Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Charlton Athletic 1 v Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

Posting unusually late courtesy of a post match drink and a long day in the office. Others have beaten me to the match report in sufficient detail and volume so little point regurgitating that so will limit myself to key observations and further early season assessment of the Bob Peeters era.

Once again I find myself immediately wanting to say how fluid and impressive Wolves were and that they are the latest in a series of the better sides in the division that we have faced in our very tough start etc. However, that line is becoming a little less convincing by the match and I am beginning to wonder if the explanation for our impressive assessment of nearly everyone we have faced lies elsewhere.

Wolves were indeed impressive. James Henry stood out in the first-half and Bakary Sako in the second. They took the game to us and they moved and passed as a team. They were man-marking us when we lost possession and they squeezed us out in midfield. Only misfortune and plenty of poor finishing (much of it from Leon Clarke) prevented them winning the match.

By comparison, we looked far less confident in possession and other reds shirts weren't always easy to find. Wiggins struggled with Henry in the first half although he recovered but was given little support from Lawrie Wilson who was struggling to make any headway in front of him. Jordan Cousins has plenty to offer but I think we have had all the evidence we need to see that he is not a natural winger and he is a wasted shirt in that position. That was typified late on in the second-half when we were desperate to pressurise Wolves again and were playing with some urgency. A swift break involving four for five players was ended when Cousins failed to control a straightforward pass to his feet and he let it go out. He simply hasn't grown up playing the line.

Then there was George Tucudean who missed a hat-trick of chances including a howling air shot when anything on target would probably have beaten the keeper. I am not sure a rumoured return of Darren Bent is the answer for us but even he would have netted in Tucudean's boots last night. I don't like singling Jackson out but him and Yoni Buyens failed again to hold midfield.

The plus points were further excellent showings from Bikey and Ben Haim, including a classy finish from the Beast. Joe Gomez put in another solid shift and across the back we made a number of superb last ditch tackles. Igor Vetokele was, once again, the Charlton man-of-the-match, much for his contribution away from his striking position although he looked likely to score all night had we teed him up.

Discounting the away games I saw at Brentford and Brighton, this was my first home league visit and if I hadn't known about the three other home wins, I would have said there was very little change from last season save we managed to hang on for a point. However, it was fairly obvious to me that our players are playing to a set pattern and style. We are falling behind the ball in numbers and we are defending zonally in our half. This may be effective so far but it is hard on the eye. We have to watch opposing players given plenty of room around the box and are having to endure a larger than average number of long range pots at our goal as a consequence. Opposing players entering our box are crowded out and when we win possession back we are trying to play it out rather than launching it. That's not necessarily a bad thing but this strategy risks penalties and being caught in possession. 

I am hoping Johan Berg Gudmundsson makes a big improvement when I next get to see him in the side but we are crying out for a better midfield pairing, a better left-wing option and another striker.

I am also wondering if BP should experiment at home with a more deliberate attacking policy. Some will say we aren't doing too badly the way we are, unbeaten in four with three wins, but I will counter that, that won't last playing this way and once our balloon has been punctured we may find it harder to keep flinging bodies in the way of the opposition and relying upon our goalkeeper to save everything else.

Other than that, I thought the ground looked fuller with Charlton fans (irrespective of the official gate) and I noticed more fair-weather fans I know than much of last season. Some of our old gang are also heading to Rotherham on Saturday for a rare away game (beer and cards) which has been fuelled by the Summer activity and our bright start. Let's hope we continue to grind out the results and hold our momentum. A couple of new signings might make all the difference with that in mind.


Anonymous said...

A very fair assessment

We are fortunate rather than lucky,but likely to be found out more and more as the season progresses

We do need two/ three new players if possible,in the keyroles that have been hiighlighted.We also need ,not only these players, but we also need them fit and keen to join us.

Interesting times which can provide us with positive opporttunities this season



Anonymous said...

Pretty solid observations. What did you think of Bulot ? I thought he improved things when he came on and looked promising.


anonymous 68 said...

A very realistic assessment of our lack of capabilities. As footballers (professional) regardless of their nominal position on the pitch they should be able to trap and run with the ball under control. The glaring lack of basic skills was evident last evening and the continual loss of possession places an inordinate amount of pressure on our superb defensive players.

Dave said...

Anon - realised after posting I hadn't commented on Bulot as intended. Agree he looked promising and certainly brought some urgency. One of the other Bloggers said he appeared ill-disciplined or given free-rein. I can't see too much ill-discipline under Bob Peeters, so assume free-rein.

ChicagoAddick said...

Summarized similar as I heard from the guys sat around you. In business talk we can't keep cutting costs to increase revenues and Bob needs to develop a couple of other game plans. Because this is a risky strategy.

However it is a million times more enjoyable - the games, and the table - than a year ago (and I'm a Powell-ite), but the annoying thing is, is that we are probably only 2 players away from a real promotion challenge.

Enjoy Rotherham.

Dave said...

CA - I'm not going to Rotherham - saving Brownie Points for Gleneagles....