Saturday 29 February 2020

Devastating defeat

Charlton went down 4-0 at Huddersfield this afternoon with two of the goals scored by former Addick Karlan Grant who gave it large to the away support. It was a very poor performance from which one can take no positives.

It left Charlton 20th in the table. Wigan continued their run with a 1-0 win at an out of sorts West Brom. Barnsley lost at Reading. Luton and Stoke drew. Middlesbrough have a game in hand (they are at home to Forest on Monday).

Demands for Bowyer to go have increased in intensity and volume. It is difficult to see a quality replacement coming to a relegation threatened club at this time of the season. Even if they did, they would find it a hard task with these players, very few of whom are of real Championship quality.

The home side started strongly and it was all Huddersfield in the opening stages. Even when Charlton did have a spell of possession they couldn't get into the final third.

Grant pounced on a mistake from Adedeji Oshilaja before burying the ball past Dillon Phillips to open the scoring for the Terriers mid-way through the first half. Huddersfield had another chance to a score just before the break.

Williams came on at half time for Otzumer, but was unable to make a decisive difference. Charlton did improve in the opening phase of the second half, but as is so often the case, the corners they won were unproductive. The disappointing McGeady was withdrawn in favour of Bonne, but Huddersfield substitute Steve Mounie put the hosts in control two minutes after coming on, deflecting home Harry Toffolo's cross with 15 minutes remaining to double the lead.

Hemed came on in place of Lapslie on 81 minutes, but all he did was get a yellow card.

And Grant netted his second and the Terriers' third in stoppage time after being played through by Juninho Bacuna, who then scored himself from long-range.

Louis Mendez tweeted: 'Capitulations like that are always a massive warning sign. Missed a few chances in what was actually a decent first 25 mins of the second-half but then lost it big time. Really worrying end to that game and poor first-half of course.'

Lee Bowyer asid today was 'Not good enough. First-half was bad, poor. I take full responsibility for it. I picked the team. I picked players that I thought would do better playing the diamond and it didn't work.' He apologised to supporters: Bowyer takes full responsibility

Charm merchant keeper gets eight game ban

Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilia has been banned for eight matches for using racist language towards Charlton loan player Jonathan Leko during the September 28th game at The Valley. A FA panel found that Casilia used the n-word.

Casilia denied abusing Leko but was found guilty on the balance of probabilities after a five month investigation and a two day hearing last week. He was also fined £60,000 and ordered to take a course educating him about racial sensitivities.

Leeds United have issued a statement saying that they do not believe that Casilia should have been banned unless the offence had been decided on a higher level of proof, i.e, guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

The FA's sanctions for incidents of this kind are still more lenient than those used by Fifa and Uefa who issue minimum ten game bans for those who racially abuse other players on the pitch.

Casilia will be available for the last game of the season when Charlton play Leeds away which could be a key game for both clubs.

Friday 28 February 2020

It's tough up north

It's tough up north and CAS Trust reckons that a scrappy point in difficult conditions might be enough at Huddersfield tomorrow: Battle in the wind and the rain

It wouldn't satisfy the Addickted who make the long journey to Yorkshire (although these northern fixtures always attract Addicks who are exiled in northern parts like one I know who lives in Doncaster and had a difficult time last summer). Setting up for a draw doesn't really work given the propensity of Charlton to concede in time added on.

On the other hand, all out attack is risky with a weak defence and a midfield whose performance is unpredictable. Who would be under siege supremo Lee Bowyer? Well quite a few fans appear to think they know better than him to judge by comments on social media.

Desmond from Deal has no doubts: 'A decisive defeat will be the final nail in Bowyer's coffin who might then find a place at his level in Blackpool.'

Huddersfield have won their past three league games against Charlton, scoring eight goals and conceding just once. Charlton have won one of their past seven away league games against Huddersfield (D2 L4), a 1-0 win in March 2013. Huddersfield have won four of their past seven home league games (D1 L2), as many as in their previous 32 home games combined.

Huddersfield striker Karlan Grant has scored 14 league goals for the Terriers this season, the best return by a Huddersfield player since Nahki Wells scored 17 in 2015-16.

If the form book and the weather forecast is anything to go by, it looks like a home win for Huddersfield and another chorus of demands for Bowyer to go. But Charlton are capable of winning when they are least expected to.

Pardew might soon be available

Critics of Lee Bowyer looking for a replacement might wish to note that Alan Pardew could soon be available. Things have not being going too well for him (or Chris Powell) at relegation threatened Den Haag in the Netherlands and Pardew was 'approached' by a group of supporters at a recent training session: Exchange of views

The Daily Mail described the angry fans as 'hooligans' who, 'armed with a flipboard, hijacked his training session in front of stunned players to show why his tactics are wrong as the club hurtles towards relegation.'

The obvious solution is to replace Pardew by Powell.

Bowyer complains about fixture scheduling

This week Lee Bowyer has seemed to be complaining as much as some Charlton fans and Championship fixture scheduling is his latest target: Fresh swipe at fixture schedule

Much as I like Lee Bowyer, it's not a good sign when managers buy a copy of the Great Big Book of Excuses. I always liked the line that Curbs used, 'It's a long old season.' Of course, it's not that much longer.

Thursday 27 February 2020

Bowyer gets his excuses in early

Lee Bowyer saying that Huddersfield Town should not be among the Championship strugglers sounds a bit like getting you excuses in early, although I can accept that Karlan Grant is talented and will want to score against us: Bowyer passes judgment on Huddersfield Town

I think the tactics against Sheffield Wednesday were a mistake, but every manager makes mistakes, even Sir Alex Ferguson did. Curbs made systematic mistakes, in particular his reluctance to make substitutions early enough, but he still did a very good job for us overall.

Bowyer is still on a learning curve, but there is no available replacement. If he went, presumably Johnnie Jackson would be in temporary charge, but arguably he is as much part of any problem as any solution.

I think it is best to stick with a manager rather have frequent changes, although it is rather ironic that Blackpool have been after the services of 'Gobby'.

Super Hoops rack up big losses for what?

We will be playing the Super Hoops shortly and it is instructive to look at their latest accounts. QPR's owners have 'invested' £287m over the years and the return this season is likely to be a mid-table position in the Championship: Super Hoops

Financial fair play penalties have cost them little more than £1m a season as they were able to suggest to the EFL that if matters got into the courts they would very likely find FFP to be a breach of both domestic and European competition law. In a market economy you can't stop the owner of the company investing as much as they like in it provided there is no risk of insolvency.

It has been suggested that ESI limited spending in the January transfer window because they didn't want to be paying big wages in League One. The lack of availability of quality players at a reasonable price may have been a bigger factor. However, it does strike me that ESI are prudent businessmen which, of course, may not be what fans want.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Bleak night for Charlton

Charlton once again succumbed to a last minute goal as they went down 1-0 to Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. Charlton have now conceded six goals after 90 minutes this season.

With the bottom three all winning (Wigan 3-0 at Reading, Barnsley 1-0 at Hull, Luton last night), Charlton remained in 18th place but just two points above the drop zone.

It was a far from inspiring performance from the Addicks, who started with a 3-5-2 formation. There were about 500 fans there in an attendance of 21,370. There was considerable criticism on social media, although the poor standard of refereeing was also criticised. Lockyer received his 10th yellow card of the season, a harsh booking which means that he will miss the next two games.

Once again Charlton had difficulty holding on to the ball, while the Wednesday midfield were given too much time and space. Phillips made a number of good saves from Forestierei and also from Fletcher. Charm merchant Forestieri got booked for a nasty challenge on substitute George Lapslie.

Charlton's best effort was a 25 yard volley from Lyle Taylor in the second half which hit the crossbar. Shortly afterwards a goalbound effort from Taylor at close range was blocked.

Fletcher nodded the ball home from close range in the fifth minute of stoppage time to end Charlton's resistance and earn the Owls a first win in eight Championship attempts.

Naby Sarr was not available due to a tight calf. It is unclear how serious his injury is, but he was missed tonight.

Lee Bowyer thinks that Charlton were robbed of a point by a late soft free kick: Shell shocked supremo

Fans have been piling in on Bowyer on social media, but it is not clear what replacing him at this stage would achieve or who they would replace him with. He started the season with a thin squad and it wasn't enhanced much in the transfer window, although perhaps McGeady should have been given a chance to show what he can contribute tonight.

The team are staying in Yorkshire for Saturday's six pointer at Huddersfield.

Relying on our own results

Louis Mendez has tweeted, 'Impressive how the majority of teams in the Championship relegation battle seemed to have morphed into a reincarnation of the 1970 Brazil side at the moment.'

Of course, fans have pointed out that we can't rely on the results of other teams, but I find it hard not to pay attention to them. It has, of course, given a new opening for pessimists.

One thing that seems to have escaped them is that our goal difference is far better than the other clubs in the relegation league, because when we have lost it has often been by one goal. I am also puzzled why no one ever factors likely points deductions into the discussions. I suppose it's the equivalent of 'I won't believe until I see it on the official site'. These things take time, but it doesn't mean that the EFL will not act.

When it comes to relying on our own results, we face a tough challenge at Hillsborough tonight where Sheffield Wednesday will be eyeing an opportunity to end their run of bad form which has seen them fall from promotion challengers to mid-table.

They managed a 3-3 draw at Birmingham on Saturday, although from what I could see from the highlights their defence looked suspect. Even so, we have conceded 48 goals against their 41.

Manager Garry Monk reckoned that the Owls were unlucky not to win at St. Andrews and said 'In terms of the performance it was more like ourselves. There was fight, passion and desire.'

Charlton will assess midfielder Darren Pratley, who had an injection in a back injury and missed Saturday's win against Luton. Jonny Williams (ankle) continues to be out.

The Addicks are five points above the relegation zone, having won three of their past five games.

Sheffield Wednesday are looking to win three consecutive league games against Charlton for the first time since September 1990 (four in a row). This will be Charlton's first away league match against Sheffield Wednesday since March 2016, when they lost 3-0 under Jose Riga.

Sheffield Wednesday haven't won any of their past seven games in the Championship (D3 L4), last going on a longer winless run between September and November 2014 (10). Charlton have alternated between a victory and a defeat in each of their last five league games (W3 D2). The previous three wins for the Addicks came across a run of 23 matches (W3 D7 L13).

When Lyle Taylor starts for Charlton in the Championship this season, the Addicks have won 54% of their matches (7/13) compared to just 14.

One thing is certain, it will be a massive game.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Wednesday on Wednesday

Sheffield Wednesday are looking less massive these days with Sheffield United flourishing in the Premier League. The Owls are second from bottom of the form table while Charlton are seventh.

They are also the subject of an investigation over the sale of the ground with rumours of a possible 21 point deduction. The conduct of former chief executive Katrien Meire is being investigated.

However, the word from Yorkshire is that the club's players are worried about their form not an impending points deduction: Possible points penalty

This article looks at some weaknesses of Wednesday, although there is no reason for complacency: Three Wednesday weaknesses for Charlton to exploit

Monday 24 February 2020

Midfield diamond failed to sparkle

I wouldn't claim to have any real expertise on football, but both I and Steve from Petts Wood felt that the midfield wasn't working as it should against Luton Town on Saturday, so it is good to have that view confirmed by a real expert in the form of sanguine supremo Lee Bowyer: I take part of the blame for diamond not sparkling

Centre-back Deji Oshilaja, playing at the base of the midfield, was taken off after a shaky opening 55 minutes and Bowyer blames himself for not getting it right in the first half.

Desmond from Deal commented: 'I have been saying for a long time that Bowyer is not up to the job of managing in the Championship and at least we have got a partial admission of fault from him.'

He hasn't been chukked out

Richard Cawley of the SLP asked Lee Bowyer to explain the absence of Chuks Aneke from the squad. The sagacious supremo replied that Aneke is fit, but all his attacking players are fit apart from Jonny Williams: Keeping fit with the under 23s

I didn't think he was really up to Championships standard, but I don't see him in training.

Lapslie: how my hamstring hell ended

Some good news on the medical front: George Lapslie has revealed how new physio Danny Murphy dealt with his hamstring problem, enabling him to return to first team action (please note that Murphy is not the Onanist sometimes seen commenting on football on television): Thanks new physio for ending hamstring hell

Lapslie also revealed that his partner Ruth is pregnant. He is happy to pay the fine for putting the ball under his shirt. Footballers are able to have children at an age that was once regarded as the norm and is much easier to cope with, both then and when you have teenagers in your thirties.

Lapslie's enthusiasm and energy are a joy to behold on the pitch. In some ways he is a junior version of Darren Pratley, he gives the opposition so much trouble.

Lapslie is a grounded player and does not underestimate the size of the task ahead: 'We’ll keep grafting to try and get even higher. It’s going to be a slog and we’ve got to come together and try and get us safe.'

Saturday 22 February 2020

'The reds are staying up'

This was the chant from the Covered End as Charlton beat Luton Town 3-1 at The Valley this afternoon. It was a rather frenetic first half with Charlton making lots of mistakes as Luton pressed for a win. A very strong cross wind made it difficult to play quality football.

The midfield was far from its best, unusually including Cullen. Three at the back didn't seem to be working very well either. Lyle Taylor, a target for chanting from the Hatters, maddened them by putting the Addicks 1-0 ahead, Naby Sarr having earlier hit the crossbar. Alfie Doughty also forced a save from charm merchant keeper Sluga (who in the second half tussled with Lyle Taylor and got the captain for the day a yellow card).

Charlton are always vulnerable when they have scored and not much more than a minute later Luton equalised after some woeful defending making the half time score 1-1.

Green missed a chance to put the Addicks ahead after the break and Luton had a goal chalked off for offside on 51 minutes, their manager putting it down to discrimination against 'little Luton'. After a blatant handball, Lyle Taylor calmly put the Addicks ahead from the penalty spot. Phillips had to make a good save from Moncur.

Bringing Lapslie on as a substitute helped to change the game, as did the subsequent addition of Bonne. Lapslie put the game beyond doubt by scoring the third goal in the 87th minute after a one two with Bonne. He's truly one of our own. Alfie Doughty also showed some moments of sublime skill, outwitting the Luton defence.

Charlton moved up to 18th with Barnsley, Stoke and Wigan all winning.

Attendance was just under 19,000 despite a packed away end but the Addickted made a lot of noise to back the team.

The report from Louis Mendez is here: Super sub George Lapslie

In his comment serene supremo Lee Bowyer said that Lyle Taylor would have enjoyed silencing the Luton fans: Silencing abusive Luton fans

Friday 21 February 2020

Six pointer

I met the local Hatter for coffee this morning and we agreed that the most likely result tomorrow was a 1-1 draw. CAS Trust have the game down as a six pointer: Six pointer

Charlton are unbeaten in their last 10 home games against Luton Town in all competitions (W6 D4) since losing 1-0 back in May 1987 in a top-flight meeting. Luton are looking to complete a league double over Charlton for the first time since the 1986-87 season.

Charlton have alternated between victory and defeat in their past four league games, winning more across these four games than they had in their previous 17 in the Championship (W1 D6 L10).

Luton Town have lost their last five away league matches in London, conceding at least three goals in each defeat (19 goals in total). The last Football League team to concede 3+ goals in six consecutive away games in London was Chester City in March 2009. Overall, Luton have won three games away from home and lost fourteen.

Lyle Taylor has scored five goals in his past four appearances against Luton Town in all competitions, scoring twice for the Addicks last season at the Valley in League One.

Doughty contract extended

Alfie Doughty's contract has been extended by one year as Lee Bowyer starts the process of securing existing players. Fulham showed an interest in him in the January transfer window: Deal trigger

Charlton have also been talking to the agent of Adam Matthews.

Thursday 20 February 2020

Bowyer scopes out relegation league

Lee Bowyer reckons that the Championship relegation league goes as high as Hull in 17th place. At one time he thought that QPR might get dragged in, but thinks that the Super Hoops are now safe: Survival fight

Bowyer recognises the importance of the match against a reviving Luton Town, but thinks that a victory doesn't mean we are safe and a defeat doesn't mean we are relegated.

Bowyer starting work on summer transfer plans

Lee Bowyer is starting work on his summer transfer plans and hopes that he will have more freedom to spend that under Roland. Charlton have the lowest budget in the Championship: Bowyer reveals summer hopes

The latest edition of FC Business has a feature article on Charlton's new owners. Once it has loaded you need to click right for a few pages: Fresh start for Charlton

More injuries

Richard Cawley of the SLP reports that Sam Field set to miss the rest of the campaign due to a knee injury. Jonny Williams, a key player in inspiring the team, is out for two weeks after damaging his ankle in training (apparently another player fell on him).

Darren Pratley is a doubt for Luton due to back spasms. This is bad news. He may be getting on a bit, but his work rate and tactical guile are first rate.

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Lee Bowyer thinks Blackburn game was closer

Lee Bowyer has now watched the video of the Blackburn game and thinks that it was far closer than he originally thought and could have gone differently if Charlton had got an early second half goal: Bowyer tweaks his verdict

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Ng rumours unconfirmed

Rumours linking Charlton with Crewe defender Perry Tian Hee Ng as a summer transfer target do not come from particularly reliable sources, but there may be something in them. Even with Crewe pressing for promotion to League One, he would probably be affordable for Charlton. It is generally accepted that the defence needs strengthening.

Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City are also said to be interested.

Ng is a potential Singapore international: Career details

Devising a chant would be not be easy, although perhaps one could use his middle names as in 'Tian Hee, you fill us with glee.' Or perhaps not.

Monday 17 February 2020

McGeady's potential

Charlton defender Adam Matthews suggests that Aiden McGeady is a work in progress at The Valley. He is a bit low on game time, but his quality and experience will show through, especially with a young squad: Glimpses of what he can do

Clearly the media point man for the day, Matthews also says we should not get down about the Blackburn reverse: Won't do us any good to be down

Sunday 16 February 2020

Defender Lucas Ness signs

Lucas Ness has signed a professional contract with Charlton after leaving the Metropolitan Police (the team that is, not the force; the team no longer has any coppers in it). Lucas is currently studying for his A levels: Ness departs

At one time with Fulham and described as a 'potential wonderkid', the defender had a trial with Leicester City last year amidst interest from a number of top clubs: In demand starlet

Saturday 15 February 2020

Charlton outplayed

One can talk about the curse of the football for a fiver game, but Charlton were simply outplayed as they went down 0-2 to promotion chasing Blackburn Rovers at The Valley this afternoon. Some of the defending was woeful.

The other relegation league clubs had a mixed day, with the stand out result being bottom club Barnsley's 3-0 defeat of Fulham at Craven Cottage. Luton Town won 1-0 at Boro and Huddersfield equalised at Derby. Stoke went down 4-2 at QPR after being 2-0 ahead and Wigan drew at Cardiff after also being ahead.

Sheffield Wednesday could soon be joining the relegation league. Not only did they lose again today, 0-3 at home to Reading, but there is talk of a 21 point deduction.

Without Jonny Williams who picked up a slight knock in training, Charlton started well in the first 15 minutes. A Hemed shot was deflected and Walton in the Rovers goal pushed it away.

On 26 minutes Pearce made a great intervention to stop a Rovers chance. However, the BBC thought he should have been red carded and Blackburn awarded a penalty. Three minutes later poor defending saw the visitors go ahead with a deflected shot from Buckley.

Charlton fans were blasé about the weather before the game, but Rovers may have been helped by the strong wind blowing towards the Covered End. On 37 minutes they were awarded a free kick for no apparent reason. Fair or not, you still have to defend it and the defence was awful with Adarabioyo making it 0-2.

On 39 minutes Taylor forced Walton into a good save. Richard Cawley commented, 'Charlton had early momentum, but Blackburn grew into the game. Charlton didn't seem to be playing with their usual intensity which could be due to the big shift they put in against Forest on Tuesday.'

Charlton were better, or at least not as bad, in the second half, but Walton coped well with anything thrown at him. Pearce was replaced by Smith at half time and the Addicks switched to 4-4-2. A Taylor free kick was punched away. Hemed was replaced by Green on 60 minutes and Bonne replaced McGeady on 69 minutes. Charlton came closest to scoring on 84 minutes when Cullen forced a super save from Walton.

Attendance was 25,363 with 2,063 from Blackburn. Charlton remain 19th, ahead of Huddersfield on goal difference and five points above Wigan in the first relegation place.

The report from Louis Mendez is here: Beaten at home

Rovers return

It looks as if the worst of Storm Dennis will hit after this afternoon's match against Blackburn Rovers, but the expected bumper crowd may be depleted because of threatened transport disruption. Clearing the crowd from The alley will be a challenge now that there is no longer a 'football special' fast to London Bridge.

Charlton have not scored a goal in their last four 'football for a fiver' games: Is football for a fiver cursed?

Blackburn come into the game after a convincing 3-0 home win against Hull during the week. Charlton are looking to win three consecutive league games against Blackburn for the first time since September 2004. Away from home, Blackburn have won five, drawn two and lost eight.

Blackburn have conceded exactly one goal in each of their last six away league games against Charlton (W2 D2 L2). Charlton are looking to win consecutive home Championship games for the first time since April 2016 under manager Jose Riga.

Blackburn have lost their two away league games in London this season, losing 2-0 at Fulham and 4-2 at QPR. Since the start of last season, Lyle Taylor has scored 34 goals in all competitions - 20 more than any other Charlton player.

If Charlton can do the double over Blackburn, it will be a big step towards safety. The teams below us have tough away games today: Derby v Huddersfield; QPR v Stoke (mind you anything is possible with the Super Hoops); Cardiff v Wigan; Boro v Luton; Fulham v Barnsley.

One piece of good news is that Johnnie Jackson has signed a contract to remain as assistant manager at Charlton until 2023. A true legend.

Friday 14 February 2020

Bowyer wants to keep Sarr

Sagacious supremo Lee Bowyer wants to keep Naby Sarr after his contract expires in the summer. Bowyer admits that Sarr makes mistakes, but considers that he has a lot to offer, including the contribution he makes to morale: Contracts update

Sarr has his fans and detractors. He is probably one of our most inconsistent players. He can put in a great pass, as he did at Forest this week, and then nearly score an own goal. If Bowyer wants to keep him, that is good enough for me.

Contract negotiations are also taking place with Alfie Doughty and Dillon Phillips.

Thursday 13 February 2020

Green doubtful for Saturday

Andre Green has a knee problem and could miss the match against Blackburn Rovers on Saturday: Key attacker could be missing

Sam Field also has a knee problem and is seeing West Brom's doctor in London.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

To the Londoners 1-0

Charlton achieved what many thought was impossible last night and beat Nottingham Forest 1-0. An excellent Naby Sarr cross was converted by Lyle Taylor in the first half. Sarr then nearly managed to score an own goal. Forest's manager admitted that Charlton were the better team, saying that Charlton controlled the game

The Addicks went up to 19th in the table, six points above Wigan in the first relegation place.

Report from Louis Mendez here: Vital away win

Smiling supremo Lee Bowyer said: 'We're now three points nearer to the target of staying up that we need. People wrote us off and said we'll go down, but I believe in this group of players and they keep fighting and I keep pushing them. With our fans behind us, we've got a good group here.'

However, the striving supremo was not completely satisfied, saying that Charlton should have scored more goals. Certainly chances were missed in the second half. Hemed in particular was guilt of some wayward finishing.

Pessimists and negativists are few and far between this morning, but Desmond from Deal was unabashed: 'Bowyer does get lucky sometimes, but it was a fluke result. Mark my words, we are going down.'

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Bowyer sets points target

Sanguine supremo Lee Bowyer reckons a points total of 47 will see Charlton stay in the Championship: Bowyer sets points total

With the temperature in the lower 20s in the Xalon Valley, it's easier to take a relaxed view of things.

No excitement in this valley

Alcalali: After leaving stormed tossed England, it wasa real pleasure to use the sun lounger by my daughter's pool with the temperature over 20 degrees C. The downside is that there is virtually no interest in the Xalon Valley about tonight's clash with Nottingham Forest.

The local dialect is Valencian which is a variant of Catalan which I don't speak at all, My Castlian Spanish is poor, but references to 'Athletico Charlton' evoke bewilderment. However, there is a rumour of an Addick leaving nearby, so I live in hope.

Nottingham Forest are winless in their past seven league games against Charlton (D5 L2), with the last three meetings ending as draws. This will be Charlton's first away league visit to Nottingham Forest since August 2015, drawing 0-0 under Guy Luzon.

Nottingham Forest are unbeaten in their past seven home games in all competitions on Tuesdays (W4 D3) since a 0-1 defeat to Brentford in April 2018. Only fellow relegation strugglers Luton and Barnsley (six) have won fewer away points in the Championship than Charlton this season (10), with the Addicks winless in their last 12 on the road (D3 L9).

Monday 10 February 2020

Bonne boost

Macauley Bonne will be on the bench at Nottingham Forest tomorrow, as will Aiden McGeady who has recovered from illness. Lyle Taylor is fit: Striker boost

Sunday 9 February 2020

'Awful run could end in drop'

Some Charlton fans are proclaiming that we are already relegated. I never thought that 21st was a relegation position, particularly when points deductions are in the works for other clubs. If form is the criterion, Charlton are seventh from bottom in the form table.

Nevertheless, pessimists may derive some succour from the 'match verdict' in today's Football League Paper. It states: 'Lee Bowyer needs to start looking over his shoulder … Charlton are in the middle of a dreadful run that could plunge them back into League One. They haven't won away in the league since August … They have only won two league games, home or away, in their last 19.'

'It's a consistently dreadful sequence that will get Charlton relegated if Bowyer can't turn it around. Aggressive and a winner as a top player, Bowyer's team, so good and easy on the eye, need these qualities more than ever.' Of course, that was when a thin squad was fully fit. As Bowyer pointed out yesterday, some of the returning players may be able to get on the field of play, but they are not match fit yet.

It seems to me that a lot of fans are generalising from a particularly poor performance. Unfortunately, prospects of a recovery against Nottingham Forest on Tuesday are not good. Forest beat an admittedly faltering Leeds United 2-0 yesterday. Judging from the excerpts on Quest, which admittedly shows only the best bits, Forest are able to tear through a defence that has shortcomings.

As a Charlton fan, I am immured to relegation. I remember when we had our first Premier League relegation, the then young son of a fellow fan was in floods of tears. 'Is it his first relegation?' another fan rather tactlessly asked.

The Championship is clearly the place to be, in terms of the calibre of the competition (and the away fans they bring). There are big financial differences. I remain unconvinced that all is now lost.

Bowyer remains confident but the knives are out

Lee Boywer is confident that he can keep Charlton up, but the knives are out for him from quite a few fans to judge from social media and it's not just the likes of Desmond from Deal who has been calling for him to go for months. The Football League Paper also has a critical analysis which I will reproduce later. Or perhaps brave the wind (not too bad here) and buy your own copy.

Staying up was always going to be a challenge, but 21st place is sufficient. It just needs three teams to be worse than us, it doesn't require us to be that good. No one ever seems to factor in the Birmingham City points deduction. They were charged last month and although these things take time, another points deduction for breaching financial fair play rules is very likely.

Bowyer told the Football League Paper: 'Our squad ain't as strong as a lot of the other squads in this division. I think we are good enough to keep that gap between us and the relegation places. We will surprise teams and we will win games. I know what we have to do and how many points we need to stay in this division and I am confident we will get them.'

Let's consider some of the points made by Bowyer's critics. One is that he left the substitutions too late yesterday (72 minutes: the lacklustre Purrington and the tiring Williams off, Doughty and Oztumer on). That is a fair point: let's hope he didn't get this habit from Alan Curbishley who favoured late substitutions when the chances of them making a difference were diminishing. But it's hardly a sacking offence.

Another criticism is that he was good enough for League One, but not for the Championship. Well we shall have to wait and see. Having just given him an extended contract, which most fans seemed to welcome, ESI are hardly going to change their minds.

A rather different line of attack is the failure to sign a centre back in the transfer window. One of the reasons for focusing on midfielders was that a weak midfield was putting the defence under pressure. However, if there was a good centre back available as a loan, surely Steve Gallen would have signed him?

East Street Investments

Another line of attack is on ESI themselves, and I think there are some grounds for concern. However, a note of caution first. Many fans seemed to have read too much into what ESI said, although Matt Southall could have been more cautious in his phrasing. In general, however, I am amazed by the way in which fans expect owners to shovel money into a club. I would rather have a sustainable five year plan, yes, even if it means regrouping in the third tier.

There are some areas for concern. Many fans dismiss the questions raised by Rick Everitt in VOTV as an attempt to increase sales. Given the cover price and the print quality, I doubt whether he makes any money out of it. Anyway, let's assume for a moment that his carefully weighed points are simply the result of a bloated ego contaminated by being a Labour activist as his critics claim.

I have had two conversations this week with fans that gave me some concern. One was with a fan who has lived in the Gulf and briefed me about how those societies work. Given that my prior knowledge was limited to changing planes in Dubai, this was very helpful. His key point was that as someone born in Syria His Excellency would be viewed as an outsider, but he might nevertheless be useful to represent others in societies not noted for transparency.

The other conversation was with a local fan who has done some research on the Cheshire links of ESI. He has clearly looked into the situation in some depth, but further fact checking is required before anything is said.

We should be careful what we wish for. We don't want a reversion to Roland and there isn't a white knight round the corner, so expectations may have to be reduced.

Saturday 8 February 2020

Bowyer assesses Davis

Aiden McGeady did not appear at Stoke because he was ill during the week. Lee Bowyer also gave his rather mixed opinions about debutante David Davis, but thinks he will improve during his stay at Charlton: Has his say on Davis

'An afternoon to forget'

That was the judgment of Louis Mendez after Charlton went down to a 3-1 defeat at Stoke City this afternoon in front of 1,934 Addickted. A fan tweeted, 'You’ve got to feel for the fans who made the trip. Traveled to Stoke, the arse end of England, on a cold Saturday to see us get completely out played from the first minute. Embarrassing is an understatement.

Charlton have been overtaken by Huddersfield and Stoke are now 21st, four points ahead of Wigan who lost at Preston. Barnsley drew at home against the Massives.

In a poor first half, Charlton rarely troubled Jack Butland in the Stoke goal. The home side went ahead from a free kick. Then thirteen seconds of dominance and a cross from Green allowed Ben Purrington to score an injury time equaliser.

However, the hope was short lived. Charlton are vulnerable just after the break and Stoke went 2-1 ahead on 47 minutes, then scored a third on 67 minutes.

A late flurry from Lyle Taylor was little consolation.

One fan commented, 'Completely off the boil today. Some sloppy play, can't seem to keep the ball. Stoke have so much time and space in possession. No movement when we are in possession either.'

The report from Louis Mendez is here: Disappointing display on the road

Shell shocked supremo Lee Bowyer said: 'Not good enough from start to finish. They were better than us. Too many players weren’t at it today. Too many were nowhere near as well as they can play. We have a squad that have to be at their best to compete in this division and they weren’t.' Of course, the bigger question is, why?

Bowyer said that he thought the players returning from injury were not at their peak: Extremely underwhelmed

Former director Bob Whitehand had no doubt about who to blame: 'Bowyer at fault. Continues to pick Purrington and Pearce , why can he not see they are not up to it. Purrington is a shocking defender , slow, no positional sense. Pearce tries hard but too slow and can’t pass to save his life. Big mistake not to get defenders in the window.'

Come on you Reds!

The form book suggests an inevitable Charlton defeat against Stoke City this afternoon: Charlton's poor away form

CAS Trust thinks that a draw with no injuries would be a good outcome: Stoke here we come

I think that with players returning from injury and the spirit in the camp, we might do the double over Stoke, although team selection will be a challenge.

Friday 7 February 2020

An 'Al Hayba' moment may not suit Charlton

Charlton should be cautious of revived plans for the Championship to break away from the EFL and become a Premier League 2, even if it is being hailed as an 'Al Hayba' moment (after the Lebanese TV series). The focus is definitely on the so-called 'big' clubs like Forest and we could well find ourselves outside a slimmed down Championship with no prospect of returning.

The argument runs: 'If only English football’s power brokers are brave enough, a similarly transformative “Al Hayba” moment could see a rebranded Championship establish itself on an infinitely bigger stage than its current, largely parochial platform. This seems a perfect time for the second tier’s anyone-can-beat-anyone human drama to be properly appreciated, at home and abroad.'

Murray Mints always argued that the Championship was headed in the direction of becoming a Premier League 2 and in a sense he was right. Clubs are willing to splash the cash and evade the financial fair play rules in a desperate attempt to reach the promised land of the Premier League. I think that in many ways the Championship is a more interesting competition than the top flight.

Some may consider that the Championship needs a 'road to Damascus' conversion, but I think it comes straight from the Daft Ideas Department. Read more about here, but don't expect any references to unfashionable Charlton: Rebranding the Championship

Big exodus of players threatened in summer

Ten players are out of contract in the summer and six loan players will be leaving, although there is more than one of them most fans would like to retain. Sombre supremo Lee Bowyer is keen to get contract talks started, but it is far from straightforward: Need to start offering contract extensions

Richard Cawley of the SLP added to his report in a tweet: 'Been way too much short-term planning at Charlton. See so many clubs tie down key personnel to longer deals. Mentioned in the piece but Phillips and Lockyer a couple that also need extensions.'

I was talking to an Addick who has lived in the Gulf earlier this week and he emphasised how hierarchical their societies are in terms of what are essentially tribal loyalties. As a Syrian, His Excellency has a low status in his own right and is reliant on the backing of the ruling family.

I am not suggesting that he does not have that backing, but I am pointing out that these are not societies that score high on transparency, nor would their traditional values require them to do so. I find them difficult places to understand through a western lens.

Thursday 6 February 2020

Charlton emerging from their injury hell says Bowyer

Serene supremo Lee Bowyer says that Charlton are emerging from their injury hell and are 'in a good place' for their six pointer at Stoke on Saturday (not that I would describe Stoke as a 'good place'): Striker close to return

When we had a full squad we were able to beat Stoke convincingly at the start of the season, so the double might be possible. However, they have had a bit of a run recently and are now seventh in the form table whilst we are fifth from bottom. At home Stoke have won five, drawn three and lost seven.

They will be looking to bounce back from last week's 4-0 defeat at Derby.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Bowyer has confidence in McGeady

The signing of Aiden McGeady was the subject of particular complaint by moaners who described him as an injury prone has been. Desmond from Deal even metaphorically threatened to throw himself off Deal Pier, although he might have just as easily been frustrated by the lack of anything worthwhile to do on the concrete abutment into a grey Channel.

Lee Bowyer, however, has no doubts even though McGeady was frozen out at Sunderland. He also discusses the other incoming players: Deadline day deals

One might hope that fans would put some trust in Bowyer's ability to make a judgment about what a player can contribute. But what does Bowyer know, or Steve Gallen?

Fulham were the big Championship spenders

Total Championship clubs’ gross transfer expenditure for January 2020 was £37m, more than half of January 2019 expenditure (£60m), reports Deloitte Sports Business. Fulham (£24m) were the Championship’s biggest spenders, spending c.65 per cent of the total Championship gross transfer expenditure in order to strengthen their squad in a push towards promotion to the Premier League.

This is the first transfer window I can recall in which Leamington spent more than Charlton, having used some of the money they obtained from player sales to the Football League. I think that Charlton's strategy of taking players on loan was the right one.

Andre Green has attracted praise for the Addickted for his skill and commitment and could well be a summer target. A lot depends, however, on whether Villa stay up. A return to a Premier League side, even as a bench warmer, could be attractive, while if they are relegated Villa will be more willing to offload players.

Financial fair play

Charlton also have to keep financial fair play regulations in mind, although at the moment we should have plenty of head room.

Andy Turner, partner at Mercer & Hole, told Accountancy Daily: ‘There has been speculation that the activity in this, most recent, transfer window is down to the impact of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules with clubs looking closely at budgets and finance and the need to balance the desire for success with compliance with the rules. The main fair play regulation is centred around the club not exceeding a certain level of loss. A club can influence its profit by either increasing its revenues or reducing its costs.'

However, creative accounting is available: ‘There is a degree of flexibility as to how a company can quite legitimately draw up financial statements that comply with the regulations.This includes management decisions around player acquisitions, amortization (lowering the book value over a set period) of players and specific judgement areas, such as the magnitude of certain provisions or reserves that could significantly affect the financial results of a club.'

‘As a result, we have seen an increase in the number of loan signings with an option to buy and clubs investing in younger talent for the future.’

Monday 3 February 2020

Morgan on his way, and perhaps Davison

With the Charlton midfield well stocked, Albie Morgan is going to be loaned out again to the National League to get some game time. Sagacious supremo Lee Bowyer reckons that it offers better experience than the under 23s. Morgan was formerly at Ebbsfleet: Need for first team experience

Some fans thought he should be going to League One or Two, but the window has closed. Richard Cawley tweeted, 'Think behind scenes there is a feeling he needs to work on his fitness.'

The striker situation is still being evaluated. Josh Davison has done well, but might also need more regular game time, probably in the National League.

Maddison was well up himself

I quickly formed the view that Marcus Maddison had an exaggerated view of his own abilities and value and that he would have undermined the great team spirit at Charlton. This has now been confirmed by remarks made by the chairman of Peterborough United: Why deal broke down

The deal with Charlton would have been for £1.5m plus £500,000 after 50 games and another £500,000 if we were promoted to the top flight. There was a sell on clause for when Maddison joined Real Madrid. In the view of the Posh chairman, Maddison made totally unreasonable wage demands and never wanted to go to London.

He has, of course, gone 'oop North' to Hull and will no doubt be a handful when we play there later in the year.

Sunday 2 February 2020

Corporate complexities and expectations management

Although I am yet to fully digest the latest Voice of the Valley it is evident that Rick Everitt has delivered a more nuanced critique of ESI. There are questions to be asked why the deal is only partially complete with Roland's company apparently having the right to fix 'ownership plates' to valuable items at the training ground and The Valley.

I have never really got my head round the company structure at Charlton. Indeed, I got caught out once when I was asked about it on Radio Five. In any case, I am not a corporate lawyer, or a lawyer of any kind. However, I did look again at the mortgage on The Valley and Sparrows Lane and it is very comprehensive, covering the following items among others:

  • Sam Bartram statue (I don't think fans would react very well to an ownership plate being attached to that)
  • Valley seats/steps (any ownership plate on my seat is coming off)
  • Bartrums [sic]
  • Sky Box and East Stand box
  • Valley pitch

I certainly don't want to start a panic, and I am confident that all these issues will be settled given time. However, a willingness to ask pertinent questions is justified.

Another difficulty I have is that my knowledge of the Gulf states, their extended families and their financial structures is virtually zero. My only contact is changing planes in Dubai. However, I am meeting an Addick on Tuesday who has lived in the region and he may be able to enlighten me.

Expectations management

Rick Everitt comments that Matt Southall is relatively inexperienced and he should be cut some slack when he makes mistakes. One mistake that has been commented on was raising expectations to too high a level, although I cannot recall any reference to signing so-called 'marquee players'.

In my view the way that the new owners are proceeding is entirely sensible, given the limitations of the January transfer window. I also favour a sustainable and prudent five year plan. The big wins were giving Lee Bowyer a contract and retaining Lyle Taylor. Roland would have offloaded him for anything Brentford were prepared to offer.

The Chicago Addick has called for better expectations management, something that is easier said than done, particularly when it comes to football management. Let me quote two recent examples from my own experience.

After honing her skills in the United States, a 18-year old granddaughter has a good job here in the UK. Quite reasonably she wants to get on the property ladder and can get a mortgage. There is just the small matter of the deposit which is quite large in Berkshire. So both the bank of Mum and Dad and the Bank of Grandad had to open. It wasn't an expectation I had at 18 or even at 27 when I got my first mortgage, but it's a different world.

Recently the vicar of our parish church had to go on paternity leave at age 60 and I had to chair a meeting without his presence. Knowing how intense doctrinal arguments can be, I bought a copy of the Church of England lectionary which in particular tells me which vestments should be worn every day of the year. It usually kicks off over vestments, but the issue was not raised. A ruling I made on Ash Wednesday was received without a murmur. It wasn't until the next day that I started to receive abusive e-mails after I had endorsed a planning application relating to the churchyard.

The point here is that expectations management is never easy and it is particularly difficult with football fans who have very short-term horizons and excessive expectations (just think of the pain currently being felt by supporters of Arsenal and Manchester United). As Rick Everitt suggests, at some point it might be useful to have a 'Meet the Board' meeting and this time without Johnnie Jackson as a human shield.

Happy Candlemas.

Saturday 1 February 2020

'It's the result that matters'

That was the reaction of Steve from Petts Wood after Charlton ground a 2-1 win over fellow relegation strugglers Barnsley at The Valley to go up to 19th in the Championship. They were pretty much Lee Bowyer's sentiments too. Read his comments on the game here: Players were a bit rusty

After a first half in which the Addicks were dominant and went 2-0 ahead, the Tykes came out of the traps in the second half and eventually got a goal back. They maintained the pressure and Charlton were forced back too much, but held on, even through the six minutes added on. They had difficulty keeping hold of the ball.

Particularly in the first half, Barnsley resorted to constant fouling and one of their number was fortunate not to get a second yellow. Their manager got a yellow in time added on and one northern charm merchant got a yellow card after the game ended for abusing the referee.

Barnsley found themselves behind inside the first 10 minutes as Taylor reacted quickest as the ball dropped in the box from a Jason Pearce free kick and he scored a poacher's goal. Andersen's header forced Charlton keeper Dillon Phillips into a brilliant save and Aapo Halme hit the outside of the upright with a follow-up effort.

Green's goal just before half time left the Tykes with a lot to do in the second half but Woodrow struck the crossbar after Andersen's initial shot rebounded off Phillips, before scoring after a quick break by Luke Thomas.

I have only just heard about Green's grandad: respect to him for playing, and playing well, and also for acknowledging his grandfather.

Jacob Brown also hit the bar as the Tykes pressed for an equaliser, but their efforts were in vain as Charlton's new majority shareholder Tahnoon Nimer was able to savour three points on his first visit to The Valley.

Darren Pratley deserves really praise for his contribution, he covered every blade of grass and was serenaded by the Covered End. It was great to see Lyle Taylor and Jonny Williams in action. I enjoyed Lyle's 'I'm on fire' interview. Jake Forster-Caskey was disappointing when he came on as a substitute. Hemed also disappointed and nearly set Barnsley up for a second goal by giving the ball away at the other end.

We also messed up a promising free kick by playing it short rather than putting it in the box and allowing Barnsley to counter attack. Johnnie Jackson was beside himself.

Read the report from Louis Mendez here: Vital win

Although one should not really take pleasure in the pain of others, particularly on Candlemas, I have to admit that I was amused by the video of disgruntled Barnsley fans leaving in some chaos to the tune of the 'Red, Red Robin'.