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.

Thursday 4 August 2011

It's got our name on it...

So the anticipation is reaching fever pitch in Chez Coops.

I have to say I’m looking forward to the new season with more fervour and optimism than I have done in years. And that includes some of the years of predictable premiership stability.

I thought I’d take an initial look at what the bookies of our great land see as what should finish up being the top six and then suggest what I feel the real top six will be.

  1. 1.       Huddesrfield (6/4)
  2. 2.      Sheffield Wednesday (7/4)
  3. 3.       Preston North End (2/1)
  4. 4.       Sheffield United (5/2)
  5. 5.       Charlton Athletic (5/2)
  6. 6.       Brentford/MK Dons (4/1)

The above is based the odds checker website which shows a cross section of all the bookies odd’s available.

I think Huddersfield and Sheffield Wednesday will definitely be vying strongly for the two automatic spots. Huddesrfield have Lee Clarke who is turning out to be a great young manager, coming close last season,

Sheffield Wednesday with Megson at the helm have strengthened quite a bit, Megson going for a very physical bunch of incoming players from what I’ve read. And to be honest it is very possible to ‘kick’ your way into at least play off contention in this division. And they do like us, have the ‘third time lucky’ tradition that I hope we benefit from to rely on?

I think, for Preston and Sheffield United it’s going to be much more of a struggle than the bookies are suggesting. Both are relatively big clubs who are visiting the third tier after a good spell in the Championship (and not all too recently the premiership for Sheffield United). 

United’s manager Danny Wilson is not well liked (to put it mildly) by the native Blades, which I think will put additional pressure on both him and his players.  You also have the same ‘big club’ syndrome that ourselves have suffered from along with the Leeds United’s, Nottingham Forests and QPR’s of this world. Where everyone views you as a big scalp and your players may suffer from the heightened expectation of themselves and supporters that they ought to steamroller through the division.

I’m obviously confident of our own chances. (Call me an optomist or deluded).

Of the other two, I really fancy Brentford to be a surprise package this year round. And think they will flirt with the automatic spots throughout.  MK Dons, I’m hoping will stay put and get their just desserts from AFC the following season.

My actual top six, and I’ll probably regret saying this next May is as follows:-

  1. 1.       Charlton Athletic
  2. 2.       Huddersfield
  3. 3.       Brentford
  4. 4.       Sheffield Weds
  5. 5.       Leyton Orient
  6. 6.       Notts Co

One worrying odd available is Chris Powell as third favourite to win the sack race in the division. (Behind Danny Wilson and Les Parry).

I’ll go out on a limb and say I think Chris Powell is going to turn out to be the real deal and we’re going up!!!

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Come in number 44, your time is up?

So the squad numbers have been released by the club today.

And no doubt Elliot getting the number 44 and Ben Hamer being given the number 1 will no doubt add to the growing specultation over his future.

The full list is below.

1. Ben Hamer
2. Andy Hughes
3. Cedric Evina
4. Johnnie Jackson
5. Michael Morrison
6. Matt Taylor
7. Danny Green
8. Dale Stephens
9. Paul Hayes
10. Bradley Wright-Phillips
11. Scott Wagstaff
12. Gary Doherty
13. John Sullivan
14. Paul Benson
15. Yado Mambo
16. Rhoys Wiggins
18. Bradley Pritchard
19. Simon Francis
20. Chris Solly
21. Ruben Bover Izquierdo 
22. Danny Hollands
23. Mikel Alonso
25. Ben Davisson
26. Tosan Popo
27. Freddie Warren
29. Conor Gough
30. Nick Pope
31. Jordan Cousins
32. Callum Harriott
33. Harry Osborne
44. Rob Elliot

Monday 1 August 2011

Millwall away, another goalkeeper and a utility player

I spent my Saturday drinking with my oldest friend and attending the Millwall Charlton friendly. (Which is why it's taken me so long to post, you know your going to suffer when your evening culminates in drinking shots in a New Cross pub with a new friend called 'Freddie the Rasta'.

The game itself was a reasonable work out. The highlight from my point of view was Bradley Wright Phillips strolling, route one past the entire Millwall team and popping the ball past the keeper literally seconds after they had scored.  It was all I could do to restrain myself from openly celebrating in the Millwall crowd.

It's amazing the completely different demographic between Charlton and Millwall. Don't get me wrong, I'm not about to start banging on about what a dreadful bunch the home supporters were, in fact those I spoke to were not too intimidating. The strangest thing was at half time when the toilets filled up like some kind of gentleman's smoking club, flumes of tobacco smoke filling the air.

Our performance matched Milwall's, who are a pretty decent side, leaving me feeling both confident about our chances this season and going forward if, as I suspect, we win promotion to the Championship. Wiggins had a much better game than against Den Bosch. I'm still not convinced about Hayes. And hope that we will see another striker coming in before next Saturday.

I'm not all that sure how I feel about the news of the signing of Ben Hamer.  My guess is this means that Robbie Elliot must have pretty much got a deal tied up elsewhere.  To be honest I do rate Sullivan as a better all round keeper. For me Elliot's real strength is his distribution and reaction shot stopping. He is often left flapping on crosses and set pieces. As was the case on Saturday.

Andy Hughes seems to be a bit of a utility player. Able to play in defence and midfield, with a pedigree for winning promotion's with Notts County, Leeds United and Reading. So hopefully he'll bring that good fortune with him to the Valley.