Monday, 14 January 2013

Charlton 2 - 1 Blackpool

It wasn't until last week that I realised (when I read it somewhere) that we hadn't won a game at home on a Saturday all season. I knew our home form hadn't been great, but that stat had alluded me.

I am not superstitious about football and even though I believe that runs (or form) are indicative of results I think that random facts like days of the week, being on TV, Boxing Day etc. are all random and we were just as likely to win on a Saturday as any other day of the week, so sooner or later we would manage it.

One fact that does effect football results is upheaval in the dressing room. Having two managers walk out for 'better' clubs in the same season must have a massive demoralising effect on the players. Tom Ince is clearly destined for better things, but the rest of the squad are probably left wondering what the future holds if they have lost a manager to Palace (who are probably going to be in the playoffs at best) and one to Blackburn (who will need a great run in to even make the playoffs).

So I was confident that Blackpool would be far from out toughest opponents this season, and I was right. Take out the three defeats in nine days in December and we have managed 19 points in 9 games, which is top two form. In fact if we'd won just one of those three games we would be third in the form table for the two months once we settled into the division.

From what I've read we were the better side at Bolton (the first of the three defeats), we were in the game into injury time at Sheffield Wednesday, and Ipswich on Boxing Day - well, we deserved to lost that one if we're honest didn't we?

All things considered we find ourselves in mid table and with a decent haul of points and an outside chance of making the playoffs ourselves. I think promotion this season is very unlikely, and probably not terribly desirable as we would, no doubt, be whipping boys and I worry who the club will be sold to as soon as we get to the promised land.

Anyway we are in a situation where the outlook can change drastically from game to game. A defeat and the relegation zone seems closer and the playoff places seem even further away, and vice-versa. Thus a back-to-back league win was imperative, and apart from the opening minutes where Kevin Phillips (is he the only player still in the game from that Wembley Final?) had a chance cleared off the line I don't think we looked in any real trouble all afternoon.

I don't want to go for 'lazy journalism' but Blackpool really did play like a team that had lost it's second manager in as many months. Maybe Holloway was as good at managing as he is at providing one liners to the media! Blackpool look like a team that is not going back to the Premier League any time soon. Sadly, for them, their best year was last season and they just failed to beat West Ham in the playoffs and for a team that has spent all but the last six seasons in the third division or lower (since 1978) I think they might have had their day in the sun for the foreseeable future.

Either way, after the initial scare we grew into the game and fully deserved our two goal lead at half time. I have been critical, elsewhere, of the fans groans when we look to kill off a game so I won't complain, but from the break we looked like we just didn't want to let two goals in. I text my Dad (who is away) and said that I'd take a 2-1 win, and thought we would be unlucky to concede twice, but I thought it unlikely that we would add to our tally.

Interestingly Powell brought on Fuller late in the game and that changed it slightly and we created a few more chances. We also conceded at the death. With hindsight maybe we should have kept the 4-5-1, but I do sense pressure from the crowd for us to go out and score, score, score. I do understand it, football is no longer a cheap hobby and even though a win is the ultimate goal entertainment is also expected, to some degree.

The result, despite the very late goal, was exactly what we needed. Two wins, one at home and one away, following a month where we failed to win even one.

At the end of December I looked at where we were and what we probably needed to do to avoid relegation and I came up with a simple guide of winning 6 points in each of the next three months. Thus when we face Brighton away on 2 April (with seven games still to play) we will be as good as safe from relegation. I know that winning the last game of the season to secure safety is just as acceptable (and maybe a little more exciting) but I want to get to safety as soon as possible so that the club can start to plan for the following season and what I hope will be a decent challenge for promotion.

So in 2013 we have a league record of played two, won two and scored six goals. I'll take that!

Up the Addicks!

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