29 September 2012

Charlton 1 Blackburn 1

I haven't blogged many games this season. I didn't want to be dishonest but at the same time I didn't want to be negative. I was unsure whether the team was actually good enough to survive in the second tier, but hoped things would get better. In particular, the midfield looked outpaced a lot of the time, and that's something you can't easily put right.

But this evening I'm feeling much better. Charlton undoubtedly deserved at least the draw against a Blackburn team that's packed with well-known players, who were mainly in the premiership last season. Their performance must have dented their fans' joy at the departure of Steve Kean last night, and maybe they will realise it wasn't all his fault. Please, football gods, let Iain Dowie get the job, so they can see what a bad manager really looks like.

Of course, you can't expect things to turn around so quickly, but I think it was generally believed that Blackburn's players always supported Kean. Certainly there was no sign that they were happy he'd gone: they didn't play with any kind of flair or creative freedom. Fundamentally, I suspect, they're not a very good squad, with some players living off their reputations. Jordan Rhodes, who cost 8 million, was once again invisible; Michael Morrison really knows how to exclude him from a game.

Danny Murphy was booed by a section of the crowd. This is disgraceful. Everybody should have joined in.

And Charlton played the best I've seen them this season. This was a shock, given the line-up. Ricardo Fuller was a late loss, with a virus, and so BWP was playing alone up-front. Not his natural role, and too much of the play seemed to assume there was a tall man in a red shirt standing near him.

But it meant there were five in midfield, and they largely dominated the game, certainly after Blackburn's goal on 15 minutes. This was the result of a very skillful passage of play, and I feared the worst. Perhaps Blackburn really did have classy players. But the goal seemed to be the limit of their ambition, and all the creative play from then on was from Charlton. Everyone was playing well but special mentions to Salim Kerkar, who got better and better as the game went on, and to Danny Hollands, playing some very intelligent balls in the centre.

An action-packed afternoon for Johnnie Jackson, too. Looking better than he has so far this season, he missed a penalty, but scored the equaliser about a minute later, and only lasted 7 minutes of the second half before an injury saw him replaced by Bradley Pritchard, who fitted in perfectly, another player raising his game.

Charlton had chances; Blackburn didn't and were obviously happier with their one point than Charlton were. Charlton should have won, probably, but with only one striker it was always going to be difficult. The only dilemma now is whether Chris Powell should play five in midfield again: is the security that formation gives worth the price of losing goal-scoring opportunities? We'll probably find out on Tuesday, a game I'm really looking forward to.

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