20 August 2014

Charlton 3 Derby 2

After a thrilling night at the Valley, take a look at these stats (from the BBC, so I apologise for the obvious liberal, feminist bias oozing from them. I just hope it doesn't infect me with its blatant pc agenda.)

Sixty-three percent of possession controlled by the visitors should make any particularly clued-up person consider that poor Charlton were pummelled cruelly. And there were times when Derby looked perfectly capable of doing so. For long periods they were persistently camped just ahead of Charlton's defensive line, which came perilously close to positional collapse. Derby were perfectly competent, but Charlton - it turned out - with their patient cat-and-mouse strategy showed pure class. What a preposterous conclusion! So many pre-contest predictions confounded! What a feeling of pure contentment!

[piece concludes]

17 August 2014

Charlton 2 Wigan 1

The first home game of the Championship campaign and, with all due respect to Colchester, the first chance to see what Charlton could do against one of the stronger teams they'll meet.

Wigan started brightly, and, in truth, Jordan Cousins' opening goal was against the run of play. After 8 minutes he found space on the left, Gudmundsson found him with a precsion pass and Cousins shifted the ball onto his right foot and shot into the top right corner to open the scoring.

It was a classy goal, almost equalled by Wigan's reply within 10 minutes. Mcmanaman timed his run to beat Wiggins and finished coolly. Wigan remained dominant for the rest of the half, with Charlton occasionally looking threatening, but neither side was really looking like scoring again.

In the second half the game got more ragged. Charlton perhaps had more fight about them, while Wigan looked more organised, more used to playing as a team, but bizarrely uninterested in scoring a goal. And as the end of the game drew nearer, it was Charlton's willpower that looked more likely to prevail. A succession of decent chances didn't quite fall right, but in about the third minute of added time Moussa's shot was wickedly deflected past a helpless Scott Carson. The remaining few minutes of extra time lasted about a year but with hindsight were comfortable.

So, what do we make of the new team? All but one of the new players had a good afternoon. In a won't-last spirit of positivity I won't name the one who didn't. And I won't be as harsh as someone on twitter who reckoned "he should have shot himself" on a few occasions. Come now, he maybe just needs time to settle. Tal Ben Haim was much better than I expected from pre-season reports, and while Stephen Henderson looks generally fine, I have to agree with comments I've read about his distribution. On the whole, though, it looks like the squad has actually been strengthened.

Biggest impression for me, though, was made by Bob Peeters. Uwe Rosler is one of the least likeable figures in football - if the standard unit of unpleasantness is a Dickov*, he weighs in at 920 millidickovs - so anyone who's prepared to take him on is OK with me.

*(I've checked, and it is.)

09 August 2014

Under new management

Just up the road from me is a pub that has stood empty for about a year after the previous manager had a disastrous fallout with the pubco that owns it. This week, though, the pub is going to reopen after a huge amount of work. The owner claims to have spent £400,000 on the place, which is believable, given the look of the building. It looks terrific, and promises to be a great place to visit, selling good beer and offering decent meals. A whole new set of staff has been recruited and they've been getting training over the last few days. It should be a great pub, but until it opens - indeed, until it's been open for a while - no-one can be sure of that.

In other news, the football season starts today. Roland Duchatelet has had a very good summer. Far from being the asset-stripper some of us feared, he's put a lot of money into the club. There's a pitch to be proud of, some much-needed refurbishment of the stands and some interesting and - by Charlton's recent standards - expensive player recruitment. We haven't seen this level of investment in the squad since the Dowie/Pardew years. And look how that turned out ...

It might be fine. Charlton may now have a manager and a squad that can, at least, easily survive and maybe do better than that. But it's very uncertain. Few of the new players have any experience at this level; the manager, as manager, has none. And while I'm now happy about Duchatelet's good intentions, I can't help but look back at the player deals he made in January. They were, mostly, wildly misjudged and contributed to a wholly avoidable relegation scare. He and his advisers clearly didn't then have an adequate understanding of the Championship. Has their judgement improved since then?

We get the first hint of an answer this afternoon. I'd expect Brentford to be strong and supremely well-motivated, and if Charlton get a point, it will be a good result. Maybe we'll get a better idea from Tuesday's game: if Charlton get a win in the League Cup against lower-division opposition we'll know that things really have changed.

If not, you can find me in the pub.