Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Don't Leave Early...

If you're the type of fan to leave early to beat the traffic then you'd have missed another late, late Charlton winner last night courtesy of Dervite's powerful header. As was the case against QPR, the goal came via an excellent corner, this time from Jackson. The Valley erupted once more. A rare and vital goal. The win lifts Charlton out of the bottom three with further games in hand, and after a third consecutive clean sheet and some small but encouraging signs of progress on the field, Addicks will be hoping we can keep it that way. One thing is clear, the spirit of Powell lives on in these players and their desire and fight remains unquestionable.
Credit must be given to Jose Riga for embracing that element of Charlton, even if you still do so through gritted teeth. I like the way he has carried himself at a very difficult time. My early impressions are that he is a good man. After 3 games I think we can begin to analysis his team selections enough to call into question any accusations of him being a puppet of Duchatelet. 
After an uninspiring and error-strewn start Riga was decisive enough to make a refreshingly early substitution, bringing on Obika for Harriott late in the first half. It was tough on the young winger; he looked willing but heavy legged. It was the right call and it made a huge difference. One of the louder criticisms of Powell's management was his reluctance to use his subs early enough.
Even Sordell's appearance lifted Charlton going forward!  
The sub-plot of the evening was the return of our former Breton Warrior, Yann Kermorgant. It was tough enough watching him go through his usual routine of taking free-kicks into an empty goal during the warm-up, let alone the prospect of watching him actually playing against us. He was rightfully well received on occasions and was open in his appreciation back. 
His appearance last night - and the build up to it - reminded me of the one and only time I ever got to see my footballing hero, Paul Gascoinge, play. It was back in '98 and fresh from promotion to the Premier league we entertained Middlesbrough at the Valley. Gazza was fading, we knew that, but I worshiped that man; still do in many ways. For weeks I was looking forward to that fixture, hoping Gazza would stay fit. I wanted to see the Gazza that had given me the chance to dream of World Cup glory 8 years previous. Bizarrely, once the ref blew for the start of the game I wanted nothing more than for Keith Jones to nullify his obvious threat (coincidentally, at the time, Keith Jones was one of my favourite players). Older Addicks may recall that Jones' performance in man-marking Gazza was so good the England playmaker was taken off at half time. He had a truly awful game and gave a penalty away midway through the first half.
By the way, I'll never forget Gazza's appearance at the Valley that day by virtue of the reaction he received from the Covered End. As he prepared to take a corner the entire Covered End stood in unison to give him a heartfelt standing ovation. For a moment Gazza looked stunned and confused as if unsure if the applause was for someone else. It was a great moment born out of respect for one of the finest players England have ever produced.
Full of surprises, The Covered End chanted the name of Jose Riga for the first time yesterday. Some will say it was too early after Powell's departure. Some will say it shows how fickle fans can be. I admit I found it rather weird, but upon reflection I'm pleased it has happened. For Charlton to have any chance of surviving we need to support the team.
Last word on young Diego Poyet. What a player he is. As the pain of loosing Powell subsides with the passing of time, I'm filling with dread at the prospect of Poyet leaving for nothing more than a nominal development fee in the summer. Whatever that fee is will be light-years away from his true worth. It looks highly unlikely Charlton will be able to offer him a contract comparable to some of the heavyweight teams waiting in the shadows. That lad is destined for very big things. Shame it won't be with us.

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