Thursday, 29 August 2013

Building from the back

Part of our success in the last two seasons was due to the strength of our defence. We were a difficult team to break down. But two of our key players in defence, Morrison and Wiggins, seemed to have suffered a real loss of form. In the case of Wiggins, his injury last year was a major set back and it is not easy to get back to the former standard. Morro is more of a puzzle, but he looked as sick as a parrot against Donny, as well he might.

However, I want to focus on the keeper question. I first started watching Charlton 60 years ago and my real hero then was Sam Bartram. He had his critics at the time for being too flamboyant and too much of a showman, not qualities that were well regarded in the 1950s.

Ever since I have always been interested in our keepers. It was a great privilege to meet Bob Bolder on more than one occasion and shake his big and blistered hand. But my real hero of recent years was Dean Kiely, a great acquisition who contributed a great deal to our promotion and subsequent success in the Premier League. His exit from Charlton was not entirely a happy one. However, he is a really nice guy. His son Chris was keeper at Leamington for a while and when I saw Deano at the New Windmill Ground, he was always very pleasant to me.

This brings me to a slight digression. Goalkeepers are alleged to be a bit flakey. This certainly applied to a rather good Italian we had at Leamington who had been discovered sleeping rough on the railway station. However, it applies as much to the current keeper, Tony Breeden, for whom the chant is 'Tony Breeden, on the wing, on the wing.

The bearded Breeden ventures way out of his goal. I am not suggesting one could do this at league level, but it often spooks non-league opposition. What is more he has a powerful and accurate shot and I have seen him score from his own half. On Monday, he noticed that the opposition keeper was out of his goal. The City keeper started to back pedal when he saw Breeden advance and unfortunately Breeden's shot came off the crossbar. Nothing daunted, he tried again later from the halfway line and just missed the target.

All this is great fun, but we face a more serious challenge in the Championship What is one to make of Ben Hamer? He is a great shot stopper, but his decision-making can also be poor as we saw in the case of the 'Boro goal. Communication with the defenders does not always seem to work and he does not really dominate his area.

Some Addicks argue that Button kept him on his toes last year by providing some competition for the jersey. Nick Pope was not really tested against Bristol City, but if Hamer was injured (and some say he is carrying an injury) we would have to bring in an emergency loan. If I was the manager and I was short of money, it would make sense to economise on the reserve goalkeeper which is surely the worst job for a player in football. You must need a lot of patience and determination to keep going.

I know this is a controversial suggestion, but I would replace Wiggins by Evina on Saturday.


Sciurus Carolinensis Nemesis said...

Wiggo looks shot at the moment
He probably hasn't quite made the progression to championship but his extended injury lay off last season will not have helped one bit.
Evina is the only option and after positive reports from Tuesday night Powell must select him against Leicester
Powell has a tendency to stick with his preferred players for far too long into a dip in performance even when decent alternatives exist Hamer last season (Sullivan), Stephens(anyone with a pair of boots), Wiggo (Evina)
Curbs was the same he had blindspots at various times for Ilic, Euell, Murphy, Redfearn, Spector.
It cost us then and it's costing us now

Anonymous said...

I agree on Evina but don't think it's controversial.
Healthy competition is good. If Evina got injured Wiggins would need to step in again.
As you say we need to build on a solid defence.