Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dowie: No rift with big Bent

Addicks superemo Iain Dowie has denied a rift with Marcus Bent after the forward snubbed him when he was substituted in the draw away to Newcastle United after making a rare start. 'It was disappointment', Dowie said, 'He wants to play every minute of every game.'

Bent's selection at Newcastle came after an impressive performance against Bolton in the Carling Cup. Whether he will start on Saturday remains to be seen.

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's just like making love in a launderette

Addicks goalkeeping coach Mike Kelly shares his secrets in the latest edition of 4-4-2. He reckons training should consist of three parts: one-on-ones, saving shots and crosses in a small group and, finally, working in match situations. 'It's like a jigsaw', explained Kelly, 'They need all three components if they're going to improve.

For Charlton fans looking for an explanation of the secret of three clean sheets in succession, the article continues, 'Remember, coaching your keeper is like making love in a launderette. It's awkward at times but you should end up with clean sheets.' Right.

A paradox

Leamington are eight points clear at the top of the Polymac Services Midland Alliance. Yet fans are calling for the head of unpaid manager Jason Cadden. One view is that the former hairdresser turned sports scientist 'has taken us as far as he can and is out of his depth at this level.'

Charlton remain at the bottom of the Premiership, but fans have voiced relatively few complaints about Iain Dowie. In part this because they recognise that he has been dealt a difficult hand. And in part it is because 'we are Charlton' and do not have excessive expectations and favour a revolving door for managers. Which seems the right spirit to me.

What does seem to me to be the case is that although we have some players of real Premiership quality, we do not have enough, particularly when we have injury problems. Consequently the better quality players cannot turn in their best performances. There is also the confidence factor which may help to explain why Darren Bent missed a golden chance to score on Saturday.

Some of our acquisitions are looking promising. Diawara is being hailed as the new Richard Rufus because of his stalwart defending and poor distribution. Verdicts on Reid are more mixed.

It's a massive game against the Massives on Saturday and we need to keep the spirit of unity and hope among the fans.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Clean sheet gives Charlton an away point

It was double Bent up front for Charlton at St.James's Park, although Marcus Bent was forecast to play on the left in a 4-5-1 writes Erith Addick 'On the Toon' Paul May. As the game went on, they seemed to switch between that formation and 4-5-1 and 4-4-2.

A clever header by Darren Bent had to be watched carefully by Barcodes keeper Harper. Newcastle launched an attack, won a thrown in by the corner, Parker put in a ball, Carson fumbled, Rossi tried to take advantage of the rebound but was unable to do so. Carson needed some treatment to his face after the whack from Rossi with his knee and was holding the back of his neck. Referee Dean had a word with Rossi.

The Barcodes won a free kick level with the edge of the Charlton box, Solano took the kick, but Luke Young headed it away. A shot from Duff was deflected off Hreidarsson for a Newcastle corner which was cleared.

Faye took the ball away from Solano for a Charlton goal kick. Scott Parker put in an effort from 25 yards which was just wide. Newcastle had the bulk of the possession in the first 15 minutes, but Charlton were defending well. Marcus Bent gave the ball away and Rossi sent a shot past Carson's left hand post.

Hreidarsson had to chest the ball behind for a Barcodes corner which was headed away by Faye and controlled by Holland. Carr got away down the right, but Holland managed to close him down. But Newcastle surged forward again and Luke Young had to put the ball behind for a Barcodes corner which was cleared by Marcus Bent and then by Holland.

Another cross defended by Marcus Bent led to another Barcodes corner which was cleared by Holland towards Rommedahl who was quickly outnumbered. Parker beat Faye again, but El Karkouri did enough to knock Parker off the ball.

Charlton won a corner taken by Reid which was punched away rather uncertainly by Harper. An effort by Rossi was blocked by El Karkouri. Young started a decent move, but the final ball to Darren Bent was not quite good enough.

Rommedahl burst down the right, but the ball was claimed by an uncertain Harper. Duff went down in the area after an innocuous challenge outside the box from the gloved Diawara, but referee Dean was having none of it, judging that the defender was trying to get out of the way.

Glenn Roeder went ballistic about an offside decision in favour of Charlton and was spoken to by the fourth official. Diawara failed to control the ball, but Solano blasted wide from seven yards on the half hour mark.

Faye was booked for a clumsy challenge on N'Zogbia. The pace of the game was slowing down and the home crowd was becoming more subdued. Rommedahl shot tamely at Harper from distance. Darren Bent expressed unhappiness at the delivery of a ball from the Charlton midfield.

Rossi forced himself into the box, Carson was exposed to danger after he made the tackle and the ball was eventually cleared off the line after hitting the bar in the best chance of the half for Newcastle. Carson made a good save from the unmarked N'Zogbia. Marcus Bent put in a shot that was saved by Harper.

Rossi had the goal at his mercy from seven yards out, but Diawara made a perfectly timed tackle at the expense of a corner. The corner was hammered away by Marcus Bent.

Charlton had defended well, particularly Diawara, and Reid came into the game more as the half went on. Harper had a Dracula problem seeming not to like crosses and that needed to be exploited.

Half time: Barcodes 0, Addicks 0

A shot by Duff was cleared by Carson. If Rommedahl, who had been fed by Marcus Bent, could have found Bent earlier, he was unmarked in the middle of the box. Solano fed Duff but El Karkouri cleared the ball, frustrating what would have been a good chance.

Newcastle won a corner through Butt and Moore's header went miles over the crossbar.
Reid put in a decent effort but Harper was able to position himself to save. Young made a great run down the right and Harper punched out under no real pressure from Marcus Bent. Rommedahl found some space on the right, but he had no help and the Barcodes were able to win the ball back.

After a scramble by the byline, the Barcodes won another corner. A Scott Parker half volley skimmed over the crossbar.

After a misplaced pass by Faye created danger, Carson had to make a great save from Duff. After Charlton had tried to launch an attack, Duff took on Diawara and his shot hit the side netting, reviving the home crowd. Bryan Hughes was brought on to replace the far from impressive Marcus Bent, creating the 'double H'. It looked as if Reid was going out to the left, although he tended to drift into the centre.

A rather odd attack around the 60 minute mark involving Hreidarsson and El Karkouri, ended with El K smashing the ball over the crossbar although Holland was in the penalty area. An El K free kick from the centre circle went to Harper.

Duff got the hump because he wasn't given a free kick after a great tackle by Diawara. Reid pulled up and was hobbling a bit, but he shook the knock off. N'Zogbia caught Rommedahl and the Addicks won a free kick in a promising position, reflecting a few minutes of Charlton pressure. Reid took it, leading to a Charlton corner after a sliced clearance by Moore. The ball was punched away by Harper as the halfway point in the second half approached. The Newcastle fans seemed to be uneasy.

Darren Bent went down the left, he passed to Hughes, but his effort from distance went well wide. A mistake by Bramble gave Bent a golden chance, but he snatched at the shot and somehow he missed despite having time and space.

Newcastle got a free kick on the right. Reid was unable to continue and was replaced by Kishishev. Hughes went out to the left. An attempt by Rommedahl to clear gave the Barcodes a corner. Fortunately it was not productive for the Barcodes.
Hughes over hit a pass which could have found Bent in a good position.

Duff went down on the D for a free kick for Newcastle after an unnecessary challenge by Diawra. Rossi's effort went just over the top of the crossbar. El K was given a talking to by referee Dean as the game entered the last ten minutes.

Rommedahl found some space and a great chance was created but Hughes shot just wide from the edge of the penalty area. Bent broke away but his effort went into the arms of Harper. Kishishev broke down the right and won a corner which was taken quickly. The ball was flicked on by Darren Bent at the far post, but no one could get a touch. Another good chance was lost. Milner was brought on.

Charlton were coming more and more into the game. Luke Young was brought down by Scott Parker, but the free kick was wasted. Rossi was dispossessed by Diawara on the edge of the penalty area.

N'Zogbia went for goal and it was touched wide by Carson for a corner as the game entered stoppage time. Darren Bent headed the ball away. Three minutes of time were added on. The Barcodes won another corner and Darren Bent cleared again. Rommedahl went away on the right and was fouled cynically by Barbayaro who got a yellow card. Bent sent the free kick straight at Harper and boos rang around the ground as the referee blew the whistle.

Charlton have now been unbeaten in three consecutive games in which they kept another clean sheet, but they have also scored only one goal in those games. If only some of the chances in the second half could have been converted. An away point is useful but we remain on the bottom.

3-1 win sequence broken

Leamington have won their last three matches 3-1, but they broke the sequence at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon when they beat Oldbury Town 4-1, the match ball being sponsored on behalf of my wife Maggie to celebrate her birthday today.

Brakes dominated the opening minutes and James Husband put them ahead on three minutes. 'Clunsie' (Martin Thompson) made it 2-0 on 11 minutes and then Ben Mackey burst through to score a superb goal and make it 3-0 after 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, foul mouthed manager Morton Bartleet was abusing the lino and referee and was lucky not to be sent off.

Brakes then took their foot off the accelerator and Oldbury got back into the game with a soft goal scored from a free kick on 33 minutes, Leamington leaving no one on the line.

Oldbury came back into the game in the second half, often physically, but referee Harris often preferred a talking to over a yellow card. Eventually, Oldbury's No.15 shirt got a second yellow and went off to derisive cheers from the crowd of 583. Brakes finished the game off on 86 minutes with a strike from substitute Tom Bates.

Video of the match can be seen here, but be warned that the cameraman does not have a steady hand and he seems more interested in the fans than the game:


Friday, October 27, 2006

Attendances fall at The Valley

Charlton is one of eleven Premiership sides to see attendances fall this season from an average of 26,195 in 2005/6 to 25,794 this year, a drop of 1.53 per cent, although the team is still playing to 96 per cent of capacity. The drop in crowds at The Valley is small compared to a 18 per cent fall at Wigan, nearly 12 per cent at Bolton and almost 6 per cent at Manchester City. Attendances in the Premiership as a whole are up, but this is largely because of ground capacity increases at Arsenal and Manchester United.

The four London grounds that have the most expensive tickets - Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and West Ham - are also playing to the largest crowds as a percentage of capacity, the other club who was in the Premiership last year that is over the 98 per cent level being Manchester United. The other London club in the Premiership (Fulham) has seen a larger fall in attendances than Charlton, 2.7 per cent, and only plays to 89 per cent of capacity. Attendances at Portsmouth have actually declined despite their good start to the season.

Seven clubs have smaller average attendances than Charlton (Blackburn, Bolton, Fulham, Reading, Portsmouth, Watford, Wigan), but average attendances at The Valley are only just over a third of those at Old Trafford.

Newcastle preview

Our record away at St.James's Park in the Premiership has been mixed, but far from hopeless. Overall, we have drawn three, lost three and won one. We drew there at the beginning of our first Premiership season despite having Richard Rufus sent off. I was there when we scored the winning goal some eight minutes into the fixture on our return to the Premiership, but even with the aid of binoculars it was difficult to discern which of the match like figures had scored until text messages established it was Graham Stuart.

We then took a trouncing 3-0 the following year and this was followed by two more years of losses. We have drawn there for the last two years. We really need a win tomorrow, although a draw would be acceptable. Newcastle are by no means invincible despite their fans' excessive expectations. We have kept a clean sheet in our last two matches and just need some extra bite in attack.

Hopefully, Diawara will be available to replace Fortune in defence, although I would almost favour Fortune over El K of long ball and reckless challenge fame. At least he is no longer taking the free kicks.

In midfield, Faye is a must, along with our hopefully available playmaker Reid. I would start Thomas if he has recovered from the bruising he received on Wednesday. I would then play Holland who has had a good couple of games, getting his first yellow card in the Premiership which shows a more challenging attitude. If we went for 4-5-1, I would then include Rommedahl.

I would, however, prefer 4-4-2. Darren Bent should be fit, but I would not necessarily accompany him by Hasselbaink, even though he created the goal on Wednesday and had a couple of other good efforts. This game requires someone who is really up for it and that person is Marcus Bent who in his recent comments has displayed a real hunger to prove himself to the manager and the fans. I know that some of the Addickted think that he has an 'attitude problem', but I met him when he first joined the club and I thought that he was a nice guy who was really keen to make something of his move to Charlton.

I am sponsoring the match ball at Leamington v Oldbury United tomorrow for Maggie's birthday. However, the ever hopeful Paul May is making the long trek from Erith to Geordieland for a night on the toon and will be providing a match report.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Charlton away to Spireites

Charlton have been drawn away to Chesterfield in the fourth round of the Carling Cup. Having disposed of Manchester City and West Ham, they will no doubt see the Addicks as an even easier Premiership scalp which could be their undoing.

One is enough to defeat Bolton again

Both sides made six changes from Saturday's matches, Bolton playing a 4-3-3 formation and the Addicks 4-4-2 with Hasselbaink and Marcus Bent up front, reports Erith Addick Paul Mayfrom The Valley. The teams changed ends with Charlton kicking towards the Covered End.

The unmarked Stelios 'my name is too big for my shirt' had an early opportunity, but although he could got his head to it the ball flashed well wide. Stelios had drifted into the large gap between Hreidarsson and Fortune. Bolton were enjoying the early possession and territorial advantage in front of the 10,788 crowd. A free kick into the area came off El K's backside and went into the arms of Myhre.

Davies passed well to Stelios, but Fortune made the block. Bolton continued to dominate, passing fluently. With ten minutes gone, Hasselbaink and Marcus Bent had barely touched the ball. Vaz Té made an acrobatic kick which drifted just wide. The Addicks were dropping too deep.

Kishishev made a great 65 yard cross to Luke Young and Pedersen put it out for a throw. Holland's ball went beyond Marcus Bent. A Walker clearance after a Hreidarsson's speculative ball forward came off the Bolton centre half for a Charlton corner. The Herminator got a good head on to the Hughes corner but it went well wide.

Hasselbaink found space and burst through, turned well and made a superb delivery into the box and Marcus Bent buried it into the left-hand corner to make it 1-0 to the Addicks, becoming the third Addicks goal scorer of the season. Bolton won a free kick at the other end, it rolled into the path of Speed but Myhre gathered. Myhre took a risk by rolling the ball out.

Charlton got a free kick about 30 yards out. El Karkouri did not come up to take it after his recent poor performance at free kicks. Hasselbaink put it over the wall but it was collected by veteran keeper Walker. A clearance downfield caused danger with Myhre coming out.

Charlton were keeping the ball better, but the match became a little scrappy, reinforced by the number of free kicks being given. Hasselbaink was fouled from behind by Ben Haim, but the free kick was not productive. Subsequently, Ben Haim got a yellow card for repeated fouling. Following the resultant free kick, Jerome Thomas made a decent effort, but it was blocked by a Bolton defender.

Bent claimed that he was fouled in the box, but it didn't look like a penalty. Kishishev provided good shielding of the ball and made a decent challenge, the Bolton attack ending in a goal kick as a result. Charlton got another free kick in the Bolton half, but Hasselbaink's effort from more than 30 yards was saved far from easily by Walker.

Hughes, Bent and Thomas combined in a good build up, but Charlton were forced back into their half. Stelios fouled Thomas who had to be initially lifted on the stretcher after he fell quickly clutching the bottom of his spine, but then he made his own way off to be led down the tunnel, a big blow for the Addicks as he looked as if he would be out for a few weeks. Hughes took the free kick and the Herminator headed it down into the arms of Walker. Ambrose came on to replace Thomas, leaving Charlton without any width other than through Luke Young. A Bolton effort went straight at Myhre which gave him something to do.

Ben Haim made a mistake and there was good passing movement by Charlton. Ambrose played in Hasselbaink, but Walker saved.

Half time: Addicks 1, Whites 0

Stelios tumbled over in the box under a challenge from the Herminator in the first ten seconds, but experienced referee Gallagher was having none of it. Davies was then judged to have pushed Fortune to the ground, leading to an Addicks free kick.

Hunt headed behind for a Charlton corner. The effort by Hughes went to the back post but no Charlton player was able to connect and Bolton got a throw. Marcus Bent put in a good cross but it was too high for Hasselbaink to connect.

Kish played a great reverse pass, Charlton broke, but Hasselbaink's header was a foot over from Holland who made a great run down the left to deliver a cross. This was good football by Charlton. Holland was looking increasingly influential.

Bolton made a rare attack involving Davies and a Fortune tackle led to a Bolton corner. A free header for Ben Haim went wide with Fortune caught wrong side. 19-year old American Johann Smith wearing bright blue boots came on in place of Bolton's Iranian international for his first appearance for the Whites. Smith showed that he had some pace and an attacking instinct.

Davies outwitted Fortune but Myhre made a great save with his legs. A Bolton free kick to the back post was headed wide by Ben Haim. Charlton made a good break, but Hasselbaink's header was well wide. Hasselbaink was caught offside after an intelligent pass by Ambrose.

Davies was denied by a challenge from Hreidarsson and Charlton won the goal kick. Hasselbaink made an effort from 35 yards from a pass by Marcus Bent and won a corner. The corner from Hughes was headed away by Davies. A good cross glanced off Hreidarsson's head.

Hughes was limping. Holland continued to play well. Hughes burst away, but Hasselbaink's effort went wide. Hughes gave the ball away to Stelios. Davies was tackled by Luke Young and the ball went back to Walker. A cross from Hunt was headed over the bar by Davies from six yards out, Young's well judged presence putting him off balance.

Smith put a good ball in and it was cut out at the near post by El K for a Bolton corner. Pedersen was replaced by a Polish defender who had only appeared once before for Bolton. Stelios took the corner, but it was cleared by Kish. Bolton were pinning the Addicks down in their own half. Ambrose put in an effort from distance that was saved easily enough by Walker as the game went into the last fifteen minutes.

Vaz Té flashed a shot across the front of goal after some confusion in the Charlton defence. Luke Young defended well at the expense of a Bolton throw in by the corner flag, but Campo's effort was headed away by Hughes (Campo having replaced Speed in a like for like switch, although the Spainard was more influential). Vaz Té's cross was headed over the crossbar by Smith with Luke Young putting him off. An effort by Tal was blocked by Fortune at the expense of a corner. The corner by Stelios was caught comfortably by Myhre.

Smith won another corner for Bolton at the expense of Luke Young. Marcus Bent just saved a second corner at the expense of a Bolton throw. Sankofa came on at left back to replace El Karkouri, a somewhat surprising change given that the Addicks were under some pressure. Sankofa headed the ball behind for a Bolton corner from an effort by Campo. The corner was headed away and Tal put in a poor ball leading to a Charlton goal kick with around seven minutes left.

There was danger from a Bolton corner but Hreidarsson blocked the shot and Myhre made the save with four minutes to play. Rommedahl was brought on for Kishishev.
Rommedahl received the ball but failed to control it. Tal tried a shot but it deflected and Myhre gathered it.

Ambrose made a good tackle, but Bolton got the ball back. Hasselbaink fouled Smith and gave Bolton a free kick in a potentially dangerous position. Campo's effort was wide. There were three minutes of time added on. Sankofa conceded an avoidable corner. Walker came forward for the corner, but Campo put it wide. Iain Dowie was going ballistic, as was his holiday partner Allerdyce. Marcus Bent shot wide. Then the whistle blew, Charlton have withstood the second half pressure and kept a clean sheet. It must be a boost to morale.

Do we want to win? Yes we do.

In previous seasons the Carling Cup has been a realistic hope of the Addickted for some silverware, although they have always been disappointed by our failure to progress. But now we are in a relegation struggle, do we want a cup run?

I would prefer to stay up than win the Carling Cup, but it's not a simple 'either or' choice. Any sort of victory now would give our morale a boost, particularly after the Hampsters were humiliatingly booted out of the competition by mighty Chesterfield.

We have beaten Bolton before this season and even though they are flying high in the table, there is no reason why we should not repeat the feat, although we can expect a physical encounter. Whether Bolton will put out a full strength side remains to be seen.

It's a bit difficult to forecast what our side will be because of ill defined injury worries. If Darren Bent is carrying an injury, it would be unwise to risk him ahead of Saturday's encounter with Newcastle. It might be an opportunity to give Myhre a run out, while I think that the occasion calls for Kish's battling qualities.

The referee is Banbury's Dermot Gallagher who was urged to bring forward his retirement at the weekend by Blades charm merchant Neil Warnock. One thing that does seem to go down a treat, as Everton found, is a presentation signed shirt from the players.

Work commitments once again keep me in Warwickshire, but Paul May will be making the short journey from Erith to file a report on the game.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Revenge is sweet

Last May Barwell won a surprise victory in the final of the Midland Alliance League Cup at the Bescot Stadium, Walsall. Tonight Leamington gained their revenge over the Leicestershire side by knocking them out 3-1 in the first round of the Polymac Services League Cup at the New Windmill Ground.

The Ben Mackey song rang out to the tune of 'My old man's a dustman' when he put Brakes ahead on 22 minutes. But it was a story of missed chances for the home side, with Josh Blake firing inches wide of an open goal, while former Brentford and Grimsby keeper Jason Pearcey had little to do for Brakes.

New signing Scott Darroch was brought on when Leamington failed to add to their tally. On 75 minutes he made it 2-0 with a superb lob from 25 yards out. Barwell then made it 2-1 through a scrappy goal from Reece Lester and worries about extra time were heard in the Sheepside stand, now guarded by a superb life size model of a sheep.

As Barwell became more physical, follically challenged referee Russell Lethbridge produced a blizzard of yellow cards, even spending a long time pointing out to their coach the location of a dressing room.

On 88 minutes Dave Pearson put the game beyond doubt. There was still time for charm merchant Karl Noble to be sent off, while the unfathomable oaths and curses of the red faced supporters of the Hinckley side disturbed the quiet of the Warwickshire country air.

Springbok has trial with Addicks

Charlton have taken Strasbourg's South African international Abel M'Phela on trial, reports Sky Sports News.The 21-year-old began training with Charlton this week with the hope of impressing Iain Dowie.

M'Phela spent the whole of last on loan at Supersport United back in South Africa, before which he spent a temporary spell with Riems. He moved to Strasbourg in 2003 after beginning his career with Jomo Cosmos, but he has never been able to hold down a first team place at Stade de La Meinau.

The young midfielder, who has scored three goals in his six international appearances to date, is now spending time in South London with a view to earning a move in January. (Well, anyway, there's no other reason for spending time in New Eltham). Perhaps he will be given a run out in a 'behind closed doors' reserve game.

Dowie fourth favourite to get sack

Addicks supremo Iain Dowie is the 5-1 fourth favourite among Premiership managers to get the sack, according to today's Grauniad after Alan Pardew (evens, step forward Alan Curbishley), Stuart Pearce (5-2, ditto) and Glenn Roeder (9-2, another opportunity for Curbs).

The paper says, 'Having invested around £11m on players this summer Charlton require consistency from Dowie who, nevertheless, felt sufficiently confident to hang pictures at his new flat in Canary Wharf last week.'

'Bottom of the table, they are undergoing a seemingly colossal culture shock as Dowie's signings bed in - in Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's case alarmingly slowly - and a club which had effectively been run from top to bottom by Curbishley adapts to vastly different working practices. Big on psychology and sports science, Dowie's successes at Oldham and Crystal Palace had made him hot property but like Pardew, he is suddenly fighting for his job.'

I would hardly say that, bearing in mind that Charlton does not favour sacking managers and having almost yearly changes at the top, at least not these days thankfully. As other blogs have been emphasising, what we need now is unity among the fans and the team.

Full story at Sack

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The delivery wasn't there

'The time for words is over ... It's time to deliver' declared Addicks supremo Iain Dowie in the match programme. Well, the delivery didn't happen in Charlton's 0-0 draw with Watford which left them rooted to the bottom of the table. The Addicks had their chances, but they failed to take them and were only saved by a defeat from a similar inability on the part of the Hornets and some resolute defending by the home side.

There were some good individual performances, but the overall team performance was not there. Passing often lacked accuracy, there was too much hit and hope and the final ball was usually poor, although ex-Gees Gees keeper Luke Foster made some excellent saves. Charlton's performance at set pieces, often the best chance to score, was poor.

One of the key problems was the ability of the players to adapt to a 4-3-3 (or 4-3-1-1) formation with Hasselbaink relegated to the bench, something called for by many of the Addickted. For much of the first half Bent was often left isolated at the front as it looked more like 4-5-1. The players sometimes seemed uncertain of their roles and the team lost its shape.

Iain Dowie felt that Charlton were denied two clear penalties by the fussy referee and most of the crowd thought the same. Certainly when Faye was wrestled down in the box when he was through on goal, an award should have been made. Some fans were calling for Dowie's head after the game, probably the same ones who were critics of Curbs, but Dowie isn't going anywhere anytime soon so we just have to buckle down and carry on fighting. Certainly there was no lack of spirit today.

Watford's shirts are among the more risble I have seen recently, suggesting that they are on loan to the Premiership.

Reid and Rommedahl combined well in the opening minutes, but Rommedahl hesitated when he should have had a shot and the chance was lost. Diawara showed early on that he is capable of excellent defensive work. Watford were not here for one of their customary draws and applied early pressure.

Jerome Thomas advanced on goal, his effort was just saved and then Young put the ball wide. Rommedahl won Charlton their first corner, followed by a second. Thomas and Reid combined well, but Darren Bent put his shot wide. Diawara provided more good defensive work and then Holland was called on to stifle an attack. Watford won their first corner but it was saved by Carson.

El Karkouri tried to control a Charlton corner, but was not successful. Watford were not far wide from close range. The Hornets won a free kick for that rare event, a Rommedahl tackle. Further good work between Thomas and Reid led to a Charlton corner. Thomas approached the goal with a virtuoso dribble, wrong footing the Watford defence, but his effort went over the bar. Watford showed that they were still buzzing with a corner and a shot from distance that was not far wide.

Reid put in a great shot from distance which was well saved by former Racing Club Warwick keeper Foster at the expense of a Charlton corner. Referee Lee Mason is the hero of the Bolton Referees' Circle with his rapid advance from Sunday football. He awarded Charlton a free kick on the edge of the area for a handball, but given that the offending player's feet were in the box when he handled, it should have been a penalty, even in pub football. Reid put in a great shot put it was tipped over the bar by the alert Foster who has clearly acquired skills he never had when he was in goal at Racing and working at Cafe Rouge in Leamington.

The resultant corner was cleared and another won by the energetic Reid led to a Watford break and a Carson save.

Half time: Addicks 0, Hornets 0

Rommedahl won a Charlton corner in the first minute, but Watford broke away and Holland had to make the recovery. Reid broke through and won a corner but it was caught by Foster. The keeper then saved at the feet of Luke Young, although the England fringe player could probably have done better.

The East Stand linesman made a marginal offisde decision against Darren Bent. Rommedahl got himself into a good position but put the ball wide. Watford were coming into the game more and won a succession of corners.

A Watford free kick led to a Watford corner and danger in front of the Charlton goal, but a second Watford corner ended in a Charlton free kick. The East Stand linesman once again ruled against Darren Bent for offside, this time surely getting it wrong. The striker played on, but put his shot just wide of the post. El Karkouri went down injured.

An effort by Bent went way over. Hreidarsson, who had nearly scored an own goal earlier, created danger in defence with a needlessly risky ball. On 78 minutes the tiring Thomas was pulled off in favour of Hasselbaink. A good cross was put across the front of goal, but there were no Charlton players to connect. Matt Holland picked up a yellow card for a foul.

Two Watford corners led to a Watford free kick and a yellow card for Darren Bent. Charlton won a curious free kick when two of their players collided. With four minutes of time added on, Charlton made increasingly desperate efforts to score, but it was clear that the goal was not going to come.

Boos rang out around the ground after the final whistle was blown, but there was warm applause for Chris Powell who donned a Charlton shirt and then did his jack in the box routine out of the tunnel.

The Observer comments this morning that 'Iain Dowie will take encouragement from this display. Brian Glanville in The Sunday Times says 'Having now watched them five times this season, one feels that they are just not yet quite a lost cause.'

Newcastle are by no means invincible and they may feel that all they have to do is to turn up to claim three points. Relegation issues are never decided by mid-October.

Match analysis

Match analyst Hooch the Pooch has added the scores that will appear in his fan's match analysis in The Observer tomorrow as canine reporting gains a foothold in the broadsheet press. There was some confusion when Hooch awarded the Silver Bone to Soulemayne Diawara (8) as the German Shepherd cross can bark in German but not in French. Making his debut at The Valley, Diawara was rewarded for a calm, confident and assured display at the back. Carson (6) was not that much tested by Watford but kept a clean sheet nevertheless. Hreidarsson (6) forged forward well, although there is a view that he is part his sell by date and would certainly be better as a centre back. Young (7) made some excellent runs forward and was a real threat to the Hornets defence. El Karkouri (5) did not do well with his free kicks and although he was competent enough I always felt nervous when he was the last defender. Faye (6) was not that prominent in the game, but what he did contribute was well executed. Holland (5) preferred to Hughes did not make a major contribution.
Reid (7) was busy and effective and came as close as scoring as anyone. He is certainly looking a lot fitter. Thomas (6) did well in the first half, but his lack of fitness showed as he faded in the second.
Rommedahl (7) made some good runs forward and combined well with other players. Hasselbaink made little difference when he came on.

Hiss of the Match This was given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the East Stand linesman who ruled that Darren Bent was offside when he certainly wasn't and in a position to advance on goal.

Crowd rating: Got more animated in the second half, but often quiet in the first. 6/10.

Iain Dowie interview

Today's Times has an interview with and feature on Iain Dowie:

The paper's Fink Tank favours a Watford win at 36 per cent, followed by a Charlton win at 33 per cent and a draw at 31 per cent. By their calculations the Addicks have only a one in three chance of getting the result they need.

There is a good Darren Bent interview in The Independent today. Read it here: Bent

Friday, October 20, 2006

A house built on sand

The Polish builders excavating my cellar have encountered sand rather than the clay that they expected. That's good news for them as it means that they can use shovels rather than pneumatic drills. But let us hope that there is no analogy and that the Addick's place in the Premiership turns out to be built on sand.

No Addick doubts the importance of tomorrow's match. Win against Watford and Charlton will go off the bottom of the table and can reasonably claim that the fight back against relegation has started. Draw or lose and we will be faced with a Valley of Despair that will further undermine the team's confidence.

Moreover, as Iain Dowie has made clear, a continuing lack of success would mean that other teams would come in for Darren Bent in the winter transfer window. They probably would anyway, but he would be more likely to leave a relegation threatened side. And where would be without his goals?

The Addicks supremo has hinted at a more or less unchanged side with Jerome Thomas judged not to be match fit. Although there are those that think El Karkouri may lose his rag and do something foolish, and would prefer the understated and somewhat inconsistent competence offered by Fortune, most concerns focus on the midfield.

The debate on Rommedahl rages on with some of the Addickted arguing that his pace is not matched by his finishing, particularly in terms of providing crosses that can be converted into goals. However, he will at least unsettle the Hornets defence. The bustling Reid and the promising Faye will complemented by the magic 'H' ingredient represented by Bryan Hughes which must manifest itself most often on the training ground, decent guy although he undoubtedly his (and his son, the Chicago Addick informs us). Some would argue that this is the sort of match where the battling qualities of Kish would be useful.

Up front, the media is picking up on disquiet with the failure of JFH to deliver, but this is probably not the match to switch to 4-5-1/4-3-3, particularly without Thomas fully available.

Like most teams not over endowed with skill, Watford rely heavily on a physical approach. The referee for the big occasion is Lee Mason from Bolton, Lancs. officiating in only his second Premiership match this season (he did a few last season). A referees' forum I found (!) indicated that he is well thought of by his fellow officials, which may or may not be a recommendation. He likes the dishing out the cards (both red and yellow) and on the two occasions he refereed a Watford game they won.

Although talk of the crowd being a 12th player is sometimes exaggerated, I hope the crowd will get behind the team tomorrow and not just for the first five minutes and to welcome Chris Powell back to The Valley. We need to keep up the noise even when we are not on top, if only for our own morale. It's going to be a tense afternoon and an early goal would do a lot for my nerves.

The New York Addick reminds us that it won't be easy and has forecast a draw, but I am going for a victory by at least two goals for the Addicks.

Ten years ago: ten yellows at The Valley

Ten years ago on 19th October 1996 Charlton were second from bottom in the then Division 1 and faced leaders Bolton at The Valley.

Charlton went 1-0 up on 20 minutes from David Whyte, Whyte, Whyte. Bolton equalised three minutes later and then captain Chapple made it 2-1 followed by a third goal before half time from Whyte.

The referee was card happy, and apart from sending Chapple off for a second yellow on 58 minutes, booked eight other players. Chapple's sending off was the turning point in the game and Bolton equalised three minutes later from the penalty spot after a trip by Rufus. They then made it 3-3 on 73 minutes.

My notes recall, 'Stuart useless as usual. Lisbie looked lost when he came on.' Nothing new there then.

The programme featured 17-year old Kevin Nicholls who had come on as a substitute against Ipswich, when he was reported to have looked nervous, although perhaps his main concern was the fashion victim green and purple shirt he was pictured wearing.

Rick Everitt on Charlton and The Valley

Former Valley Party activist and author of a book on Charlton's return to its home ground Rick Everitt has spoken out in a personal capacity on the question of whether the club should move to a stadium elsewhere:

'"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," said philosopher George Santanya. That's about the only excuse I'm prepared to allow the men who took
Charlton to Selhurst Park in 1985. But the switch to SE25, like the abortive move to Catford in the 1920s, was a disaster. Each would have killed the club had it not been reversed.'

'That's why chief executive Peter Varney's recent hint that the Addicks might consider moving again has proven explosive. I am not privy to boardroom discussions, but let me make clear that unlike fans' elected director Ben Hayes I remain a "Valley

'The issue has always been about identity, not practicality, but as it happens the facilities at The Valley now are excellent and reasonably proportionate to the numbers who presently want to watch the team. I hope a 40,000 capacity will be required one day and therefore Charlton are right to consider how it could be achieved.'

'But television is football's biggest paymaster and it wants packed crowds, whatever the stadium size. These are more likely for Charlton now at 30,000. And while many other clubs have moved since 1985, none has abandoned a stadium as modern and suitable as The Valley.'

'Unusually, I have some sympathy for Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts, who has attacked Hayes for comments he made about the council. Cllr Roberts is right to protest that Greenwich's position has been misrepresented in the media and legally the council must act with caution on planning matters.'

'But neither he nor anyone else should imagine that Hayes is the board's stooge. And fans who have concluded from all this that Charlton are plotting to abandon their history should have more faith. For I can guarantee that the current directors remember Selhurst all too well.'

Well said the Rickster. The one note I would add is that I would give the board credit for being transparent about the fact that they are discussing other options, although at some stage it would be nice to know what those options are.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Addicks to face ex Gee Gees keeper

Just imagine the scene: John Window's nags put out to graze at The Valley. But it would be no problem for the equine magnate if he lived in Warwickshire as, at least until recently, horses grazed on the Racing Club Warwick pitch until a couple of hours or so before kick off.

Now things are looking up for the Polymac Services Midland Alliance club. Social inclusion money should provide them with a double decker cantilevered stand for their eighty regular supporters, while a Warwickshire version of the Rickshaw has been funded in terms of a fleet of taxis which will provide a 'Racing to Get You There' service.

They were also helped by the sale of keeper Ben Foster to Stoke City. Although he was initially third choice keeper there, he caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson and was signed by Manchester United, the Gee Gees taking a cut of the proceeds. He was then loaned out to Watford where he played a key role in their promotion campaign and he has remained there this year. Racing Club spent some of their money in hiring a Spanish coach, but are still lurking in the lower reaches of the Midland Alliance.

The Leamington born and former North Leamington School pupil (our children went there) initially worked at Cafe Rouge while he was between the sticks at Racing Club.
He has come on by leaps and bounds while at Watford and Dean Kiely rates him one of the most promising young English keepers. So we shouldn't expect any favours from him on Saturday. However, it would be particularly humiliating to be defeated by a team whose keeper was formerly with the Gee Gees. Leamington fans are already anticipating the Boxing Day all ticket clash at their ground.

Leamington, by the way, are ten points clear at the top of the Midland Alliance, the reverse of Charlton's position.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Council leader hits out at Ben Hayes

The leader of Greenwich Council has hit out at supporters' director Ben Hayes for his comments that the Council have been less than helpful over the expansion of The Valley to a 40,000 stadium and has asked him to clarify his comments in the media:


Whilst the Council leader is quite right to say that no planning application has been submitted for the South Stand, it is not just Ben Hayes who has expressed concern about what might happen to any such application. The club does not want to find itself stuck with a ground with an upper limit of 31,000 (even though that seems more than adequate at the moment).

I suppose it shows the dangers of sticking your head above the parapet and expressing a view about issues that concern supporters which is what such a director should do. The strength of the Council reaction suggests that Ben Hayes has hit a raw nerve.

Dowie out after Saturday?

According to The Times defeat on Saturday against Watford will put Dowie's job in jeopardy:


This seems to me to represent a misunderstanding of Charlton as a club, or at least I hope it does. I wouldn't want us once again to become a club that frequently changed its manager as happened in our most dismal days: it doesn't work in the long run anyway.

Of course, victory on Saturday is now vitally important. Depending on how some of the other strugglers do, it could lift us out of the relegation positions. Whereas I wasn't confident about victory against Fulham, where we have never won away in the Premiership, we must surely beat a team that has a keeper who used to play for Racing Club Warwick.

The usual suspects on the lists and messages boards have been calling for Dowie's head. In fact the same people were often prominent in calling for Curbs to go. It needs to be remembered that sacking Dowie would cost us a lot of money we don't have. And it is by no means clear who the successor would be, although some fans have a Curbs to West Ham and Pards + Peacock to The Valley scenario.

What Dowie may need to consider is using a 4-5-1 formation (of the type that could convert to 4-3-3 in attack by good use of Rommedahl and Thomas) away from home. Hasselbaink has been something of a disappointment up front. However, I would stick with 4-4-2 on Saturday.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Luxury player turns scales against Addicks

So-called luxury ex-Addick Claus Jensen came on a susbtitute after a year away from the game at the Cottage tonight and turned the match on its head. Charlton had edged the first half, but his appearance inspired the Cottagers with McBride scoring and then Jensen himself making it 2-0 three minutes later. Darren Bent then scored a consolation goal.

It was good to see Diawara and his gloves back in for Fortune, reports Erith Addick Paul May from the Cottage. Former Addick Claus Jensen was on the bench for Fulham while Jerome Thomas, returning from injury, was on the bench for the Addicks.

Both sides started rather tentatively and continued in that vein for some time. Hughes made a mistake in midfield, surrendering possession to Fulham, but Hreidarsson put the ball out for a throw in by the corner flag. Reid was effective in midfield.

Good work involving Darren Bent produced a Charlton corner for Reid to take. Fulham cleared and then there was a poor touch by El Karkouri that led to a Fulham throw in.
Charlton gave the ball away again in midfield but Helguson could not keep his header down. El K brought Helguson down and was given a yellow card.

Charlton broke after a convenient interception by referee Styles, but then gave the ball away. Fulham won their first corner on the quarter hour. Routledge's ball was poor. Fulham broke away with Radzinski but Rommedahl's pace enabled him to cover.

Bent tried a shot from distance with a long curling effort which went a few yards over the bar. Rommedahl turned provider for Hasselbaink but he stumbled over the ball and Fulham counter attacked. However, Charlton got the ball back.

Fulham were given a free kick after Rommedahl had knocked the wind out of Radzinski who went down. Neither side seemed able to keep possession for long. Rommedahl had a chance to shoot with a clear route to goal but he pulled the ball back for Hasselbaink whose effort was comfortably saved by Niemi.

Charlton won a corner taken by Reid, but it was easily cleared. Fulham surged forward but Diawara defended well. Rommedahl stormed forward and with Bent turning provider the Dane put in a shot that went wide. Rommedahl then gave the ball to Hasselbaink, but it was cut out by Knight.

The home crowd was getting a little restless with Charlton edging the match. Scott Carson had to come forward and head the ball from outside his area after some indecision in the Charlton defence. Hughes made a shocking pass.

Knight had to put a Rommedahl ball behind for a corner which was taken by the Dane, but it was headed clear by McBride. Reid, released by Rommedahl (who was clattered by Queudrue), put in a shot that was a few yards wide.

Charlton won another corner taken by Rommedahl, but it was wasted. Diawara made an excellent clearing header in stoppage time. There were a few boos from the Cottagers as the half time whistle blew.

Half time: Cottagers 0, Addicks 0

An early free kick by El K was struck through the wall but went wide of the post. McBride tried a shot, but it hit the Herminator in a painful place and he went down.
Hughes put in a good cross but Reid and Hasselbaink were unable to connect. Fulham took a quick free kick and McBride launched a volley which went straight at Carson.

Rommedahl was tripped by Queudrue, who had been having a go at the Dane all evening, and got a well deserved yellow card. The free kick was dealt with easily by Knight.
Claus Jensen came on for his first Premiership appearance in twelve months to replace Helguson. The so-called luxury player had an immediate impact on the game, causing a few problems.

Fulham were stepping up their game and Claus Jensen won a corner. Routledge's corner was headed away by Faye, Routledge tried to play the ball in, but Hughes read the situation well. Charlton were being forced back into their half. McBride scored from some twenty yards out on 65 minutes, driving to Scott Carson's left. Radzinski put in a volley which was just over the bar with Carson motionless on his line.

Jensen then made it 2-0 on 68 minutes to add to Charlton's problems. Dowie decided to bring on Marcus Bent and Jerome Thomas replacing Hughes and Hasselbaink. Diawara hurt himself in a tackle.

Jerome Thomas twisted and turned in the box and after a clumsy challenge by Diop everyone stopped for a penalty appeal and Darren Bent was given enough space to put the ball in the net to make it 2-1. Fulham brought on Volz to replace Routledge and the injured Diawara was replaced by Holland, Faye dropping back into central defence.

Poor defending by Faye created an opportunity for Fulham. A free kick was awarded for a foul on the fading Rommedahl. Reid's free kick was very poor, going out of play down by the neutral supporters.

Charlton won a corner, it was taken short and Hreidarsson missed a golden chance to score from Reid's ball putting his glancing header just wide. Reid upended Rosenor in the dying minutes and got a yellow card.

The same result as last year, but this time it left Charlton rooted at the bottom of the table. Bring on Watford!

Fulham preview

Charlton need three points to get off the bottom of the table at Fulham tonight which will mean their first win away in the Premiership at the riverside club. The Fink Tank in The Times puts the chances of an away win at 20 per cent, a draw at 22 per cent with a 58 per cent chance of a victory for the Cottagers. Reading off the table, with Fulham in 11th position, one can see how they came to this conclusion.

Even without Bullard, Fulham are a decent side with one or two players such as McBride I wouldn't have minded having at Charlton. Each year I include Fulham in my relegation selection and each year they survive in reasonable comfort. Some credit must go to manager Chris Coleman, although I find his constant whingeing about officials a real turn off.

Thomas is now available again after injury, but is most likely to find a place on the bench. A back four that includes Fortune is less than perfect, while Hughes is likely to appear in midfield to the despair of many of the Addickted. Hughes has become a 'scapegoat' player so that every mistake is noted and every good move discounted. While I would rather not have to use him in the starting line up, he is not quite as bad as some people claim.

Once a team is in a relegation position, the squad are under real psychological pressure so let's hope that they can rise to the occasion. I am forecasting a draw. Work will keep me in Warwickshire, but Erith Addick Paul May will be filing a match report.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The gap is there

My visit to Lancashire to see now second placed Burnley defeat Hull City 2-0 confirmed for me that there is a clear gap in standard between the Premiership and the Championship. Possession is won back more easily and the ball is often cleared out of defence with a good hoof that goes high into the air.

The journey to the ground was a bit different from usual as it took me through the worst area of urban desolation I have seen in Britain and the worst I have seen anywhere since a visit to Baltimore Md. With the former mills turned into retail outlets, the population of Burnley has slumped from over 100,000 to 50,000. Given the number of other teams nearby, and the fact that the surrounding area us largely rural, it is a credit to the enthusiasm for football that over 11,500 turned out to see this game.

When we got to our seats, we found that they were wooden. And sitting in front of us were two elderly gentlemen with flat caps wearing mufflers against the balmy October air.

Burnley started brightly and were 2-0 up in ten minutes and so the score remained. Burnley took their foot off the gas, but Hull were so bad they were unable to get back into the game. The frustration eventually got to one of the Hull strikers, bearded ex Macclesfield maestro Jon Parkin. When he once again failed to connect with a pass and saw it go out of play he slammed the ball into the stand to laughter and jeers.

Ex Addick Danny Mills was playing for Hull. He earned an early yellow card and his petulance nearly led to him being sent off if it had not been for the leniency of referee Mr A Penn who seemed to take an 'it's a man's game' attitude to tackles from behind. His linos had absolutely no idea of the offside rule, reflected in the slowest and latest raising of flags I have ever seen.

The outstanding Burnley player was undoubtedly speedy winger Steve Jones, but so fast was he that most of his team mates were unable to keep up with him. Burnley keeper Brian Jensen had a party trick of putting the ball on the ground after a save and inviting an opposition striker forward, then lifting it at the last minute with a broad grin, a party trick I felt sure would go wrong eventually.

All in all, it was an enjoyable game. We weren't the only Addicks who had headed north to see a game, as we bumped into a couple at the National Football Museum on Sunday morning who had come up to see Preston beat Sunderland. The museum, by the way, is well worth visiting if you are up that way.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

All's well at Sparrows Lane

The Daily Mirror had an inventive piece of journalism yesterday about trouble at the training ground with JFH and Marcus Bent at each other's throats and a team building event organised by Luke Young at TGIF (!) failing. This nonsense has already been rubbished by the club's E mail bulletin.

However, it is interesting to read this report from local correspondent Clive Richardson: 'I have strolled along the footpath by the training ground several times recently, and while I've only watched the odd 20 minute session, it's been all laughs and wind-ups - along with hard work- as far as I could judge...JFH seemed keenly involved with all the exercises I saw, and the whole first team squad seemed quite happy with events.'

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Championship beckons

Not for Charlton, I hope. But tomorrow I am off to see Burnley v. Hull City as part of a friends's 60th birthday celebrations. Although I have seen some League 1 and League 2 games in the recent match, and I often see matches at Step 5 of the non-league, it's a while since I've been to a Championship level game, so it will be interesting to assess the standard.

Cocky Reading fans are now claiming that there's no difference between the two levels. Well, I can think of at least two. In the Premiership once you lose possession it's very difficult to get it back. And Premiership defences are of a higher calibre than those in the Championship. Indeed, once you get to League 1 comedy defending is a regular feature of the game.

There are some Charlton fans who claim we would better off in the Championship on the grounds that we would win more games or at least there would be more uncertainity about most of the matches. However, it is never quite clear what sort of Championship side they want us to be. Do they want us to be a yo-yo team? Or do they want us to be a Burnley, never getting promoted, but never in real danger of relegation? Not that exciting in my view. And dropping down into League 1 is always a risk.

Arsene Wenger said recently that there are about sixty teams who think they are really Premiership sides. Queen's Park Rangers come to my mind, although I always think of them as a third division (south) side. Actually, for those of my generation, Norwich City are in the same boat, despite all the callers they get on 606 saying 'The parple of Norfalk demand their rightful place in the top flight.'

Charlton's problem is that they really still lack the support base to sustain a place in the Premiership. The London football market is very competitive with two top class sides available for glory hunters. Even today, S.E.London has plenty of Gooners, while there are also those who support Millwall.

Hence why the 'flight to Kent' option may seem attractive to some. Interesting that the official supporters' club has bestirred itself and is trying to arouse opposition to any such plan, although the board would insist that they are only considering options. Greenwich Council meanwhile have made it clear that although they want the club to stay in the borough, this won't influence policy decisions.

Of course, if we do relegated, the present Valley would be more than adequate. Let's hope the fight back starts at Fulham. Like other fans who live some way from London and have to work, I can't make it on Monday, but Erith's Paul May will be there to report on the game.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ben Hayes reports

Supporters' director Ben Hayes reports on a recent informal meeting between the directors and Iain Dowie. He also tells us that the Addicks supremo is hoping to have a question and answer session with fans at The Valley next month:


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bent will need cushion tonight

There is one standard piece of equipment that Darren Bent always takes with him to international matches and that is a cushion for sitting on the bench for 90 minutes. He will need it tonight for England's match against Croatia with out of form Wayne Rooney and man mountain Peter Crouch expected to start up front. Should Rooney fail to perform, no doubt Defoe will be brought on in his place.

England manager Steve McClaren is quoted as saying, 'We've got to change. We've got to look at different systems and we've got to look at the make-up of the team.' However, this seems to mean a 3-5-2 formation rather than any change in the forward line up.

Scott Carson did well in goal in England's under 21 victory against Germany last night. Although he was not too much troubled, a key German penalty was put wide by Castro on his own ground, no doubt daunted by Carson's reputation as a penalty saver.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Pards rumours not well founded

Alan Pardew is having a difficult time at West Ham, given the failure of the Argentinian start to deliver. Moreover, West Ham fans seem to have developed the kinds of excessive expectations that were once more typical of Spurs supporters.

However, rumours that a sacked Pardew would then join the coaching team at The Valley are well wide of the mark. Before he went to West Ham, he might well have topped the Charlton board's contingency list should Alan Curbishley depart. But he could hardly fit in as a junior member of an Iain Dowie set up.

Moreover, I think that the current Irons board have the sense not to sack Pardew because of a run of bad results. If Media Sports Investments took over, it might be a different story. But it is by no means certain that this relatively shadowy consortium will actually be able to put together a credible bid.

It's almost like a silly season at the moment. With the lack of club football stories available, the papers are having to look at things like the fact that Darren Bent couldn't open the doors of his new motor in his underground garage.

Even Leamington are trying to hype a friendly game tonight, circulating rumours that a major new signing from the Football League will be playing.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

No football today

It's an odd thing, a Saturday with no football. Usually if Charlton are not playing, Leamington are, but their game has been called off because of international commitments. Even Rushden played last night.

If you want to see some football, have a look at this clip and see if you recognise anything:

Charlton are not playing next Saturday either so we decided the time had come to take a look at the Championship as we might be heading there. Turf Moor is a ground I have never been to and Burnley v. Hull City is the selected game.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Curbs picks his perfect team

Alan Curbishley has picked his perfect team for football magazine 4-4-2:

Goalkeeper: Peter Schmiechel I've never seen anyone warm up for a game like Schmiechel
Right back: Gary Neville A proper leader
Centre back: John terry He's given Chelsea an English backbone
Centre back: Tony Adams Pulled Arsenal through their successful years, single-handedly at times
Left back: Denis Irwin I would think this back four would produce fifteen goals a season
Right midfield: Steven Gerrard A real winner
Centre midfield: Roy Keane My captain, he would sit there in the middle controlling things [not seen at Charlton since Kinsella or perhaps Murphy]
Left midfield: Ryan Giggs Unbelievably consistent
In the hole: Eric Cantona I'm being very offensive with this team [not seen at Charlton]
Striker: Alan Shearer The ultimate centre forward
Striker: Thierry Henry In full flow, just unstoppable
Substitutes: Ashley Cole, Dennis Bergkamp, Frank Lampard, Steve Bruce, Robbie Fowler

Curbs comments, 'In the last 10 years I've come up against all these players and they've hurt me in all sort of ways. I could pick a team with a bit more balance and shape, but as indviduals, these players stand head and shoulders above the rest.'

No room for anyone from Charlton, though.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The stadium saga

Supporters' director Ben Hayes has given his views on the subject of Charlton moving its ground in his weekly column in the Bexley Times and as one would expect it is a balanced discussion: Hayes

He rules out the Olympic Stadium as a possibility, stating that it will remain as an athletics stadium with a reduced capacity after 2012, which will disappoint West Ham and Spurs (although Spurs are such a massive, not to say galactic, club that they have been linked with purchasing Wembley). I'm not sure that Ken Livingstone's views on the last word on the matter, particularly as he is unlikely to be mayor in 2012, but let's leave this north of the river stadium out of the equation.

I must admit that I have a strong sentimental attachment to The Valley, where my father started to go in the 1920s and took me for my first game when I was six, but I am not against a discussion of alternatives.

So where could we go? Rick Everitt has stated that it is unlikely that any site within the M25 would get planning permission which rules out the Dome. Sparrows Lane doesn't even merit consideration because of access issues in a residential area and the lack of access to public transport (New Eltham is at least ten minutes walk away). The borough of Bexley has been mentioned so perhaps John Windw's boat could come in with the club building on his equine empire. Or perhaps not.

Ebbsfleet has always looked a possibility with the club's current fascination with Kent (note the involvement in a county wide 'social inclusion' project), expansion in the Thames Gateway and good public transport links (which could be supplemented by a 'Rickshaw in reverse' for a bereft souls in SE7). For those of us come from the north or west of London, the additional journey to Ebbsfleet might be just too much.

Do we need to move at all? Moving from a football ground to a stadium has not done comparable clubs like Derby, Leicester and Southampton much good, although all of them had inadequate or decrepit grounds which were nowhere near as good as the modern Valley.

The financing of any such move would depend on finding a use for The Valley. I am not sure that it would convert as easily to apartments as Highbury and SE7 is not Islington.

The stumbling block appears to be whether we would get planning permission to redevelop the admittedly tired Jimmy Seed Stand. But do we even need to extend the East? Even if we remain in the Premiership, we are not selling out at big fixtures against Arsenal. Of course, it may all be a ploy to put pressure on Greenwich Council, but I doubt whether that will have much effect.

There is nothing wrong in discussion the issue, but from a fan's perspective it would help if we knew what the options for moving were. A little more transparency would be welcome.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Now you see him, now you don't

'Where's Rommedahl?' screamed a bloke in front of me at Saturday's match. It subsequently emerged he had a groin strain, but now the Belfast Telegraph is claiming he will be out of Saturday's match between Denmark and Northern Ireland in Copenhagen on Saturday because of a leg injury.

Both the Telegraph and Kent Online claim that Rommedahl is likely to leave in the January transfer window, either returning to his old club PSV Eindhoven or going to FC Copenhagen. There have been persistent reports that he has found adjusting to the Premiership difficult, although he has been getting more of a look in under the Dowie regime.

Got an early leaver problem near you at The Valley? Here is the product for them:
Early leaver

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sightings of Curbs like those of Elvis

Curbs has denied that he has been offered the managerial vacancy at Leeds, somewhat cryptically adding that he is not available for work for a fortnight. Sources close to him have also squashed reports that he might be about to become a Canary despite being the current favourite choice of Norwich fans.

The cathedral city seems an unlikely berth for the lad from Canning Town even though he has been described in reports as 'a close friend of Delia Smith's' who admittedly does produce a very good pie.

Sightings of Curbs at matches are like sightings of Elvis Presley and rumours that he was at Carrow Road on Sunday are inconsistent with the fact that he is reported to still be in New Zealand.

A source close to Curbishley, who was boss at Charlton for 15 years, said he is holding out for a management return to the Premiership. He added Curbishley is probably keeping an eye on events at West Ham as pressure mounts on manager Alan Pardew amid poor results and talks over a possible club takeover.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Bent called up for England

Darren Bent has been called up to the full England squad for the Euro 2008 qualifiers against Croatia and Macedonia after an injury to former Palace striker Andrew ('Don't call me Andy') Johnson.

'Andy's [sic] out of the games against Macedonia and Croatia with a hamstring injury which he picked up in the last minute against Manchester City on Saturday,' England coach Steve McClaren told wire services.

'We're fortunate that we are able to call Darren up from the under-21's. He's already got experience of been [sic] involved in several senior squads and he's a player with excellent ability and a real goal threat.'

Also he comes with his own cushion for bench warming duties.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Reflections from the canal towpath

Senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch ceded his place at Saturday's game to Monty Martin in the hope that it would bring the team some luck, but he followed the game and the debate about it afterwards with considerable interest. He shared his thoughts with me in return for a walk alongside the Grand Union Canal towpath near his Long Itchington, Warwicks home.

Hooch thinks that the referee was inefficient rather than biased, otherwise he would have ruled Charlton's goal offside. However, Hoyte's foul on Lisbie was much worse than he looked at the time when the referee blithely ruled 'play on' while Lisbie was down. The impact of the foul on JFH may have been blunted by the somewhat theatrical way in which he went down. Hooch growled that he could not see how the referee missed the penalty given that he had a clear line of sight. However, if we had equalised, Arsenal would have probably stepped up another gear.

What led Hooch to bark furiously was the fact that the van Persie incident was not shown on Match of the Day, nor were Dowie's comments on it, a clear case of selective omission.

Hooch listened to 606 and Alan Green commented with some surprise that Charlton fans were not at all despondent. However, the team is playing well (with the exception of the last half hour at Villa) and the results will come.