Monday 6 November 2023

The ritual humiliation of this club has to be stopped

For all the takeovers, new managers, false dawns, poor transfer windows, wasted seasons and everything else that Charlton Athletic fans have suffered over the last 15 years, one thing has hurt us more than any other. It's been our almost unique ability to mess up in Cup competitions and, in doing so, heap embarrassment and opprobrium upon the history of this once rightly proud club and it's long-suffering fanbase. 

The worst thing of all is that it's largely been self-inflicted and it continued yesterday from the second we saw the side Appleton had picked. Eleven (11) changes and a dispiriting line of deadwood, don't cares and Academy fodder more used to the support of first-choice pros.

Yesterday, Appleton simply lacked any tactical imagination and decided whoever he picked would be good enough - huge disrespect to CVPM.

Charlie Kirk has repeatedly shown us that he is a severely limited footballer who got lucky when we decided to waste £500k on him and give him a ridiculous 5 year contract. He has failed time and again from the bench to influence any game and he should have been written off two years ago. He can't tackle, he can't go past a man, he can't cross, shoot or head a ball and, frankly, he is only here for the continuing wages. He's an idiot obsessed by his hair. Yesterday, however, Appleton decided he would be too good for Cray Valley. How wrong was he again.

McGrandles has struggled with injury but he too has shown us next to nothing. Someone referred to him as "McStandstill" on CL this morning and nothing could be more apt. Absolutely no threat, no impact and a passenger. I didn't realise he was playing until half-time.

Then you throw Fraser in because he is a first-teamer and you think that's ok. Problem is, Fraser has no legs and needs runners around him, not Kirk and McGrandles. We are fortunate that Fraser got in behind and scored early because he was finished before half-time.

Tedic may be on Man City's books but that will be the highlight of his career. He huffed and puffed yesterday but didn't look better than the opposition. Karoy Anderson is big and strong and will be a far better prospect than any of the others but he is naive, overplays and had no-one directing him yesterday. Chem Campbell got a rare start and played well but he was labouring alone for large parts. 

Hard to be overly critical of the defence for once because they were largely untroubled. Lucas Ness even scoring for them. Abankwah looked sold enough too on this rare appearance but again we need to consider the opposition were no great shakes.

The bottom-line is that our club has to learn it's collective lesson. We cannot continue to play under-strength sides against lesser opposition. It's not just a cup exit, it is long-lasting, credibility damage to our once great name. We have to make sure we win these games by showing respect and playing our strongest starting eleven. By all means start resting players when you have control of the match but torturing your own supporters and then face the embarrassment of having to throw a few better players on for no improvement can't be allowed to happen again. 

We will likely win the replay but the damage has already been done.

Sunday 29 October 2023

Charlton Athletic 0 v Bolton Wanderers 2

Less than a week ago I allowed myself the luxury of considering whether or not Michael Appleton's bounce might see us win two games and move into the top ten. Instead, we lost both and after the defeat to Bolton yesterday, now face two consecutive away games that could, more likely, see us in the bottom six. I guess that just proves how little there is in this division between the also-rans.

Wigan and Portsmouth will not prove any easier than Bolton. In spite of our recent record against Pompey, they sit points clear at the top of the table and will see this as their moment. A quick look at the table and you might think Wigan are there for the taking but factor in the eight point deduction they started with and they would be 7th. 

Appleton could surprise us, but it looks increasingly hard to see how we limit opposition scoring. Bolton might have had four or five on Saturday. I was pleased to see the switch to a back four (simply because we don't have the players to play five at the back) and that Appleton has given Thomas, Jones, Hector and Watson a long enough run to hope for some understanding and improvement. Sadly, we haven't seen that and he has to try something else even if our options may be limited.

Asiimwe isn't ready yet and I don't see him adding much at right-back whenever he plays. Jones and Hector play about 20 yards apart and something has to change. Jones has battled to hold his ground but I haven't seen Hector fight for anything other than a new contract. Time to give Ness another ten games in his place.

Thomas spends too much time in the opposition half and is still usually there when we are being carved open on our right side. We have to put someone in there who will largely stay at home and defend. Tayo Edun is still likely out injured for another month so you wonder if Abankwah could do it? He may be right footed but you think it would be worth a go? Appleton doesn't appear to fancy him but if we aren't going to use him, he should go back to Udinese.

In terms of Saturday, it was all over after half-an-hour. Two goals from our right-side were simple enough as Bolton passed their way into positions to score. They looked like they could do it all day and continued to create scoring situations but a stronger Charlton second-half forced them to spend more time making sure we didn't get any incentive to really up the ante. 

Miles Leaburn has been effective from the bench but that hardly justifies playing Alfie May on his own for 70 minutes when up against three big experienced centre-halves. It also shows a lack of ambition at home. I am trying not to think about the visit of Cray Valley Paper Mills.

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Lincoln City 3 v Charlton Athletic 1

I dared to allow myself a little positivity pre-match yesterday and wondered if this side could be in the frame come January. Fair to say that question was answered emphatically last night at Lincoln and the answer was 'no chance.'

I followed a stream with home team commentary and was clear early on that they didn't fancy their chances. Five missing attacking players and the consensus seemed to be that they could only really expect to score from a set-piece - they had already rumbled that we are vulnerable to them - and that they were unlikely to score more than once, so would need to keep it tight if they were to have a chance of winning.

Their confidence hardly grew in the opening ten minutes when we piled forward and when Alfie May bundled Tyreece Campbell's cross in from close range, things looked very promising for us. We continued to play in their half and were committing players but couldn't get a second and eventually Lincoln began to find their out balls. Adelakun got nearly everything on the left and Sorensen everything on the right. The began to create those set pieces and you could see our players wilting under the pressure. 

It didn't help that Terrell Thomas had been given leave-of-absence and was usually in their half when Sorensen was tearing into our defence behind him. Cue their equaliser. Sorensen raced to the edge of the box and played the ball in for Adelakun to challenge Lloyd Jones. Adelakun spun Jones and was left six yards out with just Maynard-Brewer to beat.

The equaliser lit the blue touch paper and we fell apart. Sorensen was unfortunate not to score from one of a series of shots from distance as we struggled to clear our lines. Maynard-Brewer had already done very well to beat one out but the others brought players down and caused general chaos in an already panicky back line.

We survived until half-time but they came straight back at us after the break and continued the torment. Michael Hector keeps telling us that his regular howlers are just one of those things and that they even themselves out over a season. Well I really hope we don't have to maintain a count much longer because he was woeful. It's not as if he doesn't look capable, rather more that he doesn't look that bothered. He gives a fine cameo of an aging pro milking his last contract. Sadly, that goes for his mate Terrell Thomas. Replacing these two is the urgent business we need done in January.

Adelakun made it 2-1 after 57 minutes and I was suddenly overcome by tiredness and fell asleep. I envisaged a third as I drifted off and have woken this morning to see it. 

Tuesday 24 October 2023

Big week for Michael Appleton and the club

Charlton make the tricky looking trip to Lincoln this evening for a match which, when combined with Saturday's visit of fourth-placed Bolton Wanderers, may tell us quite a bit about how this season may pan out.

What is already clear, is that Michael Appleton has enjoyed a good start to his role in the hot-seat at the Valley. Unbeaten in seven, we have started scoring again and several players in particular are in rich form.

A nagging doubt remains our defensive frailty and an ability to hand the opposition goals from nowhere. However, unlike Dean Holden, Appleton has at least settled on a formation (a back 4) and has largely been sticking with the same personnel of Thomas, Jones, Hector and Watson. We could really do with another clean sheet to follow the one on Saturday but Lincoln will possess more threat and put us under more pressure.

It could be another important game for George Dobson and Louie Watson, who have been doing a lot of protective work between them to help the back four. That means our 'front four' will be critical to us potentially winning the match. I really would like to see two upfront and with Chuks out again, it has to be Leaburn and May. I think the two man attack would help us keep a stronger counter-attacking threat which might just prevent the Imps from getting larger periods of pressure. Key to that decision has to be who will do the carrying and supply from midfield. Blackett-Taylor has to start on the left and following his performance from the bench on Saturday, Tyreece Campbell must start ahead of Tedic who is not a midfielder.

If, if we can avoid defeat tonight we should be buoyed for a real challenge on Saturday. A point will keep the kettle boiling and keep us in the picture. A win would inevitably see us rise several places towards the play-off spots and give us a real incentive join the hunt proper on Saturday.

It would be a remarkable turnaround from where Dean Holden left us and a real confidence booster for all at the club.

I would love to think it may also bolster a bigger board-level conversation about what to do come January. Money must be very tight given the run-rate and the fact that our revenues must be relatively flat thus far. Gates have yet to improve notably although they might just be about to rise if the current progress and attacking football is maintained. I have no doubt that without the impact Appleton has had thus far, we would have seen some movement of players (in and out) which would have netted us cash to keep us going without further boardroom investment but obviously left us potentially weaker. Given the likely sums involved, that promise of a very unlikely looking promotion two months ago, might just encourage a workaround to support a push, if that looks remotely possible. As I said, a big week. Two defeats and we may well be back to boom and bust. 

Sunday 8 October 2023

Charlton Athletic 2 v Blackpool 2

A game and a result which typifies the season for us so far and I fear, going forward. 

This week has shown we have cutting teeth with May, Aneke and Leaburn all fit and available. It has also shown how equally vulnerable we are in defence. 

It's not just the differential between back and front but the current tactical defensive play is also making it difficult for us to take the game to our opponents in the opening halves of matches in particular.

Michel Hector has explained his aberration yesterday which gave the Seasiders the lead in terms of "it will even itself out over the season." I really hope he is right but it's not just yesterday and Tuesday's blooper. He has made mistakes regularly this season going back to the Aberdeen friendly and it really doesn't help when he is the senior defensive pro. 

He is not alone either. Ness has been dropped because of his drop in form and Lloyd Jones is only now enjoying a bit of rehabilitation. Terrell Thomas can't play wing-back - if told to, he abandons his full-back berth. I haven't seen enough of Tennai Watson yet but he hasn't impressed out of the blocks.

What's to be done? We are unlikely to be able to bring anyone in until New Year, and unless we sell someone first, I don't believe the budget will be there for much better. Abankwah may offer something but that remains to be seen.

It looks like we have to find a tactical solution. For me, we can start by stop playing the ball back and forth across the defence and instead get it forward from the keeper or the first receiving defender. It might not be aspirational but it can't be any less effective than allowing yourself to be pressed in possession and having to play an emergency pass forward or even to be unable to see a ball and eventually have to revert to a goalkeeping clearance anyway.

Appleton has seen that four at the back is less complicated for us than a five but we still seem to want our full-backs to push up. They aren't particularly effective across the halfway line and with two left in the centre, we seem to play too far apart. This has cost us goals this season - two this week.

I would play a flat back four and get them moving up together more often to compress the midfield and give us more opportunity of winning the ball and using those cutting teeth, rather than waiting until 70th minute changes and going hell for leather.

Anyway, some positives from yesterday. It was good to see Maynard-Brewer back in goal although injury to Isted (6 weeks) may have been the reason, rather than Isted's worrying performances. 

Alfie May continues his fine form and scored again. Seven so far and you can see loads to come as long as he stays fit and gets support. 

Chuks Aneke has been a bit of a revelation on his return. He seems as fit and as fast as he once was, several injuries ago, and he is causing chaos when he comes on from the bench again. 

A special equaliser from CBT but overall he had another iffy game. When teams double-up on him, he understandably struggles, but we need to use the 'extra' man to good effect and help free him up.

Louie Watson looks useful in the middle but possibly a bit short of pace to be completely effective. I need to see more of him. Fraser pressed the play when he came on but he too lacks a yard of pace that would make him far more of a threat.

Courtesy of Derby County internationals, we have no game next week, so will return at home in a fortnight against struggling Reading. A fantastic opportunity for Appleton to extend his unbeaten run and win with a bit to spare for a change.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Charlton Athletic 4 v Exeter City 1

A barn-storming second-half made up for a poor opening 45 minutes and gave Michael Appleton his third consecutive home win.

After Saturday's drab draw at struggling Shrewsbury, I wasn't sure what to expect last night. We have a decent recent record against them but they were five points above us in the table and our defence frightens me. 

The starting line-up was a surprise too, with Maynard-Brewer back in goal and a start for Chuks Aneke. Tedic may a start in midfield too which looked a bit uncomfortable. Maynard-Brewer was overdue a return but I worry about Aneke starting. The defence was unchanged with Thomas, Jones, Hector and Watson nominally across the back. However, the reality of that was a back three as Thomas largely vacated the left-back position. We seemed to play with a hole at left back for much of the game but it also spread the gap between Jones and Hector which lead to the Grecians goal after 23 minutes when a counter-attack from a Charlton corner saw the ball played straight through the middle to Scott who ran on and drew Maynard-Brewer before steering the ball passed him. Exeter enjoyed a good 15 minute spell after taking the lead and Scott might have doubled it when he arrived in the box to meet a cross and swept it high towards the top-left corner but it just missed the woodwork. 

We huffed and puffed to get level but it wasn't looking great with May playing a withdrawn role and Chuks leading the line alone. However, Alfie turned provider on the stroke of half-time after coming out of midfield in possession, heading right and then floating a ball onto Chuks' head. Aneke crashed it off the bar from close range but Corey Blackett-Taylor was on hand to drive home the rebound. 

After the break and kicking towards the Covered End, I expected us to win the game. After 65 minutes, we were awarded a penalty after Louie Watson was knocked off the ball. Chuks took the penalty but Sinisalo got a hand to it and pushed it onto the post. The ball bounced back into play and there, yards ahead of anyone else was Alfie May who smashed it home. 

A minute later and the referee made a howler by sending off Aimson after a tackle with May. From then on it was only a matter of how many. Miles Leaburn gave Aneke a rest and grabbed a fine trade-mark box finish. near the end of normal time Alfie may added another close range finish on the rebound. 

Appleton is now unbeaten in five with 11 from 15 and another home win on Saturday against Blackpool would cement a very solid start. I just wish we could sort out our defensive tactics and stop conceding goals we really shouldn't be giving away. 

Sunday 17 September 2023

Dartford 2 v Welling United 3

Sometimes in life you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a princess. Wings fans have had more than their share of disappointment in recent years when facing old foes, Dartford, but were rewarded yesterday with a swashbuckling second-half performance and a richly deserved victory that puts them in the hat for Monday's F A Cup draw. 

On what was my first visit to Princes Park, I was pleasantly surprised. A tidy little stadium with modern facilities and a pitch that was so good it looked as attractive as the swimming pool when you first arrive at your villa on holiday. The sun was blazing too and there was a healthy following of Wings who made up c 400 of the 1031 gate.

News an hour before kick-off was that the Wings had signed a much-needed striker in Tristan Abrahams from Gillingham. What became clear from the whistle was just what a big side Dartford are. One of the central defenders must by 6' 8" and they have another four or five players who are well over six foot. As if to emphasis the point Welling began by playing their way down the flanks and hitting crosses which were like like throwing buns to an elephant. 

Tanga tested the home keeper early on but he was equal to it and it took a good save from Ben Winterbottom to keep Dartford out from a corner. Abrahams showed what he might bring after 15 minutes when he raced in to meet a lovely ball in from Tanga on the right but was inches away from the touch needed. That stung the home team and from their next attack they scored. A raid down the Wings right flank drew the defence across towards the ball and Manor was left unmarked at the back post.

Huff an puff after that until just before the break when Welling won a free-kick 20 yards out from the goal that their fans were massed behind. By this time I was in the lounge with a half-time pint but from the curtains I had a great view of Antony Papadopoulos as he rifled in a low shot that Dartford's huge keeper couldn't get down to quickly enough. 

Five minutes into the second-half and Welling switched off. A long punt from Beeney was allowed to bounce twice and Manor latched on to it and slammed a cross-shot beyond Winterburn for 2-1. I feared the worst at this point but Welling settled and began to knock the ball around on the deck which reduced the Darts to a chasing game they aren't best suited to. Welling were reward just after the hour. A fine run from deep saw Green slip a ball towards Abrahams but a stretching defender got a touch but only managed to divert it into to the path of Papadopoulos and he leathered home the equaliser. 

The Wings were in their pomp now and had the bit well and truly between their teeth. White and Tanga give Welling options and threats from the flanks and if Abrahams finds his feet (as looks very likely), Welling could quickly move up the table. The ref waved away a decent handball penalty shout but Welling continued to press and were rewarded after 76 minutes with a superb team goal. I will have to see it again but it looked like about five or six players were involved as Welling swept out of their half and moved it quickly first-time across the pitch and forward. Orient loanee Tanga played the killer ball into the centre and The Pap-father was waiting eagerly to drive home the hat-trick and secure a place in the next round.

Ben Whittaker deserves a special mention for a fantastic stretching save at his far post to keep out what looked very like a late and undeserved equaliser.

Meanwhile at the Lamex, I was surprised and pleased to see that, not only had we avoided falling further behind to their first-half goal but we managed a late late penalty which Blackett-Taylor converted to secure an opening draw for Michael Appleton. Disappointing news that Alfie May missed the match with concussion and that we didn't manage a chance in the opening half but Chuks Aneke made a welcome cameo and survived intact after a spell of chaos in the home defence. 

Friday 8 September 2023

It's......Michael Appleton

Michael Appleton has been appointed manager of Charlton Athletic today after an "intensive search." Appleton has been humorously linked with every job vacancy at lower league clubs for years because of that 'no-nonsense' photo of him snarling with his arms-folded and the fact that he seemed to move clubs every twelve months.

He is, of course, the latest with an Oxford United connection to join us, having managed them to promotion from League Two in 2016. So he would have been well known to Scott, Rodwell and Lenaghan. This continuing recruitment of Old Pals can't be right or the best for our club but given the mess of the current squad and the lack of funds to do much about it, I don't suppose it will make a huge difference.

The senior management team are remaining tight-lipped about the disastrous start to the season. I think this is just as well given that they demonstrably don't have the 'billionaire' backing they once boasted from the rooftops and the fact that their gamble to 'wing it' with an unbalanced squad early on has back-fired so badly. 

As things stand, I think we have a reasonable eleven amongst the squad but outside of that I am unconvinced we have much quality at all. That eleven haven't been all been available so far this season and Appleton's job will be to find them and get them playing. Interesting to note in the Club's announcement that Appleton's track record of having developed youth players at previous clubs  features large.

The club have also decided to make it known that they had enquiries about Leaburn, Blackett-Taylor and Dobson late in the window but that these were rebutted. We won't know if any of those were serious - Derby and a German club amongst those asking - but it gives the impression that we might not be as desperate for money as we obviously are and it also sets an expectation about who is most likely to attract a bigger fee in January.

I would like to think that Appleton can make us safe this season and help us get back to basics. However, he is playing with a poor hand and may well struggle to do much better than Dean Holden. Aside from too many very average footballers, we still lack winners in this squad and that will remain a problem irrespective of set-up, motivation or tactics. 

Monday 4 September 2023

Charlton Athletic 2 v Fleetwood Town 1

Missed this game completely as I was travelling back from the Lake District. At one point I thought I might catch the second-half but the last six miles took one and a half hours due to an accident in Canning Town and the Blackwall being down to one lane.

Doesn't sound like I missed much. Many described the opening 45 minutes as "the worst ever seen." We seem inured to the sufferings of the past as this becomes a regular mantra, although it was a very popular comment this weekend. If that was true, it's equally amazing that an improved second-half and a winning penalty had a number saying they could see "green shoots of recovery." 

Miles Leaburn returned from injury in the second-half and survived unscathed, so maybe some grounds for optimism but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that our squad is a mess or that the four unheard-ofs we brought in at the last minute will struggle to add much more than the three who left. 

Chem Campbell did get a good press and his long forward ball for May's opener and was something we haven't seen for months. 

I was pleased for Jason Pearce, even if the victory against one of the division's minnows was underwhelming. When I look at the list of candidates for the job on a permanent basis, none jump out at me as anyone who will be able to do more than keep us in this God-forsaken league - certainly this season. In the circumstances Pearce (& Hayes) look as good as anyone. 

It seems to me like we just need to settle on our best 15 players and find a formation that suits. It looks very much like that isn't five at the back or any dynamic midfield. We just need a base to defend, a midfield to fight out of possession and attack with the ball and a front pairing who can keep opposing defences at home. That shouldn't be too much to ask. 

The actual gate on Saturday looked very poor. Probably between 7-8000. Certainly not buoyed by the pitifully small Fleetwood following, although having lost four on the trot and a national rail strike, perhaps we should not be surprised. Having made a similar journey to the Cod Army on Saturday, I suspect there were a few more stuck in traffic in East London too. Scott Brown certainly won't forget the game as he was sacked as their manager after the game.

On Tuesday we are at Crawley Town in the EFL Trophy, a competition I care nothing about. However, this year it may help sort out what our best side is, if we don't continue to use it as largely an U21's outing. Perhaps we can find our first team squad and let the rest play later games in this pointless cup?

Saturday 2 September 2023

Four in, three out

Scott and Rodwell may have left it to the last few hours of the market, but they were busier yesterday than I suspect most had feared.

Three loaned in and three loaned out helps balance the books but we also signed MK Dons full-back Tennai Watson on a two year deal. Scott tells us that Watson, though right footed (Egbo replacement), can also cover at left-back. The 26 year old has been at Reading and MK Dons but hasn't played a lot of football over the years - 89 appearances in total. We needed cover, so hopefully he can do a job.

Whilst we were negotiating with MK Dons we also agreed a season long loan of Jack Payne. That should be the end of Payne's Charlton career and to cover the small hole he leaves, we brought in 19 year old rookie, Louie Watson, from Luton on a season long loan. I am not expecting him to feature much having made only five appearances for the Hatters.

In defence, I was a bit disappointed to see Zach Mitchell loaned out to Colchester, only to be replaced by James Abankwah. Yet another player I have never heard of. Scott bigged him up as coming in from Udinese but the facts are he played for them twice having barely broken into double figures for his home club, St Pat's in Dublin. On paper, Mitchell appears to offer more.

That leaves the big striking loan of Slobodan Tedic from Man City. Dialling Jaiyesimi has been loaned out to St. Johnstone to help pay for Tedic. The "6" 3' Tedic has a dozen goals to his name at 23 from a number of loans. I suspect he will feature largely as a sub.

All-in-all, it feels like quantity over quality and proof, if any were needed, that we have no real money behind us. It will be interesting to track these moves (in and out) to see just what they bring us. I would expect Tennai and Slobodan to get appearances. Less sure about Abankwah or Louie Watson longer term.

Tuesday 29 August 2023

GFP - where we are and what we know

We are a month in since Global Football Partners acquired CAFC from Thomas Sandgaard. A failure to adequately prepare a balanced squad to start the season there season has seen us lose five games in-a-row and Dean Holden as well as Danny Senda and Glyn Shimel have now been been sacked as a result. So what have we learnt in a month?

1. There are no Head Honchos with any serious ambition.

All the talk of 'billionaire owners' has proven to be wishful thinking at best and deliberately misleading at all other times. The facts are that we have seven investors who own the shares between them but none with overall control.

None of them have said a meaningful word and I don't believe any of them have attended a game. What this tells us is that the notion of the main investors being invested enough to be actively managing affairs via co-investor (small change) Charlie Methven is poppycock. 

Rather, it suggests very strongly that the investors have all been sold a plan of limited exposure in an English football club for relatively small stakes and a proposition that says Methven and his team can out-perform the market within the existing financial constraints of running the club.

If this plan falls short, Methven will be expected to cut their losses and sell the club on. Do not expect them to be bailing the club out for any more money.

2. The Summer Rebuild was always hugely overplayed.

Methven told us repeatedly himself and via his social media stooges that there was big money behind the takeover and that they had their targets all lined-up and ready to go. The actual takeover was protracted but since they took charge we have seen neither big money nor a slew of signings to balance the squad, let alone support the early season injuries. 

This was precisely what Rodwell and Scott did during the January window when appointed on short-term contracts by agreement with Sandgaard. They actually managed to reduce the playing budget overall whilst still making changes.

Indeed, I would go as far as to suggest the dealings we have done so far this Summer have been paid for from the 14 departures we have seen since the season finished.

The transfer window closes on Friday and I suspect it will another disappointing day for Addicks fans as we face the prospect of a continuing struggle in this damned league.

3. Unless something miraculous happens quickly, dramatic cost-cutting will be next.

Methvin has been clear about his plans to increase revenues. He has taken Steve Sutherland back, albeit on a temporary contract, and really needed a fast start to maintain momentum and keep the fans onside and attending games in growing numbers. Unfortunately, he has seen the absolute reverse. Actual attendances have dived off once again and no-one wants to be paying a premium in hospitality to watch us struggle to beat Fleetwood. Even Greenwich Council will be struggling to offload free residents match tickets at the moment.

Last week, with the pressure on, Methvin told the Daily Telegraph that he would see us reduce operating losses from c£6m a year to "£1m to £2m" and that with clever player sales (the Academy), he could turn a profit. "You will do that if you have any kind of competence at all, and particularly,  like Charlton, if you've got one of the most productive Academies in the country." Words that I fear will come back to haunt him.

I think his chances of trading his way to a bottom-line improvement over the season of £4m to £5m is pie-in-the-sky unless we are incredibly fortunate with the next managerial appointment as well as our remaining loan player gambles. In the event we can't do this, we have already seen where he thinks savings can be made (womens team, Charlton tv, stand closures, academy cuts etc). Selling Miles Leaburn for £5m won't do it either if our operating losses remain high going into next season.

4. We are at risk of asset-stripping and a quick sale.

If Methven can't make his financial plan and our losses continue to outstrip his operating contingency he will need either a cash injection from his investors or face an early exit. As I have already said, I cannot see our investors throwing good money after bad. The make-up of the shareholding also makes that difficult. They could provide loans on favourable terms but why risk it when Methven has already careered off course? No, at that point I can see them looking to cut their losses. Selling assets and touting the club. They can probably reduce their losses by half and get out earlier than planned if they can find another mug punter willing to take their place.

In the meantime we wait with baited breath to see who is unveiled as Holden's replacement. I really don't want to see another of Methven's mates but Lee Johnson was sacked by Hibs on Saturday which may have precipitated Holden's clumsily managed exit yesterday - was he really fired by text? Perhaps the least-cost option would be to keep Pearce and Hayes?

As for the window this week and Fleetwood on Saturday - Heaven help us.

Monday 28 August 2023

Amateur Hour

Charlie Methven's Circus has been gathering steam for a few weeks now but really burst into life yesterday. 

Supporters began breaking the news that Dean Holden and then Danny Senda and finally Glyn Shimel had been sacked. Rich Cawley quickly confirmed as much but it wasn't until later last night that we got this mealy-mouthed confirmation on the OS.

Clearly, results have forced a move, although a mate of mine was down at breakfast sitting across from Methven & Co after the Newport game and listened to them openly discussing potential managerial changes.

Holden was struggling and logic appeared to have disappeared from his team selections and post-match explanations. 

I thought he'd have got a bit longer. First because they brought him in and secondly because of the cost of changing him out. Irrespective, he's gone and Senda and Shimmel have paid the price too for an appalling start.

Rumours abound already about a replacement and the coincidence of ex-Methven Sunderland manager Lee Johnson being sacked from Hibs before the Holden announcement has set the hares running. 

I don't think it matters who is appointed given the squad inadequacies and the fact that the transfer window closes this week. Promotion this season is completely unrealistic now and we will begin another short-term management cycle with all the attendant risks and failures.

The bigger problem for Charlton Athletic is Charlie Methven. He has found 'toe-in-the-water' investors who have collectively taken small stakes in a League One football club they know nothing about and who are at the operational mercy of Methven and his 'experienced' management team. 

The mid-term options don't look great and I can see the cost cutting and asset stripping before another fire-sale. Thinking about Holden's replacement, I guess it could be important because we cannot afford to go down.

Sunday 27 August 2023

Elgin City 1 v East Fife 1

A decent afternoon's football at Borough Briggs as two early season strugglers fought hard over a point apiece.

It was as competitive a match as I can remember at Elgin and it was played at a fast pace with no quarter given. Elgin's player manager, Ross Draper, initiated so much of what City did coming forward from his central defensive berth. Oh for similar at the Valley.

Elgin took the lead after 14 minutes when Draper found Cameron in space in the middle. He drew the Fifers central defence and slipped the charging Matty Wright through for a one-on-one finish.

The visitors were more comfortable on the ball and a foot quicker but City limited their chances. Draper and the excellent Ewan alongside him kept the back four in line and were aerially superior. 

Everything East Fife did came down their left and usually from winger Jack Healy. Indeed, it was him who burst into the box on 73 minutes and drew the foul that enabled the visitors to draw level. 

Meanwhile, the Addicks slumped to another defeat although Oxford were far less impressive than feared. An Alfie May leveller in the second-half gave the travellers hope but once again we made a major defensive howler to hand them the points.

The 'Holden Out' backlash has been loud and I am quite surprised by this given the love-in he has enjoyed. It is also patently clear that he has an imbalanced squad desperately short on goals due to inadequate rebuilding and injuries. I guess those who watched it yesterday will complain about the tactics and the laughable second goal we conceded after we poured forward in search of our own unlikely winner. However, my sympathy with him is limited given he is part if the Methvin clique and the fact he has gone along with the idea of a smaller squad and has been bigging up our rebuild when it must have been as obvious to him as us that it was well short of what was needed.

Having dropped to 19th, the R word was also being bandied about for the first time last night and I struggle to see what changes. Leaburn will make a difference and hopefully our injury situation will clear up but we don't have any money and I don't trust Methven when the pressure's on. He is likely to start making big decisions and, in my opinion, big mistakes. Relegation would be an £11m set-back for the investors but they might hope to sell a few players and the club to off-set their loss. For Charlton Athletic, however, it would be a disaster and with the ground and training ground in Duchatelet's hands we might not be far away from insolvency by then. Relegation would probably see us ground-share again at some point to avoid having to rent an empty Valley.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Lossiemouth 1 v Brora Rangers 1

On holiday in the Highlands, so a Highland League fixture in the glorious sunshine. My hometown team were second-best but they hung in at 1-0 and after the visitors were reduced to ten men for cheating (simulation), they were able to press forward and grab an equaliser.

It was competitive and it looked like the players had no time on the ball but probably because it's a step down from National League South and no-one on the pitch had the class to find any.

I certainly missed an eventful match at the Valley but another really poor result. Even with our obvious shortcomings and lack of confidence, this was a shocker. Four defeats in succession to Peterborough, Newport County, Bristol Rovers and Port Vale. It borders on a new low and nowhere near what the expert senior management team were reassuring us about a few weeks ago.

As I have said, and will keep saying, this lot are a busted flush. No money, an inadequate squad, and glaring shortcomings. We are also burning some kids at the same time. 

Dean Holden will be struggling to deliver his post-match press conference and I suspect we will just get a run-through of the facts.

Charlie Methven needs to do a bit of explaining pronto and it needs actions, not waffle. This isn't what he and his pals promised. If I hear of a "two or three year plan" now, I will be at risk of spontaneous combustion. Same too if he dares to try and float that FFP crap past us. Oh, and if he thinks now is the time to tell us our finances are much worse than they thought.

Friday 18 August 2023

Have you heard the one about FFP!!!

I said earlier this week that Charlie Methven would feel the urge to explain just what's not going on if we slumped to a third successive defeat. He's obviously struggling about this given previous pronouncements so once again has fed a line to a couple of the usual stooges to start mutterings on social media.

It's being said that Charlie and the myriad of other investors are really frustrated because the rules of FFP is preventing us bringing in any more players. Excuse me, but this is a load of tosh. Plain and simple. It's also why he isn't formally spouting it because he risks being exposed.

In the EFL and in League One, we operate under the 'Salary Cost Management Protocol' and the message they seem to want to perpetuate is that they Directors can't put any more money into player acquisitions or wages etc as we already exceed the 60% Turnover to Salary rule.

They are conveniently forgetting that Directors can put in whatever money they like to boost Turnover as long as it isn't debt (a loan). The main poster claims they are already doing this to cover operating losses. I wonder if this is capital or a loan? Pretty sure I can guess and the interest rates won't be favourable. 

We have brought in (Isted, Edun, Camara, Jones, May and Taylor), but we let a lot more go. I firmly believe we are ahead on budget and may well have used that to fund any fees. Remember, Scott and Rodwell performed the same trick in January. 

What was all that Methven guff two months ago about having the transfer budget ready and all their targets identified? Maybe they are so naive and hopeless that they have only just discovered this and are hamstrung? All those billionaires too!

How do other League One clubs afford it? We are by no means an outlier in terms of Turnover to Salary - Top Six budget and all that....

Nope, just another weak excuse paddled out via social media to try and stop the troops from revolting. One thing is almost cast in my mind, and that is that they won't be committing any further significant sums. 

Ironically, Methven is now trying to perform a trick that many said didn't make any sense - trying to improve the value of the club without gaining promotion. A bit like the Catch 22 that Sandgaard found himself in, without further investment all he can do is cut costs to improve the SCMP ratios but with deadwood like Kirk, Aneke and Jaiyesimi hanging around the squad for another 2 or 3 years, it's looking grim. 

Maybe Steve Sutherland will save the day by helping us massively trade our way into the black? Perhaps this is why Tony Davison hasn't been announced yet as Commercial Director? Waiting to thank Steve for everything he's done to improve our position.

They are going to ride it out and gamble on Leaburn. The other thing they can do, is sell a few players if they can raise enough to make it worthwhile. Selling a fit again Leaburn would be madness but they could argue it helps us over an obstacle. 

Please, don't fall for this nonsense. It's wafer thin - why isn't it front and centre on Charlton News because Methven would have to acknowledge that his backers aren't putting more money in and that this consortium is a house of cards.

Tuesday 15 August 2023

Charlton Athletic 1 v Bristol Rovers 2

This defeat was tough to take. A 98th minute winner for the visitors silenced and emptied the home sections rapidly. It's not as if the result was a big surprise (I predicted it) but our performance was much better than I expected and with an ounce more luck we would have taken something from the game.

Sorry to learn before kick-off that Mandela Egbo's Charlton career was ended after only 15 appearances as he has moved to Colchester. Pleased, however, that we started with a back four of Edun, Ness, Jones and Asiimwe. Apart from a ten minute spell in the second-half they stood up well and kept things relatively tight. 

Alfie May was alone for much of the game until Daniel Kanu entered the fray and again our midfield struggled to pick him out despite another strong attacking performance from Blackett-Taylor.

Maynard-Brewer made the first telling save of the game when he beat out a Marquis effort after good work from Thomas and Collins to fashion the shooting opportunity. For our part, Alfie May fired in from wide after picking up a ball over the top but Cox parried that in similar fashion. I thought we played the better football in the first-half but once again without creating anything much. Rovers were a bit disappointing but they stepped it after after the break. 

On 58 minutes the game really came to life. Rovers won a free-kick 25 yards out kicking towards their fans in the Jimmy Seed. When the shot came it beat the wall and looked to have Maynard-Brewer beaten too but he got closer to it and then looked like he had beaten it out. I turned to my mate as we both shouted 'what a save' only for the visitors to loudly celebrate a goal. I assume the ball was knocked back quickly where Sinclair finished from close range. 

Suddenly we found an extra yard of pace and we began to stretch them. Some fine play had them back-peddalling and desperate to relieve the pressure. Again we were just short upfront and got no breaks. This seemed to give Rovers some urgency going forward and they had two fine opportunities to increase their lead. Sinclair was played in from distance and lobbed the advancing Maynard-Brewer, only to watch his shot drop inches wide of the far post. After that Marquis should have scored when they opened us up and Marquis went around Maynard-Brewer and fired in at his near post only to see the sliding Lucas Ness stretch a leg to stop it crossing the line.

Kanu was introduced shortly after and within ten minutes found himself racing into their box and being supplied by Dobson (I think). For once, he remained composed and slid a first-time effort beneath the charging Cox for a dramatic equaliser.

The decibel level racheted up in what was a disappointing gate (certainly compared to the Orient game) as the Addicks were roared on but for all our running and passing we struggled to create the chance we needed. However, it did come when Alfie May was played in for the chance he has been waiting for all season, he steered it slightly right before lining up his shot only to see it cannon of the inside of their left post and the rebound was too quick for Kanu to turn in. 

After that we faced seven added minutes and they looked to have been played out when Rovers made once last attack as players converged in our box, a well driven shot crept in by the post as Maynard-Brewer once again looked like he might have saved it. 

The inquest will begin and end with more questions of why Alfie May is being expected to play upfront on his own?

Pirate raid incoming

Joey Barton brings his increasingly resilient side to the Valley this evening where he will be looking for three points. Bristol Rovers did the double over us last year, 2-1 at the Valley and 1-0 at their place in April. Lewisham born John Marquis got all three goals as he continues his vendetta against us for the abuse he suffered when we beat his Doncaster Rovers side en route to promotion in the 2019 play-offs.

Rovers brought in goalscorer Jevani Brown during the window and they have the lively Aaron Collins in support. They have had a solid start drawing at Pompey and holding Barnsley at the weekend. 

This should be a home win fixture but injuries and a toothless attack means we are unlikely to score more than once. In the circumstances, I can see Rovers getting at least a draw and if they can score first, I think they will win. If we play three at the back and Kirk starts it's a good bet at 5-2 with Bet365.

A third defeat on the spin and I would expect words from Methven or Rodwell to steady the troops. They really have to comment on the striker situation which is becoming a glaringly obvious problem. We were lead to believe they had the funds and the targets lined up. It looks very much like we have neither and the plan was always to wing it with May and Leaburn.

Sunday 13 August 2023

Welling United 0 v Hemel Hempstead 1

After going down 5-2 at Truro in the opening game of the season, this was always likely to be a hard ask for the Wings. As it was, the match was closer that I had feared, largely helped by the extra man for 25 minutes of the second-half before Bramble joined Truro's Matthews on the bench.

The first half was even-Stevens as both teams sought the advantage without seriously looking like scoring. The standout player was 19 year old Jephte Tanga on loan to Welling from Leyton Orient. His movement, ball control and pace had the visitors struggling but there was no striking threat ahead of him.

Adam Matthew's, former Wings player, managed to earn a second yellow on the stroke of half-time and you felt that would be enough to swing the game Welling's way. Hemel double-down though and soaked it up until Bramble saw red for the Wings. Within a few minutes Hemel were awarded a soft penalty when Antony Papadopolous, now pressed into right-back, was ruled to have fouled his man in the box. 

Williams stepped up to notch the penalty and was pretty much that. Two straight defeats and a goal difference of minus 4 sees Welling propping up the table. New manager Danny Bloor has his work cut-out.

Meanwhile, the Addicks slipped to a 1-0 defeat at London Road. Panutsche Camara was caught in possession deep in his own half and Kyprianou skated in to score. Other than that, we were relatively competitive albeit powder-puff upfront. We have to recruit another striker this week. Someone fit enough to play and who can provide support for Alfie May.

More injuries yesterday mean we may be putting out a patched-up eleven on Tuesday evening when the Gas come to town.

Thursday 10 August 2023

Up against it

Dean Holden takes his troops up to Peterborough United this weekend hoping and praying for a result to keep the wishful-thinking candle burning after a humbling League Cup exit at struggling Newport on Tuesday. 

Football fans are fickle (as we know) and ours with more reason to be than most. However, the out-pouring of dissatisfaction following Tuesday's defeat surprised even me. The pre-season tidal wave of new dawn optimism following the consortium takeover was ludicrously over-the-top and far too many of us forgot just how poor our side was last year (ok, we finished tenth in the end). Yet the side facing Leyton Orient last week started with nine players who were on our books last year. Our two top scorers were absent and instead we were relying on diminutive Alfie May to fill the gap.

I fully expected us to bring in a striker this week to allay the glaringly obvious weakness as things stand but at lunch-time on Thursday there is no sign of it. I know these moves aren't straightforward but we were told on several occasions that we had identified all our targets and that we were desperate for the takeover to conclude so we could do our business. It begins to look very much like another striker wasn't in the plan and that perhaps they are prepared to wait another few weeks for Leaburn to return. If that's the case, the notion of a serious promotion challenge is laughable. Without May or Leaburn our only option is the inexperienced Kanu whose game has yet to transfer from the Academy to the First Team.

We also picked-up a rash of injuries on Tuesday which I am hoping were more 'in my defence' type of knocks given the parlous showing and defeat than serious injuries. Dean Holden will, no doubt, enlighten us today but we don't look in great shape to face one of the league's more consistent home performers on Saturday. Posh's Kabongo Tshimanga is being linked with a £500k move to Wrexham but Jonson Clarke-Harris, Kai Corbett and David Ajiboye remain. 

We managed two draws against them last year but were a tad fortunate to cling on at their place back in March. Injuries aside, I am very worried about us playing three at the back and they are not the side to be trying it against once more. They get the ball forward quickly with runners and will make it very difficult for us if we persist. I would much prefer to see four at the back and five in midfield when we only have one proven striker available. Please, please, no more Charlie Kirk.

If we go 3-5-2 again I can't see us returning with anything. I can see a routine 2-0 home win.

Wednesday 9 August 2023

League Cup exit at Newport

A second string Charlton side crashed out of the League Cup last night, beaten 3-1 at Newport County. Thanks to Sky, the match wasn't available on any streaming service, so we were saved the misery of watching our team implode in the second-half as an injury-ravaged, League 2, Newport pulled us apart.

I haven't heard Dean Holden's explanation for this one yet but it's going to be a tough ask. He told us last week, with confidence, that we were going to Newport to win the game and for forty-five minutes we held our own and lead at the break from a Kanu tap-in/deflection however unconvincing. In the second-half, the introduction of Charlton subs lead to a Newport goal on three occasions. 

We had 18 attempts at goal but only five were on target. Starting with Kirk and Kanu upfront obviously didn't improve our chances but it was in defence where we really messed-up. McGrandles lost possession in our half for the first. Hector had a chance to put the ball into touch but played it back instead to McGrandles who was caught again by two pressing Newport players, one of whom shot through Isted's legs from an angle at the near post.

Newport's second came from a poor headed Ness clearance which dropped to their left winger who raced into the box and centered for the tap-in. The third was the worst of the lot when Hector tried to play it out from the back. Ness picked up the sideways pass deep in his own box and knocked it out to the wing under pressure where Newport pounced and played the ball back in for number three. 

From those who witnessed it, it was another of those disinterested and half-hearted showings, particularly in the second forty-five, where we failed to respond to the impending defeat. I have written many times about this and the need to recruit a spine to the side of winners and talkers who can maintain the team focus and keep them battling. We still looked desperately short last night. You might expect more from 'Big Hec' but hard to lead when you are throwing goals away yourself. 

What's more, we look to have picked up six knocks during the game as well. Egbo was apparently injured again pre-match and didn't feature as at all, although I was left wondering if he has thrown his toys out-pf-the-pram at not even being selected to start in a League Cup fixture? Either way he doesn't look long for this club, as does Jaiyesimi who again failed to appear. We really do have to move Kirk and McGrandles on so their is no danger of a temptation to play them again.

The notion that we will roll into Peterborough on Saturday and blow them out-of-the-water is for the birds. The pressure on Methven & Co will start to ramp-up if their much-vaunted promotion challenge fails to materialise and we don't improve this squad significantly in the next four weeks. The honeymoon is over. 

Saturday 5 August 2023

Charlton Athletic 1 v Leyton Orient 0

An opening victory was pretty much all we asked for and the home fans left satisfied. As predicted, the game was close although I thought the O's showed us too much respect. If they had been a bit more adventurous they might have nicked the draw.

The starting line-up contained a couple of surprises but was close to what I expected after listening to Dean Holden on Thursday. He went with a back three again but Hector was on the bench. Jones, Ness and Thomas started with CBT on the left and Asiimwe on the right. Orient failed to really press us in the opening half so we looked solid enough. 

Dobson, Fraser and Anderson were in midfield with May and Campbell up front although Campbell spent most of his game sitting off and well-wide of May.

We should have scored after three minutes when Blackett-Taylor stormed past the O's right and centred. The ball fell to May ten yards out and his instinctive shot was superbly saved by Brynn. CBT spent the rest of the half tearing Orient to bits on the flank but they were too strong in the air for any red shirt to make a connection and nothing fell for us on the deck.

Theo Archibald looked Orient's best player and he had their best chance after charging in on our left and forcing a fine diving save from Ashley Maynard-Brewer. Just before the break, Blackett-Taylor sliced them open again and this time he took the ball into the box and slid it across to a clutch of red shirts. George Dobson was first to it and he drove home the goal.

In the second-half Orient left it too late to up the ante and we looked content to slow the game which was disappointing. The Ref was very clear with a number of players about the new time-wasting rules but it didn't stop him booking three or four for just that. Maynard-Brewer was warned before a goal-kick and then promptly booked. After that we had a ludicrous situation where we won a corner and all our players went into a huddle on the O's box before running to their positions but no-one went over to take the corner. Edun, who had not been on long as a sub eventually went over to take it and I thought he was booked although nothing recorded today I note. We have to learn this quickly.

Panutche Camara added some quality to midfield when he came on although he missed our best chance of a second when fired wide after Brynn had parried a May shot into his path. We saw out 7 minutes of added time defending but the job was done.

The main lesson for me was that we have to have another striker alongside the tireless May. There will be no promotion without it. We cannot afford to wait until the end of August either or we will drop points.

Asiimwe, Anderson and Campbell did their bit showing plenty of energy and running but their naivety was there for all to see. Fraser looked slow and Dobson had his work cut out covering.

On a positive, Camara looked a yard quicker than anyone else and he has rapid decision-making and execution. Tayo Edun is small with a low centre of gravity but he is swift, confident and highly mobile. Both will improve our midfield.

I expect us to rest players for the Newport cup game on Tuesday and we face an awkward looking game at Peterborough away next Saturday. They won 1-0 at Reading today so will be keen to take six from six at home.

Finally, great to see an 18,500 crowd. A good atmosphere even if the 3,200 O's were relatively quiet. Hopefully most will be back for the Bristol Rovers home game a week on Tuesday.

Thursday 3 August 2023

The O's - are we ready?

Only two days out from the opening match of the season and we are reaching that point of excitement pitched between eternal optimism and nagging doubt. The big question for all clubs and their supporters at this time, is are we ready?

1) Is the club settled? 

2) Are we confident in our Manager? 

3) Do we have the personnel we need?

4) Are we confident we will be competitive when the transfer window closes?

Fair to say that the club does look settled. The takeover has completed and disinterested Sandgaard has gone, along with his son and lady-friend. Charlie Methven has done a good job so far in calming the horses. He has revealed the identities of the main investors and set-up a Senior Management Team which has appeased the majority.

Confidence in the manager probably couldn't be a lot higher without him having achieved a promotion. Dean Holden sees things as fans do and he is a good communicator. Honest and direct, he has us on-board and the majority have faith in him to make the changes we need as the season progresses.

I don't think we have the personnel we need yet. The squad looks weaker, certainly numerically and most likely in terms of quality as things stand. We have until 1st September to change that and hope that we have enough to get us through the first five games (Orient h, Peterborough a, Bristol Rovers h, Port Vale h and Oxford a). The Academy players will need to pitch-in.

The away games at Peterborough and Oxford look tricky but the three home games should be eminently winnable. I think it's fairly clear to all that there are questions about whether or not we have the personnel to play Holden's preferred 3-5-2 and we are going to struggle upfront with Miles Leaburn unlikely to be ready for these games. We are going to have to rely on youth to win some of these games and we do look in an even better position now with the crop available compared to 12 months ago. 

In terms of confidence that we will be that much stronger as a squad by 1st September, the jury is still out. An expectation was set that the new owners had the budget and the targets lined-up months ago and were itching to get going. Alfie May (for Macauley Bonne) had already been signed under Sandgaard but you have to believe the consortium were onboard with that. Two days after completing the takeover, Harry Isted was signed as a back-up goalkeeper, replacing MacGillivray, Wolacott or Harness (we need a third keeper). We then saw Lloyd Jones join from Cambridge United to fill the Inniss/Lavelle role, Tayo Edun come in at left-back/wing-back to replace Sessegnon and Panutche Camara and Terry Taylor strengthen the attacking midfield (Gilbey/Morgan).

The budget has been confirmed as "Top 6" and Methven has been clear that they won't throw money at this (which I don't think too many would argue with). On the basis that we look to have paid fees for one or two, it's safe to assume that these may come out of the wage bill, which may see us run a smaller 'first team' squad and rely more upon the youngsters. I think we still have five loan spaces and suspect we will use some of these to strengthen further.

However, it's glaringly obvious to me that we need more goals in the side. Rak-Sakyi (our top scorer last season) has not been replaced and we simply have to have striking cover if we are serious about challenging for promotion. Alfie May is a grafter but he's not cut-out for a lone striker role and making do with Kirk and an inexperienced Kanu doesn't work. Given Miles Leaburn will miss the start of the season, that problem will be front and centre during August. Goal-scoring strikers don't come cheap so it's a big ask of the remaining budget but it won't get any cheaper and we will be missing opportunities all the time this isn't addressed. God forbid May gets injured in the meantime. We certainly can't wait or rely on Chuks Aneke who must be one more breakdown away from calling it a day.

The O's don't look like they have had a great pre-season and have lost three key players from last year's promotion romp. They matched us in Spain over 120 minutes in the July heat but Saturday will be decidedly different with rain and wind forecast. I can see another close game with two or three goals being shared. My London derby default is always 1-1 and it's a result that isn't a huge blow for either side. Much may depend on formation and our ability to take the main chances we create. I really don't want to see three at the back again anytime soon and hope that Edun or Thomas can anchor the left back position even playing as wing-backs. We haven't replaced Sean Clare either - Nathan Asiimwe has looked promising but Mandela is fit again and I am surprised he hasn't seen more minutes. If he doesn't start it will look like he either has a fitness problem or Holden doesn't fancy him - Dean Holden may reveal more on his CAST Zoom call this evening at 7pm.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Charlton Athletic 2 v Aberdeen 3

If you missed the game, this scoreline is very misleading. Whilst a change in formation and personnel after the break saw us pull two goals back, it flattered us enormously. 

In the first opening 30 minutes Dean Holden's side were ruthlessly exposed. Our three at the back (Ness, Hector and Jones) were over-run. Aberdeen got at us down our left flank with Ness suffering from no defensive cover from 'wing-back' Blackett-Taylor. It got so bad that Ness actually moved ten yards further up the field than Hector and Jones in a vain attempt to stem the bleeding.. 

The Don's opened the scoring after only three minutes when a ball in from the left proved too dangerous for Asiimwe covering on the right flank and he headed home past his own keeper. Aberdeen continued to press us and we were finding it hard to get any respite. Charlie Kirk was having another poor game nominally upfront with Alfie May and Scott Fraser was struggling to find any space or time in the midfield. 

Graham Shinnie applied the finish to another raid down our left after 22 minutes and we really were all at sea. Minutes later and Hector conceded a penalty which Miovski drove onto a post.  Hector muffed-up again ten minute later as Miovski beat him to the aerial ball and ran on to make it 3-0.

Ashley Maynard-Brewer also pulled off two stunning saves in the first-half to restrict the damage and when Miovski did beat him, he dragged his shot wide of the gaping goal. Maynard-Brewer was at it again in the second-half with another three fine saves which should end any debate as to whom our first choice keeper is.

After the break we finally went to a pseudo back-four with Jones dropping into left back and it relieved the pressure. After 62 minutes both sides made a slew of substitutes. Kirk, Jones and Camara were replaced by Anderson, Campbell and Thomas. We looked much better with Thomas at left-back. Camara had done ok but he is slight and easily knocked off the ball. Kirk had another poor game wasting a couple of half-chances and Campbell looked much better. Karoy Anderson helped us retain more possession in their half but the naivety of our youth was also plainly visible.

Blackett-Taylor tapped in a consolation goal after good work down our left and we continued to look more threatening as the game wore on. The final play saw late sub Daniel Kanu squeeze a shot over the line after he had done very well to control a ball over the top and manoeuvre two defenders to create his chance.

Dean Holden's post-match assessment will be very interesting. After five undefeated pre-season games where we have had ample time to practice formations and tactics, today looked like a lot of the good work was undone. The three at the back was a disaster. Hector had an absolute stinker and there are continuing questions still about his fitness. 

George Dobson was outstanding once again but Fraser struggled and Kirk was his usual waste of a shirt. I don't care how desperate we are in future but Kirk shouldn't play for us again. The Academy lads did their bit but the lesson that "you don't win anything with kids" was clear to see.

Tayo should improve our left back position and Egbo must be a safer bet for now at right-back but where was he today (injured?). Alfie May ran his socks off alone upfront and simply has to have a decent striker alongside him. We have to bring someone in this week before we face Leyton Orient.

Finally, it was embarrassing to see a small group of Aberdeen (and a few Spurs) fans attempting to create a scene as they entered Harvey Gardens from Charlton Lane. I believe they had come from Woolwich (The Great Harry) and made an effort to get in front of their covering police escort. The police stopped them in their tracks although a few half-cut Charlton idiots tried to provoke them by charging up the road throwing beer bottles. It was pathetic to witness but no doubt those involved are all pleased with themselves. I understand more of them decided to stay in Woolwich and give the game a miss which did us all a favour.

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Steady the Buffs!

That historic Charlton curse of pre-season optimism is raising it's head again and it's time we all stood alert and remained focused. During my lifetime, at least, there is a tangible correlation between good pre-season and terrible starts as well as terrible pre-season and good starts. To be fair, I have still never wanted a bad pre-season..

Currently, I don't think anyone would say our pre-season has been anything other than good. Plenty of goals, unbeaten and a stirring performance in the Lions Den last night has got our tails up. One mate renewed his season ticket last night on the strength of a two-nil lead and another has lumped on automatic promotion in his excitement.

Those of you who know me, will expect caution and I give it here. Our tenth-placed squad from last year is slowly being updated as leaver gaps are being filled whilst we have seen some very encouraging step-ups from the U18's and U21's. 

I fear some are Googling new arrivals and celebrating far too prematurely. Some look solid upgrades whilst others we have really yet to see and we still have a number of gaps we have to fill and not accept long-term Academy covers. Those players should be brought in largely when safe to do so and ideally into a settled and winning side. Too often we have thrown them in at the deep end and watched them struggle.

Maynard-Brewer essentially saw off MacGillivray last year and Isted has replaced Wollacott. We will need a third choice keeper.

Tayo finally replaces Sessegnon and we have Thomas as cover, although another left-footed wing-back would be a sensible addition.

At centre-half we have Ness, Jones and Hector, albeit with doubts over Hector's long-term fitness. It looks increasingly like he struggles to do two games a week. We have Mitchell, Elerewe and Thomas who can cover but I have doubts about Elerewe and Thomas at this level if we need longer term cover.

Egbo's return from injury is welcomed and Nathan Asiimwe has burst onto the scene but he is an U18 and we have to have another experienced right-back.

Midfield is looking better with Camara and Taylor joining but perhaps a rejuvenated looking Scott Fraser will be the real win. We still don't have another strong defensive midfielder who can cover the Dobson role and need a right-side Rak-Sakyi replacement. Campbell can cover Blackett-Taylor and Karoy Anderson has shone in pre-season on the right but it would be foolish not to strengthen here. We also have Aaron Henry but to my mind he hasn't been nearly consistent enough when he has played to be considered a reliable first-teamer yet.

Upfront is crying out. Alfie may will add far more than Macauley Bonne but he needs a foil and Leaburn is out injured again. I have given up on Chuks Aneke ever returning even medium term and Daniel Kanu hasn't been able thus far to step-up.

In summary then, there is still lots to do. A third choice keeper, another left-sided wing-back, an experienced centre-back and right-back cover. A defensive midfielder, a strong right wing-back and two goalscorers. That's eight and I don't expect our "top six" wage budget will do it. We still have five (I think) loan spaces and am sure that's how we are most likely to fill these gaps but they are typically costlier, so maybe only four at most. We have to prioritise upfront. I think we have started short here since being promoted with Lee Bowyer.

I have left Kirk, Jaiyesimi and McGrandles out because they have all auditioned for parts several and times and failed. They won't play any significant part in a promotion campaign and need to find clubs more suited to them.

Charlie Methven has made it clear that his 'experienced management team' will make the difference to the fabled top six budget. We all hope so but newly re-appointed Andy Scott will have to do much better than his January recruitment which was Michael Hector and four duffers.


Saturday 22 July 2023

Methven completes the takeover

Ok, so officially it's Global Football Partners who own SE7 Partners, but ostensibly it's Methven in charge. Yes, he is far from the largest shareholder but I think we will see him calling the shots if he can keep their plan on target.

The seven 5%+ shareholders (all serial investors) are enormously busy people and I don't expect any of them to do much more than attend a monthly Board call and show up to the odd match at the Valley. Their investments in Charlton are so relatively small that they will be satisfied with Methven steering the ship.

There were a couple of surprises, too, in the formation of the Senior Management Team that will report to Methven and the other main Board investors.

Paul Elliott finally achieves his dream of a seat at the table as a Non-Exec and Steve Sutherland returns as Commercial Manager on an interim basis. As revealed last week, fan Gavin Carter has bought his way onto the SMT as the fans representative as well. All three appointments tick the 'appease the supporters box' although it remains to be seen what value we get from Elliott and Carter. Sutherland can, presumably, secure his place if he delivers commercial revenues.

We should quickly get a view on the depth of GFP pockets. I assume an operational budget will have been agreed for this season and our remaining transfer window will provide a heavy clue as to the game-plan.

Will they splash the cash and speculate to accumulate? Will the Texas Prospectus prove to have been real and see them slash costs and sell players to improve the bottom-line, or will they steer a conservative middle line and rely upon the vast SMT experience and abilities to out-manouvre  our League 1 competition as they are suggesting?

The next big question we must prepare for is 'what happens if it doesn't go to plan?' As Charlton fans we have to consider that question. Decision-making at Board level is unlikely to be smooth and Friedman and Brener may likely call the shots as majority shareholders if they are in-step. Will they be prepared to invest further? Is this a one-off punt? It may depend, of course, on what progress has already been made against the plan.

Under Kevin Cash, remember, we had actually won promotion but he wasn't prepared to invest further, so the plug was pulled. Maybe with so many investors, one or two may decide to take a greater share if others want out and put more in but again you would assume that they would need to have seen something to inspire them.

In the circumstances, it looks very much like the first half if the season is going to be especially important this year. No pressure Charlie...

Wednesday 19 July 2023

That Methven Interview

Whilst the wait goes on for final confirmation that the club now belongs to SE7 Partners, PragueAddick on Charlton Life has published the transcript of his conversation with Charlie Methven back in May.

Key snippets have been reported or paraphrased previously but there are still some interesting pointers to take from the conversation.

First, Methven will own a 7% 'investment' in the club and he confirms that Simon Lenaghan, a long-term friend and fellow Oxford United fan, will hold a similar stake. Methven also tells us that SE7 Partners was primarily an investment vehicle for "friends and family" that includes the likes of Rodwell, Warrick and other minor investors. He has subsequently revised this to include main investors Friedman and Brener, as they needed to be included to meet EFL requirements.

Importantly, we were told previously no-one would have overall control and that their combined share-holding would be less than 50%. Clarity here that with additional, smaller, family percentages, the two American Hedge Fund bosses will have a majority holding.

The expected return of Andy Scott as Technical supremo to stand alongside Jim Rodwell's 'business' role is also confirmed although, when pushed, Methven says they will not report to him but to the main board. Confusingly, he also describes his role as "sort of over-seeing" and that "on a day-to-day business," the main investors on the board will likely ask him when they want answers.

When asked about the ambitions of the main investors and their exit strategy, he is pretty vague. He says they aren't in it to make money but also that don't want to lose any. He has no view of a likely timeline in terms of their ownership as they haven't discussed that with him but he thinks it's "on the far horizon.' For the avoidance of doubt, he is clear that they have no intention of "flipping the club for £10m or £15m."

He denies any knowledge of the 'Texan Prospectus' and confirms there are no Texan investors in the consortium. I certainly saw one and associated paperwork from W11 Capital Management. Perhaps they couldn't interest anyone in the 5% share allocation they claimed to have been offered. That or it really was a fake, although it was the first time to my knowledge that anyone had heard mention of Simon Lenaghan as a potential investor.

Methven has since confirmed that Gavin Carter, identified recently as a fan who has invested, will sit on the "CAFC Board," presumably as our chosen representative. 

I really hope the reality of SE7 Partners ownership is on the positive side of the assessments because we were facing almost certain continuing gradual decline under disinterested Thomas Sandgaard. I look forward to the CAFC announcement on the takeover when we should understand more about who all is involved and, presumably, get more clarity from the Americans on their ambitions and strategy for achieving them.

Monday 10 July 2023

Park View Road Redevelopment Plans

I headed over Shooters Hill this afternoon to take a look at the plans for Welling United's redevelopment of Park View Road (PVR). News a couple of weeks ago that this was happening and that the proposals included 114 new homes as well as retail outlets onto the main road had me thinking this was a 'grand scheme' that would necessitate the acquisition of the neighbouring cricket club and the turning of the Wings pitch etc. 

So, I have to say I was underwhelmed upon seeing the plans. The redevelopment is going to occupy pretty much the same footprint the ground does today. The capacity will be c4000, the same as today although it's pretty clear that once complete there will be no scope for any expansion of that capacity. Maybe just a nice problem to have given historical gates? 

They will push the Danson Park end back to occupy the land behind the current wall that belongs to the site and the pitch will be shunted right up to the new boundary with no space for fans behind the goal. That gives them the space on PVR to maximise their commercial development and build all those homes and shops which should fund it. This is being built in one large block of 8 or so floors. The designs have the word 'standing' behind the home goal on PVR but there is so little space and no defined terracing as to effectively mean it will likely just be two sides in practice. 

The current 'Welling side' is rebuilt with a new stand the length of the pitch but with no more width than is available currently. Interestingly, the 'Erith & Belvedere side' remains largely untouched, although their stand (and small terracing) is now almost completely in the far half of the pitch whereas today it straddles the halfway line. The first half of the side is now given over to a water tank and sops such as a covered 'cycling storage' space (keeping the planners onside). How long, I wonder before they write that off and use it for something more productive?

Whilst my cynical Charlton side was emerging, Welling Tone reminded me that there is no 'do nothing' option as the current ground is falling to bits. The Wings Bar currently hides a multitude of sins which the developers have photographed very nicely to make the point.

The timeline, which always needs a large dose of salt, suggests they will be ready to start at the end of this coming season (May) and will take two years to complete. No mention of where the Wings and the Deres will play in the meantime but I understand they are looking at the likes of VCD in Crayford which would require some work or a dispensation from the league as it doesn't meet current standards.

You also have to wonder what is in this for Erith & Belvedere? They seem to be gaining far less for a two year spell playing somewhere else. All pain and no gain?

Whilst I left acknowledging Welling Tone's point, I was also left questioning how this announcement and consultation is being handled by the club. Last year, Chairman and prominent Board member Paul Whitehead did a great job communicating directly to and with the supporters. He was full of ideas, most of which he actioned. So far, no-one from the Board has been quoted at all. Nothing from Whitehead, nothing from owner Howard Prosser or WUSA Chairman Matt Mein. I might be jumping the gun but it's almost as if this is being done to them rather than them being behind it in the best interests of the club. You could be forgiven for thinking they don't want their names attached to it.

The plans should be available to view here on Tuesday..........

Saturday 8 July 2023

Dartford 1 v Charlton Athletic 2

Another game of two elevens and thankfully we had a stronger team out in the second-half although neither eleven included a striker.

The starting eleven matched Dartford and Harry Isted prevented the Darts from going in one up at the break. Jaiyesimi and Campbell were nominally the first-half strikers and Kirk and Kanu similarly in the second period. None of them did anything. Jaiyesimi and Kirk are beyond the point of no return for me. They have both had multiple chances and have failed to take them or make any sustained impression. Very disappointing given we paid money for both of them and they are still hanging around because they got long contracts.

After the break we took the game to our hosts and Nathan Asiime in particular took his chance to impress. He was busy on our right flank and was always looking to cut inside. He was rewarded after the hour when Blackett-Taylor chipped into the six yard area and he was first to the header. His glance took it wide of their keeper and in off the post. Minutes later he scored again by cutting in, beating his man and prodding the ball beyond the keeper who should perhaps have done better than to get an arm it to as it bounced in.

It looked all over at that point but Dartford stepped up and after Blackett-Taylor was out-muscled in our half, Vardy raced into the box and skinned the hapless Roddy before finding Manor a yard out at the back post. Two-one and suddenly we looked capable of giving the Darts a draw. Even after they had a player dismissed for swinging at McGrandles (how embarrassing) we still gave them opportunities down our left and Maynard-Brewer saved what would have been an equaliser. We failed to exert any pressure after they went down to ten and looked happy to get off 2-1.

This game came too early for Alfie May and Miles Leaburn is out for "a few weeks." Lloyd Jones is also still recovering from injury, so we do at least have three 'first-teamers to return.' However, the squad is horribly unbalanced and it's mind-boggling that we are being linked with another centre-half (Fankaty Daby) in the circumstances when we have six, excluding Sam Lavelle who slipped away to Carlisle on Friday (good business for them). 

We have to sign a couple of left footed players and injuries are also screaming out for another striker or two. The other elephant in the room are the personalities and winners that we need so desperately. The on-field leaders who will call the shots and give us the bite we have lacked since Lee Bowyer's team. One of them needs to be a midfield general in my mind. I don't want to see Roddy playing for us this season and, trier though he is, I can't see Payne playing a sustained role in a promotion-challenging side in this division.

George Dobson took a knock today which reminds you just how vulnerable our midfield can look without him. We don't have another player who can break things up like him and offer protection to the defence. 

I should add that I think Alfie May is a very good signing but I really hope he doesn't turn out to be our biggest piece of business. We have to bring in another six and they all need to be Alfie May's if we are realistically going to challenge. 

I have very little confidence that we will have the budget for this but I trust Dean Holden and he has said he is very happy with where we are headed, so that gives me some hope.

Sunday 2 July 2023

A tale of two elevens

First things first, congratulations to Dean Holden and his 22 players who saw Welling United off comfortably yesterday at Park View Road. The 4-0 score-line was par for the course but the performance and the result probably said more about Welling's state of readiness for league action than ours.

As has become customary, we started each half with different elevens. It gives everyone 45 minutes, helps keep it competitive and the fans get to see all the players in action. The two Charlton sides were a careful mixture of the good and not-quite-there-yet, which was sensible and it obviously worked.

However, if you picked the strongest eleven to start the match, our second-half side would have looked like this; Isted, Elerewe, Mitchell, Lavelle, Asiimwe, Henry, McGrandles, Chin, Jaiyesimi, Kirk and Kanu. In a nutshell, that is the current squad weakness and in an ideal world we should be looking to bring in better quality players than we have in the first eleven line-up, so we can move some of the current first teamers into the wider squad and move on some of the current second eleven.

The fact that we have only signed a back-up keeper in Harry Isted and extended Michael Hector's contract so far, tells you that Sandgaard isn't spending a bean more than our current (lower) wage budget and that there is no deal on a bigger budget with the prospective new owners as trotted out by Peter Storrie on season ticket deadline day. 

I listened to Michael Hector explain earlier in the week how easy it was for him to extend his deal with us, a month after he was offered a new contract. He spoke, with a smile, about his slow start in January when it seemed to take him two months to get to full fitness. So frustrating then to hear Dean Holden tell us that his absence yesterday was because "he returned a bit behind the others in terms of fitness." This is an out-of-contract player looking to get a new deal somewhere. Bear in mind he hardly played in the two years before he joined us and he is 30 years old, you have to question his motivation and just what we will get from him this season.

Holden also told us that the current process for transfers was cumbersome in that it involves putting any suggestions to Thomas Sandgaard and then floating them past Methvin's crew. I guess we shouldn't be surprised at that but it's certainly not ideal. The common wisdom is that an EFL decision on the approval of the takeover should be through in three or four weeks time i.e. a week or two before the season starts. No doubt we will add to the squad before then but don't expect six or seven signings. Sandgaard won't want to increase his current wage exposure too much and I am sure Global Football Partners will want to be seen to have made changes (however underwhelming they might turn out to be) after their arrival. Perhaps the main loanees will be left for GFP to decide. Those will be the bigger wages and potentially the biggest first-team influence.

In the meantime, Chuks Aneke was again absent yesterday, Holden us he tweaked his calf in training but you have to wonder. Apparently, he hasn't been seen around the club since the end of last season. His injury record is appalling and with a lengthy contract in place, at what point will Charlton call it a day? Not much longer you would think if they can claim insurance compensation if he is medically retired. Such a shame, but why was he offered such a long term after his injury record with us up until that point?

Oh, and we all need to pray that Miles Leaburn's injury yesterday is nothing serious or we are in deep doo-doo.

Thursday 22 June 2023

Shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic

With the League One fixtures due out at 9am today and a host of relatively attractive pre-season games lined-up for once, you would expect some excitement and perhaps even optimism amongst the club's supporters.

Sadly, that is over-shadowed by the continuing colossal lack of ambition on the playing front. After a clear-out of all those we could move on contractually and hype from Peter Storrie and Methven's consortium that a "Top Six" budget had been agreed as well as a mechanism that would allow recruitment to continue whilst the takeover drags on, we have signed precisely no-one. 

They told us they had identified all their targets and that their plan was in place. On season ticket deadline day we were linked with Alfie May and an offer was supposedly made. There is now doubt about that, but if it happened the offer was obviously small enough for mighty Cheltenham Town to ignore it.

Logic tells you that Thomas Sandgard isn't going to spend a penny more than the budget for last year, which they told us at varying times last season was "Top 4" and "Top 6." Indeed, the last player we paid a fee for was Scott Fraser 18 months ago. If we buy anyone, you can be sure the squad numbers will be trimmed to pay for it. 

The notion that "all interested parties" had agreed a transfer budget is laughable. Indeed, Peter Storrie told the Fans Forum last week that he had no idea what the takeover consortium's transfer budget might be. Charlie Methven has been waffling about being desperate to get the deal done to maximise the transfer window but I will bet my hat that they will drag this out to delay coughing up to Sandgaard until the last minute, avoiding taking on too many months running costs before the season starts and that they will start the season with a smaller and cheaper squad than we ended it.

Let's face it, it's taken them six months to get £11m and Proof of Funds together and their consortium has grown and grown in order to do even do that. We are now hearing in great detail about the EFL's various processes, Proof of Funds, Owners & Directors Tests and Financial Tests. We now know sequencing and timelines as well as all the other clubs in the queue. I believe Methven's group are managing the timeline process to hopefully conclude nearer August and blame the EFL. I am waiting for the statement that says "we will do what we can with the limited opportunities left to us in this window and focus on continuing the rebuild in January."

We are being played I tell you.