Tuesday 31 March 2015

Big summer for decisions

The 'people upstairs' have some big decision to make about recruitment this summer if Charlton are to press on next season says keeper Stephen Henderson: Hendo

To judge from the accompanying comments, Charlton fans are worried about losing players. We have always been a selling club and no club of our size is going to refuse a really good offer, nor is it really possible to stop a player moving to the Premier League. Fans sometimes feel that players sold have been under priced.

Monday 30 March 2015

Rock rumour denied

Normally reliable sources have been quick to deny rumours that Gibraltar, who scored their first international goal against Scotland yesterday, may play their home international games at The Valley from next season. 'This looks like an April fool joke that has got out early,' one source commented. 'The fact that we played a Gibraltar XI in our pre-season tour has no relevance. The idea of the network does not extend to international teams.' It would also cause difficulties for the network team in Spain, given that Spain objects to Gibraltar's Uefa status (Fifa have not recognised them).

Gibraltar is the fifth oldest football association in the world, founded in 1895. They have more than 2,600 registered players, 8 per cent of the national population. There is an artificial surface at the 2,400 capacity Victoria Stadium, which hosts all games in the national league (two divisions plus reserves), plus youth matches and training sessions.

Last weekend they had to fit in 19 cup quarter-finals between 4.50 p.m. on Friday and Sunday lunchtime, then two second division senior games. There are plans to build a new stadium at Europa Point which would meet Uefa standards, but the planning and building process could take years.

Home internationals are currently played at Faro in the Algarve, but this involves a 15-hour round trip for fans. It would be quicker and no more expensive for them to fly to London, hence the plan to stage matches in the capital.

However, the few hundred hard core fans would rattle around in The Valley, but any ground chosen would have to meet Uefa standards which some smaller London grounds might not.

Friday 27 March 2015

Charlton are a 'bigger' club than Palace or Millwall

So claims a study by Sportsmail. How big is your club? The Addicks are placed 27= with Fulham with Palace in 30th place and Millwall 49th.

However, the 'massiveness' of Sheffield Wednesday is recognised with a 18th place.

I have to say that I am quite sceptical about the methodology used which takes no account of attendance or away following. However, it is better than being called a 'tiny' club as we were by ITV News after the Wembley play off final.

Church and Ben Haim look forward to international clash

Israel and Wales play in a Euro qualifier in Haifa, Israel tomorrow. Charlton's Tal Ben Haim and Simon Church engage in some banter before they oppose each other: Opponents

Thursday 26 March 2015

Three Premiership clubs hunting Fox

The date is March 26th, not April 1st. Nevertheless, it is being reported that three Premier League clubs have an interest in signing Morgan Fox: Morgan Fox

I am not as hard on Fox as the miserable young Bloke Behind Me, but then he calls Vetokele 'useless'. Fox tries hard and there have been some signs of improvement as he gets more match experience. I would still favour a fit Wiggins, although he has never seemed as good as in the past since his bouts of injury. I do find it difficult to see Fox as a Premiership player, even in a bench warming capacity.

Of course, there was reported to be interest from Ipswich before Christmas but Fox never got in the seat of a tractor.

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Katrien: I was frightened on train

In a wide-ranging interview with the Evening Standard Charlton chief executive Katrien Meire admits that she was frightened when she was confronted by angry Charlton fans after the defeat at Watford. She also received hate e-mails, but is enjoying life at The Valley now: Interview

She admits that some of the players brought over from the mother ship last year were sub-standard and says that fans do not appreciate the range of Roland Duchatelet's interests. He has to keep his microchip business going, as well as overseeing his network of football clubs. She also talks about the network concept.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Charlton's leading lady

The Sky Sports feature on Katrien Meire can be seen here: Leading Lady

She is seen with Guy Luzon and Johnnie Jackson pays testimony to a 'rapport' he has not had with a previous chief executive. She says that she will go on travelling to matches by train.

Interest in Gomez and Cousins

The rumour mill is suggesting that Newcastle United are interested in Joe Gomez and Jordan Cousins. Despite his young age, Joe Gomez is a real talent who displays a maturity beyond his years, has good judgment of the game and is resilient. Jordan Cousins would be my pick for player of the year.

I would not be surprised if other Premier League clubs displayed an interest and one or both of them might leave in the summer. Clearly they would be a loss.

Monday 23 March 2015

Buyens may be staying in SE7

Yoni Buyens may make his move to Charlton permanent: Yoni Buyens

Buyens came from the mother ship after some difficulties there, but is enjoying his time in SE7 and working under Guy Luzon.

His record at penalties is 100 per cent this year, but this will not impress the 'penalties don't count' school. He started the season well, but then his form slipped. Let us hope that it is returning with a confidence boost from his first goal in open play.

Mascots to be replaced

Floyd and Harvey are to be pensioned off at the end of the season, it is being claimed. Apparently, the Young Addicks are to be asked to come up with a new design, so it won't be a Belgian waffle or a giant mussel.

Although they were ok, I always thought they were a bit bland in terms of having Charlton content (other that their names).

At least they have never disgraced themselves, like some football mascots, most notoriously the giant Cyril the Swan: Five naughtiest mascots

Contrasting fortunes in final for former Addicks

Two former Charlton players faced contrasting fortunes in the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at Wembley yesterday. Jordan Cook tweeted that he was 'devastated' after Walsall lost 2-0 in front of 30,000 of their supporters.

However, he came close to scoring as anyone for his side. Walsall almost reduced the two-goal deficit when Cook looped a cross in from the left, which forced the keepeer to tip the ball onto the post.

At least, however, he was able to take pride in playing in front of his family at Wembley. Scott Wagstaff, a popular player at The Valley, was on the winning side, but was an unused substitute for Bristol City.

Bristol City have won the trophy three times, whilst this was Walsall's first outing to Wembley in their long history.

One of my companions on the journey down from the Midlands was an Addick who lived in Walsall. He now lives in Oman, which is warmer and sunnier than Walsall. However, he misses the Addicks and listens in to afternoon games at 7 p.m. local time.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Buyens brace helps Charlton to victory

Two often criticised Charlton players got the goals in a 3-2 win over Reading at The Valley. Yoni Buyens scored from a penalty and from open play and Simon Church got the third. Having gone ahead in the first half, the Royals scored an injury time goal. Apparently, this is the first time we've done the double over Reading since 1980-81. Charlton are now top of the form table.

Solly was injured in the warm up, so Diarra had to replace him and Gomez moved to right back as Charlton faced Reading at The Valley. Vetokele was not in the team or on the bench and Chris Eagles accompanied Watt up front.

Good work from Tony Watt won the first corner of the game. Gudmundsson’s shot from a training ground move was just wide of the goal.

A shot from Eagles flashed wide after being he was supplied by Watt.

Charlton threatened again, but Reading dealt with it. Reading counter attacked and Pogrebnyak got past Johnson and the visitors won a corner.

With ten minutes gone, the Addicks applied pressure with some good build up play.

Charlton won another corner through pressure from Watt. The ball was cleared, but Charlton retained possession and kept up the pressure. Mackie hit the side netting for Reading, but was offside anyway.

Charlton were looking comfortable in possession with some good passing football.

On twenty minutes Charlton won another corner, but it was unproductive.

Gomez stabbed away a ball that came into the box. Charlton counter attacked, but then Reading broke and Morgan Fox put his body in the way, referee Deadman raised no objection to the body check.

Reading started to get a foothold in the game and Charlton had to slow the pace down a little.

Roger Johnson got a yellow card for a foul on Mackie on the edge of the box, it was a fair booking. The ball went out for a goal kick to derisive whistles.

Charlton were marking their men well and closing them down effectively. They were not letting Reading get crosses in to the big men up front. Diarra put in a superbly timed tackle.

Watt was impeded by Hector and there were loud shouts from the Addickted, but referee Deadman was oblivious.

Morgan Fox covered back well. The game had evened up after Charlton had enjoyed the upper hand in the opening period. Charlton needed a goal.

Reading won a surprising corner, Guy Luzon was not happy, nor was the crowd.

Henderson had to put in good work after the ball hit Roger Johnson. On 39 minutes the ball came in from Obita and Pogrebnyak put the ball beyond Henderson. It was a straightforward finish to make it 0-1 to Reading.

A confident Reading won a corner. Cousins hooked the ball high in the air. Then the ball hit the roof of the East Stand and went over (I have seen that in a reserve game).

Reading won a free kick, but it was unproductive. One minute was added on. Reading did not look too strong at the back, but Charlton had not troubled them enough except in the early part of the half.

Half time: Addicks 0, Royals 1

In a good move Tony Watt put the ball just over the bar for Charlton.

An on target effort by Buyens hit a defender. The corner was unproductive for Charlton. The Addicks kept up the pressure, causing chaos in the Reading defence. The keeper made a save from Eagles.

Then Reading put on some pressure and won a corner. Henderson leapt and caught the ball. Norwood got a yellow card.

Hector used his left arm under pressure from Tony Watt. He received a yellow card and the penalty was awarded. The reliable penalty taker Buyens put the ball in the roof of the net to make it 1-1.

Gunter was in space and fired in a shot but it hit the shins of Johnson. Charlton counter attacked strongly but the ball went over the bar from Eagles. Charm merchant Norwood went off and Karacan came on.

A shot from Gudmundsson were straight into the arms of Frederici in the Reading goal.

The ball came into the box but Henderson reached up and grabbed it. Watt fired in a shot that went straight into the arms of Frederici.

Eagles came off to warm applause and Simon Church came on to applause from the Reading fans. Gomez put a great ball in and Buyens scored to make it 2-1.

Church had the goal at its mercy but the keeper made a great save.

Charlton won a corner through Bulot. The Addicks kept up the pressure. Watt got round his man, after great work by Church, but the keeper made a good save. Watt delivered the ball and Simon Church scored on 79 minutes with a simple tap in to make it 3-1.

Gomez read a dangerous situation very well and snuffed it out. Reading made a substitution with Robson-Kanu going off and Stacey coming on.

Danny Williams was getting booked for handbags with Watt, who also got a yellow card. Williams then said something to Darren Deadman and got sent off.

Tony Watt came off to enthusiastic applause and was replaced by Christophe Lepoint. He made a good move, but was caught offside.

Five minutes were added on. Reading got their second goal to make it 3-2. Pogrebynak scored from very close range. Reading had a late soft free kick against Johnson on the edge of the box. Hendo gathered the ball and the final whistle went.

Charlton stay 11th, below Blackburn on goal difference.

Derek from Dymchurch says, 'The problem with this Luzon is we never score more than three goals and we nearly got caught out today.

Millwall have 97.7 per cent chance of being relegated

Millwal eclipsed.

The Fink Tank in The Times today calculates that Millwall have a 97.7 per cent chance of being relegated. (Unfortunately, they were winning 2-0 , but Bees made it 2-2 in the 90th minute.). This is better than Blackpool's 100 per cent. Wigan Athletic are on 76.6 per cent, Rotherham on 13 per cent and Fulham on 9.9 per cent (I still think they could get sucked in).

At our end of the table, the leaders of the mid-table league, Nottingham Forest, have a 2 per cent chance of making the playoffs.

Fans are feeling lukewarm about today's game about Reading. I was all ready to go when a last check showed disruption on trains from Coventry. I have been in situation before where I have got as far as a London terminus, but too late to reach Charlton. Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise.

Last week I was asked: would you rather we beat Millwall and they stayed up, or we lost and they got relegated? I chose the first option. Of course, it could be a draw.

Friday 20 March 2015

Wilson goes on loan to Rotherham

Lawrie Wilson has gone on emergency loan to Rotherham, reports the official site: M1 emergency

The Millers are engaged in a battle against relegation and Wilson could appear in Saturday's derby clash against the Massives. If Rotherham pull away from the relegation zone, it will help to seal Millwall's fate.

Wilson is a player who divides fans. I think that he is an honest player who gives his best, and sometimes can produce some really good contributions. However, his best is sometimes not good enough for the Championship.

I wish him well at the New York Stadium. I have one friend who comes from Rotherham although she supports Manchester City.

When I was at university, one of my flat mates had a girl friend who was a scion of the now departed traditional department store, Muntus of Rotherham. He said that when he went up there for a tour of the store, the staff were practically bowing and scraping. As the town declined, and out of town shopping grew, it went out of business and for a while was a bar and live music venue.

The family also had a rather nice house at Fowey in Cornwall which he and his girl friend visited in the vacations. Yes, I was a bit envious.

A right royal time

Charlton entertain Reading tomorrow who are both 18th in the real table and 18th in the form table (Charlton are 4th). This might seem to place them in a potential relegation battle, but the poor form of the bottom three should mean that they are in no real danger even if they falter.

Indeed, Foolham are also now in real trouble, third from bottom in the form table. Richard Cawley of the SLP, who is a fan, sent a despairing tweet about their home defeat to Leeds. When they were a branch of Harrods, Foolham always tried to make out they were a bigger club than us, but I don't think so.

Reading will be bolstered by their cup replay win against Bradford City that puts them in a cup semi-final for the first time since 1927. They also lost 4-1 away at Watford last weekend. Will their confidence be bolstered by their cup run or will they be feeling fatigued? Will Charlton be able to manage one of their trademark 3-0 wins or will it be a repeat of last week's defeat by Jordan Rhodes? I am cautiously optimistic and going for a 2-0 win. Tony Watt will, however, have to be assessed after picking up an injury at Blackpool. The game would lose a lot of potential excitement if he didn't play.

Charlton won the earlier meeting this season 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium in November. Both sides have won three of the last eight meetings in all competitions, drawing the other two. Reading won the last meeting at The Valley 1-0 in April last season - their only win in the last seven meetings there in all competitions.

Odds are: Charlton 13/8, Draw 12/5, Reading 8/5

Reading have had a disappointing season after a takeover fell through with the Russian investor disappearing without providing any cash. Once again, Roland doesn't look so bad by comparison.

I remember Reading as the first stop on the train when we went on holiday from Plumstead Common to Cornwall. Then it was a sleepy place that made biscuits and agricultural implements. Now it is a bustling and prosperous town with a lot of IT related companies. I know a few Charlton fans who live there.

In the mid-table league, Notts Forest are now surging ahead and see themselves as in touching distance of the play offs. The Addicks are three points behind Blackburn, on the same number of points as Leeds and one point ahead of the Massives.

It's not a bad place to be, but it does mean that our competitive season is effectively over, even if it isn't mathematically. I am therefore expecting a rather low crowd tomorrow (it's also the finale of the egg chasing). Oppositionists will, however, interpret is as a vote of no confidence in Roland and Katrien.

Exciting news from Derek from Dymchurch after the UKIP candidate for Folkestone & Hythe, where they got 43 per cent in the European elections, has been removed for alleged financial irregularities. Derek is thinking of throwing his Charlton baseball cap in the ring as a replacement. He commented, 'With Clive Efford in the Commons representing Millwall, we need a Charlton fan in the Commons.' [What about Robert Godsiff, the Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green who is standing again?] Part of Derek's manifesto will be the immediate expulsion of all Belgians from the UK.

Thursday 19 March 2015

In praise of Icelandic persons

No.1 Iceland Addick Olafur Johansson

Yes, it's your old pal Olfaur and thanks to Wyn Grant for giving me this space to send a message to my old pals in SE7.

By Jove, for a small country we Icelandic persons know how to produce footballers! What a stunning free kick by Johann Berg Gudmundsson against the seaside donkeys. And it was the latest in a series.

I still get the programme to while away the winter days here in Grindavik (and it's winter most of the time, I can tell you). The latest one has just arrived and I soon forgot about the shill cries of the fishwives in the packing sheds when I saw that if featured another great Icelandic player for Charlton, Hermann Hreidarsson, aka the Herminator.

He had been languishing on a tractor in Suffolk but came to the Addicks for what the programme calls a four-stay stay in SE7. The proof reading used to better when that Mr Everitt was in charge. Of course, they meant four years.

The Herminator says that his game was very athletic and physical. We are not weaklings in Iceland, our harsh physical environment makes it so. Once at Birmingham City he had to play with a bandage round his bloodied head.

In his first year at the club we finished 7th in the Premier League and normally that would mean a place in Europe, but it went to the Spanners because of their blagging their way to the FA Cup final!

Mr Keith Peacock says that the Herminator was one of the great characters at the club in the last 50 years. He refers to his swashbuckling runs into the final third and his ability to make or score goals at set plays.

The Herminator had a short spell in management in Iceland (with his home town club IBV) before joining his father in a hotel venture on the south coast. It sounds better than being with these stinking fish in Grindavik with only the Mama Mia pizza parlour to go to in the evening. He says that he wants to get back into football management, so maybe there will be a role for him at The Valley one day!

Mr Win Grant met him once when he was doing some sponsorship and he won man of the match and says that he was a gentle giant off the pitch.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Palace purchasers looked at Charlton

Josh Harris, the American private equity investor, who is heading up a consortium buying Crystal Palace for £100m, also considered purchasing Charlton. Preliminary talks were held in 2013, reports today's Times, but they did not lead to a conclusion. Harris then put in an unsuccessful bid for Aston Villa.

It is not known why the talks were unsuccessful, but it has been suggested that there may have been concern about the age profile of Charlton supporters. The average age of an East Stand season ticket holder is understood to be 56 and it may be higher in the West Stand. The Covered End, of course, would be more youthful.

The Crystal Palace 'ultras' have been the subject of favourable media attention in the United States: Atmosphere

In contrast, The Valley does seem to have become more like a library.

More on the Palace takeover here: Plans for Palace

Tuesday 17 March 2015

Another 3-0 win for Charlton

Charlton beat bottom club Blackpool 3-0 tonight to secure another of their trademark wins by that scoreline under coach Guy 'loser' Luzon. Having got the result he wanted, he was then able to focus on the election results from Israel.

The pitch at Bloomfield Road had been flattened, but it was muddy and soon started to cut up as Charlton faced Blackpool. The ball was inclined to bobble all over the place. The atmosphere was eerie with the few thousand home fans quiet. About 3,700 people were actually there, 250 or so of them Addickted. Vetokele had been left at home.

Gudmundsson put in a curler to the near post, but Church’s header went over the bar. Watt got into the box, but his ball was not accurate.

Johnson had to use his pace to prevent Blackpool getting a corner. Blackpool’s centre halves were being physical with Tony Watt.

Church went down with an apparent ankle injury. He had been in a running battle with Peter Clarke. Church got up, but was limping.

Blackpool put in a shot that went over the bar. Blackpool then won a corner on 20 minutes. It was very scrappy.

A Blackpool free kick was flicked on by the vertically challenged player Telford but went over the bar. There was a moment of danger and Fox had to scramble.

A shot from Orlandi went wide and attracted tepid applause from the home fans. Charlton were having trouble keeping possession on the pitch. Eagles fired in a shot, but it was cleared after he took an extra touch.

The Addicks were getting out muscled in midfield in a poor quality game. A wag on Twitter said it was the Dog & Duck versus the Fox & Hounds on a Sunday league pitch. Charlton made a quick counter attack involving Gudmundsson, tearing through the Tangerines. The home side just managed to clear.

Tony Watt played Church through who was unselfish and ‘Red Robin’ Eagles had a tap in to make it 1-0 to Charlton.

The referee had a word with Gudmundsson and the much travelled Perkins.

Diarra got a yellow card for a challenge, he was not a happy bunny. Perkins placed a ball straight into the hands of Henderson. The Addickted tried to make some noise in the sepulchral stadium.

Ferguson won a free kick although Cousins seemed to get something on the ball. The free kick was unproductive.

Solly had to challenge Perkins, but the Tangerines got a corner.

HT: 0-1

Barkhausen was allowed to get a shot in, but it went wide.

Gudmundsson put in a shot, but it was tame in the end and went wide.

Blackpool applied some pressure. Perkins shot straight at Henderson, getting a sarcastic standing ovation from the home support behind the goal.

Blackpool made a double substitution . There were cheers, but they may have been ironic.

Charlton needed a second goal to kill the game off. Out of nowhere, Gudmundsson had some space and Church had to control the ball and took his goal really well to make it 2-0 to Charlton after 61 minutes. Eagles went off for the follicular challenged Buyens.

Orlandi was in a good position but put the ball over the bar. There was a handball call for a penalty against Blackpool.

Charlton put in some good work, but Cousins put his volley over the bar.

Solly got away down the right and Blackpool conceded a corner. The move ended with a horrible ball from Morgan Fox.

Some of the home fans started to slip out to get an early tram. Blackpool got a free kick on the edge of the box as the spray came out for the first time. Henderson made a St. Patrick’s day leap to claim the ball.

Blackpool made their third substitution with Orlandi going off. Tony Watt, who had pulled up, came off and Christophe Lepoint came on.

Henderson had to tip a shot over the bar as it threatened to loop over him. The header by Medine went over the bar.

Clarke and Church squared up to each other. Church got booked. Barkhausen got a yellow card and Charlton won a free kick. Gudmundsson scored once again.

Bulot replaced Diarra who won applause for his battling performance from the Addickted.

Charlton won a late corner, Lepoint made a good run, but his header went wide.

Luzon wrote in last Saturday's programme, 'The reason I get paid by the club is to give [the players] advice and make changes when things are not going well or people are tired, but it is the squad who put ideas into action.'

Luzon has hailed Gudmundsson as 'the David Beckham of the Championship': He comes from Iceland

Charlton are now 11th in the table.

Monday 16 March 2015

On the beach

We had problems with our pitch last year, but it looks as if Blackpool are having problems this year. If the tide was out, we would be better off playing on the beach and there would be donkeys there as well. It's going to be hard to play football on that surface.

When we are complaining about the current regime at Charlton, we should remember that there are many that are worse, the Oystons at Blackpool being a prime example. Quite what their vision, narrative or strategy might be is far from clear, but it looks like ending up with the club in League One. There have been serious potential purchasers of the club, but they seem determined to hang on.

According to the claims made in this report, contact with the owner of Blackpool FC can allegedly give rise to alarm: Models locked themselves in bedroom

The odds are in our favour: Blackpool 14/5, Draw 5/2, Charlton 19/20. We have won 3-0 and 2-0 in our last two outings there, but a banana skin is always possible.

Sunday 15 March 2015

Palace takeover imminent

It looks as if the takeover of Crystal Palace by American billionaires could be happening in the next week or two: Palace Takeover

With many Charlton fans evidently not going to renew their season tickets (see Blackheath Addick), Palace are in a strong position to secure themselves as the leading team in South London in the long run (whereas Millwall look as if they are heading for League One).

Incidentally, Blackheath Addick still owes me a bottle of red wine. I hope he is bringing one back from France with him.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Winning run comes to an end

Charlton's winning run came to an end today with a 1-3 home defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers. This is the third time we have been defeated by Rovers this season. The difference between the two teams was the skill and guile of Jordan Rhodes and defensive weaknesses on the part of Charlton. In particular, the returning Tal Ben Haim had a mare.

The initial play was balanced between the two teams, but Rovers then scored with a well executed poacher's goal, starting with a quickly taken throw in, Rhodes doing the damage. An awful defensive error by Roger Johnson then led Rovers score their second through Conway.

Charlton applied some pressure for a while, but then Rovers came back into the game. In the two minutes added on, there was mayhem in front of the opposition's goal, with claims of handball.

In the second half, a foul on Vetokele led to the keeper getting a yellow card and Buyens scored from another well dispatched penalty on 56 minutes. Not long afterwards, the Addicks hit the bar with a Vetokele header and Watt had a good run on goal. However, Rhodes then scored a second with a header after a deflected shot from Taylor looped into the air to put the game beyond doubt.

There was a vociferous Belgian contingent in the far bottom corner of the West Stand (apparently they were from Gent). I heard Flemish being spoken on the train to London Bridge, but it turned out to be Dutch fans whose main aim was to find Marks & Spencers.

Charlton remain 12th in the table, but have slumped to 4th in the form table. The Bloke Behind Me reckons we will soon be in a relegation battle.

Player ratings

Henderson didn't really have a chance with the goals. Johnson was featured in the programme yesterday: it's bit like the manager of the month curse in my view, so that either the player doesn't appear at all or has a mare. He said 'The smallest error can cost you a goal' and he should know after yesterday. When both central defenders are below par you have a problem and Talal Ben Haim was caught out again and again. I would bring Gomez back for Blackpool beach.

Fox tries very hard, but he still lacks enough quality. Solly was below best. For the throw that led to the first goal, he should have let the ball go out and it would have been ours. He then sportingly handed it to the player who took the throw quickly and it went into the space where Solly should have been. Blackburn knew what they were doing in a well-worked move and Solly was caught out.

Cousins was outstanding for much of the match in my view, although he faded towards the end. He was putting himself about everywhere, showing good positional sense and poise and strength. His progress has been one of the pleasures of this season. Bulot put in some good crosses, but was eventually substituted, receiving polite applause. Gudmundsson did his best to create something, but to no avail. Buyens delivered the penalty well, I think it's now six out of six, but did not keep possession well.

The Football League Paper this morning describes Vetokele as a 'constant source of menace' and he was. Watt showed great skill on the ball and it's the shame that the shot from his run went just wide.

Eagles came on and did his best, but not enough to secure a contract. He was booed by the away fans as a former Bolton player. Church contributed some energetic running, but was not a game changer.

Friday 13 March 2015

C'est Katrien qui parle: je ne suis pas solitaire

Yesterday evening I was on a train back from a meeting in York. In any case I would not have been able to go to the Bromley Addicks meeting, so I am grateful to a fellow blogger for the following notes.

As ever KM was charming. She was worried when she left Belgium friends and family she would be lonely but she has been fully immersed in Charlton and loves it here. She does not feel that she could go back to Belgium in a similar role because the Championship is so intense. The meeting started with a question from the host about the academy.

Duchatelet was over yesterday and today and was meeting with architects and others relating to then redevelopment of Sparrows Lane. The developments to SL will move the existing building to a new site and refurbishment of the pitches. There will be reseeding and work also done on the Valley pitch.

The clear objective of the Club is to develop talented young players and put them on long term contracts. Gomez is on 3 years plus 1 which is the longest a player of his age can be put on. The club accepts that they will not be able to keep players, but they will not sell them except for good money.

Gomez's agent was phoning KM during the summer to ask why he was not in the first team squad, then when he was he was phoning to say he should not be played at right back, but at centre half. KM is constantly contacted by agents and now does not clear her voice mail she gets so many calls.

I asked KM about the club's objectives of breaking even and challenging in the Championship and what time frame they were working to. She stated that it was difficult to be clear on timing and to be honest did not really answer the question, I got the impression that break even is not a plan but an aspiration and that they did not know how they would achieve it so we'll see!

KM was asked why she always called Duchatalet The Owner, to which she answered that she always called him Roland to his face but we did not pronounce Roland correctly its more guttural, so she called him the owner in Belgium he is called Le President.

The club are hoping to hold onto the players they have and build over the summer with 2-3 new players. Luzon likes Eagles and Johnson and they were brought in because the club felt it needed Championship experienced players. Neither are contracted to beyond the end of the season, but both are interested in a new contract, Luzon wants them to play for it and keep the season going. Luzon will not the team rest on its laurels now that the club has achieved safety.

Under Bob the players had lost confidence and he did not seem to be able to turn it around. We were now winning and in a way that was much better than earlier in the season.

KM did state a couple of times that the club wanted to get into the Premiership but was not willing to put a timetable on it.

KM is quite defensive of RD and stated (my words) that it was unreasonable of people to expect him to spend any amount of money just because he is rich he has and continues to work hard for his money, she has never known him to take a holiday and he often calls her before 8.00 am.

The issue of the Trust was brought up and KM clearly feels that they have a vendetta against her and that she is reluctant to meet with them as a single entity. A Trust member stood up and said that the club were in a strong position after the recent wins and now would be a good time to meet with the Trust which was the organisation that represented the fans. This was met with a rebuttal by some in the audience and a mini argument ensued. KM said that she was happy to meet with fans but she did not want to meet every group separately as she would be spending all her time in these meetings.

She felt that the viral ad was too explicit and had told the marketing team that she did not agree with it, but they issued the teaser without letting her know, they had to decide whether to go with it and come clean which they did. She also had to explain to Roland the they were responsible for Belgian headlines like 'Sex on Duchatelet's pitch or something like that.

RD is a very private man. He said though when they saw the results that it had worked. The club will do other virals but not following the same theme. 50% of pitches have been sold and enquiries have been received from parties that have never enquired before, very few clubs do pitch hire so this is unique. It was asked if the hirers realised it was only for football.

She has told Guy that if he beats Millwall he will be a legend.

Toughest test since Derby?

Many Charlton fans are now focusing on the Good Friday match at the New Den, but the Addicks could face their biggest test since Derby when they face Blackburn Rovers at The Valley tomorrow. Having held Liverpool to a draw at Anfield at the weekend, Jordan Rhodes popped up to give Rovers a 94th minute 1-0 win over Bolton midweek. Rhodes will be starting tomorrow, despite being linked with a loan move to 'Boro. Blackburn are now three points ahead of Charlton in the mid-table league.

Charlton have no particular injury worries, apart from the long-term injuries to Johnnie Jackson, Rhoys Wiggins and Franck Moussa [who he, ed?] The Sparrows Lane tea lady reports that Stephen Henderson will be fit after having to withdraw at half time against Cardiff. Talk of a late fitness test can be taken with a pinch of salt.

Our recent record against Blackburn is not too impressive. Blackburn won the last meeting 2-1 at The Valley in the FA Cup in January. Rovers also won the earlier league meeting this season 2-0 at Ewood Park in December. Blackburn have won the last three meetings in all competitions. Charlton's last win was 1-0 at Ewood Park in the Championship in October 2013. Blackburn are unbeaten in the last three meetings at The Valley in all competitions, winning the last two. Charlton's last win at home was 1-0 in the Premier League in December 2006.

A party of Addicks visited Sparrows Lane yesterday and reported that morale was very high, with players speaking with great enthusiasm about Guy Luzon as a coach. One well-regarded player said that he was the best manager he had ever had. Another young player said that Luzon analysed each match with him one on one and then phoned him at home to go through it again.

Roland made one of his rare visits to Sparrows Lane yesterday, but Guy Luzon was tight lipped about whether there had been any discussion of summer transfer targets: Flying visit

Odds: Charlton 9/5, Draw 11/5, Blackburn 8/5.

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Millwall manager sacked

Millwall manager Ian Holloway has been sacked and coach Neil Harris will take over for the rest of the season: Ian Holloway

Holloway was unable to venture out of his dugout at last Saturday's match without being taunted with abuse by Millwall fans.

Just to deal with a misleading comment by Acworth below Alan Curbishley has joined Foolham's coaching staff for the rest of the season: Curbishley

As for masks, I would suggest the Leamington Paul Holleran mask is really frightening. I will post a picture later.

Even Millwall fans could be scared by a mask of Brakes manager Paul Holleran who specialises in directing invective at referees.

Congratulations to Coquelin

He was voted Man of the Match in last night's FA Cup quarter final between Manchester United and Arsenal. Moreover, the commentators said that his loan spell at The Valley seem to have transformed him.

At the time the indignity of playing in SE7 was seen as the final nail in the Frenchman's career and Arsene Wenger was preparing to release him in the summer: Coquelin

At the time he thanked Charlton for the loan spell: Merci beaucoup

Sunday 8 March 2015

Stevie Brown won't let Lewes down

Former Addicks defender Steve Brown has become manager at Ryman Premier League club Lewes. He was sacked by Ebbsfleet United in November.

Despite the lack of the Kuwaiti cash that was available at Ebbsfleet, Brown is pleased to be at the Dripping Pan. He told The Non-League Paper, 'Football is a challenge whatever club you are at, and I missed the buzz of the changing room and the dug-out. I am so happy to be back in management. Sitting on your hands at home isn't for me.'

Brighton-based Brown said, 'I live just 20 minutes from the ground and know what a good club Lewes are, and how high they can go.'

The immediate task is to prevent relegation from the Ryman Premier. Brown started yesterday with a 1-0 win over Kingstonian in a front of a crowd of 724, the second biggest of the day in the Ryman Premier. Lewes are now 18th, seven points above the highest club in the drop zone.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Another win for Charlton

Charlton's run of good form under coach Guy Luzon continued with a 2-1 win at Cardiff this afternoon.

The Addicks had to stage a second-half recovery. Keeper Stephen Henderson was unable to return after the break following a knock, Dmitrovic replacing him. Federico Macheda gave Cardiff the lead early in the second half, turning in Kenwyne Jones' knock-back.

But Addicks substitute Chris Eagles cut back a cross for Tony Watt, who was lurking off his markers to fire home. (In fact, it may have been Roger Johnson who put the cross in according to a tweet from Richard Cawley of the SLP). Then Charlton substitute Simon Church went tumbling under Sean Morrison's challenge in the area, with Yoni Buyens tucking the penalty away on 87 minutes.

Charlton remain 12th: in fact, there is quite a squeezed area in mid-tale with Birmingham 14th on 46 points and Sheffield Wednesday 10th with 49 points. They are, however, 2nd in the form table.

Millwall's troubles continued with a 1-4 defeat at home to Norwich. Beleaguered boss Ian Holloway was jeered by the Spanners every time he emerged from the dugout. Holloway decided to hunker down in his bunker, explaining 'I felt if I came out from the dugout the fans would vent their spleen on me and that would not benefit the team.' Looking for positives, he said, 'I felt the lads kept going and showed a Millwall spirit, but maybe I'm the only one in the ground who did.'

A Welsh report, not surprisingly, gives a more negative view of the game: Dominant Cardiff throw it away

However, the match stats do not really support a picture of dominance by the Bluebirds. Admittedly, they had a lot of shots off target, but led only four to three on shots on target and five to four on corners. Possession was 54-46 per cent in their favour.

This morning's Football League Paper gives its highest scores (8) to Tony Watt ('should have had a penalty') and Chris 'Red Robin' Eagles who replaced Lepoint on 60 minutes and 'galvanised Charlton ... It took the former Manchester United forward less than 60 seconds to register his side's first shot on target in an hour.' Stephen Henderson got a 7 and Jordan Cousins got a 7 for 'a game of two halves like his team. Quiet before the break but lively late on.' Christophe Lepoint gets slated: 'A poor man's Peter Crouch. Brought in to offer height and presence and lacked touch.' His miserable score of 4 will give some comfort to those who doubt the quality of some of our acquisitions.

On the two halves point, Guy Luzon gave the team a telling off at half time. He said, 'We didn't play well in the first half and I told the players at half time that something had to change if we wanted to take three points back to London. In my philosophy, there is no point to play long balls. If you keep the ball and move it, then you have the chance to score goals. That is the first thing of football. We also showed character when we were 1-0 down away from home to get the goal and then to continue playing after the goal.'

By now the evidence is accumulating that he is quite a skilled coach who is able to motivate the players, but hard liners insist they will only chant his name if we beat Millwall at The New Den. Given our record against Millwall, that is a tough challenge to meet. Others point that they have no quarrel with Luzon personally, but rather with Roland.

As far as Stephen Henderson is concerned, he twisted his ankle. Normally reliable sources say that he got on the coach without any strapping on his ankle and shout be fit for the clash against the chicken farmers on Saturday.

i Gymru

Charlton face Cardiff City this afternoon in what should be a good test of how much progress Charlton have made under Guy Luzon. I had dinner with a Cardiff fan a couple of weeks ago whose opening gambit was 'Charlton aren't doing very well' which has, of course, changed. Charlton are 12th in the table and Cardiff are 14th. In the six match form table, Charlton are 5th and Cardiff are 10th. In the ten match form table, Charlton are 11th and Cardiff are 20th. In other words, both teams are improving.

Cardiff have won two of their last three games, after winning none of their previous eight games in all competitions. Cardiff have not won any of their last five home games in all competitions. Their last win at the Cardiff City Stadium was 1-0 in the Championship on 10 January.

Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall is a doubt with a groin injury and could be replaced by Simon Moore. Anthony Pilkington and Scott Malone are injured but Peter Whittingham is back from suspension. Johann Gudmundsson and Chris Solly are expected to return from muscle strains for Charlton which is good news. Johnnie Jackson is, of course, still sidelined.

The earlier meeting this season ended as a 1-1 draw at The Valley on Boxing Day. Cardiff have won only one of the last seven meetings. Their only win since 1985 was 2-0 at home in October 2008. Charlton have won two of the last four meetings at Cardiff, drawing one and losing one.

Advocates of fan power will note that Cardiff are once again playing in their traditional blue. Vincent Tan's idea that getting them playing in red would raise their profile in Asia is one of the daftest marketing ploys that I have come across. However, it was mother who eventually got him to drop the idea, telling him that he should stop being a silly boy.

The opposition forces at Charlton have assembled a long charge sheet against Roland Duchatelet and Katrien Meire. One charge is that, having denounced agents, Roland then made use of them. Sometimes needs must and one shouldn't be too dogmatic in adhering to principles.

However, Roland may be ahead of the curve because the whole system changes on April 1st when agents are replaced by 'football intermediaries'. I don't think this is just a cosmetic change and the Association of Football Agents are up in arms. It will be much easier for anyone to become an agent (step forward, Jonathan Acworth). There is also more control over fees charged. Read more about this on our sister page on the political economy of football: Agents under pressure

Friday 6 March 2015

Here comes purdah

Purdah starts in the United Kingdom on 30 March with the suspension of Parliament and lasts until at least the day after the general election on May 8th. However, it will stay in force until a new Government is formed which will probably take longer than in 2010.

I was on secondment in the civil service during European Parliamentary elections and I remember even then that the rules during purdah were strict. The rules certainly cover blogging and I am going to have to study them in detail.

At first sight I think this blog will be able to continue during purdah provided I refrain from anything that could be construed as a comment on the general or, possibly, even the local elections (this latter point is one I have to clarify). Thus, for example, I could comment on Rick Everitt in relation to CAS Trust, but not mention that he will be standing in the Labour interest for Thanet District Council.

If I do have to suspend the blog, I will give good notice, but I am hopeful that I will not have to do that.

On top of the election, we have the senior level of the Academy of a top Premiership side coming down for an overnight stay and a whole day at the end of April. Among other things their u18s will be playing our first team which looks like the slaughter of the innocents.

This morning we had precise instructions about how the pitches should be watered. The groundsman is going to go crazy. I almost felt like telling the club from 'oop North that they were good enough for Charlton to train and practice on when they had away fixtures in the Midlands in the Premiership days, but I didn't think this would go down well with a much bigger team that play in red.

I had to take my car into Stratford this morning and coming back on the bus I passed Stratford Town's Anne Hathaway Stadium, so generously funded by Stratford Town Council. The blue and yellow seats were sparkling in the sun, but what really caught my eye were the all-weather training pitches that caught my eye. Perhaps we should have hired them. I still savour the inventive chant that Leamington started when beating the Bardsmen 2-0, 'Two-nil or not two-nil'?

Thursday 5 March 2015

The ticket price issue

I have had some difficulty in following the complexities of the season ticket price issue for next year, but it seems that what it boils down is that, despite the fact that the club announced that prices will be frozen, most people will end up paying more. This is seen as another example of the club misleading fans in a way that is counter productive.

All this will play into the narrative of the 'Napoleonist' group of former Valley Party activists and VIP directors who are engaged in all out hostilities with the Belgians. They consider that the club is displaying amateurism in handling a number of matters, despite staffing levels being higher than when we were in League 1.

Much of their ire is directed at Katrien Meire whom they consider lacks sufficient relevant experience to run a football club. As I don't work for her, I have no means of judging this one way or the other. However, it does seem to me that football is a very conservative sector of the economy, note the considerable resistance to the use of video technology to assist referees (there have been some awful examples of poor decision-making this season). Another dimension of this conservatism is the relative lack of women in senior positions. It does seem to me that Roland is at least prepared to shake things up a bit and challenge some of the prevalent conventional wisdom, e.g., about the necessity of agents (although Charlton have still made use of them).

There are certainly one or two oddities about the season ticket purchase process. When I clicked on 'buy season tickets' I got a 404 error, so I have printed out the relevant form. I notice that there is a £5 charge for using a credit card which I don't recall in previous seasons and it is not made clear whether this applies to debit cards, so it looks as if I will be writing out a cheque and putting it in the post. The April 10th deadline to retain an existing seat seems early to me.

It's not the Belgian ownership or the flaws in the network model that would put me off renewing, but the pessimism and negativity of many fans. Of course, all fans tend to complain about their own club, but sometimes I think that it is worse than usual at Charlton. On top of that one now has to do battle with people with whom one was previously on amicable terms over the current regime.

Tuesday 3 March 2015

'This Luzon bloke does have a clue'

That is what one Addick tweeted after Charlton beat Nottingham Forest 2-1 at The Valley tonight through a Bulot brace.

Tony Watt launched one of his trademark attacks early in the game, but got fouled.

Tony Watt was taken out as he went steaming forward and a yellow card was given to Lascelles. From the free kick Bulot put it into the top left-hand corner with a screamer to make it 1-0 after six minutes. The Gabonese fans I passed in Floyd Road on Saturday would be happy if they had come again.

Antonio got the ball on to his right foot and put the ball into the bottom left-hand corner to make it 1-1 as Henderson made a despairing drive.

Lawrie Wilson was brought down off the pitch by Antonio and needed the attention of the physio.

Watt didn’t have enough support as he forged forward and ran into a dead end. Lansbury put a shot straight at Henderson.

Diarra had to clear the ball away as Charlton were under pressure from Diarra. This led to the first corner of the game. Henderson got his fists to it and put it out. The curling ball caused chaos. Charlton struggled to get the ball clear, but it eventually went out for a goal kick. However, the old Charlton vulnerability in defending corners showed.

Forest had the upper hand as news came through that Millwall were 2-0 down at Boro. Diarra did well, but was thrown head first into the advertising hoardings. Charm merchant Lansbury was lucky to get away with a yellow card.

Wilson did well as Antonio threatened again. His powerful runs had troubled Reading last Saturday. Henderson was unsighted as Antonio made a shot and Henderson put it out for a corner. The ball went out for another corner. Henderson missed it, but the ball went out for a goal kick.

Charlton needed to get back in the game as Forest were on top. Wilson delivered a good ball into the box and Bulot buried it to make it 2-1. This is Bulot who was written off in the last Voice of the Valley by Steve Dixon: ‘I cannot remember a significant contribution from [him].’

Cousins battled well with Osborn as two minutes were added on. Harriott seemed to be in trouble after he tripped up. Good work by Vetokele dealt with Antonio.

HT: Addicks 2, Forest 1

With Harriott off with a knock, Eagles came on. Bikey replaced Wilson. Luzon showed that he was not afraid to make half time substitutions.

Forest got a free kick in a dangerous position after protestations by Antonio. Vetokele intercepted for a corner.

Charlton got their first corner of the game, but it was unproductive. Diarra defended well.

Forest put in a header which went over the bar, Bikey told Fox he should have got it away.

Antonio was still causing problems, muscling Eagles out of the way.

A Forest shot curled wide. They had got the upper hand in the second half. But then Charlton put in some good work with the ball hitting the defender for a throw in.

Gardner, who had had a frustrating time in the second half in his role of feeding Antonio, was taken off.

Henderson took the ball well as the offside flag was raised, but it looked as if he had injured his shoulder, but he carried on.

Vetokele couldn’t just get to a ball that was chipped in by Gomez. Dexter Blackstock came on for Forest. Bikey defended well.

Burke got away from Fox but Bikey blocked his shot. Lansbury came off and was replacesd by Vekdwijk.

Bulot had shot on 85 minutes, but it was held by Darlow in the Forest goal. Vetokele went down and Lepoint came on. Darlow kept out a header from Watt and a shot by Bulot was blocked. Lichaj was booked for a foul on Watt. Antonio was then shown a yellow card for a bad foul.

Forest got a late corner and Darlow came up but to no avail.

The Addicks are now 14 points above Millwall who lost 3-0 at 'Boro. Charlton are now 5th in the form table.

Forest pose tough test

Against Nottingham Forest tonight Charlton face a team that also won 3-0 on Saturday, demolishing Reading 3-0 away. Forest are currently top of the form table while Charlton are 8th. In the real table Forest are currently 9th, nine points off Norwich in the lowest play off place. However, under Dougie Freedman, they must fancy their chances of making up this ground before the end of the season.

Even so, Freedman is concerned that the rejuvenated Forest side may not have enough games left. The former Palace manager commented at the weekend that teams higher up the table kept winning their games.

Forest did not have it all their own way against the Royals. After initially controlling the game with their passing, Freedman said, 'In last 15 minutes of the first half, we were by far the second best team. We had to defend for our lives, keep our bodies on the line, and the keep the ball out of the net.' Forest took the lead in the 56th minute with a well-struck left-footed curling effort by Osborn from 30 yards out.' Osborn was the standout player for Forest, getting a mark of 8 from the Football League Paper.

The away encounter earlier in the season ended 1-1 and our recent record against Forest has been reasonably good. However, they will be looking to take all three points tonight or at least secure a draw. The bookies do not see our prospects as all that good (Coral): Charlton 2/1, Draw 9/4, Nott'm Forest 11/8.

Charlton have a couple of injury worries in Gudmundsson and Solly who suffered muscle strains in Saturday's match. Tal Ben Haim will face a late fitness test and Johnnie Jackson remains out for some time. Gudmundsson is our second leading scorer after Igor with seven league goals. The contribution that vice-captain Solly brings to the team in terms of effort, determination and skill needs no emphasis.

Some fans have been working themselves into a lather about season ticket prices for next season, pointing out that they have not in fact been frozen as the club claims, or at least only in comparison with post early bird prices last year. The raising of the senior concession from 60 to 65 had some fans spluttering in their Bovril, but it seems reasonable enough, particularly when the club clarified that existing season ticket holders in the 60 to 65 age range could continue at the concessionary price.

Once again the communication was poor, but it looks as if some fans are looking for any stick with which to beat the current regime while they wait for a resurgent Valley Party to march from Woolwich.

Much to my regret the time at which I will be leaving work today, and the lack of foresight of I K Brunel leading to a severed rail line, means that I will not be able to make tonight's game. I am going for a 1-1 draw.

Monday 2 March 2015

Charlton praised for work on Down's Syndrome

This morning's Times praises Charlton Athletic for its work on Down's Syndrome in relation to the Charlton Upbeats Day: 'The club host football's most well-attended Down's Syndrome project nationally and are keen to take the lead in raising the profile of World Down's Syndrome Day on March 21st.'

The paper praises 'such incredibly selfless and understated work' and contrasts it with the experience of Kevin Kilbane who is a patron of the Down's Syndrome Association. As his career came to a close with Coventry City, he went to take a throw in and was told by one of his own supporters that his performance was so bad, he had got his just desserts in having a daughter with Down's Syndrome. Kilbane was quite restrained in his response which was just to tell him where to go.

Will it be Guy Luzon's red and white army?

When will fans start to sing Guy Luzon's name? Luzon said a week ago that he would win the fans round and the topic is being discussed on the boards. Fans did not object to Luzon personally, it was just the apparent manner of his appointment and the concern that he was another network cast off - although his first season at the mother ship was a good one.

The case for him being a useful coach is that he does seem to have some idea of what he is doing. The team does seem to be playing as a team in quite a disciplined way, Johnnie Jackson said that he really only achieved this at the Brentford match. His philosophy is to have a solid defence, but let the forwards express themselves which works well with Tony Watt whom he coached at Standard Liege.

The counter case is that we lost at Derby, which might not seem that surprising, but some fans thought that there were mistakes in team selection. It is also argued that the 3-0 wins could be a flash in the pan and we need to see ten matches to make a balanced judgment, a reasonable point.

His gyrations on the touchline are seen by some to be ridiculous and others as a sign of passion, but one explanation may be that he has a relatively weak voice.

The game against Notts Forest will be a crucial test of how far he has lifted the team. One would not expect fans to identify with him in the way that they did with Chris Powell. It is also possible that he may be replaced at the end of the season however well he does. The managerial merry go round is one of the least attractive aspects of life in the network. But, as with many things with Roland, it is a question of fifty shades of grey.