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Thursday, November 12, 2009

MK Dons Preview

Vladimir Nabakov (he of Lolita fame) once said that our existence is a brief crack of light surrounded by two eternities of darkness. Well, you're wrong Vladimir, 'cause the lights have gone out in the middle of my existence and I'm none too happy about it.
No, I haven't died yet but my football team definitely has. Three straight defeats, all to teams supposedly below us in the pecking order and with only a single goal scored and I'm wondering exactly how long this eternity of darkness is going to continue.
So, perhaps it would be worth while at this point to make it quite clear that the Addicks haven't always left Division Three at the first attempt. In modern post-war times we've been down here twice and everyone knows that its been 29 years since we last graced (!) these pastures in 1980/81 when we only stayed one year after claiming third spot. But back in the early '70's we needed three long years (a la Leeds) before finishing 3rd in our third season in 1975. And you'll have noticed that in those days third was good enough for an automatic spot; no Play-Off nonsense in those days.
OK, as its our policy to bring you a balanced amount of grief and optimism every week we have to say, as the really cold winds of winter approach, and in our completely sober condition, that we only appear to have a couple of difficult games remaining this year - against MK Dons this weekend and the Spanners on December 19th. The rest should be easy.....
And before we go on, you'll be pleased to learn that there's another team in exactly our position - 2nd in their League and just dumped out of the cup by inferior opposition. Its, of course, none other than big spenders Real Madrid where, unlike ourselves (?), its rumoured that another defeat will mean the end of the manager.
So what can we tell you about MK Dons that you don't know and care about. In a sentence, in 1967 the Government decided to found a new town (designed as a "New City") in north Buckinghamshire next to the village of Milton, and subsequently called the shopping centre Milton Keynes. And the fusion between a boring new shopping centre, sorry town, and a boring football team took place back in 2003 when Wimbledon started playing their games at the National Hockey Stadium in Milton Keynes and the following summer the name was changed to Milton Keynes Dons or Franchise F.C if you prefer. They started in Tier Three after relegation and administration but then dropped into Tier Four before Paul Ince came along and won promotion back to League One in 2008.

Ince then left, of course, but he's back again, returning during the summer, after his short stay 5 month at Blackburn.

As you all know they start the day level on points with us but mainly because they've scored 6 times less than us they have a goal difference 4 worse than ours. But they are the second best away team in the Division ( after Leeds) with 4 away wins already and their current form is good as well with only one defeat ( away to the Saints) in their last seven games since the beginning of October. Make that one defeat in eight as they beat Northampton 3-1 in the JPT this week.
But you have to say that their away wins have all been easy pickings at Brighton, Exeter, Tranmere and Norwich and only 6 teams have scored less goals away from home than the Dons with their paltry seven goals in their seven games.

The Opposition
In goal is frenchman Wily Gueret now 36 but ever present this season as he has been for the last two as well. Good at saving penalties apparently, but we don't care about that really 'cause we never get any.
Number three is captain and left-back, and only sole survivor from the old Wimbledon days, Dean Lewington. And we're all dying to have a look at number 16, Jason Puncheon, and see why Parky was so determined to bring him in during the summer. He's a local boy from Croydon, and top of Parkys wishlist but the takeover talks killed the transfer and he joined the Dons on loan for the season from Plymouth.
Star of defence is a true Dons man, Mathias Kouo-Doumbé (or MKD for short) who started his career with Nicky Anealka at Paris St. Germain but unfortunately its been all downhill since then and he moved down to Tier Three during the summer in another of Plymouth's clearouts. And then there's Luke Chadwick, ex Manure and Norwich at number 26.

And the Little and Large act up front are target man in 6' 3" number nine Aaron Wilbraham and his fellow striker, midget 5'9" Jermaine Easter.

The Dangerman
There's only one hotshot this week to worry about and that's number 8 Jermaine Easter. A Welsh international and a pacy little handful if you believe the Dons website he's got 10 goals so far this year, seven of them in the League.

What Are They Saying?
Dons Assistent Manager after their last League game, a 2-1 home win over Bristol, "The pleasing thing today was that it was a solid, strong performance, and that's the sort of performance that good teams need to put in. We had 76% of the possession in the first half, which is frightening." Take note of the Solid and Strong combination, Parky.

Whats Their Secret?

Look out for a boring first half as they have only conceded 2 goals in their 15 League games before the break. That's one goal every 337 minutes or one every 5 and a half hours so quite clearly all that first half possession mentioned above is almost completely wasted. And another conflicting stat is that they have won 8 games by a single goal, more than anybody in the Division, while the Addicks are the only club in League One that hasn't lost by a single goal yet this season - in the League anyway, although we've been practising that scoreline in all of our cup exits.
And owing to the current crisis, if you've looking for a stabilising goalless draw, a la Curbs, then take note that both teams are up there in 4th and 5th places in the Clean Sheet Table with the Addicks on 6 and MK on 7.

Well, there's no history here because we've never ever played this lot before and I see no point in dragging in our appalling record against who they used to be just because there's a Don at the end.

Doing a Leicester?

Fifteen games in and Leicester were pulling away with 31 points from 9 wins, 4 draws and only 2 defeats, at home to Millwall and a dismal 2-3 away to Brighton.

The Team

After a nightful of errors from Ikeme on Wednesday, its odds-on that Randolph will return in goal and Sodje will surely in alongside Dailly in place of Llera in central defence but will Parky choose to retain his playing Youga and Basey as the two full-backs as there's been no news of the injury suffered by Richardson.

Semedo had a bad game at St Marys and suffered one of the few games when he's been subbed and could start on the bench on Saturday with Spring being preferred.

Up front, and following his elbow at Northwich, there'll be no place for Izzy, much to everyone's relief and it could mean that Mooney is set to start a League game at last.

Randolph; Youga, Sodje, Dailly, Basey: Sam, Spring, Racon, Bailey; Burton, Mooney

A good away team against one that will be extremely nervous after three away defeats. A another defeat is surely staring us in the face. But my heart hopelessly sees a goalless draw....

Another thing bothering me at the moment as a recurring nightmare that won't go away and comes back at least once week. It really is a pain and is one of those that torment you regularly and it concerns something silly that can't possibly happen now but because I don't know why it didn't happen in the first place I can't get rid of the dream.

Let me explain. We used to live in Welling, years ago. And after we moved my old man used to tell me what a pig of a journey it was every winter riding his motorbike all the way across London to the Guiness factory at Park Royal. It was especially bad whenever it rained 'cause he was always falling off over those slippery tram rails.

Anyway, it occurred to me after he died why did he buy a house in Kent when he worked in West London? And that's the scary bit, because I don't know why and it's too late now to ask him. And my nightmare is that instead of going to the Valley for the first time on Sept 20th 1956 we would have gone instead to a ground somewhere in West London.

So every now and then I wake up in a cold sweat having dreamt that I was in a crowd of people all wearing blue and cheering a goal by some geezer called Didier and being in the middle of them I'm forced to cheer as well. What a nightmare - can you imagine having to stand up, smile and cheer your head off every time Drogba scores a goal. It's hell, I tell you.

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