Soft Centre Charlton

I think all of us would have predicted another defeat given that the team’s confidence is completely shot. Our one tactic of lump it up to Stockley is symptomatic of our clueless tactics.

The minute I saw the team selection I texted my mate that we would be overrun in the middle again. When you let at least 2 goals in every week and often 3 goals, you cant play 2 wingers and a 35 year old bloke ( Pratley) and Shinnie who is very slow and doesn’t really do tackling. For the first goal Shinnie was outmuscled and for the 2nd goal no one in midfield challenged the scorer. Its all very well blaming the defenders but they never get enough cover from the centre of midfield, Playing DJ instead of the energetic legs of Smith was a catastrophic tactical mistake.

Secondly, in the absence of JFC, I understand why Pratley has to play, but every team targets him to get 2 bookings so him getting sent off was pretty obvious to all of us. Apart from the fact that he was stupid for the 2nd yellow, the sensible thing would have been to take him off at half time.

First of all, the management team has to pick a team that is hard to beat, a couple of nil nils would work for me now.

The current team selections and tactics are as baffling as they are terrible.

The Bowyer Hokey Cokey

In or out, in or out, shake it all about. It would be fair to say that the various social media outlets, twitter, Charlton Life, Into the Valley etc have all been very busy with opinions about whether our Lee should receive the Spanish Archer…..El Bow for Lee Bow

I think like most of the sensible fanbase, I am torn on the topic. Our home record is frankly shocking and there is every prospect that Blackpool who are half reasonable will beat us on Saturday to deepen the gloom. It is also true that Burton, like most of our recent Valley visitors could have scored more on Tuesday night. Although we were great for 20 minutes, the remaining 70 or so we were poor and quite often second best to Burton who are bottom of the Division. Our defending and cohesiveness as a Group has dropped off a cliff.

Watson for example has morphed from the commanding leader of the Orchestra to the bloke at the back of the band who occasionally tinkles the cymbals.

On the flip side, we have generally been good away from home and notched up some decent victories. Bow has struggled with the legacy of turmoil from previous seasons and a managerial change heightens the risk if we get it wrong.

So, I have concluded that after careful consideration, I am delighted to say, it’s not my decision or my money and so whatever Thomas Sandgaard decides is fine with me.

I’m not going to moan or agitate one way or another- its over to you TS to decide and that’s absolutely fine with me.

Good luck with that.

Truly Madly Awful

Lets be honest, windy or not , that was a terrible performance. Thomas appears convinced that we have the best squad man for man in the Division. Sorry TS, but we definitely do not. The biggest area of weakness is the midfield. If you consider that 2 seasons ago, we had Cullen, Bielik, Aribo, Fosu, Williams and Lapslie with Pratley and Morgan playing only when needed it tells you all you need to know.

Pratley and Watson are good players but at the end of their careers and the opposition work to get Pratley booked every week which causes us problems. JFC is our best midfielder by a street and we missed him today, we made Duffy look like Pirlo. The midfield is physically weak.

Ronnie plays like the kid at school who hangs around the goal, hoping for a defender to miss it. Ronnie, mate this is professional football and even in the 3rd tier defenders don’t really do that. You have to sometimes get in front of your defender and keep the ball or hold it up. Did he actually touch the ball when he was playing ? So far, he has been incredibly disappointing. He has to discover some kind of physicality to his game or he will be back to Denmark at the end of this season. If you wanted to be critical of Bowyer, it would be fair to say that playing away at Fleetwood with a Force 9 gale blowing off the North Sea with the ball in the air for most of the game was never a game to play Ronnie.

The only pluses today were the return of Famewo and he and Deji played well. Stockley is a very good player at this level but needs a pacy partner alongside him, like a Bradley Wright Phillips. I’m not a fan of Shinnie, he is a luxury player like Williams but his end product is better, witness his cross for the goal. If Lee keeps him next season , he will need some younger, very competitive and energetic players around him which, aside from JFC, we do not currently have.

Frankly Who Knows ?

Our home results have been so poor that I guess the answer is that we just aren’t good enough to get promoted. It’s difficult to take because the Division is full of rubbish teams. I don’t have anything against Gillingham but they weren’t very good and will be closer to the bottom than the top at the end of the season. I would have picked the same team as Bow and, apart from letting 3 goals AGAIN, I thought we played well, but that’s no good is it ???

If I’m honest I don’t know the solution either. I’m not a great fan of Shinnie because our back 4 needs more protection and although I know he is a talented lad but I still think our midfield is too lightweight physically when he plays. The loss of JFC was a turning point today, he has been playing the best football of his Charlton career, he will be a big miss if he is out for long. Purrington had an excellent game until the 86th minute when he backed off too far for their 3rd goal – its all just too depressing and predictable.

If I had to guess, I would say that we will finish in mid table. This summer is going need a huge player recruitment ( again). The big worry has to be up front where we have to assume that Chuks will go to a Championship club to sit on the bench. Stockley will return to Preston and hope for a Championship move, likewise Millar to Liverpool which will leave us with Washington and Ronnie (who has so far looked out of his depth)`. Recruiting a couple of 10-15 goals a year strikers will be a big challenge.

In defence and the middle, there will be a huge clear out too, Watson, Pratley, Pearce, JFC, Deji ,Morgan on top of the loanees, Maatsen and Famewo.

Depressingly, Its going to be as big a rebuild as all of the last few years and consequently I think it will take 3 seasons to get out of this division which is how long it has always taken us.

I want to be optimistic but I don’t feel it

Double Edged Sword for Thomas

I’ve got to claim some kind of credit here, because in my blog of January 13th entitled ‘ The Salary Cap and the PFA’ I argued that the salary cap was clearly a restraint of trade and would not stand up to legal challenge. Lo and behold, it appears that today – after the Transfer Window has closed – the independent panel has ruled that its a ” breach of obligations under the constitution of the PFNCC.”’ ( whatever that means !!!). It seemed that me that any idiot could have seen that it wouldn’t stand up legally. Yet again it has taken from August 2020 when the PFA raised the objection to Feb 21 for the independent panel to rule on this.

Its shades of Sheffield Wednesday’s points deduction enquiry yet again. We really seem to be on the end of some terrible bad luck with these ridiculously long enquiries. Its also very convenient that the result comes through just after the transfer window has closed.

Anyway, its generally good news for us but I suspect that Thomas is going to view it with a little bit of trepidation. Although Thomas has saved us and appears to be a thoroughly decent and wealthy man, he is not super wealthy and is unlikely to want to invest the eye watering sums that many Championship sides have ‘invested’ to try and get success. Look at Derby and Notts Forest as 2 examples. He will also be conscious that some Charlton fans will have unrealistic expectations of how much money he is prepared to spend chasing the dream. Boringly, little Brentford are the examplar to follow here, buying the best lower league players and some overseas players and selling one or two each year to balance the books.

Steve Gallen and Bow should be making a list now of the Top 30 players aged under 25 in Leagues 1 and 2 and start tapping them up ( sorry- I mean contacting the players representatives) for next season.

Round Pegs in round holes

Rochdale are definitely not very good so I don’t think we should get carried away with the performance yesterday, but it was an excellent result and well deserved. I remain convinced that playing the players in their preferred natural positions is the best solution and bringing JP back yesterday alongside Deji, with Purrington and Gunter in their normal full back positions was very welcome. It’s not the Champions League ( yet !) , we are playing in the 3rd division and I think we should keep it simple.

Jason Pearce got some stick on social media after the mistakes against Accrington and Peterborough but he is a proper battling physical centre half and he was excellent yesterday and if he is fit and available I would play him there in preference to Gunter and Pratley all day long. Likewise with Deji, who looks comfortable there.

Just an aside about social media posts. Quite rightly there is uproar about some of the disgusting racist abuse that some so called fans post on twitter. They should extend that pledge to stop it to include all abuse of footballers on twitter etc for all footballers and all types of abuse. Some of the language and abuse that Charlton fans post and use when talking about our own players is disgraceful. Do they really think that the players aren’t affected negatively by reading it, they are only human.

Twitter posters need to ask themselves carefully if their post is likely to cause offence and if so , don’t do it.

Betting on Charlton

I very rarely bet on Charlton because it tempts fate too much and on the few occasions I have since 1998 , Ive lost. I say 1998 because I had a very large bet on us to beat Sunderland on the premise that if we lost, I’d be miserable anyway and if we won it would heighten the high – if that’s possible – well it certainly paid for a big celebration !

Anyway, I consulted the Racing Post this morning as the oracle of betting to find out that not only are we odds on to win at Rochdale but we are 2nd in the whole British leagues behind Rangers since we last lost at odds on. Rangers are well ahead on 26 games but we are second on 12 games , one ahead of Leeds on 11 and Tottenham on 9. Ooooooooohhhhh God this sounds worrying for our trip to Rochdale with our leaky rearguard and their tiny pitch.

I cant let this opportunity pass without mentioning the fact that I have only ever had 4 bets at The Valley itself. However , in 2 of those bets, I backed Talal El Karkouri to score against Everton and us to win 2-0 ( or 2-1, I cant remember which) – I put £10 on at 125-1 and they didn’t have the cash to pay me out at £1250 behind the covered end and in another bet I had £20 on Sam Sodje to score the first goal against Huddersfield at 40-1, so I got £800 back.

The Everton game is the only game I have ever been to when Ive been hoping that Charlton didn’t score another goal – doesn’t seem right does it ?

I pretty much retired from Charlton bets after that because I decided I just couldn’t be that lucky again.

Here’s hoping Charlton make it lucky 13 games tomorrow- ……………oh no its 13 ………………..

Defence is the best form of ……defence

Regardless of how many signings we make, I’m getting fed up with watching home games on Valley Pass where we are attacking one minute with 6 or 7 of our players in and around the opposition penalty box and then the move breaks down and either their goalie punts it downfield or one of their defenders and all of a sudden they are one on one with our centre half or sometimes even Ben Amos. Lets face it, last night, Pompey had enough chances to score six or seven. Marquis in particular missed 3 open goals. Its not just last night its been every home game for weeks now.

The loss of Inniss and Famewo has been huge BUT we’ve got two other decent League 1 centre halves with JP and Deji. I think it is a fundamental mistake not to play people in their natural positions when available. Jason may have made a couple of mistakes recently but he’s also the same bloke who kept Mitrovic in his pocket just last season- he is a proper centre half and should have played last night which allows Gunter to play a right back which is his proper position.

But the biggest problem is that we are far too open defensively at home. You could drive a double decker bus between Maatsen and Matthews, the wing backs and the 2 central defenders. Add to that Pratley ( who I love) is playing 5 or 10 yards too far forward so the central defenders are getting no protection, particularly if he loses the ball. Shinnie and Morgan don’t offer enough defensively, so we are constantly overrun.

In Curbs day , we would set up more defensively at home and let the opposition come at us for a while and then break quickly with pace.

If we are to get anywhere this season , which looks increasingly unlikely, we’ve got to stop letting goals in at home. Its all very well Bow saying we didn’t need to bring in any new defenders in this window and I can accept that argument, but then he can’t keep setting the team up to let in a minimum of 2 goals, sometimes 3 or 4 goals against the better attacking units.

We have to have a platform to play from and that means changing the system to enable us to win 1-0 at home.

The Window

Football fans do get themselves very worked up over the transfer window, don’t they ? Like most other Charlton fans, I was refreshing my twitter all night until I gave up at 1105pm and went to bed only to find out this morning that we finally signed the much needed winger and top scrabble score name Diallang Jaiyesimi. That was a relief and hopefully stopped the legions of despairing twitter fans from spontaneously combusting.

I am totally in agreement with my blogging colleague , Chicago Addick that it has been a very good window for us. Stockley is a clear upgrade on Bogle. Matt Smith is a clear upgrade on Levitt. Millar looks very good so far and will create and deliver more than Maddison. Schwartz is a proven goalscorer and given the service, he will score goals.

I don’t really understand some of the moaning about Maddison and Williams. Firstly, Maddison is clearly a difficult person to manage and for someone like Bowyer who believes that everything is about the team rather than the individual, it was always going to be difficult. By the way, did you ever see Maddison smile in any photos or videos or even after he scored he looked miserable and moody. The rest of the team were very slow to congratulate him. Life’s too short to indulge people like that – best to ship him out asap.

Johnny Williams in contrast is always smiling and he is an excellent player on his day and very popular with everyone , fans and teammates alike. Ultimately though its about contribution on the pitch and only 2 goals in 60 appearances as an attacking midfielder probably says it all. His opening comments at Cardiff were to say that he believes Mick McCarthy will give him ‘ the belief and freedom to express himself’. That doesn’t really sound like a Mick McCarthy instruction does it and in the end I think Lee got a bit fed up with giving Johnny free rein to express himself (or not) without much end product. He is what used to be described as a ‘luxury player’. It may be that the Championship which is less physical will prove a better place for him. Anyway, we all wish him well.