Friday, 17 April 2015

Three points please

Leeds United visit the Valley tomorrow for the penultimate home match of the season. It could be our last big opportunity to see the Addicks win and we need the points if we are to finish in the top-half (sorry but it is the only incentive left for me).

Following Leeds over the last ten or so years must have been fairly painful and not unlike our own experiences, although theirs perhaps a tad more extreme. They have fallen from even higher Premier League ambitions and suffered the indignity of double relegation. Back in the Championship for a few years, they have been holding their own without threatening the Bookmakers. The state of their club and it's ownership has been the underlying problem. After the Risdale Years which nearly put them under (they went into Administration), the unlikely Ken Bates rode in to offer some prudent financial management and his usual blunt style, which presumably was better accepted by plain-speaking Yorkshire-folk although their initial lack of enthusiasm for the former Chelsea owner caused him to call the complainers 'morons.' However, Ken wasn't going to sell the farm for Leeds and he eventually sold out two years ago. Since then things have become a tad more unstable with two owners since and the current own, disgraced Italian tax-evader Massimo Cellino, has been declared unfit by the Football League and has effectively stepped down.

The significance for tomorrow's visit is that they aren't a happy club. The assistant manager has been sacked and Neil Redfearn has threatened to resign. Their top scorer is rumoured to be prevented from playing to avoid triggering a contract extension. They have also lost four-in-a-row after an initial flourish under Redfearn which pulled them out of serious trouble. If our players have one eye on the beach, Leeds' look already tanned and at the bar.

They will bring their usual full allocation of a little over 3000 boorish Yorkshire folk and they will, no doubt, annoy everyone on the Lower Road prior to kick-off which their drunken antics and boring songs from thirty or forty years ago (that "Champions of Europe" really grates). This will be another test of Guy Luzon's management capabilities and perhaps the last real opportunity for some of our players to shine. It's also Player of the Year voting time when we reflect on who's done what for the cause.

For me, it's a toss-up between Stephen Henderson and Johan Berg Gudmundson. In terms of the back four, the full-backs have been hampered by injury and the central defensive pairing has changed which means no-one has played enough to warrant the honour. Talk Ben Haim was my leading contender but he's fallen out-of-favour with the new boss and we have prospered without him. 

In midfield we have had plenty of frequent change too. Jordan Cousins will be a strong contender for many but he lacks a footballing brain as far as I am concerned and still makes too many avoidable errors. Yoni Buyens has acquitted himself well but hasn't done enough. That leaves regular JBG and whilst he had a slower start, he has blossomed and his goal contribution has been impressive in terms of quantity and quality. That's what seals it for me.

Igor was my first-half shoe-in but injury interrupted his campaign and he is yet to get back to his threatening best. Tony Watt has been inspirational too but I can't vote for a player who didn't arrive until after New Year.

So, c'mon Charlton, put on a winning show and send the Yorkies home empty-handed.

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