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.
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.
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.
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 Bolaños. He's now at Copenhagen and appeared in last Wednesdays Chumps League game against Barcelona.
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 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.