28 December 2015

Charlton 0 Wolves 2

A terrible first half (once again) suggested Wolves manager Careful Kenny Jackett hadn't done his research. His team looked tentative and nervous, not bothering to do much attacking. Charlton didn't do much attacking either, but it wasn't for lack of trying, having four forwards on the pitch. Pay attention, Big  Ken! A bit more enterprise and you could have had the game sewn up by half time.

On the other hand, his assumption that he could allow Charlton all the possession in the world without risk was bang on. Those four forwards managed two shots on goal in the whole game. OK, three if we count Makienok's sporting return of the ball to the Wolves keeper after the most entertaining incident of the first half: the accidental demolition of a referee. When Makienok collides with you, large hadrons are produced, and Keith Hill was replaced for the second half, presumably on fears of concussion.

At half time, I can only imagine Crafty Ken pointed out to his team that their opposition was vulnerable. They played with more purpose and inevitably ... well, you've read the headline, you know the score.

Briefly, goaded by the boos after the first goal, Charlton played with a bit more commitment, but it all came to nothing, and the best football followed Wolves' second goal, when the visitors actually put together some quite pretty moves. Or maybe I was hallucinating, dehyrated, by then.

I'm going to say one nice thing about Karel Fraeye. At the end he left the pitch before the team, drawing the boos the performance deserved, with the result that the fans, those who were left, could give the team sympathetic, rather than appreciative, applause.

But that's it. There's nothing else good about him. He's totally out of his depth and at any other club would have been sacked by now. Presumably he's very cheap, which is why he got and keeps the job. A false economy compared to the financial cliff-edge that relegation will be.

The proudest moment was when the majority of the home support stood up for chant "Stand up if you want them out". These are the little victories we can cherish these days.

16 December 2015

Charlton 2 Bolton 2

In this clash of the overpaid v the unpaid there should only have been one winner. Bolton, along with Blackpool, have been a team whose plight lets us think things could be worse.

Indeed they could. Charlton's only ability this season is to make things worse, sometimes twice in one week.

It looked fine for 20 minutes. An easy goal after 26 seconds, followed by a really good goal, put Charlton into a lead that any competent team would have found it impossible to relinquish.

Charlton relinquished it.

Bolton were terrible, but they weren't the most terrible team on the pitch. Charlton - two nil up against the basket case of the division - started wasting time after 20 minutes. The defence looked nervous and fragile whenever Bolton had possession, while the midfield and attack seemed to think its work was done after that encouraging start.

Bolton's players could sense the weakness, and far from giving up, raised their game. It was rarely above the merely competent but that was all that was needed. Their first goal came out of nothing: a hopeful cross from the left finding Emile Heskey unmarked and unhindered. He's been playing professional football for 46 years: he doesn't miss chances like that. The second goal was the inevitable result of the defence's inability to clear the ball cleanly. Sooner or later, we all knew, it had to happen. That it happened shortly before half-time destroyed any hope of a fightback.

Some bizarre substitutions in the second half couldn't add anything, and the game came to resemble Saturday's match: two poor teams clumsily lumping out something that only occasionally looked like football.

The booing at the end was muted. Most of the crowd had already left. In fact, most of the crowd hadn't turned up. Official figure was 12,294, but it's well known that a lot of season ticket holders aren't bothering any more, so the real figure would be about 8,000 or, to put it another way, roughly 20,000 empty seats. Even with the phantoms included, it was the lowest attendance for a league game at the Valley since March 1998.

And the club still, six weeks after the sacking of Guy Luzon, has an Interim Head Coach. We all suspect that the club is waiting for the right moment to drop the pretence and reward Karel Fraeye for good results by making him permanent. Will that moment ever come?

12 December 2015

Charlton 0 Leeds 0

This report will be as stuffed with thrills as the game itself.

An awful first half. Let's blame it on the blustery wind, but neither team seemed capable of holding on to the ball so there were very few clear chances after Reza's near miss on 10 minutes. Some encouraging signs - moments of class by Ricardo Vaz Te, and the clever, taunting running of Ademola Lookman - weren't enough to keep the crowd (officially 15,867 yeah right) warmed up. Even the Leeds fans were silent by halftime.

In the second half, there was no real improvement in quality, but at least the game became more interesting. Leeds will wonder how they ended up goalless, after a 20 minute spell of real threat, and while Charlton didn't have as many clear chances, on another day, in another galaxy far far away, they might have scored too.

It's a game that Channel 5 will bury somewhere after the advert for the Postcode lottery, when even the few people who started watching will have found something else to do that doesn't instill a loathing of humanity. Quite right too. Despite the flurry of incidents in the second half, a terrible advert for the Championship.