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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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Crisis, What Crisis?

Just when you thought that things couldn't get any worse, well, they just have.

With Monica's sudden departure, not only are we adrift at the bottom but we now would appear to be a ship without a rudder, if thats how you see a Head Coach. We don't know the reasons for his leaving and knowing the way Charlton operate, it's very possible we'll never know. But we can amuse ourselves, as we did back in May and June, with trying to imagine what the hell is going on behind the scenes at our dear old Valley.

1) Ruling out any personal problems, which looking at Monica's departure from his last club are just possible, we have to ask ourselves was he up to the job.

Looking at a few of his quotes on thinkexist would maybe have you thinking that, no, he wasn't.

One obvious pointer would seem to be: “I'm in Miracle on 34th Street. If you've seen the film, that's me. I believe in Father Christmas.” If thats not a clue I don't know what is.

2) Would he have resigned of his own accord? No, he has said himself that he's not a quitter and that he was enjoying the job. But, then Kevin Keegan used to say much the same, didn't he?

3) So, its obvious really - he was pushed because the powers that be considered that Monica was just not good enough. The cost of his leaving looks high but the cost of failure at this level is quite unthinkable. With the Premiership's new television deal starting next season and offering an enormous increase in revenue, the Addicks simply cannot afford to miss out.

And after overspending during the summer months only giving us bottom spot it would appear that Richard Murray has taken the step sooner rather than later. Its a very tough world out there and action was clearly needed but would Murray have taken the step of removing his Head Coach without a Plan B?

The answer has to be no. At least I hope it is. And it isn't Curbs so we really don't know what the Plan B option is. McLeish? Les Reed? Mark Robson? Looks like we'll just have to keep our fingers crossed.

But, of course, its completely wrong to assume that we are now without a rudder. Richard Murray is the boss and we have only lost a Head Coach, the man who recently told us his key job was to motivate the players but we must remember that it was Murray that offered the statement when Curbs left that "this club is more than Alan Curbishley."

So its obviously more than Iain Dowie as well.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Tail End Charlies

Monday morning, and of course, the usual irritating conversation with the prat down the corridor when he asks, "How was your weekend?" No, its not worth it, look breezy and smile through those gritted teeth.

And don't pick up the papers, they're fill of how Reading beat Spurs 3-1 yesterday to end the Londoners 10 match unbeaten run. Scoring midfielder Sidwell did it again, scoring that is, so, apart from Martin Jols's "disappointing, frustrating day", its not good reading.

Of course, we're not the only bunch of fans having a crap season. There's others in the same boat, rocked by wave after wave of depressing results, struggling with their belief in the helmsmans' ability to steer the best course and staring towards the horizon desperately looking for some sign of rescue and at the same time leaning over the side and throwing up.

Miguel Lotina, the new manager of Real Sociedad, bottom of the Spanish League without a win after 10 games, has just been given a page long interview in the daily El Pais and gives everyone hope for the future by saying that "I believe that with these fans its impossible to go down." Seems they were heard clapping last week at their teams demise from the Kings Cup ( spanish for FA Cup) over 2 legs to 2nd Division minnows Malaga. And no, they don't do cynicism in Spain or even irony.

Well, good news there then. I'm sure all the Real Sociedad fans can sleep easy now. One wonders why Monica doesn't do the same.

So what to do? Keep your head down and try to ignore the world? No, think positive. When you've got a problem you join or you start a Help Group. Sharing your problems is what its all about. Getting those things off your chest, talking to people who really understand. So I'm starting a "Help Group for Tail End Charlies" and not with the likes of Southend ( how strange that they are also in the LC Quarters ), Leyton Orient or Macclesfield.

No, no, we want people in the same boat so it has to be them foreign johnies. So its Chievo Verona, Bochum, Real Sociedad and Monaco for us. OK, I stretched things a bit, its called poetic licence or something.

Chievo Verona are not really bottom in Italy with Florentina and Reggina currently below them but as these two giants are playing catch up after having -15 and -12 points deducted due to "financial irregularities", they definitely qualify. Chievo have only managed 3 draws from their 11 games and enjoyed a resounding 3-0 defeat away to Sampdoria over the weekend. Tell us about it, boys.

And Bochum aren't bottom either in Germany but remembering an Iron Maiden concert that I enjoyed back-stage several years ago at their stadium, I have rather a soft spot for them. Over the weekend away they managed to let slip a 3-1 lead and finished up drawing 3-3 (sounds familar) away at Hertha Berlin to be 17th out of 18 with 9 points from 2 wins and 3 draws from 12 games. How's it feel to drop them 2 points, Herr Johan?

And down in Spain Real Sociedad, despite all that clapping, also let slip a 1 goal lead at home to Espanol and finished with a 1-1. And are still bottom with 3 points to show from 10 games.....Come on senor, tell us about it, we understand.

And the 5th member of our little group, Monaco? I'm not sure they really qualify for this Help Group really. There's always one who doesn't belong and I'm afraid its them. And they showed it really with a 4-0 away win under their belts on Sunday. Get out of here imposter, we need to talk to fellow sufferers...where's that Monsieur from Sedan?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Wigan 3 Charlton 2

Last year we were abject, this year it's just sloopy. Can't decide which is worse really but although its another game gone by with no points, a 3-2 scoreline has to be better than a 3-0. And we scored 2 goals for only the second time this year in the Premiership.

At least Monica appears to be more positive when things aren't working than Curbs was last year and the performance after the interval change back to 4-4-2 from the early 4-5-1 seemed to improve things. Even Diawara was withdrawn on 75 minutes and Faye moved back to defence with Kish coming on to try to force a draw but we then gave away another goal 3 minutes later...

Its old Auntie bbc that accuses us of sloopy defending while the independent calls it dire defending and puts the blame squarely on Diawara's head for ignoring long clearances from Kirkland as does the telegraph.

Our own Wyn was on the spot and is none too happy. Complete with the usual marks out of 10, top marks were handed out to Darren Bent with Thomas and Reid close behind.

The observer, unusally symphatic, simply explains away the defeat as an inabilty to deal with the windy conditions.

The times is more interested in babies but does refer to the Addicks first first half as "early ineptitude", to add to the previous mentioned adjectives of sloopy and dire.

Meanwhile sporty wife quotes Monica as "starting to hurt" which is understandable in the circumstances but nevertheless a bit worrying. Clearly, unlike last year when we just didn't bother, Monica expected to get something from the match. And from their stats we apparently had nearly as many shots on target as Wigan.

teamtalk gives a few more stats and is a bit more encouraging for the Addicks.

is here if you want the official line.

Match Facts are:
Charlton: Carson; Young, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Diawara (Kishishev 75); Ambrose (M Bent 85), Faye, Holland (Hasselbaink 46), Reid, Thomas; D Bent.
Subs (not used): Andersen, Sankofa.
Goals: De Zeeuw (og) 52, M Bent 90

Wigan: Kirkland, Boyce, Baines, Webster (Jackson 75), De Zeeuw; Cotterill (Valencia 57), Scharner, Landzaat (Wright 60), Kilbane; McCulloch, Camara.
Subs (not used): Filan, Johansson.
Goals: McCulloch 13, Camara 41, Jackson 78
Booked: Scharner 34 (foul on Reid), Cotterill 40 (foul on Reid)
Referee: D Gallagher

Attendance: 16,572

Saturday, November 11, 2006

"Heskey Out" Rumours

There are rumours that, owing to a groin strain, 3-goal Heskey is "doubtful" for todays game. Record signing Heskey, who has featured in every one of Wigans games this season, suffered the injury in last week's win at Bolton and seems unlikely to have recovered in time to face Monicas' team.

"Gary Teale (hamstring) is definitely out",
reports the sportinglife "so last week's match-winner Lee McCulloch and Wales international David Cotterill are expected to step in even though Antonio Valencia came through a midweek reserve outing after his recent hamstring problem. "

Alongside McCulloch will be Austrian midfielder Paul Scharner both having scored two goals each this season. Perhaps our midfielders should take a few notes. In fact 6 of their players have scored this season in the Premiership which cannot but help the results.

We're also treated to some words of encouragement from an interview with the Wigan boss Paul Jewell.
"They may be bottom but there is not much difference between us and them," said Jewell. "The lower half of the table is going to be very tight anyway this season. I am pretty sure the situation will be changing from week to week and the likes of Charlton, ourselves and plenty of other clubs will be looking over their shoulders."
Don't get sucked in, Monica, he's only trying to lull you into a feeling of security!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wigan Preview

So, tomorrow we're off up north again, to the town of Wigan. After 3 games in a row against crap opposition we now face a team on a bit of a roll with 3 consecutive wins under their belt. Well, I suppose that a 1-0 over City and a League Cup win over Chesterfield qualifies us as on 2 wins in a row but I'm sure that Monica will not be deceived by any of that. Its obvious to everyone that Wigan will be a pretty stiff test for the Addicks.

Only elected to the Football League in 1978, Wigan last year enjoyed their best ever season, finishing in 10th spot in their first season in the Premiership and even managed to reach the League Cup Final, a feat beyond the Addicks ( until this year, of course).

As for their home record, Wigan have only had 4 home games so far but have won the same number of points, 7, as the Addicks have at home. These have come from beating Reading 1-0, drawing with Watford 1-1, a 1-3 loss to Manure, and finally 2 weeks ago they hammered Man.City 4-0 with 2 goals in the first 4 minutes that City never recovered from.

Since that last home win they have travelled to Craven Cottage and not only stopped Claus Jensen from scoring but also managed one themselves to win 1-0 and then also beat Bolton at the Reebok 1-0. So three games, 3 wins and no goals conceded....

As you can guess there's not much history to speak of as our visit last December was our first ever visit to the JJB Stadium and a dismal 3-0 defeat followed.

Talk the Talk
Interviewed yesterday Monica looks forward to Saturday's trip to Wigan.
"We are basing it around a good solid defence and they are coming together. We are not there yet, but we are certainly improving - three wins and two draws in five games is certainly the right way to go." Sounds a bit like an attempt to forewarn us to expect the worst.

After the last preview, against Chesterfield, where most of the reportably injured opponents not only played but scored, I'm not going to get drawn into any more mind games. They'll have eleven players out and at the moment they're all playing remarkably well.

We can say, however, that their top scorers are one Emile Heskey and the Senegal striker Henri Camara, with three goals each. He at least is well-known to our own Senegalese Souleymane Diawara and its only to be hoped that he can keep him from scoring this week.

The Addicks
With El Karkouri having the last week off with a tight hamstring, its assumed that it has now lossened-up and that he will return to the fray and complete our water-tight back-four of Young, El Karkouri, Diawara and Hreidarsson. While another snippet of insider news comes from Wyn who reminds us that Ramadan is now over and that both El Karkouri and Faye can once again enjoying eating and drinking in the daytime. All good news.

Andy Reid, Amady Faye and Jerry Thomas are all obvious starters in the midfield with Dennis Rommedahl's groin problem being the main doubt in Monica's mind. He'll be itching to continue with his belief in a 4-4-2 formation but just when his experiment with Reid behind Dead-eye Darren appears to be bearing fruit and he may see it as time to pack the midfield with five across the park with just Darren up front. In this case the midfield will probably read Hughes, Faye, Holland, Reid and Thomas.

Lawrenson sees it as a 1-1 draw which would be a very reasonable result as far as the Addicks are concerned. One recent favorite, the 0-0 draw, seems unlikely with Wigan having gone 50 League games since one and failing to score in only one game this season. Pedro45 knows what is coming and forecasts a 2-0 Wigan win, while newyorkaddick sees an Addicks victory as an astounding end to a very good week and goes with a 2-1 Addicks win with Darren and Andy Reid doing the damage. Wyn Grant fears a defeat and I must say I would tend to agree - Wigan 2 Addicks 1.

It has to be remembered, of course, that Charlton have now gone 19 games without an away win, and over a year since winning 2 Premiership games in a row. If we are to avoid relegation, this situation has to change soon.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Monica v Curbs (Part 2)

With 2 games against bottom teams recently ending in goalless draws, it occurred to me to look at where our points from last season came from. So here is where Curbs accumulated his points last year looking at the teams finishing position.

Points from the top 6 teams: 5. ( 1 win, 2 draws and 9 defeats from 12 games against Chelski, Manure, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs and Blackburn. ) An average of under half a point a game.

Points from 7th to 12th: 13. (3 wins, 4 draws and 5 defeats from 12 games against Newcastle, Bolton, West Ham, Wigan, Everton and Fulham.) An average of just over 1 point a game.

Charlton finished next in 13th place.

Points from the Bottom 7 teams: 29. ( 9 wins, 5 draws and 2 defeats from 14 games against Middlesbro, Man.City, Villa, Portsmouth, Birmingham, WBA and Sunderland. ) An average of just over 2 points per game.

Total Points: 47 (Green denotes a win, red a double)

This season our points against teams works out at:

Points from the top 6 teams: 3. (1 win from 6 games ) Exactly half-a-point a game
Points from the middle 6 teams: 0 ( 1 defeat from 1 game)
Points from the bottom 7 teams: 5 ( 1 win and 2 draws from 4 games) An average of just over 1 point per game.

What does all this prove? That we are marginally better against the top six with our win over Bolton but as someone previously pointed out to me, Curbs' teams were more ruthless than Monicas' against lower teams, although there doesn't seem to be anyone as bad as Sunderland around at the moment.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The CFB Factor

So thanks to Scotty, once again, and two goal Jimmy-Floyd we can now enjoy a little slice of Charlton history by getting past the numbers rounds, in the "whatever-its-called-now", League Cup into the rounds with names, ie The Quarter-Finals. Sounds good now does'nt it?

And after the inspiration of 4 clean-sheets in a row and Monica's confidence building spreadsheet "Numbers-On-Top", showing our increased playing-time spent in front of our opponents, we now have more tongue-in-cheek buzzwords to help our Monica in inspiring the team.

All good teams show character and mental strength when the chips are down and this is never more clearly demonstrated than by how many times a team comes from behind to win a match and "Coming From Behind"- the "CFB" Factor - is yet another tool in Monica's varied toolkit to build the team's confidence levels.

And for the first time this season, Monica can demonstrate his never-failing sense of humour even in a crisis ( what crisis) and tell the team it's the first time this season that we have come from behind to win and we did it twice in the same game. Another sign, if one is needed, of our increased strength, fight and character.

And there's more good news. The exact sessions of shooting practice that we argued for recently are already paying dividends with Andy Reid, Darren Ambrose and Hermann Hreidarsson all scoring from the spot in the penalty shoot-out.

So while Monica and the team are in the record-breaking mood, it seems like the perfect time to travel to Wigan on Saturday, a ground where we have never won. OK, we're only played there once but the principle still applies.

Monica, we believe - get out there and break them records!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Who's Not Scoring

So why is it exactly that we have to rest our goal-scoring machine against Chesterfield tonight? Its obviously because if any of those awkward League 1 johnnies do any damage to our Darren, then it's curtains for the Addicks this season.

Nine goals scored in 13 games this season and Darrens' got 7 of them. The other two have fallen to Jimmy-F against Chelski and Marcus Bent against Bolton. So whats' everyone else doing?

Well, knowing that nobody else has got near the scoring tables this season you have to go back to last year to see whenever a defender or even midfielder scored for us. And what do you find, perhaps the very reason that Hughsie gets a game - he's the nearest thing we have to a goal-scoring midfielder. Forgetting all the exports, the players that scored in the Premiership last season were: Hughes and Ambrose 3, Marcus Bent and Rommedahl 2, Holland, Thomas and Luke Young 1 each.

So Monica - its time to shame them into doing something about it. Get 'em all to stand up in front of everyone and say when exactly it was that they last scored. And don't take no excuses - "I haven't played much, Guv" - "Thats 'cause you can't score goals, you tart".

So to ensure that they all tell the truth and to help them 'cause in some cases its so long ago they've probably forgotten:

Hughes - Pompey april 17 2006 - SIX Months ago
Thomas - Spurs feb 5 2006 - NINE Months ago
Holland - Everton jan 2 2006 - TEN Months ago
Ambrose - Sunderland dec 10 2005 - ELEVEN Months ago
Rommedahl - Pompey oct 22 2005 - ONE Year ago
Kish - Everton feb 8 2003 - THREE Year, NINE Months ago

Young - Liverpool feb 8 2006 - NINE Months ago
El Karkouri - Birmingham jan 15 2005 - ONE Year, NINE Months ago
Hreidarsson - Everton dec 28 2004 - ONE Year, TEN Months ago


Lisbie - Bolton aug 14 2004 - TWO Years, THREE Months ago.

And don't let the newcomers off the hook, Reid, Faye and Diawara. Amady Faye has apparently never scored in his life and is obviously taking lessons from Kish. Andy Reid is a tad better, having managed just one in his 26 appearances for Spurs but way back on May 1st 2005, 1 Year and 5 Months ago, although to give him some credit, he has found the net 3 times in just 19 games for Ireland. Meanwhile, Souleymane Diawara usually gets one each season while with his old club Sochaux so there's hope there.

And Djimi Traore? He's managed just 1 in 166 games back in 2003/04 while with Liverpool, Lens and Laval and in case you forget he cancelled it out with his crazy own-goal against Burnley in the FA Cup.

So, Monica - scoring practise is obviously a must. Get them nets out now and how about emphasizing the need to improve, starting tonight!

Chesterfield Preview

Without a win in their last 5 League games, languishing in 18th place out of 24 and a penchant for conceding last minute goals it looks like a good time to be visiting the boringly-named Recreation Ground in Chesterfield. But although their League form at home is a bit haphazard with 3 wins, 2 draws and 3 defeats, they have been performing very well in the League Cup.

Enjoying a fair sluice of Lady Luck with their 4th sucessive home draw and in previous rounds they have made the most of this advantage. In their small ground of only 8,500 they have now beaten supposedly superior opposition three times and even come from behind to win in the last two rounds.

In the First Round they beat Wolves 6-5 on penalties after a 0-0 draw. Then in the Second round they beat Man. City 2-1 with 2 second half goals after being behind at half-time. And in the Third Round they did exactly the same to West Ham scoring twice in the second half to win 2-1. Whatever they put in the tea at half-time obviously does the trick.

The Opposition

However, what fate gifts you with one hand it often takes away with the other and just when they need him most it seems that Chesterfield have been struck with an injury crisis with their own version of Darren Bent, one Caleb Folan, who scored in both wins over Man. City and West Ham, currently suffering from a reported hamstring from the weekend game and is not yet back in training.

Other reported injuries are striker Mark Hughes (knee problem) and captain Mark Allott (leg), while defender Phil Picken also remains sidelined. Paul Shaw, another forward, has also missed the past nine games with knee ligament damage.


It has been pointed out by several people that Monica is on the verge of making history by taking the Addicks into the draw for the 5th Round for the very first time. But our record against Chesterfield isn't so good. Despite their low standings we have managed to lose 5 of the 12 league games and only won 4 and perhaps it should be pointed out that Chesterfield have never reached the 5th Round either!

The Addicks
Man.City put out almost exactly the same team against Chesterfield as played on Saturday and still lost so we will need to be at our best to continue. But will Monica risk his entire first team? Probably not. With the first of three very important away games coming up on Saturday at Wigan, he may well decide to rest key players.

Whatever happens, you can bet that wee Brian Hughes will be in the starting lineup. Scotty Carson will get a well-earned rest giving Anderson (or Myhre) a chance to convince Monica that he needn't worry too much about Liverpools' goalkeeping problems.

As for the defence, Monica may decide to give our new star, glove-wearing Diawara, a rest and put Fortune out for a run. Midfield, alongside Hughes could be Ambrose and Thomas with Andy Reid or Matt Holland. Up front it'll be Marcus and Jimmy-Floyd with our own goal machine warming the bench, England style.

Wyn confidently predicts a 2-1 Addicks victory as does Pedro45. Whats going on?
But its got to be a 0-0 after extra-time, with little Hughes netting the winning penalty, 9-8.....

Monday, November 06, 2006

Minutes On Top

So how is "The Man" feeling this morning? A undoubted smile is spread across his face and there's an autumn spring in his step. Did he have a good nights kip or is it those shiny new pumps that Mrs. Monica brought for him in Spain during the summer?

But Monica's not thinking about his shoes, he's had a great weekend and right now he's reliving every minute of the win against Man. City. He'll have read that the Addicks were lucky but he doesn't care about luck, that's for those people that believe in horoscopes. It was also pointed out that its been 10 weeks, in the Premiership anyway, since he enjoyed a win, but that's for the sad billys that keep such records.

No, for our Monica its just another happy week at the office and time to get out those weekend videos and for a change they're not nasty ones.

And as usual he'll be optimistic about the mood of the players. And why is that? Because Mrs. Monica, with the aid of her ample spreadsheets, has provided another secret weapon for our Head Coach to use in his fight against the "R" word. And their new weapon is cheekily named "Minutes On Top"!

Mrs. Monica it was, after wrapping up Darrens' daily supply of safety-first sandwiches, pointed out the reason for todays good humour. And no, its not bedtime numbers we're talking here. Saturdays' 28th minute goal by Darren himself gave the Addicks the lead for all of 62 minutes. That's the longest time the Addicks have been in front, in the Premiership, all season.

After our tough start to the season we have been behind in 7 of our 11 Premiership games, and all of them we have lost. In all of our 11 games we've only been in front 5 times and before Saturday for only 73 minutes, an hour an a bit. We have now nearly doubled that to 115 minutes, out of a total of 990 minutes - 11% of the time. In total we have been trailing our opponents for 28% of the games while for 51% of the time we've been level.

But now after three consecutive Premiership clean sheeets as a bonus from the last 3 games, Monica will also know that in the last four Premiership games we're only been behind for a total of 25 minutes, a mere 7% of the time.

Monicas' a keen psychology man and will be keen to guage the effect of these numbers on his players. He's aware of how draining it is on a footballer to be always second-best, always behind to the opposition. So he'll no doubt use his new "Numbers On Top" to raise the humour and increase the confidence.

Well, I hope so anyway.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Charlton 1 Man City 0

So sweet revenge for last seasons defeat although its obvious that we rode our luck, with Scott Carson getting the Man-of-the-match award from most people including our own Wyn Grant, and with most of the papers saying the game should have been a draw.

The independent gets the ball rolling with its straight talking and says that we'll need to play better than yesterday if we are to survive and suggests that we had more than enough of good luck thrown in.

The observer, meanwhile, gets a little excited and thinks its our first league win of the season while good old auntie bbc says that any late City equaliser would have been rough on the Addicks.

Down at the telegraph they think that the result was all due to the heroics of Scott Carson and that City "can count themselves unlucky to have lost a contest in which they were marginally superior "
while the neutral sportinglife simply points out City's "three golden chances" in the last 10 minutes.

The times was another who saw a draw being a more fair result while teamtalk gave the man-of-the-match award to Jerry Thomas with his 28th minute cross and goal-line clearances.

The official line from cafc again points out our good luck but reminds us of our miserable afternoon in the corresponding fixture last season which after all the above twaddle is all that matters really.

So discounting our apparent luck, which was bound to change some time, and our position in the "temporary" Premiership table, we are now only one less point than Curbs gave us last season against the same teams (substituting Sunderland for Watford). Our 11 games under Curbs, against the same opponents, gave us 9 points, from 2 wins and 3 draws with 6 defeats. We had 7 goals for and 15 against, so a -8 goal difference.

This season with Monica we have 8 points from 2 wins and 2 draws and with 7 defeats. And showing that team formations don't mean a thing, we have scored and conceded exactly the same with 7 goals for and 15 against. So you can argue that the only difference from last season has been the point we got away at Chelski .

And we mustn't get too upset about both Watford and Sheff. U winning. They're both going down so we need other teams to get above to make ourselves safe and they have done us a favour by dragging Newcastle and Middlesbrough into the infamous R. Zone.

The Addicks team was: Carson; Young, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri, Diawara; Rommedahl (Hughes 46), Faye, Holland, Reid (Hasselbaink 87), Thomas; D Bent.

Subs (not used): Andersen, Kishishev, M Bent.
Goals: D Bent 28
Booked: El Karkouri 67 (foul on Vassell)

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No More Teacups

I see from a recent interview that our Monica had a tea-cup moment during the game with Villa last month..............

I read, and re-read, the remainder of the paragraph several times but still couldn't figure out what he meant. Was he referring to a bust-up in the changing room at half-time? Or in a break in the play, was he starring into his empty cup searching the tea-leaves for a spark of inspiration? Or perhaps he had just spilled his cuppa all over his trousers after Benty had missed another sitter? Seems we'll never know unless it makes an entry into the Oxford English Dictionary.

Of course, this is the trouble with being at the forefront of language definition – until your words are properly documented there are bound to be a lot of people that wouldn't know what the hell you are talking about.

And having spent far too much time working in the nebulous world of computer systems I know what its like. You gradually get used to the pain of talking to people when chances are you would struggle to understand whatever answer they would chose to give you. Buzzwords, techi-speak, and the deliberate withholding of information was rife. It all lead to confusion and was a waste of time.

The world of football may be different. Monica's job is to lift bruised egos, create an atmosphere of belief and getting people to perform above themselves and as a team. But using words that nobody understands will not be useful today. Today is different.

So Monica, its time to chuck away those teacups and tell the team that today they'll be no mistakes in communication or anything else. Take a leaf out of Fernando Alonso’s book – one season, 16 races and not a single mistake. We want NO mistakes, a defeat today and you’ll all be here Sunday morning to tell me why.

And we want revenge for last seasons' roasting, we want to see some passion especially from the 5 of you involved in that game last year. And we want a result....This Week.

Now get out there and WIN.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Man City Preview

When you're down at the bottom every game is "Big" and there's another biggie tomorrow against a strugging Man. City side. Not struggling as much as the Addicks, however, as their successful battle against Middlesbrough on Monday ended in a 1-0 home victory which took them to 12 points and into a midtable 13th place.

That was a home game of course and its been on their travels that they have suffered somewhat. In fact any journey south of the Watford Gap has resulted in no goals and no points. They are still looking for their first away win of the season and in fact have only a single Premiership win away from home in the whole of 2006 beating Aston Villa 1-0 back in April.

And if you thought the Addicks away record was bad, Pearce's City run us pretty close now having lost 12 of the last 14 on the road. They also have the worst away record this season with just one point from the 15 available, and a goal difference of -10. In fact the win over Aston Villa has been City's ONLY away win since they beat us 5-2 in December last year.


After 26 previous years spent in the same division as City, honours are remarkably close with the Addicks claiming 19 victories to their 20 with 13 drawn games. At the Valley we have the edge with 11 wins, 7 defeats and 8 draws.

Recently, however, its been much like our record against Bolton with no victories coming in the last 7 games. In fact you have to go back to Nov 2002 to see the last victory when we got a 1-0 away win and to August 2000 for our last home win, when we celebrated our return to the Premiership with a 4-0 win.

More recently I'm sure nobody has forgotten the disastrous 5-2 defeat last December which became our 5th defeat in a row which was the run that took us from 2nd to 12th.

Talk the Talk

In an interview today, Monica has this, among other things, to say: "We know it's going to be tough, Stuart's got most of his team back fit, but we believe that if we do things right - make it a real passionate atmosphere - we'll get the result."

The Opposition

City away form is what concerns us really, so to recap - they started the season badly with a 3-0 defeat at Chelsea, then lost at Reading 1-0, more of the same at Blackburn 4-2, a League Cup defeat at Chesterfield 2-1 and followed that with a draw at Everton where a last minute goal gave them their solitary away point of the season with a 1-1 draw. Unfortunately, then reverted to more bad habits going down in their last away game 4-0 at Wigan.

They've won three times this year all at home , 1-0 to Arsenal back in August and a 2-0 win against West Ham last month before Mondays 1-0 win over Middlesbrough. A goalless draw with Sheff. Utd completes their games.

The Addicks

With the defence outstanding last Saturday at St. James Park it would be strange to change anything there and in fact its possibly time for Monica to take a leaf out of Rafa's book and keep an unchanged team. The only foreseeable change would be the return of "Jerry" Thomas, if fit. This does seem unlikely, however, so it seems a straight choice between one forward or two. Two seems more likely with both Bents up-front and Rommedahl, Faye, Reid and either Holland or Hughes out left. Holland seems to have the vote at the moment so Hughes will probably sit on the bench alongside, Jimmy-Floyd, Kish, Fortune and Myhre.

Our Pedro45, who has apparently got luck going his way, confidently forecasts a 2-1 Addicks win. Lawrenson is also on a bit of a run getting 8 results right last week. And what does he say about tomorrow? Well, due to "Citys' defensive frailities" he has it down as a 2-0 Home.........
Me, I haven't a clue.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Monica v Curbs

So after 10 games and just over a quarter of the season over perhaps its time to see how we doing now compared to our efforts last year.

You all know the results from our difficult start this season, but one way to judge our current position is to see how many points Curbs gained from the same fixtures. So last season the results were:-

West Ham 0-0, Manure 1-3, Bolton 0-1, Chelski 1-1, Portsmouth 2-1, Aston Villa 0-1, Arsenal 0-1, Fulham 1-2, Watford ( lets use Sunderland as a comparison, as Watford are bound to finish in the same position - bottom ) 2-0, Newcastle 0-0.

So in 2005/6 - 9 points, from 2 wins and 3 draws with 5 defeats. 5 goals for and 10 against, so a -5 goal difference.

And in 2006/7 - 5 points, from 1 win and 2 draws and with 7 defeats. 6 goals for and 15 against, so a -9 goal difference.

Four points worst off after 10 games, 1 more goal scored but 5 more conceded. While our more attacking formation has yielded only one more goal than last year, almost all of our extra goals deficit came against the Hammers where the 10 man Addicks let in 3 goals this year and none last season.

Taking things further, as we were 4 points worse off after 9 games ( exactly a quarter of the season) we are currently on course to be 16 points off last seasons total of 47 points meaning 31 points total if we continue as we are, nine short of the magic 40.

Of course, this is all nonsense. Comparing teams and results season by season would suggest that nothing ever changes, that results would always be the same and the pools firms would soon go broke. But its an attempt to put the season in perspective and time for us to admit that there's some teams that we will never beat. As for changing our formation to suit our circumstances, even Dennis R on clubcall has told us its all the teams fault, that they are not being clinical enough in front of goal.

And we have to take note that Monica has changed things in more than formation. While 5 of the 10 results were exactly as last year, other sequences were changed. We beat Bolton for the first time in years but lost to the Hammers. And an improved Pompey turned around last seasons result. We failed to get a point at Chelski ( no surprise really) and could only draw with relegation favorites Watford.

We can now only hope that his changed sequences continue on Saturday and turn around last seasons 2-5 defeat against Man.City