Friday, April 24, 2009

A Case of Pride

Charlton’s last away game of this season is against Derby County, at Pride Park. You would like to think that with a six-game unbeaten run on the go anticipation was high, but with Charlton firmly rooted to bottom spot in the Championship, even with Southampton’s ten-point deduction if they do get themselves out of the bottom three places, most of us just want the season to be over.

The fact that Charlton have led their last two games by two goals, coupled with that unbeaten sequence of results, just makes the league position even more galling; how we would have appreciated an unbeaten run of three, four, or five games around Xmas. But it is just too late – five draws and the solitary recent win have done nothing to improve Charlton’s Championship finishing place, and little in fact to the overall points total.

So a game against Derby, who are not in the best of form at present, could see a continuation of our recent results, if Phil Parkinson keeps his options within the confines of the current starting eleven.

Parky was as frustrated as anyone at The Valley on Tuesday night, as a winning advantage was tossed away for the second time in four days, and he did say that he will not play any of the youngsters at the club unless they are ready to take a full part. Tamer Tuna was one who did make a semi-breakthrough, getting into first the squad, and then a place on the bench which allowed him fifteen minutes or so of game time. Chris Solly was, according to Parky a few weeks back, also very close to first team squad inclusion, and with our current right back only a loanee, I don’t really see why Parky is delaying playing him. If Solly had been given a chance to make his debut on Tuesday, and been found wanting by a very professional Cardiff team, then he would easily have been forgiven. The problem now is that he could play against Derby, and face up to one of the better right sided players in this league – Kris Commons. With Gary Teale likely to play on the opposite flank, Solly could have a tough afternoon.

So should Parky play him, or continue with Danny Butterfield? To me, he must give Solly a go, as to debut him in the last game of the season against Norwich -where they will almost certainly require a win to stay up – could be seen as opting for a weakened team by the League.

Elsewhere, I cannot see too many changes; Rob Elliott made a couple of excellent first half saves on Tuesday, and the rest of the defence seemed to cope pretty well until late in the game during both recent home matches. The midfield five are pretty consistent and getting better as a unit with every game they play together, and Jonjo Shelvey is being protected by being used in the more forward role until late in games. That just leaves a choice between our non-strikers for the forwards berth.

Tresor Kandol was obviously Parky’s preferred choice until his illness on Saturday, and with Deon Burton scoring in that game, Parky gave him another go for an hour against Cardiff. Kandol is way ahead of Chris Dickson, Svetislav Todorov, and Tamer Tuna so I would expect him to regain his starting place this weekend.

Personally, I see very little chance of Parky switching to a possibly more attacking 4-4-2 formation, as this would mean pushing Shelvey either deeper or to the bench, which is unlikely. It’s also unlikely that any of those recently out injured (Semedo, Ambrose) will make any sort of appearance.

This is how I hope Parky will send them out –

Rob Elliott
Chris Solly
Darren Ward
Mark Hudson
Kelly Youga
Therry Racon
Zheng Zhi
Nicky Bailey
Lloyd Sam
Jonjo Shelvey
Tresor Kandol

Subs from Randolph, Weaver, Butterfield, Moutaouakil, Basey, Holland, Spring, Wagstaff, Tuna, Dickson, Burton, Todorov.

Derby are in a similar position to that of Blackpool whom we played last Saturday; they are almost clear of the possibility of relegation, but not certain. They have a few good players but need to work as a unit to win games. One player that Charlton will hope has another useless game against them is Luke Varney, anti-hero to Addicks, and who was pretty atrocious when he played in the Derby team that drew at The Valley back in December. Varney has got recent form though, and did have a successful loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday that only ended last week. Let’s all hope he plays like he did for most of his time with Charlton, then we’ll be fine…

Pedro45 is hoping that some sort of results continuation is maintained over the final two games, and I predict a 1-1 draw at Pride Park. The problem of conceding late goals – as we did well into injury time in the return fixture, as well as the last two matches – must be addressed, whether that is to protect a lead, or hold a draw, or to save from further defeat. The way to address this is on the training pitch, and though the management don’t have much time between games at this stage of the season, they must come up with some sort of angle to solve the issue. This was the main reason why the crowd were so upset on Tuesday; to throw away one two-goal lead is stupid, to throw away two two-goal leads is criminal! Deal with it Parky and co, while you have a chance please!

My one-to-watch in this match is going to be another of our midfield players; I seem to be cycling between them at present, but most have come up with the goods when picked out! Therry Racon (left) is the pick this time, and he will again be crucial in keeping the midfield tight, making tackles, taking the simple passing option when necessary, and pushing the team forwards at every opportunity. If Therry gets space, he can control the match, and with ZiZi, Bailey, Shelvey and Sam all playing well he could be the match-winner for the Addicks again.

In a perverse sort of way, if Charlton finish the season strongly with a couple of wins, and if Southampton do too, then the points deduction of the south coast team could see Charlton finish in 23rd position, rather than the expected 24th and bottom. The alternative is that one of the other teams that are relegated, and therefore one of our main competitors for promotion next year, will be starting the season ten points shy of everyone else. Maybe that should be why we want a Forest win tomorrow? It doesn’t matter that much though, and hopefully Charlton will elongate that unbeaten streak…

Up the Addicks!

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Pedro I salute you because you out of all the great Bloggers seem to be the most positive.

All the best CND.
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