31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

That's it, really. Especially if you've had a tough time this year, I hope next year will be better. My only advice and resolution is that no-one should waste their money on mediocre cheese. Eat less but better. Bonne année á toutes et á tous!

30 December 2013

Charlton 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

The most unpopular man at the Valley yesterday was, bizarrely, not the assistant referee who failed to notice that Wednesday's goal was blatantly offside, but his colleague, the fourth official, when he indicated there would be one minute of extra time at the end of the first half. Even one more minute of that was more than most people could stand. There should be a rule where time can be reduced if the quality of play has failed to reach an acceptable level. After 30 minutes, the referee should have called a halt, forced both managers to give a public apology and promise a better display in the second half. I've never been a big drug user but if there had been a shady looking hippy near me, I'd have killed and eaten him to get the benefit of any mind-altering substances circulating in his blood.

The second half was better, in the way that Eastenders is better than Hollyoaks. A quick goal for Charlton, a quick reply for Wednesday, and a bizarre communal decision by Charlton to defend the draw rather than go for a win. I'd like to say the game petered out, but it had never really petered in.

The draw extended Charlton's unbeaten run to three games. Joyful news but no-one seemed happy except the shady looking hippy I saw at Charlton Station on the way home. He was blissful and surprisingly chewy.

01 December 2013

Charlton 0 Ipswich 1

If I can get a grant for it, I'm going to do a PhD in Charlton studies. I'll call it Directionality and Deviance, because that sounds quite sexy, but in reality it will look at (interrogate, as we say in academia) the way in which the toss-winning team chooses which goal to attack first.

My first point of enquiry will be to establish whether everyone else feels, as does the writer, unease (existential aporia) when the game starts with Charlton attacking the north end (which I shall call premature septentrionality). It's not normal, and such deviance hits me with the transgressive force of a deep taboo being broken: like incest, cannibalism, or asking Alan Shearer to speak.

The standard approach, that of attacking the north end in the second half (orthodox meridionality), suggests that the home crowd's support is more useful (materially productive) when situated behind the other team's goal (the object of teleological desire), and thus can facilitate a secondary resurgence, or comeback in the second half .

Picture from WikipediaThis should apply equally to both teams, of course, and so for either team to fail to follow the orthodox meridionality is an act of violent challenge to the hegemonous ludic ideology.

As regular readers know, though, I'm a dullard when it comes to football tactics, so it's fortunate I'll never get that grant. But even I could see exactly what Ipswich's game-plan was: to start fast and furious, hope to get an early goal in front of their support, then see out the rest of the game by snuffing out any attacking threat by the home team. It worked out perfectly, only slightly delayed by Ben Alnwick's three excellent saves in the first four minutes. But then came the fifth minute and, I think, already Ipswich's fifth corner, and the goal. Go home, we might as well have gone home.

Charlton didn't recover from that five minutes' battering. Though they weren't as bad as some people have suggested, virtually everyone looked off their best. Ipswich had done the research, and knew how to stop Cameron Stewart, for example, causing any damage. He'll have learned a lot from the game, I think, as he had to keep trying something new, but wasn't able to find an answer in the 90 minutes. He'll be a better player when he goes back than he was when he arrived on loan. You owe us something, Steve Bruce.

And you, Mick McCarthy, I am aware I've called you a deviant, but I mean it in a nice way. Please don't sue me.