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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Blackburn 4 Charlton 1

Pardew - We have a problem.

After months of living in an optimists' dreamworld where everything is possible I now find that the word that I have been refusing to recognize all these months is now, well, everywhere.

In case you missed it, the word's Relegation. Its everywhere. When I open the fridge or the microwave it pops up, it looks at me in the mirror and it even follows me to bed. And the word's all over this mornings papers who, without exception, appear to be in no doubt, after yesterdays defeat, as to what is in store for us and they spell it out in horrible detail.

The independent is painfully spot-on with its report, reminding us that "Blackburn are in the kind of position, with the end of the season approaching, that Charlton fans not so long ago were inclined to feel was not good enough, with Europe perhaps beyond them. How much would they give to be there now."

Clive White in the telegraph recalls that Scott Carsons clanger set the tone but gives us the only compliment of the day with a "after gracing the Premiership for seven seasons", and then reduces the game into 4 easy to follow stages and some appreciation of the loyal fans with "One just hopes for their sake they don't have to endure much more of yesterday's agony during which they first shot themselves in the foot, had a player sent off, scored an own goal and then, finally, were hit twice when they were down by a ruthless Blackburn side."

The observer report does us no favours, saying it could have been more if Blackburn had taken first-half chances.

There's a very detailed report from Pete Oliver working hard to tell the truth at murdochtimes. He's provided player points, always a guide to who's done what, and he's the only one to mention Aaron Mokoena’s unpunished forearm check on Talal El Karkouri and also adds that whereas we had all hoped that Blackburn were settling for mid-table security, "The momentum was entirely with Blackburn, as they looked the ones for whom nothing less than victory would do. "

Apart from a couple of good snaps the dailymail also gives us a potted review of our leaders attributes and then turns the spotlight onto the players, "Like a condemned man trying to ignore the trap door as it opens beneath his feet, Alan Pardew insisted last night that Charlton can still escape the grim drop. It takes an exceptional optimist to remain so buoyant, especially after his players had committed such crushing errors of judgment."

Friday, April 27, 2007

36 of 38 - Blackburn (away)

Latest count is that 5,700 Addicks will be up there at Ewood showing the players that they, at least, still believe that we can get out of this mess. In marked contrast we have all the various reports of players talking of leaving should the worst happen. But the bigger the Premiership gets the more high profile your players need to be to survive in it and those type of players don't relish the thought of even one season "down under" in the fizzy pops. And its pretty obvious that any loan players we have would have to be pretty desperate to want to stay with a club thats been relegated. So all three of them will obviously leave if we go down.

Its at least reassuring that with the acquisition of Dickson and Christensen, Pards does have a Plan B up his sleeve.

It all points to us having to do something spectacular at least once over the next couple of weeks. And one thing thats been missing this season is the spectacular. Give credit to Curbs there 'cause he always gave us at least one unexpected result that we could remember the season by. Last year it was beating Chelski in the League Cup, the year before, winning at both Everton and Spurs. He's also beaten Chelski 4-2 and won by the same score at Highbury. This years been more exciting, no doubt about that and we've had a couple of last-gasp winners to raise the roof but where's the one result that we can put up there in capitals. Well, there isn't one, yet.

Anyway, back to Blackburn. The official CAFC site reckons that 2 wins from the three games will be enough for survival so with a last day trip to Anfield scheduled that means that tomorrow is another must-win game. As we said recently only Chelski, Bolton, manure and the Arse have stopped Blackburn from scoring at home this season but then again Blackburn are the club with the fewest number of clean sheets in home Premiership games which probably explains how they've suffered 7 defeats. The above four plus Newcastle (1-3), West Ham (1-2) and Aston Villa (1-2) have also come away with the 3 points, the last two in the last 5 weeks.

So with 7 home defeats, one more than the Addicks, six points away from the team above them and 7 points off a UEFA place surely Blackburn will oblige and have another off day. Another piece of good news is that they, appear, unconcerned about getting revenge on teams that have already beaten them this season. Consequently, they have already been doubled 5 times this year, by the usual 2 plus the Arse, Villa and, rather luckily, the Hamsters. Despite our lowly position, the Addicks have only been doubled 4 times.


Anyone Remember Pitcher ?

It was the first time in living memory that Charlton had beaten a top-flight club in the FA Cup. After years of failure, in February 1994, we went up to Ewood Park for a Fourth Round cup tie after a goalless draw at the Valley. It finished 1-0 to the Addicks, the game being won by one Darren Pitcher, a goal that rather went to his head as he left for Palarse soon after.

But whatever your views about Pitcher, that 1-0 result was spectucular with a capital S - Blackburn, with Flowers, Le Saux, Moran, Batty, Shearer, were Premiership runners-up that season.

Now they'll be people you'll also remember our first trip to Wembley in exactly 40 years when we arrived there, as favorites, in March 1987, to play Blackburn in the Full Members' Cup Final only to lose 1-0 to a Hendry goal, but that wasn't important was it? Not like tomorrow.

And, we'll not be favorites tomorrow either, just ask Lawro, as League games at Ewood Park have usually gone against us with only 5 wins in 29 games. There's been 8 draws and 16 defeats.

Overall its Blackburn in front with 25 wins to Charltons 21 with 13 draws 13. And our last League win? October 20th 2003 with a Herminator header on a day when Di Canio and Johansson lead the line.

The Opponents
Pards, Watch that Pedersen Character

Last season was one of those useless trips into the North-West that Curbs so enjoyed. 4-1 was the score and to rub it in two of the goals were scored by those lovely characters Dickov and Bellamy.

This season its Benny McCarthy that we'll need to stop and we'll also need to watch high-scoring Morten Pedersen, rumoured to be off in the summer.

But just to emphazise that we'll have to be at our best, goalie Brad Friedel gives his opinion that, "We've played some really good football this season and have played ever so well in the last three games. We were desperately unlucky not to win at Fulham last weekend, but we'll keep battling on. We've got a game in hand on other teams and we're just going to keep doing our best to get to that seventh spot. To get the name of Blackburn out and about in Europe this season was a big thing."

The Addicks
Nerves away

Lets hope that over the last seven days Pardew has managed to find a cure from the attack of nerves that hit the team last weekend.

The only injury to last weeks squad is to Ben Thatcher so its odds on that the team will be another attacking eleven with:
Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, Hreidarsson, Rommedahl, Song, Ambrose, Thomas, Zheng, D.Bent.


The travelling support will force something to happen but few teams have stopped Blackburn from scoring at home this season and with the fewest number of clean sheets in home Premiership games this season, most teams seem to score at least once there so its bound to be another 1-1. Lawro, of course, has other ideas and seems to have already doomed us to the Big R and gives a 2-0 to finally write us off.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Health Spa on the Cards?

Lentils - Guaranteed! Works every time, makes you regular as proverbial clockwork, especially a plateful of the mother-in-laws'.

But other things, of course, except our culinary intake, can give us the wobbles. I recall moments spent hurling down an Austrian mountain on a wooden tray years ago, when I would rather been elsewhere, and gripping tightly a pathetic wooded peg that failed to qualify in my mind as a brake, that I wouldn't fancy doing again. And getting the wobbles obviously affected our heroes last weekend.

The article in the independent yesterday said it all about the Sheff U game. Once we were in front and the goal of the 3 points was in sight, fear set in and the team froze, simple as that. Just like that dream when you´re trying to run away from the hideous ghost carrying his head under his arm and at last getting your hand on the door and you're unable to find the strength to turn the thing. Ghosts or failure, its all the same scary stuff, and it all goes to explain why Pardew doesn't like the added pressure of must-win games and why he likes to get them to relax in the best hotels.

But how is Pards going to stop exactly the same thing happening this Saturday against Blackburn if we happen to go ahead again? The truth is there is no simple answer, no easy fix. People get nervious when its crunch time especially in front of 27000 people all expecting victory and the ones with cool heads are always going to be in the minority. At least it tells us that they really care.

But come Saturday he will need to emphasize once again that the only way we are going to win is to stay calm. In that respect the game is very different to the last one where we were at home and wanted, and were expected, to take the game to Sheff U. And he probably won't mention the 5000 Addicks fans cheering away in the away end trying to make the team feel at home.

Against Blackburn we will be able to take our time. If we can return to our defensive record as against Man. City and Reading and stop them scoring, we only need one goal to get the 3 points. To get you in the mood, however, we have to remind you that only Chelski, Bolton, manure and the Arse have stopped Blackburn from scoring at home this season but then again Newcastle (1-3), West Ham (1-2) and Aston Villa (1-2) have also come away with the 3 points, the last two in the last 5 weeks.

Other points in our favour is that they appear to be a suffering a bit of end-of-season Curbs-itis and have only won 1 game in the last 5 and that was against Watford. They stand in 10th spot with 44 points with 4 games left and are 1o points adrift of a UEFA place, so their season is appears to be just an matter of how far up they finish.

However, Pards will not be taking anything for granted. Don't know if he's ever played against Hughes on the pitch but he'll know that Blackburn under him have never been easy, even though he has already beaten him 2-1 at Upton Park last October.

So perhaps a health spa in the wilds of Cumbria is on the cards for Friday. Massage and cool music. Calming hands and expensive showers. Lets hope it works..

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Charlton 1 Sheff U 1

If you can stomach the reports this morning here they are. Not much else to say about a disappointing result that leaves us with a mountain to climb in our 3 remaining games.

With Watford now relegated, it leaves just 2 places left with West Ham on 32 pts, the Addicks 33, Sheff. U 35, Wigan 35 and Fulham 36. Its not completely out of our hands yet, Fulham still face games against the Arse and Liverpool for example but it means that the pressure is on us to win at Ewood Park next weekend.

independent, telegraph, observer, sportinglife, beeb, dailymail

Charlton: Carson; Young, El Karkouri, Diawara (Bougherra 76), Thatcher (Hreidarsson 70); Rommedahl, Song, Ambrose, Zheng, Thomas (Hasselbaink 74); D Bent.

Subs (not used): Randolph, Holland.

Goals: El Karkouri 60

Booked: El Karkouri, Diawara, Zheng, Song

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Get Rid of that frigging Black Stuff!!!

"Yeh, great joke, Andy, shame you can't give us a smile on the pitch. Now get 'otta here, I've got something important to tell the boys."

Pards scanned the room carefully, making sure that everyone was listening.

"You know what I do first thing every morning?"

"Pick your nose." cried little Brian Hughes, who didn't mind upsetting the gaffer 'cause he knew he wasn't playing either. As usual, Pards ignored him.

"I check the weather forecast. 'Cause I want to know what sort of a day I can expect. Some people check their horoscope, I look at the sky. And this morning in the front of my house all you could see was blue skies and sunshine and birds singing. None of them nasty clouds anywhere in sight, just clear blue sky."

Pards paused for a moment, to let the scene sink in...

"But then, for some reason, I turned around to see what was happening behind my house. What did I see? The whole sky covered in a f***ing black mess, as dark as night. You couldn't call it cloud, it was just a big ugly blackness covering the whole sky. So I looked upwards, to see which way the wind was blowing. Was the black stuff coming or going? Thats what I wanted to know."

"And that's where you come in, all of you. I want You to get rid of them black clouds."

Pards slammed the dressing door shut, to reveal on the inside panel a huge poster of him in Kitchener pose pointing at all of them, with the words, "Get Rid of that frigging Black Stuff!!!"

And now with a huge smile on his face, Pards summed up...

"I want the pressure off, I want it to rain on somebody else. I wanna wake up tomorrow morning in sunshine with 35 big ones in my back pocket."

"I don't wanna have an sod awful day, hiding myself in my garden shed in embarrassment. I wanna see them black clouds frigging disappearing over the frigging horizon."

"Now, get out there and do it."

Friday, April 20, 2007

35 of 38 - Sheff. U (home)

Another Must-Win game then. And this time everybody's saying it. There's no time left now for maybe's or Plan B's, this one we've gotta win. Well, we're not talking maths just yet but the chances open to us are rapidly diminishing and time for that last-minute reprieve is running out.

We just have to get the goal or goals that give us the three points, its as simple as that. And we couldn't, apparently, ask for better opponents. They've lost 13 games away from home, more than anybody else, and now their away record stands at eight defeats in a row, so really there's no excuses..... To call ourselves a Premiership club we now have to prove it.

Although they've lost loads, and not scored more than once in an away game all season, our opponents tomorrow do specialize in 1-0 away victories, three so far, at Newcastle, Watford and the last being at Wigan on December 16th. Since then they've lost at Portsmouth (1-3), Middlesbrough (1-3), Reading (1-3), Blackburn (1-2), Liverpool (0-4), Chelski (0-3), Bolton (0-1) and lastly manure (0-2).

Another bad record of theirs is that they've conceded five goals in the first five minutes of top flight games this term - more than any other club, but unfortunately for us the Addicks are also bad starters at the other end and have failed to score in any game in the first 10 minutes. In fact, the only Charlton goals in the first quarter of an hour of a game have been Darren's penalty at Upton Park on the opening day and the Elk free-kick at Bolton in January.

Winless at the Valley since 1971

There's only two Premiership teams that the Addicks have the "sign" over and Sheff U are not one of them. To date, after 51 games, the record reads Charlton 18 wins, Sheff United 20 and with 13 draws.

With our appalling record of only 3 Charlton wins at 26 games at Bramall Lane, its comforting that exactly the same is true of our opponents. They also have won only 3 times at the Valley, the last time being 36 years ago and the last time they beat us in top-flight football at the Valley was on Sept. 21st 1946, in other words, a very long time ago.

The Opponents

The last time we played them at the Valley, Feb 2000, it finished 1-0 to the Addicks with a John Robinson goal in the first half. I'll settle for that tomorrow. Its a game I can't remember, but there's three Sheff U players that will as they'll probably be around tomorrow. Phil Jagielka, Robert Kozluk and Alan Quinn as well as one Marcus bent all played in that defeat. On that day we were well clear at the top of Division One and Sheffield came to defend. No change there then!

Defender Phil Jagielka is still one of their key men and after the injured Rob Hulse is their leading scorer with 4 goals. Probably one of their most prominent men wouldn't be on the pitch however, but will be busy ranting and rageing from the touchline. And just when we assumed they would come for the draw, he tries to upset us all by saying "It’s an intriguing game. Everybody is nervous and excited about it. But we have to play to win. I don’t think we can go for a draw. The good thing is that I can see us scoring in away games now. We’ve got to go for it in every one of our last four matches."

The Addicks
Wingers and Width

There's talk now that Hreidarsson and Jerry T have recovered from injuries and will be available for the game but unfortunately not so for Marcus Bent. So he'll remain on his 99 league goals for a bit longer - its now over 5 months - and we'll not get to see if the ex-player curse would have helped our cause.

And just to cheer us up, and maybe prepare us for the worst, Pards has come out and told us that litttle Darren is also suffering from that most mundane of injuries, "a knock" - sorry, its now a thigh problem - , thus making team selection even less complicated although the thought of Kevin Lisbie leading the line does give me the shivers.
In fact, due to our recent good form, Pards has got it easy regarding selection as it could be the same eleven that played against Everton but with one change - Rommedahl!...'cause we need width to stretch 'em and get behind their mean defence.

In midfield, he could bring in captain-nice Matty Holland for Amdy Faye and if he's got the chance of a fully fit Jerry Thomas then he'll be on at the start in place of Ambrose.

So its; Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, Thatcher, Rommedahl, Zheng Zhi, Song, Holland, Thomas, D. Bent.


There's only in W that can follow Winless, Warnock and Wingers and its...WIN. It wouldn't be the same hammering as we dished out to the Hamsters and a single goal may well be enough to get the 3 points. The infamous Lawro goes for a 2-1 home win. But it'll be tough, well that's what they said about West Ham, but this time......

Eleven Gladiators.....Plus Subs

Just before Easter, there I was zapping through the channels hoping to find something to watch apart from adverts - not always easy as Spain apparently has more commercials per day than anyone in the world apart from Indonesia and the US of A - and what should I find but an old favorite of mine: Gladiator.

Of course, its in Spanish and with no evidence of subtitles I struggle to understand what exactly is being said. But there's lots of action and I know the plot anyway so for a couple of hours I'm engrossed.

And there's one bit of the film that anyone can understand and its when Russell Crowe with his loyal band of fellow Gladiators rewrites history in the Colloseum in Rome in the supposed "Fall of Mighty Carthage" by defeating all the Roman chariots sent into the arena.

The Emperor is so impressed by the performance that he goes down into the arena to meet this famous Gladiator face-to-face. So Crowe is forced to turn to face the Emperor, remove his helmet and reveal his identity to the man who killed his wife and son and forced him into slavery. Its a scene that always sends a shiver down my spine and gives me goosepimples.

"I am Maximus Meridas, Commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Regiment of the Roman Army, servant to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, father to a murdered son and husband to a murdered wife and landlord to a murdered world and I will have vengeance."

The Landlord bit is a trifle over the top and there seems to be some confusion as to what he actually said but whatever the exact words its a speech to stir the blood with the desire for vengence. Crowe spells out exactly who he is, what he used to be, the heights he reached in the world before treachery put him into slavery. And he is determined to right the wrongs done to him.

Its a piece of fiction that calls to mind that stirring speech of Churchill's in May 1940, "We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."

Two speeches. One a contrived fiction about revenge and the other a determination to confront, and defeat, the harsh realisties of the world.

And in our tiny little piece of South London, in a place we call the Valley, all we can ask of Alan Pardew is that he finds the words and the emotion to stir his troops to do their upmost tomorrow to prove to us who they are, to show a determination to put to rights things that have gone badly wrong and a desire not to be beaten.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Starring Role For Rommers

"OK, listen up now. Come on, quiet at the back - Talal - stop head-butting Andy, pick on someone your own size not the midgets."

"Right then, just to remind you, in case you're forgotten, there's only 4 games left before your hols but because of your poor start to the season under Monica we still need at least 2 wins from you, starting on Saturday."

"So, before we take you outside we're first of all gonna show you a video that Phil's put together to get you in the right mood. Its goals galore and all ending up in Warnocks net over their last eight away games. There's 21 of them altogether and because they're so leaky they've lost every game. They did manage to score one goal every game in the first 4 of the sequence but since then they've lost Hulse and they haven't managed a goal in their last 4 away. And they haven't managed more than a single goal in a game away from home all season and have failed to score in 10 of the 17 games. So basically they defend and hope to snatch a single goal to win it."

"After that we're gonna show you a video of the 12 goals we've scored in our last eight home games and a few clips of the dozens of chances that we've created. Of the 8 games, we've won 4, should be 5 with the Fulham game and lost just 2. OK, we've failed to score in two of the games and Reading did us a favour by showing how difficult it can be to score against a well-organised defence. Sheff U will be the same and will come here on Saturday to defend and will try to make it difficult. They'll be looking to keep us behind them in the table and will play it tough and tight for a 0-0 draw or a breakaway goal."

"And thats why our wide men are gonna be important on Saturday. We'll need width and speed to pull them apart. So I have to tell you that we're looking to you Dennis, yes you Rommers, to play a key role. We've managed to get a short clip from Spain of Barca's Leo Messi's brilliant goal last night against Getafe in the Cup Semi's. Gets the ball at the touchline in his own half, beats two markers and then runs at goal. Beats sixteen players, including rounding the keeper before smacking it into the far corner. Its a sign of what we expect from you Rommers. And between you and me this could be your swansong, your very last game for the Addicks, don't imagine that you'll see much action at Blackburn and Liverpool so I expect some results come the weekend. If not a goal, yes goal, then at the very least an assist."

"So Rommers, watch this video carefully. Look at how Messi attacks 'em, scares 'em rigid. So, Alex give him the ball in space and Dennis, no knocking it back to Luke. We want you to run at 'em. I don't care how many times they get lucky with tackles. Run at 'em, push 'em back and get 'em to commit 2 players to you. Pull 'em out of the middle, make 'em panic and make room for ZiZi to get into."

"Same from you Jerry. I know you're not properly fit so it may be just the last half-hour for you and same applies. Go at 'em, I don't want a load of high balls into the box, we'll beat 'em on the deck with knock-ons, conceding fouls, free-kicks. I want pressure from the word go and I don't wanna give 'em any peace. We're gonna go back to the eighties, no easy balls back just to keep possession, I want them to know they're in a game."

"OK Phil, lights out, start them rolling...."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Only 4 Steps to Heaven, or Hell!

So anyone given up yet? Not Pards, thats for sure. After Sundays cruel defeat when a point seemed in the bag he'll have to lift the team and get them believing, once again, that survival in the premiership is possible. And if a team needs a positive driver, he's your man. He's given the boys a day off today to get them to relax a bit and no doubt take the pressure off. But you can bet that another reason is so that he can prepare himself, find the right words of encouragement and do some planning to turn Saturday into a veritable launch pad for survival.

As for us what can we do? I like what I read in addicksdiary - "Supporters need to retain belief, if only to communicate confidence to the team", but belief is not something you can teach people. They'll always be people that give up and those that don't and then again we didn't choose to support Charlton because we expected them to win anything so perhaps belief in success is something we've never needed much in the past. In fact we probably didn't "choose" Charlton at all, it just happened. And we've taken the good with the bad and haven't grumbled too much. Well, booed a bit, maybe.....

So, anyway there's now only 360 minutes left of a very difficult season. Six hours of football that will decide whether or not we will play in the Premiership next season. Three managers and, at the moment a total 32 points are at the moment not enough, we need more.

And our failures so far mean that every game from now on will be a "must-win" game, a policy that Warnock adapted at the weekend when he told his players that their season would end if they didn't beat the Hammers. Pards has already said that he doesn't like must-win games. Too much pressure and the players can't relax, hence todays rest day.

And to help the supporters relax before Saturday we can take a look at the Current Form Table in sportinglife. Forget the fact that Fulham at "currently" bottom - things can chance fast in this business - lets take a look at our last 4 opponents of the season.

Two very low teams are next up - Sheff U (h) and Blackburn (a) - followed by two top 5 teams - Spurs (h) and lastly Liverpool (a) - are the 4 teams remaining to the Addicks. Sheff U have lost their last 8 away games, scoring just 4 goals and conceding 21! They've won 3 on the road at Newcastle, Watford and Wigan all by the same score, 1-0. And of their 17 away games they have failed to score in 10 of them. So they'll defend and hope to snick a goal.

After Sheff U its away at Blackburn who might be having a bad time of late with only 3 wins and 6 defeats in their last 9 games - but only 4 teams, manure, Chelski, the Arse and Bolton have stopped them from scoring at home this season. So obviously the best plan is to make them think they're playing away. With a capacity of over 31000 and crowds of only 16000 against Fulham, 17000 against Wigan and Portsmouth and 18000 against the Hammers and with the disppointment of losing a Cup Semi-Final its possible that with 4000 noisy fans in the away end we could change it into the Valley. And with a game tonight against Watford they could be safely in midtable by the time they face us.

Spurs then. The good news is that they've played 5 of the bottom six away and only managed to beat West Ham with draws at Watford, Wigan and Fulham and a defeat at Sheff U...

And lastly Liverpool. With 16 games played at home and with 12 wins and only 1 defeat and with only 5 goals conceded its obviously not the best place to visit for what could be a relegation decider. It looks an impossible task to expect anything from this one and it'll possibly depend of what's at stake for Liverpool. Lets hope they're well clear of the arse by then and that we're safe as well....

Sunday, April 15, 2007

34 of 38 - Everton (away)

Everton, Away. With the Toffee's currently flying with only 1 defeat in 11 its probably not the best time to have to pay a visit but nevertheless our trips to Goodison have in the past been fruitful. Not recently, I know, but we've managed to avoid defeat on 50% on our visits and without a goal conceded in 4 and a half games perhaps it's Everton who should be tense - they're chasing Europe after all.

Resilance is the key word for Sunday and we should perhaps look at the success of 2 other teams on their visits to Everton. Although only Villa and Middlesbrough have stopped Everton from scoring at home this season, Villa went there in November and got their first away victory winning 1-0 and Middlesbrough played at Goodison on Boxing Day with an away record of 3 draws and 6 defeats and managed a 0-0 draw. Two very unlikely teams then, but both have stopped Everton from scoring at home this season. And Everton don't have a brilliant record against bottom half teams. In fact of 18 games against teams in the bottom 10, they've only won 7 times!

So they're sixth in the table but that'll make them as nervous as we are with Spurs just 3 points away. On current form both teams at equal with 12 points out of the last 18 available. Looking at their home form, its nine wins and only 3 defeats in 16 games and will give you some idea of the size of the task facing the Addicks. They've beaten Liverpool, Bolton and the Arse amongst others with only 1 defeat ( against Spurs 1-2 ) in the last 7 home games.

Eighteen Victories

I hear people say that we haven't got a hope today but, although we haven't beaten them for a while, our last two games have been draws and overall, after 24 seasons in the same League, we're only a single defeat down to them with the Addicks getting 18 wins, Everton 19 and with 10 games drawn.

If you want to look at just the recent history in the Premiership its even better with Everton 6 wins, Charlton 6, Draws 3.

And at Goodison, although our last win was in 2005, it stands at Everton 11 wins, Charlton 6 and draws 6 with Premiership records being Everton 4 wins, Charlton 3 and no draws.

The Opponents
Pards: Put Faye on Arteta

One reason for their sucess this season has been that Everton had avoided injury problems as proved by the fact that they have 7 players who have started 30 or more Premiership games. The Addicks only have 2, Carson and the Elk over 30 appearances. Unfortunately for them thay have lost two young strikers James Vaughan and Victor Anichebe but can offer James Beattie the strike role alongside top scorer Johnson, with 11. However, its midfielder Arteta that remains the key to Everton and my advice to Pards is to play Amdy Faye to mark him. To demonstrate his importance Arteta has got 8 goals in the Premiership so far and he's also got the most yellow cards as well with 8.

The Addicks
300th Premiership Game

A bit of a milestone then but one that the Herminator and Big Bent wouldn't be taking part in. A pity 'cause Marcus is, a bit like Romario, just one goal short of a milestone and he've enjoyed a run-out against his old mates. So short of scoring power, will it be ZiZi or Lisbie joining our Darren up front? Jerry also seems to have a fitness problem which could see the return of Rommerdahl.

One things for sure, the back 5 will be Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara and Thatcher.

The midfield has been our problem all season and once again it's looking a bit bare. Rommers or Ambrose out wide on the right, Song and Faye in the middle and Thomas or Ambrose on the left.

Striker Darren Bent, of course, with ZiZi just behind.


Everyone, including Lawrenson, seems to see a defeat. And the obvious reason that the board are not organising any special trips to Goodison is they don't think its worth it. But.....this is football, and in such a tense encounter who can say what will happen. A defeat is more than likely but we'll get a point, trust me...

Friday, April 06, 2007

Come On, Pards, We Need A Win!

Not normally a pessimistic person, one would think that a single point gap to safety would put me in a supremely confident mood. And after months of blowing the trumpet about never giving up it would appear that salvation, it is Easter after all, is close at hand.

But Pards, I have to warn you, I've seen the future and I don't like it. Its called Spurs and they arrive for our last home game on May 7th. Although they lost last night to Sevilla 2-1, they looked far too useful for us to consider the last derby of the season a Home Banker. Although there was no sign of our nemesis Defoe, the two up front, Keane and bulgarian Berbatov, looked to be a bit of a handful. And with Zokora and Tainio bossing the midfield and taking no quarter they are obviously a team looking at a European trophy as well as a place in Europe next season. A league game in early May may not have the same urgency as a UEFA cup quarter final but who can tell. With the UEFA semis Second Leg on 3rd May and the final on May 16th our best hope is that they get to the final and see the Valley trip as unimportant. Strangely, last night there was no sign of Danny Murphy.

So even after all the talk about the positive Valley, the chances of 9 points from our remaining home games are not a formality. And looking ahead to Monday, although Reading have lost their last 3 away games they have already beaten Pards this season with a 1-0 win at Upton Park in October. They can also point to credible away draws at both Everton and Chelski this year.

It all points to the fact that todays game is probably our easiest (!) game left and with visits to Everton, Blackburn and Liverpool to come, is our best chance of getting that away win that will bolster our chances. There's no time for playing for a draw, even though Lawrenson has finally turned up for work and gives it a 1-1 with a "I think Charlton would take a draw if they were offered one before the game. That would be enough to keep the pressure on the teams just above them."

But as we know, nobody offers you anything in football and the simple truth is that we need 3 points today, Pards, to really put it up the teams above us and give them some sleepless nights. And to get above that bloody line that's getting so irritating!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

32 of 38 - Man. City (away)

Our visits to Maine Rd always used to give us something to cheer about with a defeat seemingly rare. In fact we only had 1 defeat there since 1987 and only lost 11 times in 23 games altogether. Trouble is its not Maine Rd anymore 'cause being called the Massives meant a move to a modern venue back in 2003. So now its the City of Manchester Stadium ( see you later, doll, just off the City of Manchester Stadium to see City ) and our form there has not been so good.

Fortunately for the Addicks, City's home form has not been too good either. Two wins on the road ( and without a goal conceded) in their last 2 games against an under-strength Middlesbrough and then a-drifting-down-the-table Newcastle can't hide the fact that they've lost 4 successive games at home - to Blackburn, Reading, Wigan and most recently, Chelski - and more importantly after scorelines of 0-1, 0-1, 0-2, 0-3 with not a single goal scored either.

So after 6 hours and 18 minutes of football dating back to Jan. 1st without a goal scored, and particularly since they have failed to score in a total of nine home League games all season, I expect their fans will be bringing some soft cushions to sit on. Not a lot to get excited about, but I suppose they've got to do the opposite to manure fans anyway who stand up as a matter of course. And in complete contrast to manure who couldn't care less when we come visiting, City are already calling the game their biggest of the season and trying to hide their nerves by no doubt sitting on their hands.

But for a team sitting in 13th place, they have the strange record of holding a 100% record when scoring first in a Premiership game this term (won 10 of 10) but then that's probably because this match pits the second weakest attack, ie City's - so they don't actually score very often - with the second weakest defence (thats us) in the Premiership. At the other end of the pitch, and thanks to Darren, the Addicks have scored more away League goals than Manchester City have managed at home (11 on the road to the Massives 10 at Eastlands) and now after breaking our 64 match run of no consecutive wins we have a chance of the Addicks first double of the season. But take note Pards, its obviously not a good idea to concede first..

Honours Even

Completely different from our last opponents Wigan, we've played City 53 times, with honours even at 20 wins with 13 draws.

Last time we won in Manchester ( at any Stadium!) was our very last visit to Maine Rd in 2002 with Shawn Bartlett getting the goal in a 1-0 win. However, 3 seasons on and our 3 games at the the City of Manchester Stadium ( OK, Eastlands) have seen 1 draw and 2 defeats. Our record season, 2003/04 where we finished in 7th spot, saw a 1-1 draw with Di Canio getting the equaliser. 2004/05 started strangely with 2 heavy away defeats, 4-0 at Bolton and 4-1 at Eastlands, sandwiching home wins over Portsmouth and Aston Villa (remember Francis Jeffers?). 2005/06 was better, the Addicks going down 3-2, a game that was the first and only time that both Bents have been on the same scoresheet.

So at Man City its been 13 wins for City, Charlton 8, and 5 draws.

The Opponents

Dunne and Distin

With 29 and 28 starts each Richard Dunne and Sylvain Distin are the mainstay of City. Add in Joey's Barton's 6 goals from midfield and you'll see the strengths of their team. What's more a cursory look at Garth Crooks team of the week on the Beeb site shows that apart from the usual fawning with gaudy manure shirts, he appears to have included 3 players in light-blue outfits. Namely Dunne, Mpenza and someone called Onuoha - its appears they all play for Man. City and were chosen for their performances against Newcastle. And its unfortunate that they appear to have solved their striker problem with the inclusion of "brian" Emile Mpenza signed from Al Rayyan (!) in January who has now got 2 goals in his last two games.

Their team against Newcastle was: Isaksson; Onuoha (Trabelsi 85), Dunne, Distin, Ball; Jihai, Barton, Hamann (Samaras 46), Johnson, Vassell; Mpenza. Subs were Weaver (g), Corradi, Miller.

Injuries are affecting the team though and Micah Richards is still out with an ankle problem and Addicks old boy Danny Mills is recovering from his stress fracture and Didi Hamann is also doubtful with another ankle problem.

The Addicks
Thatcher to Start?

For a player as controversial as Ben Thatcher its surprising that after 5 yellows with City this season, in only 10 games, he has yet to receive one for the Addicks. And from glowing remarks from Pards regarding the importance of Thatcher to the dressing room and the chances of showing his old club how wrong they were to let him go, its odds-on that he will start tomorrow. Regarding defence, the Beeb reckon that the Elk will give way to allow the Herminator to move inside but its more likely to be Diawara who sits out the game. After all it was Hreidarsson in the box on Saturday winning our penalty.

With everyone hopefully fit, except Hasselbaink and sadly the little Irishman, it only leaves Pards to decide who to pick. With fellow chinese Sun Jihai playing a rare game for City last weekend could he be forced into playing ZiZi to demonstate his boast that he's the best Chinese player? And he also has to bear in mind that there's an important home game on Monday, just 3 days away so he wants everyone ready for that game.

But it's time to be brave - his own words - and a draw isn't really good enough, so it'll be his beloved 4-4-2 - none of this defensive 4-4-1-1 of some other teams:

Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Hreidarsson, Thatcher - ZiZi, Song, Holland, Thomas - Marcus Bent, Darren Bent.

On the bench probably: Randolph, Diawara, Faye, Rommedahl and Lisbie.


Fortunately there's no Lawrenson this week - he was wrong last weekend, of course, but Pedro45 has it down as a 0-0 and checking out cafcpicks, on pre-season forecasts nevertheless, the leading experts, New York Addick and Angela Morris (who appears to have got herself married as she's changed her name to Risebro - congratulations if its in order) both also had it down as a Draw. A draw then it has to be, goalless or otherwise we don't mind, and it'll be a result that'll keep everyone happy, maybe even Warnock.

Valley of Cheers............

As the lines go up on the Beeb Premiership table dividing the haves from the have-nots, we have to face the fact that we've been in the bottom three since September 23rd. Seeing that line appearing in previous years never meant very much to me because we were well clear of it but its an intrusion we could do without, 'cause its meant to bring foreboding and has the same effect as that scary music in a horror movie when the heroine is alone in the house and, of course, it lets us all know how close we are to the end-of-season.

But it seems to have a deeper meaning - We're had Lawrenson with his "lets move on" and Hansen with his "worse performance by a Premiership team" but we know what everyone thinks about MOM ( even our old eamonn dunphy gives 'em stick ) so we could take them but that thick line not only puts inches between us and the rest its really a subtle hint that the three teams below the line are not quite good enough.

And to be honest we'd all have a sinking feeling in the stomach at the moment if it wasn't for our (new) Alan. Pards has inspired a turnabout that given us 5 wins and 3 draws from his 12 games in charge. 18 points out of 36. Not title form but enough to see us safely in mid-table.

And its not just that our points total has changed. There's other things too. I can't remember seeing so many articles, interviews and comments about the Addicks since Pards took over. Every other day there's a player telling us how it is or Pards having his say. There's another one today in the independent - after the weekends Valley of Hope, we're now called the Valley Of Cheers. Its never been so important, it seems to have a ground called the Valley. Far removed from our peers poorly-named Reebok or City of Manchester Stadium we have a place that has a meaning, that can be used to affect and Pards gives it for all its worth. "It gets to a point where the stadium is affected, and psychologically it becomes a problem. We have a super-positive stadium. I would suggest that without doubt of the bottom eight clubs, our stadium is the most positive."

And before tomorrows game, none other than Stuart Pearce offers his opinion in the sportinglife that he thinks the Addicks will be in the Premiership next season. And he show that he understands what he has to do to stop us tomorrow, he says that "They have a lad up front, who is worth a few bob, who can put the ball in the net. If you take his goals out of the equation, they would have a big problem." So its Joey Barton on little Darren, I suppose. His name's not Psycho for nothing, Pearce that is.

There's also been paper talk about Liverpool offering £15m for Darren and it seems that its not only our players that people are after. Phil Parkinsons' been chatting with Huddersfield and only a vastly improved salary, apparently, as in the guardian, has made him change his mind.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Leaving it Late....

I'm not sure exactly whats going on at the other end of the table but down where we are its all getting a bit exciting. And just to prove that its never too late to score that vital goal, last weekend saw several late goals and everything altered in the last 10 minutes.

The Addicks are making a habit of scoring late goals and it continued on Saturday. So first up over at the Valley the telegraph tells us those clapper things were obviously a good investment by Pards, "It was unclear exactly why Phil Walton gave the 86th-minute penalty. Hermann Hreidarsson fell in the penalty area with just four minutes remaining under a challenge from Fitz Hall, who then brought down Marcus Bent. Almost certainly, it was the second challenge that did for referee Peter Walton, though the initial tackle affected the decibel counting."

Meanwhile up at St James Park, Citys "Emile Mpenza held his ( presumably nerve ) when he swept the ball past Shay Given in the 80th minute after giving Oguchi Onyewu the slip to apply a finishing touch to a slick counter-attack after one of countless, witless Newcastle forays spearheaded by out-of-sorts Obafemi Martins foundered on the rock-solid defence of Sylvain Distin and Richard Dunne." Witless, now that's one objective they never applied to us back in the Dark Ages but then obviously it helps being rock solid when your defenders can pronounce each others name. With players called Oguchi and Obafemi no wonder Newcastle are having a nightmare.

Its all pretty naff having your stadium sponsored - ours would probably be called the Llanera - ( just going down the Llanera, love, back about half 6 - the What?) just to get a few extra bob, but at least up at the Reebok they did us a favour on Saturday. Sheffield "held out until the 80th minute, thanks to a series of spectacular saves by man-of-the-match Paddy Kenny. In the end he was beaten by Kevin Davies' 20-yard drive into the bottom corner." But Warnock is still apparently smiling "It may be misleading, but I'm enjoying every minute. I'm not going to give up when it's taken all this time to get here." Enjoying himself so much that without top scorer Rob Hulse he has had to resort to a defensive 4-4-1-1 formation. Expect more of the same come April 21st! But with 7 ( make that 8 ) consecutive away defeats who can blame him!

Unfortunately for the addicks we can't say the same about pathetic Everton who allowed a late equaliser at Villa Park - "it was not until seven minutes from time that Villa gained their reward for a second-half bombardment of the Everton goal that was in complete contrast to what had happened in the first half. Gabriel Agbonlahor's seventh goal of his first full season in the Premiership saved Villa from an uncomfortable few days before the hectic Easter programme." Now Gabriel, thats a good old English name. Didn't he score against us back in September ( yes, he did).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Addicks in 5th Spot!

A look at the Current Form Table from sportinglife makes very nice reading. It reports form over the last six games and shows us up there in 5th position with the only teams in front being those 2 Really Big Clubs with Spurs and Everton being in 3rd and 4th positions. Bottom place is occuped, of course, by our old friends Sheff. U.

However, despite that 5th spot, its always possible, being an addick, to spot the Bad News. Yes, two of our remaining 7 games are against Spurs and Everton.

And after the visit to Everton is our crucial game against Sheffield U which is in 4 games time on April 21. Before then we face Man.City (a), Reading (h) and Everton (a), while Sheffield have Newcastle (h), Manure (a) and West Ham (h) so we could be 8 points clear of them by April 21st.

Looking at Newcastle's recent form that's not very likely ( guess who's 19th in the current form table), and although their visit to Manchester seems a waste of time there's always a home game against West Ham to lift Warnock spirits up a bit before they visit the Valley. He's even said that they have 6 winnable games left.

So from our point of view it seems vital that we get a couple of wins under our belt before we play Sheffield because afterwards we face 3 tough games in Blackburn (a), Spurs (h) and Liverpool (a) while they have games against Watford (h), Aston Villa (a) and Wigan (h). Who’s going to argue that they wouldn’t get 9 points from 9 in those 3 games.

It all comes down to us winning, not 3, but another 4 games.

Sheff U. have now lost their last 7 away games and travel to Manure before they play us so its likely that they will have lost 8 successive times on the road before the Valley but even if we beat them they could well add another 4 victories to their 31 points giving them a total of 43 points.

To get 43 points ourselves we’ll need 13 points from 7 games. That’s 4 wins and a draw. With only 3 more home games, its vitally important that we get at least one win from our visits to Man. City, Everton, Blackburn and Liverpool!

But has anyone noticed Aston Villa? With only 2 victories in their last 19 games and those against Watford and West Ham at home, last nights draw with Everton was vital for them and they now have 35 points now and face Blackburn (a), Wigan (h) over Easter then Middlesbrough (a), Portsmouth (h), Man. City (a), Sheff (h) and Bolton (a). Can you see more than 1 win for Villa in that lot?

So they may find it hard to reach 40 points with their current record. If we can get 4 points over Easter we could be just 1 point behind them as well. And with the Guardian saying that “Aston Villa continue to show relegation form”, O’Neill badly needs to find a couple of wins from somewhere to make them safe.
As for the Addicks, all we can do is keep on winning!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Charlton 1 Wigan 0

Who was going to say that our favorite man this morning was going to be that unpleasant git from Bolton, Kevin Davies? He it was that 9 minutes from time put the skids under those tedious men from Sheffield to give Bolton the points at the Reebok and leave Warnocks team just 1 point away from the Addicks and with a identical goal difference.

As for the Addicks, a decisive Darren Bent penalty, that the Elk seemingly wanted to take, was enough to give the "unimpressive Addicks" - according to the independent - a second win on the trot for the first time in 64 games. But as they always say, its the sign of a good team when they can win even though they haven't played well. Thats what they always used to say about the Arse anyway.

The telegraph, seeing the crucial Easter program approaching, continues with its holy theme with "the man appointed on Christmas Eve believes this team can complete their resurrection". All we need now is for Good Friday to happen.

A "game low on quality and high on tension" was how the Observer, not surprisingly, saw the game. But what can you expect with so much at stake.

Meanwhile over there on the right is the dailymail who always love their banners and give us one labelled the "Valley of Hope".

More "degeneration as a spectacle as both sides’ nerves began to fray. Charlton’s need to win was greater" from the times as they highlight that "Suddenly they are breathing down the necks of Sheffield United and Wigan."

The sportinglife gives us lots of quotes, the most surprising being from funny old Mr Jewell who thinks "We're better than the teams down there, basically".

Unfortunately, up there in Yorkshire, Sheffield United's Neil Warnock is still up for the challenge and has learnt his lines from Pards. "I still think it's in our own hands and we're still out of the bottom three. Our form at Bramall Lane has been good and of the seven games left we can win six of them. I think we can create chances at home and it will just come down to whether we can take them or not. And there are a few other teams in it as well."

And just to remind you, of their remaining 7 games they have home games against Newcastle United, West Ham, Watford and Wigan - as well as a visit to the Valley - while a trip to Old Trafford is their only "difficult" game.

Which is just what Pards has already told us, "The real work is still to be done.”