Sunday, April 27, 2008
O-Well - Another Sad loss...
I wasn't at the game; I didn't listen on the radio; and all I've seen were the brief goal highlights from Oakwell this morning on TV. I therefore won't make a large meal out of this potato.
It is a poor result; all three goals were where the ball was pinging around the penalty box, and "better" defending would have prevented all of the goals being conceded.
On the positive side - JonJo Shelvey made his debut, the youngest ever player to wear the red (or blue stripe) shirt for Charlton at just over 16 years old, and fellow youngster Scott Wagstaff also played as a sub for half an hour. Hopefully they will both get more game-time next week.
Alan Pardew is getting plenty of stick for not encouraging the team to finish the season on a high; it cannot be easy for him or the players, so I'm not going to jump on that bandwagon. What's done is done, and we all wish we had performed much better since February. Now we have to look forward to next season, and I'd prefer that was with Pardew in charge.
I now expect there to be more transfer activity than there was last year (I think 19 players came or went last summer..), but I sincerely hope that Pardew doesn't trot out the excuse about taking time for the team to gel once we fail to get a good result sometime next August.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Out of Africa
Now that Alan Pardew (left) has finally conceded that the play-offs are beyond the Addicks, he is looking to the future: Leroy Lita has been recalled by desperate Reading, and Lee Cook sent back to falling Fulham as he is no longer required. Sam Sodje is injured, and unlikely to play for Charlton again, which leaves just Greg Halford of the loan “stars” left to play in red.
Pards has also intimated that a couple of the much-vaunted youngsters will get the chance to make their debuts in the last couple of games, and I expect Scott Wagstaff to start at Barnsley, with JonJo Shelvey making an appearance from the bench in midfield (he may been replace Wagstaff?). Shelvey will become the youngest ever Charlton player if he plays in the first team this season, even though he looks considerably older than practically everyone else in the team!
With a number of injuries to the fore this week, that decision is easier, especially as Jerome Thomas, Lloyd Sam, and Zheng Zhi and all doubtful to start or complete the 90-minutes in Yorkshire.
This is the side that I think Pards may start with at Oakwell –
Subs from Randolph, Elliott, Fortune, Youga, Zhi, Shelvey, Iwelumo.
The season really is finishing like a damp squib, with little more to play for than pride and a mid-table finishing spot. Most of the players will know if they are to stay at the club by now, or if they will be sold or dismissed as not good enough or too expensive (whispers say to expect a major summer clear-out…). However, with a couple of youngsters to gee them up, Charlton may actually force some sort of a result, especially if the relegation pressure starts to surface in the home team. Pedro45’s score prediction is a 1-1 draw, though I should probably go with another one-nil defeat. I really am hoping the new players who come in may provide a big boost to a flagging team.
My one-to-watch just has to be Scott Wagstaff; after a great reserve season, and as captain of the youth team, we need to find out if we have a ready made youngster who can step into the wide position that Jerome Thomas expensively fills. Touted as a good player, I really hope he can put in a solid hour and cement his place as one for next week, next season, and many more after that with a good performance.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Dear "Holiday" Diary Part 2
Good to see that Andy Gray finally scored for the Addicks...and a shame to hear that the conceded goal was a bit of a blooper by the recalled Darren Randolph. I don't know why Randolph was brought back from Bury; surely if Weaver is only suspended for one game it would have been worth giving Elliott a go and leaving Randolph on loan in Lancashire to gain more experience over the remaining few games of the season? Anyway, I bet the crowd went mad and the frustrations of the season were shown once more.
Sunday 13th April
Following on from yesterdays dune hopping trip, which mirrored Charlton's season somewhat (up, down,up, down etc), today was spent driving across endless desert plain. As with the run in to this season - which seems to be going on forever - so did the barren flatlands, with merely the odd peak in the distance visible. We did arrive in the mountains eventually, but they were the small round variety rather than the heady heights we thought we might reach last August...
Monday 14th April
In another Charlton similarity, this morning we spent six hours searching for something we couldn't find; like Alan Pardew and his search for the right players and the right formation, our search for desert elephants also ended in despair and frustration. Sure, you could see the tracks (and the dung) so we should have been going in the right direction but the goal was ultimately never found despite turning this way and that. Disappointment always in my dreams...
Tuesday 15th April
My wife lost a ring today – it was probably found and pocketed by a fellow tourist, or dragged away by a large bird. Annoying... Our morning walk guide was a Manchester United fan; typically, he was very materialistic, only wanting us to send him a shirt, which is unlikely, nice though he was!
Thursday 17th April
Some relief on another safari – we did see some of what we wanted, but the big prizes still elude us...maybe later? After another nice drive we were about to stop for a sundowner when a call came over the radio – one of the big five (no, not Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton/Spurs) had been spotted; we turned but our guide said it was a long way and we might not make it, but we would try. Frantic driving, much as Charlton desperately seek a winning or equalising goal in the last few minutes of time remaining (before the light went completely) ensued. We made it...just (how I wish the Addicks could have come up with the goods when required this season), and much like the promised land of the Premiership, all of our dreams and hopes were realised. I had thought for much of the day that the only lions I would see would be those on my cap; now I had thirteen live ones to watch in the fading light It was great; the first time in my life I've been happy watching the lions (apart from the British rugby variety)!
Saturday 19th April
A good couple of days – after a comparatively short drive (by this holidays standards), we had another major experience; following the lions the previous night, we had a great White Rhino situation, and got very close for around twenty minutes to two enormous beasts. Much as with the Premierships big boys, you don't see how big these animals are unless you get really close. Charlton are like small antelope (Damara Dik-Dik?) when compared to these monsters. Luckily, they were quite friendly, and used to tourists gawking at them and taking endless photos as the sun went down. As every other tourist on our van and at dinner (with everyone sat around one table) was German, we didn't have much chatting time and I'm not sure they would have heard of the Addicks, or appreciated being reminded how much better English football is when compared to the Bundesliga. There is no phone signal here, so I have another long wait to find out how the Addicks penultimate away game of the season at QPR went... Mind you, we had a call to reception this afternoon telling us that my wife's ring has been found! Now the problem is how to get it to us before we fly home...
Sunday 20th April
Drove through a town with telephone reception, so was able to text a friend to get the QPR result; bad news but not unexpected. I sincerely hope that Alan Pardew has given up hope of making the play offs by now! Though we saw crocodiles today, I will only shed crocodile tears at Charlton's inability to make the end-of-season finale.
Monday 21st April
The search for a winning (or successful) formula has been long and sometimes painful this season, much like some of our safaris on this holiday; however, we did see a leopard yesterday and two cheetah this morning after prolonged bum-aching tracking. I imagine that Pards will be searching with even more vigour now even he has to admit we are not good enough; will he give any youngsters a run in the remaining few games? I hope so - this is baby season out here, and we have seen lots of young animals clinging to their mothers. Some day they will have to learn to cope in the real world, much as Charlton's youngsters will have to. Only then will be find out if we have another Scott Parker, Paul Konchesky, Shaun Newton, Richard Rufus, Lee Bowyer, Paul Elliott, Paul Walsh or Billy Bonds lurking in the junior ranks. Tomorrow is the last day of our holiday, and we should arrive back in the UK on Wednesday morning. A 1-1-1 return from the three games I've missed was pretty much expected, and sums up the whole season. I won't be going to Barnsley, and will savour the last home game of the season a week later in the hope of a bright future. It's been a wonderful last few weeks for me, full of new experiences; shame Charlton didn't have quite such god time...
Tuesday 22nd April
Our last day and one last football analogy - a guy in a (obviously fake) Chelsea shirt asked me for money today as I was putting a dollar in the parking meter; Roman's millions do not reach this far it seems, but he was still unwilling to accept my (derisory) one dollar offering (about 7p...); poor lad. If he had been wearing an Addicks shirt I'd have given him the whole 45 bucks he said he needed to get home!
Friday, April 11, 2008
Dear "Holiday" Diary
Flew out from Gatwick not really bothering how Charlton get on while I am away on holiday. I will miss three games while away, but the season is over...isn't it?
Saturday 5th April
Arrive safely. Turn on phone to see if I have any bon voyage texts that didn't arrive before I flew. Leave phone on. Go out to dinner without wondering how Charlton have performed. Get back to room after dinner and a few beers to find message telling me that Charlton are “2-1 up with seconds to go.” Get a little excited, and wonder who might have scored. No further message confirming final score...it could be a long wait as I turn the phone off.
Monday 7th April
No phone signal since Sunday morning and not seen any newspapers either, so don't know yet if Charlton won all three points at Plymouth. Our guide today is a Chelsea fan he tells me...I told him I support Charlton; I think he knew who we are... After the trip, I wished him and Chelsea well and he said good luck to Charlton too, so at least he remembered who I supported!
Tuesday 8th April
Still no phone coverage, and none expected for a few days yet. Out for an early morning walk; the guide today said he was an Arsenal fan; I said I supported Charlton - again,not sure he knew the name... I told him Arsenal would win nothing this year; he told me their Champions League result from Anfield the previous night which confirmed my summation was right. He asked me if I watched games on TV or went to see them live; I told him I had a season ticket at The Valley, and had seen Charlton beat Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, the teams he said most of his countrymen supported. He asked how much it was to see a game in England and I told him – it was probably about two months salary for him!
Wednesday 9th April
Starting to worry about how I will go on not knowing the scores during this end-of-season nothing-to-play-for series of games. Is it Southampton or QPR on Saturday? Realistically I'm probably more worried about the number of mosquito bites I am getting and the local infestation of armour-plated crickets - yuk!
Friday 10th April
A fabulous couple of days with a couple of Charlton analogies...first, out on a long hike yesterday, we saw a spitting cobra;it was black. As we saw it and all jumped to attention it turned on its heels (or belly) and scuttled away scared. Spitting cobras or spouting cobblers...it reminded me of some of Pards after match comments, where he maybe said something he shouldn't and left the press conference rather quickly regretting his actions, much as the cobra had in slithering toward us. Today,after setting out early on a long drive, we got stuck in a sandy damp river. Much as Charlton's season came to stuttering halt mid-season, we were left standing, literally,waiting for help to come along. We had tried to dig ourselves out of our hole, but needed a helping hand to eventually move forward. The basic issue was we had been unprepared for this sort of terrain,and were helpless, much as the Addicks were back in August... After a nine-hour drive (including the two-hours we were stuck in the river bed...) I'm hoping that the Wifi connection in this hotel works. If it does, you will be reading this soon...
Yay! Found out we won...shame about Weaver. Now for the Saints...
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Last of the Winter Whine
I will not be there as one of the 90-odd who have bought tickets though, and a match report will not be forthcoming. It’s not that I’ve joined the ranks of Doctor Kish’s ever increasing ex-Addick fan converts, it’s that I will be out of the country on holiday, away from texts, email, the internet and (most of) the worlds news. Yep, I’ll even miss out on the Grand National, FA Cup semi-Finals, Bahrain Grand Prix, and much more no doubt, including Charlton news and results!
So in my last missive for a few weeks (I should be back for the Barnsley game), here’s the team I think would be best suited to our end of season run in. This team may not make the starting eleven on Saturday – as Pardew still thinks we have an outside chance of getting in the play-offs, ho ho! – but I would hope that some of the players will at least be considered so that they can be tried, gain experience, and help Pardew plan for next season’s promotion push –
Paddy McCarthy (capt)
Subs – Elliott, Moutaouakil, Sodje, Fortune, Thatcher, Basey, Holland, Sam, Thomas, Cook, Uchechi, Varney.
In defence, I think that it best that Sodje be left out, simply so that those who are not on loan get preference should they be required next year. I am hoping, though, that Halford may stay, but if not, I think that his goalscoring will keep him in the team until Yassin is required. Youga is the future, so there is no point playing Thatcher or Powell again this season; alternatively, Basey is an option.
In midfield, we are quite short, with Racon and Wright out on loan, Arter injured, and Dean Sinclair only just back after knee problems. Semedo is the future so he should play, and it would be nice to see if he can work with ZiZi; Holland is back up on the bench. The wide men are an issue – none of them have had as good a season as they would have hoped, except youngster Scott Wagstaff; I think he should be given a chance in the closing stages of the season, after leading the youth team to such heights. He can do no worse than Thomas, Cook or Ambrose, while Lloyd Sam is also returning from injury and may be a week or so away from starting in the team – I’d play Ambrose until Sam is fit.
Up front, the Iwelumo and Lita partnership did look as if it was starting to gel last week; I would prefer Varney to start, but I cannot see that happening now that Lita has been kept on loan for the rest of the season. Without any other options, due to injuries to Todorov and McLeod (other than to play a wide man in attack), why not bring Danny Uchechi forward to the bench and give him a small taste of first team action as the season winds down.
As a fan, Pedro45 want the best for Charlton; of course I want and hope that they win every game. In order to do this, you need to play your best team. But there are times when we must look forward, and give people a chance; otherwise, you may not actually know who your best team is!
A classic Curbishley error was not playing the youngsters when he had the chance, as he didn’t want to upset the “older” players; Pardew has picked and dropped squad members all season, so there is little point in trying to placate them now.
Some, like Jerome Thomas, Ben Thatcher, Zheng Zhi, and Jon Fortune will want to play, so they are in the shop window – all could be sold on by Charlton this summer in order to raise funds (I also suspect that each has just a single year left on their contracts, so maybe now is the optimum time for them to go…?). And maybe Pardew will play them in the hope of maximising the incoming funds? Others, like Sodje, Halford, Lita, and Cook will want games so they can show their worth, in the hope of possibly joining Charlton on a full time basis. Pards may want to play them too…
But the future is with the younger players who are committed to the Addicks, and I believe that Pards needs to concentrate on getting them into the team and giving them more experience. If Yassin hadn’t got injured after just three league games in this country, maybe six months later he wouldn’t have made such a hash of the clearance he messed up at Scunthorpe. Now is the time for further opportunity, and it must be grasped.
Chat in a few weeks!