Monday, November 28, 2005

Rovers return

An early post about the Blackburn cup tie on Wednesday as I'm out tomorrow night and won't get another chance beforehand.

The fall-out over our fourth consecutive Premiership loss (to Villa on Saturday) has not yet subdued, but the team and fans need a quick turnaround. Curbs rang a few changes at the weekend, not to the fans or his satisfaction ultimately, and I expect there to be more glum faces in the Charlton player ranks this midweek.

The time has surely come to change the keeper; whether Stephan Andersen is rested and returns at the weekend or dropped is open to question, but I can see no purpose in playing him in this match. If Dean Kiely is out of favour, as has been suggested by his omission from the substitutes role for the last couple of games, or just doesn't like being on the bench, I don't know, but the goalkeeper choice for me is between him and Thomas Myrhe. I'd pick Myrhe personally, a man who has done absolutely no wrong in a Charlton (or Norway) shirt all season.

The defence is also in a little bit of turmoil. Nearly every blog is now calling for Curbs to make the obvious switch that is needed at left back - Hermann Hreidersson must play there! That means that Chris Perry (left) and Talal El Karkouri can be accomodated at centre backs and the team will line up as they finished on Saturday at Villa Park, with Luke Young at right back.

The best midfield option that the club has is for Smertin, Kishishev, and Murphy to get back to what they did early in the season - create and destroy. This threesome didn't all play together at Ewood Park a month ago and needs to be brought together again after the midfield tinkering of the last few weeks.

Out wide, our best options are slightly less obvious; Ambrose, Thomas, and Rommedahl have all had great moments this season, with Dennis and Ambie scoring excellent goals. This is a tough call for Curbs, but with the solidity of the defence if it lines up as hoped for, I'd go for Rommedahl (rested at the weekend) and Thomas, with Ambrose as sub should he be needed.

Up front, without a decent partner for Darren Bent, it is pointless playing 4-4-2 as some fans have called for. Lisbie, Bothroyd, Johansson, and Bartlett are either just not good enough, or cannot apparently be bothered when they get the call, so let's just leave them out of the starting equation. It's got to be 4-5-1, or 4-3-3 if you look at the defensive worth of Rommedahl and Thomas!

My team would therefore be:
Myrhe, Young, Perry, El Karkouri, Hreidersson, Smertin, Kishishev, Murphy, Rommedahl, Thomas, Bent.

Subs could be garnered from Spector, Powell, Ambrose, Hughes, Holland, a forward and a keeper.

Blackburn will be tough, but with the team shown above I think we can turn them over and reverse the league result of a few weeks back. Bellamy is quick and on form, and the Rovers defence and midfield (including no doubt one Andy Todd and one Robbie Savage!) solid and uncompromising, but if we are positive, play our best team option, and get stuck in, we can create history and not waste the memory of that fabulous night at Stamford Bridge (left) back in October.

My one to watch in this game is Danny Murphy - rested at the weekend, he must return to the starting eleven, and a positive response from Danny Boy is imperative if we are to have a chance and he is to add to his impressive medal collection!

Pedro45's score prediction mantra of always getting it wrong, and therefore predicting a defeat when we need a win, is over. I want a positive result in this match and think we can scrape through 2-1, maybe after extra time.

This game is crucial, not only for Charlton's season, but also for the fans mental health. We need a win. A good win isn't necessary, just any old sort of win; penalties will do! If Curbs picks a positive team, if Charlton play in a positive manner, and if the fans get the right feeling and react and make noise in a positive manner then we can be victorious. Anything less, and the doom merchants will come to the fore and make it increasingly difficult to get anything beneficial from this season at all. Should Charlton crash out of the cup, it will be the League cup bogey once more - we have never got to the fifth round in over forty years of trying! History awaits this team - come on lads, you can do it! For us, for you, for Curbs, give us the win we need!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Charlton snookered by Steve Davis

Aston Villa 1 Charlton Athletic 0

One goal was enough... Another very disappointing scoreline and performance from Charlton in the loss at Villa Park this afternoon. Curbs made two changes to the side that lost against Manchester United at home last week - replacing Danny Murphy with Matt Holland (left), and Dennis Rommedahl with Jerome Thomas.

The 4-5-1 formation lasted until half time, and then Kevin Lisbie came on as sub (for Darren Ambrose) for his first appearance of the season in a revised 4-4-2 line up. Davis scored the only goal midway through the second half, after Baros had hit the bar, and Curbs tried his best to get the team level by attacking with three forwards for the last quarter hour or so, but to no avail.

Charlton didn't really look like scoring, with Lisbie way off the pace according to reports.

Where the team goes from here is anybodies guess; Curbs has now tried most of the options available, but confidence is at it's lowest ebb so far this season. Wednesday nights cup game against Blackburn takes on much more significance now, with the team desperate to stop the slide in results over recent weeks. We may see Rommedahl and Murphy restored to the starting line up then, but the lack of goal-power and support for Darren Bent is hurting the team badly.

Villa Park has rarely been a happy hunting ground for Addicks fans, and today was another low-point. The flack aimed at the team from websites, message boards, and the like, will be tough for the players to take, but the fans want results, starting Wednesday.

Peter Crouch versus Francis Jeffers

I've been wondering for a few weeks now which one of England's premier strikers - Peter Crouch or Franny Jeffers - would score their initial goal of the season first, but I haven't needed to worry about rushing to post on here about it as it still hasn't happened.

Who will it be?

Crouch has played 16 games for Liverpool this season, without scoring. Jeffers has been in and out of the Rangers team, and has also yet to register his first goal for his club.

Crouch was linked with Charlton during the summer, until the price tag needed to prise him away from Southampton was talked up (stupidly) by Harry Redknapp, and Liverpool were the only club willing to meet the £7m asking price.

Jeffers became a bit of a favourite among some of the Valley faithful last season, scoring twice on his home debut (against today's Charlton opponents Aston Villa) in a 3-0 win. He finished the season with five goals, but his style of play did not suit the 4-5-1 formation that Manager Alan Curbishley decided to use from November onwards. He was loaned out to Glasgow Rangers in August, in order to get some playing time and hopefully goals, but both have been lacking in any measurable quantity. Some fans still think that he could be the answer to Charlton's second striker needs.

The situation with Jeffers is complex: he was signed on a two-year contract, and is now into that last season. He was loaned out until January, with the hope of good reports being enough to either allow him to force his way back into the Charlton starting eleven, or to entice a bid from Rangers (or elsewhere). If Charlton had wished to keep him, they would enforce the additional years extension to his current contract that they favour, and if they didn't, he would be free to leave at the end of the season without a transfer fee involved if nobody else had come forward to buy him previously. Charlton will not want to pay his weekly wage if he is not playing, scoring, and contributing to the club for the final few months of his contract, unless they really have to.

So who will score that first goal?

My bet is on Crouch, who amazingly continues to be part of the starting eleven at Anfield, and will probably play against Manchester City at Eastfields today. Jeffers is getting starting time too, but Rangers are low on confidence as a team, and have another tough fixture away at Hibernian this weekend.

Don't be surprised if neither scores again today...and I wouldn't be surprised at all for Jeffers to return to The Valley with a big fat zero goals return to his name from his time at Ibrox.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Charlton seek sunny Villa

Charlton head up to Villa Park tomorrow following three consecutive losses, and will be looking to turn results in their favour once more. The official club match preview is here.

Who will Curbs (left) pick on the return to one of his old stamping grounds? A ground where Charlton have a pretty poor record, and where our record defeat (11-1!)came in 1957. Will he switch back to 4-4-2? Here's my view -

I think we'll stay at 4-5-1, and this will be the team:
Andersen, Young, Perry, El Karkouri, Hreidersson, Smertin, Kishishev, Murphy, Ambrose, Rommedahl, Bent. Subs: Myrhe, Hughes, Thomas, Bothroyd, Spector.

Let's start with the goalies, probably the most contentious area of the team at present. Andersen is the incumbent, but he hasn't kept a clean sheet in 7 games. He was at fault for Manchester United's third goal last weekend, and also for Blackburn's first the weekend before that. A couple of other recent goals have put question marks over his future in the side. Is it time for a change? Deano was obviously knocking at Curbs door a few weeks back after returning to full fitness following his pre-season broken finger. But after getting back onto the bench for the Bolton game, he has disappeared from view, not playing for the reserves and not being on the 1st team bench. Is Deano injured or out of favour? Thomas Myrhe is in good form according to reports on the two Norway-Czech Republic World Cup play off games. He was the sub goalie last week; is he now ahead of Deano in the clubs goalkeeper rankings? Maybe. Myrhe's contract finishes in January, and after the usual agent inspired angst he seems to genuinely want to get an extension and stay. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see him between the sticks either tomorrow or on Wednesday for the Blackburn cup game.

The defence is still not quite right, and being honest, it hasn't been right all season even when we were winning. Luke Young is solid, and consistent and not being challenged; the way he kept Cristiano Ronaldo quiet last week was testament to his improvement in confidence and skill. Chris Perry (left) has looked good most of the season, but Curbs dropped (or rested) him last week. Talal El Karkouri returned to the starting line up but, although he had a reasonable game, he didn't look any more solid than Perry. His understanding with Hriedersson was also not as good. Left back is also an area where we have struggled this season. Chris Powell did wonderfully well earlier in the season but ran out of steam a little (especially toward the end of games) a month or so back. Jonathan Spector was possibly more solid in defence, but has lacked the forward runs and availability that Powell provided, and put pressure on the left wing and midfield because of this. I think it is time that Hermann returned to left back - with Perry and El Kak in central defence - as he will offer the surges down the left that we need and have missed from Spector, while providing the strength in defence that has sometimes be lacking recently in Powell.

The midfield remains fairly unchallenged, with Smertin, Kishishev, and Murphy (his 50th start for Charlton) looking to keep their places. Bryan Hughes is always going to be on the periphery, but the team have lacked something whenever he has started the games in place of one of the others. Darren Ambrose is a possible option, but only for Murphy's role, and I would like Danny Boy to keep playing while he can. Matt Holland is another who offers variation, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him in place of a rested Kish or Smerts at some stage over the coming months, ahead of Hughes, if he remains at the club.

Out wide, Lloyd Sam appears injured again, so that leaves any two from three - Ambrose will play after his great goal last week, but will it be the left or right wing that he occupies? Dennis Rommedahl seeems to have slipped back into his bad sulking habits; I still don't know why he only lasts 65 minutes before being substituted when he's playing well. I expect him to play tomorrow, but for Jerome Thomas to get on as sub later in the game.

Up front, our only viable option is Darren Bent. Jay Bothroyd seems to have lost drive, and is now not much of a better option than Bartlett (still injured), Lisbie (scorer for the reserves in midweek), or Johansson (who played best of all for the reserves apparently). I would like to see him (Bothroyd) flicking the ball on when he has a chance rather than trying to chest it down, as he did many times as sub last weekend against United.

My one to watch this weekend is Hermann Hreidersson (left), who will be combative, creative, and challenging, all of which may result in a goal or a booking depending on (quite good) ref Mark Clattenburg (who did the recent Bolton home game)!

Pedro45's score prediction is not a good one, but based on the fact I haven't got one right for a while, I'm hoping I'll be wrong once more - I'll therefore say 2-0 to Villa. Up the Addicks!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Mancs dominate again

It seems that Manchester United just cannot be kept out of the news this week, off the pitch at least; not only did we have assault and battery by their fans at The Valley at the weekend, the weekdays have brought the announcement that United will lose their sponsor - Vodaphone - and more bad news concerning George Best's health.

George, it seems, is on death's door, with family and friends all expecting an announcement about his demise any time now, sadly. A previous post on here recounted my own recollections of seeing him play, and I won't repeat those; but I'll add one more memory - that of the 1968 European Cup Final. Just old enough to be "into" football (my first Charlton game was earlier that season), I watched the game (Manchester United versus Benfica) from Wembley on TV like millions of others. Fabulous players, some of whom had played against each other in the 1966 World Cup semi-final, met on the famous pitch, and after 90 minutes, the score was One all. My father, who had been watching the game with me, then had to go into the garden at the behest of my mother to water the plants (it was a warm balmy early summer evening). Within minutes of the first period of extra time kicking off, Best had waltzed through the Benfica defence to score. He claimed afterwards that he intended to stop the ball on the goal line, and head the ball in, but the fast retreating Benfica goalie made that dream impossible. I ran into the garden and tried to explain the goal to my dad, and show him how Best had scored. Action replays were in short supply then, so it was the only chance he would get of seeing it, performed by yours truly! United went on to win 4-1, with Bobby Charlton and Brian Kidd also scoring in extra-time. George's doctor is on TV now, telling the media that he will be dead soon - "his hours are numbered", "he could die at any time", "I will be surprised if he survives another 24 hours". George was a great footballer, but driven to excess - women, drink, money, power. It's probably best that we remember Georgie as a player of fabulous football, rather than anything else.

Shirt sponsors are a subject (literally) close to Charlton hearts at the moment, with all:sports going bust. Now Vodaphone have pulled the plug on their partnership with United, with one of the reasons stated being that non-United supporters refuse to use their services. That point has been stated on other blogs recently, and it inherently true. United will not be short of suitors for logos for their shirts, but whoever they are should bear in mind the point raised by Vodaphone and beware of losing customers as a consequence. Whoever is willing to stump up the £10 million or so a year it will cost them shouldn't impact on Charlton's own search for a new sponsor, as the level of cost versus benefit is immeasurably different at the two clubs.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ruud and Lewd to cause fan ban?

It's been interesting reading all the posts concerning the proposed ban on Manchester United fans at next years Valley match, following van Nistelrooy's over exuberant goal celebration and the trouble that happened in the Jimmy Seed stand before, during, and after the game.

I can understand Peter Varney being upset; any mis-behaviour at The Valley by opposition supporters reflects on Charlton. We are rightly proud of the low arrest figures from home matches in recent seasons, and the game on Saturday will obviously affect those numbers.

There are three elements that have led to the current slanging match (between supporters, but not clubs, yet...) - first, the standing in the away end; second, the sexual assault, and third, the goal and collapsed gate that followed.

Standing: I've read some of the Manchester United message boards, and the fans there think that they have a right to stand at games, that it can be safer, and doesn't cause any harm. Sorry lads! The ground rules state that you must be seated, and the grounds safety certificate is based on this. The reaction to the standing in the first instance, a few years back, was to employ more stewards. They seem (according to United fans) to have over-reacted and been bullish, which resulted in fans being ejected and stewards being attacked in retaliation. The stewards were not able to ensure that United fans took their seats during the game. Subsequent years saw more stewards, and more aggression by United fans, who continued to stand, and then a reduction in ticket allocation numbers after a decree by Greenwich Council. Even this year, with even less tickets on sale to United supporters, two thirds of the stand stood thoughout! The loss of revenue to Charlton is quite significant (£30,000 in lost ticket sales plus extra stewarding costs), so Varney has my backing in calling for a ban, but that will probably end with a compromise position of United paying some or all of the lost revenue/extra costs. For information to any United supporters, Charlton do not have this consistent standing problem with any other Premiership club who come to The Valley.

Sexual Assualt: Not much to say here - the police have made an arrest, the United fans have given statements and a conviction once it goes to court seems imminent. The idiot will hopefully get a custodial for the offence and not a slap on the wrist as it was at a football match, thereby tarring football with more bad media.

Ruud's celebrations: This was all a bit unfortunate, and I don't actually think that too much would have been written if the other things hadn't have happened. OK, Ruud shouldn't have gone to the crowd; that's why he got booked by Riley. If the crowd had been seated, there probably wouldn't have been a surge by standing supporters, and the gate wouldn't have collapsed. The steward wouldn't therefore have been injured and the three supporters not catapulted onto the running track by the pitch, and subsequently arrested. They will probably be banned from attending football matches now, and will be feeling pretty bad about things... Sure, the fact that the gate collapsed, and some people could have been seriously injured (or even killed...) is the relevant point here and, ultimately, this was van Nistelrooy's fault. Any punishment and action should therefore in my opinion be taken in his direction, and the learning point be made to all footballers so it doesn't get repeated.

United's message boards suggested that they should come back to The Valley next year and really smash it up - totally moronic bahaviour. If a United fan had died on Saturday as a result of the gate collapsing, then the opinion and verbal sparring may have been of a very different complexion.

Peter Varney (left) will be wary of Greenwich Council and the police taking decisions when they have seen no movement to change the problem from Charlton's side. Hopefully, Varney and United can reach an agreement that is acceptable to both clubs (and the Council), and we can welcome United fans to The Valley in all future seasons.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ruud double dose upsets Charlton's stomach

Charlton Athletic 1 Manchester United 3

Two more Ruud van Nistelrooy goals ultimately proved the difference as United outclassed Charlton at the Valley yesterday. Darren Ambrose had scored a brilliant equaliser to Alan Smith's first half opener, and Charlton looked ready to seek their first ever Premiership win against Alex Ferguson's team when the Dutchman scored his first goal, spinning on Wayne Rooney's chip across the area. Van Nistelrooy's second (see pic above), five minutes from time, killed the game, and it was his first ever goal for United scored from outside the penalty area.

Alan Curbishley will probably say that all three goals conceded could have been prevented - a ball lost in midfield, a run from halfway and cross by Rooney that went all the way to the far side of the penalty area, and a lay back by Fletcher to set up Smith brought the first goal; another mazy run by Rooney, all the time being chased by Danny Murphy (who even tried to trip him before he got into the penalty area) led to the second; and the third was again a long straight run at the heart of the defence before a direct shot that Andersen should have saved.

Van Nistelrooy, allegedly a Charlton fan(!), has now scored a double at The Valley twice, to go with his Old Trafford hat-trick against us from a couple of years back.

Charlton really didn't get going in the first half, and were probably lucky to be just the one goal behind, such had been United's dominance. The second half was much more competitive though, with Smertin finally getting time on the ball and making things happen after a very quiet opening period. Ambrose had also had a quiet first 45 minutes, and I thought he might be replaced by Thomas when Curbs made the substitution twenty minutes after half time; instead, Rommedahl, who had hardly touched the ball all day such was the lack of service, was the man to go. Immediately, Ambrose scored with a left foot cracker from twenty five yards.

Here's my player notes:
Andersen: No chance with the first two goals, but at fault with the third. Looks to have lost much of his early season confidence, and seen arguing with the defence on more than one occasion. The time may be that he should be given a rest in favour of Kiely or Myrhe.
Young: A good game, he kept Ronaldo very quiet, and got forward well toward the end.
El Karkouri: Defensively OK, he won plenty in the air, but didn't have the same understanding with Hermann that Perry has built up. His shooting nearly led to a goal for Bent in the first half, but every one of his (three) shots from free kicks hit the wall.
Hreidersson: OK game, not dominant, and suspect when being run at (especially as Rooney did this a lot!).
Powell: Back in the team in place of Spector, and tried his best, and he is still much the player he was, but still will be blamed for the second goal. The only way he could have stopped it would have ended with a penalty or him getting kicked in the head. Got forward well when he could, but pressurised in possession at the back.
Smertin: Very quiet first half, he got better as the game went on, and even had a couple of shots.
Kishishev: Worked extremely hard, but poor control on many occasions meant he didn't have time to get the right pass off. Needs to work on his first touch!
Murphy: Little service, and didn't do much when he did get the ball. Being marked much closer nowadays, and needs help from team-mates.
Rommedahl: Almost no service, though he made his customary runs. One comical episode when he and Young left the ball for each other which nearly led to a United goal - definitely Dennis's fault.
Ambrose: Quiet game, until he moved right side and then a storming last half hour, and a great goal.
Bent: Messed up a snap shot in the first half, after Elk's free kick deflected his away, and a header over midway through the second. Worked hard but couldn't beat Silvestre for pace.
Subs - Thomas: Little impression when he came on though he did work hard, and made one very good defensive tackle.
Bothroyd: Upset ref Mike Riley somehow, and therefore gave away a free kick every time he went near the ball.

Alex Ferguson said that this was United's best result of the season, which goes to show how much respect he has for Charlton.

So it's three defeats on the bounce. Next week's Villa game now becomes even more important, and a result will be needed to stop the slide and keep Charlton in the top half of the table.

Friday, November 18, 2005

United at The Valley

Manchester United arrive at The Valley tomorrow, for one of Charlton's biggest games of the season. Alan Curbishley's team need a win - the good form at the start of the season now seems a distant memory, and slipping down to eighth place in the Premiership table has dented confidence. Home form is also pretty poor - just the win against Wigan to show so far from five games, and this area needs to be turned around as soon as possible to quell discord amongst fans.

Curbishley (above) has been dispelling the rumours linking him with the forthcoming managerial vacancy at Rangers which are not going away as quickly as fans would hope. Martin Simons, Richard Murray, and today Curbs himself have denied any firm contact between Rangers and Charlton regarding this matter.

The team that lost the last match at Blackburn will see a couple of changes; Jon Spector is unavailable due to loan club arrangements, so the choice at left back is between Chris Powell (in a straight swap) or Hermann Hreidersson being moved across with (probably) Talal El Karkouri being brought in at centre half to pair with Chris Perry. I suspect that Powell will be given another run out, with the Moroccan on the bench again. England's number two Luke Young will play at right back and captain the team.

In midfield, the indications are that Alexei Smertin is fit once more, so he will automatically return at the expense of Ewood Park goalscorer Bryan Hughes. Kishishev and Murphy will make up the middle three. Out wide, Dennis Rommedahl will play on the right and Darren Ambrose on the left; Jerome Thomas has a hamstring injury picked up with the U21's and will be out for another week or two.

Leading the line will be Darren Bent (left), fresh from a great goal for the England U21's in France.

Most speculation, however, will be centred on who goes in goal. With all three first team keepers fit and healthy, incumbent Stephan Andersen will be hoping to keep his starting place despite conceding goals in his last six matches. However, Dean Kiely and Thomas Myrhe are both desperate for a starting spot; Deano is fit after the broken finger he picked up in pre-season has healed, and Myrhe will be hoping for some cheer after Norway lost their World Cup play off matches, and wanting to make a mark at the club before his contract runs out at the end of the year. I believe that this will be Andersen's last chance, and any further blip's on his record like the first goal conceded at Blackburn will see Deano pulled back into the team.

The starting eleven I expect to see take the field is:
Andersen, Young, Perry, Hreidersson, Powell, Smertin, Kishishev, Murphy, Rommedahl, Ambrose, Bent. Subs: Kiely, Hughes, Holland, El Karkouri, Bothroyd.

United have slowly moved up the league, passing Charlton, after a slow start; they have been hit by injuries quite badly (Keane, Giggs, Neville, Heinze), but the team they field will still be strong. Wayne Rooney will play, and Ruud van Nistelrooy is expected to feature if his rib injury clears up in time. Rio Ferdinand will return to south London once more, and the defence he plays with looks solid on paper (Silvestre, Brown, O'Shea). Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Smith, Darren Fletcher, and Paul Scholes should also feature. Edwin van der Sar will play in goal.

Trying to be positive, this United team is very beatable; the midfield is weaker than ever before, the forwards (barring Rooney) lack confidence and form, and the defence was hit for four in their last away game at Boro. Van der Sar had a nightmare last time he played at the Valley (for Fulham, as JJ will well remember!) and pressure on his kicking needs to be applied. If Smertin can wrestle control of the middle of the park, and the defence stays solid then a first Premiership win against United could be won. Bent and Rommedahl need to maintain their confidence even though they will find the going tough up front against the pace of Ferdinand, Silvestre, and Brown.

My one to watch picks this season have not usually done the business, so for a change I'm going to pick an opposition player in the hope that my jinx transfers across to him - Wayne Rooney (left), all eyes will be on you tomorrow!

Pedro45's score predictions have been better than my ones-to-watch, but still not good enough. I'm hoping for an upturn in form, atmosphere and results tomorrow and will go for a 2-0 home win! Come on you Reds!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Murphy books his holidays

Danny Murphy told the BBC today that he has given up hope of taking part in the World Cup next summer, despite being touted for possible inclusion in the England squad for Germany.

Murphy has decided to book his holidays for most of the summer now, rather than wait to see if he is called up, and plans to watch the soccer action on TV between a couple of trips abroad.

Where Danny and his wife Joanna Taylor end up sunning themselves is anybody's guess, but it doesn't sound like it will be anywhere near to the action in Germany.

Maybe this reaction to being left out of recent England squads will urge Sven to pick the best rated midfielder in the country for his next get-together, but I doubt it.

Bye Sky B

The hot news this afternoon is that BSkyB have lost the right to broadcast all the Premiership matches live when the current contract runs out. This follows lengthy discussions between the Premiership and the European Commission regarding the live game monopoly that Sky currently have.

The proposal that has been accepted is that TV packages will be split into six groups, and no one company may win the bids on all six.

Expected bidders, apart from Sky, include NTL (who are merging with Telewest in the near future), plus terrestrial TV companies BBC, ITV, and Channels Four and Five.

The consequences of this are yet to pan out, but I expect the next TV rights contract to produce lower overall revenues for the Premiership clubs as Sky currently pay a premium for live game exclusivity. This is bad news for the clubs, but could be good news for fans if more live games make it onto terrestrial TV.

News from The Valley

Two weeks without a game, but there's plenty of news related to Charlton, Charlton's manager, and Charlton players from the last few days to talk about.

First up, we had the two-leg England under 21 play off matches against France; Darren Ambrose scored a late equaliser in the first, home, leg, and Darren Bent (left) gave England the aggregate lead during the second half of the second leg. However, France hit back almost immediately, and won the game with a controversial late penalty to knock England out of contention for the European finals. Ambrose had a quiet game on the right side of midfield, and was substituted in the second half, but Bent was dangerous throughout, hitting the post in the first half, before scoring with a majestic header in the second. Late on he was moved out wide to accomodate a second tall striker (Dean Ashton) and was less effective. Both Charlton players took knocks in the game, but hopefully both will be fit for this weekend's clash versus Manchester United.

Jerome Thomas (left) was also in the squad for these U21 matches, but he had to withdraw due to a hamstring injury picked up in training; he must be doubtful for this weekends game.

Thomas Myrhe can forget about his World Cup dreams, after Norway lost both legs of their World Cup play off games 1-0 to the Czech Republic. Gonzalo Sorondo will also have a World Cup-free summer (probably back in Milan) after Uruguay lost on penalties to Australia.

This means that in all probability, Luke Young, Darren Bent and Danny Murphy are the only Charlton players who could make the finals in Germany (presuming that Jonathan Spector has returned to Manchester United by then of course...), unless we sign another World Cup bound international or two in the transfer windows beforehand.

Possible transfer rumours, mainly through the bored and nothing to write about media, include J Lloyd Samuel, Lee Trundle (left), and Freddy Eastwood recently. Apparently a Charlton scout was at the top of the table Division one clash between Southend and Swansea at the weekend, so all journalistic eyes are presuming that Trundle (who scored) and/or Eastwood (who didn't) are the potential targets. Another forward is definitely part of Curbishley's long term planning, but I doubt if Eastwood is the right man for our manager, as he was on trial at The Valley a year or two back, and didn't seem to make the grade at that time. Trundle is more likely, a skillfull and ebuliant forward, who has his own image rights contract at Swansea (as his name or picture adorns 75% of the merchandise sold at the club!), he has scored regularly over the last three years as Swansea have climbed up to the top of the first division. Samuel only has 18 months left on his contract, and I suspect that his agent is trying to drum up interest ahead of contract talks with Villa. One thing that is certain is that he will not garner anywhere near the six million pound transfer fee I saw quoted on one website! We are not that short of left backs!

Players linked with possible departures from The Valley in the January transfer window continue to be named as Jason Euell (who should be back in training following injury soon), Jonatan Johansson, Kevin Lisbie, and Shaun Bartlett; practically all our reserve forwards! Francis Jeffers may also leave the club before his contract runs out next summer, but it seems (according to message boards) that Glasgow Rangers fans do not want him to remain at Ibrox after his loan spell finishes at the end of December; Franny has not scored during his time north of the border so far.

While on the subject of Rangers, Alan Curbishley continues to be linked with a move to the club should incumbent manager Alex McLeish be sacked as expected during the next couple of weeks. Rangers Chairman David Murray has been quoted as saying that he has a successor lined up already, but Charlton Chairman Richard Murray was quoted on the radio today as saying he hoped Curbs would not leave Charlton.

Richard Murray had good news yesterday when the annual accounts for the PLC were announced to the stock exchange. An operating profit of £4.7m and a net profit of £1.3m can only be good news for Charlton. Of interest in his report that accompanies the figures, Murray said that although planning consent had been gained for extending the east stand and south east quadrant, the club would only proceed with this building work when it was prudent to do so. Will this be during the close season, or will the purse remain closed while we run with a much higher salary budget than is usual? I doubt we can have both - it will be the Chairman's choice...

Friday, November 11, 2005

J Lloyd "very unhappy" at Villa

Pedro45's mole has uncovered the real story behind the rumours that Aston Villa's left back, J Lloyd Samuel, may possibly be returning to Charlton.

Young J Lloyd, still only 24, is upset at Villa - "very unhappy" I am told - due to not being a first team regular this season. He wants out, but has doubts about returning to play for his former club. My mole told me that this was due to the fact that "he gets boo-ed every time he plays at The Valley". This does not prevent him "wanting a move back to London".

There is no truth in any rumour that discussions have already taken place between Alan Curbishley and anyone at Aston Villa, or with the player or agent.

Charlton have struggled for consistency at left back this season; with Hermann Hreidersson moving to centre back, initially to cover a player shortage in this position, both Chris Powell and Jonathan Spector have been given games on the left side of defence. Powell started well, but seemed to tire toward the end of his tenure in the position. For the last three games, Spector has replaced Powell, but the American has not looked at all comfortable while the side stumbled past Portsmouth and then slipped to consecutive defeats against Bolton and Blackburn. The time may now be right for Hermann to move back to his former position and for Talal El Karkouri to be given a run at centre back.

Other options are limited; it is doubtful if young French defender Kelly Youga will be thrown into Premiership action when he returns from a loan spell at Bristol City. The only other left backs at the club are all younger than Youga, although nearly all have international recongnition in their age groups. Luke Young could switch sides if necessary, although Curbishley also has a shortage of cover at right back (something that Samuel could fill too?) should the need arise.

It remains to be seen if anything further will come out of this story in the January transfer window, and whether Curbs will make a bid, and/or if O'Leary will be tempted to sell. Samuel has a year and a half of his Villa contract to go, and the likelihood is that, should he leave Villa at all, he will go next Summer.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Homophobic attitude

One of the talking points on Radio Five Live this morning was about the number of gay footballers there are in the Premiership and potential homophobic attitudes within football clubs. Apparently, the radio station had sent a letter to each of the twenty Premiership clubs asking questions about whether they condone gay players, how they treat them, etc, etc. In response, only three clubs actually answered Radio Five Live, each commenting that they followed equal opportunities amongst staff, with the rest of the clubs refusing to comment at all.

Subsequently, ex-player Tony Cascarino spoke about how he thought it best that players did not "out themselves" until after they had retired, due to the amount of stick they may receive, and the Brighton Chairman commented on the verbal abuse that his club (supporters and players) receive from other clubs fans due to the substantial gay population of his town.

Are any Premiership footballers gay? Almost certainly, yes! Does it matter if any Premiership footballers are gay? Of course not! Whatever statistics you believe, a significant proportion of the male population of this country is gay, and no doubt there are going to be gay footballers too. Do footballers need to stand up and tell everyone about their sexual orientation? No, why should they? Whilst the media may be interested in a negative way, it does not make any difference to a players skill or work-rate or ability on the pitch, so why make a fuss about it?

In the past, there have been rumours about some players, and a few ex-footballers have admitted being gay - Justin Fashanu (pictured above) being the most obvious example. I know of at least two ex-Charlton players who were rumoured to be gay in the past, although these comments have never been substantiated.

Young males tend to go out clubbing quite a lot; some attend gay clubs by preference. If a footballer is spotted at a gay club, then this fact may leak out (this was certainly the case with one ex-Charlton player about fifteen years or so ago) and the rumours circulate.

Around twenty five years ago, pop stars started to come out of the closet, and slowly over the years the population has started to accept that it is OK to be openly gay. Famous people like Boy George, Marc Almond, David Bowie, Dave Gahan, Will Young, k d lang, and many others, are openly gay or bi-sexual, and justly proud. In time, we may well see footballers start to come out, and face up to the verbal stick they are bound to get from supporters. At this point, clubs will need to show their support for their staff in the same way that any other company would.

While it is important that football clubs - and not just Premiership teams - treat every employee equally, whether gay or straight, black or white, catholic or protestant, I cannot see the point of radio Five Live trying to kick up controversy about this matter recently.

Surely it is more important to discuss the potential bonus paid to England sqaud players should they win the World Cup, than any footballers sexual orientation.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Chelsea effect re-writing history?

Stalin may have been able to do it with Russia and the Soviet Union and get away with it, but it seems that others are now trying to re-write history, and the history of English football at that! Here's an example of something found on the web today!

"Joe McLaughlin - Head Soccer Consultant
Joe McLaughlin's experience at the professional level is unparelled, and has had over 20 years playing experience as a professional with Morton, Chelsea, Charlton, Watford, Falkirk, Hibernian, Clydebank and St Mirren. He was a Scotland National U'21 player after being selected by Scotland and Celtic legend, Jock Stein.

During his career, Joe enjoyed seven years as captain of Chelsea FC where he led the team to the English League Championship. He was bought by Charlton for a record transfer fee of £600,000 in the early 1990's, and then was bought again for another transfer record of £500,000 to Watford.

Joe was appointed 'Player Coach' at St Mirren FC, and assisted in their promotion to the Scottish Premier League. He was then brought into the Millwall FC coaching staff by Manager Mark McGhee, and appointed Head Reserve Coach, where he worked with the Youth and First team players at the club.

Joe will be responsible for the assessment of players for FirstPoint, and will assist in their placement to college soccer programs in the USA."

Now, I thought that Chelsea won the Premiership (or the equivalent of Englands top division) for the first time in fifty years last season...but apparently this US website claims that the division Chelsea won in the eighties (ie the second division) was in fact the the "English League Championship".

I think that Charlton can actually lay claim to have won the "English League Championship" in 2000/2001, when it was the top non-Premiership league, but that certainly wasn't the case with Chelsea way back then!

Another anomaly is that Joe certainly played one season for Charlton, but did not sign in the early nineties - he played 37 games in season 1989/90 - and did not live up to his high reputation; Charlton were relegated that season.

We all know that Jose has a mind to mentally adjust results - as he has done with the Everton, Charlton, and Blackburn scores and results recently - but it seems that others with Chelsea connections are starting to do it too!

I can see a trend here...Joe S, Joe Mc, and Jo-se!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Average Jo-se

One thing we Charlton fans can celebrate is that we have as good a record in our last five games as Chelsea do - one win in five matches!

Of course, Mr Mourinho doesn't see it quite that way:

The 1-1 draw with Everton was actually a 2-1 win, who cares that the lino flagged Drogba offside? Not our Jose!

The penalty shoot out Carling Cup defeat to Charlton? Didn't count as we couldn't beat them on the field of play apparently. Penalties don't matter. Jose may still be thinking that his side will be the ones facing Blackburn on 30th November. We could even have one of those embarrassing situations that used to arrive every ten years or so when I played cricket - three teams turn up. In those cases, it was always the home side that forfeited the chance to play and gave the traveling opposition an opportunity to match up with each other. Fans attending The Valley later in the month therefore may get a chance to watch Chelsea play Blackburn...

Blackburn match? The published score was 4-2 to Chelsea but nut Jose said it was his team that were apparently responsible for and scored all the goals, so that means we should all recognise the 6-0 true scoreline...

Champions League time and Chelsea slip to a 1-0 defeat in Seville against Real Betis. We all saw who were the better team didn't we, and cannot argue with young Jo - the ones that the engraver has been practicing writing on the trophy ready for next May...Yes? No...oh. Just a slip, doesn't matter. Crespo refusing to travel and play as sub? No, he's injured...Chelsea will still qualify for the knock out stage says Jose.

Yesterday, the biggest match of the season so far for Roman's Blues, and they blew it! Another defeat. This time to Manchester United. Consecutive losses. Blanks being fired all over the place. Call for Hernan? Nope. Still throwing a hissy-fit. Ex-Addick loser Carlton Cole trundles onto the pitch for the last twelve minutes; his only worthwhile contribution heading a corner away from his own goal. Jose says that they (Chelsea) were the best team and deserved to win. And they will win the league anyhow...

Chelsea have conceded goals in their past six matches; this, from a side that had the best defensive record in a Premiership season ever last year. Where is the guy who played alongside John Terry in most of those games - Ricardo Carvallho? Oh, he got the hump about not being picked early in the season, because Jose played William Gallas in the middle instead, after he got the hump about playing at left back every week!

Sometimes us fans wonder what games the media watch - we can see the reality, yet reports only concentrate on single issues that bear no relation to the whole game. Jose suffers from this problem in every match. If he was as humble and graceful as Curbishley (for instance) in victory and defeat then football fans across the country would have a little bit of respect for him.

Cracks are starting to appear at the Bridge...players are openly flouting the main man, while still picking up huge fat wage-cheques each week. The problems are there for all to see, but...

As it stands Jose, you are just fooling yourself, and nobody else. And the whole of the country is laughing at you!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Rovers end run at five

Blackburn Rovers 4 Charlton Athletic 1

Charlton's run of away wins in the Premiership came to an emphatic end at Ewood Park, where the result was deserved, but the scoreline was not entirely true of the play. The official club report is here.

A very early goal, courtesy of a goalkeeping mistake, an offside second goal ten minutes later, a deflected third, and a last minute breakaway fourth completed the scoring into Charlton's net. The only consolation coming from Bryan Hughes, who slid in Darren Bent's cross before halftime to make it 2-1. Charlton had other chances,, but found Rovers goalie Brad Freidal in excellent form.

This was Charlton's first away loss since the end of season defeat to Chelsea six months ago in May.

Darren Bent returned to the Charlton team (in place of Jay Bothroyd), but Alexei Smertin was out injured and replaced by Hughes.

Overall, the team did not play with any confidence - Murphy and Ambrose having very quiet games - especially having gone two nil down so early. The second half could have seen Charlton equalise, but it was not to be.

Some fans have subsequently called for major change - including some idiots willing Curbs to take the vacant Hearts job - but we should realise that this is just one setback in a very long Premiership season. Charlton are still seventh in the league, and a return to form, following the international break, would see the Addicks climb the table once more.

What is required is more flexibility; if key players like Bent and Smertin are unavailable, maybe Curbishley should consider switching to 4-4-2 and being more positive?

If supporters were told before the season started that Charlton would win five out of six away games up till November and be seventh in the table at that point, most fans would be very happy. We should all therefore take stock and accept that Charlton are not going to win every week, and that this is still the best start to a Premiership season in the clubs history.

We have at least six fixtures to play before Xmas, and all are winnable if the right attitude is there amongst the management, players and supporters. These six games will be key in how Charlton's season pans out. Let's all get behind the lads and not spend too much time in a negative mood in the two weeks before we entertain Manchester United at The Valley.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Missing Deano?

Team news from Ewood Park reveals that Dean Kiely is not in the squad of sixteen, and the sub goalies duties will be performed by Thomas Myrhe this week.

Is Deano injured? Has he fallen out with Curbs over his non-return to the first team after recovering from injury? Or is Curbs going to rotate duties between Myrhe and Kiely?

The early goal Rovers scored against Charlton on Saturday was undoubtedly a goalkeeping error - Stephan Andersen's first clanger of the season. Could this have been due in some part to the pressure of a potential Kiely return being taken off? I hope not...

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Joy of Six

Charlton aim for their sixth consecutive Premiership away win of the season at Ewood Park on Saturday when they take on Blackburn Rovers. The need for the Addicks is to bounce back from the home defeat last week against Bolton, and continue the amazing start to the season away from home. The official club preview is here.

Charlton badly missed Darren Bent last week, who was ill, and he will undoubtedly return to the starting eleven tomorrow. Jay Bothroyd, who tried very hard in Dazza's place against Bolton but was ineffective, will return to the substitutes bench; if he comes on, he will be playing against his former club from last season.

Curbishley has a number of options available to him once more, and may decide or need to make further changes to the team. Alexei Smertin must be an injury doubt after being substitued in last weeks home game with a groin problem. If he doesn't make it, then either Matt Holland (left) or Bryan Hughes (both substitutes last weekend) will come into midfield.

At the back, Jonathan Spector has not looked any more effective than Chris Powell did earlier in the season, and a change at left back may be in the offing. With Talal El Karkouri fit, we may see him return to the centre of defence and Hermann Hreidersson move to his more regular left back position. Hermann has had a great season so far at centre back, and was man of the match last week, but maybe the time has come to move him across the defence? There is also an injury doubt about Chris Powell, though I do not know if this will stop him from taking part in this match. Curbs will have to make the decision as to what is best for his team against Blackburn.

Some tough decisions then for our manager, who will not want to suffer two defeats on the trot.

Rovers are a hard team, having picked up the most bookings in the Premiership so far. Players like Robbie Savage, Craig Bellamy, Paul Dickov, and former Addick Andy Todd will not be shy in getting stuck in - we can be sure of that! Curbs dilemna is whether to match up and fight fire with fire, or use use guile and skill to poor cold water on the Rovers flames.

This is the team I expect to see taking the field tomorrow:
Andersen, Young (Captain), Perry, Hreidersson, Spector, Holland, Murphy, Kishishev, Rommedahl, Ambrose, Bent. Subs - Kiely, El Karkouri, Thomas, Hughes, Bothroyd.

I am presuming that both Smertin and Powell are injured; if not, I would start them both, in place of Holland and Spector.

Charlton have won many times at Ewood Park since I started supporting the club; the most recent win was courtesy of a Hermann Hreidersson near post header from a corner a couple of years back. Oh for a repeat!

The one to watch tomorrow is Danny Murphy (seen left, scoring against Fulham), who may get a little more space in this match than he has in the last two (Chelsea and Bolton) in which to weave his magic. Four goals already this season, plus a number of assists, let us hope both those figures are increased by Saturday night.

Pedro45's score forecast is a 1-1 draw, with the unbeaten record away from home (if not the 100% wins) remaining intact.

This match is also a prelude to the reverse fixture at The Valley at the end of the month, when the sides meet in the fourth round of the Carling Cup. Charlton have never been beyond this stage of the competition, so early bragging rights may be of benefit when the teams meet again on 30th November. Come on you Reds!

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Charlton Athletic Online!

powered by Bloglet
Sports Business Directory - BTS Local
Custom Search