Sunday, 31 October 2010
A far better performance than many of us expected. Sheffield Wednesday did not live up the the reputation the six games unbeaten created, and if it had not been for Nicky Weaver they could have been embarrassed in much the same way we were by Brighton.
Our goal was a bit fortuitous in that Scott's first shot was blocked by a Wednesday defender before bouncing off Benson right back to his feet. This put Nicky off his balance and Scott's second shot found the far corner. Matt Fry was very unlucky not to find the back of the net from outside the area and Benson's flick in the second half looked like it was destined for the net from the North Stand.
At the back Doherty was solid, apart from a couple of wayward headers towards the end of the first half, and even mopped up a mistake by Christian Dailly. If he can keep performing at that level Fortune will find it hard to get into the starting lineup. Francis and Fry were good at the fullback positions. Semedo and Racon were at their best yesterday. Wagstaff needs to work on his close control, but he is clearly a far better player than last year. Jackson looked like he was slowing down in the second half, but he caused their right back problems for the majority of the game. Anyinsah's speed was a constant thorn in the side of the Wednesday defenders and they resorted to manhandling for the majority of the game, but the distraction he created meant Benson had a lot more room to work with and his influence continues to grow up front. Elliot worries me a bit as he drifts out of position a bit, but he makes himself big and is a good shot stopper.
My man of the match was Therry Racon, easily his best performance for us in at least a year. His tackling was perfect and he spread the ball brilliantly. If he had a bit more pace we would struggle to hold on to him in January.
Next we go to Swindon and hopefully we can get some revenge for the playoff defeat last season! They don't look the same team as last season but they can still be dangerous, if we get a win then our confidence should skyrocket and we could go from strength to strength. Parkinson seems to have the team well balanced now, and if we can continue this form those that are questioning his suitability to manage us, like me, might finally start to be won over.
I am off out today to another sort of "football". The visit of the NFL to London each year has always been an experience and I am looking forward to it again this year. Both teams are underachieving this year and will be looking to make the most of this trip away which should lead to a great game.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
I fear that we may be seeing a couple Sheffield Wednesday players wheeling away with an arm aloft today, but if our attacking play continues in the same vein as last weekend hopefully we can equal, or even better exceed them in that department. This will only be a quick preview today as I have some things to do before heading to the game.
Our favourite pantomime villain returns today, and the bile directed at him may well buy Parkinson some more time as his detractors are likely to be distracted. The Owls are unbeaten in 6 and during this time they have kept 4 clean sheets, something I don't remember Nicky doing during his time with us at any point. The good news for us is that they aren't blowing away opponents, scoring no more than two goals in any game since 28th August. Their away record this season is 3 losses, 3 wins and 1 draw. However, those results would appear to be inflated in that their away fixtures have been against Colchester (Draw), Scunthorpe (Loss), Hartlepool (Win), Brentford (loss), Plymouth (loss), Notts County (Win), Yeovil (Win). Hartlepool, Notts County, Yeovil and Brentford are teams I would have expected The Owls to beat at the start of the season, Colchester, Scunthorpe and Plymouth are teams I would like to consider our equals and these results certainly look favourable to us. Sheffield Wednesday haven't beaten any of the teams who would be considered their promotion rivals and if we can get off to a good start today I think we could put them under a lot of pressure.
The loss of Darren Purse and Jon Otsemobor will hurt their defence and their chances of extending their unbeaten run.
On our side, there are no new injury worries and I would expect the same line up to turn out for us today. Rob Elliot needs to rediscover his confidence otherwise Parkinson may have to start investigating other options in goal. If we are lucky Gary Doherty will have now made all his mistakes for the season and we will see the defender from a couple of years ago, that or Parkinson will replace him with Jon Fortune who is more of a fan favourite and a much more mobile option at the back, the other three defenders have to be Francis (who is improving with every game), Dailly and Fry. Anyinsah and Benson deserve to continue up front as they seem to be a developing a budding partnership. Johnnie Jackson has made 3 appearances in midfield for us this year and we have been rewarded by 2 goals and at least one assist from him so hopefully he will retain his place on the left. Scott "Little Legs" Wagstaff seems to be making the right wing berth his own and Lee Martin must be wondering how he will get back into the team. Finally Racon and Semedo should retain their spots in the middle as they finally started to show their worth as a pair against Carlisle.
My hopes are high and I hope they won't be dashed, 2-1 or 3-2 to Charlton will lead to a stressful last few minutes but would be a very good result. If we get a draw but perform to our best I will also be pleased.
COME ON YOU REDS!
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Defensively we are very fragile, Gary Doherty seems to come in for a lot of criticism and on recent performances it is easy to see why he was released by Norwich after their promotion. I can only think that Jonathan Fortune is still short of full fitness and that once he is ready to go he will step into Doc's role. Simon Francis also lacks popularity with the fans right now, but I feel he is growing into his role with us. If you speak to anyone at Southend they loved him last season and the fact that the management was reluctant to let him go in pre-season seems to back this up. He isn't the fastest but he is a great team player, and right now we need team spirit.
This leads me on to our confidence. Most teams when they are three nil up could concede a goal and their heads wouldn't drop. Unfortunately we don't seem to be built from this mould right now. A good run of results could change all that but it is a catch-22 situation. Confidences breeds good results, but to get that confidence you need a run of good results. If we can play against Sheffield Wednesday the same way we started against Carlisle there is every chance we could walk away with something at the end of the day. We just need to become a bit stronger at the back.
If our attacking play can continue on in the same vein as our visit to Carlisle then I don't think any of our fans will complain.
I will look at our next fixture in more detail in the coming days, but right now I will focus on the return of one of the least popular goalkeepers to play at the Valley. His antics caused a lot of damage he was never really able to fix, and although he had some good performances during his time with Charlton, Nicky Weaver will always be considered a below average keeper by most of the Addickted. To be fair to him, before breaking his leg he was considered a future England goalkeeper. Any player coming back from an injury like that struggles to regain their form, and by the time he left Manchester City he was the forgotten man. He came to Charlton looking to rebuild his reputation, and our failure to get promoted prevented him from doing that. He is probably looking forward to returning on Saturday, although I'm sure he won't mind the fact that he never had to play in the pink jersey Rob Elliot plays in now, that would have just been more ammo for the North Stand boo boys. I look forward to his return to the Valley as it is sure to create an atmosphere and hopefully our boys can use that to drive them forward!
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Phil Parkinson hinted at changes earlier this week but whether or not these will just be enforced changes (Kyel Reid's injury) remains to be seen. He has also said that there will be no more excuses which sounds like a bit too much like fighting talk for Phil. However, he also said that he felt he went too attacking at home. I can't agree with this, because surely you should be taking the game to your opponent at home, I can't imagine the likes of Arsenal, Man United or Chelsea (well after the City game, maybe) sitting back defensively at home. And although I don't consider us to be like these teams, visiting teams always comment on how we are a "big club" in this league, in which case we should take advantage of that. Anyway, on to today's game.
The offer of two weeks of CAFCPlayer for free is very tempting, although I am supposed to be going to the beach with my fiancée today and it is very unlikely I would be able to listen to the match. A day at a dreary beach with the one I love or listening to a dreary Charlton match... Not much of a choice really.
In previous meetings Charlton haven't fared well against Carlisle. We beat them 1-0 at the Valley, but this wasn't much revenge for the 3-1 drubbing we received at Brunton Park.The forboding feeling that we could be in for another result like that will have made the coach journey up there very long indeed for Mr Parkinson.
A look at Carlisle's recent form leads us to believe we may stand a chance, 2 victories and 3 losses (in the league), however no one has managed to put more than two goals past them all season, something that has happened to us three times already in all competitions. Upon closer inspection their recent home form is also very good, 2 wins, 2 draws, 1 loss, the loss was to Peterborough who, on paper, appear to be one of the stronger teams in the division. They also drew with Brighton, and in their second game of the season lost 1-0 to Huddersfield in the Carling Cup, both of whom put 3+ goals past us.
In comparison our recent form is 2 wins, 2 losses and one draw, a slight advantage to us then perhaps. But our inability to score more than one goal could hold us back, even though this has been improving in recent weeks we still only manage on average a measly 1.3 goals a game (this improves to 1.6 in away games). Our recent away form doesn't make for pleasant reading with only 1 win and 2 draws and losses in our last five away games, once again that forboding feeling returns.
Greg Abbott has a few injury headaches to deal with before our arrival. Sean McDaid and Oliver Norwood are both late injury concerns who will miss this match and Corry Evans has been drafted in on an emergency loan from Man United. In fact, Carlisle seem to have a very good relationship with Man United, similar to the one many fans hoped we would have with Liverpool following the sale of Jonjo Shelvey. They also have a number of long term injuries in Paul Thirlwell, Danny Livesey, Richard Offiong and Graham Kavanagh who was a thorn in our side for our last visit up North. We can probably expect a 4-4-2 formation with Matthew Robson or Corry Evans coming in for the injured Oliver Norwood. At left back I'm not sure who will replace McDaid.
For Charlton their are questions over the players and the formation. Parkinson felt we were too attacking against Brighton and so a return to 4-5-1 could be on the cards, however, do we have enough players for this formation? McCormack has only recently recovered from injury and after playing in midweek will he be fit enough to potentially play 90 minutes? If not, would he start on the bench and we shift Jackson or Martin into centre midfield? Another potential option is that we stick to 4-4-2 and bring Anyinsah in for the lacklustre Abbott upfront. Although his header in the first half against Brighton may have been the closest we came to scoring he looked off the pace for most of the game. Akpo is likely to miss this game as will Chris Solly and Kelly Youga.
Parkinson seems set against bringing in short term loan players after they failed to perform in previous campaigns. This could open up opportunities for some of our younger players. Ben Davisson impressed in pre-season, and with our lack of numbers for the left wing slot, I would hope he may get an opportunity to at least make the bench in some of our "easier" matches while Kyel is out. Also impressing for the under 18's at the moment is Tosan Popo, he has a number of goals, inflated by 5 penalties, this season and clearly has an eye for opening up the opposition. Although they are both young and may be a bit small because of their age, the only way to know if they can ever cut it for our club is to give them a chance.
What I would like to see happen today is for Charlton to utilise the 4-4-2 formation with the following team:
Elliot; Francis, Fortune, Dailly, Fry; Martin, Racon, Semedo, Jackson; Anyinsah, Benson
Subs: Worner, Doherty, McCormack, Wagstaff, Davisson, Popo, Abbott
We have the experience in there, but also the younger players who, you would hope, would be eager to impress. But I expect to see the following team announced later today, playing a 4-4-1-1:
Elliot; Francis, Dailly, Doherty, Fry; Wagstaff, Racon, Semedo, Jackson; Martin; Benson
Subs: Worner, Llera, Fortune, McCormack, Stavrinou, Anyinsah, Benson
This is a game I feel we have to win, but unfortunately I get the feeling we may be walking away with nothing come 5pm. But despite my feelings, as always
COME ON YOU REDS!!!!!!!!!!!
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Before I start I feel I should point out that I believe Johnnie Jackson has done an admirable job at left back for us this season. However, this has never been his favoured position. He is naturally a creative midfielder but because of our shortage of left-sided defenders he has been fit in to our glaring hole at left back.
No doubt the thought behind this tactic was originally that Kelly Youga would come back and fill this position allowing Jackson to be deployed in a position he is far more comfortable with. But since Kelly is now out for the rest of the season our only senior player with experience of playing at left back, barring Chris Solly who is injured as well and far more comfortable on the right, is Jackson. This leaves our management team trying to hide their blushes regarding their decision not to re-sign Grant Basey. I always felt he would be better suited to playing in the centre of defence but he clearly had some talent when it came to playing on the left-hand side of our defence. Right now that talent could have been so useful.
This brings me to my next "fish out of water". Phil Parkinson is now presented with what I feel is a golden opportunity, and he has not been presented with many of them, although I feel this is more of his own making than the fault of the club. Every cloud has a silver lining, and Kyel Reid's injury is a very dark cloud. However, we now have a month to try different tactics.
Kyel has been the biggest threat for us in terms of setting up goals but his injury leaves us dangerously short of wingers. Now is the time to move Johnnie Jackson forward to left midfield. He has moved there once before this season and it resulted in a goal, unfortunately we couldn't hold on to the lead he gave us but he showed how dangerous he could be in a more advanced role.
Now is the time for a brave manager to stand tall and make the big decision. Move Johnnie forward, let him show everyone what he can do. Matt Fry could fill in at left back, although I would prefer we bring in a more natural left-back on loan (is Gary Borrowdale available again?). Even when Kyel returns we could incorporate Jackson into midefield, anyone who has been present at our games this season can see our central midfield is lacking something and Johnnie could move into this role. I will prbably be lambasted for suggesting it, but a return to 4-5-1 could be the best move for us once Kyel Reid returns. A team of:
Would be a tough prospect for any team in this league. Martin could push forward, and if we needed to revert to 4-4-2 a midfielder could come off and Anyinsah could come on to add some pace up front. Do I think Parkinson will make the brave decision? No definitely not, but I will wait until Friday to write a preview of our game against Carlisle, afterall, a lot can change in a week.
Monday, 18 October 2010
His attempts to bring Emile Heskey back were thankfully rebuffed. Emile must have know that the outrage to his return from international retirement would have been far worse than any rewards for making that final Wembley appearance, and it is just a shame that his former international manager could not understand this as well. Capello then went on to insist that his injury prone Captain and a certain ladies man were his first choice centre backs no matter what. Where is the incentive for young English defenders to try and push on for their international place? What happened to Capello's plan to bring in the England squad of the future? Will we only see them in friendlies such as the France game from now on?
Jagielka must feel betrayed, after being described as the "driver" of Capello's defence by the man himself. Now it is clear that Capello's word is worth less than the paper it is printed on, as his so called "driver" will be dropped as soon as Terry returns. Then again, he may start alongside Terry as it is clear that Ferdinand is the man of glass.
No doubt if the "Golden Generation" return they will qualify for the European Championship from what is a relatively weak group, but after that they will fail again. But at least they will have brought in some more cash for their "owners", and that appears to be all that matters to those in charge.
It's a shame that they can't see their gold is no more than polished brass.
Charlton lost 4-0. On the face of it, that isn't such a big deal. I have seen far worse results, the Leeds demolition springs to mind, but on this Saturday a nagging feeling that had been festering away beneath the surface finally erupted into a volcano of disgust.
Those who know me are all aware that I have never been a big fan of Phil Parkinson. In my mind he failed to earn his job at Charlton and then continued down the same path to complete failure. Under Curbishley we had a fighting spirit, when Pardew took over, that spirit returned. That was lacking Saturday, it has been lacking every day since Parkinson took over.
I doubt his credentials as a motivator and a tactician. It was clear from the start that tactically we were in a weaker position than Brighton, the came to frustrate us and hit us on the break and that plan worked out a treat. I am a huge admirer of Christian Dailly but he is 36 and he lacks the pace he used to have. Next to him was Gary Doherty, who I feel is competing with Llera for worst centre back since Carl Tiler, who turns and moves as fast as a cruise liner. The Seagulls realised this within the first 10 minutes and began to exploit it.
Balls were played into the right hand corner and their speedy number 7 beat our defenders to the ball every time. A better manager would have changed something, Martin loves to get forward and cut inside so he was always unlikely to get back in time to help against a counter. The best option would have been to switch Doherty and Fortune. Fortune isn't as fast as he used to be but he is certainly faster the Doherty and that extra pace would have been of far greater use on the right hand side of our defence.
Next came the short corners, everyone who watches football knows how dangerous set pieces are, and you have to hope we work on them in training during the week. So how they could use the same trick twice in a matter of minutes and punish us with a goal is unforgivable. Parkinson seems to love the inexplicable idea of bringing everyone back into the penalty area to defend corners so a lack of players to defend the corner was not the reason. Also, if you bring everyone back, as soon as the ball goes out of the penalty area you have to push out, and yet Brighton were able to pass the ball to the edge of our area, take a touch and chip it back in, without anyone closing down. We then failed to clear that chip leading directly to the goal.
My final tactical grip for this post relates to our attacking options. Parkinson clearly had his heart set on bringing in Paul Benson, for me the jury is still out on whether or not this was a good decision, but now that he has him he has not adapted his tactics to suit his game. I spoke to someone who saw him at D&R, and they said that if you play him the ball in the box he will find the back of the net but instead PP decides to use him as a targetman to lay the ball off to another striker, this time Abbott who is also a targetman. We were never going to break through their defence with two strikers who lacked pace.
In all his appearances this season Joe Anyinsah has looked dangerous. He has the pace that defenders at this level hate. We can use that pace to force centre backs to sit deeper in their own half thus giving Benson a chance to get the ball in and around the area. If they squeeze up, Benson can flick it on for Anyinsah to chase. It won't work every time, but it gives us a different dimension. Right now our plan of knock it long to the strikers who then move it to the wingers to cross has clearly been blunted, and with the loss of Kyel Reid, it could become totally useless. We need some fresh ideas and I think it is time for a new manager to bring in those ideas.
Parkinson's defenders will argue that we can't afford to get rid of him and in any case who would replace him? Well my retort is, how can we afford not to replace him? He is leading us to the 2nd relegation of his tenure, do they really think that this would be the cheaper option? And in response to their second point, there are a number of options available to us. When Parkinson was first appointed I argued that I wanted a young up and coming manager named Paul Tisdale to take over. For those of you who are unaware of who Paul is, he is the man leading Exeter City to a possible promotion push to the Championship, something Parkinson has failed to do with a far stronger team. I doubt we could attract Paul now but there are some other options available.
On the LMA official website there is a list of managers out of work, some potential options could be:
Jim Magilton - Although, he may not be the most savoury of characters, he built competitive teams, and at Charlton he shouldn't have to deal with any big ego's.
Lawrie Sanchez - He has a record of taking poor teams and making them over-achieve
Paulo Sousa - Possibly too expensive, but with the Leicester City pay off maybe he would agree to a pay-cut with a significant increase following promotion.