Monday, September 01, 2008

Gray End to August Fails to Brighten September

Preston North End 2 Charlton Athletic 1

I can’t real add much to the debate about this, somewhat, disappointing result, as I didn’t see the game, did not have the opportunity to listen to the radio commentary, and only saw the brief highlights shown on ITV on Sunday morning. I have read the match reports though, and other blogs comments, so I can add a little thoughtfulness to proceedings...

Alan Pardew has expressed his disappointment at the score, although I think that his comments may have been taken out of context regarding the “didn’t deserve to win” element; we did create chances (Varney hit the post, and others went close, notably Hudson), and both of Preston’s goals had a touch of luck about them. I guess that Pards only hope is to take some positives, and get the team sharper in an effort to stay in touch with those near the top of this league.

Had Mark Hudson been quicker to react to the falling ball which had hit him on the head, Preston may have had to wait longer for their equaliser; Had Hameur Bouazza not mis-kicked and had Nicky Weaver been expecting the wayward ball that came in his direction, we could have potentially clung on to a win, courtesy of the Andy Gray penalty that had given Charlton the lead. Such minor things do games hinge on. At least Gray (top) can gain confidence from adding to his season's goal count.

The team selection was an interesting choice by Pardew; with Kelly Youga free from suspension, it was always a straight choice between him and Grant Basey at left back. The Count won that particular battle, but bearing in mind the number of crosses that apparently rained in on the Charlton penalty area, and the subsequent moving round of the full backs to try to close this area down (Moutaouakil was subbed after the first goal, and Basey late in the match), I’m not sure that this can be seen as the right choice?

As Lloyd Sam was unfit, the right wing slot was expected to be handed to Darren Ambrose, though he obviously had fitness concerns himself. Pardew therefore did what we hated him doing last season and played players out of position or moved players from their regular berth to accommodate someone else. At Deepdale we saw two-game midfield maestro Nicky Bailey carted out wide right, and 16-year-old JonJo Shelvey brought into the middle of the park. Again, the wisdom of this choice can be seen from the fact that Pardew changed it at half-time, bringing on Ambrose for Shelvey, though a one-nil half-time lead then went up in smoke while Darren was on the pitch. (Hindsight is great, but if Ambie wasn’t fit to start, why not play Basey wide left with Youga at full back, and Bouazza on the right?)

Pardew also tinkered with his formation (no real problem here I might add) when the Addicks had taken the lead pulling back Varney into a 4-5-1 formation, with Bailey moving inside, but this was obviously dumped at half-time with the above substitution of Shelvey.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you just wish that the manager would keep his in-game tinkering to a minimum, especially when we are in front...It’s fine to adjust tactically (like switching to 4-5-1 as we did), but that formation actually suited the players on show in the first half, while it did not in the second. Does this show that Pardew hasn’t learnt from last season when he tried to win games again even when we were in front (aiming for that second goal when a well-defended one goal lead should suffice)? I hope not - we cannot afford to make such errors in this division on consecutive years!

Now we have a match against table-topping and free-scoring Wolves to contend with next, and that immediately becomes a BIG game...Welcome back Big Chris; you just know he will be up for this one!

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I was there and not sure what Pards was up to but, he had to do something. Despite being 1-0 up we spent most of the first half on the back foot and should have been behind. The second half was much the same so they deserved the win. Wolves will be tough but you never know with us. I'm off in search of an Arab or two.
stop the tinkering ... not a chance ... that's what he does :-(
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