Monday 31 January 2011

Just Bessone

After the disappointment of the second postponement of the Rochdale game, Charlton closed out the transfer window with the curious signing of left-back Federico Bessone from Leeds. If Bradley Wright-Phillips was a pleasant surprise and more than anticipated, Bessone looks the complete opposite.

Having been unable to afford to retain Grant Basey pre-season we now look a tad desperate with the signing of Bessone. Apparently unfancied by fans of his last couple of clubs, I'm puzzled by why we've gone for him when we still have Matt Fry and Johnnie Jackson. Perhaps Fry's loan is in jeopardy or left-back Chrissie Powell knows an under-rated number 3 when he sees one. 

I probably ought to comment on the departure of Akpo Sodje, who has gone to Hibs on a free. Akpo hasn't really cut the mustard at the Valley and I think we have seen what fans of other clubs have experienced. He could never be faulted for effort although he was injury prone and was ultimately short of true football quality. I'll wish him well for trying his best and managing to turn a couple of games with rampaging substitution appearances and his goal at Yeovil will live in the memory even if I was sheltering from the flood at the time it flew in.

I am expecting a fast start from Charlton tomorrow night and a much improved performance from the rather fortunate victory over Plymouth. Hopefully we will get a chance to see BWP and his presence may spark a better supply of ammunition to our front pairing and I am assuming we will not be playing a 4-5-1 again at home.

Thursday 27 January 2011

League One Weekend Preview, Game 25

I've already previewed our game at Spotland and, whilst I think it won't be straightforward, we have the Powell-effect and I believe the signing of Bradley Wright-Phillips may create enough of a self-preservation instinct to ensure we continue our scoring habit on our travels. In the circumstances, I am going to be bold and positive and say I can see us winning again.

There are only six league fixtures on Saturday with Colchester taking on Peterborough live on Friday evening, so a chance for us to climb back into the play-off places. We have to take it.

Colchester United v Peterborough United
An East of England derby of sorts and it should be a decent match to televise. I suspect there could be plenty of goals in this one and I'll gamble on a rare Peterborough away win as Darren Ferguson continues to settle quickly back into his old job.
Prediction; 2-3

Brentford v Yeovil Town
Looks like a routine home win if that's possible at Griffin Park. Brentford are surely too good to go down but they are terribly inconsistent. 
Prediction; 2-0

Carlisle United v Oldham Athletic
Carlisle can get within a point of us with a home win here but that would give us the opportunity to leap-frog the Latics. 
Prediction: 2-1

Plymouth Argyle v AFC Bournemouth
The Cherries wobbled immediately after Eddie Howe's decision to stay to leave but recovered after losing at Colchester to pick up a point at Rochdale and managed a very impressive win over rivals Brighton, albeit through a late winner at Dean Court. Another south coast encounter here but my hunch is that they will face a fired-up Argyle who have their backs to the survival-wall. 
Prediction; 2-1

Rochdale v Charlton Athletic
Our first visit to Spotland in living memory. I made the journey in 1998 to witness them play Shrewsbury in what was Ground Number 88. I said I couldn't imagine ever returning and a League One fixture in January isn't enough to force me to repeat the journey. I hope the experience inspires our players to think about playing at bigger grounds against clubs with a better pedigree.
Prediction; 1-2

Swindon Town v Exeter City
Amazingly, last year's play-off finalists could be in the drop zone come 5pm on Saturday. They still have the impressive Charlie Austin and deserve better.
Prediction; 2-1

Walsall v Bristol Rovers
A chance for Rovers to climb out of relegation trouble after their convincing 3-1 win over Swindon on Saturday. Dean Smith will be trying everything in his powers to revive Walsall and he needs something fast, starting here. Rovers can probably play the more relaxed football here.
Prediction; 0-1


Wednesday 26 January 2011

Tipping point at Spotland?

I've been giving Saturday's fixture at Rochdale some thought - it's easy at 5am when you can't sleep. With us now down to eighth and Rochdale two points behind in ninth, it could be a pivotal game for the Addicks. Whilst our away record has been impressive and good enough for automatic promotion so far, we haven't managed a win on the road since Peterborough, although we have managed a point from all three aways since then.

Chris Powell would probably settle for a point at Rochdale on the basis that they have only lost twice at home all season in the league and it would mean a second unbeaten game under his stewardship. 

Trouble is, I don't believe a point is any longer good enough if we still have serious hopes of automatic promotion. We have games in hand on all of those above us bar Peterborough and could expect to climb back to joint-second with Southampton if we won those games and manage the double over Peterborough at the Valley in little over a fortnight's time.

With Colchester at home on Tuesday, I believe a second win for Powell's charges would set us up to beat the U's which should, by my reckoning, put us back in the top four. That would also represent the confidence building start we so desperately needed under new management and give us some breathing room for Yeovil away and Peterborough at home.

If we draw or lose on Saturday we effectively give up a game in hand on Huddersfield, Southampton and Bournemouth and the points gap widens. Brighton would effectively be four wins away and having lost only four times so far, we could almost give up on expecting to catch them. It would also mean we play at the Valley under more pressure once again, something I don't think the current squad thrive on. 

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Wright-Phillips - what's not to like?

Late with the news again today but it's certainly worth commenting on. Jimenez and Slater have found the cash for the capture of Plymouth hot-shot Bradley Wright-Phillips. No figure has been given but it's suspected to be circa £275,000. BWP failed a medical at Reading recently which has some people in a quandary but I am reminded of the players we have missed in the past through over-caution about injury - John Hartson immediately springs to mind. At only 25, I think we have made a real steal here. Bradley has his father's genes (unlike half-brother Shaun) and his 13 goals for Plymouth give me every reason to believe he could notch ten more before May which might be sufficient with other contributions to fuel a prolonged promotion campaign.

Wright-Phillips is only five foot eight, so it will be hard to imagine him partnering Eccleston but the pair of them offer pace and goal-threat we have been short of and should provide able foils for whoever plays up with them.

Credit where credit's due. Jimenez and Slater have scored another direct hit with the fans and maybe we should stop expecting it all to go so horribly wrong and cut them a bit of slack. The fee paid might not be in the league some had hoped when news of the takeover broke, but it's exactly what they promised in terms of sensible and presumably affordable. We could never have made this acquisition if Richard Murray had to fund the mpney at this time.

Monday 24 January 2011

The Olympic Stadium non-decision

Is it just me or does anyone else believe the fuss over who gets to play at the Olympic Stadium at Stratford post 2012 is the biggest foregone conclusion since the film Titanic? 

* The Stadium is in Stratford and the heart of West Ham territory. 
* The thought of Spurs fans making a fortnightly trip there is akin to us playing at the New Den.
* The local council backs West Ham's bid. 
* Spurs have already received planning permission to develop their spiritual home at White Hart Lane. 
* Lord Coe has even come out and broken the ice on Friday's decision by saying the only bid that should be acceptable is the one that retains a running track and will support athletics at the venue as well as football (West Ham's not Spurs').

Other than still awaiting an official pronouncement, I am amazed this is still newsworthy. I think the threat to Leyton Orient is probably the bigger story at the moment.

The Olympic Site is actually much closer to the Valley than many will realise. Take a look from the Newbridge at Blackheath Standard or from the crest of Charlton Lane, Lansdowne Lane or Charlton Church Lane next time you're on foot.

Saturday 22 January 2011

Charlton Athletic 2 v Plymouth Argyle 0

Chris Powell's smile will be a fraction wider than normal this evening, if that's physically possible. He will be well satisfied with a winning start to his solo managerial career and he will be glad this one is out of the way and he can begin to concentrate on putting both his stamp on the squad and moving towards his preferred style of play.

It was far from a classic and until Marcel Seip gifted his former loanee team-mates a goal in the 55th minute, it had nil-nil written all over it. Neither keeper had a save to make up to that point. If that was a depressingly familiar home performance, there was hardly the crackling atmosphere we had all looked forward to either. The ground was visibly fuller than normal but the attendance of 16,607 revealed that the increase was largely made up of season tickets holders actually turning out in force for Powell's first game.

There were no real surprises with the side Powell put out or the formation either. It was five man midfield with Anyinsah the lone striker. We did at least take the game to Argyle in the first-half but created nothing I can remember and they were limited to a few good moves and touches from Yannick Bolasie. How they may miss Bradley Wright-Phillips if he leaves as looks almost certain. Simon Francis should be commended for the accuracy of his first-half crossing - every one went straight to their keeper.

The first-half was punctuated by a prolonged stoppage for standing treatment to Gary Doherty and then for two minutes at least as the referee went off and was replaced by assistant ref Nigel Lugg. Either way, I couldn't understand why we only played two minutes of added time.

Anyhow, the second-half came to life on 55 minutes when Marcel Seip under-hit a shortish back-pass to David Button and the alert Scott Wagstaff nipped into the gap and did very well to get to the ball before the onrushing Button and steer it home. The relief around three of the stands could be heard over the cheers and the home crowd finally found their voice. We upped the tempo after the goal for ten to fifteen minutes but there was nothing doing and Argyle came back into the match. They didn't really look like scoring but a snap-shot from outside the box grazed the side-netting with Elliot stranded. That was as close as they came.

Johnnie Jackson had taken a knock and was the first substitute of Powell's reign as Kyle Reid came on in fetching orange boots. McCormack was lucky to stay on in my opinion and I was surprised when Racon was hauled off for Nathan Eccleston to make his loan debut. There isn't much of him and he looked lost for ten minutes before finally getting a touch as he chased an Argyle player back into the Charlton-half and slid in to push the ball off his man's toe and back to Francis. He was up quickly enough to collect the return pass down the line and although his first touch was too much, the covering Argyle defenders were back-pedalling which allowed him a second controlling touch and he then burst into the gap and drove Plymouth back. He was then fortunate as he kept the ball after riding the first challenge but he drove on and all of a sudden he had a shooting opportunity albeit with two men in close attendance. His shot looked like it took a slight deflection from the covering challenge but the angle was good enough and it fizzed past Button and into the back of net. Eccleston ran to the north-east corner thumping the badge which looked a bit insincere but no-one could care less. He had managed to do what so many loan strikers manage at other clubs but rarely ours - score quickly on their debut. It was the icing on the cake really and young Nate has given us all something to hang our hopes on for the rest of the season.

The win has kept us in seventh place and play-off contention. MK Dons, Peterborough and Bournemouth all won. Colchester drew at Huddersfield and Southampton and Brighton were both surprisingly beaten. This league looks determined to keep things as open as possible. With the exception of Hartlepool away in midweek, none of the next thirteen matches look particularly difficult. I'm not suggesting we'll go unbeaten but we could well accumulate enough points to remain very firmly in the hunt before we face Southampton twice, Bournemouth away and Huddersfield at home.

It really could be too close to call, in spite of our obvious short-comings, and you have to wonder what money is going to be made available to Chris Powell before the window closes. I was surprised that no-one came in this week but Pawel Abbott was either prevented from going to Bristol Rovers on or recalled from loan. Not a great sign in my mind that there's bundles of cash available to Powell but maybe he just wanted to see for himself what Pawel may have to offer. 

The focus of my attention this week will turn from Powell to Jimenez and Slater.

League One Weekend Preview, Game 24

With a dozen League One sides playing on Tuesday, we really have to keep pace with the pack and that means three points today. It's not a foregone conclusion by any means with us third -bottom of current form and the odds between both sides will have narrowed considerably. However, we have the Powell-factor and that should be enough to see us squeak home. Here's what the others face...

AFC Bournemouth v Brighton & Hove Albion
Away from the Valley, my Match of the Day. Howe-less Bournemouth will need to steady the ship and get to grips with the leaders who are threatening an unlikely looking runaway promotion. Bournemouth decline to begin.
Prediction; 1-2

Bristol Rovers v Swindon Town
Things look gloomy down the M4 for these two. Rovers are in the drop zone and Swindon are contriving to join them. If Charlie Austin is prized away during the transfer window, it could get serious for Swindon. A point apiece is probably as good as it will get.
Prediction; 2-2

Charlton Athletic v Plymouth Argyle
I'm guessing we will have 17,000+ there today and most will be ready to back Chris Powell's side to the hilt. The players will need to do their bit to carry it on through the match and will have to play much better than of late. 
Prediction; 1-0

Dagenham & Redbridge v MK Dons
MK Dons blew the opportunity to consolidate their play-off position in the week by losing at home to Plymouth. I'm putting that down to a one-off and will take them to fight back and take all three points today.
Prediction; 0-2

Exeter City v Walsall
The Saddlers have appointed Mr Smith as their new manager. He's facing a huge task to avoid managing in League Two next season. My prediction here is that Walsall will find their gap to safety increase today to an impossible-looking 10 points.
Prediction; 2-0

Huddersfield Town v Colchester United
Colchester can do us a favour here by taking something. I'm going to stick my neck out.
Prediction; 1-1

Leyton Orient v Sheffield Wednesday
Wednesday will have a large and noisy following in town today and I suspect they will be too strong for the O's. 
Prediction; 1-2

Notts County v Carlisle United
County have yet to draw a home game this season, so it's maybe a case of all-or-nothing again today. Carlisle got a thumping 4-0 win at home last week but I'll take Notts County to send them packing this afternoon.
Prediction; 2-0

Oldham Athletic v Brentford
Oldham are hanging about the fringes of the play-off places but they no longer look like serious contenders and their sparkling early-season home form is evening out. Brentford have blown hot and cold for much of the season and have won more games away from Griffin Park. They might just upset the odds again here.
Prediction; 1-2

Peterborough United v Hartlepool United
With Darren Ferguson back in the fold, Posh are back in the play-off places and will be looking forward to their ninth home win of the campaign. Hartlepool have been hard to beat away from home this season but Peterborough should have too much fire-power today.
Prediction; 2-0

Tranmere Rovers v Southampton
If any of the bottom-four can break clear, Rovers are my favourite to replace them for the drop. This must be as strong an away win as you will get on the coupon today. Saints could be back in the automatic places tonight.
Prediction; 1-3

Yeovil Town v Rochdale
Can't imagine this being a humdinger. Yeovil's smallest home gate of the season is likely to watch a hard-fought contest in the rain. I'll take Dale for a point at least.
Prediction; 1-1

It's a pretty grim looking day in SE7 this morning and we seriously need to lift the gloom or this season is going to be written-off before we get to the business-end of the season.  

Friday 21 January 2011

Valley Pilgrimage

Just back from a couple of days solid graft in Cambridge. All very nice but starved of information on what's happening at the Valley.

As the expectation grows about tomorrow's game, I understand that Chris Powell may be lining up Alex Dyer as his assistant. If there's any truth in that, I hope Dyer proves to be a better manager than he was a player. Harsh, maybe, but true.

Tomorrow's game could be critical if we fail to win. The gap on the top sides will surely increase and we will begin to look distinctly mid-table. Ordinarily I would expect us to win this match but Peter Reid has got his feet under the table and Argyle got a very good three points at MK Dons in the week. They also have form for ruining the party at the Valley and we will need to play much better than we have managed at the Valley in the last few months if we are to beat them.

The increase on the normal gate will be interesting and may give us a clue to just how permanent our loss of fans has been since successive relegations. History is whispering to me that with a bigger-than-expected gate and many lapsed fans returning, we will, once again, fall flat on our faces sending them all home swearing they won't fall for it next time.

The big plus, of course, could be Chris Powell and his ability to motivate the players and light up the stands. If we can get some momentum going we can win this game and take a small step in the rehabilitation process. I'm going to cross my fingers, hope we get the rub of the green and that Powell gets to do his Tunnel Jumps once again.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

Lennie Lawrence to return to the scene of his biggest triumph

Lennie Lawrence is being lined-up as the Assistant-Manager at Crystal Palace. Strange, but I feel very nostalgic hearing this. Perhaps it's because he'll be back at Selhurst Park? Maybe it's because Palace are planning a move to the athletic tracks at the "national stadium." It could be because he's being appointed so soon after Administration and Palace's near-death experience.

Whatever the reason, it's probably a good idea to get someone with experience in to help Dougie Freedman, although the 63 year old has not seen much success in recent years having been associated with a string of strugglers after leaving Boro' in 1994. Your average Charlton fan will never forgot what Lawrence achieved against the odds in getting us into the top flight for the first time in living memory for most, although his association with Palace will likely dim the memory.

Monday 17 January 2011

A bumper crowd and fresh faces?

Chris Powell will have a bounce in his stride this morning as he takes his first Charlton Athletic training session as manager in the lashing rain at Sparrows Lane. He avoided a losing start to his career on Saturday, even if his first actual game in charge looks to be Saturday's home clash with Plymouth Argyle.

I am expecting some build-up to Saturday's match. The nations media should once again be making their way to down to SE7 to report on events. The opportunist imaginations of those now running our club will be looking to mark the occasion with fireworks and dancing girls or something else to make it crystal clear to everyone present at the Valley that things are different now and that needs to carry on into the match. 

I commented last week that Powell's arrival has sparked a huge increase in the club and fans are already speculating on the increased attendance expected for his first home game. Traffic to this site has doubled over the last week and that when everyone else has had more than usual to say about events at our club. The Official Site has struggled to contend with volumes in the past and Charlton Life and Forever Charlton have also been suffering of late as fans scour the internet for breaking news [rest assured, I have been in touch with the head man at Google and he's reassured me that surging volumes to this site won't bring Blogger down!].

If there is money to be spent, then I would be urging Powell to make at least an initial signing before Saturday if it were me holding the purse strings. My guess is that Chris Powell will add 2,000 paying Customers to the gate on Saturday and an ambitious looking signing might move that up towards 3,000. The gate for this clash would ordinarily have been around the 15,000 (paid tickets) mark, so my punt is a 17,000+ gate.  

The expectant atmosphere should only need a Charlton goal to set it alight and head us for our first victory of 2011. An goal-scoring striker under 30 or attacking midfielder in the mould of Jason Puncheon would do very nicely.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Sheffield Wednesday 2 v Charlton Athletic 2

Keith Peacock may have been leading the side today at Hillsborough but Chris Powell was in attendance and he saw his reign start in dream fashion as Scott Wagstaff headed Charlton ahead after only four minutes before Johnnie Jackson put Charlton in full control with another penalty just two minutes later.

I missed the first goal because I was relying on CAFC Player, which once again let us down. The commentary only started after five minutes with the penalty. I was surprised to see a report flash up on Sky saying we were one-up when the penalty hadn't yet been taken. I was trying to figure out how the match commentary might be delayed when it became clear we were about to go two-up. Again I was forced to listen to the home commentary because the two blokes doing it for us (BBC London) were more interested in chatting than actually telling us what was happening. The Wednesday commentary (John Pearson was one of them) also went through half-time so we didn't have to listen to the microphone being left on the table whilst BBC London's commentators treated us to the sounds of them moving chairs and eating their half-time snacks like they usually do.

Charlton had more first-half possession and when Wednesday were awarded a penalty five minutes before the break it looked like the signal for a collapse but Rob Elliot knew what was needed for Chris Powell and he kept the effort out with a full stretch diving save. As I said, it was a dream start to half-time.

Wednesday were booed off and Neil Mellor was sacrificed at the break for Paul Heffernan. It was the substitute who lashed home minutes after the restart. Charlton should have scored within a minute to restore their two goal lead but Joe Anyinsah missed a sitter and put the ball over the bar. The Hillsborough crowd came alive and Wednesday forced an equaliser after 51 minutes when Johnson headed past Rob Elliot. 

Akpo Sodje came on to a huge round of applause from the Wednesdayites although the commentators said they expected him to limp off injured if it was a typical performance of his at Hillsborough. Joe Anyinsah was subbed and will rue his miss at 2-1.

Wednesday continued to take the game to Charlton in the second-half with Jermaine Johnson a constant threat on the ball and he kept the Charlton back-line busy defending his balls in. In a bold move, Charlton went to 4-4-2 with twenty to go as Nathan Eccleston came on for Therry Racon.

Sodje saw a deflected effort beat Weaver but it also cleared the bar. 

Kyel Reid got on for McCormack before the finish as the third attacking substitution and a Simon Francis cross was nearly turned home by Sodje but Nicky Weaver made a good save. Charlton pressed in the last few minutes of normal time as Reid tried to run at Wednesday on the flank.

There were four minutes of added time and we had to endure Wednesday coming within inches of a winner and then hitting a post.

A good point in normal circumstances and better than I was expecting but ultimately not good enough for what we need right now. With Brighton, Huddersfield and MK Dons all winning and Southampton surprisingly held at St Mary's, we end the day in 7th and our game in hand (at Hartlepool) would only get us to 5th as things stand and we have yet to play Southampton.

Plymouth at the Valley next week should be an emotionally charged atmosphere and we simply have to win a league game for the first time in nine weeks. Welcome to the hot-seat Chris.

League One Weekend Preview, Game 22

With all of the excitement this week about Eddie Howe and then the euphoria of the appointment of Chris Powell in the last 48-hours, we have almost forgotten that we have a critical league fixture at Hillsborough today against eighth placed Wednesday who will leap-frog us with a win.

Indeed, a clutch of our rivals got fixtures out of the way this week and have clambered above us in the table. Southampton fired six at Oldham in the week and have secured second place, six points clear of us. With Brighton maintaining a nine point lead over us, the automatic promotion places are in danger of slipping away. Even Bournemouth and Huddersfield have a five point margin over us and we simply have to go on a winning run.

Today's game won't be easy. Sheffield Wednesday have only conceded seven goals at home in eleven matches. Keith Peacock will be in charge again as it was deemed too late to introduce Powell although it will be interesting to see whether Chris travels with the team - I am guessing he will. I don't think a draw is much use to us today, so we have to be bold and we have to attack Wednesday. I can't see us keeping a clean sheet, so we are going to need to score to get anything.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Peterborough United
It's getting to that stage when I think we'd like to see Brighton win this to deny Posh any points. Darren Ferguson is back at Peterborough and they could get a bounce although they have struggled away from London Road. Brighton know they only have to hold their heads and their fortunes could change significantly in the Championship at Falmer.
Prediction; 3-1

Carlisle United v Bristol Rovers
The Carlisle promotion bid has well and truly fizzled out and is threatening to turn into a relegation scrap. Home is where they have won their points and it looks a long trek for struggling Rovers.
Prediction; 3-0

Hartlepool United v Dagenham & Redbridge
Hartlepool have dropped back to 12th after a period of inactivity but with games in hand, they know a home win over table-proppers Dagenham & Redbridge will keep them handily placed.
Prediction; 3-0

MK Dons v Tranmere Rovers
Hard to see Tranmere getting anything here but beaten. MK remain very strong in the suicide capital having won eight of their eleven home games. Tranmere face relegation once again. 
Prediction; 2-0

Plymouth Argyle v Oldham Athletic
The Latics will be smarting from their six goal humiliation at home on Tuesday night and Plymouth face losing top goal-scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips. I am guessing Plymouth may say farewell to their hit-man in style.
Prediction; 2-0

Rochdale v Leyton Orient
What a fixture to make you want to head shopping on Saturday afternoon. Everything points to a scrappy home win.
Prediction; 1-0

Sheffield Wednesday v Charlton Athletic
Earlier in the week this was a nailed-on home win for me. Now I am not so sure and much will depend on the impact of Chris Powell's appointment and the influence he exerts on the game today what with Peacock officially in charge. It feels  bit of a mess if I am honest but maybe there will be a togetherness that will be enough for us to take the game to Wednesday. Scoring looks an obvious problem and I expect Nathan Eccleston to see some action. Might be a week too soon for Charlton fans.
Prediction; 1-0

Southampton v Notts County
Southampton have crept up the table but have opened up with all guns since moving into the play-offs and look very much like they will go on to catch Brighton and win the title as widely predicted pre-season.
Prediction; 3-0

Swindon Town v Yeovil Town
Should be a routine home win but it's another of the West Country derbies which have proven very hard to call. My instinct is a home win but I've managed to get these wrong almost every time. Yeovil might battle for a point here.
Prediction; 1-1

Walsall v Huddersfield Town
Surely Town will close this out? Walsall are seven points adrift of safety and another couple of defeats should make their escape near impossible. We will rue their win at the Valley come May.
Prediction; 0-2

Friday 14 January 2011

Powell sparks massive interest

Chris Powell's triumphant return to the Valley is stirring enormous interest and debate, like nothing we have seen for quite some time. Impressive considering our recent history. The vast majority of it is overwhelmingly positive and supportive although there are dissenting voices even if they want the best and are trying to be positive.

Henry Irving, Charlton Life stalwart and one-time Fan-on-The-Board, has written a very considered piece that I think perfectly captures the dilemma some fans have with the appointment of a man many consider a "legend" yet who looks like a much bigger gamble than our club can afford right now. There is a saying that you should never mix business and pleasure, and yet Chris Powell's appointment feels to me like we may be doing just that.

The calculating and yet equally considered, New York Addick, is sticking his neck out a good bit further than Henry Irving and bravely making the case that the appointment of Sir Chris is a huge mistake. That doesn't make him any less of a fan of Chris Powell the former Charlton player or Powell, the all-round good guy but he is railing against the mass failure to look objectively at Powell's appointment.

I have empathy with both of these viewpoints but I am going to be more positive about Powell because I believe he can make a success of his appointment if he given full support for the next 18 months and some decent funding. Automatic promotion is looking unlikely as far as I am concerned and I suspect we might have left ourselves too much to do by the time Powell begins to get to grips with things and has made at least a couple of changes he needs to begin to shape his team.

I do, however, have a nagging doubt about Jimenez and Slater. They are beginning to look like they might just be in this because they believe they have mercurial business skills that can make this club a success without the sort of funding that assures it. Prove me wrong please by giving Powelly the money he needs to re-ignite our promotion push.

It's him

"I'm absolutely delighted - I'm honoured and proud to be the Charlton manager. It's all happened very quickly, but it's my fourth time at Charlton and I know the club extremely well.

I want what the fans want. I know what the club has been through over the years, and I know that there is a lot of hard work that lies ahead, but I'm willing to do that. I want to be part of building a brighter future for everyone connected with Charlton."

Chris Powell - appointed Charlton Athletic manager Friday 14th January. 

Thursday 13 January 2011

Lord Lambeth

The news-wires are a quiver with the pronouncement that Sir Chris George "ROBIN" Powell is to be promoted. He may have missed the New Year's Honours List, but Chrissy Powell is about to become the new manager of the club where he played his best football and became one of the most surprising players ever to be capped for England at the age of 32.

I think it's only to be expected that there will be many (like me) who see this as another populist decision and one lead more from the heart than the head. Overall however, I think Charlton fans will back Powell's appointment almost unanimously. After the failure of experienced managers like Dowie, Pardew and Parkinson, we haven't really got much to lose. Success is never guaranteed. Powell will be relatively cheap, he knows the club, is a qualified coach and brings significant experience of the game. His man-management skills are the one criteria yet to be tested in the burning crucible of league management. You have to start somewhere right and where better for Powell than at the Valley?

I assume Keith Peacock will get the Sheffield Wednesday game out of the way as I was tweeted about it earlier today. I was pleased to receive this snippet delivered to my mobile but the first Tweet this morning informing me that someone's bus driver was wearing a Charlton hat was less welcome. I will persevere but too many more of those and I'm off again.

Wednesday 12 January 2011

One in, one out

Due to a long day in the office, I am last with the news today that Charlton have secured the loan services of, wait-for-it, Liverpool striker, Nathan Eccelston! However, I may be the first blogger with news that Pawel Abbott is being loaned to Bristol Rovers?

There has been a fair bit of speculation about Eccleston in recent weeks and I believe some of the Twitter Addicks picked this up from the 20 year old directly. Twitter is really finding it's niche although I am scared to go back on for fear of being flooded with gallons of drivel. Like you, I know next to nothing about Mr Eccleston but he's a Liverpool prospect and that's good enough for me for now. Presumably this is a result of our famed tie-up with the Liver Birds, but it seems unfair that we have not sent Pawel Abbott up their as part of the deal? I have been saying for a long time that playing alongside a Torres-like foil would bring the best out of him.

I had high hopes when "Pav" was recruited but he has been very poor. He has looked a stone overweight all the time we have had him and at 47, I think I could beat him over ten yards. I guess this move signals the end for his Charlton career one way or another. Unfortunately, he won't be missed.

Tuesday 11 January 2011

What does Howe rejection tell us?

Eddie Howe has decided he's better off at Dean Court than swapping it all for Selhurst or the Valley. The announcement this afternoon comes after four days of intense speculation and I think it begins to fill in a few blanks in Charlton's new ownership situation.

First, it would appear that the widely held suspicion of the automatic appointment of Dennis Wise was wide of the Mark. Michael Slater's initial statement that Wise was not in the frame looks to have been true and not disingenuous.

Secondly, it does look increasingly like the decision to sack Phil Parkinson was made as a genuine reaction to the appalling performance laid on for the new owners first game. That too would suggest Michael Slater may not have been lying when he said he would sit down with Parky on the Monday and look at transfer needs.

Thirdly, the offer supposedly on the table from Charlton wasn't compelling enough for Howe to pack Bournemouth in. It was also reportedly matched by Palace which would confirm it wasn't silly money. Howe has negotiated a better deal at Bournemouth and he is known to be particularly loyal to Bournemouth, the club he grew up supporting as a boy. He also turned down Peterborough after Darren Ferguson was shown the door, so he's avoided the temptation of more money and, presumably, a bigger budget once before. I admire him for his loyalty. I used to dream as a lad of playing for Charlton and refusing a transfer to Manchester United. Having finally accepted a move because Charlton needed the money, I had it written into my contract that I would never have to play against the Mighty Addicks. Kids eh!

So, our search continues and there appears to be a growing number of clubs prowling for available talent. Jimenez and Slater will want to sort this out quickly and not run the risk of losing another candidate in a Dutch Auction.

Monday 10 January 2011

Why Eddie Howe looks perfect for us

It would appear that we may be very close to concluding a deal with Eddie Howe to become the next manager of the Mighty Addicks. There are a number of reasons why I believe that would be as good a move as we could make at this time....

1) Eddie Howe has done a great job in making Bournemouth competitive in League One after guiding them to promotion last season.
2) He achieved promotion with a transfer embargo in place.
3) He has four years managerial experience and is only 33 years old.
4) He knows the player market in the lower leagues and he knows League One.
5) He won't be expensive and will come with a more modest ego than some in the frame.
6) Acquiring him would hurt a play-off rivals own hopes.
7) It would prove that Dennis Wise wasn't a done deal.
8) It would mean Michael Slater has only told one small fib and not two blatant lies.
9) it would be consistent with the approach outlined by Slater in terms of "within our means" and what's right for our club.
10) Best of all, it will anger Palace fans like nothing we have been able to manage since Jonathan Fortune last attacked a header with gusto. Trust me when I say they are foaming at the mouth over the prospect of us pinching Howe from under their noses. Us a League One club and Clowntown etc.

Fingers-crossed fellow Addicks, there could be a lot of mileage in this appointment if it comes to pass.

Sunday 9 January 2011

Tottenham Hotspur 3 v Charlton Athletic 0

Well that was less painful than I was expecting, even if depressingly predictable. The fact that we managed to get in 0-0 at half-time was due to a strangely disinterested looking second-string Spurs side and some extremely poor Charlton finishing. 

Our players started brightly enough and you could see the confidence building as they began to win challenges and as Spurs spluttered in attack. Our balls out of defence were poor and the fact that Joe Anyinsah ploughed a lone furrow up front with Dawson following him around wherever he went, meant we never looked like scoring. Anyinsah had to go wide in search of space and it was from a Charlton break that he collected the ball from Wagstaff and cut inside finding a huge amount of space which wasn't closed even as he shaped to shoot. Embarrassingly, he fluffed his shot and it went out for a throw-in. Before the break we had a better chance as Johnnie Jackson got down the left and drove a cross into the box where two red-shirted players collided and wasted a precious second or two dithering which allowed Spurs to clear. That was it really from the first-half and Spurs trudged off to complete silence from the home sections.

Harry Redknapp had evidently seen enough and Wilson Palacios got a half-time shower. Luca Modric appeared for the start of the second-half and Spurs were now in third gear. After an innocuous looking build-up, Andros Townsend spotted a line to the corner of the Charlton goal and drilled a hard shot low beyond the diving Elliot to put Spurs at ease. After that it was one-way traffic and Elliot did brilliantly well to beat out a fine drive and Modric danced through our back line before firing across the face of goal. The second wasn't long in coming and the irrepressible Jermain Defoe shrugged off a couple of half-hearted challenges as he careered through our back line before slotting past Rob Elliot. The third came eleven minutes after the first and it was Defoe again as he made us pay for having taunted and booed him earlier in the match. That was pretty much it for me and I was on my way down Seven Sisters Road before the end.

Talk in the car on the way home focused on who our next manager is likely to be and when we can expect an announcement. The consensus was that there will most likely be an announcement tomorrow that Dennis Wise and Ray Wilkins will be named, although I'd prefer Eddie Howe, especially if it was stealing him from under the noses of Palace.

If it is to be Wise and Wilkins, it might at least signal more ambition and intent than the inexperienced Howe. Wise and Wilkins would command reasonable salaries and would want to know that they had money to work with. The pair would also be able to attract better players to the Valley than Eddie Howe, although he knows this league better than they do.

If it is to be Dennis Wise, he will need to hit the ground running. I expect his appointment could split the fans and it will do nothing to enhance Mr Slater's reputation as I have said. No one likes a liar and he will spend a long time trying to live down the double-crossing of Parky and the disingenuous way he handled his first Dennis Wise question. 

Whatever the decision, we face a very tough game in better half of Sheffield next Saturday and the new manager is going to have to earn his corn as we go in search of our first win of 2011.

Saturday 8 January 2011

Addicks draw inspiration from Stevenage Town

Charlton fans fearing the worst at White Hart Lane on Sunday drew heart this evening as mighty Newcastle United were beaten 3-1 by League Two Stevenage in the F A Cup. Anything really is possible and come what may, we can all laugh at Alan Pardew. His Smugness has got off to flying start with the Toon but this will set him back.

If Liverpool can sack Woy Hodgson so relatively quickly following poor results, the Toon can do better. Too soon of course but today's a good start! How long before they are calling for Kevin Keegan again on Tyneside?

Thursday 6 January 2011

The magic of the Cup

Four thousand of us will head up north on Sunday morning for a now rare F A Cup 3rd round against the famous Tottenham Hotspur. If the new Board can go another day without announcing the new manager, it will be a case of Keith Peacock versus Harry Reknapp. David versus Goliath. I feel much happier about this than I did Parky versus Redknapp. Either way it looks a home banker but Peawee might just manage to inject enough organisation and fighting spirit to limit the damage.

It looks like the new manager will avoid a start beginning with a hammering by one of the two sides battling to join the big four. We all know anything's possible in the Cup but surely not here? Spurs are a yard faster across the pitch and are man-for-man better players. Some of the match-ups could be truly one-sided and our players will need to maintain their discipline and focus for 90 minutes.

Personally, I'd take three-nil now. No matter, let's get behind the lads and urge them on for Keith Peacock and the reputation of our club.

Tuesday 4 January 2011

Message from the new Board

In a move that will still come as something of a surprise to those of us used to the last twenty-odd years of Boardroom management at the Valley, Phil Parkinson was sacked this morning in what was his first meeting with the clubs new owners.

There will be many who think this harsh treatment with our side still in the play-off places and there will be those who will now refuse to trust Slater and Jimenez following the placatory and supportive words from them on Friday.

I will declare now that I am not one of them. I am still "cautiously optimisic" but I am excited about the decisiveness of this morning's announcement and, frankly, by the way it's been managed. The fact that Breacker and Kinsella have also gone speaks volumes. It looks very much like the new Board is working to a plan and I suspect we won't have long to wait for the new management team to be revealed. Jimenez and Slater needed full focus and commitment at Colchester and against Swindon, and giving mealy words of encouragement can be condoned in the circumstances. Let's face it, we all know that the vote of confidence is rarely that in football. Phil Parkinson is well paid and his contract will be honoured. That's the nature of his profession and he knew it when he took it on. Ditto Breacker and Kinsella, the latter of whom was probably lucky to have stayed at the club as long as he did (great player though he was).

We can pontificate over the dilemma about whether to give Parky funds in this window or move for a new Manager but I think that's largely irrelevant as the move this morning makes it clear that the former was never an option.

The message to the players and the rest of the staff is direct and unequivocal. The new Board means business and I suspect it also signals that there is solid financial backing. Murray simply couldn't afford to out his manager as well as his immediate team. Any new manager worth his salt will command a fee as well as wanting to know precisely what's available to spend.

The spectre of Dennis the Menace is obvious and a Millwall mate who visited me last night was adamant he's a genuine motivater and would be just what we need. I am trying to remain open-minded about him, although it's very difficult, but it really does look like they have already got their men, which supports the Wise theory or at least limits who was already available.

The one man who could probably cut the learning curve and be an instant commercial success remains out-of-work but is he willing to return to "go back" and could his ego handle the Third Division?

Monday 3 January 2011

Charlton Athletic 2 v Swindon Town 4

As I type this, the match is still in progress. I left at 1-3 and know they have scored a fourth because I had to shift the TV onto my PC and got another glimpse of the horror show. I am seriously pissed-off with watching Charlton at the Valley this season. We have had nothing like value-for-money and the fact that we are still in the top half of the table is a minor miracle. 

I feared another nothing performance and that's just what we got. Simply not good enough and you, Phil Parkinson, are the man who carries the can. We have been unambitious at home for most of the season and tactically naive. This evening's match was another fine example. No game plan, no attacking midfield and one less-than-average striker up front hoping to get lucky feeding off long balls.

Kyel Reid may have pace to burn but he's simply cancelled out when double-marked. McCormack had another "wandering" game and it's time Lee Martin was sent back to Ipswich Reserves - we have seen enough - show-pony. Waggy did nothing when he came on (from what I saw), although it's a lot to ask from a youngster when your side is losing and being outplayed. 

Semedo worked his socks off but he is naturally defensive and most of his touches are back to the centre-halves who have been the busiest players at the Valley this season. Racon only seems to play well when we are winning and for far too much of this season we haven't been.

I don't know what Parky will say after this - it was the second successive woeful home performance and this in front of the new owners and another mocking Sky audience. I can't be bothered to listen to Parkinson and will look tomorrow although I wouldn't be surprised if he locks himself in the dressing room with his squad and hides away. The new owners can't fail to have been unimpressed or have noticed the mass exodus fully ten minutes before the end. If there is any serious money behind Jimenez and Slater, then we shouldn't have too much longer to wait to see signs of it.

If Preston are seriously interested in Parkinson it could be the soft option for all concerned. I'm not sure I'd want to give him any money as things stand to try and improve what we've got. It's not as if we look like we need one or two pieces for the jigsaw - we need five or six. It looks to me like our bigger priority is someone else at the helm who may be able to organise and motivate our players better. I don't think our squad is good enough for the Championship but it looks like it should be good enough to escape League One but we have under-performed in spite of squeaking results. Our home fans deserve a lot more than we have been given. Again, sorry Phil, you're a nice bloke and all that, but you are not Mr Motivator nor astute enough in my humble opinion to get the job done. 

As the holidays draw to a close for most of us, we get the opportunity to see our team at the Valley for the first time since the woeful Walsall performance. We have battled against ten men in two away matches since against the leaders and a play-off contender and scraped draws from both. We should be expecting a reasonable crowd and atmosphere today but I suspect the presence of the Sky cameras will mean we get neither unless our side can light a fire under the fans by turning it on.

This should be a routine home win and our first double of the season. We waltzed the away game and Swindon's erratic form has continued. However, "this is Charlton and this is the Valley" so I am not expecting too much. Frankly, I think the odds of a home win, draw or away win are pretty even.

It's a day when three points could well give us a gain on our pack as most of them are away from home....

Huddersfield Town v Sheffield Wednesday 
Six-pointer and tight south Yorkshire derby here. Huddersfield have endured a miserable Christmas so far without a win and this will be their chance to right things, although Wednesday will come with full backing and make it difficult.
Prediction; 1-0

AFC Bournemouth v Brentford
All-of-a-sudden this too has become a six pointer. Brentford have won four-in-a-row but this will be a real test of their credentials. They have won an impressive five matches away from home and might go very close here.
Prediction; 1-1

Dagenham & Redbridge v Southampton
The Southampton express finally looks to be at full steam. I expect them to win the league and a win here may close the gap in neighbours Hove.
Prediction; 0-2

Exeter City v Brighton & Hove Albion
The Grecians are down in 13th but they are always hard to beat in Devon. Eleven-man Brighton are playing some very neat and attractive football but it might not be good enough for all the points today.
Prediction; 1-1

Leyton Orient v Colchester United
The O's are smarting from their 5-0 walloping at the Withdean and they are hovering two points above the trap-door. Not a time to be playing a competitive Colchester side.
Prediction; 1-2

Notts County v Hartlepool United
It's win or lose for County at home this season and they face a reinvigorated Hartlepool side who are more dangerous away from home. Jeff Stelling to be yelling!
Prediction; 0-2

Oldham Athletic v Rochdale
A rare local derby for Rochdale against their Oldham foes. Should be the Latics biggest gate of the season. Oldham are unbeaten at home and I'll back them to win here.
Prediction; 2-0

Peterborough United v Walsall
Surely a home banker. The side who we made look like Brazil at the Valley three weeks ago were spanked at home by Notts County on Saturday and they can look forward to losing more heavily today.
Prediction; 4-0

Tranmere Rovers v Carlisle United 
A draw id probably the form result here. Tranmere usually rely on their home form but have managed only three wins at Prenton Park this season. Carlisle might just seize their chance here to re-ignite a challenge.
Prediction; 1-2

Yeovil Town v MK Dons
Yeovil look like they are returning to League Two this season and may be playing under pressure. This is a game I'd normally favour them to win but MK Dons won again at home on Saturday and will again be eyeing the play-off places.
Prediction; 0-1

Charlton Athletic v Swindon Town
All I want today is a decent Charlton performance. Honestly. I am fed-up trudging home and writing about another poor home showing or a game of two halves, irrespective of the result. No-one outside the bottom four has scored fewer goals at home than us and we have scored more away than anyone else. If that's down to our ability to counter-attack, them we should be using tactics at home that enable that. Instead, we seem devoid of any game plan at the Valley and too often we persevere with obvious tactics which are clearly not working. Nothing's coming through the middle either, especially at home. One or two players deserve dropping in my view, although Parky is overly loyal.

I fear another nothing performance and a nothing result to go with it. Bah humbug!
Prediction; 1-1

Bristol Rovers v Plymouth Argyle
Tomorrow evening's game and an opportunity for Rovers to pull out of the relegation drop zone and haul Plymouth closer to it. Argyle are in a real mess and Peter Risdale doesn't look like the man to get them out of it. They could suffer here.
Prediction; 2-0

Saturday 1 January 2011

Colchester United 3 v Charlton Athletic 3

Another unexpected point away from home in my book. We may have conceded the lead three times but we showed character to battle back on all three occasions and to even have had a fourth goal disallowed. Like at Brighton, Colchester had a man sent off early in the first half but we couldn't take advantage. Not sure what Parky can possible say this time, other than we can't beat ten men. Perhaps he'll claim Benson's late dismissal evened it up!

It was a frustrating match to listen to as there was so much happening and many of the big decisions we heard reported were changed by the referee (Miller), who appeared out to anger the home fans in the first half and the visitors in the second. Soft penalties, harsh sending offs and blatantly incorrect corner and throw-in decisions - he really didn't have a good game. I'm glad I wasn't there as I might have blown a gasket.

Brighton's 5-0 demolition of Leyton Orient has moved them six points clear of us and Southampton, although we now trail the Saints on goal difference courtesy of their four goal home romp over Exeter City.

Six clubs are pressed up behind us within three points including the unlikely sounding Brentford and Hartlepool. The stage is set for Bank Holiday Monday when we have home advantage and seven of our nearest nine have to travel. I have that horribly uncomfortable feeling again, even if Swindon did lose at home this afternoon. The Cup match at White Hart Lane may well come as welcome relief although I really do believe we are going to get a thumping.

New Day, New Year, New Owners

I have woken up in an optimistic mood. It's New Year's Day and we are going to do something as a family. It's the London Parade or the Ducks and Deer in Greenwich Park? Whichever, we will be back home before 3pm so I can, CAFC TV permitting, follow the game in Essex in, er, "near-DAB quality." 

Like you, I have been devouring the takeover news and views since it broke yesterday, trying to make sense of it.

What should be obvious to everyone involved is that we are very unlikely to be any worse off as a club than we were on Thursday. Richard Murray has had other offers and interest in the club which have not been progressed and he is hanging around as part of this deal, not something I think he would have agreed to if he thought there was little substance to it and that he could still be part of a Board that takes the club into Administration or worse. Ditto that for Peter Varney and probably Kavanagh as well.

The flip-side, of course, is that there is no obvious sign of any big money. Jimenez is a "millionaire" but that means very little unless preceded by the word "multi." His money has come from property development in Spain and Dubai, both markets which have tanked in the last four years. Many of his contemporaries are now bankrupt. The timing of his involvement at Newcastle coincides with the property crash in Spain and Dubai, so safe to assume he has been looking for a change in career direction and may have got out early enough to safeguard all or most of his dough. "VP Player Recruitment" at Newcastle didn't last long and he was a front-man for the failed Zabeel deal in 2008. He obviously couldn't afford to buy control in 2008 alone and I suspect his takeover now is more opportunist than financial. He is certainly a bit of a "fixer" and I assume has the charisma and personality necessary to get on with a wide variety of people. 

Michael Slater is a 44 year old lawyer and may be a successful businessman but he's a Man City fan and unlikely to have the personal resources to support the club. I am guessing his professional services have been key in setting up CAFC Holdings and completing the due diligence but he is an odd choice as Chairman, although he holds a similar role in another business, so maybe not. He did come across pretty well on television yesterday.

CAFC Holdings being set-up and registered in Switzerland is a very obvious business move designed specifically with taking the club over. There are tax advantages here and the Swiss financial authorities and government are renowned for their discretion. I would be very surprised if there is any Swiss money involved.

So, it looks to me like we are considering a couple of men who have proved to Murray that they have enough resources at their disposal to keep the club afloat for at least another year, including spending money that wouldn't be available to the club in the short-term. It sounds very much like they haven't paid anything more than a nominal sum for the club but they would have had to convince Murray they could service the debt, if nothing else. If you exclude Director loans which aren't payable until and unless we ever make the PL again (I can hear the argument in the future that we can't afford the PL), that amounts to the mortgage on the Covered End. Interestingly, that was the rumour last weekend in terms of a potential stumbling block/delay.

There is also the argument that CAFC Holdings are fronting bigger money-men, maybe even Dubai-based, in a deal similar to the ill-fated Zabeel move. There is some logic that keeping this secret would ensure expectations don't get out of control and that we don't get ripped off in transfer dealings in the short-term. It would also support Murray, Varney and Kavanagh's continuing involvement both from their personal viewpoints as well as any sleeping partner who might not trust Jimenez and Slater completely with football club management as novices. If there is any truth in this, I am assuming it's not money of the scale of the original Zabeel deal. If it was, the potential investors might be more concerned with the publicity and association than the payment of relatively modest inflated transfer fees. It's likely to turn out to be somewhere in the midst of this lot.

In short, I think we should approach this with cautious optimism. Our activity in the January transfer window should be telling. The lack of any Dennis Wise announcement was welcome but the wording I saw didn't rule him out for good and there will be a concern that he might be involved in the background as an unofficial advisor and that he could be a soft option for Jimenez in the event that Parky fails to get us promoted this season. Parky's own comments on performances and players will also be worth closer scrutiny going forward for any signs of interference from the Board.

I suspect none of this will make any difference to our performance at Colchester today. COYR!

PS - just an observation, but Jimenez looks to me like he might be able to hold his hands up if you know what I mean!