Well the season is over, but we have a couple of games to play before the holiday, proper, starts. The first of which is Barnsley at Oakwell. I have been promising to go to this fixture since I was at Sheffield University in the early nineties. For reasons I cannot remember now I didn't make the short trip when I was in South Yorkshire, and now I feel that I am obliged to go at some point as I lived so close for a while. However, despite thinking it might be, this is not the year to fulfill that obligation.
As for today's game, there have been mixed messages coming out of The Valley this week. Pardew has sent home Lee Cook, and Leroy Lita has been called back by Reading. Thus you could be forgiven for thinking that Pardew has given up on the season and is going to blood some youngsters and use the game as a run out rather than an opportunity for three points. This is in contrast, however, with his comments that we have an obligation to the teams at the bottom of the league to give our all and try to win this game.
I really couldn't be bothered.
I would like to see some of the younger players get a game, but as Pardew is going to bring in, he says, three or four players in the summer, and still has the same number that he has already signed that haven't really been given a chance, I fear that any games chalked up today or next week could well be the only ones the kids get, as they will quite possibly be ignored again next season as Pardew brings in loan player after loan player like he did this year.
Anyway, I was determined not to be critical in this post as the time for that has long gone, and I actually have no problem with him bringing in more players, especially as those we have have failed miserably to live up to what we all want - promotion.
As for Barnsley, I don't really like them. I don't hate them, and to be honest I don't like many teams other than Charlton, but their one season in the Premier League when they sang "It's just like watching Brazil" every week (presumably they were referring to how their players made the opposition look like Brazil) just annoyed me, especially as we couldn't win promotion at the time. However, what annoys me the most about Barnsley is the way the team have clearly short changed the fans this season with rubbish performances in the league while being probably the only team this season (or for many seasons for that matter) to have a 100% record in their games against the top four. They are probably the only team out of that top four that have beaten both Chelsea and Liverpool this season.
The arrogance of some of their players, and especially their manager, when they managed the second of their two famous victories bearing in mind how pants they were in the league sickened me to be honest. For this reason alone I would have liked to see them relegated, but even though I think the manager deserves it the fans don't. I also expect that the players that have let them down the most would just move on. It was also rather disappointing to see the press coverage of the Barnsley players in a FA Cup Semi-Final demanding to know in advance what the bonuses would be if they made it to the money spinning FA Cup Final. What a sorry state of affairs, an FA Cup Final beckons and all they seem to care about is "What's in it for me?" With the exception of a few clubs (Palace, Millwall, and a few others) I would play for any team for nothing in an FA Cup Final, and those players almost certainly earn a lot more money than I do. Who says the Premier League is the only place where money rules?
Anyway back to today's game. Despite my bravado I do care about it. I wish I didn't, but like many others I am 100% dedicated to Charlton 100% of the time. I am, as I write this, sitting with my son (who is just shy of his forth birthday) and watching Power Rangers. Our favourite (in all the different series) is the Red Power Ranger. We are a Charlton family and for that reason days like today are still match days despite the relevance of the game on the season, or not, as the case may be. What I would like to see moving forward is more players that seem to have the affiliation with the club that we seem to have lost this season. That means a settled side and players that we have all known (and watched play) for a long time. I'm not suggesting playing rubbish players game after game for years, and I don't really have an answer, but I want to feel more like they are our players, and this season's team hasn't had anywhere enough of those.
Thankfully it's not my job to do that, it's Pardew's which, clearly, gives me licence to ask for what I want without having to provide any instructions or guidance as to how it can be achieved. So starting today let's give the players that are not going to be here next season the day off and let's have a look at some of the reserves, you never know there could be Mark Kinsella or a Steve Brown to be found. Maybe we could even stumble upon a Clive Mendonca or a Richard Rufus. Now that would make these next two games worth while wouldn't it?
Come on you Reds!