I went to University in Sheffield. I had a really great year there and I made some friends that I still see on a regular basis. The degree that I came away with was, of course, the main reason for going, but the life long friendships (I finished there in 1993) were the main benefit. However, I 'adopted' Sheff Utd as my second team during that time. They were in the Premier League that season, as were Wednesday, and they were regarded as the smaller (weaker) of the two sides, and they play in red! I went to Bramall Lane a few times, I even had a tour of the ground and met Dave Basset (their manager at the time) so I was very happy for them to be my 'local' team for a year.
Today, following the behaviour of Warnock, I find that my affection (if that's the right word) has dwindled. The way he, and therefore, the club conducted themselves in the public arena during their recent Premier League season left a bitter taste in my mouth. I'm not talking about the Tevez affair, I'm referring to his constant whining and complaining about referees etc.
Anyway, that aside, I would still rather have them do well in the absence of Charlton's interests being affected, but tomorrow we could really do with a win ourselves.
From what I've read we gave a very good account of ourselves at Plymouth and especially Birmingham and could, nay should, have won them both. All good news I'm sure. Sadly I fear that we might have stumbled across this 'formula' by accident rather than by design. In all honesty, despite Pardew's suggestions to the contrary, we are not in a challenge for promotion now this season, we are in a relegation fight, and stumbling upon a successful 'formula' by luck is probably all we need to avoid Tier Three. If we were really hoping for top six then we would need to be able to 'make things happen' rather than just keep changing things until it seems to work, but we are now aiming for fifth from bottom on the basis that if we miss it by one place it's no disaster.
As for what happens moving forward, it looks like it will be loans, loans, loans. I don't like this approach particularly, but if we assume that the board are considering Pardew's future while keeping it from us fans, then allowing him to spend money on permanent transfers would be illogical. The good things about loan players is that if a new manager comes in and doesn't rate them he can just send them back. Something tells mew that if we could send Varney back to Crewe for a refund of the £2m we paid for him, and have no obligation to pay his wages any more we would do so. The same logic could probably also be used for McLeod, Christensen, Sinclair and to a smaller degree Andy Gray. If any of those players had been on loan with us for half a season before we bought them we would probably not have paid out for them.
That is all part of the game, of course, but to allow your manager to take those type of gambles - and to be fair to Pardew, he has had some successes too - you need to be sure that he is going to be around long term.
Anyway that has all been covered way too much elsewhere. I am approaching tomorrow's game as I did towards the end of last season, a game of football that we will try to win that will not have any significant impact on the rest of our season. Clearly every game is a potential three points, but if we are going to finish fifth from bottom then anything against Sheffield United is a bonus, even at home.
Having said that I have a funny feeling that we will give a good performance tomorrow, and assuming we can keep them out for the first fifteen minutes or so we should be able to take the game to them a bit more. Iberian Valley author Nelson has already done an analysis of this and it would seem that if we score first we are in for a good day - concede first and it is probably not going to be a Happy Valley.
Thus I have a plan. Let's score first.
See, it's easy. All that fuss about Pardew and his tinkering, his 'formulas', his 'nous' and his 'mental and physical strength'. All you need is to score first. How hard can that be?
Well, on the basis that we have conceded first in our last seven games I guess it's a bit 'tricky' as my my four year old son would say. Quite what the relationship between scoring opening goals and defeating Darth Vader on the PS3 is I don't know, but I'm sure 'tricky' is a good word.
As my Dad is away again I will be going to The Valley on my own on Saturday. I think I have already mentioned my motivation for going to football. It's a social thing that I do with my Dad, and the day is not the same when I go on my own. I have read a lot about season ticket holders deciding not to go to games, and clearly it's true when you look at the number of empty seats. So this week I have caught myself thinking about whether I am going to go or not. My wife and I are going to a Ball at our Son's school tomorrow evening. It's one of those fund raising things, and the school is, apparently, 21 years old. Anyway I will need to get home from football, run through the shower, get dressed up like James Bond and leave in about fifteen minutes. It would be much easier to pass on the game, watch it on Sky Sports News and have a leisurely shower before going out to take on Gold Finger.
Then I remembered that I am a Charlton Fan. I don't only go when we are winning, I don't only go when Man Utd come to The Valley. I just go.
So when I steal a quick look in the mirror as I run past I'll be thinking to myself "Addick. Kings Hill Addick, Lishense to kill" while my own Money Penny will be at the bottom of the stairs yelling "I told you you didn't have time to go to football now hurry up, we're going to be late!"
Not going? Who was I fooling?
Up the Addicks!