Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Remember, Remember, All of November

It’s been about a month since my last blog, and those weeks have been quite eventful.

I went on holiday the night before the Brighton home game, and of course the 4-0 defeat was a severe dent to all of our promotion hopes for the season. A friend was texting me in game updates, and as we went two-nil down, I figured that Parky would go for it at the death, hoping to snatch one goal that might lead to an equaliser. Sadly, those hopes were quickly extinguished with news of Brighton’s third, and later fourth goals. It’s not the first time that a table-topping side has dealt Charlton a thrashing, and it won’t be the last, but it is the first time for some six years (I believe) that we have lost by such a margin at home, and it was a shock to everyone I think. Without seeing the game (and I have still yet to see the goals), I can understand how we lost, but it does seem that we played particularly badly that day, with Parky’s tactics and acumen called into question quite severely afterwards. From afar, I would not have been at all surprised if he had been sacked following such humiliation, but he wasn’t (and who could we have brought in who may have done better anyway?).

The next week, Charlton again faced a tough fixture, away at Carlisle, and I have to admit that I was not expecting the team to bounce back; it could have been Parky’s last chance for all we knew? The team raced into a three goal lead just after half-time and, as is the Charlton way, promptly threw it away. With ten minutes to go, it could only be the home team that won the match, but this side does have some resilience it seems. Paul Benson notched his second of the half as injury time was played out and Charlton emerged as victors in a seven-goal thriller. I only had a chance to read about the game online that evening in my hotel, but I could imagine the emotions amongst the Addickted who were at the game.

I was in transit when the following Saturday’s home game as against Sheffield Wednesday took place, and with a phone that refused to pick up texts on arrival at Heathrow, it was left to the cab driver who drove us home to confirm the Charlton score (he had been at the game!) and a one-nil win. I didn’t know the guy, and it was nice to get a different slant on matters from his north stand perspective. He described Scott Wagstaff’s first half goal in detail which was nice. Waggy now has six for the season, which is possibly about as many as Lloyd Sam scored for Charlton in his career!

Now home again, I was unable to travel to Swindon in last midweek for the last league fixture; a 3-0 win makes excellent reading, even if it was slightly flattering to us I believe. The forward line of Joe Anyinsah and Paul Benson (who both scored again) really seems to be emerging as one that is quite dangerous, and even without the injured Kyel Reid, the Addicks have sufficient goal threat to worry even the best teams in this league. With Reid out of the side, Johnny Jackson was pushed forward and he weighed in with the opening goal at both Carlisle and Swindon.

With the league games finished with for a while, we played Barnet in the FA Cup on Saturday and followed that with the next round of the Johnstone Paint Trophy last night at Southend.

I went to Underhill, and the most expensive part of the day was leaving the ticket money on the table in the pub beforehand; not much of value happened on the pitch either, though Pawel Abbott did hit the bar with a second half header. I thought Abbot took some unwarranted stick during the game, and I certainly didn’t see him wandering around like it was a park match. It may have taken him a little while to get up to game speed – having not played much recently and coming on cold at half time due to Anyinsah’s back niggle – but he was definitely trying his best, and using what sparse ball he was given to best effect. Of course, the game was set up to be Grant Basey’s own vehicle to put one on Charlton, and he did have a good game, but when he was drawn out of the centre of defence, the rest of the Barnet side struggled to contain Charlton, and I have no doubts that we should win the replay quite comfortably.

Last night, a single goal won the match at Roots Hall to see the Addicks make it through to the semi final, southern section, of the JPT. The commentator had me in rapture when he announced the scorer as Jose Semedo, but soon this dream died as Therry Racon was revealed at half time as the actual celebrant. Whatever, it was a great goal apparently! With a semi-final to come later this month, we have a real chance to get to Wembley now, as the three other sides in the southern section hold few fears on paper. In reality though, we might do well to remember that Exeter, Brentford and Bristol Rovers have all beaten Charlton in their last meetings…

And all the while, the take-over rumours have re-surfaced once more. The truth is only really known to Richard Murray I suspect, and he has acted swiftly to repudiate any ideas that a buy-out was imminent. The BBC rumour correspondent fanned the flames on his Twitter account, and finally unconfirmed news broke that both Seb Sainsbury and Peter Ridsdale were unlucky in any bids they may have made. Ridsdale would be bad news for Charlton, as he has been for two of his former clubs; we don’t want him and I would be astonished to find that Murray had sold out to him. As for Sainsbury, I made contact with him back in July when he was first linked to a financial involvement at The Valley. He seems like a nice guy, and was quite keen to chat while not divulging anything that he shouldn’t (like details I suppose). As the ownership of the club changed hands at the EGM toward the end of August, Sainsbury told me he was hoping to be at the game against Notts County on 11th September, where presumably some sort of announcement may have been made. We all know that these things can take time so it was no surprise to me when he failed to show and no investment news came out. I contacted Seb again last week on my return with the rumours in full flow, but he has been keeping low and not responding. This may have been due to the closeness of any potential deal, or maybe because it had all fallen through – I simply do not know?

I do think that any involvement by Sainsbury would have seen him acting more as the guy bringing people to the table, rather than him ploughing in his (possibly) inherited millions, but as we have seen with other clubs, getting to the table is one thing, but putting your money where your mouth is is something altogether different. Maybe this will come to fruition, but maybe not…one day, Murray will have to sell up, and we all have to hope that the guy who follows him will have a heart and wallet at least as big.

This Saturday, Charlton have a return to league action and another awkward away trip – this time to Peterborough. The Posh were my favourites to get promoted this season, but for some reason they either blow very hot or very cold. They have an ability to score at will - with Mackall-Snmith, Maclean, and Boyd all likely to get double figures this year – but have conceded plenty too and lost some unlikely matches. A good manager like Gary Johnson will turn them around in time, but we have to hope that they are still flimsy in confidence if we are to get anything from London Road this weekend.

Then next Tuesday it is the FA Cup replay, followed by two more home league games in four days, so the squad can expect to be stretch to the limit..

The Charlton team has now settled I think after taking time for various people to get fit, get to know each other, and to find a pattern of play which suited them and this league. Anyinsah (left) is the key for me, and his powerful play seems to bring out the best in Benson. With a midfield less reliant on Reid to make chances, we have seen both Wagstaff and Jackson step up, while Semedo and Racon are finding their best form in the centre after a couple of years. The defence has a solid look about it, even if it does lack pace and give away too many chances, while Robbie Elliot is now back near his best (with four consecutive clean sheets) after injury ruined his early season form. With reserves like Jonathan Fortune, Alan McCormack, Lee Martin, Reid, Abbott, and Akpo Sodje all waiting their chance, the signs are quite bright that Charlton can continue to improve and keep the pressure on the top clubs as we head towards Xmas. The confidence that winning cup games brings should help, and even if we suffer the odd setback over coming weeks, I think Charlton will be in or very near the top six heading into the New Year.

Up the Addicks!


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