Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The January transfer window has closed, and with it Charlton find themselves without three of their squad - Dean Kiely, Jonatan Johansson, and Danny Murphy.

Let's deal with them in post-title order -

Danny Murphy

When our Dan was good, he was very good. He scored great goals from free-kicks. He controlled the midfield. He threaded passes through the defence to Darren Bent et al to score. He was a star in a team without stars.

And maybe that was the problem, and one of the major reasons he left.

Danny didn't want to be the biggest name on the teamsheet; he could never claim to be that at Liverpool. He wanted to be a star, but not the biggest, that's all. At The Valley, arriving with Jeffers and Rommedahl, he fitted in quite nicely. The team was still a team, but the degree of quality was seemingly being improved, and Danny was a great tabloid story focus. But Dennis and Franny didn't hit too many heights last season, and Franny is now also on the periphery. Only Rommedahl has the chance to carry on in the side, and if he did indeed have a training ground bust-up with Murphy, Dan had nowhere to go, but out.

My over-riding memory of Murphy at Charlton was not of any of the goals he scored, but when, during the early part of last season, he played a (bad) pass from midfield that was intercepted on the edge of the penalty area. He then stood, hands on hips, as the ball was run out of defence straight past him. He made absolutely no effort to tackle, chase, or intervene. He didn't care. He lowered his head. His whole body language was negative. At that point, I knew that we may get the odd good game out of him, but he would never be a "real" Charlton player.

This was just prior to Charlton changing to the 4-5-1 formation at Spurs, after a poor run of results. The change was as much to accomodate Murphy in the side as anything, because he'd become unreliable in a central midfield two. When Curbs needed to revert back to 4-4-2 this Christmas (after another poor run of results), it was Murphy who eventually ended up out of the side.

He scored ten goals for Charlton in only 64 games - that's pretty good for a midfield player, especially a Charlton midfielder! Great free kicks against Sunderland and Spurs, a penalty versus West Brom, and a few from open-play (Fulham, Blackburn, Albion again, Birmingham). His assist level this season (eight) was top until Xmas.

He goes to Spurs - the team that he turned down to join Charlton - when they have a foreign manager. One of Danny's reasons for leaving Liverpool (and not joining Spurs at that time) was that he wanted to play for an English manager. What has changed? Spurs are having a good season, and may well qualify for Europe for the first time in years. Danny wants a piece of that. Presuming he plays. Will he regularly get a midfield place in the team ahead of Carrick, Davids, Reid, Jenas, Lennon, Tainio, King, etc? Maybe initially, but only if he is performing. Spurs midfield certainly hasn't added any pace with his arrival!

Goodbye Danny. I'll miss you and your wife's Times column (and occasional Five Live seat), and I'm glad that you will not be playng on Sunday against us. You were good, but not that good...

Jonatan Johansson

There's only one JJ, if you ignore Jermain Jenas! Our Finnish striker has had an up-and-down career at Charlton, and has now joined Norwich on loan till the end of the season.

JJ could be good (see first season...) but unfortunately quite bad too (see last year or so...).

When he signed from Rangers, he was expensive (£3m!) and a winger. Curbs played him through the middle and after a sluggish start caused by a hamstring injury (received in a pre-season friendly) he started to rattle the goals in. He scored 13 in his first full season including a memorable goal against Spurs (after an outrageous Graeme Stuart dummy had fooled Sol Campbell...). JJ also became the king of the overhead kick - scoring a last minute equaliser in the 4-4 draw with West Ham, and then two more (from some way out) against Exeter in the cup. JJ was always a great crosser of the ball too.

With Shaun Bartlett arriving and looking such a threat in the air, their partnership was keenly anticipated. The problems came when Bartlett and JJ both started to get injured, and they actually played up-front together comparitively rarely over their careers at The Valley.

His blond locks, made him a bit of a ladies favourite, till he cut them all off. With it, went the talent too maybe...

In recent times, JJ has been ineffective through the middle and played out wide more and more. He made it back into the starting line up this season when Rommedahl was initially dropped, but created little. Several sub-standard games left the fans wanting more from him, but no apparent chance of that happening.

JJ is Charlton's record international appearance maker (having beaten Mark Kinsella's record of 33 caps), and he will always be remembered for that (until it's broken...).

Good luck JJ - I'd be happy to see you do well at Norwich, and you will not get too much stick from me on your next return to the Valley.

Dean Kiely

What can one say about Deano. He stayed six years; kept numerous clean sheets; made amazing saves that won games or points that Charlton had no right to gain. A star man.

And quite nice with it too!

He did lots of work with local charities, and it's them that will probably suffer most now he's moved on to Portsmouth. The fee of £150,000 now plus another £200,000 if Pompey stay up is cheap if it works out.

Deano had his bad times (most were this season!), including a famous spat with Andy Todd. Deano arrived for a midweek game at Villa Park sporting a black eye and bad bruising around his cheek. The rumours abounded, as Toddy was sold, and moved back up North. Did either have an affair with the others wife? Who knows... I also heard a story about Todd's wife asking Deano's wife to accompany her to view a new house the Todd's wanted to buy. Apparently, when Mr Todd came to make an offer, he was told it had been the Kiely's! Deano's wife had liked it so much she persuaded her hubby to buy it! It may or may not be true, but it's a good story.

Deano made it back into the Charlton team in November for the Blackburn league cup game; his mistake led to the second equalising goal, as Charlton let slip a two goal lead and lost in the last few seconds. He then conceded five against Man City, kept a clean sheet against Sunderland, before letting in three at Wigan, two of which could be attributed to him. That was his last game for Charlton.

A star performer on his day, he may be a little past his best now.

His most memorable game was probably against Birmingham away a few years back, when he kept out Christophe Dugarry almost single-handedly.

He will always be welcomed back to the Valley though. One of the top goalkeepers ever to play for the club, and right up there with Sam Bartram, Charlie Wright, Nicky Johns, and Bob Bolder.

Good luck Deano.

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