Monday, 28 March 2011

Rochdale vs Addicks

Rochdale on a Tuesday night?  No thanks.  Even on a Saturday it isn't a pleasant drive from here in the West Country to Lancashire, so the fact that I'm going to be out of the Country gives me the best excuse as to why I can't make the long journey to Spotland.  I salute all those Addicks fans that do make it there of course, and the team should also be exceptionally grateful that you made the long trip to support them. 

Hopefully it's 3rd time lucky in terms of the game going ahead as it's already been called off twice.  Bad weather in December and January led to the meeting being postponed until now, and actually it has put a lot more pressure on us during this run-in than necessary.  We've just played two of the top 6 teams in the division, and managed to get two hard fought draws, so coming up against Rochdale now is going to be particularly difficult. 

Our hosts have won their last three matches so I expect them to have plenty of confidence.  They will also be bhoyed by the fact that we have won only one away game this year (Yeovil) and prior to that we have to go back as far as November and the 5-1 win at Peterborough to find another away win.  Doesn't make good reading.  Particularly as we are now desperate for some points, not because we can achieve anything with them, but so we can salvage some pride and finish the season with a flourish.

We don't generally do well up north, so it would be a huge ask to expect the lads to grab us all three points.  But the main issue for me is for us to  keep our tempo to the levels of the previous games and to keep the fighting spirit going.  A win is long overdue, it might be too much to expect it to come tomorrow night, but i'll have my fingers crossed that we get the right result.  Unfortunately for me, either way I may not be able to share my thoughts via this blog.   As I mentioned earlier I will be out of the Country and although I'll have my laptop with me I have been warned that the internet connections in darkest Peru can be a bit dodgy.  My brother who I'm visiting for a while tells me the connection can be quite intermittent, so it's even possible I might not get the result for a few days.  Let's hope I get lucky!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Honours Even

Another tough game and another point earned.  After Tuesday's match against Southampton we needed another result to start to build the teams confidence back up.  This was a tough point to earn.  Both sides are in a bit of a lull right now.  Bournemouth have dropped down to 6th spot from the automatic promotion places, and our problems are already well known, and both sides occasionally showed the nerves..  Bournemouth however were definitely the team on top for most of the game, exactly what you would expect from the home team and it was up to Charlton to bide their time, keep it tight and make the most of our opportunities.

We did just that after the half hour mark.  Wagstaff latched onto a rebound from a Frank Nouble shot and managed to find the back of the net, albeit to cries of "handball" from the Cherries fans.  From my vantage point I have no idea whether it was or not, but the ref didn't seem to think so and so we were ahead for the first time in six games.  Our lead however was not to last long at all.  A sliced backpass from Racon put Elliot in trouble and he could only knock the ball on to the crossbar.  Marc Pugh was quickest to react and it was an easy header for the Bournemouth player.  Bournemouth were struggling a bit in the first half, they definitely didn't look like the promotion chasing side their form this season has suggested.

I think Lee Bradbury might have had a word with our hosts at half time because they came out for the second half in a very positive mood and started to play some nice football.  Our defence was struggling to cope with their assault and they managed to grab a deflected goal.  Going a goal behind is nothing new to us.  We've been there a lot lately, but as with the Southampton game our heads didn't drop.  Despite Bournemouth drawing some confidence from their goal and knocking it about rather well, we still managed to compete and keep our heads up, clearly the belief within our side is growing, which is great to see.

9 minutes from time and we were all square again.  After some fine work from Anyinsah and Dailly, the ball fell for Bradley Wright-Phillips (who else?) and he finished superbly.  This clearly upset Bournemouth who then set about laying siege to our goal for the majority of the remaining time.  Only some good defending, some great clearances off the line and some magnificent goalkeeping from Rob Elliot ensured that we kept it level and went home with a share of the points.  This was despite the Ref not being able to read a stopwatch.  The board went up to show five minutes added time, seven minutes later we were still playing.  It was almost eight minutes before he finally blew the whistle.

All in all another good day at the office.  The players still had a fight in them despite some of them not being fully at the races.  We definitely earned the point, no question that it was deserved, but there were times when I thought Bournemouth looked there for the taking, particularly in the first half, but our own lack of confidence and ideas hindered us.  Overall we have to be pleased with the point.  Rochdale up next, and if we can grab three points then 5 points from three tricky games will be a decent achievement.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Passion at last!

So there is passion in our players.  They DO care.  Finally we see it.  Tonight's game was all about the performance.  Sure it's nice that we picked up the point, but we had 11 players on the field working their socks off for each other and putting up a real fight.  I'm sure there were more than a few fans heading to The Valley tonight wondering how many goals we might lose by, and who can blame them after what we saw on Saturday at Dagenham and Redbridge.

Right from kick off the difference in our players attitude was apparent.  The manager had a bit of a shake up in the team and made four changes with Elliot, Bessone, and Racon all getting the nod and Solly getting a starting place ahead of Jenkinson who was apparently dropped for "contract issues".  It worked.  Racon had his best game in a long time.  I'm not convinced that he is best suited for the wing, but the middle of the park did look a lot more assured with Semedo and Parrett.  Parrett in particular was outstanding and on tonight's performance it looks as if he has a very good career ahead of him.

This was without doubt our best performance under the management of Chris Powell, but let's not get carried away, there is still an awful lot to do.  The first half, although we were much better than in previous weeks, we still lacked any real threat on goal.  There was some neat football and excellent defending but our work in the final third just wasn't up to standard and we went in at half time pleased that we had kept the clean sheet but disappointed not to have created any decent opportunities on goal.

Southampton came out and started the second half at a good pace but we dug in and had numbers back and managed to keep them at bay.  That is until some unsporting behaviour from Dan Harding helped turn the tide in the Saints favour.  Charlton kicked the ball out due to an injury but Harding decided he didn't want to give the ball back and the resulting Southampton attack led to a corner.  Some poor marking saw Jaidi find the back of the net with what was a very nice finish.  Elliot had no chance.

At this point we feared the worst.  Lately when going a goal down the team have clearly dropped their heads and almost surrendered.  But the difference tonight was that this just did not happen.  We kept going and started to get a bit of the ball ourselves.  Parrett seemed to be involved in everything and it was from one of his free kicks that we thought we had found the equaliser.  Big Mig stretched out a foot and the ball cannoned off the crossbar hit the floor and bounced out.  Nobody was sure if it was over the line, Llera thought so, replays show that it wasn't, but it got the team fired up anyhow.  When the equaliser did come it was no surprise that Parrett was involved again.  After some good build up play from substitute Nathan Eccleston (why doesn't he get a start!?), Parrett received the ball and slipped a sublime ball into the box to Wright-Phillips who slotted home easily.

It took a bit of luck however to ensure that we managed to get a share of the points.  After a Charlton attack broke down, Saints were quick to respond and had the ball in the back of the net, only for the linesman to rule it out for offside.  Replays showed that it should have stood, and the more negative supporters may focus on this more than what was really important, which was the performance.  It was a perfomance to be pleased with and to be proud of.  My last blog entry was all about why we should be proud to be Charlton fans, but tonight it was our players who reminded us of what pride feels like.  It is this new found passion coupled with an injection of a bit more quality in the summer that will help to get us out of this league.  It's critical that we use this as a stepping stone to at least try to finish the season with a flourish rather than a whimper.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

We are Charlton. Let's be proud.

Disappointment doesn't even begin to describe the feelings that most Charlton fans have right now.  Many are reporting to feel empty, sad, angry, even depressed.  There are some who are past caring, there are some who are so livid that they have taken to abusing the players and management team, and there are some who have decided to vote with their feet and have refused to renew their season tickets.  In all honesty I can understand all of these emotions, but it really saddens me to see people saying they are no longer proud to be a Charlton fan.

Through my entire life I have always felt proud to be an Addicks fan.  I started going to watch Charlton in the 1980's, the early part of which was a real shambles in terms of club Managers.  Between 1980 and 1982 we had 5 different Managers and other than a Division Three promotion there was very little at all to cheer about, but Charlton always had a certain attitude about them that made you feel proud even when you were losing.  We were triers.  Whatever we lacked in quality we made up for in good old fashioned grit and hard graft.  This is something that I do not see in our current side for the first time in over thirty years.  It's frightening when I think about it.

Parkinson put together a team on the cheap, not an easy thing to do, and I think that lately we have found out exactly why we have played some terrible football for the past couple of years, and that is because the team we have cannot play football.  The problem here though is that they also do not have the fight, spirit or passion to make up for their shortcomings.  Credit to Parky for knowing this and enforcing an effective way of playing, but let's be fair, it hasn't exactly been entertaining.  If you asked me if I would accept playing this style of football as a means to escape this division then I may indeed agree that I might, but that doesn't mean I would swap Parkinson for Powell.  No thanks, I'll stick with what we have right now.

If you want to feel a bit of pride, just think about Chris Powell.  Every time he walked on the pitch as a player, you always knew exactly what you were getting.  Someone who worked their socks off for the team, had a little bit of quality about him, and someone who loved the Club and the fans.  Remember his tunnel antics after our wins, or even when we lost the match, remember that he walked all four corners of the ground applauding us fans.  He epitomised what Charlton was all about.  Do you think that since becoming Manager all that has changed?  Of course it hasn't.  This is a man that wants to not only bring success back to our Club, he wants to bring the pride and passion back.  This is a man who took a huge gamble by agreeing to become Parkinson's successor, knowing that his special relationship with the Club and fans he loves could be ruined forever.  Yet, he still took up the mantle, has been honest about his intentions and is working as hard for us as Manager as he did as a player.

Our successes as a Club have been at their peak during times where our Managers had long reigns.  Jimmy Seed, Lennie Lawrence and Alan Curbishley were all given the time required to slowly build success.  There were plenty of bad patches during each one of these Manager's reigns, it wasn't all rosy, but we stuck with them and they brought us our rewards for doing so.  Powell may well have the potential to go on and bring us the success we crave, but only if he is given the time and the backing to do so.  I feel sorry for the guy.  He has taken over a team of clodders and is trying to get them to play something that resembles football.  Clearly it isn't working, but I admire the philosophy.

We should now be looking towards the end of the season so that the management team has an opportunity to get rid of those players that do not have the Charlton spirit, bring in some that do, and see us build a team that will play our way out of this division rather than hoof our way out.   There is no pride in watching your team hump it up field and bundle it in the net.  There is no pride in watching players who cannot be bothered to run, or give everything for the shirt on their backs.  So I can actually sympathise with those fans that have lost their pride, it's easy to see how it's happened when you look at the calamitous decisions made by the Club and the Managers since Curbs left.

We have taken a nose-dive of epic proportions and so far it's not looking like stopping, and the fear is now that we will find ourselves in yet another relegation battle, but this time fighting to keep ourselves out of the forth tier of football.  At some point our slump will come to an end.  We will turn a corner and start moving upwards again.  Our players confidence is extremely low right now.  We played some good stuff today for a fair chunk of the first half, and actually it only went to pot after the Daggers scored, which was actually against the run of play, so we do have some positives.  What we probably need is a little luck to help us on our way.  We are desperately trying to play some football but unfortunately we do not have the players to carve out clear cut openings.  Had we taken one of our chances whilst we were in the ascendancy today, the result could have been very very different.

I know I am too full of optimism for some people.  But this is Charlton Athletic, they are my team, for almost 40 years I have proudly followed them, and like Charlie Connelly I love them.  I find it very hard to be negative about the things I love.  Despite all the awful things that have happened to us in recent years, I am still proud to call myself a Charlton fan, I cannot think how empty I would feel without that pride.  We have achieved some great things in my years as a supporter and I have enjoyed watching us through some of the best years in our Clubs history.  Be proud to support the Addicks.  It's easy when things are going well, but the team needs us more at times like these.  Today was a particularly bad day to be a Charlton fan.  We must improve, we can improve, we will improve.  We can't get an awful lot worse.  Back the Manager and support the team.  The only way to get through this is to stick together.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Team selection needs to improve

Unfortunately a family wedding in Scotland kept me away from the match on Saturday and also meant I have been unable to post anything until now.  Fortunately for me I was able to keep up with much of the action via twitter, despite keep getting jabbed in the ribs from my wife for constantly fiddling with my phone.  Thanks to the CAFC twitter community for keeping be updated!

Saturday's result was obviously a disappointment, but what was more annoying was the fact that despite the obvious issues, Powell persisted with the same old faces in midfield that have been letting us down for weeks now.  I was hoping to see Parrett make his debut as quite honestly we are in dire need of changes in this particular area.  McCormack has proved time after time that he is just not good enough.  I think Powell has given him a fair crack of the whip and he has done absolutely nothing to stake a claim to a spot in the starting XI. 

I think that Powell's recent team selections are starting to show his naivety as a manager.  It seems at the moment that he either cannot see what the fans can, or he is trying to give players too much time to prove themselves.  Reading the team selection before the start of the match I was at a loss to see how Francis had been dropped but McCormack managed to secure his place.  Both players have been equally poor and neither deserve a place in the team in my opinion.  I am also amazed that Eccleston isn't getting much of a look in.  Powell decided to go for a player who has done no training with the team (Nouble) over Eccleston who has been with us for some time now and who does actually look dangerous at times, despite constantly being played out of position.  It's a bit of a puzzle.

Two plus points in terms of team selection both came about by accident.  Both Llera and Solly have been drafted back in due to injuries.  Llera has now had a few solid games and Solly is meant to have done well after replacing the injured Jenkinson.

The season is now ebbing away, and actually I would be happier with knowing we are staying in this league for another season if I could see some clear direction in where the team is going.  Our manager is new, inexperienced and of course is going to make errors, and we should be able to forgive him for that.  But in order for us to keep giving him the support he needs we must show us that he is learning and putting what he has learned into action.  Picking players that fail in their task week after week is not a good base to start from.  If we want to win games, it's imperative that we have the right players on the field to start with.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Vetere's return a cause for concern?

Found this article whilst trawling the internet for stories of interest.  Seems that Jeff Vetere is again back at the Club but this time in a very different capacity.  When he was with us previously he did a lot of work with the youth team.  Vetere was clearly a man that Curbs had some respect for because after he moved to West Ham he took Vetere with him as an overseas scout, and Grant Basey attributed his own development to Vetere too, so the guy does have some credibility, but I do have a few worries about this latest appointment.

Vetere was recruited by Newcastle and given a role alongside Dennis Wise and our very own Tony Jiminez to form the "executive scouting team" and were put in charge of signing players for the club.  As we are all aware Keegan was not happy at these appointments.  It was all done by the board as they were looking to put together a similar system to what the overseas Clubs have.  The major concern here is that these types of things undermine the manager and generally go on to cause wider problems within the club.  Keegan left Newcastle a matter of months after this team being employed by Newcastle and he made no secret of the fact that a large factor in him leaving was due to this panel (but particularly Wise) being appointed.

I don't know exactly what Vetere's remit is and how much that could interfere with the manager's job, or indeed if even Powell was aware of the coming appointment nor whether he approves, but it is something that we should keep a close eye on.  We already have Keith Peacock as Techincal Director, did we need anyone else?  It's a bit of an odd one.  Especially since Vetere was appointed as Head Scout by Aston Villa in November and was tasked with "setting up a worldwide player recruitment network".  Didn't last long did it? Surely he can't have done that in the space of four months?  Why is he leaving so soon, it's not like Charlton are a step up is it?  More money?  Doing a bad job at Villa?  The Villa fans don't seem impressed by either him leaving so soon, nor at his contribution since joining them.  None of these reasons seem positive from a Charlton point of view.

Ask the Newcastle fans what they thought of Vetere and Co. and the quality of the signings they brought in - Spaniard Xisco (a £6m flop) and loan signing Ignacio Gonzalez. Both were brought in without Keegan's consent I might add.  These were also the men behind the decision to sell James Milner.  Doesn't look too good does it?  We will have two out of three of that panel making decisions for Charlton from now on.

It's puzzling to know exactly why he has come back to us.  This is a guy who has worked for Real Madrid and is said to have "an encyclopaedic knowledge of footballers around the world, and is fluent in Spanish, French and Italian".  If his knowledge is so vast and his experience so great, why isn't he using that at one of the worlds larger clubs?  Something doesn't sit right with me about this latest news.  Not only for the reasons surrounding the appointment, but the effect that it could have on the club as a whole.

Of course this could all turn out to be a master stroke by the club and my worries are for nothing, but I can't help feeling more than a little skeptical.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Season Over

The writing was on the wall for this match even before kick off.  As soon as the line-up was announced it was clear that it was going to be a game that we didn't want to lose rather than a game we wanted to win.  The 4-5-1 formation was negative and BWP, the source of most of our goals since Powell took over, was on the bench, most likely because he isn't the workhorse that is necessary for this formation to have some success.  Powell got it very wrong tonight.  We needed our most dangerous players on the field for 90 minutes, not warming the bench.  But most of all we needed some positivity.

It must also be said that our midfield is the area where we have the most problems at the moment, I don't really see what throwing another sub par midfielder on the field is going to achieve.  With five men in midfield you would expect to see them dominate possession in key areas, but actually what I witnessed were a group of lightweight players who got pushed off the ball with ease, gave the ball away under minimal pressure, had had no idea on how to supply an intelligent ball to the lone striker, and didn't have a clue how to make space to have a shot or two themselves.  We may as well have played four, because the five were no more effective than a four.

The first half was as dull as football could ever get.  Neither team created much, and I don't even think Charlton had a shot on goal for the entire 45 minutes.  Benson looked far too isolated up front, nobody in the midfield gave him any support, when the ball was played to him he was either surrounded by defenders or the ball dropped straight to an opponent, there isn't a great deal to write about.  There were a couple of occasions when we got ourselves into positions and should have made a lot more of it, but our final ball was abysmal.  I know I've been banging on about it for a while but we just don't have anybody capable of creating clear cut opportunities.  A plus point in the first 45 minutes was our defending.  Every time the Dons looked threatening, our defenders managed to smother them and their attacks came to nothing.  Our best (only?) chance of the half was from Kyel Reid.  He burst through and shot wide from about 25 yards.

Early in the second half MK Dons had to take Keanu Marsh-Brown off, and it has to be said there was some relief from the Addicks fans.  He looked dangerous in the first half and definitely was the most likely Don to score.  Ultimately though it worked against us.  Don's got their first goal from some really clever play by Baldock who replaced Marsh-Brown, he put Chadwick through who in turn fed their striker who easily slotted past Ross Worner.  MK Dons really started to play after their goal.  Their midfielders had control of the game with Chadwick and Stephen Hughes being the most impressive, and although we threw men forward, as ever, our final ball was very poor.  Racon got himself in a couple of shooting positions but both times put the ball over the bar.

Their first goal came on 55 minutes.  We needed a substitution almost immediately.  Our heads dropped and the team looked like it needed a boost.  Maybe the introduction of BWP at that point could have helped.  But, despite there being long conversations between the coaching staff nothing was happening.  The players had to muddle through for almost 20 more minutes before Powell decided to introduce Wright-Phillips, which was far too late in my opinion.  Our midfielders had no more joy finding two strikers with a decent final ball than they did with one, and we didn't pose much threat at all to our opposition, despite getting into some advanced areas.  Benson seemed happier with someone to play alongside but he'll have to serve a suspension after seeing red towards the end of the game.  He can have no complaints, he went straight through the back of Gleeson, the ball was nowhere to be seen.  It was a stupid thing to do, particularly as we are struggling for cover after letting Pawel Abbott go.  The only senior strikers we have now are Eccleston and BWP and Powell may now need to bring in a striker to act as cover when we actually need some midfield grit.

All in all another poor night for Charlton.  Not just the players however, Powell and Co. have to take some responsibility for the negative formation and for letting the game go on for too long without changes.  Lessons need to be learned.  I think we can safely say that it's season over for us as it would take a super-human effort to make the play-offs now, and I don't think that this team has it in them.  It's probably not a bad thing, I can't see enough of our team having the guts to fight for every ball in the Championship, and certainly they don't have what it takes to get us out of a relegation scrap.

A number of Players contracts are up in the summer, so the manager needs to now start thinking about what is required to get out of this league and identify one or two targets to bring in during the summer.  Maybe it's also a good time for Powell to experiment and find a system that he likes and to blood a few youngsters.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Crunch Time

Despite there being 14 games left to play this season, I think we are all aware that a loss in tomorrow night's clash with MK Dons could well mean it's season over for us.  Sounds a bit negative I guess, but I can't realistically see us catching our nearest play-off rivals if they manage to secure the 10 point lead over us that a win will give them. 

We have been known to do pretty well against our opponents having already beaten them twice this season and doing the double over them last season.  But I think it's going to be a lot tougher this time out.  There is a lot riding on this game for both teams.  MK Dons will be fully aware that a win could well cement their play-off place providing they don't totally capitulate in the closing stages of the season, and I expect them to give us a real tough game.  I'm hoping that our recent form against them and the fact that we do normally play better against the tougher teams, will help us secure the victory that we so badly require.

Although I don't like to tempt fate, a win at stadium:mk could be just what we need to get our season back on the rails.  The 3 points would keep us within touching distance and should be a massive boost to our confidence, but it's going to be a very difficult task.  The team are clearly lacking in confidence at the moment, and although our second half performance on Saturday gives me hope, I am also very aware of the fact that we have not played well for a full game since Powell's appointment.  We are going to need to be somewhere near our best for long periods if we do hope to pull off the victory.

This will be my first trip to stadium:mk and the 80 mile journey home is going to be pretty bleak if we take a battering.  Our season needs to turn around, so I'm hoping we might see the start of that tomorrow night...

Sunday, 6 March 2011

A point will have to do.

Should we be happy with a point?  Probably not, but if it means we avoid another loss then I guess we'll have to take it.  The play-offs are starting to look like a pipe dream and unless we put some kind or run together soon we are going to miss out.  After some dismal all round displays we went back to only turning up for one half today.  Unfortunately we also gave away yet another soft goal with some very sloppy defending. 

Francis proved again that although his attacking play can be decent, when it comes to his defensive duties, he is far too casual.  His lack of focus ensured the ball was cheaply taken off him and put Showunmi through on goal with only Rob Elliot to beat.  The Tranmere striker did the necessary and we found ourselves a goal down.  I can't just single out Francis for criticism.  The entire team were just way off the pace again, but Tranmere's negative tactics (see Marco's Blog for all the gory details) were not doing much for their own attacking play, they didn't look like scoring until it was handed to them on a plate.

Second half there was some improvement.  We created some decent chances, had a bit of bad luck with some decisions and were also guilty of wasting the ball when we had done some good work.  Our equaliser came after about 10 minutes into the second half.  The referee in what must have been a rare moment of clarity, awarded us a free kick in Llera territory.  He duly stepped up and found the back of the net courtesy of a deflection and we were all square.  Tranmere were limited to the odd counter attack for most of the second half as we pressed but due to a mix of poor final balls and poor refereeing decisions we were denied the winner that our second half performance deserved.

We are now 7 points from the play-offs with what has turned into an exceptionally important match against MK Dons on Tuesday.  We need to walk away with all the points or the lead they have over us stretches into double figures which would make catching them extremely difficult.  The Dons will be up for the fight knowing a win starts to cement their own place in the top six.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Time gentlemen please!

Charlton are going through a very difficult time as a club and as a team right now.  We have fallen from the Premier League with a huge bump, and along the way we have sacked four managers, sold our best players and the club itself has had a change of ownership.  These are major events, and any business, regardless of the industry, would find it a challenge to pick themselves up and move forward.

Our new board have shared their will to attempt to move us up the divisions and hopefully bring back some of the cheer that we had in the not so distant past.  Fine ambitions.  They started by appointing Chris Powell, many of the fans were ecstatic to have CP back and hopes are raised.  How quickly things can change.  Eight games later and it already feels like the knives are coming out for him.  Eight games folks!  Haven't we sacked enough managers over these last few years?  Are we not partly in this mess due to lack of continuity or consistency?  Should we really be getting on someone's back after such a short time in the job?  I personally think not.

I'm as disappointed as anybody, not only with the recent run of results, but the performances too.  It's easy to look at the team and point people out and say "he should be doing better, and he used to play for a Premiership team, and he is on high wages" and the blame often lies with the manager for not getting the best out of them.  I don't however feel that in this case the real issues are with the manager.  These problems pre-date Powell and in my mind the lions share of the responsibility lies with the players.

When Curbs was manager, there were certain players that he used to go for, he almost had his own mould and pretty much stuck with signing players of that type.  These players were either hard workers who did the simple things well (mostly), or they had something to prove, a hunger. I personally think we are desperate for a few players of this kind.  I get the feeling that some of our players think they are better than the level they are currently playing at, and might feel that they deserve to be playing in the higher echelons of football.  But, instead of getting stuck in and earning their right by helping us get promotion, they are just in cruise mode hoping and praying they might get a break with another club coming in for them.

It obviously doesn't help when you see players like Bailey and Shelvey, and even Lloyd Sam get moves to clubs in the Championship or Premiership.  Some of our boys must have been thinking "I'm as good as him, I should be up there too".  I can understand to an extent what a disappointment it must be to drop down the divisions, or to be released from a bigger club and have to take a step down to continue your career.  How hard though must it be for a manager to get these people mentally in the zone?  It's all well and good to say that it is his job and it's what he must do, but it isn't always that simple, particularly if in their own minds they are already out of the club, as I believe is the case with a number of our squad.

We really need a shake up. It is frustrating because I do actually feel we have the quality to get out of this division, clearly it's there, but our players lack the characteristics that have made Charlton punch above their weight for long periods in the past.  We need to see more passion, more hunger, more drive and ambition.  We need leaders and we have to see some guts from every player on that field.  Yes it is the managers job to get his players to perform to the best of their ability, but it is also the players responsibility to give their all.  A manager cannot force it out of them.  At some point the player has to stand up and be counted and when they look back on a performance they have to be honest in their assessment and have the will to improve if they aren't pulling their weight.

Powell has had less than two months in the job.  I think most would agree that this is not nearly enough time to stamp your authority on the team.  This is still  very much Parkinson's team.  Let's give Powell the opportunity to build one of his own before throwing him on the ever growing pile with the rest of the managers that have dared to follow in Curbishley's footprints.  I'm not saying that Powell is going to be our Messiah, or even our next Curbs, but how the hell are we even going to know these things if he is not given a proper chance?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

4 wins 4 losses

I'm not really sure what's happening with Charlton at the moment.  It would appear that we are on a steady slide which doesn't look like stopping anytime soon.  Despite BWP grabbing a goal after 8 minutes, we just never had the confidence to go on and win the game after the best start in a game with Chris Powell.

We desperately need to bring in a couple of loan players in my opinion, and Benni McCarthy really isn't the answer.  I want to see some pace in our centre back pairing, which probably means Doherty making way for this new face.  I've said before, why not give Matt Fry a shot at it?  I think he had a bit of a knock last night hence why he didn't feature, but if he is fit on Saturday I would throw him in.  His loan deal is expiring again soon and if he looks the part then we can think about renewing it, if not, don't bother, go out and get a centre half who will fit in.  Jenkinson has done pretty well since coming into the team so we are fine for cover in that position once  Bessone is available again.

So with some pace in the defence we need to add someone with a spark of creativity in midfield.  Right now our strikers are living off scraps a bit.  Ok they have been guilty of missing some decent chances, but to be fair to them, they are having to do most of the work themselves right now.  There is nobody who has an eye for a pass or to provide that final ball.  Reid and Wagstaff on the flanks need to offer an awful lot more if they expect to get more games.  Last night I'm told that they were both pretty average and unable to manage to cross or pass the ball with any accuracy and also failed to track back and do their defensive duties.  I have no idea who might be available for loan, but we really do need somebody who is able to sit alongside Semedo and dictate the play a bit.  Many fans were calling for Racon to be brought back into the side, but to be honest I haven't seen him do a great deal more than McCormack did.

So back to Benni McCarthy.  I would stay clear of him myself.  I can't understand why we would want him here knowing that he has let West Ham down consistently with his levels of fitness and his training.  I also read an article today which states he is holding out for a Championship club to come in for him as he doesn't fancy League One.  Hopefully one will take him and we won't see him in an Addicks shirt.

With Saturday looming, Chris Powell has still yet to prove that he is able to get a team to respond with a good result and performance off the back of a defeat.  He must now been feeling the pressure but he really needs to get the team fired up and beat Tranmere convincingly.