Monday, 17 May 2010

The 12th man

It's not been the best of mornings: at last civil servants have come officially out of purdah (or at least I didn't get informed until this morning). That's meant I am going to York at short notice (at least from Coventry rather than being sent to it). You would think that organising things online would be quick, but it's not.

As always, Pedro on Charlton Athletic Online has done a first rate match preview. He is right that Racon may have to be sacrificed to give us more of an attacking edge with Reid. I know that Racon has admirers who think he is the best thing in midfield since Mark Kinsella, but I am not convinced.

Sodje apparently made some great blocks on Friday despite being injured, but if his knee problems are serious we have to bring in Llera, even if he lacks pace. The only other question mark in my mind is Randolph. Don't get me wrong, I think he has been a revelation since he has come in, but how is he with penalties? Because it might come to that.

The general mood among the Addickted seems to be that we will lose (or rather fail to overcome the deficit), but I am genuinely uncertain. I do not believe that Swindon are invincible. Their keeper seems to have a bit of a Dracula problem and their defence can be wobbly. Unfortunately, although we won at least 12 corners on Friday, we weren't able to make productive use of any of them. It's been a failing for much of the season: when the opposition gets corners, I get worried.

The rocking Robins clearly have an attacking threat through the former brickie Austin who played at a lower level than Leamington and Paynter, if he gets fit. The second goal on Friday was conceded through poor defending by the Addicks.

So the gloomy scenario works like this: we lose tonight; club declared insolvent tomorrow; club disappears. All complete nonsense, of course, but there are people who seem to get a perverse pleasure from believing that sort of thing. My best guess is that we win the 90 minutes 2-1, it will be 3-2 after extra time. Penalties, like the play off themselves, will be a lottery.

This is where the crowd comes in. Debate rages about whether the crowd really is a 12th man. Players have to say they are in interviews: they can hardly say 'the fans are a bunch of mugs who fund our generous salaries.'

What is clear is that a negative crowd reaction does not help the players or particular individuals. Leamington's goal machine Mark Bellingham has now revealed in yesterday's Non-League Paper that he left the Brakes because of remarks made about him on a fans' message board during the controversy over the sacking of popular manager Jason Cadden. I should think he hears worse when he is on duty with the boys in blue, but he felt the fans should have been big enough to retract their comments when they were shown to be wrong.

Harbury Lane and the Sheepside and Burger Side stands are hardly The Valley or the East and West Stands. My appeal to all the Addickted tonight would be to create a wall of positive noise to support the team. It may not make any difference. We may be doomed. But it is what we can do as Charlton fans to try and make a difference. Come on you reds!


Jack said...

Excellent! well put

Anonymous said...

good prediction.