Sunday, May 15, 2011

Class of Eleven - Season to Forget

Here’s Pedro45’s take on the players who have worn our famous red shirt this season; not one of our best!

Rob Elliot

A bit of a strange season for Robbie; starting with expectation high, he broke his elbow in August and then kept picking up odd injuries throughout the campaign which prevented him getting any decent run of form in the side. Glimpses of his best shone through when he did play, but for his best form, we need to see him playing 40-plus league games a season. Rumours of a transfer elsewhere have circulated, but this Charlton fan will only go if it is in both his and the clubs best interests.

Simon Francis

A signing that cost money - which was a first for Charlton and for Phil Parkinson in a long time - but ultimately one which bore little fruit. Francis did look the part, especially when coming forwards (in the rampaging mould of Hermann Hreiderssson), but sadly his delivery was nearly always lacking. This frustrated the crowd and did affect his play, and his defending errors were highlighted because of this. With Chris Solly and Carl Jenkinson pushing hard for the right back slot, only Francis’s height kept him in the team at times, but even then, that wasn’t always enough (he's not that good at heading a ball either...). His form may have been affected a little by his wife giving birth last December, but in reality, he will need to play considerably better if he is to win over the fans in his second season at the club.

Kelly Youga

I’m not sure I should include Kelly in the list of players for this past season, as he didn’t feature anywhere other than in the programme! His knee injury has been bad, and I don’t think it true that he was just sitting out his contract and refusing to train or play. Since he failed to kick that Bristol Rovers player in November 2009, hitting only fresh air, Charlton have slid down the table. I’m not saying that he would have won us promotion single-handedly, but prior to his injury, he was the classiest full back in this league, and just look at the problem we’ve had this season finding someone decent to play at left-back. It would be nice to have him back net year, but somehow, if he is fit again, I doubt he will sign a new contract at The Valley.

Johnnie Jackson

The runner-up for player of the season, Jackson ended up as top scorer thanks to a purple patch of goals just prior to Xmas. When he was signed, everyone thought he would be used as left-back (especially with Youga injured), but with Matt Fry coming to the club, Jacko was pushed forward, and he did so well that he kept Kyel Reid out of that position. He undoubtedly benefited from having Scott Wagstaff on the opposite flank, and many of his goals came from crosses by that player to the rapidly arriving Jackson on the back stick. He took the clubs penalties most of the season, but failed with possibly the most important (JPT semi-final versus Brentford); that said, he did later add styles to his penalties, and not always go for the simple blast down the middle! One of the club’s major Tweeters, and also apparent leader of the Essex contingent (Jackson, Francis, McCormack and Benson, plus Fry), he will be an important cog in next seasons plans I suspect, and the club must have him fit for a whole season to maximise benefit.

Miguel Llera

Big Mig - you never know quite what you will get! Or do you? He has always tried his best on the pitch, and was often (especially late in the season) the most likely player to score, either from a set-piece header, or with one of his left-footed free kick specials. Sadly, his lack of pace does get exposed in the centre of defence when he doesn’t have a fast player alongside. Out of contract this summer, I doubt we will see Mig retained, but he has left an impression during his two seasons at the club, with wonderful highs (Swindon on Boxing Day last season for instance) and desperate lows (Swindon in the play offs last season for instance!).

Jose Semedo

The Player of the Season, and a man who stood out amongst many others who had poor seasons at Charlton. I voted for him last season, when he was runner-up, and again this season where he went one better. Jose is limited, and I do wonder if we may need him to move on if the club is to move forwards as he can stifle the opposition and the Addicks when he plays. When he is making (clean, but crunching) tackles, winning and passing the ball quickly, and protecting the defence, he looks fantastic. But when the opposition play the ball around or over the midfield, he is often left chasing shadows, and does not give the brittle Charlton centre defence enough help. He also does tend to attract cards from referees, as many midfield tacklers do, but this year he survived all suspensions other than the one game ban for an undeserved sending off in April. I love Jose, and will be really sad if he calls time on his Charlton career; his only Valley goal (he headed a late third against Orient at The Valley in early April to finally clinch a win) , and the celebratory tears that followed, will go down for me as the best moment of the season (on the pitch anyway).

Scott Wagstaff

For some reason, fans seem to either love or hate Scott (though he is, I know, much liked from afar). He is a tryer, and has scored a good quantity of goals for a wide player this year. Like Jackson, he also scored many goals arriving in the box to meet crosses from the other flank, but also put in his shift when asked to track back to give Francis protection. Needs to work on the timing of his crossing, and also when it is better to hold the ball and wait for help from team-mates rather than try to bully his way toward goal. Still young, he can only get better and with that only be of benefit to Charlton.

Therry Racon

A fiunny season for Tee, as he found his place in centre midfield usurped by quite a few other players. At the start of the season it was McCormack, then late on it was either Parrett or Stewart who got his preferred position. The good thing was that Racon kept going, and eventually he kept forcing his way back into the team, even if that meant playing out wide. The problem I think with Racon is that he doesn’t score enough goals when he plays alongside Semedo. We know Jose won’t get many (two in three years!) so we need the other centre midfielder to get his share too, but Racon has never looked like doing that (whereas Nicky
Bailey did for instance). Therry is out of contact this summer, and he may well be offered new terms, but it remains to be seen if he will accept the offer, or if the time has come for him to move on.

Bradley Wright-Phillips

He’s better than Shaun? If only it were true! Lazy, temperamental, and petulant….but he does score goals! Bradders arrived at the club in January from Plymouth as the divisions leading scorer; he only got the chance because a bigger money move to Reading failed due to injury concerns (he has dodgy knees). Bradley quickly scored, and did look the part when he was interested. Sadly, his form dipped along with his team-mates, and he struggled to get many chances late in the season. It may have been an inspired move to make him captain for the last few games as his work-rate did improve significantly but the goals had dried up by then. Obviously a lynch-pin of the team plans for next season, we need him to get 25 goals plus if the investment in him is to be fully returned.

Kyel Reid

I think everybody connected to Charlton was pretty pleased when Reidy signed on a free transfer a couple of months after we had seen him playing for the Addicks on loan. But sadly, he was another of those massive failures on the playing staff this season. He suffered from niggly injuries early in the campaign, and then could not shift Jackson from his preferred wide left slot. With much less game time, his cameo twenty minutes became less productive and therefore less frequent, and even though he got a few games at the end of the season, he seemed to have lost much of his desire. A cracking goal at Bristol Rovers looked good, but then he got himself sent off. That may be his last action for Charlton as rumours are abound that he is on his way out of the club? If anyone can tap his undoubted talent, he would be a very good addition to a team in this league or even higher.

Gary Doherty

Another pre-season signing who was a major disappointment it has to be said, after his initial year in SE7. Doc came from Norwich where he captained that team to promotion out of this very league. All I can say is that he must have had some very good players around him (evidence that Norwich won promotion again this season without Doc!)! He has looked lethargic, slow, and unable to strike much of a partnership in defence with anyone; he has also looked singularly unlikely to score a goal (at the right end) all season from a set play. His height should make him dangerous, but he is so ponderous that he cannot get space to get decent contact with any ball into the box. Even with my dodgy knees, I could probably still beat him in a sprint over twenty yards, so he tends to make the rest of the defence fall so deep that many of the team problems surface because of this (defence - midfield being disconnected for instance). He does have another year on his contract, but I for one would not be unhappy if he is allowed to leave the club and ply his trade elsewhere.

Michael Stewart

Stewart came to Charlton in March after his contract at a Turkish club was cancelled, and he was a pretty good capture. He did well in a failing side, and showed glimpses of his class on a fairly regular basis. He is much sought after according to the media, as his contract only covered up until the end of the season, and much about the ambition of the new owners will be seen if they make Stewart an offer to stay that he accepts.

Yado Mambo

A funny year for our lanky young centre back, spent mainly out on loan at non-league clubs. Now with a brand new contract, he must view next season as one where he has to make the breakthrough into the first team, or his chance will have passed.

Alan McCormack

Signed from Southend, a week or two before Francis also signed from that club, “Oxo” started decently with a goal at Orient but then slowly subsided into a very average midfielder who contributed nothing to the team, except as someone apt to give away silly free-kicks. Openly disliked amongst fans, Charlton really should be looking at better players than this one if they are
to progress. Oh, and the “Oxo” nickname? It seems he likes the restaurant of this name for his after game meal (You have to be careful what you Tweet Alan!).

Paul Benson

Benno; Benno; Benno - Where to start? Told he would be the twenty goal a season striker we needed, he was prised away from Dagenham and Redbridge in late August for a large fee (for Richard Murray’s Charlton); his debut, against his former club-mates, saw him miss a string of gilt edged chances, and that

pretty much summed up his first few months at the club. He did score some goals, including points winners at home versus Notts County, and away at Carlisle for instance, but his view that he was that good earned him the Marco van Benson tag. He often tried the spectacular when it wasn’t really necessary and then got himself sent off on New Years Day (thus missing the FA Cup match at White Hart Lane through suspension). Not a target man, but used as one, he was simply unable to hold the ball up, or experienced enough (despite being 30+) to run channels intelligently. Sent off again in March after another late lunge, he finally came back into the side late in the season and looked somewhat different. Maybe a few hours on the training pitch was finally working for him, and he at last started to strike up a partnership with Wright-Phillips. This pair, if they could work together well, could strike fear into any third tier defence, so we will have to see if that is the plan for next season. It may not be though, as there are rumours that Benson will be used as a make-weight in a possible deal for Daggers current hero Danny Green.

Chris Solly

A funny season for Solly too, starting the first game, being man-of-the-match, then being dropped in favour of new signing Francis. Despite this, he then scored within seconds of coming on as a sub in the next game, but then he picked up a bad injury that saw him out of the team until the new year. By then, he was third choice right back behind Francis and Jenkinson but by season end, Solly was playing well enough that he got a few more chances and he did not disappoint. Now armed with a new contract, we will have to see who gets the nod at right back next season, or if Solly will be forever one of those unlucky players who never quite get their chance, despite being good enough.

Joe Anyinsah

When he played, he looked good, but the problem with Joe was that he didn’t play enough, due to injury after injury. Joe scored a few minutes after coming on as a sub on his debut, and did strike up an unlikely partnership with Benson. Joe was the target man, despite being much smaller than his team-mate, and for a while it worked. Then came those injuries. Joe would start a game, but within half an hour, he was off, out for a few games, then he would come back, and the scenario would play out again. When fit, he was a vital cog in the Addicks team, but sadly, so unreliable due to injury that you cannot plan any tactics around him. I suspect he may not be at The Valley next season but he can go with our thanks and best wishes.

Jon Fortune

While I have always had a fond spot for Jon, he has not really looked anywhere near his fittest or best all season. Too many goals have been conceded while he was on the pitch, and with Doherty, Llera and Dailly all lacking pace these days, playing Jon was never going to be the answer to our defensive woes. Sadly, he ruptured his Achilles tendon in the final game of the campaign, and that might be the last we see of him, as he does not have a contract for next season. He may return, but I can only see him a a squad player in future, much as he has been this year.

Callum Harriott

One bright spark to come out of a pretty dire season is young Callum. Getting rave reviews and terrific goals for the reserves and youngsters got him a few places on the bench, but it wasn’t until very recently that he finally saw some first team action. A fast tricky left winger

with a bullet shot, he looks like Kyel Reid on a good day, but without the attitude. He may be a little young (still only 17) to be thinking about in terms of playing 40-odd games for us next season, but he certainly has a bright future with Charlton based on his showing so far.

Carl Jenkinson

This is a strange one - Jenks gets farmed out to various non-league teams for most of the first half of the season, then has a breakthrough game when the clubs other full backs are unavailable, and by season end it appears he is about to sign for Arsenal! Even though he is out of contract, Charlton would still be due a development fee, and that could be anywhere near a million pounds apparently. He didn’t play enough first team games to endear himself to fans, but he did look solid, one who likes to get forward, and a decent enough prospect. If Arsene can
get him into his side, I will be both surprised and delighted for him.

Christian Dailly

Now 37 years old, you do wonder how long Dailly will carry on playing. This season, he lost that yard of pace, and subsequently his timing was a little off. Red cards have blighted his season, with two for late challenges, and one for retaliation which ended his season five games early. Dailly would love another contract at Charlton I‘m sure (he wants to stay in London), but is that the right thing for Charlton to do? What I do believe is that we cannot go another season with a lack of central defensive pace, so if Dailly stays, and plays, you cannot have him alongside Doherty, Llera, or Fortune…

Lee Martin

The loss of Lee Martin, when he was recalled from his season long loan once Ipswich changed manager in January, really hurt Charlton. While he didn’t score bucket loads of goals, his skill and pace caused defences to cower, and back off, and thus created space and chances for others. Initially, it was a struggle to fit him into the team - was he a winger, or a striker, or an attacking midfielder? But once he was in, he looked the part. Since he left SE7, the team has looked without pace, without much guile, and a lot worse.

Pawel Abbot

Now back in Poland, Big Pav didn’t really hit it off in London. He scored early in the season in the league cup, but struggled against third division defences. His lack of pace and inability to link up play got the crowd on his back, and despite a couple of decent goals (including the last of the Phil Parkinson reign) he was soon moved on when Chris Powell arrived. Not a success.

Akpo Sodje

I felt a bit sorry for Akpo this season, as he started the first game, scored the only goal, and then was forced to sit on the bench for most of the next four months waiting his chance and watching others get the nod ahead of him. Powerfully built, but without much class, Akpo always gave it his all. He left for Scottish climes in January, and he has scored a few goals up there since. His opening Addicks goal at Yeovil last season will live in the memory, especially now we’ve got no Sodje’s…

John Sullivan

Short-term loanee from Millwall, who stepped in for a couple of games at the end of the season when injuries struck all other keepers down. Sullivan did OK, but without being a show-stopper. Rumours are that he may be signed for next year, as he has since been released by the Spanners, but I hope that this is just to be back-up to Elliot and not as first choice.

Ross Worner

Little Ross was thrust into action much earlier than expected due to Elliot’s early season elbow problem, but did quite well. Never at fault for any of the goals conceded, he did also make some good saves. Ultimately though, his lack of height and the lack of confidence the team had when defending in front of him came to bear and he has not been retained for next season. I’m sure he will be snapped up by another club, but at what level is unclear.

Frank Nouble

Big Frank joined on loan from the Hammers, but ultimately failed to live up to even his reputation as a poor mans Carlton Cole! Lumbering at times, he did always try, but his performance in the defeat at Dagenham will go down in memory, even though that was where he scored his only Charlton goal ( a two-yard tap in). Needs to get fit, get his head right, and then use those assets to the best of his ability if he is to succeed in football, a bit like Carlton then!

Nathan Eccelston

NE39 turned up at The Valley (pretty much as a straight replacement for the departed Lee Martin) touted as a poor mans Ryan Babble. We all know how tough it was for Babble to fit in to the Liverpool side, and so with Nathan for the Addicks. Was he a wide player who attacked, or a striker who didn’t work? I did think that he looked good when he came on late in games and utilised his undoubted pace to upset opposition defences, but when used from the start, he often failed to live up to expectation. Known to whinge a little on Twitter , mainly about his accommodation and girlfriend issues, it was funny that some of his Tweets were misinterpreted and analysed in great depth by the Addickted. He has a solid future in football (but probably not at Premiership level) and a very attractive girlfriend!

Matt Fry

Fry failed to get a game on loan last year, and this season we had him back. Played solely at left back, when he said he preferred centre back, we could see that he struggled in some games. The problem was that with the departure of Jackson from the side through injury, Fry was often exposed, and he could not cope. As winter cooled, Fry melted, and he left for the Hammers reserves in March. A nice bloke, but not one for Charlton I feel…

Federico Bessone

Fede looked the part during his early games for the Addicks, but he struggled to complete a match. Said to be injury prone, this was obviously a concern but finally came back for the last month or so of the season and did well. He is an attacking full back, and with Charlton prone to giving the ball away, did get caught up field on numerous occasions, but that may change when the style gets better. I wouldn’t mind Fede coming back to join the club, and if Leeds do want to get rid of him cheaply, he could be a good signing if we need a senior left back.

Dean Parrett

A decent period on loan for this Spurs youngster, coupled with his first senior goal in April against Rochdale. Skilful, and with a big heart, it took Parrett time to settle into third tier football, but he did OK. I’m not sure he will ever be a regular first team player at White Hart Lane, but he looks decent enough to play at Championship level at least when he has more experience.

Marcel Siep

A loanee who Plymouth were desperate (due to finances) to offload; having seen him play, we now know why! Gifted Charlton a goal at The Valley when he returned with Argyle, and not good enough for a regular first team slot at Charlton.

Alex Stavrinou

Already shown the door, Stav had a couple of extra years at the club that he didn’t really expect, mainly due to the financial position at the beginning of August each year. A whole hearted player, but probably too small to compete at a high level, Stav should make the grade lower down the football scale, and could do well for a club like Barnet, AFC Wimbledon, etc, if he can pursuade them to sign him.

Tamer Tuna

Once the great white hope, along with Jonjo Shelvey, Tuna went a bit off if truth be told. A goalscoring youngster for the club, his fortunes dipped after his only first team goal (league cup versus Barnet two seasons back) and he has not progressed at all. Tamer may struggle to play at league level in future as he has neither the stature nor mental strength required, which is a shame.

Conor Gough

One of four goalkeepers who made the bench but without playing time this season. Gough is one for the future, and should provide cover in emergencies next season.

Luke Daniels

Brought in from West Brom during an injury crisis, Daniels was a little upset to find Ross Worner preferred, and departed a month later without game time.

Neil Etheridge

Fulham were also upset that Etheridge didn’t get first team games early in his month on loan at the club, so recalled him.

Brandon Hall

Youngster Hall also made the bench for one game due to other injuries, and has now been released, but is also young enough to come on strong over coming years with another club.

So that’s it; 13th place in League One. Not really good enough I think, and with Chris Powell in charge next August, we may well see many new faces and a new style of play from the Addicks, which hopefully will keep us near the top of the division right the way until May.

Have a happy Summer!

Up the Addicks!


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