Tuesday 30 April 2013

New role for Peter Varney

Former Charlton chief executive Peter Varney has been appointed as chief executive of a Kuwaiti company seeking to make investments in European football: Varney . KEH were founded in 2008 and up to now have focused on real estate, tourism and health care.

I would be cautious about reading anything into this about possible investments in Charlton. His remit covers Europe as a whole.

KEH have extensive property investments interests in Sussex, including a major property development at Newhaven. Protracted talks to take over Blue Square South outfit Eastbourne Borough collapsed recently. The plan had been to invest heavily in the club to take them to the Football League. It is understood that a key member of KEH studied English in the town: Eastbourne

It is not understood that any Kuwaitis have applied for membership of the still active West Sussex branch of Charlton Athletic Supporters Club.

Monday 29 April 2013

Charlton? 'Arry doesn't know whether to laugh or cry

Following on Tony Mowbray's remarks about Charlton being a team that 'Boro should be able to beat at home, QPR manager 'Arry 'Houdini' Redknapp has made it clear that a visit to The Valley next season holds no worries for him, although he admits that getting back out of the Championship will be a tough test for the relegated Super Hoops.

'Arry didn't specifically mention Charlton when he wound down the car window, but he said, 'There are 14, 15, 16 clubs in the Championship who have won things, teams like Nottingham Forest, Derby, Leicester, Blackburn. There is a whole lorry-load of massive clubs in that division.' And some less massive clubs who have done well this season despite having a wage bill a fraction of that at Loftus Road.

I must admit that QPR are in my 'dislike' category. Why? First, it has always seemed to me that their fans have an exaggerated view of their own standing, taking the view that they should be in the Premier League as of right. When the first takeover occurred, I recall one QPR fan saying, 'In five years' time the question will be which is the biggest club in Europe: Real Madrid or QPR?'

Second, their ground. When I had a Subbuteo set, one way of making stands cheaply was to turn shoe boxes on their side and that's what Loftus Road reminds me of. Moreover, their security in relation to away fans is unneccesarily stringent.

Third, HMS Rodney Marsh, who treated us with contempt as a commentator in the year we first got promotion to the top flight. Indeed, when QPR tried to poach Curbs as a manager after we had beaten them at Loftus Road, Marsh was one of those arguing that he should leave for a 'bigger' club.

Fourth, I have a soft spot for Brentford and I was disappointed when they lost against Doncaster Rovers. Even though Griffin Park has very cramped away accommodation, I would rather have an away fixture there next year than at Yeovil. At least it's got a roof in the away seats.

Saturday 27 April 2013

Addicks let lead go

After establishing a 2-0 lead by 17 minutes at Middlesbrough today, Charlton conceded two goals in the last fifteen minutes to see the match end 2-2. They remain 9th in the table with faint hopes of a play off place over.

The Addicks got off to the perfect start when Yann Kermorgant and Ricardo Fuller combined to set up Bradley Pritchard who fired the ball past Jason Steele to give his side the lead in the first minute. It got better for Charlton when Kermorgant was again influential as he advanced down the right and put in a great ball across the face of goal which was turned into his own net by Rhys Williams, son of the Welsh international Owen Goal. The Addicks almost got their third goal of the match when Pritchard found Kermorgant in space on the edge of the box, but he could only curl his effort just wide of the post.

We are higher up the league and have more points than I anticipated. We are in no condition for promotion, but we have established a very solid platform to build on next year.

Friday 26 April 2013

Livening up a visit to Boro

Some Charlton fans are making a weekend of it in Newcastle to liven up what would otherwise be a rather dull visit to one of the north-east's less exciting destinations. As far as the match is concerned, 'Boro are hoping to bring their slump to an end, while Charlton are hoping to continue the run of results that has seen them top the Championship form table.

One possible attraction at the Riverside is former Addick Nicky Bailey who missed a penalty in the Swindon play off. It was a decisive miss, although then manager Phil Parkinson recalls that Bailey was the one player he was confident about from the penalty spot: Parkinson. In any event, Bailey had to be sold to 'Boro to keep Charlton afloat. It could be Bailey's 100th appearance for 'Boro, but it looks as if he is being 'let go' at the end of the season as the home side try to stem £1m a month losses that have not led to success on the pitch.

Middlesbrough were enjoying happier times when they came from behind to beat Charlton 4-1 in the reverse fixture six months ago. It was the last of a five-match winning run for the Teesside club - their best of the season - and took them to second in the table. It was also Boro's fifth in a row in league and cup matches against the Addicks, and edged them in front in the league head-to-head standings by 35 wins to 34 after 87 meetings over 77 years. For Charlton one of these wins was a 8-1 victory I remember from 1953/4.

Charlton have claimed victory in only one of the last 12 away league games against these north-east opponents; 3-0 in August 2005. Middlesbrough's fall from grace since the turn of the year has been well documented. Three wins and 14 defeats from 19 games has seen Tony Mowbray's men slump right out of contention for promotion from a top two berth.

Odds (Coral) are: (Coral) Middlesbrough 7/5, Draw 12/5, Charlton 9/5. Reflecting the fact that Charton still have a faint chance of reaching the play offs, odds of 80-1 are available on promotion.

Tuesday 23 April 2013

The myth that does not go away

I was listening to Radio 5 on Saturday and they were discussing Tony Pulis's fate (before their win at Ha!Ha!) One of the commentators remarked that it was bit like the situation at Charlton, Alan Curbishley had established the club in the Premier League, but the fans wanted to get rid of him so that they could get someone who could take them to the next level. And look what happened, the commentator said.

In fact this was never the view of the vast majority of fans, just of the usual suspects, one or two of whom managed to express their views on 606 which were then taken as representative of the fan base as a whole.

I sense that Curbs felt that he had done all he could at Charlton and wanted a new challenge, hopefully at West Ham. We all know what happened there.

We all knew that Curbs would not stay for ever. The biggest mistake made by the Murray era board was not to invest sufficient effort into succession planning. The result was the curse of Dowie, followed by further errors. Now, with Sir Chris, we are on our way back.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Powell: my Premiership goal

Today's Football League Paper has an interview with Chris Powell following Charlton's final escape from mathematical relegation yesterday. Powell talks about his ambitions for the club and his relationship with the owners.

He describes the Addicks as taking the road back to the Premier League: 'Whether it takes a year or three, that is our aim and we have to do our best to get the club in the right shape so that when it happens we're ready for it' (implying that we aren't yet, which is surely right). 'This year has been a step forward and once the summer comes I'll look to improve again ... It's vital to recruit the right players to push your team on.' A few mistakes aside, which all managers make, Sir Chris has done well with recruitment so far but a lot will depend on the budget available to him in the summer.

He admits that Charlton has made less investment than some clubs, but says that creates less pressure with the aim being to 'put the club on an even keel.' He added, 'We know the people upstairs can get upset and sometimes jump the gun. But you need to keep calm and focus on what you are trying to achieve. I want to remain as long as I can in this job because this club supports me and lets me manage. The supporters do too.'

'I've got a good working relationship with the owners, but your working relationship with the staff and players is even more important. You have to talk regularly (to owners) about how you can improve. If we can't, no problem, just tell me and I'll manage with what I've got.'

Sir Chris concluded by seeking to manage expectations: 'I will never promise fans we're going to got out and spend millions if we haven't got it. That's lies - and I'm not here to lie.'

Saturday 20 April 2013

Charlton continue strong end of season surge

The Valley as seen from the Jimmy Seed stand today

Rather than the 'dreaded last ten', Charlton are offering a late season surge, but too late to get them into a play off slot. They have won fourteen points from the last eighteen available. This afternoon they beat Wolves 2-1 at The Valley, all the goals coming in the second half after a rather lacklustre start to the game.

Karl Henry's long-range shot for the visitors hit the woodwork before Dorian Dervite poked in Charlton's opener after a goal-line scramble. The Addicks once again had difficulty in holding on to a lead and Wolves equalised when Kevin Doyle headed in a Jack Robinson cross. But Charlton snatched a winner when Danny Green's deflected strike fell to Jonathan Obika, who hit the winner.

The Addicks had the first chance of the match when a drilled Ricardo Fuller shot was parried away by Dorus De Vries. However, Wolves were proving determined if somewhat desperate opponents and went close through Henry, whose effort from distance hit the crossbar before keeper Ben Hamer managed to prevent the ball crossing the line. Charlton eventually took the lead when Green's corner was not cleared and Dervite got the decisive touch to score.

Doyle did not take long to level and set up an exciting finale, which saw the Addicks win in dramatic style with Obika's late goal. Chris Powell said of Obika after the game, 'It’s the value of a player who makes an impact, he’s been tremendous since he walked through the door. He’s a good player, a good finisher, and he’s been really chomping at the bit to start. He always gets chances, that’s a good sign for any striker. I’m really pleased for him, he’s a good character and fully deserved the hero status today.'

An Addick who was there commented, 'I thought that Wolves were shockingly bad, and that was easily the worse team I've seen them send to The Valley over the years. From the first minute they didn't just go long, but poor quality, looping, scuffed really high balls and most lacked any real conviction. Their midfield just wanted to play it on in one direction even if bouncing. It was horrible stuff that didn't make the game much of a spectacle. But they were strong physically and particularly in the air.'

Elsewhere a 1-0 win at Bideford saw Leamington become Southern Premier League champions. They will play in the Conference North next season.

Friday 19 April 2013

Intercede for us, say Wolves fans

Wolves fans in Warwickshire have been asking if I can to do anything to ensure that Charlton do not add to their relegation worries tomorrow. I have nothing against Wolves. When I started to watch Charlton, they were one of the sides whose visits I dreaded, as they always seemed to beat us. Indeed, in my first season as a Charlton supporter (1953/4) they won the title and the following year they came second, while Charlton started to fade. I have no wish to see them go down to League 1, but it is a fate that other former Premier League clubs have faced: Manchester City at one time and Coventry City more recently. Yeovil away is not where one wants to be.

Wolves have been through some very difficult times since then, but revived through the efforts and money of Jack Hayward. I had them as one of my promotion picks this season, which was probably quite lazy as the recent record of relegated sides going straight back up is not good, parachute payments notwithstanding. Wolves were arguably foolish to get rid of Mick McCarthy and even more foolish in subsequent appointments.

There is a crazy scenario in which we could still finish 22nd, but clearly we are motivated to finish as high up the league as we can. A Black Country perspective on the game is offered here, although I don't recognise the Charlton blogger quoted: Wolves

Manager Dean Saunders reflects here in a very interesting way about the pressures he is under and how he is coping: Saunders

This season Wolves have won more games away (seven) than Charlton have won at home (six). What Wolves don't usually do away is draw, only two all season, the lowest number in the division alongside 'Boro. At home they have won the same number of matches as us and drawn seven.

Results in the second tier since 1997 are: 1997/98 Charlton 1 Wolves 0; 1999/00 Charlton 2 Wolves 0; 2007/08 Charlton 2 Wolves 3; 2008/09 Charlton 1 Wolves 3

Odds (Coral) are: Charlton 13/10, Draw 12/5, Wolves 2/1

Wednesday 17 April 2013

'Irish Messi' story revives

Soon we will be in the silly season when rumours about possible signings will fly around. It is always difficult to sift out which stories have any element of credibility (occasionally I get tips from people I do occasional work for in the media). It's clear that many stories start with agents: Club X has a serious interest in Player A, Club Y might be, so why not suggest Club Z might be as well to improve the chances of a lucrative signing? Other stories are the result of lazy journalism. A journo speculatively links a player with a club and others repeat the story so that it starts to acquire momentum.

Of course, one of the big question marks is how much money will be available in the summer. Unconfirmed stories last summer suggested that some prospective signings had to be shelved. It has been suggested that there was a period leading up to the summer last year when the club had significant cash flow problems. Rumours of administration have surfaced again in the last week or two, but I discount them.

Further outside investment in the club would enable us to strengthen the squad. Although the London football market is highly competitive, I think that the club remains an attractive prospect, particularly if the economy starts to revive, of which there are a few tentative signs. Some people are concerned about the threat to our support base posed by West Ham moving to the Olympic Stadium, including the Chicago Addick and Richard Hunt writing in the last VOTV. However, the river long stopped being the emotional barrier that it once was. (My father started as a West Ham supporter when he lived in North Woolwich, then part of Kent and Woolwich borough, but switched allegiance when he moved to Eltham). There have always been quite a lot of West Ham fans south of the river, not to mention Gooners. This is just a fact of life and if we could get our home form to match our away form, attendances and season ticket renewals would go up.

One sign that a story might have some basis to it is when it persists and re-surfaces. This is the case with Alan Judge of Notts County whose contract expires at the end of the season. The Magpies refused to sell him at the beginning of the year, despite an offer of £500,000 and a tractor from Ipswich Town. Given that County have ended up mid-table, they might as well have taken the money.

Judge, who was born in Dublin and is a former Republic of Ireland under-21 international, made his way up through the ranks at Blackburn Rovers and they are said to want to re-sign the 24-year old. However, the turmoil at Rovers might put him off, even if he was offered a freezer full of chicken pieces to sign. Brighton and Hove Albion are also interested in the so-called 'Irish Messi'. But reports are saying that we remain keen on him. Whether we could succeed in a bidding war, and whether he would be worth an inflated price and high wages, is a very open question.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Creditable draw at Cardiff

Charlton earned a creditable 0-0 draw with Cardiff City in the Welsh capital tonight. Cardiff are promoted to the Premier League by virtue of the draw and Millwall's 1-0 win over Watford. Elsewhere, Crystal Palace went down 3-0 at Ipswich. It is now over seven-and-a-half hours since they scored.

Charlton stay in 9th place on goal difference despite wins for 'Boro and Leeds United.

Looking at the statistics provided by Chalfont St. Peter Addick Richard Sheppard this is our best end-of-season run since the 1997-8 season which led to Wembley and last year's League 1 triumph. Along we were promoted with the title in 1999-2000, we faded at the end, finally securing a return to the top flight with a draw at Blackburn, an event I and many others greatly enjoyed.

The Addicks started the game well and forced an early save out of Bluebirds keeper David Marshall, as Callum Harriott was unlucky to see his effort from distance saved. The hosts were struggling to find their rhythm and were indebted to Marshall for keeping them level as he made an excellent save to tip Johnnie Jackson's free kick onto the post before the ball was cleared. Craig Bellamy had a chance but put it over.

After the break, Charlton were still threatening and Ricardo Fuller forced Marshall into another good save as he turned in the penalty area, before firing a low shot which the keeper tipped round the post. Cardiff thought they had taken the lead when Noone turned the ball home from close range after Mutch had lifted a ball into the area only for it be ruled out by the linesman. Charlton's defence continued to hold out until the final whistle.

Ricardo Fuller was booked in the second half and subsequently replaced by Obika. Gower was brought on in place of Hughes to give the home fans a bit of excitement.

It was interesting looking at the television pictures after the match to see that most Cardiff fans were wearing 'Red Dragon' rather than 'Bluebird' colours.

Bristol City have been relegated.

Elsewhere 10-man Leamington won 2-0 at Chippenham in front of 200 away fans to continue their progress towards the Southern Premier League title.

Cardiff City prepare title party

Cardiff City are getting ready for a champions' party tonight as they need to take only one point off Charlton to secure the title. The message from Cardiff is 'let the good times roll': Cardiff City. All 20,000 season tickets for next season have sold out.

I think that the Welsh capital deserves to be represented in the Premier League, albeit a substantial injection of funds and some controversial re-branding has been involved. When I started watching Charlton, Cardiff were a top flight club. In 1953/4 they finished one place below us on goal average. We lost 5-0 to them in the away fixture that year, but ended the game with only five fit players.<.p<

I remember the 3-2 home win against them on 20th March very well because, unusually, Marsh was playing in goal Bartram having been 'injured in training'. Quite how that happened is unclear given that training in those days mostly consistently of running up and down the East terraces under the watchful eye of a white coated Jimmy Trotter. The philosophy was that players had to be starved of the ball so they were hungry for it on Saturday, but I think the keeper may have trained with the ball. Anyway, according to Colin Cameron, it was a 'foul-strewn' match. Cardiff president Sir Herbert Merrett was left with a bloody nose after a hoofed clearance by Campbell hit the stand roof and bounced on to his nose.

Charlton are currently 1st in the form table and Cardiff are 5th. Their home record is formidable having won fifteen, drawn four and lost two. We have lost six away matches and could well add to that tally tonight. They are, however, without striker Herdar Helguson who pulled a hamstring in the 3-0 win over Notts Forest: Helguson

Odds (Coral) are 8/11 Cardiff; 11/4 draw; 7/2 Charlton. In the second tier we won there 2-0 in 2007/8 and lost by the same margin in the following season. Whatever happens tonight, I doubt whether it will be a nine goal aggregate.

Michael Morrison interview

Interesting interview with Michael Morrison in which he praises Chris Powell's mixture of approachability, hard work and good organisation: Morrison.

Elsewhere Danny Green is sponsoring his local club Bishop's Stortford Swifts who play in the Essex Olympian Division One. Green said, 'It's an absolute pleasure to help out such a family friendly club.'

Monday 15 April 2013

No more chocolate on the bus

Ben Hamer and Danny Hollands share their impressions of the growing professionalism of the Championship and the Football League generally in the May edition of Four Four Two. Hollands says, 'You don't see chocolate on the bus to away games anymore. [So that's the secret of our away form this season?] Elite methods are everywhere and tactics and nutrition have improved.'

Hollands thinks that all three levels of the Football League the ball is being cherished: 'I think that even all the way down to the Conference, teams are trying to play the right way. Teams and players move up the divisions now and don't get such a big shock.' He also thinks that coaching in the Football League is becoming increasingly attractive to foreign managers.

Hamer agrees: 'Teams want to stroke it about. They've seen the Spanish blueprint, and English football wants to move to that at all levels. You need the players, of course, and it also depends on the pitch quality - we are struggling to pass well on ours at the moment.

Hamer continued: 'You see the quality go up every year. Footballers are more athletic, more professional, and every club is scrutising little ways to get an edge. Everyone is getting better at their job.'

The article notes that while the average number of shots on goal per game in the Chamoionship has remained at 13.5 for the past four years, the average number of shots in target rose from 6.1 in 2006-7 to 7.4 last season. That does, of course, mean that only just over half are on target, but it also means that a keeper could concede seven goals a game if they were very poor.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Charlton win 6-0

Charlton won 6-0 at Barnsley today to go 9th in the table and top of the form table. They are just six points off the play off places, but have a tough game away at Cardiff on Tuesday with the Bluebirds/Red Dragons needing just one point to secure promotion. A US soccer fan tweeted, 'Carlton [sic] Athletic got 6 to zero EPL minor legaue win on the road today. Winningest franchise club of the day.'

Goals from Bradley Pritchard and Johnnie Jackson gave The Addicks a 2-0 half-time lead. Charlton got off to the perfect start by taking the lead inside four minutes, when Bradley Pritchard slotted home the rebound following Yann Kermorgant's spilt effort. The Addicks doubled their lead 16 minutes later. Pritchard was again involved before laying it off to Jackson, who dummied his marker before burying the ball into the back of the net. Jackson nearly made it three shortly after with a dipping effort, but Luke Steele just managed to tip the shot-come-cross over the bar.

Early in the second half a brilliant Wiggins cross evaded everyone but Kermorgant at the back post who headed home unchallenged. It was 4-0 on 59 minutes and again it was down to a Steele error. Callum Harriott's 20-yard effort had power but it should have been a comfortable save for the goalkeeper. However he let the ball go in under his body, putting the Addicks very much in charge.

It got worse for Barnsley as they soon found themselves down to 10 men after Stephen Dawson went in strongly on Kermorgant and although he seemingly won the ball, referee Geoff Eltringham took little time to brandish a red card. Barnsley were down to nine men for the last twenty minutes, after Fuller was fouled as he bore down on goal. Substitute Kerkar scored the fifth, while the final goal came from Ricardo Fuller from the edge of the penalty area into the bottom corner of the net in time added on.

This is the first time Charlton have had six players on the scoresheet, the first six since 1976 and the largest win above the third tier since 1953.

Rick Everitt gives his thoughts on the win here, noting that he is particularly pleased for Chris Powell, given that he believes that the undercurrent of rumours about him have some substance: Everitt.

For a Barnsley view of events which thinks the first dismissal was harsh: Barnsley

Friday 12 April 2013

Addicks face on form Barnsley

When I had lunch with a Sheffield United fan a few weeks ago, he said the view in Yorkshire was that Barnsley had made a sufficient recovery to avoid the drop. At home they will be looking for their fourth win in a row and an extension of their nine match scoring sequence at Oakwell, the joint longest current run in what is admittedly a very competitive division. Since the turn of the year when David Flitcroft took charge, they've picked up 28 points out of 48. They are currently 6th in the form table, one place above Charlton. Even so, they are just three places and two points above the relegation zone.

Their home record has a nice symmetry about it: won 8, drawn 4, lost 8. Their away record is less good, but one of their five wins came at our expense at The Valley, a defeat that I found particularly frustrating.

For the Addicks this is their 1,800th away league fixture, the first having been a 2-0 defeat at Gillingham on Wednesday 31st August 1921. Charlton have not lost on the road since they went down 1-0 to promotion candidates Hull on 18th February.

We have not picked up three points at Oakwell since December 1995 and last scored an away goal there in December 1999. We did manage a goalless draw in 2008/9 and the 1999 match ended in a 1-1 draw, but we lost 3-0 in 2007/8.

It could well be the same line up as against Leeds with Leon Cort still doubtful. Obika could be given a start, but I think that he is more likely to appear from the bench.

Barnsley is at the heart of the old South Yorkshire coalfield, so there is no warmth for 'southern softies'. What has often been forgotten in this week's discussions is that Harold Wilson's governments closed more coal mines than those of Mrs Thatcher.

As befits the occasion, the referee is from County Durham and a former Sunderland season ticket holder. Geoff Eltringham is one of the more vertically challenged referees, coming in at 5 ft. 7 ins. He started off in park football and was spotted by an assessor and has had a rapid rise since then.

Odds (Coral) are 5/4 for a home win, 23/10 for a draw and 11/5 for a Charlton win. I am going for a draw. 12th is hardly a relegation position, but it does not represent complete safety in this crazy division.

There's a fascinating post on Charlton Life about the 1978 season when a lot of teams were also in the relegation mix and we only survived on the last game of the season at Orient away: Survival. As one of the comments points out, the probability of relegation is only 0.5 per cent and if we won all five remaining games we would have a 36 per cent chance of being in the play offs. I will stick to what I have believed all season, this looks like a lower mid-table side.

Quite a bit of my focus will be on Leamington tomorrow. If they win and Stourbridge drop points then they will be champions and will have won promotion to the Blue Square North.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Addicks lose out to Chelsea

Many Addicks remember the departure of Charlton youth product Scott Parker to Chelsea with some bitterness. With him in the team for the rest of the season, we might just have qualified for Europe.

Now Charlton have lost out on a talented young striker after England U-17 international Kasey Palmer moved to Chelsea. The 16-year-old has already made his Chelsea debut; he turned out for their U18 side against Manchester United at the weekend. A 'relatively low fee' saw Chelsea able to raid the Charlton academy, which they were able to do as the Premier League side have a category one graded academy whereas Charlton have a category two.

Under 'Elite Player Performance Plan' guidelines those with a category one grade can 'take their pick"' from young players at a club with a lower rating. Charlton have been looking into the possibility of category one status, but it is not thought that the facilities at Sparrows Lane are good enough.

A particular blow after we celebrated Academy Day at The Valley. More here: Kasey Palmer

Monday 8 April 2013

Don't panic: Warnock is heading to Plymouth

The Sunday Mirror carried a story yesterday that departed Leeds manager Neil Warnock might be heading to either Charlton or Plymouth as director of football. The Plymouth part of the story does have some legs. Warnock has already been swanning around at Home Park which is conveniently situated for his smallholding in south-east Cornwall where he grows passionate broccoli. Don't be surprised if the gobby former Palace manager gets some fancy title with the Pilgrims before too long: Warnock

As for the Charlton part of the story, one can imagine a creative journalist thinking along the following lines: not that many people are in the Green Army, we need another angle. Where were Leeds playing yesterday? Oh yes, Charlton. Chris Powell's still on a learning curve. The Mysterons can't get rid of him that easily, but they could bring in somebody to help him.

Next week: the two Isles of Scilly teams compete to bring in Warnock.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Di Canio Controversy Was A Distraction says Sir Chris

The controversy over Paolo di Canio's appointment at Sunderland was a distraction for Chris Powell at a crucial time in Charlton's season. He was surprised by claims by di Canio that he was a friend and is clearly not happy that he was used by the Italian as a kind of character reference. Negotiations with Swindon over loan deals were carried out at arms length: Chris Powell

Saturday 6 April 2013

Charlton win in added time

After failing to score in added time all season, Charlton scored the winner at The Valley this afternoon in a 2-1 victory over Leeds United that puts them in 12th place in the table.

Johnnie Jackson had put the Addicks ahead with a captain's goal in the opening minutes of the second half. However, going behind revitalised Leeds and a second goal failed to come for Charlton. The Bloke Behind Me was proclaiming with gloomy satisfaction 'We'll cock it up again' and Leeds did equalise late on in the second half.

It was left to much criticised loan signing Jonathan Obika, who had come on as substitute, to score a great winning goal which clearly meant a lot to him as he accepted the plaudits of the Valley faithful after the game. Chris Powell's critics will no doubt say that he 'got lucky', but it's luck I am happy to take with relegation a more distant prospect.

Predictably the coverage in the Football League Paper this morning takes a 'What's wrong with Leeds line?' In a sense that is a reasonable enough as they are only of a very few genuinely 'massive' teams in the Championship (I leave to one side the claims of another Yorkshire team). It did seem to me that the Leeds defence was surprisingly poor, and a Leeds fan I knows agrees with me, although they did have their best defender suspended. Even so, they were static at times. They also wasted some chances in front of goal, Paul Green being a particular offender, but then so did we.

I was in an optimistic mood before the match after a good journey down. I was late leaving home and I thought I might miss my usual train at Coventry. But the train was late and, unusually, there was no queue at the fast ticket machines. Normally there are lots of usually young people, many of whom surprisingly seem to have great difficulty using the machines: I have had to rescue more than one of them. Anyway, as I walked on to the platform the train was coming in.

Despite the new trend for friends to feel they are entitled to stand side by side on escalators, I had a fast journey to North Greenwich. Indeed, the train was finishing there and I reflected that had the proposed Jubilee Line spur gone ahead this would have been one of the match day trains through to The Valley.

As it was, a lot of rather baffled Leeds fans got on the bus. There was great excitement when the cable cars were spotted: ironic, given that a well-known Charlton fan and blogger rans a campaign against 'the dangleway' on Twitter, regarding it as a Boris folly. I was quite surprised to hear the Leeds fans discussing whether Sir Chris was racist in its team selection by preferring black players.

I entered the ground via Ransom Walk and I thought that I could see elves in the distance. Not only were there elves, but the Chief Elf, Rick Everitt, was selling copies of Voice of the Valley run off that morning on the Roneo in his back bedroom. I had the signal honour of buying my copy from the Rickster itself. There are some good articles inside, although I will be taking issue with some of them in subsequent posts, not least my old adversary Richard Hunt.

If one was going to summarise the football in this match, one would say that both sides were fully committed and there were flashes of real skill, but it wasn't like watching Barcelona. Indeed, at times, the football was decidedly scrappy and both sides had difficulty in retaining possession

Paul Green (not even worth a mention in the programme) burst through with an early long run and it took all Morrison's skill to deal with it. Solly put in a cross to Harriott, but he was not able to make use of it. As the Blackheath Addick has commented, there are still some shortcomings in Harriot's perfomance in the final third. Hughes gave away an unnecessary free kick after fouling Green and one of my general criticisms of Charlton's performance is that we do give away too many avoidable free kicks. A free kick from near the corner flag is always potentially dangerous, but Hamer caught the ball well.

Wiggins put in a first rate defensive header as danger threatened. Kenny saved from Kermorgant. In play following a Solly free kick, a ball from Dervitte was blocked and then Morrison blasted over. Wiggins conceded a free kick for a foul on McCormack. Harriott put in a good cross across the six yard box, but no one was there to connect. A Charlton corner eventually ended in a goal kick. Pritchard put in a cross which was very poor. Kenny saved at the near post off Kermorgant. Dervitte provided good defensive cover, but then spoilt it by keeping the ball in play when he should have gone for safety first.

An Addicks corner was saved. Fuller laid the ball off well for Kermorgant, but the Breton was unable to take advantage. Paul Green missed badly for Leeds. Harriott won Charlton what turned out to be an unproductive corner. The on form Wiggins was once again called on to provide a good defensive header. Harriott weaved his way through the Leeds defence, but then put the ball just wide: shooting practice needed. The versatile Kermorgant was called on to make a good defensive intervention. Pritchard put in a good ball, but no one was able to take advantage of an open goal. Solly was putting in some good work. Pritchard was fouled and Michael Tonge received a yellow card. Charlton launched a good attack, but it ended in a correct offside decision. There had been virtually no stoppages and a notional one minute was added on.

I noticed that the Leeds fans had a number of banners proclaiming that they were from Surrey, Sussex and Essex (but I didn't see one from Kent). I gave some information to a Leeds fan on the train back and he spoke with a middle class accent, but lived in New Cross, which he admitted was not a good area. All credit to the Leeds fans for applauding our Academy players at half time. A text came through to say that Leamington were 2-0 ahead at Totton which was the final score. Nine points clear, the title and the Blue Square North beckons.

HT: Addicks 0, Leeds 0

The Addicks took advantage of a static Leeds defence after the break. A shot from Dervitte on 47 minutes was blocked but it fell well for Jacko and the skipper made no mistake in blasting it in the back of the net. Leeds then started to liven up, but Pritchard and Fuller were working togethr well and Pritchard put in a cross across the front of goal which no one could take advantage of, although an own goal was momentarily a possibility. Hughes put in a great defensive header and there is no doubt that he is rated by the Leeds fans.

Kermorgant was fouled by Norris who received a yellow card. Jackson then entered into the referee's book and following the free kick it was panic stations in the Addicks defence. A ball from Morison went off the back of the post and into the side netting. Aidan White was taken off and replaced by Luke Varney, a decision that we rightly feared. The Bloke Beside Me is a great Varney fan because he scored two goals against Palace, whereas I remember the sitters he missed. Somehow players who make a late start from non-league football never quite make the grade. 19-21 years old is an important time in their development which is why Harriott, with the right support, should blossom and may eventually be sold on to a Premiership club.

Fuller was taken off and replaced by Kerkar as the attendance was announced as 18,900. On the first day of the year which carried a hint of spring and with two evenly matched teams, there probably was quite a lot of genuine walk up traffic.

Bradley Pritchard played a ball which would have been poor in the Conference. Charlton were being forced back and nine players were trying desperately to defend in front of the baying away support. Perhaps inevitably, it was a deflected volley from Varney that got the equaliser on 81 minutes.

Could Charlton hang on for the point? Charlton launched a good attack in 83 minutes. Solly had a chance to score but was just wide. Harriott was taken off in place of Obika who had been asking Chris Powell what he had to do to play. He immediately made an impact. Tonge was taken off to very lukewarm applause from the Leeds fans and Michael Brown came on and immediately got booked for fouling Kermorgant. The free kick led to a Charlton corner which was punched out by Kenny.

Lee Potter went down and made the most of it, but this simply extended the time added on, allowing Obika to score in the 95th minute with a great header making use of a cross from Wiggins.

<;p>Interesting report from a Leeds fan here with plenty of praise for Andy Hughes: Leeds view

Match analysis

There was no standout nomination for the Silver Bone as it was very much a team game in which we were passing better than we normally do. However, Ivy the Terrible has given to award to Johnnie Jackson as his goal played a crucial role in the outcome of the match. Hamer was on good form and, although he wasn't tested too much, he made some good saves. Morrison did his job solidly and was prominent at set pieces, but could not find the back of the net. Dervitte was less evident, but what he did do was competent enough. Judging from the votes I saw, Chris Solly is heading to be Player of the Year again and he showed why he was such a favourite today. Wiggins made a few errors, but used his pace well and got into some good positions. Pritchard did make some good contributions to attacking moves, but he also seemed lightweight at times and too easily hustled off the ball. Harriott is still a work in progress, but he can harry and out manoeuvre the opposition. Hughes was not that prominent, but he sticks to his task and made some good interventions. Kermorgant was fouled quite a lot and had some near misses. The FLP reckons that 'he showed the most power, skill and creativity of any player on the pitch.' Fuller was getting in offside positions too often, although like Kermorgant he was fouled a lot. He does rather expect the ball to be served up on a plate to him. Kerkar didn't add a lot when he came on but Obika showed that he can at least be a super substitute.

Reg is still looking for the referee's cat to have a word

The referee came from Warwickshire and Reg has asked if he can go round and sort his cat out. In any event Reg gave the Hiss of the Match to referee Atwell. He was one of those referees that sees some things and not others, leading to inconsistent decisions.

Redfearn banks on experience

Leeds caretaker manager Neil Redfearn is banking on experience rather than younger players for this afternoon's clash at The Valley: Leeds

Chris Powell has an unchanged squad to pick from with Leon Cort (knee) and Danny Hollands (foot) remaining on the injury list. Striker Ricardo Fuller's dislocated shoulder is a concern and Haynes may well start. Charlton keeper Ben Hamer admits that it hurt being dropped for four games, but admits that he needed a kick up the backside and is now sharper (which seems to be the case): Hamer. One time Addick Neil Redfearn has no major injury worries as he takes charge of Leeds for the first time.

Outgoing manager Neil Warnock visited the training ground at Thorp Arch yesterday and made a farewell speech to the players, but Redfearn does not know what he said. Warnock is expected to concentrate on his market gardening for the forseeable future, so expect some passionate broccoli.

I hope we can avoid any chants about Jimmy Saville today: we are better than that. We should also bear in mind that Leeds fans have been commemorating a tragedy. Two Leeds fans were murdered in Turkey thirteen years ago, and the pain must still be very real for family and friends. If Leeds fans turn their backs in the first two minutes of the game, as has been suggested on Facebook, it is no sign of disrespect to us, but a commemoration of these two fans: Commemoration

Coral are offering odds of 5/4 on Charlton, 12/5 on a draw and 21/10 on Leeds. Leeds have won on five of their last six visits to The Valley. Charlton remain the only team in the Championship not to have scored in time added on and one can expect panic stations if it is then 1-1. The referee is from Warwickshire and I shall be round his house if he isn't up to the job.

Friday 5 April 2013

Hughes is seen as danger man in Leeds

Andy Hughes is seen as Charlton's danger man by the Yorkshire Post: 'You know what you get with Hughes - hard, uncompromising performances.' The Post reckons that it all depends on whether the Leeds midfield can do better against the Charlton midfield than Brighton did. And that is a very open question.

Unlike the Drinking During the Game blog, I do not see Leeds as there for the taking. Former Palace manager Neil Warnock would have done us a greater favour by waiting for the curse of Charlton to take effect. The gobby Cornish smallholder is not as good a manager as many people like to think and Leeds have not propsered under his stewardship, albeit that there have been many off the pitch problems.

As for Neil Redfearn, there is no pressure on him as it has been made clear that he is not in the running for the job.

Some people don't like Leeds because of the way they played in the 1980s, but for me that is outweighed by their recent troubles. First, the directors wrecked the club by betting the farm in a chase for glory. Then there was cuddly Ken Bates. Admittedly, he did steady the ship, but one suspects that the Monaco resident has walked away from the deal with enough to afford more than one night at the casino. Then, along came GFH capital, initially hailed as the saviours from the Gulf. But it seems that they didn't have as many readies as they pretended, and have either been trying to sell the club or bits of it, depending whether you believe the Bahrain or Dubai arms of the organisation. They have managed to sell a 10 per cent share to another obscure entity from then Gulf which doesn't appear to have that much money either.

Peter Lorimer argues that fans' expectations are too high at Leeds: Lorimer. However, expectations are generally too high in modern football: I think that Yeovil fans who believe their team really belongs in the Championship don't know what it takes.

One could argue that Leeds fans are more justified than many in dreaming of being in the Premier League. Not only is there the club's history, but Leeds is a 'northern light', an island of prosperity (relatively speaking) and an eventual destination for the High Speed Train if it is ever built. The city has completely eclipsed Bradford where a giant hole in the city centre which was supposed to be a shopping centre serves as mute testimony to the city's decline.

Anyway I think I have written enough positive things about Leeds (a) to keep my new role as consultant to the Yorkshire Agriculture Society and (b) satisfy a Leeds supporting friend from Guernsey for whom the exciting season of the Green Lions has compensated for a disappointing one at Elland Road. (He doesn't get to see many matches of either as he lives in Sweden, commuting to work in Copenhagen, as many people do - it's cheaper to live in Malmo).

As for the game, I hope we don't see a repeat of the 1-6 home defeat to Leeds in the Premiership when the Covered End did the conga. However, Hamer seems to be surer in his touch so I don't think it will be a high scoring game. Although I got the correct points total for March (seven) on CAFC Picks, I am no good at predicting results. I am hoping we might at least get a point, but if I was a betting man I would put my money on 1-2. But I'm not, so don't waste your own money.

How to market season tickets

I have renewed my season ticket, although I had to do it by snail mail because (contrary to undertakings) I couldn't get my Valley Gold discount online. However, if you think the marketing of season tickets at The Valley has its shortcomings, just look at how Crystal Palace market theirs. Even some of the Nigels are embarrassed: Palace

Something called the 'South Norwood Tourist Board' has upset people in the Lake District. I thought it was an April fool spoof until I worked out that Nigels were involved: South Norwood Tourist Board

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Jacko makes the top fifty

Johnnie Jackson is the one Charlton player to make a list of the top fifty Football League players in the latest issue of Four Four Two. I might add that one shouldn't take these lists too seriously and the methodology behind them is also suspect: I speak as someone who once made it on to a list in the Sunday Express of the 500 most influential people in Britain which led to a lot of interesting banter on the lines of where and how I might exercise my influence.

The description of Jacko is, however, interesting: 'Jackson has matured slowly, having spent much of his early career playing for Spurs' reserves, but the versatile Londoner - who initially signed for Charlton on a one-month loan from Notts County in 2010 - has flourished at The Valley, where he is now captain. Although not the standout player to the extent that he was in League One last season, his versatility, tireless running [shome mishtake shurely?] and ability to rally the troops means he's still Charlton's main man.

'"Johnnie leads by example and you look for that in a captain," says manager Chris Powell. Jackson looks settled, too, having recently signed an extension to his contract.'

'Did you know? Jackson cemented his place as a fans' favourite after buying a train carriage full of Charlton fans a drink.'

I was a bit surprised that Chris Solly didn't even make 'the best of the rest' list while Leon Clarke was highly placed in the main list. If there was a 'most improved' or 'steepest learning curve' award, I would give it to Bradley Pritchard.

Powell on di Canio

Radio 5 broadcast comments by Chris Powell on Paolo di Canio this morning which he apparently made after last night's game (the result of which was mentioned in passing). Having been named by di Canio as a best friend, my impression was that Sir Chris was trying to be diplomatic and non-commital while avoiding any endorsement of di Canio's views, which include a stated admiration for Mussolini (which it has to be said many other Italians share). Sir Chris said that di Canio should make his views clear, but that essentially it was a matter for him and Sunderland to deal with.

Then this evening Paul Mortimer was interviewed on Radio 5. Morts was quite judicious and showed some of the finesse he displayed on the pitch. To deconstruct and simplify what he was saying: 'perhaps di Canio was a racist once, but maybe he has seen the light and isn't any more.' Di Canio's latest statement certainly seems to have reassured some of his critics.

Powell told The Times: 'He was my team-mate and someone I’ve met socially and someone I’ve met since he has been a manager,” Sir Chris said. “And Sunderland have made a bold decision.

“I’m sure they knew what was coming. It’s remarkable really it never came up when he was manager of Swindon. But I feel that if he’s made statements about his political persuasion in the past, then he knows it will come up and he has to answer that. Sunderland know it’s a bold gamble because he has only managed at League One and League Two, so again that was a big decision by them.”

Powell described Di Canio as a “remarkable” player. “He did extremely well for Charlton, he was great as a team-mate and the supporters loved him, as they did at West Ham and Celtic and all the other clubs he played for,” he said. “I think now what everyone has to do ... he has to make his statement, if he wants to, about anything to do with his political views because that is something that is personal. And now it’s something that Sunderland and himself have got to get on with because they’ve got some key games to stay up. As far as I’m aware, that’s how it should be.”

It is perhaps not well known that di Canio is an accomplished cook and presented Alan Curbishley with a special Italian dessert he had made himself when he signed for Charlton.

My personal view, based on some knowledge of Italy which I have written about with Italians, is that di Canio is not a racist. Italian fascism is really an extreme form of nationalism and (although this is debated) was not especially anti-Semitic until the Nazis increased their grip on Italy. Having said that, my view is that Mussolini was an arrogant, bombastic, expletive deleted who did a lot of damage to Italy and led to the deaths of many British servicemen.

Don't think, however, that Italy is all gelati and pasta. I was speaking there during the Falklands War and there was a squad of riot police hiding round the corner ready to spring into action if a threatened attack occurred (it didn't). Once I was in Firenze and people there were upset by a former mayor being gunned down. I went on to Milano and mentioned this to a friend (admittedly her brother was inside having been a naughty boy with his machine gun) and she said, 'You don't understand, sometimes in our country these things have to happen.' Incidentally, her brother got out because they didn't get round to bringing charges.

The following item on radio 5 was also about Brighton, but this was about the issue of homophobic chanting. More on this story here: Chanting I was not aware of any from Charlton fans last night and the club was not specifically mentioned. [I have subsequently learnt from a CAS Trust tweet that Charlton supporters have been reported for homophobic abuse]. However, clearly the football has been overshadowed.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Charlton battle for the point

Charlton battled for an important away point and a rare clean sheet in a 0-0 draw at Brighton tonight.

Wilson came in for Fuller with Kermorgant as the sole striker on a cold, clear night at the Amex, reports Sally Hilton. The attendance of 28,043 with just under 2,000 Addicks was a record for a midweek game at the Amex.

Ben Hamer cut out an early effort from Lua Lua, but essentially the early play was patient and testing each other. Hamer gathered comfortably from a corner on three minutes. The Addicks had a spell of possession, but it was unproductive.

Brighton had a spell of pressure, but the Addicks coped well. Dervitte made an essential block to deny the home side a goal scoring opportunity. Charlton won their first corner, Jackson’s effort was a good one with pace and power but the keeper was able to gather.

Harriott won a free kick for the Addicks, but it did not produce anything. Wiggins had to deal with Buckley after the Seagulls made a good break. Charlton won the midfield battle with Pritchard bringing the ball away. The Addicks had a claim for a corner after Bridge headed the ball out following work from Harriott and Wilson, but Brighton got a fortunate goal kick.

Kermorgant was breaking away when he was brought down by a poor challenge, but there was no yellow card, just a free kick. After a long kick from Kuzczak won Brighton a corner, their header went well wide.

The Brighton bench appealed for a yellow card for Andy Hughes but the referee decided that an apology would suffice. Lua Lua got round Pritchard and Solly. His power shot almost hit the corner flag. Charlton were not allowing Brighton to settle. Hughes put in some good defending on the edge of the penalty area. A shot from Kermorgant drifted about a foot over the crossbar. A free kick was awarded for a foul by Dervitte. Charlton had to do some defending and conceded a corner. Hamer had to palm the ball away. Harriott broke to try and make use of a counter attacking opportunity but Lua Lua was in his way. Wilson’s first touch let him down.

Brighton advanced down the right and Jackson got the yellow card the home fans had been calling for. The corner was taken short. Calderon had a great chance seven yards out but put it wide.

Hamer saved well from Lua Lua. Hamer had to make another claim at the far post from Buckley. Kermorgant won Charlton a free kick with Poyet signalling that he had dived, although some of the Brighton players looked as if they honed their skills at the local pool.

Wiggins got into a decent position but was not able to exploit it. Kermorgant got a bang on the head. Charlton were containing Brighton, and closing them down well, but did they have a sufficient attacking edge? They had quietened the crowd, but what would be the Plan B if Brighton scored? Albion got a free kick after Calderon was tripped. It was taken quickly, but then there was a foul on Harriott.

HT: Seagulls 0, Addicks 0

Charlton started the second half brightly, but then danger man Lua Lua had to be closed down by Solly. A cross from Bridge was gathered comfortably by Hamer. Harriott fed Kermorgant well, but the ball squirted away from him.

Solly defended against Lua Lua superbly to the annoyance of the home fans. Solly played a clever ball to evade Bridge, but Wilson did not read it well. The home fans started up a chant of ‘Seagulls’ to energise their team as 55 minutes approached.

Pritchard won the ball well and Harriott advanced. The Addicks applied some pressure, but Harriott scooped it over with Pritchard calling for it from six yards out. A shot from Harriott was palmed away by the keeper. Charlton were in the ascendancy. Lua Lua tried a shot, but Solly blocked. Solly conceded a corner kick which was taken quickly. Albion had a good chance, but the downward header went wide. Chris Powell was furious with the way in which the corner had been defended.

Hughes seemed to be tiring and there was movement on the bench. Kermorgant advanced from the halfway line and Greer clipped him to earn a yellow card. Solly was having some treatment on his hand.

Morrison defended well but then put in a rather poor back pass to Hamer. More gaps were appearing in the game which probably helped Brighton. It was time for a substitution.

Dervitte was penalised for a foul. Hamer palmed the ball down from the free kick, Wilson scooped it away and conceded a corner. Calderon put it over the bar. Brighton continued to apply pressure with all their players in the Charlton half. Wiggins defended well, but had to concede a corner. Hamer palmed away the downward header.

Charlton were defending desperately with the home fans in a state of great excitement. Solly had to concede a corner. Jackson cleared the ball. Pritchard was pushed by Upson to win a free kick and relieve the pressure. Dale Stephens came on for Lawrie Wilson. Pritchard put in a great strike, but Bridcutt came to the rescue. Wiggins defended well against Buckley whom he had generally marshalled well. A corner was headed away by Solly and the move ended in a goal kick for Charlton.

Hamer had to make a great save by palming the ball to his right. He punched the ball away from the corner. Poyet was losing his rag. Hughes got a yellow card for a push on Lua Lua. A cross from Lua Lua was headed away by Dervitte. Stephens put in an excellent long range effort but it was tipped over well by the keeper. Taylor replaced Andy Hughes who received a warm ovation from the Addickted and a big hug from Sir Chris. Buckley shot but Hamer, in great form, touched it on the crossbar. The ball came in from the corner and off the post.

Brighton look like favourites for clash

Before Saturday, I might have said that I thought we had more chance of getting points at Brighton than at home to Bolton Wanderers, largely because it was an away game. However, I feared that the most likely outcome would be no points from either game. Fortunately, that fate, which would have placed us in real relegation trouble was averted.

The Seagulls have only lost three times at the Amex this season, although they have drawn seven matches. However, they will be looking for a win tonight which would enable them to draw ahead of Nottingham Forest in the play off places. They drew 2-2 at Forest on Saturday after conceding a lead due to an error by their keeper. Coral have Brighton 4/5 to win and, quite frankly, I would be satisfied with a point. The Addicks last won at Brighton with a 2-0 win at the Withdean in 2009. Our last four matches with them have resulted in two defeats and two draws.

Chris Solly is hoping to make his 100th Charlton start. Late fitness checks will be necessary for Matt Taylor and Dale Stephens who are both ill. Striker Ricardo Fuller suffered a shouulder injury against Bolton should be fit. The Football League Paper gave him the highest score (8) for the performance of any Charlton player against Bolton and only gave 5 to Callum Harriott who received the Silver Bone, perhaps a little generously.

In a parallel universe in which Charlton had ceased to exist and Brighton was not so far from Warwickshire, I might well support the Seagulls. One recommendation is their dislike of Crystal Palace. They have also had a similar recent history to Charlton, forced to leave their stadium and initially ground share although they have ended up at an entirely new stadium which attracts the biggest crowds in the Championship, some two thousand more on average than Sheffield Wednesday.

Their local supporters have also had friendly links with West Sussex CASC which is running a special coach to the game tonight. One Christmas I went to an early kick off at Huddersfield with the West Sussex. In a good mood after Charlton had won, we drove across to Rotherham to watch the Seagulls. I would be pleased to see the Seagulls go up this year, but not at Charlton's expense tonight.

How many points would offer safety?

Following yesterday's results, Charlton are 14th yet only three points above the last relegation place. 19th to 22nd are all on 47 points and three points cover eight teams. Moreover, the spread between the top team just below the play off places and the relegation zone is just 12 points.

At the end of March 2012 there were four teams with less than 40 points with Doncaster Rovers on 32. 47 points would have given you 17th place (occupied by Peterborough United). The spread from the relegation places to 7th was 25 points. It's clearly a very evenly balanced competition this season.

Writing in the last Voice of the Valley Rick Everitt commented, 'Although 50 points is often quoted as the benchmark for safety from relegation, the average points score of the third from bottom Championship team over the last 20 years has been 47, making 48 the minimun safe tally for survival in a typical season. Admittedly that is slightly distorted by Portsmouth, who had 10 points deducted last season, but even if that had not happend Barnsley would have gone down on 48, and the average isn't significantly affected.'

The Rickster continued, 'No side in the last two decades has gone down with more than 52 points, although Leicester City and Millwall had the misfortune to be relegated with precisely that haul in 2008 and 1996 respectively.' Among the teams that have gone down in 22nd place since 1992 are Birmingham City, Leicester City and Manchester City. It was a massive shock to discover that Sheffield Wednesday had gone down twice.

It is probably worth noting that there are ten teams below us and it is unlikely that they will go on winning every game. My original prediction on CAFC Picks for this season was 57 points. That is achievable and should see us safe. Indeed, another win and another draw would probably do it.

As it so happens, in League 2 17th to 24th is covered by four points and the bottom team already has more points than the teams relegated last year.

Warnock evades curse of Charlton

There is an increasing and unfortunate tendency for managers to evade the curse of Charlton by getting sacked or resigning before their team visits The Valley or hosts Charlton. The latest example is Neil Warnock at Leeds United: Warnock. Some people rate Warnock as a manager because they think that being gobby equates with passion and/or good judgment, but I don't. But in a sense he shows that once you get on the managerial merry go round, it is a long time before you finally fall off. No doubt he will pop up somewhere.

It is being suggested that Leeds might be after Poyet for next season, but the caretaker replacement is the head of the Leeds youth academy, one time Addick Neil Redfearn. He wasn't exactly popular at The Valley and I recall him having the nickname 'fish fingers', although I can't remember why. I think that I did see him score for Charlton against Wimbledom at Sainsbury's, possibly on Boxing Day.

With the table ridiculously tight, getting two home wins in a row next Saturday would be a big boost. I will write about tonight's game at Brighton later. As for Leeds, a good friend from Guernsey is a keen fan (as you are) and chose to go to university there so that he could support his team in person. But at the moment he seems more preoccupied with the exploits of Guernsey FC.

Monday 1 April 2013

Club's name needs to change say brand consultants

The club has decided to called in brand consultants in a bid to attract investment and boost attendances. They have hired Bermondsey-based Brandovator who have been told to start from a zero base and consider all aspects of the club’s public-facing image.

Brandovator have assigned two of their top employees (known as ‘innovators’) to the task. 32-year old Canadian Miller Wall holds the Saskatchewan Brand Tools Innovator of the Year award for 2008 for his work on repositioning a spanner manufacturer. Chrystal Hurst is an Oxford PPE graduate who formerly worked for Sainsbury’s.

Brandovator has developed a unique methodology in which its innovators lie on rafts in a flotation tank. They are bombarded with images of the brand for five minutes and then lie in complete silence and total darkness while they envision the brand.

Given Charlton’s position as a London club with many supporters in Kent, it was decided that Wall would envision Kentish images while Hurst focused on London. Wall recalled: ‘I see cathedrals, oast houses, orchards, Dickensian marshes, Whitstable oysters, Tracey Emin, Eurostar, the Channel Tunnel, cross-channel ferries, white cliffs, Dreamland, happy hoppers, a long pier, miniature railways.’

The tape for Hurst runs: ‘I see pearly kings and queens, the Thames Barrier, Woolwich Ferry, the foot tunnels, jellied eels, the Dome, cor blimey guv, strike a light, lord love a duck, I hear Bow Bells, oh it’s my i-phone, ‘****! I have dropped the ****ing phone in the tank.’

The two innovators agreed that the starting point of their work must be the club’s name. ‘Charlton is a very specific location and not a very up market one,’ said Hurst. ‘Greenwich would have greater global name recognition and Miller came up with the idea of Greenwich Meridian.

However, it was agreed that that would be too geographically specific and that the club needed an outward-facing name that would embrace its support in London and Kent whilst also giving it a distinctive global niche. The first idea was ‘Thames’, but then it was pointed out that was the name of a failed inter-war club.

The duo then settled on ‘Estuary’ which emphasises the club’s increasingly Kent-based demographic, whilst also suggesting expanding and limitless horizons. Should Boris Island ever be built, the club would be well placed to relocate there.

A new kit would have a downwards expanding triangle of wavy blue lines on the shirt to symbolise the Estuary, the remainder of the shirt retaining the traditional red as a link with the club’s past. Shorts would be green to emphasise the Kent connection, with an oast house device to one side.

The sword badge would be replaced by a depiction of a Eurostar train disappearing into a tunnel, reviving the attempts of Rick Everitt many years ago to tap into the French market as recorded in All’s Quiet in the West Stand. The Red, Red Robin would be replaced by ‘Ferry Across the Thames’, a re-written version of Ferry Across the Mersey, giving a link with the Estuary theme.’

The East Stand would be re-named the Cathedrals Stand. The Jimmy Seed stand would become the Charles Dickens stand. The Covered End would be named the Tracey Emin stand. The London link would be maintained by naming the West Stand the Chirpy Cockneys stand.

A club spokesman said, ‘We welcome this radical re-branding of the club which we are sure will be welcomed by all forward-looking supporters going forward. The Estuary brand demonstrates convincingly that this is not a club stuck in the mud. The tide is coming in at The Valley and it’s lifting all boats.’