Sunday, 16 January 2011

A New Era

I always liked Chris Powell. When we signed him in 1998 he was, from memory, our most expensive signing for a day or two before we signed Neil Redfearn. History suggests that Chris was a much better deal.

He was the first Charlton player to play for England in my life time, and I, like so many others, was so proud of that achievement. He actually went on to give a good enough account of himself that he played a total of five times for England and was only squeezed out in the end by the emergence of Ashley Cole and Wayne Bridge. The latter of this two was a very competent left back, who has, in my view, swapped money for playing time, otherwise he would be coming to the end of his career with much more reputation. Ashley Cole is possibly the best left back of his generation - in the world. On that basis it was no shame that Chris Powell lost his place in the England Squad.

In my view Chis had probably lost his pace to the point that his place in the side was under threat when he left us the first time. It was a shame to see him go, but I was very disappointed to see John Humphrey made to look slow when he came back to us - a game on the TV at Birmingham springs to mind. Humphrey was a magnificent right back, and was one of my heroes so to have memories of him past his best was upsetting. To be fair I have managed to purge them from my memory now, but Chris avoided that by moving on when he did.

He came back, of course, and I was a little worried, but to be fair he was more than enough for us in that Championship season, even though he was not signed to play every game.

One of my favourite memories of a Charlton match was seeing Chris score that goal against Coventry. I don't know quiet what it was that made that game special, we won 4-1, the goals from Varney and Gray gave us the impression that the next season offered hope, but it was the fairy tale ending for Powell, the last real survivor of our Premier League dream. It was apparent that he would get to do his tunnel celebration when we were 3-1 up, but his goal made the game for me. It also enabled us all to go home happy after what was the worst season we had experienced for over a decade - we didn't know it was going to get much, much worse.

It was suspected that he would go on to be a coach, and then a manager. There were many that wished for a return one day. I think that when he left we all thought that we would stay in the Premier League and it would be after a spell as a manager elsewhere that he came back to us. However, we have to accept that as a Third Division club we are that 'elsewhere' for coaches to make their first break into management.

It is always a risk to appoint someone without experience, but it is also a risk to appoint someone with experience these days. Dowie and Pardew were experienced and failed miserably to achieve the targets that were expected of them. The jury is still out on Parkinson - I believe that he failed, but I also accept that he had significantly less resources than the two I have already mentioned.

Chris Powell represents a big gamble - something that I thought the new owners had enough money to avoid having to take, but it is looking increasingly like they do not.

Chris may well be a success as a manager, but we just don't know. Where he will be an asset is with the unconditional support that he will be given by the fans for quite a while. Pardew was a former player, and had been successful with West Ham and came in when we were desperate. The support he was given lasted until it became apparent that we were going to miss the automatic promotion after spending £12.5m in the Championship.

Powell will be given every opportunity to find his feet by the fans, and sometimes that can make all the difference. Just how much time he'll be given by the board remains to be seen - although if they are, as I now fear, expecting to get us promoted by tweaking here and there and hoping increases in attendance will fund player acquisitions then he may well be under pressure sooner rather than later.

The three and a half year deal looks like the board have confidence in his ability, either that or Powell would't commit to a shorter contract (guaranteed income for three plus years) but can we expect to see Chris still in post if we fail to win promotion this season or next?

Sometimes all a club needs is a short boost, and the results that come from it increase confidence and performances to the point that the corner is turned. I think we have some decent players in our squad and it is more balanced that last season, but we have lost the quality that I believe won us so many points towards our forth placed finish.

In truth I have no idea if we will be successful or not. I believe that Kinsella's involvement with Parkinson has removed some of the shine on his association with us from those golden years. I really hope that doesn't happen with Chris. Sadly I can't see how we can manage any other outcome in the long term. I know that sounds pessimistic but realistically anything less than promotion and a serious run at another one will undermine his achievements as a player. I think the odds are against that happening personally, but I could be proved wrong - I do hope so.

Anyway, all that will become apparent in the months and years to come. For now I would like to join other bloggers in welcoming Chris back, and he really is welcome.

The game at Sheffield Wednesday was acceptable - well the result was, I wasn't there. To lose a 2-0 half time lead is not ideal, but I'd have ripped your arm off for a point and two goals before kick off, so I'll take that. We are now further behind all but Southampton, and Chris starts his managership outside of the playoffs, so we could finish sixth and fail to go up and he would have lifted us from where he found us.

The rest of the month is, actually, going to be more about transfers than results, but we should see some more interest in our home games during this time, at least.

Despite the massive overkill on Charlton Life about the return of whom some insist on calling 'Sir Chris', I actually feel a little underwhelmed about the events that have transpired since New Year's Eve. The new owners clearly have less money that we all hoped, the recruitment of a new manager has been dramatic, but we have, in effect appointed a first team coach from Leicester with mo managerial experience. We are half way through the transfer window and we have signed a 20 year old on loan from Liverpool reserves.

Kap from 'From The Hill to the Valley' asked me the question as to how happy the fans would be with an inexperienced coach from Leicester if he wasn't Chris Powell?

I do hope we have a good crowd on Saturday, and I hope we get off to a winning start under our new manager, but right now I feel a little less than enthusiastic. In fact I think I'm about as unexcited about Charlton as I have been for a very long time. I hope I'm on my own with this feeling, as it doesn't bode well if the new owners are hoping that increased attendances are going to push us on to success.

Good Luck Chris, I fear you might need it.

Up the Addicks!

Monday, 10 January 2011

nPower Home Team Heroes

During it's long history the Football League has been sponsored by several different companies. the FA and the Premier League also have several deals with official sponsors, with drinks suppliers, and I think they even have an official nut based chocolate sponsor.

Since the Premier League was formed the Football League has had a number of sponsors, including Coca-Cola and Nationwide, both household brands that needed little introduction to the public yet wanted to increase their prominence.

This season the football League is sponsored y nPower. As well as providing funds to the Football League they also offer a £45 voucher to be spent in the club shop for any football fan that switches from their current energy provider to nPower, you can do this here.

nPower are also working with the 72 Football League clubs with the community programme called Home Team Heroes. The goal is to help children in the home towns of the clubs. More details can be found here.

I have no personal or commercial relationship with nPower, but if they are funding Charlton and projects in the local area then I applaud them. Not only because we are a community club, but also as anything that benefits children, as a parent myself, is always welcome.

In order to increase awareness of the Home Team Heroes campaign nPower are making available a limited number of complimentary tickets for Football League matches. To that end I have been asked to offer four pairs of tickets for the Charlton v Plymouth game on 22 January and two pairs of tickets for Charlton v Colchester game on 2 February.

If you would be interested in either of these games them please email your name and phone number to

Up the Addicks!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Colchester 3 - 3 Charlton

Ten men again. Parkinson made some comments about how it's hard to play against ten men after we drew at Brighton, and I suspect he will mention it again after today's game.

In his defence, we have beaten both Bournemouth and Orient with ten men, so there is clearly something in it. Also there is no way to know if we'd have even drawn these two games if we'd been playing against eleven for 90 minutes.

In all honesty I'd have taken two points from these two away games. The postponed game from Boxing Day looks more interesting now, but I have serious doubts about our ability to beat Southampton and I think they may well be in the top two for the rest of the season. I know the table is very tight, but they started badly and their results since Pardew left have been Championship form, and they clearly have the strongest squad in the division, and they have had over a year for the majority of the players to gel.

Brighton are probably, despite their 5-0 win today, the one most worried about our new owners and the potential we have to strengthen our squad, but to be fair they are now six points above both us and Southampton, and we have to pay each other twice before the end of the season, and they seem to have recovered from their dip in form.

Strangely I feel a lot less optimistic than I did yesterday, but due to my iPad literally eating my preview yesterday, you wouldn't know anything about that. I am most confident that we will be able to finish in the top six, but the top two seems a lot more difficult. I think my enthusiasm has probably been affected by losing at home to Walsall and then drawing two games where we had more than a half against ten men. Having said that a new face or two in January and a couple of wins and that could all change.

In all honesty it was always a bit unrealistic to expect us to finish two positions higher than last season with the players we lost in the summer. Despite Bailey not playing all that much for Middlesborough and them being in a relegation fight, Shelvey and Sam were important last season, and haven't been replaced.

It does leave me believing that the transfer dealings in January are going to be very important, as is the fact that we will now miss Benson for three games at a time when Sodje and Anyinsah are injured.

It is very unusual for a January signing to make much impact during the season they are signed, but it is possible that a new face, or two, could make all the difference in the same way that Anyinsah made an instant impact when he came into the side back in September.

It s clear that we do need to add something that we seem to be lacking. We have not played very well this season despite having some good, and some great, results. Maybe one addition or two, of proper quality, will make all the difference.

Despite the fact the new ownership makes the club viable if we don't win promotion this season, I don't want to be in this pants division for another year. I want to get back to the Premier League, and despite the fact that I am willing to accept less than that, I want to be in and around the playoff places in the Championship as soon as possible.

So today was acceptable, we scored three more goals than last season, while conceding the same number, and we managed a point to follow up the one from Brighton.

The next few weeks will shape our season, but then I've been saying that for about three years now. Parkinson has done ok with his squad building, in my view, so I'm confident that if he is given license to bring in a couple of players we will be better equipped for the run in.

Let's hope so.

Up the Addicks!