Monday, May 10, 2010

End of Season Report

Charlton’s players have numbered many once more during a season, and below I assess how well they have done, from stars like Christian Dailly, to youngsters like Chris Solly, to forgotten-men like Andy Gray and Carl Ikeme. We also have to think about who may be at the club next season, bearing in mind the finances of the club, the contract situation of various players, and the needs of maintaining a winning team, notwithstanding the play-off games. It’s all opinion of course, but I’m happy for Phil Parkinson and Richard Murray to act on my views; you may, of course, hold contrary opinion.

Whether you liker them or not, they were the class of 2009/10 – in alphabetical order:

Nicky Bailey

Oh Nicky Bailey. Our ginger captain was in the goals and looking very good up until Xmas, but has been somewhat muted since. Playing wide left, he still found himself able to get into very good goal scoring positions early in the season, and often put in very good stints from out on the left wing too. Even when restored to the central midfield berth the goals continued to flow but then, for some reason, they just stopped between January and this weekend. Why? Well, I do think that luck has played a big part as we have often seen Bailey hitting the target but ‘keepers (Southampton for instance) making good saves or the woodwork getting in the way. But injury has also caught up with him, and he has been playing with a bad shoulder for some time, plus knee and ankle problems. Bailey also comes in for some heavy tackles during games, and the opposition have been keen to rough him up when they can. Sadly, some of this underhand work has led to Bailey going down far too easily, often clutching his face, and a number of opposition players have seen red because of this. I do think it is good that a lot of Charlton fans are amongst his biggest critics over this, and hopefully Nicky will rely on his positive attributes in future as he has plenty. The problem with Bailey is that - as one of Charlton’s few saleable assets - if we don’t win promotion then he is likely to be sold. I’m not sure that we will get the £3 million that was mooted last summer, but any reasonable offer from a poor Premiership team or good Championship club would suffice I suspect. The problem is that most of those that might make a bid (West Brom, Forest, Leicester, Pompey, Hull, Burnley, Cardiff, Ipswich, etc) have little or no money, and that might be a quandary for the Board to consider. If we do go up though, I would like him to stay, as he is one of only a few players on the squad who could compete at that level in my opinion.

Grant Basey

Grant Basey started the season as the reserve left back, and ended the season on crutches, courtesy of a horrendous foul by Dominic Blizzard of Bristol Rovers. That nasty injury, sustained back in January, looked worse than it was, but still broke his ankle. How the referee failed to see the foul as anything less than a straight red card is amazing! Prior to that assault, Basey had stepped in after Kelly Youga’s own injury and was doing a decent job on the left of the defence. Sometimes lacking in pace, and also sometimes in confidence, Grant did have many positive features, not least his dead ball delivery. His sweet left foot was regularly seen swinging in corners and free kicks, and he nearly scored at Yeovil when one corner caught on the wind before striking the bar. Provided he gets hit fitness back as it was, and the signs are that he will, then Welsman Basey should be around next season to once more provide cover where needed. If we are in League one, he may even end up as first choice full back.

Gary Borrowdale

On loan from QPR, and another ex-Croydon player to play at regularly at The Valley, Borrowdale took time to settle, improved his fitness, and then went on to have an excellent end to the season. He showed in his initial month that he could do a good job in the problem left back slot, and after further negotiations was retained until season’s end. He will return to QPR but may be surplus to requirements there, as he doesn’t get on with the new manager apparently. I doubt Charlton could pay much of a fee for him, but if Youga is not fit for next season, a new left back will be required, and Charlton could do worse then try to bring in Borrowdale if Championship football is won.

Deon Burton

A tale of two halves for Deon with all of his goals coming prior to Xmas bar one penalty (versus Walsall). He was still the top league scorer though, with 13 goals, and did work tirelessly for the side whenever on the pitch. The main reason, I feel for the drying up of his outfield goals was that he played for too long while injured – a hernia problem identified back in September (after the Norwich game) was not acted on due to the lack of other fit strikers at the club, and Deon suffered and played in order to fill the gap. That pain eventually took its toll, and his performances and ability to get into scoring positions slowly tailed off up until Xmas. The rest he had after Xmas was courtesy of a stupid sending off on Boxing Day – which took Charlton down to nine men! – when he handled intentionally having already been booked for arguing, coupled with some bad weather postponements. That break probably saw him fit enough to get through the season, but still the goals have failed to arrive. In the latter part of the season, he has been used as a battering ram for the first hour, allowing substitutes to hopefully benefit from his earlier effort against tiring defenders. Burton’s contract is up this summer, but I suspect that he may be offered an extension, whatever league we play in next year.

Jack Clark

Sadly, although Clark was given a one-year contract last summer, it seems he has not made the grade, and after a season out on loan in the lower non-leagues, he has struggled even there. I expect him to be released by Charlton this summer, and for him to join a local non-league club.

Christian Dailly

Player of the season, and what a great season Christian has had! I must come clean here and admit that I have never rated Christian Dailly; not when he was at Derby, Blackburn , West Ham, or anywhere else. I used to love it when we played a side and his name was on the opposition team-sheet as I knew that our strikers could get the better of him, either in the air or on the ground. But that was in the Premiership, and tier three forwards just cannot compare. Dailly has seemingly strolled through the season, dictating games from the back, and controlling whoever he has been marking, whether big or small, quick or lumbering. It is shocking that Gary Doherty was picked on the League One team of the season ahead of him, as I’m sure most forwards found it easier to score against Norwich than Charlton. Dailly has also been the supreme professional, often giving advice to younger players, and regularly talking his colleagues through games in order to ensure the Addicks win. Signed on a one-year deal, I fully expect Dailly to remain if we do get promoted, but maybe not if we fail to go up, much as I’d like him to stay, simply on financial grounds. He does live fairly locally, so doesn’t have many options of who to play for, so I hope that a suitable wage can be agreed to see him back at The Valley next August.

Ben Davisson

A first professional contract for Davisson next season, well earned after being injured for much of the last 12 months. The player does have potential, and was doing well before he broke his leg. I haven’t seen him play but suspect that he will spend much of next year out on loan as others have done this year earning experience before forcing himself closer to the first team the following year.

Chris Dickson

Dicko failed to make the grade this season at The Valley, which was a big disappointment, as we, and he, know that he is good enough for this league when he puts his mind to it. Farmed out on loan to Bristol Rovers last August, he flattered on his debut, scoring twice, but then did little to promote a transfer to the Pirates after Xmas. After getting back into the Charlton line up due to Deon Burton’s suspension, he won a penalty at Brentford, but then did nothing more to cement his place. Next he went off to Gillingham, a club where he had scored bundles of goals previously and where the Board had made little secret of the fact that they thought he would sign for them when his contract ended at The Valley. But once more, after a bright start, he failed to do himself justice, and now he will be back in SE7 to see out the last month of his contract. There is a small chance that he will be given one last chance, provided Charlton fail to be promoted, but I doubt many of the clubs management would want to bother, bearing in mind the return from him recently. Gillingham have said that they won’t offer him a contract, so if he does move on, I expect it to be down a league or two.

Rob Elliot

A fine first full season as Charlton’s number one goalkeeper, even though he has failed to regain his place at the back end of the season following injury. Robbie made a large number of points wining saves during Charlton’s record breaking start to the season, and held his form either side of his first injury at Gillingham. That thigh problem came back to haunt him a few months later, and there were some games where he obviously played when not 100% fit. During those games, one or two goals could have been put down to him, none less than some of the eight conceded to Millwall over two matches. With Randolph now on top form, and in possession of the starting spot, Robbie has a battle to regain his place between the posts, but that may spur him on to better things. He is still the number one of choice, but we will have to see what happens in the summer before knowing if Randolph will start next August or if Elliot is in place once more. A Charlton fan through and through, it is always a delight to see his smiling face when chatting to fans before a game, and also when celebrating (a la Chris Powell) after victories.

Stuart Fleetwood

A season long loan at Exeter has seen Fleetwood prove that he is only just good enough for tier three. He has scored some (5) useful goals for the Grecians, but has not been able to hold down a regular starting place. I suspect that if a reasonable (£50k) offer came in for him then the Addicks board would be keen for him to leave, as he doesn’t look to have much future at The Valley, whatever league we end up in next season. At least he was able to pull on a Charlton shirt in earnest for the first time prior to his loan spell starting, but that match ended in defeat, and will probably be his one and only Charlton appearance.

Nicky Forster

A journeyman goal scorer, but still very fit at 36 years of age, Forster joined Charlton on loan for the remainder of the season in March, and has scored twice so far, both match-winners. Out of contract at Brighton this summer, his displays have obviously been with a view to securing a contract at The Valley, and he may well have done enough, provided his wage demands can be met. Although he hasn’t yet forged a partnership of any sorts with other strikers, despite playing with Mooney, Sodje, and Burton, he can work as a focal point or as the runner, or even as a lone striker (as he did for Brighton at The Valley in March). He has a poacher’s eye for goal, and it was a major surprise to see him miss two good chances at Exeter, but I think that was a blip, as he hasn’t missed much else in his career. If he is signed, then Charlton will probably have the oldest front pair in this league yet again next season, but we’ll have to wait and see how this one pans out I suspect.

Matt Fry

There’s not much that you can say about Matt Fry, who joined Charlton on loan from West Ham in March until the end of the season, mainly because he hasn’t played for the club. Fry is the victim of the maximum number of loanees rule, and Charlton have six players but can only include five in any match-day squad. Brought in when doubts abounded Gary Borrowdale’s own loan arrangement, Fry is an able back-up should Borrowdale, or any centre back get injured. But that hasn’t happened, and unless something strange happens, Fry’s only Charlton game this season will be the one he played against them for Gillingham when on loan there. Fry is well thought of at Upton Park, and I doubt there is any chance that he will be sold, or that he would actively wish to join the Addicks.

Andy Gray

Just two subs appearances on the season from Gray before a transfer to Barnsley got him off the club’s wage bill. A disappointment after his arrival from Burnley, Gray never quite reproduced his form apart from in brief flashes. The health problems suffered by his wife certainly didn’t help his mental attitude, and it was in both parties interests that Gray left for more northern climes.

Luke Holden

Although Holden appeared in a few match-day squads, he rarely made even an appearance on the substitute’s bench during his three-month loan spell from Rhyl. His one moment of glory in a Charlton shirt came when he entered the fray at St Mary’s and set up McKenzie’s goal with a lovely cross from the right wing in a JPT game. It wasn’t enough to earn him a long-term contract at Charlton, but it was worthwhile I feel, as it gave both parties time to assess each other.

Carl Ikeme

It was a strange decision, bearing in mind his recent form, to bring in Ikeme on loan from Wolves when we had such a good ‘keeper as Darren Randolph waiting in the wings. Whereas Randolph played in the following cup game, Ikeme went straight into the league matches ahead of him, and kept his place for the remainder of his month with the club. Four league games on and Ikeme had made some good saves, but was prone to letting in shots from distance. Once Robbie Elliot declared himself fit, Ikeme went back to Wolves.

Johnnie Jackson

Another loanee who came in to fill in at left back after the injuries to Youga and Basey. Jackson did well, even though he looked more accomplished going forwards than in defence. Provided good dead ball delivery, but sadly got injured just before his month term was up (and the likelihood was it would have been extended). If Notts County need to trim their wage bill next season, as sounds likely, then Jackson could yet make a switch to The Valley permanently, but only I suspect if we remain in League One.

Carl Jenkinson

Striker Jenkinson is a youngster who has a bright future having won his first professional contract for next season. Likely to be sent out on loan to gain experience, as Tuna and others were this season, the forward will be looking to knock in goals consistently, so that when he returns to the Charlton ranks he can press for inclusion in first team squads quickly. In the interim, he does have Burton, Forster, and McKenzie to gain experience from, and he would do well to talk long and hard to all three.

Migual Llera

Big Mig, the first Spaniard to play for the Addicks, was Charlton’s first choice centre back at the start of the season, and opened with a couple of important goals in the first two home games. Once Sam Sodje signed, to cover the obvious gap that was left by having just two centre backs, Miguel’s position was under strain, and he finally broke in the away game at Colchester. In a very similar display to that at Millwall, Miguel had a ‘mare, conceding an own goal when he headed past Robbie Elliot from ten yards. His mind full of apology, he then went to sleep allowing a second goal, and stumbled through the match looking anything but a third tier player. At Millwall, his wayward, awful, pass let in the Lions for a third goal and humiliation – both games led to Miguel being dropped. That’s not to say that his first season in Addicks colours has been all poor – not at all. Miguel does have a sweet left foot, and if given the chance, will swing away fifty yard passes at every opportunity. A feature of Charlton’s early season winning form was Miguel’s ability to find Lloyd Sam from defence, but slowly this tactic became a bit worn, and countered. As cover for Sodje’s knee-knack, Llera has had quite a bit of game time late in the season too, and he has not let Charlton down. A bit unlucky with free-kicks earlier in the season (where he has hit the woodwork at least twice), his pay-back came at Oldham where the ‘keeper let his unusually weak shot through his legs. Almost certain to still be at The Valley next year, the only question mark is who he will be playing alongside.

Leon McKenzie

Leon has had one of those seasons to forget, having not started a league game for the Addicks. Injury after injury has prevented him getting back to full fitness, and the lack of reserve team has not helped him when he has been fit enough to play. One goal, versus Southampton in the JPT, is scant reward for this proven goal scorer, and I doubt his one-year contract will be renewed with or without promotion, simply because of doubts over his long term fitness.

Izale McLeod

Love him or hate him, Izale is still a Charlton player, though not for much longer I suspect. Rumoured to be wanted by Hearts pre-season, Izzy did good work and was fit enough to play in many early season games. He got his first Valley league goal (and what proved to be the winner) against Exeter in September and then scored against Barnet in the league cup. A couple of weeks later he scored again in front of the covered end to beat Huddersfield, but that was it, and with Mooney coming in on loan, Izzy went to Peterborough to play Championship football. Despite a good start, things soon started to go wrong there and with the club struggling at the bottom of the league, another bad injury saw his season ended in January. With the wage he is on, there is no way that Charlton can afford to keep Izale, so I expect him to get a free transfer when his contract ends this summer, thus ending a very unhappy time for him in south east London.

Yado Mambo

A season of growth for our massive centre back, not in terms of height, but in strength and experience. After a competent display in the league Cup versus Barnet, plus inclusion in several match day league squads as cover, Mambo has since been loaned out to play against older opposition than he has been used to, and reports are that he has done well. I expect him to remain at Charlton next year, and with the current central defenders all getting on a bit, Mambo could be close to the first team next season, and playing regularly within a couple of years if he continues to improve.

Dave Mooney

Dave Mooney played almost the whole season on loan at Charlton from Reading, in two spells either side of Xmas. His first spell had a slow start, as he was used almost exclusively as a late substitute, and when he did finally get into the side, he scored the opener against MK Dons, but then a week later he was tactically withdrawn at Yeovil after Sam Sodje was sent off. Finally Moons got a few games under his belt, and he was doing a good job as channel runner in support of Deon Burton. He scored again against Bristol Rovers, then won a penalty against Millwall through is determination. Sadly, he hurt his knee later in that match, and that saw him return to Reading over the Xmas period to regain fitness. When he came back to SE7, he once more opened the scoring (versus Hartlepool) and then scored again against Yeovil, but by now the crowd were starting to get on his back, especially after a couple of glaring misses. The whole issue came to a head after Mooney’s fabulous equaliser against Gillingham, after his name was booked prior to kick off, when he cupped his ear and ran toward the covered end in petulance. Some fans could understand his frustration, and I did think myself that the crowd’s performance that day - and Mooney’s reaction - were both totally over the top. Since then (and Forster’s arrival), he has been used mainly as a substitute, but his time may still come in the play-offs. I doubt Mooney will come to the Valley next season, but stranger things have happened, and Parky could do a lot worse.

Yassin Moutaouakil

Moots - the enigma. Good going forwards, and poor in defence, he cost Charlton a lot in salary terms even when out on loan in Scotland prior to Xmas. A complete breakdown with Phil Parkinson has meant absolutely no game time for the Addicks this season, bar a few arranged reserve games where Charlton hoped to showcase his talent in order to get him off the books. It didn’t work, and he lounged around the training ground knowing he would not get a look in. With his contract up at the end of this season, we can at last bide him farewell; a player that threatened, but never reached his potential in SE7. In a couple of years, expect him to be referred to with some strange spelling of his surname as everyone slowly forgets him.

Elliot Omozusi

When Chris Solly got injured in pre-season, Charlton’s fragile defensive numbers needed bolstering, and in came Elliot to do a job. Soon he was in the side, courtesy of Richardson’s thigh strain, and over the next couple of months, I thought Omozusi did OK. Sure, he wasn’t always the best passer, or the most supportive down the right wing, but defensively he was competent, if not outstanding. After having his contract extended a few times, he was eventually released when Solly and Richardson both became fit again (a victim of the club’s financial position) and I’ve not seen him linked with any other club since. It is possible, depending what division we are in, that he could be brought back to the club next season as a cheap alternative should Richardson move on.

Lewis Perkins

Striker Perkins has earned himself a one year contract for next season, after playing much of this season out on loan in the lower leagues. He can probably expect more loan time away from the club, but is one for the future, should he improve with age.

Therry Racon

Whereas Moots threw his toys out of the pram when he wasn’t playing, Racon did the opposite – he got down to hard work and convinced the manager to play him. In some ways, that was a good effort, as Charlton’s strength is in midfield, and for Rac’s to keep Nicky Bailey out of centre midfield (as he has most of the season) is a fine effort. Racon started the season in imperious form, playing neat short passes, and searching out Jonjo Shelvey while pushing the side forwards. As pitches became heavier, so Racon’s performance dropped a little, with teams not giving him time on the ball and taking advantage of his lack of tackling. He still did a job though, and chased and harried whenever he could. The only shame was that Racon didn’t score any goals, and it was February before he finally hit the back of the net (with a last minute consolation strike at Bristol Rovers). This lack of goals led to him being substituted a few times, and on at least one occasion Rac’s took out his frustration on the dug out walls, with both feet and hands! He is good enough to play centrally, but if only he could get his finishing right then he could be a hell of a player for Charlton. I’m unsure if Therry will remain at The Valley though I suspect if we go up he will; if not, we can wave au revoir to him and see if his career improves elsewhere.

Darren Randolph

When Darren Randolph signed his new one-year contract at the start of the season, everyone, including himself, expected it to be a season as back-up to Rob Elliot. Without any other senior ‘keeper on the books, Randolph knew that his chance may come, either through injury or suspension to Elliot, and when it duly did (after the Gillingham away game), he must have been dismayed when Parkinson signed Carl Ikeme on loan as cover. Some fans thought that Randolph should be given the chance in the next game anyway, especially as Ikeme was not to be cup-tied, but Ikeme played at Carlisle, conceding three times. Randolph did well in the following cup game, making one great save, but the defeat asked questions and Ikeme was back for the JPT game and the next league game. Randolph was told at Xmas that he would be allowed to leave if a club came in for him but nobody did, and he was back as back-up for Elliot until the home game with Gillingham when another injury gave Randolph the second half. Since then, he has been superb conceding under a goal a game, and making many crucial match winning saves. Now split from his celebrity girlfriend, one wonders if that had something to do with his form, as he was once considered well ahead of Elliot. The crucial thing now is that the right decision is made on whether to offer him a new contract; I doubt he will want another season as reserve ‘keeper in tier three (or two), and as a free agent, that may see him leave the club, sadly.

Kyel Reid

Kyel joined Charlton on loan from Sheffield United for the last few months of the season, having failed to break into the Blades side after a transfer from West Ham. A fast and direct left winger, he finally brought some balance to the side when it needed to attack down both flanks. Still inconsistent though, he seems to do better when introduced as a substitute, where his pace seems to scare the daylights out of league one full backs. His first Charlton goal was a 30-yard screamer against Yeovil, while his next won all three points in injury time against Southend. Another important equaliser came at Huddersfield, and he also claimed the goal that never was at Exeter to bring Charlton level there. Kyel’s career is at a cross-roads and he has to decide now if he wants to press on and become a good and consistent player in the Championship, or if he wants to follow the lower league what-could-have-been route. I know he would love to move south again, so it is quite possible that he could be back at The Valley next year permanently.

Frazer Richardson

Our new right back from Leeds United had an excellent start to 2009/10, but then a thigh injury really hurt his season either side of Xmas. Likened to Luke Young, he gets forward at every opportunity and supported Lloyd Sam well all season. He did struggle when he came back from his injury, and it seemed to me that he played when not fully fit on a couple of occasions - one game in particular he was jumping so as not to get hurt. However, the last couple of months has seen Frazer back at his best, and it was great to see his performances warranting inclusion in the League One team of the season. Frazer’s first goal for Charlton arrived from 25 yards against Gillingham at The Valley in March, and he has been unlucky not to score on other occasions. Although under contract, if Charlton do not go up Frazer may be sold to balance the bills and that would be sad as he has been a very good acqusition. I hope to see him stay at Charlton, and if he does he could be a future captain of the club, which would be fitting reward for an excellent professional.

Lloyd Sam

A bit of a funny season this for Lloyd; he simply is far too good for this league and the full backs he comes up against each week, yet sometimes, that just doesn’t show. Last August saw Lloyd score his first goal for over a year, and then knock in three more by mid-November (including the goal of the season versus Brentford). Since then, we have seen him hit the woodwork and bring out excellent saves, but also blaze wildly over or wide, or worse still scuff a poor shot along the ground far too many times. When he was playing well, teams often doubled up their marking on him, and in a perverse way, his poor form helped him a little when the double marking stopped, as he soon found he could beat his man again and get a good cross in. Late in the season he has started to make quite a few of Charlton’s goals as he still has the skill and ability to get to the bye-line and put over a decent cross. A key man for Charlton’s play off hopes, his contract is up this summer, so his last few performances will go a long way to deciding where Charlton play and where Lloyd plays next season. If promotion is attained, then I think Lloyd may well sign any new contract offer, but if not, I suspect that he will have to be released, even though he may not wish to leave the club.

Jose Semedo

Although Christian Dailly won the player of the season award, it was Jose who had my vote. An immense player at this level, it is no surprise that he has had such a good season. Our Portu-geezer has sat in central midfield all season, breaking down attack after attack by the opposition. He doesn’t have a great passing range, preferring to give the ball to more talented and creative players, but that’s fine. He even scored this season – a good finish at Tranmere - which is crazy when compared to his goals to shots ratio (possibly 100%?). His only problem is that in doing his job he gets lots of yellow cards, and his season was on a knife-edge in March as he struggled to not get ten before the cut off date for further suspensions. Jose will be another key player on the forthcoming play offs, as he offers so much help to his defence. Always willing to cover a player who goes forward, it will be sad to see him leave (as he undoubtedly will) should Charlton not get promoted, as he is such a character. He came from Portugal, he really hates Millwall!

Jonjo Shelvey

This was a funny year for Jonjo, and it really didn’t go as we all hoped or maybe expected. An early problem was the strength in midfield that Phil Parkinson had, and how best to accommodate Shelvey into his side. Most of us I suspect would have loved to see Shelvey playing in central midfield, controlling games in the way that similar home-grown products like Bowyer and Parker did, but that wasn’t to be. Instead, Shelvey played all the first couple of months of the season in the hole behind the lone striker. It wasn’t that Jonjo did badly - in fact he did quite well – but the issue was that there was no plan B at that stage if the team struggled to break down defences (as happened once or twice). Another issue was that the third tier teams he came up against gave him little respect, and often got in his face hoping for a reaction., To his credit, Jonjo didn’t get himself sent off at all (although he came close before scoring the winner at Orient), but often after a roughing up he went into his shell and lost any impact on the game. Either side of Xmas he became a peripheral player (as Charlton went 4-4-2) - sometimes in the team, often not - and despite an opening goal at Wycombe, he was soon back on the bench. Once Liverpool came knocking in April there was only one decision to make – blue or black pen? – and Shelvey was out of the door with a £1.7million cheque coming the other way. He has such potential, and I really hope he fulfils it at Anfield; the records he holds as the youngest Charlton first-team player ever and also youngest goal scorer ever (in both league and cup) will remind us in years to come that he was once one of ours. I wish him well.

Dean Sinclair

I didn’t think Sinclair would be at The Valley this season, having failed to make an impact previously, and although still on the books, he has played most of the season elsewhere. Recently playing for Grimsby, in the lower reaches of the fourth tier, he has battled along scoring a few goals and making a bit of a name for himself. The problem is that he doesn’t have the ability to play at any higher level, so once more I suspect that Dean will be released come season end, and he will join another lower league club on a free transfer. Not one of Pardew’s best signings…

Wade Small

Small joined the club after a trial period on a short term contract, but didn’t set the place on fire, and was released soon after his one appearance at Hereford in the League Cup. Now playing for Chesterfield, I doubt we will ever see Small back at Charlton again.

Akpo Sodje

Akpo joined his brother at Charlton last November on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, and after spending Xmas back in Yorkshire, returned to the Valley in January with a promise of a contract for next season provided he play enough games. The power and physical attributes of the player are there for all to see, and we know that he can also score useful goals ranging from the unstoppable power shots (Yeovil) to unstoppable power headers (Stockport) to tap ins from two feet (Bristol Rovers). My issue with the younger Sodje is if he is too languid, and lacking in movement to be a potent enough force next season. Coming on as a substitute, as he has recently, his power has been enough, but when he has started games, sometimes he waits for things to happen and though not lazy does not work (to my mind) hard enough. He has been troubled with the odd injury (to toe and thigh recently), but his next contract is based on playing time, so it has made him keen to be involved which is good. I think it fair to say that he will be at The Valley next season, whatever league we are in, but his game time next season may be much less in the Championship than League One.

Sam Sodje

Charlton fans knew all about Sam before he was signed last August, as he had played for the club on loan previously in the Championship, and there have always been two question marks over his game. One, he gets sent off too many times, and two, he has dodgy knees. Charlton saw both of these elements this season, as Sam saw red twice (both deserved, but somewhat unlucky), and also saw the physio practically every game. Betting on how long it would be before Sodje called on the physio became a feature of matches, but usually Sam would haul himself up and complete the game. Sam is not just a two trick pony though, and he has put in some great performances this season defensively, and scored some vital goals. He competed with his brother over who would score more (it was 5-4 to Akpo) and was a genuine threat at dead ball situations. Opposition players know that they cannot take liberties with Sam, and he is very, very, fit. His one-year deal ends this summer, and it will depend on how well Charlton do in the play-offs to decide if Sam comes back to The Valley, or if cheaper options are investigated.

Chris Solly

A bit of a stop, start, stop season for Chris which started badly with a broken leg in pre-season. He did very well to get himself fit again quite quickly, and actually made his first team comeback before Xmas. Since then, he has usually been used as a sub, coming on as cover for Richardson, or at left back, or as a midfield tackler in the dying minutes when protecting a lead. Solly has never let the club down, but has also yet to convince fans how good he might actually be. A long run in the side at his preferred right back slot may do this, but that may depend on Charlton staying in League One. What can be confirmed is that Parky doesn’t think he can do a long term job at left back; hence the various loanees that have come in and played ahead of him. Almost certain to stay at The Valley, I suggest.

Matt Spring

I’m sure Matt Spring will look back on this season with regret. Signed on an 18-month contract last year, the last two thirds have seen him mainly sat on the bench as an unused substitute. The sole home goal he scored is a long distant memory (though never forgotten) and Spring has not really had a chance to repeat those heroics due to others being preferred in midfield. The only run in the team he had was when Semedo was suspended, but that coincided with a poor run so Spring stepped aside once the Portu-geezer was able to play again. It is possible that, if Charlton fail to gain promotion, Spring may be offered a new contract (assuming others leave), but I’m not sure, and I do think he may prefer to move on and find another club he can help out on a more regular basis.

Alex Stavrinou

Stav was another youngster who made his debut in the league cup, but failed to make the squad in the league. As a holding midfielder, his chances of first team glory were remote, especially with the strength in depth that Charlton had in midfield this season past. Stav has subsequently been sent out on loan to Ebbsfleet, and has done well, but I’m not sure that it has been enough to see him offered another year on his contract. I suspect he will be released, and find a good non-league club to play for, unless finances are such that he is required as midfield back up for a third tier season.

Tamer Tuna

Young Tuna brought a fresh face to the forward line with some fine early season displays. Often used as a late sub for Shelvey, Tuna used his young legs to good effect and ran his heart out thus ensuring the winning streak of August and September was maintained. He started the league cup game against Barnet, and gleefully scored with a nice side-footed shot, but with other forwards needed, Tuna was sent out on loan to gain experience at a number of lower league clubs. With his first professional contract guaranteed for next season, we can expect another bright start I suspect, but also the likelihood that unless we are short of forwards, he will be out on loan for some of next season too. One for the future and a very bright prospect in a year or two’s time.

Scott Wagstaff
It's very easy to overlook Scott Wagstaff, as I nearly did here, but he has made a huge contribution to the Charlton team this season. Waggy has been in every match day squad, and has started quite a few games too. Most of his right or left wing appearances have been as a substitute though, but he has made crucial contributions whenever called upon. Often a late replacement for Lloyd Sam, he offers pace, commitment, and enthusiasm whenever he gets on the pitch. Goals have come, slowly but surely, and his match winner at Stockport was gleefully celebrated with the travelling crowd. Waggy has only a short contract but I fully expect him to be offered, and to sign, an extension for the next couple of seasons, as he could go on to be a very good player if he improves as much as he did this season when compared to last.

Tony Warner

Warner was brought in as cover late in the season for the injured Rob Elliot, but failed to oust Darren Randolph from between the sticks and was an unused sub on three occasions. He does have plenty of experience, so could come back to SE7 if one of Charlton’s two current goalies move on, though I suspect a cheaper option may be sought if we don’t go up.

Kelly Youga

I thought that KellyYouga’s early season form was exceptional and that he would walk into the League One team of the season. Sadly, in kicking a Bristol Rovers player up in the air, Youga injured his knee, and he hasn’t played a match since November. The worry is that he may even fail to recover in time for the start of next season such is the complication in his ligaments. Youga was a rock at the back and supremely gifted when advancing - at times, he reminded me of Paul Mortimer - with the ball seemingly tied onto his left boot as he ran through the defence. Youga has always played his best when he had a smile on his face, and for four months, you could see him enjoying his football; then came the injury. Kelly will be back at The Valley next season, but we will have to wait and see how fit he is; if we are in League One and he is OK, then finances may dictate that he need to be sold, but I hope not.

In writing up a post season review, one has to throw the manager into the mix, as he picks the team, and so here’s my view on Parky:

Phil Parkinson

You need the right man for the right time, and Parky may well prove, in the long run, to have been that right choice. Bearing in mind the resources he had when pre-season started last July, Parky has done an exceptional job. The six-game winning streak start to the season is now in the record books as Charlton’s best ever, and he has slowly built the strength of the squad as the season has gone on. Always dictated to by the Board in relation to funds available, Parky has brought in a number of very good choices to fill gaps – Jackson, Borrowdale, Forster, etc – and slowly he switched the team from the 4-5-1 formation that was required to start the season into a more attacking 4-4-2; yes, Parky did get to Plan B eventually. He made good substitutions regularly, and I thought that his insistence on slightly injured players coming off immediately worked to Charlton’s advantage as the season progressed, as that allowed recovery by the next week and saw more overall game time per player I’m sure. Helped by Mark Kinsella and Tim Breacker (who arrived mid-season), he has good support, and with good youngsters for next year, he is slowly building the club up again. His choice of players will be completely different for a Charlton Championship squad as opposed to a League One group, so we can expect plenty of contract negotiations and comings and goings this summer whatever happens this month in the Play-offs. Yet to convince the majority of fans, only a win at Wembley would see his standing rise considerably, but my own opinion is that we have been lucky to have a manager this year who has understood the requirements of the Board, and made us successful at the same time. I expect him to still be at The Valley when pre-season training starts in July.

Up the Addicks!


That took ages to read! Gawd knows how long it took you to type it!
Well done.
Quite some time Daggs...longer than some people queued up this morning for Swindon tickets!

Brilliant-Pedro45 -Just nice to see you changed your mind about not writing your blog anymore. Cheers CND
You been saving this little lot up Pedro? One thing - I think both McLeod and Moots have a year left on their contracts.
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