Monday 24 October 2011

Spinning Wheels...

I've long since come to the conclusion that some people simply prefer to moan. Despite Charlton's clinical attacking play and upbeat, energetic performance on Saturday, The Bloke Behind Me midway through the second half rather angrily suggested that "we were lucky to be winning this game. Carlisle have played the ball around far better than we have". We was 4-0 up at the time, and for once, looked as comfortable as I can remember for some time at The Valley. It's hard to imagine what more he could have expected, but thankfully, for this week at least, he would have been an isolated figure amongst the doom and gloom merchants who seem determined to dwell on the negatives. On this show at least, the wheels are still stuck on and spinning quite nicely.

Carlisle approach to the game in terms of formation and counter-attacking playing style was just what Charlton needed to face at this time. On another day, Carlisle clearly have enough about them to trouble any opposition and I applaud the fact they clearly never intended to 'park the bus' as many teams will at the Valley this season. They were confident of getting a result beforehand and you could see flashes of why they would have felt that way. Their away form has been impressive and they have some very able players. Granted, their defence certainly had an off day, but I take the view that this was as a result of Charlton's powerful forward play and pressure (for the first 45 at least) rather than their own failings. All this serves only to give the scoreline greater resonance, in my opinion. I suspect we may well have taken the foot off the peddle towards the end, but I have no great issues with this given that we have a couple of tricky away fixtures coming up this week.

Despite reservations regarding the lack of creative edge in Stephens absence (his missus had a baby the night before), we produced chance after chance. Andy Hughes done an excellent job as Stephens replacement, and although a completely different player, his energy and combative nature gave us an edge in midfield and I'd make him my Man of the Match for impact alone, narrowly beating Wiggins, who is growing ever more impressive as the games go on. Like everyone else, I was pleased to see young Solly back in the team. If it had been down to me, I'd have have bought back Hayes for Kermorgant, but Powell's faith in the latter proved correct as asides from his excellent brace, Kermie's partnership with BWP took a massive leap forward, in my opinion. Clearly evidence that relationships take time to gel. I was surprised to see that Kermogant is noted as just over 6ft tall on Wikipedia. His standing leap and general heading abilities are impressive, although he doesn't appear to be particularly big to me.

The only downside to my day was the painful aching in my belly that kicked in around half time. Normally, such issues are caused by anxiety from watching Charlton, but this this time the culprit was not related to matters on the pitch, but rather a Chicken & Leak pasty I bought at the wonderful Borough Market earlier that morning. It clearly didn't agree with me.

At present, my working week is opening up quite nicely to allow me to attend tomorrow night's trip to Adams Park. Last time we was there a late goal from Nicky Bailey sealed a 2-1 victory, and the relatively short distance home seemed to fly by. Let's hope for much the same on Tuesday night.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Simply Fry...Why?

I've always been a huge fan of Stephen Fry and after watching his new TV show 'Fry's Planet Word' on BBC 2 tonight something struck me as being rather odd...or rather, a bloody disgrace! 

I hope, dear reader, you can help me understand why despite his almost universal popularity - often being referred to as a 'national treasure' - Stephen Fry has never been honored by the Queen? Not so much as an MBE or OBE, let alone the Knighthood I'd say he was well worthy of.

Actor, broadcaster, author and social commentator, surely Fry is deserving of an extension to his name?


Friday 21 October 2011

An Alternative View...

Back in November last year I posted two simple but rather jingoistic sentences under the heading of 'Dare We Dream?' It was an instant and spur-of-the-moment response to the astonishing 5-1 away win at Peterborough United. The result was our 4th straight win, which included an equally impressive 3-0 away win at Swindon the Tuesday beforehand, and lifted us from mid-table to 2nd place: the highest we'd been all season. Had Charlton hit form at a crucial stage of the season? Dare we dream of promotion?

On the face of it, it appeared a very credible run of results, but in all honesty, deep down I wasn't so convinced, and nor was the majority of the Addicted. Too many question marks and lingering doubts hung over the team for me to really believe we could push for promotion. The following Saturday we laboured to a 5th straight win at home against Yeovil, but despite this I recall leaving the Valley that day struck by the realism of the greater picture, having all-but-accepted we just never had what was required to escape the 3rd tier of English football. Just 5 games after that glorious result at Peterborough, we lost 2-4 at home to Swindon, Parkinson lost his job and the club's new owners faced head-on the desperate need for a complete and unreserved re-build of the entire playing staff.

In life it is hugely important to face up things that are not working, no matter how hard it may be...

Unlike last year, my overall outlook is far more positive and thankfully I have considerably more faith that Powell, Dyer and the team will not throw in the towel and give up like some of the Charlton supporters (and I use that term loosely in some cases across the forums) appear to have done of late. I may not have the written prowess of some of the more established Charlton bloggers, but I shall try to offer an alternative view on our current heroes and guess's going to be POSITIVE!!!

I may well have found a niche in this blogging thing at last!!!

No, I've not been on the Friday afternoon ale (although I would like to)...and I'm quite literally throwing this together before more pressing work issues rightfully take priority...but I think the players deserve a great deal more credit that they are currently getting.

Lets all be totally honest and agree that we've exceeded expectations to date in terms of the start to this season and our current league position. Surely that's a good thing, isn't it? I don't recall anyone...and I challenge you to prove me wrong...predicting we'd push for automatic promotion this season following such a large-scale change to the squad (for the record, I felt a play-off place was achievable with a bit of luck along the way - I've not changed my view). Therefore, I don't quite see what the doom and gloomers are being let down by.

At least they are consistent. If they have let their dreams run away with them after a few victories, it stands to reason they will loose hope equally as quickly.

It's very easy to forget that this is a new group of players who should, theoretically, grow even stronger as their relationships and understandings of each others game develops over time. Its encouraging for me to think that across the squad we have an abundance of players who seem to have a hunger and a desire in a way that's noticeably different to players who have played for us in recent years, particularly on loan from clubs from a higher division. Some players may see this opportunity at Charlton as perhaps the biggest chance they will ever have to make a name for themselves at a 'big' club with a good fan base and a premiership quality stadium. These are the sort of players you want at your club and I applaud the new owners for backing Powell in getting them.

Our biggest problem of the last 4-5 years is a lack of central midfielders who could pass the ball. That's not a general term...they quite literally couldn't pass the ball. In Hollands and Stephens we have central midfielders who are far more comfortable on the ball (left and right peg) and, furthermore, actually want to play football and retain possession of it. Stephens in particular looks a great prospect, assuming we don't destroy his confidence and desire to get on the ball with anxious and nervous vibes from the crowd, which, by the way, I think cost Racon dearly.

Last season we had about as much fight as the Zanzibar army did when they foolishly took to arms against the mighty British forces in 1896, lasting just 38 mins before surrendering. Across the pitch Charlton appear physically and mentally stronger to cope with the rigours of League One. Where performances have failed this season my personal view is it is more to do with tactics than individual player ability (Stevenage away looked a tactical disaster from Powell, in my eyes).

Furthermore, because last season our midfielders couldn't pass the ball, BWP couldn't score. Because this season we have midfielders who can pass the ball, BWP will always stand a chance of scoring. Simple as that. Injuries may take it's toll as the season progresses, but we are not the only ones who will suffer in this regard.

None of the above is a guarantee for success, but nothing I've read this week condemning the team to impending failure is guaranteed either. A stylish win tomorrow and watch the hope return in abundance as if it was never in doubt.

I'm sticking to what I believe CAN happen this season. Join me in thinking positive!

Monday 17 October 2011

Head In The Sand...

I can't say I've taken too much notice of the fall-out from our first defeat of the season on Saturday, in part as I suspected there would be on-line Addicks falling over themselves to proclaim that the wheels are falling off first. Following the disappointment of the defeat I didn't fancy the doom and gloom, regardless of whether there was credible foundation in the criticism. I'm not one to stick my head in the sand, it's just that my own view on the new-look Charlton side this season is still largely positive and following such an impressive unbeaten start to the season I think the team deserve a bit more faith. We are, it must be said, exceeding my expectations, after all.

What is undeniable, however, is that we are in desperate need of a good quality 90 min performance this Saturday, because at present the doubters are able to make some valid observations whilst the case for the defence desperately needs a shot in the arm. I can't deny it is worrying that the best performance that I've seen this season came from our second 11 in the JPT v's Reading. Work stopped me from attending the game Saturday (which was annoying considering it's my closest away game), so I can't offer anything more than a simple passing comment on the team selection, which did surprise and disappoint me. The inclusion of Cort for young Solly (who has been one of our top performers this season) and the re-shuffle at the back as a result sent out a worrying message that the impending physical assault from Stevenage had got to Powell (which would have been a boost to the players of Stevenage). It smacked too much of an obvious countermeasure and I would question whether a team who sat undefeated at the top of the league should have taken such action. Perhaps Powell is guilty of over-thinking the game at times in his attempts to establish himself as a manager.

Dave at Drinking During the Game urged us in his post-match report to 'Reflect, if you will, on Huddersfield's 4-0 win at Exeter this afternoon'. He doesn't elaborate on the statement, but few would need to think too deeply to understand his hard hitting point. I doubt Huddersfield changed the dynamics of their team to suit Exeter, and the West Yorkshire team have now gone the equivalent of a whole season without a league defeat (if you don't include the Play-Off Final). Huddersfield are as powerfully impressive as Norwich were when they escaped the 3rd Division a couple of seasons back. By the turn of the year it was almost inevitable that they'd be going up, such was the consistency, might and unfaltering quality of their performances. I never sensed arrogance, it is just what happens when you know you are good enough and should be winning games if you play to your strengths. Charlton have lost to inferior opposition (in terms of player for player comparison) too many times in the last 4-5 years (and beyond...), especially at the Valley.

Another point I've picked up on elsewhere is the one surrounding Paul Hayes. I think it's quite interesting that Hayes has never received much positive attention, but no sooner was he was dropped in favour of Kermorgant (a move few would have questioned at the time) his worth to the team - linking the midfield with the strikers - has been notably lacking. New York Addick wrote 'Paul Hayes may be a player best appreciated by the purists' in his latest blog, and I can't agree more. I was concerned when he was left out of the side and now I hope that Powell reintroduces him on Saturday. Not least of all, BWP, who looks a little out of sorts, may well benefit from his re-instatement to the team.

But it's easy to look at those teams around us and question our ability to fend them off. Only a few weeks ago we were soundly beaten at The Valley (albeit in the JPT) by an impressive looking Preston team who looked far too good for League One, and yet despite this, a week later Preston loose 2-1 to Leyton Orient and, according to a friend of mine who watched the game, struggled to do anything worthwhile after a decent first 20 mins. It may well be stating the obvious, but you can't be top of the league after 13 games without some credible foundations worthy of praise and we should rightly be proud of our current position, after all, it's a tough and unpredictable division, for sure.

Work in progress...but still top!

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Leaving Early...

I decided to leave the Valley tonight around 15 mins before the final whistle. I wouldn't normally do such a thing but I was reasonably confident we wasn't going to make a comeback!

After all, I shouldn't feel too bad, the players hadn't turned up in the 75 mins I sat there enduring that awful excuse for a football match. So desperately bored was I that at one stage I even began thumbing through some work emails...

It may seem a little churlish to criticise Powell and the team considering our league position and results to date, but tonight they let down those fans who, like me, bothered to turn out to support them. This game may have been an inconvenience to Powell as he rightly pursues greater goals, but half-hearted performances like this, and the criticism that will undoubtably come as a result, could well prove damaging.

What a shame such an effortless performance was live on the TV.