Sunday, 12 December 2010

Believe it - or not!

As I got off the train at Coventry this evening, some Coventry fans said to me, 'I can't believe you were beaten by Walsall.' Leaving The Valley I heard one fan say, 'I can't believe what I have just seen.' A Charlton fan on the train to Charing Cross said, 'They played as poorly as I have ever seen them.'

I have never been a believer in reading results off the table, especially such a fluid one as League One. I thought that today's match would be difficult: Walsall had nothing to lose as the underdogs and all the pressure was on Charlton. But I did expect to get a point. Before the game Paul from Bexleyheath and I agreed that the most likely result was 1-1.

So what's the explanation? Right from the start our play was disjointed. We couldn't keep possession or make a decent pass. Our attacking threat was limited and the midfield seemed to disappear. Rob Elliot commented in the programme, 'Even when we haven't played well, we've still got results, which I think is the sign of a good team.' Perhaps we got caught out at last.

I got the impression that the players were tired and because Walsall were bottom of the table they perhaps thought they just had to turn up on the pitch and win. Parky did try to turn things around by making a double substitition at half time, but it didn't really make a great difference.

When the Walsall goal came, as it inevitably did, it was easy for them. The Saddlers' win was well deserved: one only has to take a look at the corner count. But they weren't very good as their wayward shooting showed. We just looked worse.

So what happens now? It's a question of keep calm and carry on. There will be the kind of reaction there was after the Brighton game. If the new owners come in, they may want a change: personally, I have always thought that there was a limit to what any manager could achieve with this bunch of players. But the other teams in the division aren't that marvellous anyway so we could achieve a play off place. If the club isn't sold, we might have to go into administration which would kill off any promotion hopes.

I heard from a reasonably reliable source that four individuals (apart from front man Peter Varney) are involved in the consortium that is seeking to buy the club and that one of them is a 'bit dodgy'. They have enough money to keep us going, but not enough to splash the cash.

Match analysis

Ivy the Terrible awarded the Silver Bone to Jon Fortune who was solid in defence and actually put together a reasonably fluent attacking move once. There had been concerns about whether Rob Elliot was fit and fortunately he was as we only had a youth team keeper on the bench, Ross Worner having fallen ill. His positioning could have been better for the Walsall goal and often his judgement seemed to be poor: he is too inclined to palm the ball away. I don't blame for him for coming up for the corner at the end of the game, but he did rush out rather dangerously another time to clear the ball. But he did make a good save with his foot when he was one-on-one with a Walsall player. Doherty was solid enough most of the time.
Francis was a total disaster. His crosses were poor. At throw ins he kept throwing the ball back to the defence instead of moving it forward. Fry was not very prominent in the first half and was taken off. Semedo was given the captain's armband, but had a poor game. When he did get the ball, he tended to lose it. Racon made very little contribution throughout the game. Jackson was not up to his usual standard and most of his free kicks were disappointing. With Wagstaff you are never sure what you are going to get: flashes of inspiration or a generally dire performance. This was one of the latter. Anyinsah was anonymous apart from one attempt on goal and was withdrawn. Benson was the proverbial powder puff. He tried to get himself into promising positions but failed to connect with one scoring opportunity.
Reid showed plenty of pace and enthusiasm, but his final ball was usually poor. Martin was also enthusiastic, but he needs to watch his temper. Sodje made very little difference when he came on.

Hiss of the Match Juneau the Soccer Cat felt unable to blame the officials for anything. Instead I have given it to the steward with whom I had the following dialogue on entering the passageway into the East Stand:
Steward: Where are you going?
Me: To my seat?
Steward: Do you know where it is?
Me: Yes, I have a season ticket [and have had the same seat since shortly after the East Stand opened].
I suppose he had been on a customer care and was trying to help, but it struck me as odd.

Crowd rating The crowd tends to get on the players' backs very quickly which is perhaps why Charlton often do better away. The performance was abysmal, but I am not sure that constant criticism helps when confidence is ebbing away. This is third division football or hoofball and it is often mediocre.


Boney Boy said...

Elliot had a few doggy moments, but a couple of top class stops saved us from a more embarrasing result. Fortune and Doc also played reasonably well, and Wagstaff showed some urgency and pace, but the rest of the team were well off the pace.

Walsall passed, ran and won the ball better than us throughout the game as the shots and corners tally show. Semedo and Racon can't ever have been less effective in mid field.

Parkison was bold enough to make 2 substitutions at half time. It was a good decision, but so many were playing poorly, he might have wished that he could make more changes.

As a substutute, Reid made little imapact,though he had poor service. martin was energetic, but was less efefctive after Wagstaff was substituted.

Anonymous said...

Now that's it's over, let's take a quick look at that 'run' of ours then.

Well, 11 games unbeaten sounds good, but the devil is in the detail. Five of these were cup games, and two were replays so we've actually played two more games than we needed due to being unable to win at the first attempt.
On the plus side the six league games did include five wins, good by any standard. More tellingly though, of the eight wins, five were by a single goal. Even more telling is the inability to really finish sides off at home. Last time we won by more than one goal is March 6th, and the only home win by 3 or more goals this season or last was in november 2009 against MK dons.
Longstanding mantra of many teams is that after scoring you aim to play the next 5/10 minutes carefully, to avoid the quick equaliser: however, coupled to a tendency for players to drop deep and defend the 18 yard line for the last 20 minutes, and slow starts(more this season than last) - we have ended up with a very negative mindset.
We have scored twice as many league goals away as at home(in fewer games) although we have slightly more home points (18/10 cf 14/9).
All this suggests that we are not able to dominate at home, and that it is time for a more radical solution than rotating players.
Clearly we don't have the movement, especially in midfield, to break teams down with the current line up. I think we should experiment either with 3-5-2(leaving out Francis) or with trying Martin or Jackson inside with Racon.
Most teams come with at most 2, and more often 1+1 up front, four defenders simply encourages the 'possession' play that only serves to annoy supporters as the ball goes back thirty yards from every other throw.

Anonymous said...

I think your solution/conculsion is more cogent thatn your analysis of the problem. 11 games unbeaten is impressive no matter how much you analyse it.

I do agree however, that we appear far more negative when playing at home and there is reason to seek a solution. He could well tinker with the formation and I agree that more players in the middle of the park would give us better options going forward.

One question is whether the players will feel comfortbale defending with a new formation.

Either way, Dailly's return to the defence will be crucial. I felt against Walsall that Docherty and Fortune's lack of ball playing ability was a problem, irrespective of the lack of options they had in front of them.

Geoff said...

Parkinson must go................

to Sparrows Lane and try to teach people how to take penalties.

Hoped that as our "dazzling" run ended with we-could-get-no-lower Walsall, the lure of Wembley wd do the trick. Wasn't the worst 90 mins, but the awfulness of the pens could last for ever.

At least the brown cords and orange sweater can now be retired and normal attire resumed.