Thursday, 31 July 2008

Charlton defends itself over Iran friendly

Charlton press man Matt Wright has defended the club over its failure to play a friendly with Iran, saying it was not possible for logistical reasons, a match with Gibraltar being arranged instead. He also said that the club will respond to any probe by Fifa. Full story here:

The statements by the former ambassador to Iran are diplomatically evasive. It is true that governments do not tell sports federations what to do, but they often have a quiet word in their ear.

Perhaps Amdy Faye could be brought in to help resolve this issue. According to the report on the official web site on the victory over Dulwich Hamlet, he is now a 'senior statesman' of the club. I suppose that is one way of describing his contribution.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Bougherra to Baggies?

It looks as if Majid Bougherra may now join West Bromwich Albion, the negotiations with Real Betis having foundered. A price somewhere over £2m is being talked about.

The news that Nicky Weaver is to have a scan on his knee is not encouraging, while Elliott has also picked up a knee injury. There is only one Callum Christie!

Now Is The Summer of My Discontent

Leamington went down 2-0 to Midland Alliance side Stratford Town at the sparkling new and very neat Anne Hathaway Stadium in front of a crowd of over 400 last night. The Bardsmen sallied forth from the kick off and were 2-0 up within 15 minutes, both goals down to unusual errors by Brakes custodian Richard Morris.

Brakes fought hard to get back in the game with good work down the wings by Richard Towers and Mark Bellingham coming close to scoring more than once. Marcus Jackson looked very speedy on the ball when he came on. However, this time the 'two nil or not two nil' chant belonged to the Bardsmen.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Bougherra is going

Alan Pardew has confirmed that Majid Bougherra is likely to leave the club for Real Betis.

The shell shocked supremo added, 'I expect to lose a couple more players, not because I want to, but because I have to. Hopefully, I'll be able to bring in a couple to replace them, but whether I can bring players in of the same level remains to be seen.'

So it looks like beating the non-league bushes again or some cast off journeymen from the Football League.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Dean Gerken link

We are being linked in the Sunday press with Colchester goalkeeper Dean Gerken. He made his way up through the youth ranks and has a reputation as something of a hothead.

Should Weaver's knee twinge yesterday prove to be anything serious, some of the Addickted are calling for the recall of Randolph from Hereford. Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that. You can't send someone out on a year long loan and then call them back.

In any case, whether Randolph is good enough to be a long-term custodian remains an open question. In practice it is possible to pick up decent keepers on loan as those in a No.2 slot crave some action.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Weaver injured at Brighton

Charlton keeper Nicky Weaver was injured in the warm up at today's friendly at Brighton and his place in goal was taken by youngster Callum Christie. It may be that his withdrawal was simply a precautionary measure and that the injury was not serious.

It does emphasise how short we are of goalkeeping cover with Randolph on a season's loan at Hereford. We cannot really afford a third goalkeeper, but no one doubt someone would be brought in on loan on a real crisis. The club has been probably keeping an eye on some promising non-league keepers.

Charlton continued its pre-season winning streak, victory being secured with a second half goal from Chris Dickson.

It's just like watching the Bill!

This was the chant from the Harbury Lane end at the New Windmill Ground today as Leamington demolished Solihull Moors 3-1. It was a tribute to hat trick hero and new signing Mark Bellingham, the former Cheltenham Town striker who was has played for English Police.

It was a lucky day for me as I won both the lucky programme and the Golden Goal after Leamington went ahead on 2 minutes, bringing me £30 in prize money. The Conference North side had signalled their intent with a shot that went just wide within the first minute of play, but then Bello put the Brakes ahead. However, within two minutes former Villa and Wolves ace Darren Middleton had equalised for the visitors with a header.

Former Birmingham City and Torquay player Carl Mottram looked dangerous for Moors on the break. Then Junior English, a product of the youth set up at Moor Green, glanced the post with Mozza well beaten in the Brakes goal. In the searing hot conditions, the referee allowed frequent drinks breaks.

However, Bello burst through with a run to make it 2-1. Josh Blake showed real skill juggling the ball in front of goal, but his effort was just over.

On 50 minutes Bello rounded keeper Daniel Crane, formerly with the Baggies and Rushden and Diamonds, to make it 3-1. Leamington's James Husband, who is getting married tomorrow, was brought down but his wedding tackle was intact.

Shay Morgan put in a rocket shot from distance which went just wide. Josh Blake put in a sizzling ball across the front of goal, but there was no one there to provide the tap in. Sean Brown made a great run all the way down the pitch, but put the ball inches wide.

Brakes played fluently against the higher level opposition, showing good anticipation of where other players would be. It promises well for the season.

Remember we will be the only Charlton site covering Tuesday's clash between the Bardsmen and the Brakes at the Anne Hathaway Stadium.

Charlton To Finish 3rd

As gloom spreads among the Addickted, Four Four Two forecasts that Charlton will finish 3rd in the Championship. Birmingham City and the Glaziers will occupy the automatic promotion places and Reading, Derby and QPR will be in the other play off places.

The magazine picks out Stuart Fleetwood as the one to watch. They reckon that Alan Pardew 'might have struck gold' with the signing.

They consider that last season there was an 'underlying disregard' among the players for 'the manager's long-term vision' (it would be interesting to know what that was). Pardew will need 'to heal those rifts' and 'get his misfiring strikers back on song.'

Sir Chris may play for Cherries

Chris Powell is on trial at Bournemouth:

Later today we will be the only Charlton site bringing you coverage of the match between Leamington and Solihull Moors. Brakes have signed a new two year kit deal with Charlton's official suppliers, Joma. They are the only non-league club to have such a deal.

One of the odder sights in the Midlands this week was a special story on Central News about the Brummies being en fete to celebrate the arrival of Marcus Bent. Blews supremo David Gold was even shown arriving at the training ground in his helicopter to greet the super striker.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

What has happened to Bougherra deal?

Apparently Real Betis have been reluctant to pay the £2.5m up front, instead wanting to link it to all kinds of incentives, so Charlton are playing hard ball and have stalled the deal. It seems they would settle for £2m.

Sam Sodje has had a falling out with Steve Coppell at Reading who won't let him go on the pre-season tour to Sweden. However, there seems to be little chance of Charlton putting in a bid even though Peterborough have pre-empted their effort to sign Highland League ace Paul Coutts.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

So, farewell then, Mark Robson

What has been rumoured for some time has now been confirmed by the club: Mark Robson has left the stadium. He says that he is ambitious and wants a chance to be a manager or assistant manager elsewhere. Good luck to him.

The first time I sponsored a Charlton match was for my 50th birthday and Robson was voted Player of the Match. We lost 1-2 to Stoke and he commented, 'I always get the award when we lose.' Fans will remember the goal he scored from a free kick against Newcastle United in an away cup game.

Should Alan Pardew fail to satisfy after six matches or so, what are the odds on a Mark Kinsella/Phil Parkinson pairing recalling the days of Curbs and Steve Gritt?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Charlton linked with Pompey defender

Charlton are reported to be in competition with Coventry City for the signature of Portsmouth defender Martin Cranie:

He is not a non-league player. However, he has been injured (broken leg) and is battling his way back to fitness.

Charlton chase Scottish non-league ace

Charlton's search for non-league talent has now extended north of the border with Aberdeen sources reporting that the Addicks are interested in Paul Coutts who plays for Cove Rangers in the Highland League.

The 19-year old midfielder is currently on trial at Peterborough. However, a Cove spokesman said: 'Charlton have stated an interest in Paul, while an SPL club made an inquiry this week as well.'

Preston in for Fortune

Preston North End have been linked with Addicks 'star' Jonathan Fortune and the Preston manager has reportedly made the long trip down south to persuade him to throw in his lot with the Invincibles:

This would leave us seriously short of players in central defence, given that Bougherra is probably on his way, even if Semedo can take on the role.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Second chance for Canham

Team Bath striker Sean Canham is to have a second chance with the Addicks when he turns out for them against Dulwich Hamlet on 30 July after the end of their Spanish tour.

Canham told the Non-League Paper (which I always turn to on a Sunday for the latest Charlton news), 'They told me to go back to Team Bath to get some games in while they are away. I'm waiting for assistant manager Mark Kinsella to call to let me know what's happening. He said they want to see me at full match pace before they make a decision.'

The club's view is that it is sometimes worth taking a 'punt' on non-league players who can be developed and sold on at a profit even if they don't make the grade in the Championship. However, they do consume management time.

Having watched a Conference South side yesterday, I am well aware of the gap between that level of the non-league and the Championship. Fleetwood might just have something special, but I am less sure about Canham.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Addicks linked with Brazilian

Charlton have been linked with Brazilian midfielder Douglas Rinaldi who is available on a free transfer. The 24-year old did not make a single appearance with Watford last season and has been let go by the Hornets.

Elsewhere, Ipswich Town have clinched a £600,000 deal for former Charlton striker Kevin Lisbie.

Honours even at Harbury Lane

We arrived half an hour before kick off today at the New Windmill Ground for the first pre-season friendly match of the new campaign between Leamington and Newport County, but all the programmes had already been bought by the sizeable away contingent in the crowd of 415.

In very blustery conditions, it was an even contest for most of the first half. With five new players in the team, Brakes were getting used to each other. Josh Blake was playing at the back, although he switched to the front later on.

Just before half time, County won a free kick and scored with a bullet header that could not be stopped by Mozza in the home goal.

Brakes struggled to get back into the game in the second half and they thought it was all over. Indeed, local radio station Touch FM clearly did as they announced the game as a 0-1 defeat. However, on the 88th minute former Reading ace Guy Sanders equalised for Brakes with a well taken header.

Talking of pre-season friendlies, I learn from my friends at Radio Scilly that there will be one at Garrison Field at 10.30 a.m. tomorrow when the Garrison Gunners take on the Woolpack Wanderers - as they will for the rest of the season.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Non-league ace impresses

Team Bath striker Sean Canham has impressed during his stay at Charlton according to this report: Canham

I see a reserve team is going to play at Falmouth Town. This was the last ground I watched football at with my father - Falmouth run the Rothmans Western League title three years in succession. The pasties were superb.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Bright Lights of the Second City

Marcus Bent has achieved his ambition of becoming acquainted with the night spots of Birmingham. Birmingham City today completed the signing of striker Marcus Bent, Charlton confirmed this afternoon.

The forward has moved to the West Midlands in a deal that could be worth in excess of £1m to the Addicks, and has signed a three-year contract at St Andrews. Note 'could be worth in excess of'. Presumably this means it is dependent on appearances or, heaven forbid, goals.

Anyway, he is off Charlton's books. There were fears when he turned down the Cardiff offer that we would be stuck with him.

It wasn't politics, say Charlton

As Iran prepare to report Charlton to Fifa, the club has denied that there was a political motivation behind the shelved friendly with the Iranian national team.

A club spokesman said that despite discussions with the Iranians, there had been no agreement on a match. 'There was never a friendly arranged so to say it had been called off would be incorrect,' the spokesman said.

'We had discussions but they were never concluded. We decided not to play Iran, it was a club decision and certainly nothing to do with politics.'

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Addicks linked with Helguson

Both the Mail and the Mirror have linked the Addicks with a £1.5m for Bolton Wanderers striker Heidar Helguson. Sheffield United and Coventry City are reported also to be interested.

To me this looks like an agent trying to boost interest in a player who was injured last year. We have enough strikers - what we need is a combative central midfielder, as the board and Pards realise.

I have just returned from a trip to Inverness and I would rate these reports on the level of the subject I was discussing: bovine diahorrea.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Iran to sue Charlton

The Iranian Football Federation is to sue Charlton for compensation after their friendly was called off, apparently on instructions from the British Government. It is likely that the Foreign Office gave some encouragement to the friendly being staged in the first place. The decision to cancel the friendly is reportedly due to the missile test that the Iran government undertook last week.

The deputy head of the Iran Football Federation, Mehdi Taj, said: 'Our contract (with Charlton) had even been confirmed by the English Football Association. We had gone through all the proper administrative channels and were in the process of negotiating television rights to broadcast the match but Charlton have changed their mind.'

'It is regrettable that they (Charlton) have cited the missile test as their reason because FIFA insists that politics do not mix with football.' The Iranian press is headlining Charlton's 'perfidy'.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Iwelumo to Wolves

Chris Iwelumo is to join Wolves. The Scottish press is reporting a fee of £1m, others say £900,000, but in any event it is above the club's valuation of £700,000. Iwelumo replaces Freddy Eastwood who is joining Coventry City.

Contrary to some speculation, Iwelumo was not on big wages. However, players have to go out before others can be brought in and Richard Murray hinted at the bloggers' meeting that Iwelumo might be one of those to go. We simply have too many strikers: Gray and Varney as the preferred pairing with Todorov also in the frame and Fleetwood and Dickson to be used as required. McLeod's signing is now seen to have been a mistake.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Bent: it's a done deal.

It looks as if the transfer of Marcus Bent to Cardiff City will be concluded by Monday before the Bluebirds leave on a tour of Portugal. Wales Online says that the figure is about £1m which, if that is the case, is a bit disappointing as it was available last week. However, I am happy to see him shipping out and get his wages off the book.

To make up for the disappointment that many Charlton fans will feel at this news, the club is planning is a special commemorative DVD entitled 'Marcus Bent Scores for Charlton' which will feature all of his goals for the club. A club spokesperson said, 'One of the unique selling points will be that you can put it on during the commercial break of your favourite televison programme and not miss any of East Enders or Corrie.'

No doubt he will score for Cardiff against us!

There are also reports that the Iwelumo deal with the Glaziers is on again (Wolves is anoher possible destination), whilst completely unconfirmed reports suggest that Amdy Faye is training with Stoke City. If there was a glimmer of truth in that, it would make my weekend.

Our bid for Bouazza has been turned down by Fulham.

Addicks crush Ebbsfleet

Addicks who made the journey to Northfleet this afternoon saw the Addicks crush the only team named after a station, Ebbsfleet, 6-0. The victory put to rest doubts that Charlton might have difficulty beating a Conference side.

Among the highlights were the first senior goal for Jonjo Shelvey from a free kick. When Richard Murray met the bloggers, he said that we could be seeing a lot of Shelvey this season. He perhaps gives the ball away too easily, but more experience will help with that and some of his long ball passing was highly rated by those at the game. Racon scored a superb curling goal and Wagstaff and Gray were also on the score sheet. Two goals were scored by Owen Goal.

Those who were there say that Thomas put in one of his best performances for a long time. Perhaps he realises that Charlton offer his best hope of Premiership football.
He linked up well with Youga and much of the attacking play came down the left. Apparently, according to the programme, someone call Lloyd Samjerome Thomas was playing.

Marcus Bent was warming the bench and had a fifteen minute cameo, but apparently did not seem to be too pleased about featuring at Ebbsfleet. Apart from a shot that went close, he did very little. [There now seems confusion about whether he came on at all, but who would know? Sinclair apparently was rubbish, as he was at Welling].

Homer the Cherry Hound has just texted in to say that Didcot went down 0-9 at home to Reading

I think I will have a piece of the superb cake we had for our 30th wedding anniversary party last night.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Randolph to Hereford

Charlton goalkeeper Darren Randolph has gone on a year's loan to League 1 side Hereford United. He spent two months on loan at League 2 Bury at the end of last season. Should Nicky Weaver be unavailable, Elliott will presumably step into the breach.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Bent bid rejected

Charlton have turned down an offer from Cardiff City as it does not meet their £2m valuation. It is believed that the Bluebirds offered in the region of £1m. Charlton feel confident about rejecting the offer as other clubs are said to be interested.

Bent is currently costing us £100,000 a month in wages, but we should be able to hold out for around £1.5m.

Alan Pardew has confirmed that Real Betis are interested in Bougherra, but a fee has not been agreed.

Charlton retain Crown Berger cup

Charlton retained the Crown Berger Cup last night with a 1-0 victory over Welling United that was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested. Overr 2,000 turned out in very wet conditions. Luke Varney scored the winning goal.

Apparently, Hudson was like a rock at the back. This is encouraging as central defence is one area that gives me concern. Fleetwood was quite impressive, but is knocked off the ball too easily.

Now it's on to Ebbsfleet. For some time Charlton seem to have been building a team second to none at Conference level, so we shall see.

Reports are circulating that Mark Robson has left the club, but we have no confirmation of them, although the story is being carried on Kent Online. He was not at the pre-season at friendlies at Welling or Bromley.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Iran match in Spain

It now appears that Charlton's match against Iran will not take place in Tehran but as part of a training camp in Malaga. Whether any Addicks in the vicinity will be able to see the match is unclear.

Who will succeed and who will fail?

Here are my thoughts on the Championship for the year ahead:

Barnsley: I thought they were quite impressive when they came to The Valley last year and they put together a good cup run, but I would rate them as lower mid-table.
Birmingham City: One of the established yo-yo teams, they have an ability to grind out results. Automatic promotion.
Blackpool: The owners deprive the club of needed investment. However, their location near the Irish Sea and the fact that there are stands on only two sides creates some very strange windy conditions which gives them a clear home advantage. Nevertheless, I think they will be in a relegation struggle.
Bristol City: Despite their strong performance last season when they were a surprise package, this club lacks money and a strong fan base. I think they will fall back this year to 8th or 9th.
Burnley: Usually never relegation or promotion candidates, I would think a lower mid-table finish is likely.
Cardiff City: Peter Ridsdale seems to have done well out of the club. I think 9th or 10th is a likely finishing spot.
Charlton Athletic: Beset by continuing financial problems, likely to finish mid-table.
Coventry City: Chris Coleman is a good manager and there are new owners, but many Coventrians are likely to find ice hockey team Coventry Blaze a better bet to follow. Lower mid-table.
Crystal Palace: I don't like Neil Warnock's gobby style but he is quite an effective manager. Fringes of the play offs.
Derby County: Very difficult to forecast. Will they continue to suffer from the humiliation of last season? I expect them to strengthen as the season goes on and end up in the play offs.
Doncaster Rovers: Will probably start quite well, but then altitude sickness will take hold and they will be in a relegation battle.
Ipswich Town: Never seem to be able to secure what they regard as their rightful place in the Premiership, but should secure a play off place.
Nottingham Forest: They have been stuck in League 1 for quite a while, but should respond well to the challenge and may make the play offs.
Norwich City: Glenn Roeder has been talking the talk, but they are strapped for clash and subject to uncertainties about future ownership. Lower mid-table.
Plymouth Argyle: They had had problems getting in players and I think they will fade this season. Could be in relegation trouble.
Preston North End: I have a soft spot for them, but I fear another relegation battle looms.
Queen's Park Rangers: The wedge is big, so lazy journalists are talking them up as sure bets for promotion. However, it is one thing to have the money and another to spend it wisely. Now it may be that Ian Dowie was not able to display his talents as a manager to full advantage at Crystal Palace, Charlton or Coventry, perhaps because he has an aversion to clubs whose names start with 'C'. Moreover, this is the most northerly club he has managed in London. Should make the play offs.
Reading: Some people are saying they will run away with the league and Steve Coppell is a smart manager. But it takes a while to adjust to the Championship when you have been in the Premiership a few years. Automatic promotion.
Sheffield United: Another disappointing performance from a relegated club last year, but should make the fringes of the play offs this year.
Sheffield Wednesday: The long battle over ownership looks like it is about to be finally resolved, but it will take a while for the club to get on its feet. Lower mid-table.
Southampton: Ownership may be getting sorted out, but this is another former Premiership club that has found life at a lower level difficult. Should avoid relegation.
Swansea City: Another favourite for lazy journalists, but I think they will end up around 9th or 10th after a strong start (a problem for us).
Watford: The exponents of functional football last season, the Hornets lacked a sting and faded badly towards the end of the season. Mid-table.
Wolverhampton Wanderers: Strong sense of entitlement to be in the Premiership, never quite lived up to. May make the play offs.

If you want to be gloomy

Charlton's 1-0 defeat at Bromley last night will give those who like to wallow in gloom some new justification for their pessimism. It's a while now since I went to pre-season friendlies. Teams are usually playing to experimental combinations and formations and players are eager to avoid injury. I well remember Matt Svensen banging the dugout in frustration when he was injured in a pre-season friendly at Roda.

They also provide grist to the mill of the 'Bloggs was outstanding at Wycombe, why doesn't Curbishley/Dowie/Pardew play him in the first team?' crowd.

Charlton lost through a deflected free kick that went inside the post. The Addicks had 75 per cent possession but little finishing power which is nothing new. Chris Dickson has come in for some criticism, but he is coming back from an injury.

Fleetwood apparently had an excellent cameo in the last 20 minutes which is encouraging. I haven't heard anything about how Canham looked.

Now the focus switches to Park View Road and the Crown Berger cup.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Bougherra out, Bouazza in?

Real Betis have come forward with a realistic offer for Majid Bougherra, increasing their initial bid of £1.5m to £2.5m. Given the hole in the club's finances, Charlton can't afford to say no, but he will be sorely missed at The Valley.

Charlton are trying to secure Algerian winger Hameur Bouazza on loan from Fulham. The former Hornet plays for his country of origin, having failed to break into the French team. However, this is by no means a done deal as Wigan and Sheffield United are also interested, as well as Espanyol.

If the move did go ahead, the intention would be to make it permanent if it worked out well.

Incidentally, if anyone is going to Bromley, this is where Sean Canham will be showcased.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Two weeks of Bent equals one year for whole team

Two weeks of Marcus Bent's salary would cover the compensation for Leamington's squad for a whole year. The club's accounts for 2006-7 show that players' 'travel expenses' amounted to £53,587 which was just about the equivalent of the £54,079 match receipts and programme sales. On a turnover of £170,405, the net profit was £4,166. This was down from £46,730 the previous year but takings in that period were boosted by the FA Cup run.

The annual meeting, preceded by an extraordinary meeting with lawyers in attendance, was described as 'lively' on the club's web site, something of an understatement in my view.

Lisbie for Palace?

Crystal Palace are interested in Colchester United and former Charlton striker Kevin Lisbie. Apparently, Neil Warnock's idea is that alongside Chris Iwelumo the deadly duo would strike fear in the heart of Championship defences. Or possibly photographers behind the goal.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Two clubs in for Big Chris

Wolves and Crystal Palace have expressed an interest in Charlton striker Chris Iwelumo. The Glaziers are apparently prepared to offer £600,000, which is not far short of the club's valuation of around £750,000. However, there would not be big wage savings as he is not on a big salary.

I suspect that the majority of Charlton fans will be pleased to see him go. I thought he did what was on the can: an average Championship striker for an average Championship team.

Cardiff interested in Bent

Cardiff City are reported to be interested in Marcus Bent at a realistic fee of a little over £1 million. However, the striker has not yet visited South Wales.

Birmingham City are also reported to have expressed an interest in Bent. The 'Second City' has a lively nightlife.

Addicks swoop for new non-league hot shot

One of the first things I do on a Sunday morning is to look at the Non-League Paper to see which non-league player Charlton are trying to sign this week. And it's Sean Canham from TeamBath who is already at Sparrows Lane.

The NLP excitedly refers to the 41 goals scored by Canham in the Students' BGB promotion campaign which 'put him second only to Cristiano Ronaldo in English football's scoring stakes.' Somehow I think there is a difference in class.

The 23-year old former Exeter player described his experience with the Addicks: 'I'm buzzing about it all. It's been tough training, but very enjoyable. We've done a lot of fitness, gym work and a spinning class, but the balls were out from day one. The keep-ball was intense.'

I must say I'm baffled by this constant search for non-league players, especially strikers. Admittedly, the amount of hoofing the ball we were going in for last season was reminiscent of a non-league side, but hopefully we are going to try to play ball to feet this season.

Leamington's AGM is this morning and I hope we won't be told that the Addicks have 'swooped' for Josh Blake.

Zheng Zhi injury blow

Wire services are reporting that Zheng Zhi has a herniated disk in his lower back. I don't exactly what it is, but it sounds unpleasant.

PRC Coach Ratomir Dujkovic is hoping and praying that ZZ will be back in top condition in time for the start of the tournament. 'We will not easily let Zheng Zhi sit (out the Olympics), he is China's best player at the moment, the Olympic team needs him, but we need a Zheng Zhi in top form,' Dujkovic said.

Quite what the implications are for Charlton remains unclear at this stage. However, the Chinese captain played some of the World Cup qualifiers while injured. The general view at the club is that he plays too much football.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Dowie gets vote of confidence

Super Hoops supremo Ian Dowie has received the vote of confidence from co-owner Flavio Briatore before a ball has been kicked. Briatore dismissed reports that Dowie was under pressure and would be dismissed if the club was not promoted this season. 'I have never said to the manager that you have to deliver or you are out,' said Briatore. 'That is not the way I do business.'

I wonder what odds one could get on Alan Curbishley, Ian Dowie and Alan Pardew all having moved on before the end of the season.

Leeds swoop for ex Brakes ace

It's not only Charlton that are dipping their toes in the non-league pool of talent. Former Leamington striker Avun Jephcott is training with Leeds and will join them on their pre-season tour.

'Avon Calling' was Player of the Year in 2004-5 and top goal scorer in 2005-6. At the beginning of 2007 he moved up the non-league pyramid to join AFC Telford.

What is slightly worrying for Brakes fans is that the club is increasingly looking like a good place to revive a faltering career and once that has happened the player leaves. Jephcott, Ben Mackey and Tom Bates all originally played for Coventry City. Mackey has moved on to Southern Premiership football while Bates joined Rochdale, but has now slipped back into non-league football.

Having lost in the play-off finals last year, Brakes face a tough challenge in a division that includes Bromsgrove Rovers, Chasetown and Nuneaton Town (the reconstituted Nuneaton Borough).

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The cull continues

Paolo Monteiro and Dorian Smith are the latest victims of tight budget constraints at Sparrows Lane. Centre half Monteiro was brought in on a free transfer from a Romanian side, while midfielder Smith was one of Charlton's acquisitions from the non-league ranks. Both played for the reserves last season, while Smith also continued to turn out for Tooting and Mitcham in the Ryman League Division 1 south.

The number of fringe players who were on the books last season had to be reduced. Whether we are any nearer knowing what our best starting sixteen is remains to be seen.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Halford joins Blades

Greg Halford has joined Sheffield United on a year long loan. He would have preferred to remain at Charlton, closer to his family in Chelmsford, but the club could not afford his wages.

Despite his long throw ins, many Addicks were sceptical about his ability in the right back position.

Interest in Faye shock

Mark Hughes, who gave Amdy Faye a trial at Blackburn, may revive his interest in the defensive midfielder according to the Manchester Evening News. He is seen as the 'bargain basement' solution to their needs in that area. A figure of £1.5m is mentioned, but it is not clear whether this is how much Charlton would have to pay to have him taken off their hands.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Hull lead Bent chase

The Yorkshire Post reports that Hull lead the chase for £3m-rated Charlton striker Marcus Bent. I'm not sure it's much of a chase as Stoke City are the only other club to have evinced any interest.

Whilst I can yet see Bent in the sophisticated nightspots of Humberside (Cleethorpes is but a bridge away), I would be over the moon if we got £3m for him. I would take £1.5m to get him off the books and the salary bill.

He is a well-balanced player: he has a chip on both shoulders.