Total Pageviews

Friday, August 31, 2007

Preview - Palarse (away)

This week its a trip back in time, to that old heap in the back of beyond we used to have to travel to, called, fondly by some but not many, Sainburys. Is the shop still there? Is it still raining? Is that Homesdale Road still a pig to get across? Who knows? And who cares, thank God its only for the one gane this time.
But nostalgia is a terrible thing and I do recall jumping off that top step of the - the name escapes me - to celebrate our second goal against Fulham in 1986. I lie, I was sat in the.........thats it, the Arthur Wait stand with Mrs Nelson at the time. I always wondered who Arthur Wait was and I never did find out. No, please don't bother, I've lost the interest.

Not Very Good!
It's a sad fact that we were, in the past anyway, not very good at putting one over the neighbours. And here's another one that has usually beaten us. Perhaps that's why we hate them so, although its more contempt to tell the truth.
After a total of 25 years in the same Division, the current score is 23 to 14 to them, in the League anyway, so it'll be at least another 4 and a half years till we catch up and gain the bragging rights but then they'll probably be relegated before we do.

The Opponents
Not Selhurst Park, I hate that Place
You will not have noticed but since walloping Southampton 4-1 at St. Marys on the opening day, Palarse haven't been doing too well. A 1-1 at Bristol Rovers in the League Cup thing was not enough and they lost 4-1 on penalties with Dougie Freedman ( is he still going? ) and Shefki Kuqi both sadly missing from the spot.
They then drew 2-2 with Leicester ( with Kish warming the bench all afternoon) at home ( if anyone can call Sainburys home) with Clinton Morrison scoring in the last minute and last weekend they managed to lose again at Ipswich by 1-0.
Last year they finished 12th, a full 10 points away from the play-offs. They lost 8 games at home last season which was twice as many as the season before, which proves beyond a doubt that they'll rapidly going backwards.

Who Are Yorr?
Bez From the Balkans.
There's our Pards wishing for a settled squad while Peter Taylor is trying to upset his. After having 10 players that have started every League game, Tayor throws a spanner, or is it an eagle, into the works by stressing that he might be playing his new loan signing from Liverpool, the 19 year old striker from Austrian-Albanian-Kosovo, Bez Izrizaj.
Well, Mr Taylor we're not fooled, it'll be your boring settled team with Bez on the bench. In contrast, both teams have used 17 players in the League so far but while Palarse have 10 players that have started every game, the Addicks only have 7 and two of them Marcus Bent and Thatcher, for different reasons, wouldn't be there tomorrow.
It all goes to prove what a minuscule low-budget squad our little neighbours have. Anyway, it gives Pards a better chance to plan on their formation and thankfully put the beast to the sword.
Their leading scorer, at goals anyway, is ex-Ipswich and Leicester man James Scowcroft on 3 with the Republic of Ireland striker from Wandsworth, Clinton Morrison on 2 and its odds-on that these two will be at the sharp end of things. The other one that you'll want to know is the goalie, one Julian Speroni, the one doing all the work come the weekend. Bit of a naff name for a goalie - no, the Julian bit - but then we can't laugh, we've got a Nicky. Turns out Mr. Speroni is from Argentina, via Dundee, and can be a bit erratic when dealing with back-passes.

The Addicks
Mills's is Back
The biggest news on the Addicks front so far is the return, on loan, of Danny Mills from the blue part of Manchester. He's been around a bit, at Middlesbro, Man. City and Hull, since he left us for Leeds for 4M back in 1999 after our last relegation and although he hasn't played since Christmas, he's been in most of Man. City's pre-season games and he's no doubt going to start at right-back tomorrow.

Pards' has also been quick to recognize our defensive failings, haven't we all, and has signed Greenwich born Sam Sodje from Reading for the season. He can't play tomorrow, however, as he was sent-off in the League Cup against Swansea. Red card already...can't wait to see the affect Mills, Sonje and Thatcher have on the opposition.

As for the defence tomorrow, its a straight choice between McCarthy, Bougherra and Fortune and the only reason I can think of to for McCarthy and Fortune is those two late headers at the Valley, one in midweek and the other a couple of years ago.

As for our sharp end, Luke Varney, he's apparently been in full training this week but Pardew is unlikely to risk him before its clear that the ankle is recovered.

So the team - although Racon impressed in midweek, it'll probably be ZiZi in the middle alongside the little irish geezer. The only other doubt really is Ambrose or Thomas? Its your choice, well it's not really, its all up to Pards and his magic book. Ten to one, it'll all change at half-time anyway.

The team: Weaver; Mills, McCarthy, Fortune, Powell; Reid, Semedo, ZiZi, Ambrose; Iwelumo and Todorov.
Subs: Randolph, Bougherra, Racon, Thomas, McLeod

What Does Pards Say?

A Red-Hot Game
"It's going to be a red-hot game, there is some history between the two clubs, and I hope the event goes off nice and calmly and that we play with a bit more calmness as well."

Unlike Palarse or frankie I don't have a crystal thingy but nevertheless its obviously going to be one of them gruelling derby games - Toddy scoring early but Morrison with a late, late equaliser, a 1-1 draw then.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Premiership Blog Wants Away

Now look here, Nelson, I'm not happy. When I came here last year you assured me that I was going to be a Premiership Blog and there was no talk, whatsoever, about an existence, if I may call it that, outside the Big League.
I've got a Contract that says I was employed as a Top Flight Blog and no, I didn't read the small print, I left that to my agent and its not my fault if he didn't do his job.
All in all, I thought I was doing a good job, nobody complained but despite all my best efforts now look what's happened? Seems we've been.....I'm sorry I can't yet say the word...put into another League.
And all through no fault of my own. In fact I fought as hard as the next Blog to help us get out of the situation; I waved the flag, I encouraged the boys not to give up hope. I was always positive, I believed what the gaffer was telling us, fight to the end, never surrender and all that.
Can't you see the problem! Look at it from my point of view; I'm a Premiership Blog and I just can't take this being in this little Championship thing. All this talk of Colchester, Barnsley and Bristol somebody. Its demeaning, its humiliating, its ignoble, its vulgar, its just not on and its not on the telly either.
But I can see you don't care about my feelings, all you do is call it the fizzy pops and try to make a joke of it all but I not used to this and I just can't see the funny side of it.
And it's just no use you telling me that I've got to change and that I'm not a Premiership Blog anymore - because deep down, I know that I am.
And the best you can do is tell me to buck up my ideas, to get a grip we're in a new League now and you accuse me of not pulling my weight. And to make matters worse you go straight to the Press and blab all about it.
Well, I want to leave. I'm just a kid and I've got no loyalties like you old gits. And while there's time left before the window closes, just give me a transfer and I'll get out of your hair 'cause I can see that you're not happy with the situation.
What!........nobody wants me. What about that guy in the Midlands? Didn't he give you a phone? He didn't.....but I agent told me...
Oh, .....well, OK , let me get back to you.

To be continued.......

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Charlton 4 Stockport County 3

Well, our games can certainly warm the fans if not the boss. But crap defending again as this time 3 goals are conceded in 15 minutes to a Tier Four team and that after seemingly cruising at half-time two goals in front. Pardew, when he recovers, will be telling himself that these cup games are a thing apart, that they are one-off battles against lower league teams that don't reflect real life in the fizzies. But....
Anyway, our frankie was there and somehow forecast the correct score, shame he didn't have time to visit the bookies, and over the water chicagoaddick watched it on his PC. Our man from blackheath enjoyed himself for a tenner and helps Pards out with some player scores. MOM to Semedo with a 9, Racon and Sam were the pick of the midfield with 8's but only 5 marks out of 10 for both central defenders McCarthy, despite winning the tie, and Jon Fortune.
There's talk of squeaking into the next round from the sportinglife. And if you want to see how everybody else got on there's a resume thingy on 365 that points out that Monica's lot are still cruising and maybe we should be pleased that we're avoided any injury scares unlike the hamsters with Dyer breaking his leg.
But are we happy? Despite the win and all the excitement, Pards cannot be too pleased with the size of his current problem, the defence.
From the CAFC site Pards said: "The back four have to accept a lot of responsibility for what happened in the second half. We were comfortably controlling them in the first half so we have that ability, but we just lost focus in the second-half. Paddy showed the determination that he has in him to score winning goal but we want that at the other end as well. We were fine up to half-time then some sloppiness came into it. We need to batten down hatches a bit and be a bit more solid. We will tighten up at the back and I will bring in a defender, maybe two, if I think we need to. I'm not going to say any names, but we are close on one player - and there could be movement on two or three before the window shuts.”
In the spirit of giving everyone a runabout, there were eight changes from the team on Saturday with his first start for the Addicks for the French midfielder Therry Racon. Faye and ZiZi also started their first game of the season as did captain for the night Chrissie Powell. Darren Randolph also swapped places with Nicky Weaver in goal.
But with only 3 days to go before the transfer window closes, we await with baited breath for the announcement of our defensive saviour.
The Addicks: Randolph; Semedo, Fortune, McCarthy, Powell; Sam, Faye, Racon (Ambrose 81), Zheng, Todorov, McLeod (Iwelumo 71).
Subs (not used): Weaver, A Thomas, Sinclair.
Goals: Todorov 35, Zheng pen 42, Sam 74, McCarthy 89

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Preview - Stockport County - League Cup 2nd Round (Home)

After last years epic trip through to the League Cup Quarter-Final, and then a depressing defeat at home to Tier Four Wycombe, we continue this year with another easy home game (!) against a team from the very same Division, Stockport County.
There's a very good write-up by Lindsay and Matt on the CAFC site full of details on injuries and the like. And shiver my timbers there's even a mention of Cory Gibbs - "Cory Gibbs is not yet fit following a knee niggle in pre-season".
Well, the first thing to learn about Stockport is that it's huge, all of 136,000 people. But with it being only 7 miles from Manchester, the footballing public have always tended to catch the bus, which is just as well as the ground only holds 10,000. Consequently, there's not been too much success at Stockport and there's only been 2 years when the Addicks and Stockport have even been in the same Division, 97/98 and 99/00 and with only 5 games against them, its all square in the League with one FA Cup win to the Addicks.
The Opponents
11 Games Unbeaten
Charlton were close last year to a League Cup Semi-Final but Stockport, Tier Four or not, have already done that. While Cup competitions, at least for the last 60 years, have always seemed an irritation to the Addicks, small teams like Stockport see it as a lifeline to glory and a useful source of extra income.
So it was that in 1997 little County achieved something the Addicks have never done and reached the Semi's, beating Blackburn, Southampton and West Ham on the way before losing 2-1 to Middlesbrough.
In the League, Tier Four, they finished 8th last season, missing out on the play-offs on goal difference, and they're not doing too bad this season either. While the Addicks enjoyed a second-half comeback to win on Saturday, Stockport if you include a pre-season of 5 unbeaten games, have now gone 11 games without defeat going back to April 21st.
And with a win and 2 draws in the League and a First Round League Cup win over Tranmere they have yet to go behind this season. With only 5 goals scored in the four games, they don't score many but have only conceded 3 times.
Who Are Yorr?
Keith and Jason
None of them strange names here, it's a team full of Adams, Garys, Keiths; Jason, Paul and Tony. There's a couple of Irish but all the rest are English. According to the beeb Stockport will give fitness tests to leading goalscorer Liam Dickinson and midfielder David Poole, who both picked up knocks on Saturday and went off at half-time.
The Addicks
Dean to Start?
Having lost both right-backs to injury, it now seems that its our left-backs that are coming under the hammer. With Gibbs still injured and Basey and Youga away on loan we've now lost Thatcher, who its reported "left the field against Sheffield Wednesday with suspected knee ligament damage, is doubtful for Tuesday." So Chrissie Powell to fill in then.
With Pards keen to take the opportunity to see fringe players in action, it may be the time to put Dean Sinclair in midfield for the first time, especially as he's used to battling it out in League Two and he knows the opposition having played against Stockport in March at Underhill in a 3-1 win and scored the second goal for Barnet.
Reid will no doubt be rested, as he's far too valuable to be risked and we'll probably see ZiZi play his first full game. And on the right wing we may see Martin Christensen or a return for Lloyd Sam.
And although Izale McLeod didn't play in the MK Dons team that inflicted Stockports last defeat in April, Pards is likely to ask him to play tonight, alongside 2 goal hero Iwelumo perhaps. In goal, an outing for Darren Randolph is also on the cards.
But the defence. All the clean sheets of pre-season have all but been forgotten as we leak goal after goal. McCarthy seems to have solved the problem at right-back, albeit temporarily, and did well at right-back, earning himself a good report from the boss "I thought Paddy McCarthy did an admirable job at right-back on Saturday. They made it difficult for him, he's never really played there and he did a brilliant job."
But its now the centre-backs that are the problem. Will Pards continue to show confidence in the long lost Faye? Even the official site is now getting in on the act with "while Amdy Faye, who made his first appearance of the season over the weekend, has previously impressed as an emergency centre-half for the club." The game would seem to be heaven-sent as an opportunity to push him out into the real world especially with a reported injury to Bougherra "Bougherra also limped off with a knock injury.
So the team? Randolph; McCarthy, Fortune, Faye, Powell; Sam, Semedo, ZiZi, Sinclair; McLeod and Iwelumo.
What Does Pards Say?
Using the Squad
"I definitely want to have a look at one or two players but I will put out a side that is strong enough to win the game. I wouldn't call it resting players, I'd call it using the squad. All the players are desperate to do well for Charlton, some of them haven't had a game yet, so I'm going to introduce them on the back of a win on Saturday. I'd like to think they will be inspired by that and will want to do as well as those players did.”
The Addicks win on Penalties..

Monday, August 27, 2007

Charlton 3 Sheff W 2

Saturday's humdinger of a game has been well summed up by inspector sands already in which he tells us that the players looked "scared " and were "crap" in an awful first half which ended with the team being booed off.
After being two goals down at half-time, a second half recovery with three goals from Reid and Iwelumo (2) won the game. Not surprisingly then, the sportinglife likens us to Jekyll and Hyde and to add to the confusion there's Pards telling us that the players looking "drained and tired" but adding "It's a test of mental character and a few of my players came through."
A fighting comeback is all very well but which few are we talking about? Perhaps the ratings in the posh-murdoch will tell us:
Weaver 6, McCarthy 6, Bougherra 7 (Faye 88min), Fortune 6, Thatcher 6 (Zheng h/t, 7), Reid 7, Ambrose 7, Semedo 6, Thomas 7, Bent 5 (Todorov h/t, 7), Iwelumo 8.
Six players with 7 and two-goal Iwelumo with a score of 8 does point the finger towards the defence as being not up to scratch. And the unhappy Pards adds: "
"Our defending at set-plays is a problem. We gained some height with Paddy McCarthy and Chris today but we need someone that's prepared to go in and head it away. And if the two that are in there at the moment aren't prepared to do it, I'll go and get someone who will"......
How Murray will react to the need for another player is anyones guess but perhaps Pards should try the obvious - Faye. The anonymous player from Senegal, after his roasting by Pards on Friday appeared at a game for the first time since Everton in April and was given a seat on the bench and even had a run-out for a couple of minutes at the end. Was the switch with Bougherra in the 88th minute a key to Pards' thinking?
They'll be no time before Tuesday to get a replacement so why not give Faye a job come Tuesday, stick him at centre-half and see if he can cope with Stockport. He's already been tried there before, in the reserve friendly against Bromley on August 7th.
But back to Saturday. While enthusing about our comeback, there's the nagging thought about the awful first half performance. How can the players look tired in August? The telegraph helps out by quoting a comment by Chris the man, "Everyone is going to up their game against Charlton, so there's never going to be an easy game."
But perhaps it goes deeper than our opponents wish to do a little bit of giant-killing. Our first half performance has been indifferent in our last three games and only half-time changes in the last two have improved things. And as Pards fights to find his best eleven perhaps it should be pointed out that of our total of 7 goals scored, ALL of them have been scored in the second half.
Perhaps Pards should give his half-time cup of tea before the game instead of halfway through. Or have we really got the split personality that was the problem with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Its Money v Passion at the Valley

It's game 3 of 46 so there's really no need to get all excited but the bottom line is that anything but a win today will be a bit of a dilemma. Of course, the main trouble with that idea is that Sheffield Wednesday, after their 2 heavy defeats, will be saying exactly the same.
And if you want a different slant on things and a look into the enemy camp, here's what Brian "chicken-wings" Laws had to say yesterday,
"Its only two games, I don't want doom and gloom. We've played promotion contenders in Wolves and the scoreline flattered them. We played well and should have got more out of the game. So we're not far away from them, it is how far we are away from Charlton, who have spent an abundance of money. I'm looking to match that money against our passion and commitment on Saturday. They've had a slow start but Alan Pardew has that many options, I'm not sure he knows what his best side is just yet. Once he finds that side, they will be on a run because they have quality all through the team. I see them being very strong contenders but it may be a good time to play them, as they look to find that best eleven and formation."
Money in abundance! And its been a long time since someone compared our money with their passion.
Meanwhile, over at the training ground for the invisibles, there's shock news of one of our missing-men, Amdy Faye. And if you expected all peace and harmony, its not good. It doesn't take too much reading between the lines to figure out the reason for Faye's absence - Pards is not happy and with the transfer window deadline looming, Amdy Faye could be set to make an early return to the top flight with a new club.
On yesterdays CAFC site Pardew laid it out clearly: "There are clubs interested in him - and my view of Amdy is that if his focus is somewhere else then we'll take that opportunity to replace him with somebody else. If he stays then we know we've got a player who has been good enough in the past to play in the Premier League. But he has become a Championship player and his focus has to be on that with us.”
So its all about being focused and you can't blame the gaffer. Times have changed and we've in a different league now and its Pardews' job to get us out of here and it would seem that Faye's heart is not really in it.
Faye was almost an ever-present last season under Monica and Reed, only missing one game of the 18 played before Pardews arrival but after that he only played 7 league games effectively losing his place to a combination of Alex Song and Matt Holland. So maybe it would be fair to say that Faye sees Pardew's arrival as being a bit detrimental to his career. If that's the case, Amdy, then there's only one answer.
In contrast to Faye's situation, Holland made only 11 starts under M and R show but 16 under Pards. And his performances during the latter half of the season were some of the best we've seen from him, a case of Pards' good judgement perhaps or maybe the circumstances bringing out the best in a player. Whatever, Pardew continues to lament the injury to Holland as one of the reasons for our shaky start.
And to get us all into a giddy state with more player news it seems that Frenchman "Therry Racon has now received his international clearance but Pardew has said he would prefer to give the Frenchman a second-string outing before introducing him to the Championship." Trouble is he'll have to wait till Sept 10th for the next reserve game against Southampton before we have a chance to see how good he is.
And there's more news from the sick room too, "Up front, Luke Varney is now set to return to full training next week ( after his ankle injury ) but Bulgarian striker Svetoslav Todorov is back and available for selection against Wednesday."
It only remains, then, to find out the low-down on full-back Cory Gibbs. He's at the moment starring in the local pub quiz as the only player to work under 4 managers at a club and still not play a first-team game. The last real news, apart from his second-half come-back performance in the game at Welling in July, was back in January when his operation was discussed. Wasn't he good enough, has he got the Amdy getmeoutofhereitis or is his recovery from his cartilage injury not complete?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Preview - Sheff. Wed (home)

We didn't expect to have only 1 point from our first 2 League games and with tough away games to come against Palarse and Colchester in the next two weeks its clear that unless we win the three points tomorrow we could well be dumped into the relegation spots as the bus rolls home from the Colchester game.
So its win or bust tomorrow and what better than a home game against the team sitting at the bottom of the table, Sheffield Wednesday.
Not Good
Despite a couple of FA Cup wins in 1996 and 2006 you have to go back 19 years to 29 October 1988 for our last League win over Wednesday when goals from Shirtliff and Williams got the points in a 2-1 win. The last seven games however, 2 in the Premiership, have been 1 draw and 6 defeats. In fact if you cared about your history you would notice that its not only last season in which we've been dealt a bit of a short hand when looking at our opening fixtures.
This year all our first 5 opponents have good records against us. Scunthorpe, Stoke, Sheff W, Palarse and believe it or not, little Colchester. So its not until we meet Norwich on Sept 18th that we face a team that we have beaten more times than lost.

Of our 36 games against Sheff W. they've won 16 and we've only won 11. And the worst one of those defeats was back in March 1937 when they ended our 11 match unbeaten run and condemned us to a remarkable second place finish in the old First Division. After that demoralising defeat we lose our next three away games and the chance of the title was lost. They, in contrast finished bottom.

The Opponents

Pointless and Bottom
After defeats away to Ipswich 1-4 on the opening day and then a 1-3 loss to Wolves last weekend, Wednesday find themselves pretty pointless and sitting at the foot of the table. They did manage a win at Rotherham 3-1 in the League Cup so with 5 goals from 3 games they have managed to score 1 more than we have.

Who Are Yor?
Tudgay Could Return
After all the injury talk in mid-week it would seem that the not-Turkish striker from Shoreham Marcus Tudgay is fit to play after tangling with ex-captain Coughlan during the League Cup win at Rotherham. Tudgay, who damaged his shoulder in the game, has returned to training and should be able to play a part at the Valley, should he have no side-affects over the last few days. Unfortunately, Tudgay scored 11 goals from 37 starts last season and just so you wouldn't miss him he wears number 7.
Wednesday's injury worries eased further on Thursday with vice-captain Glenn Whelan and Steve Watson both returning to training and set for Charlton on Saturday.
Watson was left out of the Wolves defeat because of a pulled stomach muscle while Whelan, who limped out of the game on Sunday, looks to have shaken off a groin problem. The fox-in-the-box, however, that you really wanted to abuse, is out. Out where we don't know but the local boozer is a possible.
They've also got two Jamacians, a real one in Number 23 Jermaine Johnson from Kingston and a pretend-one in Number 10 Deon Burton ( 13 goals last season) from Reading. And there's also Wade Small, number 26, for Pards to consider. Small, who as you would expect is at 5'7", small but also very fast, can play on either flank, or wing if you prefer, and has scored twice in the last two games. Thatcher to mark then, maybe...
But where are the old Yorkshire names that you expect from the biggest Yorkshire club?; Farnsworth, Grummitt, Wilcockson, Prendergast, Liversidge, Worthington, Shirtliff...
Well, times have changed, 'cause apart from Tudgay from Shoreham, Frank Simek from Missouri, Yoann Folly from France, it seems that they also have the only Norwegian footballer in the world called Rocky, surname Lekaj, who oddly enough was born in Kosovo, the place with all them NATA troops down there in the Balkans. But as he's only 17 its unlikely that you're going to find out any more about him come the weekend. With the money problems that they have at Hillsborough, and the ground usually half-empty, they're obviously going for the cheap foreign option and they're now giving a trial to Basque youngster Igor Angulo. Laws has quite obviously got over his dislike of them foreign johnnies after his unfortunate incident involving chickens and the Italian Ivano Bonetti at Grimsby.

The Addicks
Right Back Where We Started
Number One Issue is the right-back problem and it does seem rather strange that we have 5 left-backs on the books - Thatcher, Powell, Gibbs, Youga and Basey and only two right-backs in Yassin and Sankofa. But at last we have some details about the injury to Osei in yesterdays CAFC preview of Saturdays game - "With the club's only other right-back Osei Sankofa also sidelined with a thigh injury". We'll send someone to his Mum's house straight away to put her mind at rest.
Anyway, with both out injured, Pards will have to improvise. There's Jon Fortune maybe or Jose Semedo or young Rhys Coleman. Thatcher could move across with Chrissie Powell coming in. But with Pards wanting to get a bit of stability in the team selection he'll probably put Fortune at right-back with McCarthy at centre-back.

So its Weaver continuing in goal: Fortune and Thatcher, Centre-backs: Magic and Paddy. Midfield: Semedo, Reid, Thomas and Ambrose or...
After his outing on Tuesday for the reserves, ZiZi could well make his first start of the season although up-front Luke Varney is clearly not match-fit yet. So its Marcus Bent who's surely earned himself another start and alongside him, with Todorov still out, probably McLeod.
And they'll be lots of old mates about for the Addicks this week. Magic had six months at Hillsborough last season, Izale McLeod knows the wee Wade Small from MK Dons and no doubt our 'ittle irish fellow has made acquaintances with his fellow Dubliner and scorer of 7 goals last season, Glenn Whelan.

What Does Pards Say?
This Ones Going to be Different
"I'm not saying our game and style of play will be better suited to Sheffield Wednesday, I don't know. But we will certainly have to be aware we need to be stronger. Everyone who turns up on Saturday needs to see us win, so there will be a little bit of extra pressure and we need to be able to cope with that. There is no doubt that we need to get a win under our belts in the league just to give everybody that feeling that we will be strong - because we are going to be strong."

It has to be a WIN

We don't care if its 1-0 with a fluky goal and we're not too bothered about pretty football or even good football, 'cause all we want at the moment is the 3 bleeding points.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wanted...3 Men and a Lotta Ladies

Osei Sankofa, Amady Faye, Cory Gibbs. These three men are out there somewhere. The question is - Has anybody seen them? These are wanted men. Seems their Mums' have been cooking their meals every evening and they just haven't showed up, and their Dads's have been out and about searching their old haunts but without success. And now everyones getting a little bit worried about their well-being.
Times are such that the boy Osei was spotted early in August doing some advertising of a ball by running on a treadmill and on August 3rd a brief mention by Pards. "I'm hoping on Friday that Marcus Bent, Chris Dickson and maybe Osei Sankofa and Lloyd Sam will train. These guys are important players for us and we haven't seen a lot of them during pre-season.” No, we haven't seen a lot of them either.
As for Senegal international, Amady Faye, after being missing for 4 months, he was seen on August 1st at Aldershot walking off down the tunnel after yet another substitution on 78 minutes. He did get a short mention in the match report; "A rapid fire break from the visitors right on half time saw Walker held up with Faye sprinting down the right and the whistle for the interval sounded seconds later." And this was followed by playing the entire game, at centre-back, in the Reserves 2-1 defeat at Bromley on August 7th.
As for our the American left-back, Cory was noticed by someone in the crowd at Welling "Cory Gibbs and Dickson replaced Powell and Thomas at the break" but there was no further mention of whether he played well or not. There was further news back on July 10th when discussing the Spain trip, "Also in the squad is expected to be US international Cory Gibbs, who played just 45 minutes for the reserves last season due to a knee injury."
There's no reward, but we ask that if anyone out there can give us some further information on the welfare of three of our lost heroes, we'd all be able to sleep at night and their Mums' can save on the washing-up.

Meanwhile it seems that the Ladies, God Bless 'em, have been saved. After two months of hard work the necessary sponsorship has been found and we'll have at least one team in the Premier next season. Shame then that most of the players, tried of waiting, seem to have done a bunk.
Ann-Marie Heatherson Leanne Reidy, Leah Jones, Claire Tapp & Zoe Dolton have already departed for Fulham and England internationals Casey Stoney and Eniola Aluko have moved to Chelsea.
The saga started on June 26th when it was stated on the official site,"In 2006/07, when the Addicks finished third in the top flight and were runners-up to quadruple winners Arsenal in the FA Cup final, the budget for the women's set-up was £306,000." and Varney had the following to add "After very careful consideration we decided we could no longer operate to that level. We examined the potential for continuing to operate to a lower cost base, but the minimum the whole operation could be run on was £100,000 and there was no certainty surrounding this figure. We also looked at absorbing aspects of the women's section into the Charlton Athletic Community Trust, but this proved impossible to achieve.”
There's no details on what the budget is for this year only that "We concluded negotiations with the GMB union and Centre Circle Management Limited this week to provide the finance necessary to re-establish the women's first team." and that the management of the team will be handled by the Charlton Athletic Community Trust.
The whole sorry affair has not been handled very well by anyone and it seems there's no return for manager Keith Boanas after his criticism of the club in the media back in June. But the good news is its time to give our old favorite and community coach -whatever that is - a real job as Paul Mortimer's going to take over as coach.
"Training will commence next Tuesday, August 28th at 8pm at Sparrows Lane." - perhaps we'll see Osei Sankofa, Amady Faye and Cory Gibbs turn up.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Saturday, Wednesday and the Chicken Wings Incident

With odds already being quoted on which Premiership manager will be the first to be given the sack it's seems only sensible for Pards to reassure us, just 3 games into the season, just what's going on in our more sombre neck-of-the-woods.
Pards gives a frank review on the season so far and while the fans continue to be mystified about what's happening to the players that seem to have been forgotten, Pardew increases the mystery by forgetting to mention Sankofa when discussing the injury to Yassin. Apparently, he's looking to get a "loan player in or I'm going to play one of the squad, such as Semedo, at right-back." Whilst we have at least seen a brief glimpse of both Faye and Gibbs during pre-season, poor old Osei has been conspicuous by a complete absence, on the pitch anyway.
Meanwhile, news emerges, right at the bottom, that our new Frenchman Therry Racon hasn't yet got international clearance and therefore couldn't play for the reserves last night. Lets hope it's not another case of Christian Bolanos and the refused clearance, although with Racon coming from within the European Union its does seem unlikely. Strange then that the International Clearance should take over 10 days as he signed for us on the pitch before the Iron game on the 11th. But then its August, French holiday-time.
So with our, current, winless League campaign and with the pressure building, perhaps its time to consider Saturdays game against the once-mighty Sheffield Wednesday. Its revenge time as the last game against them was at the Valley in the last game of the 1998/99 season in the Prem. We needed a win to have any chance of avoiding the Big R by overtaking Southampton. Of course, we lost 0-1 and the memory was not improved by the fact that we effectively swapped places with Wednesday the following season as they themselves were relegated with only 31 points along with the Dons and Watford.
Regrettably for the Owls, its all been downhill since then and after 4 years in Tier 3 they are now enjoying, or not really, their second year in the fizzies.
Just two games in and they've scored the same goals as the Addicks, but have rather mucked up at the other end by conceding 7 - in games at Ipswich 1-4 and home to Wolves 1-3. The well-known American from Missouri, Frankie Simek, and Yorkshireman Richard Wood have formed the central defence in both games so they are obviously blaming the midfield for their appalling defending.
The manager, of course, is Brian Laws, most famous for the "chicken wings incident" when as manager of Grimsby, he "reportedly" threw a plate of chicken wings at Italian winger Ivano Bonetti which fractured his cheekbone, after a 3-2 defeat away to Luton Town in February 1996. Perhaps that's why he now employs mainly Englishmen with number 26 Wade Small, number 10 Deon Burton and number 23 Jermaine Johnson - another player from the quaintly-named Tivoli Gardens team in Jamaica just like last weeks Stoke goal-scorer Ricardo Fuller - the only ones for us to worry about.
And if you were relishing the opportunity for some gratuitous booing at our old favorite (!) Francis Jeffers, it must be said that it's not looking so good. Although for some unfathomable reason he is now Wednesday's current number 9 and has started up front in both League defeats he unfortunately suffered a calf injury during the game with Wolves last weekend and it seems he's unlikely to play on Saturday. Still searching for his first goal of the season perhaps he was saving himself for the Valley, where his altitude didn't exactly endear him the Addicks back in 04/05.
As mentioned, and in true Yorkshire fashion, they're mainly a team of Englishman with even the foreign-sounding Marcus Tudgay hailing from Shoreham. Sadly, he's another one due to be missing after picking up a knock against Rotherham in the League Cup following former Owls Graham Coughlan's attempted assault of the forward forced him into an early exit. Coughlan was Wednesday’s captain and Player of the Year in 2005/06 before Brian Laws arrived later that year. After returning to Sheffield Wednesday from a months loan at Rotherham in 2007 he was told by manager Brian Laws that he had no future at the club, was made available for transfer and returned to Rotherham.
Seems Curbs is not the only one to have a problem with players, ex or otherwise.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Finding Out the Weakness

Go to a Job Interview and the worst question they'll ask you is to name one of your weaknesses. Nobody likes to admit that there's something they're not very good at and its natural to try to hide the fact and that's probably why the buggers are asking the question in the first place. They want to see your response and make no mistake, it will be carefully noted. If you're smart you can use a bit of lateral thinking to sidestep the issue, you could try a spot of humour or you could just lie, confident in the knowledge that by the time they find out the truth you'll have got the job.
So I bet Pards is right now saying thanks to the fixture boys, giving us a right testing from the word go. Its all very well in pre-season to arrange the sort of games that will get the players fit but its pitting yourselves against the toughest in the Division that will highlight any weaknesses in the team. Nobody likes to have a weakness, the rest of the players see it and it ruins their confidence so its important to spot any as soon as possible.
There's no doubt that our opponents in the fizzies will be looking at our strengths and making sure they're all covered, but the area that they'll be keen to capitalize on are our weaknesses. They'll all have their spies out and they'll be watching the videos to analyse what it is that the Addicks are not very good at.
So we can thank Stoke for giving our management a chance to look at how we really are against a team modelled on hard work and strength. And there'll be further tests coming up soon in a tough derby at Palarse and then a trip to Colchester, another team with a very home record last season.
The consequent defeat at the Britannia has given Pards some thinking to do and and he'll have to decide how in future he deals with a similar problem. There's obviously a reason that the transfer window ends after the season has started and he's got just 10 days now to assess what he's got and make sure it's good enough for the long haul ahead and what better preparation could he have had to help him decide than a trip to the Britannia to help him do just that.
A new centre-half then? It's clear that we need another central defender after Diawara's recent exit but has Pards thought about Amady? Forgotten-man Faye had one of his best games for the Addicks as a makeshift centre-half against Bolton last season so why not stick him in next week against Stockport alongside his mate Chrissie P? It could be the start of new career.
And speaking of a new career, it seems we have an apology to make regarding Jerry T and his imminent departure. With the news yesterday that Derby have signed Eddie Lewis, the American left-winger from Leeds, it would seem that our Jerry is not leaving the Valley at the moment. And it has to be said that yet another season in a relegation battle couldn't have been very tempting.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Crisis, what Crisis!

Crisis, is that's what its called? Only two points won out of a possible 9 and a scant 4 teams below them in the League and heads are being frantically scratched. They are just not used to this, don't they know who we are? All that money spent and still no win, what's going on?
Yes, its all question marks but who the 'ell are we talking about? Manure, of course. Things up there are going from bad to worse as they've now lost the rainy-city derby 0-1 to City for gods sake. Will this torture never end?
Not to put too fine a point on it, the fans are unhappy. They don't support a team like manure and expect all this. They expect results and good ones and its currently suicide time up there, well, all over the country really.
Meanwhile, back in the real world and as a simple comparison, the Addicks are performing exactly as expected. There were many that dreamt of win after boring win over the 'Neanderthal second graders' - acknowledgements to cafcpicks - but hang about, did we need a reality check, or what? We're Charlton, little old Charlton and all them Premiership ideas of superiority have obviously taken a lot longer than expected to shake off.
Well, Pards has managed that. He said he wanted to get rid of our Premiership egos and after just two games that has been well and truly achieved. And there's more. Nobody liked the tag of 'favorites', us 'favorites', what's going on? And it was obvious for all to see that Scunthorpe thought they'd won the World Cup last Saturday by getting a point at the Valley. They were playing the Favorites and 100% effort was needed.
But after just 120 minutes played, things have changed. A quick shufti at the splendid spreadsheet on oddschecker will confirm that Watford are now firm favorites to win the thing and we're not even second, Wolves are.
And as a further example of our current status, the Guardian in its brief look at the fizzies, singles out the games involving Watford, Palarse, Wolves and West Brom as worthy of comment whilst ignoring the rest of us. That's fine with me. Doom and Gloom? Get away, that's for them sad people mentioned in the first paragraph.
The Big Question has to be, was it all planned? Did Pards deliberately set-off to dispense with the Favorite Tag to give us a better chance? You bet. Nothing gets past this smart alec. He's got it all panned out. Even now he's psyching-up the boss to let him have a few grand more to bolster the defence and he'll get it.
Meanwhile, we can sit back and enjoy the Big Boys comeuppance. Over here Real Madrid continue to struggle and let in 5 (five) at home last night, manure continue their worst start for 15 years and Jol and Fergie are checking their backs to see if the knives are drawn. And sitting pretty at the top of it all? That'll be Sven and in the fizzies it's tough guys Stoke and Watford. Can't possibly last can it?
And what of our next victims, Sheffield Wednesday? Why, they're bottom, seven goals conceded already and they're expecting a right spanking come the weekend. Or maybe not...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stoke City 2 Charlton 1

Not sure if I'm going to enjoy our season in the fizzies and when you're finished browsing through the reports this morning you wouldn't feel much like it either.
After everyone, including Pards, saying how difficult Stoke away was going to be, turns out they only had 4 players from the team that had last seasons brilliant home form and just missed out on getting into the playoffs, although obviously Pulis has brought well during the summer with new-boy the 'Beast' Jon Parkin getting the winner 4 minutes after coming on although the Times gives MOM to the ex-Gills striker, the 6'4" 'Big Mama' Sidibe.
Always trying to look positive Pards points to the injury to YassMou in the 55th minute as the turning point of the game and the cause of the subsequent defeat after being ahead but there's worrying talk of McCarthy being nutmegged, not enough chances created and, despite our healthy investment in strikers, an apparent lack of firepower.
Unlike our past existence, reports are thin on the ground this morning although the sporting life has an in-depth write-up and there's another short one from the dailymail.
Best this week though is the posh murdoch with the added bonus of player points to boot. And if you want to see how the rest are shaping up there's a fizzy resumé in the telegraph although by the time the writer got to the letter S he'd rather lose his enthusiasm and all we got was a simple one-liner. There's a short note from our own wyn and if you're really masochistic take a trip into the opponents camp with the stokecity site complete with match stats for the number-lovers.
The Addicks: Weaver; Moutaouakil (McCarthy 56), Thatcher, Bougherra, Fortune; Sam (Thomas 46), Semedo, Ambrose, Reid; Bent, McLeod (Iwelumo 46).
Subs (not used): Randolph, Zheng.

And for the fan wondering how to be an Addick while whiling away the time in Valencia ( have you got a job working for Llanera?) my best advise is to slip on your new Joma kit and settle down in front of the box. After the regular sessions of journalists (!) (never has a job-title been so abused) insulting some poor idiot for hours on end about his/her past sex life with someone who used to be the sister/brother of a bullfighter, not to mention the never-ending adverts that can go on for 20 minutes, we now have the relative sanity of wall-to-wall football on terrestrial national TV.
Since Spurs v Everton on Tuesday we'd had live English, Spanish and Italian football every night with 2 games some evenings and today its Liverpool v Chelski with the third Premier game in 6 days although it does seem to be only the highlights. Oh, and there's also the dubious pleasure of a couple of hours of Scottish football today though it's on at siesta time this afternoon, probably to help everyone get that quick nap. It's a bit of a bummer that Premier football arrives on TV just as relegation hits but at least we can enjoy seeing how our old players - Darren and Scotty C have already been on - are enjoying themselves out there in the cold.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Of Beasts, Big Mamas and Lurking Russkies

As Pardew prepares the team to face Stoke this evening, there's more news about the financial action behind the scenes. After Tuesdays reports of the hiring of Seymour Pierce Limited, reports of a £20m loss this year in the Telegraph and then Reuters stating that we are Up For Sale on Thursday, an article today in the independent names no names but reports a figure behind the Sale Board - £50M.
And just as Pards attempts to get a couple of players vying for each position on the field so it appears that Richard Murray has lined up two foreign groups comprised of Africans and Russians to discuss details. Whether or not the article has any substance, and perhaps we should note that it was the same reporter that said on July 20th that Robben had been sold to Real Madrid, we'll no doubt find out in due course.
Meanwhile Pards, an intregal part of the Palarse barn-storming team of the eighties, faces a uphill task at Stoke.
Since the return of no-nonsense Welshman Tony Pulis in June 2006 only three northern teams came away from the Britannia with the three points during season 2006/07; Barnsley, Sheff. Wed and Burnley.
On his return Pulis, who had been sacked as Manager just 12 months before, said he will not sacrifice his team tactics for all-out attack after his return as Stoke boss was met with a mixed response from fans.
"We need to get more goals, but there is no way I will ever move away from having my teams organised, well set and committed," said the 48-year-old. "A balance has to be struck. If we can get wide players and forwards who can score, that's what I hope to achieve." Sounds a bit like the Curbishley we used to know, although he never resorted to the tactic of having forwards such as 'The Beast' Jon Parkin or 'Big Mama' Mamady Sidibe.
Pards may wish he had a few more months to prepare and get Dean Sinclair, Therry Racon or even Matt Holland ready for the tough battle ahead instead of hoping that Semedo, Ambrose and Reid with their superior technique will overcome.
He may boast about our style but in keeping with his own workaholic midfield playing style - he scored 27 times in his 116 starts for the Addicks - Pards likes his midfielders to be athletics. He's said recently of Sinclair, "Dean technically needs to improve but the legs are an absolute definite - he's as good an athlete as I've seen and that's very, very important in this division. And he'll get better because he's only young."
And of Racon he had this to say "He is a central midfielder with fantastic athletic ability and agility and I like the look of his composure."
Its a shame then that neither will get to play, although Sinclair, after his 12 minutes subs outing on Tuesday, will probably once again be on the bench as he was against Scunthorpe. And he'll no doubt emphasize to Marcus the importance of staying focused at corners.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Preview - Stoke City (away)

The Addicks continue the month of August by ploughing through the never-ending 'S's with a visit to the Britannia Stadium to play one of the few teams to have lost to Real Madrid in pre-season, Stoke City.
A member of the first football league in 1888, Stoke started off badly and finished bottom on goal difference. They're rumoured to be the second-oldest club in the world and have been messing around as Stoke City for 129 years ( and another 15 as the rather quaintly named Stoke Ramblers ) and sadly not achieving very much. A grand total of 52 years in the top flight ended in 1985 with the rather embarrassing total of 17 points and 3 victories, a total that was only 'beaten' by hapless Sunderland in 2006. Their other claim to fame is as the home club of Stanley Matthews although even he saw sense and left to play for Blackpool.
With Division Two Titles in a weirdly clockwork pattern of 1933, 1963 and 1993 it was unfortunate that by the time they won their last one someone had renumbered everything and they saw themselves in Tier Two instead. A League Cup win back in 1972 completes the major honours and now like a miserable old codger in striped pyjamas they take out their frustration on their opponents by emulating the playing style of the nineties-Wimbledon. They're Physical.
But it appears to work, at least at home. Ignoring the 3 promoted clubs, 'cause they'll not be causing us any trouble this season, 3 fizzy-pop teams stand out from last season as having a good home record - Southampton, Preston and Colchester - and all had a meagre 4 home defeats. However, there was one team with an even better home record who only suffered 3 defeats. The team - Stoke City. They also had the best defensive record at home with only 16 goals conceded in the 23 games. At the end Stoke finished in 8th spot, just 2 points adrift off the play-offs.
With just over 28,000 they've got a bigger ground than us and have spent exactly twice as long as us in the top flight but have settled into a long Tier Two existence with not a lot of money in the bank, their most expensive player being, wait for it, Sambeyou Bangoura of Guinea who cost £814.9 back in 2005 from Standard Leige. Obviously not a great success, they've just sold him for another strange figure, and a significant loss, for £270.9 to Boavista. Not a bargain, then.
After Saturdays game against Scunthorpe, a team that we have an even history against we now face one that we are currently trailing with 21 wins to their 23 victories. Our last visit to Stoke was in February 1998 and we came away with a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Robbo and Barness.
The Opponents
So who they got? Well, there's Dominic Matteo and Rory Delap in midfield. Ex-Palarse "Mr glassknees" Ricardo Fuller was last seasons top scorer with 11 and for last weekend's game at Cardiff he was partnered up-front by the man from Mali, the ex-Gills Mamady Sidibe. According to Wiki, he's known as 'Big Mama'- he's 6'4" - Sidibe is regarded as a target man with great ball control, but is sometimes criticised for failure to score rather simple goals. Sidibe has received praise from manager Tony Pulis for his "'ard work".
And there's another big 'un in the shape of 'the beast' Jon Parkin. Another 6'4" 14 stone giant he's been around a bit and spent 18 months at Hull scoring 11 goals before being loaned out to Stoke because of a reported 'poor attitude' in training!
The Addicks
So, enough of insulting the natives, what about the Addicks, who's going to play? Pards pencil will first of all put five players down to start:
That'll be first choice goalie at the moment is Weaver, with man-of-the match Yassin, defensive midfielder Semedo, Irish wizard Andy Reid and the revitalised Marcus Bent.
As for the rest, Sam ( even though transfer-target Thomas is reported fit ) and Ambrose, despite the signings of ZiZi and Racon, should make the midfield which leaves 4 places, left-back, central defence and a second striker up for grabs.
Thatcher played against the Iron but Chrissie Powell took the field at Swindon. In a physical battle it'll probably be the Thatch who plays. Central defence is between McCarthy, Magic and Fortune and Tuesday's clean-sheet and Fortune's knowledge of Stoke City where he played 10 games last season could see the partnership continue.
And to combat the dangerous aerial power of Stoke at set-pieces, who better than our own 6'4" Chris Iwelumo who also knows Stoke City having the annoyingly almost equal figures of 52 starts and 51 sub appearances ( and 23 goals ) after 3 years spent there and Pards may decide to include him up-front.
Weaver; Moutaouakil, Bougherra, Fortune, Thatcher; Sam, Semedo, Ambrose, Reid; Bent and Iwelumo.
Subs: Randolph, Powell, McCarthy, Sinclair, McLeod.

Pards' Thoughts
"Having said that, (You have to have different options in each position and we have the ability to change the team ), I'd like to play a settled side as much as I can this year. It's important that they learn to play with each other. A few have thrown me some posers tonight (Tuesday) in terms of team selection for Saturday."
And there's the key to our season. Lots of teams spent, spent, spent but its a settled side that's going to win the title. By comparison, in 2000 we had a core of 8 players that played more than 30 games to win the Championship.
Prediction ?
At last a bonus with being in the fizzies, in the fact that we don't have to quote Lawrenson's opinion. But in a game that Pards is not looking forward too, he would probably settle for yet another 1-1 draw.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jerry - Off or Not?

Oh dear, seems there is more than one Jerome Thomas in the world. Bad news when you thought you were it. And that in a nutshell, with the key news this morning appearing to be the pending sale of Jerry Thomas to Derby for £3.25M, explains the feeling on the streets. He's just too self-important to be an "Addick".
There's many a view on the potential loss of Thomas, but the general consensus seems to be that it's a good return on Curbs' 100K investment back in 2003 to wave goodbye to a moody "star", although many point to the worrying empty spaces on the left wing last Saturday and who's now going to fill them, or even it.
But is there any truth in the story and there's many Addicks that rightly tend to ignore any transfer reporting, and who can blame them, as much of it appears to be a figment of a sad journalists imagination although more sadly its ourselves that continue to behave like spectators at a circus eager for any sign of movement but painfully having to watch events unfold from behind frosted glass.
And the frosted glass this time seems to be twisting events more than usual because I do recall - and I hate to do it but I'm going to anyway - on August 4th, Pards told us "There's good news that Jerome has committed himself for the year, Andy Reid has too - and Jon Fortune has told me today that he wants to stay. Jerome knows that he needs a good year. He understands me as a manager and I understand him as a player, which is important. We had a chat this week and I'm very pleased he wants to stay.” It's not surprising that more and more fans and turning into cynical little whatsits.
As usual we'll just have to wait and see what happens although once again we'll probably never know what the truth of the matter was.
Back to reality and in a determined effort to find out more about Tuesday's win over Swindon and after lengthy surfing another report on the Swindon game has been traced. In a slightly biased report - its a Swindon site - one of the more worrying statements was that "It was difficult to tell at times that Swindon had just come up from League Two while Charlton had just slipped out of the Premiership"
On a brighter note, our new star Yassin was named in the first fizzy-pop team of the week here, among such notables as Stephen Crainley, Johnnie Jackson, Darren Carter and Alan Lee....another reminder if you needed one of the current state of affairs and a far cry from the days when we knew every one of the opposition players. This is a different world and no doubt we'll become more acquainted with them, painfully sometimes, as the season progresses - and we'll have to wait till December 8th to see the 28 year old Irishman Alan Lee and his impressive record of 22 goals from 58 odd Ipswich games.
And to end today with some more sad news, its reported on the beeb that Jimmy F's is still looking for dosh, sorry work, now that his move to Leicester is off. Seems the canny Martin Allen wanted to have a months look-see before deciding whether he was worth it or not. Martin...he's not.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Swindon 0 Charlton 2 - League Cup, First Round

As confirmation of the company we keep these days you wouldn't be surprised to note that its been 10 years since we last played in the First Round of the League Cup, a 2 leg defeat at the hands of Ipswich, the first leg on August 13th 1987 being Super Clive's first appearance in a Charlton shirt at the Valley. Never hinting at what was to follow that year at Wembley we slumped to a 0-1 defeat ( that made it 2 defeats in 4 days after losing at Middlesbro the previous Saturday ) and then lost again two weeks later at Portland Rd 3-1.
Anyway, this year was different and we have progressed to the Second Round with a 2-0 win over Swindon and in the process got our first win since March 31st, nine long and difficult games ago, against Wigan.
And further confirmation of how things change outside the Prem we'll find that its pretty impossible to get past the articles on Alves, Spurs and Tevez (still) and find anything about the Addicks victory. In fact the only neutral comment I can find on the game is a one-liner on Sporting Life that says rather unflatteringly "Neither team can gain control of the match. Key player: Lloyd Sam"
There's more at CAFC of course and Wyn's page.
According to Pards, the Sporting L comment must have been written at half-time as "we established ourselves in the second half and, with the wind behind us, we went up a gear. We were terrific all the way through the second half, much more solid, and we got two good goals."
OK, the lack in interest in obviously the key game of the night was probably due to other things going on, Premiership as well as Champions League qualifiers not to mention 32 League Cup games. Most notable among our peers was the sad demise of Palarse, losing on pens at Tier Three Bristol Rovers, although Scunthorpe reverted to type and lost at home to another Tier Three just-promoted side Hartlepool. I guess it was too much of an anti-climax for them.
On the team front, Marcus Bent continues to astonish, being the provider for the two goals with Dickson having his first showing in the red shirt, well two shades of blue actually. Fortune played the whole game as did Chrissie Powell - "Powell was the architect, surging down the left and delivering a fine cross that was headed down by Bent and there was Ambrose, timing his run to perfection to turn the ball home from close range."
The Addicks: Weaver; Moutaouakil, Powell, Bougherra, Fortune; Sam, Semedo, Ambrose, Reid (Sinclair 78); Bent (Iwelumo 78), McLeod (Dickson 81).
Subs (not used): Randolph, McCarthy.
Goals: Ambrose 51, Reid 62 pen
Booked: Sam 56 (foul on Tozer)
So at last a win under our belt but amidst all the excitement, Pards does his best to dampen us down saying "I think Stoke away is one of the tougher away games this year.”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Spot of Giant-Killing?

In our last two seasons in Tier Two, both of which ended in Promotion of course, we won our first home game, but this year its going to be different. This time its a single point from the first home fixture with five new players in the starting line-up, in Saturday's 1-1 draw, with the most unwelcome sign being the exuberant way that Scunthorpe reacted at the end of the game.
Maybe after 43 years away from Tier Two anything was welcome but the way they celebrated a 1-1 draw it was pretty apparent that it was, from the players and fans viewpoint, a little bit of "Giant-Killing". Maybe they have an inferior attitude after all the years away but it would seem obvious that every game, this season at least, is going to be a chance for the opponents to measure themselves against what they see as "premiership material" and its going to make it all the harder. Being everyones favorites to win the fizzies is not going to help us gain points.
The game was also a lot more physical than anything seen in Tier One and a lot of Scunthorpe pushing and shoving was annoyingly condoned and ignored by the referee. Pards has already said that superior technique will not always be enough and in Saturdays game this was glaringly obvious. Whether Pards has brought wisely during the summer remains to be seen but with ZiZi returning and with the lamentations about the missing Holland, it could be that a midfield closely resembling the one we had last year is on the cards.
The unveiling of two midfielders at the same time was a bit of a shock, not eased by the fact that one of them was old boy ZiZi. He didn't exactly light up the Premiership during his 12 appearances and one goal, as seen by the fact that nobody made him an offer to stay in the UK, but it's a bit of a coup for Pards to get him for £2M. And its kinda nice and old-fashioned to hear him say that he wants to continue with us and help get us back where we belong, in marked contrast to others I could mention.
Also signing-on at the Valley was one Therry Racon, a youngster of 23 from Guingamp in the French Second Division. Racon appears to be another for the future, although Pards seems impressed by "his fantastic athletic ability and agility and I like the look of his composure". 550K Euros seems a lot for an unknown frenchmen that's played once for Marseille and has been dropping down divisions ever since and not seeming to have played many games at 2nd Division Guingamp where he was squad number 19 or 24 depending on where you look.
But Pards seem to have an eye for unrecognised talent, as witness Semedo and Yassin M, not to mention taking Reo-Coker to Upton Park and Steve Sidwell to Reading both of which have improved over the years and have now moved on for large amounts of cash.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Reality Check Ahead?

Only 6 days to go till kick-off and after the weekends defeat, a lack of how shall we say it - MIDFIELD SIGNINGS -, and the unsettling news from Monsieur Blanc of Bordeaux that he rather fancies having Souly in his team, there's not the same enthusiasm in the air as we had a couple of weeks ago.
We're still the favorites at 6/1 to left the trophy but while we were losing to Braga, Ipswich were beating Panathinaikos 2-0, Palarse were drawing with Everton 0-0, Cardiff were beating FC Twente Enschede 1-0 and West Brom were beating SC Heerenveen 3-1.
So its reassuring to read that Pards has his feet firmly on the ground or so it seems from an article in the independent. Although the article is dated 5th August, it does seem to date before Brian Hughes left the club but nevertheless Pardew seems to warn us of over-optimism and says we should leave any Premier ego we may still have at home before Saturdays game 'cause this is the fizzies we're in now.
And to let us know whats in store for the next 9 months, there's some key phases to remember: "It is important you know the road that has to be travelled", "the teams that go up are those that react well to defeats" and "giving the opposing teams respect". Surely he's forgotten to add "but we expect to give Scunthorpe a good tonking".
Meanwhile, everybody these days is doing a "Poll". Vote here and let us have your opinion. CAFCPicks has a new one every week - Pards, people seem to want Cole - , on the official site 73% of fans voted that they want at least 2 more signings, and even the Kappacino Kid had one a couple of days ago on the Iron result.
My question would have to be, that's if I had any idea how to create one of them Polls, would be: Who do you think will play the most games in the Addicks midfield this season?

1) Holland,
2) Faye,
3) Semedo,
4) Sinclair,
5) Reid,
6) Ambrose,
7) Thomas or
8) AN Other???
And I'll have to leave you with that conundrum for a few days as I'll be taking a short reality check myself as I swap the green valleys of Spain for the rather more homesome delights of....downtown Dartford. See you at the chippie...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Charlton 1 Sporting Braga 2

So there we have it, pre-season all over and done and dusted, and its all down to Scunthorpe next weekend. And it all ended with a meaningless defeat against a very good Braga side. Seems its our three foreign johnnies that took all the prizes, Magic, Moutaouakil and Semedo all showing the skills and workrate that persuaded Pards to bring them to the Valley. Lets hope that they understand how it's going to be on a cold winters night in February, sorry December, down there in Cardiff!
There's still talk of additions from Pards "I want one more striker for sure, Luke Varney's ankle injury has been a blow to us because he was a big-money signing but hopefully that'll turn out to be a silver lining when he's back in two to three week's time. We've also made a couple of enquiries regarding a central midfield player but I haven't got anything concrete at the moment. I would like to get a striker in and I'd be more patient with the midfield player.”
Looking back on the brief, and regrettable, Monica Moment last year, Carson, Reid, Faye and Diawara ( and Traore) all joined in the last two weeks of August so it'll be no surprise if there are not more to arrive, or maybe depart...
But to put us at ease, probably the best news coming out of yesterday was the commitment of Andy Reid and Jerry Thomas to the cause and to ease our defensive worries, well a little bit, the news that Jon Fortune has decided not to join Stoke.
Several people have commented about the apparent secrecy at the Valley regarding injuries so its good to get a bit of news about right-back osei sankofa who's been, yes you guessed it, injured apparently, but by whom or what we still don't know. And at times it would seem that the management have read that fascinating book by Simon Montefiore about Stalin and the Politburo in the 50's and are following the rather convenient occurrence of having people simply vanishing from sight and then, sometimes, being restored when a change in mood, or is it recovery from injury, sees fit. Perhaps there's a safe house in darkest Kent that we secretly dispatch them to to be rehabilitated into "real Addicks".
Not putting too fine a point on it, but what's happening with Cory Gibbs, is he still here? Has his injury reoccurred? He played the second half at Welling but has now vanished from sight again. And where was Amady Faye between the Everton game in the middle of April and Gillingham in July? It all makes Agatha Christie's disappearance for 11 days in 1926 almost insignificant, which it probably is. But at least it makes you pleased to be a little club. If we was "Big", the story would be all over the tabs telling us he's suffering from some terminal illness or has flown to the moon for a holiday. Oh, and Lloyd Sam is apparently injured as well.
But at least we told what's happening with Matt Holland, "We've lost Matty for six weeks. It looks like he will have to have a cartilage operation so that's a blow to us.”
Meanwhile, the topic on everyones lips concerns Souly D. The statement is that although he didn't feature from the bench in Saturday's friendly clash, Souleymane Diawara is not on his way out of the club.
Pardew explained: "I didn't use Souley today because we've had a bid from Bordeaux which is way short of our valuation. But, by the same token, I'm trying to make sure that he doesn't lose focus. He's having some difficult decisions to make and we'll see how that progresses but at the moment he's certainly not going anywhere.."
Scunthorpe meanwhile, managed a 1-1 draw with Grimsby with ex-Addicks Kelly Youga at last getting a game of football and playing the whole game at left-back. I bet he plays a blinder come the weekend. And expect a party atmosphere next Saturday. Over 1,800 Iron fans are making the trip to see their first Tier 2 game in 43 years!
And a final note. Its good to see that our faithful Web Designer has come back from his hols and finally removed the annoying clips of certain ex-players from the official website. They've been replaced by pics of a smiling Pards with thumbs-up and new goal-scoring legend Luke Varney. And to show that we have a heart its good news to see that Kevin has finally signed for colchester although he might be a bit embarrassed to see in print his final Charlton scoring figures - 19 from 176. Makes even Leaburn seem prolific.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Welcome Back Jorge.

Ignoring the speculation about our Senegal defender there's obviously no way that the return of one of our best-loved players to the Valley today can be ignored. Welcome back Jorge.
There was something about Jorge Costa that we all liked. He arrived on a loan deal for half-a-season and played his first full game against Spurs on 8th Dec 2001 in a Fish-Costa-Fortune back line. We won 3-1 with goals by Stuart and Lisbie (2) and I can even remember Lisbie's goals. A total of twenty four games was all he played for the Addicks, just a couple fewer than Diawara but there's no prizes for guessing what one of the two was the fans favorite.
He came because he was out of the Porto squad and needed to play, and be seen, because of the upcoming 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan and we all knew that was the bargain. Six months and then he'd be off. He'd had a disagreement with the Porto coach Octavio Machado and left in a bit of a rush. He was obviously a firm favorite with the Oporto fans as well as his departure for 6 months meant the end for Machado and the arrival of one Jose Mourinho.
After leaving the Addicks he returned to Oporto and went on to captain the team and after winning the Portuguese Championship in 2002/03, they then went on to win the Champions League in 2003/04.
Chrissie Powell has a few comments to make over on the official site, not least of which was the fans behaviour after the end-of-season game at Manure game in May.
But why did we like him? Chris hits it on the head. He always gave 10 of 10 and this explains why so many people also appreciated our lately departed Kish.
My own special memory of him dates to 13th feb 2002 when sitting in my father-in-laws house in Madrid watching Spain v Portugal and the unbelievable happens.
An outswinging corner in the 28th minute and who should rise about everybody and head home a goal to put the Portuguese in front - Jorge Costa. Sorry, Emilio, but watching a Charlton player, even one on-loan, represent his country surpasses most things and my excitement at the goal was unrestrained. Needless to say, Emilio, my Spanish father-in-law failed to understand the feeling even though the game finished 1-1.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Only 4 and a Half Left.

With the news that stalwart Jon Fortune - since his debut in 2001 our current longest-serving player - could be off to Stoke City after a fee, reported to be £400,000, has been agreed between the clubs, perhaps it's time on a slow-news day to reflect on things at the moment.
Pardew's efforts to get the two more bodies in seem to have slowed somewhat but he seems confident, as reported in CAFCPicks, that things will happen over the next few days - "hello, Andy" - .
Meanwhile, on the playing front the 0-0 draw at Aldershot was disappointing and not what was expected just 10 days before facing the Iron. Even my assertion that we are Number One failed to impress the locals as only 1505 people bothered to turn up despite the appearance of an ex-premier side and it being in a good cause. When 5000 people turn up at Scunthorpe to see them play Sunderland makes you realise that nobody else sees us as a Big Club, either. But then again, maybe those squaddies just don't like football.
For a short opposing view of the Aldershot game there's one here and the same website will also show you that Aldershot have already suffered a 2-0 defeat to Palarse during another of their pre-season home games....And a spy at the game classifies our performance as "cack", with no other useful adjectives given. Several first-teamers on the bench for most of the game will be the excuse but it makes it all the more important that tomorrows game against Sporting Braga is taken very seriously indeed.
Our first opponents of the campaign, Scunthorpe, meanwhile suffered their first defeat of the season 1-0 against Lincoln City on Wednesday in the Lincolnshire Senior Cup. They've already drawn with Chesterfield 2-2, beaten Boston 3-0 and of course beaten Sunderland 1-0.
And if you think that after 7 glorious years in the Premier that the Iron will be a pushover and are a team we always beat, then think again. We've faced Scunthorpe 14 times in our history and honours are even with 4 wins each with 6 draws. They've just had probably their most successful season ever, winning the League One Championship with 91 points after enjoying a 19 match unbeaten run this year and ending up 7 points clear. They'll be bringing 1500 fans to the Valley but leading scorer from last season Billy Sharp with 30 goals will not be there. He's been sold to Sheff U for a couple of million. They've added 7 new players to the team, including Kelly Youga, who'll be keen to show what we were missing I suppose.
In fact, if you want even more unsettling news, of the 23 other teams in the fizzies we only have a positive record against 9 of them. History shows that the other 14 have beaten us more often than not.
But to finish on a more positive note, and a clear indication that the Monica and Curbishley years are well behind us, here's the 20 players that were on view in our only Home fixture in last year's pre-season, the 1-1 draw against New Zealand. Myhre (Andersen 67); Young, Ashton, Hreidarsson, El Karkouri (Fortune 83); Bolanos (Euell 83), Hughes (Kishishev 65), Holland (Walton 65), Rommedahl (Sam 75); Hasselbaink (Walker 75), M Bent (D Bent 65).
Sub (not used): Farinos.
Of the 20 only 5, well 4 and a half, - Holland, Sam, Walker, Marcus Bent and Jon Fortune remain at the club. No less than 15 of them have been released or transferred although two of them, Bolanos and Farinos never really arrived. Oh, and Kevin's gone as well.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Another Pre-Season Clean-Sheet

With just 9 days to go before the real work begins, Pards let the boys loose yesterday in a benefit game for scout and ex-Aldershot player Paul Shrubb down there at Conference side Aldershot Town. Aldershot are most famous for being the second football league club to close in 1992 - Accrington Stanley were the first in 1962 - because of increasing debts and after rebirth as Aldershot Town they finished last season 9th in the Conference.
The game finished 0-0 with Todorov missing a penalty 15 minutes from time.
With a youth team playing the same night at Ebbsfleet, and losing heavily apparently, the only interesting thing about last nights game was always going to be the Addicks line-up. So it was: Elliot; Moutaouakil (Bougherra 88), Powell, McCarthy, Fortune; Christensen (Ambrose 70), Holland (Thomas 78), Faye (Reid 78), Sinclair; Iwelumo (Todorov 72), Walker.
Subs (not used): Weaver, Thatcher, Diawara.
You can draw your own conclusions but it would seem to be a case of leaving the strongest players (Reid, Thomas, Todorov, Diawara ) on the bench and seeing how the rest of the squad is shaping up. It can be argued that, at this stage of the proceedings, we should be beating the daylights out of a team like Aldershot but clearly that was not the point of the exercise and we wouldn't want to chance the possibility of any more injuries to key players at the hands of an enthusiastic Conference part-timer playing in front of his home crowd. There was even a suggestion in an Aldershot blog that the penalty miss was done on purpose so as not to avoid a perfect evenings entertainment.
Fitness, strength and team spirit seem to be the keywords in Pardew's pre-season dictionary with winning games not apparently an important issue. The most interesting statistic is that of the 7 games played ( 2 behind doors) 6 have resulted in clean sheets that would suggest that the glaring defensive deficiencies of last season have been rectified. Only time will tell.
Several players were missing from the action. Luke Varney has an injury, still not officially mentioned, as do Marcus Bent, Chris Dickson and Darren Randolph. Cory Gibbs and Jose Semedo were also not seen. The most interesting has to be the non-appearance of new discovered "gem" Jose. The man who has been playing so well in the defensive midfield that everybody sees is vital this season didn't apparently make the trip. Where was he? Perhaps Pards was playing psychological. Possibly, on the eve of unveiling "an experienced midfielder" that will do the same job, he doesn't want Jose getting all full of himself, he's still a youngster after all and a fizzy pop season is very long.
And on the subject of the exact purpose of pre-season its very interesting to compare the approach of the various managers and coaches. I don't mean individual games but the whole approach. Over here in Spain it's easy to see, just pay a euro get a copy of the Real Madrid fanzine AS, sorry sports paper, and there on Page 33 (!) - the first 20 or so are all about Madrid - you'll see a listing of every clubs pre-season, well the Primera teams, anyway.
Some of them clearly see lots of goals as the aim, both Deportivo and Mallorca scoring 21 in their first three games against local teams while the Big Boys, Barca and Real can't lower themselves to such depths and have to face Tier One opposition in Scotland and Germany respectively, although Real did strangely play one game in the UK against Stoke City last week. Next they're both off on some tournament or other and already Schuster's being grilled by the media on how it's possible to lose to mid-table Hannover 3-0 after all the money thats been spent. It's a hard life at the top.
Meanwhile you'll be pleased to learn that the busiest team of all with 12 pre-season games is our very own Valladolid, newly promoted to La Liga after 3 years away in the Spanish equivalent of the fizzies. Continuing in the same vein that won the Liga Two title last season, manager Mendilibar clearly sees fitness as the key to Tier One survival.
And lastly, up-top a picture of Pards wiping his nose and showing none of the worry, pressure or tension that being the favorites would inflict on a lesser mortal. Is he God or what?