Friday, 28 December 2012

Home is where the heart aches

Close on the heels of Wednesday's Valley sickener, we have to remount the horse and face Derby County in SE7 tomorrow. After that we have the M25 visit to Watford and then return for two more testing home games - Huddersfield in the F A Cup and Blackpool. We must tackle the trouble in our back yard.

Like the vast majority of Charlton fans, the Valley is where I watch most of my football and it's what I see there that sets the tone of my relationship with the club. On that basis, what we have seen this season has not been encouraging. Personally, having missed the first home match of the season due to holiday, I have only seen two wins all season - the topsy-turvy 5-4 defeat of leaders Cardiff and the unconvincing 2-0 beating of Peterborough. If you add three winless away trips the two wins come from 15 matches most of which you would hope to have come close to winning courtesy of home advantage. Unfortunately, we simply haven't come anywhere close and it's doing untold damage.

Gates have undoubtedly suffered as a result. I accept that the attendance given is for paid for seats and includes a couple of thousand season ticket holders each home game who have found better things to do on a Saturday afternoon or midweek evening. In recent weeks we also appear to have been inflating gates with complimentary tickets, presumably to cook the books and make the club look more attractive to prospective buyers. Wednesday's gate typified that. It looked to me like no more than 14,000 home fans and around 1000 visitors and yet a gate of 18,830 was given.

For me, the midfield has been the cause of the problem. More often than not, we have failed to control it and have been unable to bring the home fans more into the match. The atmosphere has suffered as a result and away teams have been able to settle quickly. We have also conceded the opening goal on far too many occasions as we have failed to adequately protect the back four. Vicious circle.

Chris Powell doesn't seem to know what his best back four are and, judging by the threads on Charlton Life, neither do the fans. No great surprise when we have had very little consistency from any of those available. I would make an exception for Wilson since he was moved forward and possibly Pritchard but the rest of the options are a struggle. We have had precious little width on either side. Danny Green's contribution is usually defined in his opening three minutes. If he doesn't get past his man to deliver a telling cross almost immediately then you can be sure he's going to do next to nothing. Salim Kerkar has flattered to deceive on the other side in equal measure. Danny Haynes has done better playing out-of-position on the wing but he is just that. Johnnie Jackson has not looked anywhere near as convincing on the left as he did in League One, although to be fair he hasn't looked the same player since returning from injury.

The biggest problem has been in the middle where we don't appear to have one player good enough for the Championship let alone two. Stephens needs more time to play his game than he will get at this level. If you add his inability to tackle to his lack of pace and he looks vulnerable. Add the lack of a covering partner and he becomes a liability as demonstrated against the Tractor boys.

Frimpong has done ok since joining on loan but I expected more from a promising Arsenal youngster - we certainly got more from Alex Song in his day.  Jackson has tried hard when played in the centre and even Dervite looked a modest improvement when moved out of defence. 

With Hollands and Wagstaff already elsewhere on loan and seemingly surplus to requirements there haven't been too many options. Bover-Izquierdo, Harriet and Cook all appear to be considered too young or no better than what we have, so without money to spend in January we look ready to soldier on with the graft in midfield and long balls from the back. It doesn't look like a recipe for success. The home gate against Huddersfield when we have to pay for our tickets is looking like a potential embarrassment and record low home F A Cup gate for the 21st century.

None of this is helping our away numbers either. Our travelling support has dwindled despite us having won more matches on the counter. News that Palace are seeking to extract the most they can from us when we visit - £32 is a liberty - I expect the 2300 allocation to hang around until the deadline. I find myself in two minds at this stage and only a real improvement in performances and results will change that. Bah humbug!

5 comments:

Bob Miller said...

So there's poor old Chrissy trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear and many "wise and sage" pundits are calling for his scalp!

Charlton has mostly failed to impress and yet they have yet to be really thrashed or totally embarrassed in the Championship.

Given a couple of attacking mid-fielders and somebody who can find the back of the net and this club can climb the table.

So, is the pressure on Chris Powell or Mr. Jimenez?

Dave said...

Bob - let me clarify if any is needed. I am not calling for Chris to go. I want him to remain as long as I think he is still doing as good a job as we could expect from anyone else. We need to find a best fit solution for midfield and stick with it or bring in better players.

Bob Miller said...

Dave, no clarification needed. I fully understood and concur with your points. You are not included in the "wise and sage" pundit group.

Dave said...

Bob - glad to hear that (I think!).

Bob Miller said...

Dave, I am sure you are truly wise and sage :-), just not in the context of my sarcasm related to the Powell knockers.