Sunday, November 26, 2006

Another Point made

Charlton Athletic 1 Everton 1

It's a start, anyway. A point gained from a tough, on paper, game versus Everton. But it could have been so much more.

Les Reed's first home team selection saw Djimi Traore return to defence after injury; Hermann Hreidersson move inside to centre back; Amady Faye return to midfield after suspension; and Darren Ambrose play wide left instead of the injured Jerome Thomas.

Charlton started poorly, with no confidence, and against a seemingly rampant Everton team looking dangerous with every attack. But chances were missed, and Charlton hung on. Andy Reid played in Dennis Rommedahl and it took a good save from Howard to prevent the hosts going in front. Ambrose then shot over from 25 yards, and Darren Bent came close to latching onto the ball close to goal in a good position. The defence got better, but much passing was negative, poor, or sometimes desperate.

Half time came, and it seems that the new Head Coach did his bit, as Charlton were much better after the interval. It was against the play that Everton therefore took the lead, when Hreidersson deflected in an Arteta free kick that had been flicked on to his thigh. Would this prove to be another tough break for Charlton or had the new regime brought in some backbone?

All of a sudden, Reid started to pull the strings in midfield (he is great when he starts doing that - if only he could for 90 minutes rather than 20 or so...) and Rommedahl was flying down the wing, but with little end product.

Another attack was foiled, but Valente dwelt on the ball allowing sub Marcus Bent (on for Ambrose) to challenge, and Andy Reid fired the loose ball into the bottom corner. This, for a split second, seemed to stun the whole Valley - Charlton had scored! Mayhem ensued...

Back on terms, Charlton swept forward in waves. Everton just couldn't hold the ball and became increasingly inept and there looked to be just one winner as the game entered the last few minutes.

Unfortunately, though, when the chance presented intself, it was Faye who missed the free header from six yards that would have won the three points.

Charlton's general play was quite good after half time; the plan seemed to be to get the ball to Rommedahl (left) at every opportunity, as he is so quick and potentially dangerous. He does frustrate though. Certainly in the first half, sections of the crowd became increasingly frustrated and words were exchanged between fans over his merits. One guy, who has been in the same seat at The Valley for years got fed up after our Danish winger was once again tackled by Valente but failed to track back in an effort to win the ball. He made his feelings known, but was asked by others to be quiet (or similar). There followed a nice exchange where the guys at the front were asked if the were Rommedahl's relatives which I thought was quite funny, as if nobody else would like him! Dennis did have chances in the game, cutting inside in the first half before dragging his left foot shot wide, then flashing a volley across goal (for a throw in!) late in the game, then replicating his early chance before screwing wide again. If only he could get his first Valley goal we might see him plunder plenty more...

I do feel that he is one of Charlton's most potent weapons, and if Reid gives him the ball earlier (as per the second half), then he can cause major problems for the opposition. But he is so obviously down on confidence, and the barbed comments from the crowd don't always help, that our coaches really do need to get to work and get him firing his shots on target. His goal return is, well, poor. One effort was appreciated, and if he did that on an increasing basis he would be more respected - Again he was tackled by Valente, but he chased the ball between passers before eventually blocking the clearance for a throw in. If he noticed the appreciation of that, maybe he would do this sort of thing more often!

So we got a point; we are level with Sheffield United now, but still bottom on goal difference, and we meet them next weekend. A real six-pointer then, and I quite fancy us to break the year old away game without a win streak, hopefully.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Ever the Optomist

No real time for an in depth preview this week. It will be tough. We need to watch out for the duckers and more likely divers. It's time for the real men; the real Charlton players to step up to the plate! The fans will be there, let's hope the players hearts are too.

My one to watch is Andy Reid. After a couple of dodgy away performances, it's time he got back to form by playing in the hole behind a front man.

This is the team I hope Les Reed picks -

Scott Carson
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Hermann Hreidersson
Djimi Traore
Amady Faye
Matt Holland
Andy Reid
Dennis Rommedahl
Jerome Thomas
Darren Bent

Subs from Myrhe, Anderson, Ashton, Fortune, Kishishev, Ambrose, Bent (M), Sam.

Pedro45's score forecast is a realistic 1-0 defeat; I do hope I'm wrong, but Everton don't score many, and don't let many in - they are the Arsenal of the 21st century!

Come on you reds!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


Reading 2 Charlton Athletic 0

I'm glad I wasn't one of the two thousand plus Charlton fans who went to his game - Les Reed's first in charge of the team; on the radio commenatry, it sounded absolutely awful, with Steve Brown particularly unhappy about the effort being put in by some of the players.

In Reed's defence, he said he didn't have much time with the players ahead of the game to get new ideas across, mainly due to international calls this week, and he obviously wasn't helped by the injuries and suspensions that always made this game look a tough fixture.

In the end, Reed's "rabbits in the headlights" comment just about summed things up perfectly, as former Charlton targets Harper and (the outstanding) Sidwell ran the game from the Reading midfield. It could have been a lot worse, and any excuses (thankfully missing from manager-speak now Dowie has gone) would be stupid and lame.

So where to next for Charlton? Well, it cannot get much worse than being bottom of the Premiership, and with no sign of where the next point may be gained. I can't even think of many crumbs of comfort from yesterday's match, nearly all the side had poor games... It was nice to see a couple of the youngsters on the bench (Ashton and Sam), and to see Lloyd Sam preferred to Bryan Hughes when it came to getting a substitute onto the pitch.

Hopefully, this week will see Reed and Robson start to make an impression on the remnants of what is left of players confidence at The Valley (or more accurately Sparrows Lane). With no midweek game; no international call ups, they should have everyone who is fit to impose their will upon. It is unlikely that best defender Diawara will be back next week, and if Hasselbaink is hamstrung too, he could be missing for a couple more weeks, leaving the forwards very, very thin on the ground.

It could be that Traore or Sorondo make it into the squad next Saturday for the first time in ages, and Amady Faye should be back after suspension meant he missed the Reading trip.

It is all a bit doom and gloom at present, but we have to have heart and say that only 13 games have gone; there are lots of points left to fight for; and we cannot get any worse!

News from the tabloids doesn't fill Charlton fans hearts with much glee either - If Sir Alex Ferguson wants Darren Bent and he does top Manchester United's January transfer window shopping list (which he does according to the Sunday Express), then at least we might get more than £9 million if we do sell him. Personally, I don't think selling him, spending the dosh on three other players and then getting relegated is the way to go. We would find it tough to survive using this option. Better to hang on to Dazza, get rid of (or rather wheel and deal) other makeweights, and sell Dazza for a non-desperate fee if we have to come the summer.

Former Head Coach Iain Dowie is being lined up as the new Luton manager - after five consecutive defeats, I hope they think hard about employing him as I have friends who are Luton fans and I don't want them miserable too!

According to The People, the FA could investigate reports of irregular betting activity ahead of Iain Dowie's Charlton sacking. Maybe that's how Charlton could afford to pay Dowie off, or possibly how Dowie thought he might be able to pay off Jordan? Or maybe is was the orange-ones plan to get some dosh out of the Dowie situation, and pay for his court fees? I'm sure that the FA couldn't give one...

Also in The People, Watford's Chris Powell could be in line for a third spell at Charlton as "the third man" to work alongside coach Les Reed. Wow, is that an exclusive? Bet nobody else thought that one up last week...

This week is going to be a tough one to be a Charlton fan - I doubt I'm the only one who has had taunts at work about "going down". I hope we can tough this out - I would hate to have other sides show more spirit and fight than Charlton in order to get out of trouble.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Between the Lines

The new Charlton management era with Les Reed in charge starts with an away game at Reading on Saturday.

The past week has seen a huge amount of exposure following the sacking of Iain Dowie, and it will be interesting to see how the players react to the new regime. This is especially true if player unrest, sited in the press but not from the club, proves to be true and one of the reasons for Dowie's dismissal.

What can we expect from our new Head Coach then? Well, the answer is we really don't know! The current crop of injuries will prevent any absolute clue as to what team Reed thinks may be his best, but this is how I think things will pan out:

In goal, no doubt, Scott Carson will continue. The club have been bouyed by comments this week from Liverpool that they have no intention currently of recalling him to Anfield in January. Let's hope Scott can keep a clean sheet...

Full backs look like being Luke Young, who should remain as skipper, and hopefully will look a little happier now Dowie has gone, and Hermann Hreidersson, who needs to start playing with the growl he used to rather than the sneer he has developed recently.

Centrally in defence, Talal El Karkouri will continue some of his best form for the club, and I expect Jonathan Fortune to play alongside him, as Souleymane Diawara is out with an injured hamstring. It is probably too soon to see Traore or Sorondo playing in the first team.

In midfield, Amaday Faye is suspended, and Radostin Kishishev injured, so we look a little lightweight. Matt Holland will play, and it maybe that Bryan Hughes gets a game from the new coach. Andy Reid should also play, and Dennis Rommedahl is fit and I expect him to start wide right.

With Jerome Thomas injured and doubtful, the 4-5-1 formation doesn't seem to be an option unless Darren Ambrose starts; I expect both Darren Bent (who is fit) and either Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink or Marcus Bent to start.

This is the side I expect Les Reed to put up on the board - his first as the man in charge:

Scott Carson
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Jonathan Fortune
Hermann Hreidersson
Bryan Hughes
Matt Holland
Andy Reid
Dennis Rommedahl
Marcus Bent
Darren Bent

Subs from Myrhe, Anderson, Sankofa, Pouso, Ambrose, Hasselbaink, John, Youga, Thomas.

This is a tough game for the Addicks and their new coach, with Reading having come from behind to beat Spurs last weekend. Any sort of reult will be welcome for the Addcikted, and the home team and fans will be fancying their chances. Pedro45 predicts a tough 1-1 draw though, as I believe that the team will realy be looking to impress the new boss.

My one-to-watch is going to be Luke Young. The Charlton skipper has looked really forlorn this season, and not a fan of the Dowie regime. With him gone, we could see a return to the swashbuckling full backs ways, with solid defending and surgng forward runs.

Les Reed - this is your first game; make it a good one!

Come on you Reds!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Les Reed - First time round

Now that the shock of Iain Dowie getting sacked has passed by, and the acceptance of new Head Coach Les Reed sinks in, I thought it might be interesting to look back on Les' previous three year spell at The Valley.

Les joined Charlton in 1995, as first team coach to manager Alan Curbishley. This was Curbs first year as sole manager, following Steve Gritt's ousting by Richard Murray. The previous year had seen Charlton striuggle, and finish in 15th position.

Reed obviously played his part in a resurgence the following year, as Charlton made the play offs which ultimately ended in failure. The season also saw a few good cup results, with Premiership Sheffield Wednesday and Wimbledon beaten, and Charlton only knocked out in replays by Wolves and Liverpool.

The goals were spread around well, with Bowyer, Leaburn, and Grant getting double figures, and with Robinson, Newton, and Mortimer also chipping in with good returns.

Match highlight were the 5-1 away win at Ipswich (Leaburn's hat-trick!), and Kim Grant's double in the snowy 2-0 victory at The New Den. Ultimately, too many draws (20) meant no real promotion challenge was offered, and sixth place was a good result.

The next season, 1996/7, Charlton slipped back again, finishing 15th once more. A poor start to the season meant the Lee Bowyer-less Addicks never really got going, and good wins were followed by poor defeats. The highlights included a 4-4 home draw with Norwich, and the emergence of a new hero, Mark Kinsella, plus the return of Anthony Barness. Andy Petterson winning player of the year pretty much summed things up! Leaburn top scored with nine, David Whyte also got nine, Bradley Allen hit six, and Kinsella seven.

The cup saw grand efforts, but ultimate failure in replays against Premiership Newcastle and Liverpool.

1997/8 will always be remembered as the Wembley season. In came Clive Mendonca (the missing link), and all of a sudden it seemed a lot easier to be a Charlton fan. A 4-0 win at Norwich, followed four days later by another four goal show at home versus Bradford both came early in the season. Some setbacks happened in mid-season (including a 4-1 defeat at Bramall Lane) but in March the board decided to "go for it" and Danny Mills and Eddie Youds shored up the defence and along with Sasa Ilic, a phenomenal run of clean sheets started.

Mendonca hit 28 goals in total; Robinson nine; Steve Jones and Mark Bright six each; and Kinsella and Newton both got half a dozen. A great FA Cup win over Nottingham Forest wasn't followed up, and Charlton went out to Wolves in a home replay after extra time. Ipswich beat the Addicks in the league cup second round.

At the end of that season, after the Wembley victory, Reed left for a job back from wence he came - the Football Association.

His years saw Charlton play 4-4-2 almost every week; Richard Rufus was the defensive mainstay; Bowyer and Kinsella the workhorses in midfield, with Newton and Robinson playing wide. Up front, Leaburn was the physical presence, and Nelson, Grant, Whyte, and finally Mendonca made the runs and scored goals.

Reed's three-year tenure as Curbs first team coach was considered a success, and it was a shame that he didn't stay to oversee the coaching of Charlton's first Premiership season. Eight years later, he has now got the chance, first as Dowie's assistant, and now as the main man.

I really think that this could be a fine appointment by the Board. The set up has changed since the days of Lawrence, Nelson, and Firmani, with back-room staff (Mills, Varney, etc) handling many more matters than a Manager would have relinquished ten or twenty years ago. The key thing to me of Dowie's appointment, and the set up with Reed and Robson, was that it was a coaching group; Dowie's job title was not Manager, but Head Coach. If he thought otherwise, he was stupider than he looks. Reed will not have a problem with being Head Coach - that is the job he does, that he is most comfortable with. The media may call a Head Coach the Manager, but that isn't the job anymore (at Charlton at least). Mark Robson is getting a lot of plaudits too, from within the club. He will be important for Reed to rely on when he is doing other duties. A third coach, which the media still wrongly thinks wil be the main man and head the set up, will be the Development Coach, and this could be a former Addick player (Chris Powell, Steve Brown, or similar) or someone who the club feels is good enough without their roots in SE7.

The only area that I feel the club is now lacking is in a figurehead to deal with the media. Will Reed be the one interviewed before and after each game? Will he be the face on the big screen fiften minutes before kick off? I guess so, and he has handled his spells in the limelight (after the Bolton game/this week) well, but will he enjoy a media grilling after a defeat (and we will be defeated a few times during the rest of the season)? Only time will tell...

The defeatists out there who are anticipating the fall of the club seem to be those fans from other clubs who would want Charlton to fail. Clubs like Villa, Manchester City, Ipswich, Southampton, where they have seen failure as a result of change. Most Charlton season ticket holders will welcome this change at the top. Reading on Saturday will be tough, but I feel we have a better chance with Reed in charge than Dowie. The two thousand Charlton fans who are going could be seeing the start of something new, fresh, better, brighter, and happier.

It may not always be pretty, but I now feel confident that we can survive this Premiership season - not by much, but that will be enough.

When Curbs left we all knew it was going to be the start of a new era. Dowie was a mere blip on the screen, before being washed away by the wipers. The real new era should start with Les Reed in charge.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Butterfly Effect

I should have known - I go away for the weekend, and by the time I get back, all hell has broken loose. Desert Orchid pops his four clogs; Marcus Trescothick is still ill and now on his way home from Australia; English rugby is in major disarray after seven defeats on the trot; and Iain Dowie (left, saying bye to Luke) gets the bullet from The Valley with Les Reed taking over as Head Coach.

I intended arriving home today and writing up a comparison piece between being a sports fan in England and that of our American equivalents - that will not have to wait until later in the week...

This blog has never been a fan of Dowie, as my past ramblings may have indicated.

Sure, the season start was tough, and Frankie Valley's prediction of not much and very little to show from the first eight games came painfully close to the perfect bet. The results have picked up recently, when playing against slightly easier oppposition (Manchester City, Chesterfield, Newcastle...), but the signs to me, just another fan, were that all was far from well within the camp.

Conspiracy theories have already started - the Luke Young get-together has been rolled out, when it was actually all explained away; player unhappiness has been mentioned in other contexts too, with new and different training regimes mentioned. Why have so many players ended up injured this season when the club is paying for fitness coach John Harbin? If players are incapable of playing an hour in the Premiership, why play them from the start (Pouso) or leave them on the pitch for 80-plus minutes (Reid) when all it is doing is damaging their chances of being fit and playing in the next game? There was also the day-off that Dowie was seemingly "forced" to take by Les Reed - what is the real story there?

But behind all of this was the fact that certain things that we Charlton fans take for granted - marking at set-pieces is just one - had gone by the way, and the one person responsible for this was the head coach - Iain Dowie.

I believe that Richard Murray has always taken the best course as Charlton Chairman; when he wanted one manager not two, out (painfully) went Steve Gritt. When Curbs didn't want to extend his contract, Murray's mutual consent came out with the hankies to wave Curbs goodbye. Now it is Dowie's turn to feel the Muzza force. The man has made millions, and has made a few major decisions in his time I bet. This, I think, is a good one for the club.

OK, it may mean that Murray was wrong to appoint Dowie in the first place, but would we really have countenanced Reed being made Head Coach back in May? I think not...I've read today that some fans are asking if Murray should now go too - what absolute garbage. He is one of the best chairmen in the game, and if that means making tough decisions, then all the better that he can do so. Let's not forget our very own Mark Hulyer and Michael Gliksten, and other teams more recent equivalents!

Curbs lasted for fifteen years; Dowie fifteen games - that just about sums up the difference in class between the two of them in my humble opinion.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Shooting for Six

Cup shocks over with (yes, it is a shock to be in the League Cup quarter finals for the first time ever!), Charlton return to league action this Saturday with an away game at Wigan.

Last December of course, Wigan was the scene of one of the worst displays of the season, and supporters who had taken the opportunity of a free ticket for the day (courtesy of Llanera), and those that paid (like me), were rightly shocked to see Charlton disintegrate during this match. It was, probably, a forerunner to all the bad things that have happened in away league games since - all without a win. That day, Henri Camara may have grabbed the headlines with a hat-trick of goals, but it was the way that the Addicks players went AWOL that was gnarling to us fans. Nobody stood up to be counted - from Dean Kiely in goal, to Darren Bent up front.

This year needs to be different, and not just because Charlton and Wigan are having very different seasons to last.

If Charlton are on a roll; if Charlton really have finally started their season; if Iain Dowie really is the new messiah, then Charlton should be looking to get something out of this match. Personally, I'm not sure that I can give a positive answer to any of those "ifs". It will be doubly hard as Wigan are on a roll/have started their season/and do have Paul Jewellio as manager and messiah.

Charlton fans can expect to see some changes to the team - back should come Talal El Karkouri, and Matt Holland (left), both missing in midweek with small niggles, plus Amady Faye and Darren Bent who played as subs at Chesterfield. Out will go Jon Fortune, Radostin Kishishev, Bryan Hughes, and Marcus Bent. With Dennis Rommedahl likely to still be injured, Dowie's options of continueing with 4-5-1 are limited. I therefore expect Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to retain his place after his two cup goals, but play in a withdrawn role, thus moving Andy Reid wide. If that doesn't work, at least he can bring on Darren Ambrose and move Reidy back into the hole-role.

This is the team I expect Dowie to pick -

Scott Carson
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Souleymane Diawara
Hermann Hreidersson
Amady Faye
Matt Holland
Andy Reid
Jerome Thomas
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Darren Bent

Subs from Andersen, Sankofa, Fortune, Hughes, Ambrose, Bent (M).

This is a tough game for Charlton, and actually one I don't expect them to get anything from - Pedro45 predicts a 2-0 defeat. It shouldn't mean back to the drawing board though. This would be the first reversal in six games, and nobody expects this fragile Charlton side to win each week. The hope is that the confidence gained from recent important results is not lost on the back of one game - we must have that famous Dowie bouncebackability.

My one to watch for his game is Andy Reid (top). Our little Irish genius must be fitter after 120 minutes of play against Chesterfield, but hopefully not too knackered to make a difference on Saturday. He has to score sometime soon based on the number of shots on target he is making, and this week would be as good a start as anywhere; it could also make my prediction wrong (hopefully) and cause an upset that Addicks fans haven't seen for a year and more - an away league win. Now that would be a shock worth seeing.

Come on you reds!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

WANTED - Replacement fingernails

Chesterfield 3
Charlton Athletic 3
(Charlton won 4-3 on penalties)

I hope that Peter Varney can bring forward the order he has for 20,000 replacement fingernails that are stuck on some big ship coming from China; I think most of us fans would prefer them now rather than go without and wait until late April, when the shipment is expected.

We just about made it last wasn't at all easy, but we just about deserved it I think.

We went behind early on, then equalised late in the half, coutesy of JFH (above). Lesson learnt? No.

We fall behind again, in exactly the same manner (left), at exactly the same stage of the second half as we conceded in the first half. We equalise. We miss chances to win, so the game goes to extra time. We take the lead. We miss a bagfull of chances to make the game safe. They score with the clock showing no time left, from another set piece. The game goes to penalties.

Now I know as well as the season ticket holder sat next to me that penalties are dear to every Charlton fans heart, but listening on the radio, as all but 700-odd hearty souls did last night, they play havoc with the hard bits on the end of your fingers!

I hate penalty shoot-outs, I really do. Yes I was at Wembley in 1998. Yes, I was enthralled with the drama, tension and atmosphere, but I didn't really celebrate in the twenty seconds after Sasa saved Gray's kick - I was too busy crying my eyes out, releasing that pent up nervousness and anxiety.

I have been there and seen Charlton win great shoot-outs (Wembley '98, Goodison Park '87), and lose poor spot-kicks competitions (Cambridge - some time in-between); it's not much fun, whether you win or lose - it's only the neutrals who think it is! No, much better to win or lose in 90 or 120 minutes, the start thinking about trying to get home safely.

But last night, a static defence after 120 minutes of football left ancient Wayne Allison unmarked, and he took his chance to bring about the penalty drama some love so much.

Step forward the heroes and villains of the hour. The first two kicks are scored. Then villain Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink sees his poor effort saved. Should we lambast him over this error? No. In order for there to be a winner, someone has to miss. Jimmy had scored twice in the match - without that, we wouldn't have got to the penalties! Hero Scott Carson (left) then saves, to give Charlton a chance to draw level again, which they do. The next two are scored, so it's basically sudden death at 3-3 after four penalties each. Super Hero Scotty then saves again - the man is a star in the making, if he isn't one already. It would be fabulous to think that Peter Varney had agreed a fee for him at the start of the season should Charlton have wanted to sign him after this season long loan, but some dreams don't come true...

Step forward the added-bonus hero. Last year it was Bryan Hughes who made the headlines after Stephan Andersen set up the penalties win at Chelsea; this time it was Hermann Hreidersson who belted Charlton through and into the League Cup quarter finals for the first time ever. Forty plus years of hurt and all that, finally, we have made it!

I wasn't there last night, but I can draw some opinions about the game and Charlton from the radio commentary.

First, corners. What is going on? I guess we have got used to Curbs, Merv and Gritty boring us to death at some point in a season with an insight into how they spend hours practising who marks who, on both attacking and defending set plays. Does Dowie bother? We were lucky on Saturday, not for the first time this season, yet a third rate team (sorry Chesterfield fans) can score three times from dead balls against us? Seriously, if Dowie is to last; if Charlton are to survive in the Premiership, this needs dealing with NOW!

Second, JFH. Yes, he is overweight. Yes, he is old. Yes, he is slower than Dazza, but who isn't? I know it takes time to gel with new players, systems, surroundings etc. I don't think he has played anywhere near his potential this season. I know that he is supposed to have an attitude problem (though that hasn't been in evidence at all at The Valley in 2006). But we have to realise that, at least until January, JFH, Marcus Bent, and Dazza are our ONLY forwards. Do we want to play Lisbie (when fit), Walker, Carvill, or an unknown youngster in the Premiership? No. So let's ease up a bit on the JFH abuse. I thought it a bit much when all the jerk radio commentator could do was read out anonymous text abuse about Jimbo, and cummuppence that he should score almost immedaitely afterwards.

Finally, it was sad to see a couple of the players given a chance to force their way back into the limelight fail miserably. Marcus Bent and Radostin Kishishev really didn't seem to want to know based on the radio and match reports from those that watched it live. We may be able to pick up some cash from the sale of these two in a couple of months, and replacements (I doubt Caleb Folan would cost too much if we went back for him now?) should be sought as soon as possible.

It's back to league action this weekend, and by then we'll know who we face in the quarters. Wycombe is a ground I haven't been to see Charlton play at, so I'd be happy with that option, though I think my heart is looking for a home tie.

Well done the players last night. Don't ease up now though!

Monday, November 06, 2006

History in the Making

Yes, it's true - the fourth round Carling Cup game at Chestefield tomorrow night could see Iain Dowie make history as the first Charlton "Head Coach" to lead the team into the quarter finals. Scary eh?

Way back before even I first went to The Valley - through Eddie Firmani, Theo Foley, Andy Nelson, Mike Bailey, Alan Mullery, Ken Craggs, Lennie Lawrence, Alan Curbishley and Steve Gritt - no manager has got Charlton to the last eight in this competition, but at his first attempt, Iain Dowie could do it with a win tomorrow. Folklore starts in strange places, and this may be true for Dowie.

The team that stands in his and Charlton's way are Chesterfield. So what division are they in then, and how come they have got this far in the cup? The Saltergate team currently lie in 18th position in the First division - that's divison three to us old heads. They have 19 points from 17 games, and five games without a win, which isn't exactly great form! Their season has been punctuated though with three major cup wins; first they beat Championship club Wolves, then Premiership duo Manchester City and West Ham. We can therefore presume that they will not be a push over. What else do we know about them? Not a lot - their manager is Roy MacFarland, and their most famous fan (to come out of the closet now they are winning) is Jo Guest (left). It was struggle to find a printable picture of Miss Guest, and you can go to her website if you want to see (a lot) more of her. I actually met her once, at a party after a movie premiere, where she donated her knickers to charity (I swear it true!). She also managed to have one of her breasts pop out of her dress while sitting chatting to a couple of lads which livened up the conversation (and my evening as I witnessed it) I can tell you! She didn't mention football that night to my knowledge...

The Spireites also have injury problems with top player Caleb Folan (8 goals this season), and with luck, he will miss out. So the odds should be with the Addicks. Paul Shaw (ex-Millwall and Gillingham amongst others) is probably their most noticeable name.

Charlton will be going in to the game bouyed by four successive clean sheets - Bolton, Watford, Newcastle and Manchester City have all failed to get past the Charlton back line recently. Hopefully, this sequence will continue. I expect Dowie to change his team slightly from that we have seen in recent Premiership matches - Dennis Rommedahl is out with a groin injury - using the opportunity to give some squad players a game. Bearing in mind the previous cup results at Saltergate though, he will do well not to mess too much.

I would have expected Thomas Myrhe to play in goal giving Scott Carson a rest, but his ankle knock looks like preventing that option. Whether Dowie is prepared to play Stephan Andersen in this match remains to be seen; he is certainly good enough, but is he "match fit"?

Luke Young will continue at right back, but Jon Fortune may get a run out in the middle. Hrediersson and El Karkouri are the other players likely to make up the defence, with Diawara having a rest, and Sorondo, Gibbs, and Traore not yet fit enough.

In midfield, Bryan Hughes will hopefully continue his knack of scoring in this competition and against lower league teams. Matt Holland will also probably play, as will Jerome Thomas, who needs the games at present. Other options are Amady Faye, Andy Reid, Omar Pouso, and Radostin Kishishev.

Up front, I expect Darren Bent to be rested (especially as he limped off at the weekend), and the front two to be Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Marcus Bent.

This, therefore, is the team I expect to start tomorrow night in a fairly open 4-3-3 formation -

Stephan Andersen
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Jonathan Fortune
Hermann Hreidersson
Bryan Hughes
Radostin Kishishev
Matt Holland
Jerome Thomas
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Marcus Bent

Subs - Carson, Sankofa, Faye, Reid, Bent (D)

With recent results, Charlton fans have to be pretty optimistic on this match, but we all know how banana skins have a habit of slipping Charlton up at the most inconvenient of moments. Blackburn in this cup last season (2-0 up with fifteen minutes to go, only to lose!) will be a stark reminder of what can happen if players do not take the games seriously. Chesterfield have done very well so far in the competition, but I think their time is now up, and a third Premiership scalp unlikely. Pedro45's score prediction is a 2-1 win for the Addicks, with the front two and Hughes the likely scorers.

My one-to-watch tomorrow night is Marcus Bent (above) - Big Benty played a blinder in the last round, and is close to his best form in a Charlton shirt (although that's not saying much). If he can start to work a partnership with Jimmy Floyd, then we will at last have an option up front should Dazza get injured.

We got to the quarter finals of the FA Cup last season, so cup runs are getting to be a bit of a habit. Hopefully, Dowie can get us there in the Carling Cup for the first time ever tomorrow.

Come on you reds!

Still Ill?

Charlton Athletic 1 Manchester City 0

I bet Stuart Pearce woke up sick yesterday morning, and he wasn't alone! The reasons may have been different for his disposition and mine, but the feeling probably similar.

Charlton beat the Massives, thanks to a glorious Darren Bent header, but rode their luck with City hitting the post on two occasions, and seeing the ball cleared off the line twice aswell. Thomas and Young did the line duties following corners, which Charlton failed to handle well all day, and Richards was the man who hit the post in the first half. Seven minutes from the end, Trabelsi also hit the post; as time seemed to stand still, his cross/shot from the corner of the penalty area bypassed everyone who watched the ball bobble along to the post before seeing it bounce out into the middle of the six yard box. The danger obviously wasn't over, but nobody reacted, until Scott Carson stuck his hand out and knocked the ball to ground before diving on it.

The excitement still wasn't over, and City managed to miss a few more good chances before ref Chris Foy finally put us all out of our misery and blew the whistle for full time.

The game started at a fair rate, with both teams showing good attacking intent. Andy Reid maybe could have done better in the first twenty seconds when he used his favoured left foot to shoot after bursting through, when his swinger may have proved more effective in getting the ball on target. Dennis Rommedahl was busy and involved, and not afraid to take on Thatcher with is pace.

It looked a good game, but the tenseness obviously got to someone in the row across the aisle to my right as they threw up. Whether it was one of the boys who quickly disembarked to less smellier climes, or the guilty looking chap whose shoes were rather messy I don't know, but it distracted a few people. Luckily, someone called the cleaners and they set about mopping it up so we could all concentrate on the game once more.

Just as they finished their job, Jerome Thomas curled a cross into the box and Darren Bent swept between the two City central defenders and headed the ball past Weaver for the only goal of the game. I don't blame Dazza for heading for the East stand; the sick smell from the West was probably still evident!

Half time came and Rommedahl unfortunately didn't appear for the second half, having been injured just as half time approached. The balance of the team, with Bryan Hughes now playing wide right, was affected, and Charlton were a less potent force.

Most of the side continued to play well however - special praise should go to Luke Young, who is now back near his very best; Souleymane Diawara who is simply class; Talal El Karkouri who is at the top of his game; and Andy Reid, who is doing well but can do better! Reid seems to love playing just behind Dazza in the 4-5-1 formation, and is ripping off shots at every opportunity. I do wish he would sometimes play the early ball through to Benty (as Murphy used to do), but he seems to want his own time, and the run is usually wasted. It can only be a matter of time before one of his shots finally beats an opposition keeper and goes in.

But the obvious star performer was Scott Carson - Scotty made a few very good saves again and kept Charlton in the match. I don't want to think about the option of Liverpool recalling him in January, but our season may depend on that not happening. I would be sick if it did, but not as sick as the bug that confined me to the bathroom yesterday. Psycho may have woken up with an ill feeling after his 12th defeat in 14 away games, but he wasn't reching as much as me!

The win does not move Charlton off the foot of the table though, as four other teams near the bottom also won. It does contract the league though, and a few more good results would leave all of the SE7 faithful in a much happier and healthier mood.

Roll on the league cup and another chance to make history by getting to the fifth round for the first time!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Blue Moon over The Valley

Manchester City come to The Valley tomorrow for a vital Premiership fixture - a real six-pointer. If City win, they will be well out of touch and it would be unlikely that Charlton could overhaul them during the remainder of the season; if Charlton are triumphant, then the gap is much closer, we could move off the bottom of the table, and the resurgence has really started.

Iain Dowie has seen no goals conceded in the last three matches, and he will be looking to continue with a solid defence that includes Carson, Young, El Karkouri, Diawara, and Hreidersson. The midfield is again likely to include Holland, Faye, and Reid, while Darren Bent has had a week off to get over any niggles he may have had and regain some form. The only question marks are over the wide players, and whether the team plays 4-4-2 (as at Newcastle when we switched to this formation we did OK) or 4-5-1 (as against Watford). Dennis Rommedahl should be accomodated in either formation, so that leaves a place to be taken by either Jerome Thomas, if he is fit, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, or Marcus Bent.

This is the team I expect to see take the field - I'm on a three timer here, so fingers crossed!

Scott Carson
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Souleymane Diawara
Hermann Hreidersson
Amady Faye
Matt Holland
Andy Reid
Dennis Rommedahl
Darren Bent
Marcus Bent

Subs from Myrhe, Sankofa, Fortune, Pouso, Hughes, Ambrose, Hasselbaink.

City are on the back of a home win, but have the awful memory of a 4-0 walloping from their last away game at Wigan.

My one-to-watch in this match is Souleymane Diawara. Our Senagalese warrrior is playing very well at the moment, but he will have to cope with different sorts of attackers this week, with the diminutive Dickov and the tall lumbering duo of Corradi and Samaras, plus the pace of Vassell at some stage.

The key to this game, and any we have played against City recently is keeping Trevor Sinclair quiet. Hopefully Hermann can do that this season, and Pedro45 is going to plump for a 2-1 win, in a fairly hard fought (and potentially dirty) game. This result will contnue the improvement that Addicks fans have seen recently, and take the team into the three away games (two league, one cup) that will shape the rest of the season full of confidence.

Come on you reds!

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