2018 draws to close with the state of the country rather mirroring that of CAFC. There's been little progress over the last twelve months for our nation although one can point to some progress on the pitch now that Bowyer is our manager.
At the start of the year there was optimism that the owner was nearing a sale. Sadly, twelve months on and that looks as far away as ever. Clearly our club is an attractive proposition but not at any price. The old fool clings on to the hope that someone out there is fiscally foolish enough to pay his asking price for a club, that despite several cost cutting measures, is still haemorrhaging money.
Duchatelet would still have us believe via his recent interviews that money isn't an issue. Clearly it is although you'd have thought it wasn't really in his interests to hold on as he is.
One can but hope that in a year's time I can be writing about our brave new world under different and more caring owner/s.
The last two games have taken a little gloss off the promising start to the season. However, it would be churlish to be particularly crictical of Bowyer and his players. One needs to look at the bigger picture and acknowledge that the manager is doing a fantastic job.
Effectively, Bowyer is trying to paddle across the Atlantic to the land of promotion on a semi-inflated lilo!
Doubts remain as ever as to whether we can hold on to loan players, that promising players won't be sold and that the manager gets any support in bringing in new targets.
We will have to wait and see but you anticipate that our hopes, like those of many recent previous seasons, will not be met.
All such a shame as our magnificent club, staff and supporters deserve so much more. The EFL, the Premier League and those who purport to run football ought to be hanging their heads in shame at the plight of numerous clubs like ours.
They won't of course as their attentions are focused on ensuring that the likes of Scudamore don't depart office without a good send off.
Thanks to anyone who takes time to read this blog. I haven't posted much this year as both work and personal commitments have impacted. I'm sure you've soldiered on though without it!
Thanks to all other Charlton bloggers, it's alway good to read their views even in these not so wonderful times.
Thanks too to Ketts for his company and chats at home games and for continuing to write so prolifically and insightfully about our special club.
Whatever you're doing tonight I sincerely hope that you have a great evening and I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year ! God willing may that extend to CAFC !
A fantastic performance on Saturday saw the Addicks return
to winning ways in addition to stemming the flow of goals conceded. That this
was achieved against an in form Barnsley team speaks volumes.
I don’t think anyone had a bad game. The return of Bielek
shored up the back four. An improved display for Dijksteel allied to Pearce
being restored to his preferred side really made a difference.
Added to that Steer put in a more assured display with a
couple of good saves and on occasion, excellent distribution.
Grant’s excellent finish following a sublime pass from Ward
was very much against the run of play. The first half was an even affair and in
truth the Addicks would have welcomed the half time break.
The first 45 minutes made it clear that referee Linington
had not improved since his last time at The Valley. Mind you with the sun in
his eyes ( not an excuse he could have for the Posh game ! ) it’s no surprise.
On several occasions he had his hand shading his eyes from the bright orb in
the sky !
It did make me wonder why referees don’t follow the example
of keepers and wear a cap ( ok, I know this means exercising a degree of common
sense ! ). I’m sure The Valley in mid-November can’t be the only occasion
that this is an issue so why would it not be part of their kit they take to
every game ?
The second half saw Barnsley reduced to just one shot on
target pretty much such was the excellent work from the team. The second
effectively finished the game but you can never say never with the Addicks !
A third was disallowed for reasons known only to the man
from the Isle of Wight but it failed to lessen the celebratory atmosphere in
S.E. 7 !
On to tomorrow night and the most one dimensional manager in
league football brings his Oxford team to The Valley. It’s something of a
surprise as most of us thought he’d have gone by now so bad has been the
Yellows start to the season.
A number of fans seem
happy following a run of two scoreless draws and a win over the bottom club,
Plymouth. However, some of the natives have been restless with most seeing through the verbiage and endless excuses of our former manager. However,
A couple of fans recently observed “ No evident style of
play, no clear strategy to score because Robbo is a tactical numpty “ and “
Honestly, I’ve seen bowls of porridge with more tactical acumen “ !!
Of course, we know this all too well having witnessed it at
It we fail to beat Oxford tomorrow it’ll only be down the
goalkeeping excellence of Simon Eastwood, a dodgy refereeing decision, some
horrendous mistake or poor play from ourselves.
Lee Bowyer should be confident of a win although he’ll no
doubt be up to the wee hours trying to second guess what formation Crafty Karl
will deploy !
In the event of another defeat for Oxford no doubt Robinson
will dig deep into the book of excuses. This season he has added the home
ground having an effect on the lads. The three sides isn’t helping apparently.
Jon Obika is out for the season and so won’t be playing.
Ricky Holmes missed out on Saturday but I don’t know the extent of his injury.
Carruthers is finding his fitness and feet after a spell on the sidelines.
Oxford are unlikely to be adventurous and Robinson would
probably take another 0-0 right now. He’ll have half an eye on a smash and
Hopefully he’ll leave pointless with The Addicks cementing
the good work done on Saturday.
Finally, tomorrow’s match is part of Lyle Taylor’s Go Pink
campaign and let’s hope it is successful in raising more money
towards this very worthwhile cause.
Elton John famously sang I guess that's why they call it the blues perhaps inspired by a Coventry victory over Watford. Who knows but Charlton fans knew that feeling after yesterday's game.
A third successive game saw us left the pitch with less than we should. I could say deserved but perhaps that's not entirely true unless we're having that bad a run in terms of luck.
We all know that we have a good squad of players. We all know that is a squad without much cover and for us to stand any real chance of promotion this season we need minimal suspensions and injuries. Of late both have hit us hard.
The defence is really under pressure at the moment. The full back position is possibly the weakest area of all. It may be that Bowyer was somewhat naive to continue with the same back four that conceded 4 goals on Tuesday.
Solly having to play at left back weakens the team and Dijksteel doesn't look totally comfrotable at full back. Might we have done better to keep Solly in his preferred position and play Sarr at left back ? Pratley or Bielek could have played at centre half.
Solly was aforded a vast amount of time and space on the left and regularly picked out vy the Charlton midfield mostly Reeves who supplied some exquisite passes. Solly's lack of a decent left foot resulted in him time and again cutting back onto his right or not quite doing enough with the best efforts his left peg could muster.
In addition to that Solly was left devoid of support when receiving the ball. It was disappointing that it wasn't until the second half that this was rectified when Fosu was sent out to help him.
Ultimately Charlton were made to pay for failing to take their chances. It was surprising that the game was scoreless at the end of the first 45 minutes and that it would need a spot kick to open it up.
Taylor had a great game yesterday and was brave enough to step up to pentalty duties exactly two weeks after he had one saved at the exact same goal. He did have some help from Coventry's Kelly who indicated to keeper Burge that Lyle was going to put the kick to his left. In the end Charlton's number 9 put it to the goalie's right.
The second half followed much the same pattern as the first with the Addicks failing to take their chances. That's not to say that City didn't have opportunities to score of their own. They did and they could have scored before they did.
Mark Robins deserves a lot of credit for keeping his team in the game and with a squad that I believe was missing a few key players. Prior to the match he had identified the problems of our defence and the absence of Page in particular. It's probably no coincidence that their main attacking threat came down our right hand side where the less experienced Dijksteel was operating.
Bowyer and his troops have greatly exceeded expectation to date. It is to be hoped that this is very much a blip.
Next week's break offers a chance to regroup and maybe get a couple back from injury. Let's hope they make the most of it.
In the meantime we have a meaningless Checkatrade nonsense fixture. At least it gives an opportunity for a run out for some fringe players. Let's pray we don't have add another page to the current chapter of current injuries!
On Saturday we played the Hatters and on Tuesday we are away again this time to the Iron. At home next Saturday we play Coventry and although it's no Detroit, it is closely associated with cars ( especially Willie Carr ! ).
Clearly we're in the midst of a set of fixtures inspired by Waddington's famous game of Monopoly and its tokens ( I mean the original ones not the more modern ones which are a nonsense - change isn't good !! ).
Portsmouth must be up soon maybe followed by Northampton and Blackburn ( Rovers ) in the cup. If we get Millwall, you'll know we've moved on to Cluedo tokens !
I always felt that Saturday's game against Luton was going to be a tough one and in view of the way events panned out, like just about everyone else I was more than happy with the point.
Chris Solly chose a good time to renew scoring. They do seem to be worth waiting for don't they ?
Bowyer was right not to risk Ward and Grant by not having them in the starting eleven with tomorrow's night's game in mind.
Whether Fosu would have replaced one of the midfielders who played so well against Plymouth
is unclear. I guess Ward's injury solved that problem.
We did dominate for long periods against the Hatters albeit not as much as the Plymouth game. We do need to score more when we are on top.
Following the game from afar was a nervy affair. If we can go two or three goals up it would help with the nerves.
The Iron will pose difficult opponents. After a dire start to the season manager Nick Daws was sacked and replaced by Stuart McCall.
McCall has overseen a real upturn. Accepting that their have been many draws the team remains unbeaten under McCall.
The Addicks do have a record of ending unbeaten runs and they'll need to be at their very best if they are to repeat that tomorrow.
Former Addick Lee Novak is amongst the ranks of Iron players. I don't think we saw the best of him when he was with us and I hope that doesn't start tomorrow !
Lee Bowyer's boys made it four wins in a row yesterday with an impressive preformance against a stubborn Plymouth side who somewhat belied their league position.
The Addicks made a positive, fast attacking start to the start with some crisp passing and movement. However, despite the strong start we went behind on 9 minutes as Carey headed home from a cross from the left.
Plymouth didn't hold the lead for long as Grant equalised 3 minutes later as he prodded home after we had a corner.
Charlton went on to dominate the game as is evidenced by all the stats including the number of shots which totalled 23.
It was frustrating that our dominance didn't result in more goals and an earlier goal. Our front two are scoring regularly but could have even more to their name.
Yesterday there were a few occasions where they were too keen to pass to each other rather than take a shot. I recall that one of them tried to pass to his strike partner when he had 3 defenders in close proximity.
However, I may be being too picky !
Bowyer's managerial career started with last season's home game against the Pilgrims as he took over from Robinson who left for Oxford. In stark contrast to his predecessor, Bowyer is a calm and reassuring presence on the touchline.
That was certainly the case yesterday as he didn't panic or get anxious at any stage. Not when we went behind and even when the game reached the later stages as we pressed for the winner.
I think most of us would have been considering making subs earlier than 75 minutes. Further to that we would probably have made more than one.
The manager only brought on Vetokele for Ward at that 75 minute mark. Of course he was proved to be correct in so doing.
Bowyer is very measured and controlled. Some people like to have an animated manager as they believe it shows passion. However, I don't need to see Lee jumping up and down to know he has that. I know he has that from his actions and words.
I wonder who Oxford fans would rather have as their manager ( a rhetorical question if ever their were one ! ).
The imminent return of Fosu certainly seemed to motivate the midfield yesterday with impressive performances from Reeves, Cullen, Aribo and Ward. Indeed, Reeves had one of his best games as his vision and passing were great. Aribo was great and worked incredibly hard and appeared to cover every blade of grass.
After yesterday it would be harsh on any one of the midfield players if they made way for Fosu even accepting how good he is.
With only Portsmouth of top teams not winning yesterday ( Barnsley's game was postponed ) we find oursleves in 6th place. The spread of points is close however and a fifth win on the spin ought to see us into the top 4 I'd have thought.
Luton await and it won't be an easy game with Nathan Jones boys doing pretty well following promotion last season. The Hatters have only dropped points against Sunderland at home so it'll be tough.
Lee Bowyer clearly hasn't read the script. He has his team performing well, just chalked up 3 wins on the spin and won games since being made permanent.
That's not normal for any Charlton manager let alone one working under the ownership of the odious Duchatelet.
As I'm sure Bowyer would be first to acknowledge credit must go to other members of the management team. Jackson, Gallen, Euell et al must all take the plaudits too.
The manager has made the team tougher and hard to beat. In pairing Taylor and Grant he has created the best couple of strikers we've had for a while. Theirs is a blosoming partnership that bodes well for the future.
To get a comfortable win at Bradford such as the one The Addicks secured on Saturday is no mean feat. The two goals of good quality were a real bonus.
Given the small size of our squad and the owner's relutance to invest sufficiently in it there is always a caveat to any success that we might enjoy. Injuries and suspensions are always likely to prove a stumbling block.
Thus it happens. Just as we were starting to get players back the BFG, Patrick Bauer is going to be missing for at least two months. Sadly defence is where we have the least cover so this is going to hit us hard.
Our Arsenal loanee, Krystian Bielik, who can also cover that position is currently out too which in the short term further limits our options.
I expect Sarr to fill in of course. However, we can ill afford another injury to one of our central defenders so extra order of cotton wool are needed.
Next up on Saturday is bottom of the table Plymouth. Their last visit to the Valley was at a time when they were flying high and it was Bowyer's first game in charge. Bowyer went onto to record his first win and the Pilgrims season went into decline.
The boss should be confident of getting the 3 points again at the weekend. However, Charlton being Charlton we all know we can't take anything for granted !
The subs allowed Charlton to take a strangehold on the game
Charlton recorded back to back league wins for the first time this season. It was far from pretty but whilst we'd all like pretty football the result is all that matters at the moment.
In addition to the missing 3 players Bielik was missing I assumed through injury ( Dr Kish has confirmed it was a calf strain ). Somewhat surprisingly Steer replaced Phillips in between the sticks.
Joe Aribo returned after missing out at Southend through injury. Mark Marshall returned to the bench after impressing the manager in the EFL trophy in midweek.
Bowyer decided to deploy 3 centre halves and the inclusion of Sarr was presumably to help deal with the huge presence of Akinfenwa. However, he didn't actually spend much time marking him.
I was pleased to see the big man play and he is quite effective in being a nuisance with his sheer strength alone. Overall our defence dealt with him well and I can't recall him having any real clear cut chances.
A rather drab first half was punctuated by only the goals and an audacious overhead kick from Taylor that nearly paid off.
Wycombe took the lead on 7 minutes when Willimas was allowed to curl a left footed effort into the far corner. His effort was not hit with any great pace from the edge of the area and I did wonder whether Steer was poorly positioned for it. However, having seen a replay he appears to be unsighted by one of his own defenders ( Page ? ).
The Addicks equalised as the result of a rare bit of good fortune as Page's cross was defelcted into the Wycombe net. Bizarrely for some time Page was credited with the goal.
The second started with in the same fashion as the first with little excitement. The arrival of Reeves and Lapslie changed things very much for the better as we carried more attacking intent and threat.
Taylor scored again as he has the happy knack of being in the right place at the right time. Never mind that it was a tap in not all strikers get themselves in those positions. Fortuntely he does.
Sarr notched a third in the 80th minute and the game was effectively over. Wycombe did pull one back after Taylor was fouled on the East Stand touch line in front of linesman Magoo. The referee also decided to ignore it and The Chairboys scored from the resulting corner.
The afroementioned ref was pretty awful coosing to ignore many synical Wycombe fouls. Possilby his most ridulous decision was to book Steer for timewasting. This was bizarre because the visitors were gulity of doing that several times and no warning was given to the Charlton keeper.
The most odd aspect of it is that we had been awarded a free kick about midway in our half and Steer was making his way from his area when the daft official was to be seen brandishing the yellow card!
Pratley made another rash tackle in the course of this game. He made a similar and possibly worse one the week before. He needs to be careful aside from the fact that we can ill afford to lose players to unnecessary suspensions we could drop points playing with only ten men especially for long periods.
Given the players we had missing this was a good and useful win. Those four players missing yesterday ought to all come into contention for next Saturday. The competition for places is now starting to intensify.
All welcome news and a rare treat for the new permanent boss to have a few headaches over selection for good reasons for a change.
I saw my first game back in the sixties when my dad took me along on a very wet and windy day. I recall having to turn my back to the pitch because of it.....shame you can't do that sometimes now !
I sit in the East Stand with my lads who both keep the faith.
I live 75 miles from the Valley having moved away from the area in 1984 but my heart has never left !