And now the end is near.....
It's been a while since I've had much to say about Charlton. To be honest the run-ins we have had in the last decade have all been a little uninspiring. We haven't had anything riding on the last game of the season since we were relegated in 1999 - excluding the day we relegated Palace, of course.
I have never had a problem with the Premier League objectives being satisfied with two or three games to go, but it has always left me with no feeling of disappointment when the season ends. Today's game provides the opportunity for us to see a team that does have something to play for. Norwich are almost certainly coming down with us, but all the time they have a chance they mush fight for their lives. An atmosphere is guaranteed, at least until we, or Barnsley, go a couple of goals in front. That'll be Barnsley then!
I remember walking to The Valley in May 2007, the day we played Spurs, and my Dad floated the idea that he might be about to watch Charlton play in the top flight of English football for the last time. I suggested that we would be back, but right now it seems entirely possible that Premier League football (or what ever they call it in the future) will not return to The Valley in his lifetime, or mine for that matter.
Today could well be our last game in the second tier of English football for a long time too. Despite their initial points deduction being responsible for last season, Leeds United have scaled back their squad, and have never looked like finishing in the top two this season. Leeds are a much bigger club than we are, and should they fail to secure promotion via the playoffs they will face both Charlton and Norwich/Barnsley next season, both of which will start the season with a couple of players that are better than the average in the third division.
What I'm trying to say is that if Leeds can get stuck in the third division, you can bet that Charlton can manage it. So today could be a day that we will be talking about in the future. I do hope not.
As for the game, well there is nothing better than a football match played in bright sunshine with some tension and therefore some excitement - even if it doesn't really affect us.
I'm sure Parkinson will play all the players that we know will not be here next season. I said before the Sheffield United game in December that even a massive win would not be enough to convince me that he should stay. I am reluctant to start the season's autopsy (just the right word I think) before we play Norwich, but despite the mess he inherited he has convinced me that he will not get us promoted next season.
I expect to see another dire game of football from us. I missed the Swansea game back in August, but despite going to two away games and and two cup games (a total of 26) I have only attended five games this season that I have remotely enjoyed. Three of those were before Pardew left (two of those were due to my son being there - one win and one defeat). That means that with a total outlay of somewhere near £1,000 (tickets, travel, programs and food) it has cost me £200 per game worth seeing. Ignore the Sheffield Wednesday home game which we lost (my son's first game) and it jumps up to £250 a game.
This is depressing enough, but we have the club calling for us to renew as early as possible for next season, and now Parkinson is calling for us to be patient as he builds the squad over the summer. They might just as well post us DIY tattoo kits so that we can have the word "Mug" on our foreheads. Give us your money quick, but don't expect us to actually bring in any players, despite the legions leaving, anytime soon.
Maybe it's just me but when Keith Peacock asks for our help I feel like I want to help; when Richard Murray asks for our help I feel like I want to help; but when Phil Parkinson asks me for patience when we has won 1 game in 13 with a squad of players that most expected to be in the top six I just feel like screaming. I'm talking about those players that were unavailable for most of the season.
Let's remember that his Colchester side finished mid table in the third division for two seasons before they won promotion. Does that mean that he wants us to be patient for three years?
Anyway I seem to have got off the subject. I'm looking forward to the game this afternoon, but I'm also looking forward to a summer with no football. I am normally ready for the summer when it comes (even though there is rarely much summer in the UK - are you reading this CA?) but this year I'm really looking forward to a break from the only thing that has been worse than the credit crunch, the recession and an impending flu pandemic.
The longer the summer the better. I may well feel different by August, but right now I am in no hurry for next season, no hurry at all.
Up the Addicks!