Darren the Magnificent

Well a 1-0 win , that’s a bit of a surprise isn’t it ? We all expected a 4-3 or a 3-2. It was a rearguard action in the second half and it wasn’t good for the blood pressure.

I have to say – how good was Darren Pratley ?? He was outstanding, you can understand why Lee has his name on every team sheet. I know he’s getting old and he lacks a bit of pace and you’d rather he didn’t get in their box too often, but he is a warrior, he leads by example. He was just brilliant tonight completely dominating Fraser ( Curb’s Jackson hehe) and virtually all of their other midfield players too.

He must be the fittest bloke at the club – whatever his fitness regime is or indeed whatever performance enhancing drugs he is taking ( only kidding Darren ) – can we all have some please

Well done Darren, Liam Millar too and some welcome relief for Bow

Stick Darren in the ice bath until Saturday morning and unleash him on Pompey

Two Drunken Sailors

I know I’m not supposed to enjoy these games and like everyone else I’d rather win 1-0, but is there anyone out there who, when we went 2-0 down, didn’t think, so what, we’ll probably come back and score 2 or 3 or however many.

Watching Charlton games at the moment is like watching 2 drunken sailors having a punch up throwing haymaker after haymaker and leaving their chins defenceless. It’s highly entertaining and a barrel of laughs.

In terms of what went wrong this time – I think we remain far too open in the middle. JFC was great again and Pratley tries hard , but we need Shinnie or Morgan there. Williams is likeable but he is luxury player and I’d keep him on the bench with Maddison ( or let him go in this window). I know everyone is clamouring for another centre half , but if we cant get one, the back 4 needs more protection.

We have so many attacking players when we go forward, they almost get in each other’s way.

Anyway, it was good fun , here’s to another 2-2, 3-3 or 4-4 on Tuesday or just maybe a 5-4 to us

Alfie’s going where ?

Am I the only person who can’t really understand why Alfie is choosing to go to Stoke. Yes, I know he is out of contract at the end of the season and won’t sign another one, but wouldn’t it be more sensible for all parties if he signs another contract with Charlton, gets paid more, plays a few games until the end of the season and if we don’t get promoted then leaves for a slighter bigger transfer fee with a choice of suitors in the Summer.

This whole deal smacks of a rush up the aisle because the bride (Alfie) is pregnant (injured) and her old man (his agent) has got a shotgun.

I don’t have anything against Stoke, but I don’t suppose it was on Alfie’s Top 10 list of life choice destinations was it? Its the only place in the UK where I’ve seen a race riot and I actually had to drive through the middle of it.

It all seems a bit sad that we can’t compete- hopefully temporarily – with a team like Stoke. Even with a month or so out of Alfie, they aren’t likely to go up and with a bit of luck and consistency we will be playing at the same level again next year with a proper owner and proper Championship budget.

Schoolboy Errors

I thought we played very well in the 1st half and even in the 2nd half, Peterborough could have played until Christmas and not scored such was our control of the game ……oh wait – what happened there …….oh wait what happened there again.

The centre halves and notably Jason Pearce will come in for criticism again, but its a shame because up until the catastrophic error between the 2 of them Clarke Harris hadn’t had a look in. Over the last 10 games or so, we have been literally giving goals away like Christmas presents. Peterborough didn’t create either of their goals, we did.

Admittedly we didn’t create a huge amount at the other end, but I’m confident that without the first big cock up we would have gone on and won 2 or 3 nil.

Millar and Smyth look lively and get in great positions but their final cross or pass is too often poor and we desperately miss a fit top drawer striker because we miss so many good chance to score. We daren’t speak his name, but Lyle Taylor in this team would have been on 20 goals by now this season.

I didn’t like the blizzard of substitutions, it disrupted the team too much. Finally, a very strange comment from Lee about a mysterious new player who would have played had we have been quick enough to sign him – what on earth was that about ??

Overthinking the game

We were excellent today although given the amount of chances we had, we probably should have scored 6. We played well in all departments. Deji and JFC were imperious and pretty much everyone else played well too. Omar is what you might call ‘enigmatic’ and certainly caused trouble when he came on and created a number of chances. Millar, Maatsen and Matthews played well. The whole team put a shift in.

I guess my reflection is that we look a lot better now that we are playing a left back at left back, a right back at right back, a centre half at centre half and so on. I think sometimes managers overthink games and formations.

Given the available players we have and injuries permitting, I think we should be playing a conventional 4-4-2 every week and playing the players in their normal most comfortable positions. We are playing in the 3rd division not the Champions League.

Anyway, well done to Lee and the boys, lets have a repeat on Tuesday please

The Salary Cap and the PFA

I understand why owners of lower league football clubs – in fact probably all football clubs -would wish to limit expenditure and losses, particularly in the current COVID situation. It is really pretty ironic that Charlton finally have an owner who wishes to spend more money on player wages and transfer fees and he is prevented from doing that by the wage bill cap.

Surely, this is an own goal by football’s authorities. If someone like Thomas wants to spend his money by giving it to other clubs and to football players whose careers are relatively short, it is good for the game isn’t it ? I’m not sure I buy the argument that it is to provide a level playing field for the Rochdale’s and Accrington’s of this world. So they get to be more competitive and get promoted to the Championship where the cap doesn’t apply and they become totally uncompetitive there instead. Meanwhile any decent players in League 1 and 2 get snapped up by Championship clubs at lower than ever transfer fees and who are allowed to pay any wage they like. Look at Alfie Doughty. There is a decent chance we get promoted this season but we cant offer him a silly contract like QPR or Stoke and he’s likely to be playing inthe same division next year. QPR and Stoke are hardly a step up really are they?

Finally, how on earth do the players union, the PFA, headed up by the highest paid union official in the UK, Gordon Taylor who gets more than £500k a year, allow their members salaries to be capped so that clubs can’t pay players what they want to. Surely that’s just a version of what’s called ‘Restraint of Trade’’ in law.

I’m amazed the players haven’t kicked up a fuss – where’s the Jimmy Hill of the 2020’s to abolish this salary cap

Entertainment at The Valley

I enjoyed that last night. I know I’m not supposed to and I should join the moaning ”Rochdale are rubbish and our defence looked worse than my Sunday League team” ( all of which is correct) but it was a lot of fun to watch. Well worth the Valley Pass attendance money.

Firstly what went wrong ?- I read the pre-match preview from the Rochdale fan who said watch our 17 year old wonderkid Bah who is our best player. Apparently, Lee didn’t read that and decided to put Smyth who had never played at Right Wing Back against their best player. That really wasn’t a smart move and he admitted the mistake later. Then there is Gilbey, presumably there is a decent player in there but he hasn’t showed it yet for us. For their first goal, he doesn’t track back properly and for the free kick goal, he lunges in to give the kick away. I’d swop him out for Lapslie tomorrow.

What went right ? – Aneke was monstrous, brilliant, unplayable – what else can you say – a fantastic performance from him. I never understand why JFC is not more popular with fans, he was excellent last night again, our best midfielder by a mile, tackling, harrying, pressing always looking to receive the ball. I’m not totally convinced by Millar yet, he looks a bit one dimensional to me but he had a good game last night, hopefully he will continue to improve. Ronnie Schwartz looked like a proper striker.Just imagine if we had Inniss and Famewo at the back and Aneke and Schwartz up front for all of the remaining games ?

Anyway, it was great fun to watch and I thoroughly enjoyed it – well most of it anyway………….

When Men were Men

If you are a bit bored and depressed today by lockdown and our result last night and – lets face it as a Charlton fan that’s our standard disposition. Cheer yourself up by downloading the ITV Hub, Big Match Revisited from the 70’s. If you go for the advert inclusive version, its completely free.

I spent a very happy 45 mins yesterday watching Palace v Charlton from Dec 1974. It’s a great game bringing back very happy memories. We had 4 YES FOUR proper forwards playing with 2 wingers in Flanagan and Powell with 2 strikers Hales and Horsfield. Ritchie Bowman launching biting tackles in the middle ( what we need NOW !) . Watch out too for Harry Cripps at left back. It was at the end of his career after 20 years with Millwall but he gave everything and scared the opposition.

Watch out in the first minute or so when we get a free kick and Flanagan floats it into their goalie just so that Harry can run straight at him with a forearm smash. That was one of our trademark moves that season to soften up the goalie early on. These days it would be a straight red ——- those were the days !

Bask also in hindsight that the smug Malcolm Allison at the end of the programme was wrong- we got promoted that season and they didn’t

Predictable Defeat

I think we all saw that coming didn’t we ? Briefly, in terms of the few positives, Millar looked OK, although like all these Premier League academy kids, Maatsen and Levitt included, he takes chances in his own half and lost possession a couple of times in dangerous positions. Schwartz looked OK in his very brief cameo. Apart from that only JFC emerges with credit. He never stopped trying and showing for the ball. Deji played OK but jumped in for their 2nd goal when he should have stayed on his feet.

The rest of them were pretty awful. The biggest problem in my mind is the middle of the pitch where Morgan and Gilbey were passengers and then Williams and Maddison were similarly lightweight. I have said this before but we need more energy, effort and physicality in there – more younger legs. Cullen and Gallagher did it last year, Cullen and Bielik the year before. The opposition repeatedly run through the middle of us. I cant for the life of me see why we would swop out George Lapslie from this team. Ben Dempsey probably isn’t good enough but at least he did a tidy job last year snapping away in the middle. There literally is no heart to the team.

I think if I was Bow, I would give Maatsen and Gunter a rest for the Rochdale game and bring back Matthews and Purrington. Heaven knows what he can do in the middle, maybe he needs to pack the midfield with 5 players and play Chuks on his own up front. I know its very negative but first and foremost we’ve got to stop leaking soft goals. The game last night was far too open and if we cant win 4-3 or 3-2 because we aren’t good enough up front, we need to be more defensive to string some results together — don’t be surprised if Rochdale is a 0-0.

Ronnie & Patience

Delighted that we have finally signed Ronnie Schwartz who has an excellent goal scoring record. Lets hope he stays injury free and gets a good run in the team to convert the chances which we have tended to be missing. It sounds like Liam Millar from Liverpool should be joining too.

Listening to Steve Sutherland’s excellent Part 3 Podcast with Peter Varney yesterday, I was reminded that we need to be more patient with Lee and this team. Peter knows a thing or two about building winning football teams, having been CEO in the glory days of the Premiership and also instrumental in putting together the 101 points winning League 1 team.

He makes the point in the podcast that in reality Lee had so little time this close season to put a team together and it followed on from a position where administration was only avoided by a hairs breadth because of Thomas Sandgaard’s timely arrival that our most realistic outcome this season was always to avoid a further drop into League 2.

I was rather surprised that Peter felt it was likely to be that bad, but he is a bloke to listen to. I know we are all impatient for success and this division is very depressing but I think we all need to be more patient- including me !!

If we cant get behind the boys in person , lets try to be more supportive on social media- I am definitely going to try harder !!!