I haven't said much recently. Gillingham away was a disappointment. Most disappointing was that we didn't start with Shelvey in for McLeod. We never looked like carving out a decent chance in the whole game. The only half-chance we had came from a long punt out of defence that McLeod managed to get hold of thanks to his pace. Sadly, despite getting away from his defender, his shot, from less than 20 yards, was so poor that it went out for a throw-in.
I wasn't at Carlisle, but we again started with McLeod rather than Shelvey. I'm sure that the reason that we have managed to keep our wonder starlet is that he is not going to get games if he moves to a Premier League club and trebles his money. I wonder what will happen in January if he he can't get a game in the third division on second division money?
There isn't much good news to come from the 3-1 defeat, and I'm not going to ever bother to look for any but the truth is that any early confidence I had about our season (and remember I was confident before the first game) has pretty much all gone now.
I would probably suggest that Shelvey has been our best but more importantly our most effective player in many games this season. Clearly we miss Semedo's presence in the middle of the park, but Shelvey makes things happen in a way than no other player does. It's fine bringing on McLeod to add some pace in the last twenty minutes of games (although I'd personally rather never see him play for us again) but to play him instead of Shelvey I can't can't agree with. From the reports I've read McLeod even played behind Burton in a 4-4-1-1 as Carlisle. Really? Who's idea was that then?
There is some debate elsewhere about loan players. For the record I don't actually care if the players are on loan, from the academy or bought from another club for a fee. What I care about is how well they play. From a long term perspective it also matters about how we develop players for our future. With the recent press statement from Parkinson that he will be happy to sell Randolph in January I guess it's not much of a loss if the Wolves third choice goalkeeper started at Carlisle, especially if he cannot play in the FA Cup for us. The decision at right back is a little different. I think that Grant Basey needs to get some games under his belt. He has looked very impressive at times and he will not develop on the bench. With Youga switched to the right we could have given Basey a game. However, from what I make of his current contract situation, I suspect that we could get Omozusi for little, or nothing, so if he is a prospect we need to have a look at him. At the risk of being negative if we don't get promoted in the next two seasons we are going to need to offload the likes of Daily, Llera and Richardson. Thus, it is not the most unreasonable thing in the world to have a look at a young right back that might go on to better things.
The result was terrible. The performance, from what I read, was terrible. There is no benefit in pointing the finger at certain players or the manager, however, there is going to be a question floating around all season. "Has Parkinson developed/built a good side/squad or has he been blessed with entirely too many players that are too good for this division?" That question goes through my mind from time to time. When we win I find myself not caring what the real answer is. When we lose I worry that the club's long term future (or a lack of it) rests on it.
There is no doubt that Pardew spent all the family silver and ended up wasting the money, and therefore the best opportunity to return to the Premier League. Parkinson hasn't had much money, but with the nucleus of the side it should be more than possible to win promotion this season. I know that many people were predicting a struggle for us this season, but that was based on us selling Shelvey, Bailey, Racon and others. True to their word the Board have funded keeping these players at the club, and they have facilitated the signing of three good experienced defenders and an experienced striker. The bar was raised and anything short of promotion is a failure.
Anyway, we are still in second place, and despite the fact that our form is pants I would rather have the points on the board.
So to this week's cup games. I would, personally, rather win on Wednesday than on Sunday. I don't want to lose to non-league opposition, but let's face it any pride we had in our clubs status has been eroded in the last three years. I'm not saying that we are a laughing stock, but we are now discussed as the benchmark for the worst thing that could happen to your club when a team looks to be on the slide. "I mean they need to watch it or they could end up doing a Charlton!" I don't want the team's confidence to take a knocking, but, frankly if these players, that are probably all earning several thousand pounds a week, can't beat a non-league team then they will have to accept it on their CV. I have gone from being a target of ridicule to a sympathy case, it doesn't bother me in the slightest if we lose to a non-league team.
The reason I want to beat Southampton is that I still see thw JPT as a possible day out at Wembley. We could beat Northwich Victoria 25-0 and still have about as much chance of making the FA Cup Final as I do of winning the lottery (and I don't even buy a ticket).
Thus I would probably sanction playing some reserve players for this game. I don't want to humiliate the Vics fans, but frankly this is just not important enough in the grand scheme of things. With Parkinson being rewarded for our early season start with a new contract he can hardly feel under any significant pressure himself, and if Semedo, Daily or Sodje pick up a long term injury it could put us under real pressure. We also have to factor in the fact that we need to play at least six first team players at Southampton and next Saturday's fixture with MK Dons is now a massive game. I would go as far as to suggest that it is a must win.
The only significance of the FA Cup game is that it is on the TV and my Son and I have made plans to watch it together. I suspect that he will get bored and decide to play with his toys instead, but other than the father and son thing I really couldn't care less.
Up the Addicks!