Tuesday, January 03, 2006

North West passage leaves Charlton lost

Everton 3 Charlton Athletic 1

Charlton lost yet another game in the North West yesterday, this time to an Everton team that completely deserved their points. Listening on the radio, Charlton seemed to have several chances to score and add to Matt Holland's first half equaliser - Bartlett, Hughes, Ambrose, and Lisbie all missed good opportunities and Fortune also hit the post. But problems in defence may have meant anything Charlton scored was immaterial. Everton scored three goals from set plays: the first was a penalty after Dennis Rommedahl was adjudged to have impeded Kevin Kilbane - Thomas Myrhe saved Beattie's initial penalty kick but he scored from the rebound; The second goal, just before half time, and the third were both headers from Tim Cahill after free-kicks. Everton hit the post twice too.

Curbishley's line up, playing Murphy in place of Kishishev, left little midfield cover for the fragile defence that we know and love so much, and Everton's midfield ran forward seemingly unchallenged for most of the match.

A poor result then to start 2006, and another poor performance to boot.

The outlook is not much better - Jason Euell did not figure in any of the three teams of 16 players picked during the holiday period, but Kevin Lisbie did. Murphy is still in a sulk over not getting his England place back (he really hasn't had a decent game since that Spurs home match...) and has a hamstring injury now, while El Karkouri is off to play for Morocco in the African Nations Cup. Franny Jeffers is back from Rangers, but has yet to score on the pitch this season. If he can't do it against Kilmarnock, will he be able to against Birmingham or Villa? Sorondo is sort-of fit, but yet to last out 90 minutes for the first team, and Spector is awful at left back. Smertin has dodgy knees, and may be out for a few weeks, Bartlett dodgy ankles which may keep him fit for a few weeks.

Our good young players are all out on loan it seems - James Walker joining Elliott, Randolph, Ricketts, Sodje, Youga and Sankofa in gaining experience this season at other lower league clubs. This is one way to control the wage bill, but personally I'd like to see some of the higher earners farmed out - JJ, Lisbie (again), Jeffers (again) - and not come back.

Signing ten new players in pre-season has not had the desired effect (which was to take the club up to a higher level), mainly as the culprits listed above (and others) are still involved. I think it time Curbs took decisive action and shifted out those players that are not good or eager enough to play in this team. That should allow him the opportunity to get players in who can make a difference. If it does not happen this month, it may be too late to do so come May...

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