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Friday, 21-Mar-2008 23:09 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Set back over a decade

CAFC 1 West Brom 1, 21/3/2008
Confidence that we can even make the playoffs is now ebbing away. Our team has precious little cohesion and consistency, and when the opposition scores there seems little confidence that we can respond and regain the initiative. Halford's neat shot across the goal that Deano couldn't quite reach was cancelled out eleven minutes later when the ball fell to Phillips at the far post, and after that we were a bit lucky to come away with a point.

There were some bright spots in this match though. Jerome Thomas at last started to put in the effort of which we know he's capable and the crowd picked up on that very quickly. Paddy McCarthy was excellent again - I can hardly believe that it's the same player who looked so completely dreadful at the start of the season. Matt Holland continues to astonish me with his energetic performances - I thought his knees were supposed to be past it?

The trouble is that when the team puts in a poor performance the simple view is that someone must be to blame, must be identified and must be singled out for abuse, and in this regard the spotlight has now drifted away from Ambrose to Halford, with some abuse now heading in Pardew's direction - after the vilification he suffered for a while at West Ham I'm sure he can cope though

I've always failed to understand how it is that otherwise intelligent, sensible people take player performance so personally when they have absolutely no idea of any of the important background, such as injuries, personal problems or the lack of true choice available to the manager on a given day. And no, I don't need this information either - it's none of my business. Of course, if problems of this nature aren't resolved then we'll gradually find matchday attendance less and less attractive and might even find shopping with the missus a tempting alternative.

Assuming that the likely happens and we stay down in the Championship, matchday tickets will be far more freely available on an ad hoc basis. Even though I miss four or five home games a season I still buy a season ticket so as to be assured of a seat with friends and a view that I like, but with dwindling crowds I can get both of those without a season-long investment.

So, what will make people like me, who are finding the draw of the club to be declining, renew their season tickets? Well, at the very least a fairly substantial price cut might do it. However, there's a school of thought that says that the club should renew last season's offer of a free ST for the season after next if we're promoted next Spring. If that happens then I'll renew like a shot, as that will more than compensate for the matches I've missed in the past eighteen months plus those I've yet to miss next season.

Someone said in the pub after the game that following Dowie's disastrous tenure we've now fallen back to where we were in the mid 1990s - thanks Ian - and that sums it up well at the moment. Clearly, it'll take the sort of push that we saw back then to get us up again, and at the moment we just don't have the right players, I'm afraid. We do have the right manager, though, in my opinion.

Saturday, 8-Mar-2008 23:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Bested yet again

CAFC 1 Preston 2, 8/03/2008
After a match like this one refraining from comments for 48 hours is probably wise

The afternoon started so well. The Preston supporters were friendly and well-behaved, and together we all celebrated like mad as ManU were beaten at home by Portsmouth in the FA Cup before we left the pub for the game. One of the visiting supporters proudly told us that The Valley was her final destination on her campaign to visit all 92 grounds - that's quite an achievement.

As far as the match itself is concerned Charlton were truly dreadful, and having read Pardew's post-match comments there's not a lot of point in adding to his own rants, as they seemed spot on. But I'm seriously hoping that the cocky, complacent Kelly Youga is replaced as soon as possible by a more experienced, mature professional like Thatcher, as his erratic, lightweight performances are starting to cost us.

But all credit to Preston, who kept the pressure up and didn't allow Charlton time or space to settle. A better team would probably have given them a hard time, but clearly Charlton aren't a better team right now.

Tuesday, 4-Mar-2008 22:55 Email | Share | | Bookmark
The better team didn't win

CAFC 1 Bristol City 1
A rather dispiriting evening if you were a Charlton fan, but infinitely more rewarding if Bristol City's your club.

Charlton took off fast and scored very early on. They really looked very good, and I felt sure that a second goal would follow. But as the game wore on Bristol settled and took control. An impartial observer would say that they were by far the better team on the night.

At long last Jerome Thomas showed some of the skill and trickery that we last saw in the Premiership, particularly when linking up with Youga and Ambrose, but he faded and was eventually substituted. Youga needs to stop showboating and get a grip. He could have a brilliant future at Charlton but only if he knuckles down and concentrates far better. We had our first look at Sinclair tonight, and it took me all of 10 seconds to decide that he'd be no good for us. Cook was similarly unimpressive.

Iwelumo was fouled again and again without the ref blowing up for free kicks. However, this has happened several times this season, so maybe he's up to no good and refs are wise to him. Holland and McCarthy were, yet again, magnificent.

Considering this was a cold Tuesday night City brought an incredible number of supporters with them and I'm sure that they enjoyed what they saw. It'd be good if they 'shopped' to the police the idiot amongst them who threw a lighted flare on to the pitch after they scored. Fools like that are precisely the ones who bring all decent supporters into disrepute by association.

Saturday, 16-Feb-2008 20:40 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Still in the running

CAFC 2 Watford 2, 16/02/2008
It's a funny old game. We were 2-0 up and cruising at half-time only to concede two goals in a couple of minutes in the second half and then hang on for a draw. Two points lost.

I rarely complain about referees, on the basis that it's humanly impossible to spot everything, but today's official stretched my patience to breaking point. Allowing the game to run is fine, but ignoring fouls that warranted at least a lecture if not a card infuriated the home crowd. And at the end Pardew went on the the pitch to tell him what he thought of him - I couldn't really blame him.

Still, we're not too badly placed in the league and we have a steadily improving team. A playoff spot seems the best we can now hope for, but two or three straight wins would have us right up there.

Friday, 8-Feb-2008 23:30 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Orange alternative

CAFC 2 Palace 0, 08/02/2008
One to savour
Tonight's was the 111th match (over nearly six years) at which we've taken a 'Members of the Opposition' photo - the dreaded 'Nelson', eh? And guess what? It was the first match where not a single visiting supporter had the confidence to display his/her colours. Doubtless there were loads of them in the RoD tonight, but you'd never have known. So, no followers of The Orange One could be offered the opportunity to join in with our little tradition.

But, never mind - tonight we had an alternative. Four Dutch fans, who back home support De Graafschap of the Eredivisie, approached us for a chat and were made very welcome. Luckily, they picked a cracking match with loads of authentic English atmosphere, and when we saw them again in the pub after the game they were almost as happy as we were

Apart from 5 or 10 minutes at the start of each half Charlton were comfortably in charge, but it took until the hour before we went ahead with a snap strike by the admirable Luke Varney who pounced again just before the end of the game. I love the way that he just keeps on running, constantly causing problems for the opposition's defence and opening up space for his colleagues. He was my man of the match tonight. Matt Holland was also brilliant - a captain who leads by hard work and example.

Greg Halford's debut was a revelation. His long throws are the equivalent of a corner to us, and his neat turn and dash towards goal frankly deserved better than the near miss that resulted. Youga continues to excite, but I really wish he'd concentrate on his game and not take needless risks. Lloyd Sam continues to irritate me immensely. He might have pace but he doesn't concentrate hard enough and often loses possession needlesslly. Still, tonight was a night to savour, no matter what.

So, for our latest Members of the Opposition photo we lost out on the Orange One's supporters but replaced them with substitutes from the land of The House of Orange - how appropriate

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