Monday, 18 September 2023

Stevenage 1 Charlton 1

In the end, we have to be happy with a point all things considered.

It was another case of an awful first half and better second. The first 25 minutes or so was some of the worst football (from both sides) that I've ever seen. The ball seemed to be in the air more often than in what appeared to be a prolonged game of head tennis! It was horrible to watch.

Clearly, Stevenage are a physical side which was no surprise and you'd fully expect that from someone as uncultured as their manager. He knows no other way of setting out the style of play. 

We should have got the ball on the floor more and look to pass and move the ball quicker and better. To be fair, we weren't helped by incompetent officials. The ref ought to have dished out a couple of yellows early on to two of the Boro boys.

Between them, the officials missed a flailing arm on, I think, Abankwah. Those are just a few of the things they missed or just decided to take no action on.

I felt before hand that we should have started with two up front. We needed more physical presence there and the ball either never got there or didn't stay long when it did!

Their goal was another mess of our own making. Jones committed the wrong and I have no idea what Isted was doing. He really shouldn't be beaten from there but if all you're going to do is waft a leg at the ball then that's what will happen.

The second half from us was better but how could it not be! The penalty finally arrived in time added on (better late than never). It was the least probable of all the shouts we had in the afternoon. CBT dispatched it in some style.

Of course the National Express employee blamed it on the ref as a poor decision that cost them the game. He also referenced our £10m budget and 30 odd player squad. Ok whatever you say. Carry on with the ale house tactics and do your best. Appropriately, we'll see you in SE7 on 1st April!

The fact that we had one shot on target (the penalty) really ought to be sufficient for the manager to acknowledge that two up top really is the best option even if one of them is May. At least his absence delayed the inevitable suspension for one further week.

It was good to see Chuks back. A welcome surprise and he had long enough to remind us of what we've been missing for so long.

When fit he is a real asset to us and threat to the oppo. When he is fit he will be limited to appearances from the bench but that's ok. Somehow though you doubt he will stay injury free for long. I do so hope that's not the case.

We have another week with no midweek game so there's a full week to prepare for Wycombe. Wanderers are bang in form having taken 13 points from the last 5 league games. Therefore, it will provide a good test and benchmark as to where we are and to discover how much desire there is in this side.

  

Friday, 15 September 2023

Stevenage Away

Following a week off for our, ahem, “international break” it’s back to league action for the Addicks.

Away to a Stevenage side managed by the odious Evans is a stark reminder of where we find ourselves. That they are top of the league even more galling.

Somehow, Evans seems to have reasonable success that belies his coach driver appearance and obnoxious behaviour.

He was linked with us recently but thankfully he and Johnson didn’t get the gig and I am happier with Appleton. That probably speaks volumes about those three!

Speaking of the new gaffer, All we can do is get behind him. Hostile chants and  calling out and slating him can only have a negative effect on the team. As fans we’ve been pretty good even in the most toxic of circumstances in getting behind the lads whilst not necessarily referring to the manager.

One of the key things tomorrow are for a more assured defensive display. That shouldn’t be difficult and I hope that Jones and Abankwah are paired together. Clearly, I’ve not seen James play but I’m not sure anyone else merits a start tbh.

At the other end of the pitch we need to carry more threat and that means putting one of Leaburn, Kanu or Tedic alongside May. Forget all this number 10 nonsense (we’re not a Prem side for goodness sake!). We’ve done best when May has a proper strike partner.

My expectations for this season are now set at hopefully avoiding relegation and maybe a top ten finish. However, the time for talking is over.

I don’t want to hear any more of the losing stops now or whatever Scott said recently. I don’t want to hear “ the lads have trained well/hard etc.” that should be a given for goodness sake!

Appleton has more resources available than Holden did and one feels for Dean as he didn’t get the opportunity to work with a slightly better squad. I appreciate the issues surrounding tactics but he might have had better luck with the squad as it is now.

As ever we have our long term injuries such as Fraser and Camara. Both seemed to pick up the most innocuous of knocks. it seems to be the way in recent years. No injured player ever appears to return in less than month at least!

The team needs to go out and play like they care and give at least a bit back to the club and its fans. If they can’t be up for playing the top of the league then we might as well give up!!

Let’s hope for a win and it can be dedicated to Chris Thompson (Ketts) as it is the 3rd anniversary of his passing today. He is greatly missed.

Come On You Reds!

 

Come On You Reds!

 

Friday, 8 September 2023

The Task In Hand

Whilst we wait with baited breath for a top notch manager to be announced, it’s worth considering the players they’ll have available and the issues that will arise as a result.

Goalkeepers :- It’s a simple choice of either Harry Isted or Ashley Maynard-Brewer. Neither is exactly pulling up any trees at the moment so can’t complain too much if they are not selected.

The only challenge to them at present is the largely unknown and untested Prince Adegoke.

Right Backs :- Nathan Asiimwe and Tennai Watson. Nathan has had a good start to the season but Tennai should be pushing him for a starting place as one of MK’s better players last season.

Centre Backs :- James Abankwah, Deji Elerewe, Lloyd Jones, Lucas Ness, Michael Hector, Terell Thomas.

This is proving to be our biggest problem positionally at the moment. Ness and Hector have been poor and a shadow of themselves compared to last season.

Jones has looked composed and assured and the best of this group. We haven’t seen much of Deji of late and James Abankwah has yet to pull on the red shirt for us. He is rated by many and let’s hope he can live up to the hype.

Terell Thomas is another who hasn’t impressed at centre half this season and he looked better at full back last season.

Left Backs :- Tayo Edun and Richard Chin. Edun has looked good for the most part but has been prone to the odd error. He is probably still coming up to speed. I didn’t see much on Tuesday to suggest that Chin ought to be in ahead of him or indeed starting at all.

Central Midfielders :- Karoy Anderson, Panutche Camara, George Dobson, Scott Fraser, Conor McGrandles, Terry Taylor and Louie Watson.

One player stands head and shoulders over the rest here and that’s Dobbo of course. After our 3 or 4th consecutive loss he should have been presented with the player of the year trophy. It’s that clear cut and only May will give him any real competition.

Anderson has shown real skill, determination and ability this season. Clearly, he is still a bit raw but he gives 100%.

Camara is a quality player but is injury prone but we know that when we signed him. If we can get him fit then he will be a tremendous player and real asset to the team. His decision making and passing ability is a cut above the rest and if would be superb if his finishing could match it!

Similar things ought to be said about Scott Fraser. However, he is too inconsistent when fit and we don’t see enough of the Fraser that almost single-handedly won a game for MK a couple of years.

I’ve not really paid too much attention to Taylor to give a decent assessment of him. He hasn’t caught my eye other than his delivery from set pieces is mostly rubbish. Maybe give him more time and I’m being overly harsh.

In an ideal world McGrandles would have been out the door in the summer but it seems that no one wanted him. I can’t believe we wanted to keep him. He’s done nothing in his time at the club.

Finally, we have new recruit Louie Watson. I can’t comment on him as he’s only played in Tuesday’s debacle. Let’s hope he is good. He should be one of the better ones.

Wingers/ attacking midfielders :- CBT, Chem Campbell, Tyreece Campbell, and Charlie Kirk.

CBT has been our main attacking threat and to a point where we’re over reliant on him. There’s no doubting his ability to beat his man. However, the end result is so often frustrating. His decision making isn’t always the best and I feel he needs to either shoot or cross the ball earlier. He tends to delay too long. That said, he really needs to start every game.

Chem Campbell has looked good in his appearances so far. He looks assured and can pick a pass as we saw last Saturday.

Tyreece is another who has impressed this season. He is also a little raw but will give it everything and keep running, even in a lost cause.

Kirk has sadly continued to be, well….Kirk. For some reason he struggles in a red shirt and I’ve no idea why. He seems to do well elsewhere and we all know he’s a good player, we just don’t see it. It’s hard to see him getting more than a few minutes off the bench every now and again.

Strikers:- Chuks Aneke, Daniel Kanu, Miles Leaburn, Alfie May and Slobodan Tedic.

Unfortunately, there’s little point in discussing Chuks. I doubt we’ll ever see him in a Charlton shirt again. At some point someone is going to have to make a decision regarding his career. It’s a real shame because when fit he is a quality player and capable of playing at a level higher than the third tier.

 Alfie is a stand out player and it has been no surprise to see him do so well. He would have done even better if he’d had someone alongside for more games but we’ve been reluctant to do that. I’ve no idea why but it’s aprt of the reason why we haven’t converted more of our chances or created as much.

Alfie’s achilles heel has been the yellow cards. All 4 of them have been rather silly. Last season he probably wouldn’t have been booked for any of them. However, he knows the rules have changed and should be more careful.

Kanu must have walked under a ladder, run over a cat or something. He’s not really put a foot wrong whilst impressing to date. Yet after that and scoring a lovely header recently he’s been dropped out of the starting eleven. Hopefully, he will be getting more opportunities soon.

Leeeeeeeeeeaburn! Sadly, as we know, Miles has been out injured until last week. It looked like he’d never been away. He will get better as his full fitness returns. He needs to form a good partnership with May and coming soon one of the other two strikers given that a suspension is coming for Alfie.

Another new recruit, Slobodan, has only had a few minutes and so we can’t comment on him. He’s another one who we hope can come good and be contending with the 3 players above for a start.

That’s about 26/27 players that the new manager has to keep motivated and happy. In reality it’s a lot less than that because as identified above there are a few who simply don’t warrant inclusion. They are a waste and a drain on resources.

The new gaffer simply has to shore up the defence, cut out the silly errors, establish a system of play and start winning more games most likely by converting more of the chances on offer. Sounds simple but that it’s in a nutshell.

Do that and no matter what your name or where you’ve come from you’ll win over the fans and may even buy yourself some time to build a team.

Of those people that can realistically expect to take the job then outside of those who’ve already declined then I’d like to see Bowyer or Jon Brady ( although he may have already turned us down!).

Wednesday, 6 September 2023

A Wasted Opportunity!

The winning streak of one win from one game came to an abrupt end last night.

Like most, I view the EFL trophy as a pointless tournament. Nonetheless, we have to participate and we might as well use it to our best advantage. Without a game this Saturday, I'd have thought it was a good opportunity to get all the new players some game time as well as trying to sort our defensive woes.

Overall it was a poor display and the defeat does nothing to help with confidence or our general play. What we saw was another different set of players across the pitch.

Quite why Kanu didn't start I've no idea. What has he done to be left out of 2 successive starting elevens? Since coming into the side he's done well but has been left out of the last couple.

I felt we should have gone with two up front. It gave us our chance and also, May will be suspended soon so why not look at how we will adjust to that when needed?

We were devoid of our most potent attacking threat as May ( I agreed with this ) left out. Thus, we didn't have the benefit of his long throw tactic that has served us so well!

I really can't see Kirk starting a league game anytime soon and his inclusion, other than to give him a run out, is mystifying. As it was he had a poor game where his delivery and decision making against a weakened mid-table League 2 team simply wasn't good enough.

You can't say we're not consistent whatever team we put out. The set pieces were truly dreadful! Corners float across with too much or simply lacking in direction.

I really don't get what happens at goal kicks and this has been a trend in recent games. A defender passes the ball to keeper who launches it downfield. Why? It's harder to kick a moving ball but this is what is rehearsed and executed! It's utter madness!

All of the 4 goals that Crawley scored were poor. We sat back or failed to pick up players or both. That's when were weren't giving them the ball of course!

No team should be scoring three goals, take the lead twice and go on to lose. Especially against lower league opposition.

You'd struggle to take any positive from last night's game and the only I can find is that several players proved they just aren't good enough and/or don't care if that's the effort they're going to put in.

I was pretty optimistic prior to kick off and still so even after seeing the starting eleven. You have to feel for all those fans who made the trip probably with the same hope and expectation that I had. 

Good luck to the new manager, whoever they may be. There's so much work to do and if they watched it last night the magnitude of what's needed will be even more clear!

 



Monday, 4 September 2023

A Win At Last

Finally, we managed to bag the 3 points although the 12 minutes added on made it nerve wracking as usual! However, this time we managed not to implode.

The first half was awful and we witnessed such a disjointed performance. We could easily have fallen 2 or 3 behind. Stockley nearly put Fleetwood one up from a free kick which struck the underside of the bar but fortunately didn't go in.

It was only a matter of time before he scored and headed home a lovely cross. He was entitled to celebrate wildly but chose not to do so. 

Given that we haven't come to win from back from going behind since early 2022 a win seemed even more unlikely than usual.

Thankfully, we produced a rare moment of magic on 43 minutes as May latched and clinically finished Chem's lovely pass. This was the critical moment of the game.

The second half proved to be a different story and we were at it from the word go. There's was much more intent and effort. The penalty was much deserved and May scored his second for us. He may need to think about where he puts the next one as well as not getting involved in the verbals.

May now finds himself on 4 yellows already this season and the manner in which they're being dished out by refs this season, the 5th one leading to suspension will no doubt be arriving soon.

As a team we managed to collect another 4 yellows as well as one for Pearce. His and the one for CBT are extremely harsh. CBT was a case of mistaken identity and Pearce was only pointing out the error. However, the one for Pearce will not make much difference. 

Overall, the ref had a poor game much like most I've seen this season. He was very inconsistent and made a number of bad decisions. The standard in the third tier has never been that great but this season it seems to be worse. It's unfortunate given the clamp down on disputing decisions and the need to respect the officials. They're not making it easy!

I felt that we needed to start with Kanu and was surprised that we didn't set up with a striker alongside May especially with Leaburn on the bench. The improvement when Kanu has partnered our No.9 has been clear for all to see.

The transfer window has seen us recruit players for the positions that needed filling. Whether the new recruits are of sufficient quality only time will. Tennai Watson I understand is a decent wing-back so I look forward to seeing him play.

Similarly, a few folk are assuring us that in James Abankwah we have a good player. Let's hope so because the centre half position is giving the most cause for concern at the moment.

Ness and Hector are looking far from the players that finished last season. Hector is the greater worry. He looks of the pace and a tad complacent. He really needs to up his game.

That most pointless of competitions, the EFL trophy, at least gives us a chance to give a run out to a few players. Even more valuable given that we don't have game next Saturday. Hard to believe that we have 3 players on international duty but strangely, we do!

That gives the owners (more like Andy Scott) more time to finalise Holden's replacement. The approach to that has seemed very amateurish. The number and quality of manager that have allegedly turned us down is quite telling. Sir Chris being one of those and that he did so tells us that in his view at least little has changed since he left.

Not everyone's cup of tea but I'd have Bowyer back in a heartbeat. Failing that, there are several decent managers out there but realistically most won't want to come.

Of the outsiders or less fancied, then Jon Brady would be worth some consideration and not least because Australian mangers (well one anyway) are doing well!

Hopefully, by the end of this week we will have someone in place. Let's hope they are someone we can really get behind and are afforded the time and resources to do the job. 


Tuesday, 29 August 2023

The Revolving Door!

Dean Holden paid the ultimate price for Saturday’s performance and loss away to Oxford on Saturday.

Yes, it wasn’t good, yes, he got several things wrong and yes. The game, like many others of late, wasn’t well managed.

It has been a dreadful start to the season with constant chopping and changing of formations and starting elevens. However, Holden probably deserved a bit more slack given the lack of support in respect of transfers. In addition, whatever bad luck and decisions in games and injuries have all conspired against him.

It is still something of a surprise that Holden has gone especially as this ownership group brought him to the club. Unlike, some of our previous managers his departure is a real shame. Clearly, Dean is a decent bloke and had the best of intentions. He deserved better support and I’d like to have seen how he’d have fared with a better squad.

Saturday’s first half was probably the worst of the season to date. The U’s goal followed a routine from a free kick that I assume was designed to outwit them. All it did was see the ball hoofed long downfield where May was expected to outjump and out muscle the defence.

The result was that it came back with interest and our boys decided to back off allowing Goodrham to advance and pick his spot.

It was a similar disaster for their second where we overcommitted and their quick break saw us outnumbered and all over the place.

Now the management team has gone, the revolving door turns once more and we’re scrapping around looking for a new manager, about 6 new players whilst needing to offload at least 3 and maybe more players that simply aren’t up to the task.

The managerial shortlists I’ve seen make depressing reading bar one or two passable possibilities. God help us all if we up end up with Johnson or Evans!

Come midnight on Thursday and we’ll know how the last couple of days of this transfer window has panned out. I think we’d have been struggling to recruit players before the weekend’s events but with no manager and an uncertain future all round it looks like a Herculian task!

All we can hope for is a half decent manager and a handful of reasonable players who will no doubt be predominantly loans.

What an utter mess! 

Dean Holden paid the ultimate price for Saturday’s performance and loss away to Oxford on Saturday.

 

Yes, it wasn’t good, yes, he got several things wrong and yes. The game, like many others of late, wasn’t well managed.

 

It has been a dreadful start to the season with constant chopping and changing of formations and starting elevens. However, Holden probably deserved a bit more slack given the lack of support in respect of transfers. In addition, whatever bad luck and decisions in games and injuries have all conspired against him.

 

It is still something of a surprise that Holden has gone especially as this ownership group brought him to the club. Unlike, some of our previous managers his departure is a real shame. Clearly, Dean is a decent bloke and had the best of intentions. He deserved better support and I’d like to have seen how he’d have fared with a better squad.

 

Saturday’s first half was probably the worst of the season to date. The U’s goal followed a routine from a free kick that I assume was designed to outwit them. All it did was see the ball hoofed long downfield where May was expected to outjump and out muscle the defence.

 

The result was that it came back with interest and our boys decided to back off allowing Goodrham to advance and pick his spot.

 

It was a similar disaster for their second where we overcommitted and their quick break saw us outnumbered and all over the place.

 

Now the management team has gone and we’re scrapping around looking for a new manager, about 6 new players whilst needing to offload at least 3 and maybe more players that simply aren’t up to the task.

 

The managerial shortlists I’ve seen make depressing reading bar one or two passable possibilities. God help us all if we up end up with Johnson or Evans!

 

Come midnight on Thursday and we’ll know how the last couple of days of this transfer window has panned out. I think we’d have been struggling to recruit players before the weekend’s events but with no manager and an uncertain future all round it looks like a Herculian task!

 

All we can hope for is a half decent manager and a handful of reasonable players who will no doubt be predominantly loans.

 

What an utter mess!

Friday, 25 August 2023

Oxford Away

When you’ve just lost 3 league games on the spin what better than to travel away to a team that’s just won 3 in a row!

Following an opening day defeat to rivals Cambridge, the U’s have recorded 1-0, 1-2 and 1-3 wins. The away wins at Derby and Barnsley are particularly impressive.

Manager Liam Manning replaced Karl Robinson back in February after a poor set of results and performances. In truth, Robinson ought to have gone well before then (sound familiar?). Manning appears to be doing things right and he has made his mark on the team.

Oxford have several promising young players that are in good form at the moment. Notably, they include goalkeeper James Beadle who left Charlton for Brighton a couple of years ago. Another mess courtesy of the previous regime.

James is on loan from Brighton. Beadle has great promise and even at the tender age of 19 has been impressive this season.

Another 19 year old with Charlton connections and performing well is Stan Mills (son of Danny) who is on loan from Everton.

Slightly older at 21 is Stephan Negru. He has only played a handful of league games but has also shone to date.

A more senior player at the “old age of 27” is Cameron Brannagan who has played over 200 games for United. He is a quality player who is usually good for 10 to 15 goals a season. 

Oxford, like us this season, are a young side and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain their good start throughout a long season.

Anything other than a defeat tomorrow can be viewed as an improvement. For that to happen we need to cut out the silly defensive mistakes that have blighted our last few games.

Going forward, we are creating chances although that’s only good if you take them of course!

Having Kanu up front last Saturday greatly increased our goal scoring threat. Playing May on his own up front is daft and Kanu needs to stay there.

There is some thought that new signing, Chem Campbell, may start in a front three of CBT, May and himself. Not a good idea for me. Aside from May needing a proper striker alongside him, we need a physical presence and outlet. The ball has more chance of sticking up front with him in the side.

AMB ought to be replaced by Isted and if fit. Camara should come straight back into the team.

Holden has had a full week to work with the team to address the issues at both ends of the pitch and hopefully, we see an improvement at both ends of the pitch.

Our league record at the Kassam is woeful and I was lucky enough to be there for the cup game that we won a few years ago. Let’s pray that we can record a rare league victory much against the odds.

It’s often when we play the better teams that we do well, tomorrow would be a good day to win! I might just have a punt on that….geddit!

Come On You Reds!