Da da da de da da – effin’ useless !

charviglenWell, I was just starting to get a little bit more positive about ‘on the pitch’ matters following our 1-0 against Chesterfield and the FA Cup win over league leaders Scunthorpe and then we go live on SKY.

But before we talk about today, let’s reminisce for just a moment over two home wins.

Chesterfield wasn’t great by any means, Nicky Ajose finally got himself into scoring positions but couldn’t finish and Josh Magennis was denied by a good save while Chesterfield hit the post, Lee Novak came up trumps with a super header from an equally super run and cross from Ricky Holmes and we still nearly drew with a deflected Chesterfiled shot flying just wide in the final moments.

So three points but just another papering over the seemingly ever-increasing cracks. But then we have Scunthorpe at home in the cup and we go and win it 3-1 with a pretty good performance.

I wasn’t going to go but changed my mind and was pretty glad I did. Nothing great from either side early on, Ricky Holmes is forced off through injury and then substitute Ademola Lookman pings a purler into the far top corner to put us one up and all of a sudden the confidence was back.

Magennis nearly scored a second straight away but Johnnie Jackson made it two five minutes before half time with a low drilled effort that went through a pair of legs before finding the far corner.

The second half started well for Scunthorpe and Declan Rudd kept us in it with a couple fo great saves but the goal was always coming and Scunthorpe finally notched after 52 minutes with a header from Tom Hopper.

I would have happily taken a replay there and then (well, not really) but fortunately we hung on through the pressure and then a break from Crofts and Ulvestad created a chance for Lookman and he tucked it away off the keeper to put our ball in the bag for round two.

(The least said about home to MK Dons the better – another crappy cup draw !!)

Oh, at this point I should mention that we bought tickets for Bristol Rovers away before the game with the chappy at the window looking at us like we were mad !!

Living in the bustling centre of lower league football that is Colchester we decided that despite its entirely pointlessness, we would travel the ten minutes to the Weston Homes Stadium for the final group match in the Check-a-Turd Trophy.

The calculations required for us to go through were a little mind-numbing but whatever else was required, the important thing was firstly to win the game.

Bizarrely, my brother’s girlfriend chose to make this her first proper football match (I think).  She supports Bradford (family are northern) but not sure whether she’s ever been and to be honest can’t be bothered to check the facts that closely.

Anyhoo, she’s never seen Charlton play before and why not start in the Check-a-Turd ?

Still, we weren’t too bad in the first half, Nicky Ajose nearly had a nose bleed when we put a cross low into the six yard box but he stuck his chance away.

Helpfully (and not at all karma) the Charlton contingent asked Russell Slade the score and before the cheers from his response had died away, Macauley Bonne equalised for Colchester.

They certainly had the better of the second period and except for a couple of very late chances that we should have done so much better with, the game was destined for penalties.

And we lost … with Ezri Konsa failing from the spot to give Colchester the extra point.

By the way – who came up with THAT stupid idea ?

Anyway, not a competition we (or indeed anybody else) is all that bothered about, a couple of thousand (maybe) watching two lower Premiership Under 23 teams play out the final at Wembley looks like a real huge success for a competition completely ruined !?

Positives ? None really, we didn’t look like we had a plan, Konsa as wing back looked lost and second half without Crofts at least winning the ball in midfield we were awful.

Joe Aribo was praised by Slade, maybe he was watching a different game to me, or maybe Aribo was just the best of a bad bunch but I didn’t see a lot there at all.

Freddie Ulvestad had what must be one of the worst performances of his career, half the time he looked like he wasn’t sure what colour we were playing in.

And talking of that, there were a couple of times today watching us capitulate to Swindon that I thought we were playing it around nicely until I remembered that we were the team in purple !!

And so, what of today ?

There really isn’t a great deal to say. One of the worst performances I’ve seen in a very long time. Okay, we had a few players out through the international call-ups and Ricky Holmes hadn’t recovered from his foot injury but really, is that the best performance they can provide ?

I have to be honest, that doesn’t lie at the feet of the owners today. Things at Charlton are a long, long way from being even okay, but surely the players must be looking at themselves in the reflections of their mobile phones and thinking both individually and collectively, “Didn’t do enough”.

I can’t even remember us creating one meaningful chance.

The first goal was a complete fluke with Rudd completely wrong-footed by the deflection for the opener but Swindon certainly deserved their lead at half time and just continued it after the break.

We couldn’t string three passes together, seemed to have no idea what to do going forward and as usual resorted to hopeful punts forward hoping something might materialise from nothing – it never did !!

Ajose never got a sniff of a ball across the box and clearly outside the penalty area he unfortunately brings zip-diddly-doo to the team. Lee Novak lacks pace, so we hoof it beyond him into the channels to chase !?

Russell Slade comes out afterwards and apologises for the performance – not enough mate I’m afraid – most of the teams in this league are pony but we look (despite our supposed experience at this level) like we either haven’t got a clue or don’t give a shit.

To be honest, I think we might be down in this division a bit longer than last time round ….

Back at home again Saturday against Port Vale, let’s just hope that we can turn in a performance like the first forty five minutes up there (but take our chances too).

Oh, just a quicky, well done Tom & Nathan on FanTV in the week – nice to see two people talking sensibly about the Charlton situation and even better to see a host who had taken the time to look into the reasons behind the protests – take note Sky TV.

Going now … keep on dancing !!

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TalkSport ? – Talk utter tosh !!

65milesIt’s been just under a month since I last posted on this blog and to be honest, I haven’t really thought much about it.

On the pitch it hasn’t been all that clever; Football For A Fiver day became another embarrassment to what would be a very embarrassed football club – if those in charge actually cared enough about it.

A very poor performance at home to Rochdale, with a significantly low attendance especially for a Football For A Fiver day, did nothing to staunch the growing dislike of Russell Slade’s tactics and would only add to the general disappointment, and anger in the hearts and minds of the majority of Charlton supporters.

Johnnie Jackson’s missed penalty didn’t help, but to be fair, it would have been a bare papering over the huge cracks in this club at the moment.

Going down at home to Crawley in the CheckATrade Trophy just added to the malaise – I didn’t go, pointless competition, and then a positive …. Millwall away called off due to international call-ups.

But, back into the swing of it all on the 15th and home to Coventry City.  A combined group of disgruntled {… understatement …} supporters marched to the ground to protest outside the main entrance, the game was interrupted by a load of flying pigs (what is the collective term for that ?) before what could only be described as one of our better performances.

Some might say we only play well when we protest, and that might actually be the case, but Coventry were poor and we took our chances. Saying that, the Coventry centre-half created two of those on his own, clearly not one of the more ‘two-footed’ members of their playing staff.

Off on a tangent for just a moment, but these guys, even at league one are getting a pretty decent wage for playing football, you’d think someone somewhere might spend a bit of time with them teaching them to use their ‘weaker’ leg for something other than standing on ?!

While I’m all for a Charlton win, and the opportunity to jeer at an opponent making a bish of it, if he’d just whacked it away with his swinger we’d have only got one and there might still have been a chance for them to get something out of the game.

Still, he didn’t, three goals and three points, a pleasant journey home and the possibility that this might just be a turning point.

And so, to Port Vale away. With my brother gallivanting abroad with his young lady I was pondering making the trip by myself – God knows why, but then I went for it, took the afternoon off and rung my own good lady to tell her the news.

And fair play to her, for she had pre-empted my decision and arranged for cover herself and came with me !!

A pretty easy trip from Colchester (A120, M11, A14, M6) took us to the outskirts of Stoke where we met the rush hour traffic and then had a bit of a search to find Burslem and Vale Park (thank-you cleaning lady at the local health centre) but a kindly trio of stewards sorted us out a parking space as the heavens opened and it peed down.

Still an hour to kick-off so a stroll in the rain back into the town and a chip shop that despite offering a daily special of a pie, chips and tea for £3.50 despite not having any pies, supplied a very nice cod and chips and an opportunity to dry off.

Back to the ground and a chance to be ripped off four quid for two cups of tea (why do I pay that at away grounds when I wouldn’t pay it anywhere else ?) before a first half that could have seen us go in at the break half a dozen ahead.

Obviously we didn’t, Little Freddie Ulvestad our only scorer with a tidy touch from a Ricky Holmes run and cross.

The second half was much of the same with Ulvestad missing two great chances; the first a rebound off the keeper from a Magennis strike which looked simple at the time but from the highlights was a lot harder, but the second, a glorious chance from six yards with an unmarked header from another Holmes cross could only find the keeper.

And so of course the 250-ish of us awaited the inevitable.

A double substitution (after Hanlan had come on for Lookman earlier) saw Holmes and Magennis go off to be replaced by Chicksen and Novak.

And, what seemed just seconds later, Fox bished a clearance, Lennon stuck out a leg and Port Vale had themselves a penalty kick.

Unfortunately for the travelling Charlton fans it wasn’t a Charlton player taking it and so the ball found the back of the net and the nail-biting began, interspersed with a large majority directing their grumpiness at the manager and his substitutions.

There was still time for another Charlton chance though, but alas Hanlan snatched at his shot and the ball flew high and into the stand.

The final whistle followed not long after and began the boos and anti-Slade chanting. The wife and I were off though, a bit of a wait in the car park but we were on our way home.

Unfortunately, it was dark, and in this country that is usually the cue for people in reflective jackets to wander around closing slip roads and putting cones out like they’re trying to signal to an other-worldly intelligence.

Access to the M6 was okay but joining the A14 had the mockers put on it and we were diverted via the M1.  Junction 20 was the suggestion at the entrance to the M1 only for J20 to be closed and the least said about the invisible signs at Junction 15 the better.

We ended up staying on the M1 to the M25, and then A12ing home.

A bit of a disaster, but still home by two and my wife was able to sleep most of the way so she wasn’t too bad having to get up at six for work – a hero – she can come to football again !! (Although I doubt she’ll want to)

When I had a chance to think about it all a bit more clearly the next day, I wasn’t that disappointed with a point – it wasn’t like we hadn’t created any chances, we just hadn’t been able to take them, so I was still quite positive.

No chance of a trip to Gillingham though so I followed the ‘event’ via Twitter. Surely a performance like Port Vale would reap rewards as Gillingham, with a win ages ago, no clean sheet in forever (25 games apparently) and having conceded almost twice as many goals as us, should be an opponent to have a go at.

Alas no, as according the those I follow on Twitter, we were bloody awful. Another missed penalty – you are supposed to score them lads – this time from Ricky Holmes might have given us a bit of a platform but in the end it was another penalty – taken successfully at last by Nicky Ajose got us a very luck point.

Charlton Live was a fun listen Sunday night (not) with even Sue Gallop being considerably less chipper (not a good sign)

And so on to today … Katrien Meire gets another chance to try and build bridges, only to blow up another few and dig herself deeper with what appears to be an almost scripted interview with TalkSport.

A radio phone-in show where no-one is allowed to phone in seems all a bit odd to me – but then this is the Charlton Athletic management team we’re talking about so should we really be surprised.

A few more lies come out of her trap (“no offers to buy” – COME ON !!) and so we’re all pissed off over again. To me it can only be one big old joke to her and the puppeteer Roly who clearly don’t give half a toss between them !

On to Saturday then … home to Chesterfield where no doubt we’ll get done by you know who !!

I shall be there … can’t quite seem to stay away … but please, let’s play 4-4-2 and have a bloody good go eh ?

C’mon you Reds !! (please … ?)

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The Valley Malaise – the scourge of the striker !

My daughter in her first Charlton kit ... she doesn't seem keen !This picture has been on here before but my daughter’s expression from too many years ago pretty much sums it up for me at the moment.

After pretty much nicking the lead against the run of play we then seemed to either give up attacking / lose all idea of how to attack or panic ourselves into dropping so deep that the equaliser became almost an inevitability.

The goal we scored was pretty good. Despite the general moaning in the Covered End (at least where we were anyway) when possession worked the ball all the way back to Declan Rudd (chap behind us felt a bit silly three passes later when Magennis scored) I thought it was a well-worked, and well-finished goal.

Alas, for some reason unknown to all, we then stopped passing the ball on the ground and resorted to punting it forward to Magennis again – and this time he didn’t win many, and when he did there was no pace in the legs of Kim’s Little Boy to latch on to the knock-down.

Do we not know how these guys scored their goals before they came to Charlton ?

Novak and Ajose are much the same player, finishers who will get on the end of crosses into the box.

With less than a handful of goals between them so far, even the evidence of the goals they have scored proves that point with not one of those goals scored from further out than a couple of yards (and I’m probably exaggerating giving them credit for being that far away from the line !)

So, when do we play wingers who actually play wide, get to the byline and put crosses into the box ?

Seems pretty simple to me but then I’m no Thomas Driesen, who, apparently is still very much involved with the club.

If though, Slado and his coaching team are ignoring the boy Driesen then maybe that’s why we’re trying something different … something that clearly doesn’t work !

Obviously, I’m being more than a tad facetious but I can’t understand how we can be SO bad at a game that they play every day ?

Some of them in the pre-match shooting practice were hitting the ball so far wide or over the goal that I wondered whether they were playing a game amongst themselves.

They are, as EFL rules state they have to be, grown-ups, adults who should be able to make decisions on their own. I don’t lay the blame at Slade, well, not completely, but surely they can see when things aren’t working and try something else.

The way they are set up, the players that are selected and the overall game plan are created by the manager and his coaching team but once they are out on the pitch surely players have to make decisions based on what’s going on around them ?

Surely having played a number of hopeful long balls forward that haven’t created anything at all, someone on the pitch should make the suggestion that they try something a bit different.

Surely a full back who keeps finding himself in possession with no bugger in sight up the wing ahead of him and has to resort to belting it long again should have a go at the guy who should be there and try to force some change.

To be fair to them, the coaching team should be doing much the same from the sideline ?

I have to be honest, I’m getting a bit fed up with the formation we’re playing at the moment. Ricky Holmes needs to find a position and stay there, the first home game he stuck out wide and caused havoc running at the defence but now he seems to either have been given the freedom to roam wherever he likes or has taken it on himself to do so which leaves whichever full back bereft of an out ball wide and clutters up the middle of the park with the centre-mids not sure whether they are supposed to stay in position or to move out to cover the space.

Johnnie Jackson looked like he didn’t know where he was supposed to be playing, Andrew Crofts looked lost and Little Freddie Ulvestad had nowhere to run.

Josh Magennis and Kim’s Little Boy had no service which made Novak especially look shit and we’ve all seen him do the proverbial business for years.

Poor Nicky Ajose has already succumbed to the Valley malaise, the syndrome that affects all strikers when they join us; the awful situation they find themselves in when they realise that they may never again be given the pass they’ve received for season’s gone by and as such may never score again !

Something needs to change and pretty quick. It was nice to see Magennis admit that, to paraphrase, we were crap against Oldham, but now it’s time to take a gamble and get out there and bloody well go for it.

Jordan Botaka must have upset someone because despite creating a chance every time he’s been on the pitch he hasn’t got more than a handful of minutes.

Start the bloke, tell him to stay wide, have a go at the full back for ninety minutes and get crosses into the box. If he does and the strikers don’t score then have a go at them but give them a chance for Christ’s sake.

Unfortunately, the way things are going at the moment we’ll whack passes from fifty yards away at the poor sod and expect him to win a header just to keep the ball on the pitch.

Give it to his feet and fine anybody who kicks it at him anything above knee height.

Okay, rant over …. going to bed.

Might see you Saturday …. c’mon you Reds ?

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