Saturday, 17 January 2015

Watford 5 - 0 Charlton

8th December 1984 we lost 5-0 at Oxford. Oxford were second in the table when we went there and they had won seven and drawn one of their eight home games at that stage in the season. They went on to win the division with a home record W18 D2 L1. Quite formidable. Oxford scored five goals on five separate occasion that season, and they scored four on another four occasions. Our 5-0 defeat was one of two by the same margin.

Today we lost 5-0 to a Watford side with a home record of W6 D3 D3 at home this season.

There is little positive that can be said about this result, nor the performance. The farce about Luzon not being granted his visa is covered by Chicago Addick here but even if that was to have an impact on the players it doesn't justify the result or the performance.

I am, now, very concerned that the reports about players being unhappy about the choice of manager are both true and part of the reason for the performance today. I'm not suggesting that any of them are behaving unprofessionally, but let's remember that players can move on. Those that are best placed to help us get out of this mess are very unlikely to be kept at the club should we be relegated.

The squad is small and short of quality and experience, but it has been all season and until today Fulham and Ipswich have scored three goals against us and the former has some outstanding players and the latter is very much in the chase for automatic promotion. Thus the weaknesses in the squad can't be blamed for the terrible run we have had in isolation.

We were led to believe, mainly from leaks from the club, that Bob had fallen out with many of the players - punch ups have been hinted at. After the way the club have handled the selection and appointment of the new manager I'm reluctant to believe all that I hear coming out of the training ground, but it doesn't look like removing Bob has had much of a positive impact.

The big question is just how bad is it going to get? If Luzon is as good as the Chairman seems to think he is things might turn around and anything at Wolves followed by a bright start at home to Rotherham at the end of the month might, just, get us back on track for a mid-table finish. However another defeat at Wolves and Rotherham becomes a proper must win. Rotherham are five points behind us and are 4th from bottom.

I wasn't at the game so I'm not going to comment on it except to say that we conceded a very late goal, again. Our goal difference has gone from -5 to -10 today and that leaves us marginally better than the teams around us, but not much.

On a positive note, we are only three points off Notts Forest in 12th so if Luzon can come in and light a fire under the players backsides we only need a couple of good results to climb back into the mid-table position that, I believe, was the target this season.

Time will tell.

Up the Addicks!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

And the new manager is...

...No great surprise!

I cant quite explain how, or more importantly, why I feel like I do about this. On the face of it I'm, reasonably, happy with the manager himself. He has achieved some things in the game, including managing a team in the top division in Belgium and that played in European competitions.

If we add to that the fact that Jose Riga was completely unknown and he did a great job with us; Bob Peeters was involved in putting together the team we currently have and managed a great start to the season before the players started getting injured and/or suspended; and, more pertinently, that neither Chris Powell nor Alan Curbishley had a proven track record when they took over at Charlton, there is no reason to expect Guy Luzon to fail.

I suspect that even after a new change of manager Roland Duch√Ętelet still wants the best for the club. Maybe not, exactly, what us fans want, but I can't see any benefit for him of destroying the club.

However, I still do not feel happy about the outcome of the last week. Katrien Meire's credibility has been shattered. She looks, now more than ever, like she was appointed to look pretty, say nice things and win over the 'hearts' of the, male dominated, Charlton fans. Ironically the complete opposite of what women, especially those with intelligence and integrity, in business have been fighting to change for decades. If I were her I would be furious about how she has been the PR mouth piece backing the manager just before he is sacked, and giving an explanation of how the club would be carrying out a full search for a replacement 24 hours after most fans were predicting Luzon would be appointed and 24 hours before he was.

Had the club come out on Sunday and said that Peeters had gone and they were going to approach Luzon then fair enough. Had they released a statement on Monday that said that they have a target and  were going to approach him that would have been fine. They could even have just not said anything on Monday but they have made a lot of people look very silly (#bringbackcurbs), which has made them angry and most of them are the fans/customers/future of the club and many of them will take a lot of winning over.

The upshot is that Roland has made Luzon's job much harder. I am never loyal to the manager in isolation, I support Charlton. Players come and go as do managers and when they leave I'm more interested in their replacements. I didn't scream and shout when Chris Powell left, nor did I sulk with Kermorgant and Stephens were sold but the manor in which this has happened, even though it might well be the best decision, makes me feel unwilling to back the manager until he proves to me that he can do a good job.

With that in mind, assuming that others feel the same way as I do, I think Luzon is going to be under significant pressure. If we lose the next two games (away to sides that are 5th and 6th in the Championship form table) then anything other than a win at home against Rotherham (who have only lost one of their last eight games) will result in more boos at the final whistle than we have seen at The Valley for over a year.

For the record I'm not sulking because we didn't appoint Curbishley. Not only am I not sure that after all this time (much of it he has been out of work) coming back might not work, but I'm sure that his salary expectations would have priced him way out of our league. His indication of being willing to 'talk to us' was probably out of desperation. His management career could well be over and I think he needs us more than we need him. Anyway it's all irrelevant as we have Luzon until at least May and I can't see him making the mistake of allowing us to snub him again.

I, always, hope for the best for Charlton and that, by association, means that I hope Luzon does well here. He might be the best thing that's happened to us for ages. I just wish we'd been told the truth about what was going on.

Up the Addicks!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Charlton 0-1 Brighton

One of the most depressing games I have ever watch Charlton play was the home fixture against Brighton in October 2010. We lost 4-0, in the third division. I would say that, technically, that must rank as the worst result in the thirty-three years that I've been following Charlton. It was not the result itself, but that it happened in the lowest division that the club has played in. Bearing in mind this result, all be it against the same club, meant that I didn't feel terribly deflated at the final whistle.

Yesterday we narrowly lost 1-0 against a team that seemed to be able to hold the ball better than us but, more importantly, seemed to be very tough in the tackle and out muscled us all over the pitch. I'm not saying that this happened because we were not up for the game - although that might have been the case, but Brighton played like a team that was scrapping at the bottom of the division and was determined to do everything they could to ensure that if they lost that did so getting, properly, stuck in.

There were a could of great chances for us to score before Brighton did and had we done so I suspect that the result would have been a 1-0 win. I believed (right up until Bob Peeters was sacked) that we just needed a bit of good luck and things would improve.

Some of the players look like they weren't giving their all and that could be due to the manager (the most likely scenario) but it could just have been that they felt that they were fighting an uphill battle with having to play so many young players that were not strong enough, mentally, to cope with it. I have always believed that young players need to be nurtured and need to be surrounded (in the first team) by experienced pros that can help them out and cover for them when they make mistakes. It helps to have someone that you know and respect to keep giving you encouragement when you break into the first team.

It is very difficult to be successful with many young players in the same side. The Class of 92 was an exception but when interviewed they all mention the players that were there to help them and Man Utd had some serious players at that time.

So an over reliance on young players - some of which are just not ready for Championship football yet (in my view) and we were always going to struggle. It is not when things are going well that the character of young (and experienced) players is tested and the start of the season was, clearly, unrepresentative of the strength and quality of the squad that has been assembled.

All of this aside and it is not, really, good enough for us to have managed one win and six draws in the last twelve games (9 points in 12 games) and, more worryingly three draws in the last seven league games (3 points in 7 games) on a run that has also included losing 2-1 at home to Championship side Blackburn with the best side we have available at the time playing.

The fact that we are where we expect to be based on a 46 game season is irrelevant when based on the last eight games we are bottom of the table averaging half a point per game.

Brighton, incidentally, had managed just six points from their last seven games before yesterday so this, like Blackpool at home in the middle of December should have been a banker win at home. I know there is no such thing, but I'm sure you get my point.

I still think we have more than enough to get out of trouble and ignoring the effect on attendances of a good run of form when the season ticket applications go out, and the ability to attract players, finishing forth from bottom is about as good as finishing seventh in terms of the division we start next season in.

However, we do need some points to avoid being relegated and if we average half a point from now to the end of the season we are likely to end up in the third division next season.

Tony Watt looked lively when he came on but I thought Laurie Wilson looked poor yesterday. He didn't look very interested in busting a gut and he looked like he had lost his concentration. Even if Bob hadn't 'lost the dressing room' his treatment of Laurie Wilson this season (irrespective as to if it is justified) is enough to make any player give up trying. I know many will say that as a professional he should give his all every time he plays, but with very little playing time, being passed over for a 17 year old and having no discussion about a new contract it is likely that Laurie is, already, in his mind moving on to his next challenge.

My main criticism, however, is aimed at Andre Bikey. He has had some terrific performances this season but in recent weeks he has taken to, literally, stamping his feet and waving his arms at other players - including young players. His outburst in the local newspaper was not what I like to see from Charlton players, or the reporters, to be honest. It was a divisive article and was always going to be a head turner (winning clicks on the paper's website) and bringing attention on the reporter. I don't like that, nor do I like to see players (or children, for that matter) stamping their feet and shouting at everybody. Bikey was doing this again yesterday and I assume was so angry/frustrated that this motivated him to make the rash tackle on the touchline when putting the ball in the stand would have been easy. The free kick was the set piece that Brighton scored from. Bikey was still stamping his feet towards the end of the game even though it was his 'mistake' that cost us the goal and possibly the result.

Bikey needs to curb his temper because I think when I see him stamping his feet that this must be the side of him that has earned him the reputation and the five red cards that do him no favors.

I will, probably, cover the sacking of Bob Peeters in another post later in the week - probably when we have more news about his replacement. I would love it to be someone that has experience of the English game but, like most others, I suspect that it will not be an Englishman, and probably someone that has spent little time over here. Having said that Riga falls into that category and I was more than happy with what he achieved with us last year.

My optimism when we brought Rhoys Wiggins back into the side yesterday and had Tony Watt on the bench yesterday seems to have all evaporated.

Up the Addicks!

Monday, 5 January 2015

Charlton 1 - 2 Blackburn

I have to be honest and say that this result is hardly unexpected, nor, in truth, disappointing.

We have failed to progress in any Cup competition for nine years - save for last season, when the draw was very, very kind to us and even then we were knocked out by a team from the division below. We didn't play a team last season that finished above us in the league the season before so it has to be said that it was the draw that helped us last season.

In truth, I believe that we played out best team yesterday. We have a small squad and a number of injuries and at no point did I think we should have beaten a Blackburn side (squad) that was assembled at much greater cost than ours - and that we'd lost to just a couple of weeks ago.

Interestingly, I didn't think we played that badly. The unmarked header in the third minute set us up for a bit of a struggle, bearing in mind we do not score many goals and our top scorer was not playing. Having said that it has been a long time since we've scored many goals. Take out our League One Championship season (the third division) and we haven't been a high scoring team for well over a decade.

I have had a hectic weekend so I'm writing this after most other bloggers, and members of Charlton Life, have had their say. The general feeling is that we are in trouble and we will, soon, be falling into a relegation fight. I believe that our back bone is strong enough. We don't win enough games, but we are clearly tough to beat too. We have only lost five games all season, in the league, out of twenty-four played.

The current league position of those five teams (Ipswich have beaten us twice) is 1st, 2nd, 2nd, 9th and 17th - and only one of those games was at home. That doesn't look like a team that is heading for relegation to me.

If we were in the Premier League that would be like having lost at Chelsea, home and away to Man City, away to Swansea and away to WBA - the last one doesn't have the same relevance as 17th in the Championship is not 4th from bottom, but the three defeats being to the top two should offer some defence of our results.

We do draw too many games but, as obvious as it is, we didn't lose them, and we were only one goal away from winning them.

I think there is, sometimes, an issue with losing few games that the team becomes obsessed with not losing opposed to gambling/risking all to win.

It was only Boxing Day that we came from behind with ten men to batter Cardiff and almost win the game. We had good chances to score late goals against Millwall and Cardiff, and we have conceded late goals in several games to drop points.

I know luck doesn't mean everything, but we have conceded late goals and missed late chances in at least half a dozen games, jet we have only scored a late winner once - Wigan at home.

I'm not suggesting that we are unlucky to be out of the playoff places, but I don't believe that we are in a higher position that we deserve to be. The fact that we have picked up more points in the early part of the season is, to a small degree, irrelevant. Since we beat Reading on the 8th of November we have drawn four (two where we missed a sitter very late on and one where we conceded very late on) and two of those three defeats were to Ipswich who are currently on a run of 8 wins and three draws in 11 games - no shame there!

We need a lucky win, or a confidence boost from Tony Watt and/or players returning from injury - or a win against the run of play and we could be back in business. I'm not suggesting that we are going to climb the table, but I don't think we will be caught by anything like enough teams to leave us in any real trouble of going down.

After going a goal behind early I thought we dominated the game and created most of the chances (all be it nor clear cut) in the first half. The equaliser, even though it would be a stretch to say it had been coming, was not against the run of play. I am worried about Gudmundsson. He signed a two year deal and he keeps hitting the headlines. I'm not naive, I know that players like him come over to the Championship as a stepping stone to the Premier League, and I fear that he could be off in the sumner if he makes it clear he won't sign an extension.

After the equaliser we were, effectively, penalised as Church was treated for, what looked like cramp, and from a drop ball we didn't touch the ball again until we were picking it out of the net. It was not, terribly, professional, but we all have the odd bad day at the office.

The sending off for what looked like a very fair second yellow - even though I had missed the first one, effectively finished the game.

Gudmundsson, who was on a yellow was throwing himself into tackles and he needed to come off and that was that.

A defeat, but we were not humiliated, and we have such a small squad we didn't need the extra games that come with a cup run anyway.

I don't fell as encouraged a I did after we narrowly lost to Ipswich, nor as I did when we nearly beat Cardiff, but it isn't the first time we've gone out of a cup looking like we didn't really want to be in it in the first place.

Brighton next Saturday is a much bigger game and will, I believe, give a much better indication as to where we are in terms of the second half of the season we are going to have.

Up the Addicks!