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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Looks Like a Busy Summer

With the number of players due to depart the addicks rising day by day - there's a nice little table on cafcpicks to help you to keep track - it's obvious things are a'changing. And if we hadn't already got the hint, the clear idea is for a bit of a clear out and a fresh start. And is finally been stated by the addicks management, according to addicktednet, with no less than ten players planned to arrive at the Valley and the same number out. At least that is how Richard Murray sees it. All the "deadwood" is apparently going - bye Kevin - 'cause Pards is demanding a "fresh approach".

However, while Curbs over the water looks set to reunited with homesick Scott Parker from Newcastle for a reported 8 very big ones, our own Pards, after raiding Colchester and Crewe, is currently reportedly sniffing around the likes of Gillingham ( midfielder Danny Spiller ) and Cork ( Joe Gamble) for his new players. How times change after the vast expenditure of last summer 'cause now we're talking free bosman type players, or at the least rather cheap transfers, and if anyone fancies a year playing in Tier 2 perhaps we'll consider the odd loan deal.

So for now we'll also have to adjust our mindset. No more tedious pondering how our internationals will do those "international" weekends, 'cause there wouldn't be any although Joe Gamble, the Cork midfielder is like Randolph and Reid a Republic of Ireland player having won his first caps just recently. Maybe we'll become a Tier 2 Republic of Ireland team, any chance of Keane on loan Mr Jol? Gamble, meanwhile, does appears to be in form right now as he's been voted into the Eircom League team of the season and was shortlisted for player of the year.

And he's another example of the clear plan to employ players that either Pards or Parkinson already have experience of, eg Iwelumo, nothing strange there, thats exactly what Curbs is doing. In this case Pards, it was, that brought Gamble to Reading in 2001 but after 3 fruitless years there without a senior game he returned to Ireland. And perhaps another boost from Parkers move to the Hamsters will be that Pards might be able to prise one of his favorites, Hayden Mullins, away from Upton Park. Once again its was Pards that took Mullins from the palarse to the Hammers.

But while the current squad continues to look to pastures new its reported, on, that someone we've never even seen, none other than injury-prone Cory Gibbs will be back from his knee injury tomorrow, June 1st, after over a year out following surgery to repair cartilage damage last June. Come to think of it it doesn't give a year so maybe its next year we're talking but after Ben Thatchers' arrival will we ever see the supposed skills that gained him 19 caps for the US of A before he too decides its time to leave? Only time will tell..

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Our New Strike Force - Part 1

One thing I've noticed about the few comings and goings so far is that, up till now, its the old geezers that are leaving/being released and they are, by and large being replaced by younger versions. Striker (sic) JFH was the first to be released, at 35 the old man on the block and he's swiftly been followed by want-away Hermann Hreidarsson, due to be 33 in a few weeks time. Rumours are that relative youngster El Karkouri, 31 in July, will be the next to leave with Kish, 33 in July, already taking offers.

Pardews' signings, so far, have tended to be rather younger. 22 year-old Chris Dickson from Dulwich, 24 year-old Luke Varney from Crewe and old man Chris Iwelumo at 28 from Colchester. Pards also bought 24 year old Madjid Bougherra in January and there's also 19 year-old Dane star Martin Christensen due in arrive on July 1st. So we're obviously building for the future and at the same time helping to cut the wage bill. Lets hope we don't have to wait too long.

The news of Chris Iwelumo's move from Colchester surprised many and although he's been scoring a few in his last two seasons, helping Colchester to gain promotion from Tier 3 in 2005/06, it has taken him a few years to start scoring. In fact, oddly enough his form seemed to improve with the arrival of Jamie Cureton at Colchester. Cureton, it was, that was Colchesters', and the Divisions, leading goalscorer last season with 23 goals - Iwelumo weighing in with 18. Maybe its Cureton we should be buying you say, especially as he has played previously for Pardew at Reading, but then Cureton's 32 in August and thats old by Pardews' standards and also he's a bit of a midget at 5'8" and maybe thats not what Pardew is after. Assistant manager Phil Parkinson knows all about Iwelumo's strengths, of course, after having signed him for Colchester in 2005 and managed him till leaving to take over at Hull in June 2006.

One thing Iwelumo is famous for is his penalties, apparently 6 last season, and its said that during his 2 year Colchester career, he never missed one, so with our current penalty-taker due for pastures new, its good to see that we have lined up a replacement. One the other hand if you consider that of his 18 goals last season, 6 came from penalties and he scored 4 times ( one a penalty) in a game against Hull last December you can calculate that of the other 39 League games he played in he only scored 9 goals!

Perhaps its his physical qualities that Pardew is after. He weights in at 13 or 14 stone depending on who you read and whether he's in training or not and he's a bit of a Leaburn at 6' 4". And as you can see below he also appears to be a lucky player, as he's been involved in three promotion teams, even though two of them were as a loan player.

Perhaps we need to compare the figures with those of Darren Bent's to remind ourselves what a great, and regular, striker he is - or is it was?

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Only Two Left?

Its all about how teams can recover from defeat or so we're told. Some teams have the character to bounce straight back and other don't. And after five months under Pardew trying to climb out of the bottom three will now come the harder job of encouraging the players to believe that there is life after relegation down there in Tier 2.

We are all accustomed to seeing the end-of-season switching-off when Premiership survival is more or less assured for next season so its pretty obvious what is uppermost in the players minds. Their number one aim is, or was, to play in the Premiership. Next season brings a new problem to contend with. If the fans are depressed, its probably worst for the players, those that want to stay, of course.

And although Richard Murray remarked recently regarding the parachute payments "What it does mean is that we are able to keep quite a few of our better-paid players", Pardew now has to face the task of building a team that he thinks will perform outside the Premiership without dispensing with too many of a squad that in the last half of the season with 22 points was almost good enough to stay up.

Already 2 of the squad ( JFH and HH) have jumped ship while the 3 on-loan players Carson, Song and ZiZi have all returned to their clubs. Others are on the verge of leaving, with El Karkouri probably the next to go with Luke Young and Darren Bent set to be the subject of summer Transfer Deals. The worrying thing about all these players is that they were the ones, with the exception of JFH, that have proved to be the core of the team this season with Carson, Young, Hreidarsson, Bent and Elk all having played around 30 League games this season.

The numbers started to worry me and then I remembered seeing the picture above after the Anfield game and thinking frigging 'ell, that's our core team for next season. Darren Randolph and Matt Holland.

But then I sat down and found a link to the Play-off final on charltonlife and after reading about that day things started to feel rosier. So, wanting to put some faith in Pardew, I had a look at the teamsheet for the last match of the season to see what clues it holds and then compared it with the last-day teamsheet the last time we went down. The team for the Charlton trip to Liverpool was: Randolph; Young, Thatcher, Bougherra, Hreidarsson; Sam (Hasselbaink 82), Holland, Song, Zheng (M Bent 90), Ambrose (Hughes 51); D Bent. And the Subs remaining on the bench were Elliot and Fortune.

The last time we went down in May 1999 the team lost at the Valley 0-1 to Sheffield Wednesday and that day there was no hint that we would end the next season as Champions. The team that day was Petterson; Mills, Brown, Tiler, Powell; Robinson, Redfearn, Kinsella, Stuart; S. Jones and Mendonca.

Three of that team, Petterson, Mills, and Redfearn left the club and two more, Tiler and Steve Jones, only had a handful of games the following season so we only had a core of 6 players from that day, Brown, Powell, Robinson, Kinsella, Stuart and Big Clive to get us promotion. Richard Rufus returned from injury, we bought Dean Kiely, Shawn Newton improved and we already had Andy Hunt and Eddie Youds. And in the promotion season we had 6 players that played more than 40 League games - Hunt, Kiely, Newton, Powell, Robinson and Rufus. So we had a core.

Do we have a core of 6 this time? Well, there's probably 6 of the team from Anfield that will figure next season - Randolph; Thatcher, Bougherra, Sam, Holland and Ambrose. But will these be enough? With Young, the Elk, Rommedahl and Darren Bent likely to depart, the only serious doubts are whether Souley Diawara, Amady Faye, and Jerry Thomas will stay or leave. If they go then Pardew will have to find replacements as well as more strength in midfield, or am I forgetting Simon Walton and Brian Hughes?
In the creation department we have Andy Reid but it seems hopelessly unrealistic to expect 40 games in a season for the little irish fella so maybe Pards should ask the arse for another season of Song. The others in the melting pot are, of course, Marcus Bent and Kevin Lisbie, both of whom would appear to have been shown the door with the acquisition of 3 new strikers.

So for now we pin our hopes in the new boys, Chris Dickson, Luke Varney and Chris Iwelumo and with 19 year-old Danish star Martin Christensen who, if you believe the reports back in March here, is apparently set to arrive on July 1st.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

No News Day?

So what's the news this morning? Judging from the independent and their review of the England B result last night at Turf Moor, then we've already lost another player. In amongst the Owens, Barrys and Lennons was goalkeeper Scott Carson (Liverpool) who has obviously now returned to his club Liverpool. Well, he was on loan, I suppose. While over at the mass exodus continues with seemingly the Elk being the next to quit or is it released?

Meanwhile inspector sands helps us plan our summer by giving us upcoming pre-season fixture dates and we can find out that the Tier 2 season starts a bit earlier, all those extra games to fit in, on August 11th. And if anyone out there is still in denial mode, its have to end soon 'cause all the exciting forthcoming fizzy pops fixtures are apparently due out on Thursday June 14th.

And for anyone who thought the season had finished apart from the play-off final, its still struggling on over here in Spain where things always run a bit later than everywhere else. With Barca imploding recently, Royal Madrid and Barca are now neck and neck with the same points but in order to secure their first trophy in four years, the capitals team have seemingly resurrected the old rule which I thought had long gone where if teams are level on points its the head-to-head scores that count. No matter that Barca have scored twice as many goals as Real or conceded far less, its the scores between the two that count with Reals' victory at the Bernie currently proving decisive. It could all prove a bit of a numbers nightmare if Seville catch them up and the 3 teams end up with the same number of points.

Anyway, with just 3 games to go Real have the easier run-in and are desperate, after investing a ridiculous 650 million euros (436ish million real ones) in the last 5 years on transfer fees alone, to win something. Their fans are in a similar vein and unlike the Addicks where defeat can be accepted and life continues its a bit different over here when the unbelievable occurs and Real happen to lose. In a recent 2-1 defeat in little old Santander where 2 penalties were given against them, fans (!) took matters into their own hands and threatened the referee. Shades of Chelski, then.

And if anyone is sick of the press that manure get in the UK, its nothing compared to the situation here. Last weeks preview in El Pais on the Champions League final was nauseating in the extreme. The headline read "In the Hunt of Real Madrid", the first line read "Following Real Madrid...", there was a list of previous winners of the Cup with, of course, Real at the top with their 9 wins, a list of games that both teams had played in previous finals with in 1958 RM 3 Milan 2 at the top, etc, etc...

Makes you pleased that we're just ordinary Addicks, doesn't it?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Lists and the Power of Numbers

Despite spending the past 9 months telling ourselves we're not as bad as the Premiership table tells us we now know otherwise. Nevertheless the final Table has a fascination, a finality, about it. All the efforts of the last year shown in black and white or blue, black and white in this case. And if you look at some of the reports we're received this season compared to a simple listing of anything, give me numbers anyday. They may twist the truth a little but many reports this season have frustratingly dwelt on a facile aspect of the opposition with a good example being the last day draw at Liverpool being more about Robbie Fowlers last game than the surprising Charlton performance. So give me numbers every time.

So what numbers are around today? To start with there's the listing of Tier 1 clubs on the telegraph that gives readers a chance to "air their views" and 112 of us, have cared to give an opinion on the burning question "Will Darren Bent stay at Charlton?. Reading and Portsmouth are bottom with 82 and 94 comments to their question and clearly can't be bothered while Fulham, Bolton and Man. City fans are also more bored and miserable with themselves than we are. Perhaps it shows how important we feel little Bent is to us or maybe everyone else depressingly reads the murdoch press.

Meanwhile over there in our own cafcpicks there's another list, this is where you can vote on which Out of Contract players you want to keep at the club. Not surprisingly Matt Holland comes out clear favorite with nearly 50% of the votes showing that endless committment and his two yellow cards were appreciated by many, well 477 anyway. The Elk comes second while oddly enough there's a three-way tie between Kish, Lisbie and Sankofa. A strange trio and I would never have chanced a guess that the same number of people would vote to keep the apparent opposites runabout-Kish and lazy-old-Lisbie. But then my cynicism is answered by the last vote of 29 votes - keep none of them.

Back at our telegraph Charlton page, where we're still in the Premiership, there's some more strange numbers to grab you attention for a couple of minutes. If you ever wondered on the power of numbers to tell us almost anything cast your eyes over those gems. Here we can see how the boys performed during the season as far as the categories of Shots, Passing and Tackling are concerned.

Apparently Sorondo (!), Sam, Lisbie (!!!) and Hasselbaink were our most accurate passers of a ball - now I know why we went down - while Sankofa, Rommedahl and Lisbie again were our best tacklers????? Hasselbaink has the most assists with 3 and the Elf and Young made the most passes. The Shooting Accuracy prize goes to both Thatcher and Young with 100% !!! although you realise that at last the numbers do add up when you see that the Elk gets 35%.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Massive? Yeh, That's Us.

OK, after a couple of weeks we're well over what was really on the cards for several months and although Pards and most of the players had a good go at it, Relegation to the fizzy pops was finally achieved with the recent home defeat to London neighbours Spurs. The boys in white have not always been so generous, driving a hard bargain of £4M for Luke Young back in 2001 and then taking Spud off our hands for a rather dubious, at the time anyway, 2m sovs, but on this occasion they can be appreciated for setting about the business with gusto and getting an early goal and although the Addicks pressed in the second half, it was the ever-obliging Defoe that finally sealed our fate.

Ta very much Jermaine, or whatever your name is, its all a bit of a relief. After months of all that wallowing about at the foot of the table, being regularly insulted and patronised by armchair critics and TV folk, its finally come to an end and most of us have realised that the world doesn't end here. We're been here before, in this strange limbo that we last experienced in the early summer of 1999 that really has no-name. Call it Tier 1 and a half, if you like.

Because now that all that misplaced sympathy from friends and family has come to an end we are now actually enjoy this odd limbo zone where we can still cling, if anyone wants, to our Premiership status by checking out the seasons tables and the club listings where we still apparently qualify as "Tier 1". We can admire the hefty status of our last Premiership season ticket and perhaps, if you really want, regret our temporary demise. We've got probably another month to go of this strange limboland so enjoy it while it lasts.

But hang about, strange things are already happening that I don't remember from last time. After a season spent as bottom-three relegation fodder and feeling generally downtrodden, pathetic and second-best, it seems we have parachuted into a strange world of optimism and expectation.

All of a sudden we're being called "Massive" - by new players such as the well-travelled Chris Iwelumo and he should know he's been around. Division 1 ( Tier 3 please) players are rejecting moves to Tier 1 giants such as Middlesbrough to come to us seemingly convinced that our stay in Tier 2 wil be short.

And with the players now taking a breather before checking out their agents, Pards has been hard at work showing his determination to rebuild quickly by signing people who can score goals, at this level anyway. It's all rather encouraging for with 2 defenders, 2 midfielders, and 4 forwards signed since December he's clearly got his priorities straight. And by acting now he's made the point that we are not so hard up for cash that we have to wait till the Darren Bent money rolls in before moving forward.

Meanwhile, the expected mass exodus that was going to drain our resources and remove all that "quality" has not yet started but already there's rumours afoot that will soon make it obvious where we really are. Harry's apparently found a pot of gold on the TV shelf and after splashing out £7M on someone called Sulley Muntari from Italy he's now after Hermann H. Sadly enough if this happens no readies will change hands as after the experience of 3 relegation years with different clubs HH saw fit to make sure there was a clause in his contract for a money-free exit. Well, that smells to me like those pre-nuptial agreements that show-business peps are so keen on in order to safeguard their precious money. If that's the case HH you're obviously not the sort of player we want around, so good riddance.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Matty, Teddy and the 6' 4'' Striker from Scotland

The news that 33 year old Matt Holland has apparently signed-on for another season with the Addicks has been received with support from everyone after his sterling performances during the latter part of the season which were all the more commendable because if the Addicks had been successful and remained in the Premiership - sorry, Tier 1 - it would have been more than likely that Holland would be one of the first to go. Now, with the predicted transfers-out its highly likely that he'll start the new season as the Addicks captain. And the prospect of our most committed player continuing in a red shirt is in marked contrast to the behaviour of the "saviour" of those lucky people over the water.

Reporting in the independent yesterday was the news that "Tevez left Heathrow Airport with 18 suitcases last week, having apparently cleared out his Canary Wharf flat, and it was assumed that West Ham supporters had seen the last of him. Magnusson, somewhat optimistically, insists that is not necessarily true: "I hope he stays. He is a terrific player and a good guy. He knows the club and fans love him, and that will stick in his mind while he is on holiday."

Meanwhile, Pards is reported as wanting to raid Upton Park and help Curbs to increase his cash-flow by taking off his hands people that are not quite up to Premiership standard but hopefully will do very nicely to get us out of the fizzy-pops. Namely midfielder Hayden Mullins and old-timer Teddy Sheringham. Mullins started in 21 games last year scoring twice and although his name was also mentioned during the January window it will surely take more than Pardew's renowned powers of persuasion to get him away from the Hamsters and the chance of Premiership football. Sheringham is a different kettle of fish and only started 4 League games last season and at 41 perhaps one can see why. Whether he can add anything to the Addicks attacking options in what is seen as a very tough league is open to question. Perhaps not..

A more likely deal is the reported arrival of the very tall 6' 4'' scottish striker Chris Iwelumo from Colchester. Strange name for a scotsman you might say but that's because of having an Nigerian father and a mother from Coatbridge, up there near Glasgow. At 28 he's no youngster and has already been around several clubs, St.Mirren, Brighton, Aarhus Fremad in Denmark, Stoke and the German team Aachen before arriving at Phil Parkinsons' Colchester in 2005 where he's really hit form and scored 35 times in 95 games. There's obviously no hard feelings between Chris and his ex-manager as it was Iwelumo that scored 4 times in a 5-1 defeat when Parkinson, after leaving Colchester, was in charge at Hull in November last year. A game that subsequently proved to be Parkinsons penultimate game in charge.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Seasonal Review

There are a lot of Addicks fans bidding good riddance to the Premiership and its over-fixation with money, its rules which can seemingly be twisted a little bit in payment of a large fine, its over-paid prime donnas and its condescending attitude to little clubs that haven't got any money. We've even got rid of all our glooms and dooms about the drop and most people, 17,000 in fact, are eagerly looking forward to life, well one year anyway, down there in the fizzy-pops.

"Give us our club back", has been the cry followed by a list of unperforming prima donnas that should be immediately off-loaded. Our wrath has been most virulent and unforgiving when directed towards those who seem most eager to get away and those seen as not pulling their weight - eg JFH, Rommedahl, Marcus Bent while others are listed too as not being worth keeping, ie Thomas, Faye, ZiZi, Lisbie, etc

But perhaps the massive clear-out demanded by many would not have the desired effect and would end up throwing out the baby with the bath-water and would also be in marked contrast to the last time we were relegated from the Premiership. As you all know it was in May 1999, and Curbs persuaded the whole team to stay except for Danny Mills and we went straight back up again as Champions. He bargained on a settled team taking us back quickly which turned out to be the case. And if we are to return at the first attempt then its important that a good start is made to the season, something that's not always possible if a host of new players are to be bedded-in. And as we saw this season a bad start is very difficult to overcome and Pards will therefore be working overtime to keep as much of the "core" team as possible.

Unfortunately, there are already signs that this will not be the case. With Scott Carson, Alex Song and ZiZi returning to their clubs and our two most bankable assets Darren Bent and Luke Young likely to be transferred to provide cash is clear that a large portion of the "core" team will depart. Add to that the possibility that players such as our key defenders El Karkouri, Hreidarsson and Diawara will not want to continue with a team outside the Premiership and all of a sudden its looking like a new team is needed. The Elk is one of four players out of contract but with his 39 appearances and 3 goals Pards will be trying his hardest to persuade him to stay.

If the worst happens we may well have to build on Darren Randolph and stalwart Matty Holland, Sankofa, Madjid, and Thatcher in defence, Lloyd Sam, Darren Ambrose and the return of the little irish fella. Newcomers Chris Dickson and Martin Christensen as the attacking option. Not to mention the odd-couple Brian Hughes and Kevin Lisbie. Could this be the chance Kevin's been waiting for??

But, apart from little Bent, our most important asset at the moment is Alan Pardew. Looking back on the season the glaring record of our previous managers ( or coachs) explains our demise. Dowie got us 8 points from his 12 games in charge and Reed 4 from 7 so at exactly the halfway point in the season we had only 12 points to show for ourselves with only Watford with 11 below us. Obviously something had to be done and Murray acted swiftly, getting Pardew in on December 26th. The remaining half of the season saw us win 22 points from the 19 games, a more than adequate total to ensure survival if only the first half of the compaign had been as good.

And he did it without a massive influx of players during the January window. He sold Traore to Harry for a mil and spent half of it on Ben Thatcher. Then he splashed out 2.5 million of Madjid Bougherra and borrowed Song from the Arse for the remaining of the season on loan and ZiZi finally arrived.

Looking at our results, one of our biggest failings this season was in our results against the teams that finished the season at our end of the League. Last season, with Curbs, our split of points taken was as follows. From the top 6 teams a meague 5. From the middle third our haul against the 6 opponents in mid-table was 13 and the teams below us, ie the bottom 7, was a massive 29 including 4 doubles.

This season the points taken were: - top 6 a poor 2 points, middle 6 was 14 points and from the teams forming the bottom 8, the Addicks included, was just 18 points, with just 4 victories from the 14 games. Perhaps Curbs targeted the winnable games, but the good news is that of the 14 games against the 7 worst, Pards was in charge for exactly half and got 3 wins and 4 draws, eg 13 points and didn't lose once.

Another factor, which Pardew never really solved, was our away form. It did improve after Christmas with the win at Fratton Park after 60 odd games without one and draws at Bolton, Watford, Man. City and Liverpool as well as creditable games against Everton and manure. But overall we never looked like achieving the form shown in 05/06 with our 5 away wins, 4 of them against the bottom 4 teams - Sunderland, WBA, Birmingham and Portsmouth and the other at Middlesbrough. The seasons total of only 1 away win is the worst for 27 years and you have to go back to the dark days of 1979/80, and relegation to the old Third Division, to find a worst away season when we failed to win a single away game.

In our favour we can look back on the seven years in the Premiership and be proud that for a small club our record has been consistently good, at least until the survival target of the 40 points has been reached. Only twice in the seven years did we manage to overcome our relief and actually continue playing once we had what was needed. And if our second and third mistakes were Iain Dowie and Les Reed then surely our first mistake was not asking Curbs to leave earlier. Easy to say, but its obviously difficult to come to a decision to part with someone who's been in charge for 15 years and perhaps our good start to last season with a favourable run of fixtures against lower clubs was our ultimate undoing.

So overall our points totals year-by-year were: 2006/07 - 34 points and 19th, 2005/06 was 47 points and 13th, 2004/05 was 46 points in 11th spot, 2002/03 was 49 in 12th, 2001/02 was 44 in 14th, 00/01 was 52 in 9th position. And our best year by far was 2003/04 with 7th place and 53 points, pity it didn't qualify for a European spot.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

37 of 38 - Spurs (home)

With both Weat Ham and Fulham winning yesterday it really is must-win time. Its taken a long while getting here but now its down to the maths. The Addicks are now in the difficult, with a capital D, position of having to beat Europe-chasing Spurs tomorrow and then getting a win at Liverpool on the last day of the season. Even if that impossible double is achieved, we'll still need the results at Old Trafford and/or Middlesbrough to go our way. Its all a bit of a tall order and one wonders if there's any fire left in the team, and Pards, to continue fighting.

As for Spurs, 5-1 in December wasn't it? The big question is, can we do better this time? Without a win in 5 games and only 3 goals scored, our recovery has all gone a bit flat and the obvious answer is therefore no, but hey this is football, you gotta have belief and all fat ladies have been banned till the last day at Anfield.

So what of Tottenham? 6 wins in their last 9 games scoring a massive 22 goals into the bargain have taken Spurs up to 9th in the table, and just a couple of points away from a UEFA spot next season and now with a couple of games in hand. In those nine games there's only been 1 defeat, away to Chelski 0-1. In fact, you have to go back to February 10th to see their last major hiccup, a 1-2 defeat away to Sheff U.

And in keeping with their late run towards Europe, they keep going till the end of every game with 7 of the those 22 goals coming in the last 10 minutes.

So a win, or even avoiding defeat, for the Addicks looks difficult. But there's a couple of things to bear in mind. Of the 5 away games Spurs have played against the bottom 6 teams they have only won once - against the Hammers and they've not kept a clean sheet away from home in the last 13 games. And its not so hot in away London derbies either. They've lost at the Arse 0-3, Chelski 0-1, drew at Fulham 1-1 and Watford 0-0 and only have that one win against the Hammers 4-3.

But they do like to attack. That 4-3 result against the Hammers at the beginning of March does show their style exactly. Two goals down at half-time, Jol gave 'em the pep talk and the game was won with Berbatov and Stalteri scoring at the death. So its a total of 52 goals scored, the fifth most in the Premiership, but the same number conceded. Failed to score 10, clean sheets 5. Defensively the Addicks are close to that with 56 goals let in and 11 clean sheets and we've failed to score 13 times. Strangely enough the time that both teams concede the most is in the 60-70 minutes so expect fireworks around the hour-mark .

And if we let them score first, remember that only once this season have we come from behind to win ( Aston Villa, home) and of our 8 victories, only one ( Villa, again) has been when our opponents have scored.

Spurs 4 Charlton 3

Last season, of course, was that disappointing game in October which saw our second home defeat of the year and was after the Addicks went 2 up and then let in 3 goals in the last half-hour to lose 2-3. The year before was a rare double for the Addicks over Spurs with our 2-0 home win following a 3-2 at White Hot lane where we'd gone 3-0 up before another late Spurs revival.

Unfortunately, history shows that they often do well at the Valley. Of the 24 games played, they've won exactly half with the Addicks winning only 8 times. Even in our best season over in the Premiership, 2003-04, Spurs won 4-2 here although that year we also won at their place. They also won at the Valley in 2002 (1-0). So, of the 7 games played in the Premiership at the Valley its Spurs 4 Charlton 3...

And overall its Spurs on top with 24 wins to 16 with 9 draws.

The Opponents
Keane and Berbatov

These two are now the accepted front pairing, which at least means that Defoe will be sat on the bench getting a sore arse. They've scored either 20 or 21 goals each this season, depending on who you read, in all competitions, though Mr D is not far behind with 16. So obviously goalscoring is not a problem. They've also got the second highest number of goalscorers, after manure.

They've now got Ledley King back in defence after 4 months out with injury - which could help to explain their bad defensive record - and he'll line up beside Dawson with probably Jenas, Zokora, Malbranque and one other in midfield.

The Addicks

This could well be Scotty Carson's last game at the Valley and if we go down its odds-on that Darren B will also be on his way. And after Thatcher seeing red at Blackburn he'll not be playing against his old club for whom he featured 36 times.

As we said before, in December at White Hot lane we had what will probably be the same back four come Monday - Young, El Karkouri, Diawara and Hreidarsson and we conceded 5! There's the Elk's injury at Blackburn that may keep him out and if so it'll be Madjid that steps in. But after playing Sam, Kish, Faye and Hughes in that game in the midfield at least mondays line-up there will be a little different.

Holland and Song are a must with possibly ZiZi also being seen for the last time. Faye seems a little forgotten and has not been seen since he gave way to Holland on the hour at Everton, three games ago so it looks like Ambrose and either Rommedahl and Thomas out wide. And captain Darren up front.

At this point in the season, there's not really Predictions as such, that's Lawrensons job, who of course sees a 2-1 Spurs victory. No, these now are more desires than anything else. So 2-1 to the Addicks it is then and if it isn't a home win then you better enjoy watching Darren Bent playing in red 'cause the next time you see him he'll be wearing somebody else's shirt.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Costs of Relegation - Richard Murray

So even Pards' is thinking it now. "Certainly, it is not the end of the world if we go down, we will be strong and we will bounce back if the worst happens - but the top priority is staying up this season."

And in the guardian Richard Murray also has his say and reflects on exactly what could be in store.

"This is the most costly time to drop out of the Premiership," said Dan Jones, who leads the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, City accountants. "In terms of the difference between being in the Premiership this year and the Championship next year it's the biggest relative gap there has been. The working figure I would use for the cost of going down, in terms of the revenue difference between being in the Premiership and in the Championship next year, would be £25m-£30m."

Parachute payments payable over two seasons, climbing from £7.5m to £11m a year, should cushion the fall into the second tier but dramatically reduced television revenue - each Championship club will receive less than £1m next season compared with £30m in the Premiership - is a conclusive factor.

Richard Murray revealed that "many of our players will take a reduction if we get relegated" and admitted, "You have to say many of our players will probably leave the club", but he also said that there would, in some cases, be a need to honour Premiership pay deals. "If you have been in the Premiership five years and you go and sign another player from a Premiership club on a four-year contract they are not coming to you assuming you are going down."

Murray, none the less, is encouraged by the £11m promise. "It makes a big difference. What it does mean is that we are able to keep quite a few of our better-paid players, which you couldn't even consider to do without it. On one hand, with a Championship hat on, you would have to say that it's a bit unfair that the three clubs get that benefit, but I can assure you you just can't get your costs down in one year or even two years to what they were."

"I think the differential in television income between a parachute payment and a team ending up in the bottom half of the table [next season] is going to be around £20m. You will lose that to start with and you will lose all your sponsorship and other things which you may not get as much of in the Championship as you do in the Premiership, and then the extra load that many clubs have to bear is that their lenders, ie the banks, do not consider you to be such a good risk."

"Banks don't like to take too many risks anyway in football, but you are considered a much better risk in the Premiership. In our case, I think we have to try to reduce our overdraft at the same time as coming to terms with the reduced income. But I think one area that we are going to be OK is with attendances. We are pretty innovative with our season-ticket offers, where we have offered a free season-ticket if we go down and come straight back up again."

"As far as reduced wages for non-football staff, it will be more a case of not reducing the wages but losing some people," he said. "I think the footballers don't see that side. They are obviously disappointed if they get relegated but they don't realise that a receptionist goes."

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Monday Night Dreams

After a bad night in Milan for half of Manchester and a sad slice of England too, its all bad news for Curbs as its highly likely that now manure will really be up for it come their last home game of the season on May 13th. As for the Addicks its all down to Monday night when nothing will do except a victory. Problem is that because of that Europe thing, Spurs need the points as much as we do.

With Robbie Keane having his best season for years and getting 14 goals in his last 12 games playing alongside the Bulgarian Berbatov they've be a hard act to stop with both of them now on 21 goals each this season. Only 10 each of those have come in the League so it shows how much football they've played this season. In fact, long runs in both cups and reaching the UEFA quarters mean that Mondays game will be Spurs 56th game of the season. But will they be tired?

Tired or not, it all points to us needing a Master Plan from Pards and a lotta luck to win. All-out attack is probably not an option so its pack midfield time and hope that El Karkouri and Diawara play blinders. A single wide man and hope that Darren can slot home a cross for a 1-0. Shame that with both Thatcher and Reid otherwise indisposed we can't reply on ex-players having a say and we haven't even got Kish to kick his Bulgarian mate.

But its a Derby and anything can happen, although with so many internationals from all over the world now playing for the Addicks will they really care about local rivalry? But we can also say the same about Spurs because they've not enjoyed much in the way of success in London this year with only 1 away derby win ( against the Hamsters 4-3 in March) having lost at the Arse, Chelski and drawing at Fulham and Watford.

As for Pards, he's already tasted an away derby defeat at the hands of Spurs at White Hart lane in October with the Hammers so he wouldn't want a repeat dose. In fact he'll have fond memories of a game at Upton Park last May when he burst Spurs Champions League dreams with a 2-1 win. How he must dream of the same result come Monday.....

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Its "If" Time..

Seems we've already reached the "if" time where we spent hours wondering what's going to happen if who beats whom at the weekend ( although there are some people that are already whispering under their breath, if pigs could fly). And like that ghastly thing on eBay that you really must have for the wife's birthday and the auction ends in ten minutes with the bids climbing, so it seems that the clock is slowly ticking down on our Premiership life.

So to save us the trouble of using pencils and bits of paper we can thank the beeb this morning for its succinctness for laying it out very clearly for us - "Charlton will be relegated next Monday if two of Fulham, Wigan and West Ham win next Saturday and the Addicks fail to win. Charlton are also down if one of the three teams win, Fulham draw and the Addicks lose."

Not surprisingly after last weekend they already assume that we can't reach Sheff U who are 5 points clear of us with 2 games left. And after cheering Liverpool to victory last night over the Ruskies, with the bonus that they wouldn't be too interested in their last League game of the season, it then dawned on me that on Saturday the tired heroes of Anfield are away to Fulham...

Summing up then, after Villa and Man.City have got themselves sorted out, there's now only 6 teams in the s**t and with Watford already doomed its a choice of 2 from 5 for the remaining slots on the "Big R". The Addicks are on 33 points ( -24), West Ham 35 (-27), Wigan 35 (-22), Fulham 36 (-21) and Sheff U 38 (-19).

And Saturday afternoon sees all four of our opponents taking the field for their penultimate game. The three clubs nearest all play at home with the Hamsters taking on Sammy Lee's Bolton, Wigan hosting mid-table Middlesbrough, and Fulham playing Liverpool at the Cottage while Sheff U are away to Villa.

Ever optimistic, we only need to overtake 2 of the 4 and by far the worst performers recently have been Wigan and Fulham. Bearing in mind the old adage that teams can somehow "forget" how to win, Wigan have a record of only 3 wins in the last 21 games with none in the last 7, while Fulham are even worst with only 2 wins in the last 21 and none in the last 10. The Addicks in comparison have 5 wins in Pardews' 17 games in charge, although the bad news is, of course, that there's been no wins in the last 5 games.

But unfortunately for everyone down there its not all about Relegation and there's several teams trying to reach that pathetic dream that was offered us a few years back - Europe. Apparently, if anyone cares, three out of Bolton, Everton, Portsmouth, Tottenham and Reading will claim the coveted spots in the UEFA Cup next season and low and behold both the Hamsters and the Addicks are at home to 2 of them.

As for the Hamsters, Curbs has somehow galvanised his team recently, maybe Tevez has had something to do with it, they now have 5 wins in the last 7 games and increasingly look to be able to avoid the Big Drop. So don't be surprised if they achieve 3 points against a new-look Bolton with Number 2 Sammy Lee now in charge with Gary Speed as coach. Unfortunately for them they have to visit Old Trafford next week.

All that remains is for the Addicks to somehow, anyhow, lift themselves for one last push and grab a win over Spurs come Monday. Back in December at White Hot lane we had what will probably be the same back four come Monday - Young, El Karkouri, Diawara and Hreidarsson and we conceded 5! But at least the midfield now will be different. For that 5-1 defeat Sam, Kish, Faye and Hughes told the field, none of whom will be seen on Monday. The shame is that neither will that lidle Irish Fella. I think praying is in order..

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Killing Hope?

After Saturdays debacle, most people seem to have given up and are resigned to life in the fizzy pops. Street maps of Scunthorpe are all the rage, we're speculating on who'll be off-loaded first and it wouldn't be long before we start to apportion the blame for our downfall.

And we already have our excuses lined up. As little Sam takes over from Big Sam at Bolton what chance a determined Bolton performance come the weekend at Upton Park where the Hamsters are already enjoying the fruits of lying to the Premier League and having what amounts to a couple of points awarded though "no-goals" at Ewood Park. We on the other hand are already pointing to a lineman's flag denying us a win over Fulham and at the same time gifting Fulham a valuable point.

Oh, it was all so different when we went down after our last decent spell in the "top-flight". May 5th 1990 it was, Old Trafford and after 4 turbulent years we had a party at the final game of the season and a good old sing-song. It didn't seem to hurt so much then and we knew we wouldn't be coming back in a hurry with no ground of our own and with our best players bound to leave as soon as the bus got home. We even continued the mood with a Relegation Party up there in Muswell Hill, to celebrate our 4 years with the Big Boys and to show we didn't care.

We all knew that Lennie had done miracles and even though we finished 13 points from safety we couldn't have asked for more from the players, Bob Bolder, John Humphrey, Mark Reid, Tommy Caton, Joe McLaughlin, Andy Peake, Scott Minto, Steve MacKenzie, Robert Lee, Colin Walsh, Paul Mortimer, Paul Williams. In fact only Humphrey, McLaughlin and Williams left during the summer but the anti-climate of life down there was a downer for everyone and we only managed a mid-table position at the end of the season.

And come to think about it, I felt much better in 1999 as well, even though we only lasted one season. We kept fighting till the end with a remarkable 4-3 win at Villa Park in our last away game. For some reason then we all knew we were on the up and were destined to be a Premiership club and that we'd be back before you could say whatever it is that you say on those occasions. And we were after only 1 season as Curbs took us up as Champions in 2000.

But right now, despite us all having got our new season ticket just in case a quick return is on the cards, and our renewed hope in Pards' abilities, the awful mess that has been this season does not full us with any sense of confidence in the future. Perhaps being so far behind the rest for most of the season has seeped into our mentality and made us think we're a fizzy pop club.

However, some of us are reals suckers for this "hope" thing and don't give up so easily and a scan through frankie's post always raises our belief. We'll kick the butts of them fat ladies and slam the door on 'em till our maths tells us that its curtains. So, despite the teams attempt to stifle our remaining hope with a 4-1 defeat in front of busloads of away fans, with only the indestructible Matty Holland seeming to care about the fans appearance, we do still have 2 games left for the players to achieve a miracle and as one of Frankies readers said "we don't expect the team to give up so neither should we."

And lastly, acknowledgements are due to William Blum for the title - "Killing Hope". And when the seasons over that's a book to read if you really want to feel angry about the world. But, hey, this isn't a political site is it?