Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is Dempsey still in the frame?

The authoritative Boston Globe reports, 'The Revolution's Clint Dempsey could become the next Major League Soccer player to make the jump directly to England's Premiership when the transfer window opens Jan. 1. Dempsey received a $1.5 million offer from Charlton Athletic in August but it was turned down. Dempsey, 23, is the league's hottest prospect, and MLS officials apparently are unwilling to let him go at that price. But the league is also unwilling to comment on transfer negotiations, so it is unclear just how much overseas teams must bid for Dempsey.'

Given the fact that we overspent in the summer, and will have to pay a reported 800k on Iain Dowie's contract, will we have enough money to enhance our offer and pay his wages? Some money could be saved on wages by shipping under utilised or below par players out and each Addick would have his or her own short list.

Simon Walton

He was sent off in the Derby v. Ipswich clash last night. Although manager Jim Magilton was generally critical of the referee, he did not dispute Walton's dismissal and the loan player is said to have felt the manager's wrath. Nevertheless, I hope he will be able to join us in January.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Step forward, Darren Randolph

Charlton goalkeeper Stephan Andersen will join Danish side Brondby at the start of January, the club announced today after a deal was agreed for the Denmark international. The 25-year-old has found first-team football hard to come by at The Valley since his arrival from AB Copenhagen in May 2004, and will return to the club at which he started his career. Charlton head coach Les Reed said: 'I'm sad to see Steph go, but glad that he will be given an opportunity to play regular first-team football at a high level.'

Andersen was once hailed as the hottest Danish keeper since Peter Schmiechel, but found himself displaced first by Thomas Myhre and then Scott Carson. He never seemed to enjoy the same rapport with the fans as Deano or Myhre.

Given that Myhre has also indicated an interest in returning to his native fjords, a big opportunity is created for Republic of Ireland B keeper Darren Randolph to move up the pecking order. This was confirmed by head coach Les Reed who commented that Darren 'will very soon to be required to play at a higher level.' If both Myhre and Andersen leave, savings on the wage bill should allow players in other positions to be recruited. Randolph would also be potentially satisfactory as a goalkeeper in the Championship, although another signing would be necessary once Carson returned to Merseyside.


They have claimed their maximum 15 per cent allocation of seats which means that Blocks A, B and parts of C in the East Stand will be unavailable to the Addickted, displacing some season ticket holders. This suggests that they think this is their cup final.

The Chairboys have particularly noisy supporters, surprising for such a genteel part of beechy Bucks where their ground with its country views attracts more supporters (including Curbs and his wife) for Wasps egg chasing events. I remember seeing Rushden playing them at Nene Park a while back. First, their then gobby manager, Lawrie Sanchez, was red carded by the ref. Although they lost the match, most of their supporters remained in the away stand after the match chanting 'Chairboys' and you could still hear the furniture lovers chanting away as I walked up the hill to collect my car and drive away from Irthlingborough.

Chris Powell sent off at Watford

An unusual sight

Former Charlton legend Chris Powell was sent off for a second yellow card offence in the 0-1 victory of the Blades over the Hornets at Vicarage Road last night. I don't know when Powell, who chairs the Professional Footballers Association, was last sent off, but it must be a long time ago.

I was watching the scoreline on Sky Sports News hoping that it would stay at 0-0 and that, if possible, players would be sent off from both sides. The late Blades goal means that even if we beat them at Bramall Lane on Saturday we can't overtake them and will remain rooted in the drop zone. We have a mountain to climb, but we have to rely on our own results, not on others getting the right result (remember when we were relegated by the other Sheffield club).

I was amused to see that Michael Grade's bright red socks were featured on the news last night as demonstrating that he was 'a modern media man'. I think they show that he is Charlton through and through.

Hooch the Pooch took trainee dog reporter Ivy for a training walk yesterday along the Grand Union Canal that runs alongside his Long Itchington home. Ivy will report on Saturday for training in the offside rule, with Monty Martin named as match analyst for Bramall Lane. Ivy received a lesson in showing respect from cats from formidable local ginger tom, Arthur Hands.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Valley's man of steel urges FA to charge Jordan

Charlton's man of steel Richard Murray has already shown Iain Dowie the door. Now he is trying to sort out Crystal Palace boss Simon Jordan, suggesting that the FA should charge him for his campaign of vituperation against Charlton and its fans. Murray said Charlton had already written to demand 'firm and decisive action' by the FA.

Murray told the Daily Mirror, 'Over the past six months, Simon Jordan has used every opportunity made available to him by willing TV companies, newspapers and radio stations to level accusations, newspapers and foul-mouthed abuse at Charlton, me, the supporters of other Premiership and Football League chairmen.'

'The nature and viciousness of his latest outburst in the Mirror on November 21 does nothing but damage to the image of the professional game in this country. Indeed if such an outburst had come from a high-profile player then I'm sure a letter and charge from the Football Association would follow swiftly.'

Any cup clash between Charlton and Palace could become a focus for trouble and some of the blame would attach to the inflammatory remarks that Jordan has made.

A message from our sponsor

Match analyst Monty Martin is a meeter 'n' greeter at Kingdom Signs in Didcot for his day job and he has sent us two pictures of an unusual Japanese van the company has acquired. No Charlton content, but I quite liked the pictures.

Apparently there are only about a thousand of these on the road in Britain

Remember for all your signage needs in Oxon, Berks, Bucks and Wilts contact Kingdom Signs

Elsewhere, as they say, I note that Charlton director Michael Grade is leaving the BBC to become executive chairman of ITV. As a director, he has a remarkably small number of shares, but there is no doubt that he is a keen fan who I have seen at away matches and his standing in the media world, and his family background, adds something to the prestige of the board running a club in one of the great world cities.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hoddle to be Third Man?

Today's wild and unsubstantiated rumour is that Glen Hoddle is to be the third man in the Charlton coaching set up. We haven't got this from the spirit world but one from one of the Charlton lists:

'I was chatting to another Charlton supporter at the gym this morning, who told me the following. A bloke who sits near him lives out in a village near to Bishops
Stortford. Apparantly, Les Reed lives in the next village and was seen by this bloke entering a pub accompanied by Mark Robson and Glen Hoddle. Gulp! Could it be that this was the informal start to negotiations to get Glenda in as the 'third coach'?'

Of course, it's already fourth hand information which is how rumours spread. Reed and Hoddle would know one another from the FA and may have just been enjoying a quiet shandy together with Robson brought along to get a few tips.

But supposing it was true? If Hoddle just worked with the players and was kept away from the press conferences, and was clearly not manager in waiting, would it such a bad idea?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

It's a difficult business

Her Majesty the Queen commented this week that football 'is a difficult business' full of 'prima donnas' but 'it's a wonderful game.' No doubt the Queen's remarks were scripted for her by one of the plummy sounding gents who hang around Buck House (I have to admit I have only been there once and then to the garden), but they would probably strike a chord with Les Reed and Mark Robson. The comparative statistics produced by No.1 Chalfont St.Peter's Addick Dick Sheppard show just how far behind the curve we are compared with previous seasons.

I was pretty stunned by the rapid departure of Iain Dowie, and wondered whether he had had a 'fair go' as they say down under. But as far as I understand the board's decision (and I haven't had the chance to read yesterday's programme yet) it comes down to: 'We made the wrong decision in the summer and we wanted to put it right before it was too late.'

Some of Addickted are suggesting we need a 'proper manager', what ever that is, although I suppose they mean someone who has more Premiership experience than Les. But for better or worse, the decision has been taken, and it is difficult to see the door revolving one more time. One thing that I didn't realise before was that we had to pay up one year of Dowie's contract so the cost to the club was 'only' £800,000.

What I do think is that the rotation of managers in football is become ridiculous. In the Championship they survive for little more than a year on average. Respected football writer Simon Kuper had an interesting article on the subject in the Financial Times yesterday (no point in giving the URL as the FT site has subscription access).

His main points were:
1. Managers in football are found in a mad rush, a few days, compared with a search process in business that takes four to five months.
2. The new manager is interviewed 'only cursorily' compared with a presentation and several interviews in business appointments.
3. A new manager in Britain doesn't traditionally study for the job.
4. The new manager is often unqualified, even if he has qualifications.
5. The new manager is appointed either because he is free (which usually means recently sacked) or because he has achieved good results in the last few weeks.
6. The new manager is generally chosen not for his managerial skills, but because his name, appearance and skills at public relations are likely to impress the club's fans, players and the media.

Interesting to think about how much of this applies to the original Dowie appointment, but it might also suggest that Charlton were not foolish to appoint from within. But time will deliver its verdict on that and I'm not too hopeful that we can escape relegation. Which doesn't mean that the board were wrong to intervene or even that they made the wrong decision in choosing Reed and Robson plus the as yet unknown third ingredient.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

'We're the Pride of Warwickshire'

That was the chant of the Brakesmen and women at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon as Leamington broke through the 50 point barrier in the Polymac Services Midland Alliance with a 4-2 victory over Market Drayton Town.

Although I felt too unwell to make the journey down to London, after listening to Charlton's draw on the Internet (why does Tony Blackburn suddenly appear at half time like some ghost from the past?) I was able to make the short drive to Harbury Lane and slip into the Sheepside Stand just after kick off, although without time to pay my respects to the model of Dolly.

One of the bonuses of watching the Brakes is that you know that victory is assured most of the time. This was their tenth consecutive victory, home and away. Their last defeat was to Southern League Premier side Banbury United in the Birmingham Senior Cup. They have not been beaten in the league all season.

Now they have to face a team from Croydon, having been drawn away to Croydon FC in the next round of the FA Vase.

Brakes opened the scoring on 19 minutes with a goal from student James Husband. However, a defensive error allowed Market Drayton, managed by former Palace player Simon Line, to equalise through Martyn Davies, the ball going past Jason Pearcey (ex Brentford and Grismby) in the Brakes goal. This sent the relatively large contingent from Salop beserk. Curiously, the players' shirts carried a sponsorship from a sawmill (a first as far as I can recall) but their physio appeared to be sponsored by the Shropshire Gas Centre.

Then just as we were about to leave the Sheepside stand for the relative warmth of the Vice-Presidents' lounge, Ben Mackey regained the lead on 43 minutes with a somewhat fortunate goal.

While the lead remained 2-1 there was a certain sense of tension among the large and vociferous crowd but Ben Mackey made it 3-1 on 74 minutes, provoking a round of his song to the tune of 'My Old Man's a Dustman' which includes lines that refer to his spell at the Gees Gees and the fact that now he's at the Windmill he scores all night.

Brakes were now rampant and minutes later part-time male model Andrew Pryce palmed the ball away from his hand only for Andy Gregory to put a bullet header into the back of the net to make it 4-1.

As so often happens when they are comfortably ahead, Brakes took their foot off the accelerator while the Shropside side stepped on the gas and managed to pull a goal back to make the final score 4-2. Brakes are now ten points clear at the top of the league.

A draw is not enough

The kick off was preceded by heavy rain and a hailstorm, which then cleared away before the start of the match but left the pitch soaked. The shock news at the start of the match was that ex-Palace diver Andy Johnson was not playing writes Erith Addick Paul May, standing in for Wyn Grant who was on the sick list. Marcus Bent, Thomas and Fortune were dropped. Ambrose came into a five man midfield to play on the left, Faye returned from suspension and Traore was brought in at left back after his long absence, although he made a quick recovery in the circumstances. Hreidarsson moved into the centre.

El Karkouri created an unnecessarily dangerous situation and Charlton had difficulty in clearing their lines from the throw in, leading to an Everton corner and a period of pressure before Young was able to hit the ball up field, although he could have set up a counter attack if he had not dwelt on the ball too long.

Everton won a second corner off Reid. Bent had to head away at the near post. A foul by Reid led to a free kick for Everton in a dangerous position. Charlton struggled to clear, but Luke Young managed to get it away.

Eventually Charlton broke away out from their half but the ball was won back by Everton. El Karkouri stopped a certain goal with a sliding challenge on McFadden in the 'D'. El Karkouri required treatment and the Addicks had to defend an Everton corner with ten men. The Toffeemen were dominating the match, showing better confidence and organisation.

Rommedahl went forward and did a one-two with Andy Reid, but Charlton were denied when Tim Howard smothered the ball. Reid's corner led to a second. Beattie headed clear. Faye made an ambituous attempt from distance. This attack lifted the Addickted.

Carson had to deal with a 25 yard strike from Davis which he collected at the second attempt. After an error by Holland, Everton launched another attack through McFadden, although Holland was able to put the ball out of play.

Ambrose went down far too easily and Everton surged forward. A good cross field ball picked out Traore. Ambrose hit the ball from a long way out, rather than using the options available in the form of Traore and Darren Bent, and his shot sailed over the bar.

El Karkouri put in a two footed challenge on McFadden who was left limping for a short while, but referee Wiley judged that he had got the ball. El Karkouri challenged McFadden again, with one foot this time, and the Toffeeman berated the referee.

Wiley awarded Charlton a free kick halfway in the Everton half, using the opportunity to have a word with El Karkouri, but also with Carsley. El Karkouri's effort from 40 yards went off the wall and produced a corner. A free kick was awarded against El Karkouri for climbing over Beattie. Phil Neville was awarded a yellow card for a challenge on Reid.

Reid fed Rommedahl, Young pounded up the right, but the pass from Rommedahl was poor and the right back slid into Valenti who required treatment.

McFadden shot along the ground but straight at Carson who was wearing a cap to deal with the bright, low sun. The Addickted were subdued as the game went into something of a lull.

Andy Reid shot from 30 yards, it was spilled by Howard, but he had time to recover as no one was following up. Hreidarsson conceded a free kick about 30 yards out, but Beattie's effort caused little trouble when it was taken short. McFadden seemed to stretch a hand out to Rommedahl in the shorts area.

A potentially dangerous cross was caught by Carson with Davis nearby. Bent had half a touch after Reid had turned provider, but the ball bounced into Howard's hands. Rommedahl provided a cross but Ambrose was not able to capitalise on the situation.
The Herminator clattered into McFadden, but Wiley waved play on.

Rommedahl came forward in space but he shot well wide, another goal scoring opportunity wasted by the Danish international. Traore defended well against McFadden. Holland conceded a free kick which Everton tried to take quickly. The latest bout of moaning from McFadden led to a word from Wiley.

Charlton's game was not flowing and Les Reed appeared alongside Mark Robson in the technical area. Traore won the ball well with an excellent sliding challenge. Ambrose made a decent header down to Bent, but he could not take the ball in his stride. The ball boy got one of the biggest cheers of the half as he headed a high ball on to the pitch and raised his arms in acclaim.

Carson dealt with a ball at his near post. The ball was belted down to Darren Bent, but he could not do anything with it as there was not another Charlton player in thirty yards. A disappointing half for Charlton came to an end.

Half time: Addicks 0, Toffees 0

Charlton broke early with Holland who went down under a challenge. Beattie won a corner for Everton in front of their supporters in the Jimmy Seed. A header went wide from Yobo, but referee Wiley had already blown for a free kick. Rommedahl burst into the area and Howard caught the ball. Hreidarsson got a yellow card for an off the ball incident.

Everton won a free kick after a challenge by Faye. The free kick was taken but Wiley called it back. The ball went into the arms of Carson. Faye was given a yellow card to after bringing down Artetta again. From the free kick it took a double deflection and came off El Karkouri and Hreidarsson into the net, although the Dubious Goals Committee may well award it to Osman.

Reid provided a good ball to Bent, Neville got in a header just in front of him and Charlton won a corner. Ambrose's corner was headed away and Everton threatened to break. Beattie came forward, Traore challenged him and conceded a corner. The defender showed signs of tiring. Aretetta's corner was put behind by Hreidarsson for a second corner.

Good pressure by Charlton led to a throw in a promising position, but little resulted from it. With little in the way of a challenge offered by Charlton, Beattie turned provider for Osman who shot just wide.

Young made a good run, but his cross was cleared. In general Charlton didn't look as if they had too many ideas about how to get back in the game, while conceding another was always a danger. Reid made a poor pass straight at Beattie.

When Charlton did get forward, they were often dispossesed by the Everton defence. Charlton took a corner short, a downward free header by Faye from six yards out had insufficient power on it and the ball drifted past the far post.

Reid turned provider for Rommedahl who shot wide from twenty yards. The ineffectual Ambrose was withdrawn and Marcus Bent came on, the 4-5-1 not having worked against the Everton midfield. Carson found himself in danger, but was awarded a free kick.
A super strike from Andy Reid on 67 minutes, his first for the Addicks, scored the equaliser with a quarter of the game to play. Yobo had clattered into Faye and his boot fell off, something which concerned him more than the ball.

Charlton looked better after the goal, showing more fluency and urgency in their build ups. An effort by Beattie from 25 yards was over and wide. Andy Reid turned provider again, Rommedahl tried for goal, but without success. A shot from Marcus Bent was saved comfortably by Howard. A chip from Traore found Marcus Bent in space, but Valenti was able to intervene for Everton to halt Rommedahl.

El Karkouri got the inevitable yellow card for one of his two footed challenges, leading to a free kick for the Toffees. Carsley got a free header at the far post but directed it the wrong way, but continuing pressure led to an Everton corner. Carson punched the ball out and Rommedahl took it away.

Everton brought on fresh legs in the form of two teenage strikers, a somewhat unhappy Beattie coming off along with McFadden. Following a good pass by Rommedahl, Reid had a shooting chance, but Howard palmed the ball away. Howard came out well to save from Darren Bent.

A foul on Marcus Bent by Yobo led to a Charlton free kick. A one-two between Marcus Bent and Faye led to Faye putting the ball out of play. Throughout the match, his passing had been poor.

Everton looked as if they were settling for the draw while Charlton tried to find the three points. Reid bent the ball into the arms of Howard. Charlton applied pressure in the Everton half, but then Hreidarsson conceded a free kick. A good cross from Marcus Bent produced an intervention by Neville and a Charlton corner. Reid's corner was caught by Howard. Davis put in a shot from 30 yards that was just over the crossbar.

Four minutes were added on. Marcus Bent put in a cross, but Rommedahl scuffed his shot when he had an opportunity to score. El Karkouri had to make a challenge at the expense of a throw. A well worked build up led to Darren Bent blazing over from the 'D'. Everton got a free kick for a foul by Luke Young.

Carson made a great clearance to Darren Bent who lost it on the edge of the Everton penalty area.

Should we have started with 4-4-2 rather than 4-4-1-1? The second half was much better. The draw left Charlton bottom of the table on goal difference.

Fink Tank predicts Charlton win!

The Fink Tank in The Times using data provided by Warwick University's Decision Technology Group is usually full of doom and gloom about Charlton's prospects in a match and, unfortunately, has been rather accurate. However, today the boffins favour a Charlton win a 50% chance of a home win, a 25% chance of a draw and a 25% chance of an away win.

I wish I could be there for the first home outing of Les and Mark's barmy army. However, the bug I caught in South America has really got on top of me, after I struggled down to London yesterday for work reasons. I am trying to raise Paul May on his mobile to write a match report, but he usually likes a few bevvies on Friday night and with such an early kick off can be guaranteed to have something of a hangover.

It's doubly unfortunate as I'm now going to miss Liverpool at home as a mission to Lithuania is turning out to be more protracted and complicated than when I first volunteered for it.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Stormy weather ahead

And that's just the weather forecast for South-East England tonight when gale force winds and some structural damage to rusting football grounds is expected. The winds should ease in the morning, but gusts are still forecast to be strong enough to blow over Andy ('call me Andrew') Johnson as the former Palace player claims the rightful penalty he has been denied for so long.

Our record at home against the Toffeemen at The Valley has been reasonably good with three wins, three draws and two losses in the Premiership. Apparently the bookies have us at 5-4 on to be relegated, but if you look at the table our position is by no means irretrievable.

However, a lot of people in football believe it is possible to simply read off future results from past results. Tables in fact never show such symmetry, but a more convincing argument is the confidence one. Just as teams can have a winning run, it is difficult for teams to shake off a losing one. Go a goal down and their heads drop and new supremo Les Reed has admitted that there is a problem about the players' body language.

Having not seen the Reading match, it's difficult to say anything sensible about team selection except for what I would regard as the names that will always be on the sheet if they are not injured: Carson, Diawara, Young and Darren Bent, to which I would add Reid in midfield, not because there are no questions about him, but because of the alternatives.

Traore may be available after 90 minutes in the reserves, although perhaps on the bench given his lack of match fitness. He may still be suffering from being pulled over by the police for driving with no insurance, apparently believing that his agent had sorted it for him which says something about the life led by Premiership footballers. I bet he wouldn't have a bottle bought in duty free confiscated by French security on the grounds that it was 'forbidden'.

The Currant Bun has reported that 'Charlton are weighing up a move for Chinese wild man Zheng Zhi. He was banned for six months for spitting at a ref and left France’s Djibril Cisse with a broken leg in a friendly international. China skipper Zheng, 26, trained with Les Reed’s side yesterday and will be closely monitored by the club at the forthcoming Asian Games in Qatar. Reed said: 'My first impression is he could play in the Premiership but I’d need to see him playing in a competitive game before I can be certain.' Well he sounds competitive enough to me. Is this the new Charlton?

Actually, if we are going down that route we could use some of the lads I saw in a theme park of ethnic minorities in a remote part of China. One group had only been got out of the forest in the 1980s where they had caused real trouble of the authorities because of their penchant for head hunting. They were Afro-Caribbean in appearance and about 6ft. 4 ins. or more tall. They were supposed to be performing native folk dances, but looked very sullen and as if they might go back to their old ways any minute. At the very least they could be sent round to Palace to sort out Simon Jordan.

Perhaps because I am suffering from a chill picked up in Chile, I'm not feeling very optimstic and I'm going for a sticky match that ends 0-2 to the Toffeemen. I hope I am wrong. To counter my pessimism, I am considering wearing an Argentian shirt and cap tomorrow (from different clubs, but both compatible with Charlton colours). A small prize to anyone who can guess the teams involved.

Hooch the Pooch writes

Your match analyst tomorrow will be lucky spaniel Monty Martin from Blewbury, Oxon. Not only might he bring some luck to the team, but I am going to spend the day working with trainee dog reporter Ivy. As you know at the Association of Canine Match Analysts (do visit our web site: barking ) we work closely with MIAOW and in particular with Juneau the Soccer Cat whose father was flown over from Maine to improve the breeding stock in this country. Unfortunately, Ivy is not yet showing a sufficiently respectful attitude to cats and indeed chased next door's Cat up the garden when he called round for his elevenses, albeit he is a Coventry City supporter. I also hope to introduce her to the offside rule.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

New Irons boss has 'interesting' past

No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson

It had always been my hope that Charlton would one day fall under Icelandic ownership, but our country's banner now embraces the ground of Anne Boleyn, writes Olafur Johnasson. Well I can tell you a thing or two about the Mr Big who is behind the takeover of Thames Ironworks.

KR Reykjavik, one of Iceland's top clubs

First of all he was once a player and is now the chairman for my own club, KR, the oldest club in the country and with a well appointed ground (see picture). When I was on the list of Mr Gwyn Jones, you will remember me as 'KR Addick'.

But not to beat around the bush. This Eggert Mahnússon is only the front man, the real power behind the scenes is Bjorgólfur Gudmundsson (try saying that in a gale force wind). He was involved in a five year court case involving the collapse of an Icelandic shipping line in which there were 450 criminal counts (not all against him, of course). He was found guilty on five bookkeeping charges and he was sentenced to 12 months in the cooler suspended for two years.

Now the Hampsters are not glamour boys. But as the Times of London says today, 'in the present climate, any Barclays Premiership side with a substantial fan base is attractive - as long as they can maintain top-flight status'. Perhaps Charlton fails the test on both counts. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? That is for you to decide.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Are we Quilmes in disguise?

Buenoes Aeries, Argentina: When my cell phone rang when I was having breakfast this morning, I thought that I was about to be pursued by the local media on the question of the Malvinas/Falklands. But instead the dulcet tones of Les Reed came on to my phone urging me to get down to The Valley for the Carling Cup game against Wycombe. This sales pitch will have cost me money for an incoming call, but I think it´s a good marketing idea in principle. I was going to come anyway.

There are three matches to go in the Apertura here in Argentina and after sixteen games played Quilmes are stuck at the bottom with six points. Could that be our fate after sixteen games? Quilmes were beaten at home 2-1 yesterday by local rivals Banfield (read Palace). The local newspaper says, ´It was an intense match, but overall Banfield were the more dangerous.´

One idea we might try if things get really bad: the Racing Club versus San Lorenzo game was called off after fans from both sides blockaded the respective team buses. Racing fans went to the team´s hotel chanting ´They´re not playing without the fans.´ This was a reference to an order by the provincial government for the match to be played behind closed doors at La Plata as a response to the violence and intimidation that is plaguing football here.

No one I have talked to about football has ever heard of Charlton, although that might be different if we had any Argentinian players. Having two Uruguyans gives us something of a joke status. Global brand anyone?

Now I am heading home. I have enjoyed my brief stop here, even if Argentinians are like Italians on speed. It´s going to be a relief having not to struggle in Spanish any more.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Decapitation is not an option

2,500 years ago the pre-American peopls played a vigorous ball game. In order to encourage a competitive spirit the losing team was decapitated. This information I gained at the Museium of Pre-Colombian Art in Santiago today probably has no applicability at contemporary Charlton.

What is an issue is the point at which the right stratey becomes a minimax one, i.e., we cut our lossses by accepting relegation and concentrate on preparing for he Championship so that we are not in serious debt next season. In my view we are not at that point yet, but it could come by Christmas. However, one should never place too much emphasis on one game. Expecting an instant revival at Reading was always a somewhat forlorn hope.

That does not mean we should sell Darren Bent in the transfer window. I am sure that Darren would like to see the season out and the worst case scenario would be to let him go for an inadequate price.

Meanwhile, I would advise Gary Linneker to stick hs head in a large Walker´s crisp bag and stay there.

Catholica are blessed

Santiago, Chile. My schedule here has not permitted me to go to a match, but after three days of tough negotiations I relaxed last night by watching the replay of one of the day´s games on television. The Catholic University of Chile (better known as Catholica) and rated as one of the better teams in Chile were playing Cobrelda (of whom I know nothing). It was appropriate to support the home side as I had visited the campus earlier in the work and discovered that they had an English patron saint, St.Thomas More.

The stadium was not that large and seating was provided on bleachers on the American model. Cover was very limited and the capacity not that large and not filled. I would estimate the crowd at about 5,000. The most fanatical portion of the home crowd were singing a rather attractive song continuously throughout the match to a drumbeat. While singing they did a kind of jig which they kept up for several minutes after the end of the game. The orange clad supporters of the away side also made a lot of noise from their pen.

The producer often liked to show shots of attractive women in the crowd, one in particular even being featured leaving the ground. A woman fixing her belt also attracted prolonged attention.

I would compare the standard of play to the Championship. It was less fast than the Premiership, passing was fluent and accurate and the game was free flowing, but the finisihing was often poor. Catholica were also helped by their brilliant keeper Wirth who kept them in the game.

When an opposition player took a corner he was greeted by a howling mob behind mesh. A solitary policeman held a perspex shield upwards as a defence against missiles.

The game was decided by a penalty for Catholica early in the second half. The opposition keeper went in for great drama, marching up to the penalty keeper and then going to acclaim his supporters behind the goal. It was to no avail.

Any tackle led to a player rolling over in agony but the young referee had a good game while the linos understood the offside rule. After the game the referee was surrounded by a phalanx of policemen and escorted off the pitch.

Later today I travel to Argentina, leaving behind this modern and dynamic country which has a long history of friendship with Britain. Everyone in Chile from the country´s leadership to indigneous peoples in the barrio have made me mmost welcome and I am sorry that I cannot stay longer. However, I think that I have had enough of being constantly photographed.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Small earthquake in Chile. Not many dead.

Santiago, Chile: This was the classic joke about an uninteresting press story, but there is little interest in Santiago tonight about Charlton´s performance at Reading. I received some despairing texts from Addicks about the game, especially the defence, but local television only showed the top Premiership matches and then switched to the Spanish league.

Being so far away gives a strange sense of distance from current events at Charlton. Plus I have been distracted by the red carpet treatment I have received here which included a reception at the presidential palace and dinner with the acting foreign secretary. On the way back from a vineyard this afternoon, via an unplanned diversion via the largest barrio, I passed the stadium of the top local team, Colo Colo, which has a capacity of 50,000. But they are playing away today and I have not been able to fit in a match, although judging from the television the Chilean league is a lot slower than the Premiership.

Kappachino Kid sent me a ´going down´ message repeated several times. Perhaps, but I don´t think anything has any degree of certainty until Christmas. But having had a quick look at the other blogs, the consensus is gloomy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm Chileing out

It's been a dramatic 36 hours in the history of Charlton. The only comparable events I can remember are the replacement of Jimmy Seed by his nemesis Trotter and the 1984 bankruptcy crisis.

I'm now going to Chile out as I am off to Santiago. It's a long way to go for two days of meetings, even if I am going to be treated to drinks with the Governor of Santiago and a reception at the presidential palace. Incidentally, many of the Chilean football teams have English names, one of them being Everton. The great Chilean hero is apparently Arturo Prat which might be a good name for a match official.

So I won't be spending Saturday afternoon at the Reading game but in a Chilean vineyard. It's an important fixture, but as Peter Varney pointed out in his interview, we should not let everything rest on this one game.

As Peter Varney also said, it's a results business and I am sure that this was the main factor in leading to the departure of Iain Dowie, even if there were other issues. Given the amount we had laid out on transfers and wages, and the boost to the Sky TV contract next year, we couldn't afford to be relegated. So the board took a hard nosed decision to tackle the problem before it was too late. The board have served us well and I trust them to make the right decisions, even if there are risks involved.

Gossip at the time of the Seed departure was that Trotter had had his knife into him for some time, certainly relations were said not to be good. A very different story with Les Reed, of course, as this Daily Mail story makes clear:

Much is being made of us having the worst defensive record in the Premiership, but it seems to me that the problems are often caused by the midfield giving away possession and it is the Addicks midfield that remains my greatest area of concern.

In the words of Peter Varney, enjoy the game if you are going on Saturday. I will be back in the UK next Tuesday.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's Les Reed's red and white army!

The appointment of Les Reed is a permanent one, chief executive Peter Varney has revealed in a Sky Sports interview. At least that means that we won't be guided from the spirit world through a medium employed by Glen Hoddle. I think that Les Reed is a good choice. Varney said that they would like to get someone to help him out and many of the Addickted would favour Mark Kinsella or Chris Powell.

Varney managed to take a dig at the Orange One. Asked whether he had anything to say about Simon Jordan's comments on the situation he said that he did not get to watch much children's television these days.

It is evident that performance on the pitch was a key factor in the club's decisions, although Varney said that the court case launched by Jordan had been a distraction for Dowie who clearly did not expect to get the sack.

Arguably the club has acted commendably swiftly in taking decisive action before it was too late to stage a recovery, although the pressure will be on the new team to get results, starting at Reading on Saturday. If there are questions, it is about the appointment in the first place. If Dowie has problems in getting on with people, or has strange training methods that the players don't like, why wasn't this picked up in the first place.

As the newsreels said when Chamberlain stood down as prime minister, 'Thanks Mr Chamberlain for all you tried to do.' The phoney war is over, the real struggle to avoid relegation begins now.

And I'm quite pleased I sponsored Mark Robson this season rather than continuing to support the manager.

Les Reed's Red and White Army!

Richard Murray's statement

The statement from the web site is reproduced below with some comments by myself in square brackets:

Charlton confirmed on Tuesday morning that the contract of head coach Iain Dowie had been terminated by the club. Addicks plc chairman Richard Murray said: "One of the key features of our club during my time as chairman has been stability. It is something I feel is essential in all successful businesses. [I would agree and my great fear is a repeat of the post Jimmy Seed situation with a rapid turnover of increasingly inept managers as time went on] "It goes without saying, therefore, how hard it was after only 12 Premiership matches to reach the decision we have."

He added: "Over the past two weeks we have conducted a review of the structure we put in place during the summer which involved all senior football management staff. [So did they get it wrong in the first place? But clearly the decision has not been a snap one] "The results of this review have, we believe, left us with little option but to act in the manner we have. "Crucially we had to consider whether we believed our current situation would improve and we reluctantly came to the conclusion that it would not. [It would be interesting to know how they came to that conclusion] "In the situation we find ourselves in, it is also vital that everyone works as a team. Unfortunately, I have to say that has not been the case. [Intruguing. What does this refer to?] "By committing some £11.2m on new players in the summer we believe we demonstrated our support for Iain Dowie, as we have also done by backing him with the malicious legal action initiated against him by Simon Jordan." {Yeah, good rebuke to Jordan]

Murray concluded: "What we need at this time is as little disruption as possible and accordingly the club has promoted Les Reed to head coach and Mark Robson to assistant head coach. [The right choice in the circumstances] "Both have a solid Charlton pedigree and I am confident they will do everything within their power,
together with the players, to turn our season around."

What does this not say is what time period applies to the Reed and Robson appointment. Is it an interim appointment, does it last for the rest of the season, or are they actively seeking someone else? I would be happy for Reed and Robson to be given a chance to see what they can do.

Hoddle in frame

The early morning calm of SE7 was punctuated by Addicks dancing in the streets as Radio 5 forecast that Glenn Hoddle would be the new Charlton manager. A Sidcup Hospital spokesman said, 'A number of Charlton fans have been admitted after choking on their cornflakes.'

I cannot believe that Hoddle would be an improvement on Dowie. Let us hope that this is just idle media speculation.

Radio 5 interviewed Deano and Addicks fan Vince N (I can't spell his name). Deano placed his trust in the Charlton leadership, saying that they were 'fantastic' people who had the best interests of the club at heart and were not on an ego trip. He emphasised, 'Players and managers come and go, but the club will remain.'

Vince's basic line was that he was gobsmacked, but he dealt well with what I thought was a silly line of questioning by the Radio 5 presenters who argued that Dowie's performance had been undermined by his separation from his family.

Removal of Dowie leaves Addickted stunned

Yesterday evening I was early for a meeting at the Royal Horseguards Hotel. For November it was a mild and tranquil evening so I spent some time on the Embankment watching the river flow down towards Greenwich, the Thames Barrier and Charlton. Little did I know the drama that was unfolding downstream as the club announced that 'Iain Dowie has tonight left Charlton.' When I received a text message with the news later in the evening, I was as stunned as most of the Addickted.

On Sunday I said in The Observer that Charlton was not a 'revolving door' club, yet Dowie's 15 games in charge is, I believe, the same as the tenure of Ken Craggs. who also 'By Charlton standards at the time ... invested heavily during his short time as boss according to The Valiant 500.

We will not know the reasons for Dowie's departure until the press conference later today, and even then may not know the full story. Was the 3-2 defeat at Wigan, hardly a thumping and played in strange weather conditions, the final straw? Richard Murray has said that relegation is not an option, so did the board think that the time had come to pull the plug while there was still time for the club to get itself out of the relegation positins?

The Daily Mail is suggesting that there may have been a rift with general manager Andrew Mills, but although some internal disagreements are unavoidable in a football club, it seems unlikely that that was the main reason. The paper also suggested that the club was nervous about what might be revealed in the court case with Palace next month and Jordan has been piling in with his comments. The Jordan writ did not get Dowie's tenure off to the best start. At least the Mail did not suggest that house prices might plummet in SE7 following the shock news.

Alan Curbishley ruled himself out of returning to the club, although he might not have left in the first place if he had known that a transfer budget of the size that Dowie has enjoyed was available. Curbs was able to maintain a far from rich club in the Premiership, but things were starting to go stale towards the end of his tenure. He could grind out results, but the kind of football this required was driving away fans. Equally, I think the charge that Dowie was 'burdened' with players he inherited is spurious. He was able to make eight new signings and some of the players he was 'burdened' with were the likes of Darren Bent, while I have always thought that criticisms of players like Marcus Bent and Hughes have been exaggerated.

It is unclear how much Charlton will have to pay Dowie in compensation. A figure of £3 million has been suggested, but others have hinted that there might have been some let out clause for an early departure which prompted action now.

So what now? It wasn't easy to find a replacement for Curbs and many of those interviewed are now being far from successful in the Championship. The notion of Curbs going to Upton Park and Pardew coming to The Valley seems far fetched to me, although I would welcome Pardew.

Presumably Les Reed and Mark Robson will serve as caretakers. If one bolstered that team with someone like Mark Kinsella, it could be one way forward in a difficult situation.

Without more information, it is difficult to second guess the board's decision. I hope that events do not unsettle the players too much, as some of them were evidently enthusiastic about Dowie. My basic instinct is to trust the board and hope that they can find a way out of the biggest crisis at the club since the return from Selhurst.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Double Bent news

Darren Bent has pulled out of the England squad for Wednesday's match against The Netherlands because of a hamstring problem. An alternative explanation is that is his bench cushion got soaked through when it was inadvertently left out in the torrential rain in Wigan on Saturday. In any event it is important that Bent is fit for the key fixture against a resurgent Reading next Saturday.

Birmingham City have renewed their interest in Marcus Bent and may be prepared to offer £2m in the transfer window. Many of the Addickted have little time for Big Bent, although it is arguable that he is at least as good as Hasselbaink. However, an offer of that size would be very tempting.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Defensive flaws let Charlton down

Perhaps we should have been alerted by conceding three goals at Chesterfield on Tuesday, but after a series of relatively solid defensive performances, Charlton were let down by errors at the back at Wigan today. The Lactics had too much time and space for their first two goals and Carson should have dealt better with their third. 'Double Bent' (one created by Darren Bent rather than scored by him) goals could not offset the three scored by the home side in the 3-2 defeat.

I wasn't too hopeful of getting anything out of this match and it was an improvement on last year's 3-0 drubbing. The problem is not that we are getting hammered, or even that our play lacks fluency, but we never quite match the opposition in all aspects of the game for ninety minutes. And that way lies the Championship.

On our arrival at the JJB we were greeted by pickets protesting about the low wages paid by the club's owners in his business. The programme contained no less than a five page spread on former Addick (and Lactic) Brendan O'Connell, described as a 'striker', although I remember him as a utility midfield player brought in after the sale of Lee Bowyer. Before the match away supporters were able to sit in a very large lounge (The Marquee), watch the Massives game on a large screen and enjoy a drink and a pie or, in my case, an excellent cup of coffee. Even home fans don't get that at The Valley.

Darren Bent broke through early on, but it led to nothing more than a Charlton throw in. Carson was called on for an early save. Wigan got a corner and the home supporters thought that it was in the net, but later pictures showed that it was cleared off the line by Young. Reid provided an excellent ball and if Ambrose could have been bothered to run on to it, something might have been made of it.

Playing 4-5-1, it was evident that we were seeking to contain Wigan, but the strategy broke down in the 13th minute. Kirkland in the Wigan goal kicked a long ball upfield, assisted by W Wind. Diawara failed to make the header, although some allowance has to be made for the very blustery conditions. El Karkouri was wandering around in a space of his own and Lee McCulloch had no difficulty in making it 1-0.

In the follow up to the goal, Charlton had plenty of possession, but simply couldn't make it count. Wigan were difficult to penetrate, marking well, and dangerous on the break. Over the game as a whole, the Addicks had nearly two-thirds of the possession.

Hapless Matt Holland blasted the ball over the Wigan goal. Darren Bent made a good run, the ball was played back to the unmarked Thomas in a good position but he blasted the ball over to his evident dismay.

Paul Scharner fouled Andy Reid and was awarded a yellow card. At The Valley this might have produced some annoyance and a few remarks about the Onanist habits of the referee (Banbury's Dermot Gallagher had a good game), but the Wigan fans went ballistic and booed Reid every time he got the ball. This reaction and their behaviour after the game led me to conclude that what they lack in numbers they make up for in partisanship.

Thomas was fouled, producing an Addicks free kick and Kirkland had to save on the floor from Hreidarsson. On 40 minutes Camara put in an excellent angled shot which left Carson with no chance to make it 2-0. Darren Bent won Charlton a corner, but it failed to give the Addicks a chance to get back in the game.

Half time: Lactics 2, Addicks 0

Holland was pulled off after the break and replaced by Hasselbaink. A Wigan corner was wasted by the home side. Charlton got a free kick in a promising position and Reid's effort went over the wall but also over the bar.

On 51 minutes Darren Bent burst through and although the well taken strike was actually by De Zeuw, the goal was created by Bent. Charlton now started to apply some pressure. Thomas put in some more good work, then Hreidarsson put Bent through one on one with Kirkland, but the keeper made a good save. Wigan were clearly not happy with the way things were going as they pulled off Cotterill and brought on Valencia. Carson made a good save. Wigan made another substitution, one household name (David Wright) being replaced by another (Denny Landzaat).

Luke Young fed Thomas who turned provider for Bent, leading to a Charlton corner, but the corner was over hit by Ambrose. Webster was pulled off and replaced by Matt Jackson. Diawara, who presumably had taken a knock, was replaced by Kishishev. A Charlton corner eventually led to a free kick. I was surprised on 75 minutes to see some Wigan fans leaving which must be an early leavers' record, but perhaps they had to put in a few hours at the JJB warehouse to earn their admission money.

Faye defended well, but conceded a free kick in the process. The unmarked substitute Jackson was able to head into the goal to make it 3-1, scoring his first goal in three years. The defending was simply not good enough and Carson could have done better as was evident by the way he showed his frustration.

The hapless Ambrose was at last replaced by Marcus Bent. Carson made a poor kick out and showed his despair. Then on 90 minutes Marcus Bent saw his chance and the much derided striker scored a well taken goal. Big Bent subsequently went down injured and there was simply not enough time for an equaliser.

Statisticians have already been at work to show that we cannot avoid relegation. They may be right, but if that mindset takes hold of the Addickted, it will communicate itself to the players and actually reduce our chances of escaping regulation.

Another argument being put forward is that we should avoid having a cup run. I agree that the league is more important, but we can't set out to lose matches and a cup run would boost morale and bring us prestige and funds.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch's scores in The Observer tomorrow are previewed here. The Silver Bone was awarded to Darren Bent (7) not just for a well taken goal, but for his skill and commitment throughout the match. Young (6) did try to forge forward and to defend as best as he could, but he did not look like an England player. Diawara (7) was decisive and effective and it was worrying to see him withdrawn, presumably because of an injury. El Karkouri (6) actually put some quite good long balls forward. Hreidarsson (6) was energetic and determined and quite a threat in attack. Faye (6) did play his part, but was not in the game as much as I would have liked.
Holland (5) made a very limited contribution and was rightly withdrawn at half time. Ambrose (4) has plenty of advocates, but I consider that he offered very little today. He needs to run into potentially promising positions more. Thomas (7) was a real danger on the wing, a shame that he cannot shoot straight. Reid (7) was all hustle and bustle and generally to good effect, he managed to rile the opposition crowd. Hasselbaink (5) made little difference when he came on.
Kishishev (5) was poor. Marcus Bent (6) at least managed to score a goal in the short time he was on. A case for a double Bent starting partnership.

Hiss of the Match This was almost given by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the lippy twelve year old supporters that Wigan seems to attract, but cats do not like torrential wind and rain. Not only was the match affected by blustery conditions, but torrential rain and driving wind marked the walk back to the car park and we were soaked through. Hence, Juneau gave the hiss to the weather.

Crowd rating: The Addickted were not in out in force, but they managed to out sing the home crowd at the beginning of the match, but their volume turned up once they had scored their first goal, resorting to a chant of 'going down'. 6/10.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bent in, Young out

Darren Bent is included in the England squad for the forthcoming friendly against Holland, but Luke Young is left out. Manchester City defender Micah Richards has been drafted in and as he can play at right back as well as in central defence may be seen as a replacement for the Charlton captain.

'Bent has been included because he comes with his own cushion', a FA spokesman explained. 'He is a patient and polite guy who is happy to sit on the bench and learn from his betters.'

Wigan preview

This isn't the easiest of previews to write because I probably know less about Wigan than any other Premiership club because they get so little media coverage. And there isn't much in the way of previous form to go on, beyond a 3-0 drubbing last year.

There was some anticipation that the Lactics might face 'second season blues', but this has not proved to be the case and they are sitting comfortably at 11th in the table. Much of the credit for that must go to their excellent manager Paul Jewell.

This is probably an occasion for 4-5-1, although it would work best if Rommedahl is fit and he could partner Thomas on the wings. Reid and Faye are obvious picks for the next two midfield places. Who the fifth person should be is more difficult. Holland apparently had to go into hospital after he found that he was blind in one eye after last week's match. He was there at Chesterfield, although not on the bench. Hughes and Kishishev both had poor games on Tuesday. Ambrose is the other option, but I was less impressed by his performance as a sub at Saltergate than some people were. So that might imply 4-4-2 after all.

The back line more or less picks itself, assuming that El K can come in to replace the error prone Fortune. Now that Ramadan is over the Moroccan is eating and drinking in the daytime which should boost his performance (that also applies to Faye).

Charlton badly needs three points for this match, but I would take a draw, although I fear it will be a defeat. I hope to see some of you at the JJB stadium tomorrow.
Hooch the Pooch is match analyst and will also be reporting in The Observer on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Two Nordic tales

Addicks keeper Thomas Myhre may be on his way back to Norway in the January transfer window. He is a target for his former club Viking Stavanger. The Addickted hope that Scott Carson will not be recalled by Liverpool in January or we would need another keeper to play alongside Stephan Andersen who never quite fulfilled his early promise (while Darren Randolph remains a hope for the future).

Former Addick Matthias Svensson won the Swedish League last Sunday with the club he originally come from, Elfsborg [sic], together with Anders Svensson, who came from the same club and played for Southampton. Matt provided the assist for the only goal in the final game with a fellow team member putting it over the line. A Swedish correspondent writes, 'Matt has been one of the best forwards through the hole [sic] season and it was the first time in 45 years Elfsborg won the Swedish League, Allsvenskan, so both Mr Svenssons are very popular in the rather small town Borås who has a little bit more than 100 000 citizens.' Pity he never quite did the business for us.

I See History Made

The Charlton terrace at Saltergate before most of the Addickted arrived, photo credit Brian Cole

I saw club history made at Chesterfield last night when Charlton advanced to the quarter finals of the league cup for the first time. But they did it only by the skin of their teeth, thanks to two saves by Scotty Carson in the penalty shoot out. It had been 1-1 at half time, 2-2 at full time, the Addicks had gone ahead early in extra time, but then conceded a late goal to make it 3-3, before winning 4-3 on penalties.

It was unusual experience to park up near the ground with no difficulty. Before the match we were treated by a pom pom and dancing display by the 'Spirex' - at least I think that is what they were called.

The Spireites won a corner in the first minute and it was a surreal experience to see the ball put in the net by Larkin for the home side. Carson came out dangerously and exposed his goal but fortunately the home side was unable to take advantage. Marcus Bent jumped well for the ball. Diawara provided good defensive work. The Spireites were being given too much space and a shot went just over the bar.

Charlton put in a free kick, but no one was able to connect. The Herminator was hurt, but recovered. A cross came across the open goal but was missed. Then Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink burst through to make it 1-1. Diawara conceded a corner and Carson fumbled but the Spireit corner was wasted. Diawara put in a great tackle.

We were playing the ball up in the air too much, being dispossessed of the ball too easily and one had the sense that the home side wanted it just that little bit more.

Half time: Spireites 1, Addicks 1

Once again the Spirites won a corner at the beginning of the half and once again they were able to score from a near post header, this time the delivery being by their star striker Caleb Folan.

There was handbags at six paces and Fortune and Folan got booked. A Charlton free kick led to a Charlton corner and then a second go. Luke Young won the Addicks a corner. Reid made an excellent run but put in a poor shot when he could have passed the ball. A tame effort by Kishishev went over.

Iain Dowie decided that the time had come to make some changes and Marcus Bent and Hughes were withdrawn to be replaced by Darren Ambrose and Darren Bent. Carson had to make a save from distance. Charlton won a corner and in the subsequent play Darren Bent put in a shot along the ground that scythed through a mass of the players to put the ball in the net in front of the Addickted on the terrace. They went ballistic and one was escorted out of the ground.

Kishishev was replaced by Faye. A Fortune error put Carson in danger, but he was able to make the save. Darren Bent won the Addicks a corner, followed by a second. Thomas turned provider for Hasselbaink, but giant keeper Roche made a good save with his foot. A Charlton corner led to an effort by Reid.

Chesterfield withdrew Folan and brought on Wayne Allison. In the three minutes added on, Luke Young was called on for good defensive work.

Full time: Spirites 2, Addicks 2

The start of extra time saw the withdrawal of the speedy winger Paul Hall, whom I have seen play in the past for Portsmouth and Rushden, and his replacement by Adam Smith, the Spireites showing real enterprise in resurrecting a long dead Scottish economist to boost their squad.

The nerves of the Addickted were settled early on when Hasselbaink made it 3-2. The keeper subsequently had to save from the striker. The Spireites won a succession of corners, two of which were down to Fortune.

A Spireites corner was caught by Carson. Ambrose made a good run down the wing, but then spoilt things with a poor ball. Reid put in a shot which was inches wide. The Spireites withdrew Colin Larkin and brought on Gareth Davies.

Faye received a yellow card for delaying a free kick. A huge gap appeared in the Charlton defence and substitute Allison was able to make it 3-3.

After extra time: Spirites 3, Addicks 3

The penalties were taken in front of the Kop. The Spirites went ahead, but Darren Bent equalised with ease. Hasselbaink's shot was saved, but Carson saved the next penalty and Reid made it 2-2. A Spireite success, another Carson save and a strike by Ambrose made it 3-3 leaving it to the Herminator to win the match for the Addicks.

Iain Dowie went to applaud the crowd, but someone on the terrace had something derogatory to say to him and it was suggested that the Addicks supremo invited him to continue the conversation outside.

All credit to Chesterfield for their spirited performance, they gave us a lot of trouble, but in the end we were able to win the day.

Match analysis

Senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch has awarded the Silver Bone to Scott Carson for two penalty saves that kept Charlton in the competition. Fortune made a couple of serious errors and generally did not seem to be up to the standard required. Diawara was a real star and was presented a special commemorative silver biscuit by Hooch the Pooch. He seemed to appreciate the 'He comes from Senegal, he really hates Millwall' song. Young made some good runs down the wing and some good defensive contributions. Hreidarsson was full of passion, riled the home crowd in the 'Kop' and scored the winning penalty. Kishishev had a poor night and was eventually substituted. Thomas seemed somewhat subdued in the earlier part of the game, but really came into his own in the second half. Hughes showed one or two of the flashes of quality he sometimes displays against lower league opposition, but they were few and far between. Reid was once again the playmaker, making some great runs on goal and scoring his penalty with aplomb. Marcus Bent's performance was insipid and he was rightly substituted. Hasselbaink scored two goals and you can't ask for more than that, but one sometimes wishes for a greater turn of speed. Faye helped to change the game in favour of the Addicks when he came on. The Spireites blamed Darren Bent for changing the game when he came on and there was no doubting his quality. Ambrose had a couple of excellent runs, but I am not sure that his performance justified the arguments of his advocates.

Hiss of the Match This awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to fussy, self-satisfied drainpipe of a referee Old Mother Riley.

Crowd rating: We had a few humourists among us, one of whom brought a smile from Darren Bent when he was a sub by shouting 'Darren, we know the pies in the service station on the way up were no good.' The lino on our side was an offisde enthusiast and was advised not to bend over when he came up our end. The 800 or so Addickted made all the noise they could. 8/10.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Can Iain Dowie make history?

Can Iain Dowie make history at Chesterfield tomorrow and get Charlton beyond the fourth round of the league cup? The Spireites have already dispatched two Premiership teams, hence for those who like to read results off the tables, it would seem that the Addicks would be an even easier target.

There seems remarkably little discussion of the visit of Charlton on the Chesterfield message boards I looked at. Indeed, the main theme seemed to be 'are we going down?' The one Charlton related theme started with a complaint from a fan who lives near The Valley and wished it was an away fixture.

Darren Bent is so essential to our Premiership survival plans that I would rest him tomorrow and play Hasselbaink and Big Bent up front. A cup game against lower league opposition is the sort of occasion when Bryan Hughes thrives and I would start him. It might also be the sort of game when Kishishev should start. Myhre will probably be given an outing in goal. [It has been suggested elsewhere that he is injured so it could be Andersen].

It will be my first visit to Saltergate and I will be sharing a bench (the seated accommodation on offer) with Brian Cole who always reminds me that he goes to see Charlton play in the ground rather than the ground itself.

Hooch the Pooch has been named as match analyst and the lack of arrangements for dog reporters in the cramped press facilities has led to the provision of a special touchline kennel. Because of work commitments, it may be late on Wednesday before a match report is filed.

I am forecasting a 2-1 win for the Addicks.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Massive Victory

Even if it did not move them off the bottom of he table, thanks to the suprise victory of the Blades over the Barcodes, Charlton's 1-0 victory over Manchester City at The Valley this afternoon was a massive one. It was the fourth clean sheet in a row and although Charlton still lacked sufficient firepower, Darren Bent's well-taken goal was enough to secure victory.

The Addicks had to absorb a lot of pressure from the Massives in the second half and sometimes defended too deep, but they held the line, even if it sometimes meant clearong off the line! City's corners were particularly threatening in contrast to those of Charlton that were typically tame.

There was a lot of parking warden activity in roads near the grounds a couple of hours before the match and many spaces that were normally filled were empty, but they had disappeared nearer the time of the match and no tickets seem to have been issued. Raucous City fans made us leave the pub earlier than usual and we understand that they later received a visit from the Manchester police.

In the first minute of the game Andy Reid shot just wide after good work by Rommedahl. A good move started by Luke Young ended in an unproductive Charlton corner. Carson spilled a City corner and there was danger in front of goal which led to a second City corner which resulted in a Charlton throw in. Rommedahl burst through and won Charlton a corner.

Rommedahl turned provider for Reid who drew a save. Reid put a good ball in, but Darren Bent just failed to connect. A City corner led to a Richards header, but Thomas cleared off the line. On 28 minutes Thomas put in a great ball to Bent who put his diving header beyond Weaver at the far post to make it 1-0.

Bent turned provider for Reid, but his effort went over. El Karkouri delivered a great tackle to deny the maruading Dickov, but this led to three City corners in succession. Darren Bent seemed to receive an elbow and required treatment. As half time approached, Samaras put in a fierce shot but Carson flung himself at the ball to make a brilliant save.

Half time: Addicks 1, Massives 0

The injured Rommedahl was withdrawn at the start of the half and replaced by Bryan Hughes. Carson had to dive at the feet of Beasley to make a save. Beasley injured himself and was replaced by Vassell. Reid positioned himself well to put in a good drive which required Weaver to excel himself. The ball went to Bent, but his effort was also dealt with by the popular keeper.

City made a double substitution on 63 minutes with Trabelsi replacing Dickov and Corradi coming on for Samaras. El Karkouri received a yellow for a foul. A City free kick led to a corner. Hreidarsson provided good defensive work, blunting a City attack at the expense of a throw in.

A City corner was caught by Carson. Diawara displayed his defensive abilities. After a good move started by Reid, Bent put in a shot that was just wide of the post. Popular Millwall reject Thatcher received a yellow card for a foul on Faye. Carson had to make another great save, this time from Corradi. Trabelsi put in a dangerous shot from distance that came off the post, enabling Carson to make the save.

A City corer went straight into the side netting to derisive jeers. Reid received a standing ovation when he was replaced on 87 minutes by Hasselbaink. Luke Young was called on to provide good defensive work. A City free kick was saved. The four minutes of time added on seemed like an eternity, but Bent turned provider for Hasselbaink, but his header drifted wide. Then the whistle blew and the Addickted were able to celebrate.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch awarded the Silver Bone to Scott Carson (9) for some brilliant saves that kept Charlton in the match. Other scores that will appear in The Observer tomorrow are: Young, 6 did what he had to do well, but not prominent.El Karkouri, 7 he made some really good interventions. Diawara, 8 authoritative, not afriad to do the simple thing, the best central defender we have had since Rufus. Hreidarsson, 6 not that involved, be interesting to see what happens when Gibbs, Traore and Sorondo are available. Faye, 6 showed some nice touches and generally did his job well, but not a dominant influence. Rommedahl, 7 gave Charlton an ability to penetrate the Massives defence in the first half. Thomas, 6 had a considerable influence in the first half, but faded in the second and possibly should have been substituted. Reid, 8 a real playmaker and a threat on goal himself. Holland, 6 Kappachino Kid thought that he had an outstanding game, I thought that he simply maintained the improved standard he has show in recent matches. Bent, 7 goal was excellent, but was often isolated on his own up front. Hughes, 5 apart from one clearing header, contributed very little, but could come into his own at Chesterfield. Hasselbaink had a short cameo during which he failed to take a scoring opportunity, but I am not going to write him off yet.

Hiss of the Match This was awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to lippy Dickov for his constant harangues of the unusually competent officials.

Crowd rating: In the second half the crowd had great fun with City keeper Nicky Weaver including chants of 'Who's the self abuser in the green' and 'Rent boy'. Apparently we have been voted the quietest crowd in the Premiership and we were subdued in the first half. 7/10.

Fink Tank can't make its mind up

The Fink Tank in today's Times cannot make its mind up about the result of today's clash between Charlton and Manchester City today. They give an almost three way split in their prediction with a slight edge in favour of an away win.

With Thomas unlikely to be available at least to start because of his bruised hip, a 4-5-1 formation looks unlikely so it will be 4-4-2 up front with Hasselbaink and Bent seeing if they can combine effectively. Some of the problems, however, have resulted from poor service from midfield with the forwards often having to rely on clearances from Carson or hoofs from El K.

I'm hoping we can keep it tight at the back and sneak a goal so I am going for a 1-0 win.

Free programme collection

An Addick is offering a collection of programmes free of charge:

Complete sets of home programmes (except for one season, as noted).. First team only, including most of the cup games.
04/05 (Minus the Arsenal game)

I am happy to deliver them locally, i.e. ten mile radius of Dartford.

If you are interested, contact me at and I will put you in touch.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New dog reporter signed

Ever since Homer the Cherry Hound accepted a permanent position as dog reporter at Didcot Town following their promotion to the British Gas South and West Division, the ranks of the canine match analysts at Charlton have been depleted to two (Hooch the Pootch from Long Itchington, Warks and Monty Martin from Blewbury, Oxon).

Hooch has been engaged in a quest for a new dog reporter, but it has not been easy. Last Saturday he went to meet a dog in Coventry who turned out to be a Sky Blue, was disrepectful to cats and turned on Homer after they had been for a walk together.

However, Hooch is now pleased to announced the signing of Ivy, a young German Shepherd from the Dogs Trust in Honiley. He commented, 'She will need intensive training in the club's history, the rules of the game and player recognition, but she is very willing to learn but I am confident she will succeed as our first girl dog reporter.' He added, 'Unfortunately she has been sharing a kennel with a Blews suppporter who told they are going up and we are going down.'

Hooch remarked that even an experienced canine reporter like himself found player recognition difficult. He did not know what Gibbs looked like and had difficulty in remembering Sorondo's appearance (and it almost seems like one).

Hooch's match analysis and player ratings against the Massives will appear in The Observer on Sunday.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dowie backs Ambrose after transfer rumours

Iain Dowie has declared his backing for Darren Ambrose after reports that Manchester City might make a move for him in the transfer window.

'He knows he needs to be a bit more reliable with his final ball and his contribution to the team,' said Dowie. 'But he is a talented lad and there should be room in any Premiership team for Darren Ambrose. Hopefully he will show his form sooner rather than later.'

Since arriving at The Valley from Newcastle Ambrose has never really secured a regular place in the Charlton side despite uncertainties about the strength of the midfield.