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Monday, May 26, 2008

Goodbye Then...

End of season then and its time to say goodbye to several people that used to 'work for us'. Some have gone on the bigger and better things and others sadly, not. But while most people these days have few good words to say when leaving the bigger teams, our ex-players seem to go out of their way to be nice to us.
One of those staying around in the fizzies next season will be Jamal Campbell-Ryce who in our penultimate game in April earned the MOM award in Barnsley's 3-0 win after scoring the first goal. "Some people say I never got the chance I deserved at Charlton but I don't hold grudges, if anything, I want to thank Charlton. They gave me my chance, gave me my first professional contract and helped me progress. Charlton have always given their youngsters a chance and they have always produced players, and that showed with Wagstaff and Shelvey playing a part in the game. When I came though Lloyd Sam and Michael Turner came through, and we are still playing now. Then you have the likes of Charlie MacDonald, Scott Parker, Jonathan Fortune and Danny Shittu."

And while we welcome our first signing of the close season in 26 year old palarse centre-defender and skipper Mark Hudson we can also say goodbye, for at least a year anyway, to another ex-player. Outstanding in the Play-Off final for Hull at the weekend, Michael Turner was one of the great hopes of the Addicks's youth set-up four years ago. As a youngster the defender was one of two players selected to train with Internazionale during the club's short-lived partnership with the Italian giants, and he also captained the club's reserves before turning 20.

He was named by Addicks boss Alan Curbishley in his final 16 five times in 2003/04 - but left for League One side Brentford in November 2004 without making his senior Addicks debut. "Having no experience in the Charlton first team was disappointing for me. Things were standing still there, so I moved to Brentford and my career has really started here. Alan Curbishley is a good manager and was good to me, even though he didn't pick me. Never mind, but little things like that do motivate you. I had a lot of good times at Charlton, and I'd like to thank everyone I've worked with since I joined the club as a youngster"

And to rub more salt in the wound, he was our own assistant manager Phil Parkinson's first signing when he was Hull manager back in 2006 and the central defender has since become a mainstay of the Hull backline, winning the supporters' player of the year award and the goal of the season prize last season. Parks was full of praise when he signed him, "He's a player that I've watched for a number of years, firstly with Charlton reserves and then obviously with Brentford. I like him a lot and believe he'll be an excellent signing for us because he's ready to play Championship football. Michael was the best central defender in League One last season and is ready to step up."

So good luck Michael next season in the Premier, you'll certainly need it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

An Advertisement for Hype...

Well, seems marketing is all the rage these days with even foreverCharlton, over here anyway, doing its bit to sell Madrid shirts. Occasionally I get a nice pleasant Free Powerpoint site with no irritation value whatsoever but obviously the white shirts sell better. I suppose it's just my bad luck that my ipaddress is unfortunately smack in the middle of Madrid, a good 60 miles away from my house - who can afford Madrid prices - but its the sheer size of the white shirt that in my eyes is nothing short of obscene.
And in the similar vein over here, the papers have been astounded by little Villareal coming second in La Primera Liga on a 6th of the budget of the Big Two. Madrid struggled to get through 2007 on a massive 306M Euros - at todays rate that's 243M in real money of an alarmingly diminishing Pound - while little Villareal got to spend only 56m. Well, a bit more than a 6th then but you get the idea. They finished 7 points adrift of the Big One but well clear of Barca in third. It used to be Big Three over here till Ronald Koeman arrived at Valencia but now we have the Big Two split by someone like Portsmouth. How odd would that be in the Premier!!
And the obsession with money and selling things seems to be taking over everywhere. Anybody notice something odd about last Wednesday's UEFA cup final? I mean apart from the strange behaviour of Walter Smith taking to writing busily in his notebook with just 10 minutes remaining while losing 1-0 while Ally and co looked on in stunned amazement.
No, I mean the players shirts. Was there a clue to future marketing strategies? On the back where normally the players name is write large and prominent for those poor sods in the back of the stands to see, last Wednesday this was not the case. Instead the players names were not in big upper case at all but in trendy lower case.
Perhaps its a Glasgow thing, I thought, along with waving Union Jacks while every house in England, it seems, now sports an St. George's flag. But no, there it was on the Russkies shirts as well. Forgive me for imagining sinister goings-on, must be the books I read, but what's afoot. You may believe it's because of the impossibility of getting those lengthy Russkie names in one line on a shirt but as both teams sported it for me its quite obviously a new directive from UEFA.
Why waste all that gorgeous advertising space with someones name, his numbers there isn't it. What about squeezing in a nice big advert on the back as well as the front. Get rid of all that player nonsense, we're a brand, we need to sell things for Gods sake.
And I thought back to the halcyon days of Formula 1 when you could actually see the number of the car and work out who was driving it. If you've not an enthusiast today and have carefuly studied the winters changes there's not way you can figure out who's driving without a commentator.
Is football going the same way? Well, I see there's some sort of Chumps final tonight, or is it final for chumps, whatever. Its also run by those nice people over at UEFA so a chance to confirm the theory.
Ah, but there's a problem. I'm afraid tonights already booked up. I have to watch my tomatoes growing and then there's the dog to walk and after that I have an idea that Mrs Nelson will want to discuss the thoughts and philosophies of Michel de Montaigne or maybe moll over the exact boiling point of homemade marmalude. So, oh dear, no time at all for suffering the pathetic, hysterical antics of Sir A, or F or whatever it is, or the anguish at having to watch the doleful gaze of Avram for an hour and a half. Because, and please forgive me my warped idea of life, but it's clearly not a football match at all but a marketing exercise between two opposing brands, as experienced recently by Marco, better suited to the Boardroom than a football pitch.
So, if by any chance, anyway has the stomach for this sort of thing perhaps they would let me know whether or not my theory holds water. Are they upper or lower?
And in case you need a few more details to enjoy the match (sic), deloittes can explain it all in simple numbers, in lower case of course.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Brits Lose Last Chance of Trophy

The sad demise, especially for my mate Jimmy, of Glasgow Rangers in the UEFA cup final of course ends any lingering hope that we might have had of the British winning a European trophy this season. And not forgetting the British teams absence from the Euro finals next month, this was the very last chance of European glory this year. They gave it a good shot and defended well and in the second half surprised even me with a bit of tasty passing skills - an art form completely missing from the Play-Offs games - but fell to two superbly worked goals.
The Russkies, from Gasprom, sorry St. Petersburg, were, however the better team by far proving that all that money we spend on our Gas bills is not entirely put to waste and it only falls for Romans' lot next week to make a Russian clean sweep of it. With home advantage over the americans from salford it's clearly a done deal.
Meanwhile, we have the Cup Final that nobody except Portsmouth and Cardiff fans care about. Well, we care. It's another chance of seeing the Herminator and fat boy Jimmy fight it out for honours. But it appears that most neutrals will be looking elsewhere and hoping to catch a glimpse of 17 year old superstar Aaron Ramsey boss it about in midfield. Five million is the asking price for this Welsh wizard, apparently, just called up for the Welsh squad. Thank goodness that West Brom did us a favour back in January or we'd be looking at a departing Shelyer. Better to keep quiet about him for as long as possible.
And the week after there's the added pleasure of seeing another one of last years rejects, little Brian Hughes, trotting out on the very same pitch in the Play-Off final for Hull City. He's already done it before, of course, winning the Play-Off final in 2002 with Birmingham so he'll know what to expect. And talking of knowing what to expect, its odds on that Pards didn't expect to see so many of his 'rejects' enjoying a new lease of life. And not to mention 17 goal Kevin.
But the Play-Off games don't bring much rejoicing, unless you're a Hull or Bristol fan, with Leeds still in there. Forgetting for a moment our current penchant for beating the top teams, which I suppose has some merit, I'd much rather we concentrated on finding a method of beating the crap in the Division. That, bless 'im, was always Curbs' philosphy. First and foremost win the games you should and then worry about the rest. Maybe that was a system for Premiership survival but it does me no good knowing we can beat promoted Stoke City and even do the double over Palarse while failing dismally against the likes of Colchester and QPR. Hughes' Hull won 14 games against bottom-half teams, twice as many as the Addicks did, and accumulated a total of 47 points against them. Charlton languish in 19th place in a table showing results against the worst with only 29 points won. That, Pards, is the reason we finished 11th.
Anyway, seems we'll need all our experience for beating the Big Teams next year what with Reading and Birmingham being joined in the fizzies next season by Forest and after last nights result, quite possibly by horrible Leeds.
And with Bougherra looking for an exit - please, Pards not Andy Todd - and Paul Connolly going to Derby, we are still waiting for the first of Pardew's new arrivals. We had to wait till May 21st last year to see his first deals of the summer with Iwelumo and Varney signing-on. We didn't know who the hell they were and its odds-on that we won't know our next signings either.
Yes, our days of signing the likes of Traore, Jeffers and Murphy are long gone....Perhaps we'll dream of them one day. But then again, perhaps not.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Disgusted Valley

I was going to discuss in detail the various merits of two of our current midfielders but I've just noticed something else that demands some instant attention.
I'm referring, of course, to the advert on forevercharlton relating to bloody Royal Madrid. How can this happen? Have we reached such a position of low groveling that, not only are we having to beat off offers for one of our sole remaining stars from legendary giants Wigan, but are now acting as advertising agents for selling a god-damn hymn in f**ing Spanish, excuse my French, for one of the most enormous sporting (sic) monstrosities in the world.
We're Charlton, and supposed to have values, to be a family club, passed from father to son, support your local team and all that. What are we doing peddlaring this stuff? These people are the very opposite of what we are. They've got their own newspapers and TV. They've even got their own bloody plane for gods sake.
The sense of shame at the destruction of all of our values is enormous. How can we walk down the street now with our heads held high, which was proving hard enough anyway after the season we're just had, when we're reduced to the modern equivelant of wearing those advertising boards make famous in the thirties. If it was our own stuff we were flogging it would be different but this! Its....., words fail me.
Even in the distant Third Division days we never had to trawl such low ebbs. We've always managed to put a brave face on it, show our grit and determination, there was always the next game to recover ourselves, always next week to look forward to a comeback. But now, what!
Will we be advertising shirts for the Arse, Fulham's seasonal 2007-08 CD showing how Murphy-Man helped in their escape, and the big nightmare, will we stoop to such depths by helping to sell tickets for Palarse's pre-season trip to Dulwich?
You might argue that we need the cash, it's a consumer society mate, it's what happens. Well, sorry, shit happens but I don't like it any better.
We need to fight these elites and keep their influence at arms length. We need banners saying "Support Your Local Team" and "Join The Valley Express", not carrying adverts for these abominations. And what about the children? Is this ad safe for their eyes. What if little Jonny looks over my shoulder and asks me "Whats that mean Dad?"
So to help us get back our sanity and to rectify matters, here is a website for a club of similar status and standing to our own. If you want a bit of foreign action, support someone that going to appreciate you and give you value for your hard-earned cash. Valladolid's the name, currently struggling to avoid relegation from La Liga, and no, I don't get a penny, or cent, of any sales.
More's the pity......

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wish You Were Here...

Strange feelings watching the Play-Offs. Its like watching a sex scene on TV, you know you shouldn't poke your face into someone else enjoying themselves, but you do anyway. But unlike the sex, watching the Play-Offs does seem to leave a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth. Like imagining that you could watch your work mates off enjoying a holiday while you had to stay at work. And all the time you'd know that really you were more deserving than them and its you that should be enjoying all that sun.
Except you're not.
Are we still thinking too much of ourselves, well maybe. And its not just memories of Premiership games that lingers, its the reality that we are better than these 4 teams. None of them managed to beat us this season and with 4 wins and 4 draws we took 16 points out of the 24 available when playing against them so we must be better. Aren't we?
And although some people are saying that the games are good, are they really? The fizzies may be a very tough division to get out off but I don't think there's many Premiership managers losing sleep over the impending arrival of the best of Bristol, Hull or Watford.
In last nights game at Bristol, although there were 3 cracking goals, the ball was always flying through the air and most of the time was belted anywhere aimlessly with slick passing moves as rare as a vegetarian in a slaughterhouse. Sour grapes, then.
And the thought of a missed chance of a really gilt-edged opportunity keeps coming back to me. Promotion, this year, would have been a doddle compared to what its going to be like next year. With Reading and Birmingham likely to retain most of their squad next season its odds-on that it'll be they that claim the automatic slots with the Play-Offs left to the rest of us.
And already there's teams sniffing around to see what's available at the ex-Premier clubs. Bougherra off to Betis? I hope not and looking at the poll results on CAFCPicks clearly so do most of us with Magic getting the most votes in the defender category. Encouragingly, I can't find any news of it over here but its bound to happen with players looking elsewhere for a better deal.
Although Pards has often bemoaned the lack of a settled squad its perhaps worth reiterating the fact that Bristol City used the fewest players in the Division with 26, while Watford used only 28, WBA 29 and Hull 30. Meanwhile at the other end of the table relegated Leicester used the most with 41, with struggling Southampton, changed management at both QPR and Palarse and the Addicks next with 38 players used. A case of too much money earning us little in the way of benefits and perhaps an example of January loan deals working against us rather than for us.
And lastly a few words of advice from a fan enjoying the Play-Offs. No-one from Palarse, of course, but a northern mate watching the Tigers battle it out to the end and whatever you might feel about their style of play they did finish 11 points clear of the Addicks.
Anyway, advice for next season for what its worth.
"1. A manager the players want to play for (think Curbs fitted the bill, not Pardew)!!!
2. True northern grit and a solid back four,
3. Dean Windass ! (with a bit of help from rising superstar on loan from Man U (Fraizer Campbell)), who can bang in the goals, wind up the opposition and referee the game, at the same time."
So Pards, a 39 year-old forward, with 11 fizzy goals, outscoring any of our lot, a reduced squad enjoying better rapport with the manager and a 20 year old superstar. That's all that's needed, apparently....

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Coventry Preview

Well, its all gone rather quiet, don't you think. Everyone's just lost interest and are trying really hard to do something else. In fact just about anything else will do, be it a touch of gardening for the open air types, the latest version of Grand Theft Auto IV for those who can't keep away from their PC or even following the attempts of a third division French team in Lyon to win promotion. And who can blame them because it would be nice if this nightmare of a season would just go away.
But that's the trouble, they gave us 46 games, that's 69 hours of football Pards, to get it right and there's still one sorry example left. Perhaps its the one we need to sort things out. To at last get it right.
Because Pards, I'm sorry to say but this season has been a complete failure. There I've said it. Failure. Not a nice word on which to end the season but I'm afraid on this occasion its the only one that fits.
We've had all the excuses, the latest one of which was; "If we'd stayed fitter we'd be in the play-offs. But this squad can have a better year next season just by staying healthy. But I do want to improve. I think we have a good base here and we have some very good young players who are going to threaten the side. But I certainly need to bring in at least two or three first-team players."
But to tell the truth we're all a bit tired of excuses, because excuses remind us that we all expected to win promotion first time round and Pardew feels he has to explain the current situation. As far as we're concerned next year will be different, 'cause we won't expect so much, in fact, many people won't expect anything at all. Just a few more home wins at the Valley would be nice thank you very much and a couple of away wins to keep the real supporters happy.
Anyway, moaning over, in case anyone is still at all interested in the very last 90 minutes on offer, we will try to tell you all we know about Coventry.
There's about half of the current fizzy collection that can all remember, and reminisce, about better times of Tier One football. And probably Coventry fans have more dreams than anyone. For an unbelievable spell of 34 years they enjoyed top-flight football without winning anything. Between 1967 and 2001 they were continuous members of England's top division and at the time of their eventual relegation, only Arsenal, Liverpool and Everton could claim a longer stay in top-flight English football than Coventry. OK, they did win the Cup in 1987 but never finished higher than 6th in the league.
As for ourselves, Sunday was, of course, the day that we all planned to give Monica a huge farewell wave with accompanying laughter, as we departed the fizzy shores for more healthly climates but alas not only has Monica been shown the door but we're not going anywhere either. Current manager is Chris Coleman, ex of Fulham and Real Sociedad of San Sabastian in northern Spain. They are in 19th place with 53 points; Coventry that is not Real Sociedad. They're in better shape since he left and are in 4th spot in the second division with 7 games left.
Attempting to gee myself up for what will be another empty and meaningless encounter except that Coventry need a point to ensure that they avoid relegation, I have asked myself the question, have they got anyone of interest? Captain is number 8 Michael Doyle, another Dublin midfielder, and he'll probably be alongside another player eager to be a thorn in our side, number 6 Stephen Hughes, who spent a fruitless year with us in 2003/04 without Curbs giving him a game. Up front they'll be the Maltese mosquito, number 17 Michael Mifsud who, if you believe the hype, is the best player ever to come out of Malta. Unlike the Addicks strikers he knows what its all about and has scored 16 goals this season. Unfortunately he's in a bit of a dry spell and hasn't scored in the last 25 league games since getting two in Coventry's shock 4-2 win at West Brom on December. After scoring against us in September, he's obviously due a goal about now.
On current form we can also expect another home pasting as, over the last 8 games, Coventry have amassed twice as many points as we have, 10 to 5, and whereas NOBODY has suffered more defeats in those last 8 than we have, eg 5, Coventry have only lost 2 and moreover enjoyed a rumping 5-1 win over Colchester on their last trip away from home.
As for the Addicks, who knows what Pards will offer us. Lack of width being one of the excuses, sorry reasons, for Saturdays defeat at Barnsley mean he's rather desperate for a winger. With Cook's departure back to Fulham, there's only Sam and Thomas left of the experienced wide men and both are reported as injuried. Perhaps its time we saw what 18 year old Scott Wagstaff is all about. But more likely it'll be Varney or Ambrose on the right.
Therry Racon, whose birthday it is today - he's 24 - has returned from his education at Brighton, 8 games in 5 weeks, and will presumably take some part on Sunday. If you've forgotten what he looks like, there's a pic on seagulls along with encouraging words like energetic and dynamic.
It's Sam Sodje's last game before his loan spell is up so perhaps Pards will include him and give us a hint of his plans for next season. Otherwise it'll be Bougherra and McCarthy in central defence. Again Greg Halford is due to return to Sunderland after the game and with the 3.5m that Keane laid out to get him from Reading last summer in mind it would appear unlikely that we'll see him again. Whether he plays on Sunday will depend on Pardew's desire, and perhaps need, to get a result.
Who else? Jonjo Shelvey must start and at least get the fans some promise of a bright future.
So Weaver; Semedo, McCarthy, Bougherra, Thatcher; Racon, Shelvey, Holland, Ambrose; Varney and Iwelumo.
Subs; Randolph, Halford, Wagstaff, Basey, Gray
And what does Pards say about the game? "Our fans will be coming on Sunday, and we'll have to put on a display with character, tenacity and a bit of quality. The players need to show some spirit, and we are looking to finish the season on a high note." Another 1-1 draw then.