Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hi-Ho to the Oh-Ooooh!

Charlton Athletic 0
Portsmouth 1

Five games; four defeats. Charlton sit in the relegation places, with only two of the promoted clubs - Watford and Sheffield United - below them. Is it all doom and gloom? It could be, but it could be worse.

All Charlton fans knew that the start to this season was going to be tough, and other blog sites confidently predicted that the first points of the season would probably come as late as the October home game with Watford, our ninth match of the season. As it is, we have three points from five games, a whole raft of injuries, but actually a big pot of positives to take from our first matches of the new season.

So let's see what we can be cheerfull about, starting with those players who took the field yesterday:

Scott Carson
OK, it wasn't his best game; he made a few OK saves, and a couple of good ones (including one from Kanu in the second half). The goal he conceded looked soft; he got his hand to it but couldn't get enough on it to deflect the shot wide. Bearing in mind Scotty has won the team points through his saves against Bolton (including the penalty), we can forgive him this slight mishap. He looks a very good young keeper, and some of the minor errors are still to be ironed out, but this will come. (NB: He was my one to watch in this game, following on from Hermann in the Bolton game; I hope I am not jinxing members of the team!)

Radistan Kishishev
Kish deserved his place in the starting line up after good sub appearances earlier, coupled with the crippling injury situation. He started OK, and saw plenty of ball, but one wayward pass midway through the first half led on to another four, and he obviously seemed to lose confidence as the half progressed. Defensively he did OK, but he looks like a man who knows he's on borrowed time...

Amady Faye
An excellent game, from a player gaining in confidence and stature with every outing. Did well in defence in the first half, and played a leading role in midfield in the second half revival. Needs to stay fit and will then be a fixture in the team each week. Man of the match yesterday!

Talal El Karkouri
Another who is probably not near the first choice, but is performing to near his best each outing. Sometimes his defending is a worry, as is his knack for giving away free kicks near goal, but he also went close to scoring with a first half header. Just don't let him take free kicks thirty yards out anymore - they are getting embarrassing! The Arsenal goal was from one played square to him, not a dead ball so why not try that again?!?

Luke Young
Fabulous game from the skipper, in an unfamiliar left back role. He always said he could play there and showed it. May have got beaten a couple of times (by Johnson) but got back to cover well mostly. Star player.

Dennis Rommedahl
Oh Dennis; one week it's great and the next...hmmm. Why keep coming inside when we want you out wide hitting in good crosses? Had a great volley go just wide with James beaten; if that had hit the net, we may well have won. Still essential to the attacking options the side has in my opinion. We just need to put up with the odd quiet game (like yesterday) every now and then I think. Hopefully that first home goal will come soon...

Darren Ambrose
Lots of calls for Darren to get a run in central midfield, but on this evidence, he doesn't deserve another try. OK, he tries to look forwards each time he gets the ball and does get caught every now and then, but what I cannot accept is him allowing the oppo midfield to run past him into attacking positions regularly. How Gary O'Neill didn't get passes allowing him a couple of goals in the first half is one question Harry Redknapp will want answering on Monday morning.

Omar Pouso
Interesting to read various other opinions of his hour on the pitch yesterday...I thought he looked good and did pretty well for someone not familiar with the team. I think he suffered from the disjointed midfield that surrounded him during the first half, with little support from Ambrose and Rommedahl, and looked much better in the early stages of the second half when Faye joined him in a more balanced line up. He made himself available at every opportunity and played the ball simply on most occasions, but positively whenever he could. Had a couple of shooting opportunities from a long way out which he chose not to take; Omar will get better as he gets fitter.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Jimmy dropped short of the front two in a planned effort to play the diamond formation, but it didn't really work. Failed to find the gaps in the play, but this may have been due to the lack of decent possession that the team had in the first forty-five. Also didn't have a great second half; he isn't lazy (as some have said) though, and is still a dangerous player for the opposition to dismiss.

Marcus Bent
Hit the bar in the first minute, but did little apart from chase ball for the rest of his appearance. Won very little in the air against Primus (surprisingly) and less against Campbell (understandably). Failed to appear for the second half probably due to a tactical switch.

Darren Bent
A disappointing game from Dazza, who seemed to be confused by the various formations he was witnessing behind him. Had little ball in the first half, though did hit the post from a very tight angle in the aftermath of Marcus hitting the bar. If that had gone in, it would have been a very different afternoon.

Subs - Kevin Lisbie, Jonathan Fortune, and Matt Holland
Fortune's broken toe was risked after half time, as Dowie swiched tactics, and he looked quite comfortable most of the period. He does give forwards too much space as he isn't the fastest at turning, but couldn't really be blamed for the goal. Holland replaced Pouso and didn't bring much to the table. It may have been better to have started him than Ambrose which would have given help to the Uruguayan who played parts of the first half in a space on the pitch all on his own. The Lis came on and got involved, but didn't cause much of a threat to the Pompey back line. At least he tried this week...

Bearing in mind the players that were missing, it's no surprise that we lost to the team that now sit top of the Premiership table. Yesterdays game did, though, give me a better understanding of what I think is now our best team once everyone is fit and available; whether this is what Dowie thinks, we will hopefully find out sooner rather than later.

My ideal first team is -
Carson, Young, Diawara, Hreidersson, Traore, Rommedahl, Faye, Pouso, Reid, Hasselbaink, Bent (D).

With Sorondo, and Gibbs, still to play a meaningful part this season, it is difficult to include either of them in my team, but along with Holland, Thomas, Ambrose, Kishishev, Marcus Bent, Myrhe, Fortune, Hughes, El Karkouri, and some others (including those out on loan...), at least I feel that we have a squad that isn't necessarily one of the worst three in the division.

On Tuesday, we can turn our heads towards a home Carling Cup game aginst Carlisle. Hopefully, this will prove to be a turning point for the side with the potential becoming fulfilled and the right result.

I like your starting eleven. Charlton is a completely different side with Hreidarsson, Reid, Traore and Diawara in the line-up. I also think Sorondo can do the job and Gibbs is still an unknown, although has solid credentials coming in.
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