Saturday, 28 February 2009

Swansea 1 - 1 Charlton

It has been just over two weeks since I last posted anything to this blog. A lot has happened in that time. We have managed back to back clean sheets for the first time since September when we drew at Forest after winning 1-0 at Doncaster. Jonjo Shelvey has signed that contract that we (certainly I) feared he wouldn't. We have also seen the start of the rumours about who will be leaving if we go down. In this example it's Nicky Baily to WBA.

I found it hard enough reading about Bougherra leaving us to further his career with Wigan (no disrespect intended) but with the gap between us and safety looking unlikely to be bridged we are going to see more and more rumours about our best players leaving for clubs that we wouldn't have imagined three years ago.

I've always been an optimist, and have been looking at our performances in recent weeks and talking about how we just might make it. However, during that time all the teams in the relegation battle have managed results, and the gap to safety is now bigger than ever, and the games are running out.

Southampton have now managed back to back victories (something we've failed to do for almost fifteen months. Doncaster have literally left us for dust. Forest have gone from being a few points behind us to being a massive ten points in front of us with a win at Reading today. Plymouth were not exactly lucky only drawing with Sheff United last week, and they went and won at Wolves today.

Our draws at Barnsley and Swansea are very credible, but under the circumstances those two points must be viewed as not enough. I have been much more supportive of Phil Parkinson in recent weeks, but I can't help thinking that the time to save our season was that run of eight games during which time we managed just three points.

I hope that I am (and was) wrong, but I believe that the appointment of Parkinson for the remainder of the season was what condemned us to relegation. I fear that the time to save us was in November.

However, If we get relegated we will have a manager at the helm that knows the third division - although I'm sure that was the boast when Pardew was in charge when we entered the second division.

All in all, I am impressed with our performances over the last six games. The two defeats in that run we led and lost by the odd goal with only one fit centre half available. The fact that were in that situation is unforgivable, but never the less the players have looked up for the fight.

What the future holds is unknown, but I have to say that despite our performances (and results) of late I feel more resigned to third division football next season now that I have at any other time.

Still, two wins in the next two (home) games and it will all change again.

Up the Addicks!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Next... Plymouth at home

It now seems a long time since we won at Plymouth with ten men. I went to that game, and as it was such a long journey I was very disappointed when we had Weaver sent off in the first five minutes.

We were not playing all that well when we went there, and by contrast they had been on a decent run. This time around we are both in terrible form. We have managed just three wins between us in a combined total of 35 games. We both have just one win in our last 14. Thus I think we can conclude that it will be a draw.

I read that we are favourites to win this match, but as delightful at that would be, I suspect that neither side will have the 'cutting edge' to kill off the other. Having said that, with their current form Plymouth could well be one of the sides we would have to catch to avoid relegation this season.

There have been signs that we are better prepared for the battle ahead in recent weeks, and despite the fact that we are ten (plus goal difference) behind teams that are winning, a victory could leave us ten points behind a team with significantly worse form than us, with fifteen games left (45 points to play for).

Clearly I have been at the straws again, but if Southampton do go into Administration as has been suggested we then only need to catch two more. A win this weekend and there could be seven teams (and Southampton) that are no more than ten points away - of which two could be as close as 5 and 7 points.

I know this is all crazy talking, but it would mean two wins in four, back to back home wins and ignoring the Bristol City defeat (attributed to having Holland targeted due to his height) we could have won the other one, and would have drawn had the game ended two minutes earlier.

Rather like the UK Economy, the thing needed the most is confidence. I am not going to say that I think we will avoid relegation, as you would call me a mad man, but the more of us believe it is possible, the more the players will believe it. I think we have been very supportive this season. As fans I genuinely believe that the club couldn't have asked for more since we last recorded back to back wins in December 2007. This Saturday is an opportunity for the players to show that they care and believe enough to secure a win, and it will no doubt be rewarded with much more optimism and hope from the fans.

Those seven teams all have to play one another; they all have to play the teams at the top fighting for promotion; we have demonstrated recently that we can perform in fits and starts, and those performances are becoming more and more consistent. A win on Saturday followed up by beating Barnsley at Oakwell would change the forecasts massively. Assuming Barnsley lose their derby at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, we could find ourselves just four points behind them (and safety). That would really make it interesting.

With sixteen games to go it is a little early for me to be building spreadsheets with the teams we might have to catch, but if we find ourselves less than two wins away from safety by the time we entertain Doncaster in just under three weeks I might not be able to resist.

In the meantime I think I will pick up all these straws and put them away.

Up the Addicks!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Daddy's Home

Now on something like his fifteenth year since retirement my Dad has fallen into a rather organised life that includes spending what feels (to me) like fifty odd weeks a year out of the country. You know what it's like, you get to the point where you forget what they look like.

Anyway, having no work commitments, and a place abroad, he is able to pick and choose his holiday dates to fit in with what ever he chooses. He (understandably) has no interest in hanging around the UK in the winter so has six weeks or so abroad before Christmas then the same again after New Year. In order to miss as few games as possible, still too many in my view (especially when I have to go on my own in below freezing temperatures - and we still lose) he breaks that six weeks up into slots to make as many of the Saturdays abroad when we are away. The year we were relegated he even flew home from an extended holiday in Tenerife for twenty four hours to see the Sheffield United game. What a terrible life eh?

Sadly, one consequence of having extended holidays is that you are inevitably going to miss a few games. This season that number has been a record breaking eight games, including the Palace win last week. In order to compensate we have done a few away games over the years to make up for it. Cardiff away this season was one of those. For me this is actually a bonus. I go out of my way (only ever so slightly) on my way to The Valley each game so that we can drive up together. Naturally I love all my family, but my best friend (excluding my four year old) is my Dad. Thus adding an hour or so and a few miles on match day is a very small price to pay.

However away games, by their very nature, mean a longer journey in the car. This is the bonus for me. Don't get me wrong I have no real fears that me Dad is going to die any time soon, so I'm not going out of my way to ensure that I make use of every last minute. It is just (and probably always was) the reason for going to football. It is something that a father and son can do together.

I have lots of hopes and aspirations in life and many of those concern my own son. Putting aside health issues which are always paramount, my main hope is that he and I can be as close in the years to come as I am with my Dad, that he becomes as engrossed in football, and Charlton in particular, as the two generations above him are.

Clearly, the best possible scenario would be that my son starts his love affair with Charlton long before my Dad stops going. I don't think there is any reason for him to choose to stop going, but obviously we, none of us, live for ever. I really hope that when my Dad's name appears on that big screen on one of our minute's applause, I am there with my son to watch it together. Obviously I hope this is many, many years away.

Anyway, I'm getting off the subject. The latest holiday was a three and a bit week break in Tenerife (the holiday home). The flight out was booked for the day after the Forrest game, and the flight back was yesterday, the day before Cardiff were due at The Valley.

Now I don't want to sound spoiled, or jealous, but after having to fight through the snow and ice taking my son to and from school all last week, and the cold afternoons and evenings that I've been to The Valley on my own, maybe someone was trying to tell him something?

When it comes to the bad weather affecting your life and your plans, you can run, but you cannot hide.

Welcome home Dad!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Bristol City 2 - 1 Charlton

What do you say after seeing a win followed by two more defeats? Not only that, but we have managed to lose a winning lead at half time in both games.

That does point to the manager's half time team talk to some extent, but I guess it is just a confidence issue. The players must have virtually none at all right now. I think the Palace game was a one off in that the pressure of our league position was removed by the importance of the derby itself.

Now we seem to be falling further and further behind with each game. Even when we beat Palace, all (or most of) the other teams won too, so we just didn't fall any further behind.

You know when you go to a game you really want to win and score early? You feel like the game can end now (after you score) and you can take the win and go home. Right now I'd accept it if the league offered us the season to end now and we have a good break before next season.

I know that is a silly thing to say, and we can still get out of it (mathematically), but it is just getting more and more embarrassing each week.

Sadly I don't have anything more encouraging to say, and am trying not to be too negative.

Next up we have two home games back to back. Hopefully we can provide something for the fans to cheer about, and start building up the fans inclination to renew season tickets. At this point I'm not sure we have anything else to, realistically, hope for.

Up the Addicks!