Thursday 30 October 2014

Back To The Valley

The cover for Saturday's Valley Review

Following two successive away defeats The Addicks will be relieved to be returning to S.E.7 on Saturday to face the blue side of Sheffield.

Those two defeats were interspersed with a win against Bolton some of whose fans took time out to comment on my last piece to congratulate us on a fine win. 

Wednesday's season has been quite similar to ours as there have been plenty of draws and they don't score a lot of goals. They will be hoping the recent acquisition of Taylor-Fletcher on loan from Leicester will change that. The Owls main goal threat will come in the form of Stevie May who looks quite a capable player.

Addicks fans will of course be hoping that Igor and Gudmundsson return to the starting eleven. It may be too early for Wiggins who picked up a foot injury last week.

I'd like to see George start up front with Igor as this is potentially our best strike partnership and I don't think it was given enough time earlier in the season. 

At home Bulot really ought to play on the left and Gudmundsson on the right even if this means leaving Cousins out of the starting eleven. Jordan has been great this season and gives it everything but he is wasted out there and our attacking threat is curtailed without a more natural left sided player. 

I was pleased to Buyens have an improved game against the Trotters although he was still a bit short of his early season performances.

The first half on Friday evening was awful but it was good to see the lads come out and give it go in the second half with a more determined effort. The injuries we had and with Fulham playing a lot better than at the start of the season it was always going to be a tough ask.

Clearly our squad is on the thin side and a couple of experienced additions would make a tremendous difference to the team. I understand the cautious approach from Roland and his desire to run a tight ship whilst giving youth it's chance. Grant Holt is a case in point of someone who would have been a superb addition to the squad. There are others out there still but it seems unlikely that Bob will be able to add anyone unless we're right up there around the end of the year.

We need to go for it from the start on Saturday and maintain that for the rest of the game. In August we showed at home what we are capable of and we have to get back to that level especially with two tricky away games coming up.

It is good to see that the club is to focus on Remembrance Day with a commemorative programme, a plaque to be unveiled and a minute's silence before the game. 

The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1 has served to remind us of the sacrifices, horror and reality of war. Naturally with less and less people surviving from the great war then it disappears from living memory and as with all conflicts the desire that " we should never forget " is more important than ever.

I know from first hand experience that our schools are playing their part in ensuring that today's children are educated about the two world wars, naturally with a greater focus on the first in this Centenary year.

I hope to get along to the see the poppies at the Tower of London as many friends and colleagues have been and tell me what a moving experience this is. In the meantime I shall, along with others, pay a silent tribute on Saturday ahead of the game.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Perennial Strugglers 2 – Bolton Wanderers 1

Charlton have one of the smallest and least experienced squads in the Championship. Last night that squad was hampered by injuries to several key players but still managed to emerge victorious against a plucky Bolton side that had a typical physical edge to it. That isn’t to suggest they were dirty, just that there were lots of niggling fouls that last night’s ref should have done more about. 

Newly installed Bolton boss Lennon labelled us “ perennial Championship strugglers “ and that of course is total nonsense. In my many years of supporting the Addicks we have rarely struggled and whilst not frequently troubling the top of the table, I’ve not seen us in the third tier in more than a handful of seasons. 

Possibly the seeds for the delusions of grandeur from Lennon have been sown by chairman, Phil Gartside. Back in the Allardyce era when the Trotters were  enjoying Premiership football, Gartside was rarely out of the media. He had plenty to say, most notably about establishing a Premiership 2. Should Bolton drop to League 1 this season I wonder if Gartside will still be so keen on the idea ! 

Given the players available I thought pre-match that we’d do well to emerge with a point. In addition, Saturday’s results and performances from both teams did little to suggest an Addicks win. The lads do like to surprise us though and dug deep to bag all 3 points. 

The opening minutes were end to end stuff and it looked as though there were plenty of goals to be had for both sides. However, there was little end product for either side despite some promising moves mostly involving the impressive Chung-yong as far as Bolton were concerned. 

It was a real surprise when George demonstrated no small amount of skill to give us the lead. He scored the goal he always looked like scoring – heavy on the irony there ! 

Tucadean went down far too easily and I thought he was doing his best to blow a golden opportunity for himself. However, the way he took his goal and the assist for Jackson’s goal reminded us all of the potential he showed when netting against the Rams earlier in the season. 

A few extra hours down the gym will certainly aid George because you need to be strong at this level. 

Once again the defence did well with Bikey and TBH showing what a great partnership they are and how good their understanding is. I note that Wiggins is getting some unwarranted stick in some quarters. I am led to believe he wasn’t great at Bournemouth on Saturday and perhaps that influences the views of some. However, I believe that Solly didn’t cover himself in glory either but he didn’t attract a lot of criticism.   

Feeney went off because he was getting no joy down our left and Davies, his replacement, played in a more central role I noted. 

Someone else attracting complaints from a few around me was Cousins. I can’t believe that some folk don’t appreciate that he is playing out of position. He’s the footballing equivalent of Dennis Waterman not writing the theme tune, singing the theme tune etc. but taking corners, playing on the left, on the right, there’s little that’s not asked of young Jordan. 

I don’t see him complain or ask for a rest like that Liverpool’s Stirling. Buyens had a better game last night and sadly picked up a fifth yellow. The one good thing that ought to come out of that is Jordan moving inside. I hope he grabs the opportunity to impress Big Bob on Friday. 

Skip also did well and broke up many attacks and got in some vital blocks. His contributions are so often overlooked. 

Last night’s result eases the pressure on Friday’s trip to the Cottage where a point will represent a good return given their recent upturn in fortunes following the sacking of the hapless McGath.

Monday 6 October 2014

A Player Is In An Offside...........

position........forget it, just look at the picture above Lee.

Lee Clark, having already established himself as someone it easy to take an instant dislike to, managed to go one further and make himself look a fool too on Saturday. Trying to claim that Clayton Donaldson wasn't offside for the disallowed goal was laughable.

Possibly he was trying to outdo the odious Steve Evans who claimed that Skip virtually put the ball up his shirt the other week when bemoaning the lack of a penalty for his team. 

Add Uwe " we should have won " Rosler into the mix and it seems we're coming up against some managers who seem intent on making it appear as if Arsene Wenger has twenty twenty vision.

Enough of Clark whose offside nonsense remarks were probably borne out of jealousy at our unbeaten run and his suffering another defeat at the Valley. 

Saturday's script pretty much followed that of other recent games. We start brightly, go in front and sit back. I've not minded too much upto now but against a poor looking side like Birmingham then it was disappointing.

As others have observed I'm at a lost to understand why the formation was changed as soon as went ahead. Cousins in particular was doing fine. It didn't help us.

Clearly something needs to be done in terms of increasing our attacking threat. We aren't creating nearly enough chances especially for Igor. He is our most potent threat yet is devoid of a suitable partner or a team-mate who can load the bullets for him. Our midfield on Saturday often failed to spot his runs and he was chomping at the bit to be played through. 

Buyens has been a major disappointment in the last few games. The player that in August displayed a fine range of positive and attacking passes has for some reason regressed. This culminated in an error strewn performance at the weekend. Quite how Skip came off and he stayed on I really don't know. Johnnie's reaction to being subbed spoke volumes.

I understand and largely agree with the club's policy of not spending vast amounts on players and associated wages. However, it seems a real shame to see a player like Grant Holt go to Huddersfield when you know he'd be ideal for Igor.

Ironically for someone who's classed as a defensive midfielder, Cousins has, of late, shown that he is more than capable of producing a telling pass. 

In terms of Saturday's substitutions then I was saddened that Harriott and KAG didn't set foot on the pitch. There was an opportunity to go for it and both players had incentive, not least Callum who has a point to prove.

In postmatch comments Bob suggested that the players were tired after a tough Championship schedule. They shouldn't be as we've already had one international break already and the lads aren't playing twice a week, every week. 

The Addicks seemed to cope ok playing twice a week for 7 weeks at the end of last season with little change in personnel and under some pressure too. Therefore, I'm not sure why the class of 2014-15 should be suffering particularly this early into the season. 

I know all of the above sounds and probably is quite critical of Big Bob. It's not meant to be, just a few personal observations on how I think things could be even better. I'm more than happy with the progress being made by the club and it is reflected in a number of areas.

The 4 points earned form the last two games were as excellent as they were unexpected. In addition, I think Bob has been fantastic to date not least with the unbeaten start in the league.

It doesn't seem as if we're going to be signing Fabregas or Costa anytime soon so I hope that we can find someone from within the club who may be able to do a fairly decent job in either position.

The second international break of the season will allow for injuries and niggles to clear and we can go again away to Bournemouth. The chances of extending our undefeated start were helped by Yann's red card on Saturday. We know often our ex-players, most notably the strikers, come back to haunt us.

In the meantime we can relax as the national team goes in search or more glory !