Monday, January 26, 2009

This, That and the Other

Sheffield Wednesday 4 Charlton Athletic 1
Sheffield United 2 Charlton Athletic 1

Home from holidays, and plenty has been going on since my last post…while I was away, Charlton got beaten twice in the league, and once in the cup, but did manage to win a game (the 3rd round cup victory over Norwich..).

I’ve not seen the goals or highlights from any of these games, so cannot pass much judgment; it seems the defeats to Forest (described to me by a friend a “shocking”), and Wednesday (described by Phil Parkinson to us all as “shocking”) are best forgotten, while the cup victory was a surprise, and the subsequent cup defeat not so, despite an improved showing.

With all the comings and goings of loan signings, at least the team will (should?) have some sort of consistency over the next crucial three months, although we are now starting to get hit by a crop of injuries that could hurt us, but alternatively, could provide the opportunity for some players to make their mark and a name for themselves.

Since I was at The Valley for the Norwich game, Jay McEveley has gone back to Derby (injured and released early); Martyn Waghorn has rejoined the stiffs at Sunderland (a victim of having too many loan signings originally, and then left out due to the formation Parky used…); Then there was a goodbye to Hameur Bouazza, being recalled by Fulham only to join Birmingham on loan. Tom Soares has joined on loan from Stoke and Graeme Murty from Reading; Matt Spring has signed permanently from Luton (via Sheffield United). Therry Racon is now fit again after injury and Zheng Zhi is almost fit (and not going to be transferred this week it seems?); however, Jose Semedo is out for couple of months, and Mark Hudson is doubtful for the midweek game. Oh, and Izale Mcleod has been loaned to Millwall until the end of the season, and I understand has already started to fluff chances for them (good boy!).

With youngsters like Jonjo Shelvey, Josh Wright, Scott Wagstaff, Darren Randolph, and even Saturday’s substitute Jack Clark pushing for places, Parky still has plenty of players from which to choose. The problem he seems to have though is fitting them together with the senior pro’s and into a winning team – the choices all over the park do seem to be endless!

If we start with the goalkeepers, you will get the picture…

Nicky Weaver is the experienced pro, but he has some sort of hip injury, which came when he fell heavily at Blackpool in early December. Fit enough to play the following week, he then joined the ranks of the hurting too much (back ache from picking the ball out of the net to much?), and hasn’t been seen since. This gave Rob Elliott a chance, and he has done OK, but Elliott was historically always behind Darren Randolph in the reserve goalkeeper pecking order, and now Randolph is back and free from his poor loan experience at Hereford, he has seemed to have been given the nod as first choice over Elliott. Randolph came into the team in the cup replay at Norwich, kept a clean sheet, and therefore his place for the next two league games, but Elliott played on Saturday. I think Randolph will be back on Tuesday night.

As Parky seems to dislike the clubs only true right back, Yassin Moutaouakil has only played on the cup games (when loanees have been cup-tied); he seems to have done OK, showing his known potential going forward and his known weakness defending. With Murty probably available (he did get injured at Wednesday, and would not have played on Saturday if not cup-tied, so could still be out?), Parky will almost certainly bring him back into the team if fit. The central defence make up is coloured by Hudson’s knock; if he is not fit, then Kelly Youga (who allegedly “played” left back on Saturday) will partner Jonathan Fortune, unless Parky throws the ball to Matt Holland and plays him at centre half again? I have a feeling that Hudson will see this as a game he may wish to miss and that will mean a recall for Grant Basey at left back and a surprise recall for Matty. Fortune has fond memories of scoring in this fixture, so let’s hope history repeats itself on that score. Defensive back up is short, so Moots or Youga should make the bench.

The midfield options are enormous – Parky can pick any option in his four or five man midfield featuring Spring, Nicky Bailey, Holland, Shelvey, Wright, Racon, Lloyd Sam, Darren Ambrose, and Soares. The question of who lines up kind of depends on whether Parky plays two up front or just the one.

If the choice is to start with 4-5-1, then I would expect to see Deon Burton start, with Ambrose in the hole behind, and a middle four of Sam, Bailey, Spring, and Soares. If Parky feels that now is the time to unleash Saturday’s scorer Chris Dickson for real, then he will possibly play alongside Andy Gray (with Burton on the bench). This would leave the midfield as above with Ambrose also benched. Bearing in mind our opponents have conceded eight goals in their last two games (which is worse than Charlton!!!), maybe we ought to attack them from the outset?

This is the side I would like Parky to send out under the floodlights –

Darren Randolph
Graeme Murty
Mark Hudson
(or Matt Holland)
Jonathan Fortune
Grant Basey
Tom Soares
Nicky Bailey
Matt Spring
Lloyd Sam
Chris Dickson

Andy Gray

Subs from Elliott, Moutaouakil, Youga, Shelvey, Racon, Wright, Ambrose, Burton, Wagstaff.

Pedro45 hasn’t seen a game for over three weeks, hasn’t seen a win for over three months, and hasn’t seen a good season for over three years. I predict that our run has to come to an end sooner or later (please) and that a 2-0 winning score line would be just the job.

My one-to-watch in this derby game is going to be Chris Dickson; he has the gift of knowing where the goal is, and how to get the ball into the net – now is the time to let him loose. He's been on the transfer list for over a month and nobody has made a decent enough bid for him, and this game is the last in which he will have a chance to shine if he really wants to leave The Valley this month; a goal or two may just push the asking price up a bit which would be no bad thing and work out well for all parties.

It’s been a tough three months or so to be a Charlton supporter; 19 league games without a win is a record that nobody at the club should be proud of. I can remember so pretty bad Charlton teams in the past (I’ve witnessed relegation years in ’72, ’80, ’90, ’99, and 2007, and some pretty close scrapes in other seasons too…), but none of those teams ever went this long without winning a match. This squad is far superior to others that have represented the Addicks in the recent past – regular players like Ray Tumbridge, Peter Shaw, Bobby Goldthorpe, Kim Grant, and Lawrie Madden were far worse than anything we have on the books now (the debate is open however!). Now is as good a time as any to end the winless league run, otherwise one or two of the current crop might start to feature in future worst ever Addicks elevens team lists, and we don’t want that do we!

Come on you reds!

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