Total Pageviews

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Brentford Preview

So what a difference a new season can make. Tranmere, last seasons second best home team in League One and supposedly our biggest challenge so far, proved to be nothing of the sort and have now suffered three home defeats in a row all without scoring.
And, of course, there can be no bigger turnaround than the form of the Addicks. With only five wins this year before we embarked on our, hopefully short, League One cruise, we now have 5 League wins in a row, and head the table on a rapidly improving goal difference.

So what can you make of our man Parkinson? The man himself must have been extremely embarrassed when he picked up August's Handbook and turned to the 'Men in Charge' page. Of the 23 men at the helm of the Addicks in their 89 year League history, and ignoring Les Reed's very short reign, Parky's name at the bottom stood out with some alarming statistics of only 5 wins in 31 games and was by far the worst win percentage. As for the All Time High's page the only one that Parky has achieved, up till August, was the record for most defeats in a row (18).

But shaking off the additional pressure of the supposed takeover inhibiting progress and even the reported appearance of Curbs and Varney appearing together at the Orient game, Parky has stood up to it all and has not only instilled belief and confidence in the team once more but now bless him proudly holds the not insignificant record of our best start ever to a season in the whole of Charlton's history.

But, of course, us being Addicks, and with nothing achieved totally on merit, we've all noticed that our 5 wins have been against teams in the bottom half of the table. KHA has worked hard to dispel this damaging rumour but the truth is that the five teams we've played against have only won 5 of their 25 games. Take away the 5 played against us and nobody, not even our Parky, would claim much success from their accumulated 5 wins in 20 games.

But as if winning five games is not enough, we find another benefit of League One life which is the complete absence of an international break for the likes of us and without all the Big Boys in action we take centre stage and play this weekend as the best team in the land and, in Brentford, welcome our first top half team to the Valley. Four years younger than Parky, and one of the youngest managers in League One is 37 year old Andy Scott and he's the man currently in charge of the Bees after starting work there in May 2007 as assistant manager to Terry Butcher. After Butcher was sacked a few months later Scott took over in December 2007 and in his first full season got the Bees promoted as Champions of League Two.

Brentford are currently in 6th place with 9 points from 2 wins and 3 draws and no defeats. A 3-1 win at Carlisle (who have also lost at home to Exeter) on the opening day of the season, was followed by three home games in a week. A 0-1 defeat at the hands of Bristol City in the League Cup was followed by a boring 0-0 draw with Brighton while the following Tuesday saw them inflict on Norwich their only away defeat of the season with a 2-1 win.

A late Taylor equaliser gave them a credible 1-1 draw at Southampton but just when you expected them to win again, another disappointing result followed with 1-1 home against midtable Oldham. And they'll be a bit tired into the bargain this weekend after their Tuesday 1-0 away defeat at Norwich in the Johnstones Paint thing. Rules state that 6 first teamers have to play and the game wouldn't have helped Scott's preparation for Saturdays game. In fact 7 players of his normal 11 played the game.

So after an explosive start with those 3 goals at Carlisle, only 4 goals have been scored in their last 6 games but, they have a solid defence and apart from the goalless draw with Brighton have conceded only one goal in every game. But after promotion from League Two, and survival at this level a priority, they will be happy that after 5 games they remain unbeaten in the League.

Any Ex-Addicks?

There's a couple of ex's currently with the Bees although only one of them is fit. We all remember Charlie MacDonald scoring the only goal at the Valley in the cup against QPR in January 2000 but it proved to be Charlie's only goal for the Addicks and after spells at various non-league teams and time at Southend he now plays for Brentford. He scored 18 goals in their promotion year in League Two but, perhaps due to a dislocated shoulder back in April, he still hasn't played so far this season.

'Jet-propelled wing wizard' was how Myles Weston was described in the Addicks handbook in August 2005 but after progressing as far as the reserves he never made a first team appearance for the Addicks and was released in 2007. After two years and 66 appearances for Notts County he scored just 3 goals but after moving to the Bees he's already got 2 this season in his first game at Carlisle. But he comes at a price for the Football League Tribunal decided last week that the Bees must pay 25k for Weston as he is under 23 plus extra money based on appearances.

Who Are Yeh?

Manager Scott clearly knew that League Two players would find it hard at League One level so he has signed no less than 12 new players during the summer; Lewis Price, Alan Bennett (previously on loan), Sam Saunders, Steve Kabba, Carl Cort, Myles Weston, Danny Foster, Ben Stevens, Nikki Bull, Leon Legge, Simon Moore and Cleveland Taylor. Six of them started against Carlisle and after so many new faces you would expect to see some experiments with different lineups, but no, he appears to know exactly what he wants for after 5 league games nine of his squad have started every game.

Number 8 is ex-Palarse Steve Kabba who has Premier experience with Sheffield United and then moved to Watford in January in season 2006/07, but sadly he couldn't save either of them and both were relegated with the Addicks.

And not so funny as the real Alan Bennett, but captain nevertheless, is the Irish international from Cork, number 6 Alan Bennett who spent last season at Brentford as a loanee from Reading and he captained the side that lifted the League Two trophy. Sadly for both Bennett and Scott, it looks like we wouldn't see Bennett because he's is out injured at the moment.

And it's long-serving defender, 27 year old number 2 Kevin O'Connor, now with 306 games for Brentford behind him, who takes the penalties and scored with one against Oldham on Saturday.

Number nine is the player that the astute Bobby Robson once paid 7 million for, the now 31 year old ex-Wimbledon/Wolves Carl Cort who after a disappointing year at Norwich moved this summer to Brentford and now leads the line but has yet to score. And during that season spent with Norwich - he played against us twice - he only scored once.

Whats Their Secret?
On completing their last and 12th signing, the pacy 25 year old Jamaican right winger Cleveland Taylor from Carlisle, Scott made clear that "We have shown that we have a lot more pace, power and energy about us this year."
Doing A Leicester?
After five games last season, another Athletic was heading the table, Oldham Athletic it was with 13 points and alongside them were Carlisle. But was the days got shorter both teams faded away and Oldham finished 10th and Carlisle 20th...... The Divisions new boys, Leicester, were 3rd after 5 games with 10 points having just lost their first game, at home to the Spanners...
In 20 games played at the Valley Brentford have only won once and that was a 2-0 win back in the old Third Division South in April 1926, 83 years ago. Of the 20 games played, there's been 15 wins and 4 draws. Five of those wins were cup games and it was in the cup that we last played them, a 3-1 win in February 2006. But things are not so clever at their place and overall its only 20 wins ( and 12 defeats) in the 38 games.
Our last home League game against them was a 1-0 victory back in March 1993 when the Bees spent a year in Tier Two before disappearing again. It was a season where we won our first 4 games but then failed to beat Luton at the Valley in the 5th.
Who's Talking?
Sam Sodje, on signing for the Addicks, and clearly with Addicks blood in his veins, added his own measure of caution with, "You need to be consistent in this league and that's what Charlton have done. But it's still early doors and five wins is just the beginning, we need to maintain it every week"

The Team
Its a little hard to believe, and full credit to Parky and Murray, but we have reached the end of the transfer window, and with the exception of skipper Hudson, we have our squad thankfully intact. Everyone expected to see several players depart to provide the cash to continue but all of our crown jewels of Bailey, Shelvey, Racon, Sam and Semedo are still here and to encourage us even further the squad has been strengthened by the addition of three players.
Local boy from Croydon, Leon McKenzie, now 31 ( one year younger than Burton) he conveniently takes the number nine shirt vacated by Andy Gray and can show successful seasons at the Posh and Norwich as well as Coventry on his CV even though his scoring rate has been dropping over the years. Shame about these five wasted years at Palarse, Leon. But he's a experienced name and can only help to gee up the rest of the strikers to perform better. And he could be on the bench after his 5 minutes sub appearance last weekend for Coventry against Swansea. Cleared liked by the fans he received a "huge cheer" when he came off the bench.
And back again is another local favorite Sam Sodje. Easing Parky nerves and providing backup to our aging centre-backs, Sam will want to add to his 27 appearances as soon as possible.
And last of all is an ex-Liverpool youngster, 20 year old left winger Luke Holden who unbelievably already has Champions League experience with Welsh Champions Rhyl against Partizan Belgrade in July. He arrives on loan till the end of the year. Does this move herald the departure of Bailey at some point in the future or even a change to 4-4-2? Parky's simply said that he likes "his hunger and his determination" but with McKenzie also able to operate in left midfield Parky now has options on the left that he didn't have before.
So with all these additions, will we be unchanged for the 6th successive game? Why not. Bailey and Semedo made it into the Football League Team of the week ( as did Beckford and Johnson of Leeds) although Sam can surely claim a place on the right wing with his performance spurred by Scotty's goal and promptly gets two of his own. Proving that competition for places really does improve players performances.
Last season any team arriving at the Valley without a win there in 83 years would have the Addicks trembling with fear and the result would have been a foregone conclusion, but not now. And, while the Addicks have had a weeks rest since Tranmere, we face a team that have had a difficult midweek game at Norwich and furthermore a team that has only scored 4 times in their last 6 games in all competitions, a total we equalled in one game last weekend against Tranmere.

And after 5 straight league wins belief at the Valley is understandably high and although Parky will recognise this as our biggest test so far he will face it with added confidence after receiving the boards backing to bring in three new faces into the building.

He also knows that if we are to be a force in this Division this weekends game has to won and after seeing the impetus that Lloyd Sam received after Scotty’s performance against Walsall I expect the signing of three players to spur our players to new heights in another home win. Brentford only concede once every game so we may have to be content with a single goal win but I'll go with that, Addicks 1 (Burton) Brentford 0.


Wyn Grant said...

I thought Charlie McD scored at home against Newcastle after coming on as a sub. I remember writing 'Let's all clap hands for Charlie' as the headline.

nelson said...

Wyn, it happens to me all the time. Old friends that I was sure I meet in Southampton turn up on Friends Unlimited and say they've always lived in London but anyway is a report from the game. It makes for some nostagic reading.