Thursday, August 24, 2006

A difference in class

A marked difference in class was evident in Charlton's 0-3 defeat by Manchester United at The Valley last night. The Addicks managed to contain United in the first half, but were simply overwhelmed in the second.

The difference in quality was particularly evident in midfield, where the ordinariness of Hughes and Holland was all too evident. Kishishev was on the bench but was not used in the match. However, the defence was also highly suspect, while Charlton created few real scoring opportunities. In that respect my prediction of 1-4 in the pub beforehand was too optimistic.

There was some fluent passing play in the first half, although Charlton had relatively little possession. As the game went on, there was an increasing reliance on hit and hope, understandable given the difficulty of by-passing the United midfield. However, long balls are never going to be effectively intercepted by Darren Bent.

The defeat left Charlton bottom of the table. However, only two games have been played and we invariably lose at home to United. A lot now rides on Saturday's clash with Bolton, with the players under more psychological pressure than one would hope for.

Why do we do it?

That was the question my doctor asked as he contemplated a 3 hour trip up the M6 to see what turned out be a 0-0 draw between Manchester City and Portsmouth. It's a question I've often asked myself as I drive up the M40 after midnight. And perhaps it's a question that led to a net loss of 1,500 Charlton season ticket holders this season, as revealed by Peter Varney in the programme. However, the Rickshaw is rolling and I saw the Sheerness coach unloading its passengers as I arrived at the ground.

The train was full of United fans with their London accents, one of whom said that The Valley was a 'matchbox stadium'. When I arrived at the ground I learned that lifelong Addick Steve from Sidcup, who sits next to me and whose comments sometimes feature in this blog, had been admitted to intensive care in hospital last week. He is still in hopsital but is now recovering and I'm sure Addicks will join me in sending best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Charlton actually started brightly and applied some early pressure, but they were not able to maintain it and United won two corners in succession. Hasselbaink put in a shot that was just wide and worth a try. The Herminator won Charlton a corner, the ball was played out and Matt Holland put in an attempt that was well wide.

Luke Young provided some good defensive work. Hreidarsson and Ferdinand were told off by referee Foy. Darren Bent drew a save from van der Sar. Fortune showed that he can rise to the occasion with some good defensive work. Matt Holland put a wayward ball forward, destroying a potential attacking opportunity.

Ronaldo, who was booed every time he got the ball, won a free kick on the edge of the area and the ball hit the post. After an error by the United defence, Charlton were involved in some front of goal action which led to two Charlton corners. United then broke at speed, as they do so effectively, but the threat was well dealt with by Luke Young. Hreidarsson was shown a yellow card.

Charm merchant Ferdinand received a yellow card for dissent after a free kick was awarded for a foul against Hreidarsson, but El Karkouri's effort was poor. Carson made an excellent save from Giggs. As the half drew to a close, United were becoming more dominant, as was shown by thundering shot that hit the crossbar and a succession of corners.

Half time: Addicks 0, United 0

Charlton looked sluggish and lax after the break, but the truth of the matter was probably that United had stepped up a gear. Nevertheless, it was Darren Ambrose who threatened with a shot from distance that was just wide.

Then a mix up in the Charlton defence allowed the mighty Darren Fletcher to score the crucial opening goal for United. After that, Charlton had their backs against the wall. One threating break was dealt with well by Luke Young with a good clearance.

United won a further run of corners and Hasselbaink was withdrawn in favour of Marcus Bent who promptly gave the ball away. Big Bent did turn provider for Little Bent, but his shot was off target.

There were still faint hopes of an equaliser but Saha put paid to these with a searing shot that left Carson with no chance. Faye was withdrawn and replaced by Rommedahl, but it was too late to change the course of the match. Solksjaer was brought on for United.

Luke Young won Charlton a corner and Carson made a great save from Solksjaer, but shortly afterwards the substitute made it 0-3. United fans were boasting of the treble after the match, while the Addickted contemplated a relegation struggle.

With Hooch the Pooch staying behind in Leamington, Monty Martin from Blewbury, Oxon was given a baptism of fire in his first league match as match analyst. The normally animated spaniel was looking dejected by the end of the game, but he perked up his ears to award the Silver Bone to Darren Ambrose as the most creative Charlton player. Carson has now let in six goals in two matches and no doubt there will be calls to bring back Myhre who looked as if he had the hump badly last night. However, without some excellent saves made by the keeper (was he the target of the 'you fat bastard' chants by the United fans) the scoreline would have been much worse. The problem with our central defence is that they are fine 90-95 per cent of the time, but then make potentially match changing errors and that applied to both Fortune and El Karkouri last night. Hreidarsson was vigorous and generally effective and was on the short list for the Silver Bone, as was Luke Young who also played well. Faye did not seem to be very involved in some parts of the game, but had some nice touches. Hughes often lacked the pace he needed to intervene effectively. Holland did his best, but it wasn't good enough. Bent was often isolated on his own up front and lacked the service to be effective while Hasselbaink made relatively little impression. He was replaced by Marcus Bent, presumably to provide a target man, but he will be no great loss if he goes to Birmingham. Rommedahl livened things up when he came on and gave Charlton some much needed pace.

Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to the United supporters who insist on standing up and against whom no effective sanction seems possible.

Crowd rating: Vigorous in the first half, but sagged as Charlton's performance went flat which is when they most need vocal support. 6/10.


Blogger beauzo said...

I believe the ManUre faithful were berating our Scott Carson with "You Scouse bastard" in recognition of his fleeting appearances in the red of Merseyside, presumably this was to reinforce their Salford credentials. As for the game I think you're a bit lenient on Hughes Faye and Hasselbaink, at best the gae passed them by, rather I think that they were content to let it - roll on Saturday and our traditionally unproductive battle with Bolton

10:43 AM  

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