Sunday 31 July 2011

Millwall 4 v Charlton Athletic 3

In the intense heat of the Late Cypriot afternoon, I tuned in to the game yesterday and it sounded a cracking Testimonial. We made a real game of it against a side who haven't conceded in five pre-season friendlies prior to yesterday.

Three goals was the obvious plus but the four conceded a tad worrying. We shouldn't get over-focused on this but Robbie Elliott has come in for a lot of stick, especially for the line-up of the wall at two free kicks and his own positioning for them. Hopefully it will be a timely reminder for him although, personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Sullivan start next week.

I'd rather comment on the positives and those sounded like the midfield and Bradley Wright-Phillips in particular. It was good to hear Johnnie Jackson back in the thick of it and scoring again. Kenny Jackett was "very pleased with the opposition...Charlton are a massive club...who pushed us all the way." Always liked Jackett.

Bring on the Cherries!

Thursday 28 July 2011

Jackson commits

I saw the ticker tape on Sky Sports yesterday briefly mention Johnnie Jackson and scrambled to see it reappear. For a moment my heart was in my mouth as I wrongly assumed he was transfer news. Great then to see that he has committed himself to the cause for another two years. If he can stay fit, this should be his best season yet and his goals from midfield could be the spark we need to really get firing going forward. I don't think we really appreciate just how much we missed him during the second-half of last season.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Charlton Athletic 1 v FC Den Bosch 0 by Cyprus Addick

I received a handful of texts last night as I tucked into a lamb fillet in a restaurant near Coral Bay. Nil-nil at half-time and "uninspiring." The mood obviously picked up during the second period as the comments improved. A competitive fixture against a decent passing side and the only question was could we break the deadlock? I responded saying I expected BWP to snatch a winner, so was pleasantly surprised when he did just that.

Millwall will be a bigger test on Saturday and I hope we play it as a competitively friendly and not a traditional Testimonial. I don't expect to hear that Alan Dunne has scored the winner in a 5-4 result. I hope we contribute by getting 500+ fans there. Dunne is a one club man who has stuck at his game in spite of some lean periods and has battled to win over the boo-boys. Often played out of position (Mark McGhee thought he could play left-midfield), Kenny Jackett restored him to right-back and he has been performing solidly there for a couple of years. He will be far better off than most of us as a 30 year old but he has never been on silly money and whatever he earns from this season will need to be invested wisely. We are obviously the big draw for Dunne but I hope he has a good number of Addicks to applaud at the final whistle.

Sunday 24 July 2011

Woking 0 v Charlton Athletic 0

A no-score draw for what sounded largely like our B team yesterday in Surrey. Chris Powell fielded a completely different eleven to that which took on Aldershot and even Jason Euell got to wear the red shirt again as a second-half substitute.

It was good to read a report from the observant, articulate and knowledgeable Ian Cartwright on the Official Site. It would be great to be able to read regular match reports from Ian as well as his pre-match away-day ground reviews.

Next up it's the Bosch at the Valley when I expect us to field our strongest available side and really get to work.Must go, Easyjet need me!

Saturday 23 July 2011

19 days off....

Today I am packing and doing last minute jobs before departing for the guitar-shaped island of Cyprus. We are spending seventeen days at my mate's villa in the hills above Paphos and he will be living in my humble abode in SE7. Seems like a fair deal to me. As a died-in-the-wool Lion, he will be here for the oxymoron that is the Millwall Friendly. I won't miss it, although I am a bit sore that I won't be here for the opening day against the Cherries. I gambled that we would be drawn away on the opening day....nevermind, I am back for the Notts County away game.

Thursday 21 July 2011

The judgement of Di Canio

There were many Charlton fans who were backing the managerial appointment of Paolo Di Canio after the sacking of Phil Parkinson. Some of those were banging on about Di Canio again when the honeymoon period ended for Chris Powell and no doubt his name will feature again at some point in the future.

Personally, Di Canio is nowhere near suitable managerial material for me. He would have been a huge gamble and I am sure things would have got interesting but he has minimal management experience and great individualist flair players rarely make good managers. Those who might argue with me over this will be having second thoughts today in the knowledge that the great man is out to secure the services of one of our players who has acquired the unfortunate nickname of McOxo. I wouldn't mind if it was a duff defender or a striker who has flattered to deceive, but Paolo, not in your own position. Certainly not your own image. I will assume you an unfamiliar with Alan McCormack and are instead backing the judgement of someone less talented than yourself. I shan't complain either if you take him off our hands and free up our wage bill so we can continue the rebuilding. Swindon are, after all, now a League Two club - a level McOxo wasn't prepared to drop down to with the Daggers?

Aldershot Town 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

A friendly draw for the Addicks last night away at Aldershot. A squad of 18 made the trip and for the first time I think it represented Powell's first eleven barring several unavailable players; Elliot, Solly, Taylor, Morrison, Wiggins, Green, Hollands, Bover-Izquierdo, Jackson, Wright-Phillips and Benson. Alonso is apparently carrying a back injury and Evina was again absent, although I am unsure why - perhaps we will see him at Woking on Saturday?

Morrison conceded a penalty in the first-half which the Shots missed and Danny Green hit the bar from 30 yards. Shortly after the break, Benson headed home a Green cross before the Shots came back strongly and levelled after 68 minutes. We introduced three midfield substitutes before the end.

Hard to glean much from this but the comments from those posting during the game suggest Morrison might be short of fitness (or genuinely struggling) and Bover-Izquierdo is shining, if tiring in games, as he was the first to be subbed.

The obvious fact is that we look to be competitive in games, which is the key for me as fitness improves and the players get to know each other in first-team action.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Francis and McCormack hold-up further moves

The unwanted Simon Francis and Alan McCormack have both turned down the opportunity to get first team football away from the Valley and look prepared to take their wages at the Valley until their contracts expire next Summer. I am hoping Bournemouth improve their terms and take Francis but McCormack has decided he's too good for League Two and he doesn't look good enough for League One.

As long as we have better players available, Addicks fans won't care too much but my guess is that Chris Powell will be prevented from increasing the wage bill further whilst they are still on the books. With a first team squad of 28 currently, we aren't short of numbers. Seven of those can be considered development players (Pritchard, Mambo, Pope, Gough, Davisson, Warren and Harriet). Of the 20 remaining, we have; 

2 Goalkeepers
7 Defenders
9 Midfielders
3 Strikers

If we can move Francis and McCormack on, then I would like to see a right-back and a striker brought in. Luke Young and Jermaine Defoe would improve the squad a bit and allow them to finish their careers at the Valley and give something back (most of their wages).

Saturday 16 July 2011

If you have to lose....

Make it to higher-league opposition and have a go in the process. The reports from Seville last night say we did just that in going down one-nil to last year's play-off contenders Cardiff City. It looks like doing the bulk of our transfer work early is paying off.

It sounds like we restricted them to a handful of chances and created as many ourselves, striking their woodwork twice and forcing a few decent saves from their keeper. That was probably about as much as could be expected in a sweltering stadium. Cardiff manager Malky Mackay described Charlton as "hard-working" and praised our victory over Bristol City in the week although that was probably only to put the narrowness of the Bluebirds victory into perspective.

Cardiff will now play Celtic in midweek whereas we travel to Aldershot. It's all about confidence building from here on in as we psyche ourselves up to take three points from AFC Bournemouth in three weeks time.

Thursday 14 July 2011

Feel-good factor buoying Addicks

Close seasons are typically a time for optimism but this year must take the biscuit. After the relative disappointment of the second-half of last year it was hard to see what our Board could do to restore the belief among our dwindling fan-base short of splashing really big money which they readily admit we either don't have or are not prepared to do. Chris Powell was looking holed beneath the water-line and many Powellites had turned their backs on him as we slumped to a 13th place finish.

However, less than three months later and without spending huge sums of money or attracting any big name players the fans are buzzing. Chris Powell is still here and talk of moving him on have been quietly forgotten. In fact, he's actually being credited with the swathe of young signings we have made and for fashioning a couple of decent friendly showings so far. The Board have also invested in the back-room team and as long as Paul Hart's arrival isn't an unsettling influence, we can have no complaints.

Season ticket sales have crept up to the 7,500 mark and are less than 2000 short of last year's starting position with a couple of weeks to go during which we can expect a mini-surge from last-minuters.  

The club have launched a new away shirt which for once is attracting universally popular acclaim and even our postponed home friendly against Reading has been trumped with the announcement yesterday that Dutch outfit Den Bosch will visit the Valley on Tuesday 26th July. 

Expectation can be a huge burden but it's far better than low-morale and hopelessness. Addicks appear to be convincing themselves that this it the year and that five years of steady decline will finally be arrested and our club will be restored to where we belong a a minimum - in the Championship. Perhaps it's the hope of youth but the prospect of getting up with a maturing side is far more appealing than squeaking it with an ageing one short of the quality or opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Norwich City.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

City and the new Spanish triallist

Chris Powell's new look Charlton sides were put through their paces again last night in the heat of Lepe in Spain and ran out 2-1 winners over Championship Bristol City. Both sides fielded different elevens in each half. 

Our first half side got to the break at 0-0 thanks to some good goalkeeping from Sullivan and the woodwork. Sam Williams should also have beaten David James with a header but missed the target.

In the second-half, we took the lead through Bradley Wright-Phillips who netted from close range and he came close shortly afterwards but it was City who levelled towards the end after a mix-up between Morrison and Sullivan. Not to be deterred, Johnnie Jackson got on the end of Bover-Izquierdo cross to head the winner in the last few minutes. 

The question of right-back cover appears to be receiving attention. Second-half triallist, Victor Diaz Miguel put in a good shift and will presumably get another chance on Friday. "Diaz" is a 23 year-old with a 100 league appearances for Sevilla and Oviedo.

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Cash boost for Palace?

Palace Chairman Steve Parish has sold his creative design business, Tag, to US printing conglomerate, Williams Lea.

The undisclosed sum should be significant on the basis of a £100m pa turnover and Parish will be the main beneficiary. It will be interesting to see if Palace's financial fortunes change as a result.

Adios Miguel

As the Changing of the Guard continues, confirmation that Miguel Llera has left the building and will instead now try to establish himself at Championship Blackpool as Ian Holloway attempts an unlikely looking return to the Premier League.

Like Simon Francis, Big Mig always looked the part to me. Tall, handsome, upright, vocal and seemingly uber-aware, I had high hopes for both on first impressions although both ultimately flattered to deceive. Llera's problem was his inconsistency and inability to build a partnership with anyone at the back. In two seasons he managed only 30 first team appearances notching five goals in the process. 

I had the pleasure of passing him out running on the riverfront a couple of times and also exchanged pleasantries with him at Sainsbury's once. I will always remember his charging runs out through the left-back channel and his ability to drop a long cross-field ball onto the toe of the advancing right winger, more often than not Lloyd Sam.

At 31, he really is in last-chance saloon in terms of his career and I really hope he can make a name for himself at Bloomfield Road and not end up ploughing the sand on the seafront.

Monday 11 July 2011

Bloom to move to the Valley

Where will it all end? The Twitteratti report that Southend United's fitness coach, Laurence Bloom,  is about to switch services to the Addick's Bandwagon.

Say what you like about Slater and Jimenez, but they are a persuasive duo. We appear to have signed just about everyone we have gone for. You could put this down to the magnetic attraction of playing or simply working for the famous Charlton Athletic? It could also be the fabulous personal riches on offer? I think we all know the answer to both of these suggestions, so it has to be that we are doing a first rate job of preparing the ground and selling the jobs on offer. You also have to think that there must be something of a feel-good factor building at the club and a lot of expectation that our first-team should sweep all before them. 

Saturday 9 July 2011

Welling United 0 v Charlton Athletic 3

Well that was a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. The majority of the 2313 spent the whole game guessing who was who. No names on the shirts and a scarcity of programmes meant it was very hard to follow what was going on.

We fielded different elevens in both halves and I think it went like this;

First 45; Elliot, Warren, Mambo, Taylor, Wiggins, Stephens, Jackson, Izquierdo, Wagstaff, Hayes and Popo

Second 45; Sullivan, Andersen, Doherty, Morrison, Solly, Pritchard, Green, Hollands, Davisson (?), Benson and Williams (?)

Apparently, Bradley Wright-Phillips was given the day off to attend a family wedding.

Welling started quickly and were unfortunate not to take the lead. A good move saw one of their forwards latch onto a short pass and smack a shot past Elliott only to see it cannon off the bar. Less than ten minutes later they should have taken the lead when Elliott careered out of goal and was beaten to the ball on the edge of the box and rounded but the shot was hurried and Mambo was able to clear.

After that we settled down and the game was even-stephens although we were short on goal-scoring attempts. The back-four looked decent, especially the full-backs and Wiggins caught my eye. Jackson looked the part in the middle but I didn't notice more before the first shower of rain when my co-horts made a dash for the bar.

In the second half we looked more composed and, obviously, fresher than a tiring Welling side who had to rely on substitutions for fresh legs. Two goals in ten minutes finished the match as a contest. The first was scored, I am told, by Williams, who I am also told is on trial from Yeovil. He was played in by Benson and rounded the Welling keeper before scoring. We were forcing corners and pumping more crosses into the box and it was at this point that a decent far post delivery was headed home by Morrison. 

Before the end, Danny Green netted from 25 yards to put a bit of gloss on the performance and flattery to the scoreline. Off to Spain next for a bit of team-building and a couple of testing encounters against Championship opposition.

Friday 8 July 2011

Morrison in for Welling

New face number 13 was duly signed today. As expected, Michael Morrison has swapped clubs with Jose Semedo and will take his place in the Charlton back line. Tomorrow should be quite an entertaining afternoon at the home of the Wings. I am expecting a bigger than usual attendance at Welling as Addicks fans clamour for an early view of the new team. Hope springs eternal.

Jose Semedo deserves a farewell mention and, for me, he has been one of our better players during his time at the club although I agree with Chicago Addick that his departure is probably for the best. Good player though he was, I think he may have held us back, in that we haven't had a player to compliment him and my suspicion is that other clubs may end up drawing the same conlusions. We couldn't risk another season with a misfiring midfield, so I am looking forward, not back. Good luck in Sheffield Jose.

We also look ready to offload McCormack and Francis. The two former Southenders failed to establish themselves in the Charlton team and were the most pilliored players last season. McCormack looked genuinely short of class to me and, whilst I saw something in Francis most others didn't, ultimately he made far too many mistakes and can have no complaints that he's being outed.

With Jason Euell training at the club and a German triallist available, there could be a substitution every five or six minutes tomorrow. That or we may again decide to play two completely different sides, one in each half. Bring it on!

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Investment deepens

Any lingering doubts I may have about the quality of the new squad are being eased by the quantity of the acquisitions and by the fact that we increasingly appear to be the envy of the division. Like you, I am praying we can convert this into results and confidence-building quickly amongst the new team. 

Beneath that, though, there were very encouraging words indeed from Chris Powell yesterday after young stopper Nicky Pope finally signed his contract and one-time Real Mallorca youth midfielder Ruben Bover Izquierdo joined the "development squad." Powell went out of his way to mention a host of other Charlton youngsters (Harriet, Warren, Popo, Mambo, Davison and Gough), a number of whom I assumed might be cut loose in order to trim costs and keep the size of the playing staff more manageable. Messrs Jimenez and Slater really do appear to have longevity in their plans which bodes well on the financial front. I have had a sneaking concern that the funding might suddenly dry-up without some quick wins and the slump that finished our season was worrying as far as that was concerned. Whoever is funding the rebuilding will presumably be prepared to await the development of the fruit and to invest further if there are encouraging early signs. 

Investment in younger players is also shrewd on the basis that if only one or two of them progress up the leagues, the costs of investment for a good number can expect to be recouped.

The pre-season friendlies should be a little more important than usual this year as players fight to establish themselves and forge partnerships around the pitch. I am really looking forward to my holiday in Cyprus but have the first pangs of regret that I am missing the opening league and league-cup matches.

Monday 4 July 2011

Morrison next target

Michael that is, not Steve (who has already moved up in the world from the New Den). Michael Morrison is a much needed defender who only moved from Leicester to Sheffield Wednesday in January. At 23 he has close to 200 league appearances having originally broken into Cambridge United's side as 15 year old. He was part of the Leicester side that won promotion from League One as we dropped down. He can play centre-half or right-back but I guess it's as a central stopper that he is being targeted. Based upon our recent track record, his signature looks a mere formality, eh Owl-ites?

Sheffield Wednesday fans have been very vocal on the internet in recent weeks bemoaning their own clubs lack of transfer activity and holding us up as the example of the leading movers and shakers. Somehow, I don't think this move will do anything to help Valley-Hillsborough relations, although with Jose Semedo remaining a Wednesday target, they might get a little comfort if Jose hasn't got a better offer (like staying put).

I ought to add a comment about the weekends' two big sporting events. Had I walked passed a Bookie's on Saturday I would have been tempted to lump on a Haye-Nadal double. 

I was conned into shelling out £15 for the Haye hype and what a let-down. Severed Heads? Broken toe-nail more like. I would have had a better go and have been prepared to have been knocked out in the process, something David Haye wasn't prepared to risk to win the fight. His post-match quotes were embarrassing as he did everything but beg for a rematch from the "brilliant fighter" Vladimir who he was so busy pre-match telling us had stunk the heavyweight division out.

The men's Wimbleon final was an altogether better match and the first two sets were the best tennis I can remember seeing. I haven't really watched much of Djokovic before but he did just what Andy Murray can't seem to do against Nadal and that is to match the power of his returns and to go as close to the lines as Nadal does. The accuracy and power from both players made the game a base-line contest but there were plenty of brilliant rallies for all that. I couldn't help thinking of fellow-Blogger Paul Weaver as I watched (Charlton North Downs who passed away earlier this year). He was as much of a tennis fan as he was an Addick and I know he would have been glued to this.

Welling on Saturday and I will be there casting my critical eye over the Summer signings and looking for any inkling that the Renaissance has begun and that we might again look forward to a promotion season, our first in eleven years.

Saturday 2 July 2011

Matt Taylor, centre-half, is number eleven

It's getting hard to keep up with all the changes. Exeter City defender Matt Taylor swelled the ranks today. His signing will probably confirm the end of the Valley road for out-of-contract Christian Dailly or Miguel Llera.

I said at the end of the season that I wanted the new team in place much quicker than in previous close seasons to help get familiarity and fitness in order to give ourselves the best chance of a flying start. The Board have to be applauded for doing that and eating the associated costs.

Friday 1 July 2011

Wiggins makes ten

Rhoys Wiggins is the latest public target to confirm the rumour and sign for Charlton Athletic. The ex-Palace youngster is another left-sided player who will presumably compete with Evina and Jackson for a starting place. 

Wiggins is the tenth signing of the Summer and brings our current squad to 27 (thanks Henry) with a further seven players out-of-contract and possible re-signs if the price is right. The fact that our signed-up squad is already so large probably means the end of the road for most of the out-of-contract players and whilst most are experienced pros, I think it's time we cut them loose and allowed the new squad to get it's head and hopefully rid us of the losing mentality that marked the second half of the last campaign. We are still short in defence, so I am guessing there may be one or two places at most to be filled and maybe still a chance that Christian Dailly might decide some pay is better than no pay.

The new boys might lack the wow factor but there is a strong case that many were targets of other clubs and they all chose to come to the Valley. We must also get used to the idea that we are a League One club and will be buying accordingly.

My guess is we may still have the biggest of the lot in the pipeline. One to fire the imagination of the others, encourage the season-ticket switheriers and give the club a late lift prior to kick-off.