Thursday 31 October 2013

Have I Got Blues For You

Birmingham manager Lee Clark

Okay so it's Patrick Monahan but shut your eyes when either speaks and you'd be hard pressed to know the difference until Patrick starts talking about football.........he knows his stuff, unlike.......... !

I have to say that most big cities and towns in the UK have at least two major football teams and it's like chalk and cheese in just about every case for me. I like Sunderland, can't stand Newcastle, I've some affection for Everton and none for Liverpool......and so on. 

Now I realise that Baggies fans would add their club into the mix and so we could go to three clubs in Birmingham. I really like Villa for a number of reasons, hold no issues with West Brom but dislike Birmingham. This is down to how their fans are and historically they've had some issues with us. Yes, us ! Mind you I get the impression that like Millwall that extends to pretty much every club.

The club went further down in my estimation when it decided to employ Marlon King. Sod's law says we'll lose to them even though they are below us in the league ( albeit on goal difference ) and played a league cup game complete with extra time and penalties on Tuesday.

The match saw Wade Elliott sent off at the end of the first half meaning City had to play 75 minutes with 10 men.

The Blues have taken 1 point form their last three games and that came last Saturday from a creditable draw away to Derby.

The club has just given a two month deal to Polish midfielder Dariusz Dudka and I guess he'll expect to feature somewhere on Saturday.

Sir Chris may need to have a new face or two himself if, as seems likely, Yann and Wood don't make it. A real shame for both, Yann because he's just come back and Wood because he was playing so well and had just established himself as part of the team.

If Dale Stephens still harbours a move to Villa then he can give his cause a real shot in the arm with a good display at Brum. If the team shows the same resolve and drive that it has in the last few games then they could expect to come away with something.

Good luck and well done to all those going on Saturday, I hope that you have a great day out and are rewarded with a decent display from the Addicks and perhaps a point or three.

Come On You Reds !

Tuesday 29 October 2013

More Is Less

A crowd of over 23k witnessed a goalless draw on Sunday. Not a great game but at least it wasn't the defeat that so often accompanies a club promotion.

It was good to see The Valley approaching capacity but I have to be honest and say it didn't enhance my matchday experience. Longer queues at turnstiles, toilets and refreshment areas added to lengthy delays getting out the ground and subsequently onto the train.

The atmosphere was not as good as usual, there was little singing and clapping from those around me. In addition, most were devoid of any passion. May be that's to be expected but it really pi**ed me off.

Don't get me wrong I appreciate that the club will have increased revenue and perhaps attract a few new and / or lapsed fans. Added to which I naturally want to see the club well supported. If we were to return to larger crowds on a regular basis then I hope the club and surrounding infrastructure is better able to cope with it.

There was a clear handball in the second half that denied a goal scoring opportunity and had most of the East Stand got on their feet to appeal / protest then it would have put some pressure on the ref. As it was the player concerned escaped without so much as a talking to !

Both sides had clear cut chances with Wigan marginally more guilty of missing the easier ones but it was to be one of those days. Incidentally one of those that I experienced that day before. I went to see Brackley Town v Barrow in the FA Cup and that too finished without a goal. The two teams try again tonight as Brackley make the long trek upto Barrow. The winners play Gillingham away in the first round proper.

Sir Chris opted to leave Skip on the bench and that surprised me albeit that I think it was right to do so. I was disappointed that neither Harriott or Evina got a start on the left. As a result Stewart had to play on the left side of midfield. I'm well aware of the arguments of cutting inside etc but we lost his ability to beat his man and deliver a decent cross from the right.

I'd also question why we didn't have Pigott on the bench. At home it's good to have two strikers amongst the subs and it might have served us well at the end although maybe not if we're going to go 4-5-1.

I do wonder how many more points we'd have if we had been more adventurous at home this campaign. I remain concerned that it will really cost us in the end.

On a more positive note it was another clean sheet and perhaps that's testament to the excellent Wood, he has been magnificent since coming into the side. His injury is a concern and with Yann again damaging his ankle we may need reinforcements in both areas if they are not fit for Saturday.

I'm not a big fan of Stephens but I'll happily admit that he has been good of late and had a great game on Sunday. He has been very creative and paying more attention to his defensive duties too, all good to see.

Post match on Sunday and I paid a visit to the Old Loyal Britons pub which has recently opened in Greenwich. It's just round the corner from the Cutty Sark station on the DLR. Richard the landlord is an excellent host and I can fully recommend a few pints of Morning Glory.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Addicks v Latics

£6 to watch Charlton ? On occasions this season it's been too much to pay !

Football on a Sunday due to Wigan's Europa Cup involvement and the clocks go back an hour at 3am in the morning purely to give the Latics an extra hour's recovery time. At least we all get an extra hour in bed.

Given that the week that follows is half term that the game is being played on this particular Sunday is most welcome as it allows me the enjoy my ale as usual. As part of that I'm hoping to get along to The Old Loyal Britons pub in Greenwich for a few post-match beers. This pub opened earlier this month and is run by a Charlton fan. The beer looks good so should be a treat.

The free Saturday gives me the opportunity to return to St James Park to see how Brackley Town fare in the next round of the F.A. Cup. Their opponents are fellow Conference North team Barrow who will be making the long trek south. Brackley are 4th in the league with Barrow in 17th so one would expect a home win but hey, this is the cup so an upset can't be over-ruled.

One hopes that Wigan will have a very tiring game against Rubin Kazan with the Russian side making them run all over the pitch chasing the ball. Hopefully our boys will then be fresher come Sunday.

I can't recall the last Charlton game I saw on a Sunday. I remember my first which was away to Orient and I recall being given a team sheet rather than a programme which I guess was due to trading laws perhaps and not being able to sell programmes on a Sunday ? 

I also recall Stan Bowles coming out much later than the rest of players and only just in time for kick off. Perhaps he set his clock too far back !

As we're now unbeaten in 3 and have kept clean sheets in the last two one ought to be optimistic for something from the game. However, we never seem to do well when we should be the fresher side and I'm always gloomy about our chances !

On the plus side Yann should be on from the start. Not sure anyone should give way for Skip and certainly not Cousins..........I'll be very unhappy if that happens. Sir Chris loves Jacko of course so it wouldn't surprise me to see him back in from the off.

Wigan have a very talented side of course so this will be a tough game and no mistake. Hopefully the gaffer will be positive and approach the game in that state of mind. Our negative tactics and long ball game hasn't served us well at home to date so it's definitely time for a change.

I take it everyone enjoyed Redknapp getting hit by the ball against Millwall, very funny especially as he missed the equaliser ( no, not Edward Woodward ). Interestingly the highlights showed Redknapp turning up on crutches, however, they nowhere to be seen when he got hit and he should a neat turn of foot as he tried to discover who'd done it.........hilarious !

I'm really looking forward to Sunday.

Come On You Reds !

Sunday 13 October 2013

Billy Don't Be A Zero

Billy Turley - an embarrassment to Brackley Town.

Yesterday's Championship hiatus gave me the opportunity to take in some non-league football. My choice was the FA Cup game between Brackley Town F C and Boston United F C. 

I love going to non-league games, the fans are die-hard supporters and the clubs rely on raffles etc to keep them going. Mind you it seems that there's been some investment in Brackley of late as evidenced by new terracing and general work ongoing around the ground.

You could walk around the whole ground as the tannoy blared out a variety of 80's hits, both sets of supporters mingled as a further reminder of how football used and ought to proper took me back.

In addition to all that the refreshments were decently priced and the chips ( £1.50 ) were to die for ! All helping to make the day.

What took the edge off the day was Brackley keeper, Billy Turley. I'd seen him play before for Northampton Town and then Rushden and Diamonds. Turley was sacked by Rushden after testing positive for cocaine. Whatever lessons, if any, were learned by Turley it hasn't made him shy and retiring.

Fellow players were treated to a stream of abuse if they didn't do as he expected. Even when making a right cock-up himself in giving the ball straight to the oppo on one occasion that nearly cost a goal, didn't quieten him down. No one was safe from his vitriol The management team were told in no uncertain terms how they should be getting the team to play.

Even the ballboys got it after the ball went out of play and didn't return as quickly as Turley liked. " Why are the ballboys so f*****g slow ? " bellowed the keeper.

What appeared to be gamesmanship, some would call cheating, in feigning an injury, denied Boston a good chance of an equaliser.

Turley's " team spirit " extended to him feeling that didn't need to join in the warm down after the game with the rest of the team. How Brackley's management team can allow one player to behave like this is beyond me.

Sadly for Boston United fans their keeper didn't cover himself in glory either but in his case it was for purely footballing reasons. Just before half-time Ashley Timms allowed a fairly innocuous shot from just outside the box to trickle through his legs.

The first half had been largely Brackley's as they created the better chances. after the break Boston upped their game and fashioned many chances and were unlucky not to get an equaliser. Only resolute defending denied them. Brackley were to score a second on 86 minutes as Boston pushed forward in search of a goal.

In some ways this was most unfair as it happened very shortly after a Boston player was dragged down as they were about to attack. The subsequent yellow card didn't seem sufficient punishment at the time, that Brackley went on to score the decisive second goal soon after merely added insult to injury.

A good game and day out and I may well return to Brackley especially if they rid themselves of the irritating Turley.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Nothing ventured, one point gained.........

Jordan Cousins, an absolute joy to watch.

Following our defeat to Burnley most of us would probably have settled for 2 points from the Forest and Blackpool games. However, the performance against Forest should have delivered all 3 points and we were desperately unlucky not to get them. As a result expectations were raised for the Blackpool game.

Yesterday saw plenty of effort, even Stephens was winning tackles, but little in the way of finesse and in the final third we were poor.

I'm under the impression that the general consensus is that yesterday's point was a good one and we should be pleased with it. Should we though ? I wonder if we learn from week to week or game to game ? 

Some cite the absence of Jackson, Kermogant, Solly and to some extent Cort as reasons to be cheerful for the point. However, I recall the insipid performance against Millwall characterised by our endless hoofing the ball upto the front two only for the ball to come straight back as their taller, stronger defenders won the ball time and again. 

Yesterday we saw a repetition of that. I simply can't recall any of our players winning the ball as it was repeatedly lumped upfield. This played into the hands of the big back four especially McKenzie whose only strength is winning headers ( or perhaps acquiring red cards ! ).

Surely someone on the management team can see this ? Are the players instructed to play like that ? It just doesn't work and in Yann's absence only serves to hand possession straight back to the oppo and we put ourselves under pressure.

Why don't we look to feed one of the defenders or midfielders ? In my view Hamer is slow to release the ball when he does have options to do so. This needs addressing.

Harriott was wasted behind the front two yesterday and it clearly needed him to be playing wide so that he could have a run at them. Too often he was too central or on those rare occasions he wasn't found himself out on the right and then having to check back on to his left foot to cross the ball. 

We all know that our home form is crucial to any hope or survival or a decent place in the league even more so when we're not repeating the success of our campaign on the road of last season. Our approach is over-cautious and we're paying the price ( or will do if we're not careful ).

We've got to look to attack more at home and I fail to understand why Cameron Stewart is spending so much time on the bench. The home games against Millwall and Blackpool needed us to show more attacking intent, had we done that there's every chance we'd have 2 more points and be sitting a tad more comfortably than we are now.

I got very frustrated at the time it took to use the subs again. Pigott should have got much longer as neither Church or Sordell carried much threat. As I said, Stewart should have been off the bench earlier.

Sorry if this sounds negative but I get the feeling the lack of Yann is clouding some issues. All teams lose their most valuable players at some stage and yes, he is a big miss but the rest of the squad have shown they are capable of more.

Looking at some positives, then the emergence of Cousins is certainly one of them. He is calm and composed on the ball, uses it well and does the simple things to good effect. A very real talent. Wood too has turned in some good performances and has established a good partnership with Morrison. Yesterday's clean sheet is testament to that and they can't be faulted for Forest's goal on Tuesday.

The defence did well to contain Fuller and Ince. I had a little chuckle to myself as some Addicks got wound up with Ricardo winning fouls in the same manner he did so many times for us. He is a big loss for us and one wonders where we'd be if he were still with us. His skill, experience and nous are sorely missed as our lack of goals demonstrates only too well.

Much as I'm not a fan of Stephens he put in a good shift yesterday and Wiggins had one of his better games although his crossing was a disappointment.

The international break will hopefully allow for our injured players to recover and be available for selection. I will be very disappointed if Cousins has to make way for anyone though that simply can't happen.

We have been fortunate in that those teams around us have not garnered more points, if they had we'd be in deep trouble. We do have a squad capable of competing in the championship and I sincerely hope that Sir Chris adopts a more offensive and proactive approach as this will bring better rewards. At home in particular the onus is on us to take the initiative.