Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Welcome back Linvoy Primus

Gilmanton, N.H.: The news of the return of the former Valley favourite has even reached Loon Pond Road, although I have to admit it was not a talking point at Dog Hour on the lake last night. He was a great favourite of many of the longer term Addickted even though his time with us was limited. He is nearing the end of his career but he gives us needed cover. Interesting piece on him in the programme on Saturday.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Justice is done

Despite two penalties awarded against them, one taken a second time to enable Reading to equalise, Charlton came out convincing 4-2 winners against the Royals at The Valley today. Charlton were really up for it and playing as a team. For all their billing as the team that would take the division by storm with automatic promotion a foregone conclusion, Reading were less than impressive and somewhat disjointed.

One of the miserable crew behind said he would leave at half time if Charlton were 0-2 behind and go to Bromley instead, showing what a confident bunch of supporters we have.

Charlton started quite brightly, even though it was an end-to-end affair as it was for much of the game. Holland provided a good pass to Bouazza who had a try. Fortune was out maneouvred, but Bailey recovered well in defence. Holland won the ball. There was momentary danger in front of the Charlton goal. Hudson showed real skill in defence by playing the ball through the legs of a Reading player.

Basey was out manoeuvred by his man and Weaver had to make a save. A good run by Moutaoukil forced a Reading defender to head over his own goal and gave Charlton their first corner. However, Basey's corner was poor. Good work by Bailey set up a shot by Lloyd Sam. Sam then forced a Charlton corner.

Reading were awarded a free kick in a potentially dangerous position, but the Premiership maestros showed their quality by putting the ball out of play. The Addicks launched a counter attack and the impressive Bouazza put in an angled shot that was just wide of the far post.

Sam gave the ball away, but Charlton recovered. Hanhemann in the Reading goal saved from Moutaoukil, but then fumbled the follow up and Holland was able to tap the ball into an unguarded net to make it 1-0.

Weaver made a commanding catch and followed this by a good save. Bouazza cleared a dangerous attack. As Reading pressed for the equaliser, the referee gave Reading a rather generous penalty, but they missed, hitting the woodwork. Basey went in well and Varney had a shot.

Bouazza put in a cross and Hanhemann had to save at point blank range from Gray. An effort by the busy Bouazza was just wide. Varney surged forward in a solo run on goal and was brought down in the box. The referee was clearly disconcerted at the thought of a penalty award to Charlton and consulted the West Stand lino. The penalty was then awarded and Gray slotted the ball home decisively to make it 2-0 to the Addicks.

Bouazza forged away down the wing and was only stopped by a very good tackle. With two minutes added on, Reading were awarded a corner. This was defended far too deeply by Charlton with only Matt Holland coming out when it was partially cleared. Consequently, Sonko was able to put the ball away and revive Reading's hopes by sending the two teams in at half time with a 2-1 scoreline.

Half time: Addicks 2, Royals 1

Lita and Gray had a chat on the halfway line about old times as they waited for the kick off. Charlton were awarded a free kick, but Sam's header went over. There was a worrying moment when Bailey went down.

Reading won a corner and once again it was not played out. The referee awarded a penalty for an alleged foul by Fortune, although I did not see it. Weaver saved Stephen Hunt's first effort. The referee decided that the penalty should be taken again, presumably for encroachment, although I did not see it. This time Hunt struck home to make it 2-2. Bouazza received a yellow card: whether this was for encroachment or dissent I don't know.

Charlton won a corner which was taken by Basey. The ball returned to Basey by the corner flag, but his effort at a cross was overhit. A fierce shot by Luke Varney which tested Hahnemann and led to a Charlton corner. This was taken by Sam and the keeper had to punch the ball out.

Reading were awarded a free kick near the West Stand corner flag and then three corners in succession, but their attempt to take the lead ended in a Charlton goal kick.

Holland provided good defensive work. Sonko received a yellow card for a blatant foul on Varney. Then a good Lloyd Sam cross enabled Varney to head the ball in the net to make it 3-2. This was the decisive goal that turned the game but it was followed by a real peach of a goal by Bouazza which announcer Big Dave Lockwood immediately nominated as a candidate for goal of the season.

Reading decided to go fraternal by bringing on Noel Hunt to partner his brother. Varney powered through but was foiled by the keeper. Fortune put in an excellent ball across the pitch to Bouazza who turned provider for Gray whose effort came off the woodwork, but he was probably offside anyway.

Moutaoukil provided good defensive cover in front of the Charlton goal. Lloyd Sam was replaced by Ambrose. Charm merchant Sonko received a second yellow card for a foul and Reading were down to ten men. As often happens in such cases, they looked more threatening and a shot came off the woodwork. Basey provided good defensive work. Moutaoukil was taken off, receiving warm applause and Semedo replaced him. He was almost immediately fouled by Noel Hunt who received a yellow card.

With four minutes of time added on, Nicky Weaver had to make a good save to preserve Charlton's margin. Charlton were 6th in the table after the other matches were played which is somewhat at odds with the proliferating prognostications of likely relegation. Moreover, the performance today gave real hope.

I was back home in time to hear Dave Pender's Big Saturday Night Party on Radio Scilly (see links). Appropriately, he was playing It's A Beautiful Day as I finished this report. Apparently, Old Town was rocking last night, but not as much as The Valley. And Leamington won to maintain their 100 per cent record.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible (who also contributed a report for tomorrow's Observer) introduced Hameur Bouazza to what is now a Charlton tradition with the award of his first ever Silver Bone in recognition of his constant forays down the flank, his excellent positioning and his superb goal. However, in his first appearance at The Valley Nicky Bailey provided the combative and dominating presence we have needed in midfield for so long and was awarded a special commemorative Silver Biscuit. Nicky Weaver made some great saves, including frustrating two penalty attempts. It was not his fault that Reading were given a second attempt.
Moutaoukil was on song, making some great runs down the wing and looking solid in defence. Basey generally played well, but was out manoeuvred once or twice and his corners are ordinary at best. Fortune is solid most of the time, but makes occasional worrying errors. If only he could concentrate for 90 minutes. Hudson did what was required him of with quiet efficiency. Holland brought dependable solidity to complement the combativeness of Weaver. Apparently his goal was his first at The Valley for over four years. Sam was disappointing in the first half, but improved in the second, providing the assist for one of the goals. Gray took his penalty confidently and showed some nice touches, but sometimes seemed a little slow. Varney got his reward for his efforts with a well taken goal.
Ambrose came on late in the second half and still looked very much the curate's egg, good in parts, but unsatisfactory as a whole. Semedo had a short cameo.

Hiss of the Match There was only one candidate for Juneau the Soccer Cat who awarded it to referee Lee Mason for his inconsistent and often bizarre decision-making. However, Juneau recruited her sister Amber to give a special hiss to the East Stand lino. Reading could do nothing wrong in his eyes, but his facility with the offside flag against the Addicks can only be explained by his time as a guard on trains serving Selhurst and Norwood.

Crowd rating: The team's performance lifted the crowd, but it should really be the other way round. 7/10.


I leave early tomorrow morning for the States for work, to New Hampshire (where I have not been before) and Boston Ma. There will consequently be no report on the Preston game.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Varney in hopeful mood

Luke Varney thinks that losing the 'favourite' tags will help Charlton this season and that Reading are a 'tentative' side (there is some support for that in the lack of goals they have scored, but Lita may do the business tomorrow as returning players often do).

Steve Coppell thinks that Dave Mooney, who he has signed from cash strapped Cork City, is the solution to the departure of Dave Kitson. Mooney has at least one thing going for him which is that he turned down a move to Palace in favour of the Royals.

Read more here:

Compare and contrast

Reading keeper Marcus Hanhnemann compares the management styles of Alan Pardew and Steve Coppell (reaching Wokingham on the internet does seem to take a little time):

He forecasts that Royals fans will be well up with so let us hope that the Addickted rouse themselves.

So, farewell then (permanently), Jerome Thomas. Will his real talent show through at Pompey or will he continue to disappoint?

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A week away

After a week away on a very relaxing cruise down the coast of Croatia, I find that quite a lot has happened at Charlton in the last week, but on the whole the negative developments outweigh the bad.

By far the worst news is that Racon will be out for three months after being injured at Watford. He looked one of the most promising players against Swansea and he plays in an area where we are particularly weak.

Not only has Youga got himself red carded and hence will miss the clash against the Royals, but Grant Basey is doubtful with a hamstring injury.

The good news is that Faye has finally departed to the Potteries for an 'undisclosed fee' and we have signed Nicky Bailey.

Two other pieces of news may be viewed as mixed. Jerome Thomas has gone out on loan to Portsmouth for a year with the promise of a permanent signing, having made his debut as a substitute in their 4-0 drubbing by Chelsea. Thomas has his fans, although they are tending to decline in numbers. I have felt for some time that he took the view that he deserved better than Charlton and this has affected how he has played for us.

The departure of Dean Sinclair to Cheltenham (again) is almost a piece of non-news. A baffling signing, can't we offload him to them?

More encouraging news was that Leamington have started their season with two 2-1 wins, the last at home against Nuneaton Town in front of a crowd of 1,056 which is excellent for a mid-week game in Level 4 of the non-league.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Booed off

Radio 5 this morning made a point of the fact that Charlton were booed off the pitch after the 0-1 defeat to Yeovil. I wasn't there and other blogs give varying accounts of the performance of the makeshift team. However, with two full backs playing in central defence in the second half, it emphasises our weakness there.

But, as Pards said, it's a matter of availability and finance and the last thing we want is go into administration and have a 10 points deduction.

Too much negativity is creeping in. Keep the faith!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Enjoy the games!

When we were a mid-table Premiership side, I thought that we could have made a bit more of the League Cup. It was a competition in which we might have progressed, bringing some excitement to the season.

Now it raises a dilemma. It would be a blow to morale to go out to a League 1 side like Yeovil Town. It might give us a tie against Premiership opposition - although that would inevitably mean defeat. But ultimately it is a distraction from the chase for promotion.

Clearly the answer is what is likely to happen: we put out a changed side to give the fringe players a chance, but have some firepower on the subs' bench in case it is needed to avoid humiliation. Someone was saying on Saturday that we are allowed seven subs, but only three can come on. A bit different from Keith Peacock's debut as the first ever sub. It will be like ice hockey soon.

We won't be at the Yeovil game as we are going on holiday tomorrow and I will probably be at sea when we play Watford. I think we could get at least a point out of that match and possibly three. I'll be back for the game against Reading.

I see that the old perennial of why the attendance figure doesn't match the number in the ground is being discussed again. The simple answer is that it would not be worth the effort and cost of counting all the ticket stubs to see if everyone who had a season ticket or bought a ticket had turned up.

Rick Everitt has raised some interesting questions about how some of those 'in attendance' are classified. For example, apparently the referee is allowed to bring a guest. Who does he bring? His mum or the president of his appreciation society? If the latter, does he say afterwards, 'I really liked the panache with which you showed that yellow card in the second half'?

Anyway, enjoy the games. Drinking During the Game thinks it might be called off. I'm not sure if we still have the 'whale' to suck up excess water, but I am sure that the Valley drainage system can prevent the pitch becoming waterlogged.

Enjoy the games!

Addicks could have gone into administration

Richard Murray has admitted that Charlton could have gone into administration if the directors have not pumped £15m into the club:

When we ask for this or that player to be signed, we need to remind ourselves that what is really important is have a club that is solvent and still playing.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Robson Joins Gills

Mark Robson has joined League 2 Gillingham as their first team coach:

I wore his signed Addicks training shirt to The Valley on Saturday. When he left the club it was stated that it was so he could pursue his ambitions, but many think that he was part of the cutbacks.

More signings depend on Faye exit

More signings for the Addicks depend on the departure of Amdy Faye, Alan Pardew has told the Daily Mail. Southend midfielder Nicky Bailey is still on his shopping list. He is transfer listed at Roots Hall where he has had a falling out with the Shrimpers.

Manager Pardew wants a decision on the Senegal midfielder's future this week but admitted that Stoke boss Tony Pulis will concentrate on checking out Faye's personality rather than his football skills.

Pardew said: 'Tony's shown a bit of cheek by taking him on trial but I just felt it was best for the lad, especially when he came on and got booed by the crowd here against Athletic Club (in pre-season). I think it's difficult for him here now. If he does come back to us then we're going to have to try to build bridges with everybody here.'

'Tony knows it's very important that his team spirit isn't broken and he needs to make sure that the player is of good character, which he is.'

Faye's departure would raise cash for new signings, and Pardew said: 'There are still going to have to be a couple of players going out. I'm itching to get a couple more players in but I'm just holding fire at the moment.'

The Mail added that a departure for Faye and more signings would boost house prices in SE7.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

To the Engerland 2-0

This was the chant of the Addickted as Charlton beat Swansea 2-0 at The Valley today in front of a crowd of 21,675 (not all of them present in the ground). Charlton opened their account with an early goal from new skipper Mark Hudson and completed the victory with a late goal from Andy Gray. Earlier in the second half, Swansea's Garry Monk, who was anything but, had been sent off for a second bookable offence.

Swansea played some fluent football with some good passing, but were unable to take the chances they had. They also relied on a rather physical style of play which may get controlled more in this division than League 1.

On the train back an Addick approached me and asked me to accentuate the positives. Well, we started the season with a win in a difficult fixture. But the Charlton team is clearly still a work in progress. The players still need to play as a team more rather than as individuals. The two forwards were often isolated up front and got insufficient service from a midfield who also failed at times to protect the defence.

Coming down on the train, I noticed a blue double decker bus in a scrapyard bearing the ambiguous slogan 'Let 'em all come down to the Den.'

A Charlton corner was taken by Shelvey and Hudson converted with a decisive header on two minutes. Jerome Thomas overhit a cross. Racon provided a good ball forward. Thomas went on a run down the left. Sam made a good run down the right. Youga provided good defensive work.

Weaver made a save. A Swans free kick was pushed out by Weaver, but another free kick was awarded. Charm merchant Matthew Collins was spoken to by the referee. Incidentally, Swansea have some appropriate names in their squad, fielding a Gower, but Owain Tudor-Jones was unfortunately not on the pitch.

Shelvey had the ball taken away from him. Bodde was given a yellow card for a foul on Thomas. A move that started with a good header by Shelvey found Sam with an opportunity in front of goal but his header was saved. Racon provided good defensive work.

A Charlton corner led to a shot by Sam that was tipped over by de Vries in the Swansea goal. Varney forged away on a run and I thought he was fouled but referee Beeby, whose decision-making was somewhat inconsistent, gave a free kick to the visitors. This was followed by another free kick for the Swans who put in a shot that went wide. The Covered End broke into a chant of 'That's why you're going down.'

Swansea won a corner. A handball was ignored by the referee and Swansea were given a corner. Charlton were falling too easily into the offside trap set by the visitors. Weaver made a save with his outstretched hand. Weaver prodded the ball out and Swansea won a corner.

Half time: Addicks 1, Swans 0

Charlton were awarded a free kick, but it was not well taken by Shelvey. Swansea looked stronger after the break (or Charlton less certain) and Bauza shot just wide after being presented with an open goal. Shelvey was beaten again and Pards replaced him by Holland. The stalwart provided a good ball almost right away that led to a throw in by the corner flag. Swansea gave themselves a tot by taking off Bauzia and bringing on Brandy.

Varney advanced but was brought down by Swansea skipper Monk who received his first yellow card. Monk repeated his offence by scything down a player and was duly shown red.

Varney won Charlton a corner which was taken by Lloyd Sam. Eventually Thomas put in a good cross from the resulting play. Lloyd Sam won the Addicks a corner, which wsa followed by another. Good defensive work by Youga broke up a Swansea attack. Swansea took over Gower and brought on their secret weapon Jason Scotland. Thomas was withdrawn in favour of Basey.

Weaver made a great save, keeping Charlton ahead. Pratley was taken off by Swansea and replaced by another of their Spanish journeymen, Jordi Gomez. A Charlton corner was taken by Grant Basey. Sam was taken off and our new Algerian signing from Fulham was brought on for a ten minute cameo. Swansea put in a good cross across the goal.

Gray converted from a free kick to make it 2-0. In time added on, Varney stormed through but De Vries made a good save. The crowd broke into a rather tentative and fragmented chant of 'Super Alan Pardew'. Swansea were awarded a free kick in front of the 'D'. Weaver did not deal with the ball well and Swansea won another free kick, but then it was all over and the points were in the bag. I enjoyed the company of the Hampton Magna Addick on the train home.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible had to ring Emeritus Match Analyst Hooch the Pooch to ask how you awarded the Silver Bone when no player was really outstanding, but the canine mentor explained that that often happened at Charlton. Ivy decided to award his first ever Silver Bone to Therry Racon who did nothing wrong and showed some nice touches. Weaver made one crucial save, but fumbled the ball a couple of times, but it was a slippery ball and a slippery surface. Hudson had a dream debut and looks as if he will be solid as a rock at the heart of the Charlton defence. Fortune was very solid throughout. Semedo was not in his natural position at right back, but he did well enough. Youga has been declared Public Enemy No.1 by the Bloke Behind Me. He does make a few errors, but he defended well and also combined effectively with Thomas in attack. Shelvey still lacks what is needed at this level and was rightly withdrawn. Sam got forward well a number of times, but then didn't know what to do with the ball, particularly when he found himself in front of goal. Thomas was lively, but there was little end product and he faded as the match went on. I'm not sure that Gray and Varney combined all that well, there often seemed to be big gaps between them, but Gray redeemed himself with his goal and Varney was willing to give it a go. Holland steadied the ship after he came on. Basey did not make a great impression on the match and Boazza had little chance to show what he can do.

Juneau the Soccer Cat awarded the Hiss of the Match to the Bloke Behind Me who was in full negative flow throughout the match. His companion did not even applaud when we scored our second goal and the BBM declared it would be a travesty if we won, saying when three minutes were added on 'Three more minutes of this to suffer!'

Crowd rating The Taffs were in loud voice and expressed their low opinion of the intensity of the Charlton support on a number of occasions. We weren't in the greatest of voice. 6/10.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Are you rocking Charlton?

One consequence of watching Charlton tomorrow is that I will miss Dave Pender's 'Big Saturday Night Party' which plays rock classics on Radio Scilly from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sometimes Dave can't appear as he is busy in his role as 'king of the Five Islands disco scene.' One of his catch phrases is 'Are you rocking, Hugh Town?'

Unfortunately, the answer is probably not and the same might be said of Charlton fans. Inspector Sands is fortunately back among us and has a good post on how saddos take out their frustration with their lives down at The Valley. Of course, people's choices in terms of re-making their lives are often more constrained than the good Inspector as a single bloke allows.

Nevertheless, it is important that the fans show some confidence in the team tomorrow and at least try to match the 3,000 singing Taffs who will benefit from the acoustics of the Jimmy Seed stand.

Like all promoted teams, Swansea have learnt to play with and for each other. The Charlton squad is not lacking in talent and if they could only play as a unit more effectively, they could do better than many people expect.

It's not the fixture I would have wished for to start the season, but reports from Wales are suggesting that Swansea are more lacking in confidence than I would have thought. With Moutaoukil suspended after an incident in the reserves last season, Semedo will have to fill in at right back. Hopefully, Hudson will have recovered and we will be spared a problem in central defence. With Holland still out, the central midfield could also under perform.

Nevertheless, I refuse to be downhearted. The easy forecast is to replicate the 1-1 against Scunny last year, but we were over confident then and undrestimated them. I do not think we will make that mistake tomorrow and I am going for 2-1 to Charlton with the winning goal scored in the 88th minute by substitute Stuart Fleetwood.

Come on you Reds!

Into the Valley of Death

This is the phrase that some Welsh sources are using as Swansea players try to psych themselves up for a 'massive' game against a 'sell out' crowd:

Amdy Faye on his way

Church bells rang out in south-east London last night as the news filtered through that Amdy Faye was on trial at Stoke (the football club, not the court) and that the Potteries club was likely to make an offer of £1m for him (that is money they would pay to Charlton rather than the other way round).

Whilst the press are saying that the Glaziers are saying that Crystal Palace had an offer turned down for impressive midfielder Nicky Bailey, the Southend site says that it was the Addicks who made the bid.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Swans have injury problems

Swansea City have some injury problems ahead of their meeting with Charlton on Saturday:

Their collection of foreign journeymen are by no means invincible.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Hooch the Pooch stands down

In a statement issued by the Association of Canine Match Analysts, Hooch the Pooch has stood down as senior match analyst at Charlton. The 13-year old revealed that increasing stiffness in his joints was making it more difficult for him to climb to the press box in the West Stand. Hooch will become Match Analyst Emeritus and will provide mentoring to younger dogs.

Ivy the Terrible, new Senior Match Analyst

He is succeeded as Senior Match Analyst by Ivy the Terrible. Hooch is spending the week leading up to the Swansea match with Ivy in Leamington to give her final guidance and advice before she assumes her new role. Ivy has been undergoing an intensive programme of long walks, including on the ball work, over the summer to ensure that she is fully match fit.

Ivy will be assisted by spaniel Monty Martin from Blewbury, Oxon and black labrador Homer the Cherry Hound from Chilton, Oxon who is also match analyst at Didcot Town.

Dowie's future in doubt

The manager with the golden touch, Iain Dowie, looks as if he might be out of the door at Queen's Park Rangers even before the season has started:

It had been hoped that Dowie's presence at Loftus Road would undermine the promotion chances of the Super Hoops, so if he does go they may be more formidable competition.

Three defeats in a row for Brakes

Leamington went down 2-1 to the Villagers at Bishop's Cleeve last night, a club that punches above its weight because it acts as a kind of feeder club for Cheltenham Town. After Saturday's 4-0 defeat at Wimborne, this is the third defeat in a row for the Brakes. It is thought this has only happened once before in the club's history.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Tonge talk

Charlton have been linked with Sheffield United midfielder Michael Tonge who is valued at £2m. But so have Derby County and West Brom and Blades manager Kevin Blackwell insists that the player is going nowhere.

In any case it is doubtful whether we could afford him even if we sold Zheng Zhi to the Baggies.

Basey makes the cut

Charlton's Grant Basey is in the Wales Under 21 squad for the crucial qualifying match against Romania at Wrexham later this month. Admittedly it's a squad of 28 to be reduced to 18, but some of the players dropped are likely to be those needed for the senior squad.

Looking on the bright side of life

The price of a barrel of oil dropped to $120 yesterday. Not so long ago some pundits were forecasting a price of $200 a barrel by the end of the year. The analogy here is that perhaps the gloom among the Addickted about the coming season is being overdone.

Just as it is possible to deepen a recession by adopting a recessionary psychology that affects purchasing behaviour, so a mood of gloom can become self-reinforcing. Although I am somewhat sceptical of arguments about how a crowd affects a team's play, the Addickted will not be able to lift the team against Swansea on Saturday if they have already made their mind up that Charlton face a relegation struggle. We have a tough beginning to the season so getting off to a good start is important.

Here are some positives. Yes, we have a smaller squad, but the contribution of probably most of those who left was not that great (I would make an exception for Zheng Zhi whose departure would seem to be imminent). Instead of chopping and changing as he did last year so that the team were not familiar with each other, Pardew will have to decide who his best sixteen are. They might then start to play for each other and keep the ball on the floor.

Richard Murray remarked at the bloggers' meeting that a number of opposing directors said that they had played as well as they had ever done at The Valley. We allowed them to play football. A lesson to be learnt is not to allow them to do that and Hudson might help there.

Last season a number of teams convinced themselves they were playing a Premiership side (perhaps having seen the ghost of Darren Bent during the warm up) and gave that extra ten or twenty per cent. This year that reputation will have faded, although it is unfortunate that we are starting against Swansea who have a point to prove.

Some put their faith in our youngsters, although I am always a bit more sceptical about a 'Roy of the Rovers' rescue through this route. Commitment and enthusiasm are valuable qualities, but in this division experience is more important. Youngsters can understandably be error prone.

I do have more faith in our non-league acquistions than some do. There were some indications pre-season that Chris Dickson is coming good, as he might have done last season but for his unfortunate injury. Although Stuart Fleetwood has had a roller coaster of a career, a number of good judges of a player seem to think that he does have an eye for the back of the net.

The Championship is a competitive division, but that doesn't mean it is made up of a collection of invincibles. The analysis of other teams provided by Drinking During the Game reminds us that we are not the only club with financial problems or a team made up of journeymen.

From those who went, I understand that at the Bilbao match some of the errors of last season were evident: too much hit and hope, poor service to the strikers, no final product from Thomas, ineffective midfield, porous defence etc. I do think we need one signing in defence and one in midfield. Above all, we need to approach the season with a little more belief and the capacity to lift the team as supporters.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Addicks Forecast to Finish 16th

The Times thinks that Charlton will finish 16th this season. They comment, 'a summer spent trimming budgets has done little to enhance the manager's prospects of steering the club back into the Premier League before the loss of the relegation parachute payments next summer.'

Birmingham and Derby County are predicted to be promoted automatically with QPR, Reading, Sheffield United and Burnley (!) battling it out in the play offs. Blackpool, Donny (lazy journalism?) and Barnsley are put in the relegation slots.

If we split the difference between this forecast and that of 4-4-2 we end up with a final placing of 9th/10th which sounds more realistic to me.

Pards: Zheng Zhi sale will balance books

The sale of Zheng Zhi should balance the books at The Valley, Alan Pardew has declared. He emphasised, 'It is the club which has to survive, not me as a manager' (a form of words I have not heard him use before). 'The bottom line is the security of the club ... We are a little bit under financed in the credit crisis.'

Pards put numbers on the savings he has had to make: 'I was asked to bring in £5m and chop about £3m off the wage bill plus about £400,000 off my staff bill.'

Pards confirmed that he had put in a phone call about Martin Crainie, but said that the decision was Portsmouth's.

Remarks in full here: Pards

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Are We The New Port Fail?

Many years ago I went to a Charlton away fixture at Burslem Port Vale and read in the programme that their ambition was to stay in the then Division 1 for many years to come. With all the cutbacks, is that the effective ambition now for Charlton? We all know what happened to Port Fail and relegation odds for the Addicks have gone down from 18-1 to 11-1. Perhaps Addicks are hedging against possible disappointment.

Blackheath Addickted's careful assessment of yesterday's friendly makes depressing reading - although Blackheath (living proof that it is possible to look youthful as you near your half century) points out that many key players were not on display. Hudson limping off is worrying, as despite assurances that we would have two professionals in every position, central defence is an area where we are particularly exposed.

Thinking about relegation is overdoing the gloom. We are more likely to become the Burnley of the South, neither in the frame for relegation nor promotion. If our mix of journeymen, youngsters (who don't seem to have excelled yesterday) and former non-league players can achieve promotion, they deserve a medal.

Leamington crashed 4-0 at Wimborne yesterday but there were a number of trialists in the side, while Mark Bellingham was evidently on duty feeling collars.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Read what you like into the result

You can read what you like in Charlton's 0-1 defeat at The Valley this afternoon by Athletico Bilbao in a somewhat ill-tempered match. I didn't make the journey down to London on this rather humid day for what was, whem all is said and done, a meaningless fixture. And I'm not sure it tells us anything about the coming season, although no surprise that Jerome Thomas failed to find the back of the net from the penalty spot.

You could say that it wasn't a good start to the revival of all singing, all dancing plucky little Charlton, back to its mixture of journeymen and promising youngsters. Or you could say that it could have been a lot worse. The real test comes next Saturday.

Zheng Zhi to join Baggies

It looks as if Zheng Zhi is going to West Brom. Talks between the two clubs are ongoing and no fee has been agreed yet, but one in the region of £2m has been mooted.

This would mean that Charlton would more than meet its target of clearing £5m net from its summer fire sale, possibly leaving some money for acquisitions. It was also known that the Chinese captain was likely to move on if a Premiership club came in for him, Fulham having been in the frame at one stage.

We shall miss him.

(Sorry about the mistake that sent Bougherra had gone to West Brom. Shows how you need to stay alert on a humid afternoon).

He Must Go Says Charlton Prezza

Charlton's Honorary Life President Sir Maurice Hatter emerged from the shadows yesterday to make the front page of the Financial Times. Referring to Gordon Brown, not Alan Pardew, he said that he would 'unequivocally welcome a change of leadership.'

Hatter is chairman of engineering company IMO Precision Controls and a six figure Labour donor.

He complained, 'It's rather difficult to find a prime minister of quality in any party.' Perhaps this might be a role for one of our surplus players?

Friday, 1 August 2008

Addicks in for McShane

Following the sale of Madjid Bougherra, Charlton have made a move for out of favour Sunderland player Paul McShane. Apparently, Pards believes that the Republic of Ireland international is just the player to fill the void left by the Algerian’s departure.

McShane has seen his chances limited at the Stadium of Light following a number of below par performances last season and he looks to have no future at the club. Sunderland manager Roy Keane is eager to reduce his playing squad in order to bring in new players and will listen to offers of McShane.

The former West Brom defender should fit in at Charlton well. First, he has just returned from injury and is probably not fully fit which is often the case with our purchases. Second, he fits in with an honourable Charlton tradition started by Feesh and followed by Chris Dickson of being involved in a freak accident. He broke his knee cap in a swimming pool while on holiday during the summer. Perhaps he was trying his diving techniques?

Pards shares his pain

Alan Pardew has gone public with his pain about the state of the club, revealing that he did not realise the extent of the financial plight (perhaps he should have gone to the bloggers' meeting):

We Get Our Money Back

The depature of Majid Bougherra to Rangers for £2.5m means that we have recouped the sum we paid for him to Sheffield Wednesday. The competition between Real Betis, the Baggies and Rangers seems to have been cleverly managed by the club, although apparently it was all getting to the player.

Bougherra was a quality player as the competition for his signature suggests, but he was not an outstanding player. Rangers have got a much better deal than they did with Faye, a shame that they could not be tempted by a 'two for one' package.