It has been almost a month since I last added anything to this blog, and I have only written three blogs since March.
The end of last season was very demoralising in terms of Charlton, and I had always intended to have the summer off to recuperate. However, on Sunday 22 June one of my best friends was killed in a road traffic accident. That in itself put things into perspective - it was a week over two years after my wife's brother was killed in a car accident, and this does make one see things differently.
Following the death of my friend I spent a lot of time helping his wife with his business. I should explain. We were both in the same industry, and were each other's locum - an agreement that we made never expecting to have to call upon it. This has taken a lot of my time, and combined with my son being home from school since the start of July I have had my hands full, and blogging hasn't been much of a priority.
I have watched us sign players, and have read other blogger's thoughts and really wanted to add something of my own, but really couldn't justify the time it takes me to write something. I don't seem to be able to just pen a few lines, it always ends up with what I expect is more than many read to the end.
I was determined to write a season preview, or at least a Bournemouth preview, but having pretty much sorted most of the outstanding business for my late friend I have, effectively, inherited his clients and I am much busier with work as a result. I have to say that this development is great news for me, financially, but I can honestly say I wish he was still here and had kept his business.
Anyway, today I thought I should make a decision about the blog, and either get my back side into gear and write something - maybe less than I normally end up writing - so that I can justify calling myself a blogger, or officially give up. The latter was never a realistic option. I love being able to describe myself as the writer of a blog. Even if the blog is rubbish, and most people that I tell about it never bother to read it, it doesn't matter. It has also helped me to make new friends, and enables me to believe that I am part of a small community of bloggers, and I really like that.
For years I have gone to football with my Dad, and I wouldn't want it any other way, but when he is away I can now 'invite myself' to join my new friends in the pub for a pint before the game. This has opened a whole new world to me, and one that I would have never had if I'd not started writing my silly thoughts on the internet.
Anyway, enough about me, I should really write something about Charlton, after all that's why you're here isn't it?
The squad that Powell has assembled is so, so exciting. I have often played football manager games and I have always looked to sign young players that will develop. Clearly computer (and latterly PS3) games are a little predictable. All young players will develop and have their skill level and 'score' go up each season. Clearly in the real world this is not guaranteed, and there is a massive gulf between how a computer program assess a player's abilities and what happens in real life. With this in mind I used my normal logic and went and got excited because we are signing players that are young with massive potential.
I have no idea if the players we are signing now are ever going to be good enough for the Premier League, but I'm damn sure I can convince myself they are if we win a few games.
I went to Woking to see our second team play in July, and I went to the home friendly where we won the 'People's Cup'. I was very impressed with what I saw. There are few in the reserves that are going to make a significant impact on the first team in my view, but I am bursting with excitement at Dale Stephens (who did play at Woking) Danny Green, Paul Hayes, Michael Morrison, Matthew Taylor and Danny Hollands. I am excited, even though I've not seen them play, with Mikel Alonso, Ruben Bover, Cedric Evina and Andy Hughes. This on the basis that I was already excited about getting to see Johnnie Jackson and Bradley Wright-Phillips next season. I am impressed with the signings of Sullivan and Hamer, even though I know little about the latter. I should also point out that I am more than happy with Paul Benson (assuming he can manage less red cards this season), Chris Solly and Scott Wagstaff.
I am disappointed that we have been unable to secure a long term contract with Rob Elliot as it is a rare thing for a real fan to play for your club, and not only do I think he is a good 'Keeper, but I like having him in the side. My only worry with Rob is that he seems to miss more games with injury than would be ideal, but it would still have been my preference to keep him. Having said that if he can secure himself a better future elsewhere then good luck to him, and I really mean that.
I was pleased that Scott Wagstaff signed a contract extension, he is not finished developing yet, but I would much rather have him stay at Charlton while he achieves his potential than have him do so elsewhere. Johnnie Jackson, however, was a real worry to me. We looked like a different side last season when he moved forward from left back to play on the left of the midfield, and we clearly missed him in the run in. With just a year left on his contract I feared he would move on, but his contract extension (especially as it was a further two years) was, for me, the best signing of the summer (well, maybe level with Dale Stephens). I am more than happy for him to be named Captain, and his extravagant celebration with the People's Cup was exactly what I would have liked to have seen.
So, on the whole I am very happy with the changes. Without going into any details, I'm also not disappointed about any of the departures. Last summer it was clear that losing Lloyd Sam, Dion Burton, Jonjo Shelvey, Sam Sodje and Nicky Bailey was going to make us much weaker. This summer I think only Semedo would have been a close call for me. With his wages he was probably going to be difficult to keep, and I understand those that think he and Racon were more the problem than the solution, but I think we need to wait to see how we perform against those teams that are chasing promotion this season before we can say, categorically, that we don't need a midfield enforcer in the side. Either way, he is the only one that I would have kept, and it doesn't matter now anyway.
With Racon going to Millwall I now feel obliged to hate him. It is so easy, now, to think of him as a player that cost us £440k (although that might have been Euros) to sign and £1.248m in wages during four years when we finished 11th in the second division (when he was out on loan a lot), bottom of the second division, 4th in the third division and 13th in the third division. If this wasn't enough, He gave more effort in the last ten games than he gave in the other three and three quarter seasons when his contract was coming to an end.
In truth he is probably being harshly treated with those stats, but I seriously doubt that we have managed anything like value for money for the near £1.7m that Racon has cost us (ignoring the employers NI, and other expenses).
Anyway at this stage it looks like Dale Stephens is going to ensure that we don't miss Racon at all, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Millwall swap places with us at the end of the season.
I should briefly discuss the Bournemouth result. I predicted a 2-1 win, but I did have a feeling that it could be 3-0. We need to secure some decent results in the first ten games or so, and then we can really judge the squad, and it should be in it's stride. With the signings coming so early in the summer we are likely to be in front of where we were last season when we were still waiting for the team to gel after a dozen games.
The win was, for this reason, more important than the performance. However, we played well, played the type of football that we all want to see, and the new boys looked good. Not to mention Scott Wagstaff scoring a cracking goal. Something tells me that we will not have three midfielders having scored more goals than Wright-Phillips for too much longer, but right now I'm more than happy with the situation. I know that Bournemouth have had their squad raided, and I expect they will probably end up struggling this season, so a win was really necessary bearing in mind our aspirations, but a 3-0 home win is a great way to start the season.
I'm not going to discuss the riots in London, as this is not the place, and I suspect that my Dad is the only one still reading now, but it was a real disappointment to have our game with Reading cancelled last night. It would have given us a chance to test ourselves against a team that would, despite the changes to both sides, have given us a better indication as to how good the squad looks. As a consequence, however, we are now planning to travel to Colchester next week, the venue of a terrible defeat two years ago. I am confident that we will do better this time, all be it that we would struggle to fare worse.
My last note concerns the signing of Jason Euell today. I'm more than happy with this. He came on at Woking and looked like he had something to offer. I think it is easy to forget just how much better than us the Premier League teams are these days, and Jason played in that division last season, and he also had some games in the Championship. Many players play at the top level at 34, and bearing in mind we don't expect him to play 40 games this season I think his addition will be a real positive, and I can't wait to see him play for us at The Valley again.
Up the Addicks!