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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Charlton v Newcastle Preview

Just time for a quick prediction for the game tomorrow. A tight game with Charlton not able to generate the same desire as Thursday and with Newcastle trying to forget their cup exit to Chelski.

The Times goes for a home win and rather worryingly Lawro also for a 2-1.

With recent matches between the sides tending to finish all square and with changes due to the midweek efforts, anything could happen but I see it ending as a score draw. Prediction 1-1

Friday, March 24, 2006

FA Cup Sixth Round

Charlton 0 Middlesbro 0

A great display from our boys was in the end not enough to put us into the FA Cup Semi-final after 59 years of waiting. A performance full of desire and strength especially in the first half told of the teams eagerness to reach the last 4 and was a great improvement on recent displays. "They wanted it more" is a phase often used in football and it was clearly evident here who had the most desire to win. Unfortunately that desire was in the end not enough.

A positive and attacking team selection of 4-4-2 with no room for Rommedahl, Ambrose or Euell saw Darren B sharing the attacking with Bartlett and the two ran and worked hard all night without reward.

But it was the midfield trio of Kish, Holland and Hughes that impressd the most. They battled and harried the opposition and the midfield was the springboard for most of the good moves in the first half. Kish was strong, Holland ran his socks off and Hughes had his best game for a long while. They consequently had most of the procession and while there were mistakes it was all extremely positive. While Boro defended well we should have made more of our first half dominance with Schwarzer making two goods saves.

Mhyre had no saves to make that I can remember and the whole team deserved 10 out of 10 for effort.

Just a thought but maybe the players are as bored as some of the fans with mid-table nothingness. Its usual in the club that as soon as survival is confirmed the lights go out. On Thursday we saw players that had a will and desire to win - something we haven't seen for many a month. Evidently the possibility of actually winning something is important to them as well as us and the effort that that generated was obvious to everyone watching.

Perhaps finishing 10th or 15th in the Premier really doesn't generate the same interest as the possibility as a medal.

Friday, March 17, 2006

International News -

Almeria 2 Valladolid 1

Valladolid suffered yet another defeat last Sunday and against the team above them in the league therefore falling further behind the teams chasing promotion the the premier La Liga . A depressing result with absolutely no redemning features that sends them down to 10th and surely confirms a 3rd successive season in the Second Division.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Charlton 2 Middlesbro' 1

A hard home earned win over opponents that will be disappointed after their first half showing to be going home with nothing and three more points that surely dispells any remaining fears of relegation for another year.

Once again we have to thank the outstanding Thomas Myhre who was the main reason for the scores remaining 0-0 at half-time with one save low to his right from a point-blank effort from Maccarone being truly amazing.

The second half was thankfully a different affair after a double substitution - Euell and Thomas replacing Hughes and Bothroyd. After so much mediocre from Charlton in the first half we suddenly started moving the ball around with some composure with the pressure building as we continued to press forward.

And it was no surprise when, after an afternoon spent also completely smothering the threat of the £8m Maccarone, Chris Powell it was who got deep down the left and crossed beautifully onto Darren Bents head. The striker used his strength to hold off Pogatetz and glanced a header low to Schwarzers left. It was a beautifully worked goal.

Not to be outdone the ever-threatening Viduka then scored a beauty. Receiving the ball with his back to goal and surrounded by defenders, he clipped the ball over his head to beat Hermann H and shrugged off Luke Young before dispatching a dipping shot over Myhre. Who likes him? Well maybe his mum, but there's no denying it, when he feels like it he can score goals.

But as I've mentioned previously, this team of ours these days seems to get better as the game progresses and so it was that our other full-back also decided to get in on the action. Young made the move by his run into the penalty area but Kish it was who controlled an awkward pass from Euell and played it first time into his path. Young continued his run and played the ball low across the box. The hard work having been done it was left to Darren B to arrive perfectly timed at the back post to stab the ball home.

Another beautifully worked goal that seemed completely at odds with the dross that we had seen in the first half. Man of the Match - most people seem to be going for Darren Bent, with Myhre as a close second but for me it has to be the impressive Chris Powell with a fullback display worthy of the best. If his name was Cafu he'd be on his way to Germany.

And a Gold Prize with ribbons on to cynicathletic for once again getting the score spot on. I just hope he's getting down Paddy's to turn his predictions into usable readies. Come to think of it, I think I'll do the same next week

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Charlton v Middlesbro'

An important game for both sides, with points still badly needed to get away from the relegation zone but also as a sounding board for both managers to see how to approach the forthcoming FA cup game. Middlesbro' are chasing their 4th Premiership win in a row and a 5th succesive away win so it will not be the straight-forward win it may have appeared a few weeks ago.

But with his players possibly tired after the game on Thursday against Roma and dreaming of next weeks visit to the Italian capital, its odds on that McClaren will continue his love affair with caution. Expect a 5 man defence welded to a 5 man midfield including one winger and with the lone Yakubu up front. Because of the situation its a fixture that can be won but we need to be positive and take advantage.

Hopefully our men will not be affected by yet another desertion ( once upon a time people couldn't wait to escape from Mother Russia, now they're desperate to return) and it may be a chance to see Euell again in a starting line-up just to see how he really is. The midfield's looking pretty empty these days and we need a bit of spark from somewhere. Euell obviously has something to prove and that may be the impetus we will need. I don't know if Thomas is fully fit but hopefully one of them will start.

Having said all that its obviously wishful thinking and we all know that they will both be on the bench with Kish, Holland, Hughes and Ambrose starting in midfield with Bothroyd and Darren B up front.

Sadly Lawro has posted us down as a 2-0 home win, although he does rectify his thinking by implying that something has unduely affected his reasoning as he's sure they'll do us in the Cup.

My first instincts expected a stalemate 1-1 - but then my fingers did the talking and typed out a 1-2. Lets hope that's not a bad omen that's all I can say. Sadly we know what to expect from our boys and the result will depend on which Middlesbro' turns up.

Friday, March 10, 2006

International News -

Valladolid 1 Real Madrid Reserves 0

Shock horror; pass me those smelling salts, a home win at last. In case anyone missed the result on Sunday, it ended with a long overdue home win for Valladolid watched by 7800 strangely optimistic supporters at the Jose Zorrilla stadium. With 4 straight defeats and not a single home victory since October 23th, the season was fast disappearing down that drain where even Dyno-Rod wouldn't be able to find it. Some hard talking from new Manager Merino is obviously doing the trick.

Up against Real Madrid reserves, sometimes called Castilla, the home team gave themselves a mountain to climb rather than a castle to storm, when influential playmaker Sousa was sent off against his former teammates after a woeful tackle on the stroke of halftime.

Not to be fazed, Team Boss Merino, ( sounds like Mourinho, but he's not so snotty and not very special either) dispensed with young winger Alvaro and brought on the old campaigner Victor to orchestrate that elusive victory. Victor it was, you will recall, that scored a wonderful chipped goal a few years ago when Valladolid beat Real Madrid 1-0 at the BernieBow the week before their last European triumph in 2002.

The goal came in the 51st minute scored by Llorente. The match was obviously not for the faint-hearted as in addition to the red card there were a total of 11 yellows - the home team winning that match as well 6-5.

So now up to 7th and only 8 points below 3rd spot and waiting in the wings is the 6th place team. Away to Almeria on Sunday, usually better known for being the home of the spagetti westerns, are 4 points above the 'Pucelanos'.

To add further spice to the match, the former manager Alonso is refusing to come to terms with his financial aspects of his dismissal and if the matter isn't cleared up by Sunday the FA will not allow the new manager Merino to join his team on the touchline. Sounds like sour grapes to me.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Liverpool 0 Charlton 0

At least the scorelines are easy to write these days with a simple cut and paste and the points keep accumulating even if my wife fails to understand the positive mathematics of constant goalless draws being a good thing. But with Curbs' game plan for the year being blown out of the water by Miserable Murp's untimely mid-season torpedo and with our 'Ruski' being deemed to be a luxury we can't afford ( in more ways than one) maybe a point a game is the best that we can expect.

Survival is, after all, the most important thing for the club. At least that is obviously the view of the management after our 3rd successive goalless draw. Our happy five across the park, albeit with a striker out wide on the right, adequately broadcast to the world, especially via murdochview, that we are determined to keep what we have. And for the third successive week we are most definitely proving that we are at least good at what we are. A small club trying to survive in a big mans league.

Can't help wondering, however, when will our cautious formation be ditched, when 40 Pts is reached perhaps? Can't wait to see what happens against Middlesbro'. Five man mid-field meets five man defence. Should be a cracker!

And whilst we congratulate ourselves on taking 4 pts from the best team in Europe, I'm sure that I wasn't the only one to be ashamed at our complete lack of passing ability. Apart from a couple of triangles on the right wing ( 60's technical term), we couldn't string 3 passes together. Of all the seemingly hundreds of headers that we had ( the ball always seemed to be in the air) I can't remember a single one being directed to a teammate. They were all headers away, anywhere would do. According to the stats in the Mondays' Guardian we were the worst passing team at the weekend with a figure of 57% ( whatever that might mean). However, it was the worst of everyone.

And there was more bad news. One Shot in 90 minutes, even Fulham, lucky not to lose 10-0, managed more shots on goal. Of course, there's excuses - when a team is clearly winning it relaxes, and gives the other team an opportunity to create something. Liverpool never relaxed and kept pressing fro the whole game.

But there's some good news. While everyone is comparing the teams and giving players points, I've been watching the guys in charge. We've been shown a vivid illustration of just how important these guys really are with Roeder's recent success story at the magpies. Just a matter of confidence apparently. Well at least our leader seems relatively calm on the touchline and the height of composure when compared with his peers.

Stevie B looks like a little boy that's lost his sheep, Bryan is going to have a heart attack if anyone mentions Jose again and Harry's head will obviously fall off with one more twitch. Poor old basement Mick meanwhile is simply fed up with everything, especially now he's been sacked.
Curbs, meanwhile, is content playing for a draw and dreaming about England. Hopefully Plan B will involve planning which megastars to buy in the summer. As usual we'll probably be targeting teams that have failed to achieve and need to off-load. Dunn from Birmingham, Rivera from Betis Seville (he can pass, tackle, is always involved and makes Snotty P look like a tired little ballboy) and of course anyone who can pass the ball really.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Liverpool Review

Well, its off to Liverpool on Saturday - for the team anyway. I'll be in a warm pub clutching a glass of extremely cold Guinness and trying to put on a brave face, much like the Chelski game although this time I'll be paying in Pounds Sterling and not them silly Euros things.

I spent that game in a very different city, even if the pub looks the same, and I can recall being pleasantly surprised at the number of people who acclaimed our draw even to the extent of getting very excited at the point of Darren Ambrose's late burst into the box. There was the usual Chelsea fan, no he wasn't Russian, enjoying life after all those wasted years as an under-achieving bunch down the Kings Road. Well, he was enjoying it until the second half and then he became strangely quiet. Thats what happens when you build up your expections, you're invariably disappointed.

That was a good point earned but what will happen in todays match. Will we continue our usual away form of late, especially when playing in the north-west, of conceding 3 goals? Seems we're lost 9 out of the last 10 up there, pretty shocking. Our recent home win over Liverpool sounded a bit lucky reading the reports and I don't think will have any bearing on todays result and with Darren B a bit tired ( unhappy? ) after all that depressing running on Wednesday who can be hopeful of anything today?

Rumours of impending departures in the summer will not improve the teams chances and Curbs will have to be at his best in picking todays formation. Unfortunately, I can't see him changing anything from last weekend so expect another Everton/Man. City/Spurs first half. Depending on if and when the goals go in we can expect him to change tact and switch to 4-4-2 from our dependable 4-5-1 but by then it may be too late. A bit predicable, it seems to me but thats Curbs for you. We haven't got where we are today by any other course expect by being dependable.

So its all down to hoping that Liverpool have a bad day and after lots of International games last week and the very, very important Benfica game next week maybe we can surprise someone, most of all me. Having seen Benitez in action a few times, its usually the away formations where he surprises everyone but given the importance of the Champions, and seeing our recent away form he may well decide to give key players a rest, at least initially, by leaving them on the bench.

So my forecast - I was going for a Home Win 1-0 but seeing cynicathletic going for the same, I praying for the opposite - an away win 0-1. (bent)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

International News - Valladolid Lose ´Sugar-Daddy´.

Its been confirmed that a new man has taken over as President of Real Madrid as least on a temporary basis until elections are held. Florentino Perez has had enough of spending a fortune ( outgoing funds - 424 Euros, £285m in 6 years ) and never winning anything except top place in the ´Earnings League'. ( OK, he won the league twice and the Champions League once and the Spanish Supercup twice and the European Supercup and the Intercontinental. But apart from that nothing).

Lots of lovely quotes in the papers including the priceless, ´Fed up with the players´( obviously not spending enough time in the shop signing autographs), but a quote that had captain Raul strangely uptight and responding by asking him to name names.

Recent performances seem to have been the main cause with the Arsenal shaming at the BernieBow followed by a 2-1 away defeat at struggling Mallorca.

So Perez has done the honourable thing ( a Spanish idea - long since missing from English politics) and resigned. Unfortunately, the new man is no less that Fernando Martin, a very weathly estate agent ( with Spain currently resembling a building site wherever you look, its full of rich estate agents ) that as native of Valladolid has long been rumoured to be on the verge of buying the improvished club of his native city. So I guess this potential Sugar-Daddy has now regretfully passed us by.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Who are yeh? Who are yeh? Its been a while since I've heard that chant coming from the North Stand. It was usually directed towards some hopeful sods supporting some minor team way below our standard. Then I got to thinking about Charlton and I turned it all around and got to thinking who are WE exactly?

We're now topped the 1000 game mark but our position in the all-time First Division/Premier league table is still only 33rd after our 25 seasons in the top flight, and behind such worthies as Notts County, Preston and Blackpool. The valley has been rebuilt and is now something we can all feel proud of but it's still a small stadium by Premier standards and we live in a small area of South London that's hard to find on a map. We´re only won 3 things in our 100 years, 1 FA Cup, 1 First Division Championship and correct me if I'm wrong a Third Division (South)Trophy. Not so much a trophy room as a shelf in the corner and not much to show for 100 years chasing a ball around.

But, praise be, here we are now - in 2006. In the top league in England. With a team almost full with internationals. Only a couple will be - maybe - going to the world cup but nevertheless we have a lot of players that are good enough to represent their countries and there are an awful lot of fans who would be willing, no dying, to be in our position.

Our position, to remind everyone, is currently 13th position in the Premier, after being in 2nd spot for several weeks and a good part of the season in the top half. And, after this, our 6th consecutive season in the Premier nobody pinpoints us for relegation before the season starts.

So thats the reason for the caption. We´re still a small fish in a big pool. Some people would rather we were over there in a smaller pool where maybe life is easier and we could be more important. But not me. I like it here. I would rather be playing the likes of Liverpool instead of Hull or Chelsea instead of those people near Peckham.

Maybe its easier playing these teams on paper as I do rather then having to watch. Seems to be getting a bit painful right now with survival being upper most in the managements mind. But I sincerely hope that Curbs has better things to do than read some of the depressing things that are sometimes said.