Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What if...

I’m going to pose a question which at the moment is hypothetical but if there are any more performances like Saturday’s debacle will soon need answering: who should be our manager if Phil Parkinson packs his bags?

This post isn’t designed to lambaste Parky (if that’s what you want, I’m sure you wouldn’t have to look very far to find one), as I think our leader should be persevered with for the time being.

But say last weekend was not a blip but a sign of things to come, say we fail at Carlisle in a few days time and against Sheffield Wednesday in our next home fixture, and Richard Murray decides the only way we can move forward is by installing a new head honcho. Then what?

I’m opening up the floor to my readers, all two of you. Who would you select if Parky was no longer around? A proven name? An up and comer? Someone with Charlton connections? Or a name completely out of left field?

And without trying to sound like an examiner, if you are going to give me your view, back it up with a reason. There’s nothing worse than an opinion without substance – expect possibly Pawel Abbott’s diet.

I suppose I shouldn’t start a debate without airing my preference – Exeter manager Paul Tisdale. He is a bright young thing who knows the lower leagues, has worked wonders at St James Park in taking the Grecians from the Blue Square Premier to League One, has had to deal with a tight budget (something he would once again face at The Valley), plays some tidy football – and has some wonderful hats.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A look ahead to...Plymouth

Which Charlton team will turn up at Home Park, I wonder? Will it be the professional, Leyton Orient-slaying side of week two, or the meek outfit that succumbed so easily to an albeit-talented Huddersfield during week four?

Will Parky's boys showcase the attacking flair of the first half against Dagenham & Redbridge, or the nervous, lacking-in-ideas display of the second half against Dagenham & Redbridge?

Will be there be a repeat of the cumbersome opening 45 versus MK Dons in midweek or a duplicate of the second period, where intent was discovered and quality was prevalent? I'm sure even our sweater-loving manager doesn't know.

On Saturday, however, The Addicks take on a side even more inconsistent than themselves. Peter Reid's Pilgrims began the term with a battling 1-0 win at Southampton but have not yet managed to claim back-to-back victories.

Argyle edged Sheffield Wednesday and Swindon in five-goal thrillers, but have also suffered home defeats to an attackingly-powerful Peterborough, league leaders Brighton and, perhaps most disappointingly, to Jeff Stelling's favourites Hartlepool last weekend. The men in green are only three points behind Charlton but that equates to nine places and they currently sit in 17th.

They do have quality, though, and it would be surprising if they were not in the play-off hunt come May, but they could be let down by their choice of leader. Reid is a charismatic and likable man, and someone that I'm sure most players would enjoy playing for. Yet, his recent managerial record has been tepid.

The Scouser did excellently to keep a waning Leeds side in the top flight in 2003 - a feat helped no end by a 6-1 demolition of Charlton at The Valley - but once he was given the permanent job the following season, he purchased plenty of dross and was sent packing in November. An uninspiring spell at Coventry lasted just eight months, before periods as Thailand head coach and Stoke assistant manager preceded his switch to Home Park this summer.

The gig in Devon is the former Bolton midfielder's first in club management since January 2005, a five-and-a-half-year gap. That is a long time to be away from the pressure cooker of being the top man, and a boss more au fait with League One could have been a better bet when the Argyle board pondered who should replace Paul Mariner following relegation from the Championship.

As I said, though, there is talent amongst the Green Army; Craig Noone is a tricky winger who impressed during a loan spell at Exeter last term and is now getting his chance at Home Park, while Bradley Wright-Phillips, whose formative years have been blighted by alleged off-field indiscretions, appears to have finally settled down and will be the Pilgrims' premier goal threat.

Argyle have experience to boot, with ex-Crystal Palace workhorse Carl Fletcher and the cosmopolitan defensive duo of Iceland's Kari Arnason and Marcel Seip of the Netherlands.

It should be quite the battle on Saturday, one which may be better suited to Pawel Abbott than Lee Martin. Our semi-Polish frontman netted a bullet header at MK Dons and his physical presence could be pivotal up against Argyle's seasoned backline.

Technically, the crafty Martin is our best player, but he has been a tad subdued in the last few games and could be better utilised as an impact player this weekend, if we need that spark in the closing stages.

Elsewhere, I would keep faith the full-of-running Scott Wagstaff on the right and the fit-again, MK Dons match-winner Kyel Reid on the left, who if he can steer clear of niggles and last the full 90 minutes, has the potential to tear this division to shreds.

Jon Fortune also deserves a start; his half-time introduction on Tuesday evening gave our rearguard a far more solid feel and he could form a formidable partnership with Christan Dailly. Gary Doherty would be the one to make way, but then he has been suffering with flu - and a frustrating case of lossofformitis.