Monday, September 03, 2007
Pardon Me Al!
I bet the Charlton manager has a smile on his face as wide as the M25 at the moment, following the Addicks win in this South London derby. Pards played for both clubs during his career and professes to have a love for each team. Luckily, his current employers were the ones he cared more about and he ensured a terrific result for South London’s finest.
The great thing about the manager is that he seems to be showing us fans what he really is all about. I admit I have yet to be fully convinced, but this weekend went a long way to showing me that he can be a good front man for Charlton, and that he could even be better than that.
Tactically, he showed he is flexible, as he started with the 4-5-1 formation that has been called for in relatively tough Championship away games. This needs him to be hard on some players, who may be left out or on the subs bench – but needs are needs, and I’m sure that players won’t mind (too much) as long as the results continue to flow. This weekend, it was Lloyd Sam – my midweek man-of-the-match – who was left out entirely, and Svetislav Todorov who was, somewhat controversially, left on the bench.
The great thing about being flexible is that you can change things when the situation demands it; on Saturday, rather than have to panic when it has all gone pear-shaped in the first half, Pards picked the right side/formation from the start and was then in a position to go for the win midway through the second half. It worked a dream as, shortly after his introduction, Toddy strode on to Iwelumo’s flick, nudged between two defenders and poked the ball over the keeper, and then rolled the ball into the empty net. Todorov wheeled away toward the Charlton fans in delight, and was jumped on by delirious team-mates.
Of course, you need to have the squad capable of playing in this flexible manner, and whereas Curbishley chose to have flexible players capable of playing in more than one position, Pardew now has a squad who can cover any required option. And that is to Pards credit; he has built a squad in the transfer window that can cover any formation option – 4-3-3, 4-4-2, 4-5-1, or even 5-4-1, we shouldn’t have too many problems covering all these as and when they are needed. He has also recently dispensed with those liable to sulk when they are left out on favour of a particular game need (no names necessary).
Of the team who played on Saturday, mention must be given to Nicky Weaver, who is settling in to the Charlton goalmouth, and made some fine saves; Jose Semedo, who looks like a tremendous prospect; Andy Reid who ran the whole show; and Danny Mills, whose second Charlton debut finished in the same result as the first – he is a winner!
Overall, we wook to have far too much class for this division, and have rightly been made favourites once more. Looking at early season form, the rivals we should care about are Watford, and maybe West Brom; it's early I know, but I'm not sure any others can get too close to us this year, and I bet that their blogsites are citing Charlton as the team to fear.
We now have a couple of weeks during the international break to savour the victory that came on Saturday, and look forward to continuing our march up the table (we are now seventh) and back toward the troubled Premiership.