Another defeat, our 19th of the season, but at least we said goodbye to Sheffield with a bit of a late flourish with claims for a last minute penalty of course prompting Parky to moan that we never get given penalties. Whatever, and although he's not wholly responsible, I'm sure he's glad to get rid of the city of Sheffield against whom our seasons' tally was 5 games, 5 defeats, 6 goals for, conceded 16. All meaning that we probably won't be crossing swords with either of them next year, unless we get them in the Cup of course.
But looking on the bright side, and desperate to be in some way positive, we weren't entirely blunt up front in any of the 5 games and did at least score in every one of them. And although we've conceded more this season, 51, than anyone else, there's still one statistic where there's loads of teams worse than us and that's in the number of games where we failed to score. We've failed to find the net in 9 games out of the 28, but there's no less than 6 teams worse than us including Doncaster, Southampton and Derby.
So, anyway it's the big one next, Palarse. And maybe its the extra heat of a local derby that we need to ignite some kind of result. And while many were lamenting another pointless journey to Sheffield to face the Blades in the Cup, perhaps Parky was not too unset with the challenge. Because it won't have slipped his notice that if you want a preparation for a game against Palarse there's probably no better place than Bramall lane to plan your tactics.
There was no sign of Warnock in Sheffield but the mark he stamped on the club is still there and the game might just have given Parky the edge he needs to get ready for Tuesday night.
As for Warnocks current charges they sit way up there in 10th place on the embarrassingly distant total of 40 points.
Current Form After 8 without loss, they've done their best to encourage us by losing their last two fizzies games, 0-1 away to Bristol City and a shocking 1-4 defeat at Sainburys to Ipswich which Warnock blamed on the ref not giving them a penalty. And they've also got themselves knocked out of the Cup, 3-4 at Watford, where two late goals from Danns and Ifill made the score respectable although Warnock was complaining again about the referee this time for a disallowed headed "goal" from Fonte.
Who They Got? Well, there was one person looking forward to Tuesday no matter what the score and that was Paddy McCarthy. Already on three goals for the season, which is one more than he got for us, he's probably the only person who regrets that Pardew is not still around. Unfortunately, Paddy got himself injured in the 3-1 win over Norwich on Boxing Day and is out till March with that dicky shoulder of his. Also missing would appear to be Ben Watson, who sees to be on his way to Wigan.
DangerMan? They've got a whole possee of people scoring goals but they have only two main strikers to look out for. Up front against Watford in the cup at the weekend was the bean pole 6' 4" from Galway, number 9 Alan Lee. He's only been at Sainburys since August and after injury troubles has only scored twice. As Lee's backup there's Shefki Kuqi; a bizarre combination even in this day and age of a Kosovo/Albanian playing 52 times for Finland. A 2.5 m buy from Blackburn in the summer of 2006, perhaps its his 6' 2" frame and Leaburn-like record of only 6 goals in those 52 internationals that don't exactly endear him to Palarse fans and what's more he hasn't scored for 5 games now. He's number 32 Parky. And with either one of two big boys up front you can see what to expect come Tuesday. As for their goalscoring, Kuqi has 6, and Beattie, Ifill and Watson are all on 5.
Whats Their Secret? Thanks probably to Warnock, Palarse seem remarkably similar to the Blades in that when they get something neither team likes to give it up. So whilst the Addicks and Norwich continue at the bottom and have the fewest number of scoring-first games, 9, the lot from Sainburys whilst doing it only 11 times have the same attributes as United and haven't lost any of them.
Team News Just about the best summing-up of our season appeared in the Sporting Life match report at the weekend. "Fighting spirit has not been a characteristic of Charlton's miserable season so far" was the charge and its something that Parky has to ensure is visible on Tuesday.
What, and who, else will be visible against Palarse is not very clear and maybe that how Parky would like it. One good thing to come out of Saturday was the goal that Dickson got after coming on for the "ineffective" Deon Burton in the 58th minute. Its only his second goal for the club with the first coming at the Hawthorns last January in the cup replay that we lost on penalties after scoring twice in the second half. Varney and ZiZi missed their spot kicks, to dump us out 4-3.
I'm tempted to plead for a Dickson/Todorov strike force but it won't happen so I'll just add that Chris is now our leading striker counting the minutes that its taken him to score each goal. He's now played 231 minutes this season for the one goal at under 4 hours per goal. Not a statistic that's going to get him into the Hall of Fame but its already better than any of the other strikers that we have. Gray's next in the list with 7 goals - one every 4 hours 20 minutes. Third most effective was Waghorn with one goal in his nearly 6 hours played and 4th is Todorov with his one goal taking him over 6 hours. You get my drift, I think, because 5th and 6th in this sorry season of ours is the current player up front, Deon Burton, with his one goal taking him over 8 hours of football ( it was a penalty), while last of all is Luke Varney, the player that Pardew rendered such love and affection on, who, with over 12 hours played managed just two meagre goals.
And there's more good news in midfield for one person who doesn't seem to be relishing the encounter is Tom Soares. A Palarse youngster he spent 5 years there before moving to Stoke last summer and told the Croydon journalists this week that if he scores tomorrow he's not going to celebrate. Well, makes a change from Varney, I suppose, who couldn't wait to congratulate the Duke back in December.
As for the team, with Elliot's possible clanger for the Blades first goal on Saturday, it looks like Randolph between the posts with Murty and Basey returning at fullback. Hudson and Fortune at the back and with Sam and Soares out wide leaves 4 places left.
Bailey, Shelvey, Spring, Racon, Holland, Ambrose battle it out for midfield while Burton will lead the line in a 4-5-1 format.
A team then:
Randolph; Murty, Hudson, Fortune, Basey; Sam, Bailey, Racon, Spring, Soares; Burton.
Subs; Elliot, Moutaoukil, Holland, Gray, Dickson
Subs; Elliot, Moutaoukil, Holland, Gray, Dickson
Verdict A defeat in this game would be unthinkable and would hand them their first double over us since 89/90, 19 years ago. But this has been a season when the unthinkable happens all the time and the number of records broken by us and teams against us shows no sign of abating so it won't surprise me if its defeat number 20 for 08/09. Lets just hope for a draw then.