Thursday, February 08, 2007

Things Can Only Get Better!

Do you remember, back in 1994, when Charlton took over 10,00 supporters up to Old Trafford for the FA Cup quarter final? Half time, nil nil, and Schmeical had been sent off. The tannoy boomed out D:Ream's anthem, and the whole of the travelling support from South London sang along and bopped up and down. It was a fabulous moment, on a wonderful day, even though we lost (3-1).

Since then, things have got remarkably better, with two promotions and a long standing position in the elite league of English football clubs. Until this season, anyhow.

Now we are fighting for survival; hoping to pull ourselves clear of relegation trouble; not wanting to be down at (or near) the bottom of the league; wanting to survive; wanting things to get better.

This Saturdays fixture at Old Trafford presents an obstacle in that path, but whatever happens, we should and need to come out the other side strong, in control, and with belief, that we can win games, points, results, and struggle our way out of the bottom three in the Premiership. It will be tough, and none more so this season than this match, but we have to have that desire, will to win, commitment to succeed, whatever the score -win, lose, or draw - on and after Saturday.

If you compare team sheets, it is a game that we can wave goodbye to; we have no chance on paper. How can Osei Sankofa combat the skill of Christiano Ronaldo? Will Madjid Bougherra - if he plays, on his Premiership debut - shackle Henrik Larsson? Can Amady Faye stop Paul Scholes scoring? Will Dennis Rommedahl track back and nullify Ryan Giggs? How will Marcus Bent get free and score against Rio Ferdinand? Not a hope in hell then.

So why bother? Because we have to. Because we are in this same division on merit. We may have only won two draws in the fifteen games played against United in the Premiership, but those were against the odds too.

Alan Pardew (above) has the belief, and this is the side I think he will send out at the Theatre of Dreams -

Scott Carson
Osei Sankofa
Madjid Bougherra
Hermann Hreidersson
Ben Thatcher
Amady Faye
Matt Holland
Alexandre Song
Dennis Rommedahl
Jerome Thomas
Marcus Bent

Subs from Randolph, Diawara, Kishishev, Zhi, Hughes, Ambrose, Sam, Hasselbaink, Lisbie.

The managers hands are tied somewhat in who he can pick, with contnued injuries to three key players - Young, Reid, and Darren Bent - plus the one game suspension to Talal El Karkouri. At least Bougherra and Song seem fit for the first time since they signed and able to start if required.

United are on such form, playing so well, that a heavy, heavy defeat could be on the cards if Charlton do not show the team spirit that has been in evidence recently. If Fergie's team can put four past Spurs so easily, how many could they rack up aginst a team second from bottom in the league? Scary isn't it? New York Addict's prediction that a cricket scoreboard could be required isn't far off the mark. The words of "One Goal went past Perry" could well be changed in future, to read "past Scottie", and it might not stop at nine! Will United ease up? A couple of reasons why they may not - Scholes (98) and Giggs (97) are vying to beat the other to scoring 100 for United; and United may need all the goal difference they can get in order to stay ahead of Chelsea at the summit of the league.

I fear that the only hope Charlton have of not being completely swamped on Saturday is if Fergie rests some of his "stars" from the off, and if Charlton really do play as well as they have in the last few games but with a better, tighter defence. Maybe "Magic" can help here?

As last week, my one-to-watch is Scott Carson. He needs another big game if the score is to remain anywhere near respectable. He showed how good he is last weekend, let's hope he can play even better this week, and the defence gives him some sort of protection.

Pedro45's score prediction is going to be horrible; I know I don't want to see a 6-0 thrashing, but that would appear to be about the most sensible result to my mind. I don't thnk we have the players who can trouble United, and it may just mean keeping the score down and/or anywhere near respectable if we can.

This game is lost in the whole scheme of things, before a ball has been kicked; nobody expects Charlton to get anything out of this game. I wouldn't take an offer of 16-1 for a Charlton win. I do hope that we don't lose any sleep if we do get murdered, as we need to bounce back and be ready for the major games, winnable games, that are coming up after this one.

Up the Addicks!

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