Thursday, 6 May 2021

Nigel Adkins Q & A

I was fortunate to be one of the people attending last night's Q&A session with Nigel Adkins.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable hour and a half in which the manager spoke quite open and honestly about all things Charlton.

In respect of specific questions about specific players he was as clear as he could without breaking the confidence or trust of those players much as one would hope and expect.

I was keen like many others to know why Chuks isn't starting and playing more games. Adkins was clear that he would like to start and play him more but there are reasons that he doesn't. It obvious that like all fans he sees Chuks as a great player at this level. It would seem that Aneke himself lacks confidence in his physical ability to play for long periods. I'm sure it's something that he is being helped with if so.

There's little point or need for me to go into too much detail about the session as it will be covered better elsewhere no doubt by people with better recall than myself.

Overall it was great to hear from the man himself and learn some more of his background, experience and football philosophy.

I found it all encouraging and feel reassured that Adkins is his own man who has a clear vision of what he wants to achieve and how. 

As one might expect his thoughts and views appear very much aligned with Thomas's and that alone is reassuring.

Whatever the outcome of Sunday's final League One games I think we can look forward to a bright and interesting future.

Come On You Reds!


Monday, 3 May 2021

All But Over

The fat lady is about to start singing and almost definitely will following Saturday's 1-1 draw at Accrington.

It was absolutely dreadful with the first half especially being a wretched watch. Sadly, there have been so many like that this season. Watching games at home means it's so tempting to walk away from them although I've always stuck it out to the end. 

Often it's been the football equivalent of Dr Who as you're virtually watching from behind the sofa.

Worryingly in our last 3 games we seem to have lost our way. Once we lost DJ from the team we have appeared to be incapable of adjusting. 

Adkins has clearly inherited this squad but nevertheless can't be excused from criticism in respect of formations and  team selection.

Gunter underlined how much better Matthews is than him. The midfield showed that Shinnie deserves a start ahead of most of them yet only got a couple of minutes.

Why we apparently decided to match Stanley's approach to the game is a mystery to me. Adkins often speaks of the need to only worry about how we play but Saturday wasn't like that.

We have players more than capable of playing a decent passing game. Against Accrington it was crying out for us to get the ball on the floor and stop banging long high balls over all the place.

Our best striker and probably best player, Chuks again didn't start. Why? Further to that why can't he play alongside Stockley?

At half time clearly changes were needed. Yet we didn't make a change until the hour mark. Aneke's impact was immediate and underlined how foolhardy it is not to play him more.

I am so bored of reading how Chuks can't play for 90 minutes. He had done so this season and if I recall correctly played nearly 90 minutes in two successive games. This season is probably the fittest he's been but he's ended up playing so little!

If you read my blog ahead of the game you'll know that what I've written isn't born out of hindsight.

As ever with Charlton the season is effectively over but not completely. The club still has to tease with the feint hope of still making the play-offs. Mind you if we did one seriously can't envisage us being more than cannon fodder for whoever we play.

It is a shame because we are capable of putting out a decent starting eleven who, if correctly set up, would be more than a match for most teams in this league. Sadly, we are often too far removed from being so.

It has been an awful season in the wider world and on the pitch but thankfully better off it with the arrival of Thomas. If he hadn't taken over then I dread to think where we would be and how we would feel about our future.

There's a lot of work to do during the summer and Steve Gallen and co will need to be on their best game and pull some rabbits out of many hats! A silver lining of a potential defeat on Tuesday would be an earlier start to working on next season and clarity of where we'll be.


Friday, 30 April 2021

Accrington Away

Tomorrow ( or perhaps it was today ) we make the long trip up to Accrington in what, in respect of our play-off hopes, is a must win.

There's much to admire about Accrington from the way it is run by their excellent owner, Andy Holt, to Bumble ( David Lloyd ) one of their famous fans. Their achievements have been quite remarkable.

Stanley have scored 11 goals in their last 4 games with the last two games being 3-3 draws. Clearly they carry a threat up front whilst being prone to conceding a few themselves.

For our part, the Plymouth game aside, we haven't scored as many goals as we would like or perhaps deserve. That allied to our tendency to concede sloppy and/or late goals has been our undoing in numerous games this season.

On Tuesday we were slow to respond and make changes against a Crewe side who acquitted themselves very well. Tomorrow we need to set up better and adjust more rapidly if things aren't going our way.

Whilst I appreciate the success we've had of late with our starting formation I don't believe we oughtn't to change to 4-4-2.

Further to that I can't see a problem with starting with both Aneke and Stockley. I appreciate that they are similar players but I don't think many defences would relish the challenge they offer.

Why Aneke, like Shinnie, hasn't played more is a mystery to me. Chuks has been great this season and  converts a high percentage of chances in addition to offering good hold up play. He is our best striker and needs to start or play a much bigger part

I note that Adkins spoke about Shinnie not playing due to the success of the current squad and competition for places. All well and good if you're winning games buy we've lost and drawn the last two and Shinnie is more than equal to most of our midfield. I find it baffling especially given the two games a week situation and the need ( one assumes ) to rotate the squad.

Hopefully, they will get their chance tomorrow in what promises to be a very tough game. Stanley may be out of the play-off running but they aren't rolling over for anyone as their game against Sunderland on Tuesday demonstrates.

A result similar to that of our last away game would do very nicely but let's be honest any kind of a win will do. It's essential if we are to prolong our season. 

The fixture planner have again given us a final game at home to the potential Champions ( Nice how that happens so often! ) and it would be nice if we had something riding on it!

I don't think it matters this season where you finish as there is no advantage in playing the second leg at home, certainly not for us! Added to that we are quite capable of both beating and losing to any team in this league!

Fingers crossed for the 3 points tomorrow and who cares about the performance.

Come On You Reds!

Friday, 9 April 2021

A Real Test

Games don't come much tougher than tomorrow's trip to the Stadium of Light. However, it's a challenge we should welcome and this season we have tended to play poorly against teams lower in the league.

Sunderland's indifferent start to the season has given way to a long unbeaten run and more solid performances following the arrival of Lee Johnson.

Aiden McGeady has returned to the fold and formed a formidable partnership with Wyke and has provided him with plenty of assists!

We will need to be really solid defensively and also to take whatever chances come our way especially from set pieces.

I suspect that Adkins will want to stick with the starting eleven that secured the 3 points on Good Friday. Certainly it's hard to argue against keeping the same back four in front of Amos. Matthews and Purrington for me remain the best full back pairing and it'd be harsh on Pearce to drop him.

I didn't rate Gilbey last week as much as the manager did and would prefer to see Shinnie in his place.

I'm still puzzled by the omission of our best player, Aneke, week after week. I appreciate what Stockley does, however, it's nothing that Chuks can't do. In addition, I see no reason why the can't play together, something we've rarely seen this season.

Given that we've finally ended trying to play out from the back so much Aneke offers another option from goal kicks.

Stockley has shown what his physicality brings to our team and Aneke offers that too and the pair of them will scare League One defences.

Adkins has had the luxury of more than a week to work with the whole squad ahead of the game. He has one more week ahead of Ipswich before we return to two games a week on the final leg of the season.

The new manager will certainly need to make use of the whole squad in the last few weeks. He will be praying that he won't have to call upon his skills from his previous incarnation as a physio! It's fair to say that we're long overdue some luck with injuries.

A draw tomorrow wouldn't be disastrous in terms of our play-off hopes but a defeat would make it damn sight harder to achieve that goal.

Come On You Reds!



Saturday, 3 April 2021

First Win For Adkins

 A much changed Charlton side took all 3 points in yesterday's early kick off as the new manager put his stamp on the team. 

A new role for Maatsen paid early dividends and the loanee had a stonking game. A constant threat up front and put in a decent defensive shift that Lee Bowyer would have very much approved of.

It took a while for us to settle down but once we did we looked a threat going forward. Sadly, that dissipated in a rather lacklustre second half. However, it mattered little as our final run of games are all about the result.

There were plenty of decent performances notably Inniss, Forster-Caskey, Stockley, Maatsen, Pratley to name a few.

For me our best full back combination is Matthews and Purrington and I was pleased to see them in the back four.

I understand that playing two strikers yesterday wasn't the way perhaps that Adkins wanted to set up. However, I still fail to understand how Aneke can't be starting games. A change of manager hasn't changed that and it remains a mystery to me.

Defensively, one heart-stopping moment aside, we looked quite comfortable. Inniss was immense and his display just served to underline how much he's been missed.

It was good to see that we are not messing around at the back from goal kicks. Kicking out long it so much the safer option.

Early days but the manager seems to have had a positive impact and we'll take 1-0 wins to season's end!

The run in sees us pit our wits against high flying teams. It will be tough but these are the sort of games it seems we're more capable of getting ourselves up for and that is no more typified than in this season.

Sunderland are flying at present with McGeady in superb form and recently delivered a hat-trick of assists for Wyke. He will need to be closely marked.

Let's hope Adkins gets the lads fired up for the challenge.



Friday, 19 March 2021

New Beginnings

The Adkins era starts in earnest tomorrow as we take on Wimbledon as we return to Plough Lane.

Clearly, one can’t draw any real conclusions from tomorrow’s performance and result. Following the game we have a two week break which will serve Adkins well. It affords him the opportunity to work with players and get across his ideas and style of play.

It is very much another must win game although it won’t be easy of course. This season more than most we have struggled to beat teams in the bottom third of the league.

In addition, the Dons are fighting for League One survival as we enter the final straight so to speak.

For our part in this final few games we really need to have a rich harvest of points especially given the games in hand that those around us have.

When we return to action on Good Friday it will be a truer reflection of our position as the other teams catch up.

A couple of weeks ago we would have totally written off our play-off chances but following more consistent results from us and more inconsistent one from those around us, it remains a possibility.

It will be interesting to see how we set up tomorrow. Adkins may have let Jackson choose the team or at least be swayed by his opinions.

I’d like to see Chuks return to the starting line up in place of Stockley. So often he has to come on when we’re chasing the game. It’s a real waste and we don’t use him to our best advantage.

I’m puzzled as to Purrington’s continued absence. He ought to come straight back into the team.

Millar of late, hasn’t looked the same player that started his spell with us so well. DJ probably deserves a start ahead of him.

Those three changes aside (given Matthews injury) I’d go for how we set up on Tuesday.

Pigott has hit a bit of a goal drought of late but of course it’d be no surprise if he scores against us again tomorrow.

The win is probably more important than it’s manner. It’ll keep us in the play-off hunt. The management team can then focus on work on the training ground, addressing any injuries and start some work on contract negotiations.

The break gives a chance to refresh and re-focus minds on the run in. Our final league fixtures are all tough games but with those sides playing catch up there’s no reason to think we oughtn’t win them.

It would be fantastic if not remarkable, if we ended the season with another Wembley final.

Come On You Reds!

Thursday, 18 March 2021

A Missed Opportunity

Nigel Adkins it is then. He was far from the top of my list but he’s here now and deserves a chance and full support. Let’s see how he goes. I’m quite happy to eat humble pie if he proves successful.

All that aside, I do feel we’ve missed an opportunity with Jacko. He has all the credentials and attributes to be a good manager and especially so at this level and at our club.

He’s widely respected at Charlton and beyond and he seemingly has a good relationship with everyone connected with the club.

Jacko’s career has been spent almost entirely at Championship and League One level. It is further reason why I think he’s qualified to do the job.

Some people believe he’s not ready yet. I believe he is and he has more experience than both Bowyer and Nathan Jones, who’ve done ok.

All that aside you never really know until you give someone a go.

It’s clearly good that Jacko’s staying at the club. It would have been criminal to lose him as well as Bowyer. My joy at that is tempered by the fact that he is ambitious and won’t want to be an assistant for too much longer.

It won’t be long before a club comes a calling and he goes. I’m sure we’d all love to see him manage Charlton.

Good luck to Adkins but will we live to regret not giving Johnnie a go now? Time will tell……..