Sunday 25 February 2018

Shrews Rise Sun Sets

Is the sun setting on our season ?

Shrewsbury have been the surprise package in League One this season. Their early dominance in the league has continued despite most folk thinking it might evaporate about half way through the season.

On Saturday in S.E.7 they produced a display that perfectly demonstrated how they got there and why they look set to stay.  This is a team that is well drilled, well coached and highly motivated. In fact, on yesterday's evidence they were everything Charlton aren't.

The passing and movement was quick and incisive as opposed to our frequent over elaborate build up play. They never stopped running and pressed and chased every ball.

The Shrews had suffered from an illness bug during the week and also played on Tuesday. To look at the two teams you'd have thought it was the home team that related to.

Post match and Robinson accused the players of not following the game plan. Apparently during the week in training they were told not to forget what they'd been doing all season and not to pass sideways and backwards.

Either the message didn't get through or they didn't listen which brings into question the manager's ability to get the message across or their willingness to listen or perhaps both !

That aside I'm confused as to how you can play without passing sideways or backwards at some stage. One assumes the alternative is to lump the ball forward or simply give it away.

Even before kick off there was a strange twist as having won the toss we opted to kick towards the Covered End. Allegedly we thought the Shrews, like some ancient civilisation, be mesmerised by the slowly setting giant orb in the sky allowing the boys in reds to waltz passed unchallenged to steer the ball into an empty net.

Sadly, they have seen the sun in Shropshire before and this ruse failed as the Salopians went on to dazzle the boys in red who for the most part were left chasing shadows.

The 90 minutes were an object lesson in how to play in manner which Robinson purports to favour but seemingly is unable to deliver for any sustained period of time let alone an entire game.

We had about 5 minutes of good football where Henderson the keeper on loan from United showed why he is such a promising prospect  with two or three excellent saves. He was never troubled again.

There were many poor performances and on occasion a total lack of communication. Time and again the ball was lumped upto Magennis who on those times won the ball headed onto to no one was there simply wasn't another player to run on to it.

The manager like the rest of us witnessed this but unlike the us paying spectators felt unmoved to change anything.

Kai Kai again contributed little and to me looks lazy and uninterested. There must be more to him than this.

Marshall again offered nothing and still shows no desire to take on and run at the oppo. He was largely responsible for the penalty as he wasn't in enough space for Solly to pass to in the lead up. The resulting poor penalty kick only served to delay the inevitable.

A quality first goal and poorly defended corner wrapped things after 67 minutes as one knew there was no way back for us.

Thanks to the ongoing inconsistency of teams around us were are still in touching distance of the play-offs. Realistically we oughtn't have a cat in hell's chance of making it but it strangely remains.

However, by the completion of the next three games, all away that hope may have been totally extinguished. At least one can hope that the club will be rid of inept owner by then. We can then look forward to the future. A future that really not see Robinson in the manager's seat as time and again he has shown he doesn't have what it takes to move us forward and out of this league. 

Monday 19 February 2018

Joe Plays, We Win !

Charlton got back to winnings ways on Saturday against a really poor MK team who look in real trouble. Their new manager hasn't brought any kind of bounce and that's probably not surprising given his lack of experience. The first half that saw no shots on target from them followed a second half against Oldham on Tuesday that matched that. 

The absence of Chuks Aneke certainly didn't help them and Saturday's game was their 6th straight defeat. It wouldn't be a total surprise if the new man doesn't see out the season.

The win for The Addicks was crucial if we're to hold on to any hope of getting into the play offs. The goal that was conceded immediately after going 2-0 up was a concern of course. However, the greater concern remains in respect of our inability to make our dominance tell.

In one passage of play in the second half there were about 8 passes in and around the area when someone just needed to shot. I remember being told to take one or no touches in the area, makes sense to me.

There has been a focus on the defensive errors in recent games and of course it's a worry but if we had converted more chances it wouldn't be an issue at all.

Joe Aribo was restored to the starting line up and so, of course, we won ! Hopefully he's back to stay. Joe seems on occasion to be a step or two ahead of some players. He seems destined for great things and let's hope he achieves them with us.

Joe was unlucky not to score with his shot that struck the upright.

I couldn't understand why we didn't attack Lewington more from the off. One of the slowest ( and oldest ) defenders in the league and we put Reeves ( playing out of position ) up against him. It was baffling. 

KaiKai had a poor game and didn't get into it at all. However, bearing in mind the above it must have been worth switching him across to the right surely ? He has to improve as his reputation is that of a lot better player.

I've read that some folk thought Marshall did well when he came on. Maybe it's me but I didn't !  I was pleased to see him come on when he did as I thought he'd really go at Lewington. Sadly, he didn't and again two or three times he stopped with the ball at his feet looking clueless. 

Marshall seems to lack the desire to run at players and take them on. One would like to see him even just push the ball past and run with the pace he has. It's a mystery as I'm sure he can't have been doing that last season.

Magennis worked hard and deserved his goal following a lovely cross form JFC. Judging by his effort when through one on one with the keeper it appears he's only likely to score close to goal. He should have done a lot better with that.

Bauer was immense and his injury is a concern. The return of Pearce was a welcome sight.

I assume that Robinson has plans for Zyro. The guy has hardly set foot on the pitch since joining us and I fail to see why.  He needs to be given an opportunity and also game time at Under 23 level too with an eye on fitness.

Saturday and a tougher test in Shrewsbury awaits. Luckily for us the Shrews are playing Gillingham tomorrow night. We have a full week to prepare and so ought to be in better shape as should those injured and returning players.

Should the sale of the club complete this week then that would be a tremendous filip for one and all. With it being a football for a fiver game what a crowd and atmosphere we could expect. Let's hope that it comes to pass.

Friday 16 February 2018

Any Chance Of A Win ?

On Tuesday Pancake Day was in fact Groundhog Day !

Pancake day predictably fell flat and as the Addicks failed to score more than once whilst dominating the game and the late equaliser was eggsactly what we’ve come to expect.

We got battered in some tackles and it was no yolk !

Ok, enough of this nonsense but if we don’t make light of our recent performances then we’d cry !

Not unexpectedly post match on Tuesday Robinson was not accepting responsibility and this time it was the referee who was next up in his book of excuses. We’d not had official blaming for a while so it was somewhat overdue !

I note with interest that today Robinson said he accepted responsibility for defeat to Oxford. “ The Oxford one was my fault and I took full responsibility for that. I never shy away from when I make a mistake…. “.

Wow ! There’s a first and strangely I haven’t heard or read that before anywhere. I’m fairly certain he wasn’t saying that immediately after the Oxford game. As I recall he was blaming one player in particular.

I think the manager is aware that most fans’ patience is wearing thin with the endless excuses and refusal to accept his part in the recent loss of points and hence the comment. Rather like playing Aribo he only did it because he felt he had little choice not that it was the right thing to do.

Robinson also spoke about the Barnsley job that he’d been linked with. “ My agent phoned me saying ‘listen, this is the situation’, and I said ‘I don't want to be on it [the shortlist]’.

“I don't see Barnsley for me. This is a place where I want to be. I want this club to be in the Championship - it’s as simple as that. But we have to go to the Championship clean, with everything that’s happened over the last five years gone.

“We've worked hard to put ourselves in this position and I’m not going to walk away from something when we've worked so hard over the last 12 months.

“There have been other opportunities [to leave] while I’ve been here, but I spoke to my agent the other day, and I’m so happy. This is an unbelievable club.”

( Robinson has an agent ! Why on earth do managers need agents ? What if this agent also has players as his clients at some stage one would think there'd be a conflict of interest somewhere surely ? All very odd ! ). 

As ever he attempts to say the right thing but has to add that we are an unbelievable club. Are we ? We were a role model a few years ago but it’s been downhill since then. We weren’t so unbelievable that Eddie Howe or Chris Wilder wanted to manage us.

I know that we can once again be a great club and one to be really proud of with the right stewardship. That’s going to take an awful lot of time and effort but it can be done. That needs a lot of appropriate decisions to be made not least in appointing the right manager.

I don’t believe he wants to move any further north than London. I’d love to know what these other opportunities are. They could be for a team in League Two or below who knows.  In that respect he’s not being disingenuous but it’s stretching things a bit.

Robinson also came armed to the press conference with data about the distances covered by players in recent matches. Honestly, who the hell cares ? The only data we’re interested in is the goals for and against and points gained ! If only the manager’s football tactics were as good as his diversionary ones !

On Saturday we will face an MK team who have only won twice since September, lost 5 on the trot and only scored 1 goal in the last 4 games. They haven’t won in the league since beating Peterborough 1-0 on 30th December.

They are likely to be without Chuks Aneke a player who would have been a handful for our defence. That ought to make the task a lot easier.

They have appointed a rookie manager that looks like what one might at best describe as a brave decision. I think they needed an experienced head at a time like this. We shall see if the new man can turn things around.

Should we fail to beat MK then that would be the worst result amongst many that we’ve had lately. Realistically he'd be in the last chance saloon but luckily for Robinson there's no one to pull the trigger !

How on earth we remain remotely in touching distance of a play-off spot is beyond me. How poor are the teams in and around there ?

In recent matches Coventry took 10k to MK and last week Pompey took 6k. I don’t expect us to match either of those but with a relatively close game like this it’d be good to see a decent turn out from us.

It’s certainly an easy journey for me as I live a 10 minutes car journey away from the ground although will be heading elsewhere for a pre-match beer.

Let’s hope we can return to winning ways ( Scoring more than one and not conceding in the last 10 minutes would make a nice change ) and please God, Robinson will spare us the group huddle and OTT celebrations if we do.

Come On You Reds !

Sunday 11 February 2018

The Blame Game

For a second successive Saturday a late goal has cost us points. For a second successive Saturday the manager made poor choices with substitutions. For a second successive Saturday he blames the players. For a second successive Saturday the manager doesn't accept any responsibility.

Never mind that we apparently dominated the game the real fault lay in the team yet again failing to convert chances into goals. Donny are in poor form and haven't won a game all year and we couldn't beat them or hold onto the lead.

The opportunity that fell to Reeves best typifies the inability to score. In that position any player, even one without an eye for goal, shoots to the far post. They certainly don't pull the ball back to the penalty spot.

There has to be a reason why we struggle to win games or more convincingly when we do. As sure as eggs are eggs it's down to an awful lot more than " the rub of the green " as Robinson would have us believe.

For someone who likes to portray himself as the great motivator the manager sure knows how to mistreat players. KAG gets loaned out and Aribo get dropped. In both cases the players deserved a run in the side. In Aribo's his replacement JFC did little against Oxford to suggest he should retain his place and yet he gets singled out for praise and does just that.

Magennis fails to score in 14 games and always starts and never gets subbed. Not even coming off for even the last 15 minutes. Never any attempt to try something different.

Good performance goes unrewarded and vice versa !

Robinson never ever wants to accept any blame. I vividly recall the defeat away to Northampton last season. A dreadful performance. Afterwards Robinson told us all that in the lead up to the game he'd seen things he'd never seen at a football club before.

As far as I'm aware he never has explained what that was. Like most things he says it would appear to be a diversionary tactic.

I read with interest that some will cite his age and say he is still learning. Yes, he is relatively young for a manager but he's been doing it for 8 years now and in any case, I'd rather he didn't learn on the job with us ! I say that but in fact, there's little evidence that he's learning at all.

Robinson talks and talks, uses words like passion, desire and commitment and bandies them around like confetti. They roll off his tongue in failing attempts to convince us that he knows what his doing and can motivate players. 

Like his time with MK he gets famous names in to " aid " with training sessions. More attempts to impress us. Look who I know ! Up here ( MK ) he had Ian Wright and Robbie Fowler to name but two. Trust me it really didn't do them much good.

Recently he's had Darren Campbell at Sparrows Lane. Again we're supposed to be impressed by this. I do understand the benefit of players have a greater knowledge of the mechanics of running but their time at present would surely be better spent on practising defending or shooting ! It's just a gimmick.

Bizarrely in spite of all this Robinson is heavily linked with the vacancy at Barnsley. I don't think he'd take it even if he were offered it. I don't believe he wants to move away from MK. In any case he previously turned down a bigger job at Leeds.

He has a reputation for expansive football and yet that is rarely converted into goals. Add to that our team's defensive frailty against the most average of teams plus the manager's poor game management and it's easy to see why we are under achieving.

Unless Robinson has a road to Damascus moment it's hard to see things greatly improving. As we now have two players for every position he really has no excuses. Failure to beat Bradford on Tuesday would be a further blow to any play-off hopes even if it we did qualify it seems unlikely that we would beat a team over two legs.

For Robinson to turn things around he needs to wins games, talk less and accept responsibility when he things go wrong................I'm not holding my breath ! 



Sunday 4 February 2018

Oxford Bag Three !

There's no escape ! Robinson has written an article for a Milton Keynes magazine. The remainder of it will be published in instalments over the next 18 months ! Obviously it's ok to criticise adult players immediately after a game without apparently having given it much thought !

Charlton are long time admirers of James Henry seemingly chasing after him for about the last 5 transfer windows at least. Yesterday we got confirmation that we have given up chasing him ( or any other Oxford player making a late run ! ). Henry was horrid and took the game away from us.

At half time I felt we might pay for our missed first half opportunities. We had created some great chances but our failure to convert ultimately cost us.

Oxford lost Wes Thomas due to an injury sustained in the warm up and he was replaced in the starting eleven by Obika. Ultimately he too succumbed to injury and the U's had to resort to Napa ( see what I did there ! ).

Robinson clearly has his favourites and those that aren't. JFC and Aribo being two examples. Joe has been in fine form but was left out yesterday. JFC doesn't do anything that Aribo can't ( apart from stop when clean through on goal of course ) and didn't deserve to start ahead of him.

Bizarrely he was one of only two players the manager identified for praise afterwards. He rubbished the rest of the team whilst singling out one player whom he didn't name but I assume wasn't getting a lift home from Robinson ( a reference to his article above ). 

Marshall shouldn't have started either and certainly oughtn't to have featured in the second half. However, Robinson decided that the player he described in midweek as sensational should contiue. Indecisive only starts to cover how he played. At one point he turned this way and that going nowhere before conceding a throw in as yet another attack broke down.

Never mind the poor team selection yet again Robinson's lack of ability in respect of game management was cruelly exposed. Marshall should have been removed at half time at the latest.

Having restored the lead at 2-1 the manager needed to make decisions regarding the subs. Clearly he got it wrong again. Robinson shouldn't be making basic mistakes but he repeatedly does and never learns or apologises for them. Instead he bangs on about how they spoke at length in training about tracking players.

Really ? Maybe he did but two of their three goals were almost identical and for the first, the defence backed off allowing Henry to shoot unchallenged. 

In addition to the above we don't seem to carry any threat at set pieces. At free kicks we don't appear to have a scooby what we want to do. No clever routine or even a direct strike at goal.

Our corners were awful although they were clearing the first defender this week ! However, they were floated in with no pace leaving anyone who might get on the end of it needing to generate all the power.

Oxford always carried a threat and the way we were opened up in the first minute was a portent of things to come. After they equalised for the second time I don't really think it came as any great surprise to anyone that they went on to get the winner.

All of us want to get out of this wretched league and we ought to secure a play-off spot but we're making really hard work of it. Let's not use the ongoing potential sale of the club as an excuse. I don't believe it makes any real difference to the players.

Robinson has his two players for each position now as a well publicised graphic illustrates and with some exciting attacking players in particular he now has no excuse if he doesn't at least deliver a play off place.

Potential new owners will doubtless be thinking the same and when looking at games like yesterday's might decide the person deserving of criticism is the MK resident in chief ultimately deciding he's not up to the task.

Time will tell but he can't afford too many more performances like yesterday or he'll find he has a lot more time to devote to local journalism. None of us other MK residents deserves that !