Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A week in The Valley

Plenty has happened in the first week of Iain Dowie being head coach at Charlton - players have left, the potential UEFA Cup spot was lost, and even the Elton John gig went off without hitch.

Since the furora of the Dowie appointment, the news surrounding the writ issued by Simon Jordan has died down. This is probably due to Charlton, and Richard Murray, putting the full weight of their team of lawyers onto the case. Murray is insistent that Charlton played by the rules - that Dowie was unattached when approached. Whether this goes to court, or if Jordan does what Murray says he should (i.e. pick up the phone and talk to him, man to man, rather than conducting business through the media) is open for conjecture. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see Charlton settle out of court, with maybe £500,000 heading across London. Mind you, if Murray wants to play hard, the only money changing hands would be toward the pockets of the legal profession.

Luke Young is one player who certainly hasn't been inpressed by Dowie's arrival. Our right back decided to rattle the cage, again through the press, rather than face up and talk like a man. I can't say I've ever been a fan of Lukey; in his first few seasons at The Valley, he always semed to get injured on the morning of a big game - if Thierry Henry was coming, then Luke used to catch a cold, forcing him out of the limelight. Next week, he'd be back right as rain, unless Ryan Giggs was in the opposition! Recently, Luke has faced up to his responsibility as Captain, and played every match. Now he thinks he can go and join another club, simply because he only has a year left on his contract and Charlton were concentrating on finding a manager rather than talking terms with him. Nearly every player at Charlton knows the score - the club does all its talking at the end of each season, not via the papers, and not after so-and-so has had the odd good game. Luke - if you want a transfer, forego your ten per cent of the transfer fee and ask for one; if not, sit round the table and start discussing the very lucrative offer that Charlton have put in front of you!

Chris Perry has left the club after three years service - I think he played 58 games in total during that time. "The Rash", as he was known during his Wimbledon days, was a good player, but he was prone to the odd fatal mistake - I remember his poor back header against Manchester City which led to the fourth (or was it the fifth?) goal at The Valley on a truly awful day early last season. I also remember his good games too, and especially vivid was the Liveropool home game when he decided that Peter Crouch was too tall to compete with when trying to chest a ball so he went under his arms, several times, in order to win the ball! Brilliant! Crouch had a nightmare match and was substituted, and all because of a player 11 inches shorter than him! Perry looks like he may be joining Reading, and if so, he will give them plenty of experience in their first Premeiership foray.

Also out of the door goes Jay Bothroyd. The ex-Gunner never really set the Valley alight, although he was second top scorer after Darren Bent. Free kicks whacked into the back of the covered end net apart, Jay just didn't do enough when the ball was in play. He will probably play for a reasonable Championship team, and score a few, but he just isn't Premiership class.

Jonathan Fortune has been handed a new three year contract which is well deserved. Jon has a few admirers and he does add steel to the back line when playing. This season he had a number of minor injuries which kept him sidelined for long spells, but he always tries his best when in the team. Some fans have queried why Fortune got a contract but Perry did not - age, height, and wage packet size are all probably factors in the decisions.

The biggest disappointment of the week came with the news that Charlton were not to be entered into the UEFA Fair Play draw after all. How the club came to the conclusion that they would not be is astonishing - why hadn't the FA and UEFA advised the club? Why did the news have to come from Sky Sports? Did the same thing happen to the French representative, who missed out on inclusion by even less of a margin than we did? It's pretty hard to take knowing that Peter Varney was in discussions with UEFA about accreditation for the draw, when UEFA knew we would not be included! This mishap has been swept under the carpet by the FA, and almost missed entirely by the media - if it had been Spurs or Man City, imagine the uproar! Charlton being too nice again me thinks...

The Elton John gig went off OK I've heard - a friend got a late spare ticket and had a fun evening out with 21,000 others. I just hope that Paddy is OK with what's left of the pitch - we don't want Dowie to use it as an excuse not to play the ball along the ground!

It was good to see Jason Euell back playing to some sort of decent level for Jamaica - he scored against Ghana, and brought a very good save out of Englnad goalie Paul Robinson in the two recent games. He may be interested in staying at The Valley now that Curbs has gone, so dangling a new contract might not be bad timing...?

So now most of the countries attention will switch to Germany, and the World Cup. Will Rooney be fit? Will Michael Owen last a game? Will Theo Walcott become the youngest England goalscorer ever? Probably yes to all three... I would love England to win the Cup but I'm afraid I just can't see it - mind you, I don't think Germany, Italy, Spain, or France will win either. Nope, the Pedro45 money bet is on the Czech Republic, as long as they get through the first round (which isn't certain from the group of death!). It's going to be a media frenzy; the World will almost stop when games are played, and this country is no exception. If Sven pulls it off, he wil be lauded for many a year, but watch him creep away if and when England do get beat. Enjoy the fun!

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