd lead the way and have it down as a definite Home Banker.

After their 8 wins in a row, Spurs home confidence will be difficult to overturn, so knowing the Addicks as we all do, we'll probably revert to our normal form. It wouldn't be a 3-0 defeat as our over-the-water friend foresees but a fighting 2-1 loss. But then so obvious a home banker is just asking for someone to have a little bet, at 11/2 apparently, and it makes you wonder if we can get something out of it. Come on, you Addicks.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Valley Exploded!

Can any other phase do justice to Tuesday night? Seconds from the end of Added Time, El Karkouri dramatically curls a 22 yard free-kick into the bottom corner to snatch possibly the most valuable 3 points the Addicks have ever earned. Its a first win for Les Reed after 4 games and it takes us off the bottom for the first time since September.

Forget the importance of the win, savour the moment for this is what it feels like to be a Charlton fan. After the appalling stomach-renching heartache of Saturday comes the absolute euphoria of a Tuesday night. Can anybody else serve-up such a roller-coaster ride? You may not enjoy it all the time but hell this is sport, this is how it's supposed to be.

I said a few weeks ago that I was felt sad for Manure fans and now doubly so. All they ever do is win for Gods sake.

And if its heroes that you want, step forward the Elk, Talal El Karkouri, our man from Casablanca, who we all thought, Mr Curbs included, wasn't good enough. That his 4 goals in a month back in Dec 2004/Jan 2005 was a fluke never to be repeated. It takes a brave man to stand up in such circumstances, in a game that had to be won and with seconds left push aside our very own Puskas and then have the coolness to curl the ball around a wall of defenders.

And Les Reed? Already taking stick after only 3 games for his team selection, choice of formation and substititions, and being accused of being too cautious by many. He also showed his metal by dropping Rommerdahl, Ambrose and Holland and in came Kish and Hughes and Lloyd Sam was handed his first Premiership start.

Perhaps we were forgetting that stressful times produces heroes and people with the stomach for hardship. And for all those still harping on about Monica, who do they think was responsible for grabbing Scotty Carson, finding Diawara, persuading Traore and Faye to come and turning Andy Reid into a midfielder? Probably the very same people who have now brought back none other than the old war-horse, Mark Kinsella, to the fold. Boot Room or what?

And after all the euphoria on Tuesday perhaps Les's most apt remark was "You don't like the pupil putting one over the teacher," he said.

The papers were also full of our spirit and good football, with "commendable spirit" and "enthusiasm" from the independent while the always pessimistic guardian calls the win deserved but refers to a series of glaring misses. Yes, that happens in football.

But the telegraph doesn't go overboard either, pointing out that we had "aggression and sporadic penetration but there were still so many sloppy mistakes", although they don't elaborate. But they do again give Andy Reid the man-of-the-match award. And a rather bland report from the times says we deserved victory over a weak Blackburn.

We said we wanted Passion last night and the sportinglife says we got it and talks about our "fierce endeavours" and "plucky showing".
So what better adjectives can you ask for in a team at Rock Bottom - Spirit, Enthusiam, Plucky, Fierce, Aggressive. But can we carry it forward to White Hot Lane on Saturday?

Charlton: Carson; Young, Traore (Diawara 26), Hreidarsson, El Karkouri; Kishishev (Holland 89), Faye, Hughes, Reid; Sam ( M Bent 72), D Bent.
Subs (not used): Myhre, Rommedahl.
Goals: El Karkouri 90
Booking: Hughes 33 (foul on Pedersen).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

16 of 38 - Blackburn (home)

So with only 4 games to go until the half-way mark, the Premier League boys have given us a present at last. After a tough fixture list that set the tone for the campaign they have decided to give us a Home Fixture on our Birthday. Thanks guys, we appreciate that.

For as you all know, today's the 14th Anniversary of the day when we finally returned to the Valley, and to emphasize how important its been to Charlton, we have never lost on this day since then. After Colin Walsh's goal against Pompey in 1992 we've then won at both Millwall and Stamford Bridge on a day never to be forgotten.

We all know that today is a Big Game - when you're at Rock Bottom they all are. But to provide us with a glimmer of hope that our run will continue let's remind you that we haven't lost at home since Sept 30th in a narrow 2-1 defeat to Arsenal. Plus the all-important fact that Blackburn are currently bottom of the table on form over the last 6 games, having only got 1 win, 1 draw and 4 defeats in their last 6 games. And they haven't scored away from home since 29th October at West Ham where David Bentley got a last minute consolation in a 2-1 defeat.

Looking at their away games, Blackburn started the season badly with a 3-0 defeat at Portsmouth, followed by a 0-0 at Sheffield, a 1-0 win at Middlesbro' and a 1-1 draw at Liverpool. A 2-1 defeat at West Ham followed and then a 2-0 defeat at Villa. So only 3 goals scored away from home in 6 games and only a single victory.

Maybe their participation in the UEFA Cup is affecting their league form for in Europe they have fared much better beating SV Red Bull Salzburg in the first round 2-0 at home after drawing 2-2 away. In the Group stage they have drew away from home with Feyenoord 0-0 and beaten Wisla Krakow 2-1.


We've played Blackburn 58 times with total of Charlton 20 wins, Blackburn 25, draws 13. But at home we are in front with Charlton 15 wins, Blackburn 9, draws 5.

The Opponents
Blackburn are a bit of multi-national outfit with long strange names, and out of 29 players they only have 6 Englishman - the Addicks in comparison have 13 out of 32.

Top goalscorer is the well-travelled South African Benni McCarthy with 4 Premiership goals and David Bentley with 2. Four others have got a goal each. And if you thought that Sheffield was physical, let me point out that only one team has collected more yellow cards - 33 - than Blackburn and they've also have 3 players sent-off. Watch out for the infamous Robbie Savage and someone going by the name of Zurab Khizanishvili who both have 5 yellows each. The Addicks bad boys are, of course, HH ( who probably will be on bench for the first time for a long while ) and Faye with 4.

They have our old boy Francis Jeffers who's only started 3 games in the Premiership, no surprise there then. Let's hope he stays well away, can't stand the thought of that little upstart scoring against us. And of course, old favorite Andy Todd is still at Ewood Park but has only started twice this season. They've also got the other Reid, Steven, that plays alongside Andy for the Irish.

The Addicks

The defence will be reinforced by the return of Diawara, gloves and all, adding a bit of class to the defence. But today we don't really need class, today is about Heart and Passion. The Team? Choose the eleven players that are going to fight for it. Show them the Table and get them angry, these players shouldn't be down there. We want, we demand, Passion tonight. The same fight and determination that we showed against Everton in the Second Half. And Les, as soon as anyone drops their head, get 'em off....

So Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, Traore, Rommerdahl, Faye, Reid, Holland, Darren Bent, Marcus Bent.

Whatever the result tonight we can only take heart from the standard of football that was displayed last night in the match between Man. City and Watford. Neither team could string 2 passes together, it was over a hour before I saw a shoot on goal and skill was non-evident. There was passion, however, shown by Watford, something we can only dream of.

Anyway back to tonight, one good thing about todays game is that Mr Lawro will not be giving an opinion. For me its either a shock 2-1 win to the Addicks or a 3-1 misery for Blackburn - you choose, I really can't decide......

Monday, December 04, 2006

Maximise the Opportunity

There's me thinking that there was not a lot for anyone to say after Saturday's numbing defeat at the hands of fellow "strugglers" Sheffield. Well, seems I was wrong as Les had plenty to say.

And if you're looking for a pick-me-up, by far the most encouraging thing was that he, and apparently the players "are all quite pleased we can go straight into the game with Blackburn on Tuesday and not have a week of pondering about what went wrong today." And there's most of the fans wondering what else they can do on Tuesday night to avoid the Valley....

Obviously tired of explaining away frequent flucks and wonder-goals as the reason for our constant defeats, he's now putting it down to a "a certain lack of confidence but that's because of the position we are in in the league. Our away record is bad but that's not necessarily been this team and these players."

And Monica's obviously been giving him lessions in manager-speak as Les looks forward to the coming month, "We have four games at home coming up and we'll be looking to maximise that opportunity. "

He did, however, slightly spoil his copybook by adding "We have a lot of creative players who like to get the ball down and play." I wonder who that is then.

In his defence, however, it has to explained that being bottom of the League and worst of the bunch is an obvious way of losing confidence and looking at the last 5 goals we have conceded we've not had a lot of luck, 2 have come from unmarked headers from a cross and a corner (mark the buggers!), 1 was set-up from a deflection over a defenders head, 1 was an own-goal deflection from a header and the other "a breathtaking/stunning volley".

And, at the moment, we're not getting walloped - a year ago today remember we were hammered 5-2 at home by Man. City. (Lets hope tomorrow doesn't see a repeat!) But, having said that, we have now conceded the most goals - 23 - in the Premiership (along with Fulham), have the worst goal-difference, now -12, and if Les is looking at home games to save us, it should be pointed out that we have scored less goals at home than anyone else, a meagre 5 in the 7 games. Hope springs eternal, I suppose.....

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sheffield United 2 Charlton 1

Haven't been here for a while, in fact I can't even remember when I was last here. Maybe in the dark days of 1987 or was it 1988? Its dark, miserable and depressing and not very pleasant. I'd ask someone to put on the light and give us something to see but down here as you know nothing works. I thought we have got here a couple of weeks ago but I was wrong - that was only a mere stopping point for there was a lot further to fall - and back then I really thought that things couldn't get any worse, well, they just did. For this is it, this is Rock Bottom.

And its difficult to know what to say. I expect Les or Lou, or whatever his name is, thinks exactly the same. The one result that he said couldn't be allowed to happen just did and he was powerless to stop it. Despite our good second half against Everton it appears to have been the midfield that let us down again. People will say he shouldn't have played Ambrose or Rommerdahl in such a tough, brutal encounter and maybe he shouldn't but who else does he have?

Hughes is no better liked by anyone, Pouso is still missing and obviously lacks the pace of English football. And there's no-one else except the youngsters. Maybe Kish should have started earlier but we don't seem to have enough players who can battle and from now on every single game is going to be a battle.

Come January, Simon Walton will return and we can have a look at him and the famous "wheeling and dealing" has to be done if we are to survive. And it has to be said that there are still too many of Curbs' ex-players still left. We have to do a "Redknapp" with whatever funds we can get our hands on to find some heart and determination - or its curtains.

The Addicks: Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Traore, Rommedahl (Marcus Bent 67), Holland, Faye (Sam 90), Reid, Ambrose (Kishishev 79), Darren Bent.
Subs Not Used: Myhre, Diawara.
Booked: Young.
Goals: Reid 17.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Go On, Nels, Cheer Us Up.

OK, I'm gonna try. Don't know about you, well I do actually, we're all pretty p***ed off with this Premiership Table thing. Of course its full of lies. How can a crap team like Middlesbrough be up there in 14th. And look at Portsmouth in 3rd place! You're seen them, how good were they?

So I've been searching for alternate tables. Some that make better reading and are easier on the old focals.

One Table that is more true is the Last-Six-Games Table, otherwise known as the Form Guide. And there we are in 15th place with 6 points from the last 18 and there's 5 teams worse than us - The Arse 5 points, Watford 5, Everton 5, Bolton 4 and next weeks apponents Blackburn with only 2 points from their last 6 games. Bring on Tuesday!

There's a Table in Sporting Life that shows how teams had done in the first 45 minutes of all the games. And here again we've in 15th spot. Can't be bad. The same 2 - The Arse and Watford - are below us as are Middlesbro, West Ham and Saturdays opponents Sheffield United down at rock bottom. It shows that if games finished at half-time we're have 15 points and that Sheffield bunch only 10. They could only score twice in the first half but there again we've next worse with only 3 goals. The Stats show that we've only been losing at half-time 4 times out of the 14 games but we've only been in front twice ( lots of 0-0's)!

So, of course, the Table showing Second Half performances has to be bad and there we are in 19th place with only Blackburn below us. So turns out that on Saturday we face the team thats the worse during the First Half followed on Tuesday by the team thats worse during the Second Half. Sort it out, Les, we want those 6 points!

In the Disciplinary Table we've safe enough in 11th position with only 22 Yellow Cards but with 2 reds. Whose got the most yellows? West Ham with 32 followed by them again Blackburn with 31, must be that Savage geezer. And Blackburn have the most reds too with 3 along with Chelski. Looks like Tuesdays' going to be rough.

As for the FA Premier "Actim Index" we only have 2 players - Darren Bent and Scotty Carson - in their Top 100 players in their performances over the season so far, although our very own version of the Hungarian ace Puskas, Andy Reid makes it into their Team of The Week because of his inspired game against Everton.

And if you need further cheering up, the Board have started the work of reducing the wage bill so that other additions can be made in January, with the news that 25 year-old Stephan Andersen is getting too old to hang around doing nothing so he's upping sticks and joining Danish side Brondby in January.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Good News?

Morning Les. Nice to see you here bright and early. So, what do you want first? The good news or the bad news. Think carefully now, 'cause the readers out there are going to infer meanings into these things that nobody else can see.

Right, you want the good news first. OK, that means you're a bit of an pessimist, always seeing things black, need cheering up all the time. Well, that's not a bad thing, we're done optimism and positiveness and look where that got us. No, pessimists are good, they demand more, nothings ever good enough for them.

Anyway, I'm going to give you the Bad News first, 'cause I feel like it. Remember that Platform that we all built the other day? Well, now there's only two of us left standing here now, them Watford johnnies and Us. Seems them Sheffield new-boys upped and took flight last night and God knows where they are now. Some say FOUR points in front...

OK, OK, the Good News. Well, thanks to them fixture people, seems that those Sheffield guys have asked us up for Saturday for a little house-warming to celebrate them being in the Premiership for only a year. A bit of a knees-up it seems. And the good news is that them having spend all Tuesday evening chasing a ball about they'll be right knackered come Saturday.

And we all know you took the opportunity to have a good look-see at their attributes. Tuesday night at the Vicarage? Who can refuse such an offer. Not sure you would be able to see many of them there attributes, 'cause they ain't got none. They just work hard and then work hard some more. Not a lot to made a note of really.

So having turned the corner and built a Platform we expect nothing less than an away win on Saturday. Sorry to heap more pressure on you but that goes with the job, I'm afraid. We were all impressed by the way yourself and Markie obviously changed the mood in the camp and the performance against Everton was much improved over the previous week. Thank God for that! Now we need to put the foot to the floor.

So I'm sure you're giving ElK and Herm the heading-away-long-clearances training. You'll be highlighting the need to pick up the consequential loose ball to Reidie and Andy and telling Rommers to control the pass first time and go for it. They don't start well so we need to be 2-0 up the interval. No more messing about in the first 45 sounding them out, 'cause there's nothing to find out.

And please vary them corners a bit, near post flicks or drag backs to the edge of the area, anything different. As for you Rommers - 3 hours shooting practise, every day from now till Saturday, we need a goal from you. And you Andy, heading practice from crosses. We can't afford you to miss any more simple chances that my Grandma could have put away.

Now go out there and Frigging Win...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who Are These People?

Head Coach Les has already said that any transfers in during the January window will have to involve "wheeling and dealing". So there's no doubt feverish activity going on right now to try to off-load the appropriate players to provide the funds. I'm not going to get involved in who they should be so instead I had a look at some of the players toted in our direction by the papers.

Apparently Gillingham midfielder Matt Jarvis has rejected a new contract, that the club describe as their biggest ever contract for a player of his age. Seems to think he's going places. Manager Ronnie Jepson had insisted that he doesn't want the 20-year-old to leave despite recent interest from Premiership and Championship clubs and offer of £250,000 from Plymouth has already been rejected.

If he remains at Gillingham at the end of the season he would not be able to leave on a free transfer because of his age, but a tribunal would set the fee. But as he is under the age of 24, the club will be entitled to a fee if he leaves in the summer, but his agent Mark Curtis has insisted Jarvis is in no rush to leave the club where be began his career, unless you fail to make a better offer.
23 Year old American Clint Dempsey, aka "Deuce", is another player being spoken about - He now has 23 international caps and 6 goals for his country and he impressed in his one and half games at the World Cup, scoring the USA’s goal in their 2-1 defeat against Ghana with a confident finish. He can play right or centre midfield and is termed a busy, all-action player and is used in the USA team as an attacking midfielder. Has some nice "unpredictable" skills and genuine aggression.

But maybe a little too much. He was suspended last March after beating his New England Revolution captain Joey Franchino so badly he was hospitalised. Andy Todd Part 2 then. Apparently the MLS (the league owns the players) rejected a $1.5 million offer from Charlton in the summer, but word is that Fulham will be making MLS an offer they can’t refuse in January.

And he's used to life at the bottom. In 2004 his team the "Revs" were in last place in the East Division and had the fewest points of all MLS Clubs. And he was asked "What is the attitude within the team? Is anyone starting to get concerned?"
To which he replied: "I don't think so. We have been playing well these last few games and we have been getting results. I think we will continue to do so and I think good things are going to happen from here on out."

And he can score goals too. As a junior Clint Dempsey led his team, Nacogdoches of Texas, to several championship titles, scoring a prolific 55 goals. Blimey, sign him up quick, can't let Coleman have 'im.

As for the Far East connection, the China captain Zheng Zhi has also been seen at the training ground but a transfer is not on the cards yet, according to Shandong Luneng executive manager Han Gongzheng. The 26-year-old Shandong midfielder spent Thursday at the London club before heading off to the Asian Games in Qatar, where he will be one of two over-age players in China's under-23 squad. Zheng helped Shandong to the Chinese Super League (CSL) and Chinese FA Cup double last season before winning his second CSL Player of the Year title. He was named China captain in October.

And just to confirm that toughness is becoming a necessary Addicks attribute, Zheng was banned after attacking an official during an AFC Champions League match last November and it was his tackle that broke French striker Djibril Cisse's leg in a friendly before the World Cup. Andy Todd Part 3.

Itseems that several clubs have been looking at Olympiakos striker Yannis Okkas. The Cyprus international is set to travel to Ewood Park for a four day trial in December as Mark Hughes makes for the January transfer window. Whilst Rovers remain the only club to have made a formal approach for the Olympiakos star, it is understood that a number of rival suitors have been alerted by his imminent trial at the Premiership side including the Addicks.

And the fifth option was another forward watched by both Reed and Monica recently. This was the Leeds forward David Healy that was previously talked about.

But will we ever see any of these players? During the summer we were linked with many that were never heard of again. But this time it will depend on how much we want them and how much money Murray wants to gamble. Can he afford to sit on the fence and hope for the best? I don't think so...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Others Get Their Skates On!

Hey, Les some bad news for you. While we were waiting on this platform that we've just built all the others have got their skates on and scarpered. Well, there's still a couple of mates left but there's no party with only three of us is there?

In fact its starting to get a bit down chilly here without a bit of company, know what I mean? Not so cosy anymore. Its a bit like playing Grand Prix on your Playstation - make a slow start and when you round the first bend you see, not surprisingly, all the others disappearing around the next corner.

With Newcastle ending their 9 matches without-a-League-win run with a 1-0 over Pompey and West Ham doing the same to Sheff. Utd it wasn't such a good weekend for the Addicks. And it gets worse when you see that Middlesbro' also got points on the board with a 1-1 draw at Villa Park. And if you fancied catching Spurs, well they enjoyed a 3-1 over Wigan.

So we're now 4 points adrift of both Newcastle and Blackburn and 5 behind West Ham with Man. City and Middlesbro now 7 points away. Its time for a win, Les, and its needed on Saturday.

We now only have 5 games left before we reach the half-way mark at Christmas and you know what they say about Christmas and yet we still haven't reached double figures. We need to at least double our points in these 5 games and that means getting 3 wins from somewhere.

To remind you we have Blackburn and Liverpool at home, two teams with only 1 away win between them in 13 games - only 4 goals scored and a huge 20 conceded. We have to take advantage of that and we have to beat them both.

The next 3 away games are against Sheff. Utd, Spurs and Middlesbro. Sheff. Utd have only won once at home and lost 3 but improved Spurs now have a home record the same as Manure while Middlesbro in winning 4 times have only managed 6 goals. And they lost 4-0 to Portsmouth 2 weeks before we lost 1-0 so anything's possible.

So its three wins out of five needed to get to 18 points at half-way. Gives you some idea of the size of the task ahead, doesn't it?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Charlton 1 Everton 1

We all like to take something from every game, much like Monica used to, to give us a bit of encouragement come Monday morning. I thought we played some good football at times in the second half, we didn't give up after their fluke goal and our passing was done with confidence and we didn't look like the worst team in the League. Faye, Holland(!) and Reid battled in midfield. We created a few chances, even though we missed them with the Observer giving us a total of 16 attempts at goal. And we finally have a midfielder scoring a goal.

Of course, for the first 15 minutes we were under the cosh, that's the price of being at the bottom of the table, teams are told to pressure us and get an early goal and we'll then buckle. And Everton had only lost 2 out of 6 away games this season.

But the best for me was the players reaction to our equaliser. No excitement, no kissing, no going overboard. It's only an equaliser, lets get on with it. It reminded me of the England Rugby 2003 World Cup semi-final when we beat France. When the players left the pitch that day there were no celebrations at all, it was only a semi, no rejoiceing till they had win the thing. Or maybe it was just disbelief that we're scored!

The worst was that it took a goal conceded to finally stir us up and going for it, and if they hadn't scored it could well have ended up 0-0. And Everton were not that good yesterday. When teams have an "off" team you really have to take advantage.

So its not a win, "its a platform", according to Reed. Lets hope its not long before the train arrives...

As for the reviews cafcpicks gives it to you player by player, for the Observer watching us is like being in purgatory, while the independent is a little more encouraging but before you get too confident the telegraph will bring you down to earth but at least gives our "little dumpling" Reid Man-Of-the-Match.

Charlton: Carson; Young, Traore, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri; Rommedahl, Faye, Holland, Reid, Ambrose (M Bent 67); D Bent.
Subs (not used): Myhre, Fortune, Kishishev, Sam.
Goals: Reid 68
Booked: Hreidarsson 48, El Karkouri 75 (foul on Osman)

Everton: Howard; Neville, Valente, Yobo, Lescott; Arteta, Davies, Carsley, Osman; McFadden (Anichebe 79), Beattie (Vaughan 79).
Subs (not used): Wright, Weir, Stubbs.
Goals: Hreidarsson og 52
Referee: A Wiley

Attendance: 26435

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Charlton 6 Southampton 2

Whilst checking out the UEFA stuff on Thursday, to see how Spurs, Blackburn and Newcastle got on, I noticed that little Espanyol, the 2nd Barcelona club, scored 6 against the Dutch giants Waregem.

Its not often that Espanyol score 6 and in the papers the following morning we were told that its been 50 years since they did it back in 1956.

Got me to thinking - when was the last time the Addicks put 6 past someone? There's been lots of 4's and 5's but a Big Six, when was that? Thought it would raise the spirits on what could be a difficult day, and as I couldn't remember, I searched the records across much happier years, and not so good ones come to that, to look for it.

Well, it was back on Friday, (!) 24th Sept 1976, 30 years ago back in the old Second Division. In front of a grand turnout of 9,710 fans we scored 6 against Southampton with 2 goals from both Mike Flanagan and Killer with Richie Bowman and Colin Powell getting the others. We were 2 goals up after 12 minutes with Flanagan scoring both, 4-1 at half-time and Killer completed the rout in the 90th minute. And that was the very season that we put 4 past Chelsea at Easter Monday and another 4 past Blackburn and a 5 past Burnley. Happy Days, indeed.

In fact Friday was a good day back in those days, we played 8 of them at home that season and won 7, drawing the other!

On a more worrying note, it was also the season when we sold our goal-scoring legend, and biggest asset, Killer Hales to Derby for only £330,000 just before Christmas after he had scored 16 times in 16 games.........

Anyway, enough of past reminiscences, back to 2006 and cold harsh reality!

Friday, November 24, 2006

14 of 38 - Everton (home)

As our huge game against Everton approaches, I attempted to raise the spirits somewhat and had a look at how many games we had won against them, remembering one of the best being that 3-2 win at Sainsburys in October 1986 with Andy Melrose getting a hat-trick. It was our 5th home game of the season and we hadn't won a single one of the previous four. So in effect that win over Everton was Charlton first top flight home victory for 29 years. Happy days!

For tomorrows game very important game we can only hope that something similar happens.....

The Opponents
Everton's record away from home is very good with only 2 defeats in 6 games. They started at Blackburn with a 1-1 draw, then Spurs 2-0, Newcastle 1-1, Middlesbro 1-2, the Arse 1-1, and finally on Nov 4th Fulham 0-1.

But after a decent start to the season, you'll be pleased to know that things have not being going too well recently. After only 1 defeat in their first 10 games, the loss to Fulham at Craven Cottage seemed to end their confidence for it was followed by a 0-1 defeat at home to the Arse in the LC, then another defeat at home 0-1 to Villa before finally improving in last weekends 1-0 home win over Bolton.

So only 1 goal scored in their last 4 games ( and that a screamer from Spaniard Arteta) and 3 defeats in there as well.

One key to their success has been the stability in their squad with seven players having appeared in every Premiership game: Arteta, Carsley, Howard, Johnson, Lescott, Neville, Yobo ( the Addicks only have 4 Darren Bent, Carson, El Karkouri, Young ). And also, unlike the Addicks, they also have the benefit of 2 midfielders scoring goals with top goalscorers being: Johnson 6, Cahill 5, ( out injured), Arteta 3 and Beattie 2.

The History

As reported recently we are currently one win down to Everton with the totals being:

Charlton 18 wins, Everton 19, Draws 9
Home games: Charlton 12 wins, Everton 8, Draws 3

And in the Premiership its also been very close with 6 wins apiece and 2 Draws. In fact Everton havn't beaten us at the Valley since Duncan Ferguson converted a penalty and David Weir netted in a 1-2 success on 18 August 2001. A very disappointing opening game defeat in which they came from behind to win after JJ had put us in front.

The Addicks

So many bad reports have been written about the performance last Saturday that it would seem likely that Les will leave some of the non-performers out. Not that he has much choice available with injuries still causing a problem. So which ones, if any, retire to the bench we wouldn't know until the day but it would seem certain that Reid and Holland will continue in midfield with Faye making a return from suspension.

With both Diawara ( and Kish ) out of the game the defence line-up will depend on the fitness of Traore and what Reed thinks about the skills of Sorondo over Fortune. It may be too early for Traore to return for a full 90 minutes as he only started training two weeks back but he could make the bench.

Everton manager, David Moyes, has been complaining about his defence recently ( with only 1 goal in 4 games, maybe it should be his attack that gets some stick ) and having to play full-backs out of position and maybe Les will put Reading out of his mind and be tempted into putting out both wingers in an attempt to prove the point. This is, of course, psychological minds games being played by Moyes. He wants us to put out two wingers to leave the middle open for his own boys. Don't be tempted , Les.

So the formation will clearly depend on how upset Leslie was with last weekends display. Either he generates some passion from somewhere or he has to try someone else. Expect Lloyd Sam to at the least make the bench alongside such talents as Hughes, Marcus Bent, Thomas or Rommedahl and possibly Traore.

So its: Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Fortune, Hreidarsson, Rommedahl, Faye, Reid, Holland, Sam, Darren Bent.

Lawrenson goes with a 1-1 draw due to the fact that we are "a club in turmoil". I think he means trouble rather than turmoil but whatever, he does get lots right every week and I going to agree with him again, 1-1, 'cause Rome wasn't built, or even rebuilt, in a day, or even 7 days.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Les Reed: Just the Sort of Person You Need

Three diverse articles appeared in the Guardian Sports pages on Saturday. One argueing that you shouldn't promote a Number 2 into a Number 1, entitled "The Best No.2's Know their place and never become No.1's" and therefore implying that Les Reed's promotion was a mistake.

Of course, it harps on about Liverpools boot camp and says that promotions from within are more likely to work if they are made from a position of strength, Bob Paisley being the outstanding example. Paisley took over at Liverpool after Bill Shankly's retirement and when Paisley retired Joe Fagan, another bootroom man, bridged the gap and won a European Cup before Kenny Dalglish took over.

The article then cites the example of the struggling Steve McClaren but the general gist of the article was that Charlton were wrong to promote Les Reed.

The other article was entitled "Les Reed: Just the Sort of Person You Need", and was a series of comments on the attributes of Les Reed from people and players that have worked with him in the past. Presumably it was meant as a gentle lift-me-up after the previous article.

Not surprisingly, but nevertheless a bit worrying, the most praise-worthy opinion was the paragraph by Andrew Mills, which does appear to have been prepared weeks ago as you would for an obituary, "He brings a wealth of knowledge and education and is beyond reproach. His tactical know-how, experience and preparation are second to none. I think Les is a fantastic fit with the board when he arrived and remains so in stepping up to head coach ( no capitals). Les will excel in his use of tactics to prepare the team to achieve what we all want"

Ex FA Technical Director before Reed, Howard Wilkinson and Graham Taylor, England coach when Reed was at the FA, also chimed in with "doesn't panic, calm under pressue, will do very well at Charlton, very knowledgeable, but quiet".

Two ex-players gave their impressions, Mark Bright and Mark Kinsella. Kinsella was, of course, the captain when we meet Sunderland at Wembley and was the most impressed of the two. He went on to explain how, before the Sunderland Play-off , Reed had prepared a Wembley-size pitch to show the players what to expect. And his preparation was always very detailed. The players were told their opponents date of birth (!) and weight, and all their strengths and weaknesses. Very thorough and also very polite.

Mark Bright was not so impressed. Reed, in those days anyway, was very "by the book", with specific structured coaching for the next match. But he thought he was too rigid in his training and the sessions were too long.

And just to round off the page, a few quotations were given from the Les Reed book on Coaching, all out of context, and with some of those stupid interpretions that the Guardian are so good at, given for each one. Just to imply that it's all nonsence.

So, first a suggestion that its not going to work under Reed, then a bit of a life-me-up with a few positive quotes, then a few silly remarks to put us back in our place. It was all a bit silly really, a left-wing newspaper having a dig at a little club at the bottom of the Premiership struggling to get out of a mess.

Obviously supporting, or even encouraging, the underdog doesn't form a part of the Guardian philosophy anymore.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Team Against Everton

Several apparent witnessess at last Saturdays dire performance first of all actually noticed Matt Holland on the pitch and secondly said he was the only player that was doing anything in the way of running about. Gave 100% heart and soul it seems and played a captains role, trying to encourage the others.

Now I know that you shouldn't take notice of one persons verbiage but reading on I found another two people saying the same thing so it seems to have been noticeable. There will, of course, be those at the back shouting "its all very well running about, but its the quality that's lacking and didn't someone call him lightweight" and I take your point. But we wouldn't be awarded compliments like "capitulation, lethargic, timid, and lack of spirit" etc if everybody was at least working.

Others were equally vocal in castigating Luke Young for not being vocal enough, for forgetting the captains role and hiding like everyone else. Maybe thats why Holland had the captains band for so long and it would seem that he deserves a place in the side against Everton.

And I'm sure there's a reference somewhere to Holland when Les reportedly said, "We spent over £11million in the summer so I know it'll be a question of wheeling and dealing. But if we need a boost I think there will be some funds available. And obviously if players move on, others will come in. But right now we have to get together and see who wants to get this club out of trouble, and who is just coming along for the ride."

Meanwhile it seems that as well as Walton coming back in January, we are also looking at the market to strengthen the squad with more additions ie dempsey. Could he be the "boost" we need?

And if you're looking for further good news, it seems that someone called Gibbs turned out for the reserves on Monday against Reading, although only for the first half while Sorondo, Traore and Pouso had full games. Although with three internationals in the defence, namely Djimi Traore, Gonzalo Sorondo and Cory Gibbs, its a bit disconcerting to see that we conceded 4 goals. How Reading must love us!

Let's hope that Les saw something to encourage him, with Omar Pouso ploughing through two tackles and hitting the post ( the ball, not him), although maybe it was Lloyd Sam that impressed. One goal and influencing midfield could see him feature again on Saturday, at least on the bench.

The fitness of Traore, Sorondo and Gibbs will add to Les's headaches as he decides his best team for Saturday. These days it seems that Everton play with 5 across the park so it would seem sensible to try to counter that. How about the following?

Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Traore.
Rommerdahl, Faye, Reid, Holland, Ambrose.
Darren B

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pecking Order

As has been pointed out over the last couple of days, new boy Les Reed doesn't do panic. Just as well really with the job he's got in hand. But forgetting performances - not easy I know - just one lucky win and favourable results elsewhere would take us up to equal 17th with 3 teams below us.

And thats all we need, three teams below us, and given the position we're in now I think we would call this season a successful one.

So in a desperate attempt to find some element of confidence in the situation, I went looking at our history to see what we'd done in the past against the nineteen other Premiership teams.

And by a coincidence there's just three of them that we have had the better of in all our games against them. Watford (we're won 6 games more against them, ie 20 wins, 14 defeats, so we're +6 , against West Ham we're +5 and against Middlesbrough we're currently at +2.

After a win a couple of weeks ago we are now equal with Man. City.

And we started the season equal with Wigan having played them only twice before but we've now slipped behind with their 2 wins to our 1.

Everton and Sheff. Utd come next with whom we're also one defeat down and against Fulham we are now 2 down. Last Saturdays defeat at Reading now means we're 3 defeats down against them.

The remaining 10 teams are all disappearing over the horizon with: Chelsea -5, Blackburn -5, Spurs -7, Portsmouth -8, Liverpool -9, Aston Villa -10, Newcastle -12, Bolton -13, Arsenal -22 and manure a massive -24.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Les Reed's Big Week

Les's first Monday on the job and if he'd rather stay in bed who can blame him? But with the size of the enormous task awaiting him there's definitely no time for pressing that snooze button. For this is a very big week for the Addicks culminating in a home game against Everton. He has 5 days to install some of that magic ingredient - confidence. Oh, and with a little grit and determination thrown in.

And we have a job to do 'cause for us its time to us to forget the past, Iain Dowie, Monica, court cases and all. We don't care why he was sacked, 'cause he's gone and is now history. The new man needs our confidence and support.

He'll be "very very disappointed" at the performance of Saturday but after a bright start with the stats showing 50-50 possession at 15 minutes, giving a goal away after 18 minutes was always going to lead to only one outcome. Call it away-day blues or whatever you like but bottom of the League and without an away win in over a year is going to affect faint hearts when another goal goes in. Its now up to Reed to get rid of the hanging heads and get in the players that are going to fight for the cause.

But it was surely a mistake to take a 4-4-2 to an away game as important as this. Once again it was the midfield that let us down where we suffered from a lack of muscle, so why not try to cram it with bodies even though they might be Hughes and Ambrose? It was believed that Rommedahl's pace would frighten the opposition but not with another wide player on the other flank. The game was too spread and there were gaps everywhere. Thomas was eventually withdrawn after 57 minutes and Ambrose came on and Marcus Bent was also changed for Lloyd Sam at 79 minutes. So we finished how we should have started, with a 4-5-1. It can be argued that Faye and Diawara were missed but for now its another game gone.

But at least some of his comments over the weekend show that he can see the problems and is at least looking ahead.
This match was a hurdle to get over," he said. "I hoped we would come away with something, but we haven't. "

"But I have learnt a lot about the players and their characters, because we have come through a week of adversity. I have told them they have to be committed, no excuses. There is a massive job to do to make the players believe we can get out of it. When you are struggling, doubts come in, and that's the way we played in the first half. But if I start to panic and get excited I can't expect the players to calm down."

"I learned a lot today, and have got some ideas in mind that we can sit down and talk about next week when we have got more time. I'm already thinking about what I want to do next week and formulating ideas."

And he pointed out the still obvious fact: "We have got to get fitter. There needs to be a bit of grit and determination about our performances when we haven't got the ball." He probably means looking a bit stronger rather than fitter, although this was something that Dowie himself was saying weeks ago.

And as for sorting the men from the boys:
"I am going to talk to the players as individuals about their games and specific things we need to put right. If I sit down with a player and discuss what he needs to do then that way the whole squad buys into the next step."

Perhaps for Saturday its time to select 11 players that are going to fight - whatever the formation.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reading 2 Charlton 0

This was surely the game that has the R word written all over it. Not that the management change had given us any hope for the future, just that even a game against mid-table Premiership debutants is nowadays beyond us. Even having a new man in charge, which sometimes serves to raise the spirits, seems to have had no positive effect whatsoever. Steve Sidwell must be smiling to himself right now that he didn't make the switch in the summer.

A promoted team laying comfortably in mid-table with the worst defensive record ( apart from us that is) and we can't even get a consolation goal. This was the point, of course, where we started to lose all comparison with last season games ( who do you compare Reading with ?) and perhaps it's the moment when we lost touch with a lot of things. Belief, being one.

Is the realisation creeping in? Or perhaps it's the rain in Spain drowning my spirits.

But after glancing at the table yesterday and maybe it was the old-fashioned format but I found that it reminded me of the Lawrence years when we were always struggling at the bottom. A definite change in the mind-set has come about I suppose, for its becoming frighteningly obvious that unless something changes on the pitch pretty soon we are rapidly becoming this years "Sunderland".

Talking of things on the pitch, we were in for another surprise with an attacking 4-4-2, with 2 wingers, Rommedahl and Thomas and the 2 Bents up front and with no sign anywhere of Jimmy-Floyd, although a thigh strain is given as the reason. Two youngsters were on the bench, Nathan Ashton and Lloyd Sam along with Hughes and Ambrose.

And if there were rumours of bust-ups before Mondays sacking, they continued here with El Karkouri and Andy Reid arguing who should take a 9th minute free-kick. Reids' size won the day and from the free-kick Marcus Bent's header is tipped over by the keeper.

Our first first display was termed "disjointed" by Reed and apart from a spirited opening and a couple of chances at the death, it seems that the only symmetrical thing about our play was conceding 18 minutes in and 18 minutes from the end. Both Marcus Bent and Jerry Thomas were withdrawn after "ineffective" performances and even the frustrated Rommedahl gets himself booked.

As for the goals, a 6ft Korean giant named Koran Seol Ki-Hyeon scored the first goal from a free header and we never looked back. Andy Reid's international teammate Kevin Doyle made it 2-0 18 minutes from time and once again its international teammates kick us in the teeth. Seems its always ex-players or international teammates that do for us.

Our own Inspector Sands calls us crap and the worst display since the 1-6 to Leeds three years ago. The bbc are far too kind and for them we are simply lethargic. The independent calls us timid and small and reckons we could have been 4 or 5 goals down by half-time.
The guardian cum observer simply says we were outplayed and quotes the understating Coppell as saying "that we were a little ahead in every department".
And just to spell it out for you in case you missed it the telegraph explains that the "only logical conclusion to draw from this match is that they are going down."

And if possible the dailysmail is even more depressing, telling us that Darren B looks like a man waiting for the January window to open and sees a lack of spirit and capitulation from the whole team while reminding us that "Charlton failed to compete in midfield, with the toothless pairing of lightweight Matt Holland and portly Andy Reid repeatedly surrendering the ball". I think I'll end here.

So 2 goals against, 3 bookings but thanks to the eventual defeats of Watford and Sheff. Utd we are still only one point adrift. But one last another annoying thing for you: Lawrenson got it spot on. An easy home win 2-0.

Charlton: Carson; Young, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Fortune; Rommedahl, Holland, Reid, Thomas (Ambrose 57); M Bent (Sam 79), D Bent.
Subs (not used): Andersen, Ashton, Hughes.
Booked: Fortune 44 (foul on Seol), Rommedahl 58 (foul on Sidwell), Hreidarsson 84 (foul on Murty)

Reading: Hahnemann; Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson; Little (Gunnarsson 88), Harper, Sidwell, Hunt, Doyle (Lita 75), Seol (Oster 88).
Subs (not used): Federici, Bikey.
Goals: Seol 18, Doyle 72
Referee: G Poll
Attendance: 24,093

Friday, November 17, 2006

13 of 38 - Reading (away)

I knew we had Reading next but I had wrongly assumed that we were at the Valley. Unfortunately, at the end of a strange week we now face a second away match on the spin and a first ever trip to the Madejski Stadium. Just our luck, but maybe Les Reed will be happier at an away game where a win has not exactly been expected for a long time now rather than face the more demanding initation of an expectant home crowd. His first aim will no doubt be to avoid defeat.

Looking at the home side, what have Reading done at home so far? Back in August they enjoyed their first ever game in the Premiership, beating Middlesbro 3-2 coming from 2 goals down. What a shame we couldn't have started with so easy a game! Next they beat Man. City 1-0 ( who doesn't) , then a well-earned draw against Manure 1-1 (!), two defeats against Chelski 0-1 and the Arse 0-4 (thats more like it), and then another win, over Spurs 3-1. I expect they'll be rubbing their hands at the thought of playing Charlton next.

Away wins have also come at West Ham 1-0 and Sheff. Utd 2-1. So 5 victories to date but its not been all plain sailing. The Spurs victory came after a run of 5 succesive defeats if you include the League Cup loss to Liverpool and after only 1 goal in the 4 Premiership games. The defence has let them down too, conceding 18 goals, the most in the Premiership ( along with us of course), and they have kept just one clean sheet in the last eight games.

The History

Its been over 25 years since we got a win at Reading although we've only been there 4 times since then, with 2 draws and 2 defeats.

The complete record reads: Reading 11 wins, Charlton 9, Draws 8

with the record at Reading being: Reading 7 wins, Charlton 2, Draws 5

Not exactly pleasant reading then.

Talk the Talk
I'm afraid this section will now been retired as our previous correspondent, Monica, have been given the push.

The Opposition

Kevin Doyle is Reading's top scorer with five goals and he it was that scored his first ever goal for his country and Irelands 2nd goal against San Marino on Wednesday, so he'll be full of confidence. Andy Reid, of course, scored the first goal in Dublin. Diawara's familarity with one of last weeks scorers, Camara, failed to help the Addicks so lets hope that this week Andy Reid's knowledge goes a bit deeper.

The Addicks
The new Head Coach knows that his first game is vitally important, they all are now, not only to justify his promotion, but to continue the Addicks improvements. The defence these days, barring injuries, picks itself, which in itself would be a bit worrying were it not for the fact that both Djimi Traore and Gonzalo Sorondo enjoyed encouraging workouts in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Bournemouth on Tuesday.

There's reports, however, that both Diawara and Kish are suffering from hamstring problems so it could see a return for Fortune.

There's no Faye, due to his fifth booking of the season and although Rommedahl is said to be back in training but I can't see 2 wingers being used in such an important game. It looks odds on a 4-5-1 formation, with the midfield being Reid, Thomas and three others. Hughsey and Holland will probably be two of them and then we'll find out Reeds' preferences. If only Walton were back, it could be the chance the try him out, but as it is it'll mean a toss-up between Kish ( if fit), Ambrose or maybe Pouso. Maybe he'll surprise us with a Marcus Bent out wide but I can't see a place for Hasselbaink.

Darren, and hopefully his hamstring has recovered sufficently, will almost certainly be up front on his own.


The deadly Lawrenson predicts no more surprises this week and sees a 2-0 home win and I can't see any improvement on a difficult week either, Reading 3 Charlton 1

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Big Fat Line

So is there anything more to add to this weeks surprises? One manager for 15 years, the next for 15 games. Not very Charlton-like.

We all know Monica had been handed a tough start by fixtures and injuries but results in recent weeks had promised some light on the horizon. He had turned us all in thinking positive. Some people were even enjoying the season. Most people, the fans that is, seemed to be behind Monica and I'm sure there are many people who will be sorry to see him go before he had a real chance to prove himself. He was ugly but we had taken to him, he was a bit special and big enough to have his own page in wikipedia, his own entry in thinkexist and his very own nickname.

Despite a challenging series of fixtures and a heap of injuries he was only a single point behind what Curbs had achieved last season against the same teams. And recent results have definitely improved with a place in the League Cup Quarters which no previous Charlton manager, or Head Coach, has ever achieved.

His past record was good, taking Palarse to the Premiership in his first season in charge ( it took Curbs 7 years with the Addicks) and although he couldn't keep them there, neither could Curbs in his first year in the Premiership. So really his results speak for themselves.

But, and its a big but, and as most people have guessed by now, the sacking of Dowie has nothing to do with results. I suppose the board would have been more accomodating with him if we were sitting in mid-table, but we are not. Maybe it was his positive beliefs that proved his downfall, maybe he was too Big for the job. For the trouble with being positive is that you soon begin to believe that things will soon improve - that around the corner is salvation, in whatever form. And Charlton have never, well at least not recently, known how to handle Big Managers ( sorry, head Coaches).

Its a tough business out there and being in charge of a premiership club brings responsibilities that we can only dream of. The board could see that the new management structure that they had set-up wasn't working, so what to do? Change the system or the personnel? It was decided to change the personnel....

And we may understand more of the story by seeing what sort of a team the new Coach puts out and in what formation. Was advice to Monica being ignored? Did everyone else want a different pattern to things? Was his positive approach having a negative effect? We may find out on Saturday. Les Reed has already stated his belief in 4-5-1 and for an away game that we need to get something from it, this will probably be the formation he chooses.

We'll hear more of Iain Dowie and I reckon we're starring defeat in the face the next time the Addicks face one of his teams.

So we have, however reluctantly, to draw a Big Fat line under the name of Iain Dowie and give our full support to Les ( sorry Frankie, Lou ) Reed and Mark Robson.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Monica Didn't Fit the Role, Apparently.

The second surprise in a couple of days has been the promotion of assistant Head Coach Les Reed to the job of running the team. We all knew that he would be in charge for Saturdays game but the surprising news was that it has been termed "permanent".

We all expected another period of rumours, hints, sightings and mysterious interviews in clandestine hotel rooms before another top name was unveiled. Souness, McLeish, Davies who would it be?

Instead we get a bespectacled 54 year old with a distinctly low profile. Not what we expected at all. Its all very well to applaud the idea of a "boot camp" that Liverpool first promoted in the 80's when they produced managers of the calibre of Shankly, Paisley and Evans but would it work here?

So we need to look at the events of the last 6 months to see the answer to what is really going on here.

Curbs became a big figure at the club during his 15 years and one of Murrays rare outbursts was heard back in May when he said that "this club is more that Alan Curbishley". Bit of a strange thing to say at the time really. Was Murray a bit resentful of Curbs high profile and his own ignored position? And did this lead directly to his decision to create, in the future, a management team including not a single high-profile manager but a series of lower roles, a Head Coach, Assistant Coaches and a General Manager?

The idea of a management team working together sucessfully or not would seem to be key to the sacking. The reasons have been stated by Varney and we need look no further.
Varney said yesterday: "There was an element that came out in the review that Iain had not delivered what was promised in his interview. And then "In the situation we find ourselves in, it is also vital that everyone works as a team. Unfortunately, I have to say that has not been the case."

So maybe its not a case of Dowie that was failing here but rather his part in Murrays ideal "management team", because I think we can dismiss any talk of player revolts, difficult training methods, etc as irrelevant hot-air. Maybe he wasn't seen to be a team player, accepting advise when offered. So what what to do? Well, what better continuance of the Management Team "idea" than to sack the one that was not a part of the Team and then promote from within.

And maybe it's my dislike of the very thought of Team Players but while we're on the subject, its not a very nice way to inform someone of their demise. Using the phone to tell them "You're out, would you like to come to the training ground to discuss it". There's better ways of sacking people.

Meanwhile what of our new boy ? Back in October CAFC introduced us to more new ideas, its blog (!), which is really not a Blog at all, but it allowed reed to broadcast a few words about his job and what he does. At the time, it made for some interesting reading. Although you could see that the forcasting of points obtained in the next 4 or 5 games was a Big Mistake - Les, in future please take each game as it comes, - it can only lead to delusionment and egg on face.

Oh, and by the way, Good Luck in your new job.