Sunday, 30 March 2008

The agony and the ecstasy Charlton 2 Wolves 3

Although it wasn't on the agenda but due to a late cancellation from a couple of good friends for a restaurant dinner date (maybe they read my Blog) I somehow ended up watching this match at the Valley. My wife said" you might as well go now as you've paid for your season ticket" Ha! Ha! This match had the whole season rolled into one. We played crap, we played with passion, the defence gave away goals, although Christmas was three months ago, we played fantastically well , scored two good goals and missed good chances . The crowd booed , the crowd cheered. There you have it, the whole bloody season in one inconsistent mess. The beauty of Football-no rehearsal, most of it spontaneous and a match like this explains why Football is the Worlds number one game.

The first half, we did not play well and visions or nightmares of the Preston game flashed before my eyes. The crowd booed as we struggled to put two passes together but at least we scored a very good goal from Halford after a great Thomas cross. Unfortunately we had already conceded a very well taken goal from Ebanks-Blake who looked menacing all match, although difficult to blame McCarthy but his major weakness was exposed, that being pace. In the last minute of the first half Wolves hit a post and the follow up was somehow put wide. What an escape and when I went to get a half-time drink the fans mood was filled with frustration . The second half began without Ambrose who is surly a luxury we cannot afford, being replaced by Zhi . Suddenly everything seemed to click and if Lita was match sharp he would have tucked away two one on ones with the keeper. Weaver was redundant and we at least enjoyed the second half as it was such a vast improvement and we were playing to something reaching the Palace pinnacle. Unfortunately there was a player, the sort of player who we have been crying out for and that is E Banks Blake . He somehow beat McCarthy at the byline and smashed a great shot from an acute angle into the top of the net giving Weaver no chance. All around me, the fans looked gutted and with 5 minutes to go the fans almost ran to the exit. Four minutes of added time stopped the exodus and a magnificent header from Lita who ran half way round the pitch without his shirt and skidded ten yards to end up in front of Pardew after scoring. More emotion than witnessed at The Royal Albert Hall on an Opera performance. Why oh why do we suddenly think we can go on to win this. Weaver got the ball the crowd shouted kick it and of course Wolves gain possession and from a deep cross score a winner in the last minute. Mick McCarthy and his motley crew understandably went Bananas.
The fans coming out of the ground shook their heads in disbelief and that's that I'm afraid. A very weak Championship and we fail to even make the Play-offs.
Roll on next season- I think.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Hands up all those who hate 5.20pm K-offs

Another reason to get out of the Championship are these late Saturday afternoon televised games, which means I will have to miss tomorrows match against Wolves because of a pre-arranged dinner with some friends. Usually with a 3pm KO I can get back home by 6pm, which leaves plenty of time to go out for the evening.
Tomorrows game is an obvious must win one and I think we need to win a further three games and draw two to reach 71 pts, which should be enough to secure sixth place. The first season Curbishley was totally in charge was 1995/96 and we scraped into the play-offs in sixth place with 71 pts. A lot of frustrating home and away draws, twenty in fact meant we lost out on automatic promotion. For the record P46 W17 D20 L9 F57 -A 45 Pts 71
Players of note Bowyer, Rufus, Robinson , Newton, Balmer, and Leaburn who was top scorer with 9 goals.
Unfortunately we were knocked out by Palace(In the first half at home we should have been 3-0 up) who then went onto lose in the final to Leicester-I was so sad about that.
The team today has some similarities to the 95/96 team but there is one major difference being the midfield of Bowyer, Robinson, Newton and Robson/Nelson and the first three players having an exceptional season -Oh! for a midfield like that tomorrow.
If we fail to make the play-offs, which now seems likely I think we will all have to be patient because it took Curbishley three seasons to get it right and two inspired signings of Kinsella and Mendonca certainly helped.
Charlton 2 Wolves 1 Iwelumo , Varney
attendance 20,121, minus one disgruntled season ticket holder.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

This has to be the most frustrating season ever

The league nobody wants to win and the top teams losing to the bottom teams on a regular basis has made this seasons Championship either the most competitive in its history or the poorest and I'm going for the latter. West Brom and Bristol City are the best footballing sides I have seen at the Valley this season but I don't think any team in this division could live with the Charlton team who won the play-offs and the team that won the Championship -both of those statements pretty obvious I suppose. What is missing from the Charlton team has been written many a time on a Charlton Blog so one more time wont hurt- Ouch! it does bloody well hurt when you witness it on a cold Friday afternoon. Kinsella, Hunt, Mendonca and Robinson where are those type of players when we desperately need them. Pardew is the right man for the job but I think there has been far too much pressure on him, which has caused him to tinker with the team too often . Even after victories he has changed the team to counter the big physical teams which has never worked. The best performances I have seen this season was against Blackpool, Palarce and especially Stoke, who are proving to be a very difficult team to beat. I'm a great believer in keeping faith with a small squad of players maybe 16 or 17 barring a horrendous injury list so they can bond. Here is my team to start every match if possible

Weaver-- Not a fantastic season but certainly good enough to hold on to the GK jersey
Moutoukil-- Young and enthusiastic
Bougharra-- Injured Unfortunately but has started to show what he is capable of doing
McCarthy-- Could be player of the year
Youga-- Young and enthusiastic -bound to make mistakes
Holland-- Really shines in this Division
Zhi-- Great player but needs protection
Semondo-- Given a chance he could be a good player who could protect Zhi
Thomas-- The most gifted player we have if only he had the heart
Varney --Pace and needs time
Iwelumo-- We don't have any real strikers but I feel if we play Varney and Thomas wide and not pump the ball up to Iwelumo he could score more goals from crosses and he always gives 100%.

Who would be a manager eh! - I would with a Salary of more than a million.

Come on you Reds

Sunday, 16 March 2008

You are my Charlton my only Charlton(Ipswich 2 Charlton 0)

Its 2.45am and I'm waiting up for my son to come home from a night out because I know he's forgotten his keys and the thud on the down stairs window does'n'half make you jump when your in a deep sleep. My wife is away in Yorkshire seeing her Mum for a few days as its her Mums birthday and I actually volunteered to drive her to Kings Cross (they really are making a fine job of rejuvenating the old station and the marvelous St Pancras ) on a Saturday afternoon, that's how desperate I am to avoid traveling to Yorkshire, although to be honest my mother-in-law ain't that bad. Driving back through the City listening to Radio London, the live match was West Ham v Blackburn and as Blackburn took an early lead the commentator who just happened to be Bradley Allen -remember him, said we now have to go to Portman Road for an update and my heart sank as the first name mentioned was unfortunately an Ipswich player, after that I probably could have been arrested for road rage as the afternoon went from bad to worse . I'm not the sort of person to reminisce but just lately I'm finding it difficult not too. There are probably a few Bloggers and readers out there who have supported Charlton longer than I have but 42 years is along time by any stretch of the imagination and the strange thing is I can split those years in two. The first 21 years were without doubt for me, the most fun and carefree, probably because I could commit my self whole heartily to the cause and my expectations were so low as Second or Third division football was all I knew and crowds over 10,000, were an exception rather than the norm, the thought of anything higher was an unfulfilled dream . Then ironically without a ground , a meager budget and under the great leadership of Sir Lennie we made it to the promised land . After four seasons with Houdini escapes for three of those, we succumbed to relegation and a few years in the doldrums spent rebuilding, at least we had regained the Valley . (I so hated going to Selhurst but First Division football softened the blow. Then magically we somehow gained promotion via the play-offs and again the promised land beckoned - In our first season I thought we had a good team and lost several matches 1-0 and were unfortunate to be relegated . The next season in the First Division Sir Alan bought some great players and took a massive gamble on Dean Kiely paying just over a £ 1 million for his services . A great team went up as champions and this led us to the glory years with a further six seasons in the Premiership. So there we have it a tale of two-halves and now I look back to those early days and realise how far we really have come and although its hard not to have high expectations because of the latter years I must and will understand how hard it is to play and stay in the top flight and little old Charlton have been in the top flight for 11 years out of the last 21 . Looking back to the Championship winning team it is quite obvious several players hit their peak unlike this season unfortunately. Kiely , Powell, Brown, Rufus , Kinsella , Robinson , Newton and Hunt all had a marvelous season and most of those players, played over 40 matches. Hunt scored 24 goals with the other players all scoring over 6 goals each . Mendonca scored 9 in 19 matches until his unfortunate injury. What is galling this season is, if we had gained only 80% of the Champion winning teams points we would be top of the league, as after 38 matches we had amassed an amazing 88 points from 38 games -80% =70 points . This season there are only two players who come out with any credit and they are, McCarthy and Holland, the rest are having a very ordinary season. This league was definitely there for the taking, oh well-hey ho, worst things happen at sea and life goes on. There is always next season and I will definitely be renewing my season ticket, mad sad git that I am but what else would I be doing on a Saturday afternoon.-possibly shopping -now how quickly can I renew. Come on you Reds.
The Valley 1970

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Gutted three times in one day (Charlton 1 Preston 2)

Firstly my tennis match was cancelled, then due to circumstances beyond my control I left it too late to meet some overseas Bloggers and a few of the UK contingent at The Rose of Denmark and lastly the most god damn awful match I have seen at the Valley for yonks.
The Match
After a minute I could sense things were not right and it was going to be one of those days , Preston started brightly and after 30 minutes should have been 3-0 up instead of just 1-0. The first half was summed up very aptly when the tannoy announced there was to be 3 added minutes and a bloke behind me shouted "that's far too long". The second half was not an improvement and a great crowd of over 25,000 was stunned in to disbelieve at what was happening on the pitch . A lucky equaliser by McCarthy gave us some hope, but deservedly Preston got their second with the sort of goal that would grace any ground in the World.
Player Rating
Weaver 5
McCarthy 6
Holland 7
The rest 1
The Crowd 9 Just for turning up

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

A Bridge too Far- Charlton 1 Bristol City 1

There are certain comments made by pundits and Managers of which there is one that I totally disagree with " we scored too early" meaning what exactly! take it back we don't want it. Last night for the first eight minutes we played some great football which resulted in a well taken goal by Ambrose . The faces on the Bristol players looked visibly shocked and if only we had kept the momentum going, who knows we could have gone in at half-time 3-0 up , unfortunately instead of going for the jugular we sat back and let Bristol back into the game and its a game they could and should have won. Certainly in the first half Charlton deserved to be in front as Weaver was a virtual spectator and if Thomas who had a great first half had not wasted a glorious chance on 45 minutes who knows how Bristol would have reacted in the second half. After the break and based on last nights performance City deserve their lofty position, with the sort of crisp short passing that is a pleasure to watch, although at times it was painful for Charlton fans . City pressed and troubled McCarthy and Sodji and an equaliser seemed inevitable and deservedly came after sustained pressure and from a great corner McCombe headed the ball into the net on 62 minutes. After the goal there was only one team who looked like winning the game unfortunately it wasn't Charlton. An enjoyable game which kept the fans on the edge of their seats .
We have to be realistic now and make sure we make the play-offs. Unless -Unless we can create a run similar to the last promotion crusade when we won 12 games on the trot

Come on you Reds.

Player ratings

Weaver 7 Safe and no chance with the goal
Halford 6 Funny game really didn't get going
McCarthy 8 Good game
Sodji 6 Struggled in the air
Youga 6 Below his high standard
Zhi 6 Anonymous
Holland 8 Best player for Charlton again
Ambrose 7 Reasonable game
Thomas 7.5 Great first half-Marked out of the game second half
Varney 6 Ran everywhere but didn't produce
Iwelumo 7 Lot of fans don't like him but he gives 100%
Gray 5 Really struggling but hopefully he will come good
Cook/Sinclair5 Do we need these type of players especially for the Play-Offs

Monday, 3 March 2008

Pardew Earns his Spurs.

In my humble opinion, Sheffield United so far this season are the best team to visit the Valley after beating us with a superb tactical display 3-0 and there seemed only one direction for them to take and that was a challenging position for automatic promotion . My punditry is now in tatters and I'm keeping well away from any form of gambling establishments and predicting results as this seasons Championship is a punters worst nightmare , literally anyone can beat anyone and if there is any consolation, it has to be good for Football and the fans, although very painful at times if on paper your team looks a sure bet. (now there's a contradiction in terms) This years Championship is going to go to the wire and if any of the top eight clubs put some sort of consistent run together the coveted automatic promotion spot will be theirs.
Full marks to Pardew, he really earn' t his Bucks on Saturday because after the Blackpool result our season could easily have gone pear shaped -still can of course, but as all good managers do he rallied the team and the players he criticised so strongly like Halford responded magnificently. A nervous but optimistic CND is very much looking forward to attending the must win game against Bristol City who at one time spent a few seasons in the late seventies as a First Division club, so it will not be so strange for me, if they become a Premiership club.
Come on you Reds
My Prediction for tomorrow 1-0, 2-1, 1-1, 0-1, 0-2, 4-1, 3-2, 0-0, 1-3

Wells-Next-the-Sea Norfolk was a delightful place to spend a long weekend with some friends and a couple of mad Black Retrievers . A splendid converted Farm house was the setting for a great couple of days walking on deserted beaches -see photos below, and of course Saturday after an eight mile walk, it was heaven to be able to sit in front of a roaring log fire with beer in hand watching Charlton's great away win unfold on BBC Television.

Not many people on the local nudist beach