Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Who's Who in 2007/8 - Part Four: the Finale

In the final part of the season review of who’s been who and how they have done this season, Pedro45 gives his opinion on squad numbers 30 – 44. Why did Danny chose 44? I guess we will never know… Oh, and we’ll also take a look at the man in charge – Alan Pardew himself.

30 Darren RANDOLPH

A funny season for Darren; having made his debut in the last game of our Premiership sojourn, Darren lost the early season 'keeper battle to Weaver, and therefore spent much time on the bench as back-up. Allowed to go off on loan after Xmas, he did well in Lancashire, and was then recalled in April when Weaver got sent off and had a one-game suspension; I still find it amazing that this happened, especially as Elliott got such good reports from his 85 minute sub appearance. Sadly the recall led to a fluffed goal by Randolph that cost Charlton two points; I wasn't there and haven't seen it, but it was a bit of a howler I'm told. Darren will be back, bigger, stronger, and better, next season, and he still - in my mind - has a long term future at The Valley. I just don’t know if Pardew agrees?


As described above, Elliott has done everything asked of him, but when he came to pick up the prize (a first team start) the ticket was cruelly grabbed away from him by the manager. A local lad, and fan, Elliott seems content to bide his time, playing the able reserve role as well as any goalie since Albert Uytembogardt. Elliott has signed a new contract, so is sure to be fighting for the number two slot and reserve team appearances once more next season. He is a cheap option I suppose, and in these days that option is one we have to have as reserve back up.
32 Josh WRIGHT

Wright spent all season out on loan at Barnet, and had a terrific first few months, gathering headline after headline. The number of games required in the lower leagues appears to have caught up with him a little, as his second half of the season seems to have been punctuated by injuries and rest periods. Another for the future, it will be interesting to see from the pre-season if his future is in pushing for a first team place at The Valley, or if he is given more experience in the lower leagues.

33 Aswad THOMAS

Another youngster who has bided his time, and finally got his (goalscoring) league bow out on loan in Lancashire. He played at left back up there, and it is difficult to see how he fits in if we retain Thatcher, Basey, Youga, and possibly even Powell. Lots of potential – I hope he isn’t one who is released and then goes on to join a big club and play top drawer football for a few years…it could happen you know!

34 Grant BASEY

The “Count” finally struck the right notes, and came into the team after a period out on loan at Brentford, where he impressed the then manager Terry Butcher. Back at The Valley, he replaced the exhausted Chris Powell at left back, and did a fine job until being exposed once too often. Rested when Youga returned in the new year, Basey shuffled along the fringes of the squad, and was lambasted when he did get back into the side after a poor performance at Blackpool, but did well in the last game of the season versus Coventry playing in midfield and scoring. This is the position he expects to play, and where he sees his own future; he has a great left foot, and his corners and free-kicks in just that one match shamed Darren Ambrose’s efforts over the whole season. Solid, dependable, he should have his key season next year.

35 Izale McLEOD

Izzy came to the club with a reputation for pace, and an eye for goal. What we didn’t know was that he was selfish, but then again, is that a bad thing in a striker? That Charlton’s first four penalties of the season were given for fouls on McLeod tells its own story - he was quick, and tricky, and when being used as a shock tactic introduction late in games, he was too hot to handle for some teams. The trouble came when he didn’t score – even missing his own won penalty in the league cup game - and his head slowly seemed to go down a bit. Back he came though, finally getting the trial that he wanted in a new formation alongside Varney – plenty of pace there! It worked, for a short time, then Pardew discarded it once more, as he was want to do, and Izale went back to the sidelines, with other players preferred. A loan spell at Colchester was cruelly cut short by the Plymouth hatchet man who also did for Todorov, and he is another of the three forwards with bad knee injuries – he‘ll be back, but again, how soon before Xmas is open to question. Then it is a question of whther he can get himself back to his best, or if he will be sacrificed.


Waggy had a terrific season with the Under 18’s, and actually captained the reserves to the runners up spot in their league; he finally made it into the first team as sub for the last two games, a well deserved recognition. I didn’t see him play in his debut game at Barnsley, so can only really comment on the half hour he got at The Valley versus Coventry where he replaced Jerome Thomas. He showed pace, and confidence, but did seem to be to easily hustled/pushed off the ball by more experienced players (it was sort of men versus boys). He did try hard though, and swung over some excellent corners and crosses when he could. He will get better, and all the prospects are that he will be on the fringes of the first team most of next season. I wouldn’t expect him to start most weeks, but, depending who stays etc, he could be one of the reserve wide players that will undoubtedly get called on to play half a dozen games due to injury and suspension. I suppose he might be needed to keep some of the other young whipper-snappers in check too (fingers crossed!).

38 Leroy LITA

He huffed, and he puffed, and finally, when the goals started to come, he got called back to his loan club to try to stave off their relegation fears! Unluckily for Leroy, even he couldn't help Reading stay up... Leroy was starved of service in his first few games for the Addicks, but did show passion, effort, and some skill. An injury time equaliser against Wolves (which Charlton threw away by conceding seconds later…) was followed by two poachers goals at Plymouth securing, potentially, a vital win. You could see why Charlton have been linked with him for a number of years, and maybe one day we will buy him back and he will come good (like David Whyte?). The problem, as nearly everywhere this season, was deciding who he played alongside.


The youngest player ever to step out in the first team, and after just two games, we can all see why he is out there. A tremendous prospect, full of running, effort, unafraid to shoot, and he likes to get stuck in. OK, we must be very careful here not to compare him with Scott Parker, or Lee Bowyer, or West Ham’s Mark Noble; he isn’t any of those players; he is the one and only JonJo Shelvey. Pardew’s care for him next season is key, and though he may well feature in pre-season first team games, we shouldn’t expect him to be playing 30-odd games in midfield for the first team next year (much as we'd like to see it!). Let’s bring him on slowly, expect him to be injured or off form every now and then, and look to be getting the best out of him in a couple of year’s time when he has grown into a man (though he looks like one now to me…).

44 Danny MILLS

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes the pipes, they blew in your ear, and off you went, with a red card waving in your face. It was great having the Danny Mills back at Charlton; the hair (lack of) was the same, the drive, the passion, the yellow and red cards; nothing much had changed in those nine years! Solidifying the right side of the defence (mostly), he was exactly what was needed at the time, and he kept Moutaouakil out of the team all the time he was available. Then he got bored…would he stay on for the season, or go back to City, or find another club? Well, the form he showed at Charlton got him an offer from Derby, and there he was, back in the Premiership. Then he got injured, and he’s now a Championship player again. If he stays as one of Jewell's crowns (he may well have a contract clause that allows him out of Pride Park following relegation?) it will be fun to see what reaction he gets on his return to The Valley next year?

Manager – Alan PARDEW

I suppose an end of season review just has to include the manager in order to be complete. Where to start? Well, I suppose at the start and the 19 comings and goings last summer – how would Pardew now review these transfers himself? The answer to that will be obvious by the time this August comes around I guess. If the new signings from last summer are still here, then the manager must think of them as a relative success, and if they aren’t, then they must be either too expensive, or failures. I’m not blaming him at all for some (or all) of the sales – these were forced on him by the clubs relegation and financial state. What is also probably fair to say is that Pards hasn’t had the best of luck with injuries. If Curbishley, Lawrence, Nelson, or any other manager had lost three excellent forwards (Todorov, McLeod, and Dickson) to long term knee injuries mid-season, they may have struggled. The fact that Charlton actually were still able to compete, albeit not very well, should be considered a bonus to the man in charge. Pardew was the king of the cliché though, often explaining away another abject home draw/defeat or failed performance on the road with various excuses that he seemed to be reading from a pre-prepared book. And slowly, this started to grate on the fans; sure, we could take the odd loss or bad game, but after the excuses came out, we wanted improvement, especially in the areas he had highlighted previously. Pardew had by then moved on to the next chapter in his book, though the exact same issues were obvious to fans, and so it went on. It left for an uncomfortable truce come seasons end. All through the season, Pards struggled to find the right balance – who should be the central defence; how to fit the gifted players together in midfield; who should be up front; 4-4-2 or 4-5-1…on and on. He stumbled on the 4-5-1 formation and it worked in away games, but not at home (how many managers fall for that one!); he switched to sheer pace up front, but after walloping Blackpool 4-1, he dropped the idea and went back to a target man plus runner. Obviously us fans don’t see what goes on behind the scenes at the training ground, but this turbulance cannot have helped many of the new players settle. In, out, shake it all about seemed to be the Pardew mantra, and eventually record numbers of players had pulled on an Addicks shirt this season (to go with the record number of different scorers). Next year, Pardew will have had to squeeze out those players he does not think will get near the first team – Charlton simply cannot afford to run with so many potential first team players again; this should be a positive step, and with the plethora of young talent at the club to make up the numbers, this should be the way to go. I hope Pardew stays to finish the job he has started, but I suppose there is a chance he will not (if a more lucrative offer came along for instance). If the last 18 months have been the makings of a bright future, it would be good to have Pards at the helm when it comes to fruition. But if he goes, I won’t be unhappy, provided some of the managerial talent that the club possesses in spades (Parkinson, Robson, Kinsella, and maybe even Chrissy Powell) is given a chance to step forward. The summer should see a large number of Addick players leaving the club (maybe 8-10?); if these numbers can be replaced by two or three class (but not necessarily expensive) additions, I will be a happy man.
That's it; that's Pedro45's opinion of the players who have represented the club this season. I don't think I've missed anyone, but if I have I'm sure you guys will let me know.
This site will now take off for it's summer holidays, and be fairly quiet (especially as my workplace have now denied access to all blogsites from the offices!); if anything worthwhile happens, I'll try to pass on the news and give an opinion. Have a good summer everyone...now where are those test match tickets?

Up the Addicks!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Who's Who Season Review - Part Trois (that's 3 in French)

This time, in a 4-part review of the season, we get to some of the could-be’s and some of the never will be’s in the crazy world of Charlton Athletic – squad numbers 20 - 29. Pedro45 gives his opinion, and you may or may not agree – in a free world, that is OK; in Burma, you would be shot. Lots more still to come as we run through the whole squad during these reflective times….

20 Therry RACON

Another Frenchman who didn’t quite set SE7 alight during this season but one with bags of potential. When he made his debut he caused quite a stir, but sadly Pardew didn’t chose to use Racon much over the whole season. A good cup game at The Valley, sure, but then we lost him for months… He eventually joined up with Brighton, and nearly saw them into the play-offs. He even intimated that he might want to stay at the south coast club (if you believe press reports). Racon is another player for the future, so I guess if he’s here come August we may see more of him on the pitch, but he is someone who could slip away to another club and have us fans ruing missed potential.


Magic by name, magic by nature - he disappeared far too much! Usually injured, just as he was settling into the team and playing well. The early season comic opera in the heart of the Addicks defence is long forgotten (by most), as Pardew tried out all the various combinations who could play alongside Madjid. Finally settling on Jon Fortune, the pair did well until Madjid started to get lots of those niggly ankle and calf injuries that keep players out every other week or so. When he did play, he settled down, was solid, tackled well, competed in the air, and produced the odd classic forward pass. We didn’t see many of the rampaging runs forward that the Wednesday videos promised, but maybe they will come as the confidence grows back again. Magic has to be the cornerstone of Charlton’s defence next year; the only issue is who Pards decides to play alongside him.


Osei has been at Charlton for many, many years now, and sadly, even he must now be thinking that the time has come for him to move on. Overlooked for any defending option Pardew may have required (even playing players out of position rather than give Osei a go…), Osei left for Brentford in January, and has struggled to consistently get into even their tier 4 team. He may well go for a free transfer (or a £50,000 nominal transfer tag), but it would do him and Charlton a favour for him to start over somewhere else I feel.


Who? Never heard of him…He certainly didn’t play for Charlton this season that I can remember. Good riddance too.

23 Jose SEMEDO

”He came from Portugal; he doesn’t like Millwall” – now where have I heard that before…? Not quite the persona that Jorge Costa had, but an altogether encouraging first season in SE7 for the Portuguese youngster. Semedo proved versatile in the early weeks of the season, switching from defensive midfield to the full back positions as Pardew chased games or had to fill in due to injuries. And Jose did very well. He also provided the balance that was sorely needed in the middle of the park, while surrounded by ball playing attack minded fellow midfielders Reid, Zhi, Ambrose, etc. The problem though, was the number of bookings he picked up – even forgetting the sending off for two bookable offences at Southampton – which eventually led to Pardew leaving him out in case he was unavailable over the Xmas period. The fact was he never really got his place back after that, and when he did pick up his fifth booking, it was well past the time when fifth bookings meant anything! If Jose can curb his enthusiasm for the ungainly tackle, and let his (easy) passing and lnk-man style flow, he could be an absolutely key player in Charlton’s future seasons. His versatility is obvious, but I still think the move Pardew made when pushing him into midfield was terrific foresight, as I doubt he will be quite as good in his original position of central defence.

24 Jonathan FORTUNE

Way back in August, you felt a bit sorry for Forch; there were these guys, new to the club, playing in the middle of a defence that was leaking goals like a sieve! Could he get close to a game – no chance! Then he did get in, and he cemented a pretty good relationship with Bougherra and Sodje, and things looked rosy. Sadly, the lapses in concentration leading to errors that have followed Jon throughout his Charlton career came back to haunt him and he found himself a spectator once more. The right hook he gave Ipswich’s Alan Lee at the final whistle in December didn’t help him much either, as that led to a 3-game ban. I guess this just has to have been Fortune’s last chance, and I fully expect him to be one of those that leaves Charlton this summer. In retrospect, he has been an excellent servant to the club, and one who always tried his best. When others around him failed to take responsibility (in playing a forward pass for instance), then there was Jon, trying to pick up a forward runner. He was good in the air, scored some memorable goals (sha-la-la-la la-la la-la la…he he!), and worked hard to improve each season. In hindsight, I bet he wishes he had now joined Stoke when he had the chance a year ago - it could have been him instead of Ryan Shawcross…


The mystery winger, never seen in a red shirt, who is out on loan in Holland at a club fighting against relegation. Does he have a hope at The Valley – probably not, but you never can tell (see Youga…). Unless he is given a chance in pre-season, and makes the first team squad in August, I expect him to be sent home and be given the opportunity to play for a different club next year.


Yet another loanee, this time from Sunderland, Greg came south while Andy Reid went north. He had a storming debut when he almost scored tremendous individual goal (left), but slowly, the reliance on his enormous long throw took precedence, and he was being asked to chuck it into the area from almost anywhere on the pitch. It was interesting to see in the last game that he took just one long throw, with everything else, even when positioned near the penalty area, going short. Greg chipped in with a couple of useful goals during the run in, but was also responsible for some errors from which goals were conceded. Rumour has it that his loan deal could be made permanent if all parties are happy and I suspect that the fee has already been agreed, but that it may have been subject to Charlton getting promotion. I cannot see him fitting in with the Roy Keane ethos at the Stadium of Light, so if anything further happens, he may want to join up with his former manager and mentor Phil Parkinson back at The Valley.

26 Kelly YOUGA

Kelly was out there racking up yet another loan club – he had two last season without making an impact at Charlton – when the clubs left back injury situation led to him being recalled early. He came straight back into the team at the new year, and was an instant hit with his no messing style (evident from his two sendings off while at Scunthorpe). He immediately had a few good games, but as with so many others, slipped back into bad habits and was eventually dropped when Ben Thatcher regained fitness. Surprisingly recalled for the final game, he again proved his worth, but also showed that he can be very lazy at times, often trotting back to regain possession when a quicker tempo would have given him more time to clear the danger. Kelly will be around next year, and if he can improve his partnership on the left side with Basey, we could have that side of the pitch sorted out for a few years.

27 James WALKER

Poor James Walker; shunted off to Yeovil, where he did well, he was called back and due to be sold on to Southend. Sadly, the medical went badly due to a heart complaint, and the deal fell through. He rested, as told, and finally he did get to make his presence felt across the river in deepest Essex, but on loan. His goals have helped take the club into the playoffs, and if they succeed in getting promotion, I would expect his loan deal to become permanent, with Charlton getting the £200,000 or so that was originally agreed back in January. James has been around for a few years now, but really hasn’t got too close to the first team at The Valley; I guess it would suit all parties if he did move on now.

28 Harry ARTER

Harry played just the one first team game, as a sub away at Luton in the cup, but did have a useful introduction to the team. Sadly, at the time when he may well have forced himself into the first team (and maybe have kept Shelvey on the sidelines?) during the end of season run in, he was injured, with a nasty Achilles problem. With vast potential, it will be interesting to see how well he gets himself fit (as he is likely to miss pre-season) and if he can then get close to the first team. With Semedo, Zhi, Shelvey, Wright, etc all vying for central midfield slots, he may have a tough time, but his talent (if it can be harnessed) is sufficient to allow him a decent run in the team next year.

29 Chris DICKSON

Just a natural goalscorer – Dicko failed to impress on loan at Crewe, but then did ever so well in the same league as a loanee at Gillingham. Recalled over Xmas when the forward line was taking a battering, he came on as sub and fluffed his big chance to be a hero when missing an easy opening in the cup game versus the Baggies. He then went up to the Hawthorns a week later and did what we expected with an opportunist last minute equalizer. The smile and celebration told you everything, but soon it was vanquished by a bad knee injury, and he joined Todorov and McLeod on the long term wounded list. Another who may not be fit for pre-season, he should be back for Xmas, and he may well be needed then, if not in the team, but as a side-show to cheer up the dressing room!

There we have the Twenties-men. The last part of the review (the rest of the squad, and a few lines on manager Alan Pardew) will be out in the near future.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Who's Who of 2007-2008 - Part Two

Today we look at numbers 10 – 19 of the squad that Pardew put out during 2007/8, covering those from the evergreen Chris Powell to the ever frustrating Darren Ambrose. All opinions are Pedro45’s, and yours may well differ. Feel free to comment should you so wish. More to follow in coming days.

10 Svetoslav TODOROV

Sadly, Toddy got injured way back in late September, and didn’t add to his good start at The Valley. Never one to run his legs off, or become an instant hero, he did show great technique in connecting the midfield to the attack, and scored vital goals away early in the season. A tremendous goal against Stockport should have led to better things, but a Plymouth clogger ended his season early (as he did with McLeod…); hopefully, a full recovery is on the way, and if Toddy can complete the pre-season, we can expect a decent return from this genuine goal-machine.

11 Darren AMBROSE

I guess the highlight for Darren was his becoming a father for the first time around the turn of the year. What should have been the highlight was a bag full of goals, because he is good enough in this league to score lots. The enigma seems to be whether he is better out wide, or through the middle, and if so, how far forward do you play him? His better games did seem to come when he played in a 4-5-1 as support for the front man, but others (Reid and Zhi) seemed to be preferred in this position by Pardew. Darren was therefore shifted out wide and spent many a half looking lonely as the ball and game just passed him by. He took many free kicks and corners, but again, some where terribly wasted. He even had a mare when best mate Darren Bent came along to watch him and got hauled off at half-time… Lately, news of a long standing groin injury (and operation) have come out - is this an excuse, or was it the real reason for so many lacklustre games? If he is retained, and I’m not sure he will be if the club receives a decent offer, then he has to improve, and show that he can hack it with the lesser skilled players. Otherwise, he is a luxury that cannot be afforded – others are better at free kicks and corners and show effort all game too.

12 Luke VARNEY

Luke is probably the most frustrated player at the club; every time he seemed to be doing well, he had to give up his front man position, and get shifted out wide or make way for someone else. Luke got injured in pre-season, which didn’t help him at all, and started the season way down the pecking order (initially behind Bent, Iwelumo, Todorov, McLeod, and even Dickson). Gradually, he worked his way back to fitness, and showed his pace, eye for goal, and excellent work rate. He runs channels like Garry Nelson used to, but not with quite the same experience. Not afraid to cut inside and shoot for goal, his finest moment came at The Valley on a Friday night in February when his two goals won the game and secured him temporary legend status. Varney is here for the long term I feel, and will be key to Charlton getting away well next season (especially as Todorov, Dickson, and McLeod may not be fit early on in the season).

13 PEDRO45

Another great start to a season by Pedro45, but it all tailed off after Xmas and was pretty dismal to tell the truth for the last few months. Whether Pedro45 can handle his fourth season commenting on SE7's finest is yet to be confirmed, but with over 50,000 hits, although not in the NYA, CA, Inspector, Diary, or Frankie Valley league, this suggests he might just want to hang in there.

14 Jerome THOMAS

I must admit that I hate Jerome Thomas. He has so much skill, pace, can work hard, and has a good shot, but for all this, he went through the whole of this season without a single goal to his name. His misses in matches (against Cardiff for instance) were bordering on criminal. He seems to think that he is the Cristiano Ronaldo of the Championship, and that every mere touch on him, followed by theatrical fall, should be a foul. The refs didn’t buy it, and neither did most of the Addicks crowd. He always seemed to have a minor hamstring or calf injury, which kept him out of the team but not the papers, and also fell ill on a number of occasions late in the season. What does the future hold for him? Well, he believes that he should be playing in the Premiership, but who is going to sign such a non-smiley player, who has yet to (properly) celebrate any goal he has scored in an Addicks shirt. If he had been on the pitch when Chris Powell scored on Sunday, would he have helped hoist him high above collective heads? No, he’d have been wandering back to the half-way line with another sulk on because it wasn’t he who scored. I hope Jerome leaves The Valley, and that we get a decent fee for him, though I pity the set of home supporters he next turns out for.

15 Chris POWELL

If you wrote the book, nobody would believe it. Such a happy ending never happens in real life, but it does when you are Chris Powell! At the start of the season, he willingly traded places every game with Ben Thatcher, and strode forward from left back when he got the chance. Then Thatch got injured, and Chris was asked to play every game. You could see him getting more and more tired as the two-games a week party went on and on, but with Thatcher’s knee crocked, and younger players Basey and Youga out on loan, Chris just had to carry on and on. The game at The Hawthorns was the crunch game, and two conceded goals from back post headers where Chrissie just couldn’t compete jolted Pardew into a change. Chris was rested, and Basey came in for his debut, and kind of stuck around until Youga came back after Xmas. That left Chris out of the team and he extended his coaching role with the younger players, who will undoubtedly have benefited from having the great man around. A petition was started to try to get him knighted, and that may yet happen (or is he too nice?). Then came the last game, a sub appearance, and the goal that signed off the legend. Pardew has indicated that Chris cannot be kept on at Charlton on a playing contract due to finances, but even if he goes elsewhere to play, so he can continue to be PFA Chairman, he will almost certainly be back at The Valley in a coaching capacity at some future stage – hurry up and retire Chris! We need you!

16 Chris IWELUMO

From one great Chris to another who has yet to hit the same heights. On the positive side, Bosman signing Iwelumo was Charlton’s top scorer, and did feature in every league game. He won games with a double on the first Saturday of the season and with last minute headers against Bristol City and Southampton; the problem was that the team behind him started to play in a sort of desperate way, and long punts upfield for Iwelumo to chase just weren’t on. If the midfield in the 4-5-1 worked, then Big Chris was fine, but if it fell down, he was just completely isolated and lonely. His control was not the best, and his directional headers also lacked a radar at times. The other annoying thing was the number of free-kicks given against him – for long periods in the middle months of the season, it seemed Big Chris only had to look at the ball for the whistle to go, and a foul given against him. Why, I’m not sure – he certainly didn’t look any worse than other big forwards on display, but refs seemed to have it in for him (as they also do sometimes for Crouch). Chris will still be at The Valley next year, but I think we can expect him to play more of a back-up role to the other forwards and he is a useful defending player to have during close matches when we need to protect a lead.

17 Cory GIBBS

Well what can one say about Cory Gibbs, the best player never to play for, well, Charlton! Two years, and just a handful of reserve team appearances, and all due to a string of annoying injuries that would not plague most footballers over their complete career, let alone in two seasons. He’s not really in the Winstone Bogarde league, because he really did want to play it seems, but he got much closer appearing for the USA national team than he ever did for Charlton’s league side. Later, Cory – good luck with your next club.

18 Lloyd SAM

Where I don’t like Thomas as a winger, I do like Sam. Not blessed with the same pace, skill, or ability, though he has abundant quantities of each, at least he tries during each game. Lloyd started the season as the sacrificial lamb every match, often taken off by Pardew when he was doing well. This may have affected his confidence, but when he was held in a head-lock at Hull, and sent off as result, results got worse and the need for a balanced right sided player like Sam became obvious. In and out of the side since that sending off, due to a number of niggly injuries and some of his lesser form, he has been genuinely missed I feel since the turn of the year. Lloyd didn’t score enough goals (just a point winner at Coventry and the only goal at home versus Stoke), and he should have had more, as he was often well placed to finish. If he can improve on this aspect and on some of his crossing – which also lacked accuracy at times – then he could still be a key player at the club.


Dean is a good back up I feel, but not someone who has a great future at the club. A couple of cup game sub appearances were followed by him going out on loan to Cheltenham. Sadly, after a couple of decent months playing in tier 4, he hurt his knee and has been sidelined up until recently. This is one player who, with all the young midfielders available next season, might be better off moving on – he is not tier 2 material, but I would expect a number of tier 3 or 4 teams who would be happy to have him on their books. Fifty grand anyone?

That's it - part two of Pedro45's summing up of the season. My opinion may differ from yours, but what the heck, we're all fans aren't we. More trollope from the poison pen soon, where we cover the next dose of heroes who could have been champions, but never quite made it...


Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Who's Who of 2007-2008 - Part One

It is that quiet, reflective, time of the season, so let’s take a look at the record 38 players that Alan Pardew has used this season (and a few in the squad who he didn’t use…): Were they any good and will we see them feature in next years plans? Pedro45 gives his opinion - yours may differ!

We’ll do this in number order (keeping the best till last?), but remember that some shirt numbers used this season featured two different players…

Today we start with numbers 1 – 9, and we’ll follow up over the next few days with the rest of the squad.

1 Nicky WEAVER

Nicky Weaver; the man who stuck one finger up at the covered end…OK, it was a few years ago, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, but first impressions count for a lot. Sadly, lasting impressions do too. And my overall impression of our number one goalkeeper this season has been him picking the ball out of the net, and going through games without making a save. This may be harsh – he has often been left cruelly exposed by a shambles of a defence playing (allegedly) in front of him. Good times? The last minute save against Stoke that won us two extra points. The bad game? Blackpool – OK it was windy, but you played like a buffoon. Back in August, we wondered whether Weaver or Randolph would be the number one choice; that decision went firmly the way of the bigger chap, and next year it is likely he will still be here. I just hope he makes a few more saves to win us points. After all, that is what we are used to from our keeper…


Oh merde, Yassin. So much potential, yet... A nasty ankle knock in late August meant we were short of a right back, and Pardew filled the gap with Danny boy. That left our young Frenchman without a playing spot, and he struggled to get back in the side. When he did – when Mills finally snapped under the pressure – Yassin looked good going forward and OK in defence, until the game at Scunthorpe, when he missed an excellent shooting opportunity, and a fluffed clearance led to the only goal of the game being conceded. Shuffled off back to the reserves once Halford arrived, he hasn’t been seen near the first team since, and is now suspended early next year due to a reserve team dismissal. He’ll be back, but maybe not as first choice right back.


Strange season for big Ben; taking in every other game at the start of the season with Chris Powell, he looked reasonably solid and was putting his experience to good use. Then he got injured, and spent the majority of the season on the sidelines, while Powell, Basey, Youga, and Semedo did what they had to in his position. Fit again for the run in, he played very conservatively and accomplished little in all his appearances, both in attack and defence. If anyone wants to buy him, I suspect he will be allowed to leave, though Pardew has already said he wouldn’t mind him staying – possibly the first sign of the new, improved, harder, Charlton he has intimated he wants next year?
4 Amdy FAYE

One game from the midfield general (haha) and then shipped off to Scottish giants Rangers. He was quickly found out north of the border with all the Gers early season defeats featuring our Amdy. Almost left to rot, Blackburn had him on trial in January but the oft quoted “cannot play for three clubs in one season” rule came out, possibly as a Blackburn excuse to hide their mistake that he might not be any good, and north he went again. Rumored to have pulled on a blue shirt again during Rangers recent fixture backlog, hopefully he doesn’t ruin their Championship prospects before coming back to The Valley for the summer. Unlikely to be an Addick next year; the only issue is if we can get a transfer fee or if we have to pay someone to take him…


An altogether better number four than our Amdy, but an up-down season for this Reading loanee. At times, he showed Premiership pedigree, but too often the jumbled centre back partnerships ruined any understanding, as he was tried with Fortune, McCarthy, and Bougherra. A late season toe injury didn’t help, and he left quite quietly at the end of the season. Greenwich born, he may come back, but not on his current salary. Most memorable moment was offering Rowan Vine to meet him in the car park after the game during the Valley match versus QPR, plus his goals against Cardiff and Sheffield United (left).

5 Zheng ZHI

Taking over the number 5 shirt from the quickly departed Souleymane DIAWARA, ZiZi was a star who ran out of puff. It is quite shocking that a man with his talents couldn’t get into the PFA Championship team of the season. Great stamina, a good shot, excellent in the air, and with loads of skill, the only issue was again where to play the Chinese captain. When Pards settled on the 4-5-1 formation for away games, it was ZiZi who made the running between midfield and attack, and in went the goals during a good unbeaten run. For me, it all came to a head in early February, when he flew off to play for his home country on the Wednesday in Dubai, and then played again on the Friday night during a glorious win at The Valley. A shadow of his former self since then, he has finally succumbed to injury late in the season, when all he needed was the odd rest when we were winning prior to Xmas. If he is willing to put up with another Championship season, it will be good to see him play with some of the clubs up-and-coming youngsters; the issue though is that he has another busy close season playing for China, and he may still be knackered (and at the Olympics) come August.

6 Patrick McCARTHY

Peaks and troughs, ups and downs, ins and outs…initially, we all thought the man a donkey, useless, a cart horse, too slow, no spirit, and a waste of space, but slowly, when he got himself attuned with the reds spirit, he came into the side just prior to Xmas and has done a reasonable job since. He does have heart, and will go in where it hurts, but sometimes he gives attackers just that little too much of a head start, and the good ones (Ebanks-Blake for instance) get the better of him quite easily. I expect Paddy to still be here next year, and almost certainly in the starting eleven; his partnership with Bougherra is gelling, just a few months too late for the season.

7 Andy REID

What a terrific player, and man. Riedy didn’t want to leave Charlton and it was only that we needed the cash (and him off the wage bill) that we sold him to Sunderland in January. He was injured then too, but for the games up until December, he was our best and most creative player. We can all do the what-ifs, and if he had stayed, we may have achieved more points, and what could have been guaranteed was a better dressing room atmosphere. It is my theory that it wasn’t so much the loss of the Little Oirish fella on the pitch, but without him and Chris Dickson (who also got injured and came out of the squad at much the same time) there was a gap in the dressing room camaraderie that has never been filled. He was always smiling, and will be welcome back at The Valley any time he wants to come.

7 Lee COOK

Why we signed him on loan from Fulham I will never know and I'm not sure Pardew does either. He wasn’t fit, having not played for about a year, and we had plenty of wingers at the club whose noses went out of joint as soon as he arrived. Cook made a few cameo appearances, but other than swing in the odd-free kick or corner, he did little. He couldn’t run, so often gave away free kicks, and his lack of pace made it impossible for him to take the ball forwards. Apparently he was a very good player in his Rangers days, but he won’t be again until he is fit, and that may take quite some time. This is one number seven who we don’t want back…


The player of the season, and yes, I did vote for him. But I have a Matt Holland theory, and it is that I don’t see how he quite fits in. Let me explain. Normally, a side playing 4-4-2 will have an attacking midfielder (like Claus Jensen for instance) and a defending midfielder (like Amdy Faye, god forbid). Matty doesn’t quite fit either role, as he cannot quite get forward or create enough and he isn’t quite good enough when tackling. Don’t get me wrong here, he does run all day long, even now at 34, but Holland just never quite worked for me at Charlton. When he joined, King Claus was shifted out to the left wing, until it dawned on Curbs that we should keep the successful Jensen/Parker central midfield and let Matty move across to the right side (where he did an absolutely terrific, professional, job). Pardew has had the same problem: If you play the holding midfielder (Semedo) then Holland doesn’t get enough goals and isn’t creative enough; if you play ZiZi alongside him, then you lose the tackling and destructive ability a Championship team needs. In a 4-5-1 formation, it works, so that is where I can only see Matty featuring. Holland is on a very good salary, but his contract is up; he has said he wants to stay, and I would like him to, but if he goes, then he could do a great job (not far) down the league, and should be excellent player/manger potential.

9 Marcus BENT

One goal in his two games for the Addicks this season, big Benty then went off to Wigan and became their top scorer. It seems he was happier closer to his Hollyoaks actress girlfriend and settled better in Lancashire than London (where there are too many distractions if you know what we mean). Hopefully, Steve Bruce will offer a million quid for his services, as Charlton cannot and would not want to be paying his c£20k a week salary next year. With a year left on his contract, now is the time for him to go anyway…

9 Andy GRAY

Andy Gray certainly arrived with a reputation, even though he hadn’t actually scored for about two months prior to his arrival for over a million quid. He didn’t really have much luck, and should be more settled and show his undoubted talent next season. He struggled to get off the mark initially, and disallowed goals (particularly at Scunthorpe) didn’t help. He then had unfortunate personal issues which caused him to miss some games, and finding the partnership that worked (between him, Varney, and Iwelumo) took Pardew some time. Eventually his first goal came in April, and he followed up with possibly the goal of the season in the final game against Coventry (left). Much more will be expected from August in the goal scoring stakes, but he should be able to produce for Charlton in this league.
That's part one; more to follow over the next few days.


Monday, May 05, 2008

We Are Not Worthy!

Charlton Athletic 4 Coventry City 1

This game was a very nice way to finish a poor season, with a thumping score line over a very poor team threatened all afternoon by relegation fears.

With a full house away allocation turning one end of the ground light blue, complete with balloons and a full range of inflatable objects(balls, lilo's, dolls, crocodiles, etc, etc), the gaps in the home area seats were even more obvious. The announced crowd of over 26000 which includes tickets sold rather than bums on seats didn't reflect the many (possibly over 5000) season ticket holders who simply couldn't be bothered to attend this match.

They missed was probably the most entertaining game of the season, and one which turned into pure theatre...

It didn't take long for Coventry to settle, but Charlton scored with their first real attack, just four minutes into the game. Madjid Bougherra saw Luke Varney's run and promptly played the ball down the inside right channel. Varney didn't have a marker, and was behind the full back. For some reason, Kaspar Schmeichel in goal decided to rush out but was easily beaten to the ball by Varney, who coolly clipped the ball over the stranded keeper and into the net first bounce.

Back came the Sky Blues, but to no avail, and after 19 minutes, Charlton scored possibly their goal of the season (and one much better than Varney’s voted the best of the season…). Playing a relaxed style, with lots of knocking the ball around between defence, midfield, and the ever willing Andy Gray up front, Charlton finally put the string of passes to good effect as JonJo Shelvey played in another channel ball to Varney, this time inside the area; Varney's back heel fell beautifully for the onrushing Gray to sweep home. It was such a simple goal – passing, movement, skill, and control; terrific stuff.

Typically, a minute later, Charlton then conceded a soft shot by Mifsud from 25 yards. He was given time to pick his spot, as nobody seemed to think to close him down.

The game then went through one of those funny periods where either team could have scored, but both were trying to keep the game tight. The hard-working Shelvey lashed wide, but most of the better chances came to the team in blue, but were also off target.

Half time came with Charlton in control, but sitting back quite a lot with much space between the defence and midfield, and attack; on a warm afternoon, maybe this was tactical for the young Shelvey and twice as old Matt Holland?

The second half started much as per the first 45 minutes, with the Addicks scoring quickly – this time Halford's cross from the right eluded Gray and Varney, but Schmeichel's punch went straight up and down to Grant Basey. The youngster didn't mess around and capped an average overall game with a crisp shot that was deflected into the net. This was Basey's first league goal. He should have doubled his tally a few minutes later, but this time the similar deflection from a similar shot went just wide.

Varney and Gray pushed shots across goal and just wide, but then Coventry started to fight; possibly alerted by their own supporters to the fact that one goal from elsewhere would see them drop into the relegation zone. A couple of shots flew wide, as did headers, with Nicky Weaver merely watching the ball and keeping his fingers crossed. Weaver then made a good save, and stood back as the referee's whistle for an innocuous (and probaby non-existent) foul cancelled out a Best shot into the bottom corner.

Alan Pardew had already replaced Jerome Thomas with home debutant Scott Wagstaff, and scorer Basey with big Chirs Iwelumo, but now he made the change that the crowd had hoped for. 16-year-old Shelvey was the player to make was for 38-year-old Chris Powell, making his final appearance for Charlton.

He got a fantastic standing reception as he strode into central midfield, tasked with marking the annoying sub Thornton who looked like he might recoup something from the game for Coventry.
Powell made up half (with Holland) of what could have been Charlton's oldest ever midfield partnership and neither disappointed; Holland strode onto a bouncing corner clearance and crashed in a fantastic volley. Sadly, it thumped the crossbar and bounced away.

Powell then got into the area, and after a cross was missed by attackers and defenders, drove home only his third ever goal for Charlton, and the first he hadn't scored against his boyhood team (Spurs).

As we all know, some players have celebratory routines all planned out, but Chrissie isn't one of those players, so rare have been his goals. He just carried on running toward the North Stand, only stopping when he got to the barrier. The rest of the layers caught up with him there and hoisted him high into the air, such is the esteem in which he is held. Slowly the noise died down and he and team-mates started to return to the waiting away team and referee. Powell made a detour across to Pardew for a high five, and it did take a couple of minutes for him to get back and allow the kick off. D'Urso should have booked him but in a sign of recognition and sensibility (not most referees strong points...) he didn't.

Chrissie actually had another half chance a couple of minutes later, but the game finished in a surreal mood, with Sky Blues fans jumping around once other scores came through and Addicks fans happily stunned by that Chris Powell goal.

At the final whistle, the players all shook hands and the players kids descended for the walk around the ground acknowledging the fans (it was no lap of honour!); actually, there weren't that many kids on the pitch, which probably shows how young the team is these days. Pardew waved to all sides from the middle, but didn't join the players wander.

There was a great mood in Bartram's afterwards, as fans relived the memory of Chrissie's goal. By 6pm, it had become a 25 yard thunderbolt rather than the ten yard drive...

Then the man himself appeared, getting a loud cheer and clap as he put his head into the bar to see who was there. Such a humble man, he did everything he should have before retreating with Martin Simon's words ringing in his ears saying that he'd had that reception eight times already since the end of the game! As I walked up Floyd Road, Powell, with family in tow, drove past in his 4x4. One last set of bowing and clapping was acknowledged by a toot on the horn from the great man.

Summer is here, the final game of the season is over, but the resounding memory that I will take forward to next August is of one of Charlton's great players – Chris Powell. What a hero! I guess that means I better fill in my season ticket forms...

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Last Hurrah!

I really cannot get too excited about Charlton's last home game of the season against Coventry on Sunday - having been away on holiday while the Addicks played out a win, loss, and draw, the end of season slump continued last weekend with a crashing scoreline defeat at Barnsley. It seems the players bags are packed and their minds already on some Mediterranean beach somewhere.

Of course, we should be looking forward to the chance to see youngsters JonJo Shelvey and Scott Wagstaff play - and I am, honest! - but Alan Pardew has already intimated that he will be wrapping them in cotton wool next season, save they get too tired or a kick on the leg... I bet Zheng Zhi wishes he was treated the with the same deference!

So, Coventry: Almost certain to save themselves from relegation - only a defeat at The Valley, plus three wins for the clubs around them (which is unlikely) will see them go down, though I expect they will play as if their collective lives depend on it. As the Addicks found during a 1-1 draw at The Rocoh earlier in the season, Coventry are a tough side to beat when they want to be, and hey could be just the sort of team that we really didn't want to be meeting at the end of this long season.

Since I last saw the Addicks live (the 3-2 rollercoaster home defeat to Wolves), a number of players here on loan have gone back to their clubs, probably never to be seen in an Addicks shirt again: Leroy Lita promised much but when he started to deliver it was too late; Lee Cook promised much and was never fit (or possibly good) enough to deliver. Sam Sodje remains (though he has had a toe injury and may not start) as does Greg Halford.

And alternatively, a number of Addicks players out on loan have returned to the club: Aswad Thomas is suspended, so Accrington let him go, and Therry Racon has been recalled from Brighton now they cannot make the play offs. Why bring back Racon? He must be due a game on Sunday it seems, though Pards may have other ideas?

This is the team that Pardew may send out to recover some pride amongst SE7 faithful -

Nicky Weaver
Greg Halford
Madjid Bougherra
Paddy McCarthy
Ben Thatcher
Matt Holland
JonJo Shelvey
Darren Ambrose
Lloyd Sam
Andy Gray
Luke Varney

Subs from Randolph, Semedo, Sodje, Basey, Racon, Zhi, Wagstaff, Thomas, Iwelumo.

Actually, as I typed the team, I thought that really I have no idea who will play - who is fit, injured, teachers pet, or recent villain. I'll find out like the rest of us on Sunday lunchtime I guess...

My one-to-watch in this game is going to be JonJo Shelvey - a future hero? Probably.

Pedro45's last score prediction of the season is a 1-1 draw; we seem to have had lots of them at home this year, and I cannot see anything other than another frustrating afternoon in store. Maybe it will be different - we did used to win the occasional last game of the season when there was nothing left to play for, but usually we got stuffed (Barnsley and Middlesboro 5-2's come to mind); hopefully the Pardew mouth has been directed toward the players rather than just the media this week...

A win will get the crowd staying behind for the end of season after game walkabout by the clubs staff; a defeat, and don't expect there to be many left clapping at the end of 90 minutes!

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