Friday, 29 August 2008

Next... Preston away

Preston were the team that provided one of the more celebrated results of last season, and one of the worst.

The away victory back in November was our forth straight win, something we only managed once in the whole of last season, and never got close to again. The home defeat in March was probably one of the worst performances in recent times and could well have been the catalyst that caused the unrest at The Valley to become vocal, an event that may well have been significant in the decline of our season.

Strangely the away game (forth straight win) was followed by two home defeats, both of which saw us concede three goals.

Last week was a great performance. I believe that not only did we win (convincingly) but we also showed some character traits that could well make a big difference for us this season. Having said that we have showed these traits before, but not quite managed to carry them from one game to the next.

I have much more confidence in the current set of players than I had last season. I know we have lost some quality, and we have a much smaller squad (especially at centre half), but the players look more like a team than they did at any point after March last season. If one wanted to be critical one could point out that the lack of 'togetherness' started following the sale of Andy Reid and the introduction of Andy Gray and the four loan signings.

Either way I think we will win certain types of games this season that we lost last season. The question remaining is whether the lack of quality in the side (I'm including Andy Reid in this) will cause us to fail to win games that we won last season. The quality/team spirit balance is very unpredictable. Clearly first choice is to have quality players that have a great team spirit but we cannot afford many of them, so we have to make do with a combination of the two. Last season I think (certainly towards the end) we had too many players with ample ability that were not as committed as they could have been. This is something that I believe Derek Chappell was trying to convey in his only statement to the fans to date.

So Preston away. I'd probably take a draw, but I have a funny feeling that we will win this game. I think it's no surprise that we won more of the games last season that the opposition tried to win. I think we are not best suited to trying to break down defensive teams, but I think Preston will come out at us, and maybe that will play into our hands?

I would expect a similar line up to the one that started at Home to Reading. I would expect Youga to take his place back, but other than that I would like to see us take (or at least try) the game to Preston. Our style of play is becoming mush more like I enjoy watching. Fast paced, wide wingers and attacking. If we can keep the players fit I can't see any reason for us to change that, but I guess time will tell.

This weekend I'm going to be listening to the commentary on BBC Kent on DAB. Here in Kings Hill we get a good reception, and Saturday is going to be a family day. This had been a big week in the KHA household as Kings Hill Addick Jnr started school on Wednesday. I work from home (and I really do do some work from time to time) but the house has seemed empty and quiet since he started at school. Mrs KHA has been 'helping' me to keep herself busy during the day. What's that saying about too many cooks? Thankfully she doesn't read this.

So Saturday both me and the youngest school boy (the only one actually) in the KHA clan will be shouting at the radio with Sky Sports on in the corner of the room. Hopefully Mrs KHA will be able to find something else to do as I don't need any 'help' listening to football thank you very much.

Up the Addicks!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Charlton 4 - 2 Reading

I have to admit to having a reputation for being a bit dramatic, and chances are it's a fair cop. However even bearing that in mind, I'm happy to go on record as saying that Nicky Bailey is the answer. He didn't win Man of the Match on Sky, I've been reliably informed. That honour went to Luke Varney, but for me Nicky Bailey was easily the Man of the Match.

Not to say that Luke Varney had a bad game, as he didn't. Bouazza, another contender, was outstanding and his goal was sublime, and that was not is only significant contribution.

It is very difficult to discuss the performances of the players when all of them seemed to play so well.

I guess that having let in two goals we must have dropped the ball at the back a little. However, despite the decision to show respect to referees this season, I have to say that the chap today was really testing my resolve. NYA, who has the benefit of a tv replay, suggested that Weaver was off his line when the second penalty was taken, but I really don't care. They all do it, and if the goalkeeper saves it that should be it. I can honestly say that I wouldn't have complained had roles been reversed. I'm also not sure that it should have been given in the first place, despite the 'Essex Boys' behind me running into their box and then coming out to announce that it was definitely Fortune that pulled him back. This was, incidentally, after they had discussed Bouazza for ten minutes and decided that he must have been a swap loan for Thomas with 'Pompey'.

So maybe Fortune gave away a penalty, and Mou2 committed the same crime, but that aside we looked magnificent.

I am not going to write a report of the game as there are plenty of others available, and it was on tv, however I will add a few thoughts.

- We played with wingers that made it their business to cross the ball - I'm going to include Mou2 in this as his crossing is as good as any full back I have ever seen

- Lloyd Sam was playing like a winger more than I've ever seem him

- Nicky Bailey

- Bouazza looked looked fantastic. He made Jerome Thomas look like a show pony

- Both strikers scored

- We enjoyed seeing the opposition miss two penalties. I know they scored the second attempt at he second one, but it didn't stop me cheering like made for a few seconds

- Reading were chosen as my favourites to win the division, and we made them look like girls.*

- My confidence in this season has been restored.

It could well be a one off, but for the first time since we sold Scott Parker we look like we can play 4-4-2 with two wingers without worrying about the centre of midfield.

Welcome to The Valley Mr Bailey, please make yourself feel at home and we hope your stay is a long one.

One Nickey Bailey, there's only one........

*No disrespect to girls they can be great at football.

Friday, 22 August 2008

It's time for some answers

Back in February New York Addick penned a post about the infamous 39th fixture that the Premier League were 'exploring'. His view on the subject, and my own, are irrelevant at this stage. I'm more interested in the excerpt below:

"Luckily as a Charlton fan, we can have few complaints about how we are treated by our current Board. Matchday prices are relatively low, we have a fans director, and you sense his colleagues genuinely make decisions with us in mind, not least because they are fans too. However, for all of us there should be a 'tipping point', whether in terms of cost or other factors, which drive us to consider alternative leisure activities. After all, the cost of a season ticket is not materially less than the cost of a year's membership to golf club, and at least there the pain is self-inflicted."

Following the Bloggers meeting with Richard Murray in June my view, and the subsequent comments I made, were massively in support of the board. Clearly there was a selfish reason behind that. If I slagged them off I might not be invited to the next meeting, if, indeed, there was one. There was no attempt by Richard Murray or Ben Hayes (the current Fans Director) to censor those present, and no suggestion that we need be nice of this would not happen again. However, we all knew that if we went away and caused trouble it would be a short lived project.

The main reason I seemed to support what the board were doing was that I agreed that it was in the club's best interests. Frankly I still believe that the board are steering our fine club well in what can only be described as 'choppy waters'. I suspect that there are few people reading this that have not felt the pinch of the current economic climate (food and petrol prices plus increased mortgage rates) so it should come as no surprise that the club are having to cut costs and raise money. This is made worse when you consider that the club (company) has so much debt and the banks are both calling in loans and increasing the interest rates.

Thus I am not calling for the directors to put more money in, or to seek further outside investment, we are where we are in financial terms. My worry is that, as NYA states, we have had a board, and particularly those that were seen to make the decisions, that we had learned to trust. Perhaps Richard Murray and Peter Varney were lucky to have been in-situ while Alan Curbishley build a team that won us two promotions and kept us in the mega-money Premier League. Perhaps Curbishley was lucky to have been supported by two great visionaries that enabled him to achieve those things. The truth is surely somewhere in between those two statements, but is somewhat irrelevant. All three of the men that the average fan would list as being part of that success have gone, and the new men at the top are all unknown to us.

Alan Pardew is a great communicator. He has the knack of always seeming to know exactly what to say. His statements never sound like they have just been delivered. He always comes across as though he has had a long think about what he is going to say. The man may well be very, very intelligent, and he may be able to think so quickly on his feet that everything he says just sounds like what I would have said if you'd given me half an hour to construct my answer. How clever he is matters little to these purposes. It is clear that Pardew is using the press conferences to his own ends. I would like to think that he is merely trying to use psychology to give his players the best chance/motivation/confidence to win games and ultimately promotion. However, I personally suspect that he is laying the ground work to protect his reputation should the club have another disappointing season. The message that I am getting is that the board have pulled the rug out from under him with no notice at all and have destroyed our chances but Pardew will do what is best for the club and supports the board's decisions. He seems to criticise the board just enough to plant the seed of doubt in the fans mind then covers himself by backing the board publicly. All in all he is making himself out to be the good guy and the directors out to be the bad guys.

Steve Waggott has been the new CEO for a couple of months now, all be it his official start date was 6th May. I'm sure that Mr Waggott will give his all, and I have little doubt that he will do a good job. However he is as of yet an unknown and trust and respect need to be earned.

Derek Chappell is in the same boat as Mr Waggott. Despite the fact that the announcement to cancel the Fans Director being made many weeks ago many fans are starting to put two and two together and are assuming that this decision, along with the lack of news of the 'Fans Forum' suggests that it is a decision of the new management that exclude the fans.

I have little (well none actually) insight into the two men that are going to try to take the club forward, but with the little anecdotal evidence we have seen (most of it from Pardew) it looks like they are intending to sell of many assets (understandable) and refuse to enter any dialogue or provide any access to the fans. This is probably not the case but the one 'public' statement from Mr Chappell tells us very little except that we are going to off load any players that don't want to be here. I don't disagree with that, but it does provide a blueprint for any Agent that wants to make some money moving on one of our players.

So why have I gone to all this trouble to tell you something that you probably already know? Apart from it being what I almost always do I think that we (the fans and the bloggers) need to be raising the issue that the unwavering support that the board have received in recent years needs to be nurtured. If it is not feasible (or just plain desirable) to have a fan on the board then there needs to be something else to give us the impression that we are worth more than the revenue that can be generated from ticket sales, "a £3 matchday programme full of adverts", and "£40 for a piece of nylon tat masquerading as a replica shirt, but costing just 50p to make." New Your Addick We need to feel like we are as much a part of the club as we did when Richard Murray, Peter Varney and Alan Curbishley were at the helm.

I understand that the board members own the club and don't have to answer to us, but they should also remember that the same was true of the Newcastle directors that suffered a backlash in 1998. There is no doubt that the club are stronger with the support of the fans than without it, and no one wants to hear chants of "Sack the board" ringing out around The Valley.

Maybe it's time for more than a few words from Mr Waggott in the program describing his movements in the week leading up to the match. I don't want to be overly critical but it would be a very sad day if Charlton were to add losing the 'special bond with it's fans' to that of Premier League status, the most successful manager the club has had in modern times, Richard Murray and Peter Varney.

I'm not angling for another bloggers meeting (although one would always be welcome) but maybe it's time for a press release that lays out how the fans are going to be kept in the loop, and indeed for that process to commence. The argument put forward that in the Premier League the TV revenue is so high that even with no fans the club would be wealthy (look at Wigan) is just not the case in this division. So we have nine months to convince the fans that they should renew their season ticket again, or, of course, to win promotion. There is already a sense that the free season ticket in the event of promotion was over played bearing in mind any player worth a fee was going to be sold. In fact some (many probably) fans feel as though they were cheated into renewing.

All this animosity will continue to build until it is addressed. Let's hope that it is sooner rather than later.

Oh, and a win tomorrow would be nice.

Up the Addicks!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Next... Reading at home

When we lost to Watford and I remarked that we had another week to sell some more players I was actually joking. Thomas is the latest to move on (permanently), and good luck to him. I really mean that. He was a player that I liked to watch from sometimes. Sometimes, of course, he was no fun to watch, but he played a part in some of the best (relatively speaking) memories of our spell in the Premier League. His two goals against West Ham in our 4-0 win and the two he scored against Spurs (one at home and one away) helped to secure three wins against rival London teams. Good times!

What Jerome had, sadly, I believe he wasted. Despite the fact that on his day he looked every part the Premier League player, all too often he looked like a lazy, overpaid mercenary. I know that may seem to be harsh, but as New York Addick suggested he seemed to be able to keep his place in the side (and therefore his salary) by doing 'just enough'. All be it that this was adequate for a Premiership Club with a turnover in the millions and many talented players, it was nothing like the Charlton Spirit that dragged us into the Premier League in 1998 and 2000, nor the attitude that will get us promoted again without a rich benefactor.

So we now have just four players left that played for us in the Premier League. Matt Holland (who is clearly coming to the end of his career) Darren Ambrose, Lloyd Sam and Jon Fortune. The former of this list being the only player that has played more than 38 games (a season) for more than one team in the Premier League, and the only one that could genuinely claim to be a Premiership Player. I know that is harsh on Ambrose and Fortune, but their contributions could be explained away as being squad players punching above their weight. Neither of them have been coveted by Premier League sides since our relegation, and in the case of Fortune Pardew has been trying to off load him even since he got here.

Thus I would suggest that our transition to a Championship club is now almost complete. I am optimistic (as I always am) that this could be the year that Ambrose, and Lloyd Sam for that matter, really start to show that they have the quality to shine in this division, but there can only be so many chances given out. I think Ambrose has delivered enough to justify him staying, although I doubt that any Premier League teams will be looking to sign him, even when he is fit. Lloyd Sam, on the other hand has delivered three rather unspectacular performances this season and must be glad to see Scott Wagstaff go out on loan.

So, where does that leave us for Reading? Well, Ambrose and Todorov came through a reserve game 'unscathed' on Wednesday night, according to the Official Web site, so they may be on the bench on Saturday. Bouazza is a straight replacement for Thomas in the squad, and probably the first eleven. ZZ is back from China and will probably be involved in some way (assuming he hasn't been sold by then) and Bailey should make his Valley debut. It is a great shame that after eventually securing a place in the first team Therry Racon has broken his fifth metatarsal and will be out for 'three months'. Three months has in the past extended to a whole season, so that could be a real set back.

I would expect the team to look like the one that started at Watford with Basey in for the suspended Youga and Holland starting in place of Racon. With Basey being 'unfit' for the Wales U21 match, however, he might not play either. There could also be justification for starting Shelvey with Bailey. There could also be a change at right back with Moo2 coming in for Semedo who may, or may not, be given a midfield birth.
So not the same side at all then? As I've already said, I would like to see Todorov and Ambrose on the bench and would hope that one or both of them get on for a bit of a run before the end.

I am rarely right when it comes to predictions, and football is no different, however for what it's worth I think that Reading will be the team to catch this season. I expect Birmingham to give them a good run, but I think that McFadden will leave before September, and I'm not sure that their manager will not jump ship too. He showed a complete lack of integrity leaving the Scotland job for the mega money in the Premier League, and I suspect that as soon as a job becomes available he will be more than happy to show Birmingham fans his back.

Still as I'm normally wrong with these things chances are that Reading will finish eighth and McLeish and McFadden will lead Birmingham to the title. Either way this Saturday is a very good test of our credentials this season. Without putting too much pressure on our young side a defeat to Watford (who I think will be in the playoffs but nothing more), followed by a defeat at home to Reading (one of the promotion favourites) will put a question mark over our aspirations.

To be fair to the team/squad/manager/board I don't actually think that it is imperative that we win promotion this season. Obviously we'd all like it, and it would lift massive financial restrictions that we are currently working under. I do think, however, that if we fail to go up this season we, at least, need to look (for most of the season - especially towards the end) like we just might. This means beating some of the fancied teams and never being more than a win or two away from the magical sixth place. Pardew's promises that his teams always come good towards the end of the season will not be believed this term so we daren't go into the last ten games nine points behind our target. I would like to think that our target after 36 games would be second, but realistically we are aiming for 5th and will accept 6th as a consolation.

Thus Reading becomes our first must win of the season. I would actually say that it is more like a mustn't lose. We can, obviously, still finish behind Reading and win automatic promotion, but either way a win on Saturday would enable us to claim to have set out our stall for the season with promotion being our aim. It would also relieve some of the pressure that can be sensed on the message boards, blogs and email lists that are suggesting that avoiding relegation would be a good achievement this season.

What ever the outcome I will be at The Valley for my first league game of the season. Hopefully they will give me a reason to go home happy.

Come on you reds!

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Watford 1 - 0 Charlton

With all the turmoil surrounding our club right now losing a game 1-0 away from home to a team that was relegated from the Premier League with us and with ten men doesn't sound like a disaster.

The fact that we may well need to finish above Watford this season if we are going to make that top six makes the defeat a little bit of a set back in our quest for a free season ticket.

As I wasn't at the game I am not going to write a report.

According to the commentary on BBC London (available online) Bouazza was a bit rubbish. I can't be sure that Jerome Thomas would have been any better, and I guess that Bouazza's wages are lower. Hopefully he will find his feet sooner rather than later and will then start to offer much more. However, I seriously doubt that he will be moving clubs for a sum in excess of £2m again any time soon.

Maybe we are now paying for all the Premier League years in the same way that teenagers go mad with their credit cards and then months (or in some cases years) later have to cut back in order to pay for the over spending. Using that logic makes the current fire sale seem more palatable. I mean, we are in about the same financial situation as we were fifteen years ago yet we have a fantastic stadium, much better support and we have had a great time over the last ten years. I know this was never the plan, but even though it could have been different it wasn't and we are where we are. The most important thing is to get it right moving forward and as it stands I think that we need to trust Pardew to turn our fortunes around until we are convinced that he won't be able to, or he leaves for a 'better' job.

To lose with ten men is no shame. I'm not about to blame Youga, but it is not easy to come back from a goal down with ten men. In all fairness we were a goal down by the time Kelly saw red, and on the basis that we don't seem to have the playing style to come back from being behind, the sending off might not have changed the outcome anyway.

From what I read and heard from Swansea and what I saw against Yeovil I think we are going to have to score first if we are going to win this season. That does put some pressure on the defence, but with Hudson I think we have a player that can cope with that pressure. Jon Fortune, on the other hand, is clearly not in the same class. From the radio commentary it sounded as though he was at fault for Watford's goal. It says a lot that Pardew has accepted offers for Fortune for two years running, after sending him out on loan in the January transfer window after he took over at The Valley. With just one year left on his contract, and with Premier League wages, Fortune must almost certainly be on his way next summer. Either way, until we sign a replacement or two he is going to have to play.

Well, we have another week to sell some more players. I hear that Bailey is on decent wages, maybe we should send him out on loan to lessen the running costs? Seriously though we have another week to bring in that defender that Pardew has been talking about, and from what I heard Bailey is going to add something to the squad. It's only two games and we do have three points. We are only one win away from the league leaders!

Reading will not be easy opposition, but with a bit of luck they will have sold a player or two by then and we will have brought one or two in. If we haven't agreed a fee by then we might even have ZZ available to play.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Charlton 0 - 1 Yeovil

So, our uneaten run didn't last too long did it?

I don't know why I continue to go to these games. I have been to all of our home Cup games for over twenty years and I have seen about half a dozen matches that I have been excited or pleased about.

I appreciate that this competition is not taken seriously for Premier League teams that are not very confident of avoiding relegation, so I accept that we made changes during those years, but why would we show such little respect to Yeovil by making so many changes? Semedo was a central defender when we signed him, but we still chose to play Youga there last night. We played Wagstaff, who is clearly not ready for the first team. Dropping Gray and playing Bouazza as a striker? And if anyone else tells me that he is a £2m player I will scream. It's almost as though we are being asked to believe that even though we have sold some good players, and more are still to go, this boy is a £2m player. The truth is that there are no clubs outside of the top flight that can afford to pay £2m for a player. Fulham were rubbish last season, so if he can't get into their squad then he is not a Premier League player, and as such he cannot be worth £2m.

I don't care what the player's worth to be honest, if he is good enough to do a job for us then I'm more than happy. I just don't want to be treated like a fool. Maybe I'm just mouthing off because I've given up another evening to watch us lose to a team from a lower division.

Yeovil were not rubbish, and we need to remember that we do not have a squad of internationals any longer. To believe that we can drop three or four first team players and still beat a committed, disciplined side is unrealistic. I think, like Pardew said, that we need to score first in games like these. We failed to win too may games against teams that came to The Valley to defend last season. I suspect that had we not got an early goal against Swansea it could have been the same outcome as last night.

We clearly have some work to do. I know that last night's result was not all that important in the grand scheme of things but Pardew gave the impression that he was going to give the first team a run out, then after we had all purchased our tickets he decided to put out a much less than full strength side. I understand that reserve games are free to Season Ticket holders, so maybe they should make these games free, or even just offer the opposition a bye and not bother playing the game at all?

Either way I don't appreciate Pardew (and others) making demands for us fans to attend and then fail to take the competition seriously.

If we had scored first last night, which we should have done, then the result could have been different, and Pardew wouldn't have had to 'admit' that he made a mistake (something that I think we hear all too often).

Anyway, as I've said, I think I'm just a bit fed up with the comments from friends that always delight (as I do to be honest) in someone else's misfortune.

If the players come out refreshed and win on Saturday I will feel very different, but right now I'm happy for us to decline to enter this competition next season.

Up the Addicks.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Top Ten Goals

Everyone has a favourite game, player and goal, but how many of us take the time to compile a top ten?

Well in my industry (like many others) December is a quiet month so in 2006 a Spurs colleague of mine and I decided to list out favourite ten goals of all time. I had intended to publish these over the summer, but I never quite got round to it.

I have now dug out the emails and just for completeness I will list the Spurs fan's list also. Sadly we have very few FA Cup winning goals, and certainly none during my life time, but I suspect that you Addicks out there will enjoy reading my list more than that of the Kent Yid.

Both of these lists have been printed as they were originally written, so you’ll have to excuse the grammar, spelling and language. Also when reading my list please remember that I don’t go to many away games, I have only included goals I actually saw live and I have only been going to watch Charlton since 1980. I’ve also taken out my nickname at work so as to avoid the confusion. NYA, don’t bother to ask as I’m never going to tell you!

The Spurs list:

10. Glen Hoddle v Man U in 1978/79 League Cup match (a beautiful volley from the edge of the box)

9. Glen Hoddle v Notts Forest 1979/80 (cant remember exactly) super volley again from the edge of the box

8. Glen Hoddle v Watford early eighties, a beautiful chip from the right hand edge of the box straight over the keeper's head (he didn't bother moving)

7. Gary Lineker v Sheffield Weds away. Perhaps his only goal where he smacked it from outside the box. Went like a rocket into the top corner.

6. Garth Crooks v Wolves 1980 Semi final replay at Highbury. Raced onto a thru ball by (yes you've guessed it, Glen Hoddle) and his sheer speed made the Wolves defence look pedestrian. Then he leathered it into the corner. We were on our way to Wembley..

5.Paul Gascoigne v Portsmouth 1991 quarterfinal. Beat 3 players and scored on a real sh*t pitch. Pure class

4. Micky Hazard v Notts Forest circa 1981/2 through ball he took on his chest on the run two defenders around him but he calmly half volleyed it into the top corner past Shilton's despairing dive.

3. Robbie Keane v Blackburn last season. rec'd a throw in on the edge of the box. Controlled it and beat 3 players before slotting it past the keeper.

2. Paul Gascoigne v Arsenal at Wembley in the 1991 semi. free kick from somewhere outside the stadium and thrashed it past Seaman - 1:0 and we're on our way to Wembley (again)

1. Ricky Villa v Man City - Nuff said. Pure brilliance and yes we won the cup again!

Kings Hill Addicks all time top ten goals.

10> Carl Leaburn – Southend – March 1993. No Top Ten of Charlton goals would be complete without a Leaburn entry, and this one really does deserve to be here. He accepts the ball on the edge of the box with defenders flying in from all angles. Now if you don’t remember Leaburn he was 6ft 6in, and his legs were about 6ft 2in. Thus he looked gangly to say the last. Almost all of his goals came from his head, apart from a back heel fully four feet in the air (but this was a bit lucky). Anyway as the defenders fly in he turns the ball from his right to his left, back to his right, back to his left, then again he turned the ball onto his right and slots home our second goal in what turns out to be a 2-0 win. It was away, and I actually went. The goal was not so magnificent, but it seemed like ages that he controlled the ball at his feet before he scored.

9> Andy Jones – Luton - Feb 1990. The ball was lumped forward and the keeper came out, and as the ball fell it was clearly not going to come down, so Jones kind of chipped it with his head and it must have gone 10 foot in the air before it came down under the bar with the Keeper chasing back and getting no where near the goal.

8> Alex Dyer – Bristol City – March 1991. He actually scored two goals in the same game, one a proper goal scorer’s goal. Pushed the ball past the keeper and then ran past and scored, and then his entry in the Kings Hill Addick Top Ten. He came in from the left, and then bent the ball round the goal keeper and into the top corner. Do you remember the goal John Barnes scored against Everton about the time Dalglish left? You should, they showed it dozens of times. Well it was just like that. There were about 5,000 at Selhurst that day. Great shame.

7> Alan Pardew – Southend – April 1994. The day the East Stand opened. We managed to fall 3-1 behind, then at 3-2 Pardew picked up the ball just inside his own half and proceeded to run all the way to the Southend penalty area where he chipped the keeper to make it 3-3. He also scored our fourth goal, to ensure our comeback, but it was his first goal that makes it into the Kings Hill Addick’s Top Ten.

6> Shaun Newton – Ipswich – May 1998. Play off semi final second leg. We won a very, very close first leg 1-0 away with an own goal. And Danny Mills had been sent off and was suspended for this game. The roof had been taken off the West Stand as it was being rebuilt. This was actually after the regular season had finished. So the scene is set. Now, Shaun Newton is a right footed player, plays on the right wing. He doesn’t score many goals, a few for a winger, but not many. We had been the better team, but were a bit nervous. We hadn’t let a goal in for 9 (nine) games, but we hadn’t scored many. After about 35 minutes Newton picks up the ball on the right wing, and he cuts inside. Clearly everyone is willing him to play a neat ball into the box for Mendonca (remember him? He scored 45 goals in 89 starts for Charlton). However, he pushes past the fullback, across the box, then from absolutely no-f***ing-where he smacks it with his left foot and it flies into the top left hand corner. Great goal. And it broke Ipswich. They just gave it up, and we just cantered through the last hour in the warm May evening.

5> Scott Parker – Leeds – December 2002. We were in a bit of trouble that season, and we were 4th from bottom when we beat Man City away then Blackburn at home. Then Leeds away. Leeds had had a bad season, and they were in a bit of trouble themselves. Harry Kewel put them in front a couple of minutes before half time. In the second half we chased and chased the game, but with little success. Then with 10 minutes to go Kevin Lisbie scored to give us a chance of a point at Elland Road, the team that had been in the semi-final of the Champions league just a season before. Then in injury time Parker ran through the Leeds defence and slotted home the ball from about 8 yards. 2-1. We actually went on a run of 5 games (making 8 all together) that left us safely in 12th position where we finished that season.

4> Paul Mortimer – Chelsea – October 1989. Picks it up on the left, and beats two players before lashing at the football like it just banged his missus and from 30 yards out, and 20 yards left of the goal, and it flies past the keeper to sneak inside the top right corner. 3-0. After the game Mortimer went on to declare that Charlton were fed up of all this relegation stuff (after fighting a relegation battle for three years) and predicted that we were not going to be in a relegation dog fight that season. Ten months later we were relegated.

3> Shaun Bartlett – Leicester – April 2001. The ball dropped from the right hand side to just outside the 6 yard box on the left, and Bartlett just volleyed it into the net. This was the Match of the Day Goal of the Season. ‘Nuff said.

2> Tahar El Karkouri – Arsenal – January 2005. Free Kick. Even though the goal was scored at the valley it was taken from somewhere deep inside a house in Bagdad. Who said Saddam Hussein didn’t have rockets that could reach London?

1> Paul Mortimer – Norwich – October 1988. This was away, I went on the “Football Special” train on my own to this game. I was 17. I stood behind the goal on my own, and we were 2-1 in front when Paul Mortimer decided to dribble past at least 4 players and score a magnificent goal. His close control of the ball was the best I’ve ever seen in a Charlton shirt. For the record he scored at least 3 more goals like this, and I probably could have made a top five with just him, but this one was the best because of the circumstances in which he scored it. Although the one he got against Bradford live on TV in out 4-1 win was only just piped at the post.

Also rans:

Robert Lee - Newcastle - September 1988 We went down to ten men and were losing into injury time, and the ball seems to drop in front of Robert Lee about 25 yards out, and he just whacks it through the bodies in the box and it takes a couple of slight deflections and it’s 2-2.

Jason Euell - Arsenal - Nov 2001 We were in 3-1 in front, and Jensen played a ball behind the famous back four, and Jason ran on to it and took it wide and slotted it home. Not a magnificent strike, but he looked that day like a proper striker. Ian Rush would have been proud of that goal. And of course it was Charlton’s 4th (that’s FOURTH) goal at Highbury. Which is nice.

Richard Rufus - Sunderland - May 1998 After over 300 appearances Rufus waited until the 86th minute to score our equaliser at Wembley. He was the best Centre Half the club has ever had, and it was a crying shame when he had to retire at 28. And the goal couldn’t have been scored at a better time. Fantastic!

Next... Yeovil at home

Normally I don't get too excited about the League Cup, but as I missed Saturday's game this is the first competitive game of the season for me.

Saturday's result was fantastic. Two goals and a clean sheet. I daren't have asked for so much before the game, however I am going to take the opportunity to brag about getting the first eleven right. I have been writing this blog since January and that's the first time I've done it. Sadly it could well be the last too, but it won't stop me being pleased with my foresight.

I have little idea what the starting lineup will be for tomorrow. I expect that we will rest any players that we have any doubts about, Hudson being one. I wouldn't risk him in what is probably a meaningless cup tie when we have a serious game on Saturday. Watford are going to be beatable as they had a terrible run in the second half of last season and have sold most of their best players this summer, so Hudson should probably be saved for them. Hameur Bouazza is likely to get a start, which I think is best and Mou2 should come back in at right back with Semedo moving into the centre. I would keep the rest of the team the same. I think it is important for them to get another game under their belts and as I missed Saturday I think I should be given a look at the new team. So, come on Pards, play the best eleven that you have, it's only fair.

As for the result, I would expect that anything other than a home win would be both unlikely and a bit of a disaster. No one knows what the future holds, but as we are not one of the top seeds we could well draw a Premier League team and not only will that generate some money (hopefully) it might be the only time we get to see a top flight team this season. The draw, if it's done before the end of the month, might just motivate the board to agree to another signing.

I have to confess that I know little about Yeovil, and I don't have the time (or inclination) to look up what their players are all about. Needless to say I will be going to The Valley tomorrow evening full of anticipation and excitement. I'd probably take a 1-0 win, but it would be nice for the team to pass the ball around well, look creative and bag a couple (or three) more goals to lift the confidence before Saturday.

Up the Addicks!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Next... Swansea at home

Well it's here again.

New York Addick has provided a nice summary of his feelings during this summer with the aid of an academic grief model. I don't disagree with any of his post, but after the meeting with Richard Murray in June I was more than prepared for what has happened. Maybe my fellow bloggers and I (clearly the New York resident was not at the meeting) failed to communicate the situation properly. Maybe normal human behaviour is to deny what is right in front of you if you don't like it. Either way I am feeling a lot more comfortable with the financial dealings this summer than many Charlton fans, including my Dad who was more than aware of the situation.

However, irrespective as to what has gone on, we have a new season approaching and another chance for glory. My personal feeling is that we are going to be strong enough to compete this season, all be it not challenging for the title. There is no reason as to why we can not do what Hull or Stoke did last season. I think that West Brom were in a different class, as will be Reading and Birmingham, but we could still sneak into second place.

I went to the training session last week, and the Bilbao game on Saturday. The former was very interesting, and the camaraderie was evident. Pardew seems to be a funny man and is probably liked by the players. Comments like the jibe about health screening discovering that Nicky Weaver had the 'fat' gene were amongst the things that gave the impression that we are a happy bunch of mates that enjoy their days at work. My only worry with this approach is that from most of the places I've worked managers that are good friends with their employers often seem to struggle to motivate them when things are going badly. It is much harder to give your friend a bollocking than a subordinate. But what would I know, I've never even worked for a football club, never mind be a football manager. Besides if we get a good start and then go on a long run of good results he may not need to give anyone a bollocking.

The friendly against Bilbao ended in a 1-0 defeat, but we gave a decent account of ourselves against what we should concede were better opposition. The defeat could have been worse, and we did miss a penalty, but I would say that Bilbao showed more commitment in a friendly than any team I have seen, so I believe that we should be encouraged.

So, Swansea at home. I have a confession to make. I'm not actually going. In November 1998 I had a heart valve transplant, and was in bed attached to various machines when we lost to Everton, but other than that game, it is back as far as 27th August 1987 since I last missed a Charlton home game. We lost that one too, the red side of Liverpool beating us 3-0 at Selhurst Park.

I feel as though I was somewhat tricked. I cannot ever remember the football season starting as early as 9th August. We don't even have a major football tournament next summer to justify it. So I agreed to go to a wedding before the fixtures came out, and as my wife is looking forward to it, and I went on the stag weekend, I am missing our first home game of the season.

Fortunately, I believe that in my absence we will win on Saturday. I always start the new season with optimism irrespective as to the way played last ten games of the one preceding it. I do believe that a decent start will give us the platform to go on to win that elusive promotion that the club so desperately needs. It was clear last season that team spirit and confidence are much more important than the presence of a few individual talents that may or may not play as part of a team.

I think that having a smaller squad (and presumably avoiding loan players that merely want to play their was into their 'own' team or another one) will help to produce that team spirit that we were clearly lacking in the spring. I also believe that it will ensure that the current players will be less likely to be dropped for one mistake, which will, hopefully, remove some of the pressure that we saw in the run in. This will, I truly hope, reduce the number of long balls to the front men/man. Moving on Big Chris might also have in impact in this area.

Overall the squad is not as strong as it was last season, but I could make a decent argument for the first eleven being as strong. Most of those that have left made little impact on the first team last season. McCartly has been 'replaced' by Hudson which I believe makes us stronger. Bougherra will be a loss as would ZZ if, as I expect, he leaves. There is likely to be a new defender or two coming in which should help to some degree, and with Jonjo Shelvey (who, incidentally wasn't even on the back of the program until the Coventry game last season) we have a decent midfielder who adds to the squad and I have already said will be very influential this season. Big Chris, despite his goals, was clearly not in Pardew's plans all that much this season. He gave his all, and did everything that was asked of him and he goes with my best wishes, but in the end I just don't think he was good enough, or have the required talents for the way I (we) want us to play.

We have clearly not mamaged to find a replacement for Andy Reid, but to be fair the chap was valued at £4m with his injury track record. Who knows what he would be worth if he had been an ever present for the three seasons before we sold him. I guess that realistically we cannot afford a player of his ability in this division so we will have to find a way of winning without him.

Alan Pardew has (I believe rightly so) a good reputation as a manager, and I don't think that finishing in the top six should be beyond him this season. If we fall at the play off stage (assuming we don't lose to Palace) I will not be dissaponted at his performance. It is sad that after so many years in the Premier League this is the sum of our (mine anyway) aspirations, but we are where we are and we should accept it and make the best of what we have.

As for the team I am confident that this will be the best chance I have of getting it right all season so I predict (with confidence) that it will be Weaver, Semedo, Youga, Fortune, Hudson, Sam, Shelvey, Racon, Thomas, Gray and Varney. Clearly if we bring in any new signings I will amend this prediction, and I am expecting Hudson and Weaver to be fit to play which in Hudson's case is imperative.

As for the result I expect us to win by a small margin. I also think the game could be a little nervous unless we get an early goal. I will be receiving updates at the wedding via text message from my Dad, so I will be as nervous as the rest of you until we score.

Anyway I hope that you all enjoy the day, and I'll be bcak for yeovil on Tuesday.

Up the Addicks!