Dedicated Darren Departs

What an excellent signing Darren Pratley was. I guess like many others when we signed him from Bolton 3 years ago, I was underwhelmed but how he proved us doubters wrong.

Fans love players who give everything on the pitch and that was Darren. Super fit and strong, He is a born leader never shirking a challenge and contributing as much as could all over the pitch including the great equaliser against Donny.

His performance this season away at MK Dons where he completely marked Scott Fraser out of the game in a textbook example of how to man mark was a standout performance. Even when we were forced to ask him to play out of position as a makeshift centre half, he stepped up and played well.

Fans are a fickle bunch and football is full of different opinions, but for me he was rightly selected as the heart of the team.

I enjoyed watching Darren, he’s a proper footballer

Thanks and good luck for the future

Unlucky Charlton

Maybe we really do have a Gypsy’s curse as legend has it. Last season we end up getting relegated in the 94th minute of the last game of the season by an offside Barnsley goal and this season we miss out on the play offs on goal difference only. Lets not even get into Ronnie’s penalty miss at Oxford, Jayden’s penalty miss at home to Peterborough and Crewe’s 95th minute equaliser 2 weeks ago. Anyway, that’s it – roll on next season. There is a huge team rebuild required. Adkins has made it clear that the average age of the team has to come down. We can only hope that Thomas is prepared to fund an assault on the division next year and it wont be as easy next year with 3 decent teams being relegated from the Champ and Bolton coming up from Div 4.

We clearly need more energy in the middle of the pitch and some goals. The spine of the team is always the most important and with Amos, a fit Inniss and hopefully Stockley signed on a perm we have 3 parts but we lack the Josh Cullen/ Scott Parker/Mark Kinsella central pivot. Maybe its harsh but I don’t rate Shinnie or Gilbey and Morgan is still too inconsistent. JFC is an excellent squad player but who knows how long it will take him to recover from his 2nd bad ACL injury. In addition to a 20 goal central striker ( hopefully Stockley) and a heartbeat central midfielder we also need someone creative in the midfield who can score 10 goals.

It’s a very big summer and we are full of expectation. When he has had some support, Steve Gallen has certainly unearthed some gems before like Bielik, Cullen, Gallagher, DaSilva, Famewo, Inniss, Millar and Maatsen and he is very much in credit on player recruitment. I suspect its unlikely but in addition to Stockley, I would try and get all of the loanees Maatsen, Famewo and Millar back.

Goal Difference Brownie !

I spent the last 20 minutes of the game last minute screaming at my PC for us to get forward and carry on attacking. There was a point at 3-0 where the momentum was with us and we could easily have got a couple more but players like Watson decided to slow it down. Brownie in commentary seemed completely supportive of this approach and unaware that we still had a 3 goal deficit on Oxford who arguably have the easiest game on Saturday with Burton at home. Apparently, its only Pompey that we are worried about. Had anyone on the commentary team or indeed our midfield looked at the League Table !

442 would always be my preferred system. Apparently Nigel is a tactical genius because we put two up front in the 2nd half. I suspect every Valley Pass subscriber spent the first half shouting for a 2nd striker to stand closer to Stockley. Its completely pointless hoofing long balls up to him so he can win it ( which he does very well) and flick it on to noone. We are playing in the THIRD division, we should be winning more games at home by being more aggressive and attacking not playing with a lone striker.

Apparently Washington and Aneke both have coninuing fitness problems but still get to sit on the bench – its all very frustrating.

Anyway, at least we won and for a spell in the 2nd half we played some decent football for a change. Football produces some strange twists of fate so we can only hope that Accrington and Burton do us a favour on Saturday.

A Poor Charlton Team

I don’t think you can question the commitment of the players this season either under Bow or Adkins. They all try their hardest and put their bodies on the line, the problem is a lack of ability. In the 55 years I have been supporting this team is in the Top 10 of the worst I have seen.

I feel for Thomas and Adkins because they have inherited a very average set of players. I think it says it all that JFC has been our best player this season unyet even if he had been fit, he would have struggled to get in the team that got promoted 2 years ago with a midfield of Bielik, Cullen, Aribo and Fosu ( and Lapslie – selling him was a mistake)

Being outplayed by Accrington both at home and away surely tells you all you need to know !

The game today was a terrible advert for professional football, they could have renamed the sport , headball.

Regardless of our last 2 games, Oxford will surely beat Burton at home which would make their total unachievable with their superior goal difference. Sounds a bit silly but I will be glad when the season is over so that Thomas, Nigel and Steve Gallen can get a better more competitive team ready for next year.

With the honorable exception of JFC, our midfield is dreadful, lacking in creativity, pace and energy which makes us uncompetitive even at this low level.

Let us hope Thomas is prepared to fund a host of new arrivals, otherwise we are going to be stuck in this horrendous division for quite a while longer.

Heartbreak

It doesn’t matter how many years you have been supporting the club or how many games you have seen, letting in an equaliser in the last 20 seconds is the time to kick the cat, bury your head in your hands and swear like Roger Johnson.

In truth, Crewe were the better side all game long and if they had a proper striker would have won the game comfortably. Its probably true of a lot of teams in this division that they are (relatively) tidy until they hit the final third where they struggle because they can’t afford a quality striker. We have Jayden Stockley who is a quality striker but its too much to ask in home games to play him on his own up front. It works away from home but not at home where he gets isolated and we need to be more aggressive.

Once again we were completely overrun in midfield, just like Blackpool, Accrington, MKDons, Pompey , etc, etc. It often feels like JFC is our only midfielder. There is just not enough energy or legs in there apart from him.

We can keep hoping but this team isn’t good enough to get promoted and I fear next season won’t be any easier.

A complete rebuild will be required and I’m not sure we even have the spine of a team to build around. If only Inniss and Aneke could be relied upon to play 30 plus games next season as a minimum that would be a big help but seems unlikely. In their different ways , they are both unplayable at this level, but only the medical staff will know how fragile they are. Aneke in particular is just brilliant in his 15 minute cameos but there must be a reason why he cant play a whole game.

We should try to keep Stockley and definitely extend JFC’s contract. After that its anyone’s guess what Nigel will do.

Premier League is already a nest of vipers

There is a lot of hypocrisy about this and even if you admire Gary Neville’s recent rant about the aborted ESL, the proposed ESL was only an extension of the pre existing money grab for the Premier League clubs.

It is already a semi closed shop and is becoming more so every season. This season there is every chance that Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth will return to the Premier league next season, having only being relegated only last season. What odds would you give for West Brom, Fulham and Sheffield Utd – given their additional £40m parachute payments – returning immediately to the Premier League next season ?

The best result for the EFL from the current backlash to the ESL would be

  1. Abolition or significant reduction of parachute payments to Premier League relegated teams
  2. Larger distribution of funds from TV revenues down the football pyramid to make it more competitive and interesting
  3. Sensible introduction of Salary Caps linked to % of overall revenues. Player salaries in the Premier League are ridiculous and just wrong.
  4. Caps to payments to Agents ( its fundamentally wrong that Joe Aribo’s transfer earnt his agent c 3 times what Charlton received ) In virtually every other industry where agents operate they get a flat % lets say 5-10% of the fee to the seller.

Given the entrenched interests of the existing members of the Premier League, change to the status quo is highly unlikely but its time to reorganise professional football to benefit the many and not the few.

Final Ball Millar

Liam Millar is a good player. He is a great outlet for the team turning defence into attack running with the ball half the length of the pitch. He is an important part of the team and our success over the next few games will be partly dependent on his form.

Unfortunately, most of the time his final ball, whether its a shot, cross or pass when he reaches the box is not good enough.

Given Liam’s obvious talent and the experience of our coaching and management team – surely they can sort this out. Between them they need to come up with Plan B, C and D for Liam’s final ball.

If they can fix that we’ll go up

Sunderland at Wembley again

Lets be honest, its been written in the stars since the season started hasn’t it ? I know there are still a host of permutations but there must be a very high probability that we will be meeting our traditional opposition in the traditional end of season game – let us hope its not 3rd time lucky for them.

We have certainly hit form at the right time and touch wood pretty much everyone is fit. Nigel has reverted to the basics. Lets play two defensive full backs and two proper centre halves. The availability of Famewo and Inniss has allowed Pearcey to show his best form again. No disrespect to Gunter but I have always preferred Matthews at right back for his pace. Purrington is a solid traditional left back.

Adkins has been lucky with injuries but he has been able to play all the round pegs in round holes. I still think we lack a bit of creativity in the midfield area and Gilbey needs to contribute more but he has definitely improved. In a way, it is good to see Gilbey and DJ playing every game because they are our contracted players and not loanees and will be here next season.

Peterborough on Saturday will be a tough game, but we really should have beaten them at their place but for two horrendous individual errors and the fact that their pitch was a ploughed field.

Finally a word about the failed Super League. You have to question just how incompetent these owners and managers at these 6 clubs are. Apparently the newly resigned Ed Woodward at Man Utd gets paid £3m a year. You would have thought that for that money you would be getting a genius corporate operator. Evidently not, you get a blithering incompetent idiot who along with the other management and owners from those 6 clubs did not expect the level of opposition that their ridiculous plan would engender. Maybe they are so clever that it was all a ruse to get an even bigger share of the existing financial pots, but lets hope that if it is that backfires too.

If I was one of the other 14 Premier League clubs I would use precisely this moment to drive home a better deal for the 14 and the rest of the EFL than we currently get. Those 6 can hardly leave again so soon after this. Its time to put them in their place.

Graham Tutt’s Journey- Never Give Up

I have just finished reading Graham Tutt’s book. For those of you younger generations of Charlton fans Graham was our goalie for a couple of seasons in the mid 70’s. He came into the 1st team at just 17, he was a tall ( 6 foot 5 inches) commanding and brave goalkeeper. We will never know for sure, but if you think Nick Pope, Graham was a similar stature and a better goalie at the same age and he would have gone on to have a stellar career. He was our goalie in the promotion winning team of 74/75. Anyway in mid Feb 76 his Charlton career was finished by a disgraceful foul by the then Sunderland centre forward ,Tom Finney. He was only 19 years old and had already made 65 1st team appearances.

This book is essentially the story of what happened next of recovery and redemption but forever tinged with regret at what might have been.

Its an easy, uplifting and interesting read – get out and buy the book. He deserves our support

Graham was and remains one of us, part of the Charlton family.

Ryan Inniss 6 The Opposition 0

I’m not the world’s greatest statistician but I think I’m correct in saying that Ryan Inniss has now played 6 games this season and we have won all of them. I don’t think that is a coincidence. I think it is safe to conclude that had he been playing all season we would comfortably be in the Top 2 now and Lee Bowyer would still be the manager – it’s Sliding Doors Ryan’s Quads.

I used to play centre forward myself and there were certainly times when you got on the pitch, looked at the centre half and thought – maybe not today. I suspect all the 3rd division number 9’s feel the same way when Inniss is playing. That’s not to denigrate the efforts of Pearcey ( who was magnificent again yesterday), Famewo and Deji who all look much better when playing alongside big Ryan. We just look so much more solid.

I’m not optimistic that we can make the play offs this season, although if we do and Sunderland do too then they will certainly get the wobbles, particularly if Charlie Wyke has to face Inniss.

My bold prediction is this, next season IF we keep Ryan fit, frankly just so long as we put a half decent team around him, particularly with some better goal scoring midfield support for JFC ,in this division which is generally devoid of good football and very dependent on long balls and set pieces, we will win loads of games 1-0 and go up in a canter.