Friday, 28 November 2008

Next... Southampton at home

Since I wrote my review of the QPR game a lot seems to have happened.

I have been to France on a booze cruise - except I didn't bring much booze back; We have lost to QPR in another game that resembles the last two away games under Pardew (great stats and 'effort' but no win); Woolworth's have gone into administration; We have signed another two players on loan; all sorts of horrors have been happening in Mumbai; and we have off loaded the striker that scored both the goals scored against Palace in February, and the first goal that my son witnessed.

Ignoring the non-Charlton items in that list, I can't help but thing that the most significant in that list is the 'sale' of Luke Varney. Parkinson suggests "...Luke needed a change of scenery to kickstart his career and it was a chance for the club to recoup a large chunk of the transfer fee paid out for him." A large chunk? What constitutes a large chunk? The fee is to be 'undisclosed'. In our current financial plight would £500,000 be a large chunk? Would £250,000? Does he mean a large percentage of the original fee? Does that mean £1m plus? The fact that he is being sold now - and may well be the only player out for a fee in January - makes it difficult not to assume that the money received for him will be used in the managerial change. I am not going to go as far as to suggest that the money will end up in the bank account of a certain Mr Pardew, but one could argue that the £2m (plus) he paid for him is the actual price of letting the manager go.

I will not fester or go on about the financial implications, but I am happy to say that I'm glad to see the back of Luke Varney. I could well at some point find myself comparing him to Big Chris who is having the time of his life at Wolves, but I just don't think Varney has justified his existence at Charlton at all. The comments from Pardew in the summer, a full twelve months after he got here, that he had at long last started wearing the right jeans said it all really. The lad clearly failed to settle into his new life style. That might be an issue with him being too young at 24 to move away from his family; he might not have adapted to being so rich (relative to his Crewe days - remember he was signed from non league so was probably one of the less well off Alexandra players); he might have found the increased press attention associated with promotion favourites to be too high. What ever the reasons he clearly failed (miserably) to live up to the expectations that we all had for him when he signed for £2m - £2.5m. I don't necessarily blame the player for that, and I don't get the feeling that he was responsible for what he cost us, nor did he ever have an adverse attitude. He just couldn't do the business on the field, and for that reason I'm glad he is no longer on our wage bill.

I think that some managers (in all walks of life) make decisions that do not work out, yet feel afraid of admitting their mistake for fear of increasing the pressure on them. Pardew has been good at 'taking in on the chin' and did drop Varney at the end, but I can't help feeling that it is easier for Parkinson to sell him at a loss that it would have been for his predecessor. It reminds me of the situation with Francis Jeffers. The truth is that you can only make decisions based on where you are. The mistake is not (I hope) the sale of Varney for less than we paid, the mistake was paying £2m for him, or even signing him in the first place. However I think the right decision has been made now.

For the record I was underwhelmed when we signed Big Chris, but I was impressed with what he provided and was a little sorry to see him leave, all be it that the fee received was a benefit and a huge profit as he signed on a free.

So the two new loans will presumably be involved on Saturday. With the restriction of only five being allowed to be involved at a time and the loan deadline it is, of course, possible that they have been signed with a slightly more long term view. I would expect to see both the loan wingers play and I think Primus is a bit of a certainty. I was, personally, disappointed to see Craine back in at full back, but it has to be said that with Mou2 having his first decent run in the side coincide with our worst run since we were relegated it was hardly something I could complain about.

I remember seeing Deon Burton play and score for Derby in the Premier League then Jim Smith came out and made comments that raised some doubt about his attitude. Something that has been borne out a little with him having had 11 clubs. However, he might just be able to provide something between now and the end of the season. On the basis that we are looking for just enough to finish above three clubs that requirement may well be limited, and two goals and two assists could be worth 8 points, which might make a huge difference come May.

The left back slot has been a problem for us this season, and Pardew did say that Youga was one bad performance away from being dropped, and he hasn't looked very impressive in the last two games, so a replacement was to be expected. Just how good McEveley will be is a moot point as he couldn't get into the first team of a side that think Luke Varney is the answer. However, I think he will play, and even if it only gives Youga a bit of a rest it can't be a bad think. Quite what Grant Basey has done wrong I don't know, but maybe his time will come.

I feel inclined to give Parkinson a run of games to see if his influence (including the players he's brought in) can provide us the lift we need. I do still have reservations about his role with Pardew, but on the basis that I can not influence the decision either way I'm happy to let things carry on as they are for now, while reserving the right to complain about it later if it goes wrong.

So a home game against a genuine relegation candidate. Sounds a bit like Barnsley. Strangely enough since we played them Barnsley seem to have carved out an eight point lead over the drop zone. On the basis that we have not won back to back league games for eleven and a half months (ignoring the close season) I think you can assume that it is going to take us at least four games to secure 8 points - and probably more like six - Barnsley are looking very safe now.

Southampton have not lost for two games, including a win at Reading. I'm going to suggest that we will lose tomorrow, not by much, but by enough to make our plight a little worse.

I hope I'm wrong, but right now I just cannot see us winning another game this year. Looking at the fixtures there isn't a match that I'm confident of securing three points.

Never the less I will be there tomorrow, as will my Dad, who has been away for a few weeks. Maybe he'll bring us that little bit of luck that we so clearly need, maybe he won't.

Up the Addicks!

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