Friday, December 19, 2008


The last game before Xmas and for Charlton, if not a critical match, it is a critical time. Off the bottom of the league merely on goal difference, the run of 13 games without a win needs to come to an end fairly soon, or those teams sitting just outside the relegation area will seem a long way away, points wise.

Will the victory, which was as close as you can get on Monday, finally arrive in Norfolk tomorrow? Well, I suppose there is a good chance, but then again, we thought that we might see Addicks wins against Blackpool, Coventry and Derby, and all we got was one measly point from those three games.

On the plus side, the form shown against Derby was much better. True, you cannot actually get much worse than the way Charlton played in the Coventry game (even though an Arsenal-supporting friend who went said he thought we were unlucky…), but it was the leap from being utterly useless, to having some style, passion and much effort which pleased, even if the final result - courtesy of that 95th minute equaliser - did not. The only thing now is to get the minds right so that games that are there to be won can be on the pitch; and that role falls squarely on the managers shoulders.

Now that the revolving door has closed on the potential option of having Sam Allardyce running the club, I suppose the next crop of names will include a certain Paul Ince who will, no doubt, be desperate to get back into football management quickly. While Sunderland are manager-less, I guess we will always be looking at sloppy seconds, if we are going to be looking for a new manager outside of the club at all. And that decision will depend on how Phil Parkinson does over the next two weeks, when his, and Charlton’s season destiny could be shaped.

If Parky does get that illusive win (or even two!), then he is in with a very good chance of keeping the reins at the club until season end and maybe beyond. But the inevitable pressure is that he does need a win, after five efforts have left him still wanting.

The team that he sends out to try to get that at Carrow Road against Norwich is likely to be pretty similar to that which started on Monday night. Parky has tried out most of the squad during his short tenure, and he must stick by those that give their all in the Addicks shirt. As Rob Elliott (left) did little wrong, and we now know that Weaver’s hip injury sustained up at Blackpool has not healed fully, the local lad is likely to get to keep the gloves on this week too. It was my first chance to see Elliott play on Monday, as I missed the away Plymouth game last year and the August home Yeovil cup game in which he played. He is bigger than he looks when warning up, and has a big hoof of a punt on him, which did create a few problems for the Derby defence. On blustery days – and tomorrow may be one of those I hear? – his kicking and overall distribution could be beneficial. Weaver will no doubt sit on the bench until Elliott fails, or until his hip is better and his experience is preferred.

The defence did quite well on Monday, even though some of the many crosses into the box were not dealt with properly. Martin Crainie had a decent, busy, game, and he has little competition with Yassin Moutaouakil out of favour, while Grant Basey was preferred over Kelly Youga at left back. Grant may offer more going forwards but Youga is the better defender (albeit liable to lapses in concentration…), but I doubt Parky will switch them in this match. In the middle, Mark Hudson and Jonathan Fortune will carry on the better work they have done since being reunited, and hope for a welcome clean sheet?

The midfield four are also likely to be unchanged – Lloyd Sam was most people’s choice as man of the match on Monday, so he should get the nod ahead of Keith Gillespie, while Hameur Bouazza was not long ago the player of the month, even if his missed chances are starting to cost the team dearly (much as Varney’s did earlier in the season!). I expect them both to play again. Holding fort in the middle will be Jose Semedo, and Nicky Bailey. Semedo does all the dirty work in central midfield, and his job is to get the ball and give it to someone who can make better use of it than he can. He is low in confidence, but works hard. My worry about him is he sometimes gets drawn toward the ball too easily, when others are closer to covering, and allows the play to bypass him. If he can control that urge, and hold his position in the middle more often, he will be more influential. Bailey hit rock bottom confidence-wise in the Coventry game, but Parkinson has shown faith in him by keeping him in the team. Not wanting to be caught in possession, Bailey seemed to whack the ball forwards first time at every opportunity on Monday, and that in a funny way might help him in the long term. If he does a similar job on Saturday, the forwards will have the chance to run down the ball and relief pressure, which can only be a good thing with our defence!

The forwards doing the chasing are likely to be Andy Gray again and, if he has recovered from the apparent dead-leg he got in the first ten minutes on Monday, Martyn Waghorn. Waggy has signed on for an extra month at The Valley, which is excellent news; fresh from his first senior goal, and first non-defeat, he will be keen to stay in the team now that the too-many loanees problem seems resolved.

This is the side I expect Parky to pick to ruffle the Canary feathers –

Rob Elliott
Martin Crainie
Jonathan Fortune
Mark Hudson
Grant Basey
Lloyd Sam
Jose Semedo
Nicky Bailey
Hameur Bouazza
Andy Gray
Martyn Waghorn

Subs from Weaver, Moutaouakil, (Primus), Youga, Holland, Wright, Shelvey, (Gillespie), Dickson, Todorov, (Burton), McLeod.

Norwich are having an indifferent season, splattered with inconsistent results. The arrival of ex-Addick Leroy Lita on loan from Reading coincided with a glut of goals but they seem to have dried up recently as he has left and other loan or trial players have arrived. Ten million pound man Carl Cort (the player that Bobby Robson allegedly signed for Newcastle in mistake when he wanted Jason Euell!) may play some part in the match, having recently arrived on trial, provided his knees don’t give way again.

Pedro45 is going to stick with his recent predictions of 1-1 draws, as that is showing a continuation of the better form from the Addicks. It may not be pretty, and it may not be kind, but we need to grab anything we can in the next few games.

My one-to-watch in this match, having picked players who didn’t take part in the last two games(!) is going to be Martyn Waghorn (left) ; I’m sure he will be keen not to become this correspondent’s hat-trick on non-participants, and hopefully he can do what Clive Mendonca and Andy Hunt both did at Carrow Road some years back and get the right sort of hat-trick! Waggy showed he has a good football brain this week, and his link up play with Andy Gray was good, with the promise of being even better than that. Consecutive games are a good way of improving their relationship on the field, and I’m sure that the next goal in his career is not that far away.

In finishing, I’d just like to wish all readers of this blog a wonderful Xmas that brings them all that they want. A special Hi to fellow Addickted Pete, Sophie, Lennon, Malcolm, Spongey, John and his kids, Laura, Alan, Glynn, all the other bloggers, and everyone of the Blackburn 12! Now if we all stick together and wish hard, maybe Santa will bring Charlton three points?

Up the Addicks!

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