Monday, 31 December 2007

Tomorrow's ref could get the Rickshaw

Tomorrow's referee, Clive Penton, hails from Brighton but as far as I remember he is not a member of the West Sussex branch of CASC. He has been refereeing since 1986 and was a big name in the Isthmian League until finally making it to the national list in 2001.

He has a reputation for sending players off, but three-quarters of them are away players. He is also known for giving penalties when the incident, if any, occurred outside the box. Quite what optical defect that involves I don't know, but Specsavers are online.

You can read an interview with him here: Referee

U's preview

The visit of Colchester United on New Year's Day brings the opportunity to welcome back Kevin Lisbie to The Valley. Admittedly in the U's last match at Blackpool, he only came on in the 67th minute to replace Teddy Sherringham who had been preferred in the starting line up.

I was looking at the excellent best Premiership matches DVD over the holiday break. Rick Everitt and his elves have done an excellent job and it was a tonic to see us playing fluent football and winning matches.

The win over Liverpool including the Lisbie hattrick was one of the games included and his third goal, when he ran from deep inside the Charlton half, was brilliant. But I also noticed that earlier in the game he made misses from a few yards out. It was ever thus.

And it still is. A local newspaper report on one of the U's holiday games states, 'Earlier, fellow striker Kevin Lisbie had spurned a good chance to chalk up his own seventh goal of the campaign. There were just eight minutes on the clock when Lisbie burst onto Luke Guttridge's excellent through ball, only to hook his shot wide of target with just keeper Davis to beat.'

There is a lot of criticism on the lists of Iwelumo in the lone striker role. It is said that he cannot hold up the ball and that it encourages long balls to him (particularly from goal kicks) which he cannot connect with effectively. There is no doubt that Todorov would be better in this kind of role as he can hold the ball up and losing him was one of the blows of the season.

There is actually nothing wrong with a good long ball. Interestingly, after they went behind at Everton, Arsenal switched to a long ball game and very effective it was. But we are not Arsenal.

Iwelumo's critics say that Varney would have scored as many goals as him. Of course, one cannot prove that one way or another. But I have not been that impressed by Varney. He has pace, but does he have accuracy? Remember that a few years ago he was at Level 5 of the non-league. He was certainly better than that and his spell at Crewe helped him to develop. But, as in the case of McLeod, there is still quite a big gap between the Championship and the leagues below it.

Nevertheless, I would give Chris Dickson a chance. Admittedly, last year he was playing at the same level as Leamington (in a less successful side). His record in League 1 for the Gills as excellent, but there is a difference between League 1 and the Championship. Even so, if I was the manager (which fortunately I am not) I would start him in a 4-4-2 with Iwelumo against the U's.

Colchester are not playing well. Geraint Williams, the Colchester manager, has admitted his side have confronted a new low after their abject performance against Blackpool. 'That's as bad as we've been this season,' he said. 'The 2-0 result didn't tell the story of how badly we played.'

I am always very cautious about reading results off the table. Our poor home record will give Colchester some confidence. Nevertheless, I am going for a 2-0 win for the Addicks.

The year gone by

It's not been a good one for the Addickted. Relegation is never pleasant and it came after a year when we went through two managers before finding the right one. It also came at a time when there has been a further substantial boost in Premiership revenues.

The standard of play in the Championship is far worse than I remember it. There is a great deal of hoofing the ball and a lot of physical play which is not checked most of the time by the referees. If you lose possession in the Premiership, you don't get it back for at least five minutes. There is also a considerable difference in the quality of the defences. One worrying aspect of this is that the less hard core Charlton supporters are unlikely to come back for another season of the same fare, particularly without the lure of a free Premiership season ticket.

Which brings me to the question of the club's finances. Before the first instalment of the Darren Bent money came in, the club was effectively insolvent in the summer. The directors had to dig deep in the pockets to bail it out. We should be very grateful to them. But it is not a solution we can rely on for ever.

Nothing more has been heard about possible takeovers or injections of new capital. It may well be that the only offers that have come forward are not acceptable ones in the sense that are consistent with the kind of club Charlton is and hence have been turned down. If that is the case, I think it is the right decision.

However, if you had a wedge and no allegiance to a particular club, would you invest in Charlton? The money going to the Championship is favouring one club cities with a prosperous hinterland: Coventry, Leicester, Ipswich. Admittedly, there has been no deal at Southampton, but that is partly to do with the board there which includes a number of hangovers from the old regime who still hold substantial shareholdings.

The one exception is Queen's Park Rangers and I must admit that it baffles me. If I wanted to invest in a lesser London club I would choose Charlton over QPR every time. Apart from the fact that we have a stadium rather than a cramped ground based on a shoebox design, we have much more potential, given the housing planned for the Thames Gateway and the hinterland in Kent, criss crossed by Rickshaws. I suspect that the explanation is simply down to personal connections.

Sometimes the Charlton fans and their lack of ambition worry me. Although they grumble about managers, players and tactics, they seem broadly accepting of the club's second rank status. In particular too many of them seem to want the club to be a kind of Crewe, bringing on younger and non-league players.

If we don't go up next year, and we don't get any new investment, the future is bleak. The Championship is littered with ex Premiership clubs now engaged in a struggle to survive financially and to avoid the drop into League 1. Just consider the case of Sheffield Wednesday which we have recently looked at: Owls

My predictions for 2008 are:
1. Charlton make the play offs but are defeated at Wembley by Ipswich.
2. Alan Pardew leaves in the summer and is replaced by Phil Parkinson.
3. Reid, Thomas and Sam are sold in the summer window.

I hope that all three predictions are wrong!

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Posh boss: we won't sell to Addicks

Peterborough are expecting bids from Charlton and Wigan for top scorer and former Grays striker Aaron McLean. However, director of football Barry Fry commented, 'We know there's big interest in Aaron but he will be going nowhere. We aren't hard up and have no need to sell.'

Peterborough have put in an improved £150,000 bid for Rushden and Diamonds 16 goal striker Simon Jackson whom Fry believes can be as big a league player as McLean. But Fry insists that he would be an addition not a replacement.

Based on the McLeod example, I am sceptical of the ability of players to rapidly bridge the gap between League 2 and the Premiership.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Leicester reject secures a point

A 90th minute goal by Leicester reject Paddy McCarthy gave Charlton a share of the points at the Crisp Bowl today after the Foxes had gone ahead with a poorly defended opportunistic goal. For much of the game neither side looked particularly crisp, but rather like two mid-table sides who couldn't get on top of the other and were happy to settle for a goalless draw. All credit to Charlton for battling for the point, but we should be able to beat a side like Leicester and we need to do better than getting three 1-1 draws in a row.

On two minutes Leicester won their first corner but this was cleared. Two Foxes went to ground and there was a long delay while they received treatment. Foxes going to ground became something of a pattern in the match.

A succession of throw ins for both sides was revealing of the quality of the match. Some light relief was provided by the very fat Leicester drummer who was stripped to the waist in the biting wind. Charlton launched their first effective attack, but it ended in a Leicester free kick. Chris Iwelumo received a yellow card for an incident on the wing.

Joe Mattock was withdrawn in favour of Alan Sheehan who was himself substituted later in the match. A Fox went to ground as if shot. Collins John was replaced by Jonathan Hayes.

Luke Varney won the Addicks a corner. Taken by Thomas, it was played out and Matt Holland put in a strong shot from distance that was just wide of the post.

A Chris Powell cross led to another Charlton corner, but this one was unproductive. Chris Iwelumo advanced and was brought down in the area, but it was not a penalty. Magic Bougherra burst down the wing, but ultimately the move led to nothing.

A Leicester cross flashed across the goal and the move ended with the ball in the side netting. A Leicester corner was cleared. Following a foul on Bougherra, Charlton were able to apply some pressure from the free kick but it ended in a goal kick.

A Leicester corner ended in an Addicks free kick. With three minutes added on, Thomas burst forward but had no support. Weaver came out of his goal and was exposed and the ball had to be cleared off the line by a Charlton defender.

Half time: Foxes 0, Addicks 0

The Foxes came out to an extended play of the post horn gallop, but were confronted by some good defending by McCarthy. A Fox went down again. Thomas made a good run and created a chance for Varney but he blasted the ball over the goal.

A Fox went to ground again and this time Leicester were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. Weaver made three saves in succession, one with the palm of his hand and two by punching out, keeping Charlton in the game.

Leicester applied some pressure but it was ultimately ineffective. Good defensive work by McCarthy averted a corner and the Addickted burst into a chant of his name. Fortune had picked up a knock and had to be replaced by Mouto2. Leicester won a corner but the ball was punched out by Weaver. Zheng Zhi won the Addicks a corner.

The lino on the far side was flagging for a Charlton free kick in a promising position, but the Addicks kept on playing. A Fox managed to break with the ball, but then dived in front of goal. His appeals for a free kick in a dangerous position were waved away by the referee, but no yellow card was given for simulation.

Weaver spilled the ball from a shot, but Mouto2 retrieved the situation well and charged away down the wing. Varney won Charlton a free kick on the touchline. Sheehan was subbed by Wesolowski. Varney put in a strong shot from the wing but it was repelled by the keeper.

Charlton lost the ball in their half and put themselves under pressure. Weaver did not position himself well for the shot and although he was able to get a hand to it he was not able to stop it going into the back of the net, Clemence celebrating a soft goal.

Hayes administered a trip to stop a quick Charlton response and got a yellow card. Semedo was replaced by Sam. A Charlton corner was unproductive. A Leicester corner was taken short but led to an Addicks free kick.

Zheng Zhi was fouled, another yellow card was awarded, from the free kick there was a scramble in front of goal and McCarthy was named as the scorer. There were quite a few minutes left to play and Charlton looked as if they might score a second, but an effort from Zheng Zhi was wild and wide.

Walking away from the stadium the Foxes around us were bemoaning how poor they were, but we should have hunted them down for three points.

Match analysis

'If you had said a few weeks ago that I would be awarding a Silver Bone to Paddy McCarthy I would have said you were barking' commented match analyst Ivy the Terrible who had made the journey up the M69. It was awarded not just for the goal but for stalwart and intelligent defending throughout the match to a chorus of boos and chants of 'Leicester reject'. 'He never did that for us', grumbled a crestfallen Fox after the game. Weaver was partly to blame for the Foxes goal, but also made a few good saves. Bougherra still gives rise to some doubts and is very fond of hoofing the ball out of defence, although that is better than surrendering possession. Fortune was solid and competent until he was withdrawn because of injury. The Foxes tried to exploit a supposed weakness down their right, but Powell stood firm and was rarely discomfited. Semedo displayed some fluent passing. Holland was as solid as ever and had one good attempt on goal. Thomas was our most effective attacking player, although the final product was lacking. Zhi provided some good passes and tracked back well when he was needed in defence. Varney made some decent attempts to provide crosses and shots, but they were not very effective. Iwelumo was largely marked out of the game, although he did his best to connect with goal kicks. Moutaouakil looked effective on the wing when he came on and provided something of an attacking punch. Sam was presumably brought on to strengthen the attack, but was not very involved.

Hiss of the Match This was given by Juneau the Soccer Cat for the totally inadequate provision of ladies toilets (not to mention litter trays).

Crowd rating: A good turnout by the Addickted and they were in quite good if not very inventive voice. 6/10

Friday, 28 December 2007

Foxes preview

Leicester boss Ian Holloway thinks his side are on a roll and heading for the play offs after their win over Ipswich on Boxing Day. In his former incarnation as Pilgrims manager, Holloway defeated Charlton at The Valley earlier in the season and is looking forward to another three points tomorrow at the Crisp Bowl.

He may be being a little hasty. Charlton are often better away than at home. Also, Leicester are poor at scoring from open play, relying heavily on set pieces (although we are often at our weakest at defending from them). However, it has been suggested that the Foxes cannot hit a barn door from five yards.

I expect Pards to stick to a 4-5-1 formation tomorrow. Iwelumo was taken off at Carrow Road to make sure that he is refreshed tomorrow, so he will start. If anyone has to be brought on, I hope it is Dickson and not McLeod.

The midfield pretty much picks itself. Fortune is available again and can slot in to replace Sodje. Basey and Mouto2 are edging their way back to fitness, but if they are used, it will only be on the bench. Magic apparently did a decent job as right back at Norwich while Chris Powell will stay in the left back slot.

We will be making the short trip up the M69 tomorrow. I am forecasting Charlton's third 1-1 draw in a row.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Bent wants to stay at Wigan

Leading Premiership goal scorer Marcus Bent would like to stay permamently at Wigan if the club can do a deal with Charlton: Bent

I never thought Bent was as much of a carthorse as some people claimed, but like many other players who succeed when they leave (notably Rommedahl) he was never able to do it for us. Even a relatively small sum could help us in the transfer window.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

10 man Charlton share the points

Charlton played with 10 men for over an hour at Carrow Road today but managed to come away with a share of the points after they drew 1-1 with Norwich City.

The Addicks have the worst disciplinary record of any team in the four divisions and added to it today when Sam Sodje earned the 11th sending off of his career. After a needless and reckless challenge he started to walk on the half hour mark even before the referee had reached for his card.

Before the sending off Zheng Zhi had put Charlton ahead on 21 minutes.

In the second half the Canaries did not create many chances and Charlton hung on to 73 minutes. Darel Russell put the ball in the net from a corner, Chris Powell being unable to clear off the goalline.

Weaver made sure that Charlton got their point with a late save with his body from Chris Evans.

The Addicks remain in 5th place but Palace continued their unbeaten run with a 2-0 win over Iain Dowie's Coventry and are now 9th only five points behind Charlton.

All square at Harbury Lane

A lacklustre performance by Leamington saw them draw 1-1 at home with arch rivals Romulus in front of a crowd of 804 this afternoon. The first half was so flat that much attention concentrated on the performance of dimunitive referee Miss Sian Massey.

Dolly the Sheep was decked out in festive gear including an invitation to Romulus supporters to kiss her rear. Somewhat incongruously decked out in Santa hats, a junior crew from Romulus roamed round the ground looking more like sheep than centurions. A chant of 'Have you done their homework?' finally did for them.

Despite the ball flashing across the opposition goal three times in the first half, Brakes were unable to convert and it was 0-0 at half time. On 51 minutes Marcus Jackson played in the ball along the ground from a corner and a bullet header made it a debut goal for former Reading pro Gary Sanders.

A period of pressure saw Alan Ward equalise for Romulus on 70 minutes. A Brakes strike was then ruled offside. In a mad scramble in front of goal, it seemed as if the ball must go in but again Brakes failed to find the back of the net. A last minute corner gave Brakes a final chance but they put the ball wide.

Roeder plays the Premiership card

It's a favourite ploy of managers this season: Charlton are really a Premiership team. Hence, if we beat them or even get a draw, it's a fantastic achievement. And, if we lose, it's only to be expected.

Norwich manager Glenn Roeder told the Norwich Evening News 'It's a tough game against Charlton, like the Sheffield United game, against a team that were relegated. Alan Pardew is doing an excellent job. He's been fortunate in the respect that only Darren Bent was sold off. Everybody else has played Premiership football and it will be a really tough game but an opportunity for our players to show the rest of football that we can compete with players that played in the Premiership last year.'

Of course, Roeder conveniently overlooks players like Luke Young and also doesn't mention that it was a team that was relegated from the Premiership. But it perhaps helps to explain why teams raise their game against us.

Iwelumo, Sam and Thomas are all doubtful for the Addicks which gives Pards some real selection dilemmas. He could play Varney on the wing and Ambrose could also be told to pretend that he is a winger, although as we saw against Ipswich he is at his best coming forward in an attacking position from the centre.

Norwich are on a roll at the moment and with Charlton so badly depleted, it looks like a case of, as the Sub-Standard would put it, 'Canaries on Song.'

Monday, 24 December 2007

Sodje may be fit for Norwich

Despite the fact that the Canaries have been enjoying a run of form under Glenn Roeder Alan Pardew reckons that Charlton will be put in a better performance against Norwich on Boxing Day than they did against Hull. It can hardly be worse, but then it is an away fixture that will be followed by the most dedicated Addickted rather than several thousand versions of the Bloke Behind Me.

Sodje may well be fit for the encounter, but there are doubts about both Sam and Thomas. Read more here: Norwich

Tough Boxing Day test for Brakes

Brakes face a tough test on Boxing Day when they play arch rivals Romulus at home. The retro Italian side have already defeated Brakes this season at the Seven Hills Stadium.

A bumper attendance is expected for the game and a park and ride service has been put in place. Romulus has a small away following, but they are known to be well hard. However, it has been unkindly suggested that 'the crew' will be out nicking kids' new bikes to sell on E Bay on Boxing Day.

The North Bank will be open once again with the new terracing in place, despite the digger have been nicked while work was in progress.

Brakes have been strengthened by the addition of Vijay Sidhu, a striker from the Coventry City youth academy. Former Reading professional Guy Sanders has come in to bolster the defence. Although recently plying his trade in the non-league, Sanders was offered and turned down a professional contrast with League 2 Lincoln.

Removal man Josh Blake has been on form, scoring both goals in Saturday's 2-0 win at Dunstable Town. See the first goal here (click twice): Blake

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Not very festive

Our pitch announcer said before the game that we were going to have a 'festive football match'. But the players did not appear wearing the Santa hats for sale at £2 each in Floyd Road, nor were the ball boys kitted out as elves. Instead the Addickted got little festive cheer from one of the poorest games this season which ended in a 1-1 draw. Danny Mills celebrated his last game at The Valley by being sent off for using unparliamentary language to the referee. For me the outcome was not a surprise and at least I was able to get a little consolation from my winnings from the jackpot at the pub.

To me this match demonstrated how important Andy Reid to us as one of our few creative quality players. Combined with the financial figures in the programme, it was another reality check for those expecting automatic promotion. However, most of the other teams in the Championship aren't much good either so we remained in 5th place.

Hull won an early corner, but Bryan Hughes provided some early festive frivolity by playing the ball along the line and out of play. Darren Ambrose was brought down and Charlton were awarded a free kick in a potentially promising position but his effort was well wide. Ambrose lost the ball, but then Charlton kept losing possession all game. A Charlton corner taken by Ambrose was easily caught by the Hull keeper.

Charlton provided a rare spell of pressure. Sam did very well to keep the ball in play. Ambrose had a half chance but blasted the ball well over to add one to the 'shots off target' stats. Hull were awarded a free kick against Bougherra and the ball was eventually cleared.

There was a mix up in defence with Weaver hesitant. He then redeemed himself with a good save on the ground. An offence against Iwelumo produced a Charlton free kick, but the offside flag was raised. Sodje had to be taken off to warm applause and was replaced by McCarthy.

Weaver made a great save with his leg. Chris Powell showed his skill by defending the ball out of play. The Addicks were awarded a free kick after Iwelumo was held back and there was nearly a Hull own goal. But then a confused Charlton defence froze and Fraizer Campbell was able to put the visitors ahead.

Thomas was brought down on the edge of the area and Charlton were awarded a free kick. In the closing minutes of the half Folan and Hughes received yellow cards.

Half time: Addicks 0, Tigers 1

After the break McLeod replaced Sam. The Tigers were still very much up for it and won two early corners. For their part the Addicks kept giving their ball away and when they did have it started hoofing it into the area instead of playing ball to feet and capitalising on their strengths.

Bougherra performed his falling over trick and conceded a corner. From the corner McLeod broke down the wing, but had no support and was tackled fairly. Charlton won a free kick on the West Stand side and after the ball was played in Bougherra was able to score a scrappy goal. But they all count.

Charlton won a couple of corners, one through Thomas, but to no effect. Campbell got a yellow card and Mills received one for dissent. Garcia was withdrawn and McPhee came on. Thomas won the Addicks a corner, but it was a poor delivery. It remains one of the most disappointing aspects of our game.

Poor defending by McCarthy led to a Hull corner, but the referee then ruled that there had been a foul on Weaver. After another tangle with a Tiger, Mills used a four letter word to describe the referee and received the seventh red card of his career. Powell was replaced by Semedo, while Hull withdrew Hughes and brought on Barmby.

Weaver provided a great stop. Campbell was replaced by Damien Delaney. Hull won a corner and for a moment I though that the ball was in the net, but it was just wide. A Matt Holland effort from distance went wide. Weaver made another good save and the point was secured. At least Charlton now have two away games to look forward to.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible awarded the Silver Bone to captain Matt Holland for honest endeavour. Nicky Weaver made some important stops to prevent another home defeat, but was criticised in the pub afterwards for not commanding his area. Mind you, he is always going to have some trouble from the 'let's play our own youngsters' tendency. Mills is an accident waiting to happen. Wind up merchants, of whom Hull has its fair share, will always go after him and around us we were forceasting that he would be off before the end of the game, although we thought it would be a double yellow. Sodje had to be withdrawn injured early on, quite possibly also his last appearance at The Valley. Bougherra did score the goal and was reasonable throughout, hoofing the ball forward when necessary. But Fortune is better. Powell attracted some criticism, but I thought that he had a reasonable game and combined with Thomas quite well. Sam was withdrawn at half time, although I thought that he was reasonably competent in the first half, but did not make a great impresion. Ambrose simply failed to contribute enough. Zhi continues to be below his best and was making mistakes all over the pitch. Thomas showed us on occasion what he can do, but not often enough. Iwelumo was as usual continually fouled throughout the game but got little protection from the referee. My expectations of McCarthy are low, so given that he performed quite well when he came on and only got into trouble once or twice. As usual McLeod rushed about the pitch to no effect whatsoever. Semedo came on after the sending off and slotted in competently.

Juneau the Soccer Cat gave the Hiss of the Match to the annoying pitch announcer. Not only did he put the mockers on the game with his festive remark, but he also proclaimed that the 7-6 victory was 'one of the most incredible games ever played on the planet.' What planet is he from? Planet Hyperbole, no doubt.

Crowd rating The turnout was quite good given the day and the opposition, but they were not in great voice. 6/10.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Dickson may be recalled

Chris Dickson may be withdrawn from the Gillingham squad tonight and be brought back to The Valley to provide cover on the bench tomorrow:
Recall

Danny Mills says farewell

We reproduce below a farewell message from Danny Mills in which he praises the club and fans. Given our financial position, we could not sign him or continue to pay his wages, but he will certainly be missed:

As I approach my final week at Charlton I felt this to be the right time to reflect on what has been from a footballing point of view an enjoyable last 5 months.

My departure after the game at Leicester will certainly be tinged with a degree of sadness and I hope the fans will feel I have given them every bit as much commitment as when I last played for this club. Initially we had hoped to be in a position whereby we could agree a permanent move, but unfortunately this does not seem to be possible and with no resolution on the horizon, I will now be returning to Manchester at the end of this month.

It is at this point I would like to make it clear that I have really enjoyed my time back at the Valley, particularly playing competitive football week in and week out. Charlton are a great club, the players and staff are a superb bunch of people and to put it bluntly I have the utmost respect for the gaffer. He for one made it clear very early on that he would like me to stay and I am sure he has done all he can to make that happen. As we all know, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes when trying to secure the services of a player whether it be the politics that exist between the clubs involved or with the negotiations between player, agent and the powers that be. Having now worked with him during these last 5 months, albeit a relatively short time, I have found him to be one of the better managers that I have played for. His ability to deal with players and situations is second to none! Perhaps the best way to describe his attributes is to say that he is always open to new ideas as well as being very tactically aware. Most importantly though are his skills as a very good man manager, treating the players with respect and honesty. That for me is vital when looking to continually get the best from your players week in and week out, especially when results aren’t always going right for you on the pitch.

I'll certainly miss the fans who I feel welcomed and accepted me back very quickly and that extra support can be very beneficial at times, especially when you’re being booed by just about every away fan. To be honest, I quite like it particularly as you know that you’ve certainly made a mark and are being recognised for whatever reason. The Charlton fans have certainly got behind me on this one and I think they loved the fact that the opposition were going to boo my every touch of the ball.
This Saturday sees me possibly involved in my last home game where hopefully the result will go our way and I can say farewell with a smile and three points in the bag. Of course I hope I’m going to be missed, but not too much because I really hope that Charlton end up back in the Premiership with or without my services.

As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and on the flip side I won't miss getting up at 5a.m. in the morning to travel down on the train for training 2 or 3 times each week. Football and family life do not often mix well and this has certainly been the case for me. Being on loan miles away creates its own pressures, but I'm glad I've done it and thankful to Charlton for the opportunity. However football is a funny game and just when you think things are going in one direction, football does seem to have the habit of turning you around and sending you off in another. So who knows what is just around the corner and at this time of year who knows what Santa might just bring?!!?

So with just three games left for me, my aim is to get the maximum from these games and help contribute to getting Charlton back into the top three. That will be a great way to finish my loan period at this club and will allow me to then feel that I have done my job leaving on a relatively happy note.

I hope you all have a great time over the festive period, eat too much...drink too much... and then spend January wishing you hadn't!

Tigers on the prowl

Having spent the morning in a rather depressing meeting on bluetongue (including examining close up pictures of leisions and contemplating a forecast of 3 million sheep fatalities next year) I am not sure that the prospects for the weekend cheer me up that much.

The Charlton squad is badly depleted by injuries and suspensions. Those fans who who would like Charlton to be a kind of Crewe developing youngsters are salivating at the prospect of seeing them being mauled on the pitch by Hull's charm merchants. For those of us who would like to get back into the Premiership, it's a less appealing prospect.

Just consider the situation at left back. If all five left backs were fit and not on loan, we could put out an outfield team which was fifty per cent left backs. What a formation that would be!

As it is we are likely to depend on Chris Powell tomorrow, even though his performance at The Hawthorns was not up to scratch. Of course, all the criticism has overlooked the positives: two goalline clearances and some good combinations with Jerome Thomas.

It seems that Iwelumo will be fit, if not for 90 minutes. Luke Varney is unlikely to recover from his virus in time. Given that we will miss the attacking contribution of Zheng Zhi, I think that Pards may go for a 4-4-2 with McLeod up front with Iwelumo.

Midfield is likely to be Thomas, Holland, Semedo and Sam. Mills will be at right back and in the centre will be Sam Sodje, possibly making his last home appearance for the Addicks and 'Magic' Bougherra who needs to be fitted with a global positioning system to get him in the right place.

I'm not that optimistic about the outcome so I'm going for a 1-1.

Fortunately, bluetongue is not zoonotic otherwise we would find the squad getting it. It does have the effect of softening the baa of sheep, so a very mild case for our on pitch announcer might not be a bad thing.

Keep your cool warns Hull supremo

Hull City boss Phil Brown has warned his side to keep their tempers in tomorrow's clash at The Valley. Given Charlton's home form, Hull fans are seeing it as three points in the bag. More here:
Tigers

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Sodje to return

As the Addicks struggle to cope with a squad depleted by injuries and suspensions, normally reliable sources are reporting that centre back Sam Sodje is to return to Reading.

Reading supremo Steve Coppell will recall the Nigerian defender to the Thames Valley side as Ibrahima Sonko and André Bikey are due to play in the African Cup of Nations, for Senegal and Cameroon respectively

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Addicks linked with £2m bid for Posh star

According to reports elsewhere, Richard Murray has said that we won't have much money to spend in the transfer window - and I can believe that. But there is great excitement in Peterborough (it doesn't take much) at the news that we are about to bid £2m for Posh's star striker.

24-year-old Aaron McLean has been in great form for Peterborough United this season, yet he has told the Peterborough Evening Telegraph to ignore speculation linking him with a £2million transfer to The Valley.

'It's great to be linked with clubs like Charlton Athletic because it suggests that I'm doing the right things, but I've been in the game long enough to know not to take any notice of stuff in the paper,' McLean said.

'I'm very happy at Posh and that is a major reason why I'm doing well. I'm in the best form of my life and the club is in a great position to go up this season. I'm determined to ignore all the speculation anyway.'

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Reid out for 3/4 weeks

We understand that Andy Reid will be about for 3/4 weeks after the injury he picked up at The Hawthorns on Saturday. Iwelumo will also be unavailable for Saturday, so those who want to see Varney and McLeod haring about the pitch to no great effect may have their wish.

It is understood that the club is going to make an attempt to get Song back on loan after January.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Remembering the 7-6 victory

We are just a few days away from the 50th anniversary of Charlton's 7-6 victory over Huddersfield. I've got the commemorative sweatshirt but I have to confess I was Christmas shopping in Woolwich that day.

The Times has done a very full and evocative report on the day, accompanied by a photograph that shows a thinly populated stand. Among the new angles are the fact that Bill Shankly was mouthing off the Addicks as a 'poor team' and how large a part the muddy conditions played in the final outcome.

Read the full report here: 7-6

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Pards: squad needs strengthening

Alan Pardew admitted that the Charlton squad needed strengthening on Sky Sports News last night if automatic promotion was to be secured. Let's hope that the funds are available to do that in the transfer window. With Ipswich and Coventry (admittedly to deal with debts rather than for an Iain Dowie spending spree) receiving big injections of cash from takeovers, there is no sign of anything similar happening at The Valley.

A lot of the comment on the list after the game has focused on the shortcomings of Chris Powell and Pards was not happy with his performance. However, this is to scapegoat an individual player in a team game when the facts of the matter are that West Brom were simply better and could have won by an even bigger margin.

One loan player who is unlikely to return to The Valley at Christmas is Marcus Bent who scored his first ever hat trick for Wigan against Blackburn. Blackburn's Santa Cruz also scored three times, but Marcus made sure that he got the match ball.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Addicks get altitude sickness

Free gloves were handed out at The Hawthorns today to help supporters cope with the cold of England's highest ground. Unfortunately, even free gloves could not have helped the Addicks who got a bad case of altitude sicknes. Having gone 1-0 up and the Baggies equalising before the break, they went 2-1 behind, only to equalise at 2-2 and finally to lose 4-2.

The final scoreline flattered the Baggies or rather it was harsh on the Addicks. Albion were the better side, in particular they were fluent and slick in attack and two of their goals came from pinpoint high crosses. However, in a pulsating game, Charlton kept pushing forward and displayed their own skills. With Watford losing at home, the Baggies go top, which is where they may be at the end of the season, and Charlton slip back to 5th, which could well be their final placing.

Bearing in mind some of the criticism he has received for later errors, Chris Powell put in some good defensive work early in the game, conceding nothing more than a throw in. Charlton launched a fluent early attack, but it was unproductive.

Bougherra had no choice but to defend by putting the ball out for a corner, but Greening's effort was caught by a confident Weaver. Seeking to make sure the far post was covered, Sodje collided with the post and had to receive treatment.

After a free kick gifted by the referee to the Albion, a shot came in that was just wide and Nicky Weaver made it clear that he was not happy with the actions, or lack of them, of his defence. Thomas and Powell combined well in attack.

The Baggies were given a free kick about 30 yards out directly in line with the goal, but Weaver gathered he ball comfortably. The Baggies created a chance from a quality cross, but the effort was just wide. With the Albion bearing down on the Charlton goal again, Sodje put in an excellent challenge to win the ball. The Baggies were given another free kick in direct line with the goal, but the ball was cleared. Semedo displayed his defensive skills, outwitting the Baggies attack.

A corner taken by Brunt ended in a goal kick. Andy Reid put in an inspired shot from distance which was just wide of the post and the bar. Thomas made a good run, but the far from impressive Baggies defence cleared the ball in front of goal.

As the half hour approached, another Albion effort whistled past Weaver's post. The Baggies won another corner. Powell cleared the ball off the line. Matt Holland ran the ball towards the wing and was brought down for a Charlton free kick.

Bougherra provided a good clearance. Ambrose made a good run leading to an Addicks thrown in by the corner flag. Reid conceded a completely unnecessary corner by kicking the ball aimlessly towards the goal line with Weaver unable to recover it. Bougherra cleared from the corner.

Thomas turned provider with a good cross to Chris Iwelumo who scored to put the Addicks ahead. A very dubious free kick for the Baggies ended with a foul on Weaver. A Chris Powell error gifted the Baggies a corner, but it ended in a goal kick.

Bednar equalised with a simple goal for which Weaver should have positioned himself better. The Baggies continued to threaten with a shot past the post. Chris Iwelumo had received treatment earlier in the half and had been taken off before the break in favour of McLeod.

With two minutes added on, there was a danger with the ball flashing across the front of the Charlton goal, leading to a Baggies corner and then a second, but immediately that was taken, the referee blew. A charm merchant from the Baggies pushed Semedo and when he gave a shove back, the referee gave Semedo a talking to, calling Chris Powell over to bring the full weight of the Professional Footballers' Association to bear on the matter.

Half time: Baggies 1, Addicks 1

Albion came out in determined mood. An Albion player fell over and the referee gave Bougherra a yellow card. On 49 minutes Brunt put in a great high cross and it was an easy task for Gerra to head it in.

Weaver made a quality save. A Baggies corner was taken short. Zheng Zhi was held back in front of goal. Andy Reid needed treatment. Zheng Zhi turned provider for McLeod, but the keeper was able to save. Powell cleared off the line again. Zheng Zhi was fouled on the edge of the box by the keeper, but the referee was not interested.

The anonymous Darren Ambrose was withdrawn in favour of Luke Varney in an attempt to liven things up. The home crowd started to chant for Kevin Phillips. A free kick came to Varney in front of goal, but he put the ball over the bar. McLeod and Pele got involved in a bout of handbags after a tangle on the touchline. I thought the referee might book them both, but he simply gave them a talking to.

Thomas provided more good work on the wing. Reid was taken off and replaced by Sankofa. The home crowd got their way and Teixera was replaced by Phillips. Luke Varney turned provider for McLeod who did not strike the ball very well, but he managed to catch out the keeper Luke Steele. 2-2 and game apparently on.

Sodje was given a yellow card for a shove in the back. Zheng Zhi won Charlton a corner. The Baggies broke away and Captain Cleanpants got a yellow card for stopping them with a foul.

Once again it was a cross from Brunt to Geary who enabled him to deliver a pinpoint header to make it 3-2. Weaver got a touch, but was unable to stop it. McLeod got a touch on an effort that went just wide and possibly could have done better.

Then Phillips made it 4-2. There were those who argued that it was offside. With four minutes added on the Addicks won a free kick on the edge of the box. 4-3 would have reflected the attacking, end to end nature of the game but the effort by Thomas sailed over the bar.

Afterwards at the station two Baggies fans told me that they had thought that the match had been a great advert for the Championship and at times they thought that Charlton might win. Well, we didn't and West Brom deserved to, although not by a margin of two goals. But no one should fault the spirit and commitment of the Charlton players.

Match analysis

Hooch the Pooch was not able to award the special Golden Bone he had prepared in case of a win, but the Silver Bone was awarded to the returning Jerome Thomas who caused a lot of trouble for the home side on the wing. This was not a great performance by Weaver.
After the second goal, he turned to look at the screen to see where he was at fault and it was evident from the look on his face that he realised he should have positioned himself better. He also has problems with crosses, something which the Baggies seemed to realise. Apart from one or two errors Bougherra had a generally good game in central defence. Sodje was also generally impressive. Powell made some good contributions but he also made some serious errors that exposed the Addicks to danger. Semedo slotted in well at right back (until Sankofa came on) and foraged forward well. Holland was energetic, competent and workmanlike. Reid came close to scoring the goal of the season, but took a knock and eventually had to be withdrawn. Apart from one or two good runs forward Ambrose was generally anonymous and it was no surprise when he was withdrawn. Zheng Zhi was not as prominent as he has been in some games. Whatever his critics say about him Iwelumo does keep on scoring goals and it was no good to see him limping off before half time. Varney gave his all, but missed a chance to score. McLeod broke his duck which will give him some confidence but I remain unconvinced that he is a player of real Championship quality. Sankofa was not that much in evidence after he came on.

Juneau the Soccer Cat had no hesitation in giving the Hiss of the Match to referee P Taylor who was a blatant homer, giving a free kick for the slightest offence to the Albion. A wag behind remarked that no doubt he had given six free kicks against us in the dressing room at half time. When he booked Bougherra, he clearly had great difficulty in writing his name down and the match had to be held up, though why he didn't just write down his number is a mystery.

Crowd rating: The Addickted were not there in huge numbers, but tried to give as good as they got from the vociferous Baggies. A bit more originality with the songs and chants would be welcome. 6/10.B

Friday, 14 December 2007

Baggies preview

Tomorrow I have the unusual luxury of getting a train straight from Leamington to the ground, no doubt accompanied by the quite large number of Baggies who live in the Spa.

People have been sharing their memories of various games at The Hawthorns, but one memory I have is of the first game of the 1995-6 season. I went with a friend who was a Baggies season ticket holder, but was sadly to die a few years later.

It was a blazing hot day and the Baggies line up included the legendary Stacey Coldicott ('is that the Stacey Coldicott' called out a wag behind me). Leaburn got an injury at one point leading to shouts of 'dig a hole and leave him there'.

My notes on the game said 'A poor performance by Charlton in the first half, lacking pace and direction. They moved up a gear in the second half and had most of the possession, but West Brom scored [they won 1-0]. Does not bode well for the season [We got to the play offs] .. We still can't make anything out of corners.' [It was ever thus]

My comments on players included:
Humphrey - useless, didn't know where he was or what he was doing.
Rufus - as reliable as ever.
Bowyer - most promising player.
Robson - completely useless.
Leaburn - lumbering about the field.
Nelson - should have been brought on earlier.
Robinson - came on and missed a scoring opportunity.

Despite hints to the contrary, it looks 4-5-1 tomorrow. I'm assuming that Semedo will be at left back and Mou2 at right back, Bougherra with Sodje in the centre. The uncertainty in midfield depends on whether the enigmatic Thomas will have revived his dead leg. I would expect Ambrose, Holland, Varney and Zhi to feature.

Given that I don't buy into the 'Watford have already booked their place in the Premiership' hype, I regard the Baggies as the most likely team to get an automatic promotion place. They are not invincible, as their defeat at home to Iain Dowie's Sky Blues (now taken over by Sisu) showed. But I am a forecasting a 2-1 home win.

Deano has broken toe


Deano in his younger days with Charlton. Photo credit: Roland Silcox

The Addickted will be deprived of the chance to see Dean Kiely in action at The Hawthorns tomorrow as the shot stopper has a broken toe. Manager Tony Mowbray has challenged 23-year old Luke Steele to make the place his own, although it is thought that he will be looking for a new keeper in the transfer window which means the beginning of the end of Deano's long career. More here: Deano

At right back Belgian international Carl Hoefkens is highly doubtful because of a hamstring problem and has also being crying into his Stella over the long drawn out political crisis in his home country. Stefan Martis and Jared Hodgkiss are battling it out for the right back slot. Martis is thought to have performed well against Leicester, but he is not a natural right back.

Striker and Scottish international Craig Beattie has become a target for the section of the crowd and was even booed at a reserve game. So things are a bit prickly at The Hawthorns.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Hooch to cover Baggies match



These days he largely confines his duties to mentoring his Belgian cousin
Ivy the Terrible. Indeed, this week Hooch has been staying with Ivy in Leamington as he finds the country air at his canalside home in Long Itchington too damp and cold for his joints. However, there is life in the old dog yet and senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch has decided that he must take responsibility for this Saturday's match against the Baggies.

'It will be a tough test for Alan Pardew and the lads,' said Hooch. 'We have a lot of problems with injuries and suspensions, but then so have West Brom. They have a formidable home record, but our away record is good. It should be a match that gets me barking.'

Should Charlton win the match, the Man of the Match will be awarded a special Golden Bone.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Shaymen will be big test for Brakes

Fellow BGB Midlands side Chasetown may have grabbed the headlines by getting into the 3rd round of the FA Cup, but Leamington face one of their biggest tests since the club was re-formed when they go to Conference side Halifax Town on the FA Trophy in Saturday. It is only the second time the 'new' Leamington has faced a team played by Charlton (I believe that the lowest ever attendance at The Valley was against Halifax). When they went to Colchester in the first round of the FA Cup, Brakes lost 9-1.

Although they are still top of the BGB Midlands, Brakes have decelerated a little recently. They drew 0-0 at home to in form Evesham United and then went down 2-0 away to arch rivals Romulus.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Curbs feeling like a hero at Upton Park

Alan Curbishley is feeling like a hero at Upton Park according to an interview in The Times: Curbs

Many Charlton fans always thought that his true allegiance was with the Hampsters. But we have to remember that managers and players are hired hands. They are never fans and never feel about the club the way that fans do. How many of us have a deep emotional attachment to our employer?

What did Alan Curbishley do for us? Well he got us promoted twice and established us as a mid-table Premiership club. Towards the end things started to go stale, but then he never had £12m to spend.

Anyway, it's all water under the bridge. Now we have Super Alan Pardew. Like any manager, he has made a few mistakes. But by changing things round against Ipswich he showed his skills.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Charlton left backs declared 'endangered species'


Some accounts of the elusive species of Charlton left backs describe them as mouse like creatures with huge ears.

The Zoological Society of London has declared that Charlton left backs are 'an endangered species.' A ZSL spokesman said, 'The environment of S.E.London appears to be very hostile to this fragile species. An older specimen has been on display recently, but has become exhausted and his continued availability is in question.'

The ZSL has released rare footage of the 'Cory Gibbs' in a bid to ensure its survival. There have been occasional glimpses of this example of the rare species nocturnally in the Gravesend area. More typically, the 'Cory Gibbs' is found around hsopitals, particularly in the radiological department. The footage shows the plaster encased foot of the species which is seen being taken into a wheelchair into a rehabilitation area at the Sparrows Lane nature reserve.

Recent hopes had been placed on a younger specimen known as the Basey which has also now been injured. A separate strain of the species known as the Youga exists in the Scunthorpe area and might be persuaded to migrate south after Christmas to reinvigorate the gene pool.

At one time a variant known as the 'Thatcher' was prominent. This was supposed to be a particularly tough variant through exposure to the New Cross area of London, but also fell prey to injury.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Charlton win at home

Charlton secured three points at The Valley today by beating Ipswich Town 3-1. The Addicks were 3-0 up at half time, Darren Ambrose opening the scoring after five minutes, followed by the second by Chris Iwelumo and an excellent goal by Ambrose for the third.

The Tractors revved up a gear after the break and won a penalty which was saved by Nicky Weaver. They secured a consolation goal but, despite some nervy moments and over six minutes of time added on, Charlton held the score to 3-1.

The victory was not without its price for Charlton as Danny Mills got a fifth yellow card, joining Lloyd Sam among those suspended for next week's match at The Hawthorns, while Jon Fortune was sent off after the match after a brawl broke out. Pards later made it clear that Fortune would be disciplined for his actions.

The match started with myself and the Bloke Beside Me almost being hit by a ball hoofed into the East Stand by an Ipswch player. Sam won Charlton a corner but Andy Reid's effort went straight to the keeper. Chris Powell won Charlton a corner which was taken on the East Stand side by Ambrose, but the referee blew for a push. Holland provided a great cross and Ambbrose was able to head into the back of the net to make it 1-0 on five minutes.

Fortune put in some good defensive work. An effort from a free kick taken by Reid was just wide. The Ipswich keeper was involved in a collision and required treatment. Charlton were given a free kick when Iwelumo was pushed over, but it was over hit by Mills. There was a shout for a Charlton penalty for handball, but the referee gestured that it was ball to the top part of the arm. Good play by Sam led to a shot that was just wide.

Reid won the Addicks a corner, there was a scramble in front of goal and Iwelumo managed to put the ball away to make it 2-0. Ipswich manager Magilton had seen enough and took off Gavin Williams and replaced him by Pablo Counago. Why the Spanish striker had not been one from the beginning was a bit of a mystery was he was far more of a threat.

However, it was not avail as Andy Reid turned provider for Darren Ambrose who put in a great strike along the ground to make it 3-0 on 39 minutes.

Reid blasted over in front of goal when Steve from Sidcup reckoned he should have scored. Ipswich were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position but it led to an offside decision. The Covered End started to chant 'You might as well go home now' which was a bit of a hostage to fortune.

Half time: Addicks 2, Tractors 0

Magilton withdrew Gary Roberts and brought on Danny Haynes immediately after the break while Harding was replaced by Rodriguez. Charlton fans were asking afterwards what had happened to their team in the first ten minutes of the half but, with nothing to lose, Ipswich decided to storm their way back into the match.

The referee awarded Ipswich a penalty for a handball in front of their fans and charm merchant Alan Lee stepped up to take it but Nicky Weaver made a vital save. Ipswich won a corner, but Weaver punched it out.

Ipswich continued to threaten and a shot that looked as if it was going in came off the underside of the bar. Darren Ambrose made a great run, but was brought down by De Vos who received a yellow card. Charlton were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area, but it came off the Ipswich wall. Holland advanced on goal and his effort hit the post from some 20 yards out.

The referee pointed to the spot for a penalty, but then went over to consult the linesman who advised him against it and all Charlton got was a corner. Reid won Charlton a free kick but it went over the bar. An Ipswich corner was followed by play in which the ball flashed dangerously across the front of Weaver's goal.

Charlton were living on the edge and a sequence that started with a mistake by Chris Powell on the wing and poor defending by the Addicks saw danger man Counago score for the Tractors on 69 minutes.

Ipswich won a corner, but Pards took the opportunity to take off Sam and bring on Semedo. Although I can understand why Semedo was brought on to give more defensive capability, I and those around me were a bit puzzled why it was Sam who was taken off. The Ipswich corner was headed out. Fortune received a yellow card for a foul.

Zheng Zhi went down and required treatment. Mills made a defensive error but as able to recover. Ambrose put in a shot that went over the bar. On 87 minutes Reid was withdrawn to prolonged applause in favour of Varney. Ipswich won a free kick and Danny Mills got a yellow card. Bougherra was brought on in place of Chris Powell.

The officials announced five minutes of additional time, although more like seven was played. An Ipswich corner was punched out. Alan Lee received the yellow card he had deserved all game. Luke Varney was brought down and David Wright received a yellow card. A final Ipswich free kick preceded the whistle and the trouble which led to Fortune being red carded.

It was an exciting game and unlike many other teams that had come to The Valley this season Ipswich did try to play football rather than kick us off the park which was probably their undoing.

On the tube I got into conversation with a Grimsby fan and we swapped Clive Mendonca stories. Once a real competitor in what was then Division 1, Grimsby have had two successive relegations, are near the bottom of League 2 and are in real financial trouble.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible has awarded the Silver Bone to Darren Ambrose for two goals against his former club, the second one being particularly excellent. Nicky Weaver saved a penalty and was not really at fault for the Ipswich goal when he was let down by his defence. Chris Powell was running out of puff by the second half and starting to make mistakes. Danny Mills is a skilled footballer but gets himself into avoidable arguments. Sodje had another excellent game at the heart of the central defence and when he made one error he quickly recovered from it. Fortune was stalwart, but spoilt everything by losing his temper at the end, admittedly with a bruiser who had been causing trouble throughout the game. Holland provided the assist for the first goal and was generally effective against his old club. Pards paid tribute to Reid's performance at Cardiff and said that he had rewarded him with a steak and onion pie after the match. He had another very good game yesterday and the concern must be whether a Premiership club will come in for him in the transfer window. Sam gave the Tractors some trouble and we will miss him at The Hawthorns. Zhi looked dangerous on occasions, particularly when powering forward. Iwelumo scored a rather scrappy goal, but they all count. Once again he was being persistently fouled and the referee only intervened when he was pushed over. Semedo displayed his silky skills when he came on. 'Reg' Varney certainly does not lack for pace and threatened to score at least once when he came on. Bougherra had a cameo and made one clearance even if it was high into the air. The thought of him back in the central defence does not fill me with confidence.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to Ipswich bruiser Alan Lee.

Crowd rating: I wish the crowd could get a bit more confidence in the team. In the second half when Ipswich stepped up a gear, the crowd was very nervous and predicting a 3-3 and so on and this communicates itself to the team. 6/10.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Traction required

Charlton have a terrible home record, Ipswich are appalling away, so it looks like a draw tomorrow, one might think. The first essential is to avoid going behind by conceding an easy goal and avoid chasing the game.

4-5-1 seems to work best for us which means the much criticised Iwelumo up front. It has been suggested that he is Leaburn without the ability to hold the ball up, but I would suggest that he is better at scoring goals.

Assuming Thomas is still injured, or only fit for the bench, Varney and Sam should be on the wings. Reid and Zheng Zhi are clear choices. One is then left with a difficult choice between Holland and Semedo.

Apart from scoring a goal, accounts say that Captain Cleanpants played well on Tuesday. Semedo, on the other hand, is an excellent defensive midfielder, a role that is never appreciated by some supporters because it often involves defensive moves. Keith Jones used to get criticised and 'Squib' Hammond in the 1950s. As someone said on the list it is a 'water carrying' job and a very essential one.

Sodje and Fortune should start in central defence. Assuming that Basey is still injured, and given that I don't think Mills performs well at left back, it looks like we will have to use Chris Powell at left back although he can't forage forward so much these days.

It's difficult to understand why Charlton do so poorly at home, but a nervy and over critical crowd doesn't help. At this level there are bound to be some mistakes. It would be good if the crowd could show some confidence in the team who are 3rd after all.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Addicks linked with Lita

The Addicks have been linked with a move for Leroy Lita who is unsettled at Reading having had difficulty in breaking into the Royals' first team this season. There is certainly something in the story that he wants to move as the Baggies are also said to be interested. There are also enough stories floating around about us and strikers to suggest that we are testing the market. Whether Lita will end up at The Valley is another matter.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Addicks linked with veteran striker

Building on their positive experiences with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, now warming the bench at Cardiff, Sky Sports News are linking Charlton with veteran French striker Mickal Pagis.

The 34-year-old enjoyed an impressive season last term with Marseille but has found life tough following his move to Rennes as age takes its toll. Pagis has become the target of the club's supporters and is struggling to make his mark in the first team.

Although his contract with the Brittany outfit runs until 2009, Pagis could be tempted by the challenge of playing in England, even with a Championship outfit [sic].

Thanks, but no thanks. We are not running a rest home for crocks. Better to bring Chris Dickson back from Gillingham and see what he can do.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Charlton go third after double over Cardiff

Charlton took 3rd position in the Championship tonight after their 2-0 away victory over Cardiff City. The Addicks are one point behind the Baggies after they lost 2-4 at home to Coventry City, but Watford won 3-2 at Layer Road with Kevin Lisbie missing a sitter.

Charlton took a first half lead in their match against the Bluebirds at Ninian Park. Away from The Valley, the Addicks were able to focus on their football, although the strong wind afflicting the Welsh capital did not produce a flowing game.

Nevertheless, Charlton brightly and forced a free kick on the left. Sodje's header from the free kick was not far away. Andy Reid had a half chance but put his shot wide.

Somewhat unusually, Charlton scored from a corner on the right. The corner was well taken and the ball was assisted into a central position by W Wind, allowing Matt Holland to score on 34 minutes.

Half time: Bluebirds 0, Addicks 1

In the second half charm merchant Darren Purse pulled down Ambrose in the box, allowing Andy Reid to put the Addicks 2-0 ahead on 79 minutes from the penalty spot. Away from the nervy crowd at The Valley, Charlton were able to coast to a double over Cardiff.

Elsewhere, Chris Dickson scored two, one from the penalty spot, as Gillingham won 3-2 at Crewe.

Cardiff City preview

Cardiff will no doubt be looking for revenge tonight for their 3-0 drubbing at The Valley. I wasn't very impressed by the Bluebirds when they came to Charlton but, not having seen West Brom yet, I have not been impressed by any of the teams I have seen so far this season. Nor I have been impressed by Charlton. After several years of enjoying Premiership football, the gap in standard with the Championship is greater than I expected.

The formation issue will be in everyone's minds again, but 4-5-1 seems to work for us away. Sam will presumably have fully recovered from his knock and be able to play a full game, but with his badly bruised leg, Thomas must be more doubtful. Given that he has been doing well with Denmark Under 21, surely there is a case for Christensen on the bench?

The downside of 4-5-1 is that it encourages hoofing the ball up to Iwelumo rather than playing it down the wings. Iwelumo often fails to make contact with his head. Indeed, he is generally marked out of the game, with referees giving little protection for blatant and persistent fouling. The fact that he has been named Chapionship Player of the Month may encourage even more attention, but that could create space for others to exploit.

Despite their poor performance on Saturday, we should stick with the central defence. With Basey presumably not available, there must be a question mark about Sir Chris Powell who had difficulty maintaining an acceptable pace for the whole game on Saturday. But I am doubtful about switching Mills to left back, even if Mou2 is brought in on the right.

This game is a bit of a puzzle for those who like to 'read off' results. Charlton's two home defeats would suggest another drubbing, but our away form points in a more promising direction.

I think that this is a game that will be shaped by the first goal. If Cardiff score an early goal, it will be difficult for the Addicks to get back into the game. But if they can hold out initially and frustrate Cardiff and then score, they could take all three points. However, I think that a draw is the most likely outcome.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Novice referee shock

A novice referee from West Yorkshire, Jon Moss, has been chosen to referee tomorrow night's game at Ninian Park between Cardiff City and Charlton. Having successfully refereed a Leeds Sunday Cup final, he was brought into the Football League this year for the Shrewsbury v. Rochdale match. His role model is Graham Poll. Moss has a reputation for poor calls and harsh decisions.

You can read an interview with him here:
Referee

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Simply not good enough

That is the only description that can be applied to Charlton's performance today which saw them go down 1-3 at home to Burnley, continuing their poor home record at The Valley. Personally, I think it was a mistake to drop both Thomas (assuming he was not injured) and Sam as, despite the efforts of Varney and Mills, we often lacked width.

The first moaner about Pardew has already been on 606 and we should remember that it is the players that are on the pitch. It was sloppy defending that gifted the Clarets two early goals. Andy Reid's strike gave us hope and our second half performance was much improved. But after Danny Mills had needlessly conceded a penalty, the game was effectively put beyond our reach.

Deptford Creek was very low on our way to the game which I always regard as a bad sign and then the teams changed ends which I also regard as a bad omen.

Charlton won an early corner but to no effect. Burnley then launched a very fluent attack with good passing which, although it ended with nothing more than a throw in by the corner flag, showed that they were a team to be reckoned with.

They were then awarded what I regarded as a very dubious free kick in the edge of the box. This was poorly defended and their leading scorer Andy Gray was able to put a header past Weaver with consummate ease to make it 0-1.

They were then given another free kick in a similar position and this time it was Chris McCann who rose to the occasion to make it 0-2 on 12 minutes. From then on Charlton were chasing the game.

Charlton were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, but it came off the wall. Unsworth tripped Iwelumo as he raced down the wing and received a yellow card for his troubles.

Varney put in an excellent cross, creating a scoring opportunity for Matt Holland, but his header went wide. A Burnley free kick was saved for a Burnley corner which was taken short. Ambrose scythed through the far from impressive Burnley defence, but Charlton's effort was saved.

Zhneg Zhi put in a tame shot from distance which was easily saved by ex Palace player Kiraly in the Burnley goal. Then almost out of nothing a chance was created for Reid in the box who blasted the ball past the Hungarian to make it 1-2.

A row broke out over a free kick given to Burnley and charm merchant Jon Harley kicked out at Mills. The referee was probably unsighted, but the hapless East Stand lino had a good view but, as is often the case, failed to assist the referee by pointing this out to him. The free kick was just wide of the Charlton goal.

There was a mad scramble in front of the Burnley goal and the Bloke Beside Me thought that there might have been a case for a penalty, but the visitors were awarded a free kick.

Half time: Addicks 0, Clarets 2

Charlton looked more impressive after the break, but it took them a long time before they won a corner. Good work by Chris Powell enabled Luke Varey to win a Charlton corner. Zheng Zhi put in a fierce shot from distance which troubled the keeper. The ball came out to Iwelumo, but he could do no more than head it at Kiraly.

Alan Mahon was withdrawn and replaced by Joey Gudjonsson. A Danny Mills free kick went straight to Kiraly. A foul on Iwelumo was at last recognised by the referee and from the Reid free kick, Iwelumo scored, but it was rightly ruled offside.

Charlton fans were still hopeful of an equaliser, but then Danny Mills deliberately handballed in the box for which he received a yellow card (one more and he will miss a game). A confident Andy Gray had no difficulty in blasting the ball past Weaver to make it 1-3.

Varney put in a shot which was tipped over by the keeper. Once again the Charlton corner was unproductive, being caught by Kiraly. Sodje was taken off for Bougherra and Zheng Zhi, who may have been fading a little, was replaced by Sam. Gudjonsson received a yellow card, although worst offences had been ignored. Then it was Reid's turn to be booked.

Sam went down in the box and thought it was a penalty. He was still arguing the case with the referee at the end of the game, but I do not think that it was a penalty. A final Charlton corner failed to provide a means of salvaging some dignity.

Of our last five home games, we have won only one. Any team that comes to The Valey must fancy their chances. At least we have an away game on Tuesday to try and get back into things.

As the rain came down in the second half, Steve from Sidcup said 'and so our season comes to an end.' There is a long way to go, and it is a very open division, but we have to get to the roots of our inconsistency and overcome it.

Cocky Palace fans were claiming on 606 that they were as good as back in the Premiership. If nothing else, this shows the dangers of overreacting to any one result, good or bad. However, although I can remember some bad defeats at home, I can't remember when we last had such two bad ones in a row.

After consultation with senior match analyst Hooch the Pooch, match analyst Ivy the Terrible decided to take the exceptional step of withholding the Silver Bone. Weaver probably could not have done anything about any of the goals, but he seemed somewhat off form, kicking one ball out dangerously. Chris Powell but in a professional and remarkably tireless performance at left back. Danny Mills was in live for the Silver Bone for his energy and enthusiasm until he conceded the penalty. Fortune looked competent enough, but it would be interesting to see his positioning for the two goals. Sodje also looked solid most of the time, although he did give the ball away in a potentially dangerous position. Holland was competent and workmnanlike and Captain Cleanpants even got his shorts dirty as the result of one reckless challenge. Apart from one good run, Ambrose failed to impress and for me he is a player who has never lived up to his supposed promise. Reid scored a well taken goal and was one of the better players on the park. Zheng Zhi looked threatening once or twice and was at least prepared to have a go from distance, but did not look at his best. Views over Varney seemed to differ after the game. At least he had one good shot at goal, but his energy still seems greater than his skill. Iwelumo was persistently fouled by being grabbed round the neck or otherwise held back, but apart from one occasion, this was ignored by the referee. Sam really didn't have much time to make a great difference, although he had a penalty shout. I suppose that Bougherra was brought on as a more 'attacking' defender, but there was little to show from his appearance. McLeod confirmed my view that he runs about a lot to no great effect.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has given the Hiss of the Match to referee R Shoebridge who displayed his League 1 standards with his dubious decisions.

Crowd rating: The Addickted did their best to get behind the team. 7/10.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Your referee tomorrow



It's little known Rob Shoebridge from Derbyshire who mainly seems to referee League 1 matches. Indeed, he is highly praised by Millwall fans.

But not by all managers:
It's a man's game

'We are Burnley, super Burnley'

'We are Burnley, super Burnley, from the north, no one likes us, we don't care.' My return to The Valley occurred when it was a three sided ground and the only way I could get in was to go to the Jimmy Seed Stand with a Clarets supporting friend to see Charlton win 3-0 in the FA Cup. Another memory is of us beating them 4-0 in the League Cup with the Bloke Behind Me screaming 'they're all over you Charlton.'

Last year I went up to Turf Moor to see Burnely play Hull in the Championship. After a pub lunch in a beautiful village, I drove through some of the worst scenes of urban devastation I have seen outside the States to sit on wooden seats.

Back in 1960 it was possible for Burnley to win the top flight. Bob Lord was then the chairman, often described as a butcher, but in fact the head of a substantial meat processing business. But the idea of a small town club (Burnley has a population of around 50,000) winning the top flight under such leadership would be impossible today. Still, if they need some spin doctoring, fan Alastair Campbell is on hand.

Tomorrow's match is a good one for those who like to read off results. Burnley beat Watford away in the week, Charlton lost at home, ergo Burnley will win.

The 4-5-1 formation has worked well for Charlton away from home, particularly since it can easily become a 4-3-3. However, the Blades countered our formation with a change to their own. It also depends on the wingers being on top form and it appears that Sam was well below par on Tuesday. The 4-5-1 also encourages the hoofing of long balls to Leaburn, sorry Iwelumo.

So a reversion to 4-4-2? Unfortunately, Varney and Iwelumo do not combine all that well. Some favour bringing in McLeod, but in my view he is an exponent of the Bradley Allen school of striking, rushing energetically around the pitch to no great effect. I would play a version of 4-5-1 in which Zheng Zhi made sure he was right in behind Iwelumo.

Reid has been below par since he came back from the international break, but it would be a radical step for Pards to rest him. However, we must avoid the temptation of trying to play every ball through him.

I think that despite our poor home record we could actually win this match and I am going for 2-1 to the Addicks.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Equine magnate to sponsor match



We can exclusively reveal that equine magnate John Window is to sponsor Saturday's match against Burnley (he's the one on the left in the photo, the other guy now works for Honest Harry Redknapp).

John Window was born in Didcot, then in Berkshire, but moved to Catford at a young age. He has been a lifelong Addick, Sam Bartram being a particular hero. He started off life as a gas fitter but built up his Bexleyheath riding stables to its present high standard.

To mark the occasion the match will be preceded by a parade of nags and carthorses. This will be before the donkeys come on to the pitch.

Amdy Faye arrested

Charlton player Amdy Faye, currently on loan at Rangers, was among those arrested as part of the inquiry into alleged corruption in football. No charge of falsely impersonating a footballer has been made, but the report below does state that he was regarded as the 'next Patrick Vieira':

Faye

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Reality check for Addickted

Charlton fans received a reality check tonight when the Addicks slumped to an 0-3 home defeat by Sheffield United. The Blades went ahead when Jerome Thomas conceded a penalty in the first half. Charlton missed a chance to equalise and a corner gave Cahill the opportunity to make it 2-0 on 74 minutes. The Blades then had acres of space to score their third goal in the dying minutes of the game.

Perhaps reports that Pards had been short listed for manager of the month was enough to finish off the Addicks' chances. Saturday's opponents Burnely won at Watford, but one can't read off tonight's result to Saturday. Once again the message has to be reiterated: any team can beat any team in this division.

Are Blades blunted?

Before the start of the season I was contacted by a Sheffield United blog to give my forecasts about who would be promoted and I said that I thought that the Blades would be there, not out of flattery, but because I did think they would be in the mix.

At the moment they are 15th in the table. Fans put a lot of the blame on manager Bryan Robson. But let's face it, they didn't look that good in the Premiership last year and the fact that we only got one point from our encounters against them says something about us at the time. Indeed, the 2-1 defeat at Bramall Lane was one of the worst Charlton performances I have seen in recent years.

I think that focusing so much on their legal campaign against West Ham took their attention away from where it should have been, on the pitch. The reason they went down was because they lost to Wigan in the last match of the season.

The Charlton team for tonight pretty much picks itself. There has been some mild criticism of our second half performance at Preston. But against a huff and puff team playing the long ball one has to be reasonably cautious.

I'm not one for reading results off the table or recent matches. A lot of Addicks are gloomy about tonight's game. However, I think that we may well just manage to scrape a win.

Unfortunately work commitments mean that I cannot go tonight but, enjoy the game!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

The officials have agreed ... that Charlton may now score

'The officials have agreed that there will be two minutes of additional time', proclaimed a sonorous voice at the end of the first half at Deepdale tonight. With the conclave of officials over, Zheng Zhi put the ball in the net to give the Addicks a first half lead.

'The officials have agreed that there will be four minutes of additional time', came the message at the end of the second, spurring hope for Barney the Dinosaur and his Preston pals of an equaliser. Luke Varney advanced on goal and beat the keeper from a tight angle to make it 2-0 for the Addicks.

Our ability to score in time added on is a new phenomenon, but I will accept the goals when they come. 'The Pride of Lancashire' were anything but and this was not a classic match, but you have to play who is in front of you. The first half was a rather ragged affair, manager Irvine no doubt perplexed to find that his plans to counter Talal El Karkouri's long distance free kicks or stopping Darren Bent advancing on goal were redundant.

There seems to have been a bout of 'See you Jimmy, you're nothing' in the dressing room at half time as Preston looked more determined after the break. But although they pinned back Charlton in their half, their long balls could not outwit an on form Nicky Weaver. The Addicks had that extra fluency, skill and confident calmness under pressure.

After an excellent run up to Preston, we went to a local pub where we received a friendly welcome and the assurance that the three points were ours. We chatted to a couple of lads from the Met who had come up to police the 473 travelling fans.

After a quick look around the excellent National Football Museum for a second time, we took our seats in the neat three sided ground. It's odd looking out on to a suburban street.

Charlton looked a bit defensively fragile in the first few minutes and the ball was up in the air a lot. A Thomas run created the first Charlton corner of the game which flashed across the front of goal. Iwelumo won the Addicks a free kick. Semedo made a first rate pass to Thomas, but unfortunately it did not lead to anything.

Sodje had no option but to concede a corner which led to a second for the home side. Zheng Zhi received a yellow card for an over vigorous tackle. Good work involving Thomas forced Lonergan in the Preston goal to put the ball round for a corner which was punched out. A Preston free kick in a potentially dangerous position was caught by Weaver. An effort by Zheng Zhi led to a Charlton corner.

Preston were awarded a free kick against Sodje. Mills put it out for a Preston corner which was cleared although there should have been a free kick for a clear foul on Weaver. Thomas made a good run but Sam was unable to make use of it.

Persistence by Iwelumo won Charlton a throw in near the corner flag and it was this that produced the scenario for the opening Charlton goal. Thomas used it to put in an excellent low cross which Zheng Zhi slotted into the back of the net.

Half time: Invincibles 0, Addicks 1

Nicky Weaver had to made an excellent save to deal with a fierce shot from distance by Gallagher. Reid provided a good pass, but it was unproductive. Lloyd Sam won Charlton a corner but it was caught by the keeper. Preston show a puzzling propensity to put the ball out inadvertently to concede throw ins. Gallagher was withdrawn and Simon Whaley brought on.

Weaver made another great save and the resultant Preston corner led to another. Brett Ormerod was withdrawn and replaced by Patrick Agyemang. Charlton made their first substitution with Semedo replaced by Holland to add some experience to the Charlton midfield. It has to be said that Pards got all his substitutions right.

Sam won Charlton a free kick, but it was wasted by Reid. Shortly afterwards Sam was replaced by Ambrose. Kevin Nicholls was withdrawn to chants of 'Charlton reject' and replaced by Darren Carter as Irvine searched for the talent that would unlock Charlton. Pards made his last substitution by taking off Reid and replacing him by Varney.

A Preston corner led to a moment of danger and a second corner, but the Preston effort was well wide which they often were when not going into Row Z. McKenna was booked for a cynical foul on Varney. In time added on, Weaver made another great diving save at the expense of a Preston corner. It looked as if it was all over and it certainly was when Iwelumo released Varney who tore down the wing and outwitted the keeper to make it 0-2.

I have a soft spot for Preston and I hope that they manage to avoid relegation, but they clearly have a lot of work to do.

Leamington made good use of their trip to South London by beating Millwall rejects side Fisher Athletic 2-1 to advance to the 1st round proper of the FA Trophy.

Match analysis

The Silver Bone was awarded by Ivy the Terrible to Nicky Weaver for some superb saves, one of which was classified by Brian Cole as 'world class'. Sodje had another excellent game, strong and resolute in the central defence. I liked the way he came and celebrated with the fans with real enthusiasm after the game. Fortune continues to improve, being relatively error free, and making one excellent and important defensive tackle. Mills continues to impress. Basey was very solid, but occasionally the lack of experience and pace shows. Semedo had another good game. Thomas was probably man of the match in the first half with some excellent penetrating runs down the wing, although he faded a little in the secon half. Sam was also busy on his wing, although he was not always able to take full advantage of the positions he got himself into. Reid had some nice touches but was off the pace a little and not as involved as usual. Zhi was always a danger as he proved with the opening goal. Iwelumo roamed in a lonely fashion up front, but was always determined to get involved and pose questions for the Preston defence. Holland did very little after he came on, but provided a reassuring presence in midfield. Ambrose managed to get to the ball a few times. Varney looked well up for it as he proved with his well taken goal.

Hiss of the Match This was awarded by Juneau the Soccer Cat to the Preston supporters who kept floating white balloons into Nicky Weaver's goalmouth during the first half.

Crowd rating The dedicated band of the Addickted were on good form. I am always heartened by a chorus of 'Goodbye Horse'. 7/10.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Are they invincible?

Preston North End have a much better home than away record. They have only conceded five goals at home all season. Only West Brom and Ipswich have a better home defensive record in the Championship. Moreover, Charlton have not won at Deepdale for over fifty years.

New Preston boss Alan Irvine could be without defender Billy Jones (hamstring) and keeper Wayne Henderson remains sidelined with a back injury.

The Charlton team more or less picks itself, presumably playing a 4-5-1 formation.
Keeper: Weaver. Defence: Mills, Sodje, Fortune, Basey. Midfield: Semedo, Reid, Zhi, Sam, Thomas. Recipient of hoofed balls: Iwelumo.

The Preston team will no doubt be out to impress their new gaffer, but this could backfire if they leave themselves exposed at the back. They might also tire themselves out.

Although I would like to approach the journey up to Preston in a more optimistic spirit, I have to say that this looks like a home win, 2-1 to the Invincibles.

Irvine: I have Charlton sussed

Tracksuited Scottish Preston supremo Alan Irvine reckons he has Charlton sussed ahead of tomorrow evening's encounter at Deepdale.

Speaking through a translator, Irivine said that he hopes he can use the Addicks' former Premier League status to his advantage as he plots victory. He commented: 'It's a great game to start with and I'm looking forward to it.'

'By Championship standards I know more about Charlton than most other clubs in this division. I was involved in Everton's preparations to play against them last season, so hopefully I can use some of that knowledge. Charlton are a decent team and are in a position I expect them to be in.'

Thursday, 22 November 2007

FA Fines Charlton

It's been a busy day for the FA, but they have managed to find time to fine Charlton £6,000 and warn them over their future conduct over the brawl at Hull City. The fine is not an excessive one, the Addicks consider they got a fair hearing and will not appeal:
Fine

Loan bid for McLeod turned down

Blackpool have had a loan bid for Charlton's Izale McLeod turned down. A period out on loan might have helped to sharpen him out. At the moment he receives the Bradley Allen prize for energetic running to no great effect.

Chris Dickson will be returning to The Valley after his Saturday's match with Hartlepool despite pleas from Gillingham for a one month extension. We need to start trying him out from the bench.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Can Carson do it for England?

Obviously I think he can. Robinson has been out of form for some time. But here is what The Guardian has to say about his spell at Charlton:

If some may think Carson's inclusion is a gamble, no one at Charlton Athletic, where Carson spent last season on loan from Liverpool, regards anything about their former goalkeeper as remotely suspect. Andy Woodman, the current goalkeeping coach at The Valley, was working at West Ham United last season and did not coach Carson but has heard nothing but praise for him at Charlton.

"The feedback I've been getting here is that Scott Carson is brilliant," said Woodman yesterday. "Everyone here is really happy for him that he has got into the England side. He was player of the year here last season and everyone says he has an old head on young shoulders and is more than capable of playing in big games for England.

"No one here doubts that he'll be able to cope mentally. From what I've seen of Scott Carson, he's a terrific keeper with great shot-stopping ability, tremendously sharp reflexes and superb handling. I've been extremely impressed by him. He's also got the experience of having played in high-pressure relegation games for Charlton last season. I think England are in good hands."

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Irvine is new Preston boss

Alan Irvine is the new boss of Preston. Full report and a picture of the 49-year old going on 97 (but they're born worn in Scotland) here:
Preston

For those of us making the long journey to Deepdale on Saturday, let's hope the Preston squad don't succeed in making a positive impression on their new gaffers. 'There are going to be some changes here, fumes new Preston boss, after team are trounced by Londoners.'

Preston hope to have new manager in post

Preston North End are still hopeful that they will have a new manager in place for Saturday night's televised clash against the Addicks. Alan Irvine, David Moyes' assistant at Goodison Park, has today emerged as a strong candidate.

Currently, assistant manager Rob Kelly has been put in temporary charge at Deepdale until a new boss can be found.

Other names in the frame include former Burnley boss Steve Cotterill, Mike Newell, Martin Allen and Paul Ince. But former Deepdale skipper Simon Davey has distanced himself from the vacancy by committing himself to Barnsley.

Graeme Souness, linked with the post last week, and Morecambe boss Sammy McIlroy have ruled themselves out of the running.

Former Wigan boss Paul Jewell is the leading choice of fans to be the next North End manager. Jewell polled a massive 52% in a Lancashire Evening Post poll, with former Luton manager Mike Newell the second favourite with 11%. In your dreams.

Charlton looking at South Korean striker

Charlton are considering increasing the East Asian component of their attack force.
The Addicks have reportedly entered the race to sign South Korean international Cho Jae-jin.

According to reports in the Far East, Charlton are rumoured to be keeping tabs on the Shimizu S-Pulse forward. The 26-year-old was tipped to move to Eredivisie side FC Utrecht in the summer but negotiations broke down at the last minute.

He has since suggested he will see out the remainder of his contract with the J-League club before looking for a move to Europe when the transfer window re-opens in the new year.

For a peek at his 'well-muscled body' go to: Men's Health

Monday, 19 November 2007

Can Brakes make it ten in a row?

Leamington have the opportunity of securing their tenth win in a row when they take on Stourbridge at the New Windmill Ground tomorrow night. It will be a tough test as the Glassboys knocked the Brakes out of the FA Cup at their own ground in September and beat Cinderford Town 8-1 at the weekend.

Manager Jason Cadden is emphatic that the loss of Avun Jephcott ('Avon Calling') to Woodford United and Richard Adams to Stratford Town does not leave the squad unduly depleted. There is certainly no lack of fire power up front, but as the squad diminishes in size, injuries and suspensions could take their toll. For now, the newly promoted side remain top of the BGB Midlands Division.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Addicks in tussle for Barking boy

Unconfirmed reports claim that Charlton are engaged in a race with Birmingham City to secure the transfer window signature of Hull City's Dean Marney. The 22-year old midfielder was born in Barking and played for Spurs before transferring to Hull fifteen months ago for a fee reported to be in the region of £1m. He has been one of Hull's key players this season, finding the net three times, including a penalty against Palace.

I suppose the speculative season for transfer window stories has now started, but I wouldn't say our first priority was a midfielder. Even with Dickson recalled, we may need more cover up front. We might also wish to secure the permanent signature of Danny Mills.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Preston ticket prices cut - for home fans only

Preston have cut prices for the upcoming Charlton game but for home fans only. They are now threatening to eject Charlton fans if they buy tickets in the cheaper home areas. Supporters' director Ben Hayes has written to the Football League and Preston, noting that 'while they are within the letter of the law they are certainly not within it's spirit.'

One of the attractions at Preston will be former Charlton player Kevin Nicholls whom my wife used to support. According to Four Four Two the former Lee Bowyer confederate has an impressive display of tatoos on his body.