Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hartlepool review, Orient preview

Are we fast becoming Jose Mourinho's Chelsea? We certainly do not have the wealth, the fame, the star players, or the much-revered manager that that team enjoyed but we are sure learning how to scrap for points and eke out victories, as proved in midweek.

Quality was significantly lacking on Tuesday night, but when push comes to shove the most showy sides often fall by the wayside and the ones with spirit and fight usually prevail. I would like us to play an intoxicating brand of football but I'd love it if we got promoted. And we are more likely to do that with grit than with grandeur.

That's not to say there were no concerns in midweek. Our defence can at times be outpaced and I still advocate that if we are going to add anybody else to the squad, it needs to be a speedy centre-half. And despite our obvious resolution, there were times against the Monkey Hangers when we looked short of incisive ideas.

But if you take a close look at our last five games, you will swiftly see that in each one of them we have recovered from a setback to garner something, whether that be going behind or being pegged back when all appeared hunky-dory. If we keep doing that, a paucity of guile will not really matter.

I don't think our recent lack of craft will continue, however. I mean, I don't expect us to be as cutthroat as Norwich in front of goal but I do believe our more visionary players will rediscover their mojo in the coming weeks; Burton because he will have more matches under his belt, Sam because of the increasing pressure on his place from Wagstaff and Shelvey because he looks set for a run in the team.

Our much-heralded bald maestro did not sparkle consistently on Tuesday night but he worked his socks off, despite some unfair criticism from the crowd, and was at the heart of our albeit rare penetrative moves. I hope he keeps his place against the O's next time out.

Orient's fans, being Laaaarndoners and all that, should bring a bit more spice and atmosphere than Hartlepool's 12 watchers did, which should bode well for the Addicks, who have played better this season when passion has exuded from all four of the Valley's stands.

O's supporters will head to SE7 in good voice then, and their players should come with an injection of confidence following their 2-0 win over Yeovil in midweek, the Reds' first victory in six and a result that lifted them out of the bottom four.

Centre-back Tamika Mkandawire - a rumoured Athletic target earlier this term - opened the scoring and could be a danger to us in both boxes, even though he did royally cock up when we visited the Matchroom Stadium in August.

Footballing antique, ex-Charlton geezer and a man my Addicks-loving friend insists should be playing for us now, Scott McGleish, sealed the O's win against the Glovers and will no doubt be a pest. Jason Demetriou and John Melligan are also far from devoid of talent.

But the main thing is that they are not better than us, so my crystal ball foretells home win number 10 - probably in true Mourinho style, but most definitely without a mankini-clad pillock.

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