Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Crossing Jordan

The appointment of Iain Dowie as Charlton manager has been great for Sky Sports. This afternoon they broadcast a live telephone interview with the Croydon club chairman, Slimy Simon Jordan - listen to it courtesy of Cynic Athletic here.

Jordan obviously has a problem with Dowie's new position at a bigger club, but issued the writ based on the claim that Dowie lied to him. Interesting that Jordan claims (in the interview) that Richard Murray also lied over the end of season spat at The Valley when Jordan's club got relegated - will writs be issued here too? I doubt it; Murray has good lawyers... No , the only people who are going to win over this are the legal profession, who must love guys like Jordan who shoot their mouth off without thinking and end up paying the consequences, twice! Mind you, it would be interesting to know what Murray called Jordan, according to Slimy Simon.

I watched the press conference with Dowie and Jordan last Monday; I distinctly recall that Jordan was the only person who mentioned Dowie wanting to go North to be with family. Dowie did not utter those words in that press conference as far as I know.

Charlton have a new manager, but not without sparks. I just hope that those amongst the SE7 fan-base who are claiming they will not watch the Addicks next season due to Dowie being installed are able to back-track.

A new Head Coach for the Valley Express

More details are emerging about Iain Dowie's appointment - namely the job title. He is not the new Manager, but will be Head Coach instead. Les Reed becomes Assistant Head Coach, and Mark Robson the Development Coach.

This leaves Andrew Mills clear to be hailed as General Manager - Football.

The club has done it's best to keep the news of Dowie's appointment under wraps, but media speculation following Dowie's resignation from a Championship team last week was too intense and accurate.

The club moves into a new era with this appointment, after 15 years of sustained growth with Alan Curbishley at the helm. Dowie now needs to maintain and improve on this.

Dowie gets the job

Yep, the speculation was right - Iain Dowie is the new manager of Charlton.

Dowie has about 4 years management experience, having managed Oldham from 2002 and a Croydon-based team before joining the Addicks.

He beat at least 19 other interviewees to get the post.

He will be assisted by Les Reed and Mark Robson.

Dowie was born on January 9, 1965 in Hatfield, but as his father was born in Belfast Dowie qualified and gained 59 caps for Northern Ireland.

Apparently, he has a Masters degree in mechanical engineering, which he believes helps him to be logical and analytical in his approach to football management.

A combative centre forward in his playing days, he suffered from being one of the ugliest footballers around. He began at non-league Hendon in 1987, he then had stints at Luton, Fulham, and West Ham United, before moving to Southampton, where he made over 100 appearances.

Dowie then signed for the Croydon team he managed later, and as with his managerial stint, his short spell as a player there ended in relegation.

Dowie moved back to West Ham before joining Queen's Park Rangers, where he ended his playing days, and became player-manager of the reserves.

He joined Olham Athletic as assistant coach and then got promoted to first team manager, and against the odds, he took Oldham to the play-offs.

Apparently, Dowie is famous for motivating his players and he has read more than once inspirational books like 'Beyond Winning' and 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'.

Let's all hope that his skills are the requirement for taking Charlton forward.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Not long now...

It's been a few days now since Richard Murray (left) announced that our new manager would be unveiled to the world's press at a press conference on Tuesday (tomorrow). The conjecture in the papers is that Iain Dowie will be the man brought forward(presumably it will be a man???), and that the only unknown will be the other parts of the team who will do the job with him.

But is this a ruse? Have the papers been barking up the wrong tree? Has Simon Jordan been well and truly stuffed?

Having been in Madrid since Wednesday, I have missed out on most of the rumours flying around; Dowie (left) quit the Croydon team saying (or rather, Jordan was saying for him) that he needed to move back up North to be nearer his wife. If that is so, how can he then take charge at The Valley? Would Jordan have been naive enough to let him quit and then walk into the Charlton managers job? OK, yes he might! Is Jordan secretly hoping he'll take Charlton down as he did Croydon? Probably!

The Charlton club have been fantastic in not adding any fuel to the rumours, with little coming out directly from The Valley, Sparrows Lane, or Bexleyheath offices, other than Murray's scoop to the Mail and subsequent official confirmation on the website of Tuesday's announcement.

The news that Murray interviewed around 20 people for the post brought surprise - OK, we know about Taylor, Dowie, Davies, and probably Lee (left), but who else came, saw, and walked off without a whisper? Parkinson was refused permission to talk, but is unhappy - did he interview anyway? And what about Sounness, seemingly to be another South London teams manager soon? Did he get a call? George Graham? George Burley? Vialli? Gullit? Zaccharoni? Martin O'Neill? Sven? Big Phil (below)? Will we ever know?

I think it probable that the list included a couple from within the current set up - I'd have been amazed if Steve Gritt and Mark Robson didn't apply, and as current employees, they should have had preferential interview allowance. Robson may get a promotion too, and he does look as if he has manager potential in the long term. Gritty though, may have to bide his time...

And what about Aidie Boothroyd? There were big rumours about him until Watford demolished Leeds in the play off final; I doubt Watford would have given him permission to talk to Charlton even if he had wanted to.

Tomorrow, we will know for sure. Not everyone will be happy - I don't particularly want Dowie installed, and would be smiling for a long time if it was actually someone else. As with other blogs, I have nothing against him personally, I just think he isn't good enough to take us forward.

I remember back to previous times when Charlton needed a new manager - way back before blogging, email, the internet, and texting were common place. When Lennie (left) left, Curbs and Gritty were announced via the evening press and/or on Clubcall (1991). When Lennie took the reins it was just the press (1984). Craggs, Mullery, Bailey, Nelson, Foley, and Firmani all became managers and us fans read about it a day later or the night it happened if you got an evening paper (News or Standard...).

When Mullery became manager, I wasn't too happy - I disliked him as a player, and as a manager too. I still dislike him as a pundit! I feel that Dowie could fall into that category.

If it is Dowie, then good luck. He will almost certainly be backed up by Les Reed as coach or assistant manager, with Robson or Chris Powell also being announced as part of the coaching team too. The idea of Sammy Lee being installed as coach to Dowie's manager as mentioned in some quarters is a non-starter.

I'll be glued to the website tomorrow lunchtime, but expect that the first I hear will be via the text messaging service, like so many others. Finally, it will be of use, rather than just updating me with motorway traffic reports while I'm sitting at home!

Following Curbs is going to be a tough job - whoever is the lucky man needs to be up for it, mentally and physically. We, the fans, demand it. The interview process should have brought forward that man. And soon, we'll know who it is...

Friday, May 19, 2006

In to view at the Interview

We now seem to know the names of at least three of the men interviewed as potential new managers for Charlton - Peter Taylor, Samy Lee, and Billy Davies.

The odds for each fell at Paddypower as they came forward to speak with messrs Murray and Varney.

Taylor made strange noises before he admitted going for interview, and now has definitely ruled himself out of the running, preferring to stay in Kingston.

Lee apparently flew back from the Portuguese training camp where he is fulfilling England coach duties under Sven. The rotund ex-Liverpool midfielder would be looking for his first managerial position, but has earned an excellent reputation as a coach, first at Liverpool and currently with Bolton.

Billy Davies is the third exposed candidate, after his chairman at Preston confirmed on the clubs website that he had given permission for him to be interviewed after being approached by Charlton. The intimation is that Davies' chat with our board will happen on Monday...

Al three are currently working for clubs in England, but there may be other candidates who either have been interviewed without the press knowing, or who aren't currently employed, so may not have been picked up on the media radar.

Mick McCarthy still cannot be discounted (unfortunately), and rumour has it that he also had an interview this week.

But as Varney said on the website - is the short-list a short one, or a long one? How many of the above would have applied for the post - Taylor and Davies appear to have been subject to advances from Charlton rather than the other way round. Possibly Lee too? Only McCarthy would have needed to put a stamp on a letter.

I suspect that there are still a couple of other names that may come to the fore over the weekend, as they too appear for interview.

Hopefully, by the middle of next week we will know who is to be the next Charlton manager. I just not sure how many nails I'll have left by then!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Predicting the Unpredictable

Way back when, July actually, I made a series of predictions, in much the same way that other bloggers did. I thought about checking them out on a monthly basis initially, but eventualy decided that was too boring, so haven't reviewed them since before Xmas.

Here's how I did:

1. Chelsea will go through the league season unbeaten. Well, that one is wrong. Chelsea did get beaten, in fact five times in the league! But some of those were very late in the season (Blackburn, Newcastle) after they had won it. The incredible Chelsea statistic obviously their home record, with 18 wins and a draw (against Charlton of course!).

2. Chelsea will concede less goals in a season than anyone has done before. The record was 15 set by Chelsea last season and this time round they conceded a whopping 22! The worst day for them was at Boro, where they got hit for three...

3. Graeme Sounness will become the first Premiership managerial casualty of the season . He did get sacked, but he wasn't he first (Perrin of Pompey). Not even Michael Owen could save him.

4. El Hadj Diouf will spit at a fan...again! Nope, wrong again - maybe next year?

5. Charlton will win a game featuring Mark Halsey or Graham Poll as ref!!! Correct here - Halsey reffed the away game at St Andrews, but we still haven't broken our Poll duck.

6. Arsene Wenger will claim to have seen the reason one of his players got sent off. Yes, right again, but each time Mr wenger does see it is was an error by the referee and he doesn't now why...Maybe the view will be better at the new stadium?

7. Rio will be boo-ed. Yep! If you take 85 days to sign the contract on the table, expect the fans wrath.

8. Rooney will swear at a ref and be sent off. Nearly, but not quite...swearing at Becks and Rio during the England games didn't work but a handclap for the ref did. Since then, Wazza has been amazingly well behaved. Shame he's injured!

9. Several England regulars will get long term injuries just after Xmas and will be forced to miss the World Cup. Yep, bang on, probably. Early season niggles (Gerrard, Neville, Terry etc) have given way to full blown doubts about a number of players (Rooney, Owen, Ashley Cole, Campbell...even Luke Young!). Sven doesn't care though - he's still picked them!

10. Rangers and Celtic will once more attempt to join the English league through the back door This happens every year so it wasn't too hard a prediction to get right. Why don't they enter a team in the lower pyramid and work there way through a la AFC Wimbledon (just two divisions shy of their former namesakes now...).

So I got five right, and two sort of's (Sounness and Rooney) which isn't too bad. The shocking thing is the ones I got wrong - well done Wayne and Hadj, and come on Chelsea you useless bunch of slackers - who'd have thought eh?!?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Managing Change

The Daily Mail advert deadline has passed, and Peter Varney was swift to send out the "No thanks" letters, and not only to the Belmarsh prisoner et al that the email bulletin talked about!

Now the club has to get down to the serious business of choosing the right person/people.

The betting list has been variable over the last week - as Varney says, Wednesday was Parkinson, Thursday it was Allen, then Burley, etc etc.

Steve Coppell, one of the early front-runners, has signed a two-year contract with Reading, so I think he can be discounted now.

Mark Bowen, another long shot, also signed on the dotted line for an extended stay at Blackburn rather than take a chance in the hot seat.

Chris Powell (left) has all but ruled himself out, but may end up as a coach under the new regime.

Adrian Boothroyd has a play off final to worry about, so an application from him is unlikely, as is one from Kevin Blackwell.

The losing play-off managers - Billy Davies and Iain Dowie - would have had time to bash off a letter to the club, although I'm not sure Simes would allow his Irish manager to move across South London to us if he wanted to without a rather large compensation claim. Davies may be a long shot...

Martin Allen has play off series yet to negotiate and Phil Parkinson (left) has just seen his side win promotion. Will either of them have applied? I doubt it somehow...

I can't see any realisation in Mick McCarthy being high in the betting; he lives locally, is out of work, but is ex-Millwall, and not recently successful. He probably applied though!

George Burley continues to be linked, and it is unknown if he has a release clause in his contract with Southampton.

Dave Jones and Alex McLeish are also out of work managers, but would they be picked by Richard Murray to succeed Curbs? Would either get the season tickets renewals curve heading upwards again? Not really...

Then of course, there is Glenn Hoddle. This writer is actually a fan - I know, I know, shock horror everywhere! I tend to remember the good things that Hoddle has done - promotion with Swindon, a good Chelsea side, unluckily sacked by Spurs, a reasonable England tenure before ultimately being undone by the media (as many other England managers before and since have subsequently found). I also remember the good job he did at Southampton while standing in for Jones. The style of play was excellent, and is one that would suit Charlton. Just my opinion... OK, all the bad things about Glenda are coming back, so let's hope he stays at Molineux!

I really can't see Sven, or Martin O'Neill, or Sounness or George Graham being given the job. Or Big Phil Scolari (though he would be fantastic if it was an option - taking on Mourinho in the press and on the pitch!!!). All are proven managers, with respect from the players, but they may want too much dosh to re-build, and we have a budget...

Mick Newell may be interested, and he is another good bet, as could be Brian Kerr, who took over from McCarthy at international level but is yet to get a chance in The Premiership.

The one being pushed, in some ways because an ex-colleague - Andrew Mills - has joined the club as General Manager - Football, is Peter Taylor (left). Almost odd-on in the current betting, but according to Varney, not someone who sent in an applcation. Ex-Spurs player, and ex-several club manager (including a bad spell following O'Neill at Leicester...), Taylor is going to be in with a good shout if the club wants to go get him.

It is intriguing, and is set to trouble the Board for a few days yet.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Swede Dreams

They say bad luck comes in threes. First, I arrive at the London terminus without my season ticket and I have to pay a additional train fare; then, as I walk in to work, I step in a huge puddle and have soggy trousers all morning; and finally, after hanging on till 2.30 (2.44 actually) for the news, we find that neither Darren Bent or Luke Young have been picked in Sven Goran Eriksson's World Cup squad for 2006. The man obviously had other things on his mind!

In some ways, I can understand the omisssion of Young; although he performed well when asked to cover for Gary Neville, it was always as a stop gap, and Neville was always assured of his return. The option of Carragher or Ferdinand (or even Gerrard should it be really necessary) playing as a stop gap is also an option. However, if Ashley Cole fails his fitness race, or any of the defence get injured between now and the final squad deadline, then Luke could still make the plane.

For Darren Bent though, this is a huge kick in the teeth. Dazza doesn't even make the stand by list!!! He has been well and truly shafted! I deliberately haven't checked other blogs or news sites to gauge opinion, so this is contextually from both a Charlton and England fan perspective.

With Rooney injured and unlikely to play any part in the first half of the World Cup, and with Owen recovering (very slowly) from a similar injury, it makes huge sense to have cover within the squad in case they travel but break down. Months back, the argument was four strikers or five in the squad. I have always said five, not because I wanted Bent included, but because it made sense. Now, with Rooney and Owen in a state of injury flux, we just have to take five. Sven thought differently though, he has only named four forwards. I know that Joe Cole will say he can play up front, but when we are losing and need an extra striker, Joe ain't that man! I don't see any problem with Peter Crouch being picked; he could be just the guy to ruffle feathers in just such a situation. So who else should go? Bent? Beattie? Heskey? Nope...someone who hasn't even made his debut in the Premiership!!! Theo Walcott. 17. Untried at senior level. A babe.


It is a truly terrifying prospect for an England team in with a hope (albeit an outside one) of winning the damn thing!

So what happens when Rooney is declared definitely out of the whole tournament (which could be just a day before the first game according to FIFA), and what happens if Owen then breaks down or gets injured in the first week of matches? Well, we have the stand by list! Oooh, who's that then? Jemain Defoe for a start. OK, he may have been a Judas toward Charlton but he is a damn good player. Him or Benty? Close call, can just about stomach it. Who else? Nope, not Darren Bent, the highest scoring Englishman in the Premiership this season, but some diving twat who has scored less goals from open play in the last two seasons (one of which was in the Championship...) than Darren Bent has in one (his first) Premiership season.

Are we aiming to win every game on penalties Sven? Is that the master plan? Even Dazza has a better penalty record (100% in case you ask) whereas his competition and the man you picked couldn't even get the ball past Dean Keily from 12 yards! An astonishing call...At least he'll have a couple of weeks rest after getting knocked out of the Championship play-offs tomorrow night!

The full squad is -

Robinson (Tottenham), James (Manchester City), Green (Norwich); G Neville (Manchester United), Ferdinand (Manchester United), Terry (Chelsea), Cole (Arsenal), Campbell (Arsenal), Carragher (Liverpool), Bridge (Chelsea), Beckham (Real Madrid), Carrick (Tottenham), Lampard (Chelsea), Gerrard (Liverpool), Hargreaves (Bayern Munich), Jenas (Tottenham), Downing (Middlesbrough), J Cole (Chelsea), Lennon (Tottenham), Rooney (Manchester United), Owen (Newcastle), Crouch (Liverpool), Walcott (Arsenal).

Carson (Liverpool), Young (Charlton), Reo-Coker (West Ham), Defoe (Tottenham), Johnson (Croydon).

Could Alan Curbishley have given Sven a curve ball when he took Benty off at Old Trafford yesterday? Did Sven think he was injured too? It is the only explanation for his complete omission...

Sven is a Swede who is leaving the England job straight after his team gets beaten in the World Cup - he obviously wants out sooner rather than later!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Piece of Cake

Manchester United 4
Charlton Athletic 0

Alan Curbishley's 729th and last game as Charlton manager ended in abject defeat, as United romped to an easy win. It was so easy, that Rio Ferdinand even had time to eat his tea while still on the pitch! He was pictured eating Jaffa cakes toward the end of the second half; quite a few did he have time to stuff into his face!

Curbs last teamsheet included a recall for Jason Euell, in place of Darren Ambrose, while Shaun Bartlett maintained his slot up front. There were substitute places for youngsters Lloyd Sam and Darren Randolph, which was a positive sign in an end of season game. Surprisingly, Jay Bothroyd was also an unused sub.

The goals came through a Louis Saha header following a corner (left); an unchallenged Christiano Ronaldo poke from six yards; a Jason Euell own goal (his last goal in a Charlton shirt probably...); and a second half 25 yarder into the bottom corner from Keiron Richardson (who was earlier unlucky with the scores level to hit the bar from fully 35 yards!). Stephan Andersen made a number of good saves, and kept the score as respectable as could be.

Darren Bent was Charlton's only threat to the United defence, with a couple of efforts late in the first half.

So poor was the first half performance, that Jonathan Fortune and Lloyd Sam were brought on at half time, for the outpaced Osei Sankofa, and for Bent, in an effort to spare him the type of injury that might harm his inclusion in the World Cup squad (that is announced tomorrow).

It was tough to get any positives from the game: Lloyd Sam did well, and dribbled and kept the ball whenever he had the chance - Some of this may have been down to the fact that he had nobody to pass to...; Andersen made good saves but seemed rooted to his line for the second game running; Nobody was booked, so Charlton definitely finish top of the Premiership Fair Play league this season, thereby giving the club (and it's new manager) the chance of European competition next season if lucky in the draw for inclusion (about a 6 to 1 shot!); The Charlton fans sang loudly and willingly, in a Premiership record 73,000 crowd. That was about it...

There are probably too many negatives to go into a single blog post: Kishishev losing the ball for the fourth goal summed up his season and why some fans don't like him; Euell's own goal similarly, a result of not tracking back quickly enough until it was too late; Bartlett's ability (or lack of...) made it so easy for Ferdinand (see top paragraph); Mervyn Day standing with arms folded giving no feedback to a perplexed Curbs halfway through the first half... I could go on, but won't.

Some players may well have played their last games for Charlton - Powell, Perry, Sorondo, Kishishev, Euell, Bartlett, and maybe Sankofa, Fortune, Andersen, Bent, Holland, and Hughes too. I guess the only players on show guaranteed to get a game next season with a new manager are Lloyd Sam and Darren Ambrose, though that depends on his game plan.

So the end of an era is here. Curbs will fly off to New Zealand to see his sister for the first time in thirty years, thanks to a parting gift of flight tickets from the club (I presume they are First Class tickets Richard?). The tickets were presented to him by Sir Alex Ferguson (left), who also handed Curbs a bottle of red wine to savour sometime during the lazy summer he has planned for himself (unless another decent offer comes along..?).

So it's farewell Curbs and it's the end of another Premiership season for Charlton. Fulham's late penalty versus Middlesboro means Charlton move down to a finishing position of 13th place (two places worse than last season).

We've had some huge highs this year - beating Chelsea in the League cup; five Premiership away wins on the bounce; Darren Bent's 22 goals; the FA Cup run; and stuffing Liverpool at the Valley come to mind. But we have also had depressing lows in this season of peaks and troughs - Murphy and Smertin walking away from the club; Curbs resignation; the awful North-west region away form.

At the end of it - we are still a Premiership club; still well respected; still hanging in there with the big boys; and still in with a chance of winning a cup (if West Ham can get to a final, so can Charlton...) and European competition. On our day we can give the big boys a game (most still have to put their first team out to ensure a result when playing Charlton!), and we can usually beat enough of the other teams, as long as they are not playing too well, in order to survive. Next season we should be able to survive once more in this hardest of divisions, and our new manager will have the backing of a great baord of directors and the best Chairman in the country.

We can bid farewell to our manager with heads held high, and look back remember where we were when he took charge; we can remmeber all the highs (Wembley) and lows (Parker) of his tenure, and at the end of it, we will all smile and say Thanks Curbs!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

United till the end

We have all now had the best part of a week to get over the trauma of losing the clubs manager; possibly the best manager that Charlton have ever had, and certainly the only one who has ever come close to matching the deeds of Jimmy Seed. The numbness that was felt just before kick-off last Saturday has subsided; the gloominess that followed has wained. A positive outcome and outlook is what is needed, but only after the final game of the season; Curbs last stand.

Why Old Trafford? This is the third time in 16 years that Charlton's final game of the season has been held in the United half of Manchester, a slightly quirky statistic. Way back in 1990/91, the relegated Charlton team put in a fine display, losing 1-0, with the fans in fancy dress singing "Your gonna win the cup" (which United did after a replay against a Croydon based team). It was Paul Williams final match in a Charlton shirt (for a few years anyway...). Three years back, we had Jorge Costa's final Charlton game, where he performed heroically in a nil all draw. Jorge would have scored the winner but for Kevin Lisbie's outstretched boot...And now this season's game - Alan Curbishley's 729th as manager.

United need the result to confirm their runners up spot in the Premiership, and Champions League football without the qualification rounds. Charlton just need a result for Curbs.

Which team will be the last that our current manager writes up on the board? Well, it's unlikely to be very different to any other put out recently.

In goal, the choice is between Thomas Myrhe (dropped last week) and Stephan Andersen. The Dane could be blamed for both goals against Blackburn in that he didn't command his penalty area in a way that he should. If Dean Keily had been in goal, we would have understood... Curbs could shock us all and give a debut to Darren Randolph, but the trauma if it all went pear-shaped would be harsh on a youngster with enormous potential like Randolph.

The defence is fairly straightforward - Sankofa (who made his debut three years ago in the Costa match), Perry, and Powell and are likely to play. Fortune or Sorondo will also play - probably the Uruguayan if his groin is well enough to start. Luke Young should make the bench, but I doubt he will start the match.

The midfield will also have a familiar look - Hughes, Holland, and Kishishev are all likely to start, with Ambrose or Sam on the wing. It seems that Rommedahl is persona non grata at present, and Jason Euell will be offered nothing more than the bench again.

Up front, Darren Bent will attempt to get closer to the 20-Premiership goal mark he craves, and he will probably be joined by Lisbie, Bothroyd or Bartlett. Personally, I wouldn't mind a switch back to 4-5-1 with Sam and Ambrose assisting Dazza up front.

This is the team I expect Curbs to select:

Andersen, Sankofa, Perry, Sorondo, Powell, Kishishev, Holland, Hughes, Ambrose, Bent, Lisbie. Subs - Myrhe, Young, Sam, Euell, Fortune.

At the end of every season, some players will have played their final games for the club, due to summer transfers elsewhere. That may well be the case on Sunday. In Chris Powell, who is likely to retire after the match, we have an outstanding player who has represented Charlton and England at a very consistent level for a number of years. When Chrissie rejoined Charlton last summer, he certainly didn't expect to be playing most weeks - which is what has happened. It's a shame that Curbs will get most of the plaudits this weekend, because Chrissie deserves a big round of applause too. Hopefully, the club will find a suitable coaching position for Powell and he can take the first steps on his own management ladder.

Gonzalo Sorondo may also be saying farewell; he will return to Inter Milan, and we will see if he is allowed and decides to join an English club or spend a third season on loan.

Radistan Kishishev's contract is up this summer, and we may not see another offered to our Bulgarian midfielder. I guess it all depends on who the new boss is going to be, but old dust tends to go out with new brooms...Ditto Chris Perry.

Jason Euell is also likely to leave the club this summer, after abortive attempts by Birmingham to sign him in the last two transfer windows. Where he goes is now open to debate, though I fancy he may end up at one of the promoted teams.

It could also be the final matches for other players, including surely World Cup bound Darren Bent and Luke Young, but their departure is too painful to contemplate in this mournful week.

Pedro45's score prediction is a hard, but realistic 4-0 defeat.

My one-to-watch this Sunday just has to be Alan Curbishley. He may not have much personality; he may not be flambouyant enough for some; he may be too negative in his tactics; he may have favourites, and stick by them through thick and thin; he may be slow to make changes, when the obvious is apparent to every other fan in the stadium; but I don't care. He is the Charlton manager now; he is one of the best in the country; he is going to be sorely missed by players and fans alike over the summer, and onwards.

The King is dead; Long live the King!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Time Gentlemen please!

Charlton Athletic 0
Blackburn Rovers 2

Let's fast forward a couple of years, to the end of season 2007/2008...

Charlton have just played their final home game of the season, and the players are slowly walking around the pitch on their lap of "honour". Those that remain from the 7,269 crown are giving the players a lukewarm reception - it was not a good season to be a Charlton fan. Two years after Alan Curbishley left, the club has spiralled out of the Premiership and has now just survived consecutve relegations.

In goal since Christmas has been Stephan Andersen. Now undisputably the club's first choice goalkeeper, the Dane taking over between the sticks when the precocious, but unprotected, Darren Randolph was sold to Chelsea in the mid-season transfer window for £6,000,000.

At right back, Osei Sankofa has struggled to reach the heights of his predecessor Luke Young since he left the team for London based European football opportunities. Osei promises much, but fails to deliver frequently.

On the other side of the pitch, we have the ageless Chris Powell, still the clubs first choice left back at the age of 38. When Hermann Hreidersson let his contract run out and left the club, Chris came back into the team, and has been a cornerstone ever since.

The centre backs are also experienced pro's; Chris Perry has been at the club a number of years, and though still known by his nickname of "Rash", these days he is just a mild irritant to opposing strikers. Alongside Chris, is Jonathan Fortune. Big John has struggled all season with the pace of the nippy Championship forwards - so much so that he has missed a club record 14 games through suspension.

In midfield, Bryan Hughes and Matt Holland form a solid central pairing but still lack creativity. Both have struggled with knee injuries recently, but have been key to Charlton's survival in the Championship.

Out wide, Darren Ambrose, though undoubtedly talented, continues to underperform ever since the News of The World expose on him some months earlier. Lloyd Sam shines whenever he gets onto the pitch, but frequent knee injuries prevent that most weeks. He still holds the club record for step-overs in one game though.

Up front, top scorer Kevin Lisbie is the fans darling; his eight league goals have been crucial and his return to form has been welcomed since he ended his long running contractual dispute with the club. Alongside him though, Darren Bent is still a forlorn figure, a shadow of the goalscoring machine he once was. Ever since injury cruelly prevented him playing for England in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, Dazza has lost his pace and enthusiasm.

Manager Steve Gritt, the clubs fourth manager since Curbishley left, has worked wonders since taking over the reigns in mid-season. The experiment of using an unproven young manager from the lower leagues and subsequently a Scottish managerial legend had failed spectacularly, and hurt the clubs solid financial base, as has the subsequent foreign coach and football director method. The money made from the sale of Randolph, Euell, Thomas, Young, Rommedahl, Myrhe, Youga, Ashton, and Marcus Bent has been used to balance the falling gate and TV receipts, or wasted by the previous managers, and nobody left on the books is worth much to a Premiership team now.

The players in the side are definitely Championshp quality, and only average ones at that...

The Official website match report of Saturdays game is here.

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