Sunday, December 14, 2008

Crunch Derby Game

You bet; both Charlton and Derby are desperate for points, and both have terrible recent results. For once, in recent times, it seems that the Addicks are playing a team that actually have more pressure on them than we do – Derby manager Paul Jewell is rumoured to be facing the chop if they don’t win in SE7. Mind you, bearing in mind Charlton’s home record this season, even Arsene Wenger might be under similar strain if his team couldn’t win at The Valley!

Charlton themselves have no illusions about changing manager if defeat is suffered – the Board have announced that Phil Parkinson is to be the man in charge until a strategic review in January. That does take some pressure off actually, as at least the blogging community and media will not now be predicting a change at the top prior to every game should we lose. Parky has his role for another four games minimum then, and hopefully he can start to pick up some vital points during that time.

Lady luck hasn’t been on the Addicks side this season, and maybe not for quite some time it seems. While we have benefited from the odd decision that gone our way (Burnley’s early disallowed goal for instance), other single decisions have gone against Charlton, like the ball being out of play before QPR scored their first goal. However, overall, I think we fans will all agree that whatever can go wrong has. Last Tuesday, Jay McEveley’s luck ran out, as he has a bad dislocation of his shoulder, while Martin Crainie had a similar injury in the previous game, but his popped back in. I know which of the two defenders I would prefer in my team, but Crainie remains available, and McEveley will not for quite some time.

At least we do have cover at full back, and though Parky obviously doesn’t consider that Kelly Youga or Yassin Moutasouakil are good enough for the battle we currently have on our hands, either or both will be needed soon, when the current loan arrangements start to run out.

Indeed, this is the last game of his loan spell for Linvoy Primus; the ex-Charlton youngster filled a need and a gap in his early weeks at The Valley, but slowly the odd injury, age, and finally too many other loanees have meant he has not played in recent weeks. All this after the club had to get special dispensation to allow him the opportunity to play in this match as he was originally due to go back to Portsmouth on Saturday, the original date for this game. As I cannot see Charlton wanting to make his signing permanent, and he is unlikely to feature against Derby due to the five loan players only rule, we will have to bode Linvoy farewell for a second time, and wish him well for the future.

Parkinson has intimated that they will be changes to the team that lost against Coventry so limply, so where else might they be?

Probably up front, as Parky’s experiment of re-instating Izale McLeod to the first team went almost as badly as did Alan Pardew’s (spit!). OK, Izzy did win that (dodgy) equalising penalty, but generally he was off the pace, offside, and off with the fairies most of the match.

In central midfield, Charlton also have continuing problems; Matt Holland had a poor match against the Sky Blues, playing as a sub after McEveley’s injury, but he wasn’t as poor as Nicky Bailey, who is a caricature of the player we bought form Southend in August. Bailey has quite simply lost all semblance of confidence, as the team has slowly slid down the league. He is still fully committed, but his passing is atrocious at the moment, as is his judgment. Whether the turning point was his gift of a goal to Bristol City in October, but he hasn’t played anywhere near his early potential since. Without Therry Racon, who seems to be one of those players that will never be seen to his full potential due to poor luck with injury, Jose Semedo seems certain to be asked to fill one position, while I’m sure Jonjo Shelvey and Josh Wright are also both keen to break back into the first team. Parky does therefore have options here.

This is the side I think will run out in front of the Sky TV cameras tomorrow night –

Nicky Weaver
Martin Crainie
Mark Hudson
Jonathan Fortune
Kelly Youga
Jose Semedo
Matt Holland
Keith Gillespie
Hameur Bouazza
Deon Burton
Andy Gray

Subs from Elliott, Moutaouakil, (Primus), Basey, Bailey, Wright, Shelvey, Sam, McLeod, Todorov, Dickson, (Waghorn).

Of course, Derby will be buoyed by the attitude that anyone can just turn up and beat Charlton at the moment, and with (still current Charlton player but out on loan with a view to a permanent transfer) Luke Varney in their playing ranks, they do have a little bit of inside information I guess. Varney had a bit of a love hate relationship with Addicks fans – although he always tried and tried and tried, he simply didn’t score enough goals to win over fans who remember inside forwards who regularly scored; no, we don’t have to keep harping back to Killer, another Charlton player who went over to Derby from The Valley, but just to Garry Nelson. Nelse ran the channels in almost exactly the same manner that Varney does, but he was loved, because when he had a chance, he usually buried it. He did have the odd bad patch, but unlike Varney, he didn’t come with a £2million price tag that, to some, should guarantee goals. Personally, I will thank Varney for his contribution, but remember him as someone who didn’t quite live up to expectation, even though we will always remember him for scoring winning goals against Croydon (a bit like Kitson, Rommedahl, and Todorov!).

Pedro45 is hoping that Charlton do finally get a change of fortune, and that any luck going, especially for referees who seems to have a loathing from being in anyway biased in favour of Charlton this season, will finally be the good kind. I wil forecast a 1-1 draw, but hope for a performance to match that of the previous TV appearance this season when we played the pants off Reading (for most of the game).

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be Deon Burton. Playing against one of his former clubs, Burton will be hoping to have a better game than the man he replaced in the red shirt (Varney) and add to his opening Addicks goal last week. Burton shows excellent hold up skills in each game - putting Andy Gray to shame! - and has been unlucky with goal bound efforts that brought good saves against Blackpool and Southampton. It is about time he got his goal from open play..

This may not be pretty; it may not be nice; and it may not be easy to watch; but what Charlton need is to start to fight on the pitch – not in a fisticuffs sort of way (the last thing we need is players getting sent off!) but in a battling manner, fighting for every 50-50 ball and wining them. Possession in this division is one of the keys to winning games, and Charlton have a poor percentage record in almost every game they have played in 2008/9. When Parky took over for the QPR game, we immediately saw the payers trying to keep hold of the ball, not give it to the oppo, and building confidence by knocking it around. They might not get much time in this match with Varney buzzing around looking for errors, but if the team can try not to give the ball away cheaply, then we should see an improvement.

The players and fans now know that Parkinson is in charge until after Xmas, so let’s hope that they show the commitment the club needs at this time. One win, or even one point, will not prevent relegation this season, but it could start to raise confidence that could lead to that very outcome. Let’s hope so eh?!?

Come on you Reds!

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