OK, I know we are all feeling miserable and angry this morning because of the Hartlepool result so I thought I’d take my mate’s advice and be Mr Positive for a change.
Firstly, lets be frank, regardless of who is the manager, what the tactics are , the current bunch of players are just not good enough to get promoted from League 1. The bright spell we had under JJ was when they were all operating at 120% effort and since they can’t keep that up, we are back to the results you get when they are just playing normally. The basic problem is lack of leadership on the pitch, particularly in the middle of the park. One George Dobson is not enough, we need two and the combinations of Lee, Gilbey and Morgan are just too lightweight. We need a Cullen or a Kinsella or a (young) Pratley to bully the midfield with him. Inniss, Pearce and Stockley also play with heart but whether through age or injury they aren’t always available. There is much work to be done in the Summer, but tough, uncompromising, brave leaders are required all over the pitch. This is the 3rd division, we have to play like Stoke or Millwall to get out of it.
However, lets think past the 1st team, now that so many of the U23 and U18 games are on Charlton TV, I’ve had a chance to watch our youngsters more. OK, I accept that there is a world of difference between the first team and these levels, but we really do have some great talent coming through. Apart from Burstow, Elewere and Henry there are many others who look like they might step up. Charlie Barker for one is a player in the Stuart Pearce mould who takes no prisoners and would have converted the ‘Pool winger into the stand last night. Lucas Ness at centre half is solid, tough and looks every bit a 3rd division centre half to me. In the U18’s Kanu is the obvious one having scored 30 goals this season , but Jason Adigun and several of the others look very handy. MIles Leaburn is coming through and scoring goals in the higher age groups. I haven’t seen the U16 games but apparently that group is even better than the U18s and U23’s. Pretty much every week all 3 teams win their matches and in the case of the U18’s they often score 5 or 6 goals.
So on this morning of misery, lets firstly plan to get out of this awful division next year and then we can look forward to a cavalry of home grown talent appearing over the horizon.
Whilst we all know that Saturday’s match at Cheltenham was 11 v 11 there were numerous occasions when it appeared that we were hugely outnumbered on the pitch. Part of that was the fact that Cheltenham’s red and white bodies were all over us in many places, but part of it is our black kit.
Now bear with me here, if this was only coming from me as an optically challenged 64 year old, you could dismiss it, but my son who boasts 20/20 vision and shoots for GB made the point as we were watching that it was difficult at times to distinguish between our players and the predominantly black jacketed crowd, particularly at pitch level. Bearing in mind the margins for error at the pace EFL football is played, selecting black as your away kit in tiny enclosed grounds where most of the crowd are wearing black is a mistake.
I’m sure if you asked Ryan Inniss and Sean Clare why they made diabolical and suicidal short passes in the first half – they would blame the black shirt phenomena – ………….well, I would !
Ditch the black shirts and lets have a luminous green , yellow or orange – at least it would look like we had loads of players on the pitch.
We chose this away game as a fun overnight in Cheltenham . Off the pitch, it was great fun – nice pub beforehand in the Brewery Quarter with lifelong friends and sons , walk to the ground and then a few pints afterwards and a curry in the posh quarter of Cheltenham- Montpelier.
However, then there’s the game which was just terrible, we were out fought, out pressed (have we stopped that now) , outthought and outplayed. I think all this talk about us having a great squad and lots of quality in the team is just a load of complete nonsense that opposition managers use to motivate their team or wind us up – I’m not sure which. The majority of the players just aren’t any better than average League 1 and in order to make any progress, Thomas , JJ and the rest will need to accept that premise and rebuild accordingly.
Ive moaned about the behaviour of our fans before but I am sure its getting worse. We were treated to a soap opera of punches thrown between stupid people and drunk people in front of the burger stall where we were sitting which rumbled on for most of the game. This was followed by a volley of abuse to Jonathan Leko whenever he cocked something up in the corner near us ( which was often) and then at the end some bloke who had decided to select one Cheltenham female fan for abuse of every sort of level covering her sexual desires and preferences which he implied were very extraordinary.
If they arrested 3 Cheltenham fans for ‘homophobic abuse’ they could have easily arrested 10 or 20 Charlton fans for some of the nonsense that was going on
Anyway- apart from the game itself , the result and our own fans – everything else was great
what’s not to like ?
Charlton sit in the lower reaches of the 3rd Division because we don’t score enough goals. We let Ronnie ( the Robbery) and part time Chuks go in the summer and instead of replacing both of them with better strikers, we chose to not replace either of them. If you add to that the departure of Liam Millar – who was very good at getting us up the pitch and Ian Maatsen likewise, we lost a lot of our attacking threat.
Stockley is our only real natural goalscorer. Washington is a good player but not a reliable goal scorer. Therefore when Stockley doesnt play either because of injury or being dropped ( Adkins was bonkers) we lose games. Its been the same since the beginning of the season.
I suspect that Thomas is realising that owning a football club is a very draining experience- particularly financially but unless we get on the front foot either in January or the Summer and recruit some goalscoring depth i.e not just one striker, but two, to help Stockley then we are facing a long spell in this dreadful division.
In my lifetime, we have never spent more than 3 consecutive seasons in Div 3. Next season is our 3rd of this spell and I really hope that Thomas and his team have a realistic funding plan to get us out of the Division. The fans deserve better.
I am perplexed by the “Report Abuse by Texting” messages that we are getting during the games at Charlton now. Which abuse of who to who is my question ? The bloke sat behind me yesterday was perfectly civil for 85 minutes until he completely lost it when the Wycombe goalie and quite a few of their defenders started to feign injuries and me , the wife and a family including two little kids plus everyone else sat near in Block F of the East Stand were treated to a constant tirade of ” you fu—king cheating c—t (s) for the remaining 10 minutes or so. I’d like to report him please. Does that constitute a textable offence and when should I do it and what will the club do about it ?
It certainly was abuse in my book and if I was the family with 2 young kids I’d certainly think twice about coming to Charlton again. They were obviously newbies because I’ve never seen them before and they disappeared at half time and didn’t reemerge until the 54th minute with chips, obviously not familiar with the renowned efficiency of the East Stand catering facilities. The other slightly perplexing point is that he was sitting in my son’s season ticket seat ( he wasnt at the game) so Im worried that I run the risk of wanting to grass someone up and getting my son banned or arrested instead. One of the unforeseen consequences of the ‘every game at Charlton is free’ promotion is that people now seem to sit anywhere they fancy.
I’ve not heard any racist abuse at Charlton for about 30 years or more – thats not to say it doesn’t remain an issue in society as a whole, but I do get really fed up with some of our supporters and their language. It has definitely got worse in recent years. My request to the club would be to modify the ABUSE messages over the tannoy because they are currently meaningless. It would certainly be great if one of the messages asked supporters to be considerate of others around them, particularly young children to stop using foul and abusive language. Perhaps we could reserve a special section in the ground for the ‘ I get slightly unhinged when we go a goal down and I’d like to spend the rest of the game swearing and abusing the referee and opposition’ They could have their own Mascot, so we could have Floyd, Harvey and someone dressed up as an American Pit Bull who bites everyone.
As for the game- much as Thomas Sandgaard remains in huge credit, whoever was in charge of summer recruitment and decided that we had enough goals up front – Stockley aside- was the bloke who decided that we were going to spend another year in League 1.
Without him we are completely toothless and unless we over recruit in the goalscoring department for next years campaign it will be the same story again.