What is really happening?

With the news yesterday that Rick Everitt has been sacked, it becomes less and less transparent as to what is happening behind the scenes at Charlton.

Rick's statement can be found at Charlton Life.

With Steve Kavanagh and Peter Varney already gone, we have lost a number of 'real' Charlton fans that worked within the club.

Is this good or bad? I tend to believe it is not positive purely because I do not ... yet ... understand the rationale behind this.

It is not unknown for new owners to arrive at a company and completely clear the decks ... the problem is that there do not appear to be any replacements. There are so many rumours floating about regarding the identity of our owners, and the fact that there has apparently been some kind of falling out and that new financial sources are being sought. As with 99.99% of people I have no idea what is true or not.

What I do know ... at least common-sense would seem to indicate ... is that whoever currently owns our club will wish to recoup some money ... therefore it is in their best interests to keep the club going as a viable concern, and push us as high in the league as we can get to attract a good price.

Or perhaps I am being too optimistic, and basically they will get out at any price to remove us from their portfolio, leaving us in a possibly worse position than we have been for some time .. and we have already been down a long way!

Whatever the truth and the potential outcome, I strongly recommend that you join the newly created Charlton Supporters Trust which can be found here.

Whether or not it succeeds is a total unknown but it must be better than sitting back doing nothing and hoping for the best.

In the meantime I look forward to the possible re-emergence of Voice of the Valley ... and subsequently a new book from Rick.

COYR and a packed house on Saturday.

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What are the chances of promotion?

So many great Charlton blogs around that I keep forgetting I have one of my own ... which means that once again it has been sorely neglected.

But looking at Division One tables from the last few years prompted me to post again. Even with our great start, what are the real chances of promotion based on the last seven years records?

The answers are not only very revealing ... they are also quite intriguing. Yes, it can still all go wrong ... hard for us to wipe out the memories of the last few years ... but statistically it's looking extremely positive.

First of all, looking at the number of points that have been required over the last seven years in order to achieve promotion in 2nd spot ... and just to make things interesting, how many games the 2nd place team could afford to lose.

Points for automatic promotion (2nd place)
2nd place - number of defeats

So using this table as the base, it means that an average of 86 points has been required to achieve promotion in 2nd place, whilst experiencing an average of 10 defeats throughout the season.

Average points required for 2nd place
Average defeats for 2nd place

Looking at Charlton as of today, after 19 games and one defeat, we would appear to be in an incredibly strong position:

Current CAFC points after 19 games
Current CAFC defeats after 19 games
Target points for remaining 27 games to achieve 2nd place
Number of remaining games we can afford to lose

So ... apparently 40 points to be obtained ... obviously many different permutations for this to be achieved ....

13 wins 11 wins 9 wins
1 draw 7 draws 13 draws
13 defeats 9 defeats 5 defeats

.... but applying the seven season statistic that a team can lose 10 games, then the below is probably the closest we can get to foretelling how the season should pan out in order for us to go up:

12 wins
5 draws
10 defeats

Based on our existing form, this should be eminently achievable ... but of course all sorts of things could happen between now and May ... injuries, suspensions, other teams having incredible runs of form, etc.

However, what is very apparent is that this is now completely in our own hands ... 12 wins from the remaining 27 games, when we have already won 14 times in 19 games ... I don't need to expand any further to be honest.

Is this our year? Well, I rarely bet but before this season started I laid out a reasonable amount at the bookies backing Charlton for automatic promotion and it's certainly looking like the team had the same confidence that I had by taking this division by storm.

Whatever happens, I can safely say that we finally have our Charlton back after so many seasons of misery ... this team is committed to the cause, more than capable, and backed by one of the most promising managers in the league ... not forgetting of course the Mysterons in the background supporting us financially.

Onwards and upwards as they say ... COYR.

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A Promising Start

Very promising indeed. Despite the optimism that had been generated over the close season, the bottom line is that none of us actually knew if we had just a squad of players, or a team that could play together. In fact a trawl of the Bournemouth message boards and forums on Friday revealed that they believed they were playing us at exactly the right time, i.e. before our squad had time to gel.

Oh how wrong we all were. Astonishing to reflect that this was the first real competitive match for this team together ... although in retrospect I now believe that the Millwall game was a good idea due to the competitive nature in which it was played ... certainly helped 'blood' the team.

Bournemouth played some very attractive football at times, and knew how to pass ... but in the end it was to no avail. The statistics state that Bournemouth had 61% of possession ... not sure that I accept this, but it's of no consequence anyway. It's what you do with the ball when you have it that matters. It has been said elsewhere ... in particular by the Bournemouth manager ... that the score flattered us. To be honest, having watched the highlights, we could have had more. BWP would definitely have scored on another day, and the shot by Wiggins was a scorcher ... pity he didn't score as the abuse he received from the Bournemouth fans was a joke ... nice to hear the Charlton faithful cheer every time this happened.

Another pleasing aspect was the size of the crowd ... third year in division 3, a lot of people still on holiday, and we broke 16,000 ... most of the teams in our division ... and a few in the division above ... will be happy to do that just once this season. And with season ticket numbers virtually matching last season, it's fair to say that our core crowd base has increased significantly over the years.

And with performances like this, it can only go up. Fair enough, it's just one game, but you can only beat the opposition in front of you. Furthermore this will send warning signals throughout our division... everyone knew we had spent well ... now they know we can also play. Chris Powell's attempt last season to play an attractive passing, attacking game, was never going to succeed with the squad we had ... with this one, the signs are positive.

There is a hunger in the team that we have not witnessed for some time ... passion and the will to get the ball ... incidentally perfectly exemplified by Dale Stephens, my man of the match.

The players all know that no-one's place is guaranteed ... we have some very good players who didn't feature in the squad, let alone appear on the bench. Plus most are young and feel they have something to prove. You only have to read the interview with Dale Stephens in the programme, or listen to the Charlton Live interview with Danny Green to know how much this team wants to succeed ... and just as importantly, how highly they rate each other. Already we can see the camaraderie and the evidence that they are a team and not a set of individuals.

I'm not going to get carried away with the result ... with 45 games to go that would make no sense. But my initial pre-season optimism has received a boost and it's only fair to assume that this team should get better the more they play together. The defence looks tight, and has the ability to close down attacking runs, despite a few wobbles Robbie looked fairly assured in goal ... and I was as surprised as anybody that he started ... the forwards are already developing a good partnership, and the midfield looks like it has goals galore in it.

Tomorrow night will be very interesting ... how will we fare against a decent Championship side? I'm not at all bothered about a cup run ... the league comes first and promotion is the only prize I want ... but it can have the significant advantage of boosting confidence especially if you manage to beat a team from a higher division.

Saturday will be the more important game ... Notts County achieved a three nil away win which has to be applauded ... so it will be a good chance to see how we measure up against such a team.

Rating individual players from Saturday seems a little unfair ... although I'm still going to do it ... because it really was a team performance which, bearing in mnd it was their first league game together, deserves an overall 8/10. In normal circumstances I'd have given 7/10, but the occasion raises the rating.

So on to the players themselves:

Elliot - had a good game. Not called upon too much in the first half, but covered well when needed to in the 2nd half. There were a couple of times when I was nervous, but you can't complain about a clean sheet. 7/10
Solly - seemed a little nervy in the first half, and I was a little uncomfortable about his play. But came into his own in the 2nd half, in particular interacting very well with Wagstaff ... these two look very good together down the right wing. 7/10
Morrison - like the look of him ... strong and intimidating. Not afraid to get stuck in and a powerful tackler. 7/10
Taylor - combined well with Morrison, and I can see these two being a good combination. Good skill and not afraid to bring the ball forward. 7/10
Wiggins - showed a little nervous reation to the Bournemouth abuse at the beginning, but rose to the occasion with a stunning long distance effort that the keeper had to work to save. The best is yet to come, and he is a good counter-balance to Morrison and Taylor. 6.5/10
Wagstaff - apparently he only played because Green was suspended ... don't know how true that is, but if so, then Scott took advantage, topped up by what may be a contender for goal of the season. Superbly controlled volley. Deserves to keep his place and has already given Powell a slight selection headache. 7.5/10
Stephens - seemed to be everywhere ... totally committed, skilful, energetic ... my man of the match. Annoyingly, I mentioned to my son before the match that Stephens would score the first goal ... aaargh 14 to 1 and I didn't back up my words with money. 8/10
Hollands - looks good ... definitely strengthened the midfield ... Racon / Semedo - who they ? ... very comfortable on the ball and worked well with the other midfielders. 7.5/10
Jackson - good start for our captain. I feel very confident with him in the team, and he took his penalty well. 7.5/10
BWP - very lively and involved himself in the game far more than last season. He is becoming more than just a goal-scorer and had a hand in two of the goals. Could easily have scored himself, and rather unfortunate not to do so. 7.5/10
Hayes - wasn't sure about him at the Welling game, but I have a different view now. Strong, attacking, self-assured, and enthusiastic. He will definitely get a few goals this season. 7/10
Benson - not on for long, but still made an impression. Very happy he stayed with us. 6/10
Pritchard - OK, you can't say much based on a few minutes but we may have unearthed a diamond here ... looking forward to seeing much more of  him. 6.5/10
Doherty - surprised he is still with us, but totally unfair to judge him on a couple of minutes. n/a

As for Chris Powell ... hiding away in the tunnel ;-) ... he chose the team and sorted out the tactics. It worked ... and he did a great interview afterwards. 8.5/10

The crowd were in fairly good voice and I do enjoy watching 'bouncy-bouncy' in the Covered End.

A final word for the officials ... can they please return again as I thought they were way better than most of the dross we get at this level.


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2011 / 2012

A new season ... so probably not a bad time to start blogging again ... didn't realised how long it had been!

It has certainly been a very eventful time at the Valley since last season finished in May with a dismal mid-table final position. Did we expect anything else? Well, probably. Now we are at our 3rd year in Division Three, it's very clear that the club ... and the bulk of the supporters ... made the mistake of believing we were far too good for this level and would get promotion if not the first time, then definitely at the 2nd attempt. Many clubs, of an equal size to us ... and bigger ... have made that mistake over the last few years.

This is not an easy division from which to escape if you have the mentality that all you have to do is turn up and the other teams will automatically acknowledge that Charlton rightfully belong in a higher division and will allow us to return back there. It's always simple in retrospect, but there is no doubt that as well as having a reasonable squad and manager, you also need the right mind-set. If you want promotion, then get out there and work for it ... be a team not a set of individuals ... and fight to be competitive. Again, retrospect is easy, but it's obvious now that we had too much 'dead wood'  ... as long as they were paid, nothing much else mattered.

So ... what's changed? Almost everything to be honest. We have a manager who will be starting his first full season, new board members also about to experience their first full season, and a very new squad on the playing field.

According to the latest on Charlton Life, we now have 31 players on professional contract, 15 of which are new, with 15 having been sold or released, a pretty hefty turn-around.

Most of the new players are on the young side and have been given 2-3 year contracts ... definitely a positive sign that we are looking to move ahead with a solid base and squad.

As for the new owners ... everything we hear is good and appears to suggest that we have an exciting future. OK, it may all be illusory and if we don't achieve promotion within 2 years, we may be unceremoniously dumped. But at least they've given us the possibility of another couple of years ... which may not have been the case otherwise.

There is concern about the ownership ... naturally when 'the truth' is hidden, it is a valid reason for concern. But I'm going to ride with it for the moment. If they get us back to the top as we all want, stay one further season then take the money and run ... well, who can blame them? And you never know, they may decide they like it and stay longer. We still have a club and a team to follow ... my son can still attend games with me ... and in a few years, hopefully my grandson will also join us. That's good enough for me at the moment.

So how will we do this season? As always, I am optimistic ... but perhaps this time, I have good reason to be so. With the current infrastructure, 'hungry' players in the squad, healthy season ticket sales (wonderful to see), and the sun currently shining ... it's easy to predict a top-six finish.

But I've decided to invest some money with Paddy Power and expect us to be automatically promoted.


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Playoffs Part 1 of (hopefully) 3

Would have preferred a draw but will take 2-1. Defensively we were rather shaky but still went into half-time goalless. Was difficult to get a real atmosphere going without a roof and many songs were being sung in tandem although my wife told me that Charlton could be heard on tv.

Swindon played some good football and eventually the goals came for them but the turning point was Deon's excellently well taken goal ... suddenly Swindon stopped playing footbll and started to hoof the ball everywhere. This is obviously the other side of Swindon and the reason whey they only finished 5th ... good team but when the pressure gets to them they play a completely different, more ineffective, style of football. We were very unlucky with Nicky's attempt and the game could have been so different if that had gone in. Swindon did finally revert to a good playing style and were unlucky not to score near the end ... I couldn't see the incident properly but my wife tells me it went off the post.

The big plus for me is that listening to the Swindon fans outside the ground after the game, they feel that they have done it ... very confident and sure they will get to Wembley. Good, let them feel that way and hopefully the complacency will spread through the club. Danny Wilson has played the 'underdog' game very well and kept their feet on the ground ... maybe this will undo them.

I beleve we have enough to turn this around at the Valley ... but am so bloody nervous that the next 60 hours are not going to be much fun.


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No bottle

First half, fairly evenly matched although we didn't really have a clear cut chance, but possibly more possession ... then conceded a very poor goal.

Second half ... nothing ... virtually every time the fans come out in force for Charlton, they let us down ... badly.

So depressing.

Oh bolox!

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We won

We won ... but apart from the first 10 minutes there was not much else to say. After the 2nd goal went in I turned and said to my son, perhaps we can at last put some pressure on the teams around us and really go for it in this game and show them how up for it we are. He just smiled and replied that I should remember who I am watching ... unfortunately he was proved right.

Why can't we kill off other teams? There were even times during the 2nd half when we could have paid heavily for not scoring a third goal ... admittedly we should have had a penalty in the first half, but it's astonishing how we fail to take advantage of our possession. Wayward kicks towards the goal ... which are far from being on target ... make a mockery of the fact that these guys are professional footballers. Mooney, Bailey, Burton, Sam, Sodje et al were guilty of some awful shots.

We won ... so I am happy ... but definitely frustrated. We will need to step up a gear next week at the New Den. Stockport are one of the weakest ... if not the weakest ... teams I have seen all season and that will not be the case next week. Millwall have players that fight for results, and our players will need to be the same. I have no doubt that we can, as has been evident in some games this season, and must admit that I am thoroughly looking forward to the game.

Results definitely went our way in general yesterday with Huddersfield and Swindon losing. Brentford taking a point at Leeds was massive and it was just a pity that they could not hold on to their lead ... but we are catching Leeds and the home game against them may yet prove to be pivotal.

Elliott - one very nervous moment when he dropped the ball, and he and Llera were definitely at odds both blaming each other for the incident.
Richardson - competent, but sometimes played the ball too far and lost it.
Jackson - good game and linked up well with Reid ... hope the injury is not too bad and he is ok for Millwall.
Llera - strong in defence, but a few errors.
Dailly -excellent game, getting back to being Mr. Consistent.
Sam - not his best game and rightfully taken off, drifted in far too much.
Racon - at times he was great, and others he was woeful. Will the real Therry Racon please stand up.
Bailey - fairly good game, cut off a few attacks, but not at his best.
Reid - man of the match, he is so strong and effective, breaking up attacks from opposition and then leading our own.
Mooney - Still proving to be lightweight, but there are instances when you know he can produce something.
Sodje - scored for the 3rd consecutive game so I should be positive ... but I still feel his overall game should improve ... but what the heck, if he scores again next week, who cares ;-)
Solly - ok, nothing special, but he is being played out of position so I should be generous.
Wagstaff - was hoping for something special when he came on but he can't do it every time.
Burton - worried Stockport at times.

Mark Kinsella had it right in his press interview: "We got lucky with the first and got a good second goal, but it was all about winning the game. We started brightly and got the goals but they upped their game. It would have been nice to get a couple more but it wasn't to be. There will be ups and downs between now and the end of the season, we've got to make sure there are more ups than downs. Winning when you're not at your best is the sign of a good team.”

And Millwall is now sold out, 2,500 tickets. Well done Charlton ... cannot wait to be at the New Den on Saturday.

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