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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