Monday, 9 April 2012

Charlton Athletic 1 v Walsall 0

A game to match the weather today. Dull and uninspiring.

Walsall came to the Valley on the back of only one defeat in ten although they have drawn too many and remain perilously close to the relegation scrap. Given our ongoing superiority battle with the Sheffield pair, perhaps I shouldn't have expected too much but I was hugely disappointed today.

After a bright opening ten minutes in which we again threatened to sweep our opponents away, we settled back to mediocrity and our first half opener gave us the lead we sought and were evidently more than content to protect.

Walsall came with far more ambition than many and perhaps that is how they have managed to hold eleven sides on the road. I was impressed with youth product Alex Nicholls in the first half and they had more movement and commitment to attack than we did. Certainly that was the case after we edged ahead through a routine goal when a Jackson flighted free-kick was dinked home by Djombe N'Guessan in a crowd of converging players.

After the break we threatened to up the ante but failed to put any sustained pressure together and Walsall continued to look like they would snatch the equaliser. Ball after ball flashed into our box but Morrison, Cort or Hamer were there to clear up. Solly out-shone Wiggins once again on the first day that the Player of the Year vote was being collected at the turnstiles and, for me, that seals his win (even though I think Wiggins is the more accomplished player at the moment).

Yann Kermorgant was as physical and as competitive as he always is but there was no end product today and Bradley Wright-Phillips offered him few options. With Stephens adrift in midfield it was no wonder we lacked punch. Bradley Pritchard kept it competitive in the middle and N'Gueussan held his own on the right. Jackson looked like a player returning from an injury, so, all-in-all, that was our problem - midfield.

That we saw it out and collected the three points tells it's own story and those of us tempted to complain too loudly were reminded what it's all about when watching the West Ham v Birmingham match afterwards.

It's just about when we manage promotion and if we can win the title now. One will surely lead to the other but it is beginning to feel like it could be a huge anti-climax. I will be at Carlisle next week looking for a promotion party that is probably dependent upon too many other factors. I will take a ground-out win but I really want to see more from Champions-elect. If I am looking for a straw-poll on opinion here, I only need look at today's Bank Holiday gate. A relatively paltry 15, 263. The importance of League One football was evident to the Walsall faithful. I reckon they had 263 there today urging them on.

Marketing is a fascinating subject and one you don't want to get me on, but in this game it's performances that count and the men running the club might not be quite as ecstatic as you might think. We have failed to recover the relegation gates from the Championship and I am convinced that it is the quality of the football that is to blame. Sure, we need to get out of this division but when you win corners in the last couple of minutes at home and are one-up, the fans expect an effort on goal. Two men in the corner playing keep-ball and one in the box to give the pretence of an actual corner doesn't pass muster.

In tune with this season, I expect more away from home next week and suspect that's what we will get. Shame.


Miss Kish said...

Also think the cost has something to do with it too. We are still deep in a recession and it's definitely biting hard for many. A holiday special type pricing might have helped, although wouldn't have won many plaudits from season ticket holders. I don't even think we had 15,00+ there unfortunately. The East Stand and NE quadrants looked bare.
The team looked tired and were glad to get this weekend out of the way.
Six points this weekend is a good result in anyone's books. Nearl there.

Anonymous said...

In many of your posts there is a negative theme from as that you are not getting entertained enough and that we are not playing flowing football. I a small part I look to agree with you - but against Walsall yet more changes in mid field, this after Oldham sandpit of a pitch. As for crowds if you have forgotten there is a reccession on and its Ester Monday with kids wanting dads and egg hunts. Suggest you check other clubs attendances compared with.
Oh - and it may have slipped your mind but it's our managrs first full season in charge, with the pressure of being top of the league for nearly all of the season.
Yes you make a point an the quality of the teams overall perfomance but it's not balanced with related factors.

Dave said...

Miss Kish - You make a good point about pricing over a Bank Holiday weekend. I am conscious the Hartlepool game is virtually sold-out which will be great but you do wonder whether we might have been better targeting yesterday's game with a discount instead. After all, we would probably have had a bigger walk-up willing to pay the going rate for the last game of the season to watch the Champions.

Dave said...

Anon - You are right, I don't think we are being nearly as well entertained at home as you would normally get from Champions. Brighton were a joy to watch last season and Norwich the year before. We all want promotion above all else but there should come a time against particular sides when we can afford to be more positive and expansive. It happened for a handful of matches in October and November and we have had a huge points lead for long enough in 2012 to have pushed the boat out. I take your point about personal finances and Miss Kish makes a good point re price promotions but it was still a disappointing gate yesterday. I don't believe this recession has put a significant percentage of Charlton fans out of work. London and the south-east is relatively immune from it, certainly to the extent that people couldn't find £25 to be at a Bank Holiday Monday match during the promotion run-in. If we had been playing much better at home I think another couple of thousand would have made the effort and spent the money to be there. I'm not getting too upset about our style of football because I want promotion above all else. Ijust think we have been too unnecessarily negative in too many home games this year and I think it has an affect on fans, especially those who pick and choose.

Wyn Grant said...

It's not so much people being out of work as their incomes being squeezed by below inflation pay increases.

Dave said...

Fair point Wyn. Easy for me to say but I would always prioritise around being able to attend. I guess we are talking about the top end of the floating or wavering support...

Alan said...


I think many of us would agree with you. We all want more entertaining, free flowing football but we also have to remember that we had some brilliant performances in the first half of the season when some of our promotion rivals were perhaps struggling a bit more. If we look at the whole season, given the newness of the squad, I think we can be well pleased. Lets hope for the promotion we all want and, with some judicious new signings over the summer, another great season next year.

Anonymous said...

London and the south east immune from the recession? I am one of four people which had season tickets in 2010/2011, but no longer do due to unemployment. The match day price of £22/25 is quite hard to justify with no income. Thankfully there have been several offers to ex season ticket holders this season, which have boosted the gate while going largely unnoticed. The gates could have been even lower without these.

Anonymous said...

6 points in 3 days and you are still not happy? You should head up to Upton Park... you'd fit right in.

We'd have all taken this at the start of the season and its important not to be greedy. We have a superb back four and we should proud of that, no focus on the negatives the whole time.

daveydanger said...

We have been top of the league for 40 weeks out of 43, and beated our best ever point hall. Of all time. Please do try and lighten up a little?

So we've ground out a couple of ugly, hard-fought victories near the end of the season. So the football was less than glamorous.
We are (literally - statistically) the best team in this league, and yet the numerous times I've read your blog you've managed to squeeze every last drop of displeasure and misery that you can.

I'm not one of the happy-clappy fans that never criticise my "beloved Charlton". Believe me I love a moan - but jeez talking about the possibility of "a huge anti-climax" and highlighting our poor "quality of football" that "doesn't pass muster".

What would make you happy?

Dave said...

Anon - agree, great back four and I am ecstatic we are going up. My point is that I think we could be more positive in our style of play at times and against certain opponents than we have been.

Dave said...

Daveydanger - the fact is, it hasn't just been the last couple of games. We have been over cautious far too often and at times when we could have opened up a bit and maybe walloped a good few sides at the Valley. I am more often taken to task for being overly optimistic, so maybe a bit of balance. I'm guessing you weren't at the game yesterday because the couple of corners we won late on were embarrassing and needless and the majority present were howling?

Dave said...

Alan - agree entirely, just a pity we haven't been a bit more ambitious in some of the games since Christmas. I think we could have done that, played better football, scored more goals and given our players and supporters even more confidence. Might have put a few more on the gates too.

Hungry Ted said...

Dave - I fancied you'd open a can of worms when I read your post late last night! I suspect you’re playing devil’s advocate a little????

I think if you was in the company of Chris Powell and he asked your opinion on the season, I’d be very surprised if you mentioned any fears of possible anti-climaxes! Unless you predicted us to be Champions this year, it’s a little difficult to see how you or anyone could feel flat. The effort of the players has been nonthing short of astonishing.

One point I would agree with is the disappointing gates. I actually doubt that the standard of football has much to do with it and favour the thought that finances are the major factor. We have to accept people have different priorities and, for example, a young group of lads may well have chosen an extra night out on the beer rather than attend the football. Like you, I would make every sacrifice possible to attend a game (although thankfully I don’t have to), but the floating fan may not.

Anyway, good read as always and I hope you have a good day out at Carlisle.

Dom said...

I'm afraid I have to disagree about the entertainment factor. Yes, it's nice to be playing free flowing, attractive football but at this stage of the season, all I care about is getting promoted. I couldn't give a flying monkeys if it's the ugliest game in history as long as we get the three points and to be honest, I think holding the ball in the corner was a very sensible thing to do. I can guarantee you wouldn't be complaining if we had tried a cross that got cleared and then they equalised from the prevailing break.

Please, for the love of my sanity, let's not start moving towards a West Ham mentality. Heard a bloke on the radio say he'd rather lose 4-3 and play good football than win 1-0 and play ugly. To me, that is probably one of the most rediculous things I have ever heard in my 25 lifetime.

I mean, come on, let's think about this, we're on 91 points from 42 games for crying out loud. I honestly swear there is no pleasing some people.

Dave said...

Hungry Ted - I was being honest but it's good to get some reaction. You make an interesting comment about what I might say to Chris Powell if I were to meet him. Of course I would be overwhelming positive about what he has achieved so far this this season and extremely complimentary about him and the squad because that's the perspective and I am as desperate to get out of League One as the next fan. If I was to be hyper-critical, and that's all I was doing in my post yesterday, I think we could have afforded to be more ambitious against certain opponents and at times in particular matches than we have been. My reflection on this gain yesterday was partially due to asking questions about the gate and the atmosphere.

Dave said...

Dom - I wouldn't rather we played well and lost 4-3 than won ugly 1-0. However, I think serious consideration should be given to risking the odd couple of points in a season in return for being able to play more positive and attacking football when in front and at home. Other teams in League One have done this very successfully in recent seasons - Norwich, Brighton and Southampton are good examples. I think it could make a difference next year to have gone up playing that way with confidence as opposed to seeking to defend leads when we have them.

danny beer said...

Risking a couple of points could (have) be the opening required for the Sheff Teams who are hot in pursuit so I agree that grinding out results at this stage and in this position is a much better idea than creative play with goals conceded at the wrong end

Dave said...

Danny - you also have to consider that you remain vulnerable to drawing and dropping two points when protecting a one-nil lead. Being a bit bolder is also more likely to see you extend your lead and thereby reduce the risk of drawing!

Anonymous said...

Two things. First is that we've got more points than anyone in the football league, please give the team the credit they deserve and don't be negaitve. Second: not long ago it was kids for a quid to try and get 10000 at the Valley in the Championship. 15,000 at full price in League 1 is impressive compared to most in our league.

Come on you reds!

Dave said...

Anon - Two things. First is having 91 points doesn't mean we are perfect or that there is no room for improvement. I was both positive and critical in yesterday's piece. Secondly, please don't compare our gates with "most in our league." We shouldn't be in this League and most of the sides in it didn't spend the best part of the Noughties in the Premiership. Given the 91 points we have and the fact that a promotion is around the corner, wouldn't you have expected an improvement in our home gates? Target 10,000 was brilliant but it was 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Blimey Dave - have you stirred it or what!

I hate myself for saying it but you voiced what has crossed my mind a few times. yet I feel so bleedin ungrateful.

But the defensive reaction of the fans above is such a positive reaction if you know what I mean. It means we are proud of what Chris and the club have done.

I'd hoped the gate would be bigger too, but we are doing so much better than half the Championship and close to Wigan and Bolton in the prem - so perhaps I expect too much.

Enjoy your trip to Carlisle - I'm envious. I've got to run our boys team - those who run our league are a tad precious about postponements.

keep up the blog mate - love it

Pembury Addick

Dave said...

PA - thanks and I know what you mean about feeling ungrateful but I was trying to be objective as well as honest! I see the positivity in the fierce defence of what the manger and squad have achieved as you say and I am genuinely appreciate of all of the feedback. Sometime sit feels a bit like talking to yourself and it's only the hit rate that encourages you to continue. I perhaps haven't made as good a job of making some of my points e.g. I am not saying that 15,000 is a poor gate, only that I think most of us would have expected increases at this stage in the season given our record and being on the verge of promotion. Good luck with your boys team on Saturday.