Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Elliot out, Benno next?

Rob Elliot has has finally secured his move to Newcastle United. I don't think this comes as any surprise to either set of fans. The Magpies put in a paltry offer a couple of weeks ago which Charlton rejected immediately. Who knows what the fee was in the end as it was yet another undisclosed fee, all we can do is guess that it was more than the 100k than was originally bid.

I hope Elliot does actually get some action with Newcastle. They don't exactly have a shortage of keepers, it's a bit of a puzzle why they actually wanted him. They have two decent keepers in Steve Harper and Tim Krul and presumably Pardew wants Elliot as their third choice keeper even though they already have Ole Soderberg who can perform that duty. Still, I wish Robbie all the luck in the world, I hope he breaks through and does well there, though I think it's going to be a tough ask.

In other transfer news it appears that Paul Benson could be the next player to leave The Valley with Bradford City and former boss Phil Parkinson seemingly the front runners. Parkinson has already signed Addicks reject Kyel Reid, so maybe he is looking to put his old team back together to hoof his way out of League Two...

In terms of players coming in we have been linked with one or two players though time is running out and we may have to grab a loan signing for a bit of cover. We will certainly need another striker should the Benson deal go ahead and although Powell isn't too fond of loanees, there might not be too much choice at this late stage.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Good Gigg

A trip to Gigg Lane provided a different test for the Addicks who fought back from a goal down to clinch the win against League One new boys Bury. Charlton were without Bradley Wright-Phillips who reportedly has knee issues so Scott Wagstaff was pushed further up the field with Danny Green filling in on the right. Rob Elliot was also missing from the line-up giving Ben Hamer his league debut.

The Shakers took the lead with a Ryan Lowe free-kick which caught Charlton napping. Lowe struck as Ben Hamer was attempting to organise his wall and Chris Powell's men went behind for the first time this season.

Charlton pulled one back after the break when captain Johnnie Jackson sent in a ball which Paul Hayes latched on to and headed in his second goal of the campaign. Jackson was then on target after Dale Stephens split the bury defence and Jackson sneaked in at the far post to put the Addicks into the lead.

Once again the Addicks forced a nervous end to the game by sitting deep and inviting pressure from Bury. As with the Reading game however, the team defended well and ensure the three points to stretch their unbeaten run to 5 league matches.

All in all a good days work for the boys. It was great to see them make the come back as it's not always an easy task. Bury made it hard for us and played a physical game in parts. Continuing this unbeaten run will give us confidence going into the forth coming game against Sheffield Wednesday which may well be our stiffest test yet.

With Bradley Wright-Phillips out I did wonder where our goals were going to come from this afternoon. Jackson proved again how much we missed him last season and I was especially pleased to see Paul Hayes add to his tally. Hayes has been putting in some great effort and deserves to be amongst the goals. We do however we need a forward that can deputise well for BWP as his ongoing knee issues will ensure he will miss games.

The fact that Paul Benson has been interesting a number of clubs and Charlton have apparently accepted FOUR £150k transfer bids is a cause for concern. It is likely that Benson will leave and unless the club moves fast, we could find ourselves struggling for front men. I don't think Wagstaff is the answer. He's a decent enough midfielder, but he's no striker. Time is of the essence however and we may have to rely on a loan signing.

On the subject of transfers, Rob Elliot was also missing today and with no reasons provided it leaves me to suspect that Robbie will soon be leaving The Valley. Although unconfirmed at this point, there has been speculation that Newcastle were to make an improved offer, and judging by his absence, it would appear that the club are ready to do a deal.

Elliot will receive mixed reactions from the fans if he leaves, he has many supporters and just as many detractors. I personally think he is a decent enough keeper and the fact he is a local boy adds to his charm. It will be a shame if he goes, but any player would find a transfer to Newcastle hard to turn down.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Bury Away

The staff at Bury may well have winced upon looking at the fixture list before the season kicked off. Being matched up against Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton in the first five matches might not have been ideal, but they have come through two of those three challenges very very well.

The 1-1 draw with Huddersfield on the opening day of the season was a surprise to many. They followed up that result by losing 2-0 to Carlisle and the Huddersfield result was looking like a bit of a fluke. Since then however Bury have beaten both Sheffield Wednesdsay and Wycombe and find themselves in 6th position.

Results so far must send us a warning that we are not to take this team lightly. Bury have played some decent football along the way and have caught out teams expecting them to be a push over. The Addicks will have to be very disciplined if they are to pick up a positive result.

There haven't been two meetings between the two clubs in recent years and we last met in our play-off winning season. Both matches ended in 0-0 draws with Bury having future Addicks legend Dean Kiely playing in goal. Kiely made 137 appearances for Bury before his switch to The Valley in 1999.

Powell will have to think very carefully about his selection for this game. The Addicks are unbeaten this season and with the excellent performances in the Carling Cup game against Reading, Powell will have to weigh up whether there are players who could add a bit more to the Charlton first XI. Danny Green might be an obvious inclusion as although Wagstaff has done well, his last couple of games have not been up to the standard of his opening two fixtures.

The team was disappointed to drop two points against Scunthorpe after taking a two-goal lead, and it was clear the team were not firing on all cylinders. If we can raise our game back to the level of the win at Colchester, we have every chance of coming away from Gigg Lane with three points. If not, we could become another scalp for the Shakers.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Second XI defeat Royals

Charlton booked their place in the second round of the Carling Cup after claiming victory against Championship side Reading. Chris Powell made 11 changes to his team opting to give a run out to the squad members that have played little or no part in the league games this season. Reading also made a number of changes but Brian McDermott blended in some senior players to add a bit more experience to his side.

The game started very quickly and there opportunities for both sides to get off to the perfect start but a mixture of good defending and poor finishing ensured the scores stayed level. Paul Benson and Jason Euell both missed decent chances for the Addicks whilst Jobi McAnuff went closest for the visitors.

It was Charlton who were to break the deadlock however with Paul Benson bundling a ball into the back of the net. Charlton went on to dominate the remainder of the half playing some nice football and creating some good chances but again poor finishing prevented them from adding to their tally.

The second half started in much the same way with Charlton using their passing and moving game to good effect. The Addicks doubled their lead on 65 minutes, Jason Euell claiming his first goal senior goal for the club since his return. Simon Francis was the unlikely provider. The former Southend full back sent in a pin-point cross with plenty of power leaving Euell to simply guide the ball into the back of the net.

Reading grabbed a goal back 9 minutes later and thoughts immediately turned Saturday's draw against Scunthorpe. But time the team managed to see the game out despite some late pressure from the Royals. A good night's work for the Addicks but some potential selection headaches for Chris Powell. Brian McDermott will be scratching his head however as Readings patchy form continues.

Powell's team took their opportunity it has to be said. I was pleased that he went ahead and made all the changes and it's great to see that we genuinely have competition for every place in the team. This is a great situation to be in, particularly as it's a long hard season in this division as the amount of games is huge if you take into account league games plus the Carling Cup, FA Cup and the JPT. We will need to utilise this squad over the course of the campaign.

With the focus now back on the League One competition Powell now has to decide on his team selection for the trip to Bury. Powell can take some confidence though knowing that if he does want to mix his team a little, there are players there who will relish their opportunity and give their best to stay in the team. A real contrast to the attitude of last seasons squad.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Carling Cup: Reading Home

Charlton's re-arranged Carling Cup clash against Reading at The Valley kicks off tonight at 7:45. This fixture was one of five matches that were cancelled due to the civil unrest in the capital earlier in the month. With that little episode behind us, we finally get the opportunity to pit our wits against a Championship side that went close to promotion last season.

Reading's early season form has been rather up and down, The Royals earning only 4 points out of a possible 12. The best of their results came in the form of a win at early bookies favourites Leicester but by contrast their worst result was defeat by Barnsley at the Madejski on Saturday.

Charlton will be looking to make some changes for this clash. Chris Powell has been up front with the fact that he wants to put in some of the fringe players to give them an opportunity to shine. I'm happy with this decision. I have not the slightest interest in this competition and to me resting our first XI seems like the sensible thing with the busy bank holiday period looming.

Im eager to hear how the second string perform tonight and if any make enough of an impact for Powell to have to consider them for one of the league matches over the long weekend. Danny Green will be itching to show what he can do, particularly with Wagstaff being a little quiet in the last couple of matches. Paul Benson might also want a run out. With Powell stating that Benson could leave should a suitable deal be found, Benson could do himself some good if he is able to get on the scoresheet. Any performance might have to be pretty special though in order to tempt Powell into changing an unbeaten side.

Prediction: Charlton Win. We might just be hungrier for the win due to players with points to prove.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Shared Points

There seems to be a fair amount of disappointment with our on Saturday. For me though, despite being 2-0 up at one stage, we never looked comfortable and Scunthorpe definitely saved their best performance of the season yet for their trip to The Valley. I thought they competed well and showed some good footballing skills. They were certainly better than their league position suggested.

Johnnie Jackson opened the scoring with a (lucky?) looping header. BWP headed home the second after a superb cross from Danny Hollands, and although the scoreline was flattering, Charlton looked on their way to making it four from four. Scunthorpe however were doing their best to ensure this was not the case.

The Iron found their opening through Bobby grant after 73 minutes which gave everyone around me the jitters. The Addicks still had opportunities to put the game out of reach but failed to do so and were made to pay inside the first minute of 5 minutes of added time. Scunny seemed to perk up at this point and they quickly grabbed their equaliser through Bobby Grant once more.

Charlton seemed a yard off the pace for most of the day. They definitely did not have the cohesion seen in previous games this season. Both opposition goals came from Charlton's failure to clear their lines properly, but we have to give credit to Scunthorpe, they worked hard and if truth be told, they were deserving of a point.

We aren't going to win every game this season, and I think before the season kicked off, most fans would have taken 10 points from a possible 12. We are still off to a great start yet there are signs of some inexperience within the team. There is plenty for Powell and his team to ponder on before Saturday's away trip to Bury.

In the meantime there is the simple matter of the Carling Cup tie against Reading tomorrow night. I'm hoping to see plenty of different faces in terms of squad selection. I'm not interested in the Cup and I'm hoping Powell puts out a second string against the Royals. I'm more interested in picking up two more good results against Bury and Sheffield Wednesday who we play over what will be a tough Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Scunthorpe United Home

After two successful matches on the road Charlton play host to newly relegated Scunthorpe United on Saturday where they will be hoping to continue their run of good form. Scunthorpe are yet to record a league win this season and after losing to a fairly average Oldham side in midweek their manager and fans will be looking for a reaction.

The two clubs haven't met that much in recent years. In fact our only two matches since the 70's were in the Championship during the 2007/2008 season. The last match at The Valley ended up in a disappointing draw despite Charlton having enough opportunities to win the game. Marcus Bent scored the only goal for the Addicks that day. The return fixture saw Scunthorpe run out 1-0 winners in a season where there were many forgettable matches for Charlton who were eventually relegated.

This time around things are a bit different. Scunthorpe appear to be struggling to adapt to life in League One much like Charlton in the 07/08 season, and Charlton are full of confidence having won their three opening matches. Things can turn around very quickly however and we will have to ensure we are not complacent.

Powell is unlikely to make any changes to his outfield players however it is possible we might see a change in goal. With the speculation surrounding Rob Elliot I would probably opt to play Ben Hamer if fully fit instead of Elliot. I'm not wholly convinced that Robbie would be 100% focussed on his job. I'm sure he will give his all if he is picked, but some of his thoughts must be on the move to the Premier League. It could be a risky move putting him in.

This is a tough match to predict. Scunthorpe will want to bounce back after their midweek defeat and what better way to build confidence by picking up a good result against one of the in-form sides in the league. I think Charlton have enough in their locker to win the match, but I'm going to err on the side of caution and plump for a draw.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Elliot off to Newcastle

Latest reports suggest that Rob Elliot will be signing for Newcastle United. Contract talks between Elliot and the Club had stalled and it seems there is to be no resolve. Although Elliot insisted he wanted to stay with Charlton, there has been previous speculation about a move to the Toon to link up with Alan Pardew and former Addicks goalkeeping coach Andy Woodman.

This news may not come as a surprise to many of the Addicks faithful, as most of us thought the writing was on the wall when Ben Hamer was handed the No. 1 jersey. There have been rumours linking Elliot with a move to West Ham though the Newcastle speculation has been fairly constant over the last couple of months.

Some further information that may give a bit more credibility to this story is the fact that Fraser Forster has been shipped out on loan to Celtic once more. Forster made 44 appearances in goal for Celtic last season but clearly the 23 year old doesn't figure in Pardew's plans.

Charlton sink U's

Charlton continued their fine form with a 2-0 victory at Colchester last night. The opening exchanges saw Colchester go closest though the Addicks quickly gained a foothold. The match was virtually put safe during a spell where Bradley Wright-Phillips bagged two goals and Scott Wagstaff, Johnnie Jackson and Paul Hayes all went close.

The first goal came after a Michael Rose pass was intercepted by Wright-Phillips. A one-two with Scott Wagstaff saw BWP receive the ball inside the Colchester United box and the finish was never in doubt. Wright-Phillips grabbed his second after a well worked opportunity involving three Charlton players. Michael Morrison ran the ball out of defence and found Johnnie Jackson. Jackson crossed into the box and found the head of Paul Hayes who unselfishly headed the ball on to the waiting Wright-Phillips who calmly slotted home from close range.

The hosts made a bit more of a fist of it in the second half but despite some half chances and a string of corner kicks, they rarely troubled the Addicks defence. The hero for the home side was goalkeeper Mark Cousins who pulled off a string of fine saves to stop Charlton adding to their tally and foiled Wright-Phillips who was desperately looking for his hat-trick.

Although Wright-Phillips managed the two goals, Paul Hayes needs to be given credit where it's due. Hayes was often a handful for the U's defence and looks to be playing a vital role for the team. Hayes was unlucky not to get on the score sheet for the second successive game having shot agonisingly wide and seeing an effort brilliantly saved by Cousins.

Danny Green made his debut for the Addicks but had little time to impress. Wagstaff had another decent game and Green will likely be sitting on the bench again when Charlton entertain Scunny on Saturday. Jason Euell was given 10 minutes to show us what he could do and was unlucky himself not to score. Cousins again was the man of the moment and pushed Euell's shot wide.

It was a professional performance from a side that seem to be growing in confidence. U's manager John Ward was complementary of Chris Powell's side in his post match interview and admitted that the better side won the day.

Next up is Scunthorpe. The Iron have yet to pick up a win and are currently languishing just above the drop zone. A defeat against Oldham last night might just be the tonic they need to get themselves fired up. There is no doubt they will be looking to knock the wheels of the Charlton juggernaut and Chris Powell's side will need take care not to get too complacent after their recent run of results.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Colchester United vs Addicks

Games will be coming thick and fast over the next few weeks and after our Saturday encounter up at Meadow Lane, there's no time to rest as we face a tough challenge tonight at Colchester United.

Last season this fixture provided a six goal thriller and the way both teams have started we could see this result repeated. The U's managed to collect 3 points in their opening match against newly relegated Preston North End scoring 4 goals in the process. Despite only managing a draw against Wycombe at the weekend, I understand that Colchester had enough opportunities to win the game but missed chances cost them.

It will be interesting to see how the team fares as there may be a bit of stiffness after only playing a few days ago. We were fortunate in a way that our game against Reading was cancelled as it allowed us a bit more recovery time for the Notts County match. Tonight however we will be on an even keel with both teams having played on Saturday. I don't expect to see any changes to the team as it would be a very brave decision to alter a team that has started so well.

Long time Addick Kevin Lisbie was a bit of a fans favourite at the Colchester. Lisbie had two spells at the club. He signed for them in 2007 and finshed top scorer with 17 goals in 42 appearances. Despite this the U's were relegated from the Championship after only one season and Lisbie moved to Ipswich Town. Colchester took Lisbie on loan from Ipswich for the 2009-2010 season and he again finished top scorer with 13 goals in 41 games. By contrast Lisbie only managed 16 goals in 155 appearances for the Addicks!

Other links between the Clubs include former manager Phil Parkinson who took the U's out of League One by finishing runner up, and it was Parkinson who brought Lisbie to Colchester. Former Charlton youngster Kemal Izzet moved to the U's in 2001 after failing to break into the first team. Izzet has made almost 400 appeareances for the U's since joining them.

Back to tonight's game. I expect this to be a very competitive game. Colchester are a decent side at home and they lost only two games at home last season. Therefore a draw tonight could actually be looked upon as a decent result, but we are going to need to be up for it otherwise I can see us losing out to a very combative midfield.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Notts County 1 - 2 Addicks

It's hard being a football fan when you can't actually get to see, or even hear your team playing on match day. My wife thought today was a good idea to entertain friends. I thought it a bad idea, but you know who invariably wins those battles. Don't get me wrong, I like the folks who had driven 100 miles to be with us, but sometimes the football fan in me can turn me into a selfish git.

My afternoon largely consisted of a bit of chatter, a nice lunch, and a lot of sneaking around with my iphone trying to keep abreast of the Charlton situation via Twitter. Needless to say my wife had her beady eye on me and I got more than a few of 'those' looks.

So with no live action available to me, I've had to make do with reading a glut of match reports from websites and blogs in order to build up a picture of what went on today. Luckily there are some great sources for this type of information.

The decision to keep Scott Wagstaff in the team was clearly a good one. I heard many calls for Danny Green to come in after sitting the Bournemouth game out through suspension, but I think Powell was right to keep the faith and Scott managed to grab his second goal of the season and send us on our way to victory.

Paul Hayes gave us a taste of what he can offer the team too. After supplying the pass that allowed Wagstaff to get the first goal, Hayes also managed to score his first ever goal in Charlton colours. Most of us aren't expecting lots of goals from Hayes, but if he can continue to bring players into the game and chip in with a few he will be doing a very important job for us.

Our defence has been an area that I have been concerned about. It appears Notts County threw everything but the kitchen sink at us today though, and the lads were equal to it. Some of the play was very direct by all accounts, but we are going to get a fair bit of that at League One level so it's important that we are able to deal with it.

Two wins to start of the campaign is as good as we could have hoped for. We obviously need to be mindful that it is very early days, but after two games, things are going according to plan. Our next match will provide a bit of a stiffer test as Layer Road isn't an easy place to get a result and Colchester will fancy their chances after beating Preston convincingly last week. Momentum is key in any promotion push and I hope we can keep things going.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Notts County Away

After claiming three points in our first match at The Valley, it's up to our new recruits to show that they are capable of winning games on their travels. Opponents Notts. County will have plenty of confidence going into the game as they beat Carlisle convincingly in their opening game and managed a respectable performance against Championship side and local rivals Nottingham Forest in their midweek Cup game.

Charlton will likely field and unchanged side. Chris Powell has intimated that if the players are performing then they pick themselves, which means Danny Green will probably line up on the bench with Scott Wagstaff keeping his place on the right side of midfield. Jason Euell was snapped up on a one-year deal earlier this week and I would be surprised if we didn't see him at least make the bench. Euell can play in a couple of positions which will allow Powell some options, this is particularly important since the number of substitutes have now been reduced.

Notts. County appointed Martin Allen as manager in April this year and became their eighth manager in an 18 month period. County had been on a run of seven straight defeats before the board moved for Allen. The club managed to stay in League One despite being in the relgation zone when Martin Allen took over. Allen has a fairly decent pedigree in the lower leagues and I will be surprised if Notts. County languish in the bottom third of the table again.

Honours finished even last season with both sides picking 1-0 wins at home. County have shown in that they are capable of scoring goals after grabbing three at Carlisle and another three against Forest midweek, so it's likely that our defence will have a lot more to do than against Bournemouth last week. I have concerns that this team is weakest at the back so Taylor and Morrison are really going to have to get their house in order. There were signs against Bournemouth that they haven't got their communication right, and I hope that there are no gifts for County as a result.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Perfect Start

There was a great buzz around The Valley today. Many people were excited at the prospect of getting their first glimpses of our new signings. The atmosphere as I took my seat was as good as I can ever remember and with the sun shining on the pitch, I had a feeling it was going to be a good afternoon.

AFC Bournemouth lined up with a 4-5-1 formation and were clearly hoping to overrun the midfield with numbers. A sound tactic one might think, but fortunately for us, the Cherries couldn't make it pay.

Our passing today was slick, accurate and we kept the ball very very well. It was a real contrast to what we saw last year. Chris Powell was vocal about his philosophy to play his way out of this division and it looks like he finally has the players who can do just that.

Hollands and Stephens look like they have been playing together for some time. It's hard to believe they were thrown together little more than a month ago. They seemed to be on the same wavelength and there was some neat inter-passing between the two.

The first 20 minutes were relatively even with both sides knocking it about pretty well. Michael Morrison went close after 8 minutes when corner was floated in by Dale Stephens, but the unmarked defender failed to convert. Bradley Wright-Phillips also had a good chance 10 minutes later when Chris Solly provided a superb cross, but the striker could only head the ball over the bar.

The first goal came courtesy of some excellent play from Chris Solly again. The young full-back picked up the ball on the right hand side and surged ahead, he found BWP with a good pass and continued his run into the box. His run was enough to provide some confusion in the defence and Wright-Phillips slipped the ball to Dale Stephens who coolly side footed the ball into the corner of the net.

Rhoys Wiggins, a target of the Bournemouth boo boys for much of the game, had a good shot from 30 yards. It looked speculative, but it forced a good save from Flahavan in the Cherries goal. The resulting corner hit a few bodies but didn't really fall to anybody, and it went out for a goal kick. Charlton were starting to assert their authority on the game.

Bournemouth at this point were starting to look very average. Although they passed the ball well, there was no cutting edge to their play and they were limited only to a couple of half chances. Danny Ings looked uncomfortable playing the lone striker role, but more than that, he was isolated for much of the first 45 minutes. If the Cherries were to get back into the game, they needed to find him some support.

Our final chance of the half was again involved Dale Stephens. Another corner was lofted into the box and Michael Morrison got up well but failed to connect well and the ball went across goal rather than towards it.

Lee Bradbury made a change as the second half kicked off. Matthieu Baudry was replaced for former Millwall youngster Lyle Taylor. Bournemouth were the fastest out of the traps and in the first 5 minutes had some good possession, but again they failed to create anything of note.

Scott Wagstaff then shocked both sets of fans with an early contender for goal of the season. A Dale Stephens pass found Wagstaff who hit it on the volley from 20 yards, and the ball crashed into the back of the net. It was a superb strike and which probably gives Chris Powell a bit of a selection headache, as it was widely accepted that Scott was only an understudy to Danny Green who was unavailable due to suspension. It will be interesting to see who plays in the next match.

The game was sealed on 77 minutes when Bradley Wright-Phillips went on a mazy run into the Bournemouth box. He rode one challenge but a second floored him; penalty, no doubt. New Captain Johnnie Jackson was the man on the spot and he didn't miss. It was game over. Bournemouth were offering very little and Charlton were playing keep ball magnificently.

Despite neither of our strikers getting on the score sheet, it has to be said that they both played very well. Wright-Phillips surprised if I'm honest as his work rate was tremendous. There were times last season where it was said that if he wasn't scoring goals, he didn't offer much to the team. That couldn't have been further from the truth today. He definitely gave everything, as did Paul Hayes. Hayes got into some good positions and shot agonisingly wide on one occasion.

It was a good all round performance and the whole team worked tirelessly for each other. It's hard to single anybody out as a man of the match though the headlines will definitely be all about Dale Stephens. I think we might have dug up a little gem here.

Bournemouth had a few half chances here and there, but the team that reached the play-offs last term has been stripped of it's major assets. You do wonder if they are going to be the next Swindon. I spoke to a couple of their fans after the game, and though some were upbeat as they lost to us this time last season and managed a good campaign, there were many who clearly think that the club need to spend some cash if they are to stay in this league.

Friday, 5 August 2011

New look, new season

After succeeding Phil Parkinson in January, Chris Powell's start to life as a manager has not been plain sailing. Despite winning his opening four games, the season ended in pretty mediocre fashion. His first foray into management was largely forgettable and most fans couldn't wait for the season to end. Powell definitely made some errors, but most fans agreed that a comprehensive rebuilding project was required before he could be fully judged.

The transfer market can be a bit of a minefield. For some managers however, their dealings in this area is what helps define them. Of course there are a number of staff involved in spotting talent and recommending them to the club. Ultimately however, it is the manager who must make the decision on whether these players will be right for the club, and he must quickly ascertain if the player will fit the mould for the style of football he is looking to play.

Powell has had a baptism of fire in terms of transfers. 15 players have been brought in, 15 have left, and new contracts have been negotiated with some of last years better players. At a glance, it would appear that the manager has had some success in the market and has landed some decent players for this level. Many of the new faces were targets for other clubs but the Charlton staff clearly did a good job of convincing them that their future lies with Charlton.

I think Powell got his transfer strategy spot on. The early capture of Danny Hollands for me was our best business of the summer. Not just because Hollands is a very good player in this division but because it was an early statement of intent. With Hollands in we could show other prospective signings where we were headed, and it wasn't long before we started to get players of the similar quality signing on the dotted line.

With all the transfer business now out of the way, Powell now needs to go on and prove that he can not only build a new squad, but he has the ability to motivate and manage his own squad successfully. It's all well and good putting together a promising team, but turning those players into a well oiled machine is where the work really begins. Powell has his team now, it's time to deliver some results.

Although it would be great to get off to a good start, it's by no mean a disaster if we don't. Historically many teams have won promotion despite some early set backs. More recently, clubs like Norwich and Millwall have shown that you can still get out of this league regardless of how well you start the season. Millwall won only two of their first 10 games but managed promotion via the play-offs. Norwich City won only 3 of their first 10 games and went on to become League One Champions.

Our own promotion winning seasons also prove that these campaigns can be won at varying stages. In the 1997/98 season we only won two of our first five games. Promotion still came our way however, as we were unbeaten in our last 10 games and we carried that form into the play-offs to eventually go on to become winners. In the 1999/00 season it was our mid-season form that helped us secure the Division One title after a 14 game unbeaten spell; this despite failing to win a single game from our final seven matches.

As the curtain is raised on Chris Powell's first full season in charge there will be some nerves from the squad and the fans alike, but there will also be plenty of excitement. As fans we now need to show our support and give the lads some time to find their feet. Providing the players show the drive and hard work we expect from Charlton players, I'm sure that support will continue throughout the campaign.

There is much expectation, but promotion is won over the course of a season and as always there are going to be plenty of ups and downs along the way.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Target Man

Our pre-season campaign came to a disappointing end last night as an Addicks XI went down 2-1 to Carshalton Athletic. Full match report here.

As with the Bromley match, the team consisted mostly of promising youngsters but there were a couple of others who needed the game in order to get their fitness levels up, Cedric Evina and Mikel Alonso being most notable. Also in Charlton colours was Polish striker Grzegorz Rasiak.

Rasiak made his name in English football at Derby County. The Rams signed him on a free transfer when Charlton were enjoying life in the Premiership under Alan Curbishley. In his first season for County he managed to score 16 goals in 35 appearances, a decent return, and his performances caught the eye of a number of Premier League outfits though eventually it was Martin Jol at Tottenham who snapped him up.

Since, he has played for a number of English clubs including Southampton, Reading and Watford, and apart from Tottenham, where he made only 8 appearances, he has scored goals everywhere he has been. Obviously time has moved on a bit, and Rasiak is now 32, but I actually think that he might well be worth a punt. It's no secret that we are in the market for another striker, and Rasiak would definitely fit the mould for what we are looking for, more so than our other trialist and former player Jason Euell.

Rasiak is a target man. He can hold the ball up well, bring others into play and he doesn't do badly in front of goal himself. Bradley Wright-Phillips needs a partner with a different edge. Currently we have the two Pauls - Hayes and Benson, but I'm not convinced that either of them can perform the target man role well enough. Rasiak has played this part almost consistently throughout his career, and providing he still has the drive, I would prefer to see Rasiak over Euell.

Not that Euell is a bad player of course, but he is not a target man. In fact I actually thought some of his best performances for the Addicks came when utilised in an advanced midfield role. Clearly Chris Powell is in the best position to make these decisions as he is the one who will have seen the most of these players of late.

Of course, it may yet be the case that we sign someone totally different, but Powell has made no secret of the fact that he wants four strikers to compete in the forthcoming season, and with time ticking, he might have to make up his mind fairly quickly. Loan pickings might be a bit scant at this stage of the season as clubs will likely want to see how the first few months go before committing to any loan deals.

Whoever we bring in, I hope we bring them in for the right reasons and they fit the role that is required. I personally believe BWP will flourish with a partner that has the strength and the ability to feed the ball to him.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Elliot staying or going?

I'm not sure what's happening on the goalkeeper front but after signing Ben Hamer from Reading I was convinced we would see an exit from Rob Elliot. Judging by his twitter feed, Elliot isn't really sure what's happening either.

To add to the confusion the CAFC squad numbers were released today with Ben Hamer claiming the number one jersey, John Sullivan with number thirteen and Rob Elliot gets number forty four!

There are rumours that the contract which is on offer isn't what Elliot was expecting and talks have stalled. This could also explain the reasons why Elliot is saying that he wants to stay (though only for the right contract). I may well have all this wrong and it could be a case that Chris Powell just doesn't fancy him as our main goalkeeper for the coming season.

As well as Hamer coming in, we also picked up Andy Hughes on a free transfer. A friend of mine is a Leeds fan and he thinks we've grabbed a bargain. Hughes made over 100 League One appearances with Leeds, so if nothing else he has a fair bit of experience to offer. I understand that he is a 100% man. Not a player that will pull up trees, but someone who is solid and works his socks off for the team.

Hughes has been given the number two shirt which often goes to the right-back. I guess that's a big hint as to where Powell might be thinking of utilising him. Hughes can play in both full back positions and has also been used in midfield on a number of occasions.

As I mentioned,the CAFC squad numbers have been announced. No doubt most have already seen them but here's the link to the official page where you will find the full list.