Saturday 31 December 2011

Swap shop to take place after Addicks head East...

So potentially the first bit of transfer window business has taken place. Or will tomorrow once the transfer window re-opens.

Leon Clarke, who had that very odd bust up with Dicanio at the start of the season, will be joining us in what is apparently a straight swap for Paul Benson.

I liked Benno, he was a hard working, if not skillful, forward.  I am guessing it's another member of the non Powell brigade leaving, and in Clarke we are signing more of a target man who I guess will give us cover for Kermogant and an alternative option from the bench rather than the immobile Jason Muell.

I'm wondering what team Sir Chris will put out this evening. There's been a fair bit written quoting him as saying he may mix things up to protect those players near a ban prior to the booking amnesty. (This is a rule I've missed/not heard of before). I expect we may well see Jackson back on the left and Ephriam may well play on the right in the absence of Green (suspended) and Wagstaff (possibly carrying an ankle injury).

Expect to see a return to goal scoring form from BWP and Kermo pitching in with a goal as well. Here's my precise prediction, The O's to take an early lead courtesy of Lisbie (we all know he will score against us as he always seems to) followed by a Charlton come back rolling over Orient 4-1.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Christmas 'blip' becomes unbeaten run and promotion push...

...So following on from the back to back draws, Charlton come back twice from behind in Somerset followed by an injury time winner turning things round from a seeming blip in a promotion march into an eleven match unbeaten charge towards the Championship. Coupled with Sheffield Wednesday's late collapse, we sit 8 points cleat at the summit of the third division. Let's hope there is no Leyton Orient backlash from their latest set back at Brisbane Road.

If we do get the three points that we should on Old Years Night then we come out of the tricky Christmas programme on an amazing 54 points. And who knows? Maybe even with an eleven point cushion at the top! Happy bloody Christmas Messrs Powell, Dyer, Slater and Jiminez!

I think a special mention should go to the Gaelic Kermogrant.

2007–2009Stade Reims66(13)
2009–2011Leicester City20(1)
2010–2011→ Arles-Avignon (loan)26(3)
2011–Charlton Athletic13(7)

Besides the fact he does work tirelessly for the team, when you look at his previous record (above) as I did when we signed him, it is far from prolific.  However his confidence under Sir Chris has certainly grown, and by his terms he is becoming a second goalscorer for the club. A ratio of a goal very two games.  (Which is priceless, when your main striker hits a baron spell, as they all do from time to time. Takes the pressure off.)

This leads me to deduce, that perhaps, in Chris Powell we have unearthed one of those fantastic and rare types of managers who can take an under performing and underrated player and coach them into something pretty special.

Sunday 18 December 2011

Oldham park the bus

It's taken me a while to post re yesterdays game.  I left the ground so deflated.  Oldham did what they intended to do and ground out, what for them was a good point.

Despite the last ten minutes of each half there was only really one team in it for me. Us. Kermogant does seem like a bit of a marmite player for alot of  Addicks and I hear varying opinions. For me he was immense yesterday, a real target man who not only holds the ball up well, but when it is hoofed up the park to him does try and nod it into some areas that make life difficult for the opposition. And he did not stop chasing down the ball until the final whistle went.

We were not dreadful at all, it was just one of those really frustrating days. You could see how frustrated BWP was getting with not quite good enough through balls and he did miss a bit of a sitter one on one with the keeper. I've been really impressed with Bradley's work rate this season, and he obviously has the skills to perform at at least Championship level. (In fact I have on more than one occasion embarrassed myself and shouted his name as Shaun by some odd form of mis identification).  I feel he really needs a goal to get him back on track and ease what could become a lack of confidence issue.

I don't think this is the beginning of the infamous Charlton Xmas and New Years capitulation that we are well known for. I can see Sir Chris being given the opportunity to strengthen the squad in the window for the promotion push. Not that I think we need it. But every little helps. (And an impact player to bring on from the bench for occasions like yesterday).

I was listening to the post match interview with Sir Chris in the car on the way home yesterday. I had to laugh. I've always liked the guy, and don't ever seeing that changing whatever way Charlton's or his fortunes go.  The interviewer said something along the lines of 'being your 50th game in charge at The Valley how fantastically you've done', Chris laughed and replied 'well for the last 25, not the first 25'. Such honesty.

Finally, what a great crowd yesterday. Considering Oldham must have brought just one coach full by the looks of it.  One of my kids schools had been given free tickets from the club, so I sat with the two that accompanied me away from my usual seat. To be fair I'd dreaded the idea of sitting with a bunch of screaming school kids but both the parents and children from StAlbans and York Road school did themselves, the school and Charlton proud.

Saturday 17 December 2011

Happy Christmas at The Valley...

I certainly hope so.  My day could not have got off to a better start. Channel chopping I find The Specials recorded live in concert is on Sky Arts.  So are furthering my children's musical education by watching it with them.

I'll be taking two of my brood along to the game today, so am hoping the lads can put a good performance and pick up all three points.  I've seen some pretty good games against Oldham over the years in the second division, I seem to recall a 3 all draw and I'm pretty sure a 5-3.

Russell seems to be getting better by the game and with potential players incoming to the midfield in January along with Stephens and Jackson returning from injury the midfield is looking extremely strong and will be extremely competitive for places. (Especially if Ephriam stays into the New Year).

I said I expected at the very least a draw last week at Wallsall, some saw this as a set back, but on the back of Sir Chris being awarded manager of the month was a decent result. (Not that I'm superstitious or anything).

I'm pretty confident that we'll see a good Charlton win this afternoon.  There haven't been too many setbacks so far this season, however when there have our reaction in the following fixture have been consistently good. After the home draw against Scunthorpe we beat Championship Reading and Bury away in the league, following our home draw against Sheff Weds we went on a 5 match unbeaten run in the league then following our three match win less streak we went on an 8 match winning streak and are now unbeaten for nine games in all competitions (some set back that draw at Wallsall hey?).

Floating not that far above the relegation zone and with a negative goal difference of minus four, conceding 18 times on the road in the league I'm confidently predicting a good Charlton victory, perhaps even seeing a return to scoring form for BWP and perhaps even seeing him bag that elusive first hat trick. 5-1 Charlton.

Friday 9 December 2011

Congratulations to Sir Chris and Mr Morrison...

So the inevitable has happened and not only has Chris Powell been crowned manager of the month but Michael Morrison has also won league one player of the month.

Now with the poison chalice firmly in hand we head into Saturdays clash with Wallsall, and I'm afraid I do still fully expect us to come away with at least a point.

Full preview to follow.

Monday 5 December 2011

It was nineteen years ago today...

I looked at my watch this morning and realised it was 19 years ago to the day that some of us marched through Woolwich down to the Valley and enjoyed Charlton winning their first match back at the Valley following the seven year exile. It seems amazing that this time next year will be the twentieth anniversary of that momentous day! Even more amazing the fact that a lot of the younger drinkers you see in many of the pubs around the ground on match day may not even have been born until after our return and really don't have the benefit of experiencing and understanding  how difficult the eighties were for the club and it's supporters.

When you look at the last five seasons, and our current position it really goes to show that when your not a fan of one of the big four or five teams in English football it can be so much more of a roller coaster than say an Arsenal supporter bemoaning the fact they haven't won any silverware for a few years. (Try 64 years and then you'll really have a reason to gripe, not that I am myself - and neither are many of my fellow Addicks, it's just a fact of life that with 92 clubs in the league the chances of winning one of the main domestic competitions are pretty slim to say the least). Me, I'll be more than happy to see us win the third division title or even snatch second spot and automatic promotion. (No more play offs please!!!)

We're (hopefully) bang in the middle of the sort of run that delivers a comfortable promotion, which just goes to show how quickly and dramatically things can change in a short period of time. (Also see the five years immediately following the departure of Curbs for dramatic changes).

The draw for the third round of the fa cup has thrown up a 'tantilising' trip to London rivals Fulham from the premiership. I'll be quite happy to see us beaten narrowly but heroically with Danny Murphy on the wrong end of a decent upending tackle, for his pleasant snob of a wife's car to break down on the way to the ground so she has to get on the tube with a bunch of Charlton supporters and Bradley Pritchard to get a start and put in another cracking performance.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Get that open top bus ready...

Okay perhaps I'm being over the top here, but as I look back over the past thirty years I've supported Charlton I realise that despite the glory glory premiership years I've only been lucky enough to witness four promotion campaigns. '81, '86, '98 and 2000. (Oh and a Full Members Cup Final).

Another great win for the Addicks.  Huddersfield tried hard to break us down but I think they'll know in their heart of hearts the best team won on the night.

It's great fun being a Charlton supporter at the moment, if not a little difficult to blog, because there's just not much to moan about right now.

Chris Powell showed his managerial bravery in bringing on Hughes so early. And what an eye he has for a player in the temporary Jackson loan replacement of Ephraim.

Industrious and with a resolute will to win the Addicks to a man look every part Champions elect from where I'm standing at the moment. I know there's some way to go, but this latest result and performance just further goes to show how far we've come since last season.

The only possible fly in the proverbial ointment was the 'sinister' lurking presence of Neil Lennon in the crowd, who apparently was there to watch Huddersfields on form striker, but would have been given quite some food for thought from Charlton's first half performance. We can only hope that the club owners are more interested in the long term opportunities of keeping this squad of players together rather than looking at making a fast buck in January.

Carlisle in the cup on Saturday gives the manager a chance to rest some of our key men and the rest of us a chance to calm down a touch.

It's taken me a few days after the match to post as I am now only just starting to feel normal following post post match liquid celebrations on Monday night.

Monday 28 November 2011

The run ends here!

It's one of the most anticipated (certainly by me) games at The Valley for a long time tonight against Huddersfield.

I remember during my early days as a Charlton supporter seeing us play Huddersfield quite a few times during our long stay (well it seemed long at the time, but when your a kid the world does seem to turn a lot slower) in the old second division.

Of course there's always the good old 7-6 match as a point of happy reference, long before my time, over 50 years ago. There's some good information and links on wiki here

But it was fifty years ago, and things move on.  Huddersfield have coped admirably well with the recent expectation levels heaped upon them due to the unbeaten Nottingham Forest record they were gunning for, and beat. Lee Clark did an excellent acting job of seeming uninterested in the record and more focused on picking up points. Once they had beaten the record he did admit he was desperate to complete this achievement. Now with the Arsenal record being banged on about I think this may well become a monkey on Huddersfield's back! We've already tasted defeat in the league, and are still top, so that particular hoo-doo or whatever you may want to call it is no longer  of worry or consequence to the players.

It was the home game against Huddersfield last season, despite it ending in a one nil defeat for the Addicks, that I feel we first saw the old Charlton side begin to 'get' the way Chris Powell wanted them to play.

I don't expect any tactical changes to the line up. Jackson will need replacing, it will be interesting to see who slots into that spot. I would imagine it will be Ephraim.  We may also get to see Darel Russell for the first time, albeit from the bench.

It's only ten O clock and I've already got the twisted feeling in my stomach of anticipation and excitement for tonight's game.

A hard match to predict the outcome for. Charlton unbeaten at home and with plenty of goals in them, Huddersfield unbeaten away having drawn more than they win however and with 18 goals. We could see a high scoring match tonight. Charlton's goal difference is two to the better so I'm going to go for a thrilling 4-2 TV win for the Addicks, with captain Taylor getting on the score sheet. In fact I may even have a punt on that one.

Monday 21 November 2011

Jackson injury leaves first real change of the season required.

So once again Chris Powell's class of 2011 fly in the face of the norm and actually ground out a result at Griffin Park. Five points clear of Huddersfield and 7 points clear of Sheffield Wednesday in third it's all set up for that tantalising home game against the Terriers on Monday.  The only fly in the ointment being the possible mid term injury worry to captain Johnny Jackson.

The timing and signing of left sided midfielder Ephraim seems an almost prophetic piece of business by Sir Chris. It will remain to be seen as to whether the 23 year old is a worthy temporary replacement for the club captain. Or even whether Powell opts to play with Wagstaff or Green on the left ?

On that note, if indeed Jackson is going to be out for a few weeks (as seems likely) who will step into the breach as fill in match day skipper. On the face of it there are quite a few contenders for different reasons. BWP is probably most influential player with his goals, having said that I really can't remember too many successful captain strikers.  Taylor is by far one of the most vocal players on the pitch so could be (excuse the pun) Taylor made for the role. (Groan).  Hollands is a solid rock in the midfield, and has looked even better than early season since he's been released to go forward more. Hamer who has made it very easy for us all to forget the once prodigal son that was Rob Elliott has always looked really confident behind the back four. There's even a case for Hughes after the way he has stepped in and looked like alot more than a squad player with his mature and sensible performance's. Or Wiggins, who by general con census has been one of the real stars of the season to date.  I just don't know!

Jackson, despite not being overly vocal has brought a calming influence and has lead by example with his tireless and honest displays (and his goals).

The change may well go in our favour for next Monday, as I'm sure Lee Clark would have done his homework on our regular first teamers, so the potential to have another type of player pairing up with Wiggins on the left may well be a bit of a curve ball for them.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Anything's possible in SE7

I didn't post after last Sundays excellent (yes, I said excellent) result against Blue Square North FC Halifax as it had all been pretty much said about this game.

However in the build up to the Brentford away game, it has shown that trends can be broken and these days anything is possible with the men from SE7.  Even back in the Premiership days, this was the type of game that we would capitulate in and embarrass ourselves.  Chris Powell took the competition seriously and fielded a mix of first teamer's and squad players, it worked and we're through to the second round and a home tie against Carlisle, which I think we will win and hopefully go out valiantly against top opposition in a third round thriller, further boosting the experience and confidence of our happy band of men. (And needless to say the clubs bank balance).

Over recent years we've had mixed results against Brentford. Most recently, since our prolonged stay in the Third Division, we've only managed to get all three points once at the Valley with a two-nil win. Other than that they did the double over us last season and we got a 'credible' 1-1 draw at Griffin Park (one of the nicest grounds in the league, with a pub on all four corners of the stadium). And of course there was the three nil home horror of the Johnston (watch paint dry) Trophy earlier this season.

In fact it has been over thirty years since our last win at Brentford. And do you know when that was? It was our last promotion campaign in England's Third tier. If this season is the one where we turn things around and fly in the face of recent history, I think we'll replicate that victory from back in 1980 and nick a one nil win.

Monday 7 November 2011

Free scoring Addick's win again...

I'm sitting here posting this suffering from a rather bad case of man flu (or a bit of a cold as it's technically known).

Another Saturday has passed us by, and another incredible win by the mighty Addick's. I can't recall the last time I saw us put five past opposition at The Valley.

Besides the fact that BWP is now on 13 goals for the season what's really encouraging is the spread of goals this season with the midfield contributing over 40% of those scored so far.  One of the centre backs even got in on the act at the weekend.

The way we have been playing since the Stevenage game it's quite difficult to single out individual players for particular accolades such is the level of team performance at the moment. Only one more game, away to Brentford, before what I think will be our biggest league game of the season. Huddersfield play their next league game at home to Notts County which may see them beat Nottingham Forests record of league games unbeaten (they equalled it at the weekend).  If they do avoid defeat to take their place in the history books it will set things up pretty nicley for the game on the 28th, which dare I say it, I think there's a good chance of us winning to further extend our lead at the top of the table.

If you look at our position at this stage last season along with Brighton the eventual champions you get a better idea of just how far Sir Chris has taken us.

After 17 games we were on 31 points and second behind the Sussex club who themselves were on 35 points. After the same number of games we're on 40 points. With six games between now and Christmas there are 24 more points to play for.  If this fantastic winning streak continues we'll enter 2012 on 64 points.  If we maintain our season to date form of 2.35 points per game we'll be on 54 points.  After 23 games Brighton were on 46.

I know we're not even at the halfway mark, but it is begning to look like one of those special seasons.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Bring on North End...

When your top, and have been installed as favourites for promotion pretty much every game takes on the title 'potential banana skin'. A phrase i've almost certainly used far too much this season. (Such shrouded pessimism is a sympton of being a life long Charlton supporter i'm afraid).

Preston North End, after a good start to their league campaign, have had a torrid time of it latley. Their last win came back in September (bare in mind we are now in Novemebr and well and truly into the ever earlier countdown to Christmas silly season) against struggling Wycombe Wanderers.  In the form tables they are currently 24th (bottom).  Some may say that Saturday could well be the game they turn things around in.  I say it won't be.  We can all bare testament from last seasons awful run how easy it is to get a losing mentality as a team and get into a dangerous rut as opposed to a blip. (Which is what we seem to have had against Tranmere and Stevenage).

Prestons danger men are overweight ex Liverpool striker 'Fatty' Mellor, Huime and Jamie Proctor - who have all contributed to PNE's season with goals and assists this season.  I don't feel Mellor is mobile enough to give our back four too much of a problem and would fear (if that's the word) both Proctor and Huime more if selected.

Despite the fact that Preston's reserves beat our own pretty well in the League Cup it will be a completley different game this time round with our first team full of confidence and looking like they now have a steely 'we must win' mentality. Another Charlton win to improve our home record as we close in on the big match against Huddersfield at the end of the month.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Ei Ei EiO...Up the Football League We Go...

Another possible away day banana skin, another romping four nil victory.

Chris Powell stuck with a winning line up and they once again did not disappoint.  All we need to do now is win against Preston at the Valley next week, then grab a draw away to one of our Bogey sides Brentford and it should all set things up nicely for the home televised match against Huddesfield. Who unfortunately seem to be enjoying the same 'X Factor' that we do currently. Otherwise we'd truly have a great lead at the top of the table.

BWP is really showing that when motivated, which he certainly is at the moment,  is a class act. And will I'm sure be just a lethal a proposition in the Championship. Waggy came on from the bench and showed that he still has the motivation to get on the score sheet through his tenacity.  I wonder how long before he regains his place on the right over the booking prone Green.

The usual Sunday morning tradition of growling at the kids to be quiet whilst I watched and re watched the goals on The Football League Show ensued.  There is absolutely no doubt, we do look the real article this season.  You don't put in the kind of away performance's we have through pure blaggery and fluke.

The added bonus of an away tie at FC Halifax, which apparently is hotly tipped to be selected as the live game, and I'm an extremely happy addick at the moment!

Friday 28 October 2011

Hartlepool Away...

Charlton travel away to Hartlepool tomorrow for what, on paper and current form, should really be a must for all three points.  However we all know that's not how it always works out in this division.

After a great September in which they won all five league games the wheels well and truly came of Hartlepool's early challenge this month. Winning only once, away to Chesterfield 3-2 and losing all four home games and scoring just the one home goal.

I would imagine they will be looking at frustrating us and grabbing a draw and a point to stop the recent rot (which would seem like a victory for them on current form).  Expect a team going all out to frustrate us and stop us playing.  I think the key will be for Charlton to dictate the tempo from the outset and get an early goal.  That ought to let Hartlepool heads drop and enable us to get on with our normal game.

I will be extremely happy if we can ride out any spoiling tactics that Hartlepool try and come away with a hard fought point.

With Huddersfield having a seemingly easy away game against rock bottom Yeovil it's vitally important we pick up at least a point tomorrow. (Mind you, as mentioned at the start of this post, Huddersfield could come unstuck, they've got to lose at some point after all, and we could enter November sitting pretty and six points clear at the top...

Wednesday 26 October 2011

'Bradley's Brace keeps Charlton Top'...Wycombe 1 Charlton 2

It's really great fun being an Addick at the moment.

I spent the match in a pub in Dartford celebrating my wife's friends birthday, glued to the large screen which was showing Gillette soccer special on Sky.  They must have 1. Thought I was a bit ignorant staring over my shoulder squinting at the television for most of the evening and 2. A bit odd when I suddenly waved my arms about and made a strange 'graaaaagh yes' noise when BWP's second goal came across he ticker at the bottom of the screen.

Reading various blogs from supporters that were at the game, along with the BBC report,  it was a deserved win with the sometimes customary last twenty minutes of squeaky bum time.  I was really surprised to read the BWP has never scored a hat trick before.

It's beginning to look like myself and some others were wrong in our original appraisal of what pairing upfront is best BWP/Hayes or BWP/Kermogant.  The Frenchman does seem to be growing in confidence by the game, and it would seem a good understanding between him and BWP is beginning to develop.

What was also good was to see Hughes rewarded for his performance as stand in for Stephens.

Onwards and upwards to Hartlepool on Saturday, and I'm hoping my predicted 4 points from two away games will be the outcome.  I may even be pleasantly surprised and see us accumulate all six going into November.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Wycombe away...

And so to Buckinghamshire and Wycombe Wanderers tonight.  Despite the form guide indicating it should be a relatively easy run out for the Addicks tonight, it is one of those games where the home side will be up for it and looking to raise there game against 'big' opposition.  Much as they did against Sheffield United, there only home win in the league so far this season.

Having said that, when you look at the stats it was no walk over (50-50% possession, 11 shots on goals to Wycombe, 14 to to United). Apparently Wycombe set there stall out to defend and looked to catch United on the break.  If they defend to deep and don't close us down at every opportunity it will suit the patient build up passing game we do well, and could aid our own tactics greatly.

I don't expect another easy ride like Carlisle, but can see us getting back to winning ways on the road.

It will be interesting to see if any players are rested, I would doubt it.  The only questions I think will be raised would be whether Powell sticks with Hughes in the middle after his workman like performance and who will start on the wide right berth, Wagstaff or Green?

I said before that we'll have a much better idea of how this division is going to pan out coming into November, just tonight's game and a tough away fixture up at Hartlepool before the Preston game. I appreciate the old cliche that is used so often regarding the third tier and how any team can beat any team, but I think we'll be going into the next game at the Valley four more points to the good.

Monday 24 October 2011

'Can we play you every week...' Charlton 4 Carlisle 0

I've only just got round to posting following Saturdays excellent performance against Carlisle following a Sunday consumed by one of my daughters birthdays. (Controlling five kids in the West End is an extremely stressful experience, but they all had a great time so it was worth the near nervous breakdown).

What was really nice on Saturday was going in at half time three up and in control, and for the first time in years not having any of the now usual nerves about throwing it all away.

Carlisle, unlike recent opposition, came to try and play the game the way it is meant to be played.  Unfortunately for them they just were not very good at this and really looked to lack confidence. (A bit like us second half of last season).  It was one of those days for Carlisle when absolutely nothing would go right and pretty much everything would go wrong. A player sent off, a calamitous display by their goalkeeper and a penalty saved.

I'd had a bet on Charlton to win five nil, so was really willing us to get the fifth in the last ten minutes, but it was not meant to be, and to be fair nothing could halt the spring in my step walking back to the car after the team proved that they do indeed have what it takes to bounce back and sustain the challenge at the top.

I can't really find any faults with any of the Addicks out on the field. Danny Green looked a bit more comfortable, and maybe with more game time could become the exciting player we had all anticipated when we signed him.  Kermogant, you can't really argue with his inclusion in the team following another two goals and an involved performance.  Wiggins was immense and is really beginning to become a key player in the team. Solly was a welcome returnee to the side.  Hughes I thought did really well filling in for Stephens in the midfield, and Hollands looked really good playing with a bit more of an attacking intent than usual.  We were once again playing with some confidence and I think all of the doubters must surely by now be coming round to the idea that we look like being there or there abouts come next spring.

With only four more games until our home match against the seemingly irrepressible Huddersfield, if we can continue in the same vein as Saturday, that game looks more and more like taking on a real epic proportions  down at the Valley.

Friday 21 October 2011

Stoke and Charlton, like ships that passed in the night.

I saw Stoke City's great result in the Europa Cup/League last night.

My biggest memory of seeing us play Stoke was the "last match at the Valley" back the good old dark days (as opposed to the good old bad new dark days).

As we've not really met them too much in the 21st century I thought I'd take a look at the contrasting fortunes of the two clubs since the 2000-2001 season.  What it shows us is that everything, both good and bad is possible in the beautiful game.  After all who would have thought back in the heady days of the Addicks enjoying plying their trade at places like Old Trafford whilst Stoke languished in the third division, that now Stoke would be playing in the Uefa Cup (still can't get used to the Europa League over the Cup Winners Cup and Uefa Cup) whilst we were contesting the Johnston 'watch paint drying' Trophy.
It took Stoke since their relegation from England's top flight in 1985 twenty three years to return, but return they have, and contrary to a lot of opinion with some style mixing it with the big boys and now becoming an established mid table premier league side.

I think it just goes to show, unless you are one of the big four or five, lots of things (not anything) are possible. Which is why our game is so great, and the idea of a 'closed' top flight that has caused such a stir over the last few days is a complete nonsense.

I don't think we're going to romp our way back into the top flight 1930's style, but will not be surprised to see us back up there in a few years time with the seemingly sensible backing we are currently enjoying.

Monday 17 October 2011

the bubble bursts at boro

So the inevitable has happened and the Addick's taste defeat in the league for the first time this season.

It was always going to happen sooner or later.  I think, providing we can get back on track, it's a positive that it happened against Stevenage and not one of our main promotion rivals such as Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, MK Dons, Scunthorpe or Notts County (We've played all of those and avoided defeat). We're still top and it's only two weeks ago that we picked up our last win (away to Sheffield United, arguably one of the better teams in the division).

I think the current blip is not about us suddenly becoming a bad team over night.  Tranmere and Stevenage both came at us, closed us down and harried for every ball, something that a lot of the other opposition we've played this term to date have not done, or not done very well.  I think also Sir Chris needs to revert to the starting eleven that have served us so well.  Despite the potential of Green Wagstaff has proved to be a much more integral and influential part of the team when he has played, contributing 2 goals and 2 assists so far (as opposed to Danny Greens none and one).

Kermogant, in my opinion, is not a bad player - and is best suited as we have seen on two occasions this season to coming on with fresh legs and changing the dynamics of the forward line.  Hayes, despite not having the silkiest skills, links up play intelligently and has himself chipped in with 3 league goals and four assists. (This means he has been directly involved in 29% of our league goals this term). The BWP/Hayes partnership looks the more natural, and they've only played together for handful of games so can only get stronger.

Finally I've read Sir Chris comment on why he moved Morrison to right back and dropped Solly. I can see his reasoning based on (what would seem was incorrect) the assumption that Stevenage were a purley physical threat, but again think that was the wrong decision. From what I can gather it left us a bit lopsided, and Solly has been our most consistent player so far. And for all the right reasons.

It's really important we get back to the basics. Play our passing patient game, get the midfield to get some steel back into their game to combat opposition who want to stifle us, and give as good as we get in that respect.

I don't feel the wheels are falling off just yet and look forward to seeing a return to type on Saturday and hopefully a good win which will return that winning focus and confidence back to the team.

Friday 14 October 2011

Physical test awaits Addick's in New Town

I think once you get to the point we're at in a season, Too early to be pulling away and looking like a shoe in but late enough to start believing it may just be your year, away games like tomorrow begin to take on the look of big fat slippery banana skins.

We tend to do well against sides that want to try and play flowing football, it's the tenacious types like Brentford and Tranmere who will chase and close down for the whole 90 minutes and are more physical that we seem to a have trouble with.

Stevenage are now becoming well known for their uncompromising physical style of football. If you look at the disciplinary stats it indicates we are in for a tough ride tomorrow afternoon. Stevenage have so far committed 187 fouls compared to the 109 by our own players. At twenty two yellow cards they have been booked nearly twice the number of times as Charlton players (12).

Where I think we will benefit tomorrow over our last two games will be the lack of experience at this level in the Stevenage squad. They will give away free kicks, we do seem to be much more dangerous at set pieces this season, and I would not be surprised if we get a penalty at some point. Whatever happens the ref and his assistants will have to be at their best to protect our players.

I see at worst a score draw, but would not be surprised by yet another win on the road.  Stevenage will be full of grit and determination but ultimately I think a combination of their overzealous tackling and inexperience and our own patience should see us with another three points in the bag. (And hopefully no injuries.)

Monday 10 October 2011

Tranmere bring a reality check to The Valley

Last March I posted regarding our one all home draw against Tranmere, referring to it as a victory. At the time after the initial euphoric start made in charge by Sir Chris followed by four back to back defeats I felt it might have been the turning point.  Little did I know this was just a punctuation of the woeful run of only two wins out of 19 matches in the long drawn out and horrid finale to last season.

This time round it certainly felt like a defeat at first.  However when you put things into perspective, still unbeaten and still top by points it's not as bad as it first seemed.  I think the important thing is how the players are coached physiologically to bounce back from the set back of the home defeat by Brentford and the draw against the well drilled time wasters of Tranmere. (To be honest if the boot was on the other foot we'd have all been congratulating Hamer for helping run the clock down).

I think we are entering a pivotal stage of the season, with Stevenage away and Carlisle at home both being games in which the players should be disappointed if they cannot come away from having gained at least four points. Followed by Wycombe and Hartlepool away, which will be no walkovers I'm sure.

Come November, and the Preston home match we'll have a very real feel for which way the mop is going to flop over the remainder of the season. (Hopefully the right way and head up!)

Friday 7 October 2011

Sir Chris fails again...Happy days!

Somehow Sir Chris has now managed to dodge the cursed bullet that is manager of the month again. Karl Robinson's (post manager of the month) Milton Keynes had a pretty under par September taking only six out of a possible 18 points.

This brings us on to tomorrows visit to the Valley of Mersey side's third team, Tranmere Rovers. Mid table with 16 points and looking not quite as bad away as they seem to be at home.

I fully expect to see a return to the usual line up, including the bench. (None of the peripheral players did anything near enough on Wednesday night to merit even pushing for a place on the bench.) The defence will be wanting to show that the 'a-team' can keep a clean sheet and with BWP and Hayes up front together sandwiching our excellent midfield, dare I say it, this should be another three points in the bag.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Here's to short term memory loss...

I couldn't make last nights game, so like I'm guessing around 11,000 odd other Charlton supporters settled for watching it live on Sky.  Well when I say live i mean nearly live by the time I'd navigated the M1, M25 and picked my eldest up from her secondary schools open evening. (Thank goodness for Sky+).

Besides the fact it is a competition that is a bit of a pain in the backside for clubs with aspirations of promotion (risk of injury to first teamer's due to the stupid 60% rule and the cost of the home side opening, powering and staffing the ground) I was looking forward to the bonus of being able to watch some of our players on the fringe of the first team and seeing the likes of Alonso (our very own Shaggy from Scooby Doo look-a-like) and Evina for the first time.

On the whole it was a disjointed performance, you could certainly see where we have benefited from Sir Chris having been able to field the same starting eleven so many times this season.

Alonso looked interested, but ultimately not particularly good at passing, tackling or attacking. I think it would be unfair, baring in mind his lack of game time and probable lack of match fitness to write him off quite yet.

Evina also had a bit of a dreary game, but as with Alonso it may be too early to judge him too harshly for the same reasons.

I can't see Green displacing Waggy on this display.  And I think we now defiantly must concede that Wagstaff may be able to move into a more central role later on in games when things need shaking up a bit.  But as a starting central striker is not really the ticket and should be kept as a wide man.

Docherty, could once have been described a few seasons ago, as 'a good honest centre back'. Now I think the best description would be 'he played centre back'.  I think for the Doc, the best thing would be his rumoured move to Luton Town to go ahead.

Finally Kermorgant looked lively and up for it when he came on.  Just a shame he tried to hit the doors to Charlton House with his only real chance of the game rather than the target.

All in all I'm not too despondent, it's always nice to see your team perform well on the goggle box, but at least that's another distraction out of the way and we can really concentrate on the league without any mid week cup games getting in the way.

Saturday 1 October 2011

The Big Result

I won't go into the finer details of today's fine win too much, as I wasn't there and was relying on text commentary to keep in touch with events up in Yorkshire.

Fan bloody tastic is about all I can say.  I thought at best we'd pick up a point perhaps, with both teams cancelling each other out.  It seems every time I sit down at my laptop these days there is something new Charlton related, to enthuse about.  I even had the added bonus of realising that Preston did indeed actually have a fixture today (see my last post, not sure how I missed it). When I discovered it was away to the hapless Leyton Orient I was a bit disappointed. But they only went and lost. Happy days!

Another big bonus today was the scorer of our first goal. Kermorgant with another headed goal. When we sigined him I checked his previous out.  It was less than impressive to be fair.  But the big Frenchman has now scored twice in as many performances, and more importantly he's actually looking like a pretty astute and decent player and signing.

I know this may sound OTT, but I view today's victory as a pivotal moment in our season.  I just cannot see this group of players Sir Chris had put together becoming complacent. If anything I'd envisage the likes of Taylor,  Morrison, Stephens, Hollands et al just becoming more and more focused on winning.

We sit five points clear at the top of the table, with compared to the last few matches, on paper the rest of October throws up some of the easier opponents we will face this season.

On top of all this (and believe me when I say I'm not prone to gloating, and my best friend is a Millwall supporter) the post Morrison Millwall continue to find it impossible to hit a barn door, and now sit precariously second from bottom in the Championship.

It's all beginning to feel like one of those very rare special seasons we see from time to time in SE7.

Friday 30 September 2011

The Big Match(es)

It's going to be an interesting day at the top of League One tomorrow.  Not only do we come up against Sheffield United, in what is both our biggest test of the season so far and a near impossible fixture to predict a result for, but all of the early season pace setters play each other in what should be one of the most exciting and influential weekends of this season.

Brentford (7th) play Huddersfield (9th), Early surprise package Hartlepool (4th) who along with us and Huddersfield are the only other team with an unbeaten record still intact entertain Sheffield Wednesday (8th) and Milton Keynes (5th) play Notts County (6th).

Preston North End, who don't have a game, will be watching with interest.  After this weekend they will be sitting with two games in hand over most of their rivals.

I'm sure the game will have more of a feel of a Championship encounter, both sides like to try and play flowing football and there should be a very good crowd and atmosphere at the game.

The Blades have had a pretty solid start to the season, but do seem perhaps to have a habit of slipping up on occasion, after being thrashed 3-0 at home by fellow Yorkshire side Huddersfield and beaten away at struggling Wycombe

Providing we keep our concentration, and Sir Chris has come up with a game plan, I think we do have the potential to pick up a point at Bramell Lane.

Thursday 29 September 2011

What a difference a year makes!

After the Sheffield game we will virtually be a quarter of the way through this season.  I thought as we go into October it might be worth taking a comparative look at where we were at this time last season (after 10 games played).

We were six places off of Brighton in 8th place, also six points off of the leaders who were on 21 points.(Brighton had lost one and drawn three of their games by this stage).  By this time last season we had failed to win 60% of our games. Drawing 3 times and losing 3 times.

Brighton had scored 14 goals with a goal difference of +7 we had 12 goals with a rather ineffective goal difference of plus one!

Obviously as things stand this season we are top of the league currently. On 24 points, 9 more than we had yielded last season at this point. Still unbeaten, having only failed to win in three of our ten games played, having drawn against Sheffield Wednesday, Scunthorpe and Milton Keynes.

We've scored 21 goals, 50% more than Brighton had and nearly double than we'd managed previously. Our goal difference is +12 as opposed the eventual promotion winners +7.

Over the course of the entire 2010-2011 season the two automatically promoted teams both failed to win 39% of their games, Brighton averaging 2.06 points per game and Southampton 2. We are averaging 2.6 points per game.

Regardless of what happens up at Brammell Lane on Saturday I think this all makes encouraging and refreshing reading.

I appreciate there will be the odd wobble and shock along the way, but looking at the stats and consistency of play on the pitch I'm really beginning to believe this year it's all going to come good. Not like the 'blagged' great start we had in 2009-2010 (this season unlike then incidentally we are on more points and have also scored more goals) but through the merit of good management, disciplined and confident players, and a board willing to give the club decent backing.

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Green and Kermorgant get their point across...

Milton Keynes 1 Charlton Athletic 1

I can only comment from what I listened to on the streaming Radio Kent commentary last night.  As suspected, Milton Keynes set themselves up to make it difficult for us to play our natural game, and from the sounds of it we were second best throughout the first half, with MK Dons going in 1-0 up at half time (all be it through the aid of a spot kick).

However, once again, the 'patient approach' that Sir Chris keeps mentioning paid dividends. (Coupled with I would guess a good half time team talk).

With Green coming on for Wagstaff in the 67th minute and Kermorgant for Hayes a few minutes later, listening, it seemed Charlton were over the course of the half getting more and more back into the match and creating problems for Milton Keynes in their final third. In fact it was only four minutes after the introduction of Kermorant that we found the net with Green delivering the cross that gave the Frenchman his first goal for the Addicks.

All in all a good nights work against one of the better teams in the division.

I always feel that as you enter October you begin to get a better picture of how the table is going to pan out come the end of the season.  I'm sure most other Charlton supporters would agree that to be going into October top of the table AND unbeaten is both fantastic and something that was not anticipated.

Just the little matter of Bramell Lane to negotiate next.

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Can the reds go marching on?

Another tough test awaits the addick's up the M1 in Milton Keynes this evening.

Milton Keynes home form has been pretty erratic this season so far. Draws against Hartlepool and Huddersfield (both doing very well so far, Hartlepool in third place being one of the early surprise packages), a one nil sneaked win in the 'localish' derby against Stevenage and a 6-2 drubbing of Chesterfield.  They've not failed to score at least once at home.

Charlton's away record so far this term is second to none.  And encouragingly we've not failed to score at least 2 goals per game on our travels. I have not seen any team news, but injuries aside anticipate another unchanged line up to Chesterfield.

All good things do come to an end, or at the very least stutter at some stage but if we go into this game playing the same way we did against Chesterfield I just can't see us losing.  The only potential banana skin I can see is if Robinson has done his home work and comes up with a tactic that will stifle us and stop our flowing football.

An early goal for Charlton and AT WORST a score draw, although all three points would not completely surprise.

I'll reel my neck back in now.

Monday 26 September 2011

Charlton's quality proves too much for Chesterfield

It was certainly a game of two halves on Saturday.  A fluid and thoroughly enjoyable first half.  Much of which was bossed by Charlton, and but for the Spirite's goalkeeper we really could have gone in at half time with a handful of goals and the game well and truly put to bed.

The highlight for me was the text book training ground free kick that resulted in our second goal from Jackson.

The second half I can only assume the game plan had changed and the team were asked to drop back a bit deeper and defend the two goal lead that had been established.  It was much later, and after Chesterfield had pulled one back from a penalty, that we seemed to wake up and start having a go again.  It proved that attack is the best form of defence, as this enabled us to ride out the rest of the match more comfortable but also nick a last gasp goal to further improve our goal difference as we sit proudly top of the third division 3 points clear of Sheffield United with a game in hand.

The lowlight of the game on Saturday was another example of the awful match officials at this level.

To be fair the penalty given was definitely a penalty. In the second half, and I was in line with it, one of the worst offside decisions I’ve seen in a long time was given against us. And the booking of Taylor for simulation, when he was clearly tripped was quite simply laughable.

On to Milton Keynes tomorrow night. If we get the three points out of that one I really will start believing this is going to be our season.  At long last.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

John Sheridan, StAndrews, Peter Shirtliffe and all that...

Having just read how much Chesterfield's John Sheridan is relishing their visit to the Valley at the weekend, I nostalgically had a flash back to the other extraordinary play off final that Charlton took part in.

I'd attended the home leg at Selhurst, Charlton running out 1-0 winners courtesy of I think a Jimmy Melrose goal and had suffered the reverse scoreline in the game at Elland Road.  Being still in it's infancy, the play off system was not to be decided by penalties but by a third game at neutral ground StAndrews.

Although during this period of supporting Charlton I did attend a few away games, being a 'school' night meant I was not going to be able to make it up to Birmingham.

The game was being covered live on the radio and extended highlights were being shown on midweek sports special.  Desperate to enjoy watching the action I opted to wait to watch the TV coverage and hide in my room staying away from any knowledge of the score. (I remember how hard it was to curb my curiosity).

Once I knew it was safe, and the programme was about to start I took my place downstairs alongside my (poker faced) Dad, who had listened in on the radio to enjoy the roller coaster ride that the game turned out to be.

The match during  normal time was both nervy and pretty scrappy from memory.  My enduring memory was ex Charlton striker John Pearson copping a cheeky knee in the head from former Owls and Charlton team mate Peter Shirtliffe.

Extra time came and I was a very nervous teenager.  And on 99 minutes my nerves proved to be well founded as John Sheridan scored a cheeky quick chipped free kick against a sleeping Charlton defence and goalkeeper, and then, much to my annoyance celebrated like a mad man.

I was slumped in the living room chair, convinced that our short stay in England's top flight was over, with only minutes remaining on the clock.  Then Peter Shirtliffe popped up and scored an equaliser, prompting me to jump around the front room like a bit of a loon.  About three minutes later it was all I could do not to explode when from a very similar set piece he popped up again to scramble in the late winner.

I remember, once I'd regained my composure and full time had come, watching the exhausted players celebrating, whilst Steve Gritt did some really strange high knee slow celebratory jog up and down at the half way line in front of the Charlton supporters.

It's certainly never been dull being an Addick.  Mind you, I'd happily plump for the quiet life of a top two finish secured with a few games to spare this season than another play off thriller.

Sunday 18 September 2011

The most important win of the far

Many times over the years  have I seen Charlton go a couple of goals up only to lose their nerve and let the opposition back into the game to either draw or snatch the win.

What made yesterdays result so important in the development of the current Charlton side and manager was that despite letting Rochdale back into the game, we kept going and managed to keep heads up and grab the late winner.  How many times have we been on the receiving end of that type of result over the last 4 or 5 seasons?

It was good to see Wiggins score, an event that will no doubt help his confidence going forward.  It's also really good to see Wagstaff continue to make the right wing his domain, keeping the talented Green out of the side.

With our promotion rivals picking up points yesterday it was really important we kept the momentum and pressure on those around us.  So to stay top with a game in hand over several of them is a great way to head into our next couple of games, home to Chesterfield on Saturday followed by the trip to Milton Keynes midweek.  If we can pick up all six points (and I believe we can) from those two games It's going to be looking pretty good as we go into October.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Preston to provide a good test for the second eleven

I didn't post following the hard fought two nil win against Exeter City's ten men at the weekend.  I was surprised by the general negative feedback being given some addick's.

Don't get me wrong, i'm not viewing Chris Powell and this season through any rose tinted spectacles, and am quite realistic about our chances.  I can see where the management and playing staff may have some short falls. But we shouldn't lose sight that this is a new squad in it's infancy, and we are still unbeaten and up there mixing it in what is looking to once again turn out to be a fiercely competitive division.

The bottom line is that against ten men we did not play too spectacularly, but did grind out the required result. (This is a familiar sound bite churned out about teams that tend to go on and  win things!)

I'm certainly not panicking, and still believe this will be our season, with Chris at the helm.  It was good to see that Stephens, despite a quiteish game, had not lost his nerve after his miss against Sheffield Wednesday and put the ball away from a similar distance this time to ensure the end of the game was not too much of a squeaky bum affair.

Onto tonight.  By the looks of it Powell is going to mix things up again, and I won't be surprised to see a similar line up to that which played so well against Reading.  I'm sure Preston, who now are going great guns, will take the opportunity to rest a few players as well.  I think we have enough quality in our squad to make a really good fist of things tonight, and fully expect progression to the next round.

I think that when you have a squad of our size and quality The League Cup actually presents a great opportunity to keep these players fresh and competitive.   I hope Pritchard gets another start, and Cort gets his debut.

The only trouble area is up front. With Benson struggling with an injury, I don't think it would be a great idea to risk BWP and Hayes, as our best two forwards with very little cover of high enough quality to cover injury.

Perhaps this is the opportunity for Powell to try and start with a different formation? To try and form the Plan B that we've lacked a bit in the early days of the season.  It will be interesting to see how we set up in attack.

Friday 9 September 2011

Manager of the month miss spells a happy September for the Addicks

Great news (I hope) Sir Chris managed to swerve this Augusts manager of the month curse/award, the accolade/harbinger of doom going instead to the impressive young manager Karl Robinson of Milton Keynes.

With Milton Keynes playing away to what will be a rejuvenated and much more confident Sheffield Wednesday (following last Mondays result), Saturday could see us back into the top two spots.

Sheffield United travel away to Scunthorpe, whose season has started pretty badly, so second place at 4.45 on Saturday looks likely to me.

I have a bit of a soft spot for Exeter City, no particular reason, my brother attended university there, and I've taken my family to that part of Devon a few times on holiday. Oh, and not that I'm a fan but Wacko Michael Jackson was a supporter. (I always thought he'd be more at home as a West Ham supporter!).

As far as I know Danny Green is looking doubtful with a bug, which should see us field pretty much the same side as Monday night.  Paul Tisdale is another good young manager, but with the players already at his disposal combined with injuries to first teamer's I just can't see them providing too stern an opposition.  Sir Chris won't need a plan B on this occasion and we will secure the three points to put the disappointment of the last two home league games behind us.

Tuesday 6 September 2011

Plan B missing?

Not too bad a result last night.  We remain unbeaten and got to see another wonder goal, this time courtesy of BWP.

The first half an hour we were rampant, passing fluidly and bypassing the physical presence and loaded midfield that Megson had opted with.  Seeing his 4-5-1 tactic was not working he made decisive changes and went 4-4-2, which was where the game changed.

Wednesday looked much more comfortable with this shape and worked their way back into the game.  Eventually having the better of possession in the second half via their physical approach.

Finally we succumbed to bloody Clinton Morrison of all people (I'm not a massive fan).  Wednesday looking well drilled at their set pieces.

It will be interesting to see, over the course of the season, how and if Sir Chris tactically adapts our formation and game plan to accommodate the opposition.  I think last night showed that playing 4-4-2 game in game out is not always going to work, despite our quality (which we have in abundance), not every other side will roll over for us.

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Transfer Deadline Day Frenzy. (Whoopeebloodydoo).

So it’s upon us again. Transfer Deadline day and all the media frenzy that surrounds it.

There are so many things that annoy me about the whole transfer window.

Sky Sports reporting, with the countdown clock, the transfer totalizer, and one of any number of on the street (or outside the ground) reporters reporting live none events and events from Liverpool/London/Manchester surrounded by slightly sad replica shirt clad kids and fully grown men, who should be in bed getting a good night’s sleep before school/work/signing on, on  the first day of September.  (There was even one guy who twittered today that he’s taken the day off of work to watch the live time deadline day coverage by the hour!)

Besides these facts that essentially it can completely bugger up a managers plans if one of the ‘money’ clubs come in and unsettle their star player and make a ‘too good to refuse offer’ right at the eleventh hour, leaving no time to find and do a deal with a worthy replacement/s.

We saw it happen ourselves when Chelski came and did exactly that to us with Scotty Parker.  This post isn’t sour grapes or about what might have been. (Although I would cite the Parker scenario as being the very catalyst precipitating the dramatic and rapid decline we have seen at The Valley).

It just simply is nuts! (As a fellow Charlton supporting ex colleague of mine would say).  If we do have to have this transfer window, it really should shut promptly when the first competitive league match of the season kicks off.  That way you’ve got what you’ve got, and you don’t get the ridiculous frantic negotiations where clubs pay clubs over the odds and players get their ridiculous demands (in perspective) met. And more importantly, the smaller clubs don’t get left high and dry and with a weakened squad they can do nothing about.

Just one final thought/moan. I just turned on Sky Sports News and the first thing that greeted me was (a very attractive) young lady reading the following words from the Auto Que ‘this is most possibly the most exciting day in the football calander’.  What about the first game of the new season (for supporters of at least 92 league clubs?, not to mention supporters from the lower leagues, FA Cup final day?, The World Cup Final ?, All of those grudge local derbies up and down the country ? Come on Sky TV, Talk Sports and The Red Tops, get a grip!

Rant over, I’ll check in tomorrow morning to see if we’ve managed to add the central defender and striker that we’re in need of.

Sunday 28 August 2011

Jackson buries Bury

Yes I know, a really crap pun, but I was struggling for a by line.

A third successive away win, one hundred per cent record on the road intact, and another positive post based on the spirit and winning mentality of the team.

What really impressed me with Chris Powells selection was with Benson on his way apparently and BWP injured he kept with Green out wide and pushed Wagstaff  forward.  I've often wondered whether (with his slight lack of crossing prowess but a definite eye for goal) whether this may turn out to be his best position.  I remember Paul Wash back in our last third division promotion campaign being played as an out and out striker alongside Hales.

Going in one nil down at half time would have proved a problem over recent seasons, but self belief and the tenacity to not give up again showed the Sir Chris has put a very strong group of players together.

With Benson's exit (by the way it is a shame he does not fit into the current plans as he was always a hard working player and considering the players he had around him gave a half decent return of goals) I expect to see one more striker signed as back up with Waggy taking his place on the bench as a potential super sub/utility player coming on as striker, attacking midfielder or winger where needed.

Looking forward to Monday night.

Saturday 27 August 2011

'second string' gives Charlton the competitive edge

So having made wholesale changes to the starting line up and bench for the great result and performance midweek against Reading it now will be a real guessing game as to who will start at Bury today.

I don't expect many changes, but think Powell will see Tuesday as presenting the perfect opportunity to do a bit of tweaking.

Wagstaff played really well when bought off the bench, but Green's delivery and tenacity should see him get the right midfield berth.  The only possible other change I can see actually happening would be Hamer in for Elliot. Perhaps an unpopular choice, but from what little i have seen of Hamer he does look decidedly more comfortable with the ball coming high or across the box.

Pritchard will certainly be pushing for a place, but I would find it hard to see the central pairing of Stephens and Hollands that seems to be working so well be broken up.

Bury have started pretty well in League One, only one defeat and winning their previous two games, so despite the manager playing down their chances I think they will fancy getting something at home.

The fact that the 'second string' did so well in the week I think will have a hugely positive effect on the players who have got us off to such a terrific start, they will realise that if they do not perform there is someone else just behind them with a genuine claim to that position. This coupled with the Scunthorpe result will leave them understanding (unlike some of their recent predecessors) that Charlton do not simply have to turn up against smaller opposition to pick up the three points.

I'm going for another win. 2-1 to the Addicks.

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Powell rings the changes for Reading?

I didn't post regarding the Scunthorpe game as I was unable to make it to the match.  A draw at home to one of the relegated sides from the Championship not the end of the world, and we are still joint top on points and unbeaten.

Looking at Chris Powell's comments over the last few days, the draw at home to Scunthorpe and the Cup tie are going to give him the opportunity to make a few changes, one or two I suspect he has been itching to do but form has made this difficult.

Whilst he clearly is appreciative of Waggy's great start, I do get the distinct impression that he does fancy Green more and lets face it, regardless of pre season, if it was not for suspension it is the ex Dagger who would have started in the right midfield berth.

I also think that the opportunity will be taken to give Ben Hamer his debut. If he plays a blinder and keeps a clean sheet against what looks to be a very good Reading side he may well keep his place for the Bury game.

Other less significant changes I think may see Solly replaced at full back (I understand he was a touch shaky on Saturday) and one perhaps even two of the midfield rested.  (I think Jackson, Hollands and Stephens have been the major force behind our good start).  I'd like to see Bradley Pritchard get a full game, and certainly see more of Ruben Bover.  It's a bit cliched but I'd be quite happy to see a good game and Valiant performance, but going out in a closely fought match will allow us to concentrate on the league and get a defeat that doesn't really matter out of the way.

Friday 19 August 2011

Can we make it four out of four?

So we come to game number 4.  Scunthorpe have had a pretty bad start to the season two draws and a defeat (at home) being punctuated by a win on the road in the League Cup at Altrincham.

They have scored in every game, so they are obviously doing something right.

I'm expecting yet another unchanged line up for the Addicks, providing nothing happens on the Robbie Elliot front in the meantime.

Being a Charlton supporter means having the need to be realistic.  The winning streak will not continue indefinitely, however we will have far too much quality (did I just say that?) for the visitors tomorrow and will be riding the crest of a wave of enthusiasm and confidence.  I'm going for a 3-1 win for us. You Red's!!!!

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Nose bleed territory...

I know we've been here before early season, quite a few times now, but looking at the table after three games (two away) is proving to give me much pleasure.

My Millwall supporting friend text ed me at full time last night asking if I was looking forward to the post Christmas capitulation?  To be honest (and yes I know I am probably getting carried away with myself) it does have a different feel to it currently.  A team playing as a team, winning games because we were better than the opposition rather than riding our luck.

From what I read a very impressive first half performance, followed by a disciplined and solid second half.  Apparently the Colchester keeper was all that really stopped us from improving our goal difference further.

Again it sounds like Scott Wagstaff should have done enough to retain his place and further frustrate Danny Greens chances of a full debut.  No goal this time but some excellent interlinking play with BWP.  It was important for BWP to get off the mark and pick up a brace, strikers feeding on confidence.

The next two games are really pivotal for me.  At home to Scunthorpe is one we should be looking at winning. That will take us to the magic four (the first and last good run Chris Powell had when he'd first taken the reins), so IF we pick up all three points it's then away to Bury, who got a very good win last night against Sheffield Wednesday. A win will see us unbeaten with a 100% record.  All good stuff.

The only trouble being if the above does happen, it could mean the dreaded manager of the month for Sir Chris, and we all no what generally follows that particular accolade.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

Colchester v Charlton Preview

So onto another early season test.  If you look at the two previous games against Bournemouth and Notts County both sides recorded impressive wins in their other games to date.

Colchester have drawn twice against Wycombe (in the league and cup) and recorded a very credible away win at Preston North End.

I think from tonight's game we will begin to get an idea of how realistic our promotion credentials are.  I expect to see yet again an unchanged starting eleven, and dare I say another Charlton win.

Sunday 14 August 2011

Great start continues...

So another good display and another win.  Heady days indeed. Top of the league (after two games admittedly).

Wagstaff again showing what is he capable of when he applies himself, rounding the keeper nicely and slotting home from an acute angle.  I suppose the only question being can he keep it up, and how frustrating will this be for Danny Green.  It's been a while since we've had such healthy competition for places in the side.

Hayes, having set Waggy up for the opener, followed this with a typical centre forwards goal.  I know we still need an additional striker, but he looked pretty good to me in the Bournemouth game, and seems a real team player. Having got his first goal, I think we'll be seeing quite a few more from Hayes this season.

It's so refreshing to see a manager at Charlton making tactical late changes to sure things up and ensure all three points travel back to SE7 with the team.  2-0 up at half time and I was feeling supremely confident, when County snatched back a goal on sixty minutes I began to worry. Needlessly. My faith in Messrs Powell and Dyer is growing by the game.

It was good to see Euell coming on late in the game.  I always liked him during his previous stay at Charlton.  I didn't see the incident (handbags at dawn apparently) at the end of the game, but read  his tweet about it.  Not sure about the maturity of the reaction of Euell and Hollands, but it does bold well from a 'we're all in this together - players and supporters' point of view. And lets face it, that relationship has been sorely lacking from allot of the players we've seen over the past few years.

Bring on Colchester!

Friday 12 August 2011

Notts County v Charlton Preview

So our first away game of the campaign is nearly upon us.

County have made 8 new signings pre season (all free transfers) and released 7 players.

They will be buoyed by a great first day win away to Carlisle followed by an epic local derby in which they only missed out on penalties yo neighbours Forest.

We will be fresher, not having had to play Reading in midweek, which I think will go in our favour.  It's always difficult to predict anything this early in the season.  I recall Derek Hales scoring a hat trick in an opening day away fixture at Cardiff back in the eighties, I listened to the updates on LBC and at the end of the day as a fledgling Addick was convinced that this was going to be our season.  We went on to scrape enough points together to stay up.

I think, despite still gelling together as a team, we will have too much quality for County and should squeeze a 1-0 win out of the game.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Signing number 16 is...Jason Euell

So after what would have seemed to be a successful trial Jason Euell has signed a one year contract and been given squad number 17.

Never prolific as a goal scorer, he did have quite a deft touch and laid the ball off pretty well. And I think will be a decent addition as a squad player, and his experience should be well received in the dressing room.

I wonder if this means we won't be signing any of the other forwards we have been linked with.

Monday 8 August 2011

Charlton v Reading Postponed

Due to the recent public disorder (sorry meant to say selfish mindless idiots) the police have called off several sporting events, including the first round Carling cup game against Reading.

Can't say I'm all that surprised, as the nature and geographical spread of these morons is making it extremely hard to police and put a stop to.

Seeing as they are just looters, and have absolutely no political agenda, I say bring in the water cannons and call in the army.  We could all do without this with everything else going on in the world!

Sunday 7 August 2011

Scotty's Scorcher

Charlton 3 Bournemouth 0

What a performance. What a goal by Scotty Wagstaff. What a bloody vast improvement on the last two seasons.

Okay the last comment maybe a bit premature after a three nil drubbing of a team I fully expect to struggle this year. However, I'm sure most will agree, this was one of the best performances from a Charlton side for a very long time.

What was clear, was that Chris Powell was still playing the same system that failed so awfully last season, but with the personnel he has assembled worked and was a joy to watch.

The back four put in mind of the Brown's, Balmer's and Webster's. Taylor an extremely passionate and vocal centre back, marshaling his colleagues in defence commandingly.  Wiggins looking a very safe full back.

The midfield, Jackson (who I think will become a great captain), Hollands, Stephens and Wagstaff all passing the ball cleverly and fluidly, and all putting in tackles to slow down any chance of Bournemouth creating any momentum and quick attacks.  Stephens crosses and incisive passing was so exciting and when he got the ball you could feel the crowds anticipation of what he would do with it.

Wagstaff scored one of those wonder goals, the type that when it leaves the foot, nine out of ten times it's going into row Z. A sublime volley, the type of goal that when you celebrate, you celebrate with the little bit more delirium than usual.

Up front, you didn't get the usual from BWP, he stayed in the game for longer, tackled back (well attempted to) and I think will enjoy and feed on the service he gets from the rest of the side. (With the players around him, I think he'd be disappointed if he doesn't have a 20 goal plus haul this term.)  Hayes also, despite  luke warm reports of him from pre season, looked to me like as he gets used to BWP and the midfield could contribute well, not the most pace in the world but looked like he has a football brain and his positioning was good.

It feels most odd writing such a positive post match summary.

When asked who my man of the match was, I found it really difficult to single out any one individual.  They all played great, Pritchard again impressed when he came on as sub.  One to watch I think. It still is a work in progress, but if yesterdays performance was anything to go by, and as the players play more games together and gel even more we are in for a thrilling season.

If I have to pick one, it would be Robbie Elliot.  Obviously the introduction of Hamer with the number one shirt, and some of the conjecture over Robbie's future would have affected him over the past few weeks. Hamer injures his thumb in midweek, and Elliot comes out and puts in a performance full of nervous energy.  You could see how desperate he was to keep a clean sheet, and the times he was called on to make saves he did.

At the end when he jumped out of the tunnel pointing at the number 44 on the back of his shirt and kissing the badge, you could see there is an real and genuine supporter proud to be playing for the club.

Can't wait for Tuesday night.

Come on you Reds!!!

Saturday 6 August 2011

Charlton v Bournemouth Preview

Being the first game of the season there is absolutely no real form to base any prediction on.

Bournemouth will be up for it, having lost quite a few of their stars from last season, two of them to us.  What will be interesting will be whether or not highly rate Danny Ings plays for them today.  He has been increasingly linked with us over the last 48 hours.  I would assume if he does not play then his signing may be a shoe in.

I've seen us twice in the latter part of the pre season program, both time against decent opposition (Den Bosch and Millwall)  and both times Powell fielding what I pretty much believe will be his starting line up, with the only changes being, I think, Hamer now between the sticks and Wagstaff in for the suspended Green. (It will be interesting to see what happens if Waggy plays a blinder).

Apparently the Bournemouth team had a lengthy delay on a nightmare of a journey and arrived at their hotel pretty late.

I'm going the optimist route on this one. Both teams will be up for it from the start, and I fully expect to see some very competitive tackling, but our quality will show through and I'm predicting 3-4 goals to the good at The Valley for Charlton on the opening day.