Thursday, April 26, 2007


The tickets are bought, the coaches and planes almost full, and almost 6000 Charlton fans will head up to Blackburn for the next must-win Premiership game on Saturday.

I plan to fly, and I was a little worried when my flight ticket (or any details of the trip) did not arrive along with the match ticket on Wednesday. Thankfully it was in the post at home today. I had heard rumours of early starts, and it was good to have this finally confirmed, just so I can get to Gatwick at the right time.

We will be flying up to John Lennon Airport, at Speke near Liverpool, and then a generous supporter has financed the coaches that will take the plane-loads of fans on across Lancashire to the northern mill town that is Blackburn. Arriving early, during the late morning, I hope there is enough to entertain the fans as several hours. If we are just left to sit in the pub by the ground (even though it is a very nice pub from memory, last visited in 1994!) that amount of time may lead to a few sore heads and some raucous behaviour.

I have happy memories of flying to Charlton matches; Newcastle in the early nineties, when we triumphed 3-1, and Ancona in the Anglo-Italian cup for a 1-1- draw were good times.

The fans all seem ready for the trip, and once again the club has been very generous in subsidising the travel. It really is fantastic that we, Charlton, do this for our supporters, as not many other clubs would contemplate such an option, eith er because they don;t have the finances, or maybe they just don't care.

Hopefully, the players will also be ready for this match, as they really don’t have many options if this one goes pear-shaped.

Alan Pardew will need to pick the best eleven that he can, and then ensure that they play with passion, heart, commitment, and skill; anything less, and Charlton can wave goodbye to the Premiership.

The defence is unlikely to see a major changes, although the fit again Hermann Hreidarsson may replace Ben Thatcher, if Thatcher’s hip injury picked up last weekend has not cleared.

Up front, Pards needs to decide if he wants to play with someone alongside Darren Bent. His options are Marcus Bent, pictured fagging it with his latest girlfriend earlier in the week (which suggests that he may know he will not be facing yet another of his former clubs this weekend…), Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, or Kevin Lisbie. None of these players will strike fear into the Rovers defence!

In midfield, the options seem unlimited; all the wide players are fit, even if not playing consistently; and the central midfield also has few problems, with Song, Holland, Faye, Hughes, and Zhi all in contention.

This is the side I think Pardew will want to take the field at Ewood Park –

Scott Carson
Luke Young
Talal El Karkouri
Souleymane Diawara
Hermann Hreidarsson
Alexandre Song
Matt Holland
Darren Ambrose
Dennis Rommedahl
Zheng Zhi
Darren Bent

Subs from Randolph, Thatcher, Sankofa, Faye, Hughes, Thomas, Lisbie, Hasselbaink.

I expect Pards to stick with his recent formation of playing one up front and one just behind Dazza; for this game I'd like to see Zheng Zhi pushed up again, and Ambrose restored out wide. Jerome Thomas should make way in my opinion, as his last couple of games have been pretty awful. I'd also like to see Matt Holland back in midfield, as he gives the side balance, and comes with plenty of experience.

Blackburn are pushing for a UEFA cup spot, although they are currently way behind Reading and need to make up six points on Spurs. Goal-scoring goalie Brad Friedel is talking up their chances, but they look sure to miss out unless they can win all four of their remaining games. They have been in reasonably good form of late, but have won just one of their last three games, and couldn’t beat Fulham last weekend, so we do have some hope.

Ok, I know. I shouldn’t have mentioned the “H” word, but it was always likely to slip out sometime in this preview.

For Charlton the equation is pretty simple; unless we win at least one of the remaining three games, then we will undoubtedly be relegated. Saturday is possibly the best chance to get the win, as Blackburn may not be too “up-for-it”, and/or over-confident. Even these three points may not be enough for keep the Addicks in the top flight, but what may happen is that these three points could lead to more, and that may be enough…?

My one-to-watch in this game is Darren Bent. Dazza is the one player above all others that can win the game for us. We need to score goals, and Dazza is the man most likely. He hasn't been 100% fit since before Christmas, but hopefully he will be fitter than he seemed last weekend.

Pedro45’s score predictions haven’t been too close recently, although I did predict the goalless Easter. When I’ve hoped for wins, we have lost or drawn; when I’ve given us no chance we have scraped out a result. I do know that 6000 fans making the trip will be a whole lot happier if Charlton do win, and so I just have to carry on that belief in my score forecast - I’ll go for a 1-0 victory.

This will be a very tough game, more so if we fall behind early on…We, all 6000 who are going to be there, and the other twenty-odd thousand who cannot make the game, desperately want Charlton to get a result in this game.

Please boys, do it for us.

Come on you reds!

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