Friday, 31 August 2012

Villa abandon Stephens deal

Aston Villa have abandoned their pursuit of Dale Stephens and are targeting Crewe midfielder Ashley Westwood instead: Stephens

Villa made a 'take it or leave it' offer to Charlton this morning. It was felt that the Addicks were asking too high a price (reportedly £2.5m).

Word has it that we are still purusing Dany N'Guessan who is certainly interested in leaving Millwall for The Valley.

Dean Hammond talks

Reports are circulating that we are talking to Southampton about midfielder Dean Hammond. He has fallen down the pecking order there. He could be a replacement for Dale Stephens if he left.

With Stephens staying, Hammond went on loan to Brighton.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Stephens, Solly moves could both be off

Birmingham sources are indicating that Aston Villa may defer their interest in Dale Stephens until the January transfer window which would leave the player unsettled: Stephens . Charlton have apparently being playing hardball over the fee, but Villa's interest has its limits.

Andy Carroll is undergoing a medical this evening prior to signing for West Ham on a one year loan. According to the BBC, this will cost the Hammers a £1m loan fee in addition to Carroll's 80k a week wages.

Given that West Ham have to pay Sheffield United £10m this year over the Tévez affair, this means that the owners are having to dig deep into their pockets and leaves little money to fund an acquisition of Chris Solly, even if it would be small change compared with Carroll. From an Addicks perspective, that is good news.

Not so merry men

When No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson was living in the UK he was disappointed to find that Nottingham Forest's ground was not in Sherwood Forest and he was not greeted by the merry men and Maid Marian.

Forest may not have that much to be merry about this season. The forecasters all put them mid-table in the same territory as Charlton, one at 11th and two at 13th.

Forest made an unbeaten start to the season, including a creditable 2-2 draw at Bolton last weekend, but then went down 1-4 at home to Wigan Athletic in the league cup. Indeed, it could have been worse if the referee had not shown his sympathy by failing to award two clear penalties against the home side.

Forest have made nine signings over the summer, Henri Lansbury being introduced to the crowd on Tuesday after his £1m capture from Arsenal. The new Kuwaiti board has invested £5.5m so far in players. But a number of key players have departed such as Garath McCleary and Chris Gunter to Reading.

Manager Sean O'Driscoll thinks that Forest have assembled a stronger squad than last season and they will only get stronger with time. He has not ruled out further signings before the transfer window closes tomorrow: Forest

However, although they play a crisp passing game, they have defensive weaknesses. Mauro Boselli has been voted Wigan's worst ever foreign signing by the club's supporters, but he was granted the freedom of the six yard box to open the scoring against Forest.

The defence also let them down by conceding a soft second goal against Bolton. Sordell was allowed to run from the middle of the park and put in a long ball which glanced off the post which should have been dealt with by one of the centre backs.

Keeper Lee Camp is a study in hesitancy and allows himself to be bullied in the air. Halford is error prone and Maloney suffers from nervousness. Former Stoke man Danny Collins is by far the most solid defender. Harding is competent but uninspring. Guedioura was lucky not to get sent off against Bolton after a bad tackle and was dropped against Wigan, McGugan has a great shot, as does Cox who scored from 30 yards into the top corner against Wigan Blackstock isn't prolific but he works hard and can unnerve defenders.

Former Addick Andy Reid, now available in a new slimline version, is one of their best players. Against Bolton he evaded two defenders to score a fine goal and worked hard to support the forwards. Against Wigan he controlled a pass superbly before shooting inches wide.

Forest fans are too busy expressing their starstruck admiration for the Massives and their dislike of Derby to have much of a view about Charlton. Forest had a poor home record last season, winning only six games.

This match is not going to end in a 0-0 and 2-2 would seem a safe prediction. However, Forest may not find the Charlton defence easy to unlock for all their skill up front and it's just possible that the Addicks could grab all three points.

Stephens bid rejected?

It is being reported that the Villa bid for Dale Stephens has been rejected. How much the bid was is open to question. Some sources state £600,000, which would be an under valuation, others £1.5m, which would be more realistic.

Chris Solly briefly appeared on Wikipedia last night listed as a West Ham player, but that has now been corrected. However, as the transfer deadline approaches, it looks as if he will not be taking a one way trip northbound on the Free Ferry en route to Chadwell Heath. I think that most Charlton fans would like to see last season's Player of the Year stay this side of the river, certainly I would.

Seeing a rampant Everton thumping Leyton Orient 5-0 makes me pleased we didn't progress further in the Capital One Cup. Hopefully we would have lost by a smaller margin, but it would have been a wasted journey that tired and possibly injured players.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Button joins 'massive' Charlton

Spurs keeper David Button has now joined the Addicks: Button . The fee is undisclosed.

Button said, 'I’m delighted. It’s a massive opportunity for me to come to a massive club like this and I’m really excited for the future,' shortly after putting pen to paper.' That's two 'massives' in one sentence which even Sheffield Wednesday have not achieved.

One might expect to see a loan deal for Sullivan.

There are rumours that a West Ham offer for Chris Solly has been turned down. According to one report, they are in competition with Bolton: Trotters . In any event reports that Solly had been seen northbound on the Woolwich Ferry are evidently premature.

Villa in for Stephens? Button In?

Reasonably reliable reports are suggesting that Villa have put in for Dale Stephens. The possibility of signing this 'creative midfielder' has been greeted with 'cautious optimism' by one Villa site: Stephens

I must say that I find this quite a surprising development, although perhaps nothing happening at Villa should surprise me these days. For me, Stephens was never as creative after he had his op last year. Some consider that Hollands has to keep an eye out for him and is limited as a result, others that Stephens contributes more than he appears to.

As for reports that we are going to pay £500,000 and a hefty pay rise for 23-year old Spurs keeper David Button I find this even more surprising. Button has been loaned out no less than 13 times in his career: Button

Of course, under the new regime, Spurs are keen to thin out their bloated squad, but half a million (even if only half is paid up front) seems a bit steep in an era of unpaid invoices. Hamer is on great form and does not really need a challenge. Sullivan has not shone as No.2, but do we need a replacement?

Monday, 27 August 2012

Transfer rumours: Young to return?

None of these has any independent confirmation, so please treat them as speculation as we get into the final phase of the transfer window.

Nigel Reo-Coker on a free. He exercised a 'get out' clause to leave Bolton and has been looking for a Premiership club but has not found one. There is pressure on him to return to the Reebok. Hull City are also interested. A holding midfield player would be useful. Likelihood: 2/10.

Chris Solly to go to West Ham for £2.5m. Would they pay that much? Wilson was brought in should he leave. Likelihood: 3/10.

Luke Young on a season long loan. He is no longer allowed to train with the first team squad as Mark Hughes deploy his man management skills: Young. In those circumstances a return to a club where he did well might seem attractive. Likelihood: 4/10.

Scott Wagstaff to Forest for £400,000. Earlier rumours mentioned £1m which seemed unrealistic. But would Forest really want him? Likelihood 2/10.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Charlton hold on for point

Charlton retained their unbeaten record in the Championship with a 0-0 draw with Hull City at The Valley this afternoon. Torrential rain accompanied by thunder and lightning made it difficult for both teams to play good football on a saturated pitch in the second half but the visitors stepped up the pressure. However, Ben Hamer made a number of substitutions to keep the Addicks in the game and after the game received the coveted Silver Bone from match analyst Ivy the Terrible.

Many of the Addickted thought that we should have had a penalty for handball in the second half, but I didn't really get a close look. In a game in which no cards were issued, Chris Powell made no substitutions, leading to a shout of 'Sort it out Chrissie!' from near me. Others felt that the failure to make substitutions refected the quality of the bench.

However, I am far from clear that they would have made any difference. The quality of the teams we are facing is far higher this season and it is to our credit that we are holding our own. The defences are much stronger and we are no longer faced with 'hoof it and hope'. We get much less time on the ball and are more readily dispossessed. For example, Wiggins was much freer to forage forward last season.

I didn't think we made a particularly good start to the match. We were getting caught in possession too much. Hamer had to make an early save, having been let down by the defence. After the quarter hour mark we started to put in some good attacks. Hollands put in a good ball to Wright-Phillips but it was saved. Wiggins turned provider for Wright-Phillips who drew a great save. Then it was Hamer's turn to make a save.

The last quarter of an hour provided more chance of scoring. On 34 minutes Charlton won the first corner of the game. It was played back in and headed over the bar. A second corner was played in and Wright-Phillips was only just off target. Jackson won the ball and Kermorgant drew a great save off Amos.

Another Charlton corner was followed by a second and the header was just wide. Then, as the half drew to a close, it was Hull's turn to have two corners.

Half time: 0-0

Lightning had already been seen in the first half and the second was dominated by the weather. Indeed, it now emerges that the referee did consider calling the players off. At Wycombe the game was abandoned after the stand was hit by lightning.

Hull won an early corner. Wright-Phillips appeared to have beaten the offside trap, his shot was saved, but Kermorgant scored off the rebound. However, the lino had raised his flag when Wright-Phillips first burst through. I did think it was very marginal, but Chris Powell was convinced it was a goal.

Wright-Phillips won a corner but it was unproductive. Hull took off Bruce (no relation) and brought on McShane. Then it was the turn of German 'wunderkid' Proschwitz who was replaced by former Arsenal academy player Jay Simpson who turned out to be more of a threat.

A free kick led to a Charlton corner. Hull had two corners and then there was the handball shout for a penalty. Charlton won a corner but the header was just wide. Simpson just missed when he should have scored. Hamer made a great save off Aluko. With five minutes added on the Addicks won a free kick which led to a corner. Hamer then had to make a double save to keep Charlton in the game.

Steve Bruce had to rush to the station after the game, but his assistant Steve Agnew said, 'A point away at Charlton is a good point. They're a good side and have a lot of momentum. They're going to be a tough nut to crack at home this season.'

Crystal Palace lost again to stay bottom on zero points, but have said they will be active in signing new players between now and the end of the transfer window as they prepare for their match at The Valley. The Massives beat the Spanners 3-2 with a last minute goal, but as someone said leaving the ground, a 2-2 would have been better.

Match analysis

Morrison did his job very well, showing that he has had no problems stepping up a level. Cort was under pressure in the first twenty minutes or so and made one fumble. But then he settled down and coped well, apart from one time when he had to be rescued later in the game. Solly read the game well and was completely dependable. Wiggins was more constrained than last season, but wsa still a potential threat down the left flank. Stephens needs to be quicker and tends to let the game go by him. Hollands had some really nice touches and passed well. Pritchard really got involved and made one excellent move down the right. A bit harsh of the The Football League Paper to say that 'quality of delivery often let him down'. Jackson provided a good free kick, but his corners were disappointing. Wright-Phlllips was really up for it and caused Hull all sorts of problems. A 'bon mot' from the Bloke Behind Me: when did we last have two Bradleys in the team? Kermorgant was in the thick of it again and increasingly got fouled as the game went on. Came close to scoring in the first half.

Juneau the Soccer Cat has focused on transport issues for the Hiss of the Match. People standing side by side is a frequent phenomenon on the tube at the weekends, but yesterday at Euston a middle aged shaven headed guy who looked as if he belonged at the Toolbox blocked the escalator by standing in the middle of it. Virgin Trains have had people rushing to their defence, but the train to Coventry ran slowly and was 20 minutes late with no explanation.

Hull opt for 3-5-2

Hull are likely to opt for a 3-5-2 formation at The Valley this afternoon but the general tone of pronouncements from Humberside is not very optimistic with concerns about their attacking ability persisting: Hull

Although some attempt is made to make something out of our defeat by Leyton Orient, it is admitted that the Addicks are riding 'the crest of a wave': Tigers

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Unique look at Millwall

Tonight on BBC 2 at 10 p.m: 'Years before Dragons' Den, Theo Paphitis was chairman of Millwall Football Club, dragging them out of administration, into an FA Cup final, and on to television screens in the behind-the-scenes documentary series Back the Floor. Now the former boss is back at Millwall, reliving his time in front of the cameras and seeing how the experience changed both him and the club.'

What has changed? The Toolbox is rustier than ever. What hasn't? The fans.

Next week's episode: the Orange One visits Selhurst Park.

Tigers in Town

Will the arrival of the Tigers in SE7 on Saturday strike fear into the hearts of the team and the Addickted? Probably not. I'm not claiming for a moment that it will be three easy points, but nor will it be the toughest test we will face at The Valley this season.

In many ways, the pressure is on Steve Bruce. Vice-chairman Ehab Allam has made it clear that promotion is the aim in his first season in charge. This could prove difficult as Bruce tries to rebuild a managerial reputation dented towards the end of his time at Sunderland. It is, however, too early in the season for the curse of Charlton to strike.

After a finish in 8th place last season The Times and The League Paper have them 11th and 12th respectively, just ahead of Charlton. Four Four Two have them 16th. Bruce got the Blues promoted to the top flight on two occasions, but it looks like a harder task at Hull.

At least the Hull players will be pleased to see The Valley pitch. Their home pitch had a poor reputation last season. This was not just due to the ravages of egg chasing, but also an infestation of parasitic worms. That is not a reference to the players.

Hull did not have a lot of flair last season and had problems scoring goals. Only two players made double figures and the total number of league goals was just 47.

Hull's one goal of the season so far has been scored by so-called 'forgotten man' Jay Simpson. It was the former Arsenal striker's first goal in 16 months. Much hope is placed in new striker Nick Proschwitz, acquired for £2.6m from Bundesliga second tier sie SC Paderborn.

Proschwitz thinks he is well suited to English football, indeed he believes 'my style is perfect for it.' No false modesty there, then, but on Saturday against Brighton his hold up play was reckoned to be poor. He seemed to have difficulty finding his feet and eventually had to be substituted. He likes English football, commenting 'People here have big emotions and I like that.' He doesn't seem to be well clued up on Charlton, however, asking 'Wo ist das? Ich weiss nicht.'

Keeper Ben Amos finds long-range efforts hard to deal with. In defence Abdoulaye Faye doesn't look match fit. Striker Aaron McLean, who managed to find the net five times last year, is industrious but lacks quality in the key areas. Two of their better players are Sone Aluko and Paul McKenna who despite his advancing years provides a tireless display in the engine room.

Grumblers are already targeting Johnnie Jackson, arguing that his pace is too slow for this level. However, it is too early for that kind of dismissive judgment and we need him at set pieces.

I think that we could manage to win 2-0.

N'Guessan correction

Pravda has stated that our offer for N'Guessan was under £50k, a figure confirmed by normally reliable sources. That sounds like a more realistic figure and explains the ready rejection. Perhaps we could have thrown in a few tins of paint for the Toolbox. In any case, the team looks more or less complete.

Saturday's opponents Hull City went down 1-0 at Blackburn last night. Manager Steve Bruce commented, 'For all our good football and the way we are defensively, if you don't score and take the chances somewhere like here, it's going to be a frustrating night for you. I think after being at the club a few weeks, that's going to be our Achilles heel.'

Given our defensive strengths that is encouraging for Saturday, although the weather forecast is for rain. Full preview later today.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Charlton win, Massives triumph

Charlton beat Leicester City 2-1 at The Valley last night to continue their promising start to the season through first half goals from Bradley Wright-Phillips and Yann Kermorgant. Over the 96 minutes possession was 50-50 and the Addicks were under the cosh to some extent in the second half when the Foxes threatened down the flanks. King pulled one back for Leicester, but Charlton held on to take the three points.

The Addicks had taken the lead somewhat against the run of play on 18 minutes when Bradley Pritchard turned provider for Wright-Phillips who turned on the edge of the penalty area to fire a superb low shot past keeper Schmeichel. He then had to make good saves from Cort and Wright-Phillips.

Yann Kermorgant had been booed by the Foxes when his name was read out but made good use of the ball from a Hollands corner to lash it past Schmeichel, putting his finger to lips in celebration.

At half time new signing Ricardo Fuller was paraded before the Valley faithful.

In the second half Ben Hamer was called into action, saving well from Dyer twice and Knockaert before keeping out a stoppage time header from Vardy and preventing a repeat of the Birmingham disappointment.

Work commitments kept me away from The Valley, although I was part of the recorded attendance of 16,658, meaning that over 5,000 walk up tickets were sold. The featured game on Radio 5 was inevitably at Hillsborough. I didn't listen but at the end the commentators kept up with the media obsession with Wednesday, salivating about the strength of the side, the magnificence of the ground and the enormity of the support. Then on BBC TV a short summary of the Championship results picked out 'promoted Sheffield Wednesday' for their 3-2 win over the Blues.

Charlton are third in the table and Palace with null points are bottom.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Charlton have the big mo

Leicester City manager Nigel Pearson thinks that Charlton have momentum and that it will not be an easy three points at The Valley tonight: Pearson

He also thinks that Yann Kermorgant is a real threat. He also rates Bradley Wright-Phillips and thinks there is a good atmosphere at The Valley.

N'Guessan bid turned down

Unconfirmed reports are stating that a £200,000 bid for Danny N'Guessan has been turned down by Millwall. He had a successful spell as a loan player with Charlton last season.

Ricardo Fuller has also reported to have been training at Sparrows Lane this afternoon and may be on his way on a free.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Paul Hayes departs

Paul Hayes has left Charlton on a free transfer to Brentford. Some feel that he did not get enough of a chance after his signing by Chris Powell, but he was eclipsed by Yann Kermorgant.

Although there is no fee, his departure will ease the wage bill at The Valley.

Leicester could outfox Charlton

Despite finishing 9th in the table last season Leicester are forecast to do well this season and could provide another tough test for the Addicks, although one they are well capable of surmounting as Saturday's performance showed. The Times have the Foxes finishing 1st while The Football League Paper and Four Four Two both have them in hot pursuit in third. The pressure is certainly on Nigel Pearson from the Thai owners who expect him to deliver Premiership football.

Defence has been a concern in the last two seasons with too many goals conceded. Fans were shocked to see popular defender Sol Barnba sold to Turkish side Trabzonspor for £800,000, but perhaps the fact that they are building a new hydroelectric power plant was an attraction. It's an advance on 'turning rubbish into power' at the New Den.

In goal Kasper Schmeichel is well regarded by the fans who showed their faith in the team by pushing season ticket sales up by 35 per cent. On Saturday against Peterborough Richie de Laet was impressive in City's problematic right back slot. In midfield, Ben Marshall is City's set piece expert, an area where Charlton can be vulnerable. Danny Drinkwater pulled the midfield strings effectively. The jury is still out on former Addick Paul Konchesky.

Up front Jermaine Beckford was not massively involved, but his pace meant there was always a hint of danger. Fleetwood Town goal machine Jamie Vardy, who was signed for £1m, provided evidence that he can cope at a higher level and set up the second goal.

Charlton showed skill and commitment on Saturday and it looks as if the team is well able to cope in the Championship. Morale seems to be high. I have been covering the crisis at Truro City for Radio Scilly and what a nightmare it must be to play for a club where wages don't get paid at the end of the month. Truro were bailed out by the Salisbury City chairman. At Charlton we can be confident that there is enough in the bank to pay wages at the end of the month, nor has a winding up order been served on us by the Inland Revenue.

Most pundits think that Charlton may finish lower mid-table but this may not be good enough for everyone. Investors may wish to see a quick return on their investment through promotion this year.

It is a moot point whether Chris Powell will still be in post at the end of the season. There are still questions in some quarters about whether he can deliver at a higher level. It is conceivable that Powell has reflected on his position in the last couple of months and it is possible to think of a combination of circumstances in which he could depart under his own volition.

For now, however, all looks set for an exciting contest with the Foxes. I am going for a 1-1 draw.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Wolves continue to chase Sam Baldock

Wolves are continuing to show an interest in West Ham striker Sam Baldock and a deal involving Charlton is looking much less likely, if it ever was a real possibility. The Hammers hope to use him as bait in their efforts to land former Gillingham player Matt Jarvis. An offer of £8m with £3m in add ons was turned down out of hand by Wolves, but the Hammers are now set to come back with Baldock as part of the package.

I have received some more information about the club's financial situation and related matters and I am now more concerned about the situation than I was. If and when I learn more, I will provide more detail, but it does seem that there are some cash flow challenges in the short term, according to my source who occupies a crucial catering role at the training ground.

The immediate lesson I would draw is that success on the pitch and the fans getting behind the team becomes more important than ever.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Charlton hearts broken by last minute equaliser

A last minute equaliser by Birmingham denied the Addicks victory at St.Andrews, but they can take heart from a 1-1 draw. We would have taken it before the game.

Not too many surprises in Charlton’s line up today, except possibly the inclusion of Bradley Pritchard, merited in my view, reports Paul May from St. Andrews. Wagstaff was not in the eighteen.

Cort had to head away from danger as Marlon King advanced. Hamer made a comfortable save from Lovenkrandz. Charlton won a free kick on four minutes at an angle on the right about 20 yards out. Jackson’s effort took a deflection off the Birmingham wall and was not far wide. Jackson headed just over from the good corner by Stephens.

Wright-Phillips was held as he advanced, but the referee was not interested to the indignation of Chris Powell. The 1,637 Addickted in the crowd of 18,210 were in good voice and serenaded Chris Solly. Hamer handled well from an Ambrose free kick, the former Palace player being greeted with boos.

Bradley Pritchard put in a good defensive header as Ambrose threatened. Kermorgant turned provider for Wright-Phillips who was tackled. Jackson put a great ball into the box, it evaded Wright-Phillips and Kermorgant put it over the bar. Pritchard got caught offside, but he was making some good runs from deep.

Bradley Wright-Phillips put the ball over the bar with Kermorgant poised. Ambrose put in an appalling shot which went high up in the air with the ball eventually dropping by the corner flag.

Birmingham had a spell of possession but didn’t do very much with it. Charm merchant King fouled Wiggins. Play from the free kick led to a shot by Wright-Phillips which went over.

Lee Clark didn’t seem too happy about the way things were going and shouted out some instructions. Hamer made a comfortable save.

Kermorgant won the Addicks a free kick, but the move didn’t go anywhere. Wiggins dealt well with the advancing Burke, guiding the ball out.

Wiggins put a great ball in, Jackson failed to take the chance. The kilted Burke advanced and put the ball into the near post where it was gathered by Hamer.

Wiggins made Burke look a complete fool with a beautiful turn and the Scotsman slipped over. Charlton won a corner through Stephens. Morrison headed it back across goal and Birmingham counter attacked.

Morrison got away from the Charlton midfield and put in a shot which was not too far wide. Clark continued to show his frustration at the lack of progress for the home side.

Wiggins had to go safety first and conceded a corner, enlivening the home fans. King put in a poor header.

Half time: Blues 0, Addicks 0

Kermorgant tackled Ambrose from behind and got a booking. Hamer got the free kick away from danger with a punch. Chris Powell had a long chat with Cook. Hamer was annoyed with the midfield for not being tight enough and allowing a shot to come in. Morrison put in a great defensive block as King threatened. Wiggins had to concede a corner. The ball was cleared away by Morrison.

Wright-Phillips should have put in a shot instead of laying the ball off to Kermorgant.

Birmingham were stepping up their game. Burke beat Wiggins for the first time, but then as Ambrose threatened, Wiggins got in a block.

Charlton won a corner following good work from Wiggins. Jackson took the corner, then in the following play Pritchard put a good ball in and Jackson had another heading opportunity and for the third time put it over.

Charlton applied some good pressure after a corner, then Birmingham broke, but Solly coped well and Charlton countered and Butland did well in the Blues goal. Blues made a double substitution bringing on Spector and Redmond.

King shot straight at Hamer. His handling had been good, evidently the laser eye surgery has done its job. Solly shoved Murphy and the Blues called for a penalty. Charlton won a corner, but it was cleared. Hollands was caught and the Addicks got a free kick in a promising position 30-35 yards out. The effort by Stephens was wide, he should have let Kermorgant take it.

Johnnie Jackson put in a shot but it was well saved. Jackson put in a good ball to Wright-Phillips, but he put it wide and was judged to have used his hand. Redmond put in a shot that went wide.

Wright-Phillips came off and was replaced by Cook. Ambrose put in a strong challenge on the substitute. A corner taken by Ambrose was won by Hamer in the air. Kermorgant put in a great ball and Spector had to put it out for a corner.

King headed the ball clear. Charlton won another corner after a Stephens throw in. Charlton kept the ball alive and Cort scored from point blank range eight minutes from time. The Addickted were in full voice with ‘Valley Floyd Road’. Birmingham brought on Zigic. Lovenkrandz came off.

Morrison was caught with an elbow by Zigic. Some of the Blues fans started to head home. Hollands put in a strong challenge on Zigic. Matt Taylor came on to strengthen the defence in place of Jacko.

Charlton were playing keep ball. Four minutes were added on. Charlton won a free kick off Zigic. Charlton failed to clear the ball, Zigic got the ball on his favoured left foot and equalised.

Elsewhere Palace lost 2-3 at home to Watford and Millwall were defeated 2-0 at the Toolbox by Blackpool, but Sheffield Wednesday got a massive point away with a 2-2 draw at Derby.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Bradley Wright, Wright, Wright

An interesting article on Bradley Wright-Phillips, particularly given that it appears in the Sub-Standard: Wright-Phillips

The striker declares that he is determined not to waste a second shot at the big time and speculates that he and Charlton are well matched. Let's hope so and let's hope that he can recapture the scoring form of the first half of last season.

New centre back signed

The official club site reports that Chris Powell has strengthened his squad ahead of the start of the 2012/13 Championship season by recruiting former Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Dorian Dervite-Vaussoue.

The 24-year-old ex-France youth international has been on trial at The Valley during pre-season, and particularly caught the eye in a friendly against Crawley Town.

He has signed a one-year contract, and, subject to international clearance being received, should be eligible for the season-opener against Birmingham City on Saturday.

I would be surprised if he was chosen ahead of Cort and Morrison and the one year contract suggests limitations to what it is thought he can do. However, Kermorgant will have someone else to talk to in his native tongue.

More about him here: Dorian

Lee Clark gives more verbal

Blues manager Lee Clark is keeping up his verbal onslaught against Charlton before Saturday's match, admitting that he respects them as opponents and expects a tough and exciting match, but warning that it will be problematic for the Addicks: Clark

One of Clark's objectives it to pump up the crowd. For everything that he says about how marvellous they are, the atmsophere can drop quickly if the game does not go their way, hence the formation of a 'Forza Blues' in an effort to revive what is described as the 'dying atmopshere' in St.Andrews: Forza Blues.

Apparently they will be equipped with giant banners and will create a range of colourful continental-style celebrations to mirror crowds at top games in Spain’s La Liga and the famous orchestrated antics of Poland’s Lech Poznan. All this in Birmingham!

At the last count, over 1,500 Addicks had bought tickets and this number is expected to rise by at least a few hundred on the day, so they will be able to give a good response.

Charlton have played at St.Andrews twice since the 1997/98 promotion season when we drew 0-0 to the considerable indignation of the home fans. You can read an account of that match here (you have to scroll down to 'Sasa Spoils Karen's Party': Birmingham In 1999/2000 the Bues beat us by the odd goal and we lost 3-2 in 2008/9.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Steve Quinn rumours

Press reports suggest that we are in a battle with Blackpool for the signature of tenacious Irish Sheffield United midfielder Steve Quinn with a fee of £1.5m being suggested. More about Quinn here: Quinn

I am quite sceptical about these reports which could well be an attempt by an agent to drum up interest in his player. There has been speculation that the Blades might need to sell Quinn, but that doesn't mean he is coming to The Valley where he once scored against us 40 seconds after the start of a game.

Blues settle for all out attack

Birmingham City manager Lee Clark has indicated that he wants his players to attack Charlton right from kick off on Saturday: Clark

However, the shrewd manager is under no illusions that the Blues just have to turn up to claim three easy points. He acknowledges that Chris Powell has done a 'magnificent' job at Charlton and thinks that the Addicks will be out to enjoy their stay in the Championship.

Despite their 5-1 victory over Barnet on Tuesday, he thinks that they allowed Barnet (who scored the opening goal) too many opportunities to attack the Blues goal. There is more than a hint of concern about defensive frailty.

Given Birmingham's determination to attack, and presumably score an early goal or two, this poses some tactical challenges for Chris Powell. Should he start very defensively to blunt the Blues attack and frustrate them, allowing the crowd to get on their back, or should he match attack with attack?

While I am glad I am not the manager, I would go for an initial counter attacking strategy. However, what the formation should be is a real challenge: there have been experiments with a number of alternatives pre-season.

Tough start for Addicks

Birmingham City are on shorter odds for relegation (9/1) than for promotion (22/1). Our odds are shorter for relegation and longer for promotion. One of their fans writing in Four Four Two reckons they will finish sixth, commenting 'It will take a monumental effort to be in contention for promotion.' The top forecastimg magazine has them coming in 7th.

Most commentators think that they will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season and that is a measure of the test facing Charlton on Saturday. In addition, the Blues have a good home record.

At the end of last season the achievements of Chris Hughton had created a mood of optimism at St.Andrews, notwithstanding financial troubles with the club's leading shareholder facing money laundering charges in Hong Kong. It was felt that with a few additions, the team could be in the frame for automatic promotion.

But then Hughton went off to Norwich. Replacement Lee Clark deserved better for his efforts at Huddersfield and merits being in a Championship management berth.

Players like Curtis Davies, Steven Caldwell, Chris Burke and Marlon King give the side a spine that many clubs would like to have. Over the summer Peter Lovenkrands and Hayden Mullins have been brought in, along with Darren Ambrose from Palace. Ambrose never seemed to be able to quite do it for us at The Valley and was regularly accused by the Bloke Behind Me of being a 'powder puff'. No doubt he will score against us on Saturday.

Keeper Jack Butland who impressed in Team GB in the Olympics has not yet played for the Blues, but will be hard to get past. Player to watch is Nathan Redmond, a home grown youth product and a fans' favourite. The 18-year old winger is in the England Under 19 squad and burst on to the scene last season, scoring seven goals in 37 games.

It seems that some of Birmingham's fans are maintaining their traditional standards of hospitality with allegations on Twitter that a Barnet coach was bricked after their 5-1 defeat on Tuesday. However, Paul May will be braving the mean streets to bring you a report on Saturday.

This looks like a 2-1 defeat to me, hopefully not by a bigger margin. Lee Clark had the reputation of being a draw specialist at Huddersfield, but he will be motivated to pull off a good win in his first home league game.

Grumbling so far has focused on the supposed upheavals of the boardroom, but no doubt the focus will soon switch to the pitch. Our start to the season is not an easy one.

Palace captain lays down gauntlet

One time Addick and Crystal Palace captain Paddy McCarthy hopes to enliven the season of Glaziers fans by giving them bragging rights over Charlton: McCarthy

We are finalising plans for our competition which will give you the chance of spending an evening with Palace fans Nigel and Nigella before the game.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Addicks go out on penalties

Charlton had a substantially different look from last Saturday’s closed door friendly against Fulham for the Capital One cup clash with Leyton Orient reports Liz Horton from The Valley. Eight changes were made in total with an unexpected pairing of 20-year old Michael Smith and Scott Wagstaff up front. New signings Cook, Kerkar and Wilson were all given a start. The crowd was 5,914 with not far short of a thousand from the O's.

An early shot by Kerkar from just outside the penalty area went close. The game had a lively start. Cook advanced well, getting past three Orient players, and won a corner. For their part Orient were trying to reach Mooney and Lisbie with the long ball. Lisbie put in a shot but it was well saved by Hamer down to his right.

After a defensive mix up between Hamer and Taylor from a Charlton free kick, Mooney had a chance for a shot but he put it over. Hollands failed to make use of a potentially good position. A volley from Danny Green was off target.

Charlton won their second corner of the game. The ball was punched away by the keeper. Green tried a shot but it was gathered comfortably.

After the first fifteen minutes the game became quieter in the warm conditions. Orient put some pressure on after one of their trademark throw ins, but Hamer gathered. Baldry went in cynically on Cook and received a yellow card. The free kick was unproductive.

Charlton made a good counter attack with Cook and Wagstaff, the ball took a deflection, but Wagstaff claimed it as the Addicks went 1-0 ahead.

Charlton won another corner taken by Kerkar, but the ball went just over Smith. Good work by Cook closing the full back down set up Green but he was just wide.

Orient got a free kick 25-30 yards from goal. Former Seagull Cox got round the wall but Hamer had the situation under control. Green was penalised for a foul throw. A cross from Wilson led to a corner which Orient could have avoided. The Addicks won a second corner which was punched away and Cook’s effort was way over the top.

Mooney shot from long range to jeers from the Addickted. Cort dealt well with an attempt by the O’s to launch an attack. Orient earned their first corner of the game in stoppage time, it was whipped in and went into the back of the net at very close range.

Half time: Addicks 1, O’s 1

An Orient free kick was unproductive. Mooney went down inside the box after a challenge from Wilson and the penalty was awarded in front of the O’s supporters in the Jimmy Seed. Mooney’s effort hit the crossbar and bounced away, demonstrating his calibre once again. An O’s corner was headed away by Taylor, but the Addicks were not able to launch an effective counter attack.

A Danny Green free kick led to Charlton’s sixth corner of the game as Taylor threatened. The O’s managed to scramble the ball clear. Cook put in a good cross but Cort was unable to connect.

Orient won a corner. The header from the unmarked Smith was wide. A cross from Hollands led to a Charlton corner. Green’s effort hit the post off an Orient defender. Jordan Cook went down after a clash with James. An effort by Cort was deflected and gave Charlton another corner. The keeper lost it but Cort could not direct the ball into the back of the unguarded net.

Mooney was taken off to a few derisive boos. Orient won a free kick rather dubiously in a potentially dangerous position, a Charlton player having been fouled moments before. The referee sent Chris Powell to the stands after he declared his unhappiness with the decision and with the fourth official. The free kick went behind.

Wilson did well to feed Smith, there was a shout for handball. The referee was starting to lose it as Sawyer went into the book. A Danny Green free kick went over Smith’s head. After another Charlton free kick, the ball from Danny Green hit the woodwork. A drive from Matt Taylor went wide.

The Addicks won their ninth corner which was taken short, Kerkar’s effort was fierce but a few yards wide. Smith won the tenth corner. The keeper was able to grab the ball after Taylor hesitated. Hamer had to make a good save down to his right from a fiercely struck ball. Hamer dealt with the corner well.

Evina’s excellent cross was sliced away and Charlton won a free kick 20 yards from goal. Green’s effort sailed over the top. Taylor had to head behind to give Orient a corner but it ended in a wild shot. Orient made another change bringing on their loan player from Stoke while Lisbie came off and got some applause. Brunt went on his own and shot straight at Hamer.

Orient won a corner with 90 seconds to go. The ball went out for a throw in. Five minutes of stoppage time were added on. Cook released the ball to Green who drove just wide.

Full time: 1-1

Orient won a corner off Taylor who then cleared. A long-range shot was straight at Hamer. The O's won a second corner. The ball was cleared by Green. Orient made another substitution. An Orient player was booked for a foul, the referee Mr Ward should have played advantage rather than giving a free kick 25 yards from goal. The keeper had to palm Kerkar's effort round the post. Cort headed the ball into the side netting.

After 99 minutes Pritchard came on to replace Kerkar who went off to warm applause. The game seemed to be slowing down with the prospect of penalties looming. Two minutes were added on to the first period of extra time.

At the break Johnnie Jackson came on to replace Jordan Cook and Bradley Wright-Phillips replaced Michael Smith. Chris Powell had decided he did not want penalties. A testing cross from Brunt was gathered by Hamer. A shot by Wright-Phillips was deflected for a Charlton corner, their twelth of the match. The ball was cleared off the line as Cort threatened.

A shot from Wright-Phillips was blocked. Orient won a corner off Evina. The ball was cleared off the line and then went wide. Following an O's free kick, Charlton counter attacked but Green's effort went just over the top.

Orient won another corner. Hamer punched out well. Wilson was fouled leading to a yellow card. An effort by Pritchard went over.


Word came through that Millwall had lost 4-1 on penalties to Crawley at the Toolbox. Jackson's well struck effort was saved by Allsopp low to his left. Hamer was sent the wrong way by Symes and Orient went 1-0 ahead. Wilson hit the crossbar. Hamer went the wrong way again and it was 2-0. Green scored for Charlton to make it 2-1. Hamer went the right way and saved so it stayed at 2-1. Wright-Phillips scored with a good penalty to make it 2-2. James scored to make it 3-2 to Orient. Pritchard score to make it 3-3. Brunt scored and Orient went through.

Orient look for victory

With Chris Powell hinting that he may put out less than his full first choice eleven in tonight's Capital One match, Leyton Orient are hoping for victory: Orient

Saturday's clash at Birmingham City is clearly more important. Also, it would be good to see the likes of Wilson, Cook and Kerkar given a run out. Reports on Kerkar pre-season have been particularly promising despite Rangers fans saying that he was no good.

Orient have not had a particularly good pre-season, but as the writer of the linked article points out, this does not really tell us very much.

What we can do without is extra time and penalties. We don't want anything that will tire players ahead of Saturday's match, or more worrying, lead them to pick up injuries.

I can't get down from the Midlands, but either Paul May or Liz Horton will provide match coverage.

Massive result for Sheffield Wednesday last night who went behind at mighty Oldham but showed their Premiership potential to fight back and win 4-2.

Monday, 13 August 2012

The curious case of Sam Baldock

Getting on for a couple of weeks ago, the signing of Sam Baldock by Bristol City was declared to be imminent, particularly by the Bristol press. Since then, silence. Admittedly, the deal proposed by the 'Robins' (a name their fans dislike) was a complicated one given their lack of readies.

Baldock wants out of West Ham because he thinks, realistically enough, that he is not likely to get much first team football there. One would think that he might prefer to stay in London. Could he yet come to The Valley? Or will Ipswich Town revive their interest?

Congratulations on the 2-1 victory in the 'behind close doors' friendly at Fulham. You can stick that up your Michael Jackson statue. There are limits to how far you can base anything on performances in pre-season friendlies, but the general picture has been encouraging.

This contrasts with the doom and gloom about alleged turmoil at the club. Clearly there was a falling out with chief executive Steve Kavanagh but these things can happen in any organisation. I can think of a case where the No.2 fell out with the No.1 and left but no one rushed around shouting 'we're all doomed'.

Some of the other rumours are on the level of 'my mate was talking to a bloke in the pub whose aunt is a tea lady at the training ground and they have been told to go easy on the tea bags so we can see the club is running out of money.' We may not be flush with cash, but the plan was never to make a lot of signings this summer.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Orient looking to 'turn over' Charlton

Leyton Orient are looking to 'turn over' Charlton at the Capital One cup clash between the clubs at The Valley next week: Orient

As the Orient boss points out, the timing of this game is a bit odd and it is difficult to believe that there will be a big attendance. Really it looks like a higher grade practice match and it is quite possible that a joyful Orient will make the return journey through the Blackwall tunnel.

Addicks take a look at Mills

Maidstone player-of-the-year Tom Mills has been invited to train with Charlton. The Addicks are one of several clubs to have watched the 19-year-old left-back during Stones’ pre-season campaign. It’s early days but United boss Jay Saunders believes Mills, a product of the club’s youth system, has what it takes to make it in the pro game. He said: "Millsy’s only young and still has a bit to learn but I think he has the quality to cut it at that level. "Charlton want to see if he’s up to their standard and how he’ll fit into their environment. He’s a contracted player, so if he does well and they want him, they’ll have to make an offer." If any offer was made it would be as a development player and we are quite well stocked with them at the moment.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Addicks to finish 13th say top forecasters

Last year Four Four Two magazine forecast that Charlton would finish 18th in League 1. Their reasoning was that an inexperienced manager like Chris Powell could not get an almost entirely new team to play together. Later on in the season they changed their forecast to 4th online. But the club was able to auction off a copy of the original article signed by all the team.

This year the magazine has gone for a realistic forecast of 13th. They argue that 'the work ethic this side is built on will be key' and single out Johnnie Jackson as an influential player who has delivered at this level before.

Millwall are forecast to be relegation candidates in 22nd. Ironic that the Millwall fan quoted has it in for Therry Racon. Asked which opposition player he despises in his division, he replied 'All of them.' The response of the Addickted fan was 'At Charlton we despise no one.'

Crystal Palace are forecast to survive in 20th place. However, a fault seems to have developed in the crystal ball with the prediction that Sheffield Wednesday will finish 12th, just one place ahead of the Addicks. The Massive fan quoted aspires for automatic promotion, names Miguel Llera as favourite player and claims that they have the best manager outside the Premiership.

The magazine gets more into the spirit of things by reporting that the programme for their last home game sold a massive 10,000 copies. I've heard of fans comparing attendances before, but not programme sales. What next? Burgers sold? At least they would be massive burgers.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Kavangh leaves

Stephen Kavanagh has made use of the bike conveniently parked outside his door and stood down as chief executive at Charlton. Martin Prothero, executive vice-chairman, appears to be in charge of the search for a successor.

On the club website, chairman Martin Slater emphasises the inevitability of change. Certainly Kavanagh's days seemed to be numbered when he left the board.

Charlton fan Jonathan Acworth has signalled his availability.

Gillingham post mortem

There has been quite a lot of concern about the 1-0 defeat at Gillingham or more specifically about the performance which is more important as results in these pre-season matches don't count. This is not just coming from the usual suspects who see one setback as evidence of inevitable relegation. Indeed, Chris Powell himself has made it clear that he wasn't satisfied.

It is therefore worth reproducing these comments from one of the more level-headed Addicks who was there:

We looked a lot better when we returned to a 442 later in the game, Hollands replacing Cook (who looked half decent incidentally), but first half in particular we struggled for possession against a surprisingly neat Gillingham side and to me we looked easy to play against us. Hollands is by far our best central midfielder so perhaps it's not a surprise we missed him.

I personally think Stephens has much to prove about his ability to step up - he was poor on Saturday, giving the ball away cheaply way too often. Not, I hasten to add, was he the only culprit, but he was playing at the base of the diamond and losing the ball there puts the defence under immediate pressure.

My main observation was that we lacked width, and with our passing lacking crispness and accuracy it meant that it was easy to snuff us out. I thought the movement of Cook in particular was promising, but with Pritchard and Jacko playing narrow it was left to our full backs to push up to give us the attacking width we did have - and I can't see we'll get that freedom against the better Championship sides.

A personal view is that Powell knows very well that the central midfield we have isn't strong enough with two wingers, and with no money to spend in the transfer market he's having to explore different ways to make the best of it. Personally I think a 451/433 would be the way to go, and Haynes, Cook and BWP can all play effectively from wider positions and have the pace and quality that can turn defence quickly into attack.

But it's been suggested elsewhere that maybe the biggest lesson is for the board. Powell has a squad that can compete at championship level, but it will be competing for survival without the investment to bring a touch of quality to the midfield, give Stephens time to learn the game a little more, and perhaps to bring some greater mobility at the back.

Monday, 6 August 2012

No offer for Baldock

Although the Addicks have been strongly linked with West Ham striker Sam Baldock, no formal bid has been made for the player according to Chris Powell: Baldock

That, of course, does not rule out informal enquiries. According to the Bristol press, the signing of Baldock has been imminent for days. It is more than likely that the complex structure of the deal has held it up and that it will be concluded in the next day or two.

As Powell stressed, it is still silly season when asked about other players linked with Charlton. It looks increasingly likely as if we more or less have the squad that will have to face the Championship. It can always be strengthened in the January transfer window if necessary and provided funds are available. There is also the usual recourse to loan players.

Powell has told Leon Clarke and Paul Hayes they are free to leave as he is unlikely to be able to offer them regular first team football. Scunthorpe United have been interested in re-engaging Hayes, but apparently he has told them he is not available.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

More work needed on playing style

Chris Powell has told BBC Radio London that the team need to do more work on their playing style before the start of the season. He commented, 'We're playing slightly differently and whether we stick with that remains to be seen.

The manager said that he was still mulling over a few positions in terms of who would play where. However, he emphasised that training had gone well and there was a good spirit and unity in the squad.

Full text of report here: Powell

Iron in for Hayes

Scunthorpe United are hoping to persuade Paul Hayes to return on loan to Glanford Park for a third time: Hayes

The player's wages may be a stumbling block as all Charlton players received a post-promotion pay boost. However, the Addicks may be prepared to part subsidise the player's wages.

Brentford are also interested in taking him on loan.

Plenty of positives at Crawley

Although Charlton only won 1-0 at Crawley last night, with the heavy rain favouring the home side, there were plenty of positives to take from the match. The winning goal came from a Green free kick. Green was playing centrally in a 4-3-3.

Kerkar got a late run out and looks promising, those who were there thought he had similar style to Stephens. Cook was lively, his play including a great ball to Haynes in the first half that set him up with the outside of his foot, but Haynes slipped. Haynes worked hard and Hollands supplied good passes.

Taylor, Smith and Wagstaff were less impressive. Taylor was a bit slow at times and Waggy was in his powder puff mode. Smith got a hard time off Claude Davis and poor body language to go with it. His contribution was limited to the odd flick on. Hamer was solid.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Kerkar signs

Salim Kerkar has signed for Charlton on a one year deal. More about him here: Kerkar

The 24-year old playmaker was formerly with Rangers and joined the Addicks on trial in the middle of July.