Friday 30 May 2008

Addicks target 'Pool player

Charlton are keen to sign up and coming prospect Alan Hammill, a 20-year-old winger currently playing for Liverpool. Although the move would be for a loan spell only, Hammill could well be a worthwhile asset. He has recently returned to Anfield after completing a loan deal with Southampton that saw him stay at St Mary’s all last season.

The Addicks are said to be facing competition for his signature from Plymouth, Preston, Wolves, QPR with Scottish clubs Hibs and Aberdeen also showing interest.

Forest Green Rovers ace Stuart Fleetwood is to choose between Charlton, Swindon and Swansea on his return from holiday.

Thursday 29 May 2008

Brakes duo depart

Leamington supporters have been rocked by the news that leading goalscorer Ben Mackey has joined Brackley Town after Leamington failed to gain promotion. The former Coventry City ace has decided to seek Southern Premiership football and has been joined at Brackley by captain Aaron Parkinson.

The news has not been offset by the signing of Bishops Cleeve striker Luke Corbett.

The only news relating to Charlton is a non-story: Darren Randolph will not be joining Bury.

Sunday 25 May 2008

Kinsella - Colchester then Charlton

Mark Kinsella has been linked with the manager's job at Colchester and has stated that he would like the opportunity to manage Colchester and Charlton:

Kinsella has clear done a good job as reserve team coach and I would be happy to see him as Charlton manager one day. The experience at Colchester would be useful.

Saturday 24 May 2008

Addicks sign Eagle

Charlton completed their first signing of the summer by signing Crystal Palace centre-half Mark Hudson on a free transfer. The former Crystal Palace skipper is out of contract and has signed a three-year deal. The 6ft 3 ins. 26-year old should strengthen the central defence.

Player of the year Matt Holland has signed a new contract with the Addicks. The decision will probably be welcomed by most of the Addickted, but we still need to do more to strengthen central midfield.

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Women can fight back says Morts

Coach Paul Mortimer is optimistic about the prospects for the Charlton women's team next season despite their relegation from the top flight:

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Walker signs for Southend

Charlton striker James Walker has signed a permanent deal with Southend. His initial move to the Shrimpers was complicated by health problems. Charlton have now received a fee of £100,000 with additional sums possible based on appearances.

Ennui afflicts Charlton fans

Judging by the number of blogs that are taking an extended break, a wave of ennui is sweeping across the Addickted as they contemplate the reality of a mid-table finish and the last season with parachute payments in a highly competitive league.

I was in London yesterday recording some Champions League final prelims for Australian television and the ABC guy asked me if I supported a club. When I mentioned Charlton he asked where it was which says a lot really given that he had been in London for three years. Mind you he didn't know where Marylebone station was either.

Perhaps now is a time to contemplate the range of Charlton blogs. As always, I enjoy the New York and Chicago (shortly to become Bermuda) contributions. Inspector Sands is always worth reading, but he posts less often these days.

My most promising newcomer award would go to the Blackheath Addick. Not only does he produce long reflective and sagacious thought pieces about the club, but his blog also has a nice personal touch with stories about his French partner. That always give a blog something a little extra.

That's not to say that the blogs I haven't mentioned aren't good. We are fortunate with the blogs we have which reflects the calibre of our fans.

Saturday 17 May 2008

Shock touchline ban for Cadzy

Leamington manager Jason Cadden has received a one match touchline ban after remarks he made to the officials following Brakes' defeat in the play-off final. He told last night's club dinner and awards ceremony that he advised them: 'You ****ing Onanists have lost me the league.'

Former Warwick University student James Husband received the Player of the Year award voted for by the fans and goalkeeper Mozza was a popular choice for the Players' Player of the Year Award.

Friday 16 May 2008

So, farewell then, Marcus Bent - and Osei Sankofa

Marcus Bent is to make his move to Wigan permanent and it is believed that a fee of around £1m has been agreed. Bent (M) never really established himself at The Valley and his goal drought in the second half of the season at the Lactics is not untypical. We couldn't have afforded his wages anyway.

Not unsurprisingly, Osei Sankofa has been let go by the Addicks. The 23-year old will end almost a decade's association with the Addicks when his contract expires at the end of June, and he is now hunting for a new club for the first time since joining as a 14-year-old. Sankofa made his debut at Manchester United and made 19 starts for the club in six seasons, having his longest run when Luke Warm was injured.

Unfortunately, he never really looked as if he had enough quality. This means that we are reliant on Moutaoukil to fill the right back slot, unless a deal can be done over Greg Halford.

Tonight sees the annual dinner and presentations evening at Leamington and once again we will be the only Charlton blog covering this event. Former Coventry City ace Ben Mackey is out of contract and negotiations are ongoing to secure his signature with speculation that he may receive a three figure weekly pay packet.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Competition for Bougherra hots up

According to this report, Wigan Athletic are prepared to offer £2m for 'Magic' Bougherra:

Addicks target Paul Connolly has moved from Plymouth to Derby County.

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Big blow for Super Hoops

They may have a large wedge, but the hopes of Queens Park Rangers of regaining top flight status took a heavy blow when it was announced they had signed Iain Dowie as their manager.

'It's not rocket science,' a Loftus Road spokesperson explained. 'You take a reasonably successful, ambitious club, bring in Dowie (and, if possible, his brother) and, hey presto, the club is on its knees. It's worked at the Glaziers, Charlton and the Sky Blues, so why shouldn't it work here?'

Youga signs extended deal

Kelly Youga has signed a new contract which will keep him at The Valley until 2011. The left back from the Central African Republic has many fans among the Addickted because of his ability to forge forward, although he needs to improve his ability to track back in defence. However, he developed considerably in his loan spell in Scunthorpe and should be able to improve his game more as he gets more opportunities to play. Grant Basey was played in midfield at the end of the season, so need not be a direct competitor for the left back spot, while the future of Ben Thatcher remains uncertain.

In South Africa, Shaun Bartlett is leaving his current club, but the 36-year old hopes for another year playing before he hangs up his boots:

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Interest in Bougherra

We are now in the season of summer speculation, but this report claiming that Real Betis and Wigan are interested in Bougherra has enough detail in it to merit consideration:

If we were to let him go, it shouldn't be at a loss. However, I would like to see him playing for Charlton next year. What we really need is a settled partnership in central defence.

Sunday 11 May 2008

Murphy the hero as Fulham survive again

A header from Danny Murphy was enough to give Fulham victory over FA Cup finalists Portsmouth at Fratton Park today, ensuring their Premiership survival. The Putney side always seem to pull off a last minute escape. A linesman's decision in their favour was a factor in our relgation from the Premiership.

The fact of the matter is that Fulham, with their seats for 'neutrals', wouldn't be in the Premiership if it wasn't for their benefactor. Danny Murphy may be enjoying his Harrods hamper on his way back to London tonight, but the club has not cooperated with the launch of a new book on all-time Fulham hero Johnny Haynes. According to today's Sunday Times the club's new retail company, Just Pro Sport Club, wanted a 60 per cent cut to put Johnny Haynes - Sports Maestro on the shelves of the club shop and even at that they only wanted 40 copies.

So what does the relegation of Birmingham City and Reading, along with Derby County, mean for next year's promotion battle? (I leave to one side the prediction of gloomsters that we will be in a relegation struggle). If Fulham had come down, I think they would have been imploded. Derby County are not going to find it that easy to pick themselves up.

Birmingham City are one of the classic yo-yo teams and we can expect the Millwall of the Midlands to be there or thereabouts. With Reading a lot depends on whether Steve Coppell stays. Despite the relegation, with the final Premiership goal being scored by Leroy Lita, I rate Coppell as a manager. He should have tried to bring more players in in the transfer window, but it is not that easy to get top class players to come to Reading. My prediction would be that they will be 'there or thereabouts', i.e., in the play offs. Anyway, it's good news for the cluster of Addicks in Reading.

I see that Watford were defeated 0-2 at home by Hull in the play offs. The Financial Times rightly described them as a 'functional' team and our failure to beat them says something about us this season.

What would Fleetwood's arrival imply?

The Non-League Paper has a story this morning on what is seen as the imminent move of Forest Green Rovers hot-shot Stuart Fleetwood to The Valley. The Welsh non-league international scored 36 goals for the Nailsworth club last season.

Rovers have offered the 22-year-old a new deal, which they have to do if they want to receive a transfer tribunal for a player under the age of 24. However, it appears that Charlton may be prepared to pay £250,000 anyway.

I had thought that our main deficiency was in central midfield rather than up front. I had assumed that Todorov would be going anyway given that Gray was effectively a replacement. So what do we have?:

Varney Earlier in the season I thought that he lacked the polish that reflected his earlier career, but I think that he is improved as the season has gone on. Unfortunately, Pardew has shown a tendency to play him on the wing, but I would start him up front.
Gray Has always looked a good technical player to me, but has finally started to find his scoring boots and could form a good partnership with Varney.
Dickson Showing real promise before his injury, but would presumably start on the bench behind Gray and Varney.
Iwelumo A favourite scapegoat player for many Addicks, despite being leading goal scorer in an admittedly disappointing season. As Pedro45 has pointed out, he either attracts fouls or the referee thinks he is committing a foul when he is being fouled because of his size. Could he be on his way out?
McLeod Well thought of by many Addicks because of his pace. They also feel he was not given a fair go. I felt that he lacked accuracy in front of goal. Could certainly be vulnerable if Fleetwood is coming.

Charlton medals go for £9,000

The FA Cup winners' medal won by Don Welsh has been auctioned for £6,800, with his runners' up medal fetching £2,200:

It doesn't seem a lot to me. It would have been nice if the medals could have been acquired for the club. For many years there has been talk of a small museum and they would have provided a nice centrepiece.

Saturday 10 May 2008

Warnock: worst match of season against Addicks

As Crystal Palace manager Neil Warnock prepares for today's play off fixture against Bristol City, he has given an interview to The Independent. Asked about the worst game of the season, he chooses the defeat at The Valley:

'Charlton Athletic away. How we got away with losing only 2-0 I'll never know, it could have been double figures. Still, it was a unique experience for me. The chairman got more stick than me, which is such an unusual occurrence.'

Friday 9 May 2008

The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone

Darren Ambrose is a talented player, but sometimes he seems to be lightweight or drifts out of matches. In part this may be because he is not played in his best position, but the club's E mail bulletin reveals another explanation:

Darren Ambrose is hoping a recent operation on his hip will end three years of niggling groin problems. The Charlton star [sic] went under the knife of top surgeon Richard Villar at London's Wellington Hospital [not cheap] just under two weeks ago and is expected to be out of action for at least three months. [So he won't be starting the season].

And, while being frustrated at possibly missing a large chunk of pre-season, Ambrose is hopeful that the operation will finally clear up his ongoing groin injuries. Ambrose said: "I've had a groin problem for about three years now but it's only since Steve Allen came in as the club's physio [says something for his predecessors on the dread Sparrows Lane treatment table] that we got to the root of the problem as he found out the pain in my groin was all stemming from my hip.

"It was supposed to be a 20-minute operation [which goes quite quickly even when you have had a regional and are conscious] but I was under the knife for about an hour and 15 minutes as it was worse than they had first expected. But the surgeon said it all went well and I'll go back to see him in four weeks and he can check on my progress."

Best wishes for a speedy recovery and let's hope this leads to a reinvigorated Ambrose who shoots more accurately at goal.

Addicks chase non-league ace

The Adducks have been linked with securing a deal for Forest Green Rovers 32 goal hitman Stuart Fleetwood. The 22-year old is out of contract at the end of the season and is hoping to move away from non-league football. Crewe were thought to have tied up a deal for the Welsh U-21 striker earlier in the season with a £150,000 fee being agreed. Fleetwood rejected that move.

Charlton have also been linked with Plymouth right back Paul Connelly who is out of contract. Given that he is described as a 'powerful right back who likes to get forward' this raises questions about Moutaoukil's future with the club. His departure would be a disappointment to me.

Chris Dickson could have been quite a success last season if he hadn't been injured, but I wonder how much we should rely on non-league talent - or whether its our financial circumstances that forces us to do so.

Admittedly, the line between success and failure in football is a thin one. Ben Mackey played for Coventry City's first team at 16, but now turns out for Leamington. His ability to juggle the ball past three defenders then turn and score shows that he has real talent. The downside is revealed by the nickname sometimes used by opposition fans: 'McDonalds'.

Leamington have denied that Charlton have made an approach for Mackey.

Wednesday 7 May 2008

So, farewell then, Ben Hayes

Not only has the term of office of Ben Hayes come to an end, but so has the role of supporters' director. The club explains in the E-mail Bulletin:

'The increasing demands of corporate law have led to a heavy burden on the elected fan, with a number of legal responsibilities and potential risks. The board has discussed how best to continue the role, because we see it as important and something that makes Charlton special. We feel we have come up with an improvement that not only continues the direct link between the club's directors and supporters, but also allows us to tap into a wider pool of opinion.'

This will take the form of a supporters' forum, although how its members are to be selected is not yet clear. Certainly not by election, but the supporters' club might play a role, although there are those who are sceptical of its representativeness.

I think that increasing legal constraints mean that the concept of a supporters' director has had its day. It was always a difficult role, sandwiched between the fans and the board, so that the holder had to explain board policy to the fans whilst transmitting fans' concerns to the board. S/he could deal with catering issues, but not with on pitch performance which is what concerns supporters most.

Anyway, thanks to Ben and his predecessors for their dedication and hard work.

No room for Powell

Financial stringency means that there is no room for Chris Powell at the Valley. Alan Pardew told the club's E mail bulletin: 'The reason he's had that cameo appearance is because, in all honestly, I can't afford to keep him on. I'd love to keep him in a coaching capacity but I haven't really got any funds for that.'

'So this is a new start for Chris, he might have another year playing. I think he'll bring something to any team but coaching is where his future lies. f I was a manager further down the leagues and looking for a coach who could double up as a player then he would be the first on my list.'

I hope that if Chris does develop coaching experience elsewhere that one days he returns to The Valley in some kind of coaching role. He could even be a candidate for manager in the future. I am sure that most of the Addickted would welcome him in that role once he had the necessary experience.

I am currently in Aberdeen and used my Charlton kit bag as it is a convenient form of cabin baggage. When I went out to dinner last night, one local (a Gooner, as you are in Aberdeen) commented that I must have grown up in the Charlton area, because there were relatively few people who developed an allegiance to the club for any other reason!

Sunday 4 May 2008

Addicks end season on high note

Charlton ended a disappointing season on a high note at The Valley today when they trounced Coventry City 4-1 at The Valley. If Leicester had been able to score against Stoke, the result could have meant relegation for the Sky Blues.

Luke Varney opened the scoring with an early goal from a lob with Bougherra as provider. Andy Gray made it 2-1, but then Coventry got back in the match with a 20 yard strike from the Mosquito.

Three minutes after the break Grant Basey celebrated his new contract by making it 3-1. A cross from Halford gave Varney a chance to make it 4-1 and a goal from Best was disallowed from Coventry. The Sky Blues tried to press forward as the pattern of results from elsewhere filtered through, but the Charlton defence held firm.

Then Chris Powell came on and a long throw from Halford allowed him to make it 4-1, scoring what must be his last ever goal at The Valley.

The gaps in the crowd reflected the mood of the Addickted. However, only one of the relegated teams (Watford) even made the play offs and then only just (by a goal difference of one). Charlton were predicted go straight back up but that always struck me as lazy journalism of the 'what goes down must come up' variety.

Elsewhere Crystal Palace defeated ten man Burnley 5-0 to secure their play off place.

What is striking about Charlton's record is that they conceded 29 goals at home. Only the two bottom teams had a worse record at home.

Saturday 3 May 2008

Brakes failure

Leamington lost the BGB Midlands Division play-off final at the New Windmill Ground today in front of a crowd of over 1,600. The score at full time was 1-1 then bogey team Stourbridge scored the winning goal with a break away on 116 minutes.

After having come so near to promotion, the Brakes will have to pick themselves up for next season. A concern already being expressed at Harbury Lane is that some of the best players may leave.

So the season ends with yet another disappointment. Well done to Cadzy and the players for doing so well in their first season in the Southern League.

Friday 2 May 2008

Ten years after Wembley

Nearly ten years after that glorious day at Wembley Charlton are a mid-table Championship club. As Peter Varney points out in a farewell message on the Charlton website, at least we now have a stadium that we can be proud of. The challenge now is to get a team worthy of it and to get fans to fill it.

The club has come a long way since the dark days when it nearly disappeared, but we need to look forward rather than back. Somehow or other we have to put together a decent challenge for promotion next year. I am no longer on any of the lists because I got tired of the circular arguments and the negativity, but no doubt those who like to 'read off' results have been predicting relegation to League 1.

I think the real danger is that we can become the Burnley of the south, neither challenging for promotion or facing a real threat of relegation. The club has lost momentum and that is a key requirement in today's fast changing world.

The last day of the Championship looks like being an exciting one and I hope that I am not too jet lagged to follow it. In the past Chaventry City supporters used to irritate me with their smug 'We never go down' assertions when the Wee Man kept them in the top flight. But now I feel rather sorry for them as fellow sufferers of the curse of Dowie.

But then I have many good friends who support Southampton, while I regard Hillsborough (for its sad associations) as a great historic ground. I don't have any particular animus towards Leicester City. The 5-3 defeat at Blackpool did irritate me because I thought that the odd configuration of the ground and the strength of the wind gave an unusual advantage to the home side.

When we were in the lower/mid-table reaches of the second division in the past we tended to go for 1-1 draws at home against teams like Port Fail on the last day of the season and it seems to me that this is the most likely result on Sunday (particularly given that we have been 1-1 draw specialists this season).

For the last time you will read the exhortation 'Enjoy the game!' from Peter Varney in the programme. Peter Varney has different values from mine and we have had a number of disagreements over the years, but I salute his dedication to the club and the honesty and resilience with which he has approached a very difficult job. I sincerely wish him well for the future. He deserves a rest and then a new challenge that will make use of his considerable abilities.

Finally, a reminder that the fate of Leamington will be decided tomorrow when they face Stourbridge in the BGB Midlands Division play off final at the New Windmill Ground. Having won 2nd place by a convincing points margin, it will be a great blow if their bogey team deny them promotion. I suspect it may go to extra time and even a penalty shootout.