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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

25 of 38 - Bolton Wanderers (away)

So our second trip of the season into the Forbidden Zone of the North-West after our 3-2 defeat to Wigan in November. We haven't won up there since January 22nd 2005 when a screamer from Matt Holland gave us the 3 points at Everton. Was that the last time he scored, you're asking? No, it wasn't in fact, 'cause he scored again at Goodison last season in our 3-1 defeat and again in our 4-2 win at Sheff. Wednesday in the FA Cup in January last year. Anyway, looking at our last eight games in Lancashire we've lost 7 of them, including the last two at Bolton, 4-1 both times.

And, although I doubt if he's reading this, Monica wouldn't forget our last visit up there as it was the end of a short era, the Wigan game proving to be his last in charge of the Addicks. Someone at the back has just croaked up with a "We should go there more often then" and he's about to get his wish because 6 of our remaining 7 away fixtures are in that dark depressing place.

And maybe we shouldn't entirely blame the players for the bad results up there. For people from the Smoke its an pretty intimidating place. Every time I go there I can't wait to leave 'cause everything that can go wrong does. Car broken into, parking tickets, always raining and you can't understand a word that the flat caps are saying. Although somehow the kids do make themselves understood with a clearly discernible, "Watch over your car? Mister"..

Anyway, I suppose we better talk about Bolton.

Not Very Good

Having played them a massive 72 times in the League, proving they're no great shakes after all, we can hang our head in shame 'cause we're lost to 'em 37 times and only beaten them 24 times. We did have our own 4-1 victory, back in May 1983 but that was at the Valley when we had to win to make sure we weren't relegated to Division 3! We promptly won, after going a goal down, to sent Bolton themselves down. But visits to Bolton have been a bit different - even in that season 1982-83 when Bolton finished bottom of the old Division Two they beat us at Burnden Park by the usual score of 4-1!

The score at Bolton's place is the Addicks a meagre 5 victories and Bolton a rather lucky 26 with 5 draws in there somewhere. And if you look at the last 25 years, we been there 11 times and only won twice, in a period where we're suffered no less than four 4-1 defeats and a 5-1 back in 1994-5. Not a happy venue for the Addicks.

The Opponents
They havn't won at all in 2007

Yes, its true - in 2007 the Trotters, otherwise known at "the whippet fanciers", haven't started the New Year on a high, their last win being on December 30th. Unfortunately, only three teams have won at the Reebok this season, Chelski by 1-0 and 4-0 Manure winners, but rather strangely Wigan has to be added to the list with a1-0 win. But Bolton have turned over the Arse and Liverpool and obviously feel that now all their tough home games are over. Remember though that the Addicks already have the "double" over them this season with 2 wins at the Valley being recorded and without a goal conceded.

They've got a couple of old-timers in their squad, namely Speed and Campo. On December 9th 2006 37 year old Gary Speed played in Bolton's 4-0 victory over West Ham United. In doing so he became the first player in the history of the Premiership to play 500 games. Ivan Campo is 32 and has been around a bit over in Spain even turning out for a season at Charlton's Spanish twin side Valladolid. But if you're expecting them to be a bit leg-weary after their game on Sunday, you can think again. The last time they had 3 days between games was over Christmas and both of them played the full 90 minutes in both games, which they won..

Which really demonstrates the key to Bolton's success this season, their fitness and their lack of injuries - Pards, ask 'em how they did it - with only 19 players used, the lowest total in the whole Premiership and with Ben Haim not seemingly going to Chelski, they'll be at full strength except for Hadji Diouf, of course, serving his second game suspension for his red against Middlesbrough.

The Addicks
Is Darren Back?

Well, it seems not and as reported on the official site, neither will be Luke Young or Andy Reid.

So after our healthly fighting display against a poor Portsmouth side 11 days ago, it'll probably be the same eleven against Bolton with maybe some new faces on the bench. Although knowing the physical approach that Bolton adopt, it wouldn't be a surprise if one of the wide men Rommerdahl or Thomas is rested for the weekend and another body brought in the strengthen the midfield, eg Ambrose or Kish.

New signings Magic Bougherra and Alex Song are both unavailable ( calf strain, already, and international duty respectively) but we could see Chinaman ZZ making at least an appearance on the bench alongside Diawara, Hasselbaink, Thomas and Myhre.

So the lineup, probably: Carson, Sankofa, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Thatcher, Rommedahl, Kishishev, Faye, Holland, Hughes, M Bent.



We've gone 58 games now without winning two in a row and its the time for breaking records and it would rather take the pressure off if we could do it now. So another 1-0 please. But bear in mind that this is Charlton we're talking about where taking the difficult path is always the plan. The last time we ended a barren away run in November 1970 we promptly lost the next away fixture, at Sheffield Utd by 3-0...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lancashire Hot Pot All Round

With tomorrow nights game against Bolton fast approaching, lets hope that Pardew has taken my advise and has already got the lads encoused in a nice hotel up there in the North-west getting them acclimatized. With rain and wind forecast for Wednesday he'll no doubt be feeding them lots of Lancashire hot pot to get 'em in the mood for a battle.

In a recent interview our new leader recently pointed out that: "The key for us is after we are out of this Bolton, Man United, Chelsea run of games. If the points gap is like it is at the moment I think we'll have a great chance. It's in that period that we have to ensure our rivals don't get away from us when we play the top teams."

So how's he going to do that? The only answer is to make sure we get some points from Bolton, Chelski and manure. Well, thats easy then. But we have a couple of things in our favour. Together with Mr Lets-Move-On, who sees tomorrow night being a 2-0 home romp, all these teams will be expecting a walk-over.

And we have the evil eye over Bolton at the moment having beaten them twice already this season, 2-0 at the Valley in the Premiership followed by a 1-0 victory in the League Cup thing and they're currently not enjoying the best of runs with only have 1 win in their last 5 games and that was against Doncaster away in the FA Cup.

The first thing on Pardews mind will be what team does he turn out against Bolton. Against a team that has collected the second highest yellow count in the Premiership this season and renowned for their no-nonsense toughness, AP will surely not chance putting out anyone not fully fit. It looks odds on then that he'll keep faith with the eleven that beat Pompey 10 days ago. And playing with two wingers may force their aged ( Speed 37 and Campo 32 ) midfield to work more. They may be tired from their game on Sunday against the Arse while we have spent the last 10 days getting fitter, apparently. And he'll be studing the video of Sundays game and making sure that Faye is aware of which foot is giving Davies gyp.

And we can only have gained in confidence after our first away win in 15 months last time out. Harry explained that defeat as being their worst performance of the season but then we get an award for what the five-man panel from the League Managers' Association "ruled the 1-0 victory was the greatest display of the weekend."

To save you looking it up, our team that day at Portsmouth was: Carson; Sankofa, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Thatcher; Rommedahl (Kishishev 83), Faye (Diawara 90), Holland, Hughes, Thomas (Hasselbaink 90); M Bent. Subs (not used): Myhre, Ambrose.

And to our injured trio of Young, Reid and Darren B that are reported to be back in training we can now add the two new boys Magic Madjid and ZZ. It all adds up to more competition for places and speculations as to how Pards is going to fit them all into a winning team. And a winning team its going to be, we all expect (!) at least one win from these 3 games....

Because surprisingly, given our situation, apart from our two Scandinavian goalkeepers, that are obviously getting bored doing nothing, and the sudden departure of Traore there's been little reported desire to jump ship, well apart from Denis that is! With everyone out here on the outside expecting, sorry hoping, to see a exodus of unwanted players during January it does, I suppose, reflect a desire, apart from Denis that is, to fight to the end.....

Monday, January 29, 2007

12 Million for Little Bent - No Way

With Sheffield Wednesday apparently holding on for £3 million, for once in a while we appear to have forced the price to our advantage as 24-year-old Algerian international Madjid Bougherra finally arrives at the Valley for £2.5m. We'll have to wait and see if its money well spent but after the trouble that we've had with the fitness of some of our recent purchases its encouraging that Bougherra, who made his name with French side Gueugnon, has not missed a game this season.

So with Magic Madrij at last on board there's now only three days left to repel any boarders as they try to prise Darren Bent away from us. The independent reported this morning that "West Ham are expected to inquire about Bent but are not believed to be confident that their former manager, Alan Pardew, will sell to them at any price. Pardew has ruled out parting with his captain, who is injured, and West Ham are understood to have blocked a move to The Valley for Teddy Sheringham.
West Ham had planned to bid £12m for Bent. Some sources at Charlton believe they may sell if a club were to table £17m, although no clubs are expected to go that high for the England international.

With the Hammers remaining one of key rivals, its pretty obvious that it would be madness to sell our biggest asset to them as any price.

Looking ahead to Wednesday's game against Bolton, the statisticans were proved right once again. Any team conceding heavily, as they did last weekend at Middlesbro to the tune of 5-1, usually recovers they say and gets something from the next game. Lucky for us they had to play the Arse yesterday in London and seems they were lucky not to win in a 1-1 draw.

The papers tell us that Bolton were surprisingly firm. And for those of us hoping that Israeli centre-back Tal Ben Haim, who supposedly missed a match with a calf injury, would be on his way out of the Reebok this week and leave a big hole in their defence can think again as the Guardian encouragingly reported "that their centre-halves yesterday gave the impression that they would repel every threat. In the end they could not quite do so but Arsenal know how redoubtable Bolton will be at the Reebok." Roll on Wednesday then.

And it seems that we are not the only London club having problems up in Lancashire, to the Arse the Reebok Stadium has apparently become a torture chamber with only 1 win in their last 8 games against Bolton. The key player yesterday seems to have been our old friend Kevin Davies who apparently was superior in the air and a major influence, "until a blow on the foot needed a painkilling injection and it appeared to limit his leap thereafter." We can only asume that Pards has taken a careful note of which foot we are talking about.

The independent reports that the "bustling presence up front of Bolton's Kevin Davies and the formidable aerial threat he poses were evident as early as the second minute. But, if they ( the Arse) are to reach their fifth final in the last seven attempts, they know that they will have to tame the terror that is Bolton".

Makes our trip into the Forbidden Zone on Wednesday seem like a visit to see a horror movie. But with all midweek Bonus games - as Pards calls it - maybe we'll see a Bolton tired from visiting the Smoke that will take their foot off the pedal, especially Mr Davies, and allow us to sneak a point or three.

The Bolton team, if Pards needs any reminding, was a 4-3-3 formation of: Jussi Jaaskelainen; Nicky Hunt, Abdoulaye Meite, Abdoulaye Diagne-Faye, Ricardo Gardner (Henrik Pedersen); Ivan Campo, Kevin Nolan, Gary Speed; Stelios Giannakopoulos (Ricardo Vaz Te), Nicolas Anelka and Kevin Davies.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Is That a Smile, Pards?

I said yesterday that we could all enjoy ourselves for the day with no chance whatsoever of losing a game, and instead have a laugh at other people's misfortune in the 4th Round of the Cup as once again, of course, we're not there.

I was really after seeing some giant-killing from the minnows of Luton, Southend or Bristol City to upset the Big Boys and relishing the fact that we don't include ourselves in that demeaning category anymore, well not currently anyway. But I certainly didn't expect to see a Watford win for the second time in a week and, for better or worse, that is the result that we all want to read about. In our desperation to find three worse teams in the Premiership, anywhere, it seems that despite their loads of readies, there remains one very close to home over there in E13.

But the situation is a bit like seeing your ex-wife, and mother to all your kids, who having walked out on you has now been dumped by her new man. You want to smile but after all those years together you find you can't. And likewise, its very difficult after 15 eventful years to get rid of a certain fondness for our ex-manager. We've been through a lot together and he just happens to have joined our nearest neighbours and as chance would have it, currently one of our chief rivals. You couldn't write a better script, well you could, it would end with us playing them on the last game of the season.

But if you can't find a smile you can at least enjoy a quiet read and tell yourself its called therapy sharing stories with other people with the same problems that you have, then the independent is a great help and calls their performance "guileless", "a shocking capitulation", and talks of "panicking players" and sees more problems for Curbs when the two sides meet again in 2 weeks time at Upton Park. Seems he had 16 complaints to make in the programme notes and then saw his new signing Lucas Neil limp off injured. So I have to say encouraging reading.

And although we feel its all good news about West Hams plight, its still OK for us to feel some pity for the our ex's situation, but what about our new leader Alan Pardew? What's he thinking this morning? After getting his team into the Cup Final and into Europe and then this season beating the Arse and manure and even getting a draw at Vicarage Rd, does he still feel a little hard done by? What expression do you suppose he has got on reading the reports over his morning coffee? He wouldn't be human if he didn't have a bit of a smile on this morning, would he?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Up For the Cup, Not!

Its one of those wonderful calm, tranquil Saturdays when we have no game to worry about. Some may see it as empty and meaningless with not even teletext to get excited about, but not me, Mrs Nelson will no doubt find other things to occupy my time. And unlike those "International Weekends" there’s still some games to watch if you miss it so much and even better there’s other people’s misfortunes to enjoy. Pards can even concentrate on getting players fit and showing those midfielders how to score.

But, you're thinking, how many times exactly have we enjoyed this nothing to do weekend? In the 60 years since we won the thing in 1947 how many times do you think we've been sitting here with no game in the 4th Round? What do you reckon, 30 years worth? A bit more than that? Well, it is a bit more, in fact in total its now 32 times that we've been sitting here doing nothing on 4th Round day. You could be forgiven for perhaps supposing that things were improving after last seasons FA Cup 6th Round exit followed by this seasons appearance in the League Cup Quarter Finals. But no, its been another early exit after the usual dismal failure this time at lowly Notts Forest. Not a great Cup team then.

Regarding transfer news, its all gone quiet on Kevin, Julian and Stefano but it seems possible that Madjid Bougherra will be arriving from Sheffield Wednesday, just 8 months after joining them from Crewe, although once again other clubs are still in the frame, with Reading reported as having offered half-a-mill more than us. Monsieur Bougherra has played 14 times for Algeria, and is reported as being very popular with Wednesday fans, winning the Player of the Month award after only two months and then being named captain shortly after. And he's used to a scrap having taken part in Crewe's, unsuccessful, fight against relegation from the Championship during the first half of last year.

One apparent blot on his CV is that his agent is none other than the notorious Charles Collymore, named in the Panorama football corruption scam. Apart from being charged by the Football Association in October for allegedly "touting" his clients without the knowledge of their clubs, on the progamme the Luton manager, Mike Newell, alleged that he had been "offered money" by Collymore. Get that cheque book out , Mills.

Meanwhile, over in Düsseldorf, Michel Platini, after winning the race for being the new UEFA President, is trying to upset the Addicks by completing his pledge to reduce the maximum number of Champions League entrants from a single country from four to three. Now that's really spoilt my weekend..

Friday, January 26, 2007

Kevin and Julian and Stefano

Pards always told us there wouldn't be any Big Signings especially after getting the thumbs down from Davids, Smertin and Pressley and the search continues for soon-to-be-out-of-contract reserves who somehow can be persuaded to see a Premiership Relegation battle as a way of stimulating their careers.

The "Kevin" option relates to Kevin Amuneke who is a 20-year old Nigerian currently playing at Victoria Setubal in Portugal. He's only been there since last summer when he left the Swedish side Landskrona rather acrimoniously. Relations between Amuneke and Landskrona hit the rocks following the team's relegation from the top league last season when Landskrona reportedly rejected a US$700,000 bid from Swedish champions Djurgarden, prompting an angry strike from the player.

Lars Persson, the Landkrona's sports director, strangely for a team turning down 700 grand, said his team will not miss the striker and was very direct in his comments, "We will not miss him. He was not part of our plans this season," Persson said. So hard done by Amuneke returned to Portugal where he's had previous spells with both FC Porto and Benfica.

Kevin is, in case you missed it, the brother of former 1994 African Footballer of the Year Emmanuel Amuneke who just 10 short years ago was brought by Barcelona but never forefilled his promise due to injuries making just 19 appearances and was last seen on Spanish TV doing adverts for his football skills video.......

In keeping with the current vogue of chasing people with famous relatives, is the pursuit of FC Groningen midfielder 24 year-old Stefano Seedorf. He is, of course, the cousin of Milan star Clarence Seedorf, the only man to win the Champions League with three different clubs. Stefano, and if you believe everything you read, is a fast paced (!) technical midfielder and the most creative and forward minded player in the Groningen midfield..... He started his career with Ajax, then Breda and has been at Groningen for 3 years.

Also in the frame is 27 year-old left winger Julian Gray. After unfortunate spells at both the Arse and the Palarse, you'd think he'd be enjoying himself up at the Brum but not so and is now looking for a move back to London to be near his brothers and cousins, no doubt.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Looking Forward to Bolton

With a few days off for a bit of a holiday and extra training, its time to remind the team of their opponents for their forthcoming all-important game next Wednesday against Bolton Wanderers. As mentioned previously any journey into the "Forbidden Zone" of the North-West doesn't usually provide us with much in the way of success and as far as Bolton are concerned, the last time we got anything there was in 2003 with a 0-0 draw. The season before saw our last victory when we came from behind with goals from Bart-Williams and Euell to win 2-1. Since then its been rather dire with 2 sucessive 4-1 defeats.

So what of Bolton? Wikipedia rather surprising calls them "overated and boring" and tells us that their nickname is "The Whippet Fiddlers". Obviously not an entry completed by a Trotters fan then.

Fiddling or not it's becoming obvious that they're not enjoying life too much at the moment. Without a Premiership win in 3 games and only 1 goal scored in that time, Allardyce has said that the team are not firing on all cylinders at the moment and has warned them that "unacceptable and inadequate" performances will not be tolerated. And to give us a few clues as to what we need to get the better of them, Big Sam spoke after their last home game against Man. City commenting that "We found their well-organised defensive policy, hardly letting their full-backs get forward and keeping a solid back four, difficult to break down."

As far as the sharp end of the team goes, seven players have scored this season with Anelka top with 7 and Diouf second with 5, Campo and Davies have 4 each with Gary Speed getting 3. Sadly come Wednesday, Diouf will be sat in the stand serving his second missing game because of being sent-off in the 5-1 hammering at Middlesbrough. Despite this little set-back everyone else seems to be fit and its their fitness that seems to be one of the keys to their success and because of this they have a very settled side with over 10 players having started 20 or more Premiership games. By contrast the Addicks only have 5 players - Carson, the Elk, HH, Darren B and Faye with over 20 starts.

Three teams have won at the Reebok this season, namely Chelski and Wigan, both by 1-0 and Manure, 4-0 winners, but they have turned over the Arse and Liverpool and obviously feel that all their tough home games are over. Remember though that the Addicks already have the "double" over them this season with 2 wins at the Valley being recorded and without a goal conceded.

Fitness and toughness are obviously very important to Allardyce and it'll obviously be a bruising encounter. And while you may think that Charlton get a lot of yellow cards, Bolton are second in the table for handing them out with 52 - Blackburn are top with 57. They also have 3 reds, one of which came at the Valley with Davies being ordered off.

At their last home game, Man.City got a 0-0 draw and were unlucky not to win with Joey Barton missing a sitter. In that game captain Nolan was missing with a rib injury, as he was in the loss against Wigan. But he returned for the last game against Middlesbrough when their settled midfield was Davies, Nolan, Campo, Speed with two strikers Anelka and Diouf up front, all of whom form part of the club that have started more than 20 games this season. Their best results do seem to happen when Davies, Anelka and Diouf form an attacking triangle but we can only hope that further pressure will be applied after they lose at the Arse in their Sunday Cup Game.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The ZZ and Kepa Connection

With ZZ's first competitive game now behind him in a 1-0 win over Chelski Reserves it won't be long before Pards deems him ready and up to speed and unleashs him onto the Premiership. Lets just hope he adjusts to english football better than sad Omar Pouso's 57 minutes against Portsmouth back in September. There's been a bit of banter about ZZ's yellow card received on Monday for diving, sorry simulation, but Pards has been more impressed by the smile on his face - must be the shock at trying what they call Chinese food in the UK - and says that his main strength is his technical ability.

The reserve game report noted Zheng's growing influence as the match progressed and ignoring his technical abilities, observes instead that he is a player with vision and deftness, and is keener going forwards than back.

And talking of diving, what better place to see it, in Europe anyway, than dear old Spain. There's even a section about it every week in the football round-up on a Sunday evening - Was the ref Right or Wrong? And give credit where's its due, some of them are very good at it, the players that is, not the refs. Did he touch him, was there a nudge there, or did he simply dive? Countless replays seek to establish the answer and even then its sometimes a matter of endless debate, which of course is very popular here in Spain.

So its obviously very pleasing, and a bit of a relief, as far as the Kepa transfer saga is concerned to note that Curbs has been sold the blurb hook, line and sinker. It was obviously a right old wind-up from the word go on Pardews' behalf to get the Hammers to waste some of their many millions. Looked like it was going wrong when Man. City got interested but at last Curbs took the bait. Ask yourself, whoever heard of a Spanish forward, especially one from the sun-basking regions of Southern Andalucia, Marbella in fact, surviving and being a success in English football? What are his figures? 22 goals in 87 games and more than half of them in the reserve side.

Remember Mendieta, Luque, Morientes and even Reyes, also from Andalucia, an argueable success at Arsenal, got homesick after a couple of years and went home. Why, you've only got to talk to a Spaniard in the street and they'll all tell you they can't wait to get home to get some real cooking and some sun.

No, better to forget the Spanish, we're got better players at the Valley already. Why, even Lisbie's scored 19 from 67 appearances........

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Operation Lancashire

So its seven more victories needed to reach the Magic-40 and while we have 7 more games at home, it'll surely be the away trips to Lancashire that will decide our fate.

With six trips to the North-West between now and the end of the season maybe Pards should be taking them all up there instead of to Spain to get the players better acclimatized because recently its become an area much like the Forbidden Zone as far as wins are concerned. With every point available at a premium the games in Liverpool and Manchester twice each and further trips to Bolton and Blackburn are vital to the Addicks cause. And if anyone still wants to point to Curbs as the reason for the clubs current dilemma, perhaps its the trips to the north-west that illustrate their case best of all and show how difficult the region has become for us.

To remind everyone, last seasons trips to the North-West saw 4-0 and 3-2 defeats in our trips to Manchester while we suffered 4-1 defeats at both Blackburn and Bolton. A further 3-1 loss was suffered at Everton while we managed our solitary point from the county in 2005-06 with a 0-0 at Liverpool. Even a first time visit to Wigan saw a 3-0 defeat.

So 7 games, 6 defeats and one draw. 5 goals scored and a massive 21 goals against. Lousy Lancashire then.

As mentioned in the official CAFC site, you have to go back over 2 years now to Jan 22 2005 to find an Addicks win, 1-0 at Everton. That season, 2004-05, saw comprehensive defeats at Bolton 4-1, Man.City 4-0, Liverpool 2-0, Manure 2-0 and Blackburn 1-0. The total in that year was 6 games played, of which we managed 1 win and 5 defeats with 2 goals scored and 13 against.

So in the last two and a half years and with this seasons 3-2 defeat at Wigan included its a total of 14 games in the North-West seeing 1 win, 1 draw and 12 defeats - with 9 goals scored and a massive 37 conceded....... It makes dismal reading and there's nobody about that I can think of that can the conjure up the ex-players curse to give us the points as at Portsmouth.

Pards, of course, will this time be trying to forget recent history and concentrating on keeping the mood high and getting that win. It'll need something special to get a win out of these six games but that's what they said of only one home defeat Pompey. To encourage us Blackburn have suffered 5 home defeats, Man.City good home record has collasped recently with 3 defeats in their last 4 games - shame we don't play them till April - and even Everton have lost twice at home. And Bolton? We've already beaten them twice this season and they've already lost 3 games at home.

So come on Pards, this sequence of dismal failure has to change.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Monday Morning - What A Spiffing Day!

Yes, its a lot better than several Mondays past, in fact its been 66 god-awful Mondays since we last had an away win, in the Premiership at least, to cheer us up. Too long.

But now that we've sat down, got our early morning coffee to stir our brain cells into life and enjoyed the radiance permeating from our beaming smile for a few hours, there's just a little bit of the old aching worry starting to form at the back of our minds. Was it Frankie V that said Pompey were such cack and was that the reason we won? Was it only because it was Fratton Park, and we only win at Fratton Park? And if it hadn't been for the ex-player always having the sign over their old team it would have been a goalless draw.

And as the doubt takes on a life of its own and turns from a seedling into a gigantic nuisance we'll need to get out the papers again and have another look at that table thing. It'll show us still down in 19th spot, now just 1 point behind West Ham and closing fast. But there's now a growing 5 point gap between Fulham in 15th with 29 points and Sheffield in 16th with 24, leaving just Wigan 22, West Ham 20, the Addicks 19 and Watford 12 below them. Looks increasing like 3 out of the 5 for the drop.

But, as you know, looking at numbers all day can drive you mad, ask any accountant, and Pardew wouldn't be looking at any tables, except maybe in the privacy of the john, he'll be telling everyone to concentrate on one thing, the next match against Bolton.

And talking of Bolton, isn't it nice to enjoy those sadist thoughts and read that somebody else is suffering like we used to. And after smarting from our own surrender to Middlesbrough last weekend its a comfort to see that other teams are finding them, currently anyway, difficult opponents.

The independent therefore gives us some pleasant reading material this morning - "Middlesbrough ruthlessly exposed the limitations of a Wanderers team supposedly chasing Champions' League football. Quite apart from a dire defensive display, the dismissal of the perennial troublemaker El Hadji Diouf was enough cause for dismay. Allardyce deserved more from the surly Senegalese after resurrecting the spitting forward's Premiership career than the show of foul-mouthed petulance which brought a 66th-minute dismissal. The referee, Alan Wiley, had ignored Diouf's expletives earlier in the game but when he was told to "fuck off" in front of the Middlesbrough bench, a red card was the only reasonable course of action.
"We're without another key player for two games now and that really
puts us under pressure," Allardyce said. "

Ah, that old word pressure again, but don't get too excited, a report a few weeks ago reckoned that teams suffering a heavy defeat, such as a 5-1, usually, 60% was mentioned, bounce back in the next fixture and avoid defeat.

No, far better this morning to look at the fate of poor old Wigan, without a win in 10 games and 8 defeats in there as well. And while we sit enjoying the heady heights of 13th place in the 6-game Form Table ( a much better read than the other one) with 7 points from the last six games, the 4 teams currently at the bottom read Sheffield 4 points, West Ham 3, Watford 1 and Wigan 0.

I rest my case, The Great Escape is On...................

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Portsmouth 0 Charlton 1

In years to come senile Grandfathers will sit their grandsons down, pull out a dogged-eared copy of the Addicks 2030 Club Handbook, Special Paper Edition, and proudly point out the name of Amady Faye.

"See that one there, Son, against Faye's name. Thats the goal that started it all. His only goal in over 400 games but the most important in Charlton history. Only twelve points at Christmas, Second from bottom, 4 managers in a year and Relegation looming - it all looked lost. But that goal at Fratton Park changed it all."

Disappointingly for man-of-the-century Amady Faye, he's not even Man-of-the-Match in the telegraph. That honour is awarded to our new boy Ben Thatcher, who booed throughout by the home crowd, didn't put a foot wrong all game, even clearing off the line from Cole in the first half.

The observer, meanwhile highlights the importance of Scott Carson's last minute stunning save from Andy Cole and reminds us all that Rommedahl's goal-scoring touch has completely vanished.

With distinctly the best report with a 2 page epic, the times names Matt Holland as our "Star Man" and sums up the game neatly with paragraph reading "Charlton outnumbered Portsmouth in midfield, where Matt Holland worked tirelessly and, with Jerome Thomas and Dennis Rommedahl willing outlets on the flanks, stifled the forward forays of the Portsmouth full-backs. For most of the first half, Charlton were the more composed team and, had Thomas used power rather than placement to curl a shot round David James, would have taken a deserved lead into half-time." And if numbers are your thing they also give us some revealing player scores for the away team: Carson 7, Sankofa 5, El Karkouri 6, Hreidarsson 7, Thatcher 6, Rommedahl 5 (Kishishev 82min, 5), Holland 8, Faye 6 (Diawara 90min, 5), Hughes 6, Thomas 5 (Hasselbaink 90min, 5), M Bent 6, and better still gives goalkeeper James the highest score in the Pompey team with a 7.

The dailymail does its best but doesn't add much except to quote Alan Pardew referring to the next three matches "We’ve got to produce performances and results from these matches. We cannot allow the teams around us to go away from us which could happen depending on our next few results. If it remains as it is at the moment, then we have a great chance."

And if you like quotes the sportinglife is the place to look with perhaps the best coming from Harry himself "now Charlton are back in the race again with a chance"

The Addicks: Carson; Sankofa, Thatcher, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson; Rommedahl (Kishishev 83), Faye (Diawara 90), Holland, Hughes, Thomas (Hasselbaink 90); M Bent.
Subs (not used): Myhre, Ambrose.
Goals: Faye 79
Booked: Sankofa 85 (time-wasting), Faye 89 (foul on Johnson), Carson 90 (time-wasting)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Survival of the Fittest

Its a massive understatement to say that Pardew will be trying very hard this morning to install some confidence and belief in the players available to him for todays game at Portsmouth. According to many journalists his one quality player is at home watching the TV but he's already forgotten about him, for today at least. These are the best 16 he's got fit and he's got to got the most out of them.

They'll all know that its now 25 games since anyones' seen a Charlton away win but he's busy convincing them that todays the day that the misery can end. Make no mistakes, call on Lady Luck and get that f***ing goal Marcus. And its been true that on a number of occasions this season, that after the most disappointing results - drawing with Watford, losing at Bramall Lane, losing at the Riverside, have all been followed by an improved performance. In fact, none of the following games were lost.

So after another very depressing result against Middlesbro, again, he wants to see the usual response. And he especially doesn't want to see any relaxing or holiday sloppyness during the game. While several players were maybe looking forward to a bit of a holiday during the coming days, - they've all been forced to think again now that they have read Pards' latest thoughts on the official website.

Survival of the fittest. That's the new buzzword that manager Alan Pardew is trying out - "I've said to the players that I'm increasing the intensity in training,” Pardew revealed at the club's pre-match press day.

"They are already a very fit bunch, but we need to be fitter than everyone in the Premiership so we're going to be working very hard in the break we have after the Portsmouth game.”

With only one home defeat, todays game at Portsmouth is not the easiest of the 4 forthcoming difficult games with Bolton Wanderers away next, then Chelsea at home and finally a trip to Manchester United following that.

But surprising us all, including the players, Pards' also tells us that "I feel we're going to need to win at least one of this tough run of games we're looking at or pick up three or four points. We start at Portsmouth and we know it's a big ask. We're missing some strong personalities with Andy Reid, Luke Young and Darren Bent out, but hopefully the players will get us the results we need.” Need, of course, being the appropriate word.

And just to emphasize the important factors, this time he doesn't surprise by adding, "Confidence is an issue, but belief is a bigger one."

Quoting Darwin may not be your idea of the best way of installing a bit of belief but for a man at brunt end of a Big Problem he's got to try everything. The approaching record that he's trying not to break is, of course, the 33 winless games that the Addicks "enjoyed" during 1968-1971. And if we don't do something about that pretty soon its a record that's due to be equalled at Anfield on the final day of this season.

Friday, January 19, 2007

24 of 38 - Portsmouth (away)

Remember October 22nd 2005? Seems a lifetime away now but that was when we last won away in the Premiership. Shameful really, but in the 25 games since then we have lost 20 and drawn just 5! Pardew, 25 is a nice round number and its time to stop this appalling run right now.

Anybody remember the team that day nearly 15 months ago: Anderson, Young, Perry, Hreidarsson, Spector, Rommedahl, Kish, Murphy, Smertin, Ambrose and Darren Bent. We won 2-1 coming from behind with 2 second half goals from Ambrose and Rommerdahl. It was our fifth consecutive away win and broke the Addicks record that had stood for nearly 70 years! It was our 9th game of the season and was our 6th win.

Five of the players from that day have left, another two are injured which leaves just Hreidarsson, Rommedahl, Kish and Ambrose that will take the field tomorrow and what will be their reaction to such an anniversary? Well, three of them have extra reasons for enjoying themselves at Fratton Park. Hreidarsson will be making his 250 top flight appearance and Kish will be having his 200 game for the Addicks and Thatcher will playing his 200 Premiership game - lets hope he doesn't hit too many people during his celebrations! Meanwhile Marcus Bent, if he needs reminding has been stuck on 99 career goals for over two months now and is obviously desperate to make it 100.

As for Portsmouth, just a year after they survived the drop with just 38 points, they now stand in 6th place. With just 2 wins in their last 6 games they have currently not won in 3 games but have just 1 defeat in their last 10 games. They've only suffered only 1 defeat at home this season, 0-1 against Bolton, and have already scored more goals at home, 20, that they did all last year. But in their last home game against Wigan, in the FA Cup, they only managed a 2-1 win with a last minute Kanu goal so maybe its a good time to visit Fratton Park.

96th League Meeting but hey this is a Cup Final
We've played Portsmouth more times than anybody else in the League, 95 times, but have lost 39 times, to our 31 wins with 25 draws. Of late, however we have usually had the edge with 4 wins in the Premiership to their 2 with only a single draw.

At Fratton Park over the years we've lost 25 but won on 12 occasions with 10 games drawn but again in the Premiership we've won twice and only lost once.

But as everyone knows this is not a League game, this is a "Cup Final" and the last time we played them in the Cup in 1976 we won 3-1 at Fratton Park in a 4th Round replay. And its now been 78 years since we lost there in the Cup, 1929 to be precise.

The Opponents
Only a single Home defeat
As mentioned Portsmouth have only lost once at home to Bolton back in September so they're obviously due another one about now. And they are weak in one area, they have conceded more goals in the first five minutes of Premiership games than any other club this season - three. So hit 'em hard from the whistle, Pards.

The turnaround from last year has been explained by the arrival of old heads, Campbell, James and Kanu. Kanu now has 9 goals in the league while they have no less than 11 players that have scored goals, contrast this with the Addicks where only 7 have scored.

The Addicks
Reid Out Again
Andy Reid, our one quality player according to many papers last weekend, will once again be missing. "Aggravated hamstring" is to blame but the words of Martin Jol spring to mind. When asked why he sold Reid back in the summer he replied "he always seemed to be injured".

Carson will be in goal and with the return of Sankofa from suspension, the Elk will probably move back to central defence alongside Hreidarsson. The infamous Thatcher can enjoy himself at left-back complete with special woolly ear-muffs borrowed from Diawara to keep out those nasty Portsmouth whistles.

Midfield......Maybe Pards will try the unexpected just to rattle Redknapp by putting out the Elk, Fortune, Kish, ZZ and Pouso in a packed defensive midfield but I don't think so its obviously going to packed with 5 of our best players, well 5 of the best we have which means Kish, Holland, Hughes, Rommerdahl and Ambrose unless of course, Pards believes in the theory of ex-players having the evil sign over you in which case he'll "unleash" the beast of a Faye onto the Portsmouth hordes.

So, unless we see Lisbie making a comeback, we'll have our only fit forward Marcus Bent alone up front with "I only score against my old clubs" Hasselbaink warming the bench. Meanwhile we'll have to wait for ZZ to make an appearance as he apparently has to get used to the country, customs, ironic banter and 100 mph football. Not like China at all except for the takeaways.


We want a win
Nobody's going to give a bean for our chances tomorrow least of all Lawrenson, who sees an easy 2-0 home. We have to win sometime, of course, this can't go on for ever and I'm determined to be the one to predict the amazing feat when it happens so its a lucky 1-0 win for me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pards Boys

With another "Cup Final" on Saturday against Portsmouth and with Pardew desperate to improve our appalling away record who's he going to pick for this next game against Portsmouth away?

He's been in charge now for 5 matches with 1 win, 1 draw and now 3 consecutive defeats. We've scored 5 goals but conceded 12! There's only been 2 ever-presents in those 5 matches and those have been the Elk and Holland for all of the 450 minutes. Between the posts its been Carson 360 minutes and Myhre 90 but Randolph now has been on the bench in the last two games.

In the defence HH is on 270 minutes but with 2 games out injured, Diawara has played 243 minutes, Sankofa 209 (but two suspensions), and Fortune 147.

In midfield Ambrose, apart from Holland, has played the most and has now completed 401 minutes, with Kish on 231, Faye 104, Hughes 100 and Reid has only 90 after his 6 games out injured.

Of our two wingers Rommers has 369 mins, Thomas 108.

Marcus Bent has 417 and Hasselbaink 197 with Darren B only having played the first 2 games under Pardew against Fulham and Aston Villa.

So Saturday's team looks look the following with a return to the 4-5-1 we used against Arsenal:
Sankofa, Elk, HH and Thatcher
Rommerdahl, Holland, Reid, Kish and Ambrose,
Marcus Bent.
The bench looks like: Randolph, with Diawara, ZZ, Faye or Hughes and Thomas.

But was the behind-doors friendly against Reading on Tuesday enough to show ZZ what English football is all about? Looks like the plan to bring him on for the first time against Chelsea reserves on Monday has been changed.

So go for broke Pards, stick the Chinaman in - Holland, ZZ and Reid in midfield with Kish behind them. Ambrose (or Rommerdahl) out wide to give some width and Marcus on his own up front and when those have stopped running change 'em both for Thomas and Sam.

For anyone who's interested, Valladolid did the business last night and beat the Primera boys from Villareal 1-0 on the night to go through 3-1 on aggregate into the last 8 of the Cup maintaining their unbeaten run which now stands at 19 games. Will this be the Addicks next season? No, 'cause not.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

International News

Just to prove there's light at the end of the tunnel, we can report that Charlton's twin club in Spain, Valladolid, well twin at far as I'm concerned, have appeared to have turned the corner after three depressing years in Division 2 and are currently enjoying some success.

To re-tell the mordid story - which does have several similarities with Charlton's - after 25 odd years of Primera 1 mid-table mediocrity the chairman, Carlos Suarez, decided in 2003 that manager Javi Mores' rather successful trick of getting players in on loan for a season to make the most of a small budget was not what he wanted and hired a New Man. The replacement was Fernando Vazquez, at one time talked about as Ferguson's replacement at Manure but now enjoying life at Celta Vigo.

Vazquez invested all in a young forward from Salamanca, Makukula, and after having a disastrous start to the season including a 7-2 defeat at the Berniebow appeared to have the answer as they reached 10th place in the table until Makukula got injured at Christmas and a terminal decline set in. Sounds familar doesn't it and only 2 wins in the next 16 games meant relegation to the Segunda Division and Vazquez was promptly sacked.

There followed 3 more managers, Kresic, Alonso and Merino in the next 2 years of life in the middle of Division Two before Jose Luis Mendilibar arrived in the summer of 2006. He had been in charge of Primera 1 giants Athletic Bilbao the previous season but only lasted 10 games before he was shown the door after only 1 win. Shades of Dowie, maybe.

Well, all has now changed at Valladolid. An astonishing 18 game unbeaten run, including three victories over Primera 1 teams in the Cup, started last October. Last weekend they beat the all-time club record that has stood for 60 years by going 14 league games without defeat that now puts them 4 points clear at the top of the table.

Into the last 16 of the Cup, tonight they take on Villareal, the team that faced Arsenal in last season Champions League semi-finals. To make sure that not too many big teams suffer giant-killing in Spain all the rounds here are two leg affairs so tonights game forms the second leg. Valladolid won the first leg 2-1 a week ago but have never won in Villareal. Will they make 19 games unbeaten? If anyone's interested, I'll let you know tomorrow.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Was Columbus a Pessimist?

Monday morning and facing your mates again. Not a pleasant time and finding excuses is getting a bit difficult to put it mildly and putting on a grin all but impossible when the usual banter starts.

"Can't be done now, mate." - "Looks hopeless for you" - "Who you've got next? Oh, Pompey away!! No chance there!"

Your mates might cheer you up with your girlfriend troubles - might - but when your teams down and struggling they don't care a s**t do they. They've got their own boys to worry about and in footballing terms it's every man for himself.

So it's up to you to find a way of cheering yourself up. Find a smile from somewhere, its only football, ain't it? And there's always next week. But sadly some people seem to have given up completely after Saturday's result and who can blame them really.

But hang on a minute, how is it that the crowd ( and the blogs and web pages ) can give up and not keep it to themselves but broadcast to the world that the cause is hopeless but at the same time still expect the players to give everything and more in the cause. Something wrong in the reasoning there. Or do we expect thousands of pounds a week in their pocket to give them energy, passion and belief. No, its not going to, is it?

So its up to us to do our bit, make the right noises and say the right things. Did I hear the Kop singing when they were losing to Arsenal last week? That's an example for everyone to keep in mind. You can give up if you like but until somebody shows me the table and points out that the team in 17th place has more points than its possible for the Addicks to get, I'll go on believing, and writing, that we can turn it round especially as we're in the middle of January and have yet to finish any possible wheeing and dealing.

Then, for some reason, probably 'cause I was walking across Colon Square ( Christopher Colombus that is ) , I thought of Columbus discovering America. Nobody believed he could sail over the horizon, the fool would fall over the edge of the world. He had to convince people that there was a New World, just over there. Was he a pessimist? No, but everybody told him he was stupid and that he should change his ways or face the Inquisition and even that didn't stop him believing.

What do you think he told his crew after 6 weeks of sailing and with only hard biscuits and filthy water to survive on. "Sorry, boys we all better give up now and go back to bed, no point in carrying on really". No, he had guts, optimism and belief and told them "Only 15 more days to go, we'll treat each one like a Cup Final and we'll make it".

Did they believe him? We'll never know but we all better hope that Pardew has the same important qualities or very soon we'll be down in Division Nowhere and following the same path as Forest, Sheffield Wednesday and Man. City before us.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Charlton 1 Middlesbrough 3

Well, not looking good this morning, is it? A game that could have revived some hope in the cause has done the opposite. Middlesbrough's first away win of the season and their first double over us for 57 years, apparently.

We started well and continued it into the second half with Reid leading the charge but two goals in 4 minutes at the hour point from Arca and Yakubu lead to the inevitable collapse as heads dropped, and not only in the crowd.

Looking at the reports, there's no talk of abjectness or even ineptness, words that we have grown used too over the past weeks and months, but simply a series of depressing articles that talk of a long haul back from the brink.

The independent talks of the collapse and sees "psychological frailties" and apart from Andy Reid "Charlton simply do not appear equipped with the class to survive".

The telegraph highlights the three defensive errors that lead to the goals in depressing terms and also points the finger at the culprits if that's what you want and then highlights the fact that Southgate had planned to "play on Charlton's anxieties".

The dailymail calls "Alan Pardew bravely optimistic" and says that "Charlton controlled the game for long periods but were never able to dominate".

Pardew "still has not given up the ghost" at the times even after this defeat and the prospect of three out of the next four Premiership games being away from home. “Not too much damage about us,” he said. “Still the status quo.” Well, if he doesn't believe who will? They also give some player scores: Carson 6, El Karkouri 6, Diawara 6, Hreidarsson 6, Thatcher 6, Rommedahl 6 (Thomas 83min, 6), Holland 6, Reid 7, Ambrose 6 (Hughes 83min, 6), M Bent 6 (Sam 74min, 6), Hasselbaink 6; clearly displaying therefore who they saw as our best player. Strangely enough they ignored the lack of quality mentioned elsewhere but noticed that "Charlton played most of the game with considerable spirit", so clearly at least some things have improved over the last couple of weeks.

While in the observer the paper helps us out by making clear that the result "underlines the precarious nature of their situation" while noting that Pardew made claims that with Darren Bent available the result would have been different. And he made clear his intentions on that subject by stating "He is our big hope of staying in the Premiership." Not for sale then.

The one plus - or is it two - the arrival of Thatcher in place of Traore and the return of Andy Reid to midfield. February 10th away at Manure has been earmarked for Darren Bents's return while February 22nd and a reserve game against Chelsea has been mentioned as the debut for ZZ.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

23 of 38 - Middlesbro (home)

Pards has already called the game against Middlesbrough a Massive Game and with the Addicks 6 points away from the safety of 17th place ( and with an inferior goal difference) every home game is a must-win Cup Final especially when you have away-form like we have.

Middlesbrough arrive here without a win away from home all season but are currently 8 points in front of Charlton in the table. With only 2 wins in their last 11 league and cup games, including their 2-0 win against us in December, they're not in great form at the moment and its vital that we win today to drag them even more into relegation worries.

They are a "second-half" team that take their time to get going. Two thirds of their goals have come in the 2nd half and there's only one team, West Ham, that are worst than them on first-half results. So Pards, hit 'em hard in the first 45 and put the game beyond them. But watch out for stoppage time as the Addicks have scored more goals then (3) than anybody else in the league BUT have also conceded more (4) than anybody else in added time. Work that one out.

Close Encounters
Middlesbrough are the team that the Addicks have scored most victories against of all the 93 league teams played and are also one of the very few Premiership teams that we have a "plus" record over although it's very close - ( by a hugh coincidence Watford and West Ham are the others ) - In total its Charlton 34 wins, Middlesbrough 33, and draws 18.

Last season saw us win 2-1 in the Premiership with the two goals coming from Darren B after the inevitable Viduka have scored, again. The total in the Premiership shows we're also in front with Charlton 5 wins to their 3 with no less than 7 drawn games.

At the Valley we are way in front with 24 wins to their 11 with 7 draws.

The Opponents
Zero Away Wins
After two promising away results in September with draws at Arsenal and Bolton, Middlesbro have not enjoyed themselves on their travels since then. Three successive defeats at Sheffield 1-2, Man.City 0-1, and Watford 0-2 were repaired a bit at Villa with another draw 1-1, before more defeats at Spurs 1-2 and Fulham 1-2. A goalless draw at Everton was then followed by their 6th away defeat at Blackburn 1-2. So just 2 points in their last 8 away games and only 4 draws in total away from home.

Of the player front don't expect to see Jason Euell but lets hope 9 goal Yakubu and his fellow striker 4 goal Viduka are equally quiet although Mr V always seems to enjoy coming to the Valley.

The Addicks
Who's Fit?
Despite all the speculation there's currently only one new arrival - Ben Thatcher - and he'll go straight into the team replacing Traore. Although ZZ has also arrived and despite Pards encouraging words about the fitness levels of Asian players it's another case of "acclimatization to the Premiership" scenario just like one Omar Pouso. Lets hope we get more that the 57 mins that we have got out of him so far.

There's reports on the official site that HH and Andy Reid will also be available after their injuries but will Pards chance them both? Is Faye's 27 minutes last Saturday the last we'll see of him? Will Sam return?

The one certainty it seems is that Scott Carson will return in goal but with the mistake of appealing Sankofa's sending-off, we'll be without him for another game and therefore missing our two first choice right-backs. There's been no clues from Pards other than the fact that he started with Kish there last week but ended up with the Elk who always seems to have the sulks when he plays out of position. Whatever, the defence should be El Karkouri, Diawara, HH and the Thatch.

The Midfield? Always the heart of a team, this is the area where the Addicks have struggled and it still hasn't improved. Kish will be there along with Holland and we can only hope that Andy Reid joins them to add some missing creativity. Rommers will be out wide again and there's no real choice in attack with Hasselbaink and Marcus Bent up front with the hope that Lloyd Sam will feature at some point. We can only hope that Jimmy-F will try harder against his former club and that someone has told Marcus that he's sitting on 99 league goals scored.


The Addicks to Win?
The good news is "Lets move on" has us down as 2-1 home winners and we all know he's always right. Pedro45 obviously has the cup game last March in his mind and sees another boring but tough 0-0 but has dreams of Dennis scoring at the Valley. How bizarre is that?
But if we can stop Viduka scoring, I see a 1-0 home win.

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Great Escape - A few Notes for Pards

Until a couple of years ago it was said that Bottom of the League at Christmas and down you go but then none other than Brian Robson proved everyone wrong when he saved West Brom from the drop. It didn't last long of course for they were relegated the following year but it proved that miracles can happen.

Over Christmas this year there was an article in the Mirror detailing the main points after an interview with Robson on how he managed to achieve the impossible and here are the key points.

1) Its All About Belief
Point number one according to Robson is obvious but it needs saying - "keep the players confidence high because the main issue is their belief. Have they got the attitude to keep going? Can you convince them that it's achievable? Thats the problem for a lot of them down there. You can't get too far adrift. Players have to have a bit of convincing that they are close enough to achieve it."

2) Rally Everyone Around The Cause
At West Brom they had the Great Escape Project dreamed up by their sponsors. It gave them a target, something to aim for, the idea that they could make history as nobody had done it before.

3) You Need Two or Three Big Characters in the Dressing Room
Robson explains "Its vital to have some leaders among the players. When results are going against you there have to be players who pick thing up, it can't only be the players and coaches. Nobody enjoys being beaten or drawing every week and you have to have a few that can rise above that and take the others with them."

4) Bring in the right players in the January Transfer Window
For Robson the key signing was Kieran Richardson from Manure - "If we got beaten on the Saturday he would come in on the Monday and all he wanted to talk about was how we would win the next game. Training was immediately twice as positive and that was the mentality that was needed. There's no point in dwelling on a bad result because you can't do anything about it, its gone. You have to just have the confidence you'll win the next one."

5) Keep the Fans on Your Side
Robson: "Our Great Escape idea helped that. It gave the supporters something to cling to, it got everyone being positive and pulling for each other. You can't believe how much easier it is for players to run and battle when they are hearing positive support instead of slow handclaps and booing."

6) Make sure You're Got a Good Physio
A settled fit side is vital. "You have to have a bit of fortune with injuries for a settled side is important and as you get a run a results they get stronger."

7) Be Convinced You Can make It
The players and coaches have to believe its's possible otherwise the players won't. They will smell any doubt. Look at the fixtures and work out what points you can make and be totally convinced that you can do it."

8) Be Lucky!
And then he saves the bummer until the end - "You need luck and you need everything to be right and the luck is the one thing you can't control."

Well, Pards has clearly read the same article and understands the basics and has explained recently that its leaders we need and people with the right attitude for a battle which probably explains the Traore out Thatcher in swap. And although we lost £1M on Traore we do seem to have got Thatcher for a good price. Now the Midfield!!

Monday, January 08, 2007


The news this morning from various souces eg the guardian report that, after all the hype, Stokes will not be coming to the Valley. Seems that he prefers to play in the Championship for a team going nowhere than struggle with life at the bottom of the Premiership. Or maybe Mr Keane doesn't take no for an answer, although it should be remembered that they both hail from the Republic of Ireland so they can share a Guinness of three over tactics and plan flights home together.

Meanwhile, over at the independent and with no connection whatsoever to the above story, Pards says that Darren Bent would be staying "until the end of the year" as his injury is one of 3 or 4 weeks and not 6 or 7 as previously thought. Which, of course translates to - "While Stokes was a possibility then maybe we'll sell but now hands off".

We'll have to wait and see if that's what happens, of course, mainly due to the fact that belief in the management of the Addicks is at an all-time low.

To further confuse in a time when facts are rather thin on the ground, Pards helps us out by giving us some Dowie-speak. "I will have to be clever, maybe look a little left-field to improve the team. We haven't got the funds that West Ham in particular have got, and maybe Wigan and Middlesbrough. I need anyone who will help the players here improve their confidence and ability. You can grow off certain players, that is the sort we need to give everyone a lift."

I suppose we still have Chinese super star Zheng Zhi arriving this week, although that little piece of business has also gone rather quiet over the last few days maybe suggesting that he was taken on by members of the previous coaching staff. Its possible, that maybe he too is having second thoughts although Wikipedia have him down as a Charlton player and assigned with the Number One shirt no less which should keep him happy as he appears to have a rather large ego.

And its always interesting to hear what other people think of the team ( when they're being constuctive, of course) so there's a little bit of a pick-me-up from none other than Grant Holt, scorer of Nottingham Forest's second goal on Saturday, "They don't have poor players, it's just the players they've got aren't aware of how good they are." Seems he's seen things that remain hidden to many.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Forest 2 Charlton 0

Remember the dismal days of FA Cup games back in the 60's, 70's and 80's when it was simply impossible for us to beat anyone in a higher Division? Year after year the FA Cup was always a depressing event with defeat after defeat against all-comers until finally we started to improve in the early nineties and then on 8th Feb 1994 we finally managed some giant-killing and beat a club above us with the scalp of the Premier League runners-up Blackburn Rovers 1-0 at Ewood Park with a Pitcher screamer.

Well, we've now gone to completely the other extreme - a Premiership club simply unable to match anyone from a Lower Division in cup games. After getting to our first League Cup Quarter-Final in December we surrender 1-0, at home, to lowly Wycombe of Division 2 and now a couple of weeks later do the same against Division 1 side Nottingham Forest.

The usual look at the papers and its mostly bad news. Once again the same adjectives resurface, with the favorite - abject ( of a situation or condition, extremely bad, unpleasant, and degrading [New Oxford Dict] ) - being used in all its former glory by the independent. With Charlton floundering and unable to cope from the observer and seemingly ignored by the telegraph while there is a surprisingly good report in the dailymail focusing on apparent snipes between Pards and Curbs over their respective past dealings with each others teams.

The only good news, apart from many papers including the mail again including Sheffield United in the other cup shock, we can get from this dismal situation is that the new Manager Pards has had his eyes opened at the right time to do something about it. The FA Cup doesn't really matter, its Premiership survival that we need and he now has 3 weeks left to find more able bodies to fight the fight.

There's obviously going to be heads rolling with Pards in a steep learning curve, "I learned a lot about this team today. I'm not going to be too harsh on them. They are delicate specimens in terms of confidence and need to wash away the negativity they have in their bodies. But one or two players will have to recognise that they are not good enough for this club and must respond, otherwise they will not be near the first team any more."
Speaking of heads rolling, its reported that Spurs have had a £7M bid for Darren B rejected but that this hasn't apparently put them off. Once again it would appear that January is going to bring more depressing news for the Addicks.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

FA Cup 3rd Round - Forest Preview

With a manager that has experienced the excitement of an FA Cup Final, if not tasted the champagne, Charlton have just the boost they may need to edge past what is, in my book anyway, a Third Division team.

And while the game may have looked a bit difficult when the draw was made in December, a lot has changed since then. Reed has gone and old boy Pards has returned and inspired a heartening improvement, while the home team, that were clear at the top of their Division have now lose 3 of their last 6 games and have dropped to 3rd place. Their last game on New Years day saw a 5-0 defeat away to fellow promotion challengers Oldham where they finished with 9 men, 2 players, Danny Cullip and Sammy Clingan seeing red and therefore also missing today game. Their last home defeat was to the lowly boys from Brisbane Rd, Leyton Orient in a 1-3 reverse in the middle of December with our very own on-loan striker James Walker playing up front.

We've only met Forest once before in the Cup back in our Play-Off year of 1998 and finished 4-1 home winners with four of our all-time favorites Robinson, Brown, Leaburn and Mendonca being on the score-sheet. That was the year, of course, that saw Forest go back to the Premiership as Champions. Like ourselves they only lasted one year but unlike ourselves have been in free-fall since then.

The team that Pards will put out today will be without Scott Carson after Liverpool requested he not be "cup-tied" just in case they reach the final and the injuries keeping out Darren Bent, Andy Reid, Luke Young and HH. Away from home defence will come first and with Sankofa suspended it'll be either the Elk or Kish at right-back with 2 from three of Elk, Diawara and Fortune at centre-back. Traore will continue at left-back, hoping to stay clear of giving away free-kicks and penalties.

With Pards liking a 4-4-2 formation, Rommedahl looks certain to start out wide while the midfield will surely see cup expert Hughes alongside 3rd choice captain Holland with either Ambrose or Faye making up the four. With Zheng Zhi arriving next week and with Simon Walton back from Ipswich the midfield is starting to look a bit more promising while, in contrast, up front will be our only two fit strokers, Marcus Bent and Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink.

Mr "Lets Move On" sees a 1-1 draw so its up to the team to show him the drastic error of his ways and see out the game as 2-1 winners. Roll on the Fourth Round.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tough Man Zheng Zhi

So its Transfer Window Time and the promised wheeling and dealing has already started with the arrival of the Chinese captain Zheng Zhi. He was last here in October with Les Reed for a couple of days training and he's now been signed for a reported 300,000 squids ( in the Chinese press) till the end of the season.

There's been very little comment on the signing but it seems part of the current drive to bring in players with character and leadership skills. Hearts captain Steven Pressley decided not to come but the theme continues with the reported talks with old boy and Russian captain Alexi Smertin on a return to the Addicks.

Of Chinese star, Zheng Zhi, not a lot is known but it would appear that he's a bit of a tough nut in the same mould as Andy Todd. He managed to get himself sent off against Malaysia, and so was suspended for China's ultimately disastrous make-or-break Germany 2006 qualifier with Kuwait, but his more famous moment happened just before last year's World Cup in a friendly against France. Early on in the game he became notorious as the man whose tackle broke French striker Djibril Cisse's leg and therefore kept him out of the subsequent competition. Several video nasties on the web show the tackle in all its glory.

He's also received a six month ban in December 2005 for spitting at a match official during an Asian Champions League quarter-final tie with Al Ittihad.

But if its confidence in a player that you want Zheng Zhi's your man. He's been recently quoted as saying "I won't deny I'm the best footballer in China, but it's only in China," said Zheng, "At the moment the most important thing for me is to keep my feet in the Premier League first."

Variously defined as an attacking midfielder, it was therefore something of a surprise when, then China coach, Arie Haan chose to use him as a central defender. Zheng Zhi explains, "He watched me play when he first arrived and thought I was the sort of player he needed in the back-line. But he also noticed I was able to move the ball forward quickly and so I was often pushed up front at the latter stages of matches to help break the deadlock."

When asked in a recent interview "Which position do you prefer to play?", he relied "I believe I can play in more than one position but because of my physique I prefer midfield. I'm not that tall and not that strong but I'm fast and can dribble, qualities usually associated with midfielders".

We await his arrival with bated breath.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Arse 4 Charlton 0

Whats the matter? Did you think the exciting game of catch-up was starting to look a bit of a cake-walk. New Manager, passion re-ignited, turned the corner and all that. No, no, get a grip, this year's determined to be endless roller-coaster ride so you better make the most of it.

And the papers this morning bring little New Year cheer, I'm afraid. Most of them point out that we have no chance whatsoever now that Darren Bent is injured and then go on and on about the returning French geezer. Best to start with the independent which can usually be relied upon to give us something to lift us up and in their report they do just that with a "Despite the scoreline it was no capitulation from Charlton."

The beeb is its usual unemotional self but does see the sending-off incident as "harshly dismissed" and thought that it happened just "as Charlton began to get more of a footing in the game".

There's not a lot of sympathy from the telegraph which pays more attention to the two managers than the football.

And if its consolation that you need you wouldn't find it in the upmarketmurdoch either. Here they wheel out the old "woeful" again, as if they are incapable of finding another adjective that rhythms or even begins with the same letter as Charlton and they also add the rather obvious comment that we need more than a Pards to turn us around.

The dailymail at least recognises there were other players on the park apart from Henry somebody and sees Scott Carsons giving an "excellent display" with "brilliant relex saves". And it seems that History has been made by an Englishman at last scoring for The Arse - although its been so long that several of the papers cannot agree when it last happened.

As for the guardian, its probably best avoided as it simply goes on and on ad nauseam about the Frenchman until you feel like throwing up.

Seems to me that the only answer Wenger had to the arrival of his old mate Pards and the Addicks was to usher back his captain before he was fit after 5 weeks in the stands. The last encounter with our new boss cost him 10 Big Ones and he was obviously determined to get his own back.

The Addicks: Carson; Sankofa, El Karkouri, Diawara, Traore; Rommedahl, Holland, Faye (Kishishev 77), Hughes (Fortune 33), Ambrose (Thomas 63); M Bent.

Subs (not used): Myhre, Hasselbaink.
Booked: Diawara 32 (foul on van Persie)
Sent off: Sankofa 29 (foul on van Persie)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

22 of 38 - Arsenal (away)

The first game of a New Year sees us up against our former neighbours Arsenal who departed over the water in 1913 as they were so embarrassed at being relegated to the Second Division. Reluctant to rename themselves Holloway they followed the bellicose mood of the time, kept the Arsenal bit and got rid of the Woolwich just as the Great War was kicking off. They remain one of only two clubs in the Football League not named after a place ( Port Vale are the others) but have now become the only one to name their stadium after a country, or is it supposed to be an airline?

Back down to earth, however, is our new Manager, who, apart from protecting his unbeaten run with the Addicks is also planning his first Double of the season after getting his win bonus over the Gunners on Guy Fawkes night with a very late Harewood strike. That night there was a bit of a bust-up between the two as Pards seemed to enjoy winning a bit too much for Arsene liking but he's not too concerned about meeting Wenger again and assures everyone that he'll shake hands before the game. He's also famous for having the curse over the Arse, seems they have never beaten him and reading the previews he certainly seems to be looking forward to the challenge.

I was too, until I read Wyns Page where he tells us that not only is Adebayor fit again but that Darren Bent is OUT FOR SIX WEEKS with an ankle injury.....


Remember Nov 4th 2001!
Who doesn't! But the truth is we've only beaten this lot 9 times in exactly 50 games so wins are as valuable as gold dust. Dig that dirt, Pards.

The Opponents
Unbeaten in their new Ground!
The last time the Arse played at home they scored 6 against Blackburn and they've enjoyed four symmetrical 3-0 wins over Spurs, Liverpool, Watford and Sheffield! But even though they've enjoyed those 5 wins at home there are another 5 teams, namely Pompey, Newcastle, Everton, Middlesbro' and Villa all of whom came away with a draw.

Perhaps it can be explained by the fact that The Arse, like Sheffield Utd, do start badly and of the 10 home games played, they've been losing at half-time on 4 occasions but then subsequently recovered. In fact the Arse are the best 2nd-half team in the Premiership and have scored a massive 16 times in the 2nd half at the Oilfields stadium. So obviously Plan A will be long balls to Darren, snatch an early lead and then defend like crazy.

The good news from the Arsenal camp, of course, is that that french geezer will still be missing and to add to Wengers Woes he's not the only one. Also missing through injury are: Theo Walcott, Alexander Hleb, Emmanuel Eboue, Emmanuel Adebayor (?), Abou Diaby, William Gallas, Johan Djourou and Freddie Ljungberg....

The Addicks
Same Again?
Its very possible that Pards will field the same team that beat Villa on Saturday. He's not got a lot to play with. With the experience of having put one over Wenger already this season he will know what to go with. Sadly it does seem that its the physical that will upset Arsenal and that doesn't really apply to us, does it.

Once again they'll be no Reid, Faye or Young although the Beeb seems to think that all three are back in training and although Ossie Sankofa is gaining in confidence at right-back its in the midfield that we will need to hold the Gunners.

Will Pards cram the middle of the park, as many Arsenal fans predict, with the likes of Kish, Hughes and Holland or will he favour putting out two wingers to scare Arsene? Seems like a toss-up between Kish or Hughes to be honest and the rest should be the same as on Saturday.

Before we end there's a bit of a review of Pards' Tactics against Villa in the guardian to get everyone in the mood of what to expect.

Of course predictable "Mr Lets Move On" sees an easy 2-0 home win because, of course, in his opinion we are a load of crap. But for me its a different story with a fighting 3-2 to the Arse, I'm afraid, with a stunning 2-0 half-time lead lost in the second 45 as they turn the screw.