I have never been to Plymouth (the city or the ground) and I do like to add another ground (or five) each season. Thus I'm going tomorrow.
In my defense I did suggest it several months ago when I thought that we might just be able to secure promotion there or even win the Championship. How mad was I?
I think I just got carried away with the success that we had in this division in 1999/2000. At the start of the season I really thought we were going to be the best team in this division by some margin. Watford were poor last season before they sold Ashley Young, and Sheffield United were always going to have a hangover from the West Ham/Tevez affair.
Still it was not to be, and I have been enjoying my football a lot more in the last couple of weeks as I have been trying to focus on the games themselves. I deliberately forced myself to give up hope of promotion when we lost as Ipswich. Maybe I was unnecessarily negative, but it worked for me, and I am now looking forward to a weekend away where I can take in a (hopefully decent) game of football without the pressure of the significance of the result.
I have made my feelings clear in recent weeks as to the limitations of Pardew this season, but on the whole I think he probably did what he thought was best (I'm sure of it), and as good as any other manager could have done under the circumstances. I also think he is the best placed man to take us forward. Not that I like everything that he does, I have particularly tired in recent weeks of his irrepressible optimism, but I just can't see where a better replacement is going to come from that wants to take on the job at hand. I guess this mess can be traced back to the Dowie appointment, or even the last few Curbishley years, but there is probably no need to drag it all up again (although I'm sure I will do so in the coming weeks, especially in the close season).
Moving forward, for me, involves playing as many of the younger, inexperienced, players in the last few games as possible. I have no idea what effect it will have on a players development or confidence for next season. From my own experiences, however, every time I do something I become better at it in some way or more confident in my ability and that can't be a bad thing.
I suspect that Lita will play, and I would love to sign him in the summer, but Pardew's recent description of Marcus Bent being a 'financial burden' suggest to me that we are looking to move players on Premier league money out, rather than in. Having said that if Lita hasn't signed a new contract since Reading were promoted he might just be within our reach. I guess it somewhat depends on what Bent and Amady faye do in the summer. Their combined wage bill might scupper our hopes of signing any of the loan players.
I would like to see Bougherra and McCarthy start, and I think I am happy to see Youga and Moo2 back in at full back. I think Pardew still has to justify Halford's loan signing (although he was much better last week), and Thatcher is also likely to get the nod. To be fair Pardew has, somewhat, backed himself into a corner with respect to team changes so he is probably going to pretty much stick to what we saw last week.
At this time I have little hope that the young players will play, but if we lose (likely) I think we will see them back in for the visit of Southampton next week, as baring a miracle we will 'officially' be out of it by then.
Anyway I have go be off to bed soon. I have been instructed to arrive at my Dad's house (half an hour away) no later than ten to six in the am. I thought there was only one six o'clock every day?
Up the Addicks!