Wednesday 20 August 2014

Lucky Seven...

I will happily take the seven points we've accrued in the opening 3 games of the season. At best (I thought optimistically) I'd hoped for four!

An exciting, albeit exhausting, night at The Valley saw Charltons flowing passing completely boss the opening twenty minutes or so, before Derby woke up, realised that the Addicks were an entirely different proposition to the side they faced last time out, and up their own passing game to really put us under the cosh.

I was sitting willing half time to come so we could settle down a touch and maybe try and play out for the draw. Then with Tuscaden being brought down amongst a cluster of Derby players in the box a penalty was given, which Buyons aptly dispatched.

We were a tad lucky to be going into the break 2-1 up, but they do say you make your own luck - and we certainly did that with a tieless first half performance.

Lawrie Wilsons introduction, once again proved to be the turning point in the game. Another assured display saw Wilsons little nod on to Vetokele converted and we were again two goals to the good.

With Derby surging forward looking to get back into the game it could have so easily have gone 4-1 with Vetokele breaking on a couple of occasions only to be brought down by his own velocity.

Finally when Pope let a speculative effort through his legs (this aside I felt he did well) we were treated to the customary nail biting final few minutes of the game.

A good all round performance, they don't come much better than Derby, apparently, and we saw them off.

Jackson was more like his old self and put in a real captains performance.

Vetokele, as with our other new signings, looks the real deal.

The back four are solid. And we've plenty of back up in that department. You've got to feel for poor old Morrison, signing a two year contract and struggling to get ahead of Bikey and Ben-Haim.

Final word, Peeters seems not only enthusiastic, but looks like he knows a thing or two about tactics.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

Relentless start to the season continues...

The relentless August start to the season continues as we see Charlton begin a fortnight of two games a week.

Derby visit The Valley as another one of the favourites to gain promotion this season, a good side who have managed only 3 shots on target in each of their opening Championship fixtures.

The key this evening will be for the Charlton team as a unit to defend and frustrate The Rams as well as they did Wigan for large parts of Saturdays game.

I don't expect too many changes to the starting line up tonight, we may see Solly rested ahead of Saturdays away game, which is not a major problem as Lawrie Wilson can comfortably slot in there. We could possibly see Fox come in for Wiggins, who did not have a great game at the weekend.

Jackson was pretty off the pace against Wigan. Not sure if he's just finding it hard keeping up now, or I have read elsewhere that he wasn't too well. Either way it could be a night to rest him on the bench and play Cousins and Buyons in the middle together.

If we can keep Derby from scoring I can see what is becoming a cautiously buoyant Valley cheer the lads on to nicking a hard fought one nil.

Three points from tonight's game before we go into two tricky away fixtures before the international break would do very nicely.

I'll enjoy tonight whatever, it'll be the best part of a month before we get to see the lads run out against Watford. 

Saturday 16 August 2014

Quality Addicks see off promotion 'favourites'

An entertaining game a The Valley this afternoon. Nearly spoilt by Wigan scoring with their only shot on target.

Cousins scored a spectacular long range effort to give the Addicks the lead.  Wigwams equaliser was typically comical and weak as per many we conceded last season. 

Jackson had a pretty anonymous game, and Wilson coming on with Cousins moving to a more central role proved to be the tactical change that won the game.

Moussa was credited with the 93rd minute winner, to be honest I saw the ball loop into the net, but couldn't vouch for whose boot it came off.

On the whole the performance was poles apart from some of the awful stuff we were subjected to last season. I may even have to change my initial opinions on Ben-Haim, who alongside Bikey did pretty well.

I know we're only two games in, but I see a bright season ahead.

Special mention goes to Peeters for squaring up to Rosser the Tosser at the end of the game after the latter goose stepped past mouthing off. Also to the new Chicken Balti Pie on offer. Spicy, fresh and a rather
 good pastry.

Bring on Derby come Tuesday night!

Pre match v Wigan

Thought I'd up the ante on the whole social media/blogging thing for the first game of the season.

Having a swift pint of orangeeboom before I set off on the train to Charlton.

Bob Peeters, more due to the current thinness of numbers than anything else, has selection dilemmas of the good sort in pretty much every area of the pitch braids up top and in goal. Does he rest Solly for Tuesday night and give the excellent Wilson a run out? Who partners Bikey, Morrison, Gomez  or Ben-Haim? (My preference would be Morrison).

In the midfield there are various choices, moussa, guddwhatshisname, Harriott or Wilson out wide? Cousins, Moussa, Jackson or Buyons in the centre?

The squad numbers may be slighter in number this season, but the quality in depth is infinateley higher than we've seen for some time.

Pre match I'm going for a 2-1 win to Charlton, Wigan do have a goal in them but I've no doubts we'll see Vetokele add to his tally and with a side full of potential goal scorers and The Valley behind them can't see this side slipping up today.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Cup Shock at The Valley...

Not that I went, but a surprising night was had by all at The Valley yesterday evening.

Completely against the grain of recent history, not only did we field a relatively strong team, but we beat lower league opposition convincingly, AND they only had ten men.  Which for Charlton usually means a lot of huff and puff and very much an uphill struggle.

It strikes me that there is a real ‘get the job done’ ethos about the squad at the moment. And performances and results like this can only help cement the new look squad into an efficient unit sooner rather than later.

I’ve been really looking forward to Saturday, even more so now. Can’t wait to take a look at the newly spruced up Valley, grab a pie and mash for my lunch (as opposed to the hit and miss jumbo sausage in a roll behind the West Stand) and enjoy a decent pint of beer, that apparently will be served much quicker than over recent seasons.

Full preview to follow later this week.

Monday 11 August 2014

Solid start for new look Addicks...

What a start to the season!

Yann on target again as a rampant Bournemouth make poor old Mark Robins the earliest winner of the sack race I can remember.

Millwall (poor deluded souls) talking about promotion already! After a two nil win against a Leeds team in absolute turmoil.

It’s got it all, The Championship.

Having watched the highlights and listened to the live commentary on BBC London, although disappointed we couldn't make our chances pay and get off to a winning start at Brentford, I’m encouraged by the performance as a whole.  To be honest I felt a bit for Harriott when that ball thudded against the cross bar and bounced down and away from the goal.

A few glaring observations from the opening display. In Vetokele and Tucadean we probably have enough goals to ensure safety. Vetokele’s hard work and tenacity however does need to be complimented by more of an out and out striker than Tucadean looks to be.  Peeters it would seem see’s something of this in Harriot, and perhaps over time the youngster can step up and move in from the wing into a striker’s role as Thierry Henry did at Arsenal.  If not we do need to get someone in that number nine shirt who can do the job. The prospect (however much it seems to be evaporating) of Delort signing still excites me a great deal.

Henderson when called upon looked the real deal. Confident, assertive and comfortable coming off his line. In front of him, Ben-Haim looked the weakest link.  Bikey looked assured and I would imagine quite intimidating in the face of opposing forwards.  I’d much rather see Morrison paired with Bikey to add some level headed culture to the centre of our defensive line.

The midfield’s problem, if it has one, is balance. It’s a case of putting the pegs in the right holes, and not squares in circles.

In Jackson, Buyen’s AND Cousins we have three decent central defensive midfielders, who can break play up, and play simple and effective passes to create attacking moves. Playing Cousins out wide I think has now been proven over time to be a bit of a waist of talent. Guddmunson looked promising out wide, and once Moussa is fully fit our flanks could be sorted.  Perhaps we may even see Wiggins move further forward with Wilson at full back and Moussa switched to the centre to give that creative attacking spark at the expense of either Jackson or Cousins dropping down in the pecking order. Plenty of food for thought for Peeters.

I won’t be attending the Cup game tomorrow night (work!) but now really can’t wait for Saturday’s home game against Wigan.

When I looked at the opening three fixtures I did not feel all that confident, but after the promise shown on Saturday, if we can pick up four points from Wigan and Derby – which I think is absolutely doable, the season going forward looks so much more enjoyable than the stagnation that we have seen over the last two seasons. 

Friday 8 August 2014

One more sleep...

It’s here…

To say I’m excited would be a bit of an understatement!

How foolish we all are on the eve of the first day of the season. This feeling is exactly the same as it was 30 odd years ago when my Dad had bought me my first season ticket and I was dreaming of Derek Hales staying injury free for a whole season and firing us into the top flight.

Of course those first few years of being an active Charlton supporter, this feeling always petered out into resigned acceptance that ’WE WOULD NEVER REACH THE TOP FLIGHT OF ENGLISH FOOTBALL…EVER!’ pretty quickly. Followed by excitement again when the time for the draw for the third round of the FA Cup came, then another lull after ‘plucky’ Charlton lose against Ipswich, Tottenham, Watford, West Ham etc…

Then, of course, the mix of elation and relief when we finally secure the magic point/s that keep us in the second division for another season.

Back to the top and so the cycle continued. That was until Lennie made some astute signings, Rob Lee broke through from the youth team and we confounded the experts and bookies alike who in general were expecting us to fight against relegation again. Particularly after we’d announced the move from The Valley to Sainsbury’s. Besides the 6 odd years knocking around The Championship (or whatever it was called back then) it’s been a pretty eventful ride in the 28 years (yes 28! How old does that fact make me feel) since that promotion. Play Off’s, Relegation's, two league titles, takeovers, more takeovers, Clive Mendonca, Chris Powell, Lisbie’s hat-trick. Phew, never a dull moment being an Addick.

I’m actually quite impressed by the way we have conducted our business in the close season, well thought out signings (so it would seem), ground renovations, a commitment to youth.  The only thing that’s stopping me becoming completely deluded about our chances this season is the fact that Andy Delort hasn't signed, and I don’t think he will. I watched some you tube clips of him playing from last season, and regardless of the fact he was plying his trade in Lige2 he looked pretty awesome.

This season the press and bookies seem to have written us off. Joint second favorites, alongside Millwall and Rotherham to join Blackpool in the third division in a years’ time.

I’m not so sure. In Peeters I think we may have uncovered a rough cut diamond, who’s articulate and from what I've seen so far charming manor, may well help gel this team of players quickly into a decent unit.  That’s not to say for a minute, if I’m realistic, I believe we’ll reach the top 6 and a shot at play off glory.

But at 25-1 in some bookies it could be a tenner well spent.

The reality, I think, will be a decent mid table finish. I don’t envisage the same struggle that we endured last season.

As for the rest of the division, I see Cardiff and Derby as my stand out favorites for automatic promotion, being pushed by Wolves for the play-off spot.  As for the rest, it’s a pretty open field. Bournemouth will suffer, much as we and Millwall did, from second season syndrome. On the face of it Blackpool will suffer, but with Houdini Riga in charge may scrape through. Fulham may well, despite Ross McCormack’s potential goals, emulate Norwich, Southampton and Charlton and go straight down. I think with the manager they have and some of the pampered players they will find the Championship a rather big culture shock. Rotherham, you've also got to view as facing a difficult season trying to acclimatize to the skill and physicality of The Championship.

Can’t wait!

Sunday 3 August 2014

2014-15 Squad numbers announced

2014/15 squad number in full:

1 Stephen Henderson 
2 Lawrie Wilson 
3 Joseph Gomez 
4 Johnnie Jackson 
5 Michael Morrison 
6 Andre Bikey-Amougou 
7 Johann Berg Gudmundsson 
8 Reza Ghoochannejhad 
10 Franck Moussa 
11 Callum Harriott 
13 Dillon Phillips 
14 Igor Vetokele 
16 Rhoys Wiggins 
17 Yoni Buyens 
18 Simon Church 
19 Zak Ansah 
20 Chris Solly 
21 Morgan Fox 
22 Loic Nego 
23 Joe Pigott 
24 Jordan Cousins 
25 Kadell Daniel 
26 Tal Ben Haim 
27 Jack Munns 
28 Harry Osborne 
29 George Tucudean 
30 Nick Pope 

The squad numbers for the forthcoming season were announced on the clubs website today.

Several things stand out. Gomez getting the number 3 shirt. Churchie being bounced out to number 18, and the number 9 shirt being left free. (Does this mean there's real intent for a proven striker due to arrive at the Valley in the next week?) Moussa, who's yet to pull on the red shirt, gets number 10. Could this mean he plays a big part in Peeters mind when it comes to the first team? JBG getting the number 7 shirt. From what i've heard during pre season he does sound an exciting prospect, and could be a Valley legend in the making.  Reza's been given the number 8. Maybe he's decided to stay after all? Bikey gets Dervites old number 6. Which i'm guessing initially mean it will be he partenering Morrison at Centre back.

All very exciting stuff! My season tickets arrived, and it's only 6 more sleeps until we go again.

Lets hope my next post will be to celerbrate the arrival of a striker followed by a surprisingly easy victoy at Griffin Park to kick off the season.