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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Norwich City Preview

Lets forget the guy above for a minute and spare a thought this morning for Phil Parkinson. On Saturday he'll make his third visit to Carrow Rd, Norwich in charge of Charlton Athletic. Eight months ago on January 13th the team travelled to East Anglia for an Third Round FA Cup replay with a record-breaking 18 winless games behind them. Eight of those were down to Pardew so this was Parky's eleventh game in charge but already his team had lost six and drawn 4 times in his first 10 games. All four away games under him had been lost including the fixture less than a month previous against Norwich with only a total of two goals scored in those four away games.
And after a 2-0 home defeat to Forest just 3 days ago and with that Leroy Lita goal giving Norwich their 1-0 win a month ago the prospects looked bleak. And if you had asked him for a forecast back then, he'd have told you that he would rather forget the Cup, losing against Norwich wasn't important, but breaking the losing run was vital if the Addicks were going to survive and he made six changes to the team that had lost three days before at home to Forest; and next Saturday's game away to Wednesday was vital.
But on a chilly East Anglian night it was a 6th minute Darren Ambrose goal from a through ball by Nicky Bailey that finally gave Parky his first win for the Addicks.
Will Parky allow himself a wry smile as the coach hurtles up the M11? Eight months in football is a long time but he can well remember the pressure and anguish he felt that night as he tried all he knew to break the run. His job was on the line, a new manager is expected to at least inspire a win and he was desperate for a result. But that was January and against all the odds he's still in charge and things had turned round dramatically. Top of the League with 6 wins so far ( just two less than the whole of last season) and unbeaten in 7 games, he knows that he'll walk into Carrow Rd a different man.
So what of Norwich today? Similar to the naming of our own likeable Les Reed, so to Bryan Gunn, goalkeeping legend with 390 games for Norwich behind him, was the goalkeeping coach when Charlton last came calling in January but when Glen Roeder was sacked the day after our win he was surprisingly handed the job as manager on 16th January, with no managerial experience behind him.
He won his first game 4-0 against Barnsley and the choice seemed inspirational but having got themselves 2 points clear of the relegation zone with a 1-1 draw at Birmingham in the last game in March a disastrous April and May with 5 defeats in 6 games spelled the end. If the Norwich board had any idea on the realities of football that relegation to Tier Three for the first time in 49 years should have been the end of the Bryan Gunn experiment but he stayed on and it just needed one league game in 2009/10 before he was sacked.
OK, it was 1-7 home hammering by little Colchester so perhaps no surprise really. And perhaps no surprise that the new manager, appointed just 5 days later, should be the very man responsible for the 7-1 defeat, Colchester manager Paul Lambert. The 40 year old Scot is most famous for his playing exploits with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 when they won the Champions League with a win over Juventus in the final. And if the name sounds familar to the Addicks then it should be because we've meet the man before in his first english managerial job.
League Cup Quarter Final at the Valley on Tuesday December 19th 2006 versus Wycombe Wanderers and he was the man in charge, masterminding our 1-0 defeat.
When he took over Norwich were 3rd from bottom with only a single point and he has moved them up to a midtable 14th with 8 points but, still, in this Division where its the bottom four that get the chop, they are only 2 points away from the relegation zone.
As we said Norwich opened the season with that disastrous 7-1 defeat at home to Colchester with our Kevin getting a couple. Two away games followed where they drew 1-1 with Exeter before losing again to Brentford 2-1. They first win then was another new-manager inspired win, a 5-2 dispatch of Wycombe at home in Lambert's first game in charge and then they won again away at Hartlepool 2-0.
In between times in the League Cup there's been more goals as they scored 4 without reply at Yeovil before exiting at Carrow Rd 1-4 at the hands of a Reidie inspired Sunderland with the little fat one getting two of his own. And they also got revenge over Brentford in a 1-0 home win in the Johnstone's Paint thing.
So there's been goals galore with a total 31 goals scored in those 7 games and it was a bit of a surprise to see a 0-0 draw against Walsall last week, although it was their third clean sheet in a row, a sign perhaps of Lambert's desire to start at the back. And then came Lambert's first defeat, 2-1 on Tuesday at MK Dons after having gone in front.
The nearest thing to the curse of an ex is Number 10 34 year old Jamie Cureton who played with Parky for three years at Reading and briefly joined him at Colchester when Parky was manager. He's played three times this season but has failed to score and was dropped to the bench for Tuesday's game.

Who Are Yeh?

Norwich have a couple of colourful defenders in right-back number 2 the ex-Liverpool Jon Otsemobor, most famous for the shooting in the buttocks incident in 2003, and at centre-half the Danish number 33 Jens Berthel Askou bought from Turkish club Kasımpaşa by that nice Mr Gunn during the summer.

Livewire winger Wes Hoolihan is someone that Pardew set his heart on in May 2008 but it never happened and he moved instead to Norwich and at the moment can't get a game.

And Tuesdays game leaves Lambert with some thinking to do. After three injuries he finished the game with three teenagers and two 20 year olds on the field. Midfielder Stephen Hughes was one of the injured and he was stretchered off in the 19th minute with full-back Adam Drury limping off 5 minutes later. Centre-half Michael Nelson was then injured as well in the second half. Whether all three will be fit to play on Satuday must be causing headaches for Lambert as he already has midfielders Jones and Gill out injured.

The Dangerman
Another of Gunn's signings for 400k is number nine and captain Grant Holt bought in from League Two Shrewsbury in July. After years spend in the Conference he found his level at Shrewsbury scoring 20 times last season. He's famous for his non-stop running and always scores on his debut ( except at Norwich ) and is top scorer with 5.

What's Their Secret?
The only secret I can find is that they play a left-winger cum striker on the left - number 16 Chris Martin - who likes to come inside and score goals with his right foot. He's done it twice now this season, the last time being his 16 second goal on Tuesday against MK Dons. He spent last season on loan at Luton and was their top scorer with 13 goals. Watch him, Frazer!

And Lambert seems to have sorted out the high scores with only 2 goals conceded in their last four games, and one of those a disputed penalty, so we may find goals hard to come by this weekend.

Who's Talking
In contrast to Parky, Lambert seems keen to use the loan window to bring new players in and inject some pace to get at defences. And he's also not too pleased with fitness levels at the club which may be important with only 5 days rest for his team.

Doing A Leicester?
Seven games in and Leicester had just won their 5th game 1-0 against Hartlepool and had 16 points, 3 less than the Addicks.

As mentioned our last visit was last January 13th in the FA Cup. Seven-One defeats are par for the course for a change of managers but so also is a defeat to Charlton. I've lost count how many times a defeat to us has been seen as life threatening and meant a sacking and this one meant the end for Glen Roeder and he was sacked the following day.

We have a good record against Norwich and have played them 70 times in the League, more times than anyone else in League One ( except Huddersfield, also on 70) and we've won there a credible 11 times, drawn 9 and lost 15 times. We came up with them from the old Second Division in 1986 and enjoyed top flight football for 4 years, only losing once in Norwich with the best result being a 3-1 win ( goals by Williams 2 and Mortimer) on October 1st 1988 when Norwich were top of the League. And since that win we have played there 8 times in the League and won 4 times, drawing 2 and losing only 2.

And more good news comes with the fact that we've beaten Norwich more times than anybody else in League One, 32 times out of 70 with 21 defeats and 17 draws.

The Team
Seven games unchanged has turned out to be a record start for Charlton and makes a pleasant change after last season when we used a massive 39 in the League. Parky was made to sweat a bit last weekend with injuries to Bailey and Racon but both started although it can't be too long before changes will have to be made.

On Tuesday we fielded a 4-4-2 in a reserve game against Ebbsfleet with Wagstaff and Holden on the wings with Spring and Stavrinou in the middle and it may be that these last two will be key to our success in the weeks to come. Spring played 12 games last season, the same as Semedo, while Racon only managed 19. With number 26 Alex Stavrinou celebrating his 19 birthday last Sunday it may not be long before he adds to his 2 hours spent in Charltons colours at Hereford.
As for now however its as you were with

Elliot; Richardson, Dailly, Llera, Youga; Sam, Semedo, Racon, Shelvey, Bailey; Burton.
This will be another stern test for Parky against a new manager and a team that have played three of the same teams at home that we have faced and all after his arrival at the club. They scored five against Wycombe, beat Brentford 1-0 in the JP Trophy and drew with Walsall 0-0 so not a bad comparison of results. But Parky will have had a full week to recover from dropping those points against Southampton whilst Norwich have had a hard game away at Milton Keynes on Monday. There's no reports of injuries from our camp whilst Lambert has his hands full not only searching the loan market but wondering who's going to be fit for Saturday.
We've also got an unblemished record away from home with three wins from 3 games, eight goals scored and only conceded once, at the Orient.
And Parky will be out to make it three wins in a row against the Canaries after seeing his team hit four against them at the Valley last May.
But it may be close and in their last 4 games they have only conceded twice so they will make scoring difficult but a win for the Addicks is on the cards, 2-1.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget Cody Macdonald Nelse. He signed for Norwich from my second team, Dartford, last season. A fast and nippy little striker, who is happy to take players on. Whilst I wish him well, I hope he has dud day on Saturday if he's picked. His nimbleness might unsettle messrs Dailly and Llera.

Pembury Addick

nelson said...

Second team Dartford, PM, then you must know my nephew Martin. He didn't warn me about this Cody though so either he doesn't agree with your worries or he's upset I haven't yet coughed up for his 50th birthday present.