Monday, 16 October 2017

The Graduate

" Are you trying to seduce me Mr Robinson ? "

The Addicks face two tough away tests starting with Oxford where they hope to pass the first test with first class honours.

Travelling fans will be hoping to see a performance a lot more inspiring than Saturday's against a poor Doncaster side. Whilst never in any real danger of losing our failure to add to the early goal nearly came back to bite us on the backside.

Having had two weeks break and with increased competition for places it's not unreasonable to have expected more. However, a win's a win and if it contributes to the ultimate prize of promotion then I guess it's a small price to pay.

One assumes that Robinson will make some changes with the upcoming schedule. However, he's not been one for change of late so who knows.

Oxford find themselves on a decent run following a couple of setbacks towards then end of September. It won't be easy to get anything from the game.

If we can garner 4 points from this game and Saturday's trip to Bradford then that will be a pretty good return ahead of  a faltering Wimbledon side at the end of October.

There is some respite from all the league action after all that when Truro City make their way up from the West Country for the first round of the FA Cup. A home tie is desirable and in opposition that we ought to beat will allow more fringe players to get a game.

Come On You Reds !

Friday, 13 October 2017

Donny Ahoy !

Oh look he's chartered a boat especially !

Charlton return to action on Saturday with the oppo at The Valley being Doncaster Rovers.

Donny have enjoyed mixed results to date this season. They finally recorded a home win last Saturday with a 4-1 win over Southend. On the road they have beaten Blackburn and Plymouth whilst drawing 3 games overall.

The main goal threat will come from former Millwall man John Marquis who netted 26 league goals last season and has scored 5 to date this season.

Rovers are managed by Darren Ferguson and whilst it's exactly a case of like father, like son in managerial terms Darren enjoyed a fair amount of success at Peterborough.

Last season he achieved promotion with Rovers and is a manager who knows the league well and is used to managing successfully on a small budget. He will know only too well what to expect from a side managed by Robinson.

Charlton will be keen not to have lost any impetus gained from the fine performance and result from the Fleetwood game.

Magennis could be excused for being totally knackered from his international exploits and given our totally reliance on him with seemingly no sign of a rest it's only a matter of time before he's injured or becomes pretty ineffective as he runs out of steam.

Robinson now faces a bit of a selection dilemma. As Solly didn't play last time out we had more height ( it's not hard ! ) with Konsa having a fine game. In addition, Sarr performed well too.

Normally you would expect your skipper to come straight back into the side but it's not that simple although I expect Robinson will bring him back in.

Midfield is where even greater selection issues occur. In that respect the manager can have few complaints with a number of options available. Given the trouble that the manager went to organise friendlies and internal practice games if Reeves and Marshall don't feature to some extent it'll look rather futile.

Whilst the rest of the squad will be well rested the 3 international players that we can't do without have returned. Quite how prepared they'll be for tomorrow's game is anyone's guess. Certainly Magennis ought to be physically and mentally tired after some tough games. To some extent the other two as well.

A real long slog of fixture looms large on the horizon and it's fair to say the squad will be used to its fullest extent as injuries and suspensions will no doubt play a part. Let's hope we can start off with a win tomorrow.

Come On You Reds !




Monday, 2 October 2017

A Win At Last !


Fleetwood looking a little shocked by the result !

A much welcome win then for The Addicks on Saturday following a pretty miserable winless run. Good performances from all concerned especially Konsa, Sarr and of course hat-trick hero Fosu.

Robinson ought to be wondering like the rest of us how we could play so well for nearly the entire duration of the game after such insipid and inconsistent performances in the previous four.

Missing Pearce and Solly and able to bring on Marshall and Reeves whilst Aribo is still in reserve many will wonder what as to the validity of Robinson's claim that he is overseeing a thin squad.

Agreed, he doesn't quite have the 2 players competing for each position that he stated he wanted but Robinson's cupboard isn't quite as bare as he would have us believe. In addition, it looks an awful lot more rosy than compared to many of the other squad in League One.

The absence of alternative strikers to Magennis is surely down to the manager himself unless his claims that he is in control of all the transfer dealing is pure fabrication. Selling or loaning out all those players before getting any suitable replacement in is naive for any manager but quite startling for one of Robinson's experience.

I understand the reasons for the Peterborough postponement of course. However, I felt it was a bit short sighted before Saturday's win. I think we can cope without the 3 called up and also the missing Pearce.

We have now added another midweek fixture that will surely test our resources even further especially given that it may well be preceded or followed by another midweek game either side of it.

It looks worse given Peterborough's last couple of results and given that they have an EFL fixture tomorrow against fairly local rivals Northampton. It seems that Saturday was an almost ideal time to play them.

Too late now of course and only time will tell if it was the right one. In the meantime we have a break until Saturday week before we face Doncaster Rovers. Let's hope we don't lose the momentum gained from the win at Fleetwood.

Come On You Reds !

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Copy & Paste

Saturday sees another difficult away game at ( insert club name here ). Following the latest disappointing result against ( enter name of League One side here ) the Addicks will be keen to return to winning ways.

On Tuesday / Saturday ( delete as appropriate ) we started brightly but squandered a number of good opportunities only to be undone by poor defending.

Robinson was rightly frustrated post match citing " poor refereeing decisions / bad luck / all officials having a bias against a big club like Charlton / hyper-inflated transfer fees / the ball was too round " barely raising his eyes from the semi biographical work " 1001 excuses for the one trick manager " subtitled " the big bad book of bo**ocks ".

The manager went onto say that he was disappointed that all hard work on the training pitch working on our new formation and pattern of play didn't pay off. " I'm not about to abandon it after one game and have no intention of returning to a 4-2-3-1 formation................ " who I am kidding of course he didn't!

Robinson believes that when Messi and Ronaldo aka Marshall and Reeves are fit and available then The Addicks will be rising to the top of the league as he stroked a barely recognisable rabbit's foot that was almost devoid of fur.

Perhaps the silver lining of the groundhog day manner of our ongoing failure to win games is that it makes writing any preview very easy and come to that post match review much the same.

Unless Robinson can turn things around then he may well be gone before he gets a chance to face his old club in November. That might be for the best as the comparisons between the fortunes of the two clubs since his departure might not reflect too kindly on him.

Robinson might be glad of a bit of respite given that the Peterborough game is now postponed. The cancellation of these games always seems a little shortsighted to me. There's every chance that we'll have more injuries and the game must be played as soon as possible and Pearce for one won't be back by then. In any case, we've added a midweek game possibly a week after the away game at Oxford.

In the meantime if Charlton are to have any chance of resurrecting their season then they need to get some kind of a result against Fleetwood. Given that we have managed to garner only 2 points from a possible 12 that seems highly unlikely. We can only hope.

Come On You Reds !


Sunday, 24 September 2017

Promising Start and Goodwill Evaporating

" and Smith must score... "

As poor as our start was yesterday ours was awful. For the first half hour you'd have been forgiven for thinking that we were the away side languishing at the foot of the table.

Even before Beckford scored his exquisite goal following a delicious pass from the excellent Josh Laurent former Addick Michael Smith should have put the Shakers ahead.

In a repeat of a rather famous " and Smith must score " moment Bury's version fluffed a fairly easy chance to give them the lead when faced with a virtually open goal.

It's true to say that Smith that doesn't possess too much finesse and grace but he worked bloody hard for his team yesterday and was a thorn in our side throughout. Later into the game and he sprinted way back to the half line to block one of our attacks. That sort of effort and desire was largely missing from our boys.

In the aforementioned Laurent, Bury have a very good player who broke up numerous attacks and played some really good passes. He was roundly booed by a number of our fans following several clear fouls. However, they were committed to break up our attacks and only up to the point that he got booked. It's not his fault the ref didn't book him earlier and we'd applaud any player doing that for us. 

Beckford was quality all afternoon making the most of little quality support from his team mates. As mentioned before his goal was superb. 

Despite having lost the previous two games Robinson decided that he would make only the one change to the starting eleven and that was of course forced on him with Holmes suspended.

Solly and Da Silva struggle with the height of most opposition players but the sight of Da Silva trying to mark Smith most notably from throw ins was laughable.

KAG came straight into the team although I fail to see what he has done over anyone to deserve that. given the need for more height in the back four and with Holmes missing it might have been better to play Da Silva out side and bring Konsa into the defence.

I'm sure Aribo must be wondering what he has to do or how poorly we have to play to get a chance. All Robinson's talk of rotating remains just that.

Robinson looked rather lost yesterday and he spent a fair amount of time sat down which is unusual for him. In the past he has had people like John Gorman to advise him. At present he has Skip and Bowyer. Added to which Solly really isn't ideal as a skipper no matter how good a player he is. I'm not sure it's enough.

Jackson's association and legendary status in the club make him well respected by both players and fans alike. I'm sure he's a wise head to have on the management team. Skip is taking his first steps in the management and one can't expect too much from him at this stage. He will probably make a good manager one day and hopefully with us if so.

Bowyer too has little coaching experience and has not been anywhere near the club ( nor any club as far as I can tell ) until Robinson brought him in. Bowyer had his attention on his fish farm in France.

Bowyer never played in the third tier of English football is hardly your archetypal role model. Quite what he is bringing to the party I don't know.

I've made no secret of the fact that I don't really take to Robinson. His endless interviews with much hyperbole do nothing for me. Neither does the manner in which he celebrates a victory as though we've just won the league. His one dimensional style of play allied to his apparent lack of tactical nous doesn't endear him to me either.

Roly has been blamed for not backing Robinson but whilst Robinson hasn't exactly been able to dip into a vast share of the Lookman money he has been able to recruit well. Most clubs would be more than happy to have a squad like ours.

The manager is putting a lot of faith in Marshall and Reeves turning things around to the extent that you'd be forgiven for thinking that Messi and Ronaldo were about to enter the team.  

Roland and Katrien seem to like him but since they know bugger all about football probably explains his relative longevity in the hot spot. Many more performances and results like those of the last three games and even Roly might feel the need to pull the trigger that he hasn't for a while now.

It may be that Robinson won't be situ to face his old club in November. However, that's still a  way off and in the meantime we've two away games in the space of 5 days that are taking on great significance.

Walsall secured an excellent win away to Oxford and whilst Fleetwood suffered a reverse yesterday at home it won't be easy up there.

Holmes will return on Tuesday but Pearce left on crutches yesterday and Clarke may have picked up a knock too. Perhaps one or two others will finally get a chance to impress. Let's hope it brings an upturn in fortunes.

Come On You Reds !

   


Thursday, 21 September 2017

No Ricky, No Nicky


Yes, missing both players and chances !

Bury currently sit in 22nd place in League One having made an inauspicious start to the season. Even without our help the started with a home win since when they've garnered only two more points courtesy of a couple of goalless draws.

One of those points came in an away game against Rochdale. Don't be fooled into thinking that the Shakers shut up shop on the road as their last two away league games have been 5 goal thrillers in which they lost by the odd goal.

Despite losing to Fleetwood they had more shots and more possession. Imagine having more shots and more possession and losing by one goal !

I'm sure that boss Lee Clark wants to put an end to the losses. In fact, he'd probably loved to go on a long unbeaten streak no doubt featuring numerous meaningless draws whilst finishing just outside the play-offs places. Should such a thing occur perhaps we could end the run at Gigg Lane later in the season.

Despite not getting the ideal results Bury have some good players in their ranks and won't be a pushover. Given our propensity to miss many gilt edged chances even if we're winning like most of the games this season Bury will be in with a chance making for a nervy game as we need to win to get back on track.

As it is we're going to be under pressure to get a result following two disappointing performances. The task is not made any easier without the hot-headed Ricky Holmes. The name Holmes is of course synonymous with a superior intellect but there's been little clever about the way Ricky has amassed 5 yellow cards already this season. In fact had he connected with a Wigan player in a rash sliding tackle he might have been missing more games.

There's not much competition to replace Holmes with both Marshall and Reeves missing. Robinson now admits it was a mistake to play the china doll that is Reeves so soon. With a nod to our missing winger.......no sh*t Sherlock !

You'd not believe that Robinson was Ben's manager for so long previously. Indeed as I've said previously the manager took a gamble in signing him and his dodgy injury history is the reason he wasn't snapped up by a Championship side at least at there's little doubting his ability.

Robinson remains welded to his formation and apparently is unable or unwilling or both to change it come hell or high water. Even when things aren't working with his system ( I'm loathe to say Plan A as this is to suggest there's is an alternative and there really isn't ! ) he hasn't made the best use of his subs.

Dodoo unsurprisingly for a last minute.com signing really isn't pulling up any trees. We're told he's better on the wing and I wonder if he wouldn't prosper as an out and out striker. Sadly, I fear we may never find out or at least under Robinson we won't.

Effectively two of our own are missing Saturday's encounter as Nicky Ajose is ineligible for Bury and probably just as well.

Two away games follow the Bury encounter before we enter Round One of the cup. One used to fear a regular exit in Round 3 nowadays we need to achieve two cups wins just to get there.........God help us !

Let's hope that we can find some fluency and greater consistency that would see us play more than just one good half, More importantly we need to take more of those chances and greatly improve our defensive display.

Come On You Reds !


Tuesday, 19 September 2017

EPL at 25


Hmm..........it was tough to pick an image that sums up 25 years of the EPL !

This year we actually have a connection with the Premier League, we’re both celebrating a 25th anniversary.

In my view not only as a Charlton fan but a total football one too I believe ours is the one more worth celebrating.

Our celebration is one that has the genuine football supporter at its heart. Sadly, the same cannot be said of the EPL’s. Some believe that the game and overall football experience has been improved by the inception of football’s elite league but I beg to differ.

Football in general is now a very different beast to that which existed 25 years and it’s not just the emergence of the EPL that has led to that. The world’s governing bodies FIFA and UEFA have made decisions which have greatly damaged the game.

Let’s examine various aspects of English football today compared to that of 1992 and see if it’s any better ( other than Charlton back in S.E.7 of course ! ).

EPL and The Football League

The EPL setting up itself as the governing body of top flight English football and eventually saw the number of teams reduce from 22 to 20 teams as we could hardly expect players to play so much football !

The aim, we’re led to believe was to improve the quality of the football. In reality many seasons down the line how many really good and memorable games are there ? Sunday saw Chelsea and Arsenal play out a pretty uninspiring goal-less draw despite the usual pre-match hype from Sky that frequently accompanies such fixtures.

In similar fashion to Charlton dropping down a division I’m not aware of a reduction in season ticket price to reflect the loss of the 2 home games ( lower quality football in our case of course ).

The Football League despite naturally having more members and “ customers “ than the EPL is very much the poor relation in every sense of the word.  

Competitiveness of the League

Given that success in the EPL is largely driven by the extent of the financial backing a club has it comes as little surprise that while 49 clubs have competed since the inception of the Premier League only six have won the title:-

Chelsea (5)
Arsenal (3)

We are highly unlikely to ever see a repeat of Nottingham Forest’s triumph in winning the top flight having just been promoted from the second tier.

Competitiveness in Europe and World Football

Since 1992 the European Cup / Champions League has been won by :-

European Cup – Man Utd 1999 & 2008, Liverpool 2005 and Chelsea 2012.

UEFA Cup - Europa League – Liverpool 2001, Chelsea 2013 and Man Utd 2017

Not exactly dominating the scene are we when shortly before the EPL English clubs won the European Cup ( then a knock out competition ) 7 times in 8 years.

I can’t be bothered to research in any detail England’s success on the world and European stage but unless my mind is playing tricks save for some relative success at Euro ’96 it’s been pretty dire.

My apathy towards the national team is matched by that of many players. They earn so much why should they be motivated to pull on an England shirt when the real money is in the top league and / or on the European stage.

Pride in playing for your country is something that is seemingly a disappearing trait.

Managers

There are increasingly few British managers in the EPL and the opportunities for them decrease every season with the trend towards foreign managers.

Stadia

Following the move to all-seater stadia leading to a reduced capacity for most grounds has seen an increase in prices. Many clubs have left their old grounds behind and moved to newer arenas.

Some, like myself, would argue that this hasn’t necessarily improved the matchday experience. One could usually get a seat in a stand if you preferred to sit but most fans would want to stand as we mostly did when I were growing up.

Nice toilets ( to an extent ) and getting a beer, coffee or snack are all very well but the over-riding enjoyment comes from an atmosphere made on the terraces that is somewhat missing from sedentary support.

Older grounds have more character and are much more pleasurable to visit even if they aren’t easily accessible and are harder to find !

Fans

Those not of an armchair variety are the least important in the overall equation. As discussed elsewhere the price and timing and date of the game will not be in favour of the genuine supporter.

All of this very ironic given that without the live support there is no atmosphere no matter how much that has been diluted by various factors.


Transfers

Not much to say other than clearly transfer fees prices have escalated beyond belief. The revamped European competitions have added to them too. Today even a bog standard Premier League player will set you back a few million.

Finances.

There are now vast amounts of money washing around in some clubs as they have been acquired by extremely rich owners who can afford to spend millions on what are often average players.

Season ticket income sits well behind the TV and sponsors money. Despite that clubs like Arsenal charge ridiculously high prices for season tickets. Many require that if not a season ticket holder you pay to a member just to be in with a chance of getting a ticket for the less attractive games.

Some of this would be forgivable if a decent amount of money permeated its way down to league and non-league clubs but so little of it does, only relatively token amounts.

Many Prem teams ought to play in stripey shirts and wear masks as clubs like our frequently get robbed of promising young players for a relative pittance in return. As such there’s little incentive for the top teams to have academies.

Even if they do then like Chelsea they can loan them out to numerous clubs for them to progress before returning either as improved players to play for their club or to be sold on for a decent profit that they haven’t worked too hard on,

Matchday Experience

What can one say of matchday itself. Firstly, you’ll have already shelled out a decent wedge to get your ticket aside from travel costs.

If you’re lucky the game will kick off at 3pm on a Saturday although unlikely. If you’re even more lucky the game won’t have been re-arranged at the last minute after you made all manner of arrangements to ensure that you can be there.

The atmosphere is likely to be quite sterile even though you may have been handed a clapper to help generate a truly lively climate !

It’s possible that you won’t even have to go as the game will be aired somewhere and after all, one can’t overlook the armchair fan !

Are you likely to see a classic ? Maybe but I’d argue that many games don’t live up to the massive hype that Sky and others promote. Most games can be predicted to go one way due the gulf that exists between the top 6 or 7 clubs and the rest who’ll scrap for a draw or maybe an unlikely win.

In addition, law changes such as the back pass one and greater protection to keepers and other players make the game a less enjoyable spectacle to a degree.

The vast number of subs permissible is another fillip to the bigger clubs as if they needed any more help !

Cup Competitions

The domestic cup scene has taken a back seat to virtually all Prem clubs sadly this extends to those for whom survival in the league overrides the desire for a decent cup run or the need to be competitive in them.

Another kick in the teeth to the traditions of our domestic football. One used to await the cup final with baited breath, now it has become just another televised game that could take place at almost any date or time again with scant regard to true fans of the game.

Summary

In case you’re wondering………..I’m not a fan of the EPL. Whatever it’s aims only those to make the big clubs bigger and more wealthy have been achieved.

The ordinary fan of what was once the working men’s game has been priced out or totally inconvenienced for the benefit of the TV companies and their customers.

The English game isn’t improved by its existence by virtue of fewer opportunities for our own players and managers. It is a long way behind other nations and have at best been treading water whilst nations like Iceland with no real tradition or pedigree for the game or suitable facilities have overtaken us.

It’s a sad picture and unless the financial plug is pulled I don’t see things changing. That is highly unlikely of course.

I’m not sure that I’d want to see Charlton back there to be honest. The Championship would be an overall more enjoyable experience I feel.


The face of the game at the top level has greatly altered over the last 25 years. I hope I’m around in another 25 years to witness how it will have developed further. Sadly, I fear that like the last 25 years overall it won’t be for the better.