Saturday, January 30, 2010

A look back at.....Tranmere

I cannot argue with you naysayers, that wasn't good. I'll try to stick up for the Addicks as much as possible, but sat here at my laptop, three hours and 40 minutes after the denouement of the match and with more than a few drops of amber nectar inside me, I'm struggling for positives.

Kyel Reid was a plus, I suppose. The ex-West Ham winger was pacy and direct - were you watching Lloyd Sam? - and could be the answer to our left-sided dilemma. It is just a shame many more problems have arisen.

Darren Randolph - more used to being inside a Saturday that playing one one - hardly oozed confidence after replacing the injury-stricken Rob Elliot between the sticks, and our defence, which usually has at least an ounce of resolution, appeared totally kamikaze when aiming to snuff out Tranmere's many attacks.

The amount of times our players wait for the ball to hit them on the head, rather than fight tooth and nail to smash it clear with their noggins, frightens me, a criticism I target mainly towards Grant Basey.

Nicky Weaver's golfing buddy is a talented man and he does have a gem of a left foot, but a full-back he ain't. I've always thought he was a poor man's Gareth Barry - alright, a destitute man's Gareth Barry - much better suited to a midfield role.

Our current crop in the centre of the park worked hard but they were often bypassed by long balls from 'keeper and defence, kicks that seemed to have been made my Moses, due to the regularity with which they parted our front two, the technically-sound Deon Burton and the scrawny David Mooney.

The on-loan Reading man impressed me during his earlier loan spell with the Addicks, so much so that I described his return to SE7 as - and I quote - "excellent", but the Irishman has been largely anonymous since his reintroduction, and surely it cannot be too long before Leon McKenzie is handed a start.

Eight points off Norwich with a game in hand is no crisis, just a worrying divide, and hopes of an automatic return to the Championship have not yet been obliterated. But as a feisty, long-locked bloke two rows in front of me bellows with alarming regularity, Parky needs to "sort it out."

Oh yeah, and for those of you on tenterhooks following my aubergine-inspired blog earlier this week, I added the purple delicacy to a pasta dish. It wasn't outstanding but it did a reasonable job, a food equivalent of Frazer Richardson.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An aubergine-provoked post

I purchased an aubergine this week. Nothing sinister in it, I just fancied a change. I've become slightly bored of other vegetables, I've lost my zest for the pea and my adoration of the carrot, so I made a decision to try and spice up my meals and add some moxie to my dinner plate. I wonder if Phil Parkinson will have the same idea with regards to the Addicks' starting line-up.

I don't mean he should field an aubergine at left-back - feel free to insert your own Grant Basey criticisms - because that would be stupid, vegetables do not have feet. But after the trite performance that the Reds put on against Leyton Orient, you have to expect Parky to make some alterations to the first XI.

Leon McKenzie has made some decent contributions from the bench in the last month or so and I would like to see him begin proceedings at the Valley on Saturday. The ex-Crystal Palace man prefers to play up front but he looks to be fairly adept on the left side of midfield, Charlton's most troublesome position.

If he did start - probably in place of David Mooney - the 31-year-old could occupy a wide berth when we need him to but have the license to join Deon Burton when he can. McKenzie's presence would free up Jonjo Shelvey - or perhaps even the seldom-seen Therry Racon - to push forward and impact on the game from a central area.

The Addicks should be given a stiff examination by Tranmere, as despite the Birkenhead outfit's lowly league position, they are on the up. Les Parry - who took over from the hapless John Barnes - has galvanised the Whites and following Tuesday's victory over Yeovil, they have only lost two of their last nine league encounters, winning four. Rovers also gave a spirited account of themselves in a 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Wolves earlier this month, but they are not so industrious outside of Prenton Park.

The Merseysiders have amassed a solitary away league victory this term - and that was at second-bottom Wycombe - while John Aldridge's former club have scored in just four of their 13 games on the road and been barren in their last three. Then again, Leyton Orient had a pretty bad travelling record when they headed to the Valley.

I'm done with predicting who scores and who wins but you have to hope that our players are inspired by the spannering we gave Tranmere in August and come out full of beans. I'll be there to witness the match but until then, I need to figure out what to do with an aubergine.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Good luck Palace, genuinely

The title of this update is meant without an ounce of irony. I have no problems with the Eagles struggling because they have bad players or a dopey manager, I just don't want to see them capitulate because of off-field issues.

From the outside looking in, it would appear that Ambrose and co have pulled together brilliantly in times of financial uncertainty and their position of just outside the play-offs is a tremendous achievement. I hope that if the 10-point deduction is enforced they can regroup and remain in the Championship - just. Think about it Addickted, who knows how close we were/are to suffering the same fate.

No more telly, please

I've come to the conclusion that Charlton Athletic and live TV are a mix made in hell. First it was the debacle of Northwich Victoria, next came the misery of Southampton and now the frustration of Leyton Orient. Sure we've had our moments on the gogglebox, the 1998 play-off final - which as the "About Me" section on this blog explains is the premier reason why I started supporting the Addicks, and that magnificent Boxing Day in 2003 when we walloped Chelsea 4-2.

But when I try to think about other Charlton games that graced the small screen, I can only recall us getting slaughtered by Manchester City or a 3-0 home defeat by Liverpool in our Premier League relegation season which was the most one-sided football match I have ever seen in my life. Please media, just leave us alone.

A bounty of other excellent Addicks blogs may decide to pour scorn on Monday's dreadful performance so I shall try to refrain, as hard as that may be. The wider picture is that as Hungry Ted remarked a home defeat was coming and it would be foolish to think we would not have any Valley-based setbacks during the campaign. Norwich cannot keep up their level of lethality and Leeds' mind could be frazzled by their cornucopia of games. This promotion race has plenty of twists and turns ahead of it.

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.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A look ahead to.....Hartlepool

I do love night games. The chill in the air, the glistening of the lights and the added atmosphere that an evening kick-off provides. I cannot imagine that our visitors are looking forward to the match with as much vigour however, following their weekend spannering by MK Dons.

But rather than take to the field expecting the Monkey Hangers to capitulate once again, we must come out all guns blazing, stamp on them while their are down, pummel them and pummel them and pummel them and huff and puff and blow their metaphorical house down until they are weeping and begging us to stop with whatever energy they have left. But we must never stop, we most continue the onslaught until the referee puts the whistle to his lips and blows defiantly to signal the end of proceedings and then, and only then, can we go on our merry way, revelling in the fact we have closed the gap on our automatic promotion rivals. Like I said, I'm going to enjoy it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Loan ranger Mooney back with Addicks

In some excellent news, Dave Mooney has penned another loan deal with the Addicks, initially for 28 days, though it could be extended until the end of the season.

The Irishman hardly blew us away with his ability, but he proved to be a good foil for Deon Burton and I have high hopes that that partnership can flourish again. Mooney looks pretty weedy, yet he has handled the physical challenges admirably, while he also has enough pace - a necessity when playing with the crafty-but-slow Burton - and seems to have an incisive footballing brain, if you will pardon the cliche.

With Leon McKenzie getting stronger all the time and the vivacious Chris Dickson back in SE7 and eager to impress, all of a sudden we have a plethora of attacking riches. Well, maybe that it is a slight exaggeration.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A look ahead to.....Wycombe

As Wyn informed us on "Addick's Championship Diary", the steepness of the Adams Park surroundings means supporter access could be a little tricky, so despite the playing surface supposedly being in tolerable shape, the weekend's game with Wycombe is still far from certain to go ahead.

While previous postponemets may have given our ailed an oppportunity to - in the words of Dizzee Rascal - "fix up" and "look sharp", they also allowed surging Norwich to spring above us in the table, so another cancellation is not desired.

The Chairboys seem more of a threat than before having claimed a point at Elland Road last week and given our adversaries, the Canaries, a stiff examination the previous Saturday, but three "top" teams in a row could be too much for them too handle.

If the game does take place, the algific conditions should ensure that cultured passing and dainty flicks are out of the equation, so hopefully Frazer Richardson - the antithesis of subtle - is fit to make his comeback.

Elliott Omozusi has blossomed of late following a decent amount of stick during his early Valley days, and has definitely done enough to extend his time in SE7, but rugged Richardson would give us a bit more power.

Deon Burton and Christian Dailly should also reappear, the former after a stupid sending off and dead leg, and the latter having shed illness, but I have no idea if Kelly Youga is close to returning to the fold. I am, though, pretty sure that a one-legged Noel Edmonds is more likely to figure than the lesser-spotted Dean Sinclair, now back with the Addicks after the expiration of his loan deal with Barnet.

I also belive that if we do take to the field, we will record a convincing 3-1 win. Now that would kick 2010 off nicely.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Izale McLeod to Peterborough, Really?

If I ever go skydiving, I am not going to use a dodgy parachute. I will want constant reassurances that the big fabric thing attached to my back will work, and that I will not die if I use it.

By the same token, if I was the manager of a football team that was bottom of the Championship, fighting for its life to stay up, I would not purchase a player who for most of his career has done bugger all. My intention would be to acquire someone with a reputation for making a difference.

So I cannot believe that Peterborough boss Mark Cooper has signed Izale McLeod, albeit on a loan deal. The Posh need instant heroes; a creative spark, a proven goal scorer, not an undefined striker whose only asset is pace. It could be an under-the-radar masterstroke but if Izzy plays a significant role in keeping Cooper's men afloat, then the world really is a peculiar place.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A look ahead to.....Hartlepool (sort of)

I hate writing sometimes. There are occasions when I think I'm good at it and on some bright and breezy days, I even believe I have the makings of scribing superstar and what's more, I love the experience. But a lot of my life is spent sitting in front of a computer waiting to type, either because somebody needs me to, because I need me to or because I think I should and I absolutely detest it.

My mind isn't in gear, I don't know what to say or if I do, how to say it. I am unsure about how to start the wordy exchange, what to base it on and how to wrap it up. I feel like a complete failure and a disgrace to the profession of spewing words in written format. I then look in magazines and newspapers, searching for inspiration but all I find is resentment that I will never be as good as the people whose work I am wading through. And I feel like that right now.

I tell myself to blog about Charlton every week, not of course for monetary gain or even because I want to impress, inform or entertain people but because I would loathe myself if I didn't. If I cannot write about one of the few things that I truly care about than I might as well pack it all in now.

Sometimes my frustration gets the better of me and I don't air my Addicks-based thoughts but then I feel even more of a let-down, so even though I am having one of my meltdown days, I have forced myself to switch on my laptop, perch myself in front of it and type, despite the fact I would rather be doing a whole host of other things.

It's not going to be a captivating read, mind you. When I get annoyed my entire day falls into ruin, so I am not prepared to conduct any research on Hartlepool - even though I will have to later in the week for another writing obligation that I despise. So my preview will consist of this - they are mid-table but we should win. That was worth waiting for wasn't it?

I really hope Saturday survives the country-wide big chill. Not so we can try and overhaul Norwich and re-leap back into the top two, although that would warm my cockles. No, the reason being that sitting in the west stand of the Valley is one of the few occasions I feel at ease.

It doesn't matter whether we are giving another a team a right pasting or on the receiving end of an obliteration ourselves. There's nothing I can do. Sure, I can cheer and try to gee the boys up but I cannot control what goes on between the white lines. I can watch and be happy, safe in the knowledge that I am free from pressure.

Not like in social or work situations, where the onus is on you to make your mark. I don't need witty banter, esteemed intelligence, an understanding of what it is I am supposed to be doing. I don't even need to look the part. I just sit, level with the halfway line, an overly-shouty man to the left of me, a pleasant elderly couple to the right and a flat cap-loving fellow in front. I breathe in the air, watch Bailey and co weave their magic or play abysmally and I am content. When I enter Bartram's at the denouement of the match, my anxieties and frustrations return but for those 90-odd minutes, I feel alive.

Anyway, that's enough from me. Enjoy the game.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A look ahead to.....Walsall

Happy New Year Addickted, and welcome to a brand spanking new decade. Yeah, I don't feel any different either. Parky and his merry men will begin the 2010s - or whatever crap moniker society comes up with to call the next ten years - with a trip to the West Midlands. How exciting.

Our destination is the Banks's Stadium, but Walsall's home ground will always be the Bescot to me. I just don't like the s-apostrophe-s formation in Banks's, it looks peculiar, like a semantic equivalent of Peter Beardsley.

Anyway, when we arrive at the Saddlers' (see what I've done there, added an apostrophe and bypassed the second s) hideously-named abode, we could do with a win. I will always maintain that drawing most away games is an acceptable result, but the home stalemates with Millwall and Swindon mean that a travelling triumph is needed to level things out and keep us clear of the also-in-league-action Norwich.

Opposing manager Chris Hutchings has rebuilt his reputation with the Saddlers after disastrous stints at Bradford and Wigan, when on both occasions he took over from Paul Jewell. The 52-year-old has guided his men to a solid mid-table position, but their progress has stalled following the postponement of their festive fixtures and their three-game winless run before that.

The day we start fretting about who plays for Walsall is the day we can kiss goodbye to our promotion hopes but the Saddlers’ fizzy front two of Darren Byfield and Troy Deeney should give us more to deal with than the meek strikers we encountered at Brentford. For that reason, it would be soothing to see the illness-stricken Christian Dailly back in defence, with the Millwall-hating Jose Semedo returning to his more familiar midfield-destroyer role.

If the ban-free Burton shakes off a dead leg (is it that simple?), I hope he reappears in place of Akpo Sodje and not Chris Dickson, who looks like he is ready to forge a successful Addicks career, while I would also like to see Leon McKenzie start on the left in place of Scott Wagstaff. Parky is a cautious coach though, so I say that more in hope than expectation. A Charlton win, however, I say in both.