Friday, September 11, 2009

A look ahead to.....Southampton

A former manager heads back to his old stomping ground this weekend eager to inflict more damage on the club he destroyed. Maybe that synopsis of Alan Pardew is a tad cutthroat; he was not the only reason we sunk into League One, and maybe that synopsis of Charlton is a tad hyperbolic; we are far from ruined and it may turn out that demotion to the third tier is the start of an Addicks resurgence. But you get my gist.

Seeing Pardew in the opposing dugout will remind us of the wretched times experienced with him at the helm where ideas of a return to the promised land of the Premier League were replaced with the realisation that locking horns with Swindon and Walsall was likely to be in our future. Add in a dose of dire performances, an abundance of seemingly uninterested loanees and an excuse list as long as your arm, nothing would feel as good as to silence our silver-topped wrecker this weekend.

Yet, he would like nothing more than to usurp the side he left last November as a way of insisting he was merely a bystander in Charlton's demise. Unfortunately for him, he does not look well-equipped to do so. While our boys have taken to their new surroundings in a spectacularly untarnished manner, Pardew and his charges have floundered and are yet to record a win.

That is not to say this game will be easy. A three-point haul may have eluded the Saints thus far but they have only lost twice and are hardly the division's whipping boys. And while a lot of the south-coasters squad are barely out of school uniform, they do have some wily old-hands, particularly in their rearguard.

Kelvin Davis is more than capable between the sticks, Wayne Thomas and ex-Addicks Chris Perry and Graeme Murty - if fit - bring notable know how at the back and have been joined this week by Radhi Jaidi, rumoured to be in Parky's thoughts earlier this summer. Burton may find his toughest challenge of the season this weekend.

They have threats going forward as well. Ricky Lambert is not a million-pound player but he scores goals at this level, as should Marek Saganowski, while new loan-signing Papa Waigo should add much-need thrust to Pardew's arsenal. They could cause us problems is what I'm saying, particularly if Bailey and Racon fail to shake off knocks.

The atmosphere will be intense and the game itself should be an absorbing battle but the Pardew hating and bating needs to be a sideshow and not the main event. If the Addicks focus on football a win should follow but if they let their minds wander and think about a revenge mission, then the man we have such disdain for could continue his habit of ruining our mood. A truly dreadful thought.

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