Sunday, July 27, 2008

Struggling to be Motivated

We are now just a couple of weeks away from the start of the season, but this blog is finding it difficult to get much penned.

Movement on the transfer front has been interesting, with Marcus Bent finally going – to Birmingham – and Chris Iwelumo joining him in the West Midlands at Wolves. Hopefully the funds received will go some way to filling the gap in the bond issue that is compromising the Board’s ability to fill the midfield gap that is very apparent.

Without the tallest two of our merry band of strikers, it does appear that Charlton’s game this coming season will be more ground based; only Andy Gray can be described as a target man, and he’s not that tall, and is more fluent on the deck. This is a welcome change from the lump it and chase it scenario we got into at times last season, but whether the team can, or are allowed to, play this way all season will be something to look out for (please AP, not another mid-season complete reversal of tactics!).

The friendlies continue – I have not been to any and cannot make any of those coming up prior to the Swansea game – and various parts of the team have a solid look about them; Mark Hudson seems to have settled well, and is looking like the leader we hoped we had been buying. With Darren Randolph out on loan at Hereford for the year, Nicky Weaver will have little competition for the goalkeeper’s jersey, so news of his injury yesterday, however minor, is worrying; Rob Elliott will no doubt be quite excited though!

In midfield though, Matt Holland’s injury will put him behind the rest of the team, and doubtful for the early part of the season. While he has been out, most of the other options have been tried out in central midfield: Dean Sinclair scored a winning goal in one game but has been slated for playing poorly in others. Josh Wright has had plenty of game time too, as has the forgotten man - Therry Racon. Jonjo Shelvey has been a bit protected it seems to me, which is excellent work by Alan Pardew, as he must ensure that this youngster (and Charlton’s biggest hope for the future…) does not burn out before the end of summer! As Zheng Zhi is not due back from the Olympics for a good while yet – where he is captaining China – the Addicks midfield could be quite youthful and inexperienced during August.

The wide men seem to be pretty much as per last year; Lloyd Sam and Jerome Thomas (entering the last chance saloon?) look like the obvious starters, but Grant Basey and Scott Wagstaff will be pressing hard and will be an adequate back ups I feel once the season gets underway. Pardew did, it seems, want to re-jig his wide options this season, but that doesn’t seem to have come to fruition, and won’t unless we do get to sign Fulham’s Bouazza.

In attack, Gray and Luke Varney will be the obvious first game starters, provided they are fit, but Stuart Fleetwood and Chris Dickson are both proving to be handfuls during the friendlies, and will provide good back up from the bench.

At the back, Jose Semedo seems to have pinned down the early season right back slot (Yassin Moutaouakil is suspended), and Kelly Youga is a long way ahead of anyone else at left back. Madjid Bougherra will play alongside Hudson, provided he does not have to be sold (there is a doubt now as to the bid received from Real Betis). If he does go out to Spain, then Pards may well need more cover than that which Jon Fortune, himself the recipient of transfers speculation from Preston, may be able to provide.

The other transfer option to fill the gap in the finances is letting ZiZi go; if he has a good tournament, and we get an offer of, say, £4million, then I don’t see how Charlton can refuse it.

I guess that the squad has a very same-y look about it, though many of the fringe players who came in, played about one game, then disappeared out on loan or back to the reserves, coming to the fore this year. If the youngsters force there way in, then we could have a nice season to watch at The Valley; I just can't seem to get too much enthusiasm about it all yet.


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