31 January 2012

San Roque de Lepe: DON'T PANIC

The players themselves broke the news but now it's official: Ruben Bover and Tosan Popo are going on loan to Spanish side San Roque de Lepe. So I thought I'd look at the club's website and found this story.

To summarise as well as my Spanish can manage: the club is denying rumours that its owners intend to abandon the club at the end of the season, much less right now. Reassuringly, they say it has never been the club's intention not to pay its players or any other employees. Indeed it has paid the "gran mayoria" (great majority) of salaries due.

But financial problems have forced a number of decisions which might not be popular, but which are necessary for the future of the club.

"We are pleased to announce that we are close to agreeing a long term strategic plan, forming alliances with many businesses and other football clubs from around the world, which will ensure the stability and success of the club."

I've also found this story, which says that the club is managed by English (which might mean British) investors, who have put the whole playing squad up for sale (this is presumably the "might be unpopular" decision), and who are trying to reduce the squad cost to 200,000 euros. The investors are described as former Chelsea directors.

It doesn't sound like a happy place, but I hope our boys will be OK there.

21 January 2012

Charlton 1 Sheffield Utd 0

Let's just look at this for a moment. Huddersfield are still playing as I type this, and have just taken the lead, so they could move up to second, but they'd still be 7 points behind and still have played one more match than Charlton. We've seen several teams have a crack at challenging Charlton, and any of those top 5 could have had their moment this season, but Charlton have just been so consistent that they've established this impressive lead without anyone outside SE7 noticing.

"Charlton" and "consistent": not two words you have expected to find together for a good few years. As the season goes on, it becomes more obvious how important the role of the defence is. The two fullbacks must be the best in the division, and could easily hold their own in the Championship. In the middle, Morrison and Taylor are rock-like. Only Man City have now conceded fewer goals this season. We've seen Charlton in full flood at times this season when you believe they can beat anybody, and we've also seen edgy performances, when goals are scarce but one is all they need. The strength in defence means the team can ride out the dodgy periods, like Bradley Wright-Phillips' recent barren patch. The first few months of the season was built on his goals. I feel desperate for him to get scoring again, but look! it doesn't matter to results or position in the table if he doesn't. Or look at today, when our goalkeeper had a bit of a mad day, but the defence took care of him.

Sheffield Utd were the best team to come to the Valley this season, and they came on a good run of results. You could see the quality in the team from the start: intelligent running and passing, a good understanding between the players.

But they didn't really look sharp in attack, and after Johnnie Jackson's goal - a sweetly hit free kick from about 25 yards into the top left corner - they were less impressive in the first half.

The second half saw them throwing everything at Charlton, and it was a gripping, sometimes hard to watch match. Charlton's midfield didn't seem to be working quite as well as usual, and Utd must have had a huge majority of possession. But that defence soaked it up, and all but 2,694 of a huge crowd for this division (20,000 +) were ecstatic with the result. Like last week's 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday, it properly proves Charlton are where they are because they deserve to be.

I can't end this post on such a positive note. So must mention that today's referee, Mr Deadman, had a shocker. But what the heck! Even that can't spoil the fun. 

Why not read the Charlton website review?

03 January 2012

Charlton 2 Brentford 0

This game was delayed for 15 minutes after a power failure in the upper north stand. Details are in the first link below and Al Gordon's blog gives some comments on his experience. For me, in my usual seat in the old geezer section, it was good to have a drummer and some chanting for a change. But I think the breaking-up of the covered end choir contributed to an odd atmosphere around the ground, particularly in the first half.

Apparently, in his post-match press conference Brentford's manager, Uwe Rosler, said he thought his team played better and deserved to win. If that's really true, if the team deserved to win but still managed to lose 2-0, that's shocking. That's worse that admitting they weren't quite good enough, which I think was a truer summary.

In the first half Brentford really did look better than Charlton. They had a much better understanding among themselves. It reminded me of how Charlton played earlier this season when the team was unchanged for match after match, and the telepathy grew. There hasn't quite been that understanding in recent games, and the performances have been a bit disjointed as a result.

So when Michael Morrison scored one of the streakiest goals you'll ever see on the half hour, it was arguably against the run of play. But on the other hand, despite having 5 corners to Charlton's 0 in the half, Brentford had never looked like scoring. A team that doesn't score will never win, Uwe. (This is one of the basic rules of the game.)

Charlton were much better in the second half, and a very-much-welcomed-back Johnnie Jackson was unlucky not to score. But it took until the last minute for the clinching goal to come: a well-executed effort by Danny Green, which he could easily have messed up.

So not a vintage performance, but the new year is underway with Charlton 5 points clear at the top. Next week there's the welcome diversion of a trip to Fulham in the Cup, a game where, in a sense, they can't lose. Of course, in another sense, the everyday sense, they probably will. But here's my dream: we win, preferably with an own-goal or two by Danny Murphy, and draw Arsenal at home in the next round, and the best player I've ever seen live - Thierry Henry - comes back to the Valley one last time.

Other views
Details of the power failure
Club's website review
Al Gordon's blog
Kevin Nolan