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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sheffield Wednesday Preview

Well, are we happy? If you've been reading everyones views, seems not. A 4-3 win where nobody gave us a dogs chance doesn't seem to have had the desired effect on the fans and if we're not happy you have to wonder if Richard M is. And forgetting the games fluctuations, which had people tearing their hair out, its that goals against column that will do for Parky unless he sorts it out. Last season we had conceded 12 goals after 13 games, right now its 20, 15th worst in Tier Three.
And just when Parky wanted a few days to sort out our defensive failings, ie nine goals conceded in last three games, along come the highest scoring away team (equal to the Addicks of course) on a visit to the Valley that they must be relishing.
Manager at Wednesday is the Scot 52 year old Alan Irvine who knows all about Charlton as he was playing at Sainburys for the other lot when we were suffering those long years of exile in the eighties. He then went on to play from Blackburn where he retired in 1992. He became manager of Tier Two Preston in 2007, saved them from relegation and then lead them into the Play-offs the following season before being sacked the following December after only one win in 10 games. Memories are short in this business, aren't they Alan.
He then took over at Wednesday in January this year with the Owls in 22nd place in the Fizzies and two points clear of safety. But unlike at Preston he couldn't save them and they were relegated and he's now having his first taste of life in the Third Division.
With a massive 66 years in top flight football, 40 more than the addicks total, what the hell are a team like Wednesday doing down here. Its even harder to explain when you remember that they've won the League 4 times with back-to-back championships in the years 1903 and 1904 and again in 1929 and 1930. They're also FA Cup winners three times, all pre-war as well, and have a trophy room with 5 Division Two championships to complete the list.
It took them two years to get out of Tier three last time (2003-05), and they then managed to last 5 years in Tier Two before last seasons relegation where they had to beat Palarse to avoid the drop. They didn't. So Irvine's trying to cure past mismanagement and although he's enjoying high gates it seems that previously they've been spending too much as well because now they are currently experiencing severe money problems and received a winding up petition from HMRC last July and another two more since then, all of which have been staved off with bank loans and investments from "a consortium." Looks like they need promotion as much as we do.
What you might call an inconsistent start with 3 wins and a draw in their first 4 games that took them to the top of the table, followed by 4 defeats in a row to Brentford, Carlisle, Plymouth and Southampton and a slump down to 16th. But the alarm bells went off and it was back to another 3 wins and a draw before last Saturdays 1-1 home draw against Bournemouth. After a poor first half another run of defeats looked like beginning again until Preston loanee Mellor saved their blushes with a late 82th equaliser.
So they're now in 4th place with 21 points, 2 more than the Addicks, and with, discouragingly, the second best away record in Tier Three after the leaders Brighton with 3 wins (Hartlepool, Notts County and Yeovil), 1 draw (at Colchester) and two defeats to those stinging Bees from Brentford and to Plymouth.

As for the Addicks - when was the last time that we conceded 7 times in two games? Well, rather ominously you have to go back to November 2008 to Pardews last two games in charge when we lost away 2-3 to Birmingham and then a week later the cruncher for Pards, a 2-5 home defeat to Sheffield United.

The Opposition

One player that has managed to escape our attention is the captain Darren Purse although perhaps not as he supported Millwall in his youth. Born in Stepney thirty-three years ago and apparently played in the same Sunday team as Lee Bowyer. He started his career at Orient and has spent most of his career at Brum but has now been at Wednesday for the last two years. Much like the Doc he's started to slow down and as Ketts has already pointed out, Darren may find the pacy Anyinsah a bit of a handful.


As you all remember, Sheffield born Nicky Weaver played two years with us in 2007/09 playing 70 times but lost his place in December 2008 to youngster Rob Elliot and never got it back and finally returned to his roots this summer.


After two seasons with Deon Burton as top scorer, the last two years its been Marcus Tudgay with 14 and then 10 and he's close to becoming a Wednesday legend with 48 goals already to his name. This year number 33, Neil Mellor, on loan from Preston, is leading their charts with 5 but close behind is number 7 Marcus Tudgay, with 4 to his name.

Nostaglia Never Done Me Any Harm

If like me you've been knew to check the Prem teamsheets to see how our top class ex's are doing and have been heard to quietly utter the plaintive words of "he used to play for us" then you'll understand the reason behind this pathetic paragraph.

Across our screens last week were another couple of reminders of days gone by. Jonjo Shelvey played his first competitive game for the Reds last week in Naples, starting the game and playing the full 90.
And, going a bit further back, another player that appeared briefly for us in the summer of 2006, when we were all blissfully and innocently unaware of what was to befall us, was Christian BolaƱos. He's now at Copenhagen and appeared in last Wednesdays Chumps League game against Barcelona.
Back in August 2006, however, when the sun was always shining and with the redoubtable Iain Dowie at the helm ( or should it have been paddle), Charlton announced that they had clinched their third new signing in the space of 24 hours by snapping up Costa Rica international Christian Bolanos.
Having completed the £4m joint capture of Djimi Traore and Amady Faye the day before Addicks sealed a one-year loan deal the following afternoon with an exclusive option to buy the player before the loan expires. But there at the end of the report was the phase that nobody noticed - The signing is subject to a work permit being granted.
But, as we all remember, after appearing for Charlton in pre-season matches against Welling United and New Zealand, and creating a goal for Marcus Bent in the latter, it was announced that he had failed to get the required work permit. Oh dear, what a pity that the other two didn't need one.

Just like Carlisle its a shame this is not a cup game because we've had three cup games, all in the FA Cup, and we've won every time including a 4-2 win at Hillsborough in 2006.
But Wednesday have beaten us 4 times in the last 5 games League games played at the Valley including sending us down to Tier Two in May 1999 with a 0-1 defeat. In fact, they have done the double over us in 3 of the last 5 seasons spent together over the last 20 years. Overall, at the Valley, its 9-6 to the Addicks with 5 draws although in total its level pegging with 15 wins a piece with 10 draws.

What's Their Secret?

A mean defence, equal best with Brighton, with only 8 goals conceded. And with so much emphasis on defence, down the other end they have failed to score 4 times in 13 league games, twice as many as the Addicks, and have lost 3 of them. But, completely unlike the Addicks, they are the only club in Tier Three that have not conceded a goal after scoring first and Wednesday have done it 6 times and of course have won every one of them. Meanwhile the Addicks, although scoring first twice more times( ie 8), have now conceded 8 and that's if we forget another 4 at Shrewsbury in the League Cup.

So first things first. It would appear paramount then we stop them from scoring, and especially scoring first. A big, big problem this with our current defensive record. But don't be surprised if we've managed it to half-time because Wednesday have failed to score before half-time in their last 6 games.

What Are They Saying?

Parky before last weekends game at Carlisle "It's important to remember it's our fourth home defeat in 34 games which is a good record. The manner of the defeat creates a lot of unrest but the home record has been good." Lets hope it improves even more this weekend.

While Wednesday's Irvine had this to say after his teams 1-1 home draw with Bournemouth, "It was a game of two halves. Bournemouth controlled the first half and were much the better side while we were the better side in the second. Take note Parky, the first 45 currently seems to be a bit of a problem for Irvine's lot.

The Team

The Defence. We all know who its going to be - unless Parky surprises us and gives the hard-done by Fortune a game - and thats why we'll all be a bit apprehensive as we take our seats on Saturday. Only twice in the last twelve League games have we kept a clean sheet and it was a miracle in one of those that Notts County failed to score. What on earth is Parky going to say that will make any difference this weekend as we face the biggest away scorers in Tier Three?

One player on top form last weekend was Scotty Wagstaff but I even have a doubt about that for how important was the loss of left-back Sean McDaid to Carlisle? Ever-present McDaid is now out for the season with a knee problem and was replaced in the Carlisle lineup by Robson, a winger who just couldn't cope with Waggy. Carlisle then lost two other important ever-present players in the first half-hour of the game in defender James Chester and then midfielder Francois Zoko. Could all these disruptions explain the 3 goals we scored in the first 47 minutes?

Putting all that aside, there's no denying Paul Bensons hit form with 5 goals in his last 5 League games and alongside him Parky seems to have picked up a gem, if he can keep fit, of Joe Anyinsah. These two, barring injuries, will be up front but behind them there may be alterations as the boss seeks to convince Murray that he can solve the lead weight of 20 goals conceded thats threatening to derail our season.

But don't forget Parky, this lot have a tendency to start slowly and then build up steam with nearly half their goals coming in the last twenty minutes. So start with Semedo/Racon and try for a goal before getting McCormack on the field to tie things up.

On another theme, its almost a year ago since we suffered the embarrassment of three defeats in a row and surprisingly for all the talk of Parky's imminent departure we haven't suffered two defeats in a row since then. OK, the League is the most important thing and two of those defeats were cup defeats, and all away as well at Carlisle, Northwich (FA Cup) and Southampton (Painting job) and we put it all right with a 5-1 home hammering over MK Dons. What a funny game is football.

Elliot; Francis, Daily, Doherty, Fry; Wagstaff, Semedo, Racon, Jackson; Benson, Anyinsah.


A game between the Tier Three's two highest away scorers each scoring 12 times but with a fragile home defence with 9 goals conceded in the last three games. An Addicks team thats scored just 6 times at home against a team with the most clean sheets in Tier Three (7) and that hasn't conceded a single goal after scoring first. You would think that maybe a 0-0 draw would be worth a bet as Parky seeks to bring some calm to our troubled brows but no, I won't if I were you - this is Charlton we're talking about.

Forecast- I just don't know why, but 3-2 to the Addicks.

One final thought. After 13 games last season, the spanners were lying 9th with 18 points from 4 wins, 6 draws and 3 defeats, one point worse than the Addicks right now.


Wyn Grant said...

Darren Purse is suspended on Saturday having picked up his fifth yellow card against Bournemouth.

nelson said...

Thanks, Wyn, Losing your captain can't be good news for Wednesday, although his replacement is sure to be quicker on his feet than Purse ever was.