Monday, 10 March 2014

Steel City Heartbreak...

I tried really hard on Saturday to pay little attention to the Championship results elsewhere even though I knew only too well they were horrendous enough to have left Charlton rooted to the bottom of the league. This weekend we could put our perilous league position to one side. This weekend was about chasing FA Cup glory. It was about us enjoying rare cup success. We was just 90 mins from a Wembley semi-final; so close we allowed ourselves to dream a little. So close...and yet in reality, light-years away.

Deep down we all knew how it would end up. In a way, if you think about it, Charlton don't really disappoint you at all. They are actually frighteningly consistent.

And it all started so well. Me and my mate, Bolts, drove up to Sheffield on Saturday afternoon determined to make the most of the weekend. Sheffield has something like 10 independent breweries and we were both more than happy to give them as much support as we could in our short stay.

As soon as we ditched our bags in the hotel we headed over to The Fat Cat in the Kelham Island area of Sheffield. I got stuck into a delightful pork pie and an outstanding pint of 'Breakfast Stout' from the Ales Without Limits Brewery. It was a good start. The beer calmed my nervous tension a little but I would need more. Before long we was joined by fellow Addicks, Al, Jim, Marco & Crispy. Ales flowed and the merriment continued in the Dada Bar nearer the city centre where I found comfort in the excellent Founders 'All Day IPA' session ale.

After the mandatory late-night curry and a few drunken renditions of various Grandmaster Flash tunes on the walk back to the hotel we retired to our rooms content and full of hope. It was a very good day spent with some good chaps.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was shit. Yesterday was not so much about enjoying a few beers with mates it was about winning games of football. Thanks in part to a shocking kick off time we managed neither.

5,000 or so travelling Addicks turned up in force and in great voice, but once again, when the spotlight was on them, Charlton didn't.

If success was measured in short, meaningless passes across our back four then Charlton would not have a care in the world. Except it isn't. Our forward play is frighteningly slow and completely devoid of ideas. We just don't look like we're ever going to score. The general consensus amongst fans post match was that there was not enough effort or passion. I don't share that view. This is a team that is even struggling to put a brave face on to hide a complete lack of confidence. We are about as fragile as a football team can get.

It doesn't help when the team is disjointed by questionable decisions from Powell and a lack of options in the squad (I accept the two are not mutually exclusive). Jordan Cousin is not, and never will be, a right-sided midfielder. We missed his drive and force in the centre of the pitch where our talismanic skipper never stopped running but chased shadows for most of the game. Harriott looks the part and may turn out to be a real player, but for now, his feet are clearly much quicker than his ability to make the right choices at the right time. It's hard to pick out a single player who played anywhere near his potential.

And why no Ajdarevic from the start? I don't understand why our most creative player was not on the pitch from the start. You sacrifice creativity over effort if you're playing for a draw, perhaps, but this was winner takes all. No, I just don't get it.

Our full backs looked frightened to cross the half way line for reasons known only to them. Both are more than capable of rampaging up and down the flanks. We rely on them doing so but they didn't.

Sometimes, Charlton, you have to roll the dice and attempt a forward pass, even if it has an element of risk. That's how chances are created. And no, when I say forward I don't mean a Morrison style 40 yard up in the air special!

Sheffield may not be a better side individually, but they showed how important it is to have belief as a team. Yes they got lucky with the second goal, perhaps even the first, to some degree, but they deserved it. No questions about that. So in the end, Charlton blew it yet again. Full credit to Sheffield United, their fans were loud and passionate and they deserved to win. I have come away from this game with a new respect for that football club. Bramall Lane is a great, tradition football stadium and today it was absolutely rocking. I wish them every success in the semi-final.

And as for Charlton, we have a series of 'cup finals' coming up starting on Wednesday against Huddersfield at the Valley followed by the small matter of Millwall away next Saturday. There is so much uncertainty behind the scenes at Charlton that it's hard to see a positive outcome to all of this. Without the carrot of a Wembley cup semi-final as an incentive, I'm left to wonder what's left for the players. After all, with so many of this team and perhaps even the manager looking certain to leave in a few month, why should they give a shit?

I do hope I am wrong...


  1. How true !!!

    ..... and where is the next goal coming from ?
    The last two performances have been absolute pony up front !!

  2. Could not have put it better re Cousins and Adjaveric. Team selection was wrong and contributed to the unfoldoing defeat. And as for bringing on Green when we were scrummaging for a goal, he has yet to make a worthwhile contribution in the games he has played (when he has made some impact it's been negated bny giving away stupid fouls or passes that we have paid dearly for).
    He should have moved Wilson forward, who can beat a man and cross, and why not bring on a right back on the bench (who I have yet to see, but is at least a right back).
    We can recommend Derby as a good ponbernioghjter mand beer stop. On arroibval, we were hoping to catch the Millwall supporters departing in gloom, biut got the opposite)

    1. Don't get me started on Green and Wilson should definitely been moved forward and Nego brought on.

  3. Chunks of that Ted should be hung up on the dressing room wall.

  4. Thanks for the comments, Anon, Mike and CA. The feedback is always appreciated.

    In the words of Grandmaster Flash, "Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge, I'm trying not to loose my head"!

    Seemed fun rapping that on the streets of Sheffield Sat night, but it resonates much deeper now!