Sunday, November 30, 2008

Only the Loanee

Charlton Athletic 0 Southampton 0

No goals, but plenty of positives from Phil Parkinson’s first home game in charge of the Addicks.

Parky’s first problem was choosing which of his seven loanees to play in his squad; sensibly, in my opinion, he started all five of his choices, rather than have any of them on the bench. He was always likely to go with two from the three defenders he could choose, and three out of the four wide men and forwards at his disposal. He finally went with Martin Crainie and Jay McEveley (left) as his full backs (leaving out Linvoy Primus), and playing Keith Gillespie, Hameur Bouazza, and Deon Burton more forward (and surprisingly leaving out Martyn Waghhorn).

Waghorn will feel a little aggrieved I feel, as he did receive plenty of plaudits from the new manager for his performance on Tuesday, but Parky preferred new man Burton to play alongside Andy Gray. Primus was replaced by the returning Jon Fortune, and also dropped was Kelly Youga, while Therry Racon annoyingly succumbed to a slight knee injury. This was particularly hard on the Frenchman, as he has only just got back into the team after injury, and scored Charlton’s equaliser on Tuesday in his first start since August. Nicky Bailey deputised.

Mark Kinsella once again got the players warmed up on the pitch before the game, and it was the home side who settled better early on. In fact, although Southampton played with some confidence, the first half was very much Charlton’s as only Kelvin Davis, in the Southampton goal, kept the scores level, making three good saves. Bouazza was foiled on a couple of occasions and the pick of the saves was from a Burton overhead kick just before half time (left), which squirmed round the post for a corner. Prior to that, Gillespie had come close, and two handball shouts were ignored by both linesman and referee. The second of these was quite blatant from my position, as a cross penalty area pass was guided away by the defenders arm; why the lino dismissed shouts is open to judgment but he could have been fast asleep as he did little all game really.

The second half saw the visitors improve, but it was still quite even apart from a fifteen minute spell mid-half when Charlton just could not keep possession. This may have been down to some tiredness, and Parkinson moved quickly to replace Gray with Todorov, Gillespie with Sam, and Semedo with Holland. Nicky Weaver had a few saves to make, but once more put in a very solid display.

Charlton huffed and puffed for the last few minutes, trying to snatch a late win, but it couldn’t be – Bailey’s curling shot which was a little too high being the closest to a late goal.

Positives to take from the game were the display of Burton, who is much more than the channel runner I thought. He linked particularly well with Gray, as each flicked on headers and found the other in the right place to receive – something that has been rare over recent years! McEveley was solid in defence, and tried to get forward at every opportunity; he reminded me a bit of Danny Mills, though without the brutality, even if he did get booked midway through the second half. It was also good to see Jon Fortune back and in control; when Forch is having a decent game, the whole defence looks much more comfortable.

On a slightly negative front, Bailey was short of confidence it seemed, and Bouazza (left) was back near his enigmatic best (shooting from a long way out when others were better placed…). Some of Crainie’s passing was also suspect, though he defended well.

The management team now have a week to bed in the new recruits, and their new style, and hopefully we will see the continued improvement up at Blackpool next weekend.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Home for the Saints

Phil Parkinson (left) returns to The Valley for the first time this weekend as manager of Charlton, and he really does need a bit of a boost in terms of results. Tuesday’s first game in charge saw a great improvement in terms of tactics, and confidence, but ultimately no points were won. That needs to change, and fast!

Southampton are the next opponents, and they are not too far ahead of the Addicks in the league table, so it is possible that Charlton can expect some sort of return from this match, though expectation does not guarantee anything as we all well know.

Parky showed that he is his own man by making a few changes to the starting line up at Rangers, and playing them in his own preferred formation (4-4-2), and I guess we should expect more of the same in this match.

Nicky Weaver will benefit from having a manager who believes in him, and says as much, rather than one who did not, and will start in goal. Weaver has had a tough month or so, but did look solid and comfortable on Tuesday, and he had no chance with either goal conceded. The crowd do like him (being the cuddly old bear that he is…), so provided he gives his all, he’ll be fine.

The defence will also have a similar but not the same look to Tuesday I suspect; Hudson and Primus looked better, if not impregnable, in the middle, but Youga and Crainie are not the best distributors of the ball, and perhaps Parkinson will consider his options at full back? Certainly Yassin Moutaouakil gives plenty of attacking option if played at right back, though he is not as good defensively as Crainie. I must admit I would be tempted to play the Frenchman in home games due to his speed and ability to support, while keeping Crainie for the more defensive minded option at away venues. Kelly Youga had a reasonable game at Loftus Road, but it is likely he will be overlooked in favour of Jay McEveley who arrived today on loan from Derby. If this does happen, then Parky will have to make some sort of change, as he is only allowed five on-loan players in his 16-man squad; perhaps he could deal with this by playing Moots and leaving Crainie out? On paper, it does look like a straight choice between Moots and McEveley or Crainie and Kelly.

The 4-4-2 formation that Parkinson was rumoured to prefer was evident in his fist game in charge, and Charlton’s lack of recent substance in the middle of the park was filled by bringing in Therry Racon for his first game since August. Alongside Jose Semedo, the pair were very combative and made tackles and won plenty of possession against QPR. The problem was that they are a very similar pair, both in terms of playing style, ability, and looks, and sometimes they did get in each other’s way. That will improve as they play more together, and I do expect them to start again on Saturday. That leaves no place for Nicky Bailey, or Matt Holland, or either of the young guns (Wright and Shelvey), unless one fills a wider role. That option is unlikely as Hameur Bouazza is starting to show what he can do on a much more regular basis, and he is a threat in every game now. On the opposite, right, flank we now have Keith “Dizzy” Gillespie showing Lloyd Sam how a right-winger should play.

I first saw Gillespie (left) play when he was part of the Manchester United FA Youth Cup team in 1991; I saw the away leg they played against Millwall at the Den, which finished in a 2-2 draw (I think it was the semi final?). He was playing in the same team as Gary and Phil Neville, plus probably Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs, plus many other of United’s young team of kids who would go on to “win nothing” over the coming years. The thing about Gillespie was that he seemed to be much bigger than the other lads, and he simply ran the whole show. I think he scored both United goals that night, even though Millwall went through to the final. Since then, he has gone on to have an excellent career in the Premiership, and at 33 years old now, is only starting to slow down a little. He showed on Tuesday that he can still contribute enormously, especially to a team lacking in confidence like the Addicks.

That leaves a forward line for Parky to chose that is likely to be Martyn Waghorn alongside Andy Gray. Both Gray and Waghorn worked effortlessly on Tuesday but had few chances between them. Waghorn’s best effort was well blocked when he looked likely to score, but his time will come. He did work hard and chase when not in possession, and tried to use the ball simply when he had it under control. I do think he is a little lightweight and naive at times, but he does have the skill and stamina that could allow him to become a very good player in the future. As for Gray, he simply ran and ran and chased until he had nothing left toward the end. He held the ball well, and linked with Bouazza and Gillespie at every opportunity. No chances came his way, but he is still confident enough to finish them when they do.

That cannot be said for Luke Varney, who has now made his way to Derby today for a prolonged loan period, and possible transfer in January (and likely to recoup a fair bit of his transfer fee from Crewe by all accounts...). Luke simply cannot score at the moment, and moreover, he knows it. A change is as good as a rest, and with him off the books, his salary can be put to better use.

I must admit I was a little astounded that we have signed Deon Burton on loan with a view to a permanent transfer from Sheffield Wednesday; we do have many other forward options, but Parky is insistent that Burton is cover for Gray, though I would have put them as completely different types of player (solid holding versus fast channel runner). With no other players having left on loan prior to todays loan-embargo date, I find this a strange move, although the cost is small apparently.

This is the team I think Parly will put out for his first home game in charge, bearing in mind only five loanees are allowed in the 16-man squad –

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Mark Hudson
Linvoy Primus
Jay McEveley
Jose Semedo
Therry Racon
Keith Gillespie
Hameur Bouazza
Martyn Waghorn
Andy Gray

Subs from Elliott, (Crainie), Fortune, Youga, Basey, Holland, Bailey, Shelvey, Wright, Todorov, Dickson, McLeod, (Burton).

The doubt to all the above was the nature of the game on Tuesday, as Rangers were tapping at ankles all game long; it is entirely possible that one or two Charlton players will not have recovered from the knocks they received in that match, but at least we do still have plenty of reserves to call upon if the need arises. I also feel that if we can only field five loanees in the squad, then they should be starting in the team, and not on the bench.

Southampton come to The Valley unbeaten in their last two games - a good win at Reading, and then a home draw versus Plymouth. Bradley Wright-Phillips scored both goals at the Madjeski, so will need to be watched, and the returning Jason Euell provides a threat that Charlton fans used to applaud every week. As with every team the Addicks play at present, they will see this as an opportunity to gain points, and get further away from the bottom of the table at Charlton’s expense.

I do think that provided the team show the improved effort and confidence that was on show on Tuesday, then something can be gained from this match. The crowd should be in better voice than of late, and will have to compete with a fair away following, so the atmosphere will be better. Provided the team does perform, Pedro45 is going to forecast a 2-1 home win; I think this is the first game where I have forecast a win for over two months, so hopefully I will be right! If the defence can be solid, cut out the schoolboy errors (play to the whistle!!!), and attack the ball like they did in West London in midweek, then that should be enough. If the midfielders battle and are determined, win ball and then give it to the more creative wide men, then that area should be won too. If the effort and ability to run all day is shown again by the front-men, then chances will come their way, and they are both good finishers, we know that they have the ability to get on the score sheet, and more than once in a match.

My one-to-watch in this match is not old hand Keith Gillespie, but the man on the opposite flank who is starting to perform well in every match – Hameur Bouazza. Fresh from goals at Birmingham and against Sheffield United, plus an assist at Rangers on Tuesday, we need a continuation of Hammer’s good form and excellent contribution on a regular basis from the Algerian. He has the skill, and pace, and experience to be way too good for most Championship teams, and hopefully this sort of form will be on show once more this week. As long as Hameur (left) makes the right choices – like not shooting from 45 yards when we have five others in attack ahead of him – then he is a danger to every opponent. I’m expecting him to be the key man in an Addicks victory this weekend.

It’s too early yet to worry too much about whether we are in the bottom three or just above them, but we do know that we are in a relegation battle, and that it will probably continue until the end games of the season. But we cannot make ourselves safe from League One this weekend, or next, nor will we be relegated if we don't win this match; it will be a much longer process. The team and fans need to recognise this, and take every point on offer, be it one or three. If a draw is all we can expect, then let us shut up shop to ensure we go home with something; every point will count come the first week of May, and every point dropped (including those courtesy of Luke Varney’s misses this season) will count against us. It is a long haul to get near fifty points, but I’m hoping for three points to get us under way this Saturday.

The struggle is hard and the struggle long, in any Redvolution, but at least we are moving forwards.

Come on you Reds!

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

Queens Park Rangers 2
Charlton Athletic 1

Well, Phil Parkinson’s brave new world started with a defeat, but I have to admit, I was extremely pleased to see the difference the new manager made after just a few days in charge.

The first thing I noticed at Loftus Road, apart from the smell, and the ridiculous situation where you had to walk half-way round the ground to get in, was that the players were on the field well over 45 minutes before kick off. There we saw the first impact of the new regime, with Mark Kinsella on the pitch leading the players through various warm-up routines. You could tell from the players attire that some were in, and some were out, but all looked in quite a happy mood which was a change and nice to see.

When the team was announced, Parky had dropped Moutaouakil, Holland, and Sam, while Nicky Bailey was also missing (presumed injured?). Back in came Crainie at right back, Therry Racon in a new look central midfield pairing with Jose Semedo, and Keith Gillespie; Dizzy had signed on loan late on Monday. The new look 4-4-2 formation also saw Martyn Waghorn make his full debut up front alongside Andy Gray.

Charlton started brightly, and seemed content to try to keep possession, often passing the ball around at the back, and drawing Rangers on in an effort to make space for the forwards. Semedo and Racon hustled and bustled, and won plenty of ball, but the creative element was a little lacking at times. Rangers did have one shot early on from the half-way line (it went wide…), so you can imagine the pre-game team-talk telling them the level of Nicky Weaver’s confidence at present!

Then Rangers scored from pretty much their first attack. A ball was played down the left wing, and all and sundry seemed to think that it was on its way out for a Charlton throw-in. All except the blue shirted winger who controlled it, got a wave on from the referee, and proceeded to get to the bye-line and cross for the unmarked Dexter Blackstock to knock home past Weaver. Just sixteen minutes gone, and Charlton behind to an awful goal once more. I don’t know if the ball did go out, but as the linesman had at least two players between him and the ball, he couldn’t or wouldn’t, and most definitely didn’t, flag for a throw; yet Addicks players just stopped. Schoolboy stuff really?

Thankfully, heads did not drop, and with Youga, Primus, Hudson, and Crainie all battling to win the ball before it got into danger areas, and with Racon and Semedo finally finding outlets for won ball in Bouazza and Gillespie, things were looking up. Gillespie (left) had the ball out wide right, and cut in past two defenders and into the penalty area; he could have shot with his left foot but crossed the ball to Bouazza on the opposite side of the area, who took it to the bye-line and thumped over a cross which Racon somehow knocked in and celebrated (top pic). It was a long way away, and the crowd were unsure for a while who had scored (Racon or Semedo), but it was just the lift the team and fans needed.

Now with some confidence, there was simply one team in it, and they were playing in red for a change! Corners were won; Gillespie and Bouazza took there men on, and the midfield was completely dominated, though sometimes the Frenchman and Portugeuser got in each others way. Sadly, the tough ankle tappers in hooped shirts couldn’t cough up any further chances to the Addicks, and the sides went in at half-time level.

Rangers changed things a little at half-time, and brought on Agyemang as an extra forward. That resulted in the opening minutes being more like a cup tie, as both sides attacked and counter-attacked in a very open game. It certainly warmed the fans a bit on a bitter night. Bouazza cut in and crossed for Waghorn, but his shot was blocked, then Primus scooped a shot onto the top of the net after a corner; even an improved Rangers were playing awfully.

Waghorn retired after an hour of honest endeavour, and was replaced by Luke Varney. A new manager, and a new chance for Luke to redeem himself, but sadly, very sadly, the same end product. A free kick wasn’t cleared properly and the ball came in to an unmarked Varney just eight yards out. As the ball dropped over his shoulder, the crowd, just feet away, could see the chance that this was. Just the keeper on the line to beat; no other player would be involved anywhere near; the linesman’s flag stayed down. Varney swivelled and volleyed as he had to but the ball ballooned high over the bar and into the electric scoreboard behind the goal. If Varney ever needed a confidence boost form a goal, he will not get a better chance…Luke stood, checked over with the linesman to see if (or more likely hope that) the flag was up, then stared at the dark sky, listening to the disappointment behind the goal.

Sadly, you knew that this may be the games turning point, though it wasn’t that Rangers went up the other end and scored straight away. Hudson had two chances from corners but failed to get enough purchase on the ball, and Primus had another shot, as did Racon. Charlton pressed forwards.

Then the inevitable; an innocuous cross from the right wing, and up leapt Dexter again to power a header into the top corner from about twelve yards out. Weaver had no chance again; it was good goal. A third goal almost came soon after (a header went wide) but Charlton did not buckle, and with sub Lloyd Sam (on for Crainie) working space to cross the ball, all was not lost. Sadly Andy Gray, who worked his socks off all night long and chased down everything that was anywhere near him, couldn’t get on the end of anything. Varney went AWOL after his miss, and now needs some time in the reserves before seeing another first team match in the near future.

Despite the urgings of the fans, Charlton just couldn’t get another clear chance, and the whistle finally went.

At least the team showed heart and endeavour, and also a different style and formation. One of the recent problems has been lack of possession, but last night I suspect that Charlton had the vast majority (maybe 60%?), and this is all down to how Parky set them up to play. Saturday will be a serious game though, and despite the better performance, the Addicks need a creative spark to go along with the more solid display. Kinsella will get the team warmed up again I’m sure, and his heart (amply displayed on his sleeve) was nice to see again after a few years, and will get a good response from Addicks fans at The Valley I’m sure.

Parkinson certainly stamped his mark on his first game in charge of the Addicks, but still couldn't get the right result. Even if he is not the longer term choice of the board to manage the club, I am confident he will do decent job and we certainly loook a bit better now than we did at this time last week.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Brave New World

Phil Parkinson, manager of Charlton Athletic. Bet he loves that. No more second fiddle to Alan Pardew; it’s his team now! Phil gets to write the names on the team sheet; Phil gets to choose the tactics, and formation. Phil gets the plaudits when we win, and the stick when we lose. Phil (left) needs a hard hat, as it could be a tough baptism!

Away to QPR is one of those games that in some seasons is tough, and in others it’s one where the “old Charlton” would look to gain all three points. I think I may have seen Charlton win more times away in Shepherd’s Bush than I have at any other London football ground. But then again, I remember the 5-0 drubbings on plastic that we used to get in the eighties too!

The hope is that having a new manager will sweep away all the angst and rustiness that has pervaded the Addicks line up over recent months, but the reality may be a little different.

Rangers have a decent home record this season, though anyone who thought that the mega-rich owners would bank-roll the club super-fast into the Premiership is very mistaken (Mittal was on the radio on Sunday morning and said promotion is a three-year plan and that it has to be self-funding…). Sitting in mid-table, the club has just appointed a new manager – Portugal legend Paulo Sousa – though he started with a thumping 3-0 loss to Watford at the weekend. Hopefully, that sort of form will continue, and Charlton can get some sort of return from the match. It's probably a shame that Iain Dowie got sacked a few weeks ago, as that is two seasons running that he has been sacked prior to playing Charlton...

Parky’s first team sheet could, quite honestly, be anything. Not knowing if he had much input into who played each week, we don’t know if he preferred Youga to Basey, for instance, or thinks JonJo Shelvey should be starting every week? So based on what I (and most of you) will have witnessed on Saturday, this is the team I would pick if I were Parky to take on QPR at Loftus Road –

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Mark Hudson
Linvoy Primus
Kelly Youga
Nicky Bailey
Matt Holland
Jose Semedo
Keith Gillespie
Hameur Bouazza
Andy Gray

Subs from Elliott, Basey, Crainie, Shelvey, Wright, Racon, Sam, Dickson, Todorov, Varney, Waghorn.

OK, you may see that the team I’ve picked is pretty much the same as that which started the horrible defeat at home on Saturday, bar the new on-loan winger. So let’s clear up a couple of things;

First, I am presuming that the Mirror is not right and that we have not signed Heidar Helguson in time to make his debut at Loftus Road. If it can be arranged in time, then he will have a great incentive to do well at Rangers, as they appear to have upset him a bit by insisting he join them until the end of January with no option to go elsewhere if he doesn’t fancy staying. Andy Gray’s ongoing personal problem may prevent him being available, and maybe giving him the game off will help him some? If neither Helguson nor Gray is available, then maybe Svetislav Todorov will get a chance or maybe Luke Varney will be back in favour?

Second, the team that took the field on Saturday was, on paper at least, possibly the best that Charlton could offer up. I know that that is not saying much, but I would hope that they cannot be as bad as they were for two games running. I’m sure each of the defenders, especially, will have done some serious soul-searching on Saturday night and Sunday morning, because arguably, they did what we all wanted them to on Saturday and got Pardew out of the club. Now they collectively have to show that they want Parkinson in the club!

The problem comes, though, with players like Linvoy Primus, who Pards told us couldn’t play twice in a week; with Kelly Youga, who’s confidence (even for a guy that has brimfuls most of the time) must be at a very low ebb; with Nicky Weaver, who is going to have self-doubt very time a cross is pumped anywhere near him; and with Lloyd Sam who knows that he has to start to deliver the promise that everyone can see he has or he won't get his place back from Gillespie.

It is these players who are also in the firing line if Parkinson wishes to make any changes following Saturday’s debacle – Rob Elliott, Martin Crainie, Grant Basey, and Luke Varney are all itching to get into the team, and they must wonder how badly others have to play before they get their own chance?

The key, as far as I can see, is for Parky to instil some sort of new order into the side – you cannot forget all that has gone before, but you can kind of cover up the slate so it looks like it is clean (even when it isn’t…).

So how does Pedro45 see this one playing out? With Pardew still in charge, I have no doubts we would have suffered another clean and simple defeat; with a new man in charge, anything could happen (and probably will!). My heart says we can actually get a win, as if the team click going forwards (as they did on Saturday at times) but also behave sensibly in defence, then we are quite capable of scoring goals. My head however, knows that this is another tough game, and that the scars from the last two months may take a little while longer to heal. Pedro45 is going to forecast a close 2-1 defeat, but I really do hope I am wrong.

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be the much-maligned Nicky Weaver. Goalies don’t get much closer to the crowd than they do at Loftus Road, so for 45 minutes, Weaver will have Addicks fans just behind him, and for the rest of the time he will have home fans jeering him and his fat belly. What Nicky needs to do is make sure that he keeps his confidence; makes the right decisions; wins over red fans (again); and doesn’t drop any more balls, clangers, or jaws. We know he is a good shot stopper; all he needs to do is learn how to catch the odd cross or push out shots at 90 degrees (and not straight back to a forward!). If he can do that, then at least the defence in front of him will be a bit more confident too.

Whether we win, lose or draw though, at least we won’t have to listen to Alan Pardew going on in the press conference about how it was this players fault or that players fault when we lost, or how it was all down to his fabulous decision making when we won. Let’s get back to a bit of reality please, eh, Phil?

In new eras like this, we need all Addicks fans to stick together; provided the heart and effort that we have seen in flashes this season is evident on the pitch, then the fans will warm to the team and new (temporary) manager. What we don’t need is to be a goal down inside the first fifteen minutes, and for players to start hiding or dropping their heads when things start to go against them. We the fans must support, cajole, influence, help, and sing! It might be cold but we can all make some noise in support of our team.

For a few years, we were not the familiar “Little Old Charlton”; we were never massive, but we were a bit bigger than little. We may have loved those years, but they are now memories. Now we are back to being little again – we’ve got our Charlton back! When you are little, you have to fight for everything you want. Otherwise the bigger clubs will just bully you. We all have to stand up now and stop the bullying. It's what Charlton are good at.

Now is the time to fight – the Redvolution has started.

Up the Addicks!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Redvolution Starts Now!

Just as I posted Waggy’s letter home, I read the news – SAP has finally packed his bags and is leaving ASAP.

I’m not going to be nasty about the man, but I am glad he has left Charlton. For a couple of months now he has lost the plot and not been leading the Addicks in the way we would expect a man of his stature to do. Sure, he has had to work under budgetary constraints, but then so does every manager in football (even Mark Hughes!).

The simple facts are that he lost the dressing room, lost the fans, and lost all semblance of hope when he just wouldn’t stop tinkering with the team every week, and then came out with a host of excuses that blamed everyone and everything apart from himself.

Now the club moves on, and Phil Parkinson is in charge for the game on Tuesday night at Loftus Road, in a clash of two brand new managers.

I doubt we will see an immediate upturn in fortune (we never seem to get the new manager kick some other teams get…), but hopefully, we can now plan a longer term strategy (that isn’t based on only being two/three/four wins off a play off place…) and aim to retain our position in this division and get stronger next year.

The key question that the board will be asking over the next few days is whether Phil Parkinson is the man they want to lead that turnaround, or if some of the other names being bandied about are realistic options.

The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

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Waggy Writes Home...

Charlton Athletic 2 Sheffield United 5

Dear Parents

Well, I made my Championship debut, but sadly I wasn’t able to get on the score sheet, and we had a rather bad loss too. I came on as a substitute early in the second half, just after Charlton had fallen 4-1 down, and when I finally got a touch of the ball a few minutes later, I did lay on a second Charlton goal for the player my team-mates call Hammer (left, scoring). Unfortunately, before I had had my first touch, some ginger player called Quinn had volleyed home the Blades fifth goal, so we really had an uphill struggle after that, and I’m not sure my team-mates ever thought that we might drag it back, even after I entered the field of play (Don’t tell them I said that though…).
The day had started quite brightly; that nice Mr Pardew (or “Boss” as we all call him) took me aside in the hotel, and told me that I would be playing, so I got quite excited, but then he added “but not from the start”. Oh well, I’m used to being one of Mr Keane’s substitutes regularly, so it isn’t much difference down in the smoke.

I took my place on the subs bench, and the Boss stood out front, arms crossed, surveying his teams’ start to the game. He just stands there like that all game – very strange…(Don’t tell him I said that though…). I was a bit surprised when my new team-mates fell behind, because it didn’t take long for the Sheffield players to start celebrating, although it was a bit of a weird goal – we had the ball, but when our French right back (Yass something-or-other) tried to cross it, the ball smacked into our right wingers face (Lloydy). Sheffield then broke out quickly, and when the ball was crossed in, our left winger Hammer tried to kick it but missed-cued, leaving an easy lay back and finish by that Big Blonde Beattie Bloke.

Being a Sunderland pro, I’m used to my team falling a goal behind (Don’t tell Mr Keane I said that though…), so I didn’t worry. Well, not much, not even when our keeper, who we call Weaves (because he weaves his magic off the pitch and not on it! Only kidding, but he does have the biggest car in the car park and he must have got that through trick or treating as he couldn’t have made a living from footie surely? (Don’t tell him I said that though…)) fluffed a clearance, and an ex-Charlton player showed why the manager (that nice Mr Pardew) hadn’t tried to sign him permanently last season by putting in a really poor effort and only hitting the bar from 45 yards when Weaves was trundling back from the wing…Mr Keane would have had a few words to say about that if he had been in charge I’m sure.

Sure enough, with just over a quarter of an hour gone, we equalised when our old centre half – Linvoy – thumped in a header (left). I’m sure the Sheffield Manager Mr Blackwell will wonder what happened to the marking from the free-kick, but at least it cheered up the home fans, for a while at least.

Then, in typical Mackems fashion, Charlton lost the momentum again, when some Welsh bloke called Speed who used to play for the other lot in black and white flicked home a free-kick to make it 2-1. Mr Pardew told me that he had spent quite some time working on set plays a few weeks earlier (as apparently it can be a problem for Charlton to defend at set pieces) so that was why we hadn’t bothered trying to defend them in training this week. Bet he wishes he had spent a few minutes in that area now! (Don’t tell him I said so though, as you know I hate defending…!)

Coming up to half time, as I sort-of warmed up on the sidelines, I was thinking that if the score stayed the same, I might only get a few minutes on the pitch late on, but sure enough, I shouldn’t have worried. Charlton conceded another silly goal when our keeper (Weaves) dropped the ball and their centre half scooped it home from the edge of the box.

At the break, and at 3-1 down, I wondered when Mr Pardew would let me loose, as I really did fancy my chances against two donkeys of centre backs (Don’t tell them I said that though…). But no, he said get warm, and be ready, so I just went through the motions watching our French left back (Kelleee) poke a cross into our own net before finally getting the call to go on. It was Kelleee who came off for me, he was a bit upset about being yanked, but as we passed I just said “C’est la vie” to him (I learnt that at school mum, it’s French speak for “That’s Life”), and I went up front with that nice Mr Gray (the one I told you had that trouble at home – shame eh?). Then they got the killer fifth goal; then I set up Hammer (there's me in the pic above beating the Chinese fella); but then nothing much else happened, even though I thought we could still get something and we did try hard and we showed lots of composure and commitment and effort but we didn’t get the breaks.

I have to say that the crowd were quite nice to me, though it was like being at a Mackems youth game; I’d say there were about 12 or 13 thousand in the ground, but the attendance figure announced was over 20,000. Maybe they count empty seats in this neck of the woods? They did keep singing most of the way through, but Mr Pardew might have been upset with some of the songs that they sung about him at the end of the game – he certainly didn’t look very happy at the finish of the match (Don’t tell him I said that though…).

Old Jim, the doorman, told me that when Charlton shipped five goals at home in the early 1970’s, a previous manager with an Italian name got sacked; and then he said that when Charlton shipped five goals at home in the eighties, another manager who hadn’t been in charge for long got sacked even though he had the European Footballer of the year on his books! Not sure I believe that bit though…

So I’m a bit worried that the nice Mr Pardew might be shown the door after this similar home reversal (Don’t tell him I said that though…); how that affects my chances of getting a few games I don’t know, but if that nice Mr Pardew does leave then I’ll still try my best and want to score in every game. I say bring on the Redvolution!

Well, that’s about all for now; we get a night off tonight so I’m going round to Kelleee’s bedsit to read some books with him, then tomorrow I’m going sightseeing in London town with the rest of the forwards (Luke, Dicko, and Izzy) who didn’t get a run out today. Luckily, I don’t think Weaves is coming otherwise we might get lost – he seems to be getting lost everywhere at the mo, even in his own penalty area! (Don’t tell him I said that though…).

Then on Monday we train for our match on Tuesday, over in the west end. Hope I get to start then?

Lots of Love, your loving son


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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sharpening the Blade

Seven games without a win – could Charlton finally end the run this weekend? It will be tough – Sheffield United sit in fifth place in the league at present, and they will be looking to bounce back after a home defeat last week (to Reading) that left them a little way behind the top three. You can guarantee that they will see anything other than a victory as dropped points, so Alan Pardew will have his work cut out getting Charlton ready.

Pardew has finally delved into the loan market, and brought in a player, but then again we were promised up to four by this weekend, so maybe we shouldn’t shout too loud…

Choices to make then, after finally getting a relatively settled team during the last two away games (just 12 players started in the two matches…), and it does seem that Martyn Waghorn, the striker who is here for a month from Sunderland, has to start, otherwise what is the point in him being at The Valley when we have so many others strikers available?

Starting at the back however, Nicky Weaver will hope that he is not made the victim, as others have this season, when mistakes in one match have cost them their place for several months! Weaves didn’t so much drop a clanger last weekend at St Andrews as push it up in the air for Kevin Phillips to head into the net. Then he pushed another ball straight back out to another blue shirt and the hard earned half-time lead had disappeared in just five minutes of goalkeeping mayhem. Personally, I can’t see (even) Pardew dropping our Nicky, unless he does the same thing this week and next, as he is a much better keeper than both Elliott and Randolph, our only other options (bar a loanee?).

Defensively, I expect the same players to start as at Plymouth and Birmingham, even though we conceded five goals in the two games. Moutaouakil, Hudson, Primus, and Youga are settling into playing with each other regularly, and any options we have do not really improve the overall defence, either going forwards or holding firm.

If we presume that Waghorn will play, and that is by no means certain, then the midfield five will be reduced by one this weekend. We will still play two wide players – almost certainly Lloyd Sam and Hameur Bouazza, but who will drop out from the middle? Well, it’s unlikely to be Nicky Bailey, as he has played much better now that he isn’t playing minder to Josh Wright and has his defensive duties strengthened by Jose Semedo. I would like to see our Portugeuser retained too, with Matt Holland dropping to the bench.

Up front, Andy Gray, without much training but with goals in consecutive games, is sure to start against one of his former clubs.

This is the team I expect to see run out to The Red, Red Robin –

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Mark Hudson
Linvoy Primus
Kelly Youga
Nicky Bailey
Jose Semedo
Lloyd Sam
Hameur Bouazza
Andy Gray
Martyn Waghorn

Subs from Elliott, Crainie, Basey, Holland, Wright, Shelvey, Todorov, Varney, Dickson, McLeod.

Sheffield United have James Beattie up front, and a very solid team. They will take no prisoners, and look to counter-attack, just as they did when whipping a better Addicks team last season three-nil.

Pedro45 wants the team to get something from this game, and I predict a 1-1 draw. It will prolong the run of games without a win, but may just about send the fans home contented that the battling away form was true, and that maybe, just maybe, the tide is starting to turn. Of course, if we are 3-0 down at half-time as we were last time out at The Valley, then the manager can expect no more chances, give no more excuses, and the board will have to make the right decision for the Club - which is sack him.

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be Mark Hudson. Our skipper (left, just about to be sent off atr Cardiff!) will have his hands full looking after Beattie and any return from the game is key to him doing a good job on the ex-England striker. If he can be contained, then that will be half the battle, but if Beattie is allowed to rampage, then Charlton have no chance really.

I still do not think that Pards is the man to lead Charlton, and if we get nothing this weekend, and nothing from Tuesday’s game at QPR, then the next Valley match versus Southampton becomes yet another must win game, and possibly Pardew’s swansong. He has said he will not quit, so that leaves any decision with the board.

But to finish on a positive note, should Waghorn prove an inventive and ingenious loan, and able to do what Varney, McLeod, Fleetwood, Todorov and Dickson are not capable of according to the manager, then maybe Pardew will get more time and the Redvolution will have to wait still longer.

Saturday afternoon could tell us quite a lot…

Come on you reds!

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Sunday, November 16, 2008


Birmingham City 3 Charlton Athletic 2

Another Valiant battle lost, with all fingers pointing (literally) at Nicky Weaver’s slip ups – leading 2-1 into the second half, a weak cross looked oh-so-easy for Weaves to catch, but then his footing gave way, and all he could do was punch the ball weakly skywards, allowing Kevin Phillips an easy headed goal. Five minutes later, another shot was fumbled by our keeper, and Quedrue was on hand to knock in the rebound for a lead that Charlton never really threatened.

It is easy to call for fans (and bloggers) to support the team, which I do on every occasion, but exasperation with the managerial situation is being prolonged.

Of course we cannot blame Pardew (above) for Weaver’s two costly errors, or for Lloyd Sam hitting the post when he had much more of the goal to aim at (and which, if he had scored, would have given Charlton a 3-1 lead…), but part of the reason that the confidence is so low and mistakes are being made is the errors that the manager compounded earlier in the season by tinkering with the team and tactics.

Sacking Pardew following the Barnsley debacle may not have changed the points return from last two games, but results like those we have seen all this season cannot be allowed to continue, or we will all be watching Charlton play in one division lower next year! The only answer is a change at the helm, the Redvolution’s primary objective, and the sooner the better.

I logged into the new Charlton TV audio service for yesterdays game, and found it quite easy to use. I was unsure as to whether it was working originally, as I was simply hearing a Radio London broadcast going around the grounds; then it went quiet but for St Andrews background noise (including the pitch announcer giving it loads!), before finally a commentary started a minute or so before kick off. I understand others had trouble maintaining reception, but that was not my experience. Half time was a quiet affair, and my wife thought she had lost the service, but that was simply the commentator going off for a cup for tea or similar and leaving the mike open. As long as you didn’t mind him repeating the score line every time he had to give updates to other radio stations then you got a pretty good service I thought.

The match itself saw Pardew start with Sam instead of Varney, the only change from the previous week, but it didn’t take long for Birmingham to score, danger-man McFadden picking up a cleared corner on the edge of the penalty area and just as he had done so for Everton a couple of years back, firing home a great shot, this time past Weaver (left).

Charlton battled hard though, and a break out of defence eventually saw Bouazza control the ball on the edge of the area and volley home into the roof of the net. Five minutes later, Gray chased down a long ball over the top and shot across Taylor to give the Addicks the lead.

Both teams had further chances but Charlton hung on to go into half-time in front.

Sadly, the two Weaver mistakes put the Addicks straight onto the back foot soon after half time, and though Quarshie was sent off for a second booking with half an hour left, the extra man Charlton had was not allowed to pay off and the blue-noses hung on for all the spoils.

It is fair to say that Charlton have played much better in parts of the last two games than they had been for a month previously, but doing so for 20 or 30 minutes here and there (like we have against Bristol City, Plymouth, Birmingham, Burnley, Barnsley, Wolves, etc) are not enough to win matches in this division. The balance of the team is better, at last, now that Pardew has finally brought in Semedo to play the holding role in midfield, and other players who are either out of form (Varney, Ambrose) or too lightweight (Wright, Crainie) have been shifted out of the starting eleven, and that has helped too. But it is too little too late to make a significant impact on this league; hopefully, the one major change that still needs to be made (and soon) will have the right impact and the Addicks can start to move up the league once results improve.

Sadly, with two further tough games to look forward to, the required improvement may be some time yet in coming. By the time we get to the Southampton and Blackpool games, we may well be into double figures of matches since a win, and that run will just have to stop if we are not to remain in the relegation zone for much of the rest of the season.

I’m proud to be a Charlton fan, and I will always carry on supporting my club; I just wish we had a different manager, because the one we have currently isn’t good enough! The kids who support this club deserve better.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Week Off from Singing the Blues (laryngitis rules OK!)

The next Charlton game in this oh-so-eventful season is away at one of the pre-season divisional favourites, Birmingham City. Not an easy game then, on paper, but actually, where Alan Pardew is concerned, he has nothing to lose going into the game. After a point last week at Plymouth that could have been three, the pressure seems to have been lifted off his shoulders somewhat, and backed by the fact that he and other club officials have been singing his virtue at every opportunity recently, it does look as if Pards is going to be given a chance to sort out the mess he has created. Whether he is capable, in the time Charlton can afford, or not, is open for debate, but it is probably safe to say that the Redvolution will not be taking place after this weekends match; win, lose, or draw.

The manager obviously won over a few hearts and minds at the recent supporters club meeting, where he answered questions succinctly. However, it is tough when you are a fan of a football club to ask one of your heroes (and yes, anyone employed by Charlton is my hero, even Rick!) a tough question like – when are you going to let someone else have a go at cleaning up the mess you have made. The one question from the floor that got anywhere near the mark – Are you going to resign? – was always going to be followed with a categoric denial, and a call to arms. With ample media training at the disposal of all football related staff these days, Pards would probably have answered these questions in a way that made him sound confident, in control, and with purpose, thereby hiding all the very elements where he has fallen foul over recent months.

It was a triumph in hiding the problems; well done to the club – all of us fans love you again!
But the trouble is we still have the same problems with the tactics, team structure, and confidence, that we have had most of the time since Pardew took over. In two years, he has failed to deliver.

So where do we go from here? Well, with Ambrose now off on loan at Ipswich, that takes one enigma out of the equation; with Zheng Zhi also unlikely to feature this side of Xmas, the balance of the side is changed with no apparent player able to play "in the hole" behind the forward(s). The strikers themselves are now only likely to get any sort of service from the flanks, due to the lack of midfield creativity, and so that is the area where Pards needs to concentrate.

Step forward Charlton’s wingers – Lloyd Sam and Hameur Bouazza. The fly in the ointment though could be Pardew’s willingness to have Luke Varney on the pitch, even though our man from the Midlands is going through a crisis of confidence that even Sarah Palin would struggle to cope with. Varney has been tried down the channels, through the middle, out wide, and still he has failed to handle the pressure that a goal or two would relieve. As Pardew publicly blamed him for the initial goal conceded last week ( a key area that every forward needs to cover!), I do think that his starting position in this match will go elsewhere.

That means that Andy Gray is almost certain to get another game, which is amazing considering that Pardew said he would not be available for the next three weeks or so just prior to the Barnsley home game due to personal problems.

This is the team I expect Pards to send out in search of a result at St Andrews –

Nicky Weaver
Yassin Moutaouakil
Linvoy Primus
Mark Hudson
Kelly Youga
Jose Semedo
Matt Holland
Nicky Bailey
Hameur Bouazza
Andy Gray

Subs from Elliott, Basey, Crainie, Wright, Shelvey, Wagstaff, Dickson, McLeod, Todorov.

It’s quite an interesting reserves bench shown above, which if you remove Toddy from the equation, are all pretty young (though not quite to the Arsenal League Cup team level!). One day, eh?

The Blue Noses will be seeing this game as the one to get their season back on track; without a win in three games, they have slipped back behind midland rivals Wolves, and with Reading hot on their heels and banging in the goals, they will not want to drop too many more points at this stage of the season. Some of the older Charlton players will be able to re-acquaint themselves with Marcus Bent, who is just about capable of making the starting eleven for a Championship side these days. The obvious danger man though, is James McFadden, who could give Yassin a bit of a troublesome afternoon if he allowed time on the ball.

I would love the Charlton revival heralded last week by fans and the like to continue from Devon to the second city, but I just cannot see anything other than a defeat. The manner of the loss is what will count again, as nobody really expects Charlton to gain anything but a few bruises from the match. Pedro45 score forecast is a 2-0 defeat.

The only way around this is for the team to play very solidly, and frustrate the home forwards. If you can compete and be strong against Bent, he is unlikely to be able to lay off decent ball, but the issue is are Primus and Hudson capable of doing so? The midfield will also need to shine, as that is another area where Brum have been solid this year; Holland and Bailey will need to compete and win the area from Carsley and the like. My one-to-watch this week is Nicky Bailey; due a storming game, if he is the player that can step up from a lower league and drive Charlton up the table, then this is the sort of game where he needs to start to shine.

From these comments, you will see that the key is to stop them playing, while making the most of any chances that do come Charlton’s way. Sadly, this has been the Addicks problem all season – we have not been able to stop other teams, and it has been easy for them to stop us; chances have been squandered, and any luck that has come the way of Charlton has been wasted.

Maybe it is time that this all changed? Maybe, just maybe, if Pardew has been able to maintain any of the confidence that came into the team last weekend at around 4.45, and if the side play without fear as they are not really expected to get anything from the game anyway, and if we have a whole heap of luck, then we could just about grab a draw. I’d love to think so.

The Redvolution is coming, just not yet!

Up the Addicks!

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Back to the Drawing, Board

Plymouth Argyle 2 Charlton Athletic 2

So near, yet so far. Another away draw that so nearly could have been three points yet wasn’t. Charlton took the lead deep into injury time at the end of the game, yet failed to hang on to the advantage as Mpenza volleyed home for Plymouth with the last kick of the match.

I’ll try to concentrate on positives from this game, though one or two of the negatives are still very apparent, and still need dealing with (not least, the manager!).

The game was a bit of a first for me; no Radio Kent commentary (despite what the official website said…) due to lack of funds meant I had to follow the game via the in-game text available from the Plymouth website (which was so much more detailed and better than the Charlton version by the way). I had tried to get on to the online audio commentary, but as with many others, could not log in. In addition to the text updates, I had the pleasure of reading the comments of those on Charlton Life who could listen to commentary, then post what was happening, and a fantastic job they did too!

Charlton made five changes as tinkerman Pardew reverted to old heads in this match. Matt Holland, Linvoy Primus and Hameur Bouazza all started, as did Kelly Youga and Jose Semedo. Out went Wright, Basey, Sam, Ambrose, and Crainie. Luke Varney played wide right, in a 4-5-1 formation, with both wide-men and the bolstered midfield supporting Andy Gray when they could.

Holland went close a couple of times in the first half, and brought decent saves out of the Plymouth ‘keeper. But then, as seems to always happen, Plymouth scored with their first effort on target – a header from a corner where the marking was terrible. Pardew has helped Varney’s deteriorating confidence by blaming him for slipping, though why he would be marking the tallest opposition player I’m not sure?

At half time, it seemed to be same old same old; lots of possession, and intent, but ultimately no return.

The second half was similar, with Charlton battling away, yet getting not very far. Varney was hauled off for Sam, and Todorov came on for Holland in an effort to implant more attacking options. Then Semedo was carried off with Dickson coming on, so Gray had to move back into midfield.

Hudson brought another good save out of their ‘keeper, and Weaver was busy too.

Finally, Charlton found some return, when Youga headed home a Bailey corner with just four minutes to go.

Reading this on Charlton Life was quite thrilling, as more and more comments came in exulting the scorer (many after slagging him off repeatedly earlier it should be noted as he seemed to be the main culprit for the lack of marking at the first goal, contrary to what Pardew subsequently said…). Then, as the game moved into injury time, and all Addicks fans hoped for a final whistle, the mention of a penalty came, but who too? Turning to Sky Sports News at this point, it was to see that we had taken the lead through Andy Gray (left). Skipper Hudson (who by all accounts had a very solid game) had been tugged back at a free kick, and the referee had made a bold decision to award the away team what looked like a match winning penalty.

As I returned to my computer, it was to see a score flash of 2-2; great I thought, two minutes into injury time and we still cannot hang on for a win!

The final goal was once more was the result of a set piece, with a free kick headed up and volleyed in (very well it should be added) from the edge of the area.

I suppose if I had been happy with 1-1 then I should have been happy with the same point from 2-2, but there is that underlying sense of frustration that being a Charlton fan gives way too often!

Anyway, reports suggest that the team did much better this week, and that there was at least (and at last) some cohesion with the way they played. The problems with playing some members of the team that were either not contributing (Ambrose) or not strong enough (Wright), or not good enough in certain positions (Basey and Crainie) seems to have been dealt with, and hopefully the team can now settle down and not be tinkered with (except in a positive way) over coming weeks. That may be compromised by Semedo’s injury, but if the club is to bring in players on loan then that is one position that can be dealt with.

Then the next thing is to deal with Pardew – he’s not good enough to lead Charlton, but this away point, and the fact that he may be allowed to bring in one or two loan players suggest that he will be given (even) more time to sort out the mess he has created. Whether we get anything at Birmingham next week may now not be the (next) defining moment in his Charlton stewardship, but with not many winnable games in the near future (at least on paper), with Pardew in charge at any rate, how long must we give him until the Board do make the necessary change? We haven't won since early October, and it could now be after Xmas before we gain three points from one match... Bring on the Redvolution!

Well done to the players and to those supporters who made the trip and those who kept the commentary coming for those of us not fortunate enough to be able to listen in live.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Change We Need!

Now where have we heard that heading said before? Was it a few weeks back when Alan Pardew vowed to give some youngsters a game? Or was it a couple of weeks later when he said we needed experienced heads on the pitch in these grim times?

Maybe it was last January, just prior to when he got Cook, Sinclair, and Halford in on loan, or maybe it was when he waved the loan players all goodbye at various times not long afterwards.

If Pards did say those words, at any stage, never could they be more true than now: Change is needed at The Valley, but rather than on the pitch, it is the manager who should be changed. Alan Pardew, you should leave the club.

Now I know that Pards is meeting with one section of the supporters club tonight (provided he doesn’t get late advice from the solicitors that it would be better not to attend, as happened during the Zabeel on-off deal weeks with Chappell and Murray), and it would not surprise me one iota to hear from that meeting that he had issued a rallying cry; but where else can he go, but to offer upward hope? The club is in such dire straits on the pitch that Pardew will get a huge verbal abuse tonight. He will have to sit there and hope that whoever chairs the meeting offers him some protection, but I do hope that the fans majority view – which is that he should leave Charlton, and evident on at least two website polls this week – is allowed to be put across for him to answer directly.

Pardew will no doubt be prepared, and maybe if he made as much effort in preparing his team for a game each week, we wouldn’t be in such a low league position!

I cannot support any theory that Pards is just three games away from being a hero (provided we win them all…); quite frankly, we will be lucky to win three games in the remainder of 2008 based on what we have seen recently on the field of play.

No, it is time for him to go, and if he will not resign (and I would not if I were him by the way…), then the Board must act accordingly and do the right thing.

I ought to point out that I have nothing against the man personally, and I do hope that the meeting this evening is conducted properly and he is given the chance to speak – even if it is just to give fans the chance to hear him and listen to any explanation of why things are so bad.

It is my stated opinion, and has been for some weeks now, that he is not the man who should be in charge of picking the team at The Valley, and the Club and the manager are better off going their separate ways.

However, it does look likely that Pardew will still be in charge this weekend, and as such, I want to preview the game as best I can.

Pardew’s wish for any proposed loan signings have so far failed to materialised; whether this is due to negotiations taking longer than envisaged or if the Board are not willing to release the funds that would be necessary is unclear. What is sure is that Darren Powell – who played for the reserves in midweek - is not the answer, or even the question!

So Pardew merely has that enormous squad that he has had all season from which to choose. If only he had a loan signing or two, at least it would make picking the team easier as they would have to play.

The likelihood is that just one of the current loan signings – Martin Crainie - will get a start this Saturday at Plymouth, although after Pards blamed last weeks defeat on the loss of Linvoy Primus through injury, our old, ex-player, on loan, may get a look in if he has recovered.

The other certainties, as named by Pardew a couple of weeks ago are Nicky Weaver in goal, plus Mark Hudson, and Nicky Bailey.

So the rest of the team that Pards will need to choose from are:

Right Back – Yassin Moutaouakil or Jose Semedo; well, Yassin has done OK but without making any big splashes since he got back in the side, maybe that is him simply concentrating on cutting out any defensive errors? I’d stick with this Frenchman.

Left Back – Straight choice between Kelly Youga, Grant Basey or Semedo; I’d pick the Frenchman again, as he is a better defender which is what we need away from home. Some of Basey’s defensive play last week was awful, though he does offer more going forwards than Youga. Close one…

Right Wing and Left Wing – Lloyd Sam, Luke Varney, Hameur Bouazza, and Darren Ambrose are all playing for just two positions. Of course, the formation will go some way to deciding where Ambie plays, but I suspect that the 4-2-3-1 may get another start, and as such, Varney and Bouazza will get the nod out wide.

Central Midfield – If Pardew does go for this formation, then Ambrose will slot in behind the front man, and behind him, we can expect to see Matt Holland get the chance ahead of Josh Wright. Josh hasn’t done much wrong (although he is very raw) but Pards intimated last week that he needs more experience, and that can just mean Holland in midfield. Semedo would be good, but that experiment (which worked) last season seems to have been completely dropped…and JonJo Shelvey seems to be behind Wright in the current pecking order as far as Pards is concerned, though I’m not sure why?

Striker – If only we had one eh?!? Well, if Varney plays out wide, then it will be Andy Gray up front again, if his personal issues are resolved enough for him to travel, or we could be looking at another trial where we play Dickson, McLeod, or Todorov (who had a nice rest last weekend!). Mind you, if Toddy gets a go then I think Varney will be pushed up, with Ambie out wide, and Toddy in the hole. Pardee has lots of choicy!

This is the team I think he might start with –

Nicky Weaver

Yassin Moutaouakil
Mark Hudson
Martin Crainie

Kelly Youga
Matt Holland
Nicky Bailey
Darren Ambrose
Hameur Bouazza
Luke Varney
Andy Gray

Subs from – Elliott, Primus, Semedo, Basey, Wright, Shelvey, Sam, Dickson, McLeod, Todorov.

Sadly, as the T-shirts aren’t ready yet, Pedro45 will not be making the long trip to Devon this weekend, but as I predict a score forecast of another defeat – this time 2-0 – then I won’t be sorry. Even with the best Addicks side possible taking the field of play, without firm leadership, I cannot see any upturn in results. The sooner Pardew leaves, the sooner we can start to think positively about winning a game or two!

While Plymouth had a decent season last year before falling away toward the end (that seems familiar!), they were thought to have a weaker squad this season. That seemed to be evident from early results, but recently they have picked up, and did win five out of seven games. They then lost last weekend so will be hoping to bounce back. Without Ebanks-Blake; without Halmosi, they shouldn’t be feared, but then again, Charlton are petrified of anybody these days it seems.

My one-to-watch this week is going to be Mark Hudson; Gawd knows what he is thinking after joing a few months back. We need his leadership on the pitch as we are not getting enough off it. Oh, and maybe he can point out to Varney where the goal is?

I want Charlton to win, but I know that will only delay the inevitable for another ten days or so. With no Charlton fan expecting any points from the Plymouth or Birmingham games, I would rather lose if it meant confirming Pardew’s fate. If the Board will not make that judgement call soon, then I hope that we can at least get the odd-point here and there, because when a new manager takes over (and we will need one at some point this winter), he will need everything that we have in the pot if we are to survive relegation this season.

The Redvolution is now – it is change we need!

Up the Addicks!

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Welcome New Members of the Redvolution!

Two new blogs have surfaced this week, and both are new and willing members of the Pardew Out! Redvolution sweeping the Charlton blogosphere.

Danny Valley, possibly Frankie's younger brother, and Always a Better Day, another recent Redvolution convert are now posting.

With many other blogs, and Charlton Life, also backing the Redvolution, it can surely only be a matter of time before the deed is done and Pardew is shown the door. The sooner the better!

I'm toying with the ideas of selling "I joined the Redvolution" t-shirts at Home Park on Saturday - any takers if it gets off the ground? (It will have Pardew Out! on the back...)


Sunday, November 02, 2008

A Quantum of Solace

Charlton Athletic 1 Barnsley 3

I have lacked any motivation to write up a report on yesterdays game, it was that depressing, but having read most of the other Charlton blogs this morning, here’s what they are saying -

Charlton were a shambles.
New York Addick

…the team lacked passion, motivation, direction and leadership both on the field and off.
From the Hill to The Valley

The players should be good enough, and at present Pardew is not good enough.
Deepest Darkest

Once again throughout the game his body language was negative and passive.
Addicks Championship Diary

15 points from 15 games this season, what makes an average of 1 point per game but come on that is not good enough!
By the Sword

This is the problem, we have the players but the team spirit, the life blood of Lennie Lawrence and Curbishley teams is gone and that is not the responsibility of the players it is what managers are paid for and if Pards can't do it, then we need someone who can by the next home game. From the Hill to The Valley

As the waters rise above our manager, he seems ever more determined to stick with ways which really don't work.
Inspector Sands

We are not a team, we lack pride and passion and certainly there are too many players on the park who are not willing to give all for the shirt.
Charlton North Downs

The players are not playing for the manager.
Drinking During the Game

If Pardew is not removed we will be relegated.
Roehampton Addick

I have tired of his arrogance, his myriad of excuses and our poor performances and results.
New York Addick

He’s pretty much lost the fans and the players are giving no indication that they want to play for him.
Blackheath Addicted

These are not my words, but other bloggers. My position is clear - I have wanted the Redvolution for some time; Pardew must leave Charlton.

Charlton started the game yesterday with another tinkered team sheet; Josh Wright came back into the starting eleven, as did Grant Basey, and (surprisingly) Andy Gray. Within two minutes, the first goal was conceded, and before half time, two other set plays had seen the ball finish in the net behind Nicky Weaver.

Charlton’s only efforts were a Lloyd Sam volley that went over when it was 1-0; a Gray shot on the turn that went wide when it was 2-0; and a Darren Ambrose thunderbolt that was blocked.

With Hameur Bouazza on for the out of sorts Sam at half-time, the formation switched to the 4-2-3-1 that was tried initially against Bristol City, few other chances were manufactured though. Mark Hudson scored in much the same way Todorov did last Saturday – from a Basey free kick wide right, but it was too little, too late.

"Pardew out" sang the crowd; AP stood with arms folded, immobile.

Whether the Board need to inform the Stock Exchange first, and are therefore leaving news of his departure until tomorrow morning, or if they will give him two tough away games at Plymouth and Birmingham to seal his own fate, remains to be seen.
One thing is now certain – “SAP” must go ASAP!

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