Positives and negatives.
The result didn't really matter. I mean it's always nicer to win, but yesterday was more about giving a decent performance and encouraging any doubters to renew their season tickets.
I don't know for sure, but I would imagine that one of the best ways to get season ticket applications filled in (I know they are pre-completed) is to send fans home after an enjoyable game and a win. At the moment it is a little difficult to get excited about the players on show as we all know that next season's team will look very different.
On the plus side we looked very comfortable against a team with most of the characteristics we will face next season. We never looked in any trouble, and could have been three or four in front by half time.
The second half started like the first finished. We were in total control. Burton scored his first (proper) goal for us. I'm not sure when his current contract ends, but even though he is no Darren Bent, I believe he can do a job for us next season. The goal was clapped in a rather relaxed fashion. Then Shelvey scored a goal. Not only was it a better overall move, but he is our lad, and this could be the reason why it received a much bigger cheer, certainly from me.
I made the point at the time that the goal probably added £200k onto his value. Sadly the long shot that came later didn't go in. That could have added another £1m as well. The more that I see of Jonjo Shelvey the more I want to keep him. There were times when I thought that Scott Parker was worth the entrance fee alone. This starlet looks to have that appeal. This alone would justify keeping him, in my view.
At 2-0 we were still dominating but ZZ, who started the game very strongly just gave the ball away. It is just a disaster to give the ball away behind most of your players. It was just one mistake, but the end result was a penalty, and a goal.
This was a little disappointing, but what followed was the real negative. We just crumbled. We had looked the more likely to score from start to the penalty. At that point I still thought we would go on to score again. However, the long season of disappointment after disappointment has left the players with little confidence, and for the last twenty minutes you could feel the fear creeping into the players as we defended deeper and deeper.
There can be no real complaints about the end result. It is very difficult to instill confidence in a side at the best of times, when you have such a poor record (now one win in eleven) it is no surprise that the heads dropped and the players started to get nervous.
Thankfully the summer will see a number of changes in personal, possibly management, probably ownership, and that may well enable the squad to start next season with a lot more confidence.
One point that does need to be made, however, is that is nowhere near the first time we have thrown away points this season from one mistake. I remember Pardew blaming Weaver for the defeat at Birmingham. Bailey has given the ball away by taking too much time on it on a couple of occasions, one being Bristol City at home - a game we went on to lose. To have the player that I keep hearing is Premier League quality (something I don't personally believe) give the ball away just demonstrates that a lack of concentration has played it's part this season. This is something that I don't ever remember happening under Curbishley. I just don't think the players were allowed lapses of concentration under Curbishley.
Anyway this is all water under the bridge. As I said, we looked very good for the first hour, and despite the end result it was one of the better days at The Valley this season. Like others I will always wonder what would have happened had ZZ not played in the Olympics and started the season with us; had Racon not suffered that injury at Watford; had Jonjo Shelvey not been kept back to protect both him and us (contract free until February).
We are, however, where we are. We are now confirmed as a third division club for the 2009/10 season. There is talk of a take over. There are rumours of players leaving. There are doubts as to who will be the manager. All of this will be resolved in due course.
In the meantime we still have three games left, two at home. We can still be the side that stops Cardiff from winning automatic promotion (something that is incredibly unlikely now either way) and I think we can still confirm Norwich's relegation (again something that might happen even if they beat us) and we have three more chances to watch some players that will not play for us again. It may, also, be many years before we have players of the calibre of ZZ, Shelvey, hopefully not.
I will be there on Tuesday night. I feel as though we have a score to settle with Cardiff after the 2-0 defeat I went to in October. Hopefully we can get our eighth win of the season.
Up the Addicks!