Thursday 29 February 2024

Congratulations Alfie May!

Alfie May is EFL Player of the Year.   At least we got one recruitment decision right, although one could argue there have been more in January.

Tuesday 27 February 2024

We did the Ram raid

It was a massive win for Charlton at Derby tonight and Nathan Jones was full of praise for the Addickted who went.  It was a tough assignment, but results elsewhere went our way and pessimists were left searching for a new narrative.

Reaction from Nathan Jones here:

Teenager Karoy Anderson scored his first senior goal to earn Charlton a shock win at promotion-chasing Derby.   Eiran Cashin put Derby ahead but Alfie May scored from the penalty spot before 19-year-old Anderson sealed Charlton's first win since November.

Worth revisiting a September interview with him:

Derby dominated from the start, but did not have a shot until the 25th minute when Korey Smith fired wide from the edge of the box.

Charlton did well to frustrate the hosts, but they fell behind to a set-piece in the 39th minute.  Nathaniel Mendez-Laing swung over a corner and Cashin got in front of a defender to head in at the near post.

Charlton should have equalised in the 61st minute when substitute Chuks Aneke headed a corner against the crossbar, but they were level four minutes later.

Home goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith brought down Daniel Kanu and May stroked the penalty into the bottom right corner.

Charlton stunned Derby in the 80th minute when a mistake by Ebou Adams let Kanu in and although Wildsmith saved, Anderson smashed the rebound home.

The perspective from Derbyshire here:

Derby look to bounce back tonight

Derby County went down 2-1 to promotion rivals Barnsley on Saturday, but they are looking to bounce back against Charlton tonight.

Derby are a bit of a bogey team for us ever since they beat us in the cup final.  I remember a match at The Valley where we went ahead and they won 4-2.  We usually suffer a ram raid at Pride Park.

Derby are currently second in the table and have won nine at home, drawn four and lost three, scoring 28 and conceding 15.  They are third in the form table while Charlton are fourth from bottom.

Portsmouth manager John Mousinho said on Saturday: 'Charlton are in a false league position.  I can't see them staying down there for long.'

Let's hope he's right but we need points and it's going to be hard to get even one tonight.

Saturday 24 February 2024

When a goalless home draw is seen as progress

Yesterday's draw against Portsmouth received an enthusiastic response on social media from the Addickted, confounding those who like to read results off the table. Our position is still precarious but there is a new spirit, cohesion and determination in the team.   Critics of Nathan Jones have had to bide their time.

Despite the teams' contrasting form of late, Pompey had only won one in 10 against the Addicks before this game and experienced another stern test during a first half in which both sides struck the woodwork.

Daniel Kanu hit a post in the third minute for the home side and Paddy Lane's header came back off the crossbar for Portsmouth after 16 minutes.

In a much less open second period, the visitors had the chance to snatch an 88th-minute winner when Myles Peart-Harris was sent through on goal but he was denied by a last-ditch challenge from Macaulay Gillesphey.

Portsmouth failed to capitalise on losses for both Derby and Bolton and although the stalemate meant Charlton claimed another impressive point, they are now 18 games without a victory, matching the longest winless streak in the club's history.

Unfortunately, Lloyd Jones - who has been praised even by the hyper critical - picked up a booking for dissent and will now miss the next two games:

Keeper Harry Isted also deserves credit for his part in keeping a clean sheet for the first time in 22 matches:

Friday 23 February 2024

Jones wants to slash squad size

Nathan Jones wants to slash the size of Charlton's squad in the summer:

Whilst admitting he is still finding about them, the clear implication is that some of them are not good enough for League One - or even League Two.

Debunking the Curbs myth

The myth that Alan Curbishley was pushed out by impatient fans at Charlton is one of the most persistent in football and it needs debunking: 

The board did not handle his departure well, and particularly his replacement by Dowie, but that is another matter altogether. 

'Charlton tiil I die'

That is a nearer prospect for some of us than others, but I have targeted the Shrewsbury Town match to return to The Valley.  By that time I reckon we should either be dead certs for relegation or have survived.

However, if it is a needle match like tomorrow, I won't come.   I would be mortified (in more ways than one) if I interrupted the game by collapsing in the Stand of the Living Dead.   There is, though, a nice circularity about being born in Greenwich and ending there.

It's almost impossible to say how many points we need to survive as so much depends on other teams, e.g., if Cheltenham win at Wigan tonight we will enter the relegation zone:

Cheltenham in fact drew at Wigan and Charlton kept out of the relegation zone by virtue of their superior goal difference, something that is often overlooked.   Cheltenham did go 1-0 ahead and this allowed gloom merchants to share 'as it stands' tables showing is in the relegation zone.   I do wish some Charlton fans would show a glimmer of hope.

We just need to get as many points as we can.   That will be difficult against a rampant Portsmouth.  No doubt former Leamington ace and Pompey top scorer Colby Bishop will wreak more havoc when we could have had him a few years ago for £50k (Accrington saw the value and he scored against us for them).

Tomorrow is a big day for pitch announcer Brian Cole who lives on Portsea Island and his partner supports Pompey.

The Champions elect come to The Valley:

Top clubs in Casey chase

Brighton and other clubs are interested in young Charlton forward Patrick Casey:

We have always been a selling club, but let's get a good price and a sell on clause, otherwise no deal.

Thursday 22 February 2024

Gulls go into administration

Former Football League club Torquay United are to be placed into administration as their owner can no longer fund the club:

The statement says: 'The financing of football in this country is precarious and can only thrive in the lower divisions where there is either a close collaborative relationship with the local authority, it is a trophy asset or is backed by substantial local individuals and businesses.

I believe that it needs a fundamental overhaul of its financing structure, rights distribution in the lower leagues and recognition that many clubs represent a fundamental part of the local community and its visitor attractions. Ambitious Clubs should in my opinion be given special status in their push to bring in investment, develop facilities, bring spend and employment to the local economy.'

Brentford for sale at £300m

I have referred recently to Brentford's financial success and attributed it in large part to a committed owner who, along with his team, has made sensible decisions.   Contrast that with some of the opportunists or naive dabblers we have encountered at Charlton.

Now the club is on sale at £300m, offering a cheap route into the top flight for serious US investors.  Much is made of that their new stadium, but it actually has a lower capacity than The Valley:

At Charlton, Roland and his family retain control of The Valley and the training ground.

As a club Brentford have overtaken us while at Charlton successive owners have sucked the life out of the club.  I am not criticising the present owners who seem to be an improvement, albeit it is a low bar.

Monday 19 February 2024

Jones explains Bolton starting line up

Some fan experts criticised Nathan Jones for leaving Alfie May out of the starting line up at Bolton, but Nathan Jones explains his reasons here:

I am bit concerned that fans have switched from excessive pessimism to excessive optimism.  Portsmouth have momentum and we may once again pay the price for turning down Colby Bishop when Accrington were prepared to pay the £50k Leamington asked for.

Remembering a great blogger

The loss of Dave from 'Drinking During the Game' at a relatively young age was a sad one for the shrinking Charlton blogging community and, of course, for his family.  I am pleased to draw attention to this event:

Where is thy sting?

Writing up Brentford's latest accounts, it occurred to me what a contrast there has been between the recent story of our two clubs.  At one time we could have claimed to the bigger club.

What's the difference?   The Bees have had one dedicated owner who has put needed money in, but the club has also been run sensibly by experienced individuals with a clear plan:

Even if Brentford do get relegated at some point, they would be in good shape for the Championship, effectively Premier Division 2.

Saturday 17 February 2024

Difficult afternoon for pessimists

Pessimists were forecasting a hammering for Charlton at Bolton this afternoon, but instead the Addicks secured a 3-3 draw in front of 456 of their fans.  At least it shows that you can't read results off the table. Reaction on social media has been unusually positive.

Of course, once again Charlton's defensive weaknesses showed with the Addicks twice conceding a lead.  But at least Nathan Jones seems to have given the team some fighting spirit.   The 12 minutes added on were nervy though and the referee seemed intent at one time on sending a Charlton player off.

Jones's critics said that he should have started May instead of bringing him on as a late sub, but I thoight he was underwhelming.against Lincoln.   As it was, Kanu put in a decent shift and Small scored his first goal for the club.

Charlton remained 20th, one point above Cheltenham and two above Port Fail, both of whom have games in hand.

The Addicks threatened to gain a first win over their hosts since 2017 when Thierry Small and Lloyd Jones struck after 22 and 40 minutes.

Small's deep cross - on his Charlton debut - deceived keeper Joel Coleman who endured a nervy afternoon deputising for the injured Nathan Baxter.

Icelandic super sub Bodvarsson replaced Adeboyejo at half-time, and six minutes after the interval Paris Maghoma curled in a spectacular right-foot leveller.   Daniel Kanu restored Charlton's lead just past the hour.

Bolton, however, protested that referee Ross Joyce should have stopped the game for a potential head injury to Josh Dacres-Cogley in the build-up.

But Bolton rallied and Bodvarsson turned in Dacres-Cogley's centre for a point for the home side who had been expecting three.

Charlton went 'oop north a day early and trained at Everton thanks to Sean Dyche before heading for the former Bolton University stadium (now the appropriately named Tough S*** Community Stadium):

Nathan Jones thought that the result was a positive one:

A Bolton blogger reflects on the day:

Trotters provide very tough test

There is no doubt that this afternoon's game against Bolton Wanderers is a particularly tough test and will probably provide more ammunition for the vocal 'relegation is inevitable' crowd:

It is asserted that this is the worst Charlton team ever, although I think there are competitors over the last 70 years.  It might be pointed out that we have never been in the 4th division.

However, at one time there was no 4th division but a third division north and south with only one team from each being promoted.   For years this kept the likes of the Glaziers and the Super Hoops in their rightful place.

Promotion chasing Bolton have won eleven at home, drawn two and lost three.  They have scored 32 goals.  I doubt whether the Addicks defence will last the 100+ minutes.

Midweek they beat Wycombe 2-1 at home after drawing at Northampton last Saturday.

Friday 16 February 2024

Get well soon, Roy Hodgson

Roy Hodgson is a decent man and has devoted his life to football which he clearly loves.  I hope that he soon recovers in hospital.

The Glaziers were ready to go with an announcement of his replacement, but had to cancel their press conference.

There have been banners out at recent Palace games calling for him to be sacked, although the main target seems to have been the chairman (who did save them from oblivion).

Still I suppose if you are a Mr Pooter who is an ultra for a few hours a week just staying in the Premier League is not good enough.

I must admit there was some perverse pleasure in watching the EFL highlights and seeing Spanners leaving the Toolbox early after their 0-4 defeat by Ipswich.

But then the Norwich manager had to ask a booing section of fans to stay away.   The Canaries are just outside the play off places on goal difference.

I suppose negativity and excessive expectations in football should not surprise me, it has certainly got worse over the years.

I think that Palace and Millwall will scrape enough points to avoid relegation.   They always do.  And Charlton can do the same. 

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Jones on tough run ahead

Nathan Jones says he has respect but no fear as Charlton face a tough run of matches:

We have quite a decent record against Portsmouth, although former Leamington ace Colby Bishop turned us over when he was with Accrington.

Jones: I want Dobbo to stay

Nathan Jones made it very clear at last night’s press conference that he wants George Dobson to stay at Charlton beyond this season, reports Richard Cawley of the SLP.

Asks why Dobbo would want to go and play in Hungary when he can play in the Championship.  Jones said that if players believe they are good enough then they can play there. Made the point that his Luton players went to that level and then into the Premier League.

Jones: "With massive respect he has played a lot of League One football. But why not try and be a Championship footballer? Why not try and do what he does in League One, in the Championship? That is his goal. That is what we have to try and make him - change his mentality and hopefully change his life. "He doesn't need to go to Hungary to do that. He has an opportunity to do that here. That is what I've reiterated to him. It is a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful football club - that's why I've come here."

The problem is that he has signed a pre-contract and cancelling that could be costly.

But why Hungary?   It's a nice place to visit - fascinating when the Communists were notionally in power. But the language is very difficult.  

Conor Coventry and Louie Watson's omission from the matchday squad last night was a tactical one.

Tuesday 13 February 2024

A game of two halves

Charlton went down 0-1 in the first half against Lincoln City tonight then drew level in a better second half.  Although this was billed as a 'must win' game, it was certainly a 'must not lose'.

In the first half, the communication and organisation of Charlton's defence was poor and too many spaces were offered to the Imps.   They are not Real Madrid (whom I watched on television at the weekend), but they are a competent if physical League One side and it was no surprise when former Addick Hackett scored.

The crowd was flat and nervous in the first half, but got behind the team in the second.

Everything I have read about Ladapo on social media has condemned him as useless and an example of the baleful influence of our scapegoat technical director, but his equalising strike (helped by Aneke) looked good to me.

Aneke made a difference when he came on, causing havoc in the Lincoln defence.   He does more in 30 minutes than some do in 90.   Camara also made a difference as a substitute.  Indeed, Jones got his substitutions right.   He also jumped up and down and gesticulated enough for those who like that kind of thing.

Apart from one mistake in the first half, Istead looked competent to me.

Alfie May was a bit underwhelming for me.   I thought that Kanu did more.  As Curbs said, Dobson is an underrated player.

Charlton are one point above Port Vale, but the side from beautiful downtown Burslem have three games in hand.

Satisfied supremo

Nathan Jones said that he was really proud of a young team, they had laid down a marker, of course they could get better.  'We won't get carried away' but he referred to the honesty, commitment and endeavour.  He believed we were the best team of the day.    You can't build something overnight but every week we would get better and fitter.  We could show more quality, but he saw a team on the front foot.    There was no real experience in the team, in time they could do something special.  We were going to be an aggressive team, we would grow and get better.   They could bounce back and take disappointment.  They were an honest group and athletic.   'Stay with us, get behind the team, enoy the ride.'

Scott Minto asked if Nathan was over positive and over optimistic.    Cutbs thought it was a start, Nathan was saying the right things, but there were some tough games coming up.

70 years of suffering

A young fan complained the other week that supporting Charlton involved endless suffering.   It was ever thus.  Indeed, a sports historian once told me that suffering was what football was all about.   Just read the reference in Alan Sillitoe's novels and short stories to Notts County.

I have had three periods of joy with Charlton.   The first was in the 1950s with Jimmy Seed as manager.  The second was the return to The Valley, the build up to the Premier League, the Greatest Game and Curbs as manager in the top flight.   Finally, I would add Chris Powell getting us out of League One as champions.

70 years of suffering does give you some perspective.   I don't want us to play in the fourth division for the first time, but if we have to, we will.   I still think the chances of relegation are 50/50.   There are 15 matches to go, we are not actually in a relegation position, we have a better goal difference than teams around us and we often play better in tough matches.  Having said that, as The Times put it in their headline yesterday, 'Jones must act fast to save Charlton.'

This goes beyond changing the formation.   If the players are not good enough or motivated enough, no formation will work even 1-9-1 as used by San Marino.

I know that Charlton fans like the worst case scenario so here is what a friend who went to Reading:' it is impossible to find the words to indicate realistically how awful we were against Reading.  I genuinely believe an average pub team would have beat us, we were that clueless, no movement, no skill and no ideas.  We genuinely cannot get any worse, NJ looks like he has an impossible task. I am afraid Div 2 is looking nailed on after last Saturday.'

It will be ironic if I get well enough to return to The Valley only to see us relegated.

Peter Varney has said we need to start looking at recruitment strategy now, but that is difficult when it is not certain which division we will be playing in.   Relegation would mean selling Alfie May.

I think that the club's problems are deeply rooted and structural and go beyond the failings of any one individual.   I argued this in a series of posts earlier in the season and I will consolidate them as one essay on Charlton Retro.  

What happens tonight will be crucial.   Lincoln have won five, drawn five and lost six away.  They are 10th in the table.  They have secured back-to-back wins in their last two matches.


Monday 12 February 2024

Jones not worried about Charlton's reputation with the axe

Nathan Jones has told the Football League Paper he is concerned about the club's reputation for axing managers.

'I know all about the lifespan of a manager,' he said.  'Unless your name is Guardiola or Klopp, it isn't long.'

'I've shown a bit of longevity if I'm allowed to make certain decisions and that's the thing I'm excited about here.  If certain things on recruitment and environment need driving, that's the role of a manager.  If I don't want to sign a player, then we won't'  (Doesn't augur well for our technical director).

'There are good people here, with real scope to build and really establish ourselves as a big football club.'

Jones turned down a chance to manage Rotherham.

Jones was also interviewed for The Times today.  He said: 'It is impossible to say that Charlton can do what Luton have done ; what we can do now is get enough wins so we are not in trouble.  Then we can build quickly from there, although how quickly we can build is not clear.'

'My first impression this week is exactly what I knew.  It's a young group, an energetic group that needs lifting and a bit of guidance. '

'You can't be ranting and raving constantly because that doesn't help those in the dressing room.  We have to look at what we did well and what we could do better.'

Sunday 11 February 2024

Dobson to stay on

Hungarian style stand

                                                         Football the Hungarian way

George Dobson will now not be leaving for Hungary until the summer:

This will give him more time for the tough task of learning some Hungarian.   The only languages I would find more difficult are Welsh and Gaelic.  I did actually learn a bit of Finnish when I went there on an extended visit at age 19, but there were special incentives.

Thanks to Richard Cawley for doing this interview with Nathan Jones, although there are still aspects of the situation I find puzzling, not least the loss of a £100,000 fee:

Good to see former Addick Ademola Lookman in the African Nations Cup final last night.  He was very lively and provided the corner for the one Nigerian goal.   

Saturday 10 February 2024

It's not just the manager!

Rather unusually fan comment after yesterday's defeat focused on the players rather than the manager.  Fans are waking up to the point that the players collectively are not good enough.  Recruitment strategy has been blamed, but the players also need to put in a shift.

Once again we have heard that the worst team fans have ever watched.   We hear that every year and there are lots of candidates, but for once fans could be right.

Shell shocked supremo Natthan Jones said that Charlton got the basics wrong, succumbing to two long throw ins:

The imminent departure of club captain George Dobson is a loss on top of Corey Blackett-Taylor.  Hungary is an unusual destination and I would like to know the story there.  Hungarian is the most difficult language to learn in Europe, apart from Finnish to which it is related.

Dobson had his critics, but some of that in my view was based on a misunderstanding of his role as a defensive midfielder.

Charlton were fortunate to still be level at the break at the SCL Stadium.

The Addicks were indebted to goalkeeper Harry Isted, who had replaced the increasingly hapless Maynnard-Brewer, for making fine saves to deny Lewis Wing and Sam Smith twice, but Reading finally broke the deadlock in the second half, with Femi Azeez hitting a double in 10 minutes to ensure that Jones endured an unhappy return.

Jones took over a faltering Charlton side that had not won in 12 league games but, in contrast, Reading had lost only twice in 14 outings.

The visitors started the better but Reading created the first opening when Isted did well to tip over a fierce angled drive from Wing.

Isted also kept out a precise volley from Smith and then another goalbound Smith effort after the striker had cut in from the left flank.

Charlton showed more adventure in the second half but, after Lloyd Jones and Tyreeq Bakinson had missed half-chances, Azeez hooked in his first goal in the 66th minute.

The Addicks then failed to clear an Amadou Mbengue long throw 10 minutes later and Azeez thundered home a volley to secure the victory.

Tuesday's game against Lincoln becomes increasingly key.   No Alfie May in League Two.

Former Addick backs Jones

Former Addick Jordan Cousins (now at Cambridge United) is confident that Charlton will pull away from the League One danger zone and is full of praise for Nathan Jones:

Friday 9 February 2024

How long will the honeymoon last?

That's the question posed by one Addick the other day in relation to Nathan Jones.   As far as a vociferous minority (?) it has never begun as they do not like the appointment.

Quite who they think should have been appointed is unclear.  Bowyer is sometimes mentioned, but he has a nice number in Monteserrat.

3,000 Addicks will be going to the crucial match at Reading tomorrow which reflects well on our fans.  Reading are coming into form and I'm far from sure that Jones can turn round a disjointed squad after a few days on the training ground.  My guess would be a draw.

More than poor performances, the gloom and negativity of Charlton fans is getting me down.  Last year my non-league club was relegated.   People were disappointed, but the manager was reappointed for a 14th year and people have continued to enjoy their football and the banter at the game.

Charlton may be relegated and obviously that is not what we want (I still think there are four teams worse than us, plus our goal difference is better).   But if we get relegated we play in League Two and could well be contestants for promotion.   Gloom merchants will hold out the prospect of the National League, but remember that Stockport County went down to the National League North and bounced back.   Loyal fans will stick with the team, although obviously some only want to watch higher level football.

Thursday 8 February 2024

Aneke back in training

Chuks Aneke is back in training, but Nathan Jones is reluctant to say when the frequently injured player will be back in action:

Losing Miles Leaburn for the season was a real blow.

Wednesday 7 February 2024

Jones thought carefully about taking on role

Nathan Jones had extensive talks with Charlton's owners to assure him of their commitment before agreeing to become manager.  He was also approached at the time of the sour apple appointment, but did not feel ready to leave his family in Devon:

Tuesday 6 February 2024

It's being miserable that makes me happy

It's difficult to judge the way in which Charlton fans have reacted to the appointment of Nathan Jones from comments on social media.  The loudest are not necessarily representative and even if one did a poll, it would not be based on a proper sampling frame.

Nevertheless, there seems to be more scepticism and grudging acceptance than I expected.   The fan consensus was that Appleton had to go.   At the end of the day, results matter.

Nathan Jones was well regarded by Luton fans, as the Chicago Addick has shown.  Peter Varney, who knew him, has paid him a warm tribute.   He states: 'I have worked with Nathan Jones and pleased to see he is referenced as the manager. He has a tremendous work ethic and fans should get ready for a ball of energy on the touchline. A very positive move and he will need time to impose his standards with the players he wants.'

Then we have Charlton fans grumbling because he is not a Londoner.   It doesn't matter where he comes from, it's whether he can energise the squad and getting them scoring goals and avoiding defensive howlers.   It's a big challenge.

It's a tough and vital test at Reading on Saturday, but turning the oil tanker round may not happen that quickly.   What is important is that fans, not least the devoted away fans, give him and the team unstinting support.

Saturday 3 February 2024

Rams versus sheep?

There are different interpretations of yesterday's defeat to Derby, although given the pessimistic nature of Charlton fans many of them tended to be gloomy.   It was Derby's sixth away win in eight, while Charlton have now gone twelve games without a win.

Some saw it as a decent performance against a strong side apart from one defensive howler.   Others thought that we frayed towards the end of the game which is certainly par for the course.

Nathan Jones will have seen the scale of the task he faces.   Fans seem divided about him, but one has to be realistic about the calibre of manager that would come to Charlton in its present condition,

Charlton did not move down the table and one needs to look at the difficulties that some of the teams below us have.   The owners have at least tried to make signings in the transfer window, although Blackett-Taylor will be missed.

Mendez-Laing put the Rams in front in the 31st minute, finishing confidently after Macaulay Gillesphey's pass was intercepted by Max Bird.

Mendez-Laing, who had been off the pitch just before that receiving treatment, was forced off seven minutes later with an injury and replaced by Tom Barkhuizen.

Tyreeq Bakinson drove over from Tayo Edun's cutback but otherwise the Addicks struggled to create chances in a first half that was disrupted by stoppages.

Charlton substitute Daniel Kanu had a header tipped over by Derby goalkeeper Josh Vickers in the 58th minute.

Bird weaved his way into the box before sliding his shot wide of the post shortly after the hour mark, but one goal proved enough for the Rams.

Friday 2 February 2024

Jones to take over

Nathan Jones is set to be appointed Charlton coach:

Most fans have welcomed the news.   At least he should be able to save us from relegation.