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.

Is it really that bad?
Only a charlton fan could be quite so pessimistic.
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