Sunday, 22 March 2009

Charlton 0 - 0 Preston

I could start by saying that it is a point against one of the promotion chasers. I could look at the positive that is a clean sheet. I could, but...

My Dad was away so I wasn't really sure I was going to go until about twenty past one, ten minutes before I actually left.

I am able to appreciate a game in isolation, and if the game is a good one (by what ever measure you use, a win, lots of goals, some nice football, etc) you can come away feeling that you've experienced something worth remembering.

Yesterday was not like that. In truth, the game was not as bad as some have suggested it was. At least I don't think it was. A goal would have made a difference. Had we scored early Preston might have been forced to come out a bit more and we could have seen some goals.

The result was not really all that important. I was looking to see some decent football and/or some goals. the fact that it ended 0-0 is not really a problem for me. I have seen many 0-0 draws over the years, and some have (for different reasons) been very satisfying.

The fact that we started the game with 5 players on loan or with contracts expiring in June made it difficult for me to really immerse myself in the action. I have no problem with loan players per se, but at this stage I see little for the fans (including me) to care about when we are watching players that are not going to be here next season playing for their futures when our's looks so bleak, and doesn't include them.

I'm not keen to have another go at Parkinson, but it has to be said he now has access to all our 'stars' and still we look inadequate. It is also a little worrying that the only two players that he has signed on a permanent contract got nowhere near the pitch. Spring (who we paid a fee for) was dropped from the whole squad.

I can understand the club wanting to go out on a high, and the management team must be worried about their futures with the appalling record since Pardew left, but I find it a little like watching your girlfriend, that you know is going to walk out of your life forever in a matter of weeks, get undressed in front of you, when they play the players that we just cannot afford anymore.

Maybe that's a little dramatic, and I can't deny that watching ZZ, for example, is enjoyable, but we're not winning, we're not playing decent football and the payers are already thinking about their futures elsewhere. Maybe it's time for us to think about our own future.

Add to those 5 players that have no contractual commitment with Charlton next season, Mark Hudson, Nicky Bailey, Therry Racon and Jonjo Shelvey, and we could well have no more than three of yesterday's starting eleven on our books come August.

We really need to find a way to convince people to buy season tickets. My inclination now is to buy my season ticket on 1st September - assuming that there are enough players left to make me want to go to many games next season. Should that approach to followed by many others that will clearly force the board's hand in the summer.

It's a mess, and I really don't know what the answer is. All I do know is that I didn't really want to go yesterday, and from the minute I left until the minute I got home I never felt differently.

Realistically I will be there next season, I may end up paying as I go as I think I would prefer to pass on the games that my Dad is away (8 this season) but something needs to happen to lift the spirits of the Charlton fans. Covenrty in May last season was just the thing, but I don't think that works if you are already relegated, and you are playing players that are leaving (save for Chris Powell, obviously).

I wish I had the answers. I wish I still had the faith in those running the club. Most importantly I wish we had fifteen points more.

Up the Addicks!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Next... Preston at home

Early March last year the International Bloggers were in town for our game against Preston, and we met for a beer before the game along with a number of UK based bloggers.

It was a nice occasion. Many of the bloggers already knew each other, but it enabled me to put a few faces to some names, both real and pen, and I would like to think that I have started friendships that I will keep for many years.

That was, unfortunately, the only good thing to come out of the day. We were poor. Preston were struggling (all be not as badly as we are now) and we were (honestly) still in with a chance of top two, just, (6 points off with 56 points after 36 games) and we were 5th in the table. Preston, on the other hand were 5th from bottom with 40 points from 36 games. This was a banker home win in last season's fixture. I wish we had 40 points now!

The result, for those of you that don't remember was 2-1 to Preston. We really were poor that day. Preston just wanted it more than we did.

This was an opportunity for us to establish ourselves in the play off positions with two tough away games to come. We lost those games at Burnley and Ipswich and fell out of the top six and never got back there. Had we beaten Preston we might have been able to approach those two away games with a less aggressive approach (and more confidence) and the outcome of last season could have been very different. However, I'm sure you could make a decent case for just about all of our defeats last season being instrumental.

I'm not one for revenge, nor am I one for 'football justice' but it would be poetic if we were to beat Preston on Saturday to put the brakes on their promotion challenge. I don't think we will win, of course, but right now I'm not sure we could beat a team of school boys. The side are so bereft of structure, confidence and stability that I just cannot see us facing a team with sufficient lack of talent and/or motivation again this season that we can beat.

At this point, as has been mentioned elsewhere, we are potentially only two games from it being all over. I am confident that we will lose those two games, the only really question is can Norwich or Forest pick up two wins? The truth is that it no longer matters. Save for a team going into administration we need to win four of our last eight games to avoid finishing bottom, while the team we catch would have to lose all their remaining games. We've only won 7 in 38.

I have no justification in wanting to win this game any more than any other, but for some reason (probably down to last season's debacle and the extreme cost of attendance by some of my, then, new friends) I really want to win this one.

What I want and what happens, however, are rarely the same.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Things can only get better

Sadly this is not a post about our current predicament, as frankly the truth is that they can actually get much worse

No. This is an historical post. It is an account of a special day in our history. Those of you that were there will all ready know which day I'm talking about, but if not all will be revealed.

As you all know I live on Kings Hill in the middle of Kent. My son, however, goes to school in Rochester. It's only about half an hour in the car, and not an unpleasant drive. Normally we eat our breakfast in the car - those of you that have a four year old will know what it's like to get them up in the morning and eating toast or hot cross buns in the car provides another fifteen minutes in bed.

Normally we don't have the radio on as KHA Junior likes to shut his eyes and add to the aforementioned fifteen minutes with another sneaky sleep. However today I was listening to KM-FM (The music you want, The news you need) and suddenly heard the following:

"You can walk my path."
"You can wear my shoes."

And suddenly all the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and I felt a tingling in my arms and legs. Within ten seconds I was at Old Trafford, and even though I know what happened that day, and that season, I was irrationally so excited about what was to come.

For those of you that are still not sure what I'm talking about let me take you back to January 1994 and the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. A certain Alan Pardew opened our scoring as we beat Burnley (who were 4th in the the third tier at the time). We were riding high in in 3rd place in the second tier, just one point behind the then leaders (Palace). We went on to win 3-0 with goals from Leaburn and Grant adding to Pardew's opener.

The 4th round saw us face Blackburn at home. We were now second in the division, one point behind Palace and one point above Millwall in third. Blackburn were, however, second in the Premier League (where they finished that season). We drew 0-0, and at that point I think we had all seen the highlight of our Cup season.

The replay was a memorable game with a 1-0 win from a Darren Pitcher goal. I went to that game, along with a friend from University and a few of his friends. It was my first visit to a Premier League (top flight) ground for a long time and despite there being a whole stand missing it was a reminder of what we aspired to. The game was fantastic, we out sang the home fans for the whole game. It reminds me now of some of the lower division teams that came and won at The Valley during our Premier league years.

Next up were Bristol City away. I went to that game too. It was becoming an FA Cup tour (and it was to get much better although I didn't know that at the time). That game finished 1-1 with a Scott Minto clearance on the line in the dying minutes. That meant that they would have to come back to The Valley, where we'd been strong all season. We'd drawn with Bristol City at home earlier in the season in the league, and I thought we looked good enough in the first game to win the replay.

To add to the excitement the winners of that game would play Man Utd away in the quarter final. The game finished 2-0, and from what I remember we never looked like losing. After the game my University friend (who'd been very active in the Back to The Valley campaign) pointed out that this game provided all that could ever have been hoped when we were at Selhurst and Upton Park. A midweek game under floodlights with a place at Old Trafford in the quarter finan of the FA Cup waiting for the victors. It was hard to disagree with him.

So, a quarter final at the Premier League Champions, and leaders with a 7 point advantage over the team we'd beaten away in the 4th round. By this point we had fallen down to 5th in the second division following a defeat at Millwall, and were 5 points behind second place, all be it with a game in hand.

The club were awarded 10,000 tickets, 25% of the capacity, not something that happens today, sadly. As we had so many tickets and a capacity of just over 8,000 it was thought that there would be no need to limit purchases. Thus when the box office opened they were selling as many tickets as you'd like. After a while, though, they realised that wouldn't work and reduced it to 4 per season ticket. Anyway, needless to say, I got one. Well a few actually as I was going with my Dad and some friends - all long term Charlton fans by the way.

The first half had little of note, save for an incident just before half time where Kim Grant was put away and just had Schmeichel to beat (the ball having already gone past the keeper) and was brought down. The ref showed a red card.

At half time the song by D:Ream (that was in the charts at the time) "Things can only get better" was sung by just about all of the 10,000 Charlton fans. We had held out for the first half, and they had had their keeper sent off (all be it they had brought another one for an outfield player). Things could only get better.

Sadly that was not to be the case. Andrei Kanchelskis literally ripped us apart in the second half making a goal for Mark Hughes and scoring two himself. Carl Leaburn scored a consolation goal for us, but that was the end of our FA Cup run. It also started the end of the season for us.

Following on from our FA Cup exit we went on to lose eight of our next nine games. The one win being a 4-3 home victory over Southend on the day the East Stand opened. That was one of my all time great games. Alan Pardew scored two goals, one of which made it into my all time top ten goals.

So from 12th March, where we were fifth with 55 points from 33 games we ended up finishing 11th with 65 points from 46 games. That's 10 points in 13 games. Something we have become used to in recent seasons, but in 1993 I can understand the deflation that the players must have felt.

However, at 4:50pm on 12th March 1994 it really did seem like "Things can only get better!"

Up the Addicks!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Wolves 2 - 1 Chalton

Well, what do you know?

"We lost to two very scrappy goals in a game where we deserved something out of it."

"Robbie's [Elliot's] not had a save to make apart from the penalty, which was a dubious decision. I do feel hard done by that I'm sat here and we haven't got at least a point."

If we had a point for every time the Charlton Manager has complained that we didn't actually get what we deserved we would have been promoted last season and we would probably be safe in the Premier League by now. As it is we are thirteen points (and six goals) behind the forth from bottom spot, and Barnsley (third from bottom) are twelve points above us with an eleven goal difference advantage and two games in hand.

I'm not doubting that Parkinson believes that we really should have got something today, but we lost, and saved a penalty. According to Sky Sports website, Wolves had 5 shots on target to our 2, we both had 2 shots off target and they also had 9 corners to our 1. Thus all the stats we can see make it look like we deserved to lose the game.

The only evidence I can find to contradict what the stats suggest is Mr Parkinson himself. Admittedly there is no comment from McCarthy yet, and I have not read anything from any of the Charlton fans that were there, but it has to be said if we did deserve something, why didn't we get anything, again?

Again I didn't follow the match, I decided to reorganise the junk in the loft space. However, I could have accurately predicted the side; I could have accurately predicted the result; and I could have accurately predicted the press conference from the Charlton camp.

I don't know if I'm angry, sad or just plain not bothered. I think what upsets me is that the thing that I cared most about (apart from my family) now rates below which of the items I haven't seen for two years join the 'keep' pile, and which ones join the 'bin it' pile.

Up the Addicks!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Next... Wolves away

After two terrible performances and results Mark Kinsella takes his manager and his players to the home of the team that have been top of the table for just about all season, another potential hammering, but also another opportunity for them to claw back some credibility and respect on our way to an almost certain relegation.

Wolves have, at times, looked like they were untouchable in this division. A fantastic achievement for a team that hasn't seen either Premier League football or the subsequent parachute payments for many seasons. I have always had a bit of a resentment for Mick McCarthy due to his Millwall connections, but you can't doubt his ability. What he achieved at The New Den, along with Sunderland and Wolves means that you have to admire him, even if you don't want to. I haven't even mentioned his success with the Republic of Ireland, something that could have ended much better had the disagreement with Roy Keane not happened.

All that is, however, in McCarthy's past. He was rumoured to be on the way out of Wolves last season, and despite surviving that scare he still failed to make the playoffs and with the (reported) money they have to spend this could well have been his last season - it may still be, of course. Thus McCarthy is under some pressure having seen a lead of nine points to 3rd placed Birmingham reduced to 3 points, with a lead over now 3rd placed Reading of 7 points, having played two games more.

Thus this is a bit of a must-win game for McCarthy's Wolves, especially when you consider that we are bottom of the league and have only won three games since the Second World War. Seriously though we have only won 13 league games since the end of the January Transfer Window in 2008. Thus we have won 13 games out of a total of 54 played. That's more than four games per win. I would suggest that puts Wolves under pressure if they fail to beat us at home.

That could even work to our advantage. Despite Mark Kinsella's refusal to throw in the towel (nothing less than I would have expected from him to be honest) it is likely that our season will effectively be over before that of our hosts tomorrow, so that should put all the pressure on the home side. It is interesting to note that despite his confidence (or was that arrogance) Pardew's teams always seemed to fall short when the pressure was on him and his players. Maybe that has been eradicated, but I would guess that it is difficult to change that mid season, so we should see more relaxed play from our boys now. It is quite possible that this is why we performed better at Reading. This could also be a chink in Wolves armour.

After their start Wolves now have it all to lose, and from recent results it looks like that is exactly what they are trying to do.

Either way I, again, have little real interest in the result of this game. I have no friends that are Wolves fans, and the one that I did have a few years ago is a nice chap and I would be happy for his team to do well. Clearly if we get some sort of result and the other teams in the dog fight all lose it might just open the door for the hope to creep back in. As I have little doubt as to the eventual conclusion of this season I am happy to do without that to be honest. I also have little interest in this division if we are not going to be in it next season. Thus it matters little to me which teams are going to be up there chasing promotion to the Premier League in 2010.

All in all this must be seen as an opportunity to change some of the minds of those season ticket holders that are not all that inclined to renew in May. To be honest I have changed my mind several times, and will probably do so again. What I am sure of is that I am Charlton and always will be. There is absolutely no chance that I will ever be anything else. The question is what type of Charlton fan am I going to be? Am I going to be someone that goes to all the games, buys all the shirts, reads all the blogs, searches all the rumour sites and talks about us all the time to friends? Or am I going to be one of those fans that normally (but not always) watches us on the highlight programs, tunes in after full time on a Saturday to see the results and comes to the 'big' three or four games a season?

Time will tell, but if Mark Kinsella's team (or his current manager) are going to convince me (and others) to commit for another 46 games irrespective as to how rubbish (or good) we are, there is no better time to start trying to do that than the present.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Reading 2 - 2 Charlton

Even though I wasn't actually there I remember us playing Notts Forest on the last day of the season in 1989. Chicago Addick was there. What I remember is the Charlton fans singing "We don't care" at 4-0 down as we were safe going into the game - the last of the season in the First Division.

It reminds me of tonight. Some readers will remember that I was a Liverpool fan as a young child. My dad was born and raised in the Charlton catchment area, and was (and is) a life long Addick, but my Mum was born and raised in Liverpool. Since our relegation I have not felt the same feeling of 'wrongness' following Liverpool in the Premier League, and have never felt wrong following them in the Champions League.

This last week I had, what was for me, the last straw from Sky TV. I won't bore Charlton fans with the detail, but I have defected to FreeSat and now have ITV HD. Thus I watched the Liverpool v Real Madrid game in High Definition splendor.. I almost couldn't be bothered to even look for our result. Not that I was worried that it would be bad, but I just don't care.

However, when Liverpool went 2-0 up (3-0 on the night) my interest waned a little and I thought I'd have a little look on my iPhone and see how we were doing. We were 1-0 up. Our first sale of the summer getting yet another goal. Great, well not really, but it's ok.

I was always convinced that we would throw it away, but had a little look at the scores at half time. We were still 1-0 in front. I couldn't help play a little game with myself. How long would the lead last in the second half? Needless to say, despite my negative attitude, even I thought we'd last more than 12 seconds. That's right, twelve seconds. We lasted 12 seconds.

What a great team talk Parky. "Look lads, just keep it tight for the first eleven seconds and then we can come out and play a bit." Oh dear.

I have a confession to make. I have on occasion started to write these blogs before the game actually finishes. Hudson has just equalised in the 83rd minute. It doesn't really change what I've said, but it is (assuming we last until the end) an impressive result. I know that Forest have beaten Reading recently, but a draw there is a decent result. Sadly losing the two 'must-wins' last week makes it a little irrelevant, but at least we didn't get thumped 5-0 or anything.

Overall my evening was satisfying on the football front, Liverpool went through to the Quarter-Final, meaning that I will get to watch another game on ITV HD that has some meaning to me (assuming they don't lose their first league 4-0) and as we are as good as relegated already we didn't have anything to lose.

To cap it all, we didn't even lose at Reading.

Up the Addicks!

Next... Reading away

Well it's hardly a six pointer is it?

I had Reading down the win the league this season, and despite their start, including a 4-2 defeat to us (the only club that has conceded three goals in one game to the league's bottom team) they have looked every bit the Champions in the making to me. I didn't expect them to run away with the league like they did when they were last here, but I did expect them to win it.

Interestingly that got me thinking. The main reason (in my opinion) for their significant weakness to then is the loss of Steve Sidwell. On reflection it may well have been a masterstroke to keep him for the last year of his contract and lose him for nothing. I think he made a massive difference to them. I'm more than willing at this point to admit that I have no real interest in Reading, so my observations are really quite remote, but from what I read Sidwell was a major force in their side. His wife was on 'Wags Boutique' which Mrs KHA liked and watched. I have to confess that I did not need to be forced to watch it. Anyway Krystall Sidwell was my favourite from the start, and she eventually went on to win it. When I say favourite I don't mean the bookies tip to win it, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, as I went on thinking I could find several examples of teams that we've had where one player was especially significant. I'm more than happy for readers to point out any that I don't mention, but for me the stand out candidates were (in no particular order) Scott Parker, Richard Rufuss, Mark Kinsella, Peter Shirtliff, Darren Bent and more recently Andy Reid and ZZ. I know there have been other special players, but all of that list were, in my view, at one time or other, the pivotal cog in the wheel that is Charlton Athletic. Interestingly three of them were in the same squad for a while, but all had individual periods when their presence lifted the side a disproportional amount.

I have probably always been a little more supportive of the board than I need to have been, but I still back them their decision to let Andy Reid go. I do now think that our future could be so much rosier had we kept him, but he was a bit of an injury worry, and it's all water under the bridge now anyway. The interesting one is ZZ. I think he was very instrumental in our success last season, and even though he was in the same side as Andy Reid I think had his form not dropped so drastically towards the end of last season we could have still made the lottery that is the playoffs. The real loss, however, is both the fact that we didn't realise c.£2.5m for him last August, and that he didn't play any real part in this season.

My Dad (ever the cynic and conspiracy theorist) believes that the failure to secure a more lucrative contract in the summer prompted the decision to have that foot operation. I'm not quite so convinced, all be it that I find it unnatural (genetically perhaps) to contemplate that my Dad is wrong. Either way his absence from the first team this season has been a major factor in our current plight.

This is made worse when you consider that he was signed for a lot of money, has earned a lot of money, and will leave for nothing at the end of the season. He is in that class of player that is just not good enough for an established Premier League side, but looks very good in the Championship. As this is the richest league (I'm including all the divisions) in the world, the quality of the 'nearly good enoughs' is often better that the majority of the top division clubs in the rest of Europe. For this reason, I suspect that his agent will offer him to all the Premier League clubs again, claiming all the while that he is going to end up at one, then he will sign for another club that has just been relegated. To be fair, you can't knock it if he is earning best part of a million pounds a year. He might even make more if he signs on a free.

Irrespective as to if my Dad is right or not, I would not play ZZ again this season. He cannot get us out of trouble now, and all we would be doing is giving him a platform to showcase his wares to secure a better contract next season, and the time we needed him he wasn't there. I am not angry that he was injured, but the fact that his involvement in the Chinese national team (including the Olympics that are for under 23s- he was 27 at the time) had such an effect on the two seasons that we were paying him a very large salary, makes me feel that we owe him nothing. His Agent can earn his huge commission convincing another team to pay his client a small fortune without the benefit of Charlton making him 100% match fit, and we can blood some of the players that will be here next season, or that we can actually sell for a fee in the summer.

Closing this discussion of outstanding players, if we had one this season it would be Nicky Bailey. I believe he could be a star for us next season. Sadly, I believe that he will leave in the summer for, like ZZ, a recently relegated club with genuine aspirations of promotion to the Premier League, where he will be able to earn himself that life changing contract. Rather like the ones that Greg Halford and Tom Soares signed - two more players that fill that category of being not good enough for the Premier League whilst earning Premier league wages. I also expect to see the back of the last of that type of player from our pay role in the summer.

Anyway, Reading tonight. I expect to see us lose. Probably a bit of a thumping, and like New York Addick I believe that Parkinson needs to jettison all the loan and out of contract (in the summer) players. Anyone that plays tonight that is clearly not going to be with us next season is an insult to the players that will (or may) still be here, the fans, and frankly the employers that have sunk millions of pounds of their own money into the club only to see a succession of managers destroy the value of that investment.

Come on Parkinson, save your self, pick some Charlton players that care. Drop the millionaires that belong to other clubs now or clearly will do in a few months time.

Up the Addicks!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Charlton 2 - 3 Watford

There's a clip that they continually show on Sky Sports where Any Gray (one of my favourite football commentators) says "It's just gets better and better" It sounds a bot more like It just gets betta and betta in a Scottish accent.

Andy Gray would have been out of place at The Valley yesterday, as it's just getting worse and worse. A week ago I was trying to conclude that two wins at home and two draws away with a couple of defeats in that run, where we had just one fit centre half, was a promising sign. You would now have to conclude that the wins against Palace (a local derby where anything can happen) and Plymouth (the most inadequate performance I've seen from any side other than ours for a very long time) coupled with a draw against Barnsley (only one win this year) and Swansea (not a bad result) were just a blip.

It is clear that we have gone backwards (a long way backwards) since Pardew left. Suddenly I have a lot less anger with him taking a pay off when he was sacked. He will be remembered for being part of this season, but at this point I feel he could be tarnished with the results of his successor in a way that isn't really fair.

Don't get me wrong, Pardew was responsible for signing so many players on top Championship money that are probably third division players, but we were only just in trouble when he left. He also signed Racon and Bailey. I am sick of saying it, but the Parkinson appointment can be pointed to as the event that has probably put this club back a decade. I don't think we had a nailed on promotion squad this season, but when history is written I suspect it will be a very long time now before we have a squad as likely to win 'our place' in the Premier League back as we had in August.

I also believe that had Pardew been kept on we would have significantly more points than we have now. There I've said it. Despite my calls for him to be removed I think we had a much better manager then than we have now. The basic facts cannot lie, Pardew had several of his players sold in the summer and he had to rebuild. With the squad that Pardew started the season he won 16 points in 18 games. He had no more of ZZ and a lot less of Racon than Parkinson has had. Parkinson has managed 11 points in his 18 games and as well as having Racon available (one of our best players currently) he has brought in a total of seven loan players, two permanent signings and has only lost Luke Varney (no great loss there), Bouazza and the two Portsmouth defenders who's loans finished.

We have only increased the squad with two players that are now permanent. I am not sure how long Burton signed for so he may be finished at the end of this season. Matthew Spring looked ok for a couple of games but he seems, now, to be affected with the same malaise that the rest of the squad has. Maybe that's not down to the manager, but when players come in and look good only for them to go backwards under the supervision of our coaching team the situation needs to be looked at.

Looking at the rest of the squad there are no outstanding improvements in any of the areas or the players. Nicky Bailey, the only real success story of this season, was improving under Pardew. you could say that Bailey's performances this season are in spite of the management/coaching rather than as a result of it. Mou2 has been banished, as has Basey and Youga is playing like he wants to be. The two fit centre halves played together at Palace, and they don't look too bad, but they have just let in five goals in two games. Ward has only been here a few weeks, I'm sure that by the end of April he will also look like a conference player in the making. I will add that despite his injury problems Murty was an inspired signing, and he did well in every minute of every game he played, but at 31 it is unlikely that Parkinson would be able to destroy his game in such a short amount of time.

The midfield has seen Racon come in, and he is a class act. That aside, we have failed to utilise the leadership qualities of Matt Holland when the team has been literally screaming out for some. Spring has been worse than adequate yet he seems a nailed on starter. Soares had one good game (against Palace) and has been just about average since then. Chris Dickson had a couple of good games then produced a stinker and was dropped from the squad (al a Pardew) and Jonjo Shelvey must already be wishing he'd not signed that contract.

Up front we loaned out McLeod (not necessarily a bad idea) but then found ourselves with Gray injured for the rest of the season and Kandol missing two games. I know we have had some limitations, but yesterday was the first time a recognised striker scored for us since the 15th of December. That was also the only other game in the 18 league games Parkinson has been in charge that a striker scored from open play. So nothing impressive to report from the forward department either.

If this was Parkinson's school report he would be dreading showing it to his parents, but his reward is likely to be the opportunity to try all over again next season which could destroy us. Parkinson is, at this point, in a no lose situation. If we win promotion next season he will no doubt be given another contract. If we fail miserably he will no doubt be paid for the rest of the season to reorganise his flower beds.

I have little interest in appointing blame, even thought I said back in November that Parkinson should be given a game or two, but at this point there is little doubt that he is not the man that should have been given the job of getting us out of trouble. I seriously doubt that he is the man to try to get us back in to the second division in 2009/10. Just for the record I am happy to be the first to say that I don't think he is the man to get us promoted back to the third division in 2010/11.

At the end of next season we will be, at best, in the third division and planning for the second division. At worse we will be planning for our third relegation in four years. This is when the next World Cup takes place. In 2006 (just three years ago) we had two players that only just missed out on going to Germany. Something tells me we will not have two full England Internationals in our squad when they leave for South Africa.

How times have changed eh?

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Charlton 1 - 2 Doncaster

Well, that's that then.

I do hope that Doncaster are a really good footballing team because if they are not we are truly rubbish.

They passed the ball around us all night. They looked (or we made them look) like Manchester United. Some of the free flowing football was sublime. It reminded me of us in the first half of last season. Sadly, for them, they seemed to lack that cutting edge like we did in those, now memorable, days of being in the top two of the Championship.

I guess we need to acknowledge that Doncaster have been on a magnificent run which would give them confidence, and I doubt it helped our cause that we actually started the game with five central midfielders and a centre forward that looked every bit the non-league footballer that he was just half a dozen starts (for us) ago.

I am angry and I am upset, and for that reason I am probably not going to be looking for positives like I have been trying to do in the last couple of weeks. I must point out though that the obvious, as already mentioned by Dave Peeps is that Parkinson's results do not stand up to any kind of scrunity. Despite the fact that he has a reputation for signing decent players that go on to improve, he has actually only signed two players on permanent terms for us, Matthew Spring, for whom the jury is still out, and Dion Burton who can't possibly be expected to improve much as he is already 32 years old. All the other players are loans, and they are unlikely to stay if we manage the miracle of staying up, never mind if we are relegated. So we have blown another small fortune on someone elses players in the second half of the season without managing the desired success.

When Pardew left the league table looked a little like this:
Pos Team Pld GD Pts
16 Barnsley 18 -4 21
18 Blackpool 18 -7 21
19 Norwich 18 -5 20
20 Southampton 18 -10 19
21 Watford 18 -4 18
22 Charlton 18 -10 16
23 Doncaster 18 -15 13
24 N. Forest 18 -13 12

Now after Parkinson has been in charge for 17 games (one less than Pardew managed) it looks like this:

Pos Team Pld GD Pts --- Pts and GD change during Parkinson's reign
14 Doncaster 35 -9 46 --- 33 +6
18 N. Forest 36 -12 40 --- 28 +3
19 Watford 34 -6 39 --- 21 -2
20 Barnsley 34 -12 39 --- 18 -8
21 Blackpool 36 -15 39 --- 18 -8
22 Southampton 35 -15 37 --- 18 -5
23 Norwich 36 -9 36 --- 16 -4
24 Charlton 35 -22 27 --- 11 -12

I think that says it all really.

Clearly we have not all played the same number of games in that period, but there is no doubt that Parkinson's reign is an unmitigated disaster - even when you take into account my terrible formatting. Believe me it was all set out nicely when I had finished before I published it!

Where do we go from here? I don't know. Parkinson has now been given enough games that he cannot better Pardew's last 18 games with his first 18; he has been given support in the transfer market; he has had the January transfer window; he has been allowed to bring in a total of six loan players, along with two permanent signings. That's a total of 8 players and tonight we started with five central midfielders.

Relegation is bad enough, but we will almost certainly finish bottom. How much worse can it get? Sadly I fear the next few months may just provide the answer to that question.

Up the Addicks!