Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Redvolution Starts Soon!

So here we go – the real McCoy: Our day of Destiny. One more game, and it just has to come to pass. It’s is just Barnsley that stands between Alan Pardew, and the Redvolution. Chin up eh, Al?

Now don’t get me wrong, I would love Charlton to win this match, as I want them to win every single game that they play. But enough is enough, and I believe that this will be Alan Pardew’s last game in charge of the Addicks.

If Charlton do not secure a win, even a dodgy own-goal victory like the last time we won three points about a month ago, then the Board must do the right thing for Charlton.

Looking back over the years, the Board of Directors have always followed that principle; to do what is right for the club at that time – when it was time for Alan Curbishley to make a go of it on his own, Richard Murray stood up and told Steve Gritt the news; when Curbs said he wanted just one more season, our Chairman said that was not in the Club's interests, and an amicable parting of the ways came about; when Dowie and Reed made a pigs ear of our last Premiership season, they were quickly shown the door; when Zabeel offered to buy the Club, the Board said it was in the best interests of the club and made a recommendation, sadly which didn’t come to fruition.

A defeat, or even a draw, on Saturday, and the Board should do what is right for the Club, once more, and relieve Pards of his duties. They have absolutely no other choice. A win may postpone the inevitable for another week or two (after two more away games, which could be pointless), but the writing is definitely starting to appear on the pay-off cheque.

I know it will cost the club money, but no more so than that which is starting to be lost through falling gates, falling merchandise sales, and lack of season ticket uptake, all a result of the managers tinkering and failure to pick a team to do a job.

I know that we have to find a replacement, and quickly, but with managerial experience available from within the club (Parkinson and Gritt for instance), why that cannot suffice until a permanent replacement is found I do not know? It is my opinion that whoever is placed in charge can do no worse (and probably a whole lot better) than Pardew is currently. Anyway, it shouldn’t take too much to get a few other managers interested in awakening this sleeping giant? And there are plenty out there who are not currently drawing a wage in pounds, shillings and pence…or even Euros! And sometimes, yes sometimes, the caretaker manager comes up trumps and carries on permanently and does a very good job - a certain Mr Lawrence comes to mind...

So who is it that can save the managers door nameplate from being unscrewed this week? Well, Nicky Weaver is sure to be in goal – Weaves saved a penaltyn (left), and possibly Pardew’s ass on Tuesday night, even though he apparently took some stick at half-time for daring to let a goal in.

Then there is skipper Mark Hudson, he’ll be on the pitch and fighting to keep Barnsley (and ex-team-mate Jon Macken) at bay. I expect Yassin Moutaouakil to get another home start, even though he was substituted at Ipswich by Jose Semedo, who did well. I think Martin Crainie is almost certain to play alongside Hudson, especially as Linvoy Primus is carrying a slight injury.

Whether Pards trusts Kelly Youga, who played at Ipswich, or Grant Basey, who played last weekend against Burnley, at left back is a close call, though I think Basey is better suited to home games, and can cause plenty of problems for the opposition with his free kicks and corners.

The midfield will certainly contain Suffolk goalscorer Nicky Bailey, but who else plays is very open to option; alongside Bailey we could see either stalwart Matt Holland, or the youngster half his age – Jonjo Shelvey - fresh from England U-17 duty. Then again, we could see Semedo step in and play the holding role he did so well last season if Pardew wants to free up the rest of the midfield to attack, or even last weekends debutant, Josh Wright. Out wide, you can probably pick any two from three of Lloyd Sam, Hameur Bouazza, and Darren Ambrose.

As with the midfield, Pards is not short of choice when it comes to the forward line either. Luke Varney didn’t miss a chance on Tuesday, thankfully, but demons may be creeping into him, as it is a while since he last scored. Andy Gray could be back after family illness, but I wouldn’t count on that, while Svetislav Todorov is far less effective starting than coming on as a second half substitute. Then we have the enigmas that are Chris Dickson and Izale McLeod who could start, be on the bench, or be left out completely depending on Pards mood.

I’d like to say that this is what we like about Pards, the inconsistency of his rotation policy, but I cannot; it is ridiculous the way he tinkers with his team and fails miserably to get anything like the right blend on the pitch from the off.

This is the eleven I would pick if I were Pardew and I had one more match to save my job –

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Mark Hudson
Martin Crainie
Grant Basey
Lloyd Sam
Nicky Bailey
Matt Holland
Hameur Bouazza
Luke Varney
Andy Gray
(or Todorov if Gray is not available)

Subs from – Elliott, Semedo, Primus, Youga, Shelvey, Wright, Ambrose, Todorov, Dickson, McLeod.

One game, and it has come down to Barnsley at home; will they roll over and let Pardew seek out that victory? I doubt it, they are as desperate for points as Charlton are, but did win their first away game of the season at Doncaster in midweek (where have I heard that before I wonder…).

They are no great shakes as a team, but do have individual players who could thwart the home team. Jamal Campbell-Ryce is an ex-Addick who would love to light up The Valley with his undoubted skill, while Muller in goal is a tough nut to crack when on form.

Putting aside my thoughts on Pardew, I really am not that confident about getting a result on Saturday anyway! Pedro45 is going to forecast another 1-1- draw, with the boo’s ringing out once more and all those kids who have come to the game to shout and scream at the top of their high-pitched voices going home disappointed. I would love the efforts of the team that Pardew picks to be enough to win over some of these youngsters as future Addicks fans, but unless the team can win, and win well, then they will all revert to being Chelsea, or Arsenal, or Manchester United, or Liverpool fans come Monday morning (or until they have seen Match of the Day and not heard Charlton mentioned…).

My one-to-watch for the second week running is going to be Alan Pardew. I’ll be watching him, and so will most of you, especially if his (possibly last) Addicks starting side fails to get on top during the initial phase of the match, even when he phones a friend (left). We have the players to go out and beat the Barnsley’s of this league, but getting the right players out there on the pitch, in the right formation, and mentally prepared to win games for themselves, the management, the directors, and the fans seems to be beyond Pardew’s capability at present. I hope for his sake I am wrong, but I truly do not believe it.

I get absolutely no pleasure from wanting the manager to be removed from the heart of the club I love, but sometimes these things are for the best.

A win and we can smile and hope that our luck has changed, and that we are going to start climbing the league table at last; a draw or a defeat, and all those that have joined the Redvolution will be baying for one thing – we just need the Board to be listening.

Come on you Reds!

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Saved by Nicky's!

Ipswich Town 1 Charlton Athletic 1

At least a Spanish radio station stopped me listening to commentary of the game tonight, although my wife was kind enough to allow me to watch Sky Sports News, so I couldn’t escape the match completely.

Pardew made four more changes to the starting line up, playing Lloyd Sam and Svetislav Todorov – the second half heroes on Saturday – plus Matt Holland, and also recalling Kelly Youga. Out, who knows how long for, went Grant Basey, Izale McLeod, , and Josh Wright, while Linvoy Primus at least made the subs bench.

Other correspondents will confirm how the game went, but from the SSN point of view supplied by Tony Cottee, Charlton took half an hour to have a shot (Holland blazing well over), and went behind after 37 minutes when everyone decided to leave a free kick which settled nicely in the corner.

Sadly, it seemed that the snow in other parts of the country would not force the abandonment of this match, and Pardew as going to have to work his magic (allegedly three dice that determine whether players stay on the pitch at half time or not: if your number comes up (in total), or any two dice can be shown to be on your shirt, that’s your lot!).

Luckily for the players, only the ones came up and Pards didn’t dare take Weaver off! On the second throw, Pardew hit 6-6-6, and better the devil you know, so the manager left the same eleven on the pitch.

Cottee came on TV and mentioned shot after shot coming from Ipswich – with Lisbie going close several times – and he actually apologised for not mentioning Charlton, saying that the Addicks were so poor and hadn’t yet had a shot on target after an hour. Why should Cottee apologise? Surely it should be Pardew and he should hand in his notice at the same time!

Then Youga gave away a penalty for handball but my one-to-watch Nicky Weaver saved; surely nothing can save Pardew, not even Nicky!?!

Even when Bouazza and Semedo came on (for Sam and Moots), there was no change to the shots on target column for the Addicks. Maybe the team should try shooting at Pardew in training, I’m sure they would be able to hit him, and they may have a better incentive to do so soon.

Then, finally, after 82 minutes, Bouazza got to the bye-line and Nicky Bailey controlled and shot home – on target; in the net! Surely nothing can save Pardew, not even Nicky!?!

Sat at home, it was a nail-biting time…but the lads hung on.

I'm really pleased that the Addicks snatched a point, but surely the club cannot continue to muddle along like this for much longer - we are directionless!

Other results – with at times all the clubs bar one below Charlton winning on the night (luckily not all of them were able to hang on to their leads) - now mean that the club is very low in the division; Saturday’s game versus Barnsley now takes on the six-pointer category, and if Charlton lose that, then the club must act and axe the man purportedly in charge. There is no way forward with Pardew at the helm.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Living in a Charlton Tinkerland!

Charlton’s fourth game in 11 days sees the Addicks travel to Suffolk to take on the Ipswich Tractor boys on Tuesday evening. Earlier in October, Charlton beat Jim Magilton’s men 2-1, thanks to a second half own goal, but since then, the World has moved on and we now know much more than we did back then.

What is still quite evident is that Alan Pardew (left) is not getting the best from his squad of players - maybe he should open his eyes? We have seen varying degrees of 4-4-2 (versus Burnley), 4-1-4-1 (Forest), 4-5-1 (Doncaster), and even 4-2-3-1 (Bristol City) formations over recent weeks, often appended at half time when things aren’t going quite the way AP expected.

It’s always good to have a squad that is versatile, flexible, and can accommodate various tactics to suit the opposition, but when the team is thrown together without much time to work on how each part of the side integrates, then it is asking for trouble.

Then there are the players: How does Izale McLeod feel this morning? Thrown into an important game after just 90 minutes reserve action since February, hauled off at half time, and all because he was expected to be a world-beater. Of course it wasn’t going to happen for him on Saturday and not many of us would have expected it to. So why did Alan Pardew see McLeod as the way to restore the goal scoring edge to the Addicks attack? Why not give Chris Dickson a go from the start – at least he was fully fit! Dickson has been fit all season so far, yet apart from the odd ten minutes here and there, when Charlton have been chasing a game, he just hasn’t had a look in. Why did McLeod (left) get a chance in front of him on Saturday?

You can actually go through much of the squad – or those who are not seen as special ones, like Ambrose, Hudson, Crainie, etc – and see how badly they have been treated. Yassin Moutaouakil has one bad game and then is out on his ear for two months, even when his replacement (Martin Crainie) is so poor in that position he is getting hauled off at half time (twice). Or Kelly Youga, who on Saturday was the full back on the other side who got an afternoon off so Crainie could play (even worse) at left back. How about Hameur Bouazza, a winger who had more shots in Charlton’s defeats at Cardiff and versus Bristol City than any other player (OK, not many troubled the keeper…) but then gets demoted to the bench while Grant Basey fills his place for a half befor the tactics changed. Matt Holland may be getting a bit old for four games in quick succession, but he seems to be the latest scapegoat, having been initially dropped for Zheng Zhi in the first Ipswich game, and then on Saturday for debutant Josh Wright. Then there’s Jose Semedo, the star of the Valley Ipswich game (in the 45 minutes he got on the pitch), and unlucky not to have played at Cardiff from the off. Suffice to say that his sending off in that game will see him struggling to get into the match day 16 for a while unless injuries hit home - from hero to zero, through "an unlucky red card" (Pardews words...).

At least Andy Gray had an excuse not to play on Saturday (nursing a sick relative), otherwise he was another who could be added to the list of those not expected to be very happy with being left out.

So you see it’s probably not just us fans who are getting a bit annoyed with decisions made by Alan Pardew, but the players are too. Is it just a matter of time before the board start to react and votes of confidence start to dry up? The board can Join the Redvolution now if they want…it's not an exclusive club!

So Charlton march onwards but not yet upwards, struggling to put together not just a good game, but a good half. Sure, twenty-five minutes versus Bristol looked good, and so did parts of the second half on Saturday, but when will Pardew get the right team on the pitch from kick off, playing to the right tactics? How long does it take to get it right?

At Portman Road, Pards can at least continue to have Nicky Weaver in goal; Weaves is doing OK, even if not being too spectacular. I’m one who didn’t think he got a touch to Gudjohnson’s second half shot which crashed back from the cross bar on Saturday, but if he did, then it was a very good save.

Pardew has said that Moutaouakil will play again, and skipper Mark Hudson is also guaranteed a place. Then it starts to get interesting; should Linvoy Primus be played - after he did well in the first Ipswich match – or should his second half replacement on Saturday Crainie be used in his most obvious and best position? And if Crainie plays centrally, does Grant Basey carry on at full back or does Kelly Youga earn a quick recall?

In midfield, Darren Ambrose is sure to start against his old (and possibly future?) club, as is Nicky Bailey if he is fit. Lloyd Sam did enough on Saturday as substitute to keep his place wide right, but does Holland or Wright start centrally? Presuming we play two up front, is Svetislav Todorov fit enough to play from the start, or will he be a substitute again? Can Luke Varney carry on missing gilt-edged chances, or will he be spared, and if he is, will Gray be available or will we see either Dickson or McLeod given a chance?

All of a sudden, from having a relatively settled team, we are now right back in the world that Pards loves – Tinkerland!

This is the team I would play against Ipswich –

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Mark Hudson
Martin Crainie
Kelly Youga
Lloyd Sam
Matt Holland
Nicky Bailey
Darren Ambrose
Luke Varney
Andy Gray

Subs from Eliott, Semedo, Primus, Basey, Wright, Bouazza, McLeod, Dickson, Todorov.

The eleven gives Pardew enough option to play 4-4-2 or 4-5-1, with Ambrose wide left in the former, and centrally with Varney on the wing if we have to play tighter. Importantly, it also looks like a decent team on paper! If Gray is not available, I would play Dickson from the start – he cannot do any worse than McLeod did on Saturday! That’s what tactics are Pards, and picking a team to do the required job is part of your responsibility. The bench, if picked correctly, also gives plenty of option to change should the need arise; Todorov was at his best when joining the action later on Saturday, and I would hope that the same will be true again tomorrow.

Ipswich are coming off the back of a good win on Saturday, so will be full of confidence. Kevin Lisbie scored again on Saturday, so he could well start against us in this game (Note to defence – he likes to run across the six-yard box at corners and flick the ball in with his head; please try to defend!). The rest of the Ipswich team are almost equally well known, so we shouldn’t be surprised by anything that they decide to come at us with. What we can do is surprise them with our improvement!

Pedro45 has little faith in Pardew at present, although I do have unerring support for the club. I would love to be more positive and hope for a win, or even a draw, but I cannot see it – my score forecast is a 3-1 defeat. I do think we have a chance to score, but I’m not sure that we have enough heart to prevent them scoring, and once the heads drop, that could be curtains in the search for any points.

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be Nicky Weaver (left). The only hope Charlton have in any game at present is when this man plays a blinder – if the Addicks are to get anything in Suffolk this season, Weaves will need to be at his best – catching crosses, stopping shots, and cajoling the defence into marking and tackling and covering whenever necessary. If he gets injured, we could be in even more serious trouble come the end of November than we are now.

It would be so nice if we could turn around and say that last Saturday was the turning point; the catalyst to a better season; the time when we could go no lower; when we started to pick up points; play with purpose, and to tactics and formation that the players understand. I’m easy with 4-5-1 or 4-4-2 Pards, just make your mind up and pick the right team to carry out your plans. If Pardew starts to do that, then at least we can see where he is trying to get us, and not pushing all of the buttons at once just trying anything to get the correct formula.

On Saturday, some predictions were that if we lost the next two games, Pards would be out come Wednesday morning; well, we snatched a point on Saturday, and a result here could keep him in work for a little bit longer. But patience is starting to wear very thin, both on the terraces, at the training ground, and I suspect in the boardroom. It could soon be the time that Richard Murray joins the redvolution…

Up the Addicks!

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

A New Dawn Chorus?

Charlton Athletic 1 Burnley 1

Could this be the moment that turned Charlton season around, or just another false dawn?

I had tickets to see Carmina Burana at the Royal Albert Hall last night; it’s a piece of music that most Charlton fans will recognize, mainly from various adverts on TV that have used snippets in the past, though more recently, the start is played as an intro to The X Factor. A big choral sound, at a fast tempo, and with crashing cymbals and whirling violins at the end. I really enjoyed the evening, but all the time I sat in that magnificent arena I was thinking of earlier in the day…

During the afternoon, from 4 o’clock onwards, I had been listening to another choral society I guess – less glamorously named but equally passionate – the covered end choir or north stand upper, call them what you will. These Charlton fans gave an outstanding rendition of all songs Charlton and really lifted the atmosphere at The Valley, so much so that they could in fact be the ones who have changed Charlton’s fortunes this year. The people rallied to the cause, a cause that was going rapidly downhill, yet possibly may have enabled the Addicks to turn that proverbial corner, and to start moving in the right direction.

However, the problem was that, much as it was fantastic to hear, Charlton really shouldn’t have needed such a lift. The reason they did is because the manager yet again got things so hopelessly wrong.

Once Alan Pardew had mouthed off to the media on Tuesday about making changes to the team for yesterday’s game versus Burnley, he was on dodgy ground. Renowned for saying one thing and then back-tracking, many fans thought that the only change made may be Mark Hudson returning after suspension, but Pards did this time stick to his word. Out of the starting eleven went Youga, Bouazza, Gray, and Holland, and in came Basey, Hudson, McLeod and youngster Josh Wright making his debut.

This really did smack of wholesale changes, and once the game started, it was all one-way traffic, just not the direction fans wanted to see. Burnley were the men, coming up against upstart schoolboys; very quickly there was controversy. A Burnley pass forward was headed backwards toward his own goal by Ambrose (I think), and this left a claret shirted forward completely free on goal. Although the offside flag went up, as the ball came off the Charlton head, the referee waved away the flag and played on. The player collected the ball wide left, cut inside, beat a covering tackle and coolly stroked home past Nicky Weaver. Burnley celebrated; Charlton protested. Six minutes into the game and already a mountain to climb. Luckily, the referee listened to the protests, and agreed to check with his linesman. Now Charlton haven’t had much luck from the officials so far this season – when you are down, you get nothing Lennie once said…- but here could be that change of fortune we want. After speaking to his linesman, the referee changed his mind and awarded an offside decision, as the player was offside when the initial pass was made. This may have incensed the Burnley players and management, but if it was the correct decision, it was best to get there in the end.

It made little initial effect on the game though, and very soon Charlton were behind. Wave after wave of attack continued, and a deflected shot finally rolled into the corner of the net. The game had been going less than 15 minutes. In that time, Charlton had not mustered anything of note; Bailey and Wright ran around a lot but couldn’t string a simple pass together; McLeod and Varney ran the channels but got nowhere; and Ambrose and Basey tried neat passes but were quickly closed down and lost possession.

It was much the same for the rest of the half, although Burnley did seem to ease off a bit.

This was Pardew’s team; his reaction to Tuesday’s defeat; his way forward. And it completely failed.

Now if I had been of a similar nature to the two blokes behind me (who will be happy, no doubt, that Harry Redknapp will now be managing their first choice club), who left 17 minutes before the end on Tuesday, and started talking about catching early trains home yesterday just three minutes into the game, then I may well have not witnessed the second half revival sparked by the fans.

Sure, Pardew admitted his mistake and hauled off Primus and McLeod at the interval, bringing on Lloyd Sam and Svetislav Todorov, but why place so much on young shoulders and ask for trouble?

It is very galling to me that Josh Wright had to make his full debut in this game; why has he not been on the subs bench for ten games this year and been given the odd-ten or twenty minutes when games are safe or to be won, especially as Matt Holland’s legs do need the occasional rest every now and then!

It’s the same with Izale McLeod; the guy has had a very bad knee injury and yet he just gets thrown in at the deep end without more than one reserve game. It was bound to fail! Why not get him on the bench and give him some up-to-speed game time and ask him to rediscover his impact player status before throwing him to the lions.

You can say exactly the same about decisions to play Todorov, Ambrose and Primus, who have been selected when not fully fit this season.

And what of Chris Dickson? How will he feel having been first choice reserve striker at the start of the season, and now he is sixth choice?

Pardew (left) is not giving the players the chance to show their worth – McLeod is bound to get plenty of stick today for his showing, but he has had little opportunity since he joined the club. No doubt he will now be banished to the reserves, or shunted out on loan to “get some games”. It was the manner of his inclusion that was bound to fail, not his effort or skill.

Anyway, back to the second half. Almost immediately, the shift of emphasis to players who could hold the ball up – Sam and Todorov – worked, and the crowd became lifted. Sam in particular made incisive runs at the Burnley defence, and (a now much fitter looking) Todorov linked play well between midfield and the front line. Sam put in dangerous crosses, and his play on the right hand side with Moutaouakil is simply dynamic. The whole game plan changed. All of a sudden, it was not men against kids.

Free kicks were won, and chances did go begging. Then finally, a Basey free kick was headed in by Todorov (top pic). Our Bulgarian simply trotted back to the half-way line – no celebration there though the crowd went mad.

Burnley were not finished though and a terrific shot crashed back off Weaver’s crossbar moments later, and was hacked clear. Now though, Wright was getting his passes away, Bailey was tackling, and the wide men were passing their way past defenders with ease.

Near the end, Luke Varney (left) could have won the game, racing on to a back pass and rounding the keeper. Sadly he probably had too much time and allowed the covering defender to block his shot on the line. Varney may get some stick for his finishing, but you cannot fault the effort he puts in; however, we cannot afford him to keep missing gilt-edged chances, and that is three in consecutive games now…

The crowd sang, the final whistle went, and spoils were shared. It was a good game, and either side could have won. It was great to leave The Valley without boo’s ringing out; hopefully Alan Pardew will recognise that and start to pick teams from the start that can do the required job.

This is a point won, but will count for nothing unless the team – and manager – build on what was on show today. Charlton do not have to play the same side each week, but the balance must be right; the tactics appropriate, and the effort massive if we are to get away from a relegation dogfight. Pardew should thank that covered end choir for saving his bacon yesterday.

Join the Redvolution!

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Friday, October 24, 2008

The R Word

Gordon finally came out and said the R word in Parliament this week, and with a bit of luck, Alan Pardew said something similar when he was updating the players this week with the news that we will not have new owners in the apparent near future. Pards R word will hopefully not have been recession, but something all the more scary - RELEGATION.

As this blog conceded several weeks, unless there is a pick up results, attitude, leadership, tactics, and all-round demeanour from the staff at the club, then that dreaded R word is going to become a reality (another R word!). In a few months, we could drop from being the leading club in South London, to the lowest in the league from the area... check the tables; scared yet? Hopefully the manager and players are now fully aware of the consequences of not picking up points...

How the Club goes about improving things is open to debate, though Pedro45 is of the opinion that Alan Pardew is not the man to lead the players, chose their tactics, pick the team, or be at the forefront of media relations. Suffice to say though, that after this week, that view may either gather steam (especially if Charlton suffer a third straight loss on Saturday) or quieten down (if the upheaval of the last two weeks steadies down and the players start to perform as we hope that they can). You too can Join the Redvolution!

The thing with Pardew is that we simply do not know if he knows what he is talking about. More and more he becomes hypocritical - I’m going to make changes, and then he doesn’t; we need a settled team, and then he drops half the side; the youngsters need a game (this weeks theme), and what’s the betting that Todorov will start? How can we, the fans, trust Pardew, let alone the players?

So I really do not know who Pards will pick to wear the red shirt of Charlton tomorrow afternoon. Rather than guess, this is who I think we should send out with the Valiant logo covering their heart -

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Mark Hudson
Linvoy Primus
Kelly Youga
Nicky Bailey
Matt Holland
Hameur Bouazza
Luke Varney
Andy Gray
Chris Dickson

My one proviso is that Bailey is fit; if he is not 100%, as he clearly wasn’t on Tuesday, then it is simply not worth playing him, and Josh Wright should be given a chance.

Subs from Elliott, Crainie, Basey, Semedo, Wright, Ambrose, Sam, Todorov.

I know my team doesn’t include that many “youngsters”, unless Wright plays instead of Bailey or Holland, but with Shelvey away with England, Youga just about edging Basey at full back, and Wagstaff and Arter not yet ready, we are very limited.

Maybe Pardew’s youth policy means that Moots, Basey, Dickson, Wright, Sam, etc will get a look in? Who knows? Does AP know?

Burnley will be loving their trip south; they will be so full of confidence, not just from their own recent results, but from the way Charlton seem to be crestfallen and in disarray. They will want and expect three points...

And Pedro45 is pretty confident that they will get them too! My score forecast is another 2-0 defeat. If Pardew plays the youngsters it could be men against boys...

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be the Man himself - Alan Pardew. Is he the man to lead us forwards? How long will those arms stay crossed as he stands on the touchline? Will he back his words and pick a changed team, or will it be back to the same old same old we usually get when he purports change? Would it be a bad thing to simply replace Crainie with Hudson, and try to play the way we did for the first 25 minutes against Bristol City?

Pedro45 is just about on the edge here - I love my team, and support them in any way shape or form that I can. It is tough work when surrounded by fans of other clubs who now see the Addicks as a bit of a joke; a club going nowhere except downwards, and I really hate that. Throughout the 1990’s we were a club improving every season - not necessarily on the pitch, but when we had an indifferent season (oh how we would like on of those at the moment!) we did improve off the pitch, building stands, that sort of thing. Without any investment now, we do have to re-stock our position; we must get back to the Charlton who use to have to fight for anything they wanted - fans, players, and management. Pedro45 just does not think that Pardew is the man to lead that fight, and the R word that I leave you with is Redvolution.

Join it. Come on you reds!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Appraise The Lord!

Charlton Athletic 0 Bristol City 2

I had my annual appraisal yesterday morning. I’m sure many of you readers have similar sort of thing where you work. I sat down with my boss and we talked about all the areas where I have done well in the past year; those parts of my job that haven’t gone quite as expected; what sort of lessons I can learn from mistakes and whether I would do anything different in similar circumstances should certain situations occur again - that sort of thing. It went OK I think, and was sobering. I have had a bad 2008 so far from a personal perspective and work has probably suffered as a result – my whole persona has been quite negative, and it was painful to respond with the reasons why, although I did to my boss.

I know the reasons for my negativity, and won’t bother laying them out here, but one area I didn’t mention to my Director was how much of an effect on me supporting Charlton has.

The game last night against Bristol City certainly didn’t help, and I know that I am writing this in a bit of a negative mood. Other blogs will have gone into detail about the match – suffice to say Charlton started well then shot themselves in the foot when Nicky Bailey was tackled deep in his own half but without a defence positioned and ready behind him. One-nil down. Andy Gray had already hit the post, and it was almost a shot a minute until we fell behind. After that, it just went from bad to worse. Heads dropped, and the half-time change of formation (from 4-2-3-1) to 4-4-2 just didn’t work. The visitors quickly scored again as Charlton looked ramshackle. Substitutions failed to lift much of the collective gloom. The boo-boys had their day…

So as I lay awake last night in an abject mood, I wondered if Alan Pardew has an appraisal? Players like Moutaouakil, Gray, Varney, and Weaver have all been at the club around a year – have they had a first annual appraisal? And if they did, what would Pards verdict be on them (and the “grandfather” comments from Pards boss, Richard Murray)?

With Pardew, as with my managerial role, the Company is looking for improvement and growth - financial and other. Pardew is now in charge of a club in 20th place in the Championship. This time last year, we were in or around second place I believe. When Pards took over, almost two years ago, we were in a higher division, though I do not blame him for the inevitable relegation that arrived. Financially, we have about six months left of the parachute payments; we have generated revenue from player sales, though none were Pardew’s buys sold at a profit (note – Iwelumo probably cost the £750k we got for him in signing on fees…). The remaining players will not generate much funds if they are sold. Crowds are lower, and quiet frankly the 21000 figure announced last night was a joke; City only brought around 1500 maximum, and I cannot believe that Charlton had 5000 walk-up customers for this game – it certainly didn’t look like it staring at the horde of empty seats on show. Quite frankly, if I was worried about my own appraisal, then Pardew should be ashamed. He would be getting the lowest possible grade rating from me, which would invoke the disciplinary process and a written warning. Sadly, I feel there is no improvement possible and the process of him leaving is already rolling (Join the Redvolution!).

As for the players:

Weaver has done enough to be a success; as with any ‘keeper, he will make the odd mistake which leads to a goal, but he has been cruelly exposed on occasions, none more so than by Bailey’s error last night. Rating - a B+…

Gray has had a tough year, but last night played well leading the line in the first 25 minutes. He held the ball up well, and was unlucky not to score when his turn and shot rolled onto the post. At other times in other games though, he is overpowered, short of pace, and lacking control. For what we paid for him, we need more return; I think it’s four goals from open play in about 30 matches – that’s Leaburn-esque! Rating – a B, but only just!

Varney has all the pace he could ever want; his work ethic is also excellent. Where Varney lacks is in his finishing, which does seem oh-so-tied up in confidence. When he is going well, he would have buried both Saturday’s chance and that which he fluffed last night too. When he is not scoring, he doesn’t create enough, and can run down blind alleys. It helps when the midfield have enough vision to pick him out with longer passes, but only if he runs the right angles. Maybe he is one who should have a rest and be the extra man brought on if/when we are losing or the runner we need for a breakaway if we are holding on to a lead (some chance!). His rating is a B, but he could easily slip up to an A or down to a C next year – it’s up to him…

As for Yassin Moutaouakil, where do you start. The most exciting attacking talent from full back seen at The Valley for many a year, but prone to make defensive mistakes that always seem to hurt the club. Pardew hasn’t treated him well, and when he plays OK as he did last night, you wonder why he doesn’t make the starting team more often. Yassin needs a winger in front of him to play off; last night he struggled when the wide men (Varney and Bouazza) were supporting Gray, but did much better when more balanced at 4-4-2 and Lloyd Sam on his wing. For home games, I think he is a must, but for some away games, he just cannot be relied upon, and a more defensive option should be tried if available. Rating - a B-, though not all his fault.

I could go on and appraise all the team, but quiet clearly that is Pardew’s (current) job; maybe he has admitted he will carry out some sort of review as he is once more threatening to drop players for Saturday who are not consistent, but then again, that is a managers’ job at whatever industry they work in.

What I do know is that if I, as a manager, failed to hold regular appraisals, then I would not be doing my job, and I would be called to task. Pardew now needs to decide if he is up to the task of fulfilling all of the Managers role at The Valley, or if the time has come for him to jump before he is pushed.

Join the Redvolution!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Too Awful to Comtemplate!

No time, no energy, and no enthusiasm for a full preview of the midweek game as Charlton take on Bristol City. We sit in 17th place in the league – not good! We need to put a run together or the predicted relegation battle will become a reality; if we lose against City and on Saturday against Burnley, we really could see Pardew being shown the door before any potential takeover comes to fruition.

This is the suspension and injury plagued side I think Pards will let take to the field on his (and our) behalf –

Nicky Weaver
Martin Crainie
Linvoy Primus
Kelly Youga
Grant Basey
Lloyd Sam
Matt Holland
Nicky Bailey
Hameur Bouazza
Luke Varney
Andy Gray

Subs from Elliot, Moutaouakil, Mambo, Ambrose, Wagstaff, Dickson, McLeod, Todorov.

Pedro45 just thinks that too much is falling apart at the moment and Pardew is not the man to superglue things together – I forecast another 2-0 defeat, though I desperately hope I am wrong. Without Hudson and Semedo, red carded on Saturday; without Shelvey who is off with young England; without Fortune and Zhi who are injured - we just have no chance. How our central defence will cope with six foot five defender McCombe at free kicks and corners is beyond me; then there are the rest of their team to worry about…

My one-to-watch is going to be Linvoy Primus (top) in this game; quite simply, he’s going to have to have a very good game if Charlton are to get any sort of result that brings us needed points.

Come on you reds!

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Same Old Same Old…

Cardiff City 2 Charlton Athletic 0

Potential new investment or not, this was the same Charlton picked by the same manager getting the same sort of result.
I don’t actually think we should take much stock from the fact that two Addicks defenders were sent off – we were losing with eleven men, ten men, and nine men. However many were on the pitch in red shirts, they tried hard, and did create chances; Hameur Bouazza seemed to come closest to scoring on a number of occasions, although sometimes he apparently chose to shoot when he had better placed colleagues…Matt Holland also shot just wide early on and Luke Varney also went close right at the end.

Pardew started the game with two changes from the Ipswich game – as expected, Holland came in for the injured Zheng Zhi, and Andy Gray also played up front swapping places with Todorov in a 4-4-2 formation. It was all Charlton in the first fifteen minutes, but then Cardiff scored from almost their first attack – typical Charlton! Weaver couldn’t hold a shot and the rebound was netted by McCormack.

From then, Addicks heads dropped and it was a relief to get to half time just one behind. Pards made a switch in defence at the interval bringing on Semedo (top pic) for Crainie (just as he had done in the last match), but this time, the effect was entirely different. Just five minutes into the second period, our Portugueser pulled back ex-Addick Jay Bothroyd and although the linesman appeared to signal a penalty, the ref gave a foul on the edge of the box, and chose to send Jose for an early bath. To compound the misery, McCormack scored his second of the match from the free kick, firing low through the wall.

Not much later, sipper Mark Hudson (left) was booked for a foul, then almost immediately booked again, once more Bothroyd the victim. Down to 9 men, it was desperate stuff as Pardew juggled his players to find someone who could defend. Andy Gray played at the back for a few minutes, a position he hasn’t found himself in for quite a few years, and then Grant Basey came on to relieve him. Lloyd Sam also came on right at the end for Ambrose. Cardiff cruised.

I suppose that with two players sent off, it is no surprise that we lost this match; you certainly feel sorry for Weaver, Bailey, Holland, and Varney who seem to play their hearts out in every match only to be let down by others. The worry now is the effect that the suspensions have on Tuesday nights home game against Bristol City. If Crainie is injured, Basey and Moutaouakil will almost certainly start (they may even if Crainie is fit!), and Kelly Youga looks like he’ll finally get another game in the middle of defence alongside Primus.

There is no way that the potential takeover by Zabeel will have effected today’s score, but the sooner it is completed (provided you don’t believe The Sun who think that it is better to pay £200m for a team low in the Premiership) the better for all concerned.

Join the revolution!

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Back to The Future!

We are very excited, but no, it still isn’t definite; due diligence does take time. We fans (and shareholders) must be patient. But it’s really difficult in the "I want it and I want it now" life most of us live...but that’s the way of the City (not Citeh!).

It’s also funny that, as I own quite a few shares, I inwardly feel that I am about to become a millionaire, but actually that isn’t the case. Maybe it is just the excitement of a major financial injection to the club I love; I equal Charlton to a lot of my friends, and therefore what happens to Charlton (good or bad) happens and affects my life deeply too. But I’m not the only one - it probably means just as much to you too?

Anyway, Charlton have over 63 million shares in issue, plus a £15m bond issue that forms most of the company debt. If Zabeel Investments do offer around £50m for the club - lock, stock, and JonJo Shelvey - then the shares will be bought with around £35m of the offer sum; that works out at about 55p a share. OK, the printed share value is 50p each, and the sales price when last quoted on the stock market was between 22 and 28p a share I seem to remember, so it’s not surprising that the major shareholders on the board are willing to recommend acceptance of the offer. I must admit if the offer is anywhere near 50p a share, then I will wholehearted support the acceptance (I do anyway...) and will probably sell most of my holding. I say most of because it would be nice to keep hold of a few shares; maybe one, or 10, or 100? Just for old-times sake; just to say I’m still a shareholder... you know.

After what most of us thought would be a couple of quiet weeks during the international break, our minds can at last return, mainly, to the football. Forget Zabeel; forget Dubai. We have to concentrate on Ninian Park and Cardiff on Saturday!

So what can we expect? Well, a tough game on paper. Last year we may have completed a double over the Welsh team, but this year they are a much tougher side, and haven’t lost many times so far this season. Dave Jones is doing a decent job, but they aren't really setting the world on fire, even though they sit two points and a lot of places better off than the Addicks.

Alan Pardew (and who knows what he is thinking at the moment?) will have a few options to consider, mainly in formation and also filling the midfield. He does also know that a win takes us above them and onto the fringe of the play off places.

His goalkeeper will be Nicky Weaver, and also certain to play (barring injury) are Luke Varney, plus Mark Hudson, Linvoy Primus, and Matt Holland. But that’s about it - nobody else is certain!

At the back, Jose Semedo’s explosive performance in the last match may be enough to oust Martin Crainie at right back; Crainie failed to make it onto the pitch during either England Under-21 game recently, so he may be either slightly crocked or well rested. Similarly, Kelly Youga was far from inspiring against Ipswich and Grant Basey, who sat on the opposite bench to Crainie in those two U-21 matches, is also pushing for a place. Of course, the other alternative is for Semedo to play at left back...?

Who will play alongside Matt Holland in midfield now? Holland himself would not have been a shoe-in (he was only sub versus Ipswich) but he must be considered thus now, as Nicky Bailey lasted just ten minutes in the last match due to a hamstring strain, and he is not sure to have recovered, while Zheng Zhi has had a foot operation and is out for at least two months. With Josh Wright still out on loan, and JonJo Shelvey only available for this game before he jets off to play for England’s Under 17’s, options suddenly got thinner. This may mean that both Lloyd Sam and Hameur Bouazza get to start, or maybe Varney will be asked to play wide (while we are level at least) with Andy Gray leading the line? There is then the option of playing Darren Ambrose in the “hole” to support Gray (or Varney) or out wide. Or we could go 4-1-2-2-1 (my choice)!?! The variables are quite immense for a team that could be considered settled just a few weeks ago.

This is my guess at who the tinker-man will start with in Welsh Wales on Saturday –

Nicky Weaver
Martin Crainie
Mark Hudson
Linvoy Primus
Kelly Youga
Jose Semedo
Matt Holland
Nicky Bailey
Darren Ambrose
Hameur Bouazza
Luke Varney

Subs from Elliott, Moutaouakil, Basey, Shelvey, Sam, Gray, Todorov, Dickson.

At least Cardiff will also be short of their best player, as Joe Ledley is injured, and this year we don’t have to worry about JFH...just Jay Bothroyd instead!

Pedro45 is not too confident I have to admit about this game; too many minds may have been focussed elsewhere in the last week, and I think we may well slip to a 2-0 defeat. Basically, until we are bought, until we do have funds available, until we do buy some better players, we are still the same team, managed by the same guy, and therefore still susceptible to the same sort of indifferent results; Ipswich may have been a win, but did we turn many corners? We will see...

My one-to-watch in this match should be the English guys in the directors box; I guess if they are smiling then we might be too in the near future, but realistically it will be Luke Varney. We all know that Varney works his socks off in every game – you cannot fault his effort or heart. What we would really like to see though is more goals from him, especially when he is leading the line rather than running the channels or working out wide. He is capable of delivering – we have seen that in spurts over the last 15 months; what we want though is consistency, deadly finishing, and that great celebration slide more often. Come on Luke – you are good enough; believe your own press!

This match is the first of four games in eleven days for the Addicks. While the result from this one match may not have a bearing on how Charlton fare come next May, the combined points tally from the four fixtures may well do...If we can get between seven and ten points from these games, we will be well placed to march on and rise higher up the table if and when funds become available in the transfer window. We just need to make sure that the players want to get us there.

Oh, and just so everyone knows, Second Division and Proud does not recognise this weekends game as it concerns Charlton and a non-English club; you will see his league table shows the old fashioned 22 clubs, and none of the results reflect games against the Swans or Bluebirds. I’m not sure how he will explain Charlton not getting into the play off should we finish at least eighth but behind them two...we'll just have to do better than that then!

Up the Addicks!

Join the Redvolution!

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Sands of Time…

So, how do you feel this morning? Sleepless night?

There are plenty of questions that Charlton fans, and other clubs fans, are asking this morning after the indicative offer to buy the Addicks from Zabeel Investments, a Dubai based company purportedly owned by the Maktoum family, and here, Pedro45 gives his opinion on the answers.

Why Charlton?
Negotiations between Liverpool and the Dubai Investment Company, a consortium of groups from the Emirates of which Zabeel were probably one, did not go well; similarly, internal wranglings at Newcastle have quickly dispelled the idea that this Arab money is heading in that direction. With Charlton, a club well founded, solid club, with potential (both on and off the pitch), with great community links, with a London base, all this adds up to a good club/company to buy into. It may also be that Zabeel want to build a club, rather than just buy a ready-made version? Sure, we are not at the front of the grid, but we have a reliable engine, great mechanics, and a pretty good chassis!

What about free season ticket offers if we go up?
Let’s not jump any guns here – none of us get a season ticket for free next year unless we get promoted this season. I would expect that the offer will be part of the due diligence discussions over the next few days/weeks, and it will not be possible for the club to back-track on that promise. Legally, I think they would be on dodgy ground if they wanted to do that, so Pedro45 thinks we should buckle up! Why would Zabeel want to allienate the fans by withdrawing something that, at last, may become a reality? No, they will honour the offer.

What is the £20m debt mentioned?
The club does have debts, but they would be wiped out by the selling of the club to Zabeel. The debts look large, but in my opinion, some of them are simply the bond issue rights that the directors paid into last year which could account for up to £15m (as £5m worth of bonds failed to find buyers); then there is undoubtedly still costs to pay for the building of the North stand, and possibly the West and East stands too. I do know that these charges were due to be paid off over a number of years; the accounts will show how much is outstanding, but monies to pay for this would have come out of general turnover each year.

Will we still sell beer?
When an overseas company buys a UK company, it does not give the new owners any rights to make that piece of land (The Valley in this case) an overseas dependency of their homeland. The new owners will want to maximise revenue, and if selling beer on the concourses generates profit, then I’m sure it will continue. Mind you, I thought most people drank outside the ground on match days due to the lack of decent ale, the slowness of service, and the higher cost per pint? If we get real, of course the club will still sell beer!

When might this change of owner happen?
This is the great unknown – it could happen really quickly, or it could take a few weeks or even a couple of months, if it goes through at all! If we look at the Manchester City situation, which appears to be similar; their new owners “bought” the club off Shinawatra and immediately committed money for new players as a gesture of good intent (£30+ for Robinho…). The actual deal/sale only went through about three weeks later, once all the legal people had seen the accounts (due diligence), bounced the contract for the sale back a few times (no doubt), that sort of thing. In SE7, the announcement last night could suggest that we are further down the road than Citeh were, but we simply do not know. I do not know if Citeh were set up in the same manner as Charlton – PLC and Football Club; so that could also slow things a little?

Will we stay at The Valley?
This is the key question, and simply cannot be answered by anyone at this time. Having been in love with this club since the sixties, Pedro45 has had to think about a move to Milton Keynes in the 70’s, that statement in September 1985, playing at Upton Park in the early nineties, and firm interest from the board about playing on the Dome site, and at Kings Hill, in this new century. There will always be talks about moving to bigger and better grounds; that’s the nature of football. What Pedro45 hopes is for the new owners to continue to build the stadium at The Valley in line with the planning consent that we have; a second tier on the East stand, followed by a new South stand completing the ground, and bringing capacity up over 40,000. If Zabeel paid for that, and then buggered off, Pedro45 would be happy (not that I think they will…)! But with land available on the Greenwich Peninsula, any problems with building capacity in line with above might mean we have to consider other options – yes we love The Valley, but is there a problem if we move a few hundred yards to a magnificent new stadium just down the road? This is a very contentious area, and we really are getting ahead of ourselves if even start to think this far ahead…

Will we lose the heart of the club?
Zabeel are known to want to own companies that play a big part in community activities, whether that is in the UK or the Middle East, or elsewhere in the World. I would expect them to continue to support the magnificent work done by the Charlton Trust (which is run separately from the club) , and all the other local initiatives that CAFC is involved in. This is one of the reasons why they want to buy Charlton. We are not a short-term cash-cow; we have a heart, and they need to ensure that it keeps beating!

Will current board members remain?
The Sun (spit!) says that Richard Murray will remain on the board in an advisory capacity; this may or may not be so, we will just have to see what comes out in the wash. However, it would be remiss of Zabeel to dispense with the vast experience that is available from current board members; Richard Murray is not getting any younger, and an advisory position may just suit him down to the ground before he can settle into a well-earned retirement with best wishes for a job well done from us all.

Will we sign new players at exorbitant sums, and if so, when?
Let’s get the deal done first, but the initial signings will (or should) give an idea of intent. At Loftus Road, all they have seen are a few Italian stallions coming in on loan, without any major players being signed. It may well be that Charlton need to be patient prior to Xmas, then show intent. If we see £5m plus players arriving in January, they have still got to bed in and try to get us promoted. If, and it is a big if in this league, we go up this year, I’m sure the £50m TV money will get thrown about immediately, and then some. If we don’t go up this year, I would expect to see a steady stream of decent players who are capable of beating any team in this division arrive. However, we still need a manager to build that team into one that wins every week.

What about the fans forum election?
I guess this is either very good or very bad timing for the new forum to be inaugurated. As they merely report in to the board, and do no longer sit on the board, then there is no reason why the club cannot continue with the plans for this group as expected. How much they new owners listen is open to question, though that could also have been the case with the incumbent directors. Today is the last day for applications by the way!

Will Alan Pardew remain as manager?
Paper talk that his job is safe is just that. Pards needs to do the business; if he doesn’t, he will be out – no question. Pedro45 is of the opinion that Pardew is not the man to be in charge of our club, whether we have Arab dollars, or not. Join the revolution!

What return on investments will Zabeel expect?
We can all surmise on how much the cost of supporting Charlton may rise; beer may go up 50p a pint; the programme may cost a fiver; a ticket could cost £40 rather than £20. But that is not going to give Zabeel much of a return on the £50m that they are allegedly spending on the club (simply because less people would attend games, and revenue could drop). Charlton were the cheapest club where you could watch Premiership football in London. If Zabeel build the new stands; if Zabeel buy good players; if Zabeel back the clubs with millions of pounds and make us great once more, will we really be worried about the increase in the cost of going to a game by a few quid? Is it better to watch Darren Ambrose in a Charlton shirt for twenty quid or (dare I say) Theo Walcott (in that same Addicks shirt) for forty? The return that the potential owners will want is not so much financial as exposure; if they can be seen on TV each week around the World as the owners of a Premiership team full of great players, they will be happy. If they can be seen as the owners of the Premiership team that is the World’s leader in working with the community, then they will be happy; if they can be held up as people who run a company the right way, looking after staff and stakeholders (i.e. us fans) alike, then they will be happy, I’m sure.

Ultimately, Charlton has been changed overnight. Once the paperwork is signed, we are no longer little old Charlton, we will have grown up. It’s something that happens to all of us (except Millwall supporters I guess?!?). We may not like growing up - sometimes some of the fun goes out of life when you get that bit older - but it is necessary. As an adult in football terms, Charlton will be able to grow, to fulfil the wonderful potential that was built initially in the thirties and forties; that withered in the fifties, sixties, and seventies; that almost died in the eighties; that grew again in the nineties; and that can now can come of age in the new millennium.

Up the Addicks!

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Are Ya?

Zabeel Investments - the company that adds extra to ordinary according to thier website. But just who are the company that has made an indicative offer for the Addicks?

Well, their Executive Chairman is Mohammed Al Hashimi (left), and he is the person who is fronting the offer, and who made the statement earlier today carried on the Charlton website. He a renowned Islamic finance expert, and founded Zabeel Investments in February 2006 and has been responsible for its rapid strategic expansion. Mohammed plays a hands on role in the development of the company, so it's not that we won't see him at The Valley if a formal offer is made and accepted by shareholders. As a member of the Young Arab Leaders organisation, Mohammed believes in youth empowerment and education, particularly early childhood development (JonJo Shelvey should be happy then!). Mohammed was named as one of 2008s Young Global Leaders, recognising his professional accomplishments, commitment to society and potential to contribute to shaping the world’s future (and hopefully Charlton's future too).

Business-wise, Zabeel are focused on the areas of commercial real estate development and management, private equity and asset management across a wide range of economic sectors. I suppose this indicative offer means that they are also interested in getting into the English football world, and eventually the Premiership!

The Zabeel vision statement is “To achieve excellence, transparency and passion in every sphere of our activity within the near future.” At the heart of Zabeel Investment we look to make healthy profits for all our investors and to build on strong foundations, while balancing that with our commitment to the community. The Zabeel Mission Statement is “To be the region's best private investment house.”

Best is always a word that I have trouble with - who is the best footballer? Rooney, Ronaldo, Terry? Best band? Coldplay, U2, Rolling Stones? Best is opinion; Anyone can be the best - Charlton may be the best as far as I'm concerned, but deep down I know that Chelsea will beat us nearly every tme we match means nothing.

In addition, Zabeel say they look to build world-class products, through the creation of communities that blend with the environment and which meet today's modern standards but are imbued with their traditions and values.

They obviously like the community side of what Charlton can offer and I'm sure that has had a significant impact on the potential deal. The Zabeel website asks - "Do you feel that the youth should be provided with better opportunities through which they can support our communities?" It further states "We care for the development of communities, through providing a better standard of living and creating environments that foster leadership and a desire to learn. Passion is the cornerstone of our business, and with it we can only improve and give back more."

Zabeel aren't short of cash - the company is reportedly owned by Sheik Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the son of Dubai's ruler. They have been splashing the cash regularly over the last two years, buying up worthwhile companies from across the globe. They are strong in maintaining tradition and culture, helping childhood development, and aiding university scholarships.

Zabeel Investments has also been instrumental in supporting shooting and falcon hunting amongst young males in the UAE, as a way of keeping traditions alive. Not much call for falcon hunting locally, though maybe Eagle Heights will get a call if they get homesick?

I'm sure that the papers, websites and forums will be full of this over the next few days, but realistically, we now have to sit back and not count chickens. If a formal offer comes, it comes; if not, we haven't lost anything.
There will be plenty of fans for the move and plenty against it too. Will we lose our identity? That sort of thing I'm sure.

Pedro45 can only report that, as a shareholder, he welcomes the offer and if it leads to a bigger, better, Charlton, then that can only be good for the club, the fans, and the community it serves.

Join the revolution!

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See, a little bit of cajoling and along come a Dubai-based investment company to make an indicative bid for Charlton. This is a serious, cash, offer apparently - now where is my shares certificate?

The club confirmed in a statement that it will enter a period of due diligence with Zabeel Investments, and then we will see if the possibility of a firm offer comes to fruition. The board has already said that shareholders should accept it!

Whether this is the same interest as that purported to have come from potential buyers last year remains to be seen - I don't like Mihir Bose but if this is what he wrote about, he definitely had a scoop!

In the issued statement, Derek Chappell, chairman of Charlton Athletic plc and Richard Murray, chairman of the club, said: "The board firmly believes that a successful outcome for this transaction would be beneficial to shareholders and employees of Charlton, all fans of the club and the local community as a whole."

Mohammed Al Hashimi, executive chairman of Zabeel Investments, added: "We feel now is the right time to make a strategic, long term investment in Charlton and get CAFC back to the English Premier League where they belong. The passion of the fans at Charlton, the heritage of the Club and the unique status it enjoys in the community make it an exciting proposition for us."
Zabeel are allegedly owned by the son of the ruling family of Dubai - the Maktoums, and are said to be worth BILLIONS!
More later I expect...

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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Just Managing...

Charlton Athletic 2 Ipswich Town 1

Pre-game, the atmosphere all around The Valley was strange. Stood in Bartrams, a fellow supporter who I did not know noticed me reading Alan Pardew’s programme notes, and interjected, without prompting, that something had to change. He said that he didn’t know who should be brought in to replace Pards, but didn’t disagree when I said that some had suggested that Paulo may be looking for a role? There was much discussion of the managerial situation amongst friends, and even if there is an upturn in results, the feeling was that Pards is not going to be at The Valley for very longer (be it his choice or Murray/Waggott’s…). Others have said that there are not many options if we did want to change things about – even if you ignore the internal candidates (Parkinson, Kinsella) and those recently connected with Charlton (Powell, Grant, Bonds, and dare I say it - Curbishley), then the list of managers out of work and available does make interesting reading – Allardyce, Hoddle, Royle, Davies, Holloway, Keegan (ha ha!) and even Joe Kinnear in five or six weeks, and maybe less!

Anyway, we won, and you certainly could not fault the effort from the players on the park. Pards made two changes, just about defending the two or three changes to the team scenario that he promised - in came Svetislav Todorov and Zheng Zhi for their first starts of the season (left).

Hameur Bouazza got things going with a booking in the first three minutes, tripping to stop an Ipswich break-out. Then Todorov’s flick was handled about 25 yards out, and Nicky Bailey scored with a daisy cutter from the direct free kick. Bailey was ecstatic (top pic) but was soon to be injured and replaced by Holland with just eleven minutes on the clock.

As the game settled, Ipswich came to the fore, and they dominated possession. It was no great surprise when they equalised ten minutes before half-time. Their goal was a tad fortunate, but not-undeserved – a cross turned in off the post by Martin Crainie for an own goal as Stead lurked behind him. Would Charlton surrender like they had the previous week? No, they hung on till half-time, although after Ipswich equalised, the game really became one-way traffic, with the away team dominating proceedings. Todorov fell deeper and deeper; Varney had no support; Bouazza was anonymous; and ZiZi had little option when receiving the ball. On one occasion, a suicidal pass from Primus put our Chinese midfielder under immense pressure and after he was tackled, Charlton were lucky to survive without conceding. The Addicks did make it to half-time, just, as a Campo’s free kick did flick the top of the bar in stoppage time.

Without any changes made at the break, barring Jose Semedo for the hapless Crainie, the tempo was still with the Tractor Boys, who simply ploughed into Charlton (sorry…). A Quinn cross shot hit the bar with Weaver well beaten, and other half-chances went begging. Todorov was cutting a lonely figure, wandering around the half-way line, and it really was a situation where eleven blue shirts were up against just ten red ones, with Toddy nowhere. Everyone else had extra work to try to maintain parity, and luckily it was just enough.

It was a little surprising then, when Charlton re-took the lead after 65 minutes. An Ambrose cross toward Bouazza was missed by the Algerian but the ball hit Volz, looped over Wright, and we had our second OG in the game (left). Semedo was getting forward quite often, and all of a sudden we had attacking options out wide. If we look at the ten minutes Semedo had at Forest, and the half against Ipswich, he has got forward more times, and put in more crosses, than Crainie has in all the games he has played so far. Crainie may be a better defender (?), but he is very limited at full back.

Varney and Holland continued their mammoth effort, chasing everything, and when Gray came on for the Bulgarian wanderer, at last Charlton had some shape and form. Sure, there were tense moments as Kevin Lisbie tried to haunt Charlton once more, this time from the subs bench where he has spent huge amounts of his career, but it wasn’t enough, and Charlton hung on.

Although some of the team played well, and some not so well, the effort could not be faulted. Varney and Holland ran their hearts out, and Hudson and Zhi had decent solid games. For me though, it was the sheer doggedness of Linvoy Primus that kept us in the game and the Ipswich attacks at bay (bar that one bad pass). Time after time he headed the ball away or blocked off passes or runs. It was nice to see some fight alongside Hudson for a change.

On the way to the station, there was some chanting for Ipswich’s manger to go – “Magilton Out” came the calls; other supporters with different coloured shirts leaving mentioned that Pardew should join him…it wasn’t just me then!

My further journey home was enlivened but a situation that made me pleased to be a Charlton fan:

First, I saw a bolshie Ipswich girl being arrested at London Bridge for being abusive; another non-football related passenger described her behaviour as outrageous though I must admit I missed this incident. Then, as the departing Ipswich boys launched into their local songs, they were quickly “deflated” by walking straight into the returning “hordes” of Millwall followers (well, about 25 of them…), who had just lost 4-0 at home. Suffice to say that they were not happy, and the police had to deal with the situation quickly. I then had the misfortune to be on the same train out of London Bridge with said “hordes”, and a very young bunch most of them were. Away from the watching eye of British Transport Police, they were rowdy and vulgar; as their numbers depleted though, with some getting off at each station down the line, they became quieter and quieter – mere pussycats rather than Lions. Safe in numbers, however young, but vulnerable and at risk when without back-up, it was a sad reflection on the continuing association of football hooliganism and lack of social responsibility. One day they will grow up and if they don’t then poor them.

Maybe we should encourage them to JOIN THE REVOLUTION!

Pardew will survive the next couple of weeks then, and good for him! Ultimately though, I just do not see him taking the club forwards, and who knows how he will reflect on being Charlton’s team boss without any parachute payments next season, and more importantly, how the Charlton Directors will view him as the man to get us back into the top flight (or even maintain Championship football) without being able to splash any cash.

Two weeks off now due to the international break, Pardew has a lot of work still to do if Charlton are to improve much over the season on their current 14th place in this league.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Pardew Out!

OK, it’s time to nail my flag to the mast. I’m fed up with Alan Pardew. I know from reading other blogs and the comments on them that most of you guys are too. A lot of Charlton fans seem to be saying that we like him, but we just want him to be a bit more realistic, passionate in the right sort of way, contrary, to accept the blame every now and then.

Well, I’ve had enough. I’m not trying to be antagonistic or inflammatory, but I think that it is time for Pards to go; leave Charlton; find another club; let the Addicks re-float with a new man at the helm.

I appreciate that not everyone will agree, and I feel a bit guilty if I’m honest, as I love Charlton as much as anyone and I only want the best for our club. I have rarely previously ever wanted a Charlton manager to be sacked (maybe Dowie, and Foley a few years ago, but nobody else really...).

I am sensible enough to understand that when Richard Murray tells me that we haven’t got any money then I don’t expect the club to spend millions on this player or that. I also know that the financial situation around the world is not helping matters at all, and that we should cut our cloth accordingly. I went into this season expecting Charlton to finish in mid-table, as did many other fans and blogs, but now, now, I am really worried that we could slip into a dire relegation battle and all the good work put in during the last decade will have been undone.

Sure, not all of the problems are of Alan Pardew’s creating. The Dowie spending spree was cataclysmic in deciding the short term (and possibly longer term) future of the club. Pardew has had to suffer the consequence, but you always get the impression that he has a chip on his shoulder because he cannot go out and spend, spend, spend like other managers from this and higher divisions. He simply does not have the solutions that Charlton need.

I also should make it plain that I am not one of the group of supporters who boo the team, or the manager, with regular abandon when things don’t go right on the pitch. I know that we have seen a great deal of effort and guts from the team so far this season, but what we need is direction, a playing style, and tactics that work (every now and then at least). We are not going to win 40 matches a season, but I do expect us to be able to compete in at least 40 games each year, even if we don't always win.

This is also not a rant after the midweek defeat I might add, whatever our managers past links with that club.

This blog is therefore calling for a change; a change at the management level at Charlton. Alan Pardew is no longer the man who should be picking the team; the person who decides tactics; he must retire from being the leader who doesn’t lead.

New York Addict has collated a massive selection of verbal diarrhoea that has spouted from the mouth of Alan Pardew at various press conferences over the last couple of years and it makes fascinating, and very funny reading. But it also hurts. When Pardew comes out with this bilge, it is just an attempt to cover up the failings of not the team, but of him as a manager.

How can we ever trust him? One week he says he will make changes, and then he doesn’t make any but enforced ones. But after another defeat, he says the same thing – changes are coming…not good enough Al!

Last week he came out with the usual media-speak drivel when asked how committed and passionate he was about Charlton. He is not using Charlton as a stepping stone to another job; well guess what? He is, but it isn’t going to be a promotion (no pun intended).

So there you go – someone had to be first with the Pards out comments, and maybe it’s me. Of course, it’s nothing that ten wins on the trot couldn’t cure; “And the Manager of the Year is …Alan Pardew” - Yeeeeaaay! Mucho humble pie on the way...

OK, Saturday. Changes afoot (if you believe Pards).

Weaver to remain in goal; Varney and Gray up front; Bailey to play; Primus to be strapped up and forced out; Hudson to wear the armband; then where do we go?

Well I suppose that Zheng Zhi just has to start if he is fit. And Kelly Youga will probably get the nod over Grant Basey at left back. Martin Crainie will also play I suspect, though if he was switched to the centre at the expense of Primus then that would allow the more attack indeed Yassin Moutaouakil a chance. On the wings, Sam, Bouazza, and Ambrose will all press for a place, but not all can play, unless Holland is dropped, which is likely. This still leaves no room for Semedo or Shelvey, while Dickson is suffering from the fact others are fit when he really should be placed ahead of Todorov on the bench.

I don’t know who Pardew will pick, but if I was to guess, then this is the team I think he will send out, though it only shows two of the three changes he promised –

Nicky Weaver
Martin Crainie
Mark Hudson
Linvoy Primus
Kelly Youga
Darren Ambrose
Zheng Zhi
Nicky Bailey
Hameur Bouazza
Luke Varney
Andy Gray

Subs from Elliott, Moutaouakil, Basey, Semedo, Holland, Shelvey, Sam, Todorov, Dickson.

Pedro45 is so depressed about what he has seen in the four games he has watched so far that all he can predict is another hapless defeat. Of course, I hope I am wrong, but my fear is that another 3-1 trouncing is on the cards. Ex-Addicks Lisbie and Haynes both scored against Charlton last season, and they may only make the bench in this game. Ipswich are not coming off ten consecutive away defeats as they were last year, so a repeat of the first half performance from that match is very unlikely.

My one-to-watch is going to be Alan Pardew himself this week. We have all been watching the team on the pitch waiting for something to happen, but invariably it goes wrong from the start, is not corrected at half time, and the manager waits too long to make substitutions or to give any direction to the team when he does switch things around. We need to see an improvement Alan, and not just in the starting eleven. If that is not forthcoming, then it can only be a matter of time before the groundswell on the terraces starts to permeate the boardroom, and with new blood in there, who knows how long thngs will be allowed to deteriorate.

I would love my doom and gloom to be proved wrong; sacking Pards would not solve all the issues the club has but it has to remain an option if things continue in the downward spiral that is prevalent now.

Maybe a win would drag things out, and I’d be happy with that, but ultimately, I do think it is time for a change.

Come on you reds!

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Beginning of the End or the End of the Beginning?

West Brom Reserve 1 Charlton Athletic 0

I wasn’t there and didn’t listen, so all I can go on is the match report on the club’s official site. It looks like we were well beaten on the night, as all the chances came at Nicky Weaver’s end bar one.

Pardew (left) decided to pretty much keep the same team apart from playing Ambrose through the middle with Bouazza supporting Varney up front. That obviously didn’t work (again). After falling behind, Pards chucked on Todorov, Gray, and Zheng Zhi, but to no avail. The manager has now committed himself to making at least two changes on Saturday, and maybe more (if Primus does not recover from injury).

It may be twelve years since we lost to that mob, but it still rankles.

Pardew has Saturday’s game and not much more in my opinion to turn the clubs fortunes from negative to positive; if he cannot do that by the end of October, he may well be called to task.


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