Friday, 28 August 2009

Next... Tranmere away

Last February, when I was a new addition to the Charlton world of Bloggers, I wrote a brief description of five clubs that I hate. The first of that five part series was Tranmere. You can read why I hate Tranmere here. The other four teams were West Ham, Millwall, Fulham and Palace.

Tranmere is the least 'understandable' of that list, as they are hardly a local rival (like the other four could claim to be) and we have played them so few times since I've been going. However, like Walsall they are a very small club in comparison to those that they compete for fans against. Everton, despite their recent 'averageness' are a huge club who have won major domestic and European honours. Liverpool have been and still are one of the biggest and most successful clubs in England and Europe.

This is a very big week for Charlton Athletic. It is no surprise that we are not a viable option outside of the top two divisions. Frankly with the stadium we now have to fund it is questionable if the club is viable outside the Premier League, and on the basis that we are not really big enough to expect to sustain a very long period there it raises many difficult and worrying questions. These are for another day. In the meantime this week will determine how likely we are to continue our good start to the season, or make it much more difficult for us.

The major issues we will have resolved this week all concern finances and squad strength. As the takeover has still failed to materialise and we have a Bank Holiday on Monday it is quite likely that no deal will have been agreed, signed, sealed and delivered by the closure of the transfer window. This makes it very likely that we will not be making any long term commitments to players, and it also leaves us needing to capitalise on the assets we do have. Thus I am now bracing myself for a last minute sale of Bailey, Shelvey, Racon and/or Sam.

Any sale will, obviously, need a purchaser, and at this point we have no idea if there is a club with enough money (to pay wages) and ambition to attract any of our players. We have seen in our own recent past what happens when players on good contracts are unable to find alternative clubs to pay them. Marcus Bent and Amdy Faye are just two examples of players we didn't want but had to pay. At least with those I've mentioned we (as fans at least) want to keep them, and play them.

I am not going to dwell on this subject as we have had it to death all summer, and nothing I say will change much. I will just mention that I believe I have been one of the more supportive of the current board and their right to balance the best for both themselves and the club. Should our season fall apart and we fail to finish in the top six because one (or more) of our current board are looking for a return on their money while they have presided over the worst three seasons, in terms of management, in the club's history I am likely to question that decision.

Anyway, we are on the cusp of our best ever start to a league season. For that, Parkinson has every right to feel proud. I would also suggest that his requests for player reinforcements should be given the credibility they deserve. In all honesty we do have way too many quality midfielders in comparison to the number of centre halves. We don't have enough strikers that can score goals, we have plenty of forwards, they are just rubbish. Thus I would suggest that if we need to sell a midfielder to fund the acquisition of one (or even two) central defenders, that would probably make sense for this season. I would prefer to keep the players we have, but over a long season I think we are going to need a central defender more than we are going to need such strength on depth on the middle of the park.

The outcome of Tuesday's mad rush to sign players may well have a big impact on the rest of the season (until January, at least) but before then there is the small matter of us playing the team I hate most outside of London. I had intended to go to this game, but fate has determined otherwise. I am going into hospital for a small operation on Tuesday which is going to leave me partially disabled (no use of my left arm) for a period of up to three months. Thus Mrs KHA has a list, as long as my arm funnily enough, that has to be completed before I start my convalescence. One effect of the operation is that I will be banned from driving for at least six weeks. Thankfully my Dad is going to step in for most of the games, but on at least one occasion I will be sampling the Valley Express, and very glad of it I am too.

It's perhaps just as well as I think my attitude would have been out of place at a game that is, in fact, just another three points to everyone else on the planet.

I have always wanted to be the sort of person to be able to say "I was there." I'm not a 'been there, done that, bought the t-shirt' kind of bloke, but when records are broken I want it to be on my watch. Over the last 29 years there have been a lot of them. Longest run of clean sheets, longest winning run (both in the top flight and ever in our Championship season) among others slightly less glamorous. Parkinson and Pardew share the record for the longest run without a win. However, tomorrow we could manage our best ever start to a league campaign.

I'm, obviously desperate for that to happen. It would mean that we would be top two, possibly still top of the league; it would mean that we were ever so slightly more likely to be promoted this season (opposed to if we don't win); and it would mean that we were half way towards doing the double over Tranmere.

Obviously the team I most want to beat this season is Millwall, followed closely by Leeds as I think the latter will have a greater impact on our success in trying to get back into The Championship. After those four (two at home, two away), the games I most want to win are the home match, followed closely by the away match, against Tranmere.

I will be listening to the radio tomorrow, I believe BBC London DAB (which I can get on the top floor on Kings Hill) are having our game on live. If not I will be in front of Sky Sports News. For any of you that are going, I really, really hope you see a win.

Up the Adddicks!

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