Friday, January 16, 2009

It's Brightening Up a Bit...

Norwich City 0 Charlton Athletic 1

In some ways, Charlton's season so far could be argued to mirror the weather I'm having on this holiday(!): Bright sunny mornings initially (home wins over Swansea and Reading in August) followed by rainy afternoons (defeats away at Preston etc). Then some prolonged rain, with the odd sunny period (Pardew's last ten games) and then from Sunday, 54 hours of constant heavy rain which replicates our 18-game winless streak during which time Phil Parkinson took over as manager.

To say I was happy that we beat Norwich would be an understatement, but surprisingly, here on the day of the game, it didn't rain on Wednesday - a sign of better times? Let's hope so. Darren Ambrose scored the winning goal as early as the sixth minute, so wonders never cease!

In a strange way, if you had seen the team that Parky picked beforehand, you would probably have felt that he had already conceded the game, and merely wanted to protect certain players from injury and yellow cards. In came home-grown youngsters Darren Randolph, Josh Wright, Scott Wagstaff, and Rashid Yussoff was on the bench along with the even younger Jonjo Shelvey (given a rest...). The fact that this team, with up to 12 players who could be called home-grown in the squad of 18, held on, not only shows how poor Norwich were (a negative view, with Roeder since being sacked), but how well they actually did (the positive aspect).

Actually, since then we have have some sunshine even (a couple of hours on Thursday afternoon) and when we woke this morning, it was positively tremendous weather, with clear blue skies and very little in the way of cloud even out to sea.

Now I'm not expecting everything with the Addicks to be hunky dory from here to season end, but maybe, just maybe, we have turned the corner and brighter prospects are in store? Sure, it did rain a little this afternoon (it normally does in the afternoon's here...), but that has even stopped and it is brightening up a bit as I type.

I cannot see Parky sticking with the same starting eleven at Sheffield Wednesday tomorrow - the first of consecutive trips to the city, as we now meet United in the 4th round of the cup next weekend - even though NYA has intimated that to not do so would be an injustice to the youngsters that finally made Charlton a winning team again. More likely is that Rob Elliott will be restored in goal, Graeme Murty will come in at right back (for Moutaouakil), Matty Spring will play in midfield (for Wright), and Jonjo will be restored to the starting side (for Wagstaff). It may still be 4-5-1, but the options are better with these players starting I feel - Ambrose and Shelvey can alternate between playing in the gap and wide left (or right).

The hope, and let's face it we are clinging to any faint hope we have at present, is that we can follow up the cup win with another in the league, and get that 17-game without a league win monkey off our back in the same week too. Wednesday are no great shakes - they scored twice in a minute (including arguably a wonder goal) at The Valley some months back, but then had to cling on luckily for the win. I'm not really sure what their form is like, or how they have been faring at home recently, but if we play well, then the fact that they, and their fans, will be expecting an easy win against the league's rock bottom team could work in our favour. I also presume that the cold weather has relented enough to allow the game to proceed?

If we can start to put in more consistent displays between now and May, then at least the sunset we have been hoping to see (any sort actually, as there has been too much cloud on the horizon every day so far to make even the merest hope of seeing the sun as it sets impossible!), could be a good one.

The Norwich result has given the club - players, management, and fans - a lift;
what we now need to see is more of the same, and sunnier times ahead.

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I was at the game on Tuesday - we certainly deserved to win.We had an uncharacteristic solid look about us, could be the good performance our goalkeeper Darren Randolph, he deserves another chance. Norwich did not play well - I have seen a fair bit of them as they are my local team,but we looked as if we were "up"for the game and after Ambrose,scored we never looked like losing. Mark Hudson was outstanding in defence, Yassin Moutaouakils running and defending also caught the eye. Well done the Addicks.
John in Norfolk
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