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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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"if you believe the reports back in March here, is apparently set to arrive on July 1st."

If? Its obviously official considering it was on the official site.