Thursday, March 20, 2008

Repeat Performance

“We’ve got no divine right to win football matches because we’ve just got relegated from the Premiership and get 20,000 fans here.”
Too true Al…

“We’ve got no divine right for teams not to get over the half-way line and have shots but that’s the expectations we’ve got to live with.”

Alan, I couldn’t agree more…

“People forget the reason we’re in this position… People do look at us as a Premiership outfit and it’s great to be in the top 20 in terms of gates.”
Yes, Al, I’m proud of our standing when compared to the 70’s and 80’s, and I know it all went pear-shaped last season…

“There’s an anxiety from the people in the dugout, the players and the fans if
we’re not 3-0 up after 20 minutes but that’s how far this club has come. We’re
aware of it and it’s something that we’ve got to deal with.”
Wise words indeed Alan…

I bet you thought Alan Pardew (above) said those words didn’t you? But he didn’t! During a trip back to my parents house this week, my father gave me a copy of a South London Press he had found from November 1999. The words quoted were from Charlton’s manager at that time – Alan Curbishley.

The point I am trying to make by reproducing the quotes is that we are in pretty much the same boat now as we were then, except it is later in the season, and we don’t have that many games left in order to put things right.

There was such expectation this season that we would bounce straight back up to the Premiership, but due to a variety of things, this really doesn’t look like it’s going to happen now. Such expectation was built not only on Charlton’s fantastic display in season 1999/2000, when following a single season in the top flight, Charlton blew away all and sundry after Xmas to build an un-surmountable lead at the top of the division culminating in the Championship being won, but also by the manager now at the helm having the experience required to lead a club out of this league via the right end.

Sadly, the team of this season has failed to live up to the peers of the Millennium season. Weaver, Ambrose and Iwelumo are not comparable to Kiely, Kinsella, and Hunt. Greg Halford is no Danny Mills, and Sam Sodje not as good as Eddie Youds. Lloyd Sam will never fulfil his potential as Shaun Newton (nearly) did, and Luke Varney will never be as quick as Martin Pringle. You can compare every member of our squad from 1999/2000 with a couple of players filling in the same positions now at The Valley, but few can hold a candle to the Champions of 2000.

Alan Pardew had much experience when he arrived at The Valley last Xmas, having led Reading and West Ham to promotion. But for some reason, his recent tinkering has hurt the club in a way that few thought possible when we were well placed going in to the reverse fixture with West Brom back in December.

Back then, we knew that the winners of teh game at The Hawthorns would be top of the league at the end of the match, be it the Brummie club, or our Addicks heroes. We knew we had a dodgy defence, and that they scored bundles, but we had hope when Chris Iwelumo jumped off his one good leg and headed into the corner of the net past Barnsley’s future FA Cup hero Luke Steele. And when Steele gifted Izale McLeod his first goal for the club to level matters in the second half, we still thought that we would be OK, even with a draw. Sadly, Gera leapt above Chris Powell twice, and a 4-2 defeat ensued.

What has gone on and how much has changed since?

Well, the Baggies still score plenty (recent 5-1 winners in the cup quarter finals), but they are in another dodgy run of results (thumped 4-1 at home last Saturday); Charlton on the other hand, have a much more solid looking defence (the Blackpool result aside), but are in a bit of a barren patch in front of goal themselves. We have also lost three games on the bounce...It could be a close game then!

Alan Pardew has a pretty good number of players from which to chose, though Luke Varney (who is injured) and Therry Racon (now out on loan at Brighton) will not feature.

In goal, Nicky Weaver will continue, with Rob Elliott on the bench as back up. The defence is likely to remain unchanged, with Halford and Thatcher as full backs, and McCarthy and Sodje central. Hoepfully, no wonder goals or crosses will fly into the net this week...

The midfield will feature Matt Holland, and Darren Ambrose. After that it becomes a little more difficult to call, but I presume that Zheng Zhi has had his well earned rest (an hour on the bench at Burnley) and he will also start. On the assumption that Pardew will start two forwards (though that is by no means certain…), that leaves just one wide berth, and any one of Jerome Thomas, Lee Cook, Lloyd Sam, or Scott Sinclair could fill that position.

Up front, Leroy Lita will continue to search for a goal, and with Varney, Dickson, Todorov, and McLeod all injured, it is a straight choice between Iwelumo and Andy Gray to start alongside the on-loan Reading forward. If Pards wants five in midfield, Semedo will play, and Lita will start on his own up front.

This is the side I expect Pardew to send out to start the match –

Nicky Weaver
Greg Halford
Paddy McCarthy
Sam Sodje
Ben Thatcher
Matt Holland
Zheng Zhi
Darren Ambrose
Jerome Thomas
Andy Gray
Leroy Lita

Subs from Elliott, Moutaouakil, Fortune, Youga, Basey, Powell, Semedo, Cook, Sam, Sinclair, Iwelumo, Uchechi.

Pedro45 has had a terrible start to 2008; I don’t want to go into too many personal details, but I do need cheering up. If Charlton can do that, it would help my state of mind no end! So far in 2008, the Addicks haven’t helped, and I must admit that I cannot see this televised game improving matters. The FA Cup game at The Valley in January showed that Charlton can compete with a below-par Baggies team, and that really is our only hope. We need to treat this match like a cup game, as no other result other than a win is any good, and hope Albion are rubbish this week again. If we are going to lose though, it may as well be 4-1 as opposed to 1-0. My score forecast, which has been off target all season (a bit like our forwards shots or wingers crosses really...), is a 4-0 thumping, though I desperately hope I am wrong and we finally get it together.

My one-to-watch in this match is the manager, Alan Pardew. Pards has had plenty of stick this season, and more and more is becoming justified. We really should have a settled team by now, and more so when you can only get new players in during the transfer windows (what is this emergency loan loophole rubbish?). With five players in on loan, and plenty out on loan, surely the balance is wrong? We need those players who want to play for the club to stand up, be counted, and given a shirt. If you cannot commit to your team, then you are playing the wrong game. Big time Charlie’s don’t fit in at Charlton; they never have. But my worry is that Pards is starting to look like one of those over-paid media players who always come out with an answer that doesn’t quite fit the question. So Pards – what is our best team? What are you doing to get them on the pitch together? And what motivation other than a contract that includes bonuses for getting us to the promised land that is the Premiership do our team need? It is long past the time when Pardew needs to earn his money; he really needs to start earning the respect of the crowd because our patience is wearing a little thin.

I started this blog with quotes from Alan Curbishley, made many years ago; football clubs do tend to go up and down, but Charlton seem to be going in circles, repeating themselves. I know Pards learnt much from Curbs, but please don't quote his excuses every week.The groundhog day I’d like to see is the one where we thrash Albion 5-0 (from 1998); where our forwards score consistently (1976); where our keeper makes saves (1982); where our defence keeps clean sheets (1998 again); where wingers can cross the ball (1977), and the midfielders know how to pass and tackle (2000). Is that too much to ask?

Come on you reds!

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Thanks for that Pedro.
How is it you can make these valid points? Yet when i do it, i get told 'you're a moaner' 'You're not a true supporter' F*ck off and support Chelski'?????????????????
Its the way you tell em Daggs!

Pembury Addick
I don't think I've ever told anyone to go support another team Daggs...I want everyone to support Charlton. Each of us has an opinion - I expres mine on this blog; others by moaning on matchday. You are free to do as you wish but each of us has to take the consequence...

Lots of love.

I think we all feel the same way now. We have seen enough rubbish, and heard enough excuses. At least anything other than a defeat today will be a bonus. You'd think Man Utd were coming to town. Still we are where we are, and it's not all over yet, even if it feels like it is.

very interesting to hear Curbishley's comments echoing what we would have believed Pardew might have come out with this season.

I agree re the comparative teams of 2000 and 2008 but would have Varney over Pringle anyday. Varney is a talented footballer with a lot more to come. Martin pringle was a part-athlete who came to us later on in his mediocre career.

I hope 2008 brightens up for you, starting today.


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