Thursday 29 September 2011

Sheff United

Wayne hints at a move to Chef United

Saturday sees us, to my mind, face our most difficult away day yet for a number of reasons. The Blades ( expertly sharpened of course ) have been going well, are good at home and didn't play midweek. Added to all that they are champing at the bit following last week's Wycombe woe.

I'm not sure if it's my advancing years or this season's raised expectations but for most games this season I'm feeling slightly irritable even when we've won. Am I expecting too much ? Take Tuesday for example, rather than focus on a spirited second half performance I felt more miffed about the poor first half display. This followed my anger at what I felt was laboured victory over Chesterfield on Saturday. Having seen what these players are capable of I'm expecting them to replicate all the time.........perhaps I'm being too unrealistic and be pleased at how well things are going.

I probably do need to lower my sights and chill out a bit. However, I can't help but feel frustrated at the way Sir Chris and the management team are slow to react, adapt or make changes. I do wish they'd improve as I love Sir Chris and so want him to succeed and there's no one I'd rather have as manager, I'm proud he's ours !

I believe that Stephens needs a rest, skip should move to central midfield, Green should start maybe Yann too but I'd have to look at him and Hayes in training to be sure. Who's play on the left is a tough one. Maybe Wiggins could go there and Hughes or Evina go to left back. Nothing to lose I feel.

I probably know the result will be that the usual suspects will start at Bramall Lane though. I hope I'm wrong even if only in respect of Green who should definitely start.

The main injury concern of course is BWP and we can ill afford to be without his goal threat. Fingers and toes firmly crossed that he's ok to play.

This will be tough and I'd be happy if we manage to avoid defeat. Let's hope do and that Preston lose so we can remain top.

Come On You Reds !

Wednesday 28 September 2011


Perhaps not the best choice of a business name.

A lovely sunny evening and I took the bus to a Charlton game ! A very long time since I've done that ! Re-united with my lad back from uni til the weekend and we celebrated by dining in a seemingly appropriate American franchise hamburger joint.

We made our way round to the Red Dot bar to join senior reporter Clive once he'd finished a marathon phone call. We were later united with other friends and my other lad. All very pleasant, we made our way round to our seats and then the game started...........( oh dear ! ) 

The Addicks produced their worst 45 minutes of the season against a Dons team that was at the outset low on confidence. They however quickly became more assured as the half progressed as they realised we weren't playing well.

I couldn't tell if it was a penalty from my vantage point but others closer to the incident claim it was. A shame and the only blip on Solly's season to date.

We only fashioned one effort on target in the first half and clearly we should have made two subs at half time. They were glaring obvious and this is not said with the benefit of hindsight. I, like the rest of the travelling Addicks knew that Sir Chris wasn't about to do anything at the break.

Wagstaff was woeful. You know you're not doing well when you can't beat Lewington one of the oldest and inept left backs in the league. Mind you I can't recall Wagstaff trying to do so as he mostly did a 180 and went back the other way or simply passed the ball to someone else.

Hayes was not at his best and Yann was another who should have been on with Green at the start of the second. The changes were eventually made and of course produced the desired effect. Green and Yann made an immediate impact.

This game could have been at least 4-4 with a number of glaring misses for both teams.

There must be a concern over BWP who got a knock on the knee again and looked limited of movement afterwards and it led to him being subbed towards the end. I hope that's not too serious but it didn't look good.

I said following Saturday that I felt Powell should rest a couple of players at least by dropping them to the bench. Stephens is one who wasn't at his best on Saturday nor last night. There is a danger that players may take their places for granted. In addition, it wouldn't hurt to swap things around.......Robinson must have known the starting eleven and formation he'd be up against.

Preston have now almost caught us up with a game in hand. Huddersfield will always be up there and Sheff Utd will almost certainly be. Added to which Hartlepool are going well too.

More pressure for the lads on Saturday then but with our squad we ought to cope.............should we choose to use it of course !

P.S. has anyone seen the Great Alonso ?

Monday 26 September 2011

" The best passing team in the league "

Gary Megson reflects on his luck in getting someone to take Morrison off his hands....thought he'd be happier than that !

This is my second post of the day ! Wow ! That nearly makes me prolific although I'm sure you can think of better adjectives to describe my output !

MK Dons have now added the delightful Clinton Morrison to their ranks alongside fellow on-loan Wednesdayite, Mark Beevers. Morrison said on joining that Dons were the best passing team in the league. We're in for a treat tomorrow then. I have little doubt that the irritating Morrison will score tomorrow, I'm not too fussed as long as we win.

Ex-Addick Charlie McDonald is a Don too having joined when their star striker Sam Baldock left for the Hammers just prior to the transfer deadline. However, Charlie's been injured of late following a bright start to his time with them. I think we may be pleased if he's absent tomorrow, he knows his way around the third tier. 

The postponment of this fixture looks to have helped us as the Dons were on a good run when the fixture was originally scheduled. Of late they've drawn 2 and lost 1 of their last 3 league games and suffered defeat in the league cup late on to Burnley last week.

Having won every game on the road this season there's every cause for optimism but this is Charlton ! I noticed in the second half on Saturday that we weren't looking to play out from the back much with Hamer booting mostly up the pitch. I do hope we try to do more of the former tomorrow night as we have the players capable of doing so and you've more chance of retaining possesion.

As a Milton Keynes resident this is the shortest journey for a game and I managed to secure tickets via the Sun offer ( 2 for £19.50 ) so all good news. Needless to say I've been there for all our previous games at Stadium MK. It would be nice if the fixture computer would deliver a Saturday fixture. Last season and this even the home games are on a Tuesday !

Stadium MK is a decent if somewhat remote ground. Plenty of legroom on very comfortable seats. The ground is too big for the usual attendances and therefore, lacks any atmosphere. For fellow lovers of fine food there is a McDonalds plus a KFC at the stadium. There is also an ASDA right next door.

The nearest pubs are in Bletchley ( not recommended ) or Fenny Stratford, a better option, which is a bit further afield. If you're getting up to MK early then a trip to one of the Wetherspoons in Central MK ( the one opposite Chiquitos is best ) just up from Central MK train station is recommended. You would need to cab it to the match from there or get a train to Bletchley though.

The nearest train station is Bletchley but beware that is still a good 15 to 20 minute walk to the gound.

There's plenty of parking at the stadium for a fiver but you can park on one of the nearby industrial estates for nowt.

A win tomorrow night would ease the pressure on Saturday's game as well as enhance our position atop the table. Let's hope our excellent road trip continues !

Come on you reds !

Peak Practice

One of them must be called Bob.

Another good win on Saturday that we made harder work of than we should. The first half was great albeit another goal or two wouldn't have been undeserved. Again we weren't quite as good in the second half and on another day will pay for it. It was crying out for us to make a change long before they scored and I do wish Sir Chris would do that more readily.

There were good performances from most playersd especially Hollands and Solly I felt. It's all the more satisfying to see our home grown players develop and do well so Solly will always get an extra cheer from me. He has been consistently good this season.

Sadly I thought Wagstaff was virtually non-existant. Aside from the cross for the third goal he did nothing of note. I watched him closely in the second half and on several occasions when we broke forward he was making runs down the middle only going wide right when nearly on the edge of the area. Why he did that I don't know. We already had our strikers in the middle and there was no point in it. Green, if fit, simply has to start ahead of him.

I'm not sure what occured in the Jimmy Seed when our few supporters were moved out of there. It did look and seem rather silly as it left a handful of stewards to supervise no one. Are we now so affluent that we can afford to do that ?

Now onto the next two games, both of which are away. As suggested before Morrison has joined MK Dons on loan and will play against us tomorrow. You just know he'll score. Then we face Sheffield United on Saturday. 4 points from these two games will be a good return , 6 even better and 2 points having avoiding defeat would be quite good also I feel.

A challenging 5 days lie ahead of us and the squad will surely now come into play. Given the make up of the team this shouldn't prove to disruptive.I do hope that Sir Chris uses the opportunity to rest a couple.

Thursday 22 September 2011

Twisted Spire Starter !

Saltergate - The Spireites old home

Chesterfield travel to the Valley on Saturday. They no longer play at Saltergate ( pictured above ) following the infamous weighing machine scandal of the same name. The B2net Stadium is their current less romantically sounding home.

Last Sunday I passed through Chesterfield, nothing to do with research of the third tier or indeed for this blog. Readers, regular or otherwise will be fully aware that research, facts and possession of any relevant information are not associated with ANEM. I was taking my lad to university in Buxton. It was a lovely journey passing some of the most spectactular scenery this country has to offer. The drive from Buxton to Macclesfiield ( I ended up at their Moss Rose ground ) is highly recommended and I mean " drive ". Some hardy souls were cycling the route......I admire their stamina and will power but it's not something I'll be doing anytime soon !

I hope to spend a few days up there sometime in the future as it seems a lovely area to explore. Perhaps I can combine it with a visit to the aforementioned B2net in February !

Back to this Satruday's oppenents and what promises to be quite a day and the prospect of the whole event is one I'm relishing. The £5 offer has one of my lad's mates coming along so he'll balance out my Buxton living son. Senior ANEM reporter Clive ( I get a beer for every name check ! ) will be there as he's not dj'ing at some Milton Keynes society social gathering or acting as interim manager of the village footie team.

Aside from that and the prospect of quaffing a few pre and post-match ales we should again see a decent crowd at the Valley. Added to all this is soprano Victoria Stanyon, a Charlton fan no less, who will be singing before kick off. Not the usual Nessum Dorma but Jerusalem and Valley Floyd Road will be sung. Jerusalem was sung at my wedding but depsite that it remains a favourite of mine ! For me that or I Vow To Thee My Country should be our national anthem not God Save Our Queen which covers the UK as far as I'm concerned.

All that should make for a wonderful day. All we need to rely on is our boys to deliver a good performance and the 3 points at the start of a crucial 8 days of league action action for the Addicks. They, of course won't let us down will they ! We face two tough away games after Saturday and I fear we might just face Clinton Hubert Morrison again on Tuesday night if the rumours are correct.

The squad will be tested to the full I feel as the need to rest players or injuries and suspensions will no doubt play their part. Sadly no Pritchard for a while due to injury which is a real shame, hopefully his time will come. Still no sign of The Great Alonso, Man Of Mystery. Will we ever see The Spanish Pimpernel ? Who knows perhaps he's being saved for the Johnston's Paint games.

Pre-Rochdale I bemoaned the lack of the width on the left given by Jackson. Well he obviously read my blog and decided to do something about it as two goals came from that side. What ? You think it was just fate !!!

I maintain we need genuine width and wing play on the left. Daggs ( do I get a beer for a name check there too ! ) suggested that it might be worth trying Wagstaff left whilst keeping Green on the right. A good idea and one I'd favour as an option later on in a game. I firmly believe that Wagstafff's best role is as an impact sub.

I'm pleased and impressed by our ability to bounce back on the road but the concession of two quickfire goals last week is a slight concern. We can't afford any slips up against an improving side for whom Leon Clarke is on fire at the moment with a point to prove to one of our ex-players.

An exciting and important week ahead.......if you haven't already secured a ticket for Saturday then get it sorted pronto......all this for'd be mad to miss it !

Come On You Reds !

Saturday 17 September 2011

Roch n Dale

Chip has been sidelined and Dale has teamed up with Roch. Like Ant and Dec no one knows who is who.

The lads are off to Spotland today to take on Dale.........I can't really be sure about Roch or Chip, who knows ?

Given most of our boys having a rest and the Dale playing on Tuesday and our on paper better team we ought to win. However, we know better don't we readers ! Nothing is ever straight forward and we need only rewind to last Saturday for evidence of that.

I'm not one who feels that we ought roll teams over. However, I do expect we might show more invention or tactical nous when necessary.

Wagstaff seemed to do well on Tuesday but as sub and not in the position he's supposed to be best at. If he starts ahead of Green today then it's a mistake not least because we have no width or decent supply line from the left. We really need to sort that as I feel it will cost us big time. It's not hard to envisage Wagstaff starting and nothing coming from right or left and then Green comes on to try and win or save the game.....too little too late.

I'm not wishing to sound miserable but this is so frustrating. Jackson is so much better in the middle and shouldn't be wide left. We do need to sort this.

Our form on the road has been good this season having won them all and one would hope that would continue today. Hopefully Kermogant will be on the bench and should he get on I trust will take any free kick in and around the area........Youtube evidence seems to suggest he's quite good with those.

ANEM sadly has no presence at Spotland today for reasons such as lack of funds, getting ready for Uni and in the case of senior reporter Clive.......interim manager of the local footie team and no doubt dj'ing in some village hall in deepest Bucks.

For myself I'm off to Franklins Gardens taking my mate's wife's ticket as she gave birth last week. The Saints play London Irish......depsite the absence of those on world cup duty it promises to be a good game. I'll be checking t'inernet on my mobile throughout though of course.

As I type the Irish have just beaten the, what a performance.....let's hope the Addicks more than match that !

Come On You Reds.

Tuesday 13 September 2011


The Lillywhites

The charmless Phil Brown brings his Preston team to the Valley tonight. As with Sir Chris, the exact make up of his team is not known but one can safely assume both teams will feature a few second string players with Addicks almost entirely so.

As you may have guessed I don't have much time or respect for Brown. I thought his half-time antics at Man City when Hull City manager was an act of gross stupidity. Ultimately he paid the price. Many of us recall the horrible football his Hull team produced to gain promotion to the top flight.

Brown has also had the lovely Ian Ashbee follow him from Hull City. You may recall him setting about Lloyd Sam and Sam getting a red when Ashbee should have been sent off. I understand this charmless oik is due to play tonight......I trust he'll get the reception he deserves !

All we can hope for tonight is a good performance both individually and collectively. Hopefully a few will give Sir Chris something to ponder ahead of Saturday's game. As I remarked following Saturday we need some options as teams pretty much know what to expect from us and we need some alternatives. A change to the usual starting eleven or tactical switch if things aren't our way would be good to see. We need to give the oppo something to think about.

Come On You Reds ! 

Sunday 11 September 2011

Shout Dad !

Should we come away from a game feeling disappointed following a win with a clean sheet ? To be honest yes because that's how I felt yesterday.

I know it's always tough to play against 10 men but when the oppo is reduced to 10 players so early and they really aren't that good and you have promotion aspirations you really ought to put them away comfortably.

Following the exit of Nardiello it wasn't only Exeter that needed to effect a change, we needed too as well. This was either a change of formation or a sub being made. We had 4 defenders against 1 striker for the remainder of the first half. It wouldn't have been too much to ask to go to a 5 man midfield or go 3 up front with a wide man further forward. These things need addressing as we will play tougher teams with a full complement of players. Our seeming inability to adapt is a cause for concern.

Yesterday we missed a great chance to vastly improve our goal difference. I'd like to think that had Green been playing we would have done so given increased chances from his crosses alone. Wagstaff's crossing was woeful and again any attacking intent is missing. He remains an impact sub.

No decent crosses from the right, what of the left then ? To say that Jackson is playing left midfield should have the trades description people hot-footing it to the Valley ! He was so central and on several occasions was on the right. What on earth is going on ? I can only assume he's being told to do that. Time and again yesterday there was a vast empty space on the left midfield where someone should be ready to receive the ball.........they just weren't.

Jackson is a good player at this mistake about it, however, as I've remarked before it's the Nicky Bailey syndrome. We have to play skip and / or are unwilling to change the central pairing so we play Jackson ( formerly Bailey ) on the doesn't work for me.

We should have had BBC's Final Score spelling out the goals we scored yesterday but it didn't happen. We must be more ruthless and clinical in front of goal. In addition, against 10 men teams like Exeter we must create more chances.

The sending off may have been right but I've never seen a player get a straight red for the verbals before. I wish refs would be consistent.

BWP was naturally up for it yesterday and I felt that Solly and Hollands had good games. Everyone else was pretty mediocre.

I'm not sure if I'll be along on Tuesday despite really wanting to go as I'd like to see the second string as I guess it will be. Perhaps The Great Alonso ( Man of Mystery ) may make an appearance. Shades of Cory Gibbs was it who was with us for a couple of seasons but never once donned a Charlton shirt in first team if my memory serves !

Saturday 10 September 2011

A Nice Litte Urner

" What's a Grecian urn ? " the old Morecambe and Wise sketch ( ask your dad kids ). Eric is seen here with his own little Ern.
The day has started well with my mate's wife having given birth to Stanley weighing in at a healthy 7lb 11oz at 6.30am. Such is the way these days that a photo of the new arrival was up on facebook within minutes. Let's hope the Addicks can deliver too.

Early in the season but this is a must win game and not least because the oppo arrive short on both confidence and players. With us not playing in the league on Tuesday, defeat today could see us 8 points behind the Blades come Tuesday evening. Not totally disasterous but if you're mounting a promotion challange then you don't want to lose touch.

The Dons, the surprise package of the season, don't look like faltering despite the sale of Baldock to the Hammers. Charlie MacDonald has started well for them. We have to hope for the manager of the month curse to befall Robinson.

There was a very good post from New York Addick on the subs policy earlier in the week. His proposal in not having a goalkeeper sub is a very valid and sensible one it seems to me. He backed up his argument with some stats about the increased options that it gives you which further enhanced that view.

Talking of keepers, I'm not too sure about Hamer's claim that he was impeded on Monday night for the goal unless impeded is a euphemism for " I came, I flapped, they scored ! ". I wasn't sorry to see Lowe leave the pitch but as with most of us I just knew that Morrison was going to score.

We should have won on Monday of course but again that failure to score when we're really on top has hurt us again. We must be more clinical / ruthless in front of goal. We do need to get an experienced striker in on loan leaving aside the issue of whether Benson stays or not. Despite Sir Chris saying he's pleased Benson's still here everything else seems to suggest the opposite and that having fail to sell him he wants to loan him out somewhere.

We badly missed Green on Monday. Wagstaff's crossing was abysmal. It sounds like Green's not available again today which is another big miss for us.

Ketts voiced concerns over Sir Chris's decision making in respect of subs and I think he's right. I do hope he learns fast. The negativity of early season replacements seems to have gone at least. However, it was crying out for something far earlier than 78 minutes on Monday. Ketts also pondered whether the boss's ability to make a game changing alteration and I have to agree. As with the rest of us I do hope the management team are quick learners.

Last year the Grecians spoilt our sales promotion day, let's hope they don't today that we can bag 3 points and that tickets sales have provided a nice little earner.

Come On You Reds !  

Friday 2 September 2011

England are Number 1 - Lessons for our football team

Stuart Broad Englands man of the series against India

Having completed a 4-0 series over India the English cricket team are now the top test playing nation. Make no mistake this is a fantastic achievement and not something that they claim in the modern era and even further back than that to a degree. You'd probably have to go back to the early 60's to say England were the number one nation.

This would have seemed a million miles away in early 2009 in Jamiaca as England were shot out for 51 to lose the first test. In April 2009, Andy Flower was appointed head coach and the team has blossomed from there. None of this was by chance of course. Flower assembled a strong team around him and everyone has worked incredibly hard. In addition, they've made use of the modern technology and methods.

We've now reached the stage where the Aussies are looking into our methods to see what lessons can be learned for them. Blimey ! Who have ever thought that would happen ?

Sadly the Indian team never seemed up for the battle which is disappointing on a number of fronts not least when you consdier what was at stake. The lack of effort was never more clearly highlighted than in the pre-match preparation; it was shocking and normally far removed from any side led by ex-England supremo Duncan Fletcher.

Our most recent success has been dleivered by two Zimbaweans and in cricket, at least, it seems an overseas coach can be a success. Contrast that and almost every other aspect of the sport with our national football team.  

In comparison with the footballers the cricketers get peanuts, spend months, if not years, away from home and largely have to mkae their own arrangements even down to travel. We don't have enough time to go into all the issues surrounding our foreign manager who obviously isn't getting paid enough to learn the language !

We've known for a long time that the majority of England's football players are far from what you'd call role models ( although several can find a role for a model when needed ). We've also known that most aren't remotely good enough and in recent years only one or two would even get close to most nations starting eleven.

Gary Neville has now declared that playing for England was a waste of time. Wonderful ! I've felt for a long time that for the majority of players representing our country didn't mean much other than increased media exposure and more money.

Neville has further gone onto say that he knew the 2010 world cup squad wasn't good enough. Well tell us something we dont know. For the second world cup running we sent our team to a world cup finals with coach who knew he wasn't going to be in charge at the next one. What did we expect !

Luckily for English cricket the folk in charge of it who far from getting most things right, were spot on in their approach and recognising the changes needed and appointments required. They didn't give up or, like Neville, say it'll take us 10 years to get there. In addition, I don't see any acceptance from Neville that it was down to him or any of his team-mates to accept responsibility to try improve themselves or the team.

Neville says that our approach of bang the ball up and down the pitch won't work ( if it ever did ! ). Well hello Sherlock ! We need to be patient and pass the ball more and better. Dong ! Nail hit on the head. You might wonder why English players who are amongs the most well-paid in the world ( Eto'o and one or two others aside ) can't do that. Probably but not entirely down to the work ethic again I suspect.

However, that alone is not the case that our football finds itself floundering on the international stage. The whole structure needs looking at and as is often mooted starting at grass roots level. The FA has consistently ignored Sir Trevor Brooking's plan for grassroots football. Amongst the suggestions is to make junior football less competitive and not go from 7 a side to 11 a side in one fell swoop.

Aside from anything else we don't have the pitches to do so in reality. Most juniors when moving to 11 a side suddenly find themselves playing on something approaching a full size pitch. Ludicrous ! No wonder we're still banging balls all over the place.

That leap from 7 to 11 players also means an awful lot less touches of the ball........something to the opposite of what we're trying to see at senior level in that we want players to be comfortable on the ball.

You watch the vast majority of junior games over a weekend and the over-riding aim is to win. All parents shouting, usually not in a positive way, desperate for their kids not to lose but be victiorious in a way most of them never were. Ah, the reflected glory !

Of course there's nothing wrong with wanting to win at a young age and defeat builds character. However, we should encourage them and the youngsters themselves should have the confidence and freedom to play with flair. They shouldn't be worried about trying a new skill or doing something other than hoof the ball out if it's in their own area. Sadly due to the pressure from parents or some coaches that rarely happens which is ironic because they've no doubt spent many hours teaching them different skills only for them to be left behind on the training pitch.

They should be encouraging them to express themselves.....who cares if they lose......they've got a lifetime of football and games to play and taste both victory and defeat in something apporaching equal measure.

England will no doubt beat Bulgaria tonight and ultimately qualify for the Euro finals, however, once there we know they won't be remotely good enough to win it. Further to that we won't play in a manner that's pleasing on the eye or matches the technical skill of the top teams.

Until players take more responsibility for themselves, get paid an awful lot less, get more in touch with the reality of normal life in England and the FA totally reshapes junior / grassroots football we won't be able to say of our football team as we can of our cricket team " we're number one in the world ! " .

Thursday 1 September 2011

Exclusive - Veteran Striker Joins

A typically joyful Dave Benson-Phillips after his late move

Sir Chris moved late last night to capture senior striker DBP. It was really a 2 for the price of 1 offer he quipped in a reference believed to be a nod to fellow attackers Hayes and Euell.

It was certainly a surprise transfer as many thought the 46 year old's Play(ing)days were over. Sir Chris said a move for his former sidekick Brian Cant be ruled out.