22 February 2012

Charlton 1 Rochdale 1

"They want it more than we do." How often do you hear that as an explanation for for a dodgy performance on the pitch. It's not only patronising to the opposition (we'll be calling them "plucky" next) it seems to me to underestimate the natural competitiveness of the players. I'm pretty sure you can't make it as a professional footballer without being fiercely competitive from the age of about 5. All footballers - probably all successful sports people - hate losing. And they hate it when they know they're not playing as well as they should.

Look, what I'm trying to say here is that they don't need to be booed. It doesn't help, and one day it might mean that a player thinks "Oh, fuck it, I'm just going to coast along for this game and for the rest of my career, I might as well."

Charlton didn't play well last night, particularly in the first half. You can identify some reasons, and I'd select the absence of Chris Solly as one. Rhoys Wiggins is a superb left-back but he looked uncomfortable on the right, particularly when going forward. And Johnnie Jackson is always missed when he's out, as much for his spirit as for his play.

But a lot of players just had a bad day. Tranmere Rochdale wouldn't have scored without an awful mix-up that gave them the ball just inside their own half with nearly all the Charlton team committed up front. Their goal, predictably, brought out the best in Charlton, and a quick reply, with Kermorgant a superb replacement for Jackson as free-kick taker. But nothing more came of the increased effort. Silly little mistakes meant the ball kept being lost. There were a few half-chances, but no spark of magic to get through Tranmere Rochdale's surprisingly competent (given their league position) defence.

Bad days happen to good teams. The man next to me was a simmering pot of annoyance, his arms folded tighter across his chest as the game went on. On a colder night, people could have gathered around him for warmth. I didn't think Charlton were as bad as he did, but even he kept his mouth shut at the final whistle. Some didn't, and Kermorgant was visibly shocked and disgusted to hear a few idiots booing in the north stand. In many ways he's my favourite player in the team at the moment for his unstinting and unselfish effort. He, above all, does not deserve that.

Charlton match report


Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments on Kermorgant. He worked incredibly hard last night and was the only one of the forward players to offer some movement when we had the ball. In my opinion, however, we are becoming too predictable and dependent on his flick-ons for BWP. More imagination (and better passing) from midfield is the main requirement, at present.

Anonymous said...

Er Rochdale!

Brian said...

Oops. Thanks, Anon2. It's all generic north to me!