Friday, 19 March 2010

Next... Gillingham at home

Well, after last week it surely can't be worse. I mean, even a five nil drubbing wouldn't be as bad as losing 4-0 to our 'proper' local rivals. That is true, but...

Everyone has a friend or some friends that, for what ever reason, support a team that is not your own local rival. I have friends that are fans of Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Gillingham. To be fair, some of the Gillingham fans are actually supporters of other clubs when it suits them, but they are local so are backing Gillingham this weekend. There is even going to be a Spurs fan in the away end. He lives in Chatham and doesn't go to Spurs games these days, but he is going to The Valley tomorrow, and he is going to cheer on 'his local team'. Nice!

For those that live in London and have had a bad week due to our terrible defeat last weekend, I sympathise with you. However, if we fail to win tomorrow I will suffer a similar week , save for the fact that Gillingham are a much, much smaller club that Charlton, so the jubilation will be even greater.

I have always tried to be gracious in victory. When we have defeated one of the three London clubs I've mentioned I've avoided rubbing it in too much as I knew it was always going to come back and bite me, but our win at Highbury, for example, was a massive result for us where as a win for them would have been run of the mill.

So, as you can imagine for me, living in Kent this is a big game for some of my friends, and that makes it a big game for me.

Also, following on from the defeat in the FA Cup in 2004 I have a decent reason to dislike Gillingham. In fact, I would put them in the category of 'hate'. I don't hate all their fans, and I don't hate them like I do Palace or Millwall or West Ham, but I would really love to beat them tomorrow.

On top of my personal feelings, this is a massive game for us in terms of our league aspirations. We are not out of the chase for second, not by a long shot, but we do need to have a very strong run in if we are going to catch the five points (6 bearing in mind our goal difference is thirteen worse) to Leeds. It is still possible and we need to believe it, but at the same time we mustn't become obsessed with it.

If it is to be the playoffs then so be it. What we don't want to do is enter that lottery full of disappointment and a lack of belief. It is very rare for the team that finishes third to win the playoffs. Sadly there is every chance that we will end up finishing sixth, so that burden may well not be ours.

Thus, Parkinson needs to send out the players for the remaining ten games with a belief that we can finish second (first is surely beyond us now) yet with a feeling that sixth or above is good enough to give us the belief that we can take the third available place in the Championship next season.

Parkinson is, apparently, going to make some changes tomorrow. He is, worryingly, starting to sound like Pardew did towards the end of his reign. Maybe the friendly banter that was fine when we were winning six on the bounce has had to be replaced with a much harder line. The players need to know that if they don't perform there will be consequences.

I'm not going to bore you with my calls for the side to change back to a 4-5-1 with Shelvey in the side, but it will be interesting to see what changes Parkinson does make. It looks like after being Pardew's number two for nearly two years and then being manager for well over a season there is still no concept of what is our best side, neither the players nor the formation.

I'm not planning on calling for Parkinson's head anytime soon. I would think, however, that after the confident determination from the board that anything other than promotion this season was not acceptable, I'm guessing that he needs to guide his side to a top six finish or he must be expecting a tough conversation with Richard Murray who has, apparently, sold his house to bankroll this season.

Let's hope that top six place can be brought a step closer with a win tomorrow.

Up the Addicks!


Marco. said...

It's been an awful week.
I've taken to my shell and tried to steer all conversations away from football.
I work in a school and for Sports Relief we did various activities with the kids wearing their own sports clothes all day.
Normally the many Millwall shirts wouldn't have bothered me but today they all seemed to be mocking me.

I want to get the memory of Saturday out of my mind but I can't. Even if we thump Gillingham 7-0 it won't make up for
I've been pestered by plastic & real Millwall fans all week and just had to take it on the chin with as much good grace as I can.
For your sake I hope Charlton win as I don't want any Kent based Charlton fans to go through anything like my week.

Daggs said...

What worries me is, if we finish in the play-offs. We'll probably have to play Millwall again!