Stay Positive

Couldn't get down to the Valley today, so had to listen on radio and take part in the thread on Charlton Life.

Well ... I've heard of a game of 2 halves, but this definitely seemd to be a prime example. There was an early scare when Burnley appeared to have scored, but after discussion with the linesman, the ref called it as offside. Seemed that the ref got his first decision completely wrong.

The crowd started brilliantly and the songs were coming through loud and clear.

But it didn't take too long before Burnley did score and within a few minutes, the crowd was very quiet and a few boos came across on the radio. What is the point of that? This team needs confidence at the moment, and booing them only gives the away team confidence. OK, you have paid your money and you can do what you want, but why not wait until the end, and if you don't like it, don't bother coming back.

The impression given by Phil Parry and Steve Brown was that Burnley started very strongly, yet according to BBC stats, we had 55% of possession. Didn't sound that way on the radio.

The booing came across at a more frequent rate especially when Burnley were on the attack, and it appeared to be affecting the players.

At half-time, it seemed clear that a change in shape, and a change in players was needed to change the game. Good to hear Dave Lockwood do his part to get things moving when he played Valley Floyd Road and Into the Valley before the 2nd half started.

And it seemed to work! The crowd got going and the team improved ... good job, Dave! Toddy and Sam joined the 2nd half and both of them had a storming game. Our first shot on target came on 46 minutes and got an ironic cheer. Ambrose transformed himself after a rubbish first half and sounded excellent.

The crowd were very loud at this stage and we eventually received our just desserts for our 2nd half display with a great goal from Toddy. The rest of the game was all Charlton, apart from a couple of Burnley counter-attacks, and we were very unfortunate not to win. Having said that, I still heard a few boos at the final whistle, but the rest of the crowd proceeded to drown them out.

We need to go on from here, the confidence of the 2nd half has to be maintained. We have not turned a corner yet, but the signs are there. This squad is good enough to move up the table and challenge for the play-offs. Equally, with such a close division, we could be near the bottom. Confidence is all, and I hope that we now have enough to change it around.

Oh, and Josh Wright received a standing ovation when he was subbed - sounds like he had a terrific debut.

C'mon you Reds!

Stay Positive - The Streets

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We are the Pigs

Had a ticket but for various reasons had to resign myself to not attending so my son took one of his mates instead.

Took the opportunity to listen on the radio and participate in the thread on Charlton Life for the first time. Great start on Radio London ... apparently due to rights restrictions they cannot bring me the program!!! So had to use an old small battery radio.

5 corners for Palace in the first 5 minutes is not good when you are listening on radio! Now managed to get live commentary on the Palace site ... but very biased.

15 minutes gone, and it seems like Palace have provided most of the pressure, although we have managed a corner.

After 25 minutes, sounds like Charlton are settling down, and game much more even. Bailey sounds like he's having a good game. Charlton fans coming through loud and clear, Valley Floyd Road!

35 minutes, Palace 8th corner! They are getting on top, corner no.9! According to Palace commentary, good goal-keeping by Weaver, and Charlton are resorting to a long-ball game!

Half-time, sounded like we were outplayed, but we kept it at 0-0 so got to hope this bodes well for the 2nd half. Palace commentator reckons 0-0 slightly flattering for Charlton ... who cares, we are still in the game.

Phewww, Ifill nearly scored at the start of 2nd half. Sounds like it was easier to score! Palace seem to be way on top, now their 10th corner. Bailey still praised as best Charlton player. Charlton crowd still loud, and VFR coming through very clearly.

Crap, been on the back foot for ages and now Beattie scores 63rd minute, come on Pards, it's obvious that changes are needed, we are not creative at all!

70th minute, ZZ, Gray and Toddy, on for Ambrose (no surprise), Holland, and Sam. Why does Pards wait till Palace score! Now we have to settle again. Pards doesn't even look at the players as they come off. OK, I'm not at the game, but even remotely it seemed obvious that we needed to make changes 15 minutes ago. According to the radio commentator, it's 'chaos in the Charlton area'. 80 minutes, it's not looking good.

4 minutes of added time, this does not look good. As far as I can make out, we have not created anything in 90 minutes, so what chance now!

That was NOT good. Be interesting to hear from those who were there, but I am sure the subs should have been made much earlier.

Ipswich game on Saturday becomes even more important now.

C'mon you Reds!

We are the Pigs - Suede

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Ain't No Easy Way

I wasn't able to make it for this game and after receiving a text from my son just before five yesterday afternoon stating the score, that was probably a good thing.

According to Pards the red card changed the game. He believes the card was over-harsh, but on the positive side praises Nicky Bailey on his debut. But more worrying is that Therry Racon may have fractured a metatarsal on his foot during the second half. Our team is down to 'bare bones' already and this is not going to help.

Kings Hill Addick also wasn't at the game, but highlights that, in current circumstances, losing a game 1-0 away from home to a team that was relegated from the Premier League with us and with ten men doesn't sound like a disaster ... fair point.

Dave Peeps was there and makes the point that we deserved something from the game but the red card 'by a poor refereeing decision aided by an inept Linesman' obviously did not help. I have to take heart from his summary that we showed enough belief to expect to get a win against Reading.

The Inspector also emphasises the inept ref and linesman but adds to that the 'tedious, time-wasting antics' of Watford.

New York Addick saw us as the better side but spoke about the lack of quality. Sounds like it was a bit of a long-ball game.

Dr. Kish relied on text message updates but makes an interesting point that Youga's red card was an accident always waiting to happen.

I will be away for the Reading and Preston games so will also have to rely on text updates as to what is happening ... both off and on the pitch. Back for the Wolves game and hopefully a couple more points on the board. I expect us to get a win against Reading, but we may come away with nothing from Preston as they are looking quite strong at the moment.

On a final point, I hope that ZZ is still with us when I get back ... although the signs are not positive. The Baggies have made an increased bid, and it's hard not to see him back in the Premiership. But Charlton should be aware ... his value is much higher than a pure transfer fee ... there are many intangible benefits to having him in the team. When I was in Singapore a couple of weeks ago, the first question asked by the taxi-driver at the airport, after checking my destination, was 'Would I be following the Olympics?'. I pointed out that I would, but had a particular interest in watching the football because one of the players of my local team captained the China team.

Ohhhh, he said, you support Charlton Athletic! And, the same conversation and result ensued on a number of occasions both in the office and outside. OK, this is not a direct financial benefit, but it is definitely something that can be leveraged in some way. My fear is that Albion may now reap the benefits.

Ain't no easy way - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

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These things take time

Well I got the score wrong ... my prediction was 3-1 ... but at least I had the 2 goal differential correct. This was always going to be a potential banana-skin game for Charlton, just as with Scunny last season, but a stronger defence ensured that this time we got through with all 3 points.

We had a dream start with the well-taken goal from Hudson, and despite a good passing game from Swansea, I didn't feel as if we were ever going to lose this game ... although I won't deny that the 2nd goal came as quite a relief. As can often be the case it is not always easy playing against 10 men, as we did from the 70th minute, and Swansea seemed to overcome the loss of their captain pretty well. I know that managers often tend not to see the truth of the matter with sendings-off, but Martinez should have been more accepting that Monk had to go, it was a bad tackle on Holland.

The Swansea fans did exactly as expected and were in full voice throughout most of the game ... there was a fair bit of noise from the Covered End but once again,the acoustics of a full Jimmy Seed stand drowned out our singing ... and I am only 2 blocks away from the Covered End in the East stand.

As for the team, there were a number of bright spots, but at times we did not look as comfortable as we should ... with a smallish squad, they will get a lot more time to play together and hopefully can gel and improve the confidence.

Weaver - reasonable game, not severely tested, and managed to scramble away a shot near the end with a strong punch.

Semedo - as previous readers of my blog are aware, I am a fan of Semedo, but he didn't seem at his best today. More to come, and I see him as a key player in the team

Youga - some excellent play at times, and good link-up work on the wing with Thomas.

Hudson - very good debut, well-taken goal, and looked strong. Cannot be a coincidence that our defence looked less vulnerable with him in the team.

Fortune - not convinced that he is the right player to take us through, but needs must in current circumstances. Perhaps I am too hard on him, as he should be good enough at this level. But he has under-achieved for a long time. As Steve Brown has said in the past, we should be seeing more from Fortune.

Sam - had a reasonable game, and I expect to see further improvement in the next few games.

Racon - liked him a lot. Made some excellent passes, and caused a few problems for Swansea.

Shelvey - I cannot say any more than the comments made by Pards, 'Jonjo worked very hard but he was caught in the headlights a little bit. He'll learn from that though.' Exactly as I saw it. But I am still concerned, for selfish reasons, that the press are building him up so much. If he can have a quiet game, and we still win, then that works for me. I don't want him to yet have a high profile before the January transfer window. I have just been re-reading Mick Collins book, The Rise and Rise of Charlton Athletic, and the reminder that West Ham took Jermaine Defoe a month before his 17th birthday has resonations that I do not want to see again ... Shelvey is 17 in February!

Thomas - had a good game, and I hope he continues like this. But he still has a lot of fans working against him ... there is a woman behind me who seems to spend most games slating Thomas ... OK, a lot of the time he deserves it, but yesterday she totally ignored the many bright spots, and as soon as he made one bad move, screamed abuse ... and she is not the only one. It doesn't help!

Varney - still not doing what we expect him to do ... he should have had a goal today, and I hope he can develop the partnership with Gray which will take us up.

Gray - still more improvement needed, but he is getting there ... and with a goal, I'm not going to complain too much.

As for the subs, Holland looked his normal industrious self, and will be a good player to have on the bench for certain games. Basey looks bigger and stronger each time I see him ... definitely a key player for the future. Too soon to comment on Bouazza, but he appears to be a good loan signing.

My original prediction for the season was very optimistic, and not in line with most fans, as I predicted we will finish 2nd behind Birmingham ... and our current position (admittedly after one game) is ... 2nd.

After yesterday's game, my revised prediction in 5th ... more realistic, and it will be interesting to see how my viewpoint changes over the course of the season.

These things take time - The Smiths

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The Sunnyside of the Street

Just got back from a business trip to Asia, so not had much time to prepare comments on the game with Swansea tomorrow ... so I decided to cheat and link to some of the previews I came across this morning.

There's always some good stuff out there in cyberworld from various Charlton bloggers, but my favourite is definitely the return of the Inspector, under the heading 'New season, new look, same attitude'.

I'm totally with him when he states "I realised there was something not quite right about Charlton stuff on the web. It'd been taken over by miseries." I couldn't agree more Inspector. And his summary that he wants his Charlton back, and fun on Saturday afternoons, so get behind the team or sod off ... absolutely right and I remember saying something similar on one of my reports last season.

Nelson gives us a good summary on Iberian Valley, and I expect his prediction of the team for the day is correct, but result prediction too pessimistic. Confidence levels have dropped? Maybe, but the youngsters should be going out there without fear, and as long as certain elements of the crowd desist from booing, I think they will be ok.

A Red Divided gives some good advice ... it's gonna be a long ride this season, so get some rest ;-) Will be interesting to see his thoughts as the season progresses.

Chicago / Bermuda Addick is back in the UK and will be at the Valley for the game. New season, new start, renewed belief ... good words.

Over to Wyn Grant and I agree with him, it's not the fixture we wanted to start with, but Wyn still predicts a 2-1 win for us.

An interesting retrospective from New York Addick on the comparison with 1997/98 - well worth a read.

That's all I had a chance to look at today, although there are a number of others around.

As for me, well I'm definitely looking forward to the game ... and despite concerns, I'm going for a 3-1 win.

C'mon you Reds !!!

The Sunnyside of the Street - The Pogues

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View from the top

Interesting comments from Derek Chappell on the OS.

He pointed out that the sales were part of a strategy to strengthen Charlton's finances in addition to gaining a squad that shared the same ambitions as the club - but insisted that the Addicks would also be looking to invest in the transfer market before the end of August.

"We have to remember that we had a big squad last season. We're very pleased at the progress that has been made over the last two or three weeks, and our finances are much improved. We are getting ourselves financially straight, but of course the transfer window is far from closed and there is still a month to go. We have interests in other players, too, so it's not going to be a one-way street. Apart from reconfiguring the squad, I think it's desirable that we should have a squad of player that are settled at the club and a club that is also settled with its players. If interest is shown in any of our players by other clubs, I'd like to get to a situation where the player isn't unsettled because he is enjoying his time at Charlton and wants to stay at the club, and from the club's point of view, we have a settled squad full of players who want to play for Charlton, share the club's ambitions and are not tempted to leave. We don't want any distractions to our overall aim, which is to progress the club and get back to the Premier League.”

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Rise to the challenge

There seems to be a fair bit of negativity on a number of Charlton blogs and message boards at the moment. The squad is weaker than last season and we were bad enough then, selling our best talent, not spending on any new players …….

But is it really that bad ? And is the team that different to last season ?

We would all admit that we had a bad season last year, and to be honest there were not that many stand-out matches … yet we were near the top of the table most of the season … despite playing poorly.

End September – 3rd
End October – 8th
End November – 3rd
End December – 5th
End January – 5th
End February – 5th

… and then the real collapse, end March – 12th.

So by playing badly we managed to stay in the top-6 until early March, having played 38 games by that time. If we could do that last season, can we do it again this year … or is the team now so much weaker that it is not possible. Because if the team is not any weaker overall, then we have as much chance this season as last … and perhaps if we play more consistently, we will not have the usual Charlton trait of falling away at the end of the season.

So what are the differences since the end of last season?

Chris Iwelumo – our top scorer last season, but used as a sub on 14 occasions. But can we say that the long-ball game to Chris was ultimately any good for us?
Paddy McCarthy – I am a fan and voted for him as our player of the year last season, mainly because of the improvement and strength that he displayed, so depending on replacements, this could be considered as a loss for us.
Darren Randolph – not completely out, but a season-long loan. I rate Randolph, but assume that as it is a loan, then we can get him back if needed.Osei Sankofa – showed promise on occasion, but is it really that much of a loss? I don’t think so.
Madjid Bougherra – if the press reports are right, then he leaves today. I like Boogie, but he was not that impressive for a lot of last season … so again, is this a potentially fatal loss? I would say not.
Cory Gibbs – we never saw him play (apart from the Welling friendly) so cannot be considered that the team is weaker because of his departure.
Chrissy Powell – obviously a loss, but he was no longer at his best.

Weaver apparently has a ligament problem, but not known at this stage how serious it is … potentially a problem if he is out for a while.
Holland should be training by end of the week.
Ambrose will be training in a couple of weeks.
Toddy will apparently be back in training by the end of week.
Mcleod back in full training in 8 weeks.

Who have we purchased?
Stuart Fleetwood – 36 goals in 50 games last season, albeit for Forest Green. Should prove to be a good forward to have on the bench
Mark Hudson – I expect him to be a more or less straight swap for Paddy. In fact, we may have the better of the deal, he was Palaaarse’s captain and part of a defence with one of the best defensive records last season … actually let me re-word that … having checked they conceded the least goals of any team, only 42.

Will Varney and Gray hit it off this season? … there has to be a good chance. We know from his Burnley days that Gray has talent and goals, and received many rave reviews … including, I believe, player of the year from 442 magazine.
We have a possible exceptional talent in JonJo. I get the impression that he can also handle the pressure … but, of course, we can not look at him alone to be our saviour … it is far too soon and a responsibility he does not need at this stage of his career.

I am not convinced that we are worse off than last season. We may not have brought in expensive new faces as we perhaps would have wanted, but we will hopefully keep ZZ … at least until the January transfer window.

Was my previous post too optimistic? Maybe, but with a good result against Swansea, it could kick off the season.

Are we weaker than last year? … I reserve my judgement … I am not convinced that we are … and we are still only a couple of players short of being in the top-2. If no-one else joins, then we should still have a shout at the play-offs.

Rose-tinted specs? Nope, they are red and white and I believe we have a very interesting season ahead of us … but as to whether the optimists or the pessimists are right … well, that’s all part of the fun isn’t it!

Rise to the Challenge - Asian Dub Foundation

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Wake me up when September ends

OK, the subject line was just an excuse to use the title of a great Green Day song, but by the end of September (well … October 4th actually) we would have played 10 games. Looking back at the table last year after 10 games, the top half of the table gave the impression that we were about to start a healthy season and that our only problem would be catching Watford!

Watford 23
Charlton 19
Albion 17
Bristol City 17
Stoke 17
Barnsley 16
Wolves 15
Coventry 15
Ipswich 14
Plymouth 14
Scunthorpe 14
Burnley 13

So what could happen this season? I can’t be bothered to go through every club’s fixtures, and anyway it’s a waste of time as I will get most of the predictions wrong. Rather try and predict our results … which I am also likely to get wrong, but here goes:

Swansea (H) - could well be a draw, but as Swansea finally lost a friendly on Saturday, and bearing in mind Toshack’s subsequent negative comments, I don’t believe they will make the impression that Scunny did last season. Home Win 3 points

Watford (A) – looks like Watford’s money woes are far worse than expected, and as far as I can recall they have not been that active in the transfer market. They could really suffer this season having had such a crap 2nd half to the season last year. Away Win 3 points

Reading (H) – interesting question, will they be like Charlton the first time we were relegated from the Premier, or like we were last season? Also not been particular active in the transfer market, but should be strong enough to be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. Draw 1 point

Preston (A) – virtually no transfer activity, and would be favourite for many to go down. But they have a reasonable defence and conceded less than us last season. Away Win 3 points

Wolves (H) – I think this one will be tough. Unfortunately I have to miss it as I will be travelling. Wolves are not significant goal-scorers but Chrissy Iwelumo may well turn out to be a great buy for them. Draw 1 point

Doncaster (A) - why is it on a bloody Tuesday !?!?! I was really looking forward to this one, but will be working away. Darren Byfield may be a useful buy for them but we should be able to take the points. Away Win 3 points

Forest (A) – been a while since we played, and I am not optimistic about the result. At this level, Andrew Cole and Robert Earnshaw could prove to be very useful purchases. Home Win 0 points

Sheff Wed (H) – not sure about this one, but they were not that strong last season and are another team that have not been too active in the close season. Home Win 3 points

Palaaarse (A) – what do you expect me to say! Can’t be bothered to look at this rationally, I can only allow one result (and they do have money problems, Bostock and Hudson gone, plus Tangoman looking for a way out). Away Win 3 points

Ipswich (H) – Tough game I believe. For some reason I am not convinced we will win this one. Draw – 1 point

So what’s the total – 10 games, 21 points !!!

Which would put us … 2nd again if we use last season’s table!

I am obviously looking at it far too optimistically as I do not expect us to start this well … it’s actually a fairly tough run of games … but who knows?

At least I have now convinced myself that I am looking forward to the start of the season!

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Just the sort of friendly (or league game) that we love. A trip to the seaside in the sunshine!

We sold out the away end, 900 or so tickets, possibly one of the bigger away attendances we will experience this season … although it would be nice to think it is a sign of things to come.

Day started well, got to Victoria well in time to get the train down to Brighton before midday. Obviously Southern Rail’s cheap ticket policy that groups of 4 can get a ticket for a fiver return paid off dividends as the train was ram-packed on both legs of the journey.

Walked down the hill from the station, looking for somewhere to eat, and chose Wetherspoons as a first stop … big mistake. Crap pub, mediocre pub-grub menu, surly staff … and being told it would take 40 minutes for food to arrive. Couldn’t be bothered to wait so we carried on down the hill and went into Walkabout … always a good option.

Despite the bar being packed with Aussies and Kiwis watching TV, we were served quickly and had our food in the garden at the back within 10 minutes. Coming back into the pub later for a refill, I recognised a few other Addicks in the bar.

Decided to go to for drink nearer the ground and used the free ticket that Brighton provide for the train and bus … train took less than 5 minutes to Preston Park. Then a quite surreal work to the ground … along a winding path through a forest eventually arriving at the Withdean stadium. And, it was very welcome on a very hot day … a pub at the ground! A bloody good pub too, serving an excellent pint of Guinness.

Having cooled down, we went to the away end, and joined the Charlton hordes. Pards got a good welcome when he came out as did the players.

Best way to describe the game is that it was a work-out … not too serious … and that’s the way the fans seemed to take it as well. Not a lot of noise from our end to be honest … although that may have been more to most of us being semi-comatose from the sun and the beer!

The anti-Palaaarse songs from both Charlton and Brighton brought a smile with Brighton insisting that they hated Palaaarse more than us.

Team announcements made it known to us that Weaver was injured and Callum Christie deputised … not a name I know.

Positives …
Shelvey looked ok but we should be careful of over-hype. Also I was concerned to read in the programme that he is being touted as one of the best talents in England and expected to be in the Premiership in a year … hope we haven’t got another Bostock here. Gonna be a strange situation where we want him to do well, but do not want anyone outside Charlton to know !
Youga and Racon did well, and I thought Sam looked good when he came on, as did Dickson who as well as scoring, caused a few problems. Only worry is that near the end, Dickson came off seemingly troubled by a slight limp. Prior to this, Dicko should have earned a penalty but the ref ignored the claim. Basey also looked good.
Wasn’t too impressed with Bougherra and Semedo … although perhaps I am too hard on them as they are two players I like a lot, and expect a lot from them. Varney definitely did not look on-form.

All in all, a good day out, and it looks like we will be invited back to their new ground when it is finished. Something to look forward to!

Team: Christie, Semedo (Moutaouakil 66), Youga, Bougherra (Fortune 54), Hudson, Wagstaff (Sam 54), Racon, Shelvey (Wright 66), Thomas (Basey 54), Varney (Dickson 54), Gray.

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Here we go again!

Belated thanks to Charlton Life for arranging a re-run of the Sunderland play-off game at Bartrams a few weeks ago. Celebrating the 10th anniversary and Sasa was there as well! And it was the first time he had watched the game ... as was obvious because he didn't take his eyes off the screen even when being spoken to. Terrific bloke and good to see him again.

And the even better news ... the fixtures are out ... and it's amazing how much you start looking forward to getting back to the Valley again.

Welling tickets for Wednesday 9th July ... unfortunately midweek again as are a number of good fixtures ... go on sale this week so I'll be getting mine on Friday when I am back from Frankfurt. And then the most eagerly awaited friendly for years, Brighton away on 26th July. I get the impression there are a lot of Charlton going down to this one so hope we get enough tickets.

As to next season, we start with Swansea at home on 9th August so I think we can expect a fairly healthy away following for that one. And first away game is Watford ... we should get a decent support following us to Vicarage Road.

Both the Palaaarse games are mid-week, I assume on the request of the police. It's a pity but if we can get the type of atmosphere that we had at the home evening game last season then it's gonna be very noisy. I just hope we can take as many to the away game as we did last year.

Biggest disappointment for me is Doncaster away on a Tuesday in September. Been looking forward to this one so just my luck that I will be in Vienna that week on business. And Norwich away on 20th December is not the easiest of dates but at least it's a Saturday so I look forward to one of Delia's pies just before Christmas.

QPR at home on Boxing Day should be a good one but the away game is on a Tuesday in November. Seems to be a lot of away games mid-week which is always difficult for me as I normally work in Frankfurt during the week but hopefully I can make most of the better ones.

Both Forest and Blackpool away are on a Saturday, and will be possibles for me. Saturday April 25th will also be a date to be targeted - our last away game of the season and it's at Derby ... promotion game? OK, I shouldn't get carried away after last season ... but that's what it's all about, so why not!

Hope to see a few of you at Park View Road on 9th July ... and in the Guy Earl of Warwick before the game !

C'mon you Reds !!!

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Negative support

For various reasons I have had little opportunity in the last few weeks to attend to my blog.

And, to be honest, there is little I could add to the excellent commentaries that have been provided by numerous other online Charlton fans.

I’m back in Singapore again and had a chance to read a lot of reports on the Wolves game on the flight over on Sunday … and it is amazing how many reported on the negativity of the Charlton crowd. And they are right! I sit in the East Stand, a couple of blocks from the Covered End, and from an early stage in the game, I seem to be surrounded by people booing … and it is not just in the East Stand … the Covered End has a number of such ‘fans’ also.

OK, if you’ve paid your money then I guess you have that choice … but if you don’t like it, then don’t bother coming!!! If this means less season ticket holders next season, then I am all for it. Fair enough, it is down to the team to get their act together … but it doesn’t help when so many ‘fans’ slag them off. Even on the TV coverage you can hear the jeering and boos.

Yes, most of us assumed that this season would be a success and we are pissed off being mid-table. But this is Charlton!!! We have no god-given right to be successful … so many of these supporters are behaving like Spurs fans … we are too good to be where we are … why should we have to play in this division … we are far too good. Well, actually, we aren’t at the moment! So live with it and support the team … grumble if you want, moan if you want, stop going if you want (and I wish some of them would) … but don’t turn the Valley into a negative arena of self-pity. Remember who we are, and where we come from, and what it took for this club to achieve what it has in the last 10 years.

Amazingly, we could still make the play-offs, we could even go up. I don’t think we will, but that won’t stop me and many thousands of others still returning next year. If they can’t make the commitment to back our unique club, then I’d rather they stay away.

There are still many positives this season … we have a great board of directors (and, yes, I know, I’m not blind, they have made big mistakes, but I’d still rather have them than not), we have a great core fan base, and still believe in having a fan on the board. The club believes in looking forward … yes, we have fallen behind from where we wanted to be, but it is still the only club that I want to support.

And there is a lot of promise and potential in the team … Zheng Zhi, Youga, Paddy, Weaver, Moo2, Basey, Semedo, Sodje, etc … they may not all have been as consistent as we would prefer … but they are good players and definitely have the potential to take us up next season.

And if they don’t … well, stuff the doom and gloom lot … this is my team, my Charlton, and I will still return year after year.

C’mon you Reds !!!

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I predict a ... win

Having added a post yesterday, it was interesting to again read my post of 6 February. At that time I predicted optimistically that we would get 15 points from the 7 games after Palaaarse. From a pessimistic viewpoint I predicted 8 points.

In actual fact we only managed to get 6 points !

Oh well, onwards and upwards … I predict a Charlton win tomorrow. For a change, we are the underdogs, and Ipswich are on a poor run. Holland to get a terrific welcome from the home fans and will then set up Ambrose for a stunning goal from outside the area.

Sounds like there are going to be a lot of inflatables and beach balls at Portman Road so let’s hope the team add to the fun atmosphere!

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For the 2nd time since I started this blog there has been a long gap between postings.

This time nothing to do with internet problems but instead a combination of overseas business trips, holiday, and finally a damaged hamstring which meant I have been unable to attend any games for a while.

The last game that I actually managed to attend was Palaaarse at home … thank god I managed to get to that one! No need to remind everyone what happened as it will be in our memories for a long time!!

But how things have changed in the table since then.

After the Palaaarse game it looked like this:

1. Watford 55
2. WBA 54
3. Bristol City 54
4. Stoke 53
5. Charlton 50
6. Ipswich 45

And now …

1. Bristol City 67
2. Stoke 66
3. Watford 63
4. WBA 62
5. Charlton 56
6. Hull 56

Bristol and Stoke have swapped places with WBA and Watford whilst Ipswich have moved down to be replaced by Hull (who thankfully lost last night).

And Charlton … haven’t moved! Which is actually astonishing. I am not sure how we are hanging on bearing in mind that since Palaaarse we have played 7 games. Drawing 3, losing 3 and only winning one game !!!

If I had to miss a block of games it is perhaps fortunate that it has been at this time of the season. In fact I will miss one more, Ipswich away on Saturday … which is a pity as it would have been fun to take a seat on the Charlton Lifers coach. Well, at least my son will be going, his first trip there, and is staying the weekend with a friend who now lives up there.

The interesting thing about the games that I missed is that most of them bring back some good memories of games gone past.

Blackpool away: one of the windiest and coldest games I ever attended. Walking along the front at Blackpool was like walking into a hurricane and no bars or cafes were open on the front. We managed to find an empty bar about 4 or 5 streets back from the front. Arriving at the ground we were amazed to see that we were to be joined by a few dozen Blackburn fans. Their game had been cancelled and because they hated Blackpool they decided to come and support us! I can’t remember if this was the game we lost 2-1 or 5-1 but it was certainly in January and in the mid to late 70’s.

Preston home. A never to be forgotten game for those that were there in 1975. We had a 20,000 plus crowd and knew we would be promoted from the old 3rd division if we won. One nil down at half-time, we came back to win 3-1 with a goal from Bobby Goldthorpe and a double by Killer. Then after the whistle went, the entire Covered End invaded the pitch shouting for Andy Nelson and Killer.

Burnley away. 1977, 4-1 up with 10 minutes to go and we almost contrived to lose with the final score 4-4. Burnley hit the post and bar and it was so nearly a defeat! Also remembered for the amount of fireworks being thrown at us by the Burnley fans.

To all those going to Ipswich on Saturday, have a great time … and hopefully enjoy a win.

I’ll be back at the Valley for the Albion game and cannot wait to get back despite our indifferent form.

C’mon you Reds!!!

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Points Total

Blackheath Addicted recently made a good statistical summary of the points that have been required for promotion over the last few years. This made me wonder how many points we can reasonably achieve. Predicting results obviously depends on the mood you are in … after Stoke optimistic, after Scunny pessimistic.

So I have tried to predict based on both moods!

Palaaarse (H) WIN
Sheff Wed (A) WIN
Watford (H) WIN
Blackpool (A) DRAW
Sheff Utd (A) DRAW
Bristol City (H) WIN
Preston (H) WIN
Burnley (A) DRAW
Ipswich (A) LOSS
West Brom (H) DRAW
Wolves (H) WIN
Plymouth (A) WIN
Southampton (H) WIN
Barnsley (A) WIN
Coventry (H) WIN
Total points: 35

Palaaarse (H) DRAW
Sheff Wed (A) DRAW
Watford (H) DRAW
Blackpool (A) DRAW
Sheff Utd (A) DRAW
Bristol City (H) DRAW
Preston (H) WIN
Burnley (A) LOSS
Ipswich (A) LOSS
West Brom (H) DRAW
Wolves (H) WIN
Plymouth (A) WIN
Southampton (H) WIN
Barnsley (A) DRAW
Coventry (H) DRAW
Total points: 21

So with a current points total of 47, this gives us 82 if I feel good, and 68 if I feel bad. However, I am naturally a positive person so let’s go for 82.

According to Blackheath Addicted, in order to become Champions, the average number of points is 97 and the overall spread 88-105 … so we are going to miss that. For runners-up, the points spread is 86-92 … so still not enough!

The lowest points total for getting sixth place is 73 and the highest 76 so this puts us somewhere in the playoffs.

In view of the tightness of this division, I believe that the amassed points total for most teams will be lower than previous seasons … and that 83/84 points may be enough for runners-up spot ... which means that I am going to have to find an extra couple of points for my optimistic prediction ... in which case, I will now go for a win at Blackpool … there you go, runners-up spot in the bag!

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Flat Iron

Right, let’s start on the positives shall we?

Excellent journey up there, on the coach at Bexleyheath at 8.00am and in the pub by Scunthorpe’s ground at 12.45 … and that included a 40 minute stop at Leicester service station.

Good pub and stayed for 3 pints of a very decent Guinness. And it made a refreshing change to be allowed in a pub full of both sets of supporters, colours on both sides openly shown, and not a hint of trouble!

On to the ground and one of the best bacon rolls I have ever had … at least 5 rashers of hot bacon in a very nice bap. All for 2 quid! Charlton caterers, take note. If Scunny can do it, why can’t you? The bacon rolls at Charlton are normally lukewarm (if you are lucky), include scarcely any bacon, and cost more!

Lots of Charlton in the ground. We were in the right hand side of the stand, which seemed to be full of singers and we did not stop singing for most of the game. Helped the atmosphere in that the section next to us had a few Scunny ‘hard-men’ dressed in their Stone Island and Burberry and were the brunt of a number of songs.

So what else was good? Oh yeah, the journey home … in the coach at 5.15 and back to my house at 9.20 … a great run which still managed a service station stop on the way back. What was it with the roads yesterday … no traffic and no road-works … why can’t it always be like this.

So, there you go, a summary of the day. What do you mean, you thought I was going to a football game? Actually I thought I was too but the rubbish dished up in the ground yesterday had little resemblance to football, and was a total reverse of the way we have played over the last few games.

Scunny had little more than one shot on goal but still managed to score, albeit due to an uncharacteristic cock-up by Yassin. They played the last 20 minutes with 10 men which was still too powerful for an underperforming Charlton side.

I don’t think anyone particularly impressed so it is probably unfair to pick on anyone, but I will anyway!

Ambrose had a woeful game, but the worst of it has to be his corners. He took 6 or 7 and not one managed to clear the first defender!!! Come on Dazza, this is basic football!

And I will also criticise my current favourite … ZZ seemed to have half, if not all, of his mind on the China game this week. Has to be his weakest game yet, and I hope this doesn’t happen again when he has a China game on the horizon.

Overall, this was a crap day … we could have gone within 2 points of automatic promotion and blew it again.

Palaaarse on Friday? It’s always been a must-win game for so many reasons, but the 3 points are now essential to keep us on track. Other blogs have done the maths and looked at past statistics … it is clear that we need to average 2 points a game for automatic promotion. Well, with yesterday’s result that now means we have to win the next 2 games.

Check out Blackheath Addicted for ratings and a good report, All Quiet in the East Stand who sounds as pissed off as me, and Pedro45 who must have been sitting almost next to me judging by the picture in his report.

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Stoke via SMS

Being in Frankfurt I had to rely on my son to send me text messages from the ground.

Me: C’mon you Reds!

Me: 3-2, ZZ to score first and Gray double.

Son: I’ve just done Zhi to score first and us to win 2-1

Son: 0-0 half-time. Stoke haven’t had a shot on goal. We’ve had about 6 chances.

Me: Good but worrying. Gray and Varney playing?

Son: Gray and Iwelumo

Me: Wrong!!!

Son: Varney just come on for Iwelumo

Me: Good

Son: Sam scored!

Me: Yehhhh, c’mon reds!

Son: Won 1-0. Holland and Moo2 were amazing. Stoke dirtiest team ever seen and only got one booking. West Brom lost. Watford drew. Awesome.

Me: Fantastic, bring on Scunny! The season is turning around.

Son: It sure is. I’ve completely lost my voice. Well up for Scunny. Gray looks pretty decent.

I cannot wait until Saturday, should be a great day at Scunthorpe and hopefully there will be a lot of us there. Call me optimistic, but I am getting good feelings about this season!

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Missed games

I will be back in Frankfurt on Monday so will miss the Stoke game ... typical when it looks like it will be a good night. Once again, will have to rely on text updates from the ground from my son. Although last time that happened we beat Stockport 4-3 ... and I predicted the score correctly. So this time I'm going for 3-2 to Charlton!

Will be back on Friday 1st Feb and going to Scunny the next day ... this is one I have been looking forward to all season. New ground and with our away form, we have a good chance of victory.

Back to Frankfurt again the following Monday but have made sure that I return on Thursday 7th Feb ... I am NOT going to be late for the Palaaarse game!!!

Hopefully it will be the result we need as I have to fly to Singapore on business the next day and that's a long way to travel when you are pissed off. I arrive in Singapore on the Sunday night, run a workshop all day Monday, fly back Monday night and arrive in London early on Tuesday ... and then go on holiday to the Canaries the next day for 2 weeks deserved rest!

It means I miss the Watford home game but I am hopeful that I can find a bar over there that will show the game ... if anyone knows of such a possibility let me know.

A lot of good games coming up ... we should know by the end of February whether we are going for a playoff place or automatic promotion. I'm still optimistic!

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Day the music died

EMI to slash jobs and change the business model.

This has me worried. Actually, no it doesn’t … it completely pees me off. New music is the lifeblood of the medium. Without it, music will die.

And yet the new owners of EMI seem determined to take a short-term approach to the business and destroy any chance that new acts have of breaking through. Short-termism will not work … however many big acts they have on their books, they will need new music to take them through to the medium and long-term.

They certainly understand business and how to make money … but do they understand music?

My work is Product Management, so I know as much as anyone that when a business needs to be changed it has to be either streamlined, re-vitalised, or innovated … but NOT without taking your eye away from the medium term. Short-term solutions have only short-term effects.

I do agree with one of their announcements which is to end huge advances paid to certain artists … this is as obscene as the amount of money that footballers can earn and makes sense. They even intimate that perhaps some acts could be paid salaries or daily rates whilst they work on their new material … I’m not saying this will work but it’s an innovative idea and deserves consideration.

I also like their idea of limiting some bands to single track downloads over the internet rather than trying to force whole albums out of possible one or two hit wonders.

But certain comments from the new owner worry me, e.g. ‘we need to be selective who we provide a service to’.

Does this mean that new bands will not get a look in until they have somehow proved themselves, a impossible Catch-22 situation?

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Tangerine Dream

Well, that was rather good wasn't it. Nice to leave the Valley with a smile our face!

Entertaining and attacking football, with an improved atmosphere in the ground. I suggested on Thursday that we were perhaps in for a lively performance with Moo2, ZZ and Youga and so it proved. There were times during the game that we had so much possession that Blackpool couldn't get near us.

Blackpool were not the best team we have faced this season but to be fair we have seen worse, and the fact is they were on a good run of form. With the games we have coming up in the next few weeks, this was just the right time to put in a real team performance.

ZZ was my man of the match and showed his premiership qualities ... he seemed to be cloned as he was so many places and in the thick of everything. If his English was better, he may well be our captain!

On the OS, Pards rightfully thanks the fans for the noise. He also makes some relevant points on the coming weeks: "Once we go to Watford next weekend, we'll have played the top six away from home,” he said. "Then they've all got to come here, so we are not in too bad a position if we can keep this sort of form and this sort of atmosphere going. We are going to go close.” Just the right time to turn around our home performances!

Sunderland started their run this time last year, and perhaps we can give the push to get ourselves back in an automatic promotion slot.

As mentioned above, ZZ was my man of the match, but on another occasion it could well have been Kelly Youga who put in a strong and confident display. Why did we let him stay at Scunthorpe for so long?

Yassin had a great game and is turning into a very exciting attacking defender. Paddy and Boogie also put in good displays. Lloyd Sam had a very quiet game, but didn't actually do anything wrong ... I am sure that by normal his standards he will be unhappy.

Holland put in a great captain's performance and was unlucky not to score.

I don't want to nit-pick on the game yesterday, but if there is a downside, it is Ambrose. Stop being enigmatic and start being consistent!!!

We guessed that Big Chris would not start yesterday and so it proved ... Varney and Izzy up-front instead. And didn't it make a difference! No long balls right down the pitch ... ball played to feet and very exciting it was at times too!

Varney looked very good up-front and may have had more on another day ... started to show why he had previously been rated so highly. Izzy also could have scored, but I still need convincing about him. Dickson came on to great applause from the crowd and, as with the Albion game, came close. He is certainly a confident character, mentioning in the press today that he expects to get 20 goals for Charlton!

One annoyance from me ... Jerome, stop trying to get into the showboat section of SoccerAM every week - that back-heel was pathetic and could have caused problems.

Oh ... and I cannot stop without mentioning the referee. I have continually castigated refs on here, so let's give credit where it is due. An excellent performance from Mr. Singh allowing the game to flow yet being authoritative whenever needed. Can you ref us every week!

Elsewhere, a good report from Blackheathaddicted as always, and we have similar thoughts on the players. Good reports also from Wyn Grant and CharltonNorthDowns.

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Scunthorpe Away

Got 2 tickets today for myself and my son. Nice to see the online ordering system working efficiently (although it was not up until after 10.00). I had tried to phone but it appears that I cannot use the 0871 number from my overseas office!

I'm looking forward to this game as it will be the first time I have visited Scunthorpe. Last visit was at their old ground back in 1973 which I missed.

Hopefully a lot of Charlton will be getting tickets for this one ... at the start of the season, it was certainly a game in which many showed interest.

I was also hoping to get to the Blackpool game later in February but will now be away. Hopefully for those who are going, it will be better than the time I last went quite a number of years ago. One of the coldest days I can remember with gale-force icy winds. Most of the shops and bars were shut and the ground was rubbish. Interestingly a group of Blackburn fans turned up as their game had been postponed and proceeded to support Charlton ... at that time I didn't realise that they disliked each other so much.

As for Blackpool at home this weekend, I feel rather optimistic ... at least I did until I read Iberian Valley. The stats do not make good reading!

According to the OS, Blackpool new signing Stephen McPhee may be playing and, if so, it will already be the third time he has faced us this season having scored for Hull in October.

Up-front I have a feeling that Big Chris will be on the bench for this game with Varney and McLeod or Dickson replacing him in a 2-man attack.

Moo2, Youga and ZZ should give us a lively presence and it is only to be hoped that we can overturn the recent doldrums at the Valley. A return to the form displayed in the first half against Ipswich would be ideal!

Check out Blackpool Mad for a review of a game in 1952 that ended up 8-4 to Blackpool (although Sam Bartram wasn't playing!). And no ... I wasn't there ... I'm not quite that old!

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4-5-1 ... at home ... to the team that is bottom ... and as far as I am aware have not won in about 14 games.

Pards ... change the tactics ... it ain't working! And before he loses his recent confident scoring touch, try Dickson. He may end up being as ineffectual as some of our other strikers but at least give him a go before he gets disillusioned.

Having read a number of blogs today, there's no point in my repeating the comments. Suffice to say, most agree how bad we were ... although Blackheath Addicted has a different perspective to most ... maybe he is right , but it's difficult to feel that way this morning.

For other good reports check out Wyn Grant (I fully agree with his final match analysis), Inspector Sands (very good points about a number of the fans at the Valley ... also being in the East Stand, I can confirm he is absolutely right ... there are fans around me who seem to go not to support, but to complain!), Frankie Valley (always entertaining and pertinent), Drinking during the Game (entirely right about the formation), Pedro (same old, same old ... yup!), and Chicago Addick (he wasn't there but felt it just as much!).

Where do we go from here? Well, from a cup perspective, it doesn't look good with the Baggies coming to town ... but perhaps trying out a few new players (Dickson, Youga ?) may bring us some good cheer.

More importantly, what about the League? We are apparently in our 'easy' run of games at the moment. Mid-January onwards looks tougher with Watford (twice), Stoke, Palaarse, Bristol City, Burnley, Ipswich and Albion.

If previous seasons are anything to go by, the transfer window will be critical in deciding who can move onward and upward. Albion look a good bet for the top spot, but it is no foregone conclusion with 2 other teams on the same points. Despite some abject displays we are still very much in there. Contrary to my pre-season confidence, I'm not convinced that we will make an automatic spot (but hopefully will be proved wrong), but play-offs should definitely be attainable ... this is not a particularly good division.

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