Wednesday 27 January 2021

More Like It!

 A solid performance defensively from the whole team saw The Addicks leave MK with all 3 points.

Of late, only against the Posh have we scored first and unlike that game we went on to win. There was an absence of the basic defensive errors that have seen us gift goals to the opposition.

It was a more disciplined and cohesive display from Charlton who were happy to allow MK the lion’s share of possession whilst limiting them to few clear cut chances.

From the off, and throughout, the boys in red pressed MK not allowing them much time or freedom on the ball. Central to this was Pratley’s marking of Fraser who was so closely attended to that he carried none of the threat he did in the reverse fixture.

Pratley’s tireless performance epitomised that of all Addicks. There were several examples of closing down and notable interceptions with Millar’s defending late on at the far post a superb case in point.

If one had to be critical then one would have to say that we ought to have done better with the excellent chances we created in the first half. As I said in my previous post, in and around the box we need to improve our decision making and to be more clinical.

Millar had a great game and he has certainly given us a greater attacking threat that has been missing since Doughty’s injury. His direct running and crossing is affording us more scoring opportunities.

Another player who added to our attacking capability is Shinnie. How much have we missed him of late? It’s so good to have him back in the side.

Stockley put in a fine all round display that augers well for the remainder of the season.

We now face a run of Saturday games that isn’t affected by midweek fixtures. A full week’s preparation and the chance to field a settled side now presents itself.

That should give rise to us putting a decent run together whilst others in and around us play catch up on their games in hand.

Until the return of Famewo and Inniss I think Gunter and Deji have done enough to retain their central pairing.

I’d like to see Aneke and Schwartz start on Saturday against Portsmouth and for the foreseeable.

Hopefully stability and confidence have returned to the team and we can now start to at least cement a top 6 place if not threaten the top two places.

Here’s hoping!

Tuesday 26 January 2021

Time To Kick Start Our Season

Charlton have always liked to do things the hard way. Most of the time that tends to be matters off the pitch. Of late, it has very much been in respect of matters on the pitch.

Back in the autumn, we went on a great run and didn’t concede a goal in 6 consecutive games. Subsequently, we have kept a clean sheet twice in 16 games.

In those games on occasions we have conceded two or more goals. No wonder we’ve only collected 3 points from 4 of those 16 games.

For the most part we have conceded first and then had to battle to try and get something from the matches.

Saturday was no different of course with two individual errors accounting for the first goal and whilst a bit unlucky with a deflection, a failure to track a run helped Swindon with the second.

It’s been a familiar sequence of events that I’m sure has most Addicks pulling out what remains of their hair!

At one time we looked devoid of ideas all over the pitch and after 30 minutes of one game, ( I can’t recall exactly which one now ) so insipid was our performance, that I was close to giving up and closing down the laptop!

Thankfully, the addition of some new recruits, allied to the return from injury of a couple of players, has meant that, of late, we have carried more purpose and threat.

Sadly, as mentioned, those defensive errors remain although we are creating more chances. The only issue outstanding is that we need to take a greater majority of them!

The need to be more clinical is greater than ever if we’re to seriously mount a challenge at the top. Time is running out and an automatic place will prove out of reach if we don’t go on a run soon.

It’s not just our strikers who are to blame for the poor goals to chances ratio. Our midfielders have been guilty of poor finishing or decision making in and around the box.

Often players have shot when they should have passed or vice versa!

The condensed fixture list and sudden postponements haven’t helped and suspensions along with injuries play their part too.

We do seem to have had more than our usual return of red cards. In addition, we’ve seen a few 5 yellow cards suspensions with Watson leading the way early on of course!

On a positive note, things seem to have settled a bit and at just past the halfway mark in terms of games we now pretty much know who should be in our starting eleven.

Bowyer hasn’t always picked the best side or squad and it has cost us a couple of times. However, I’m sure he now has a pretty clear idea of who is going to getting us to the promised land!

After the MK game tonight we will have a break ( Covid permitting ) from the relentless run of Saturday – Tuesday games. This ought to allow the manager to choose a more settled and consistent side as well as having the full week to prepare for each game.

This is the one advantage we will have over other teams in and around us as they play their games in hand. Surely, that will take its toll on them.

The return of Famewo and Inniss will be a real boost to help shore things up at the back as well as carrying an additional threat at corners and set pieces.

The time to start that good run is tomorrow and to do so, we must be more clinical and make better decisions where it really matters!

Come On You Reds!


Tuesday 12 January 2021

Getting Back On Track

The Addicks will want to put the memory of Friday night to bed asap. The re-arranged game v Rochdale tonight gives them an early opportunity to do just that.

It was an improvement from the performance against Hull but we were secondbest for most of the evening. Quite why the wheels have come off the Charlton bus so spectacularly is probably down to a number of factors.

Firstly, there are the injuries to Innis and Famewo. Neither is a short term one and their absence is a clear reason to lack of clean sheets of late.

Secondly, there has probably been too much rotation within the team. Added to that we have seen players playing out of position. One understands the thinking behind that but the combined effect of it has only served to disrupt the team.

It was a telling stat on Friday that we have made more changes in personnel than any other team.

I’m yet to be convinced that not starting Aneke is a wise move. Yes, he has scored goals off the bench, that’s obvious. However, when he comes on we are invariably chasing the game.

He needs a run in where he is starting games. It was clear on Friday that nothing was sticking up front and up against a physical ( not dirty ) team we had no physical presence ourselves.

The midfield looks unbalanced and is in desperate need of one of Pratley or Watson to play there. My preference is for Pratley as he shades it for me over Watson. However, with one suspended and one injured it’s academic at present.

The handling of some of players is something of a mystery. One or two have been openly criticised and yet when they respond they don’t start the next game. This is particularly true of Maddison and Williams.

Maddison is clearly a player of some talent and he’d start every time for me. He needs a run in the team and poses more of a threat than most. His ability form set pieces and shooting from long range is second to none in our team.

Maddison is clearly a player who needs careful handling and it won’t help when he sees other players starting ahead of have not exactly been pulling up any trees!

Added to all of the above and Bowyer has seemingly not set the team up right a few times now. The disappointment of this is magnified as we’ve had two or three weeks now with no midweek game to interrupt training sessions. A clear run at prepping for the weekend match.

Finally, Bowyer has taken to very publicly criticising the players. On Friday virtually no one escaped unscathed. To go as far as to say he didn’t care about a player being injured wasn’t right. I’m sure it was a heat of the moment thing but I don’t think you can do that.

Lee has played under some great managers who have clearly had a bearing on his approach to management. He ought to take time to reflect on how some of them would have reacted to some of the games of late.

I can’t recall Bobby Robson, for example, exploding too many times post-match. Only once can I think of an occasion; when we beat Newcastle on a Sunday and he was fuming that they were about to go La Manga for a break. Bobby didn’t think they deserved it!

Lee has high standards and has played at the highest level of the game. Sadly, few players at our club will match that ability, however determined or driven they are. It’s fair enough to demand 100% but try as they might, many will not achieve a consistent level of performance.

That’s in no way an attempt to excuse some poor performances that we’ve seen from a few players this season more that Lee needs to adjust his expectations a tad.

Bowyer deserves more time and patience from some of our fans. He’s certainly earned it from his achievements to date and incredible loyalty in the face of adversity. Now he has decent backing from Thomas and we too should mirror that.

We still have a good squad and Bowyer along with Gallen can be trusted to get the right players in to complete the jigsaw. Once that’s done he just needs to be clear and consistent on team selection and how he deals with the players.

It will take time to right the neglect and wrongs of the Duchatelet era. All the pieces are starting to be put into place. Overall, if we end up in a play-off place I think we can consider it a job well one.

To achieve that we need to get back to winning ways and a win tomorrow over Rochdale would be a very welcome step in the right direction.

Come On You Reds!