29 September 2014

Charlton 0 Middlesbrough 0

My thoughts turned to valleyology as I saw the squad selection. Only one striker in the starting team. That should do something about the lack of goals. And a 17 year old on the bench. While it's good that he gets a taste of the first-team experience, was it a message from Peeters to Duchatelet? Anyway, I didn't expect a thrilling first half and in that sense I wasn't disappointed.

I'm so glad I don't even attempt to write proper match reports. I'd have had to pay attention during an increasingly lacklustre half, which silenced even the noisy travelling supporters. Instead I was able to contemplate deeper matters. Why do some men call their muscly upper-arms their "guns"?  How pathetic and twisted is that? Why is there not another o in Middlesb[o]rough? What do you call it when a woman tells you - patiently and perhaps patronisingly - what "mansplaining" is? Middlesbrough will always be linked in my mind with defensive play and 0-0 draws, and although they were soundly out-defensived by Charlton, they didn't really look interested. Perhaps it was that league cup marathon in midweek.

When these teams met two years ago I wrote a tricksy, irritating, timey-wimey piece, which even I don't understand anymore. I do apologise but Saturday's match was another game played backwards. Charlton got their second-half slump out of the way before halftime, and actually got livelier as the game went on, partly due to some rather late but smart substitutions, partly due to a crowd that clearly decided a win was possible, and lastly due to a sending off with ten minutes to go.

There weren't many good chances, but the few there were could justifiably have got all three points. So it was an odd feeling. A reminder that this team can attack the goal, even in the second half, and probably should try it more often. Incisive analysis as usual. You're welcome.

17 September 2014

Charlton 1 Wolves 1

I wasn't really paying attention at half-time, when an unfortunate case of banter broke out on the pitch. A dumpy-looking old man in a t-shirt, who seemed to enjoy his own jokes, had a bucket of water poured over him, then made a sexist comment. All the clues were there, but I still didn't recognise him until a scattering of outraged tweets filled my timeline. It was like a calamitous transfer window: we've given away Diego Poyet, but for some reason we've kept Jim Davidson.

I still miss Diego, and these comments by Bob Peeters don't convince me otherwise. As I said in my last blatherings I don't think Buyens, for all his abilities, has got the level of fitness to get through 90 minutes at his best, unlike Poyet, who tended to become more noticeable as games went on and those around him tired. I am surprised Buyens hasn't ever been subbed off, but then I look at who's on the bench and it makes more sense. There doesn't seem to be anyone there who can come on and make an impact, and that's a result of the thinness of the squad.

But it's a lucky team - well deserved after so much bad luck last year - and the luckiest man of all is Tal Ben Haim. He's survived two pretty blatant penalty appeals and last night was almost punished for a terrible bit of play, with only the paint on the left goalpost and the way the grass in front of the goal lies saving him. Sooner or later, though ...

A draw was the least Wolves deserved. They fully showed why they've had such an impressive start to the season: they're quick and well-organised. A series of corners in the first half all looked dangerous but were well defended. When Charlton got their first corner, the last thing anyone expected was that it would lead to astounding acrobatics by Bikey, but that's what happened. Wolves weren't daunted, although if Tucudean had scored one or more of his chances, perhaps things would have been different.

The second half was dominated by Wolves. Their equaliser came from another corner, not one of their best, to be honest, but it set up an exciting end to the game where either side could have scored, but - obviously - no-one did. Bulot made a debut appearance as substitute for Lawrie Wilson, but it's too early to tell how good he is. The bloke behind me (we've all got one) grumbled at the end "two points lost". Really, bloke?

Some other views:
Chris Powell's Flat Cap
Charlton Casualty
The CAFC report

14 September 2014

Charlton 1 Watford 0

In the most unlikely way, Charlton kept the first clean sheet of the season, and extended their unbeaten start in the league to six games. A heroic defensive performance through a second half of about 55 minutes kept all 3 points and put Charlton into fifth place in the table, only one point off the top. Amazing. I haven't got much to add to (for example) the excellent blogs from Hungry Ted, Chris Powell's Flat Cap, Charlton Casualty, Chicago Addick and the report on the club's website. I'm sure there are more, so apologies to any I've misssed.

One thing that I might just be imagining, though, is that Charlton's pace of play always seems to slow down as the game goes on. In the first half yesterday Vetokele was constantly drawing fouls from the ever-willing-to-oblige Watford defenders with the speed of his turns into space: less so in the second half. And Yoni Buyens - although obviously a huge asset to the team - always looks sharper and more creative in the first half.

Maybe it's true what people say about English football being different: faster and furiouser than the game on the continent, and maybe some of the new players haven't quite adapted to that yet. What that means of course is that the team still has room for improvement, and can and probably will play better.