Sunday 31 August 2014

The one that got away

Charlton target Andy Delort has opted for the delights of Wigan pier. Charlton supremo Big Bob is disappointed that he failed to secure his signature as he was an 'interesting' player: Delort

It's always disappointing to lose out on a player to Championship rivals, particularly after such a long drawn out saga. However, I wouldn't blame Roland for refusing to pay over the odds.

Big Bob has not ruled out further signings before the transfer window closes, but emphasises that they would have to be good quality. I would have thought that any pod that was going to leave the mother ship that would have done so by now.

The signing of Bulot may allow Cousins to move into the centre where he is more effective and does not cramp Wiggins' style.

Saturday 30 August 2014

Late goal denies Addicks three points

We would have taken a draw before the game, but the 2-2 draw between Brighton and Hove Albion and Charlton today feels a bit like a defeat after the Seagulls scored an injury time equaliser. The Addicks are now 6th in the table.

Igor Vitokele opened the scoring for Charlton in the fourth minute with a powerful shot from the edge of the box. Charlton hit the hosts with a fast break and Yoni Buyens played in Vetokele, who beat goalkeeper David Stockdale with a well-placed low shot for his fourth goal of the season.

Brighton came close to wiping the deficit out less than a minute later when Portuguese midfielder Joao Teixeira, on a season-long loan from Liverpool, forced keeper Stephen Henderson to make a brilliant one-handed save.

Albion striker Craig Mackail-Smith failed to control an inviting pass into the box from Joe Bennett before Jake Forster-Caskey had a low goal-bound shot blocked for the Seagulls. Buyens was forced to put the ball behind for a corner from a cross by Andrew Crofts after Bruno Saltor had turned provider. Brighton threatened when a corner from Danny Holla was headed down by Dunk and Spanish striker Adrian Colunga was unable to direct his shot on target at the far post.

Charlton, who were frustrating Brighton with a well-organised defence, pushed forward before the interval and Johann Berg Gudmundsson saw a deflected shot fly wide before George Tucudean was off target with an angle drive from outside the area.

The Seagulls looked lively after the break. Dunk scored for Brighton on 67 minutes from a corner, but Vitokele scored a second.

The Angolan international latched on to a Simon Church cross, weaved his way past the Seagulls defence and struck a powerful shot to put the Addicks back in the lead. Charlton almost scored a third towards the end of the match, but Andre Bikey's header flew wide.

It was a miss the Addicks would come to rue, because in the 93rd minute, Kazenga LuaLua's ambitious cross fell to Dunk, who headed the ball into the net.

Player ratings

Provided by an Addick in attendance visiting from overseas:

Henderson One superb stop when their player was allowed through. Otherwise not much to do. I would like to see the goals in TV tonight to see whether he could have done better. Solly Good tackling skills, reasonable distribution, but I felt he gave far too much room to a very good winger. The first goal seemed to go over his head. Wiggins Disappointing to me. Capable in winning the ball but too predictable in turning inside and passing back. Bikey Danny Shittu lookalike, athletic and hard to muscle off the ball. A few lapses of concentration that could have been punished, especially the overhead kick. Haim Experienced and capable. Could have the same effect on our defenders as Costa had in his day at the higher level.

Gudmundsson Started brightly but faded. Should become a decent player. Jackson Skilled and intelligent but too slow and overall does not contribute as much as the team needs Buyens The player we have needed for a long time. Good timing at interceptions, quick to move the ball forward, athletic and strong. Cousins My first view of him and I was disappointed. He looked too slight and also looked uncomfortable in front of Wiggins. Possibly the lack of options given by Cousins was the reason for Wiggins passing back so often. With Buyens in control in the centre he may do well alongside or on the right but I think he looked out of place today.

George Did not contribute a great deal and no surprise he made way at half time. Igor Saving the best until last. The most exciting player I have seen in a Charlton shirt for some time.

Subs: Church Did what he was supposed to do, linking up and putting the defence under pressure, but does not seem a goal threat. Wilson Caused a midfield re-shuffle when he came on. Worked well with Solly but does not create openings going forward. Fox looks composed enough and places himself intelligently but the game rather passed him by apart from one nice idea that unfortunately was read by the defence.

I think we really need a strong central midfielder beside Buyens who can power through to support attacks and shoot without fear. Too many attacks petered out through lack of midfield support and the ball ended up going backwards from promising positions.

Glass Half Empty

Derek from Dymchurch writes: That Belgian geezer has some questions to answer. We should have won at Brighton and Brentford. We are already slipping down the table. We may be scoring goals, but we are also shipping them. We are playing too much football. It's all very well having possession, not that we had much anyway yesterday, we need to get the ball forward rather than passing back to another Charlton player.

Bulot signs from the mother ship

Fredéric Bulot has signed on a season long loan from the mother ship. This is one of the rare occasions when the official site delivers news: Bulot

The 23-year old from Gabon is described as a left-footed box-to-box midfielder: Career details . See him score an exceptional goal here (although I am sure he doesn't do it every week): Magnifique

With his career stalling in Belgium, his first preference was to go to France. However, assured that Charlton was a predominantly French-speaking club, he accepted the Eurostar ticket, Oyster card and room at the Swallow Hotel (now rebadged as the Marriott): Angleterre . The beverage department says he may take a walk round Bexleyheath this afternoon, so bear this in mind if you are not going to Brighton.

Johnnie Jackson had better get on with that 'Teach Yourself French' course!

Friday 29 August 2014

Brighton bring in Baldock

Brighton have bought striker Sam Baldock from Bristol City for around £2m. Seen as a possible Charlton target in the past, Baldock is known as a predator and will be available for selection against the Addicks tomorrow: Baldock

Charlton have won only one of the last seven meetings. Their only win since 2009 was 3-2 at The Valley in December last season. Brighton are unbeaten in the last three meetings at home, though they have won only one. Charlton's last win there was 2-0 in League One in December 2009.

Keeper Stephen Henderson will have a late fitness test. Chris Solly is fit.

Odds for the game: Brighton 5/6, Draw 11/5, Charlton 3/1.

The Seagulls are trialling a new smart phone app developed by the University of Sussex. This allows phones to share bandwidth by creating a network. Fans can communicate with each other, receive live updates on other games and travel information, and rate the referee. (Today he is Graham Salisbury from Lancashire).

Thursday 28 August 2014

Will we get Delort after all?

I have never known a transfer saga as long and complex as this one, but it appears that Tours have not yet concluded a deal to sell Andy Delort to Wigan: Delort

What is more a rival club have made a larger bid of their own which includes the offer of an intriguing link up with the Tours training centre. Charlton would be in a position to make such an offer.

The Tours statement reads: 'There have been a number of rumours that suggest Andy Delort is going everywhere in Europe (Germany, England, Belgium, Spain, France…) since the beginning go the transfer window. The latest has been suggesting that he has found an agreement with English side Wigan. At the moment, not a single agreement has been found with this club, even if discussions are ongoing. Discussions are also underway with several other clubs. A more important offer has been made by another British side, one which includes a club partnership which is very interesting for the youth system at Tours. The window is not closed, and official informations will be communicated via the club’s official website.'

The latest news (Friday evening) is that Wolverhampton Wanderers are now favourites to sign the player.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Warnock back at Palace

Back from a few days in Beijing performing the role of 'elderly foreign person' and I find that Neil Warnock has been appointed manager at Palace: Warnock

We're out of the league cup and Delort has one to Wigan. Standard Liege have been knocked out of the Champions League. Derek from Dymchurch has texted to say: 'I told you the wheels were coming off.'

Midfielder Frederic Bulot is reported to have joined from the mother ship: Career details

Beverage department sources are saying that attacking midfielder Jonathan Viera Ramos is joining from Valencia, but there is no independent confirmation: Jonathan Viera

Saturday 23 August 2014

10 per cent chance of promotion

Charlton have a 10.3 per cent of being in an automatic promotion place or a play off slot this season, according to the rather modest estimate of the Fink Tank in The Times this morning, drawing on work done by others based on goals and shots on goal (defence is arguably important as well). They are just behind Fulham on 11.3 per cent in an overall mid-table position. Millwall are on 3 per cent and today's opponents, Huddersfield, are on 5.5 per cent.

The top six are Norwich (49 per cent); Wolves (28.5 per cent); Middlesbrough (24 per cent); Blackburn (22.3 per cent); Derby (21.5 per cent); Brighton (17.9 per cent).

I would be more optimistic than these figures suggest. In any event if we can maintain our present standard of play we are much more likely to be promoted than relegated.

Friday 22 August 2014

Will it be tough 'oop north?

Not so long ago well-known Charlton fan Jonathan Acworth predicted that both Charlton and Millwall would go up this season. If you looked at the present state of the table, you might believe him, whilst Huddersfield Town are just above the relegation zone in 20th. However, it's early days and the Terriers got their season going with a good win at Reading midweek: First points

The Terriers are still without a manager, despite persistent rumours that Chris Powell might take his flat cap 'oop north. Last season they finished 17th and they could well be in a similar position at the end of the current season. Having enjoyed good fortune in avoiding the drop in 2102-13, little was expected from them last season, but they did well until running out of steam a little towards the end. It was reckoned that Mark Robins had a made steady improvement on a low budget, but the opening day defeat made him the first managerial casualty.

Four Four Two says: 'Steady and unspectacular are probably the operative words for most of Town's key performers: ever-present keeper Alex Smithies; combative breakthrough defender Tommy Smith; pinpoint passing Adam Hammill; and goal scorer Jamie Vaughan.' Vaughan averaged three shots per game throughout last season. Only four players across the entire Football League hit more. He has been side lined by a calf injury, and at this point I am uncertain about his availability tomorrow. He is continuing to 'receive treatment' which could mean anything. Key danger man Adam Clayton has gone to Middlesbrough.

The home side has a number of injury worries, including their captain, but it seems that Nick Pope will continue in goal with Stephen Henderson's hamstring continuing to be 'monitored': Injury list

This summer's transfer activity to date means that the Town midfield is well stocked, but fans consider that the defence needs reinforcing and more options are required up front: Transfers

Last year we lost the away match in the league 2-1, have won by a single goal in the preceding season. Odds are: Huddersfield 23/20, Draw 12/5, Charlton 9/4.

Work tasks are taking me away from the UK for a few days and I regret that I will be unable to provide coverage of this game or the cup game at Derby. Who knows, when I return, Andy Delort may have signed! Or not.

Glass Half Empty

Derek from Dymchurch writes: 'That Belgian geezer has ridden his luck up to now with two home matches and the away match up the river. Now he has to go 'oop north and I reckon this is where the wheels will come off. The northern cloggers will soon put paid to his fancy footwork. Mind you I give him some credit for giving Rosler what for about events in Belgium 100 years ago. Here on the Kent coast vigilance is our watchword.'

'Maybe we will ride our luck this season. So I will make an offer up front: if we are promoted, I will give the team a day out in Dymchurch, including five pounds worth of tokens at the amusement park and a return ticket to Dungeness on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch. As for Wyn, I wish him well on his slow boat to China.'

Thursday 21 August 2014

Palace have to resume manager search

Crystal Palace had agreed a three year contract with Malky Mackay (according to Radio 5), but they will now have to resume their search after it was revealed that allegations against Mackay by Cardiff City are to be investigated by the Football Association. It is alleged that text messages of a racist, sexist and homophobic nature were sent and that there were also irregularities in transfer dealings: Mackay

Iain Moody is set to resign as Palace's sporting director in the wake of various allegations: Moody

After the 'Spygate' affair, for which the Glaziers received a slap on the wrist in terms of a £10,000 fine, Cardiff have announced that they are to commence civil proceedings against them.

Rickshaw celebrates 10th anniversary

Today is the 10th anniversary of the Valley Express service, the first coach running from Ramsgate and Margate to take fans to the home Premier League match against Portsmouth (!). The full service was launched at a home game against Birmingham which we won 2-0.

The service enables Charlton fans dispersed across Kent and elsewhere to reach home games reliably and cheaply. At the peak of our Premier League success, it was a more extensive service, although not every new route that was started turned out to be viable. Who knows what will happen in the future.

The poor start of Fulham does not entirely surprise me. Being in the Championship and playing the likes of Millwall must be a real shock. I note that they have abandoned their strange experiment of a 'neutral' end, although after a Charlton game there I was chatting to someone who had come as a neutral.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Charlton go fourth

Charlton took fourth place in the Championship after defeating Derby County 3-2 at The Valley yesterday evening. The Addicks have now beaten two of the teams who made the play offs last year, although as promotion favourites the Rams were faster and fitter than Wigan. After going 2-1 ahead just before half team with a penalty, the Addicks made it 3-1, but then allowed Derby to get back in the game with a second goal. This made for a tense finish with four minutes added on, but the Addicks survived to claim all three points.

In the first five minutes of the game we played some of the best possession football I have seen at The Valley, putting together something like forty passes. Charlton were ahead in the 11th minute when Tucudean latched onto Jordan Cousins' cross to smash the ball past Derby keeper Lee Grant. I think that the new wider pitch does help our players to make more use of the wings.

Derby started to get back into the game. They were given too much space and were progressing down the wings in particular. At times our midfield lost its shape. After Pope had made one good save, he could not stop a powerful equaliser from the dangerous Ward going into the top corner in the 31st minute. The Rams went close to taking the lead but Craig Bryson and Jeff Hendrick shot tamely at Pope. During this phase of the game Big Bob was going ballistic on the touchline.

As everyone was whistling for half time, four minutes being added on, Tucudean advanced into the area and was brought down by Keogh. Buyens, who has replaced Jacko as penalty taker, dispatched his shot with coolness and force into the goal.

Franck Moussa fired wide from close range before Vetokele headed in Laurie Wilson's cross, the move having been started by Jackson. A weak effort from Ward squeezed through Pope's legs to give Derby hope of snatching a draw but Charlton held on for the three points.

Here's what the Derby paper thinks of their team's failure to secure an historic clean sheet: Ram View

Congratulations to the guy who flew from Melbourne to see the game and got there just in time despite flight delays and a big queue at immigration. His dad and uncle were waiting for him at the gate.

Match analysis

Ivy the Belgian Shepherd has awarded George Tucudean his first Silver Bone. Even though he had to go off at half time, his opening goal was well taken and then won a penalty on the brink of half time.

Before the game one prominent Addick was arguing that Nick Pope should remain in goal when Henderson was fit (hopefully for Saturday). Pope still has a lot to learn and tonight will have made a valuable contribution towards that process. He has lots of potential, but the Championship is different from League 2 in terms of the crowd and the quality of the play. We shouldn't have played so many back passes to him. Bikey once again showed that he is an effective central defender, although he did fall over a lot. Tal Ben Haim put himself about, requiring treatment at one point. Gomez showed what a promising player he is, shame that the referee gave him a yellow card. Wiggins had a far better game than on Saturday. Buyens took his penalty well and has a great work rate, we are fortunate that personal circumstances required him to spend a year away from the mother ship. Jackson looked sharper and fitter and was much more involved than on Saturday. See him accept the ice bucket challenge here: Ice bucket Cousins perhaps wasn't quite as good as on Saturday, but still made an effective contribution. Gudmundsson showed a good turn of speed and had one shot saved. Vetokele was muscled out of the game somewhat in the first half, but his goal was well taken. Moussa did not make as great an impact on Saturday. One promising attack ended when he slipped up. Once again Wilson was an effective substitute. Fox had a cameo.

Fat Cat Fleur has awarded the Hiss of the Match to me for being home late, but I was back in Leamington by midnight which is something of a record. Just as well as I have to be in London by 12.30 for lunch.

Glass Half Empty

Introducing the pessimistic view contributed by Derek from Dymchurch.

I must admit I had some cogitating to do on the coach home. The Daily Express said that this Belgian geezer was useless, had managed the equivalent of a pub side, but it seems he knows how to get the team to play football. It was cold on the walk back to the bungalow and the Daily Express said the other week that we were going to have the hottest weather ever. If you can't believe what you read in the papers, where are you?

But it's early days. We've only played three matches, two of those were at home and we won each of those by a margin of just one goal. Why can't we hang on to a lead? When we went 3-1 ahead, Peeters should have gone for the fourth or parked the bus. He did neither. Belgians don't know whether they are French or Dutch and they don't know whether to attack or defend. We may be fourth from top now, but we could well be fourth from bottom by Christmas!

Tuesday 19 August 2014


Derby County were one of my promotion picks for this season and their start has been a little bit more hesitant than I expected, albeit the same in terms of points as us. After Saturday's 0-0 draw with the Massives at Hillsborough, manager Steve McClaren demanded greater quality in front of goal. Derby are pleased to be going to The Valley early in the season before the pitch deteriorates (what was all that work over the summer for?): Derby County

Some chances were missed, but the Rams will be hard to break down, having had three clean sheets so far this season. Keeper Lee Grant did very well for Derby on Saturday, dealing confidently with anything that came his way. Another good player for Derby on Saturday was Craig Bryson who was 'full of running.' Bryson was selected as the key player at the Rams by Four Four Two. They said: 'The energetic pocket Scot was the Rams' unsung hero last season. A hard-working midfielder who can change a match with a burst of pace and a fine finish'.

It will be a tough test for Nick Pope tonight with Henderson unlikely to be fit, but I feel confident about the youngster. He is certainly ready: Terminator Pope. In front of him he will have the huge frame of Bikey who bullied Riera out of the game on Saturday with Tel Ben Haim also giving the Wigan forwards some nightmares. Having watched the highlights of the game, I fail to see why the young Bloke Behind Me was dismissing Buyens as useless. Perhaps he didn't get many chances to go box to box, but he contributed a great deal.

The jury is still out on George Tucudean. On Saturday he failed to use one good lay off and lost possession a number of times, but improved as the game went on. According to the Football League Paper Jordan Cousins 'looked very comfortable on the left' so perhaps I was wrong in preferring him to be played in central midfield.

I would not expect Big Bob Peeters to tinker with the team too much. Hopefully, Solly will be up to another match so soon after the last one. Wilson can take his place, but he is often at his best in combination with Solly.

I am going for a draw and our local Ram thinks that I may well be right. He commented, 'We don't really seem to have settled yet.' Let's hope they remain unsettled tonight. Two of the last three encounters at The Valley have been draws, but we lost 0-2 last year. Indeed, the Rams beat us soundly in both matches last year, so if we can give them a game and take something from it, that will be progress.

Odds are Charlton 9/4; draw 9/4; Derby 6/5. Referee Michael Bull is from Essex, but is not known to be a friend of Andy d'Urso.

I am looking forward to tonight and hopefully will not make the same mistake as the Millwall fans who ended up on the wrong side of the river when they went in a boat to Fulham. Saturday's match analyst Mustang will not be able to get away from his day job at Kingdom Signs and was also somewhat affronted at being driven in a Toyota rather than his customary BMW convertible. Senior match analyst Ivy will be returning to support her fellow Belgians.

Monday 18 August 2014

Powell favourite for Huddersfield

Reports this morning have suggested that Chris Powell is now favourite for the vacancy at Huddersfield Town. He had already been linked with the job locally: Powell

Unlike Curbs, Powell has not confined his job search to within the M25. Powell already has a flat cap.

Positives outweigh negatives

It's been an unusual experience this weekend to see the number of Charlton fans expressing positive sentiments outweighing those with negative views. Fans are taking to Big Bob Peeters. He is getting the team to play football: I expect to see 'hoof and hope' at a non-league game, but not at The Valley. He is also a bit of a character, to say the least.

Of course, the fact that we are in the play off places means nothing at this time of the season and a defeat tomorrow night could soon change the mood music (BTW, the new programme format needs to make a clearer distinction between home and away matches).

One area on which further work is needed is holding up the ball: come back Carl Leaburn, all is forgiven (even better, Andy Hunt).

The attendance was a bit disappointing on Saturday at just over 15,000: no wonder it wasn't announced. Wigan brought relatively few supporters. When I went there in Premier League days, most of their supporters seemed to be lippy twelve year olds: perhaps they have grown out of football. It is also still the holiday season. There is an element of resistance to Roland, but success on the pitch may help to overcome that.

In that connection I was walking to the ground from the Rose of Denmark and a bloke came alongside me and asked if I was going to the match. He asked who were playing and where we finished last season. Then he went into his house. How can we appeal to people on our doorstep?

Although morale is good, nothing like a joke or two for Monday morning. Heard on Radio 5 last week:

Interviewer to former undercover police officer: 'Did you sleep with any of your targets?'

'No, they were Millwall football hooligans, so that didn't arise.'

An interview in the Football League Paper revealed that former Addick Dale Stephens has a tattoo which reads 'Dale'. I suppose it's useful if you forget your name. Why not your house number and postal code as well?

Sunday 17 August 2014

Rennes back in for Delort

With Charlton failing to make progress in their efforts to sign Andy Delort, Rennes are back in the frame: Delort

The story is now being carried by multiple French sites, no doubt with a great deal of copying. The reports are short and have nothing new to say, but there is confirmation that our offer was €2m.

We could do with another striker, but it looks like it won't be Delort.

Saturday 16 August 2014

You do know what you're doing

Up for it coach acknowledges the crowd


Charlton head coach Bob Peeters has been derided by the media, but today's 2-1 victory against Wigan Athletic provided further confirmation that he does know what he's doing. We're no longer playing hoof ball and trying to pass the ball to other Charlton players. It's far from perfect, and there's a lot to be worked on, as Peeters knows himself, but it's a good start.

It was a rather cagey affair, played at a rather slow tempo for much of the game. I think that when we upped the tempo in the last quarter of an hour or so we did better.

The Bloke Behind Me has mellowed over the years, but he has a young companion who is only too ready to look for negatives. After complaining about Cousins, the Charlton product scored an excellent opening goal for the Addicks, leading the Covered End to chant 'He's one of our own.'

Unfortunately, poor defending by Wiggins allowed Wigan to score an equaliser. For much of the second half it seemed as if both sides were content to settle for a draw, but a burst of energy by Charlton in the last ten minutes (including five minutes added on) saw substitute Franck Moussa score a goal that sent The Valley delirious with joy. The Covered End set up a chant of 'Bobby Peeters' Red Army'.

Full report

It was a rather unusual start to the season for me as I went to brief Mustang on his duties as match analyst on Friday evening which took me to his splendid home on the Oxfordshire-Berkshire border. It's the first time I've stayed there and I'm still not sure how many bedrooms there are, although mine was large and immaculate. I'm not sure I would have ever have had the energy to host dinner parties on two successive evenings, but I suppose that is why I am not seriously rich.

On Saturday morning my brief sample of the millionaire lifestyle came to an end and I headed back up to the A34 to Bicester Station, catching a train that started there. That was fortuitous as one of the Warwickshire Addicks told me that he had had to stand all the way from Warwick. The Jubilee Line was experiencing severe delays (again) with signal failure at North Greenwich, so I took the Bakerloo to Charing Cross on which trains had to be 'regulated' because of the problems on the Jubilee.

However, I got to the Rose of Denmark to talk to the Oman Addick who is enjoying a wonderful lifestyle out there. I also chatted to former pitch announcer Brian Cole who has encountered more challenging times. It was great to see his daughter Clare and her new husband: they met through Addicktion when they were teenagers.

I bought my Voice of the Valley off a rather grumpy gnome and was able to exchange a brief worked with the Rickster himself. The editorial emphasised that the line from now on would be intelligent criticism of the regime, which is always good, although I'm not sure how the ravings of Dicko fit into this plan.

I had a surprise at the ground when the Bloke Beside Me (Paul from Bexleyheath) did not appear and the seats were occupied by a dad and two young children. In front of me were three Chinese youngsters and their mum with their dad taking photos from the row in front. They were certainly well into the game so perhaps Beijing will not be an Addick free zone when I go there next week.

The new pitch was looking great. I was pleased to see Bob Peters exchanging passes with the mascots before the game.

Charlton went ahead on eight minutes after Cousins collected Johann Gudmundsson's pass, cut inside and struck into the top corner beyond Carson. The visitors fought back and equalised 15 minutes later when McArthur set up McManaman, who steered his left-footed effort past Henderson. A shot from Wiggins was well saved by Carson.

Former Racing Club Warwick goalkeeper and employee of Café Rouge in Leamington, Carson was forced into action again in the second half when he gathered from Igor Vetokele's shot, which deflected off James Perch. Henderson limped off, possibly with a hamstring injury. Moussa scored with a late shot that took a wicked deflection off Keenan.

The real drama came at the end of the match as the two coaches had to be pulled apart. Peeters had irked Rosler by celebrating the winner goal right down by the Wigan bench. Rosler then retorted with some choice words at the final whistle (it is unclear whether these were in German which both of them speak). Big Bob wanted to knock Rosler's block off, but was held back. Peeters said later that he had apologised to the players for losing his composure, but he was not going to apologise to Rosler.

Match analysis

Novice match analyst Mustang greatly enjoyed his first outing to The Valley and awarded the Silver Bone to André Bikey-Amougou. The defender is built like the proverbial brick facility, but he is really mobile and as well as intercepting the ball plays it out of defence well. Mustang noted that he had only been given one star by Rick Everitt in Voice of the Valley and wondered if he should check his decision out with Rick's dog, but he was told that Rick did not have a dog, only gnomes and elves.

The Wigan goal was scored at an acute angle and I wouldn't blame Henderson. I was surprised later to see him injured and I have heard various explanations, so best to leave it until I hear something official. Ben Haim is not as impressive as Bikey, but he did his job. Whether he is better than Morrison is a moot point. I thought that Solly had an excellent game, once again showing his pace and his ability to be in the right place at the right time. Wiggins seems a little rusty. His distribution was poor, but he did improve in the second half. Buyens was condemned by the young Bloke Behind Me as useless and unable to control the ball, but I thought that he had a good game and it seems that many other Addicks did as well, although perhaps he did tire a bit in the second half. Cousins was involved in a number of attacks, apart from scoring his goal, but I still think he is better in central midfield rather than out on the left. Jackson did his best but he lacks pace and Big Bob was right to withdraw him when he got tired. Gudmundsson confirmed my belief that he is a good acquisition, charging through the Wigan defence at one point. Steve from Petts Wood is not sure that Tucudean is up to the task, but there were some decent touches and he did create some chances. He was a little rushed at times, but I am not giving him the thumbs down yet. Vitokele was roundly abused by the young Bloke Behind Me after he failed to score when one on one with Carson. But the keeper (warmly applauded on his return) made a good save and as the old Bloke Behind Me pointed out, in his new sagacious mood, it was Vitokele who created the chance. Moussa showed with his goal that he can make a difference. Pope was not really tested that much and seemed a little hesitant with static kicks, but he is clearly a good substitute keeper and it was nice for him to have some match time. Wilson was up for it when he came on and may have been one of the factors that made a difference in the closing phase of the game.

Rescue Cat Reg has been temporarily removed from Hiss of the Match duties after repeatedly staying out all night, but Fat Cat Fleur has no hesitation in giving the accolade to the banker from Billericay Andy d'Urso. Once again the referee showed no favours to Charlton and was urged to call a toll free number to arrange his pension. Chris Solly was brought down in a blatant foul when he was advancing on goal, but d'Urso dismissed it as a dive. Why would Solly do that when he was making good progress?

Friday 15 August 2014

Murray to speak to fans

Richard Murray is to speak to Charlton fans at the annual general meeting of the CAS Trust on 11 September. The meeting will only be open to Trust members, but I think that fans should consider paying the small membership fee as it is the nearest thing to a representative structure we have: Murray

Murray is described as an 'entertaining and informative' speaker. He is certainly polished and an expert at the soft answer that turns away wrath. As for informative, any account is to some extent a construction of a reality that is perceived differently by those involved.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Pulis leaves Palace

Belgian Bob hears the news

Tony Pulis has left Crystal Palace just before the start of the season after a dispute over transfer funds: Pulis

Admittedly their chairman is a self-confessed pain in the backside: Band of brothers

Radio 5 has just said that Pulis thought that Palace needed to stay in the Premier League for three years to fulfil what he saw as their potential. He also thought they needed a complete upgrade off the field and you can't blame him when you look at the contraption that passes for a main stand at Selhurst Park.

One rumoured replacement is Malky McKay. He is the bookies' favourite and was named by a gutted Palace fans' representative interviewed on Radio 5 this morning. The fan didn't want him, but they should be grateful to get anyone. Unfortunately, rumours that Iain Dowie might be considered are not accurate.

I don't think there is any possibility that Chris Powell would be considered, nor television pundit Alan Curbishley. The ultimate insult for Curbs is that he is now bracketed with Dowie as a managerial prospect: Soccer Saturday, scroll down to #4

Getting ready for Saturday

The first home league game of a new season is always particularly exciting. I am look forward to meeting up with another of the Midlands Addicks who now lives in Oman. It will probably be the only game this season he will be able to attend. His blog about his experiences there and his separation from Charlton is well worth reading: Addick to Oman

Voice of the Valley will be available around the ground. It seems that Rick Everitt has reached a compromise with his gnomes and elves: they won't have to wear the third kit to sell the Voice, but they have accepted that their wages will be influenced by the fact that Thanet is a low wage area. Remember if you want a 'selfie' with Rick he normally sells from a pitch opposite the club shop.

We are welcoming a new member of the canine commentating team on Saturday who will be covering a match for the first time. Belgian Shepherd Ivy has been training chocolate Labrador Mustang. His day job is with our sponsors Kingdom Signs where he has working in reception since last year, although he apparently he is the real boss. His bio is here: Slightly Bonkers

Will Derek from Dymchurch get back to me about his proposal for a 'Glass Half Empty' contribution?

Pessimists get their story together

It was a beautiful sunset near the Sparrows Lane training ground yesterday evening, but this did nothing to improve the mood of the many pessimists at Charlton

The many Charlton pessimists suffered a minor setback on Tuesday evening, but they have quickly constructed a narrative to explain why the result doesn't count (all these are arguments that have been put forward by Addicks).

First, Colchester played with ten men for three quarters of the match. I can remember many occasions when we haven't been able to capitalise on that.

Second, the U's are in League One. Well, as the cliché goes, you have to play who is in front of you and our record against lower league clubs in recent years has not been that good. Indeed, I can still remember being knocked out of the league cup by Wycombe when we were in the Premiership.

Third, Bob Peeters was critical of some aspects of the team's performance. Good for him. We don't want a manager who says 'good enough' is sufficient, but drives the team on to better and better performances. Peeters is clearly far from being the clueless chump that he is portrayed as being in the media.

Of course, their strongest argument is that the real test and the match that matters is on Saturday. However, a win in the meantime is good for morale. One thing is that is evident from Tuesday is that there is some healthy competition for positions and the back up players look good. Poyet aside, the squad is in many ways stronger than last year.

Thinking about pessimists, reminds me of two classic incidents involving the Bloke Behind Me. We were beating Burnley 4-0 in a cup tie and he started shouting 'They're all over you, Charlton.' When we stormed ahead against Stockport County (their fans were very cross when they played my non-league team, grumbling about 'playing in a field'), the BBM left well before the end of the game, shouting 'I can't take any more of this.' Someone said, 'You'll miss some more goals' (which he did) and he replied, 'Yes, Stockport goals.'

If I was as pessimistic as some Addicks, I wouldn't bother coming. Come On You Reds!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Bore draw?

Charlton have been drawn away to Derby County in the next round of the league cup. They are a team we will play anyway twice this season and, given the home advantage, they are more likely to go through. We rarely seem to get interesting ties, but at least we are not playing Huddersfield.

Our record in all competitive matches at Derby is not as bad as I thought: the Rams have won 17 matches, Charlton 12 and 10 have been drawn. However, we last won a game there in the Premier League in 1999, although there have been some draws since then. We were, of course, beaten by them in the FA Cup final in 1946.

Checking out rumours

The transfer window is a frenetic period and in many ways I am glad when it is over as following up stories and keeping up developments takes up more time than I like. However, speculating about signing new players is part of the excitement of supporting a club.

Many fans say they will 'wait for the official site', which is perfectly reasonable, but often they will have to wait a long time. Of course, a new player has to complete a medical before the contract can be confirmed. However, sometimes I think that one is waiting for him to get an Oyster card and temporary accommodation in the Swallow Hotel. In practice I think what often holds things up is the photo shoot. In the meantime, however, reputable sites run by major media organisations have published the story.

As the composition of the staff at Charlton has changed, sources within the club have diminished (indeed, at one time, I was sometimes used as a mechanism to 'kite fly' stories). Nevertheless, sometimes things do leak out.

In general, however, first I check rumours for plausibility. For example, I have ignored summer rumours about Scott Parker on those grounds. Second, I look to see what various sites are saying - and some of them have a better track record than others. Increasingly that means looking at French sites and my reading knowledge of French is just about good enough to read them. (Like most English people my accent is appalling: oddly I have been told that my German accent is that of someone from a small town in East Germany). I face a dilemma about whether I should try and improve my French when I had been planning to learn Portuguese. Unfortunately, I can't read Flemish/Dutch and relevant stories rarely appear on German or Italian sites. Where there is a site link, I give it, even if it is in French.

The other route open to me is to talk to contacts in the media I have made through covering football stories for them. However, I have to do that sparingly and it is most useful for stories involving Midlands clubs where I do most of my media work.

Quite a few of the stories about players coming to Charlton this summer published here have turned out to be correct. Others have been overtaken by events.

Later in the month I have to spend a few days working in a country that I find very challenging, in part because my command of the language is very limited. However, I am starting to look forward to having a few days away from the internet and the rumours!

Tours talks continue

The Andy Delort transfer saga has been one of the longest I can remember at Charlton, or at least it seems that way. I know that many fans are getting bored with it, but at least the player is maintaining his enthusiasm for joining the Addicks.

Bob Peeters is of the view that talks are continuing, although he doesn't seem to know a lot more than the average fan: Tours Presumably, Katrien is in charge of the talks from the Charlton end with Roland overseeing them.

Tours need the money and one hopes that they will accept a reasonable offer, but Roland is surely right not to make an excessive one.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Some players rested for cup tie

Although Vetokele is on the bench, and Wilson comes in with Solly rested, Bob Peeters has still put out quite a strong team for tonight's cup match with Colchester United. Gomez gets a start and Morrison returns to the sign. Wiggins is replaced by Fox. Tucudean gets another chance to see if he can get the ball in the net with Church and Pigott on the bench. I thought that Pope might get a chance in goal but Henderson kept his place.

01 Henderson 03 Gomez 21 Fox 24 Cousins 05 Morrison 06 Bikey Amougou 02 Wilson 17 Buyens 29 Tucudean 10 Moussa 11 Harriott

Substitutes 07 Berg Gudmundsson 14 Vetokele 18 Church 22 Nego 23 Pigott 26 Ben Haim 30 Pope

The Addicks have never lost to Colchester in a cup game, but the U's have won in three of last five outings to The Valley.

On 13 minutes Moussa put in a shot from outside the box but it was blocked. Charlton had the edge in terms of possession in the first quarter of an hour.

On 23 minutes the Adddicks went ahead through a penalty. Yoni Buyens converted the penalty with a right footed shot to the centre of the goal. Magnus Okuonghae was shown the red card for hand ball. The Us had to make a forced substitution and Charlton's share of the possession went up to two-thirds. Charlton pressed for a second goal, but attempts by Tucudean, Moussa and Harriott in quick succession were saved. However, Charlton failed to score before the break.

HT: Addicks 1, Us 0

Henderson dealt comfortably with a shot from outside the box by Sears in the first minute of the second half. Wilson put in a shot from outside the box but it just missed the target.

On 54 minutes an assist by Cousins allowed Lawrie Wilson to make it 2-0 with a shot to the centre of the goal. Four minutes later it was Moussa who turned provider as Wilson scored again with a shot to the bottom left hand corner. Vetokele replaced Moussa.

Church came on in place of Tucudean. Gudmundsson tried a right footed shot from more than 35 yards which was saved in the bottom right corner. Callum Harriott put in a right footed shot from the left side of the box which was too high.

On 88 minutes Church made it 4-0 shooting into the bottom right corner. Fox had a narrow miss with a shot from outside the box.

Even if it was against League 1 opposition, this was a morale boosting win for Charlton, showing that they can score goals and that Belgian Bob has something going for him.

Alain Traoré is latest target

The latest transfer target being linked with Charlton is attacking midfielder Alain Traoré: Traoré

Traoré plays for Lorient but also for the Burkina Faso national team: Career

His family are already in London and there would be advantages in joining a club where French is widely spoken. Most of our recent targets have had French as a principal language.

Bob Peeters has said that English will remain the dressing room language with French or Flemish being used to talk to players individually (Peeters is also fluent in German). However, we may reach a point where it would be sensible to give English players who do not already speak French some tuition in the language.

Was Pardew the worst Charlton manager ever?

This was the claim made by Richard Murray in the question and answer session at the Family Fun Day. Perhaps he was referring just to his own time at Charlton as it's quite a competitive league. Murray held his hands up to making a mistake about P45DUE as he is known at Newcastle, but pointed out that he had had many e-mails, texts and other messages from fans welcoming the appointment. I confess that I thought it was a good move at the time.

I was thinking of writing an assessment of the whole video, although the sound quality is not that good. In particular, one can't generally hear the question being asked. However, by kind permission of editor Rick Everitt (Whom God Preserve), I am writing about Katrien in the next Voice of the Valley. If the dispute between Rick and his gnomes about whether they should be paid the living rather than minimum wage is resolved, that should be available at the Wigan game (although the gnomes are also protesting against a proposal that they should wear the third kit which would certainly make them stand out).

So let's take a look at what Richard Murray said. Murray's role at recent events at The Valley is an enigma. I remember asking someone who is better informed than me about it a year ago (not the tea lady) and I got the reply, 'That's a good question.' Is Murray the fans' friend as he likes to portray himself, the guardian of the spirit of Charlton? Of course, Murray (or Murray-Obodynski to give his full surname) was originally a Wolves fan, but then he certainly put a lot of his own cash into Charlton. I appreciate his openness to fans in the past, particularly the meeting he held for Charlton bloggers. He could see that social media were becoming as important as news media.

Some fans have taken exception to his view that we should not expand the ground until we have sold out, i.e., have a waiting list for season tickets. Given that expanding the ground would be expensive, his stance seems a reasonable view to take. It would be adequate for a first year in the Premier League and if we stayed up, the position could be reviewed.

Katrien Meire looked understandably blank when Murray talked about events in the past, but the wise old owl was keen to demonstrate their rapport by slapping her on the back, at which point la belle Katrien managed a rather forced smile. As she pointed out, it was her close working relationship with Bob Peeters that was important, although this was emphasised by a comment that has a double meaning in English.

On Peeters, Murray said that he was a 'larger than life' character who was prepared to have some banter with the players but also drew strict limits to any familiarity. That sounds fine to me. I don't think that Alan Curbishley was all that keen on talking to the players and indeed complained to me about 'players knocking on my door' more than once, making it clear that he gave them short shrift. Keith Peacock was left to smooth any ruffled feathers and indeed that was a very good working partnership. I think the best insight I saw into it was on Chinese television. (I am shortly due to visit China again but I doubt whether I see any reflections on the current arrangements at the club).

But I digress. The events that surrounded Chris Powell's departure remain contentious and probably always will be. Richard Murray insisted, 'Roland was not picking the team. He was giving opinions.' Murray explained that when Powell asked for additional players, he was asked why he did not make more use of the players sent over from Belgium. Well, the problem was that most of them were not up to Championship standard, and that, along with the sale of Kermorgant, got the new owners off to a bad start with the fans. It has also been suggested in some quarters that Murray's account of these events was economic with the actualité. Chris Powell is too honourable a person to give his account of events publicly.

It was Murray, with Peter Varney and other directors, who got Charlton into the Premier League and, after a relegation, got us back up and kept us there. Charlton were punching above their weight. However, then was the disastrous appointment of Dowie, followed by Les Reed, who was out of his depth, and then Pardew.

We don't know what Murray said or did behind the scenes when the previous regime ran into difficulties. In all fairness, it should be said that Murray still has a lot of money at stake and that his own lifestyle has been reportedly curtailed. I don't doubt the sincerity of his attachment to Charlton, but whether he quite fits the 'elder statesman' mantle he would like to adopt is an open question. I wouldn't think that he has much influence on major decisions, and, as Katrien pointed out, the club does have a core philosophy under its new owners which is a refreshing change in football.

Katrien doesn't have a lot of real life decision-making experience and, I would suspect, little prior knowledge of football, but she is clearly intelligent and a quick learner who is capable of thinking strategically. Whilst it won't be from a bottle of wine from the Blackheath Addick, I am more than happy to raise a glass of Belgian beer to the new regime, particularly at a time when we are remembering how Belgian suffered during the First World War.

Celso Borges: he say no

Celso Borges has made it clear through his agent says that 'he does not want to play in the Championship and will not coming to Charlton'. This always looked like an unlikely deal to me. (As someone has queried the grammar of the headline, I should point out that it's a play on the old Del Monte adverts which were sometimes located in Central America: Del Monte

The Andy Delort deal has run into the sands given what Tours want and what the network is prepared to pay. Delort wants to come to Charlton is very upset with the president of his club who he thinks is asking for too much money: Delort lets rip .

Andy Delort has told L‘Equipe that the Tours President “is only thinking of himself” after the striker’s move to Charlton fell through because the Championship side failed to agree a fee with Tours, who want €4m plus hefty bonuses. [Far too much] At the moment, no agreement has been made, and Tours have no intention of lowering their demands. Whether or not Charlton have given up yet remains to be seen.

The Yannis Salibur deal still looks possible, but Brentford are chasing him as well.

City signing means cash bonus for Roland

Eliaquim Mangala is now England's most expensive defender after signing for Manchester City for a reported £32m. He was nurtured at the mother ship and was sold to Porto for €7.5m. That deal sensibly included a signing on fee so Roland now collects an extra £3.7m.

There may be more to come if rumours about Batshuayi are correct.

Monday 11 August 2014

U's face injury blow but Peeters will rest players

Colchester United have had an injury blow ahead of tomorrow night's Capital One cup clash with Charlton, reports the Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Craig Eastmond. The midfielder is regarded as the U's key player, although some feel that the former Arsenal youngster has never quite stepped up to the mark.

Colchester have been suffering from some budgetary problems. The playing budget was almost halved last year and there have now been further cuts. It's a far cry from three years ago when memories of a crusade in the Championship were still fresh. This year the U's are 25/1 to be promoted and 6/4 to be relegated.

Bob Peeters has said that he will rest some players given that he has more important games coming up against Wigan and Derby, so this may be your chance to see some of the second string players.

The Addicks have lost just one of their last five meetings with Colchester United (W3 D1) in all competitions. Charlton's win over Oxford United at this stage of the competition last season was their first win over a lower league side in six attempts.

Odds are: Charlton 4/6, Draw 11/4, Colchester 4/1.

Charlton are not a club in crisis

At last someone has broken ranks with the gloom and doom narrative about Charlton favoured by journos. When Saturday Comes remains one of the more intelligent football publications and although this piece was written as a preview for last Saturday's match, it does make some interesting general points, not least that Roland has a long-term strategy, whether you agree with it or not: Crisis? What Crisis

What does 'tracking' a player mean?

It is being reported that along with two other Championship clubs we are 'tracking' Cardiff City midfielder Joe Ralls as a possible loan signing: Ralls

But what does this actually mean? What it probably amounts to is that one of our scouts has taken a look at the player. But then they are looking at players all the time, both here and on the continent. The one thing one can say with any certainty is that chief scout Phil Chapple does not deserve the title 'Chapple of rest' he earned at Peterborough.

It may be that it is our network scouts who have been taking a look at Gilles Ruyssen. The 20-year old plays for K.A.A. Gent and does hold a Belgian passport. However, Wolves had already had him on trial and this does not seem to have led to anything. In any case, do we need another centre back? This looks like a case of 'Belgian player = move to Charlton' to me.

Costa Rican international, midfielder Celso Borges, who currently plays in Sweden, is being linked with Charlton, but I thought he was going to Evian. In any case, do we want a player who has to borrow a shirt to play in from a fan: Luis, can I borrow your shirt to play in?

Next: George Best's ghost has been seen at Sparrows Lane.

I'm looking forward to seeing some players who have actually signed for the club tomorrow night!

BTW, I had to laugh at Alan Pardew being given a new name by a Newcastle paper: P45DUE.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Yannis Salibur bid?

In the past couple of weeks Yannis Salibur, a left-winger who plays for Clermont Foot in Ligue 2, has been linked by French and Belgian sites with the mother ship. However, other clubs are also said to be interested. A fee of €1.2m has been mentioned.

However, sources close to the beverage department are claiming that the network may sign him and allocate him to Charlton, although there is no independent confirmation. Career details here: Salibur

Mon Dieu! The latest development is that he has apparently turned down the mother ship and wants to come to The Valley: Surprise development

As far as the standard of Ligue 2 is concerned, I do not think it as good as the Championship, but it is better than the English non-league. My concern would be whether the pace and physicality measures up to the Championship.

Rumours are now circulating that a deal has been agreed for £850k, but I have no independent confirmation.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Away point at Brentford

Most Addicks would take an away draw at Brentford as a decent start to the season. Igor Vetokele, who joined the Addicks from FC Copenhagen in the summer, headed his side ahead at Griffin Park. Unfortunately, George Țucudean and substitute Callum Harriott wasted chances for Charlton. They were made to pay as Smith's late deflected shot ensured Brentford a share of the spoils.

England manager Roy Hodgson was in the crowd at Griffin Park as was Football Association chairman Greg Dyke, the former Brentford chairman. And they witnessed a hard-fought London derby. Midfielder Alex Pritchard, on loan from Tottenham, went close from 20 yards in the opening stages before Judge forced Addicks keeper Henderson into a fine 40th-minute save. It was 0-0 at half time.

But Charlton created the better chances and will likely rue those missed opportunities. With the game goalless, Țucudean was clean through but Bees keeper David Button stood his ground to make a fine save. However, Tucudean's second touch could have been better and already some fans are denouncing him. Charlton, in their first competitive match under Belgian Bob, took the lead when Vetokele struck with a header from a corner shortly after the 22-year-old had been denied by Button. Rhoys Wiggins went close with a drive, but the Addicks then squandered a good chance to double their lead when substitute Callum Harriot hit the bar with an open goal gaping after Vetokele had beaten Button to a back pass.

But Smith equalised six minutes from the end with a shot that hit Charlton's former Chelsea and Manchester City defender Tal Ben Haim before finding the net. Some Addicks were puzzled by his selection over Morrison and thought that he was too inclined to argue with other Charlton players.

It is therefore interesting that on the Football League Show, where we were the featured match, Leroy Rosenoir and David Kitson gave particular praise to our defence, arguing that we had one of the strongest back fives in the league. From what I saw, Henderson looked up to the job. It could be argued that Rosenoir and Kitson don't know what they're talking about, but they pointed out that they had both played against the centre backs and they were formidable. However, I think that the argument of some Charlton fans is that they lack pace.

In his post-match interview, Peeters rued our failure to take our chances.

The Bee who wrote our preview commented: 'Charlton look a disjointed side, but we struggled for most of the second half. I was impressed by your two left sided players - Cousins and Wiggins.'

Lazy journos recycle doom and gloom Addicks narrative

Following the Four Four Two Valley Parade gaffe, The Times has been the latest to pile in and suggest that the Addicks are going down with the Tangerines (no third candidate is mentioned). It seems to me that the same gloomy narrative keeps being recycled.

At least The Times (who recently let go their most experienced football journalist to cut costs) put it succinctly: 'Don't worry, Charlton fans, Roland Duchâtelet, your Belgian owner, has a plan. It involves selling all your best players, making you a feeder club to Standard Liège and appointing a manager, Bob Peeters, who recently guided Waasland-Beveren to 14th place in the Belgian Pro-League.'

I don't recall any key players going to SL, although the standard critique is that the 'January Six' was made up of naff players, although I would exclude Astrid and would argue that Nego was essentially a development player. In any event, Roland can potentially make a lot of money out of Charlton so he has no interest in running it down.

The Times match preview this morning is almost a page long column, but only mentions Charlton as the opposition team.

I have just heard the Leeds head coach, Dave Hockaday, describe himself on Radio 5 as 'not daft'. I don't think he is, but I am less sure about the Leeds chairman. Hockaday admittedly built his reputation at Cirencester Academy, but then had four-and-a-half years at Forest Green Rovers which were relatively undistinguished and ended with him being let go. But then he is costing about £100k a year whereas Brian McDermott cost £750k.

At least the fans seem to be in good heart and ready to cheer on the team, if messages posted on boards are any guide. Of course, a defeat this afternoon would quickly puncture that bubble.

How much should fans want to know?

I was intrigued by a recent posting on a fans' board by a highly respected and well-informed fan. It raised an important point that questioned the conventional wisdom. It was argued that the price of an admission ticket simply entitled fans to watch the game, it did not give them the right to know what was going on 'behind the scenes'.

Of course, if they purchase a Valley Review (and less than half of those attending do), you will find features like 'Dressing room diaries' or features on particular players which provide exciting insights on banter between players, who shares a car to the training ground with whom and player nicknames.

Clubs realise that there is a market for 'inside dope', but with the development of social media, fans have taken this over for themselves. Of course, the rumours that gather momentum are often scurrilous or inaccurate.

The writer of the post was particularly concerned about transfer speculation. This is particularly active at the start of the season before the transfer window closes. It was argued that there were issues of commercial confidentiality, and moreover that speculation could actually jeopardise some deals.

Perhaps so, but such speculation is not going to go away. It is often started by agents who claim that more clubs are interested in their player than is actually the case to generate interest and force up the price. Perhaps the claim is picked up by one site and repeated by others so that the rumour gains a superficial credibility.

It might be argued that fan blogs pour oil on the flames. Maybe so, but I do treat sites like Sky Sports News seriously. Admittedly, I am partial as I sometimes broadcast for Sky Sports News or Sky News. This generally happens on slow news days: the low point was one Sunday when I had to talk about 'Englishness' in front of the Shakespeare birthplace which led to Japanese tourists treating me as a bonus photo opportunity. But I have always been impressed by their professionalism.

Modern society demands transparency so that 'sweetheart' deals can be revealed and those 'on the make' can be exposed. There is a case for greater openness, but it is not an absolute good. Conflict resolution often has to start with informal, private contacts that would be regarded as unacceptable and could not continue if they were exposed (think Northern Ireland). Once EU Council of Ministers meetings started to be streamed, all the real negotiation was done in the corridors and formal statements of positions, often for domestic consumption, were made in Council. Demands for privacy can conflict with those for openness, as we have seen recently with Google.

In any case, one is not going to stop speculation by fans, It is part of the fun of following football.

Friday 8 August 2014

What the form book says and what Belgian Bob predicts

I am never sure that performance in previous games against a particular team, or how one performs at a particular point in the season, is much of a guide to anything. Given the small numbers involved, there is no statistical basis for drawing conclusions and it gets close to superstition: 'we have never lost to this team at home on a Tuesday in February.' One of the things that marks out the Championship is that any team can beat any other team on the day and that makes it a more interesting competition than the relatively predictable Premiership.

But for what it's worth Charlton won the last two meetings, most recently winning 2-0 at The Valley in League One in January 2012. Brentford's last win in all competitions was 3-0 at The Valley in the paint drying trophy in October 2011. Charlton won the last meeting at Griffin Park 1-0 in League One in November 2011 - their only win in the last seven meetings there in all competitions.

Brentford are unbeaten in their last three games on the opening day, winning one and drawing two. Their last defeat was 2-0 at Carlisle in League One in August 2010. Charlton have lost only one of their last seven games on the opening day, winning four and drawing two. Their only defeat since 2006 was 2-1 at Bournemouth in the Championship last season.

Player interviews are rather formulaic. Igor Vetokele says that we 'have a great spirit and are ready', but he is hardly likely to saw morale is low and the squad is in chaos (not that I think that is the case): Igor Vetokele.

The Bob Peeters interview is a bit more interesting, although spoilt by a picture of him a bobble hat that makes him look ridiculous. He talks about the relationship with Roland and reveals that English will be used in the dressing room, although he may speak individually to players in other languages: Bob Peeters

Despite last night's draw between Blackburn and Cardiff which put them join top Charlton remain 9th in the table.

C'est Katrien qui parle (avec Richard)

CAS Trust has helpfully provided a summary of the question and answer session on the Fun Day: Fun Day Q & A

I still intend to provide my own views on what was said, but at the moment I am awaiting the arrival of my brother-in-law who says he is Palace, but also claims not to like football, two statements which are logically consistent.

Belgium's divided politics and Roland's European network model

One hundred years ago yesterday the German Army took the fortified city of Liege. The Belgians fought on valiantly, but eventually only a tiny sliver of their country remained free from occupation. As Michael Portillo showed in his series on Railways and the Great War last night, many civilians were executed for providing information to the allies about German troop movements. This was often sent across the electrified fence marking the border with the Netherlands by shooting an arrow!

Today, Belgium is a deeply divided country. The Flemish nationalists did well in the recent election and their long-term aim is to dismantle the Belgian state. This blog article suggests that it is only the national football team that really holds the country together: Belgium's divided politics

Football is thus important in Belgian politics and Roland Duchâtelet had his own political party and served in the Senate before he turned to football. The European Union is important to Belgium, both because its main institutions are located there and are a significant source of employment, but also as a super state that compensates for the shell like Belgian state.

As I argued in a recent Voice of the Valley article: 'The European dimension of Roland Duchâtelet’s model is to be found in his network of European clubs. For some time there has been an interest in the ‘Europeanising’ potential of football in terms of creating a stronger European identity. When the Luxembourg federalist Viviane Reding was the commissioner responsible for sport, she was proactive on matters relating of football but the current post holder (Mrs Andruolla Vassilou in case you had forgotten) has a much lower profile The Champions League, and to a much lesser extent the Europa League, goes some way in the direction of Europeanisation by creating Europe-wide ‘super leagues’.

However, most clubs play in domestic competitions which make up the bulk of matches. It might be possible in the future for teams to join a league across a national border, or leagues could be merged as Roland Duchâtelet advocated without success for the Belgian and Dutch leagues.

In our 2011 book on the Europeanisation of football we argued that the Commission had an agenda in relation to football as they saw it as an Europeanising force that could reach EU citizens in a way that other interventions could not. However, in our view UEFA was even more important in this respect (particularly after Ms Reding had changed portfolios) which is why we asked a senior UEFA official to contribute a chapter to the book (in a personal capacity, and he has now left the organisation). He argued that a European public space might be emerging "which describes the direct transactional interaction between citizens from different member states who share the same concerns [such as an interest in football]; it would be an essential step towards the creation of a European demos."

After discussing the Champions League as one of the most effective European symbols, he discussed the need for a 'Europeanisation' of football so as to promote "greater sensitivity to a common European identity". He acknowledged the presence of strong local identities in football, but also thought that it placed people in an enlarging European framework. The challenge was how to link clubs across Europe through some kind of network. Well, Roland has an answer. It may be utopian, and it may not work, but there is a lot of momentum behind it and on one level it places Charlton among the vanguard of European clubs.'

I am not suggesting that someone from the Commission or Uefa rang Roland and put this idea in his head, but as a clued up person, he must have been aware that it was 'dans le vent'. However, I think that the analogy that he makes with Europe's Erasmus programme for students to spend time at other European universities is an inappropriate one.

For critics of the network model, it involves Charlton being landed with players who are not up to the rigours of the Championship. We shall have to see how it develops over time. I will be running another survey soon to see if fans' views of Roland have become more favourable since the beginning of the year.

Thursday 7 August 2014

Belgian Bob: Delort has been on our radar

Bob Peeters has said in today's Charlton press conference that Andy Delort is a player 'who has been on our radar, but I cannot talk about players who are not ours.' This implies that he has slipped off the radar, but may reappear.

It does confound that those who have claimed that the whole story is a complete fiction resulting from sites copying each other or stoked by Delort's agent (certainly someone has been active on his behalf given the number of clubs he has been linked with). Whether there will be an outcome remains to be seen, but many fans are getting weary of the story.

Peeters also said that Callum Harriott is not 100 per cent and may not be available for the Brentford game. However, there is still time for a niggle to clear up.

Bees are buzzing, but Charlton game is seen as tough

As one Addick has remarked, the Andy Delort transfer saga has become something of a pantomime, but the longer it goes on, the less likely a successful conclusion is. In any event he would not be available (or sufficiently familiar with the team) to play at Brentford on Saturday.

I have a good friend who is a lifelong Bee. Now well into middle age, he has lived in the same house in West London all his life, so there is no doubting his authenticity or his disregard for the likes of the Super Hoops (a particular dislike of mine. I asked him to give his thoughts about Saturday's game and here they are.

'Saturday’s game marks Brentford’s first game back in the second flight since the single season stay when ended in 1993. Bees fans are optimistic that the club will be able to stay much longer this time around. Certainly, the club is in much better shape and has been building for this step-up for a few years. The fans are right behind the manager and owner, and the summer has seen some excellent signings, including one from La Liga.'

'The core of the team has remained intact (as it did after our narrow failure to gain promotion in 2013) meaning that there is an air of stability at the club. Key players for the new season include James Tarkowski, signed in the January transfer window from Oldham, Alan Judge (who signed with us permanently from Blackburn after a hugely successful loan period) and new signings Moses Odubajo (from Orient) and Marcos Tébar Ramiro (from UD Almeria.'

'The one cloud on the horizon is the future of midfielder Adam Forshaw, who was last season’s League One Player of the Year. Forshaw was key to the team’s consistency last season, but has been apparently subject to two transfer bids from Wigan (managed by former boss, Uwe Rosler.'

'In terms of the season, the vast majority of Bees fans will happily settle for mid-table consolidation. With a new stadium due to open in two years, it’s very important to maintain the club’s new found status in the second tier. Charlton is a tough first game for the Bees, but with the new air of optimism, a home win is certainly not out of the question.'

The pessimism of many Charlton fans is therefore matched by caution at Griffin Park. We sometimes forget that the Bees were once a top flight club and I have a DVD of the film The Arsenal Stadium Mystery which includes quite a lot of footage from a match between Arsenal and Brentford.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Valley Parade club to be relegated

In our the season in which we won League 1 as champions, Four Four Two forecast that we would finish just above the relegation zone. At least they had the good grace to buy a framed copy of their error off the club signed by Chris Powell and the team.

Now in this year's forecast, it seems that we are playing our home games at Valley Parade in Bradford. No wonder we are going to finish 23rd.

Their argument runs as follows. Last season our attack was woeful and our defence not much better. I would give a bit more credit to our defence, and this year's attack remains unproven. We have lost Diego Poyet. That is a blow, but it doesn't mean relegation. There is then a standard attack on Roland as a 'meddler'. It's a bit old hat, as I sense that his stock is going up among many fans, although some will never forgive him for selling Yann Kermorgant.

Bob Peeters is then described as a 'yes' man who was a failure in Belgium. I would have preferred José Riga to stay, but Peeters needs to be given a chance.

It is argued that the squad is too small, but arguably last year it was too large with too many passengers. Admittedly, we don't have so many older players, but then part of the strategy is to bring forward Academy players.

Fan Kyle Andrews talks more sense. [Who he, ed? Apparently, he runs a Charlton blog I am not familiar with.] He points out that Joe Gomez shows great promise and sensibly points out that the season will be different to last one with new players and a proper playing surface. He argues that Lawrie Wilson is underrated and the journos duly pick him out as key player.

Most of this is a load of M****. Millwall are forecast to come 19th.

Reza for Kuwait?

According to Fars News Agency quoting Youm al-Jadid. Reza Ghoochannejhad, has signed for Al Kuwait. He is currently in Cairo where the club is holding a training camp to finalise the deal: Reza's move . The official site has now confirmed that he has gone on a year's loan, so no fee will be involved.

He was conspicuous by his absence at the Family Fun Day on Sunday.

Notwithstanding a wonder goal at Leeds, I would not greatly regret his departure as I think he found the Championship hard to cope with. However, it does help to explain the club's efforts to take a risk with Andy Delort.

Pessimists are suggesting that Delort could be another Reza, unable to cope with the Championship. Ligue 2 is not the equivalent of the Championship, but neither is it the Ryman Premier League as some seem to be suggesting.

Elsewhere, a well-written review of the current regime at The Valley is available here: Roland

I'm not sure I learnt anything new from it, but it is interesting to read how neutrals see us.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

The deal is not done

Charlton Athletic and Tours are yet to agree on a deal on Andy Delort. Because he is unproven in the UK, Charlton want a substantial add on element, but Tours are not keen on this.

French sources are reporting that Charlton Athletic and Tours will resume negotiations tomorrow. The Ligue 2 side want €5m upwards (apx. £3.96m) [too much in my view], but Charlton are currently struggling to offer more than €3m plus bonuses.

For his part Delort is keen to join the Addicks.

Ironically, having been criticised for failing to invest, Roland is now being criticised by some fans for contemplating spending too much.

Kate is an asset

I have been watching the video on the official website of the Q & A on the 'family funday' with chief executive Katrien Meire and Richard Murray. I have taken quite a lot of notes and will mull over the substantive content and give my thoughts later. (This is going to be a bit delayed because after Baroness Warsi resigning yesterday and Boris's announcement today, I have had non-football media work to do.)

When Katrien (or 'Kate' as some supporters call her) was appointed, it was clear that she had a very impressive cv. You don't get to be a stagiaire unless you have a range of qualities. It is a bit daunting when you someone who is relatively young has achieved more in life than you have.

From the video she comes across as personable and articulate. Her body language showed that is she was much more relaxed than in earlier video calls which suggests that she has settled into the job more and she is clearly confident about her ability to do it well. She has quite a strong French accent, but that can be charming, even if sometimes leads her to say something that has an alternative meaning in English. She also gesticulates with her hands very effectively in a way that some English people would not.

Given the relative lack of women in senior positions in football, the club should be getting her on national media. She would help to raise our profile.

I find her to be a refreshing contrast with the style of the soon-to-be Baroness Brassy at West Ham. She has had a very successful career as well, but I don't like the idea of her as a candidate for Mayor of London.

Pope is one to watch says Billers preview + short report

Nick Pope is said to be the one to watch as Jason Euell takes his development side to New Lodge tonight for a pre-season friendly: Billericay. Judging from their comments on Facebook, some Blues fans are desperate to beat Charlton, albeit a Charlton XI.

This fixture is one that attracted me as during my secondary school years I lived in Billericay and even went to a Billericay Town dinner dance with my journo's hat on. But it wouldn't be possible to get back to the Midlands tonight.


In the biggest battle since the Battle of Norsey Woods in the Peasants' Revolt, Charlton won 3-2. Apparently it was a good game, but our centre backs made errors which led to their two goals, one was a one on one and the other was giving away a penalty.

Silva scored our opening goal and their Osborne scored an amazing goal. A trialist from Spain (there is some uncertainty about this and his identity and whether he is from the Spanish network club) scored our third with a chip over the keeper. Jack Munns had a great game in central midfield apparently. According to an Addick who was there, he kept picking up the ball and running at their defence and his passing range was excellent. He made the third goal with an attack on the break.

Here is the Billericay Town report: Match report

C'est Delort pour Charlton

The leading French sports site L'Equipe is reporting this morning that Andy Delort is about to sign for Charlton (please note that an advert appears when you first load the page): Delort

The 22 year old is to sign a five year contract for €3m plus add ons. The report refers to his tour of Sparrows Lane and The Valley which took place last week.

Financial fair play and the network model

What implications does the row between Arsenal and Manchester City have for Roland's network model? Our sister site looks at the issues that arise: Network

Our sponsors

We have renewed our relationship with Kingdom Signs who have redesigned their web site (see side bar) and are going from strength to strength and taking on new employees as the economy recovers. I will be enjoying a barbecue with them on the night before the first game of the season.

Please also welcome our second sponsor my nephew Deiniol Williams who has now got his ceramics business up and running: Deiniol Williams

Monday 4 August 2014

Family fun day

A Charlton fan who took his family gives his impressions: '[A club official told me] it was a bit last minute, could have been done much better and they were not expecting so many people to turn up. The OS estimates that a thousand came through during the day but could of been more or less who knows.'

'I was surprised that everyone wasn't milling around the west stand but you could go and admire the new velvet carpet of a pitch from the north end. And it looks splendid with new random sprinklers going off too.'

'The skills sessions: a couple of players appeared now and then in front of the tunnel, had a short kick about and disappeared - often before you could get down there to watch!'

'Anyway, it was all going on in Crossbars. I was warned that it was carnage in there and a look through the window from the seats revealed Oxford Street on Xmas Eve. The decision to host in Crossbars was to promote that area as the other suites are sold out for the season. So we went to the youth club opposite the club shop cash point and played table tennis! A nice Canadian guy gave us an interesting run down on the programme'.

'Now, the big thing, the Q&A with Dick, Kate & Bob! Was anyone else puzzled when they advertised this for the Media Suite? - a bit small! So I thought people would shuffle through in phases, ask some questions and then give others some time in there. Nope. [A club official] explained that 40-50 had been squashed in there, and that was it they weren't coming out and the trio of club personalities were in there for the long haul. He thought it should have been in a larger suite but agreed when I suggested that perhaps they didn't want that level of scrutiny. I asked if it would be on Player and he thought that it would.'

'Love the players but wasn't going to queue for an hour to see them. Maybe they should have had separate queues per player as you had to shuffle along all of them, and it would have been rude to pass on some. So this slowed it down a great deal. You wouldn't want to snub Mr BK - a huge beast of a man.'

'The face painter's were working their socks off and with a queue of 8-10 my youngest girl was happy to make a badge instead. The lovely ladies on that table gave us a £20 voucher off a full kit, which was nice.'

My comment would be that it's always possible to learn for these events and do things better, but I would commend the club for making the effort.

Some footage of the event is here: Fun Day

Men of Kent and Kentish men

This article on our sister site on football in Kent may be of interest to some readers, there is some reference to Charlton: Men of Kent

Sunday 3 August 2014

To tattoo or not?

There has been some controversy on one of the boards about tattoos. A number of people posted photos of their Charlton tattoos. One of the problems may be that tattoos do not photograph that well.

Let me make it clear from the start that I regard having a tattoo as a matter of personal choice. I prefer to see people with a single or two or three well done tattoos rather than mass of them, but that's just a preference. At least if you have a tattoo of your football club you may be less likely to regret it one than a tattoo of a one time loved one.

Of course, culture can make a difference. I once watched a rather dull match in Chile in which the home team was Catholica (the team linked to the Catholic University in Santiago). When the single goal was scored, the scorer ripped off his shirt to reveal that his back was covered with a tattoo of Jesus on the cross.

A recent report has found a big shift in attitudes towards tattoos. It was noted, 'Tattoos were once the preserve of sailors, prostitutes and criminals: a warning as much as a decoration. Now they are most likely to be found daubed on to the skin Britain’s middle class, 28 per cent admitting to having at least one tattoo. The figure means that the middle class has leapfrogged the working class, which had only 27 per cent of its number marked'.

'It is a trend that has even become well established in the rarefied “AB” upper [professional and managerial] class — 19 per cent have been under the needle. Aman Malhotra, research assistant at Harris Interactive, which conducted the study, said that the tattoo was no longer the preserve of the working classes.'

The study, which looked at more than 2,000 people across the country and from different demographics, found that 19 per cent of the middle classes had between one and two pieces of body art, 6 per cent had between three and five and 17 per cent had between six and ten. Not everything has changed though: only 1 per cent of the middle classes had more than ten tattoos and Mo Coppoletta, the founder of The Family Business tattoo parlour in Clerkenwell, north London, said that their approach to body art was still “conservative”.'

I would guess that one would find more tattoos in the Covered End than anywhere else with the smallest number in the West Stand.

Saturday 2 August 2014

Charlton in three cornered battle for Delort

Charlton are in a battle with Brentford for the signature of 22-year old French striker Andy Delort while Rennes are trying to keep him in France. He scored 24 goals in 36 games for Ligue 2 last season. People have been having fun on Wikipedia changing the name of the club he plays for.

Sources close to the beverage department are saying that he was at Sparrows Lane yesterday. He was supposed to arrive at 2, but didn't get there until 5, limiting the possibility of talks, but it is claimed that they continued on Saturday.

Apparently he had talks with Athletico Madrid and Leicester in May, but they came to nothing: why is not clear. It may be that he likes a French-speaking environment, a need which Charlton as the Belgian club that plays in London could meet.

Leeds United fans are now saying that it is a done deal that he is going to them, but one site is insisting that it's a battle between Brentford and Charlton: Delort . This appears to have been correct as Leeds have now stated that they will not be signing him, which means we are back to the original three cornered race: White flag

He has played once for France's under 20 side and also for French beach soccer under the management of Eric Cantona: Career

In case he does come to Charlton, here is some video: At his best

Charlton win friendly

Charlton won their friendly at Portsmouth 2-1 in spite of a missed penalty. Vetokele won the penalty in the second half, there was an argument over who should take it, so Bob Peeters decided that Jackson should and he missed.

Addicks goalkeeper Stephen Henderson was given a welcome reception on his return to Fratton Park. The same could not be said for Tal Ben Haim, however, who was roundly booed every time he touched the ball.

All the goals arrived in a six-minute first half period, as Danny Hollands’ header was sandwiched between Igor Vetokele and George Tucudean strikes. It was Charlton who broke the deadlock on 19 minutes when Vetokele hammered an unstoppable shot past Michael Poke from the edge of the box. But Pompey hit back moments later, with former Addick Hollands stooping to head home from virtually on the line after Wallace’s cross had been sent back across goal by Ben Chorley. The Addicks soon restored their advantage, however, as Tucudean was left in too much space to drive home a fine finish. There was almost a second equaliser by the hosts immediately after, but Henderson made a fine stop to keep out James Dunne’s well-struck effort.

In the second half Devera made a crunching challenge to prevent Addicks substitute Simon Church racing through on goal.

Of the crowd of 3,912, 362 were Addicks.

Pre-season matches

Charlton go to Portsmouth today in their latest pre-season friendly. No doubt if we lose, or even if we draw, pessimists will claim that it means a relegation battle ahead.

I am going to a pre-season at my local non-league club today. I haven't been to any of the others, perhaps just as well as they lost 1-2 at home to Cheltenham Town, 1-3 to Walsall (admittedly at almost full strength) and could only draw 2-2 away playing the Bardsmen at the Anne Hathaway Stadium. The only win has been 3-2 against Birmingham City's development side. Do I therefore conclude that they are facing a relegation battle: no.

However, the manager has been complaining in the local press that he hates pre-season matches. Actually, his comments seem a bit bland compared to the swearing in his Black Country accent which happens when he comes into the vice-presidents' lounge before a game. Nevertheless, he has my sympathy. A number of players have already picked up niggles and we have just one physiotherapist to deal with them.

Even at Charlton's level, there is nothing worse than getting an injury in a pre-season match. I remember Matt Svensson banging the side of the dugout in frustration when he got injured at FC Roda: it kept him out for a long time. (A happier memory of that game was sweeping up in equine magnate John Window's Merc: he told the car park attendant that we were Charlton directors).

In the old days there was generally one practice match pre-season, Probables v Possibles or Reds v Whites or sometimes Blues v Reds. These were generally played behind closed doors, although the one on 11 August 1956 attracted a crowd of 3,392 and that on 11th August 1957 saw 3,843 at The Valley. A combination of senior and junior trial matches in 1958 brought in 4,095. A match today between the first and second eleven might well attract a bigger crowd. But I hope those going to Pompey today enjoy themselves.

Friday 1 August 2014

Jenkinson joins his friends

Former Addick Carl Jenkinson has joined West Ham on a year's loan from Arsenal. He says that he has 'a lot of friends' at the Boleyn Ground and it is the place where 'he always wanted to go'. Possibly one new friend he will make is Diego Poyet and they can swap stories about their escape from The Valley. Read more here: Jenkinson

My season ticket has arrived, something that always heralds the start of a new season. Equine magnate John Window got his last week and I was in some trepidation about mine coming at all after the local Post Office managed to lose a parcel addressed to me. However, the mystery was solved when it transpired they had been looking at the sender's address in Andover rather than mine.

Apparently Michael Morrison and Lawrie Wilson, two popular players, have been delivering season tickets to some fans personally this afternoon, a nice idea.

Many fans will, of course, be using the Rickshaw service this season which will be augmented by new First World War surplus vehicles from Belgium - picture below.

New standards of rider comfort