Saturday, July 21, 2007

Clean and Fresh

With a little help from Ajax, the new, fresher, looking Charlton Athletic are starting to emerge.

Out of the door last night went Luke Young (left) and Dennis Rommedahl, two of the players who we all knew would not remain with the Addicks after falling out of the Premiership last season.

Young is to join Middlesboro it seems, after a £2,500,000 offer was accepted by the club. Terms are still to be agreed with the player, and he does still have to pass a medical, but hopefully neither will present a problem and Luke will wear red in the top division next year once more.

Apart from the one season when he was outstanding (2004/5), I never did really take to our right back. He always seemed to go missing when big games came around, regularly falling to some mystery illness or injury whenever Charlton came to play the likes of Arsenal (where he would face Thierry Henry) or Manchester United (Ryan Giggs). The next week, he would make a miraculous recovery and resume as a solid performer.

That was his asset really; Luke was consistent from one week to the next - never spectacular, never awfully bad, just pretty good. Goals were not usually his fault, but then again he didn't make or score many either.

Then in late 2004/5 he took responsibility, and improved a huge amount. His forward runs became decisive, aiming to cut into the area directly at goal rather than just hugging the touchline. He even scored a few times - Villa away, Liverpool at home, Boro away in the cup, but never more than a couple a season.

His consistency won him the captaincy (on the pitch at least) when Matt Holland was out of the team, and a place in the England team, but this was where the player seemed to falter. Never very vocal, he earned the tag "Luke-warm" because he didn't have the authority or presence to urge his team-mates onwards. For England, he played behind David Beckham, but embarrassingly Becks chose to always pass the ball to someone else rather than Lukey, which is maybe telling us his opinion of the player. Seven caps came along, but he was quickly despatched when youngsters like Micah Richards and Glen Johnson were available to act as Gary Neville's reserve.

Luke reminds me of John Humphreys; a good full back who deserved honours, but was never quite the complete article.

I hope Luke has a good last few years of his career, but he will never be revered at the Valley, and it would be good to have a winger take the mickey out of him next time he comes down to play against us.

Also out the door yesterday, wiping his feet as he left, was the enigmatic Dane, Dennis Rommedahl, who has joined Dutch giants Ajax of Amsterdam. Now I have to say that I love players like Rommedahl; I thought he was a magical signing for us three years ago, and when he linked with Murphy, Bent, and Thomas/Ambrose in the early part of 2005/6 season, we looked pretty damn good! Sadly, as we all know, it went pear-shaped.

Dennis scored six goals for Charlton, but all away from home, and this simply frustrated the Valley fans. I don't know how many times he hit the woodwork in home games (certainly a couple of times early on in his tenure) but a home goal would have made a world of difference.

The undoubted memories are his 93rd minute winner in a local derby in Croydon, a couple at Sheffield Wednesday in the cup, and goals at Boro and Pompey when Charlton were riding high. My last, fading, memory though is of the Dane picking the ball up well inside his own half versus Villa last Christmas, and surging past several vain tackles. Just as we thought he might actually score in a home match, a desperate lunge from Gareth Barry felled Dennis as he honed in on goal. A definite penalty, plus red card for Barry, but no, to sum him up once more, Dennis came up just short, and a free kick outside the area resulted. (OK, yes, Barry did get the right colour card...) It was never quite enough.

The guy who sits on the opposite aisle seat to me will be happy this morning, but I have a genuine sadness that a player of his undoubted class couldn't have done more in a Charlton shirt.

Other news, in a very quiet period for the club, is that the team are in Spain for more pre-season preparation training. The main gossip is about who didn't travel, but with a very large squad at present (even without Young and Rommedahl), I guess that some players were bound to miss out. Whether Simon Walton is injured, ill, doesn't like flying, or is simply not good enough I really don't know, but his exclusion from the trip has raised a few bloggers concerns about his potential.

The main crux is that no midfielders have been signed, so anyone who can purport to being one (as Walton does), should travel.

I'm not sure about that; we do have a midfield, and when the first team runs out against Scunthorpe, I fully expect to see Matt Holland and Andy Reid standing in the middle of it. The issue is where players like Amdy Faye (and Walton) fit in? With Kishishev and Hughes now departed, it is looking a little thin, but with the salary level reducing (through transfers) and transfer money coming in (Bent, Young, Rommedahl), I fully expect to see one or two new players, including a central midfielder (Lee Bowyer?) join in the next couple of weeks.

Finally, it seems that a certain Kevin Lisbie may be facing his former club quite early in the season if rumours are true. Super Kev has been training with Colchester recently, and may well sign for them. With Iwelumo joining Charlton, and Cureton going to Norwich, they obviously need someone to play up front...but can they be that desperate?

Up the Addicks!

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I thought Humphrey was a better player than Young to be honest - it's only our improved status as a club and S-G-E's tendency to throw caps around like confetti that Young got 7 caps and Johnny H 0.
Simon Walton played today against Brentwood for the reserves (they won 4-0). Not sure why he's not with the first team though.
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