Wednesday 31 December 2014

Ipswich Town 3 v Charlton Athletic 0

So we end 2014 with our heaviest defeat of the season. If you consider that Ipswich also hit the woodwork three times, this could have been much worse. The stats tell us we had 57% possession and we had had chances although there was no-one capable of netting. The corner count is more telling of the possession with Ipswich swinging 16 over and us managing 4. Following the match on Charlton Life, Ipswich got their 15th corner early in the second-half, around the time we won our first, which suggests they may have taken their foot off the gas.

Bob Peeters also gambled with a 3-5-2 formation although probably hard to be objective about that given we started 4-4-2 and were already one down before we changed. Irrespective, it's now only two wins from 14 games and the 24 goals we have scored matches the paltry showing from this time last season. The defeat also sees us slide into the bottom-half of the table for the first time this campaign. It really has been a poor footballing show under Bob Peeters so far, all things considered.

I am confident we are only a few players short of turning things around and we have to hope and believe they will be brought in over the next fortnight. I have written the F A Cup off already although we should be seeing off sides like Blackburn at our place. Any win would be welcome right now and if we progress it could give us another valuable 90 minutes for new players to acclimatise.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for visiting these pages and for sharing the trouble, especially all of you who take time to comment during the year. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing this evening, I hope you have a good night and wish you all the best for 2015.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Ho! Ho! Ho!

A late Christmas present for all Addicks. The ego that is Alan Pardew has managed to find a graceful exit for himself from the ridiculous Geordie Nation and he is to return to SE25 where he will have the glaring opportunity to take them down in his first six months in charge. It's a gift that we should be able to enjoy for some time.

Palace are going to pay Newcastle £2m in compensation for a manager the fans would have carried down to London three months ago. Mike Ashley must be laughing his big tits off to think he will pocket more cash he can squander on the Geordie money-pit or his new lost cause in Glasgow. It also vindicates his bonkers decision to hand the chancer Pardew a seven year contract which has looked like a huge mistake up until yesterday. Ashley must have studied the league in great detail to identify Palace as the only realistic club likely to take Pardoo off his hands and banked on getting compensation - genius.

I was convinced that Pulis couldn't save Palace last year and was proven wrong. I don't believe lightning strikes twice and fully expect to see Pardew rock the boat in SE25 over the next month as he gets his excuses ready early and whilst he takes the January opportunity to splash more of Palace's promotion cash to bring in some of his players who will upset the applecart. It promises to make great viewing....

Monday 29 December 2014

So, how much are we going to bet?

That's the question occupying the thoughts of all Addicks as the January transfer window prepares to open on Thursday. Who will we bring in and how quickly? I see several possible options:

Let's save our money and hold for next season

If you take Roland Duchatelet at face value and his previous stated intention to get us breaking even, then January transfer activity may be minimal as he opts for a season of learning and squad consolidation before preparing for a stronger push next year. 

If this is the route we take I am still expecting to see us bring in one or two players with an eye on strengthening what we have and settling them in ahead of next season. As a minimum we have to get a another striker and I would plump for strengthening our attacking options in midfield, be that a left sided winger who would allow Cousins to compete in centre-mid or a faster ball-playing central operator. To meet the requirement of this option we need look no further than the network. Tony Watt is in the house and I am sure there are other midfield options if there was anyone who would clearly improve what we have and who would be keen to move to the Championship. I also wouldn't rule out Watt being flogged on if they could recover most of his £1.3m Summer fee although that looks unlikely and Charlton may be used as his Last Chance Saloon. If he did go it might increase the prospects of Reza Goochanijhad returning although I can't see two small men hitting it off up front. Either way I would expect this to happen quickly given our overdue need for reinforcements.

Take the opportunity to invest conservatively and aim to finish top ten

This is the most likely route in my view. There should be some acknowledgement that we have been running with too small a squad for this division and given the injuries we have carried. That should mean we address the requirements of the first option but may be more assured in whom we bring in and perhaps there could be more activity. There is talk of Igor being sold to fund broader changes but I can't see that. He is clearly capable at this level but we haven't yet played to his strengths by finding him an equally dangerous partner (think Vokes and Ings) and Roland has no need to sell at a loss. Tony Watt should be a nailed on starter in this scenario and we might see a more exciting and assured recruit in midfield. No reason why both of those shouldn't happen sooner rather than later.

Go for it chaps - there's not a lot much better than us

In spite of the style of football we have been playing, the large number of draws has shown that there have been few sides who have managed to beat us. If you work on the basis that our defence is functioning superbly given the amount of work we settle for in most games, it's not a huge leap of imagination to see them becoming even tighter if we spent more time in possession in our midfield and attack. I believe there is a strong case for taking a calculated risk on bringing in two high class midfield operators and a couple of strikers. We could even allow a couple of the lesser players to go to help manage the wage bill. If that worked we might reasonably expect to close in on the play-off positions although that sparks the debate whether or not we would be ready for possible back-door promotion? The history of the PL tells us we might expect an instant return and a season of hardship in spite of the cash injection. Frankly, it's something I would take now but I suspect Roland is content to play the long game and would prefer to enter the top flight with a squad capable of holding it's own outside the top six.

Before all that we face a very tough looking task at Portman Road. Mick McCarthy's side has the bit between their teeth and may be focusing on a promotion battle with Bournemouth, Derby and co. Ordinarily I am writing this off as a defeat and possibly one of only a couple of double-defeats this season. However, I didn't see a side much better than us when they snatched the points a few weeks ago in south-east London. If we can start with more ambition than we managed against Blackburn or Cardiff, then we could frustrate the Tractor Boys. 

Looking around us, we shouldn't be too despondent. Palace have sacked Warnock and now face near-certain relegation in my opinion and Millwall must be contemplating ditching Holloway who appears to have lost the dressing room in much the same way he did at Palace. It's hard to see too many managers suffering 6-1 reverses home and away in only a handful of matches. Another tonking might just be enough. If Brighton manage to win at Fulham this evening or Wigan beat Sheffield Wednesday in Lancashire tomorrow night, Millwall will take their place in the bottom three. Their next league match is an awkward looking trip to Blackpool when defeat might seal Hollway's fate without taking another pasting.

Friday 26 December 2014

Charlton Athletic 1 v Cardiff City 1

The Bob Peeters Express continues to screech to a halt and at half-time today it looked to have finally stopped. Those present were fearing the worst at the break with the toothless Addicks one down and reduced to ten men. I couldn't see where a goal was coming from, nevermind a spirited fight-back with ten men.

As the players lined-up I couldn't see Igor Vetekole and, more worryingly, I couldn't see George Tucudean so thought Bob Peeters was relying on Calum Harriott to win the game. Thankfully George started but it was a stinker of a first-half. Neil Etheridge made a debut he could barely have imagined a couple of weeks ago when joining us as third-choice keeper. Johnnie Jackson also returned to central midfield to partner Buyens once again with Cousins pushed out left and Gudmundsson right.

Cardiff came at us from the off although they looked limited to long balls or deep throws aimed at Kenwyn Jones. It was a long throw from Gunnarsson from the left flank after half-an-hour that put the Bluebirds one-up. The ball was flicked on and Tom Adeyemi was able to steer his header into the gaping left side of the Charlton goal. We waited for a Charlton response and George Tucudean managed a creditable effort from a tight angle that Marshall did well to parry at his near post but I am sorry to say that was it and we also had to see Callum Harriott red-carded for a bad tackle on Adam le Fondre which the inept referee, Mick Russell, decided was two-footed. It may have been but it looked like no more than a yellow at first pass. Le Fondre played his part in the sending off by hammering the turf on hitting the deck with his hand as if signalling an agonising leg-break. He recovered quickly enough as Harriott trudged off and was well enough to acknowledge his part to the Cardiff fans.

We didn't exactly tear into Cardiff after the break but it was obvious Russell Slade's half-time team talk was to slow it down, play for time and hang-on. That may have played into the Addicks hands after Bob Peeters made a double-substitution on the hour. Oguchi Onyewu made his left-back debut replacing Joe Gomez and Igor Vetokele replaced Johnnie Jackson as we gambled. The substitutions begged two questions. Most obviously, if Igor was fit enough to play, why didn't he start? Secondly, what was Bob Peeters expecting by replacing Gomez? Onyewu is tall but he didn't come in to win anything in the air and he looked surprisingly slow.

Irrespective, fired by fresh legs we started to boss the game. George Tucudean had been trying his best from the off but he was lifted by the appearance of Vetokele and began to lay the ball on and played several of his team-mates in with clever flick-ons balls over his head into space. Gudmundsson latched on to one if these and ran in in goal only to see Marshall get enough on it to divert it wide if the far post. Tucudean himself was denied from close range on the line and Gudmunsson shaved the post from a twenty yard free-kick. 

Solly was joining the attack at every opportunity and Ben Haim was edging ever further upfield. We really did play some good good stuff and it was easy to forget we only had ten men. Having said that, Callum Harriott has been ineffective for weeks so perhaps he wasn't really missed.

With the clock ticking down it looked a lost cause with only two minutes left of normal time when Johan Berg Gudmundsson weaved his way into shooting space twenty five yards out and hammered a splendid shot into Marshall's top right-hand corner. The goal brought the house down and for the added four minutes of time we were buzzing. It nearly ended as dramatically as Cardiff's last Valley visit when Igor was played in on goal with seconds left on the clock. He ran in and drew Marshall but with the goal yawning, he somehow managed to blaze his shot over the bar. If only. If only we could play with this level of attacking commitment for most of our home games in both halves, our fans would be much happier and we might be challenging for promotion instead if sharing the points with inferior opposition.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

Dragged from my bed before 7am by my youngest who gets up at the same time every day irrespective of what time she went to bed. We took the kids for a Christmas treat to see the excellent (if long, I thought), Matilda at the Cambridge Theatre last night. It was close to midnight before they were in their beds. "It's Christmas Eve Daddy!"

So, on that note, time to wish my regular readers a very Merry Christmas and hope we all get what we want on Boxing Day. We should beat Cardiff City and the Bookies might be asking for trouble by offering us at 15-8, although those prices probably reflect our tendency to settle for draws at home.

As I reflect on the year, I see that the number of Posts has again dropped for the second year in succession. Very simply, there has been less to write about and perhaps points to a continuing disillusionment of sorts amongst our fan-base given the near perpetual struggle, our ongoing inability to score goals and, frankly, our relatively poor performances at the Valley.

The numbers of visitors to this site has also dropped again in the last year, the second time in succession since the 2012 high, when I had 120,00 page visits. That will partly be accounted for by the reduction in posts but also by lower gates and a similar decline in overall interest. 

Still, I have always been a quality over quantity kind of guy, so I thank all of you who do look in here for my view, if not necessarily for news. I was talking with Chicago Addick recently and we both agreed that you could break news via Blogs when blogging started but it's almost impossible now given the proliferation of smart-phones and just how connected everyone is. Forever Charlton has always been my daily staple for all things Charlton Athletic and NewsNow was good for awhile. Nowadays Twitter usually spreads any news (and a lot more non-news) like wildfire and it's almost impossible to hear something without finding a thread on the excellent Charlton Life on the same topic with less that twenty comments. 

So, blogging is changing but as I have said before, I do it mainly because I enjoy it and because it's a form of therapy. The strapline of a "a trouble shared..." is very deliberate.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday 21 December 2014

Blackburn Rovers 2 v Charlton Athletic 0

Fourteen and half hours away from home and a tad over 600 mile round trip. It was a long way to go for a couple of Leavers pies (thanks for the recommendation Chris).

Three hundred hardy souls gathered in the lower left of the Darwen Stand. The usual faces were there and in addition an expected smattering of our northern contingent. Ewood Park didn't look in the mood for it and the Rovers fan we shared a table with in the pub before the match wasn't particularly confident. Would this be one of those wins against the head that only the diehards get to see?

Disappointlngly, there were no changes to the side from the last fiasco. Solly was again playing in a diamond formation midfield in front of Fox, Bikey, Ben Haim and Joe Gomez. Well, he was for thirty minutes until Big Bob was forced to change things. Nicky Pope was defending the goal in front of us and we were to get a close-up of his loss of confidence.

Lawrie Wilson was again wearing a tracksuit as we kicked off and it was Harriott and Vetokele up front, although I only noticed Harriott when he was subbed.

We made a disastrous start. Blackburn put us on the back-foot and we began to defend as per the game plan. Unfortunately, after only five minutes and seconds after a failed Blackburn attack where they had committed men forward, Pope played a casual ball short out of defence through the middle of the box. I will need to see it again but it was either a shockingly poor ball or our players weren't ready for it and it was quickly seized by Marshall who squared to Rhodes who had the simple job of rolling it wide of the horrified Pope. One-nil and there was worse to come. On eleven minutes Rhodes challenged Ben Haim for a ball in our box and the experienced Israeli used his body to hold the faster moving Rhodes off the ball and create space for his keeper to collect. Pope hesitated but came for it anyway as Rhodes struggled past Ben Haim. Pope was there first and should have collected but he fumbled the ball and it cannoned off Rhodes' legs and fell nicely for him to roll it in from two yards. Pope said something to Ben Haim but he walked away and shook his head. There was nothing to say. 

A few minutes later and Pope decided to fist a bouncing ball onto the ground rather than hold it and nearly lost possession. It was desperate goalkeeping and we had barely threatened. He did pull off an excellent tip over from a Gested drive that was headed for the top corner before half-time but it was a little too late. Igor failed to connect with another couple of crosses, one of which was meat and drink and Andre Bikey headed down too strongly at a corner when anything which less of an angle might have troubled Steele.

Big Bob acknowledged the match was beyond our formation on the half-hour when Morgan Fox was subbed and Lawrie Wilson was eventually brought on to the left flank. Solly went to left-back and we looked better even if he can't cross with his left boot. We also improved marginally after half-time when Joe Pigott came on for Callum Harriott.

So, yet another unconvincing performance and for the first time some worrying body language from our players. Solly had words with Andre Bikey after Ben Haim had been left two-on-one and it was pretty clear to me that the back four are not confident with Nicky Pope in goal. Pope made another couple of decent second-half saves but he needs a penalty save and a clean sheet to help restore confidence. 

Beyond all of that, Bob Peeters tactics are clearly not working. There is very little football being played and we don't look like scoring. It's not a good picture as we prepare to slide into the bottom-half of the table. If you need convincing of our lack of ambition, look at what Bournemouth did to hapless Blackpool just up the road from us yesterday. That was a side we handed a draw to last week. 

I dare not look forward but it's Cardiff on Boxing Day and I have some extended family members join us. I can see us throwing another stink bomb to remind my Tottenham supporting brother-in-law why he never followed his local team. Cardiff are struggling too and were beaten by Brentford yesterday at home. They will be pumped by a visit to the Valley on Boxing Day no doubt. 

Finally, I was told yesterday that Tony Watt is on his way to SE7 next month having been frozen out at Standard Liege. I think we will need to see the best of him to arrest the decline and prevent us finishing the season in a lower position than Jose Riga managed last year having taken us off the bottom of the table. Away trips in 2015 look increasingly unlikely for me.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Michael, Michael Morrison

Sorry to learn that we have let Michael Morrison move on a free, although pleased for him that he has a permanent deal and some security that he deserves.

Michael Morrison was a defensive rock for us for almost every one of the 136 matches he played in a red shirt. He was there or thereabouts for Player of the Season for us in my book in each of the last three years and he played like a Captain most weeks even if he wasn't wearing the arm band. There aren't many better Championship central defenders around who are 26 or younger. Birmingham have done a tidy piece of business here.

Morrison has every right to feel aggrieved at the way the Duchatelet regime has treated him. He was royally messed about over his contract renewal and it was only done late in the late with him on holiday etc. Far from convincing and shabby in my view. Nonetheless, he was a trooper throughout and it never affected his on-the-field performances. I wish him all the best under Gary Rowett (knows a thing or two about the position) and he will always be cheered by me when he returns to the Valley.

The having grace for Peeters and Duchatelet is that Bikey and Ben Haim are arguably a better pairing and Michael Morrison would have been locked out pending injury or suspension, something he doesn't deserve given his age and ability. 

Wyn Grant has sniffed out Tractor Boys interest in Morgan Fox. I hope we can resist any temptation to sell him on. He is holding his own and has massive potential. The danger here could be that Ipswich have spending power if Arsenal take the very impressive Tyrone Mings in the January window and money would talk given our options and Roland's published position on balancing the books. 

Saturday 13 December 2014

Charlton Athletic 2 v Blackpool 2

Deservedly booed off at the end for another sub-standard home performance where we again squandered two points. Lack of ambition is turning this season into a slow strangulation and if we are not careful, it could become disastrous.

I do not like singling players out but Nicky Pope was at fault for both goals but Blackpool were so poor we should still have won this game comfortably had we played to our strengths and been more aggressive. Bob Peeters needs to be answering some basic questions this evening.

Blackpool are the divisions' whipping boys and attack had to be the game plan. Instead we went for yet more caution and when we should have gone for the jugular we backed-off and exposed ourselves. We managed only one effort on goal in the first-half and that was an equalising penalty just before half-time. I need to see it again but the challenge on Igor Vetokele didn't look too bad to me at first pass. Irrespective, Yoni Buyens drilled home for parity that was deserved given Blackpool's own indifferent showing, even if Chris Eagles (it had to be him) had managed to fire home after Pope failed to collect a rare Blackpool corner.

After the break Jordan Cousins slotted home a fine strike from twenty odd yards which for once he kept low and on target. From there the game was crying out to be won. Igor Vetokele floated one wide from distance and Callum Harriott missed the far post with a long range effort too, but we didn't manage to build the requisite pressure or commit enough men forward to score a decisive third. Almost inevitably, Blackpool equalised at the end of full-time from a dodgy free-kick which Pope completely fluffed. In the four minutes of added time it was the usual panic stations as we poured forward trying to rescue the situation. Bikey was presented with a free shot from 18 yards in the last minute but he blasted over and the opportunity was gone.

Bob Peeters needs to be explaining why he decided Chris Solly should have been playing in a strange role in front of the back four and to the right, almost as if covering Joe Gomez. Gomez did ok at full-back today but he offered nothing like Solly might have going forward and his delivery into the box was negligible. Solly was sound enough but he wasn't in the match nearly enough and it meant we were short in the middle. Buyers and Cousins were busy but we had nothing on the left and Gudmundson cut in so frequently from the right that we lacked any sustained threat down that flank either. Given Callum Harriott was again largely ineffective upfront it meant Igor Vetokele was once more ploughing a lone furrow.

The chance to change things in the second-half was wasted. Lawrie Wilson should have entered the fray but instead it was Clumsy George who came on to make nothing of what little service was being provided. We had decided to slow things down after going two-one up and invited the equaliser which Blackpool didn't really look capable of. 

Having missed two successive home wins in August when on holiday, this season has been pitiful for me with only two wins. My patience has now been tested and I will be far more critical of Bob Peeters and the team if there aren't obvious changes from here on. Against my better judgement I am headed up to Blackburn next week where I guess Bob will be planning to escape with another point. Frankly, I'd rather we had a proper go and lost. Booooooooooo.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Jackson opportunities

News that Johnnie Jackson's calf injury will keep him out until New Year. Not good to hear given the thinness of the squad but perhaps Bob Peeters will learn a valuable lesson through necessity. It should mean Jordan Cousins gets a few more matches in the centre where he is happiest and can use his pace and directional running to best effect. He really is wasted on the wing where he looks uncomfortable. It may also give more opportunity to Lawrie Wilson who I think we have missed and who is rarely as effective coming on from the bench.

Assuming all fit, I would like to see us take Blackpool on with a Gudmundson, Cousins, Buyens and Wilson midfield supporting Vetokele and Ahearn-Grant or Harriott. For once it would be good to aim to play most of our football from midfield and not defence. Moan, moan, moan...

Monday 8 December 2014

The luck of the draw

Our post 1940's F A Cup luck continued this evening with an uninspiring home draw against Blackburn Rovers. No doubt their fans are equally delighted. The Marketing Department will have a tough day at tomorrow's planning meeting.

However disappointed you might be feeling, spare a thought for Mexico City Addick, Vic. Vic's annual trip home for Christmas usually gives him two match windows either side of Christmas and New Year when he has family commitments in the south-west. I bought us both tickets for Blackburn on 20th December and we have been laughing at our crap pre-Christmas fixtures over the last umpteen years. He was looking forward to the F A Cup draw more than most any other Addick......

Given our league form, we could go a long way this year if we are any good at penalties.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Nottingham Forest 1 v Charlton Athletic 1

Another draw and another wasted opportunity to take a decisive lead in a match. We have slipped to eleventh and mid-table mediocrity beckons. Such a shame given we clearly have the backbone to hold our own against whatever this division has to offer.

Excluding the Derby game at home, where we went 3-1 up briefly, we have failed to take a two goal lead or score more than twice in any other game. Very simply put, that isn't play-off form, so we should temper our expectations for this season and settle on progress from last year. There is talk of a striker in January but one was needed in October.

Having taken the lead through a fine strike from distance from Calum Harriott - I was asking when the next midfielder would weigh in - we should have gone two up when Igor and Wilson were both foiled in a double-saving move by Carl Darlow in the Forest goal before half-time. Bob Peeters needs to learn that if you are going to fall-back and defend a lead, it needs to be a two-goal lead other-wise you are setting yourself up to draw at best, especially when you have a habit of retreating with half the match or more left.

Those who went said it was a good point in the end because of the battering we took in the second period. What we aren't accounting for is the physcological impact of going two-down. I will wager that Forest might not have had the heart for a prolonged second-half fight if we had come out two-up. We might also have caught them on the break if we had been able to gamble more strongly courtesy of a two-goal cushion.

So, we look ahead to playing the bottom-placed side at the Valley next Saturday. Blackpool are a basket-case but they picked up only their second win of the season yesterday by edging Brum one-nil by the seaside. We should manage three goals or more next week but history tells us this won't happen. Just like our oh-so-predictable games on Live TV or against Millwall, you  can pretty much bet the Tangerines will dampen pre-christmas spirits. I am so sure of it, I will take a long look at the visitors odds. 

Friday 5 December 2014

Forest fire

I will be playing the loan parent tomorrow as my better-half slips off for a night away with the girls. Against my stronger intentions, I have decided to rule out taking my now interested-in-Charlton girls to Nottingham for the day. Fifteen-odd years ago I took my seven-year-old Niece to Nottingham for the weekend and safe to say she remembers nothing of it now and the match wasn't her highlight at the time. So, whilst we are trying to avoid our first successive defeat of the season, I will be traipsing around Blackheath Village watching the Kings Troop and eventually seeing Nick Ferrari turn the Christmas lights on.

Nick is scheduled to be flicking the switch at around 4.30pm but as a local resident he will be in no particular rush and I am guessing it may be delayed ten minutes to ensure everyone is out of the shops, bars and restaurants to maximise the cheer. Therefore, I am seeing this as a sign that we will also be acknowledging a likely-looking result from the banks of the Trent.

Forest are level with us on 28 points but they lead the table early on and have fallen away in the last couple of months conceding plenty of goals in the process which will have concerned Stuart Pearce. They have beaten Norwich and Wolves in reason weeks but then again, who hasn't? They went down at Michael Morrison's Birmingham last time out and we should be confident of avoiding defeat.

We haven't had a refereeing calamity for a while. No ridiculous penalties against us or harsh sending offs and are probably due one. If we can avoid that, then the big question everyone will be asking is, can we score? I should add some counter-balance to my previous statement here in that we are probably due to benefit from a penalty decision or a sending-off too. The pressure has been building on lone striker, Igor Vetokele, but I am wondering where the goals are from a five man midfield. Jackson, Gudmundson, Harriott and Wilson have all pulled their weight in the past but have been light of late. We weren't short of shots against Ipswich but our shooting was wayward. 

We really could do with three points to keep our interest for Christmas. After an unexpectedly good start to the season, it would be disappointing to reach the half-way stage in a more expectant lower-half table position. Momentum can be a big factor once you are in the mix and we need to ensure it's at the right end of the table. 

Saturday 29 November 2014

Charlton Athletic 0 v Ipswich Town 1

The curse of live television struck yet again today. We matched Ipswich Town throughout but fell to an injury time sucker punch.

It was a decent game to watch in crisp winter sunshine and there was some quality from both sides. Unfortunately, both were short in the last third and there was always a chance that the match might be stolen. Neither side really did enough in full time to warrant a winner but Town sneaked it with the last roll of the dice.

Charlton simply weren't positive enough from the outside. It's not good enough to play one up front and play to hold on for 70 minutes. We have to be more aggressive at home and we must seek to provide greater entertainment. This may be only our third league reverse of the season but too many others have been games we might have won and which we might have provided more entertainment for the home supporters save for uber-caution. Igor Vetokele is a class act but he is playing on his own most weeks and we are expecting too much for him to win every game on his own. George Tucudean has a big heart but that doesn't get you the goals you need and anyone we pair with Igor is striker-lite. Roland needs to address the situation before it condemns our season to mediocrity.

The back five were solid enough once again but in midfield we didn't impose ourselves. Johnny Jackson had a poor game and struggled to get involved. Cousins, Gudmundsson and Coquelin were competitive enough but we need assertion at home and we didn't get it once again. Calum Harriott didn't give enough up front either which left Igor ploughing a loan furrow.

George Tucudean was introduced too late in a move to a 4-4-2 and we created nothing before Town snatched it. Six goals in the last eight games is nowhere near enough to stay in contention with the promotion chasers and it's no surprise, therefore, that we have slipped to tenth.

Big Bob needs to change his game plan in the coming weeks or we risk dropping out of the promotion race altogether and perhaps suffering a loss of confidence which could kill the season. 

Friday 28 November 2014

Night at the Museum

No, not the terrifying corny Ben Stiller movie franchise, but the opening of the Charlton Athletic Museum.

I was heading passed the back of the Covered End this afternoon when I spotted Ben Hayes unloading stuff and he beckoned to the Museum. I had time to get the lift up to the third floor and wander through the exhibits that Ben, Clive and the rest of the team are busy assembling for the Opening this evening when Derek Ufton, Keith Peacock and others who are living history, will cut the ribbon or whatever they are going to do.

I was immediately taken with this pub sign having never seen it before (pretty certain I haven't). I am told it once hung under the Covered End in what was the pre-cursor for what I knew simply as the Covered End Bar and from which this Blog was named. No doubt someone will sally forth remembering it fondly and who can tell us a story or two?

The Museum idea has been kicking around for a long time but it is finally here and I am certain it will go from strength to strength once open. Our fans will be motivated to contribute - it's our history after all.

For my part it was the signal to return the flood-lamp I stole saved 28 years ago. I was also able to hand in a book of older programmes and a couple of 1946 and 1947 F A Cup Final tickets which might be used to illuminate some other artifacts and help tell a small piece of our rich history. Just found a threat on Charlton Life with more pictures and background.

If those Sky boys know how to build the story ahead of tomorrow's live game, they could do no better than get a few shots in the fledgling Museum.

Two cursed games in a week

After the Curse of the Millwall, we run out at the Valley again tomorrow at lunchtime facing the Curse of Live TV. If we manage to follow the long-established pattern of televised disappointment, just like at Fulham, then we can at least take some comfort that it was to high-flying opponents.

Ipswich are on a very good run at the moment with only on loss in fourteen having settled into the season. Mick McCarthy's boys have also won three of the last four and earned a battling draw against Bournemouth at the Goldsands Stadium on Saturday. Daryl Murphy is firing the goals and having hit 11 to date and will provide an interesting comparison to our own Igor Vetokele. 

Town also moved yesterday to strengthen their attack by bringing Leeds' Noel Hunt in on loan. I expect Hunt to get a spell from the bench tomorrow. There is increasing frustration that we are missing a huge opportunity by not bringing in another attacking option ourselves. 

Tomorrow's match asks big question of Bob Peeters and his squad. Obviously I am hoping they can answer those unequivocally but I fear this could be our first home defeat of the season and perhaps the start of a bumpy patch before we are forced to take some remedial action in January. 

It is a Club SE7 game and I tried to buy tickets yesterday to bring local non-Charlton fans to the match. However, the catch with this is that they need to be seated in the otherwise empty and unattractive viewing seats in the corners of West and North Lower in view of the cameras. Nothing like the old adages that you get what you pay for and that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That could have been clear in the promotional information and not disappointed all concerned.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Charlton Athletic 0 v Millwall 0

Another bloody draw but I suppose it's a step up from last year's home game against them. I called the 0-0 before kick-off on the basis that I thought Igor would miss out and we were good enough to contain them at the back, so disappointed we didn't nick it with Igor starting, although he looked a yard short of pace and was playing on his own.

We had a pre-match drink in the Oak and there was an atmosphere of expectancy and the pub was unusually busy for a Millwall game. The gate was also bigger than recent derby matches and I sense more Charlton fans feel more comfortable about playing Millwall than in the past. The gate topped 19,000 and it looked as full as that judging by how many of the regularly empty seats around us were taken. 

I notice some criticism of the atmosphere on Charlton Life but I thought it was decent enough given neither set of fans had a lot to get really excited about. I thought we had the majority of the possession although the BBC are saying we had 49% to Millwall's 51%? We certainly did most of the pressing in the game and i thought we looked better on the ball but once again there was little attacking threat. Igor Vetokele did get a clean head on a cross in the box but he steered it wide. Pope, in for the injured Henderson, made a routine save from a Millwall header and that was pretty much it until the end when we threw George Tucudean on. He came on ten minutes too late for me and once again he fumbled a great chance at the finish after Igor played him in on Forde. Having decided to lift it over Forde he lacked the pace to hold off the covering defenders and they managed to clear.

Solly was at his best today and Bikey held the line. Ben Haim was also solid although he got away with another high arm challenge today which have cost us if the ref had seen it differently. The pair of them kept Fuller quiet for the half-an-hour he was on. Coquelin had a fine match and added more attack to the midfield - it's just a pity he didn't have much to aim for and he had headless Harriott flapping about on the left having come on for Yoni Buyens after 27 minutes. None of the Millwall players did anything of note although I was surprised to see Upson subbed unless he was injured.

That was about it and I don't think much else to report. I understand that Plod decided it was time to mess the visitors about for a change and they were largely corralled onto trains at the station. Probably the most logical way to prevent trouble as a free-for-all would inevitably lead to scuffling which has the potential to get out-of-hand. It's certainly better than kettling the majority  home fans which they did a couple of years ago.

Our style of play may be more suited to the away game at the New Den but that elusive twelfth victory looks like it could roll over another year....

Thursday 20 November 2014

Bring on the 'Wall

I am looking forward to Saturday's local derby more than I should be. I have been going to these games since the mid-70's and our record is so paltry that I shudder when I think about it. Irrespective of where we stand, who is managing us or how we play, we struggle to get results.

Don't tell anyone but I spent a season watching Millwall as an eleven year old when my parents split up and a well-meaning friend of the family took me along with his own son to every home match. I enjoyed it although Millwall were as hopeless as we were (and Chelsea at the time where I also spent some time). My soft spot for Millwall didn't last too long. I was there with my Chelsea supporting Old Man the day they beat Chelsea 3-1 (77?) and I witnessed families being attacked and crying women and children being spat upon. 

My own experience as an opposition fan when we play Millwall isn't anywhere as bad and, I am sure, the expectations for most are much worse than the reality. Our fans aren't on the Bushwackers radar but we suffer more than anyone else from their personal determination to rule the roost in Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Kent. It's why a game against us is their "Cup Final" and they hate us saying it. They sell out in hours and would take close to a home gate if we gave them the tickets.

I have some very good mates from my youth who are Millwall through and through and I am expecting a call to rendevous before or after the match so we can take the piss out of each other other once more. They may have more to crow about in these games but we hold our own in the banter stakes. One of best mates (now in Cyprus) and his four older brothers are all died-in-the-wool Millwall and I will be getting texts throughout the weekend from them.

All that said, we should look forward to this match. They have been very beatable this season and haven't travelled well. We should be closer to a full squad and we have a lot of character about us at the moment. We also have the quality in Igor Vetokele to win this game irrespective of the opposition. Bob Peeters also seems to get it and I hope he can convey that message in a way most of his predecessors ahem failed to do so miserably.

I have friends down from Aberdeen and I pray we put up a better show than the Palace home game they suffered with us last year. My heart is saying one nil will do it but my head still tells me fate will ensure they take something. Bring on the 'Wall!

Saturday 15 November 2014

Scotland 1 v Republic of Ireland 0

The dream lives on. A bruising evening of European qualifying action was justly settled twenty minutes from full time by the best piece of football of the evening. Scotsman Shaun Maloney was on the end of a training ground short-corner routine to stride onto a Brown back-heel and curl a pearler beyond Millwall's keeper. It's a sign I tell ya!

Ireland can have few complaints. They came for the draw and tried to prevent Scotland from playing football. They were shown a series of yellow cards and Martin O'Neill must have been subbing carded players in the second half in order to avoid going down to ten men. That said, Scotland found it hard to create clear-cut chances and it looked harder after losing Steven Fletcher to injury.

Steven Naismith often disappoints me but he was my man-of-the-match last night in a free role which saw him playing all across the Ireland defence and holding the ball up to superb effect. Mulgrew and Robertson were a new full-back combo and both did fine work, especially Mulgrew who got forward and provided support for Ikechi Anya.

The Irish were in good voice before the match in the East End bars of Glasgow but they were drowned out after thirty minutes by which time the stadium had filled up. Traffic into Glasgow was horrendous last night due to the volume (Bryan Adams was playing and One Direction were somewhere as I saw them at the airport this morning), and torrential rain on the road down from Aberdeen and in from Edinburgh. Maloney's strike silenced the visitors.

Scotland are now level with Germany and Ireland on seven points and all three trail Poland on ten. Scotland, however, have played Poland and Germany away and have six points to come from Gibraltar. Gib visit Glasgow next in March before Scotland head to Dublin for a show-down.

I am left thinking this afternoon thinking about the twenty year old who died today following a fall the Upper tier at Parkhead. Alcohol may well have played a part but the front wall of the Upper Tiers at Parkhead is very low. Several others have fallen previously.

Finally, I caught Football Focus today - a rare event for me - and hung around to see Maloney's corker again. Not only didn't they show it, but they didn't how any others. Anyone know if this is the way it works now or why?

Friday 14 November 2014

Celtic clash at Parkhead

Off this afternoon to Glasgow for a potentially classic celtic encounter as Scotland and the Republic of Ireland meet in a Euro 2016 qualifier. After Scotland's positive start to the campaign, this is their chance at home to cement it and put down a marker as real challengers for an automatic place. 

Scotland currently trail the Republic by three points and eight goal difference, so it really is a must-win. That's usually a worrying sign for us but I am hoping Ireland come looking to maintain their margin and take a point as that should play into our hands. The choice of Parkhead for this fixture is a strange one as the Ireland side will feel more at home here than anywhere else they might have had to play and there will inevitably be a larger away support given Celtic's Ireland-leaning. Nonetheless, the Tartan Army are in good heart given Wee Gordie's fine start as team supremo and we will give our side all the vocal backing they need.

This may be my last game of the qualifiers. The daft idea of playing all of the fixtures on a different day of the week means that most involve at least two days off work which is a nonsense. I may go to Dublin in the Summer for the return fixture but tickets will be hard to come by and Scotland would need to be well in the mix to get me flying over.

It's England on Tuesday night in Glasgow too for a money-spinning friendly. Fifty quid a ticket is cashing in but I won't travel for friendlies, let alone take time off work. England didn't sell their ticket allocation but they are taking four and half thousand which is impressive for a meaningless fixture. I hope the match is trouble-free - it should be - or it will quickly quash this fixture once again for years to come.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Will Roland rethink?

News that the Championship clubs have voted in favour of relaxing Financial Fair Play rules have come as a bitter blow to Charlton as outlined by the current CFO, David Joyes.

Having effectively allowed clubs to make double the loss and base it on a rolling three year period, they have removed the immediate threat to a number of sides spending way beyond their means which makes a mockery of the whole thing. I am no expert on this but there have been many poo-poohing the idea that FFP would ever come to pass. The likes of QPR have laughed at it and threatened legal action, whereas Bolton Wanderers farcical financial management has clearly stuck two fingers up to it.

What's more concerning for us Addicks is how Roland Duchatelet might take the news. His network model was based upon the idea that he could exploit FFP regulations but running a number of clubs sensibly and trading players and other resources. Given the goal-post have just moved by 100%, he may well decide that the playing field isn't going to be levelled anytime soon and he may rethink his investments.

Frankly, I am amazed that 18 out of the 24 clubs voted to change the rules which spookily enough gave them the 75% vote required to bring the changes. Call me a cynical old git if you like but this sounds too good to be true as my Dad would have said. I wonder if money has talked here somewhere in the background?

Tuesday 11 November 2014

All change in Charlton Church Lane

If you are a member of Club SE7 or even just a recent visitor to the Valley and come via Charlton Station, you can't help but have noticed the final building work to open a Sainsbury's Local on the corner of Charlton Church Lane and Floyd Road.

I say the final building work because the work started so long ago I have forgotten when it was. Let's say three years ago and be generous. I have heard a number of reasons for the delay but it certainly wasn't the amount of work involved. I will go with the most plausible and that was that Sainsbury's realised the original plan was insufficient and had to re-apply for permission for a revised extension out the back. In any event, the signs were up, the lights on and the shelves were being stacked with crisps when I passed at 7pm. No reason not to expect to see it open tomorrow or Friday latest.

You might be wondering why I am so interested in this? The simple reason is that I have been anticipating a revival in the local area for far too long now and I have always said that it would take some mainstream movers to spark what could be a quick turnaround in the fortunes of the area. The local housing stock is decent, like the populous, and we have been hugely under-served for far too long. I am also a firm believer that a lift in the local area would reflect well on our famous club and give football fans a better day out.

Just how long Sainsbury's Local hangs on with a huge Sainsbury's Superstore opening on the former Kingdom of Leather and Wickes site opposite the BP garage on the Lower Road remains to be seen, but it is a welcome start.

It will obviously serve football fans too, although those huge unprotected glass windows looked rather vulnerable to late-night high jinks in downtown Charlton. Sainsbury's have also installed a through-the-window cash till, which takes us to three free-to-use machines within strolling distance of the of mega-Stadium. Progress indeed.

Now can we have a proper pub or even a wine-bar please? I would love to open the latter but I am simply too busy and am at the wrong end of my working career to do it, although I would make a hefty contribution in weekly Customer sales if and when it does happen.

Monday 10 November 2014

Club SE7

In spite of all the comings and goings of personnel at Charlton latterly, the marketing department has very evidently not been closed down. In addition to a host of other concurrent initiatives, they have now launched Club SE7.

I received a postcard from 'Club SE7' this morning informing me that by "living in the footprint of the Valley" I was "now part of the exclusive Club SE7." The card went on to offer me tickets for the Ipswich Town home match at what I assume to be an exclusive rate of £10 for adults, £5 over 21's and Over 60's and £1 for U11's. On that basis, I will be taking both of my girls and possibly the mother-in-law (Simon - let me know as it would be good to help make this a success?). I look forward to seeing the full impact of Club SE7 flowing through to local house prices.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Reading 0 v Charlton Athletic 1

I really didn't fancy us today. Perhaps I should have known better but I was invited to the Bromley v Dartford match and saw the opportunity to convince myself I had something better to do than head down the M4.

Unfortunately, my Mum went into hospital last night and I spent the day back and forth so missed a 3-4 humdinger down at Hayes Lane. I was at the QE on the common for most of the afternoon so didn't get to follow the match bar a refresh which told me that Igor Vetokele had struck again to put us in front before half-time. Given our defensive solidity, there was every chance of us holding out and that's just what we did. Once again, the stats don't look great - only 39% possession and they had 20 efforts - although the only one that matters is our goal to their nil.

George Tucudean was a late substitute and he missed a double chance at the death to improve our goal difference but the main thing is we have moved up to eighth and have narrowed the gap on those above us. Chris Solly was at his imperious best today by all accounts and alongside Ben Haim, Bikey and Wiggins/Fox, I will be bold enough to say we have a Premier League defence. Francis Coquelin may well help strengthen midfield enough to alleviate the pressure we are so content to absorb but also to push us ten yards forwards and help us score more goals. Igor Vetokele is a class act but without him we are very obviously short in attacking options. Hopefully the right player will become available before much longer and we can dream of rattling some cages well into the second-half of the season.

Our next two matches after the international break are home games against Millwall and Ipswich. Everything suggests we should be registering our seventh ever win over our nearest rivals but history tells us to expect disappointment (even if they lost again today, this time at home to the Bees). Ipswich too should be a ding-ding affair with them riding high after an impressive home win against Watford today. If we can take four points from those two, we will remain unbeaten at home and should head into December in a play-off position. Who'd-a-thought it eh?

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Leeds United 2 v Charlton Athletic 2

On an evening of 32 goals in the Championship, we did our bit by sharing four at Elland Road. Leeds lead twice and we showed yet more character to battle back with two goals from Johan Berg Gudmundsson (JBG). We had to play the last thirteen minutes with ten men after having used all our subs and seeing Rhoys Wiggins limp off.

After the triumphant return of Igor Vetokele on Saturday it was disappointing to see  him on the bench at kick-off and us starting with George Tucuden in the lone advanced striking role. It looked like being a long night and with Calum Harriott starting I couldn't see us scoring. Lawrie was in for the resting Chris Solly. As it was, we matched Leeds through the first-half and edged possession although Leeds were winning on the efforts on goal tally.

Minutes after the restart and we fell behind to a super long range Mowatt goal. That was the trigger for Igor to enter the fray in place of Tucudean and within ten minutes we were level after Wiggins found JBG on the left-hand side of the six yard area and he squeezed a shot in at the near post which Silvestri should have done better with. Charlton looked bouyant at that point but just as we were hoping to take the lead, Mowatt struck again with another edge of the box strike, this time to the other top corner. I thought that was it at that point but the boys hung in and Tal Ben Haim was brought down in the box on 81 minutes as he move in to compete for a header. JBG stepped up to smash a penalty straight down the middle to beat Silvestri. It was then that Rhoys Wiggins was forced off and with debutants Coquelin and Onyewu already on, we had to hang on for the draw.

It's our ninth draw from 16 which is not helping our points total but we clearly continue to fight in almost every game we play and you have to hope there are more wins around the corner. We remain in ninth place and are a win off sixth and two wins off automatic promotion positions. Plenty to play for and looking at some of the other scores this evening, we should be relatively happy. Norwich crashed 4-0 at Bolton and Watford went down 2-1 at Birmingham. Bournemouth, Ipswich and Derby all increased their gap on us and Saturday's opponents Reading warmed up with a 3-0 win over Rotherham. Millwall fought back from two down again to draw at home to Blackburn but they had Wilkinson sent off and assistant manager Marc Bircham sent to the stands. If they carry on like this, they will face another relegation battle.

Bob Peeters must pick our best side on Saturday. Hopefully Wiggins recovers for left-back and Chris Solly should return on the other side. Coquelin might offer us more in the centre with Buyens and I would like to see Wilson on the right and JBG on the left with Vetokele and Aherne-Grant leading the line. I don't fancy it and will be heading down to Bromley for a bit of F A Cup action for the visit of the Darts where I know I won't be the only Addick at Hayes Lane.

Happy Hunting

Surprised to learn that we are undefeated on our last six visits to Elland Road. I'll wager that's about our best away ground record currently? Even more impressive when you consider how expansive Leeds have been on Valley visits over the years (you know which games I am talking about).

I am feeling more confident about this evening's visit than perhaps the match against Wednesday on Saturday where 1-1 was the most likely outcome. Leeds haven't won in seven and news of Redfearn's re-appointment didn't spark an immediate bounce on Saturday as they went down 3-1 at Cardiff. Leeds fans will tell us Redfearn wasn't in charge on Saturday but the players were playing for him to all intents and purposes. 

Leeds are in a mighty mess with their latest new dodgy owners and Massimo Cellino is hiring and firing managers left, right and centre. I believe he is a very hands-on owner in terms of team selection so wonder how long no-nonsense Redfearn will put up with any interference. The Red Bull group are also rumoured to be interested in Leeds although Cellino is resisting advances at the moment.

The Whites will be without Captain Jason Pearce as he is suspended and I expect we will have a look at loanee Francis Coquelin this evening. With Igor back and Charlton playing on the counter, I reckon we can get a result if we score first and I am taking us to do that. 

Come on you rip-roaring-goal-scoring Addicks!

Saturday 1 November 2014

Charlton Athletic 1 v Sheffield Wednesday 1

Today's game finished in a draw and the same scoreline as the corresponding fixture last year. Both sets of supporters probably left happily enough although, for me, this was two points lost. 

Wednesday gave us more space in midfield than any other side this season. Buyens and Jackson couldn't believe it but with only Moussa and Cousins out wide we failed to capitalise. That and we were forced to start with Cumbersome George and 17 year old Karlan Ahearne-Grant up front.

Wednesday looked sound enough across the back four and better going forward although I was pleasantly disappointed with Stevie May who seemed out-of-his-depth against the Beast and Tal Ben Haim. That said, Wednesday showed first and tellingly, it was Royston Drenthe who served notice first with a burst of pace inside and a driven low shot that squirmed wide of the far post. 

We were making good use of our midfield possession and were pushing the Owls back when we got forward but it was hard to see where the goal was coming from. After 27 minutes, Drenthe struck. A similar sweep in from the right and he teed himself up for another low drive which curled away from Henderson and inside the right hand post. 

We huffed and puffed after that and again after the break but it was pretty clear we needed a change of personnel to affect the game. With Vetokele, Gudmundsson and Wilson on the bench it was only a matter of time. JBH started the second-half in place of Ahearne-Grant and whilst he added some incisiveness to our forward play it was Igor Vetekole we needed to change the game. Five minutes after coming on he was in step with Rhoys Wiggins who took a trademark barrelling run into the box past two yellow shirts before sliding the ball across for Igor to squirt home. For five minutes we were hot and Igor was played in again and he maintained his distance to close in on Kieran Westwood but his shot didn't have enough angle to beat the keeper and it missed the near post.

After that we seemed to compose ourselves for fifteen minutes which broke the momentum and allowed Wednesday to sniff the point. It should have been killed off but we left our charge too late and just short of enough quality to win it. Wilson came on for the finish but was probably five minutes short of really getting into the match.

Chris Solly was excellent today and looked particularly impressive in the second-half in front of the Wednesdayites. Bikey and Ben Haim were immense as usual and Wiggins put in a shift. The midfield was better but Cousins didn't contribute enough and was naive on occasions. Buyens swept up in front of the back four and once again it was Moussa who made the lightest contribution. Ahearne-Grant's confidence will soar with a goal but he still so much to learn. Tucudean can't be faulted for lack of effort but his first touch is poor and he is a luxury in this division.

A point's a a point as they say and we remain unbeaten at home which is important. Leeds away on Tuesday is winnable but we will need to battle Neil Redfearn's troops before we head to Reading where we can expect an even  sterner test.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Three appointments.....

Three managerial appointments this week in the Championship that should make us reflect for a moment.

First, Kit Symons. Symons is 43 and he has spent eleven years as an assistant manager at Palace and more recently Fulham, both clubs he played for. Kit looked incredibly smug last week when being interviewed after sweeping us aside. He looked like a man who knew he had cracked it and sure enough, after pursuing a host of other options, "the panel" Fulham appointed (ideas above their station) to select the new man finally conceded and gave the nod that Symons might be a lower risk than another big name manager. He has the players to compete this season but they were same players who lost seven of the first eight under Magath. They also took Fulham down and you have to wonder if the honeymoon period might be short. I can't see Fulham sacking another manager this season but unless he makes a good fist of things, he will do well to start there next season.

Secondly, someone has been brave enough to take over the poisoned challace at Birmingham City. The man in question is none other than Gary Rowett who guested for us briefly back in our Premiership pomp but whose career ended prematurely whilst at the Valley due to injury. He went on to play and manage Burton Albion, which I suspect will be a better grounding than second-fiddle at Palace and Fulham. Trouble is, I think Birmingham's troubles are far more fundamental than picking and motivating a starting eleven. Can't see Gary there come August.

Finally, ha-ha-ha, the joke that Lee Clark would jump at the worst managerial job in football having been shown the door at St. Andrews, has actually come to pass. Clark had four years at Huddersfield where he needed a long time to prove he couldn't deliver and in two years at Birmingham he did the same, although I suppose his CV says "2014, saved Birmingham from relegation," although it won't say "flukely by the skin-of-my-teeth." All I can say is that this looks like Clark's last throw of the dice and I am betting he won't make the end of this season.

So, whatever your opinion on Duchatelet's network model, let's be grateful that we have a manager who looks relatively comfortable in his role and performing at an acceptable level. I will gladly settle for another ten months stability.

Wednesday ahead

After what seems like two weeks, we finally have another match approaching in the shape of a home game against Sheffield Wednesday. Following the disappointments of Craven Cottage it will be good to get back to the Valley, especially if we can muster anything approaching a full team. Wednesday are doing well enough under Stuart Gray and sit three points behind us in the table.

It looks like Johan Berg Gudmundsson will be fit enough to start and there is hope that Igor may also be ready although I am guessing he might start on the bench. After his spirited and more incisive showing at Fulham, I hope to see Charlton-boy Karlan Ahearne-Grant get a start and open his account which would give him a huge confidence boost.

Wednesday will, no doubt, bring another lunking side down to try and dominate the physical contest and I am looking forward to seeing Stevie May in the flesh. My Aberdeen pals are big fans of Stevie and I am hoping TBH and Bikey can shackle him.

Elsewhere this week, news of two former Addick strikers. Big Chris Iwelumho has hung up his boots at the same time that Bradley Wright-Phillips is lined up to collect the Golden Boot in the MLS. Big Chris made his mark at Charlton but he was hardly prolific. He went on to be one of those strikers who was recruited by a whole host of clubs for a short period as they tried to strike it lucky. His goal ratio of one in five was sadly never enough for anyone to hang onto him long enough even if he did manage one shy of 500 appearances. For me I will never forget his costly howling miss as a substitute for Scotland against Norway on his international debut which cost us world cup qualification. Harsh on Chris but that's what people will remember him before, in a similar way to the brilliant Peter Bonetti.

Bradley Wright-Wright-Wright on the other hand must be very happy with life at the moment. He failed to cut it for us in the Championship and I was disappointed to see him leave. He took a contract with the New York Bulls for barely living wage in the States and the promise of big bucks per goal. That has paid off handsomely as he has just equalled the MLS scoring record of 27 in a season - go Bradley!

Friday 24 October 2014

Fulham 3 v Charlton Athletic 0

I had every intention of being there this evening but was surprised to find out on Wednesday morning that we had sold all of our tickets, bar restricted views. That wouldn't have bothered me, ordinarily, as I would have been happy enough to sit in the neutral section in the Putney End. Trouble is, I didn't really fancy it as I had zero confidence of a result and it was on the box. I was swithering all day but in the end apathy got the better of me.

On reflection I am glad I didn't go as we were mince in the first-half. I honestly thought it would end 4-0. We were second best and the thinness of the squad was evident for all to see. However, I was very surprised and impressed by our battling second-half display and that augurs well for the rest of the season. 

We lacked a cutting edge tonight. George Tucudean tries his best but he is not the best footballer in the world. With no-one alongside him it's an even harder ask. Franck Moussa is not a striker and it's painful watching him huff and puff behind the out-and-out forward when he is so clearly out-of-his-depth. Karl Ahearne-Grant at least brought some penetration to the attack when he came on and whilst he looked short of scoring we could at least bask in the promise of a seventeen year old who showed no fear.

Roland Duchatelet has to act now if he believes there is any realistic chance of promotion. We are clearly two players short - one in midfield and one up-front. Our season will be finished without Igor Vetekole.

How ironic after the stats all season to see us dominate second-half and still fail to score. The visiting fans were in good voice all evening, which was encouraging, and hopefully that will carry forward to the next few games as we seek to consolidate our promising start. An away defeat at Fulham might mot look such a bad result come May but it does now after their pathetic start.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Those Stats so far this season

It's been on my mind for a while but after last night I had to get the calculator out. After 13 league games the situation concerning the amount of possession, number of shots and number of corners is as follows;

Percentage Possession

In only one match so far this season have we had more possession than our opponents and that was the goalless home draw against Middlesbrough when we had 54% to their 46%. Our average possession in all outings is 41% versus 59% which bucks the trend hugely when you consider we have won 5, drawn 7 and only lost one.

Shots on Target

This perhaps emphasises the effect of more possession more dramatically. We have managed 111 efforts on goal averaging 8 or 9 game, whereas our collective opponents have amassed 192, averaging 14 or 15 a match, getting on for double....


The corner count is 42 for Charlton and a whopping 110 for them which shows how much pressure we have absorbed.

It's points that count of course but just how much better might we be doing with a more competitive midfield that could offer greater protection to the defence and ensure we spend more time in possession and pushing to at least level the efforts on goal and corner counts.

Come on Roland, take a punt my son, you'll get your investment back and get more enjoyment watching us play.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Charlton Athletic 2 v Bolton Wanderers 1

This evening's match threatened to be another nail-biter given our injury problems and it didn't disappoint. We were second best once again in the stats department to our lowly visitors but we somehow ground out a win and bounced back from the disappointment of Bournemouth.

Our starting eleven was predictably weakened with only Tucudean upfront and the hapless Moussa tucked in behind. Midfield was again a huge struggle although Yoni Buyens was much better first-half and Johnnie Jackson got forward in support second-half to notch another priceless winner. Jordan Cousins   needs to bring some composure to his game because he isn't adding enough value at present running around like a headless chicken. Unfortunately, Bulot and Moussa both carried on from Saturday and were wasted shirts although Moussa did put in more running this evening. Neither can complain at being substituted.

Once again the back four held us together although Rhoys Wiggins remains well short of his best. Bikey and Ben Haim were outstanding and Lawrie Wilson competed for man-of-the-match with a fine left back display, especially first-half when he got forward to much better effect.

It was difficult to see where a goal was coming from in the opening 25 minutes. George Tucudean either fell over or dived with every contact and was in danger of being booked. Bolton were playing everything down our left through Feeney but we looked well briefed as Cousin was clearly under orders to double-up with Wiggins and stop the supply. It worked.

Lawrie Wilson brought the home support to life on 25 minutes with a typical supporting run that involved four other players making one-touch passes under pressure and resulted in Buyens freeing him on the overlap. He raced clear but his cross evaded Tucudean, was brought down by Cousins and set-up for Jackson but he spun and played an air shot. Bolton countered but we recovered and broke back and Buyens managed to play a ball up to Tucuden who, for the 
first time in the match, managed to play the ball and stayed on his feet. He turned with the ball and beat his marker in one move and managed to stab home past Lonergan. 

After that we failed to build and instead fell back into the pattern of  the season so far, largely defending a lead.

After the break I asked a mate behind me if we could finally net a second and kill the game. Within ten minutes we had done it - Tucudean holding the ball up well and feeding Jackson on the charge to slot home beyond a scrambling Bolton rearguard. A two-nil lead and we thought we were home and dry. Instead, we only managed to hold that for a few minutes before Dean Moxey drilled home a fine low shot from the back of the box through a crowd of players. After that it was hard viewing but once again we managed to grind it out.

The win puts us back in touch with the leaders after another pile of draws this evening. We go to shaky Fulham on Friday for a match I am dreading given our current squad shortcomings, our style of play and the appearance of the Sky cameras. I am praying the victory lifts the players between now and then and hope we may have one or two fit enough to do a return justice.

Monday 20 October 2014

Network testing...

The ongoing upheaval at Standard Liege is raising allsorts of questions about Roland Duchatelet's network model. Manager Guy Luzon has had to step down following Saturday's abandonment of their home match against bottom of the table Zulte Waregem as a result of rioting SL fans in the stadium. Roland Duchatelet was barricaded into club offices as police kept angry fans at bay.

By contrast, Charlton fans have largely been won over since the end of last season as Roland has splashed some cash and we have had a good start to the season. To date we have remained unaffected by 'the network' in the sense that we haven't lost a single player to another club or suffered in any other way for the common good. The question right now is, how long will that last?

Standard have appointed a temporary manager/coach but there remains a threat that we could yet lose Bob Peeters or key playing assets as Roland looks to settle the ship. Hopefully sense will prevail but unless Roland has had a big change of plan that he hasn't told us about, that threat remains. He is expected to be in SE7 tomorrow night for the visit of Neil Lennon's rejuvenated-looking Bolton Wanderers.

The team we could put out tomorrow is looking threadbare and it could be a quite an uncomfortable and challenging evening. Solly, Gomez, Gudmundson and Vetokele could all be missing. That would likely see Wilson back in the corner, an unlikely looking forward pairing of Tucudean and 17 year-old Karlan Ahearne-Grant. More importantly, we are desperate for a solid midfield showing that protects the defence and supports the front two so we can put some sustained pressure on the visitors.

Sunday 19 October 2014

AFC Bournemouth 1 v Charlton Athletic 0

This goes down as yet another one of those occasions when our team managed to ruin an otherwise great day out. An enjoyable run down on the train from Waterloo and a few pints in joyous expectation before we all made our way in the sunshine up to Dean Court the Goldsands Stadium.

I had failed to count to seven when buying the match tickets and so one of us had to watch the game from the home end behind the goal to our left - sorry again Pete. He would have had a good view of Bournemouth's winner after three minutes when Pugh strolled in from the left flank and teed Callum Wilson up to poke home. A simple goal and our players reaction was worrying. It didn't look like anyone was bothered and frankly, they weren't. We failed to test Artur Boruc in the Cherries goal and only actually managed a couple of lame efforts in the whole match.

Bournemouth looked miles better than us and that was due very simply to a better work ethic, more movement and better passing. One-nil flattered us and only Stephen Henderson prevented it from being embarrassing. Karlan Ahaerne-Grant got the full ninety minutes and he, at least, tried his best but he is very raw and has a lot to learn. 

Our midfield was over-run once again. Buyens and Jackson were left chasing shadows and we had no effective width. The fact that Jackson didn't return for the second-half said it all. Unfortunately, the alternative is Moussa who I am afraid to say is not good enough for this division. He has had plenty of opportunities but he loses possession practically every time he gets the ball. He  doesn't look like he has any pace or can shoot either. Having to play Moussa questions the depth in our squad and the fact that Igor Vetokele also didn't return for the second-half underlined that because his replacement was Calum Harriott. I don't know what has happened to Harriott but he seems to have forgotten how to beat a defender and when paired alongside Moussa they look very similar and equally poor.

Igor has an Achilles injury and I understand that Johan Berg Gudmundsson is not fully fit again either. He played like he was still only 70%.

Rhoys Wiggins obviously dreads returning to his old ground because he lowers his game for every visit. Yesterday he managed to fail to control the ball on several occasions, presumably for the amusement of his former fans.

I felt a bit for Ben Haim and Bikey who did their best. Bikey was also pressed into an attacking role towards the end but that was never going to cut it. Bournemouth stepped off the gas with ten minutes to go because they knew they were home and dry. Fifteen hundred Charlton fans did their best to motivate their side but got nothing in return. It was one of those days when I saw plenty of familiar East Stand faces and all raised their eyebrows to me in summary of what we were witnessing. 

How we respond in the next two matches will tell us a lot about the rest of the season. Suddenly the second and third-bottom sides look like banana-skins.

Friday 17 October 2014

Putting the cherry on the cake

Fifteen hundred Charlton fans will head south west tomorrow to see if their unbeaten heroes can beat Bournemouth and climb into the top six in the table and I will be one of them.

Six of the top seven are away from home and all of them face tricky opposition in my view. Leaders Norwich have arguably the easiest task at so-far hopeless Fulham, although I am expecting a turnaround in their fortunes sooner or later. Forest go to Cardiff and will face a tough test to maintain their unbeaten run. Watford will do well to avoid defeat at Wednesday at Derby go to Reading. Fifth placed Boro have a long trip to Brighton and my money is on a home win there. Only Ipswich are at home and they face a Blackburn side who have a cutting edge and are capable of beating anyone in this league.

Bournemouth away is probably a similar sized task to what the others face but they have been indifferent this season and will be without Yann Kermorgant. It looks like JB Gudmundsson will be fit to start and that might be just the filip we need to take the game to the hosts. There has been plenty of talk in the media this week from BP and Captain Jacko about the need to score a second after opening the scoring and not retreating into our shells. Six of us will be there tomorrow including Chicago Addick who managed to catch the last flight out if hurricane threatened Bermuda. We all be hoping for an opening Charlton goal so we can see if there is a new game plan.

Before that though, I have a good bottle of Chianti and Hamilton Academicals versus the mighty Aberdeen. Come on the Dons!

Sunday 12 October 2014

Scotland 1 v Georgia 0

Three points on the Euro qualifying board for Scotland. A relatively straightforward win courtesy of a deflected first-half shot from Sean Maloney. Scotland should have won more convincingly but they spluttered upfront with Naismith being wasteful in possession and Fletcher always looking for another touch or another pass.

It was a much better display than I have become accustomed to and the back four looked very assured. Hanley and Martin were solid in central midfield and Robertson and Hutton were  relatively untroubled.

Scott Brown bossed central midfield and Morrison was very tidy alongside him. Ikechi Anya played above himself in a blue shirt once again and Maloney was busy early on although he faded second half. It was only the front two who failed to really perform but I left hopeful that we can compete with Poland, Georgia and the Republic of Ireland for a runners-up place with Germany.

Poland will be in the mood for Scotland on Tuesday after beating Germany but I saw enough discipline and self-belief yesterday to think we could get another result in Warsaw.

I have just watched England edge passed Estonia in a not-to-dissimilar match to our own. They could have scored more and were rarely threatened. My money is on England to qualify first for France 16. If Scotland can join them I will be there for a fortnight in the sunshine - if I have to wait another 18 years, I will be approaching 70! Life is short, so make the most of it.