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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

International News - Another defeat for Valladolid

Usually the first game under a new manager sees a bright turn-around for a least a couple of games as players seek to impress the new man. Even Glenn Roeder has achieved that.

Down in historic Spain, however, over there in the flatlands of Valladolid where the mists linger far too long and games in January are usually enjoyed with a bonfire to keep the spectators warm ( and entertained, as because of the mist it's impossible to see more that a third of the pitch) things are always done differently.

A trip down to sunny Malaga on the Costa del Sol obviously served to unsettle rather than calm the away team as they celebrated with a 2-1 defeat, once again after having enjoyed, if that is the right word, most of the possession.

The 'Departamento de ComunicaciĆ³n', on the official website informs us that despite the dawning of the Merino Era 'the team failed to response to treatment'. Once again they conceded an early goal in the 4th minute despite signing 2 new defenders in the January sales, let in another goal just before the interval and despite pulling one back in the second half suffered a 4 consecutive defeat dropping down to 10th in the table. All hope of promotion to the Premier here seems dashed for another year as they are now 10 points adrift of 3rd place.

The picture above shows the second goal going in and a defence in more disarray I don't think I've ever seen. The goal looks off-side except for the one defender in the net who was presumably playing the 4 attackers onside when the goal went in. Lets hope he's on the bench next week.

The good news is that long queues had been seen at the stadium, not to buy tickets for the next home game but for the friendly on Wednesday between Spain and Costa de Marfil (Ivory Coast). Obviously there's no Valladolid players in the squad but the chance to see decent football seems to have inspired them to stand in the freezing cold for however long it takes. And believe me one thing the Spanish don't like doing is queueing.

Meanwhile the daily newspaper 'ABC' still prints a small form to fill in and send off offering a place in the bi-weekly raffle. The 5 lucky winners drawn from the hat are sent a ticket for the next home game against Real Madrid 'B' next Sunday. Its rumoured that all the other unlucky entrants receive 2 tickets.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Charlton 0 Villa 0

According to all our blogs and the published reports found in cafc, guardian, bbc, telegraph this was definitely a game to be missed. All of them seem to agree that Charlton were on top in the first half and in the second Villa were better which more or less evened out and with not a lot of distinguished football on view nobody really deserved the three points.

Apart for that there does seem a few disagreements. Not having been at the game means that the reports do become a way of 'keeping-up'. Who exactly is pulling his weight, who deserves another game next week and who should be loaned out asap ( apologies for sounding like Anne 'Taffy' Robinson ).

So while everyone was unanimous regarding Darren Bent, he being awarded Man of the Match in the Guardian report, there were even hints that someone out there rates Hughes and missed him when he went off. The Telegraph appears to rate Bothroyd in front of Marcus Bent, while the Guardian says he 'disappeared' after a few minutes. Who can you believe? I guess it could add up to the fact that people do have their own preferences, not least apparent while people are discussing people like Hughes and Kish.

Every club has its obvious favourites, players that can do no wrong but there will always be players that some will like and others not. I remember seeing the team run out once a few years back (well a lot of years back really) and being pleased that Paul Mortimer was playing. The guy next to me, however, had other views, 'Oh no, not Mortimer'.

At least that is maybe what I want to believe, although there does seem a worrying amount of unhappiness around among our Links at the moment from people who actually see the action for themselves.

I can only hope that we secure those 5 more points to get us into Holy Grail territory as soon as possible. With Newcastle moving above us, we now only have 2 games against teams below us in the table. Something similar is obviously on Curbs mind, as in his published views after the game curbs, he seems to be getting focused on games against the teams around us in the table.

Going back to the reports, at least the Telegraph gives us the excuse for our off second half that we have had 8 games in 29 days and explains our second half preformance as due to all these exertions as well as the trip to Newcastle in mid-week.

Full marks on the magic ball front to cynic athletic who got nearest forecast with his prediction of a 1-1 draw.

Sorry about the lateness of this post, been stuck in snow up in the mountains. Joined the queue to buy chains but they'd sold out and had to wait in a crowded bar for the snow-plough. Got home at last and then had 7 or 8 power cuts in a couple of hours during the evening. Rebooted three times but then got fed up and went to bed. The joys of rural living to central Spain.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

As our Curbs will no doubt say "Today we welcome David O'Leary and all the directors of Aston Villa to a Premiership game at the Valley". Well, thats about as nice as we can allowed to be today. We need 2 wins and the 6 points to get to the holy grail that is 40 points and in my book it can't come quick enough. We only have 3 more home games against teams below us and we need to win at least 2 of them and as soon as possible before our squad starts getting detracted by thoughts of Wembley, sorry, Wales.

Villa's arrive here with a record on the road which is a good one with 4 wins, 5 draws and only 4 defeats. And with 18 goals scored and 18 conceded. Charlton are 6 games unbeaten at home while Villa are the same away and after a defeat away at Newcastle Villa will be looking to avoid successive defeats for the first time in 14 games. With an all-time record at the Valley of Charlton 10 wins, Villa 8 and with 7 draws is a fixture that is usually full of goals. It will be a tight one.

So after admiring Barcelona on Wednesday and watching the way things should be done Curbs is obviously going to take in account Villa's good away form and attempt to play it tight. Expect a dire first half as usual with 0-0 as the preferred state.

Having worn them down during the first 45 with, oh dear, Kish and Hughes the key players, we will then crank up the pressure , throw caution to the winds and set about them in the second half. Well, that's the theory part.

Although reliable cynic athletic puts it down as a 1-1, I think we'll score a couple so it depends how the defence holds messrs Moore and Baros.

Prediction - Charlton 2 Villa 2 or a 2-1 home win. Having said that, I see that 2-1 is also Lawro's idea so scatch that one and 2-2 it is.

Friday, February 24, 2006

International News -

The Second Coming - Valladolid's new Manager

For the third year running, all at about the same stage in the season, and after another run of bad results Valladolid have sacked another manager last weekend. I'm not sure how they can afford to pay the compensation for all these terminated contracts so we'll probably find that they are still being chased through the courts for the next few years.

As reported earlier, no expense has therefore been spared in promoting Alfredo Merino who used to run the 'B' team. The local rag have got hold of a picture of him complete with what looks to be a club scarf and heavy overcoat. ( Contrary to many views it can get pretty cold over here, especially in Valladolid.)

With only 17 games remaining and with a 9 point gap to make up on 3rd placed Levante ( there's no play-off's over here for promotion to the Premier 'La Liga' ) its not surprising that his first quote was ' there's little margin for error' in the coming games. Unfortunately, he did also add that 'logically he knew nothing much of the rival teams but he is going to watch all the videos'. Thats OK then. But he did also add that he was more concerned with his players. Not surprising as they have not won at home since October 23rd and after 1 win in the last 10 games have now slumped from 3rd place at the turn of the year to 9th.

His first test comes on Saturday away to bottom of the table Malaga 'B'. Another Spanish oddity, there's no reserve league over here, so all the big teams have their second string in a lower league. I'm not sure what happens if the reserves finish top of the second division. Presumably they're fined heavily and told to play the next season in the third division.

We can only hope that Merino really is the spanish spelling for Mourinho, although with no russian roubles currently available, my hopes are not high.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Newcastle 4 Charlton 2 - Well, crap forecast or what. If I wasn´t so pessimistic about us at the moment I´d simply blame it on my fingers.

I really should have foreseen that all my boring ranting about the milestone of our 1000 top flight game pushing us into the elite of English football would ultimately end in only one result for our boys. 0-0.

Pessimistic or not I have noticed a rather pleasing change to our play. As we all know there are morning people and night people. Some get up at the crack of dawn and surge into action catching some early worms or whatever. Others, like myself, find the mornings a slow drag of nothingness and can only embrace life when the day is really getting started in the late afternoon. Much like the slow recovery the following day after a evening session with your mates.

Charlton, have become late starters, at least in Premiership games. An slow, alright, appalling, first half followed by a greatly improved second half. We finished well for example against Man. City and getting those two goals has, it seems, lifted everyone. And now we´ve held the Magpies at half-time and according to all the reports that I´ve read, got stronger towards the end.

And after reading about the Barcelona comments, I have to say that having seen Barcelona more times that most back home, they also always have, well not an appalling first-half, but they do start slowly in both Champions and League. They like to take their time, and their pace and the chances they create do progressively get more as the game progresses. There, I´ve put the thing neatly into a nutshell, we´re almost in the same league as Barcelona.

Several people on the Charlton sites have already said how impressed they were by Barcelona and I have to add that they are like that most weeks. A great team to watch and I´m afraid rolling antics are part of play over here especially from the south Americans.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

1000 Games in the Best League in the world or somewhere

Hate to keep harping on but by my reckoning our trip to Newcastle on Wednesday will be our 1000th game in the top league, First and Premier combined.

25 seasons in all, only 3 managers - which must be some sort of record by itself ( OK, its 4 if you count Jimmy Trotter in our relegation season of 56/57).

I reckon everyone is ignoring it on purpose. Remembering the way we celebrated in May 2000 as First Division Champions, with protechnics and cardboard hoardings thrown in. Thats right, we did it in style and duly lost to Ipswich 3-1. Not that celebrating anything is really a common experience where the Addicks are concerned. A cup, a League and a few promotions and thats about it. But if we wanted celebrations we would be supporting other ´bigger´teams of course. No, celebrations are not for us. And I expect if we tried any on Wednesday everything would go positively pear-shaped.
Speaking of bigger teams and celebrations, the bigger embarrasment that I have ever witnessed, albeit only on the box, was in 2002 when Real Madrid lost the Spanish cup final to Deportivo. As is common over here the cup final is very often played at the Madrid´s Berniebow, of course to Real´s advantage. As 2002 was Real´s centenary year they obviously wanted to ensure they celebrated the year with a victory over the provincial Deportivo. Much to my delight Deportivo went into an earlier 2 goal lead and refused to play along with the hosts. End result 2-1 to Deportivo and egg all over several faces. Priceless.

Monday, February 20, 2006

(pronounced - va-ya-doe-leed)

Capital of the Castilla-Leon region in north-east Spain, an industrial and university city at the junction of the Pisguera and Esguera rivers. Pop. (1991) of 345,260.

Valladolid was the principal residence of the kings of Castile in the 15th century and capital of Spain during of the reign of the three kings Philip II, III, IV ( 16th - 17th century). The scene of the marriage of Ferdinand and Isabelle in 1469, Christopher Columbus also died there in 1506 and Cervantes wrote part of ‘Don Quixote’ in a house now preserved as a museum.

Well enough of that boring stuff. Living as I do most of the year in a foreign country, one gets 'attached' to the various new customs, foods and ways of life. You don't forget the old attitudes that you're had for all your life but you acquire a different way of looking at things.

Anyway, to help yourself fit in and enjoy life all the more it is of course necessary to 'adopt' a local football team. Adopt, of course, in the widest sense and as an additional object for whatever sentiments apply. Being registered, or probably certified more like, to Charlton it is pretty obvious that nobody is going to select Real Madrid as an adopted team even though they could register as my 'local team'.

No. Its important to let other nebulous ideas and desires be used to let ones fancy fall upon a suitable outfit. So between the language course and the paella I decided. VALLADOLID. Maybe its the profusion of L's in the name or the impossibility of being able to say it so that people would understand what the hell you are talking about. Or maybe its location in the middle of nowhere gave it some sort of mystery. Lots of history but impossible to get to.

Its been several years we're been together now and even though relegation from the Premier division happened 2 years ago, in true Charlton fashion I'm not going to desert them now.

So anyway, they'd in the news over here right now, for all the wrong reasons of course, and relegated to Page 42 of the Real Madrid fanzine ( otherwise known as the sports paper AS). After a mid-season run of 3 defeats on the run and a slump that has seen them crash from a promotion-chasing 3rd to 9th, the manager has got the boot.

Far from the proverbial public reassurance from the board before a vital home game against 2nd in the table Recreativo, he had been warned that anything less than a win and he'd be on his way. In true Charlton fashion, despite it being undeserved, the visitors having not a single shot on target, an own-goal by the centre-back gave the visitors a 0-1 victory and Marcos Alonso ( no relation apparently to Fernando of F1 fame) is history.

The new manager is one Alfredo Merino, an unknown previously running the 2nd string and the 4th manager in the less than 2 years. An away game against bottom of the table Malaga B, who are in the desperate position of having their first and second teams bottom of the premier and second divisions respectively, follows on Sunday!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Charlton 3 Brentford 1

Well, that's a surprise in my book. Uplike the ever-accurate and optimistic cynic athletic who has forecast the last two results spot on I tend to take a more pessimistic view whenever Charlton is concerned especially in the Cup against lower league opposition. I therefore had us down as a 0-1.

So looking back it seems as if our Cup record is at last improving. After a 1-3 defeat at Man u in 1994 ( witnessed by yours truly) and another 0-1 at Bolton in 2000 its only the third time we're reached the Sixth Round since our win in 1947. But 3 times in 12 years is vastly better than 0 in the 47 years previously. All we need now, in my mind anyway, is a home draw to Preston/Middlesbro.

After finding the word 'panache' applied to ourselves in one report on the Liverpool game, we now have 'professional' from the Guardian added to our lengthing vocabulary. How well I remember the adjective 'naive' being used to describe Charlton back in the First Division days of our Lennie. Seems a long time ago now.

And as that was not enough, according to many reports it would appear that Hughes was a strong candidate for, whisper it quietly, Man of the Match. There's a turnabout, name on the scoreboard as well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

1000 Up -

Being as the creation of this Blog was inspired by charlton.blogspot its only appropriate that the first posting should apply to Charlton Athletic football club.

With the theme of our stats being in the air at the moment I thought I would add some news on that subject. After reading a listing of Charlton´s all-time position on a league basis on cynic athletic where we are placed either 19th in all-time Premiership points or 69th on all games played, I got to thinking that it would be better to find a league table based on how they do it over here where I live out my retirement, in Spain, an all-time table of our performance at the top level only ie First Division/Premier results.

After much searching I´ve managed to find the just such a list on:

This Table apparently adds up all the games and points gained in the old First and now Premier division. As you can see the searching was very timely as the listing ends at the end of last season but by adding on this seasons games it appears that our very next game at Newcastle will be Charlton's 1000 game at the top level.

And there´s more - with the three points from the Liverpool result we have moved up a place to 33rd! As not much happens in these tables owing to their timespan its not often that a team moves up.

Perhaps we should take note of that number 33. In the minds of many people Charlton, even with 25 seasons in the top flight, remain a club new to the Premier Division of English football. The table perhaps explains why we are considered by so many to be not very important. If you read the table you will notice that of the 20 teams currently playing premiership football only 2 teams are below Charlton in this all-time table, Fulham and Wigan.

And regarding punching above our weight, its a timely reminder that we are currently 21 places above ourselves in this all-time table. Only Fulham currently in 40th place and Wigan in their first ever season in the top flight can improve on that.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Nelsons Foreign Blog - full of nonsense or packed with gems, we will have to see.