Saturday 31 January 2009

Little hope left

Last year's away match at Burnley effectively saw the end of our promotion hopes, this year's sealed our relegation. Taking account of goal difference, Charlton are now 10 points off the pace and show little sign of making up ground.

The Addicks went ahead on 41 minutes through Bailey, making use of a cross from Soares, and held on to the lead until 76 minutes when Thompsom equalised for the Clarets. It was Thompson who scored the winning goal in injury time on 94 minutes producing a 2-1 scoreline as predicted on this blog.

The stats tell a grim story. Burnley had 25 goal attempts to our eight and 12 of theirs were on target as against five for the Addicks. They led the corner count by eight to three.

Dickson started, but was replaced by Kandol on 70 minutes, Basey replacing Sam on 85.
It seems that Ward had a decent start at centre back, while the Press Association rated Holland as the best player with a score on 8. Indeed, it is interesting that the lowest scores (6) went to the 'strike force' of Burton and Dickson.

Brakes Failure

A second half fight back could not stop Leamington losing their unbeaten league record when they went down 3-5 to AFC Sudbury at the New Windmill Ground today in a front of a crowd of 639.

Brakes started with what was essentially a weakened side despite the Suffolk side's reputation as a good footballing outfit. A number of substitutions in the second half remedied this starting with Josh Blake being taken off in favour of Luke Corbett on 50 minutes. Subsequent substitutions which brought on Beckley and Reynolds aided the fightback, but they should have been on the pitch from the beginning.

Sudbury got on the score sheet on 14 minutes when the youthful Piers Wixon burst through and as Richard Anstiss in the Leamington goal advanced off his line, the former Cambridge United player lobbed the ball over him.

The second Sudbury goal came from a corner and although it was again Wixon who was given the credit, the unfortunate Anstiss aided the ball's trajectory into the net. On 34 minutes the keeper was caught off his line again and this time it was former Glazier Richard Howell who took advantage.

Leamington's misery was complete when Sudbury were awarded a penalty. Anstiss managed to position himself correctly, but the ball still ended up in the net courtesy of Heath.

Brakes looked a lot brighter in the second half and it was Bello who made the first reply on 52 minutes. Corbett made it 2-4 on 71 minutes and then a mad scramble in front of the Sudbury goal saw Corbett score again to make it 3-4 on 80 minutes. Meanwhile, a blizzard of yellow cards had descended on the visitors.

However, there was a sting in the tail when a throw in decision went against the Brakes and Sudbury broke away to make it 3-5 through Howell to the delight of the sizeable contingent of visiting supporters. It all then kicked off and Leamington suffered a red card for Jai Stanley seconds before the end of the match. He will now be out for three games.

Friday 30 January 2009

Weekend preview

Last year I went up to Burnley on a cold, wet Tuesday night in February to see us lose 1-0. (It's the first time I've had a chairman of an opposition club contact me to congratulate me on what I wrote about his club). For me that marked the end of our promotion hopes. Little did I realise that we would return almost a year later with relegation staring us in the face.

Morale is not exactly high at Burnley after a poor run in the league and they seem strangely unconfident about their prospects against the Addicks. I have been to Burnley when Charlton were not playing and one thing that strikes me about the home crowd is that they get restive pretty quickly if things aren't going their way.

One hopes that the victory against Palace has given the team a much needed confidence boost. Nevertheless, I feel a strong gust of realism sweeping off the moors and I fear that the result will be Burnley 2, Charlton 1.

Leamington face AFC Sudbury at the New Windmill Ground tomorrow and once again we will be the only Charlton blog covering the match. The Suffolk outfit have a reputation as a good footballing side.

Brakes are now 19 points clear at the top of the BGB Business League Midland Division which is a reasonably comfortable lead to have at this time of the season. However, supremo Jason Cadden has declared that nothing less than 100 points will be good enough, so there is still a lot to achieve. Our forecast is Leamington 3, AFC Sudbury 2, attendance 624.

Don't panic!

That is the morale boosting message given to Clarets fans by skipper Steven Caldwell:
Caldwell thinks that the Charlton game is going to be a massive one against 'a team fighting for their lives'.

Meanwhile, manager Owen Coyle is hoping to bring off a last minute loan signing as he seeks to boost his faltering side.

Somersault man heads up reinforcements

With Andy Gray ruled out for the rest of the season due to a stress fracture of the pelvis, Trésor Kandol has been brought in on loan from Leeds, while centre half Darren Ward has been brought in from Wolves to shore up the defence. Fortune is out for the rest of the season and Hudson faces a race to be fit against Burnley.

Kandol, originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, has only played in the lower leagues so far, including a spell at Millwall. His goal scoring ratio at Leeds over 28 games is approximately 1 in 3. All goals are celebrated with a somersault. You can join his fan club here:

Thursday 29 January 2009

Palace fan threatens to sue

Aggrieved Palace fans have been complaining to the Croydon Advertiser about their treatment at The Valley on Tuesday. One of them is threatening to sue Charlton for physical and verbal abuse: Palace

The annual general meeting

There has been a lot of feedback from various sources on the club's annual general meeting yesterday which attracted a larger than usual attendance of at least 120 fans and lasted for an hour. Those there appear to have felt that they got reasoned and reasonable answers to their questions.

A lot of interest focused on the board's supposedly irrational decision to appoint Phil Parkinson as manager. Of course, one reason for the board's decision may be that they feel that know Parkinson better than most fans do. It was made clear that the board are happy with Parkinson and the team's attitude since he became manager. Those there were reminded that he was considered as successor to Curbishley, but the club was unwilling to pay the £250k compensation demanded by Colchester.

Parkinson has 18 months to run on his contract and is on the same money he was under Pardew, which suggests that he would be our manager in League 1. It was emphasised that the board have not got the money to spend on a top manager. Pardew, who was described as having a big ego, which it was emphasised was not necessarily a bad thing, thought 'we are the best'. Parky is a different character, happy to grind out results, accepting that we're not the best all the time, but willing to do our best to be the best.

Whether this will stop fans sticking pins into models of Parky is another matter. It wsa accepted that the decision was not communicated as well as it might have been.

The board have invested £45m over ten years, although this is dwarfed by the £130m spent at Fulham and the £150m at Boro. One lasting legacy is the stadium (which they certainly don't have at Fulham).

The projected loss for the current financial year is £0.5m - £2m. but most likely around £1.5m. With the loss of the parachute payments, we would have to save £10m even if we stayed in the Championship, possibly another £3m if we were relegated. That is not going to be easy.

The directors confirmed that there were no plans to put the club into administration, thus quashing one persistent rumour that has circulated in the current atmosphere of doom and gloom.

Josh Wright out on loan

Josh Wright is to go out on loan. This was confirmed at the club's annual general meeting yesterday. Apparently, there has been some kind of falling out with Phil Parkinson, but it is also thought that he needs more experience. Some reports are suggesting that Aston Villa and Newcastle are 'battling' for his signature, but this seems somewhat unlikely.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Panic stations at Burnley

It's panic stations at Burnley as manager Owen Coyle contemplates using youngsters to plug the gaping holes in their defence: Clarets

Often Charlton plays a team when they are just into a good run. For once, we may be playing a team at the right time.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

We Sent The Palace Home

Charlton beat Crystal Palace 1-0 at The Valley tonight to end their run of 19 games without a league win in front of a crowd of 20,627, leaving the Nigels and Nigellas to find their way home with their play off hopes having suffered another setback. On 14 minutes a cross from Lloyd Sam fell to Spring who sent in a fierce volley past Speroni in the Palace goal.

Phil Parkinson had failed to follow the fans' advice and started with Gray and Burton up front with Dickson on the bench (he came on after 75 minutes). One telling statistic is that both sides had five shots on target whereas Charlton have generally fallen way behind their opponents in recent matches.

A Dickson cross late in the game was not met by anyone, whilst Elliot in the Charlton goal made a cricial save from Palace sub Moses in the second half. Elliot was booked for time wasting on the 90th minute, as was Youga on 67 minutes while Dickson picked up a yellow card for dissent.

Fortune was replaced by Holland on 60 minutes while Basey came on for Sam on 84 to shore up the defence.

The result may be a letdown for those who were hoping to demonstrate after the game against the board and Parkinson. Even the expressions of displeasure at the annual general meeting tomorrow may be a little muted. Nevertheless, while evading relegation is perhaps not yet mission impossible for Charlton, it remains mission improbable.

Centurions repulsed

As predicted on this blog, Leamington beat Romulus 2-1 at the New Windmill Ground tonight to keep them on track to win the BGB Midlands Division title. The Centurions found a weak gap in Leamington's defences to go 1-0 ahead on 6 minutes through their danger man Tyrone Fagan.

However, Brakes equalised on 13 minutes through a ball drilled along the ground by Luke Corbett. The Romulus keeper initially seemed to have made the save, but he spilled the ball and it went into the back of the net.

In the second half, Brakes hit saw the ball bounce along the woodwork while Romulus threatened at the Harbury Lane end. However, Brakes scored the winner from a corner wuth a scramble in front of goal. Even at the end of the match, it was not clear who had scored, but no matter.

Romulus brought their usual hard core of lippy supporters, but at least they didn't have paint brushes turned upside down and painted red on their heads.

News came through from The Valley of Matthew Spring's winning goal against Palace. It will be a difficult 24 hours for the Parkinson bashers: not only did the Addicks win, but they did so through a player signed by the supposedly hapless Parkinson.

Valley of gloom

An air of gloom and despondency already seems to be settling over many Charlton supporters ahead of tonight's match against Crystal Palace at The Valley tonight. Palace are not invincible. When you look at their players, they are not that special, particularly now that Ben Watson has departed (whom I would have liked at The Valley in better days). Whilst I do not like Warnock's gobby manner, I have a grudging admiration for him as a manager, and no doubt he has managed to make silk out of a pig's ear.

There has been a call from the Addickted for Chris Dickson to start up front on back of his second goal for the club. Initially I thought that this was Charlton supporters going into their 'Roy of the Rovers' mode, but when you look at the alternatives, it makes a lot of sense. Here's what he has told the South London Press which shows that he is well up for the match: Dickson In an ideal world, one would partner Dickson with Todorov who is probably our most cultured player and can hold the ball up, but is never fit enough to play other than off the bench.

One is left with a choice between Gray, who is often static, lacks positioning sense and often plays with his back to the goal or Burton who has still to prove that he can do the business. What I would not do is go for the 4-4-1-1 favoured by Phil Parkinson.

Sam seems to have done just enough recently to justify his inclusion. I would also include the much criticised Ambrose who is capable of offering some support to the front two. If Racon is judged to be fully fit, I would certainly start him and partner him with Bailey. I have some doubts about how Soares would perform against Palace.

The biggest challenges are in defence where we are once again stretched with Hudson felled by an ankle injury and probably not too sorry not to face his old club anyway.
Who will then partner Fortune at centre back? Matt Holland has difficulties in filling the slot adequately, but Kelly Youga does not fill me with confidence either. If Youga did move across, it would mean the error prone Basey at left back. The slot once filled with such confidence by Chris Powell is now one of the most problematic in the team.

Murty will no doubt play at right back and Randolph should start in goal.

A derby match like this could well end 1-1, but given our defensive weaknesses, it looks 1-2 to Palace to me. I can't face a late night return from London, accompanied by Palace fans to London Bridge, so I am opting for Leamington v. Romulus where I am predicting a 2-1 win for the Brakes. For those of you who are going tonight, enjoy the game!

Monday 26 January 2009

Football is not a place for me, says Jordan

On the eve of Charlton's clash with Crystal Palace, owner Simon Jordan has reiterated his desire to find a buyer for the Croydon club. He said with some regret that he had hoped for great success during his nine years as chairman. 'Maybe I've come up short in what I achieved and football is not a place for me any more.'

Now here's a thought. Two clubs in South London up for sale, one in trouble on the pitch but with a good stadium. South London has punched below its weight relative to North London for a long time - although, of course, the richest parts of the city are to the north of the river.

A wealthy entrepreneur sees the potential, buys out both clubs, and the old project of a South London club comes to fruition! Light blue touch paper and retire!


The legendary Sam Bartram was our keeper when I first started watching Charlton. Sam wasn't without his faults. He was a bit of a showman, which was one reason he never got called up for England by the committee of blazers and stuffed shirts that made the selections in those days. However, when Eddie Marsh was in goal, one noticed Sam's absence.

Of our recent keepers, Dean Kiely was outstanding, although Scott Carson deserves an honourable mention. Sasa Ilic's save at Wembley will always be one of those few golden Charlton moments, but it was a relatively easy save to make.

So what has happened to Nicky Weaver? In my view he was a competent Championship level goalkeeper in a team where many of the players do not meet that standard. He then hit a patch of poor form and a combination of that and injury saw him dropped. But presumably he has now recovered from what was not that serious an injury. There was a rumour that he might be going elsewhere which would make sense given that he apparently on high wages.

Given that we will presumably have to rely on Elliott and Randolph in League 1 next season, it makes sense to give them some match experience now. Neither of them has exactly covered themselves in glory, although they do have a defence in front of them that tends to freeze when under attack. The Sunday Times blamed Elliott for both of the goals at Bramall Lane on Saturday. Randolph may be marginally the better of the two, but I have not seen enough of them to be sure.

Given that Tuesday's match against Palace may be the last meaningful match of the season for many of the Addickted, or certainly the last one with any atmosphere as another blogger has pointed out, is this the time to recall Weaver?

Sunday 25 January 2009

Boost to defence as fears grow

Whilst for Charlton the question is whether they will ever win a match again this season, the challenge for Leamington is to avoid losing one. One of the greatest threats to their unbeaten record is on Tuesday when Romulus and their small group of disagreeable supporters (see above) visit the New Windmill Ground. Last season Romulus took four points off the Brakes, making the difference between promotion and failure in the play offs.

If Brakes have problems, it is in their defence, especially when ex Reading player Guy Sanders is not available. They have therefore swooped to sign centre half Chris Softley (who isn't) from Redditch United.

There's another needle match in South-East London on Tuesday night, but I think I will avoid the humiliation of a defeat by Palace. There is a lot of comment about how much anger there will be if Charlton loses, but that only increases the pressure on players lacking in confidence. What would be interesting is to see suggestions of a constructive way forward for the club given the financial constraints it faces.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Charlton out of cup

As expected, Charlton lost 2-1 to Sheffield United at Bramall Lane today to exit the FA Cup. The Addicks gave a good account of themselves in the opening period and an effort by Burton was tipped over the bar by the Blades keeper. Bailey put in an effort from distance on 23 minutes. However, three minutes later Weller was wide on the left, he overhit the cross, but with Elliott off his line, the ball went in the net.

Former Aston Villa star Lee Hendrie has been out of favour at Bramall Lane and was on loan at Blackpool, but he came off the bench to put the home side 2-0 ahead on 62 minutes. On 69 minutes, Chris Dickson, who had also come on as a sub, pulled one back from Charlton. He made use of a hopeful ball forward, and with the defenders hesitating, he chipped the ball over the keeper to make it 2-1.

Gray was brought on just after Dickson, but to little effect. On 78 minutes Holland was replaced by Racon. Sam had an effort from 12 yards out on 80 minutes but it went over the bar. The Addicks had a stoppage time penalty appeal rejected when Lloyd Sam went down under Matt Kilgallon's challenge.

Elsewhere, Leamington beat Stourport Swifts 2-1 with two second half goals after going behind in the first half. You can see quite a good highlights video of Leamington's recent win over Nuneaton Town here: Brakes

Parkinson opts for 4-5-1

Phil Parkinson has opted for 4-5-1 in today's cup match against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Burton is alone up front with Ambrose behind him in the hole. Moutaoukil starts at right back with Youga on the left. Holland is recalled and Rob Elliott resumes his role between the posts.

Therry Racon is fit enough to warm the bench and he is joined by 17-year old Jack Clark. The left back is a second year scholar and makes his first appearance with Charlton.

Friday 23 January 2009

Relegation haunted manager resigns

The most likely relegation candidates in the Championship apart from Charlton are Southampton. Manager Jan Poortvliet has shown some Dutch courage and resigned.

I had one enjoyable footballing moment today when our local Derby supporter asked if they could send Luke Varney back. He claimed that any deal was void as Charlton had claimed that Varney was a striker.

Ten Goal Blades

The local press in Sheffield believes that the Blades are on track to put ten goals past Charlton this season and given that they have already scored eight against us this season, a target of twelve may not appear unreasionable: Blades

The best we can hope for out of this match is a draw and a replay at The Valley which would bring us some much needed revenue (with the FA Cup you do, of course, get a 40 per cent share of the away gate). However, I think a Blades win is on the cards and I am going for 2-1.


After the 2-0 away win at Nuneaton in front of a crowd of 1,353, retaining Leamington's unbeaten record in the league, the pressure is off manager Jason Cadden who takes the Brakes to Stourport Swifts (who aren't very).

Wednesday 21 January 2009

The Charlton model

There has been an interesting debate on the list run by Glynne Jones about the 'Charlton model' and whether it is still viable. One of my opening comments was that perhaps there was never a Charlton model, simply a fortuitous combination of circumstances that enabled us to get into the Premiership and stay there for several years.

And, as someone pointed out, even if it worked in the past, it may not work now given the way in which the Premiership has moved on. In any case, we are looking for a model that would work in League 1!

In so far as there was a Charlton model, it was centred around financial prudence, taking one step at a time to grow the club incrementally rather than a 'dash for growth'. It also involved a 'fan focussed approach', maintaining good lines of communication with fans, something we seem to have lost. This was all embedded in a community based approach that we still maintain.

The consensus among listers was that things started to go wrong when Parker departed. Curbs didn't want him to go and insisted on the money being spent on replacements. But the replacements either disappointed (Rommedahl) or thought they were bigger than the club (Danny Murphy). The purse strings were loosened and these players and the likes of Smertin and Marcus Bent (!) were given much more than their predecessors.

When Dowie arrived, the strategy was to make money available for a more expansive style of football (and stay in the Premiership). However, the club didn't really have enough money to pursue such a strategy and ended up with escalating wage costs, players on deals which did not drop if we were relegated, and transfer fees paid which did not give value for money. For example, we signed players with track records in the third division (two of whom cost £4m between them) on far too much money. The old 'Charlton model' would never have allowed that type of business.

One interesting view was that 'the Board being fans was one of the greatest strengths of the club's model through the building years, but I felt that they let their heart rule their heads too much.'

What we need now is a reversion to a much more prudent model. One thing that may help is that wages at League 1 level might start to become more affordable.

Brakes win table topping clash

Leamington retained their unbeaten record in the BGB Business Midland Division last night by winning 2-0 away at second placed Nuneaton Town (better known as Nuneaton Borough before they went into administration). The match was the first Brakes fixture with live match commentary throughout from BBC Coventry and Warwickshire.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Waghorn is still here

Contrary to some statements by fans, Martyn Waghorn has not yet left the club. The club's E mail bulletin states, 'Although the second month of Martyn Waghorn's loan in SE7 expired on Saturday, the Sunderland striker's stay at The Valley could yet be extended. No decision has been taken so far regarding a third month for the Black Cats forward, with the Addicks having until Friday to finalise arrangements for a third month.'

An encouraging piece of news is that much missed midfielder Therry Racon has resumed full training.

Administration rumours

Rumours, totally uncorroborated, have been circulating that the club could go into administration by the end of February 2009. However, the source is not totally unreliable.

My personal view is that the club's financial position is not so bad as to require that. On the other hand, if one was going to go into administration, it would be better to do it this season when we are almost certainly relegated and take the points hit now.

A new investor could then acquire the substantial assets of the club at a substantially reduced price. However, I do not see how that could benefit the current board, who have lent substantially to the club. Hence, I am inclined to discount it as a possibility, but I would not rule it out altogether.

Sunday 18 January 2009

Battle for Shelvey's signature hots up

Everton are reported to have topped Boro's offer for Jonjo Shelvey with a £3m bid. However, with Sunderland and Newcastle United also in the frame, we may not have seen the highest bid yet. Now the figures are starting to look realistic.

Charlton supremo Phil Parkinson has insisted that he wants Shelvey to remain at The Valley and says that would be in the player's best interests. However, it is difficult to see how he would benefit from the plunge to League 1.

Saturday 17 January 2009

Parkinson unhappy with players

Charlton manager Phil Parkinson questioned the character and desire of the team after the Addicks slumped to a 4-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday today. The scale of the defeat is shown by the fact that Francis Jeffers scored his first goal for a year. Spring got the consolation for Charlton.

Parkinson described the performance as 'the worst of my managerial career.' He added: 'We were out-fought and outplayed in every department. It was unacceptable and I would like to issue a public apology to our supporters who spent good money coming here to get behind the players.'

'We got our first win for a long time on Tuesday but failed to build on it. I won't be calling the players in for extra training on Sunday because I think it's in the best interests of everyone that the players and myself take a break from each other.'

Charlton are now 7 points behind Southampton in the Championship table and have little prospect of avoiding relegation.

The stats from the game tell a clear story. There were 18 attempts on goal by the Owls to 8 by the Addicks. Only three of the Charlton efforts were on target, compared with 13 for Wednesday. The home side secured seven corners to Charlton's two.

It has been my view for some time that the players collectively, in any combination or formation, are not good enough to compete in the Championship.

Brakes back to winning ways

Leamington returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory over Soham Town Rangers at the New Windmill Ground this afternoon. The match started in a rather low key fashion and Brakes missed some good chances to open the scoring. However, on 31 minutes their opener was attributed to Jamie Towers by the rather ineffective guest announcer from Touch FM, although those around me in the Sheepside Stand thought that it was an own goal.

A push in the back then saw the efficient referee point to the penalty spot just before the break, overruling the vociferous protests of the Soham keeper. PC Mark Bellingham banged the ball to rights in the back of the net to make it 2-0.

A defensive mix up shortly after the break allowed Paul Jones to pull one back for Soham. It could have been 2-2 but Richard Anstiss, standing in for the injured Mozza in the Brakes goal, pulled off a great save. It was good to see our sponsored player do so well.

A scramble in the Soham goal mouth with the ball acting like a pin ball eventually saw Jamie Towers score to make it 3-1. The highly effective Towers receives the Silver Biscuit.

Boro In For Shelvey

According to the Currant Bun Middlesbrough have offered £2m for Charlton starlet Jonjo Shelvey. Earlier in the week Fulham were reported to be interested. Hopefully we could get more than £2m.

Remember we will be the only Charlton blog bringing you coverage this afternoon from Leamington v. Soham Town Rangers. Manager Jason Cadden is under pressure after Brakes dropped points at home for the first time this season on Tuesday, drawing 3-3 with fourth placed Leighton Town.

Brakes are twelve points clear at the top of the BGB Midlands Division, but mutterings have already started at the New Windmill Ground about whether Cadzy can take the club to the next level. Sound familiar?

Friday 16 January 2009

Owls hoping for 30,000 crowd

Sheffield Wednesday are hoping for a 30,000 crowd against Charlton tomorrow as the club marks the start of its new era with a win over the Addicks. After a spell out injured, Tudgay will be spearheading the Owls' attack, joined by former Charlton striker Francis Jeffers whose presence is still missed in New Cross night clubs. More here:

The Sub-Standard says: OWLS GET LAST HOOT. We are predicting a 2-0 win for the Owls.

Thursday 15 January 2009

More loan action

Charlton have signed midfielder Tom Soares from Stoke City. The 22-year old England Under21 international and former Crystal Palace player has been signed on a 93-day emergency loan deal that includes a 28-day loan clause. He is expected to appear for Charlton against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday.

Some of the Addickted consider that he was a player we should have tried to get a few years ago. Although he is sometimes described as someone who plays on the right side of midfield, he is really more of a central midfielder and thus provides cover for the injured Semedo.

However, a deal that would have seen Andy Gray move in the opposite direction has fallen through.

Izale McLeod has joined Millwall for the rest of the season.

Curse of Charlton

So Glenn Roeder has been sacked as Norwich City manager after Charlton managed to pull off a FA Cup win at Norwich on Tuesday. What particularly upset the Norwich fans was that the winning goal was scored by a former Ipswich player.

There was less comment on the result than I expected on the Charlton blogs when I returned from my visit to Italy (and some superb food), but a refreshed Charlton side appears to have done well. In particular, Darren Randolph appears to have done well in goal.

As Churchill put it, this may not be the beginning of the end, but it is the end of the beginning. It will give the side - and the fans - a little more confidence. Of course, the real test will come against Wednesday on Saturday. The prospects of proceeding beyond the fourth round are also not that good with an away draw against the Blades, but anything is possible.

One negative development is the rumour that Fulham are interested in Jonjo Shelvey. Apart from the fact that I would hope to keep him a little longer, he deserves to go to a better club that Fulham and one from whom we could get more money.

Saturday 10 January 2009

'We're going down with the Charlton'

This was the ironic chant of the Covered End as Charlton succumbed 0-2 to Nottingham Forest at The Valley today. It was followed by rousing chants of 'Charlton till I die' and 'Valley Floyd Road'.

Charlton had started the match well enough and had been the better team in the opening half hour. In the opening minutes Dion Burton burst away on his own twice, but had no support and was not able to make anything of his attack.

Once Forest went ahead through Tyson just before the half hour mark, followed by a second from Earnshaw through a one-on-one with Elliott minutes later, the game was effectively over. Both goals reflected woeful defending.

All that Forest had to do was to sit back and defend their lead which they did effectively enough. Charlton did not pressure them too much, despite winning a succession of corners in the second half. All too often it was panic stations with an over reliance on the long ball. The Forest keeper was only tested by a late snap shot from Ambrose.

The Silver Bone went to Shelvey who was effective in attack and defence, but in a sense was asked to do too much despite showing a maturity beyond his years. Whichever higher level club he joins will acquire a prize talent.

It is difficult to see how Charlton can now avoid relegation. I'm off to Italy for a meeting for a few days, so I have a chance to forget about Charlton related matters.

Friday 9 January 2009

Big signing from Hatters

From relegation threatened Luton Town to relegated Charlton Athletic, but up two divisions in the process. That is the experience of our new signing Matthew Spring. At least he is a central midfielder, a position that has long needed strengthening.

He has so far spent the season on loan with Sheffield United and arrives at The Valley for an undisclosed fee. He has signed an 18-month deal, offering the prospect of adding League 1 experience to his c.v., but Spring's recruitment is initially on loan to enable him to be eligible for tomorrow's match against Forest.

'We're really pleased to get Matty on a permanent signing,' said Phil Parkinson, who confirmed that Spring would go straight into his squad for the fixture against Forest. [This often means a role on the bench]

'He's a quality footballer and an experienced player. I've said that there is a certain category of player we're looking for, ones with Championship experience, and Matty fits the bill.'

These comments from a Watford fan where he had a spell after going from his initial stint at Luton to Leeds are interesting given the context in which he joins Charlton:

'He came from Leeds with something to prove to Aidy and typically sceptical fans and by the end of that mad afternoon in Cardiff he became one of the star turns in a season of amazing and unexpected highlights. Straight into a team of unknowns, favourites for the drop, Spring was a hit straight from the off, scoring on his debut against Burnley. Weighing in with a frankly obscene number of goals for a midfielder, Spring was the first to leave the celebrations at Cardiff and trot off down the tunnel. Whilst the players donned silly wigs and sprayed champagne it was Spring who departed in a manner that was the equivalent of pulling up his shirt to reveal a t-shirt that simply said "Job Done". That's my kind of player.'

Game on

Tomorrow's game against in form Nottingham Forest (especially away from home) is on after a lunchtime pitch inspection.

So, farewell then, Hameur Bouazza

Winger Hameur Bouazza has left Charlton to join promotion chasing Birmingham City. Bouazza came in for a lot of stick from the Addickted, and he probably wasn't Premiership level which is why Fulham loaned him out, but he is clearly thought to be good enough for Birmingham.

He did give us penetration down the wings and he did score some very impressive goals. He also failed to take advantage of some chances which was probably while there were so many complaints about him, but the extent of them was a reflection of the 'scapegoat player' phenomenon: fans are reluctant to criticise the team as a whole, or even the majority of them, but pick on one or two players to account for poor performances. More often than not, this is a defensive midfielder who is charged with playing the ball sidewards or backwards - which is what you often have to do to keep possession.

Elsewhere, 'Charlton winger' Dean Sinclair (who he?) has joined Grimsby on a month's loan after featuring at Cheltenham (a clear step forward there, then) while Stuart Fleetwood is being kept on for another month at Brighton.

Game off?

A pitch inspection will take place at The Valley this morning in advance of Charlton's Championship clash with Nottingham Forest. Freezing temperatures in South-East London since last weekend have affected large areas of the playing surface.

The forecast is for further freezing temperatures before the Addicks take on Forest on Saturday. Charlton operations director Mick Everett told the club's E mail bulletin: 'We have a pitch inspection scheduled for Friday morning because there are areas of the surface that we are concerned about.

We have protected the surface by covering it straight after the Norwich game, but we've experienced some extremely low temperatures, and more are forecast.'

For those of us who travel a long distance to The Valley, it is better to get these matters resolved well in advance. However, it means another evening game which is also difficult for longer distance supporters.

Thursday 8 January 2009

The debt burden

The club's debt now stands at £23m, of which £15m is made up of the bond issue taken up largely by directors (which includes the £6m of loans that were due to be repaid in 2008), £7m takes the form of bank loans and £1m is the overdraft. Thus £22m of the £23m is now long-term debt, reflected by the reduction of the overdraft from £9m to £1m.

If we get relegated next year the club's income could fall to £8m (perhaps £11m if we stay up). Out of this £1.2m has to be paid off our long term bank loan, making a total of £1.5m with interest. This leaves £6.5m (£9.5m if staying up) to pay wages and operating costs. I understand tghat the business rates on the stadiumn are £1m a year alone. If one adds in water, gas, electric, rent, equipment, depreciation these costs were over £11m alone in 2007/8.

Some of these costs could be cut, just as wage costs have already been, but it is going to taken drastic surgery to balance the books. Indeed, breaking even probably won't be achievable, but we can't afford big losses.

Wednesday 7 January 2009

Big financial losses at Charlton

The club's annual report reveals a loss of £11.5m in the year ending 30 June 2008 and an operating loss of £8.6m. Turnover was down by 25 per cent compared with the last year in the Premiership. Directors and other shareholders came to the rescue of the club by subscribing to a corporate bond issue that raised £14.7m, allowing short-term loans to be paid off and raising working capital.

Although some economies have been made since then, there have also been some revenue reductions following poor performances this season which could mean at least an equivalent loss this season. How will that be funded this time? We are grateful to the directors and shareholders for their financial support, which I understand is continuing, but the prospects for the club look gloomy, particularly if it is relegated.

Murty move

I've been down in London for a few days, but I wasn't thrilled by the one month loan of Graeme Murty from Reading and even less so when I discover that the 34-year old is another player trying to work his way back to fitness at The Valley. Useful for him and for Reading, but for us? More here: Murty

Sunday 4 January 2009

Not very inspiring cup draw

Should Charlton beat Norwich in the cup replay, which is not impossible as the margin between the two teams is a very thin one, they will be drawn away to either Orient or Sheffield United in the 4th round (their match was postponed yesterday because of a frozen pitch).

A tie away to Orient might be quite interesting, but the Blades are likely to beat them, even if it takes a replay. This means a match away at Bramall Lane. In other words, not much dosh (40 per cent of the gate) and a likely defeat.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Shelvey puts Charlton ahead - for a while

There was a start for Jonjo Shelvey in Charlton's cup game against Norwich at The Valley this afternoon, while fans' favourite Moutaoukil slotted in at right back, reports Tom Hobbes. With Hudson nursing an injury in the form of a swollen ankle, Matt Holland slotted in at centre back while Burton was up front with support from Bouazza and Shelvey in the hole behind the striker. Rob Elliott had overcome his injury worries to stay in goal while transfer speculation surrounded Weaver, one of the Charlton players still apparently on Premiership wages. There had had to be a pitch inspection earlier and one time it looked fifty-fifty whether the game would go ahead. It did and the attendance was 12,615.

The pitch announcer reminded us that 'This is The Valley' in case anyone thought we had already started ground sharing with Ebbsfleet. The two teams changed ends with Norwich playing towards the away fans in the Jimmy Seed Stand. Norwich were resplendent in the 1959 kit that saw them get to the semi-final of the FA Cup. The Charlton players wore black armbands in memory of Sailor Brown.

Basey took the first corner of the afternoon for Charlton, culminating in a left footed shot from Lloyd Sam which went over the crossbar. Norwich won their first corner in front of the large Norwich contingent. The ball was eventually cleared.

Charlton broke on the right and Marshall in the Norwich goal failed to gather, but the referee spotted an alleged infringement to the fury of Phil Parkinson. Bouazza put in a good ball, but it was deflected by Burton wide of the Norwich goal. Shelvey was showing some nice touches.

A Norwich corner was punched away by Elliott. Shelvey put Charlton ahead on 19 minutes, Bouazza having whipped the ball in from the left.

Elliott scuffed a ball badly to give Norwich an avoidable corner. Basey and Croft were engaged in quite a battle and the referee had a word.

Charlton broke with Shelvey prominent and won themselves a corner. The corner was taken by Shelvey. The ball was blocked, but Charlton kept up the pressure through Shelvey. The ball was eventually turned back to the keeper.

Fortune blocked the ball at the expense of a Norwich corner which was cleared by Fortune. Fortune was shoved and Elliott took the free kick.

Bouazza played a ball across the goal mouth. Shelvey and Sam were there, but could not make contact. Bouazza should have played it back to Shelvey who had Sam just behind it. Shelvey made his views clear to Bouazza. A header from Burton forced Marshall to tip the ball over the bar. The corner was unproductive and Norwich launched an attack. However, Fortune was able to clear and Sam made a racing run.

Fortune conceded a corner after Basey had been evaded. The corner was taken short.
Norwich kept up the pressure, but Semedo and Moutaoukil were eventually able to clear.

Norwich won a free kick about 30 yards out to the left hand side of the Charlton goal, but it was not taken well and was cleared by Fortune. Sam forged down the right, his effort went across the face of the goal and Bailey and Shelvey were only fractionally away from making it 2-0.

Half time: Addicks 1, Canaries 0

Norwich City made two substitutions at half time with Pattison making way for Hoolihan in midfield in what turned out to be a significant substitution. Drury brought down Burton and received a yellow card from the referee.

Marshall saved from Burton after a free kick by Holland had been turned goalwards by Bouazza. Bouazza tested Marshall again. Marshall saved from Burton after a superb pass by Fortune. Norwich broke from the Charlton corner, but Elliott was able to clear. A left footed ball from Hoolihan, once the object of Charlton interest, went not far wide.

A dubious corner was awarded by the referee against the decision of the linesman. The referee evened things up by awarding a free kick to Charlton. Bailey advanced, but the ball was well blocked. Russell tried a strike from distance which was not too far wide.

Moutaoukil won a corner for Charlton as the 60 minute mark approached, but Shelvey's effort was unproductive. Sam put in a powerful shot which went over the crossbar. Norwich made their third substitution with Russell being withdrawn.

Bouazza fed Burton but his shot was well wide. Holland challenged well in the penalty area. Norwich had a spell of possession with Hoolihan influential and the ball was practically walked into the net to make it 1-1, the substitute Lupoli scoring.

Burton was taken off and rather surprisingly replaced by Youga. Lupoli had another shot on goal. Norwich were awarded a free kick 25 yards out to the left of the D, but the ball went over the bar, leading to a corner. Elliott was able to collect at his near post and threw the ball out to Sam. Bertrand stopped Moutaoukil's run and went down injured. Shelvey went off to applause and was replaced by transfer listed Chris Dickson.

Charlton won a corner from a free kick. Basey took the corner, but it was unproductive. Hoolihan made a run. Dickson put a ball in from the left, but Bouazza was just in front of it. Sibierski fed Lupoli who put in a shot.

Three minutes of time were added on, but Charlton were unable to make any effective use of the time. Bouazza put a ball in, Drury blocked, but there was an appeal for a handball which was ignored by the referee.

Once again Charlton could not hold on to a lead.

The report from the Telegraph is here: Report

Friday 2 January 2009

Injury problems for cup tie

Charlton have some injury problems as Phil Parkinon seeks to make a good start to 2009. Rob Elliot, Andy Gray and Mark Hudson are all struggling, while Darren Ambrose - back from a loan spell at Ipswich Town - could also miss out through illness. So it looks like a return in goal for Nicky Weaver

'Ambrose trained on Friday but the doctor sent him home early as he was ill,' Parkinson told the club's E mail bulletin. 'We'll have a look at Darren on Saturday, but it doesn't look as if he will make the bench.' It's possible that Ambrose has caught relegation fever.

'We've got one or two injury problems. Robbie has a slight problem with his thigh and Huds has had a problem with his knee and his ankle and battled through the game against Sheffield United with an injection.' Given that Hudson is on four yellow cards, it might be best to drop him for the cup tie.

'Andy Gray has been playing with a nerve problem in his back which has affected his hamstring. He's also had an injection so we'll see how that settles. He didn't train on Friday but we'll know more on Saturday.' It looks certain that Burton will start up front, but whether the little seen Todorov will partner him remains to be seen, although he would be my preference ahead of McLeod and Dickson.

With Cranie returning to Portsmouth, Moutaoukil could start at right back, although Semedo has played (not too successfully) in that role. I would rather see him in midfield.

Parkinson can name seven substitutes for the game under FA rules. He has confirmed that he will have to sell players before bringing any in, but I have argued for some time that the size of the squad does us no favours.

Luke Varney's move to Derby County has been finalised, the Rams failing to realise that they had been sold a bill of goods.

I am forecasting a 1-0 win for Charlton and a solid start to Phil Parkinson's reign as supremo. Enjoy the game!

Lita unlikely to be available for Norwich

Leroy Lita is unlikely to be available for Norwich in tomorrow's cup game, unlesss there is a last minute renewal of his loan deal, but the Canaries expect to field a strong side: Canaries

Thursday 1 January 2009

Parkinson's law

The appointment of Phil Parkinson as permanent manager has predictably not been welcomed by most Charlton fans. There is no doubt that finances played a part in the decision. Why pay out a lot of money to compensate Parkinson and then have to fund a new manager (and there were very few serious candidates) and still get relegated? The arithmetic is against us as far as relegation is concerned.

When clubs under perform, fans tend to blame the manager and then the board. In my view a lot of the problems at Charlton are that the players are simply not good enough. Let's hope that the squad can be strengthened in the transfer window, using money that would otherwise have been spent on a new manager.

Now that Parkinson is permanent manager, hopefully he will be able to boost the confidence of the players which is one of the main factors stopping us turning improved performances into victories. Parkinson talks a lot more sense than his predecessors and this has been confirmed from inside the club by those who have watched him at close hand.

If I have a criticism of the board, it is that they should have got rid of Pardew in the summer and installed Parkinson as permanent manager then (which was always their Plan B anyway).

Parkinson has to turn round an oil tanker and the fight back has to start with victories against Norwich and Forest. I think that we will probably get relegated: I was talking to a Saint last night and he thought we would both go down.

But again the gloom and doom about the consequences has been overdone. Season ticket sales would have slumped next season anyway. Leeds, admittedly a far bigger club, get good attendances as a mid-table League 1 club. Fans have been talking about 5,000 attendances, but I think they will be nearer 10,000.

In the meanwhile, I will put my money where my mouth is and see if there are any kit sponsorships available for Phil.

Canaries look forward to easy win

Norwich City are looking forward to an easy victory in Saturday's cup game at The Valley: Canaries

Many regard the game as meaningless, but a win would be a significant morale boost and we would could also do with the money and the revenue a fourth round tie would bring. Remember next year we may be playing in the first round.