Sunday, September 03, 2006

Who's in, and who's out?

The transfer window has now firmly shut, and Richard Murray can put the chequebook away for a few months, whatever Iain Dowie may ask for until the transfer window re-opens in January. The club have obviously overspent the budget this year but, in an attempt to maintain thier place in th Premier league heirarchy, if sucessful, should see a significant increase in TV revenue from next season.

The various comings and goings from recent transactions will have a real effect on the starting eleven that runs out on to the pitch in the Charlton home and away shirts over the next few months, starting at Chelsea on Saturday; so what can we expect?

The club is fairly strong here, thanks to a slight blip over Stephan Andersen's loan move to Leeds. Scott Carson is the obvious number one choice this season, but he can be recalled by Liverpool should the need arise. If this were to happen, Thomas Myrhe would have been the only goalkeeper on the books, save youngster Joe Woolley, what with Andersen at Leeds, Darren Randolph at Gillingham, and Robert Elliott at Accrington Stanley, all on loan. So with Leeds turning down the terms of the loan deal (that mirrored that of Carson), Myrhe and Andersen will no doubt battle it out for the substitute role most weeks. With a cup game against Carlisle coming along, it may be that one of these two is given a run out (I'm sure Liverpool would be happier if that were the case this early in the season...), but this is by no means certain.

Expected starter - SCOTT CARSON

This area is another that has significantly changed since Alan Curbishley left the club last May. Gonzalo Sorondo has joined on a permanent contract, joining last season's stalwarts Luke Young, Hermann Hreidersson, and the evergreen but less likely to play Jonathan Fortune. Talal El Karkouri has also returned from a loan spell in Qatar, to the surprise of many who thought he had played his last games for the club. New signing Djimi Troare will fit in at left back, filling the gap left by Hermann and Chris Powell, providing he doesn't keep getting himself stupidly sent off as he did in the season opener. Cory Gibbs, the teams first signing of the summer also gives a left defence option, and seems a very similar type of player to Traore and Hreidersson. When fit, it will be interesting to see where he falls in the greater scheme of things? Another new defensive signing, just before the transfer deadline, was Souleymane Diawara, a Senagalese international with a high reputation. He has cost a lot of money (£3.7 million!) so it's unlikely that he is going to sit on the bench, but who will he replace? Sorondo is currently injured, and our Icelander has a three game suspension to see out, so I expect Diawara to fit in alongside El Karkouri initially, with Hreidersson or Sorondo being the long term option for Dowie.


Another area that will now bear little relation to the residue from the Curbishley era, after a number of new signings, is midfield. In most people's opinion, this was the one area that we needed new players, with Holland, Hughes, and Kishishev not considered good enough in some quarters. Jason Euell departed for Middlesbrough too, and Lloyd Sam has gone on loan to Sheffield Wednesday for the early part of the season. Jerome Thomas has a broken foot, though he may be back in contention for a game later this month. Dennis Rommedahl also doesn't seem to be in Dowie's play book currently, and rumours that he was on his way back to the continent were strong, until a proposed deal apparently fell through late on transfer deadline day.

The switch back to 4-4-2 doesn't really favour wingers, unless they are prepared to work a lot harder than it is perceived that Rommedahl and (maybe) Thomas or Ambrose do currently. With a five man midfield, Curbishley had the benefit of not worrying if a couple of his creative players failed to contribute defensively, but Dowie seems not to consider this an option. Hence a raft of new signings...

Amady Faye, another Senegal international, will bring presence to central midfield, and allow others to be creative. Uruguayan Omar Pouso will also, apparently, bring bite to the centre of the park. Andy Reid has been bought to be one of the creative wide players, and if these three play each week, that only leaves one place open to a longer serving player. Will that be a wide type of player (Ambrose, Thomas, Rommedahl?), or a more central style player (Holland, Hughes, Kishishev - who can all actually play wide if needed...)? Early this season, with limited options, Dowie has given all three a chance, but even he must be able to see the failings that are apparent. I believe that the midfield will vary according to the opposition, with the three new signings starting most weeks, and with maybe a more defensive option in away games, and a more attacking force put out for home games. This was something that Curbishley often failed to do, but Dowie has more squad members who fit this sort of situation.


This area hasn't seen great changes as a result of the transfer window; Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink being the only new addition to the team/squad. With Jason Euell now no longer an attacking option (even in desperation), there are only really four forward players who are likely to feature this season, barring injuries. Darren Bent looks to have maintained the live-wire form that he had last year, and it is really astonishing that he cannot force his way into the England team given his form, and the fact that no other English forward can match his recent scoring record, even when playing for one of the "big" Premiership teams. Marcus Bent beat off some transfer interest from Birmingham and others and remains a part of Dowie's plans, as does Kevin Lisbie. The Lis has been around for so long that rumour has it he is just waiting for a testimonial (possibly being due next year?). But really Kevin, do you think you would make that much money from it (even tax free!)? What sort of attendance would a testimonial match attract? Would the benefactors be lining up to play golf with you, or throw darts on your behalf? More likely at you! Lisbie is a player with enormous potential, but he does seem to have let himself down. When on form, he is electric quick, good in the air, and a good finisher - remember the Liverpool game? When not (which has been most of the time in recent seasons), he is a waste of space on the bench, let alone in the team. If he couldn't raise himself to play well for Derby and Norwich last season in the Championship, why should he feature for a Premiership team like Charlton? So Dowie has just three real forwards, unless he uses Lloyd Sam (once back from his loan spell), Rommedahl, Ambrose or Thomas, in a much advanced position. Youngsters James Walker and Michael Carvill are the only other options, but realistically I cannot see them winning a place on the pitch barring a surfiet of injuries (god forbid!).


So, if I am right in my interpretation of the players that Dowie wants to see start each week, who will make up the bench?

Myrhe or Andersen will be the sub goalie; El Karkouri gives defensive options; Kishishev or Thomas fill the midfield gap depending if home or away; and Marcus Bent the foward role. The floater would come from Holland, Hughes, Rommedahl, Ambrose, Fortune, Sorondo, Gibbs, and Lisbie, depending who was in-form and required.

Of course, a lot of this depends on who is fit, not suspended etc, and best laid plans do get changed throughout the course of a season.

Dowie has the options, it's now up to him to put his masterplan into practice and see where that leaves the Addicks this season.

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