Wednesday, August 16, 2006

New Beginnings or the Start of the End?

Just days to go now before the new English Premier League season, and therefore time for a season preview; what is in store for Charlton during season 2006/7?

The Head Coach
Iain Dowie. Strange, for years and years the pre-season preview had Alan Curbishley installed as the Charlton manager, but he is no more, and we now have a Head Caoch instead. The coaching triumvirate that was for so long Curbs, Mervyn Day and Keith Peacock, now becomes Dowie, Robson and Reed. So what can we expect? The pre-season games suggest a switch back to 4-4-2 as the norm formation, with strength in depth and a solid back-bone to build on. Dowie is known as a motivator, and coined the phrase "Bouncebackability" at his last club. I hope that word isn't used much during Dowie's tenure in SE7 as I'd prefer that we needn't bounce back from anything! It's good to have Les Reed back on board, and he seems to have kept a low profile during pre-season. Reed is a top draw coach, but hasn't been at a Premiership club as coach before, having left Charlton after the play off win in 1998 to work with England. Now he has a chance to shine once more, and his relationship with Dowie will be crucial. Mark Robson also has an important role to play, and will probably do a lot of the donkey work with the reserves and those not involved in playing each game. The pending court case against Dowie may still impact, although the most likely outcome is of some sort of financial compromise should Dowie be deemed at fault. I'm glad I sit at the south end of the West stand as those near the home dugout may have their view obscured frequently by a bobbing head coach for the early months of this season!

The Goalies
The shirt numbers seem to have given it away - none of the current bunch was asked to take on the number one jersey, so it seemed obvious that a new custodian was on the way. Step in Scott Carson, on a years loan from Liverpool. Thomas Myrhe seems to have paid for the end of season slip ups that saw him dropped, and Stephan Andersen will be equally upset and may well seek pastures new. Darren Randolph will be an able third choice, and long term could well be the man in possesion for the years to come. I don't know much about Carson, apart from that on other blog sites and his short stints in the limelight at Leeds and Liverpool. He has a good CV, and is rated - I guess that is all we can hope for, but if he starts making errors like Keily, Andersen, and Myrhe before him, then Dowie may be in some trouble...

The Defence
The numbers are there, but are they any good? Dowie seems to favour tall players, so Traore will probably play with Hreidersson, Young and Sorondo. All internationals...but good enough for the Premier League?

El Karkouri has returned to the club and seems to have put aside any differences he had, although he may struggle to get a starting place early in the season.

Captain Luke Young has now signed a new contract, and shrugged aside talk of a West Ham exit during the summer; not the best way to endear yourself to the fans Lukey!

Youngsters Ashton, Youga and Sankofa will see little action probably. Yankee Gibbs will be fit late in the year after a knee operation, although he does seem to be a very similar player to Traore and Hermann, so maybe the time for our Icelandic hero to move on is getting close?

Jonathan Fortune will no doubt make a few appearances from the bench, but "Forch" cannot have a close relationship with the Head Coach after that late goal in the last home game the season before last sent a certain club to relegation.

The Midfield
At last the midfield signing we have been waiting patiently for - Andy Reid - has arrived. Creative, a good passer, a great shot, and skillful too, Reid can do what Danny Murphy did for Charlton and feed the ball to Bent and Hasselbaink to score goals. Charlton tried to sign him when he left Forest for Spurs a couple of years back, but the inclusion of Dawson in that double deal scuppered any chance we had of getting him then. He's not fat, it was just the Spurs shirt that made him look like that!

The other new midfielder is Amady Faye; he will no doubt play the holding role. Taller than Kishishev, but probably less mobile, he could be the missing link, and it will be interesting to see who plays alongside him each week.

The rest of the squad are stalwarts - Holland, Hughes, Kishishev, and Euell will all fulfill roles this year, but I cannot see them making too many starts. Holland may move on now, as could Kish, though I doubt we will see much revenue from either...

The Wingers
This is the interesting area - when Curbs switched to 4-5-1, the inclusion of two of Ambrose, Rommedahl, Sam, or Thomas gave an exciting look to the team. Now the outlook is switched back to 4-4-2, the question is whether any of these players do enough out wide to merit regular inclusion?

Dennis has the pace, the others all great skill; none are great crossers of the ball.

Our new Costa Rican Cristian Bolanos may play wide opposite Reid if Dowie wants to play conservatively, although that in itself could be exciting. If Reid plays inside (alongside Faye), then does Rommedahl do enough to merit inclusion rightside, and what of the others?

A Dowie dilemna!

The Forwards
What can one say about Darren Bent? 22 goals in his maiden Premiership season was a fantastic return. The absence from the England World Cup squad a travesty. The signing of a new contract fantastic news! The ability to make a sandwich questionable! His second England cap last night was good to see, though I think he touched the ball once in 14 minutes!

Alongside him, we will probably see the enigma that is Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. A great free signing - true, let's hope Jimmy has the desire shown in pre-season once the kicking starts, and contributes as much as di Canio did a few years back.

Marcus Bent didn't really get much of chance last year, but will be a good back up, as long as he can stay fit, and the much maligned Kevin Lisbie returns to (some sort of) favour as fourth striker. Other options should we get a run of injuries are not easy to spot, with Euell the only other squad forward who could start. That is, unless James Walker has really found the key to kickstarting his career...

The Fans
An interesting season for fans - new Coach, the continuing of Valley Express bussing fans in from Kent, a drop in Season tickets sales, and a tough start to the season which could leave us near the bottom of the table if results go badly.

The Competition
Chelsea will win the Premier League this year, but we are not in direct competition with them - we all know that! London has other clubs that we can compete with though - Fulham, and West Ham are both of similar standing to the Addicks, and we can optimistically compete with them. We can also hope to finish above the three promoted clubs - Reading (who have good players but haven't made many signings), Sheffield United (who will battle but could be outclassed) and Watford (good manager, but no pedigree). We should also give a couple of other clubs a run for their money so a bottom six finish is not a foregone conclusion.

The Outcome
Pre season games are not a good indicator; I remember Charlton having a terrible run of friendlies some years back but following it up with a great season. This year, we have a pretty even split of wins, draws, and losses. Early season games will be tough, but wouldn't it be great to win at Upton Park on Saturday, and maybe even follow that up with more wins against under-strength sides? It can be done! The fitness should be there, as Dowie has a reputation in this respect. The motivation should also be there, as failure could lead to any or all of the above being out of a job this time next year. How good was Curbs - we are about to find out...

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Enter your email address below to subscribe to Charlton Athletic Online!

powered by Bloglet
Sports Business Directory - BTS Local
Custom Search