Saturday, 6 November 2010

Premiership Ponderings - Life in the goldfish bowl

I'm sure if Roberto Mancini placed a call to Phil Parkinson he would have a few words of advice for him right now. Not long ago the North Stand was crying "Parky Out!" but now most of them must be thinking "maybe we should give him a little more time". Tactically I still feel there are questions surrounding Phil, but, potentially, we could be beginning a run of consistently good performances, the likes of which haven't been seen since the Curbishley era and this would finally win me over to the Parkinson bandwagon.

If you had asked me a few weeks ago who I thought would be the first Premiership manager to go this season I would have said Roy Hodgson or Avram Grant, Roberto Mancini would never have entered my mind. Call me naive, but I felt City were starting to build something similar to the Chelsea model. However, whereas Jose Mourinho brought in a number of very good team players, Petr Cech, Claude Makelele, Ricardo Carvalho, etc, and only one or two big egos, Didier Drogba, Mancini has gone for all the big names with the egos attached. This was always going to lead to divisions within the team, but I never thought Tevez would be the one to cause the most trouble. I think it must come down to the manager in this case, Tevez never really had these problems at United, but Alex Ferguson is clearly a much stronger character than Roberto Mancini. Letting Tevez return home to Argentina because he was homesick undermined Mancini's position. It must have raised questions within the squad, considering how many of them are away from home and their families, and I feel these divisions are more to blame for City's current demise than just Tevez's absence on it's own. How can you get all of these big egos to perform when one of them is being indulged more than the others?

I will be interested to see how Man City perform against the yo-yo's that are West Brom, and hopefully we will not see a manager being sacked this weekend.

Charlton Corner - Avoiding a Bee Sting

Our last appearance at Underhill was less than four months ago, but hopefully the scoreline will look a bit better from our point of view this time around. Truth be told, I wouldn't mind if we did lose 1-0 again today as long as we put in a good performance.

I think it is safe to say that the lineup against Barnet will be different to the one that faced Swindon on Tuesday night, but perhaps not considerably. Both Fortune and Llera could get a game under their belt today. Thankfully Matty Fry has been given clearance to play for us, which in turn could mean that West Ham will allow his loan contract to be extended, I hope. Matt is naturally a centre back but his versatility has been a blessing and his play at left back has been sound. Unfortunately our other loanee will not be allowed to play and I fear that this could mean Ipswich have a clause in his deal where they can recall him in January. Lee has struggled for consistency while at the Valley but he does cause teams problems at this level and his combative nature can be very useful when we are holding on towards the end of games, which means at least one of Wagstaff or Jackson will start today. Personally, I can see both starting as we don't want to rush Kyel back from his ankle injury and leave him in the physio room again.

I'm not sure whether we should let Benson and Anyinsah continue their partnership upfront. On the one hand giving them a game off could disrupt their rhythm, but on the other there is always the chance of injury. Akpo and Abbott are waiting in the wings for their chance to impress and if they do play hopefully one of them will give Phil Parkinson a difficult decision for out next league game at Peterborough.

Alan McCormack has made far fewer appearances for us than he would like, and I expect to see him come into midfield today, probably for Semedo. Semedo has picked up a few yellow cards this season, and if he is on the brink of a suspension it would make sense to avoid him picking up another card and missing the JPT game where we might stand a chance of winning some silverware.

In goal I expect Ross Worner to make an appearance as I feel he was just starting to improve his game as Elliot recovered from injury and was therefore unlucky to lose his spot between the posts.

After considering it all, the lineup I expect to see is as follows:

Worner; Francis, Fry, Llera, Fortune; Wagstaff, Jackson, McCormack, Racon; Benson, Akpo

Subs: Elliot, Dailly, Doherty, Semedo, Reid, Abbott, Anyinsah

It's a team that should be strong enough to get us into the next round, and as long as they perform to their potential I will be happy.


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Charlton Corner - And the new Charlton manager is...

As Phil Parkinson continues to answer the questions raised by his detractors, those that criticise him will tomorrow have the chance to see if they could do any better. It is always fun to "live out" the dream that I have every Saturday and I have already pre-ordered my copy.

The performance against Swindon would seem to demonstrate an increase in confidence throughout the team. Anyinsah and Benson continue to bring the best out of each other and Wagstaff seems to be a great replacement for Lloyd Sam (who seems to have fizzled out at Elland Road). Johnnie Jackson continues to star in left midfield and, on current form, it will be difficult for Kyel Reid to get back into the starting lineup which is something I didn't think I would be able to say this season. I'm not sure all the credit can go to Phil and his coaching team, but they seem to have found something that is working for us right now and the players are carrying it out superbly.

A cup battle against the Bees will give some of the second string a chance to state their case. Although a cup run may be counter-productive in the long run, I hope we can continue our run of victories and carry the form forward into the new year. COME ON YOU REDS!