Friday, August 31, 2007
Making Plans for Nigels
I don’t actually get very excited when games against Croydon come around; I refuse to travel to that dump of a ground, as I have no intention of paying money into the coffers of idiots like Noades, Goldberg, or the Tango-man himself. I get upset when we do badly, and over-excited when we beat them, as do all Addicks I guess. I won’t even be listening to the commentary as I have a prior engagement and that will be hard enough on my blood pressure as it is…
Ultimately, this is just another league game, and one which Charlton need to draw something from. The two late home wins have given the crowd a buzz, but shown up severe weakness in defence. Danny Mills arrival and expected selection at right back could help, but Sam Sodje – if he arrives – will be suspended and cannot play; Sodje was sent off for the eighth time in his career in midweek.
This is the team I expect Pards to put out –
Subs from – Randolph, McCarthy, Faye, Ambrose, Sinclair, Sam, McLeod.
My one-to-watch in this game is Jon Fortune. Big Jonathan was a hero last time we played the Nigel’s, and another glancing header into the (right) net would go down a treat with us Addicks (or he could even use him bum again...I don't mind!). It is, however, his defending that will be most important in this game, and if he can help garner Charlton’s first clean sheet of the season, then that may be enough to gather all of the points.
Pedro45’s score prediction has been troubling me all day. I wouldn’t be surprised to see us ship four goals, but would hope that the addition of Mills may solidify the porous rearguard that we have. In that case could we sneak a one-nil or two-one win? Is a nil-nil draw likely, bearing in mind how many we have been banging in at the right end? Probably not, though if Curbs was still manager that’s where my money would be! My concern is that this “team” hasn’t the experience to tackle a high-profile game like this, and one or two may get a bit carried away with the energy coming from the terraces; this could end up with, say, Mills, Reid, Thomas, and even Iwelumo and Bougherra entering the referee’s book, and maybe more than once. I’m therefore going to hope that I’m wrong and predict a 4-2 defeat.
It would be lovely to find out the score and celebrate a fine victory, and then we would be in the top half of this very even looking division and aiming ever upwards.
Up the Addicks!
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Oh Danny Boy - The Pards, The Pards is calling....
Mills was a firm favourite during his previous spell with the club, but decided he wanted Premiership footbal when Charlton were relegated in May 1999. He joined Leeds for £4million, and that money was put to good use by Alan Curbishley as Charlton bounced back to the top flight as Champions.
Mills subsequently played for England, plus Middlesbrough and Manchester City, but while at the Mancs he has fallen out of favour. Strange that Sven Goran Ericksson picked Mills for England but doesn't think him good enough at City...
He has been troubled by knee problems over recent seasons, so hopefully we are not getting a dud on loan?
Welcome back Danny - has any Charlton player ever scored on both their spell debuts? Saturday would be a good time to get that record!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Page Three Girls
It’s never dull being a Charlton fan! In an astonishing match, Charlton advanced to the third round of the League Cup despite some atrocious defending which allowed Stockport to fight back and score three second-half goals.
Alan Pardew picked an experimental looking team, with Darren Randolph finally given a chance in goal, Jose Semedo at right back, and with Amdy Faye and Therry Racon both getting games in midfield. Lloyd Sam played on the right wing, with Zheng Zhi operating wide left. Up front, Izale McLeod played in front of Svetislav Todorov.
The game started with Charlton well on top, and imposing almost incessant pressure on a County team that played with only one forward. It did just seem a matter of time before Charlton scored, and after 35 minutes, Todorov took a pass from Semedo in the inside right position, checked past his marker and thumped the ball into the top corner from twenty yards. Five minutes later, the busy Izzy McLeod broke down the left side of the penalty area only to be bundled over. A penalty was awarded and Izale grabbed the ball; nobody else was taking this kick! Sadly, his effort was not as high as his confidence, and keeper Logan made a good save. The referee then ordered the kick re-taken; whether this was for encroachment, or the keeper had come off his line, or the ref gave another penalty (as McLeod was felled again in the follow-up) I don’t know. This time, Zheng Zhi had hold of the ball and walked purposefully forward. Calmly, he chose the other side (above) and the goal gave Charlton a two-nil lead, much to the County players chagrin.
It was then that the blue shirted team had their best spell, as the Addicks settled back into holiday weekend mode, but the half time whistle went and a comfortable victory for the home side looked assured. Two second half subs by the away team signalled a change in tactics, and a 4-4-2 formation for Charlton to face.
Ten minutes into the second half, the game changed: Semedo gave the ball away needlessly, and as the defence chose to stand still, a reverse pass saw two County forwards clear with just Randolph in front of them – Proudlock stabbing home. Shortly after, more poor defending allowed County a close range shot which Randolph superbly saved one handed at the expense of a corner. All the Irishmans good work came to nothing though, as the second ball into the area was lashed home by Elding, and the sides were level.
This Charlton team will certainly have a healthy goals for and goals against total come next May!
Minutes passed with Charlton stirred by their defensive incompetence, but it was Stockport who scored again to amazingly take the lead. Blizzard drove home from just inside the area after some pinball action that Roger Daltrey would have been proud of.
Pardew had to react, and off came Therry Racon, who had shown good skill and some nice touches, if a little short of full fitness during his first outing, and the out of sorts Izale McLeod, who may have been sulking after missing his first half penalty. On to the field came weekend hero Chris Iwelumo to bolster the front line, and Darren Ambrose; Zheng Zhi also pushed further forward at this point.
Tactically, Stockport slipped back to their starting position, and it was all Charlton for the last fifteen minutes. Lloyd Sam made yet another good run, this time more centrally, and he was fouled near the edge of the area. He was the only player near the ball, so you knew he would shoot, and what a goal it was as he curled the free kick into the top corner from 25 yards. Iwelumo then hit the bar and the ball was volleyed into the net but the whistle had already gone for a foul. Then Todorov curled a great effort onto the bar once more from well out wide on the left. Even Jon Fortune wanted a piece of the action, charging forward to fire on target from 40 yards – his effort easily saved.
In this pulsating tie, there had to be another twist or the game would go to extra time. Sure enough, Sam’s last minute corner was met by a thumping McCarthy header at the far post, and Charlton were in front going into injury time. Breakaways gave the home time more opportunity in the three added minutes, but finally the whistle went, and the Addicks had made it to page three of this years League Cup.
My exit from the stadium was brightened by the sight of one of Charlton’s higher profile players, who did not play last night, being sat in his black baby Bentley (yes, it's true!) alongside the Stockport supporters’ coaches, and not being allowed to pass by the police as they had closed the top of Floyd Road while fans left the ground. Let’s just say that he wasn’t very happy, and had that look on his face that he has when he scores a goal (i.e. he wasn’t smiling!). I’m sure he’ll be back in the team on Saturday as long as he hasn’t been clubbing too much this week…
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Ding Ding – Round Two
The late league win on Saturday will have boosted confidence no-end, and I think Charlton should go into tonight’s game expecting a comfortable run out. Hopefully the players will not be too over-confident, as a number of other lower league teams have embarrassed the Addicks in this very same competition in recent years.
Alan Pardew has plenty of choices available to him in midfield, out wide, and up front, but the defensive options are severely limited through injuries to Yassin Moutaouakil, Ben Thatcher, and Osei Sankofa.
In goal, the choice is to continue with Nicky Weaver, or to give Darren Randolph a home debut and a run out. I do think that Pards should let home fans see a glimpse of Randolph in action, as he may be needed at some stage this season and it would be good experience for him to play in front of some sort of crowd at The Valley before then. However, I am not sure Pards sees it like that, and therefore I expect Weaver to carry on between the posts.
The defence will probably consist of anyone who is fit! Bougherra and Fortune will probably carry on in the middle, and Chris Powell should come in at left back. Maybe tonight is the chance to see Jose Semedo at right back, as he will not be so sorely missed in midfield against Stockport. That would leave Paddy McCarthy, hardly setting the SE7 part of the world alight, on the bench.
In midfield, Zheng Zhi (above) will almost certainly start (especially if Semedo is used at right back), and Dean Sinclair may also get close to the first team. Ambrose, Thomas, Sam, and Faye could also feature, but it may be a little too soon to see Therry Raccon in the home strip.
Up front, Izale McLeod will get some sort of game, as will Todorov, probably as sub. That leaves either Marcus Bent or Saturday’s double goal-scorer Chris Iwelumo to lead the line.
This is the side I think Pards will start with –
Subs from Randolph, McCarthy, Ambrose, Faye, Bent, and Todorov.
Whatever side Pardew picks, it should be too strong for Stockport, even though they are unbeaten this season. They will be keen early on but I expect the superior quality to show through well before half-time. With places in the league side up for grabs, the competition amongst those starting tonight will be good, and all will be keen to make a positive impression. The Pedro45 score forecast is a 3-0 win.
My one-to-watch in this game has to be Zheng Zhi. Back in the team following his permanent signing, he is a class player, and should relay stand out at this (and Championship) level. With more time to play than he found last season, he could be the catalyst to push Charlton up the league, and possibly a long way in this competition too.
Come on you reds!
Monday, August 27, 2007
Big Chris a New Hero
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Wednesday Week, She Loves Me!
Sunday, August 19, 2007
A Fortune Not Enough
A win, a draw, and a defeat - not a great way to start the 2007/8 season, but that's the way that Charlton have begun this campaign. After an opening day home draw last Saturday, a midweek cup win over lower league Swindon, we now have an away day defeat to a team who are looking to replace Charlton in the Premiership. Are Stoke potential promotion rivals? Well, yes, they are, so a close (looking) defeat away to them shouldn't be seen as too bad a result, but it does still rankle.
This was actually the first Charlton game I've seen this season (and even then I missed the last ten minutes thanks to Virgin Media cutting my Sky connection!), so I cannot make complete judgements on players who I've only ever seen play once, but I can offer some initial opinion about the team, the formation, and what Pards needs to do if we are to get out of this league via the top end.
First though, the game - plenty of Stoke pressure early on, including six corners and four long throws into the Addicks penalty area in the first seven minutes! After riding the early storm, Charlton started to play a nice passing game; Ambrose had a good chance but shot just wide. Weaver chose to punch most ball that came near him rather than catch in the wet conditions. Half time came with honours even and I was relatively happy that we should be better in the second half.
Alan Pardew seemed to think that changes were necessary at the break; off came Lloyd Sam and Izale McLeod, and on came Jerome Thomas and Chris Iwelumo.
The game settled but then Yassin Moutaouakil got injured; as play continued, Andy Reid was fouled on the edge of the area. Reid then shot and his free kick took a nice deflection off Jon Fortune's ample back-side, and Charlton were in front. As our French full back was being carried away to the dressing room, Paddy McCarthy came on, and our goalscorer (Fortune) moved to right back. Immediately, ex-Addick Ricardo Fuller picked up the ball on the edge of the area and, holding off McCarthy, fired into the corner across a diving Weaver. The lead had lasted just two minutes.
With just over ten minutes left, sub Parkin got the ball in a similar position to Fuller (though closer to goal) and he also turned McCarthy and shot home.
From the radio commentary (after my TV picture died), Thomas had a couple of efforts saved but no real threat of an equaliser came. The game reminded me of the so many times that something similar had happened during our premiership spell.
So, opinions on my first viewing? I thought Weaver did OK, but I wish he was as vocal as Deano used to be; Moutaouakil was good going forward but a little unsure at times in defence, though this was a bit to do with team-mates so he may be better in time. Bougherra was fairly solid, and Fortune did well until he was asked to play at full back. Thatcher did OK at left back and did venture forward on occasion. Up front, Marcus Bent tried hard without looking really dangerous, as did second half sub Iwelumo. McLeod looked lively but isolated at times. Both Sam and Thomas had good halves on either wing, and it may be good to attack home games with them both on the pitch? The main issue for me came in midfield, where Jose Semedo provided a good link between the defence and attack, often using Andy Reid (who had an indifferent game) as the creator. Darren Ambrose, apart from his first half shot, did little offering no cover to the defence and no real creative element. Sub McCarthy looked well short of class against a couple of reasonable Championship forwards...
To me, Pards needn't have changed the formation at half-time. If he wanted extra height, he should have started with it! Both McLeod and Sam had good first 45's, and Izzy's pace troubled the tall Stoke centre halves. I didn't think we needed to match up Bent and Iwelumo with them.
It does seem to me that this division needs to be dealt with tactically, and we don't have too much time to wonder if certain formations are going to be good enough before changing at half time to something better. Isn't that what the purpose of scouting is for? I know it is a generalisation, but when playing good teams away from home (like Stoke), perhaps we should consider playing a 4-5-1 formation with, maybe, a front three of Sam, Thomas and Bent. This would allow Reid to bolster the midfield as happened during parts of the first half yesterday. For home games aginst some of the lesser teams (like maybe Blackpool or Barnsley), we should be going out with a 4-3-3 side with (maybe) McLeod, Iwelumo and Bent up front. Aginst other sides, deepnding on home and away, we could start 4-4-2 and play attacking or holding midfielders as required. The options are there in the squad, and things can always be changed from the bench if the need arises. It would also keep opposition sides guessing as to who would be up against them, and the squad knowing that they would be getting games at certain points of the season when required.
Pards needs to utilise his depth of talent and ensure that the winning mentality starts to creep back into the side. Everyone can quote that Sunderland lost their first four game slast year and it didn't do them any harm, but we are a new team, and just because a certain side does well one week (against Swindon) doesn't mean that (basically) the same eleven will do well against one of the better sides in this league.
He now has a week to prepare for the Sheffield Wednesday game, when the home crowd will definitely be looking for a maximum number of points and also a feel that the season is about to start for real.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Stoking the Fires
Unlike Charlton, Stoke had a winning start to the campaign, and they will be confident of getting three more points from their first Brittannia Stadium match of the season.
What Pards needs to do is counter that belief, and pick the right blend of size, experience, and skill, in order to get Charlton's season rolling with enough forward momentum to take us back to where we feel we belong - the Premiership!
In goal, Nicky Weaver will be looking to build on his midweek league cup clean sheet, and to his right, Yassin Moutaouakil will continue at full back. After being rested to give Chrissy Powell an outing, I expect Ben Thatcher to resume left back duties in the league.
Centrally, Pards will have to pick between Paddy McCarthy, Jon Fortune (who spent much of last season on loan at Stoke), and Madjid Bougherra. With a tall forward line likely to be facing them (Sidibe and Cresswell amongst others), I would not be surprised to see McCarthy and Fortune given a chance in this match, with Bougherra on the bench.
In midfield, the options have now been increased after a week of training for Zheng Zhi and Therry Racon. I fully expect ZiZi to feature (as it's live on TV and the Chinese do seem to pick the sides in these games!), but he may not start unless Pards changes the formation to a more fluent 4-5-1 line up. Jose Semedo seems to be a shoe-in after his good start to the season, so it's really a case of who plays across the middle with him - Darren Ambrose, fresh from his midweek goal, Andy Reid, now back in the Ireland squad, and Dean Sinclair, after his debut as a sub at Swindon, all provide options in that central area, and out wide, Jerome Thomas is fit again, and Lloyd Sam has done very well in the first two games and does provide a threat.
Up front, Big Marcus Bent has had plenty of plaudits so far this season, having scored one goal and made two others. Todorov, Iwelumo, and McLeod are also pushing for a starting place, though Chris Dickson has now gone out on loan to Crewe for a month.
This is the team I think Pards will pick -
Subs from - Randolph, Powell, Bougherra, Zhi, Racon, Sinclair, Iwelumo, Todorov, McLeod.
When you think about it, this could be the toughest selection decision that Pards has to make all year, as any number of combinations could be picked!
My one to watch in this game has to be man-of-the-moment Marcus Bent. An opening day goal - his hundreth in the professional game - will have given him confidence, and he was too unselfish apparently in midweek when he could have added to that total but chose to create rather than score himself. Hopefully the big man will continue his fine start to the season and win back the minds of the Valley faithful who haven't been his fans over recent months.
Pedro45's score forecast is an apprehensive 1-1 draw. I know in my heart that if we play well we will win this game, but the atmosphere and physical nature may mean playing backs to the wall at times, and a point may be a good return.
With most of the team fit, formation and personnel are vital for every game now, and the crucial question is can Pards get it right. Let's hope so.
Up the Addicks!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Easing into Round Two
Banana skin avoided, as Charlton advanced in the league cup again, beating Swindon 2-0 away.
The scoreline may look comfortable but the first half performance, according to the radio commentary, was not very good in difficult wet and windy conditions. With the wind, in the second half, the Addicks played much beter and Izale McLeod and a rejuvinated Marcus Bent caused plenty of problems. Bent made both goals with knock-downs for Darren Ambrose to fire home the first (left) and for McLeod to be fouled for the second earning a penalty. Andy Reid scored from a re-take after Big Benty had encroached the first time round.
Jon Fortune and Chrissy Powelll started the game, asd did McLeod for his full debut. There were late substitute appearances for Dean Sinclair and Chris Dickson too.
Tactically, the team still seems to lack substance in midfield, with Darren Ambrose going AWOL for long periods. Jose Semedo did well again and had a few shots too. I think that Saturday may see a change in the balance we have seen so far with Zheng Zhi set for his seasonal debut, possibly in place of Ambrose. Andy Reid did well going forward, but again provided little cover for his left back when necessary.
The seaosn is now under way with a win and a draw, and anything but a defeat on Saturday will be a good result for the team.
Solid if unspectacular so far, things are slowly taking shape and starting to gel. We have at least 47 games left this season and there is plenty to play for - many more high (and lows) to come.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Cup of Glory?
After the home draw with Scunthorpe, Charlton will be looking to get their first win of the new season against the Division One newcomers at the County Ground.
Alan Pardew has plenty of players available to chose from, but the main issue is whether to give those who played on Saturday another run out - in the hope that they might gel quicker - or give a game to more of his squad - who might otherwise not play for a few weeks. The likelihood is that we will see a sort of combination of both options.
In goal, the choice is clear beteen Nicky Weaver - now confirmed as the season's number one - or Darren Randolph. Previous years competitions have seen the reserve goalie given a workout, and I would not be surprised if this was the case once more.
In midfield, the formation seemed right on Saturday by all accounts, but the players may be changed for this game. Dean Sinclair may get a start, as he is more accustomed to playing lower league teams, in place of Jose Semedo, while Darren Ambrose and Andy Reid should play too. Lloyd Sam may also get another start on the right, especially if Jerome Thomas is not to be risked after injury.
Up front, I expect all the fit choices to get some sort of run out, but Marcus Bent may not start the game. Chris Iwelumo could start with Izale McLeod, with Saturdays starters Bent and Todorov on the bench.
This is the team I think Pards may pick (but don't be surprised if I am totally wrong!) -
Subs: Nicky Weaver, Jon Fortune, Amdy Faye, Marcus Bent, Svetoslav Todorov.
Other options are few and far between unless new signings Zheng Zhi and Therry Racon are given a chance to play.
Swindon will obviously be looking for a major scalp, and will prove tough opposition if taken lightly. Promoted last year, they will be organised and hard to break down, and no doubt cheered on by a vociferous home crowd. They could be as tough to score against as Scunthorpe proved on Saturday, but hopefully if the same number of chances are created, enough will be taken to confirm a match in the second round.
My one to watch in this game is right back, Yassin Moutaouakil. His name may be really tough to spit out, but his play seems to be as smooth as silk, both in attack and defence. Provided he settles during this early part of the season and is not bogged down when the pitches become heavier, I expect him to be a major factor in a successful Charlton season.
Pedro45's score forecast is an arrogant 3-0 victory. I know that it is dangerous to predict relatively easy Charlton wins, especially against lower league opposition in this cup competition, but I have a feeling that we will win fairly comfortably. The fact that we got to the quarter finals last year will count for nothing tomorrow. The players seem up for it though, and the manager is certainly saying the right things - all we need now is a kick-start and the campaign should start to look like a good one. If we do mess up, an away game at Stoke on Saturday will suddenly look like a very tough match, and the nerves of a poor start to the season will start to jangle. I just don't think that this team will worry about that though, and they will be looking to kill the game very early and hopefully cement a place in the side for themselves on Saturday when they will be TV showcased (and no doubt ZiZi will be in the starting line up!).
Up the Addicks!