After a disappointment it is often better to take a period of reflection before airing ones thoughts to prevent the risk of being a little emotional.
Today I don't feel particularly angry or disappointed I just feel a little numb. That may have something to do with the fact that I sat up until the early hours drinking after I got home thinking about what I had experienced during the evening.
I made a decision on the way home that I wouldn't get involved in the mud slinging that always seems to follow a disappointing event. It is only human to look to apportion blame as you need somewhere to vent your anger. There are a big list of candidates for that but in the end it just doesn't matter. What does matter is what happens next, and I suspect it will be weeks, if not months, before the real consequences of last night become apparent. One point to note, that had slipped my attention until late night, is that the TV money for the Championship is much bigger next season.
It is ironic that Peter Varney was a champion for a Premier League 2 for so many years (when we were in the Premiership) and Steve Waggot referred to the new deal as a Premier League 2 in 'all but name'. The article came across as though we didn't approve of it. The irony is that we only wanted it in the first place as it was in our best interests. Now it is not in our best interests we are condemning it as destroying the lower league clubs. How hypocritical?
Anyway on to last night. All the things that I wanted to see were there. The fans got behind the players for the full 120 minutes. We gave it everything. We scored the two goals we needed, and we were cruising at 2-0 with an extra man. Then it all went wrong.
I don't like to blame players for individual mistakes, but last night was as good an advert as you will see for Nicky Bailey not playing in the centre of our midfield. Nicky Bailey is, in my view, a good example of what's wrong at Charlton, and with football in this country in general.
I should point out that my love affair with Nicky Bailey was severely tainted when he announced last summer that he would stay and help us get promoted this season if he had to. I know all footballers want to play at the highest level, but he had been with us for one season, he had, presumably, been rewarded when he joined us with a pay rise and at the very least he should have pretended that he had some loyalty to us for giving him his chance.
Over the course of last season Bailey was caught in possession many times and due to where he plays those incidents were normally expensive. That didn't seem to bother me too much before he made it clear he wanted to leave. However, coming back to my bold statement about Bailey being what is wrong with Charlton and football in general. This season Bailey has, in my view, demonstrated that he is a very capable third division player. I don't think he is as good a player as Semedo, and to be honest on his day Racon would give him a run for his money but Bailey is, in my view, a good third division player, yet he is on (I'm guessing) good second division money. Even if we ignore the fact that he actually wants to leave to play for a 'bigger' club and to, presumably, earn more money, he is already being paid more than his current position justifies.
I know that view isn't held by all Charlton fans but it is difficult to make a case that he is good enough to play on the wing in a decent Championship side, and his frequent losing of the ball in the middle would make it difficult for him to establish himself in a Championship midfield.
I'm perfectly happy for others to believe that I'm wrong about this, but if we look at the evidence I think I have a case. Thus he is contributing to the fact that we are unable to cover our running costs based on our current league position. If he was earning average third division money (and if the rest of the squad were also) we might not have the financial problems we have right now. The impression I get from his interviews is that Nicky is not a member of MENSA, not that that's a problem, so I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that it is his agent that keeps encouraging him to seek a move to a larger contract.
This is where I think football in general relates to our Captain. There are entirely too many players earning what they should be if their club were where it wants to be. Portsmouth have a total wage bill that can clearly not be sustained by 'just' being in the Premier League. I have a feeling that Liverpool will struggle to balance their books outside of the Champions League, and you have to say that on the basis of this season they truly don't deserve to be in it.
Just to clarify though, until Nicky Bailey made that slip up about leaving last summer I liked him a lot. I still think he is a great player (especially in this division) and have no ill feeling towards him. He has contributed a lot this season, and even though he did give the ball away for their goal last night, he was man enough to continue to go looking for the ball for the rest of the game, and he had several shots that on another day would have gone in. As for the penalty, sure he missed, but he was there to take it, and that shows a lot of courage. Let's not be bashful it was a terrible penalty. He didn't just miss, it was nowhere near, but one thing about Nicky Bailey is that you know you always get 100% from him and, in a world where many footballers don't, that is a great quality.
Overall I would rather have Nicky Bailey in our squad than not, and it would be fantastic to have him come out in the next couple of days and make a pledge to do everything he can to help us win promotion next season - even if he doesn't actually mean it and leaves a few weeks later.
We have entirely too many players at our club that are earning more than they are worth, we have Pardew to thank for that, but with so many contracts coming to an end this summer I suspect that trend will be reversed.
Anyway, as I said earlier, there can be no real complaints about last night, and the journey home was a lot better than it would have been from Wembley had we lost to Millwall.
The summer is going to be painful, there will be a lot of speculation and the likelihood is that the squad will gradually be weakened piece by piece, but either way we will all be back in August full of enthusiasm and excitement, and massively unrealistic expectations of the season ahead.
Up the Addicks!