Friday, December 30, 2005

Irons preview

The Addicks meet the Irons at The Valley at 1 p.m. tomorrow (I mention the time as some people didn't seem to be aware of it earlier today) in what hopefully will be a cracking London derby. Former Addicks Paul Konchesky and Shaun Newton may feature for the visitors, while Alan Pardew is a former Charlton player and was at one time tipped as the natural successor to Curbs.

Our record at home in the Premiership against West Ham has been a good one, winning two and drawing two, one of those a 4-4 scoreline. There are therefore grounds for at least some optimism with the Sub-Standard tipping the Addicks for a rare home win.

One consequence of the Newcastle postponement was that Danny Murphy cannot play tomorrow. If he is fit, I would favour Smertin as a replacement. If available, I would play both Thomas and Rommedahl as one of our weaknesses against Arsenal was a lack of width. I would stick with 4-4-2 and keep Bartlett up front with Bothroyd on the bench if available. I still prefer Kishishev to the alternatives.

Myhre should stay in goal, Hreidarsson at left back and Luke Young on the right, of course. The central pairing is more difficult with Sorondo likely not to be fit. I would bring in Perry and probably risk Fortune again, although Spector gave a good account of himself in his normal central defender position and should be on the bench. El Karkouri just looks like too big a risk to me. If he is available, I would have Lloyd Sam on the bench.

Shock ACMA announcement

The Association of Canine Match Analysts have announced the suspension of senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch who has been associated with Charlton's run of poor results. He will be replaced by lucky labrador Homer the Cherry Hound from Chilton, Oxon.

The companion feline organisation has suspended Hiss of the Match analyst Juneau the Soccer Cat for repeated bad language used against house guest Arthur Hands and the ginger moggie, a familiar face in many central Leamington offices until his owners moved, will take on the role.

Homer the Cherry Hound has invited us back to Chilton after the match for New Year celebrations, so the usual match report will be delayed.

Curbs gets vote of confidence

Curbs has received a vote of confidence from Charlton chief executive Peter Varney in a Sky Sports News interview. Curbishley still has the full backing of Varney and the board despite the poor run of results.

'He has our total support. He's done a magnificent job and I'm sure he will continue to do so. No-one is working harder than he is to turn it around and I'm totally confident he will turn it around.'

Varney confirmed that there will be money available in the transfer window and indicated a continuing interest in Everton's Marcus Bent. The double Bent solution would re-unite the two former Ipswich Town players, although some of the Addickted rate Marcus Bent as little better than a journeyman.

Championship promotion candidates Sheffield United have apparently expressed an interest in Springbok Shaun Bartlett.

Jeffers returns

There was dancing in the streets of SE7 as the news broke that the 'fox in the box' Francis Jeffers is returning from his loan spell at Rangers where he failed to score in fourteen appearances. Night clubs in the New Cross area are also putting out the welcome mat.

Jeffers' agent Struan Marshall said: 'Franny will be returning to Charlton on 1 January We have spoken to Rangers and they have decided not to follow up their interest.

'They feel he just hasn't done it for them. Franny is disappointed because he didn't have the best of luck with injuries in Scotland but we just have to accept Rangers' decision and look to try to make an impact at Charlton.' Some hope.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Clear out to buy Ashton?

Charlton will put Dennis Rommedahl, Jason Euell, Kevin Lisbie, Jonatan Johansson, Jon Fortune and Shaun Bartlett up for sale to raise money for Norwich striker Dean Ashton, says the Daily Mirror. The Canaries have apparently put a £7.5m price tag on the head of Ashton - who is also a major target for the Massives. It is also claimed that Charlton will sign Saints 'keeper Antti Niemi. Perhaps there is something in rumours that Deano's house is on the market.

Most fans would subscribe towards a one way ticket to the Championship side of his choice for JJ and Lisbie, while Euell has contributed very little for a long time. Fortune and Bartlett are more marginal cases, but I would keep Rommedahl and use him regularly. Apparently, he was in the line up for the postponed match against the Barcodes.

I think that Ashton is one of the best lower league strikers on offer. Lee Trundle might find the gap too wide to easily bridge and I think that Earnshaw is overrated.

Controversy continues about the postponement of the game at St.James's Park. The decision was taken by the Safety Officer and a key consideration was the safety of the stands and the roads around the ground which apparently had not been gritted. More bad weather was forecast with the temperature falling to -5 degrees centigrade, leading to even more treacherous conditions.

The real question is why the decision wasn't taken earlier, not that that would have helped the travelling Addickted, and why the match was scheduled then in the first place. The club should consider giving free travel to the rescheduled match for those who made the journey, an idea that has the support of Rick Everitt.

Anyway, Paul May texted me to say he was having a great night out.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Newcastle preview: Shearer's big chance

With Shearer just wanting one more goal to equal 'Oor Jackie's' 200 goal record for the Barcodes, no doubt Charlton will gift the charm merchant two allow him to surpass Milburn's record. No doubt also we will see some judicious use of the elbow with no intervention by the referee. Interesting that Shearer appeared to be involved in the brawl at Anfield on Boxing Day, but no action was taken.

Our record at St.James's Park in the Premiership has not been inspiring with just one win and two draws offset by three defeats. In our first season up we held on for a 0-0 draw despite Richard Rufus being red carded. The next year Graham Stuart put us ahead eight minutes into the match, but we were unable to see from our distant vantage point who had scored and the Addickted were texting friends to get the answer. The next year we brought binoculars, but the Addicks were trounced 3-0 and we were treated to a rendition of Blaydon Races as we got off the train of Peterborough.

Since then I haven't been back for another bout of altitude sickness, but some of the Addickted are making heroic journeys today, not least Brian Cole who is flying from Southampton. Erith Addick Paul May will also be there and covering the match for this blog.

As for team selection, we could revert to 4-5-1, but with Thomas ill and Rommedahl out of favour, that would hardly work. I would bring Ambrose in who might have a point to prove on his old home turf. I would keep Holland for his work rate and put the hapless Hughes back on the bench. Spector did well as a central defender when he came on, but with Sorondo injured, this is a match where Perry's experience should help, with HH staying at left back.

And who knows, this may be a chance for Jason Euell to appear on the bench before going on his way in the transfer window?

Monday, December 26, 2005

'You've only got twelve men'

This was what the Addickted chanted at The Valley as Charlton went down 0-1 at home to Arsenal. They might as well have shouted 'Gordon Bennett' as referee Steve Bennett ignored a Cygan hand ball in the box, paid no attention to a Fabregas tackle on Sorondo which has probably put him out of action for Newcastle and sent Danny Murphy off. Media commentary after the game referred to the Addick's 'disastrous' slump, but in fact this was a spirited and skilled performance by Charlton from which they deserved a point. The 4-4-2 formation used worked well.

Charlton started brightly and tackled well. Luke Young did well to win the ball back after a superb lofted pass across the field by Henry. Kishishev also made a good tackle. Arsenal won a corner but it was fruitless. Shaun Bartlett was performing well up front. Murphy burst through but his effort was just over the bar.

With Lehmann under pressure he was forced to put the ball out for a throw in which led to a Charlton corner, but Arsenal managed to break and with Hughes out manoeuvred out a shot across the front of Myhre's goal. A break by Bent led to a Charlton corner. The ball was played back in by Murphy and Lehmann had to save at the foot of his post.

Sorondo put in an excellently weighted ball, but Bent was unable to use it. Poor defending exposed Myhre, but he showed his experience by making an excellent save from Ljungberg. This led to an Arsenal corner but their eventual effort went wide. Luke Young put in an excellent tackle to win the ball. Sorondo received a yellow card for a foul but the free kick by Reyes was well over.

Hreidarsson turned provider for Bent, but his effort was just over. Bartlett should have had a shot rather waiting and passing the ball. Young provided excellent defensive cover on the wing. Bartlett released Bent who powered through and he was only stopped by a word class tackle by Campbell at the expense of a Charlton corner.

Murphy received a yellow card for breaking up an Arsenal attack. The resultant Arsenal free kick was ineffective, but the card was to prove significant.

Half time: Addicks 0, Gooners 0

Arsenal had clearly been given a talking to at half time and moved up a gear. The Addicks were in early danger in front of goal. Luke Young was given a yellow card for a foul, but then Lauren was booked for fouling Bent. The Arsenal pressure paid off when, despite a superb tackle by Sorondo, Reyes was able to score to make it 0-1.

Sorondo had been scythed by Fabregas and had to be withdrawn in favour of Spector. Cygan then used his hand in the area, but referee Bennett either did not see it or thought it was ball to hand (which it was not). A penalty at this stage would have given Charlton a chance to get back into the game.

Arsenal won a couple of corners in succession. The East Stand lino gave an offside decision in Charlton's favour. Bartlett, who had been playing well, was pulled off in favour of Lisbie. Hreidarsson was booked for jumping for the ball and Murphy's bouncing the ball and presumably some choice words to referee Bennett earned him a second yellow for dissent and his marching orders.

Charlton now had their work cut out, but they showed determination and energy. Myhre made two good saves, although one was ruled offside anyway. Spector put in an excellent tackle that denied Arsenal a near certain goal. Arsenal were awarded a 'falling over' free kick in front of the 'D', but Myhre made a good save. He had to turn the ball over bar from the Arsenal corner, leading to a second.

Charlton won a late corner, but it was unproductive. Campbell was booked in the three minutes of time added on for a foul. At the end of the game there was the unusual sight of Mervyn Day and Keith Peacock remonstrating with the referee who was booed off the field. If the Addicks can produce similar commitment and skill at Newcastle, there is hope yet.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded his first ever Silver Bone to Thomas Myhre for an impressive performance by the keeper who was making his debutante performance for the Addicks at Premiership level. The Norwegian international said that he had been told about this Charlton tradition by Deano who already has a shedful of the trophies.

Sorondo put in an exemplary performance in his first appearance in the Premiership in central defence and the resurrected Fortune did not make any howlers. Hreidarsson looked more comfortable as left back. Young made some great runs forward and some great interceptions. Kishishev was composed and broke up the Arsenal attack well and perhaps should not have been substituted. Holland was fully involved and made some decent moves. Hughes committed some errors and does not look good enough at this level. Murphy came close to scoring and was generally effective but should have bitten his tongue to avoid getting sent off for dissent. Bartlett was asking the Arsenal defence some questions they were not always able to answer and made good use of his power in the air. He could have made even better use of it if he hadn't been held back so much without any intervention by Orpington Man. He also made some good defensive interventions Bent was lively and always looking for a way through the Gooners defence. When Spector came on he looked much more effective and comfortable in central defence which is his normal position.
Lisbie drew some justified criticism from the crowd when he came on for not getting involved more and lounging around too much, particularly when we were down to ten men. Ambrose did not really do much apart from taking a corner after he came on.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded a special double Hiss of the Match to the referee Steve Bennett and the East Stand lino who had a policy of 'see no evil' and certainly 'flag no evil' as far as Arsenal was concerned.

Crowd rating A bit quiet at times, although noisy at others, particularly after their ire had been raised by the referee but could have been more vocal. 6/10.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Niemi rumours revive

Niemi is not a happy bunny at Southampton after new coach George Burley sacked the goalkeeping coach who also happens to be the Finn's best mate. Our Southampton correspondent, Joe the Saint, reports that the local gossip that Niemi is off to The Valley.

Charlton already has three keepers (four if you count Randolph) so the arrival of the talented Niemi would surely mean the departure of one of them. At one time that might have been Myhre, but he has recently signed an eighteen month contract. So I still think that the story is unlikely, even if our two leading keepers have both had indifferent form recently.

Rather than Niemi coming in, I would be happy to see JJ depart into Finn Air.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Arsenal preview

The Fink Tank gives Arsenal a 54% chance of a victory against Charlton at The Valley on Boxing Day. The form of the Addicks at home against the Gooners in the Premiership certainly does not give much ground for encouragement: lost 4, won 1, drawn 1. And two of the defeats were 0-3.

So should I have avoided the hassle of a long journey and stayed in Warwickshire to watch the derby clash between Racing Club Warwick and Leamington? Well the match at the Racecourse Ground is a sell out and tickets are unobtainable. Looks like the gee gees that graze on the pitch will have to be moved earlier than usual. These derbies can get quite heated: six people were hospitalised a few years ago when the Brakes took on Rugby Town.

Arsenal do seem to have a few more injury problems than usual affecting some key players. There have been quite a few stories in the press on 'Arsenal are not the team they were', 'Wenger's magic is fading' lines. I would have been a bit more hopeful if the Addicks had not been playing so poorly recently. Team spirit seems to have been evaporated. The last time I can remember such a mid-season slump was in our first season in the Premiership when we knew we were up against it.

'More than a football club' says the slogan on the front of the club's annual report. No one would knock the community and anti-racism work. But, at the end of the day, we are a football club and it is performance on the pitch that matches.

Curbs is a cautious manager and that is his strength and his weakness. There is much to be said for a settled team and for not making panic substitutions. There is also a case from building from the back. But sometimes one can be too cautious. And sometimes drastic action is necessary, although I must admit that I can't suggest what the side should be tomorrow.

Later I'm off to the traditional Christmas party given by the local Villa. It looks as if Deadly Doug is at last going to surrender control of the club. Will that lead to a change of manager?

Ten years ago: last minute Boxing Day joy

Christmas ten years ago was spent in Reading so it was a relatively short drive to Charlton. I drove through central London, along Piccadilly, through Trafalgar Square, along the Embankment.

The Addicks went down 0-1 to Portsmouth after eight minutes, largely due to a mistake by Jamie Stuart. Stuart had to leave the pitch after 33 minutes following a foul tackle by Hall. Suffering a cut eyeball, he went to hospital.

Portsmouth kept playing the offside trap. They were quite dirty but it was 44 minutes before referee Michael C. Bailey of Impington booked Hall with Durrin also going into the book for arguing against the Hall booking.

Charlton played better in the second half but there was no goal until Newton scored in the 65th minute. It looked like being 1-1 until Nelson scored in the last minute with Whyte the provider.

The programme cover had a picture of a rather shell shocked Sweaty Balmer. Inside there was a full page article by Doug Chapman on the arrival of Major League Soccer in the States.

After the match we made a sentimental visit to Maggie's old home in Blackfen.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Charlton to go for Bent double?

Darren Bent may have a credible strike partner after Christmas enabling the club to effectively play 4-4-2 if there is anything in reports on BBC Sports that the Addicks are interested in a £1.5m swoop for the 27-year old Everton player.

Bent has struggled for regular action since James Beattie arrived at Everton and has scored only once this season. The Massives have also expressed an interest, but Hammersmith-born Bent is likely to favour a return to the capital city.

If Bent does move to The Valley, Charlton would be the ninth club in 10 years for the much-travelled star who started out as a Brentford trainee.

Watch old films of Charlton online

I'm going to be working up until 7.30 p.m. on Christmas Eve when I go to the traditional party hosted by the local Villa (dont ask!) as I have a book manuscript to finish by 3rd January. However, if you have some free time over the holiday, and want a nostalgic trip into Charlton's past, here's a suggestion.

Go to the ITN Archive at ITN . There is a simple registration procedure. Then click on the British Pathe button and type 'Charlton Athletic' in the search box. A whole series of films featuring the club dating back to 1923 will come up and you can watch them on line.

BTW, if you type in 'Wynford Grant' you can see a film of me aged fourteen, but no football content.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Jeffers questioned by police

On loan Charlton player Francis Jeffers was questioned this week by police, but not arrested. He has denied racially abusing an Asian taxi driver in an argument iver the fare after he was taken from the centre of Liverpool to his home in Ormskirk two months ago.

The so-called 'fox in the box' is currently on loan with Glasgow Rangers, but is yet to find the net with them.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Thanks for all the Feesh

South African defender Mark Fish has confirmed that he has left the club. Indeed, there was some confusion about whether he had already left with reports that he had bought a nice house in Cape Town. He and his wife were recently the victim of a robbery at their Chislehurst home.

He told the club's E mail bulletin, 'There are a lot of things in the pipeline that I am interested in and looking forward to doing in the next few years and the rest of my life,' he said philosophically. Featured in 4-4-2 as a footballing poet, Feesh also has a real appreciation of red wine, but his future may well lie in South African politics. Would that make him the first former Addick to become a politician?

Feesh was a solid defender when he first signed from Bolton, and scored against Manchester United, but slowed down as time went on and never really recovered from a potentially life threatening accident when he fell through a glass coffee table at home. My abiding memory will be of former pitch announcer Brian Cole encouraging the crowd to shout 'Feesh'.

BTW, I am now back south of the border and normal service will be resumed soon. Back to the simple life of commenting on Charlton matters - and a pile of work.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Are Charlton more naff than Huddersfield?

St.Andrew's Fife: Here in Scotland's golfing capital I am constantly being approached by people asking me to explain what has gone wrong at Charlton. Fortunately, I was in Lapland for what was apparently a woeful surrender to Wigan. The mood among the Addickted was very gloomy after the victory against Sunderland because of the way we endangered a lead through overly defensive tactics. For the first time ever, there is a question mark in my mind about whether Curbs will still be with us at the end of the season or at the beginning of next season.

How do I explain my title? Consider this scene. An expensive golf resort hotel near St.Andrew's, among them a Huddersfield Town supporter. A group of people running up a three figure bar tab. Among them a thirty something friend of mine who has always been sceptical about my Addicktion. 'Retro identity myth', 'never had a London accent in your life', 'down market club' and 'awful pub' are among the phrases that come to mind. But in general my impression has been that she just saw my Addicktion as evidence of yet another character deficiency on my part.

But obviously she has been doing her research, sensing that this was a vulnerable time for anyone Addickted. 'Hey, has anyone seen Wyn's blog?', she suddenly asked. And she constructed a neat little scenario. Supposing, she said, one was offered a mystery tour on the Rickshaw, taken to a restaurant in Kent and asked to sit with a table of Charlton supporters. That would be even more naff than supporting Huddersfield Town.

And I didn't have an adequate response, any more than I had an answer this morning to people who asked me about the slump in confidence in the team. The usual answers about a poor defence, although part of the story, no longer suffice. Where we go from here is something I need to reflect on further.

Friday, December 16, 2005


Can the Addicks capitalise tomorrow on Wigan's run of losses and confirm their own recovery? Unfortunately, I won't be at the JJB Stadium to see them try as we are taking our grandchildren to Lapland to see Father Christmas over the weekend. And my request to Santa is a top ten finish for Charlton.

I'll be away the first part of next week in Scotland, but this blog will be back with news and views towards the end of the week. Meantime, I'm forecasting a 2-1 win for the Addicks tomorrow.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Side swipe at Jordan

Charlton assistant chief executive Steve Sutherland has taken a side swipe at popular Palace chairman Simon Jordan according to a report in the Evening Standard. In his welcome speech at Charlton's centenary dinner, Sutherland told guests: "There are a few apologies for absence. This telegram reads 'I am sorry I can't be there tonight, but I wasn't invited'. It's from Simon Jordan, chairman of Crystal Palace, the struggling Championship club"

The Addickted have been chanting Jordan's name recently, but in a fashion that suggests that he is an Onanist. He has not been popular since remarks that equated Charlton fans with morons.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Redfearn praises Curbs

Neil Redfearn has lavished praise on Curbs in a feature on the new Scarborough boss (Redfearn, that is, not Curbs) in 4-4-2.

'The most complete manager I have ever worked for. I was only at Charlton for 12 months, but he was different class. If England want another manager then he is the only candidate for me. His man-management skills are second to none and he had an ability to stimulate older pros like John Barnes, who went out really wanting to play for him. Curbs let his players express themselves, while maintaining a disciplined and controlled environment, and there is no hidden agenda.'

A tribute indeed, although some Charlton fans will not be impressed as relegation specialist Redfearn was not a favourite of the Addickted.

News of former Charlton players: John Robinson has signed up at the Dripping Pan and is playing for Lewes, having been asked to take a pay cut at Crawley. Mark Bright who is the only breakfast television presenter to have scored in the Premiership is training at Ryman Premier side Harrow Borough, prompting rumours of a comeback for the 43-year old.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Club concludes new shirt deal

Charlton have signed a four-and-a-half year shirt sponsorship agreement with Spanish property company Llanera SL from Valencia, according to an E mail bulletin news flash. 'Llanera' apparently means 'plainsman' in Spanish which might be appropriate to our style of play.

The deal is the biggest in the Addicks' history and is worth at least £6.6m, which could increase thanks to a progressive bonus structure based upon club success. There is also an option to extend the contract to 2013. For the past two years they have been major partners to their local club, Valencia FC. The Addicks have, of course, been building up links in Spain where they have been running a training academy. Many Brits buy homes in Spain as a second home or to emigrate permanently. The firm is also shortly going to open an office in Maidstone so perhaps they hope to get a slice of the Thames Gateway action.

This looks like a good deal to me and brings to an end the unfortunate all:sports episode. It might even be possible to make up a song based on 'Llanera'. Shirts with the new name on will not become available until a new kit is launched in the summer of 2006. Meanwhile, all:sports branded shirts have been withdrawn from sale, so perhaps shirts without a sponsor will become available and could be a popular item.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Charlton back to winning ways

Charlton's 2-0 victory over Sunderland at The Valley this afternoon with goals from Bent and Ambrose took the Addicks back to winning ways with a clean sheet and a double over the Black Cats. Sunderland are rooted at the bottom of the table for a reason, but the game still had to be won and, particularly after they scored their first goal, the Addicks showed some of their old confidence and fluency. They were pinned back towards the end of the second half, particularly after Smertin and Bent had been taken off, but they withstood the pressure well.

It was good to meet up with American sports journalist Doug Chapman in a local hostelry before the match. Sunderland went into a huddle before the start of the game which hadn't done Charlton much good against City.

The Addicks had an early chance to go ahead when a free kick by Murphy was picked up by Bent who put the ball across the front of the goal. In the early stage of the game Charlton were relying a little too much on long balls to Bent while they look more threatening when they kept the ball n the ground. Ambrose broke through but his hurried effort went well wide. Thomas won Charlton a corner.

Kiely had to punch the ball out from a Sunderland free kick. Sunderland put in a rapsing shot which Kiely should perhaps have held and it led to two corners in succession for the visitors. However, Charlton were starting to apply some pressure with Powell and Smertin combining well. Murphy made a good move but Bent was not best placed to take advantage of it.

Smertin put in a shot that won Charlton a corner. Nosworthy received a yellow card for a foul on Thomas. On 43 minutes Murphy turned provider for Bent, Nosworthy failed to provided defensive cover and the striker was able to score from a tight angle to make it 1-0.

Half time: Addicks 1, Black Cats 0

Le Tallec was replaced by Stead immediately after the break. Four minutes into the half Young forged down the wing and put in a cross, the hapless Caldwell played the ball against the post, Young returned it, Caldwell got in a mess again and Ambrose got the ball into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

Thomas won Charlton a corner which he took himself. Smertin put in a decent shot which was saved. Two minutes later at the other end danger man Arca put in a shot which produced a great save from Kiely. From the corner the ball was punched out and there may have been a hint of handball in the area from Kishishev.

Ambrose earned credit for hassling Sunderland very effectively. Luke Young put in a powerful shot from distance which was only just off target. Ambrose powered through and put in a good shot. However, Sunderland showed that they could still threaten with a shot that went just wide. Chris Powell put in a great tackle. The Herminator gave away a corner unnecessarily and then gave Sunderland a free kick.

Smertin was replaced by a somewhat bemused Hughes on on 67 minutes, not a popular move with the crowd. Charlton rode their luck when they emerged from a goalmouth scramble without Sunderland scoring. Thomas was replaced by El Karkouri on 74 minutes. The replacement of Bent by Bartlett sent the Bloke Behind Me beserk, but he was not able to see Curbs slapping his thigh to indicate that Bent, who went straight to the dressing room, had picked up an injury. Indeed, there had been rumours of a training ground injury during the week.

On 78 minutes Arca put in a fine shot but was denied by Deano. Although Charlton were now playing very defensively, too much so for the liking of the crowd, Sunderland were unable to break them down. As the game went into time added on, Sunderland won a corner which was dealt with by a header by the Herminator. Then the whistle blew and all that remained was to enjoy Chris Powell's post match celebration routine.

Match analysis

In a shock announcement earlier in the day the Association of Canine Match Analysts announced they were dropping Hooch the Pooch who has been associated with Charlton's long string of defeats and replacing him with Homer the Cherry Hound from Chilton, Oxon. It was thus the lucky labrador who presented the Silver Bone to Dean Kiely. After a poor performance against Manchester City, Deano made a number of great saves that kept Charlton in the match. Also improved in relation to his performance against the Massives was Perry who made only one dodgy back pass and put the ball out of play when that was the sensible thing to do. Hreidarsson played with his usual passion and commitment although as a consequence gave away a number of free kicks and ended up with a yellow card. Powell showed that he could still be an effective contributor, always engaged and forging forward well. Young also played well, made some great runs into threatening positions and nearly scored with a searing shot. Kishishev showed why he is needed and did not make any serious errors. Smertin once again displayed real skill and set up a number of attacks as well as having a go himself. Murphy was not prominent, but played his part well enough. Ambrose generally had a good game apart from his goal, although it was not always clear what position he was supposed to be playing in. Thomas was an effective marauder, although he could have got wider sometimes. Bent had a great game with a very well taken goal. Hughes hardly made contact with the ball after he came on. Bartlett sadly looked like a carthorse and seemed keener on defending than attacking. El Karkouro seemed to do very little after he came on.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has awarded The Hiss of the Match to Steven Caldwell for his blatant professional foul for which he escaped with a yellow card.

Crowd rating Generally in good voice, particularly after the Addicks went ahead, although one of the most passionate chants was for 'Super Clive Mendonca'. 7/10.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Black Cats test for Charlton

On paper a home fixture against a team propping up the table with five points should provide an opportunity for Charlton to end their bad run of results. But football is in large part a confidence game and this has been lacking in the Addicks of late. Sunderland for their part showed at White Hart Lane last week that they can put in a spirited performance.

Sunderland's defence is suspect and would best be challenged by a 4-4-2 formation, but that depends on which players are available. Let's hope that there have been no last minute problems at the training ground and that key players will not face an injury test tomorrow. Assuming all is well, Bent and Bothroyd would be one possible attacking formation, but if Bartlett is fully fit, he could play a role up front. Or Euell could start in the hole behind Bent, although he is more likely to come off the bench.

Charlton basically have a Plan A that has been worked out by other teams and involves Murphy feeding Bent and scoring the odd goal himself. If Murphy is below par, as he has been in some recent matches, the plan starts to fall apart. Smertin has also not been at his very best, but should still be included. Kishishev should be included to break up Black Cat attacks, but should the last place in midfield go to Ambrose? Or should Thomas feature with his trickery on the wings, and Rommedahl as well? His absence from the first team has been something of a mystery.

The cardinal rule in the defence is not to start Spector. Powell would be better as I would rather keep Hreidarsson in central defence. Perry was less impressive than usual last week, and El Karkouri has also been below his best, so there could be a rare start for Fortune or even a first league start for Sorondo. More likely, both of them will be on the bench.

Kiely's performance against the Massives has shaken even his most devoted followers. Stephan Andersen refused to play for the reserves on Tuesday, stating 'I don't want to sit in a bus for six hours to play a reserve match. Those games are for players with something to prove.' Perhaps Andersen now has something to prove. Or will we see Myhre start in goal for the first time in a Premiership match for Charlton?

Charlton's home form against Sunderland in the Premiership has hardly been sparkling, with two draws and one defeat. Of course, in three seasons it has been a case of 'did not play'. Let's hope that won't be the verdict on the Addicks at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Deano: I tried to come back too soon

Addicks goalkeeper Dean Kiely has denied a row with manager Alan Curbishley and says he was at fault for being left out in recent games, having tried to get back into action too quickly after his injury, according to Australia's TribalFootball site. Press rumours said that he had been in a showdown with Curbs.

The keeper said: 'We'll take the peaks and troughs and react the same to them all. We're in this together and are all culpable. But one thing constant at this club is the feeling we stay together.

We weren't getting carried away when we were second and nobody is getting carried away now that we are in mid-table. It's no good dissecting the side up into departments, because that's just not what we do at Charlton.

Curbs is the one constant thing and has been here since the year dot. When you take the blinkers off and look at the bigger picture, it's the most successful period the club has had.

Bad luck has played no part in our current situation. There is no such thing as bad luck. In my career, luck has played no part in me playing 640-odd games and having a successful time of it. I take responsibility for my own career. At the start of the season, I didn't bide my time.

'I had a serious finger injury that needed to be pinned. When I tried to get back in the team, we were playing well collectively. Overall, though, I am happy with myself.'

All we need now is for Dennis Rommedahl to deny similar rumours of a row with Curbs. Romm's exclusion from the side is more inexplicable than Kiely's inclusion.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ten years ago: a famous victory

Ten years ago Charlton celebrated the third anniversary of their return to The Valley with a 2-0 victory over Millwall at The New Den. The match was played in a snowstorm and the video of the game includes the news imparted by the commentator that 'Shooters Hill station is now closed'. Because of the conditions the match had to be played with an orange ball.

It was an important victory because the Spanners were top of the table at the beginning of the evening while Charlton went up to 5th in the table. It was the first victory away for the Addicks at The New Den since 1978 and it was such a shock to the Spanners that their form collapsed thereafter and they were relegated.

Phil Chapple was stretchered off on 41 minutes and was unable to drive home to Cambridge so spent the night at Sweaty Balmer's who came on to replace him. The club also dispatched a translator well versed in Glaswegian to Balmer's house so that the two players could communicate with each other. Believe me, Glaswegian is impenetrable particularly when the speaker has had a drink or two as I discovered when I lived in Balmanno Building, Rottenrow, Glasgow C1.

The match was an ill tempered affair and Curbs was furious with Bowyer for getting sent off on 21 minutes for a second bookable offence, although Curbs commented, 'I think this will have taught him something, he is a sensible lad where football is concerned.' Stevens followed on 57 minutes after the lino pointed out to the referee that he believed he had seen the player's elbow make contact with Stuart's face. Rufus was also booked for a foul on Rae, although Rae himself got booked later for fouling Jones, while Kim Grant got booked for dissent.

Both goals were scored by Kim Grant. Thanks to Doug Chapman for pointing out the coincidence that both keepers were American - Keller and Ammann.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Club in crisis after latest collapse

Alan Curbishley has admitted that Charlton are in crisis after their 2-5 home defeat by Manchester City, their sixth loss in a row. Except for a very brief period when they were 1-1, Charlton were continually chasing the game, although there was real hope when they were 2-3 and they seem to have lifted their game. However, they were repeatedly exposed at the back by defensive lapses and while the excellent strikes by Bent and Bothroyd might normally be enough to win the match, or at least get a point, they could not compensate for the side's lack of organisation. Indeed, the midfield was at much as fault as the defence, losing its shape for much of the game and failing to make an adequate contribution.

I feared that the match was lost when I heard the line up in the pub and realised that Kiely, Spector, Holland and JJ were playing. Kiely has now conceded eight goals in two matches and, whilst paying tribute to all he has done for the club over the years, he is not the keeper he was. One might also suggest that this game shows how much the battling but much derided Kishishev has contributed to protecting a shaky Addicks defence.

The Addicks were under constant pressure in the opening phase of the game. Kiely had to save after the hapless Spector was beaten and then had to get down on the ground to save bravely, getting hurt in the process. The Herminator provided a good defensive header at the expense of a City corner and Bent cleared with a header from the corner. Another Massives corner led to an effort that went over. The sight of Spector trying to contain Sinclair was not for the weak hearted. Ambrose went down, but referee Dowd was determined not to stop play.

On 25 minutes the inevitable happened. Vassell won control of a clearance and maoeuvred inside Perry and outside Hreidarsson to turn provider for Cole who put the ball past Kiely to make it 0-1. Ambrose raced through and had an excellent chance to beat James, but blasted his shot over the bar. Charlton won a couple of corners (through JJ and Bent) that were unproductive, but then a defensive failure by Dunne allowed Bent to volley past James (whose distribution throughout the match was excellent).

Charlton are never more vulnerable when they have scored. Sinclair surged forward, outpacing Spector, although some thought that he had been fouled. Cole provided him with the ball and Sinclair scored from a narrow angle which Kiely could have done more to cover.

Half-time: Addicks 1, City 2

Holland was replaced by Thomas immediately after the break and, after a decent interval had elapsed, JJ was replaced by Bothroyd. Meanwhile, a City free kick in a dangerous position had gone over the bar, but another Massives shot had whistled just past the post. Charlton were given a free kick, but the off colour Murphy's shot was way over. Chris Perry was given a yellow card for an off the ball incident. Luke Young forged forward and won Charlton a corner, but this was unproductive. A correspondent has pointed out that Charlton rarely convert from corners these days, but I have been unable to find any public domain statistics on this issue.

On 69 minutes City were awarded a penalty in front of their fans, after a foul by the Herminator. Kiely saved from Barton's shot, but was unable to hold on to the ball and Barton scored from the rebound. Shortly afterwards, Ambrose missed another chance to score, putting his effort just wide.

Bothroyd was brought down just outside the box and Luke Young was given a yellow card for telling Dowd what he thought of his decision not to award a penalty. Murphy side kicked the ball to Bothroyd who blasted it into the back of the net to make it 2-3. Charlton were on fire and good work by Smertin earned the Addicks a corner.

Instead of equalising, Murphy gave the ball away and Cole released Vassell. Kiely failed to react quickly enough and Vassell was able to slide the ball past him to make it 2-4. There was a chance to make it 3-4 when the inspired Thomas made a great run down the wing but Bent's shot was pushed over the bar by the alert James.

Hughes released Bothroyd but his shot was at the keeper. Perry made a weak attempt to head back to Kiely, but Cole intercepted the ball and rounded the keeper to make it 3-5. Charlton did win a couple of late as corners as the Massives chanted for six, but it was to no avail and City were able to bring on three late substitutes.

One might ask, where was Rommedahl? His pace could have unsettled the far from solid City defence, but normally reliable sources suggest a bust up with Curbs. Mind you, Kiely was rumoured to have had such a bust up and found himself back between the posts.

Match analysis

The Silver Bone has been locked in the cupboard and will remain there until Charlton's performance was improved. Kiely was let down by his defence, but has to take some responsibility for conceding five goals to which his own errors contributed. Perry was not up to his usual standard and led to one of the City goals with a poor back pass. Even Hreidarsson was below par and was at fault for one of the goals. Perhaps he should be restored to left back. Spector remains far short of what is required at this level. Young was one of the best players on the pitch and made some inspired runs forward. Holland was anonymous and thankfully withdrawn at half time. Smertin was one of the few players to show real skill and commitment. Ambrose had two chances to score, the first of which could have changed the course of the match. Otherwise it was far from clear where he was meant to be playing. Murphy was far from his best, illustrated by an incident towards the end of the match when he dwelt on the ball far too long and had it taken away from him. Apart from winning one corner, JJ made little impact on the game. Bent foraged forward effectively, but lacked support. His goal was well taken. Thomas helped to lift Charlton's play when he came on at half time. The goal scored by Bothroyd was inspired and he was a real presence on the pitch. Hughes had his usual ineffective cameo.

Hiss of the Match The East Stand linesman took a long time to work out how to raise his flag and seemed to blue through and through given some of his decisions.

Crowd rating The Addickted did their best to get behind the players, but understandably became disheartened. 6/10.

Thanks to Matt Wright in the programme for mentioning this blog.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Massive match

It's a massive match for Charlton against Manchester City tomorrow. In his 700th game in charge, Alan Curbishley has to halt the slump that has seen the Addicks go from 2nd to the bottom half of the table. Many more defeats and the R-word will start to be used.

The omens against the Massives are not all bad. In our games at home with them in the Premiership, we have won one (4-0), drawn two and lost one. City have lost their last three games away from home.

The Kishishev debate rages on among the fans, but the suspension of the Bulgarian gives a chance to see how we do without him. Smertin is the favourite to take on the holding role, although El Karkouri could be moved forward, but he also seems dangerously error prone these days. I would prefer Hughes rather than Holland to fill the missing place in midfield.

Bent will no doubt continue to be the lone ranger up front, but Bartlett may now be fit enough after his outing in the reserves to be on the bench. I would quite like to see Bent and Bartlett in a 4-4-2.

I would prefer to see the experienced Perry restored to the central defence. Despite his lack of height, his experience enables him to read a game well. Hopefully, Luke Young will have recovered from his illness/injury and be back on the right flank: we don't know how much he contributes until he isn't there. I don't want to see Spector in the team or on the bench: we can do without his steep learning curve on the left. Powell may lack pace, but he is always fully engaged. The other option is to move the Herminator back out to the left and keep El K in central defence.

The Addickted are remarkably charitable about Deano's errors, although he actually contributed more to losing on Wednesday than Kishishev. He has had a long record of service to the club, but I prefer Andersen in goal.

Whatever the combination of players, let's try and get behind them and create a rousing Valley atmosphere.

One last consoling thought: ten years ago we beat Grimsby 2-1 away. Our divergent paths since then reflect the success of the club.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Holland and JJ to stay

Alan Curbishley has turned down Ipswich Town's request to sign Matt Holland and Jonatan Johansson on loan in next month's transfer window. Ipswich have stated that no one is available on loan from Charlton.

Matt Holland was unimpressive in its 90 minute outing at Villa and many of the Addickted would prefer Hughes on the bench to Holland, although Hughes hardly got near the ball when he came on as a substitute on Wednesday.

JJ is one of those players who had a good first season with Charlton, but has frustrated fans every since. He had a few decent touches on Wednesday, but was not a major contributor, although the formation played may not have helped him.

Many of the Addickted feel that the current squad is too large in size and too short in quality. There is something to be said for Mourinho's argument that a squad of twenty-four should be big enough for a Premiership side.

Thomas arrest another blow

Charlton winger Jerome Thomas has been arrested over claims he assaulted a man outside a nightspot. Unconfirmed reports state that he has been bailed.

With Luke Young withdrawn on Wednesday night because of an injury, and Charlton fans still shell shocked after the nature of the defeat, this is another distraction we could do without.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Charlton throw game away

Only at Charlton. 2-0 ahead against Blackburn with fifteen minutes of the game to go, and with a first ever quarter final League Cup place in sight, the Addicks managed to concede three goals in fifteen minutes, the last a couple of minutes from time, to give the visitors victory. Once they were 2-0 ahead, Charlton started to look complacent and failed to press for a third and decisive goal. A baffling substitution of Luke Young by Spector didn't help. And those who have been criticising Andersen should consider the three goals let in by Kiely last night, at least two of which were his fault.

Charlton won an early corner after Murphy released Smertin, but his shot defected off the popular figure of Andy Todd. The corner was punched out by Friedel. Kishishev provided a poor pass. Blackburn won a corner, but Kishishev was able to clear. The Herminator put in a good block at the expense of a Blackburn throw in. Darren Bent turned provider for JJ, but Friedel was able to save his effort. Deano made a good save from Bellamy in a one-on-one.

Pedersen placed himself well and put in a cross to Bellamy, but his goal was disallowed. Kishishev released Bent, drawing a good save from Friedel. A Bent cross led to a Charlton corner but the corner was poor. Kishishev released Powell and his cross led to a Bent header which went over. Smertin was called on to provide some good defensive work. Luke Young then displayed some superb ball control as he defended near the corner flag. A dubious free kick was awarded in a dangerous position for an alleged foul on Bellamy, but it came off the wall.

With Charlton increasingly in control, Murphy and JJ worked the ball forward in an excellent move. JJ put the ball in the path of Ambrose who had no hesitation in putting it past Friedel on 41 minutes to put the Addicks 1-0 ahead. Blackburn tried to get back in the game and JJ defended well. Shortly afterwards, Bellamy had a chance to equalise, but the Covered End was delighted after his effort went over the bar.

Although the first half was marred by endless offside decisions, and Blackburn were certainly in contention, even ultra moaners would have to concede that Charlton had stamped their authority on the game and were deservedly ahead.

Half-time: Addicks 1, Blackburn 0

Charlton started the half in attacking mood and Ambrose showed superb skill in switching the ball from left to right foot before he drew a save from Friedel. A minute later Murphy took charge of a wayward ball, went through a gap between two defenders and fired the ball into the back of the net past Friedel to make it 2-0.

A Blackburn break led to a Kiely save. A foul on JJ produced a yellow card. El Karkouri produced a good defensive header. Bellamy was booked for dissent. On 63 minutes Savage was pulled off to derisive boos and replaced by Thompson. Kishishev put in a great tackle. Murphy put a cross in which went across the front of the goal.

On 70 minutes Luke Young was replaced by Spector which was really the start of the rot for Charlton, although they had been cruising too much. Bent put in a shot which drew a good save from Friedel. Bent burst through and I thought he was shoved off the ball.

On 73 minutes Hughes made what turned out to be a smart substitution, bringing on Kuqi for Emerton. At the Blackburn end, Powell put in a weak and wasteful shot and in the process he injured himself. The Herminator had to cover for him on the left, leaving a gap in the middle. Just two minutes after coming, Kuqi evaded El Karkouri and put the ball past Kiely to make it 2-1.

Blackburn kept up the pressure with two corners in succession. JJ was replaced by Hughes on 80 minutes. Nine minutes from time Thompson took the ball off Kishishev and put in a 30-yard shot which had Kiely well beaten. After El Karkouri was caught in possession, Pedersen passed to Bentley who fired past Kiely to make it 3-2 two minutes before the break.

Bothroyd replaced Powell on 89 minutes and team switched to 4-4-2, but it was too late. Bothroyd put in a shot which went wide, but it was panic stations and to no avail.

On the positive side, Charlton played a lot better than at Villa, but they seem to lack the steel to hang on to a lead. One should also remember that Blackburn won the game as much as Charlton lost it.

Match analysis

The Silver Bone has been locked away in the cupboard. Kiely has come in for relatively little criticism from Charlton fans since the game, but for me this performance showed why he should not be first choice goalkeeper. Young had a decent game, but was inexplicably withdrawn. Powell is fully engaged, but lacks that extra bit of pace you need at this level. El Karkouri seemed to be absent when he was needed more than once and was beaten for two of the goals. Is he yet another player who is at his best in his first season with us? Hreidarsson was once again one of the better players on the pitch. The debate on Kishishev rages on. Some highlight his errors which are often costly, others point out that he has been told to stick to the ball so that he can provide it to Murphy and this sometimes means that he gets caught out - and sometimes he does dwell on the ball too much, we had a case of that last night. But in the first half I thought that he was the best Charlton player. He does get caught in the search for a scapegoat which means that every error is emphasised and every piece of good play ignored. Murphy scored a well taken goal and generally contributed effectively. Smertin showed some nice touches, and drew a save from Friedel, but does not seem to be in the game as much as he was. Ambrose scored the opening goal, but drifted in and out of the game. If one is going to play JJ why not use him in a 4-4-2? As it was, he was largely ineffectual apart from a few good moments. Bent made some attempts on goal, but needs someone playing alongside him. Spector is not the finished article and why should we be serving as a finishing school for the Salford Red Sox? Hughes was largely anonymous, apart from getting himself booked. Bothroyd had a cameo.

Hiss of the Match goes to the whingeing Craig Bellamy.

Crowd rating I was in the Covered End so I heard the crowd at its best, but you can't blame the crowd for the result, although it was difficult to keep the volume up at times. There has been some criticism of fans for booing at the end of the game, but it's understandable in the circumstances. 6/10.