Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bent still guessing his fate?

The headline on the BBCsport website screams "Bent poised to make England debut", and the article says "Eriksson will decide his starting line-up after training on Tuesday, but revealed Bent would play some part", however in true journalistic style, there is not one quote from the Swede in order to support the story.

The rest of the article just ignores Darren completely, and goes on to talk about Gerrard instead! Perhaps there is a quote out there somewhere that proves the headline, but I have taxed all of my usual resource sites and not found one so it looks as though Darren, just like the rest of us, will have to wait until the actual match to find out whether or not he is going to get his chance.

Sven's usual ploy is to play his strongest XI in the first half and then give fringe players a chance in the second half. My money is on Darren playing the last half hour alongside Crouch. As for the final score, I'm going for 3-1 to England; and if Bent gets on the pitch, I honestly back him to score.

With regards to the World Cup, I wrote yesterday about the possibility of Sven taking five strikers to Germany (thus virtually guaranteeing Darren a seat on the plane), rather than four (which will leave a face off between Bent and Defoe). Unfortunately I discovered an article today which seems to show that Sven is more likely to take the latter option. Here he talks about Rooney, Owen, and Crouch already being pencilled in, and then says "its up to the players to show who is going to be the fourth striker".

In other news today, Smertin has been linked to an unnamed Russian side once his loan spell with us is completed. His agent has confirmed that there has been an approach, and in the twilight of his career, I wouldn't be surprised if the Russian decides to return home.
Smertin is a player who has done ok for us this term in my opinion. He's no superstar, but I would always prefer to see him in the side than Holland; at least he can drive forwards with the ball.

I believe that Chelsea would have been willing to let him go on a free in the summer if no interest was shown from elsewhere, and I wouldn't have minded keeping him if that was the case, but now that another club has entered the fray it looks more likely that there will be a small fee involved if we do want to secure his continued services. Wages are fine, but I don't think he is worth a transfer fee at his age. I'd rather see us save the money and spend bigger on another midfielder. World Cups always herald the coming of new players into the Premiership, and I'm sure that Curbishley will be there with his notebook looking for a midfield general to snap up this summer.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Good Luck, Darren

After making five of the last six England squads without winning a cap, Darren Bent will be hoping that lucky call up number 7 will see him make his first appearance for the national side on Wednesday night at Anfield versus Uruguay.

Sven watched 80 minutes of the Villa match at the weekend (bet he's gutted), and although he didn't see one of Darren's best performances, he will have noticed him get into two or three terrific goalscoring positions in the first half, and must have been impressed with his low drive on the half hour mark that was thwarted only by a superb Sorensen save.
Sven has watched enough of our games this year to know what Darren is capable of, and he obviously wants to get a closer look at the lad because of his appearance in the last few England squads, yet he is running out of games in which he can test how Darren would function in a side where he gets some top quality service from those around him.

In the paper today, (I cant remember which one it was), Curbishley said, "Surely this friendly on Wednesday is about looking at fringe players. Darren wont freeze at that level because he has been through the ranks with England and if he is presented with a chance then he will take it".
Surely that chance will come this time around. Owen is out with a long term injury, Ferguson wont be happy if Rooney plays a full 90, Crouch is just rubbish, and as for Defoe, well, I just don't think Sven rates him.

I'm confident that this time around Darren will get his opportunity, and he is certainly ready for it:

"Hopefully Wednesday will be the chance I need to show what I can do because I've done quite well for Charlton and feel I deserve to be there. I'm looking forward to the Uruguay match and I am definitely hoping to go to Germany.
There are so many other strikers in England capable of doing a job, but if I keep doing well hopefully Sven won't be able to ignore me. I definitely feel more comfortable than when I went away with England for the first time at the start of the season, which was quite nerve-wracking.
I take it all in my stride now, but I am sure there will be a few butterflies before kick-off. I've had loads of people asking me for tickets. There are about 20 friends and family going up to Anfield and if I do well, it will make them all very proud and happy. But I know I still have to keep doing well for Charlton to be successful."

From a couple of sentences in that article and the way in which he is talking about the game, I think that Sven may have already told him that he will be getting a run out at some point. He will certainly have the backing of most football fans. After all, he is the still the top scoring English striker in the Premiership this season with 13 goals. Thats 3 ahead of Wayne Rooney, and 5 ahead of Jermain Defoe.

His place on the plane to the World Cup will depend mainly on his form over the last 11 games, and partly on whether Sven plans to take 4 or 5 strikers to Germany.
Assuming fitness for all players, Owen and Rooney will be the first choice pairing. Crouch will get a spot because of the "plan B, " and the "give the opposition defence something different to worry about" media chestnuts; and that will leave probably one space for either Darren or Defoe to fill. There is a chance that he will take both, but either way the door is truly ajar for Darren at the moment. A good performance or two in the warm up matches, and I reckon that'll be him on the plane.

Of course, if he does play on Wednesday night we will owe Ipswich another £350,000, but Charlton will be willing to pay it. Bent has been the ray of light for us this season, and he deserves to get his reward. I only hope that if things don't go right for him, that he will react to the setback in the correct way.
Murphy went to pieces when he failed to make the England squad after all of the tabloid talk to the contrary, and while I think that Bent is made of sterner and more professional stuff than Danny, you can never forecast with total certainty how a player will react to bad news.

It will be one thing if he doesn't make the England grade, but another thing entirely if he takes the attitude that he will never be able to fulfill his ambitions while playing for our club. Lets all pray that if he does plays on Wednesday, he plays well.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


I've been trying to start writing this match report for about 20 minutes so far, but very much like the game itself, I'm lacking in both imagination and motivation.

We had the better of a tepid first half, and Villa had the better of the second, but over the course of the 90 minutes a 0-0 scoreline is exactly what both sides deserved. Perhaps on balance of chances created we should have sneaked a goal, but to claim three points through such an insipid performance would have almost been embarrassing.

Darren Bent looked lively enough early on to suggest that he could get a goal if provided with the right kind of service, but the midfield is where we were really lacking today. It is also evident that although Kishishev gives his all, age isn't on his side, and effort alone isn't enough to merit his continued inclusion in a side whose goal was supposed to be European qualification this season.
You have to ask yourself if he would still be in the first XI at Newcastle, City, Bolton, West Ham, or Blackburn. These are the kind of teams that we should be aiming to finish above, and, with the greatest respect, I don't think any of those sides would have kept faith for so long with a player who tries, but simply cannot do.
I don't mean to single out Kish with that last paragraph; the same applies to Holland and Hughes aswell. Holland's passing was simply atrocious today, and Bryan Hughes was anonymous for the best part of his 62 minutes on the pitch. No surprise that both were withdrawn.

I know that we have injury problems in midfield at the moment, and I know that Curbs never intended Murphy to leave in January, but perhaps we shouldn't have our midfield options diminish to this. We haven't had a ball winning midfielder who is also capable of playing a bit since Parker left, even though players like Steve Sidwell were available cheaply last summer. We were heavily linked with him, but decided not to take the chance, signing Smertin on loan instead... We really missed the boat there, Sidwell has been superb again this season, and is currently leading Reading's relentless charge towards our league.

The squad list for the season has been finalised, I know that; but midfield is surely the area that we need to strengthen as soon as we get the chance. There is too much dead wood at the club just drifting around and collecting paychecks at the moment.
I still just cannot get that post of New York Addick's out of my head. Unthinkable as it seemed to me at the time, perhaps he was spot on. We have a massive rebuilding/reshaping job to do over the next year in my opinion, and only one asset worth any real amount of money. How else are we going to fund what needs to be funded?

Anyway, this was supposed to be a match report, so I'll get back to the match.

The only other real talking points were Marcus Bent limping off injured, Baros making an enemy out of the Covered End, and Euell's return to action in SE7.

Jason did his best to change things when he came on. He is evidently short of fitness, and although he lost the ball a couple of times in midfield, at least he tracked back and re-won it for us. I really think that he can still play a part in the side this season, plus he proved again this afternoon that he still has the knack of ghosting into the box unmarked, and the ability to score goals from centre midfield would certainly be a welcome addition to the side. Holland, Smertin and Kishishev are never going to offer the same threat.

With regards to Baros, in real-time from where I was sat it looked as though Spector clipped him from behind, but I think what swayed the referee into not giving the penalty was the laughable way in which he collapsed. If you feel contact and you go down, fine, but for God's sake Milan, try to do it with a bit of dignity. I'll wait until I see Match of the Day tomorrow before I slag him off too much, but I do believe that players reactions are always the best way to tell whether or not a decision is correct, and no other Villa players were pleading his case. I think it's safe to say that he dived.

After rereading the above, perhaps this article reads a little harshly on certain individuals, but I don't mean that to be the case. This performance was certainly not the worst that Charlton have turned in this season, I am just utterly frustrated at the moment by players who don't seem to want it half as much as I do.
The BBC called it uninspiring, the official site identified it as frustrating, Sporting Life declared it lacklustre; but Cynic Athletic will go one step further, and label it as downright boring.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Villa Preview

Over the last few seasons Aston Villa have struggled away from home, but their form in Birmingham has managed to keep them clear of any potential relegation scraps. This season however, for the first time in a long time, Villa have earned more points on the road than they have at Villa Park, and they will arrive in SE7 on Saturday unbeaten in their last 7 away premiership encounters.

Curiously, only Chelsea and Manchester United have scored more goals on the road than The Villains, and only Chelsea and Manchester United have lost fewer away games; yet the club still only find themselves 15th in the Premiership.

Charlton on the other hand are in the middle of our best spell at home in at least 14 months, losing only 1 out of our last 8 games at The Valley, and winning 6 of them.
It's widely recognised among Addicks that although on paper those statistics make pleasant reading, the performances turned in by the team over those 8 games have not been as convincing as the results would indicate. Brentford in the cup aside, I can’t remember the last time we were truly comfortable in registering a home win.

Team news shows Smertin and El Karkouri pushing for a recall, and the latter would be making his 50th Charlton appearance if he makes the side tomorrow. Personally I would like to see Spector dropped back to the bench, Hreidarsson filling in at left back, and El Karkouri coming into the center of defence with Perry. I think that particular pairing will be best suited to coping with Villa’s attacking threat.

Their top two scorers are Luke Moore (8), and Milan Baros (9) and both look set to continue up front tomorrow. It’s a forward line of undoubted pace and potential, and they will be looking to become the first away players in 2006 to score in the Premiership at The Valley. Kevin Phillips is also in decent form, but it looks like he will have to be content with a place on the bench.

Mark Delaney has been ruled out with a knee injury, but the return of Ridgewell to the back line will ease O’Leary’s selection headache. Mellberg, Hughes, and apparent Charlton target Jlloyd Samuel will likely complete the back four charged with the task of marshalling Darren Bent, who has scored more goals on his own than Baros and Moore combined so far this season.

According to the official site Villa are bringing 2,000 fans down from Birmingham. I’ve also just spoken to our ticket office and they say that we only have single seats left, so if you haven’t got your ticket yet, you’d best get on the phone before they close at 8pm tonight. It’s unlikely that there will be any tickets available for you to pay on the day.

Cynic Athletic’s Prediction – 1-1 Draw (Moore – M.Bent)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A point gained

I’m a strong believer in the old adage that any away point in the premiership is a good point, and considering Newcastle’s recent return to something resembling consistency under Glenn Roeder, a 0-0 draw this evening at St James Park is a very satisfactory return for us.

I can’t comment too much on the actual match because I was at work till midnight tonight, restricted to text updates from friends in the ground for the whole 90 minutes; and I still haven’t seen the highlights. From what I read though we were lucky to still be level at the break, but as the match wore on we came more and more into it, and could have even nicked it at the death.
Still, the point gained this evening keeps us ahead of Newcastle in the table, and it brings our away form into line with our home form this season. 17 points at The Valley, 17 points on the road.

I’ve just been looking through our fixture list, and in my opinion the six home games we have left this year are all winnable. Teams still to visit the Valley this term are Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Everton, Portsmouth, and Blackburn.
Over the last couple of months we have managed to pick up points at The Valley without playing particularly well (the Birmingham and West Ham results spring to mind), if we can turn on a bit of style over the coming weeks in SE7, I see no reason why we can’t make a late charge up the table.


As a side note, I managed to avoid the Chelsea result throughout my late shift, and have just watched the rerun on Sky.
Messi’s simulation antics aside, Barcelona were superb tonight. There is nothing better than watching such a fluent and coherent attacking force when they are on form, and I found myself willing them on to win this evening even though they were playing English representatives in the Champions League.
The second half performance from the Catalan giants was just awesome. I love watching good football, whoever is playing it, and I just feel that they deserve an honourable mention this evening for their display at a ground (and on a pitch) where good football is always difficult to produce.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Newcastle Preview

Incredible really that it has been 25 months since Scott Parker left Charlton, and yet tonight will be the first time that he takes to the field against us. A combination of being out of favour, bad injuries at Chelsea, and rearranged matches have all contributed to Parker’s long awaited ‘reunion’ with the fans of the club who made him the player he is today.
The £10million we received for him made the blow of losing him less difficult to swallow, but it is widely recognised among Addicks that we have never replaced Scott with an equally talented midfielder, and our team hasn’t quite been the same since he departed.

I’m curious as to the reception that he will get from our 6 travelling supporters this evening. The Charlton fans I have spoken to about the issue appear to be pretty 50/50 about whether they would cheer or boo Parker when he eventually plays in front of the Covered End again. Perhaps the fans that are making the long trip up to The Toon this evening will be a little more forgiving towards Scott than those who only see the home matches.
Yes, he left us, but he left us after providing years and years of incredible service to Charlton. A true product of our youth system, a 100% honest, combative, and talented English midfielder who was twice voted our player of the year. It was difficult to accept the way that he left, but time is a healer, and I have forgiven Scott. If I was going tonight I would definitely give him a cheer when his name is announced.

On the pitch he is going to be a lot more difficult to ignore than off it. Shearer faces a late fitness test, and if he fails that then Parker will continue to deputise as captain in his absence. It’s likely that the main job of shadowing Scott will fall to Kishishev, which means that a good performance from the Bulgarian is crucial this evening. When Parker plays, Newcastle play.

The other Newcastle player facing a late test is Kieron Dyer, whose form seems to have picked up incredibly since the departure of Souness from St James Park. If he makes the 7:45 curtain, then Chris Powell’s performance this evening will also become that little bit more important. He is never going to match Dyer for pace, so his positional sense will have to be excellent, either that, or stop the ball from getting to Dyer in the first place. He is definitely the kind of player who will sulk if things don’t go his way, and because he is still recovering from a long term lay off, he would likely be withdrawn at half time if he isn’t having a good game.

Marcus Bent will slot back in up front in place of Bothroyd, and Hughes is set to continue in midfield, meaning that Ambrose will again start on the bench against his former side.
We haven’t beaten Newcastle in our last 8 attempts, but there are a couple of feel good factors which could play a role this evening. Charlton tonight will be celebrating our 1000th top flight game, and the squad will also be buoyed by the FA Cup quarter final draw from earlier this week.

Current form shows that Charlton haven’t won any of our last 8 premiership away games, while Newcastle are unbeaten in their last four home matches, and have won all three encounters since Roeder took temporary charge of the side.

Cynic Athletic’s Prediction – 2-1 defeat (Parker, Ameobi – D.Bent)

Quick note of thanks

Just a quick note to the 5639 people who have looked at the site during its inaugural month.
Thanks for your support and comments.

Use the links tab on the right to contact me with any improvements that you think I should make in order to improve what you see, or the stories that you read on CynicAthletic.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Price Of Empty Seats...

There is a bit of talk around today on the Charlton web regarding whether or not we are going to be able to sell out the FA cup quarter final against Middlesbrough, and it's something I hadn't particularly give much though to. The first home quarter final in 59 years, why is there even a concern that we won't sell it out?

Fair enough the game might not look the most mouth-watering prospect to the rest of the footballing nation, but that won't have an effect on the attendance, and we aren't really concerned about what they think anyway. It's a HUGE game for us, and anyone who decides not to attend may just find that Middlesbrough ticket stubs will be useful things to have in the wallet when it comes to prioritising season ticket holders for the best seats in a hypothetical final.

Incidentally, news has been broken by the BBC this morning that the final will definitely be played in Cardiff.

None of us claim to be a massive club, but most of us would claim to be bigger than the likes of Palace, Fulham, Southampton and Leicester, none of whom I could envisage not selling out in a quarter final at home, whatever the opposition. Doesn't the fact that we are even worrying about the attendance next month prove something about the apathy of The Valley crowd? Especially when the club is seriously contemplating spending £10million on expanding the stadium.

The match will be live on TV, either Sky or the BBC, and both broadcasters will point to the fact that it's been decades since an equivalent tie at home. We are supposed to be presenting the image of a club on an upward curve, looking to achieve higher league positions and attract better players. How are we going to look if we can't sell all the tickets for such a big game?

Here are the home FA Cup attendances for the last 2 years -

> Yeovil - 22873
> Rochdale - 13995
> Leicester - 23711
> Orient - 22029
> Brentford - 22098

This gives an average home FA Cup attendance of a shade under 21,000, but that average will be a little bit off because in all 5 of the above cases, the Jimmy Seed stand was packed out, and in 3 matches, the East Stand was also partly filled with away supporters.
Perhaps it's better to look at the last 2 matches for a more accurate reflection of how highly we regard the competition. Take 5,500 (the number of away fans in both matches this season) away from the totals and we are left with the home attendance for the last 2 ties being 16, 529 and 16,598. I assume that everyone who attended the earlier rounds will also attend the quarter final, as will approximately 2,000 Middlesbrough fans, which leaves us with about 9,000 seats left to fill on the day.

Being honest, a good 3,000 of those tickets will end up being sold anyway, whether it's to part time Charlton fans who want to associate themselves with relative success, or by neutral football fans who just want to see a live FA Cup Quarter Final, so although it's a huge game, perhaps the onus is on the club itself to lower the ticketing prices, or at least keep them consistent with what we have paid so far this season in order to achieve a full house.

Anything less will leave me severely disappointed, and writing a depressing article on just how big our true core support really is.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Best Possible Outcome

Well how about that then…

Middlesbrough at home in the FA Cup quarter final; I don’t think we could have hoped for a better draw. Looking at the teams in the hat beforehand it was evident that the top two outcomes for us were either Brum or Boro at home, incredible really that the chips have seemingly fallen in our favour once again.

The tie is to be played between the 20th and 23rd March, so the floodlights are going to be on, The Valley is going to be rocking, and we find ourselves with the best chance in decades of reaching a Cup Final, perhaps even the first final at the new Wembley (although according to reports, that is looking less and less likely).

The draw only occurred 10 minutes ago, so if you haven’t seen it:

> Charlton Vs Middlesbrough
> Villa/City Vs Bolton/West Ham
> Chelsea Vs Newcastle
> Birmingham Vs Liverpool

Assume that we beat Middlesbrough for a moment. If the other three ties go to form then City will dispose of Villa to and go on to face West Ham in my opinion. City should win that match at home, Chelsea and Liverpool should both have enough quality to get themselves through their ties, so if we can beat Boro, we will have a 33% chance of facing City or West Ham in a Cardiff semi final.
With our luck in the draw this year, would you bet against that? Obviously cup football is a lot less predictable than I’m making it sound, but there can be no doubts that of all possible results this afternoon, I don’t know if I could have picked a better one.

It’s a long way for Middlesbrough to come, the match will probably be televised, so I expect that they will only bring a maximum of 2,000 fans down in midweek.
The only person I have heard react to the draw so far from either side is Ugo Ehiogu who just gave an interview on Sky Sports News, claiming that our cup form is terrible, and that they are ecstatic with their draw as well.

Frankie Valley claims that our name is on it this year anyway, and that he didn’t care who we drew this afternoon. I’m not a great believer in the old ‘name on the trophy’ cliché, but there is definitely something in the air…

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Onwards We March

Clinical, and comfortable are words that spring to mind.

Brentford arrived at The Valley geed up by their Manager Martin Allen’s curious prose, and ready to win themselves plaudits nationwide by dumping another Premiership side out of the competition. I’ve been reading their boards all week, and they fancied their chances yesterday, make no mistake.

What won the game for us was the timing of the goals. Bent’s served to knock the stuffing out of the team and quieten the fans, whereas Bothroyd’s was just a classic sucker punch a couple of minutes before the break.
The next goal was crucial, and we got that as well. Game over.
They had a few chances over the course of the match, but with all due respect, you always got the feeling that we could rise a level if needed, and in truth, we didn’t need to get out of second gear to dispose of Brentford yesterday.
I’m not sure what all the crowd trouble was about, but I have heard conflicting reports. One Brentford fan I know on a football forum claims:

“I was right in front of it all, some Bees were banging the banners (advertising boards I presume – CynAth) as I am sure loads of people do, when some thuggish bald wan#er steward thumped a fan round the face for doing so. This incensed all Brentford fans and basically a fight broke out between the stewards and the Brentford fans, which lasted for about 20 minutes.”

Not sure about all that, but I suppose I can’t comment really. A lot of Brentford fans on GriffinPark.org are talking about complaining to the club over the treatment they received, so I’m sure the facts will become known in time…

Anyhow, onwards to round 6 then.

Fair enough, we’ve had a little bit of luck with the draw in the FA Cup so far this season. But they say that you can only beat what is put in front of you, and so far in this competition we have scored 8 goals in our three games, and won them all without needing replays. What more could we have done?

Arsenal are out, Man United are out, Chelsea play today, and barring draws, 2 other premiership sides will also exit the competition before the weekends football is done.
This draw is wide open, folks. The fact that we have been at home in the last 2 rounds isn’t relevant, on Monday at 1:30pm we once again have a 50% chance of being drawn at The Valley, and if that happens, I don’t particularly care who we face in the Quarter Finals, we are capable of beating them.
I’m sure one of the statto’s will tell me when the last home quarter final took place, but I’m certain it hasn’t been within my life time. It would be a huge occasion.

Even if we are drawn away it isn’t the end of the world. We have already beaten the Champions away in the cup this season, who else is there for us to be scared of? Over the last few seasons the ‘second’ team in the cup final (ie – not Arsenal, United, or Chelsea) has ended up with a place in Europe because of the way qualification is set up in England. We are therefore quite realistically only 2 wins away from our first ever qualification for the UEFA Cup. I haven’t been looking forward to a cup draw so much in years.

Think lucky, everyone.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Brentford Preview

League one Brentford arrive at the Valley in decent form, and whilst on paper the tie looks a formality, we have all been Addicks long enough to know better than to assume victory versus lower league opposition in SE7.

Their last 5 results have all been wins, and four of them have produced clean sheets. Indeed, the last goal the Bees defence conceded was at home to Premiership strugglers Sunderland, who they disposed of in the last round.
Their strike force isn’t too shabby either. Only Swansea have scored more goals than Brentford in League One this season, and although top scorer DJ Campbell has departed for Birmingham, the side have managed to find the net 8 times in the three outings since his exit.

Charlton are a class above anything they have faced so far this term though, and I can’t see us losing this match, provided we match their work rate.

We must have good knowledge about the abilities and weaknesses of their centre back and vice captain Michael Turner, who was an Addick for 7 years before switching to Brentford. He is one of a few players who have connections with both clubs, Hermann Hreidarsson was Brentford’s record signing when he left for £750,000 back in 1998, and Marcus Bent also used to ply his trade at Griffin Park, although he won't be able to face his former club tomorrow because he remains cup-tied.

I assume that either Bartlett or Bothroyd will slot into Marcus’ place, allowing us to keep to the 4-4-2 formation Curbishley seems to favour at the moment. El Karkouri should also have done enough to keep his place in defence, while the only issue in midfield is whether or not to reinstall the fit again Matt Holland in place of either Hughes or Kishishev.

The club have employed the same ticketing strategy for this match as they employed last round against Orient, which means that once again there will be 5,500 away fans at The Valley.
In round 4 we managed to quieten down what promised to be a vocal away following by grabbing an early goal. The same again tomorrow should be the aim. The longer the match stays level, the more confidence the opposition fans and players will gain, so lets just go out there and play them off the park from start to finish. 100% commitment and passion is what is required, and if we can give that, then there is no reason why we can’t walk all over them.

A major final is well and truly in our sights, and there should be no issue with players lacking motivation. It’s a massive game, and as has been said elsewhere, there is no excuse for us not winning it.

Cynic Athletic’s prediction – 3-1 win (Bent, Bothroyd, Karkouri – Owusu)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Euell's Diary

"The transfer window has now closed and, despite much speculation, I remain a Charlton Athletic player.
The club were more than aware of my position: I wanted to leave for the sake of my career and although a number of clubs had expressed an interest, either in terms of a permanent deal or on loan move, I feel the club dragged its heels and left it far too late in the day for the situation to be resolved.

All I can do now is keep my head down, continue to give my all in training and hope for that first-team place that keeps eluding me.

Like all players, all I want to do is play football, which was the only reason why I wanted to quit the club in the first place. I hope the Charlton fans can understand my viewpoint, particularly as a footballer’s career is so short, but all I can hope now is for the chance that I so crave – and a return to the form that helped me become a favourite with them in the first place." Jason Euell


Thought I would post that purely because Euell is a much talked about player over the last few weeks, what with his reappearance on the bench against Liverpool, and as a substitute up at City. I've quoted rather than linked because icons.com requires registration before you can even view their player diaries.

As for what he is saying, we all knew he wanted to leave the club but it's odd to see the man in his own words openly criticising and blaming Charlton for the fact that he is still with us

I've always like Jason Euell as a player. Never the most skilfull on the pitch, but he always seemed like he was giving his best for us over those first few seasons, so I’ll always respect him for that. Bit of a shame that we will never know how he would have progressed as a player over what would have been his prime years if things had gone a different way for him.
Still, he has a chance now to prove that a return to the first XI isn't beyond him, and that is exactly what he has been after. Lets wait and see what he makes of it.

Incidentally, other Charlton players on icons.com with their own diary pages include Lloyd Sam, Chris Powell, and Jay Bothroyd. Not that any of them appear to update too regularly, Bothroyd's last article was about an upcoming trip to Stamford Bridge, and Powell's was about Murphy's Charlton form igniting an England recall!

Anyway, if you fancy bookmarking the pages for future reference, go for it. To save you having to go through their needless and annoying registration process, log is as username cynicathletic, and password cynicathletic. It will then save a cookie in your browser, which will prevent you needing to re-login when you check the site in the future.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Transfer Savvy

It was an excellent article posted yesterday by New York Addick regarding Darren Bent's potential value should the Premiership's leading lights decide that he is worth a gamble.
12 Million was the figure he mentioned, and to be honest I don't think that would be too far shy of what we could achieve for the player.
If Ashton is worth 8 million, then surely no one can dispute that Bent must be worth at least 10 in this current market.

But as NYA states, is it really the value on the transfer market that we should be looking at, as opposed to his value to the club? A large quota of our hopes and aspirations for the next few seasons rest on his shoulders, and to be honest, the possibility of selling him on hadn't even occurred to me until I read the £12million question yesterday evening. Now that the subject is broached though, I can't see why I hadn't considered it before.

Currently we are perceived by the rest of The Premiership as a selling club, there can be no doubts about that, but our relative financial strength in relation to clubs of comparable size in this league means that we don't need to accept bids for top players anymore. We don't need to solicit business by touting names around, and even if we do decide to sell a player, we don't need snap the hand off of the club who submits the first bid.

Given these facts though, our transfer market dealing have been pretty darn awful. We have overpaid for players like Jeffers, and in my opinion Marcus Bent, while we have let the likes of Konchesky, Murphy, and Kiely leave for prices well under their true value. Alright, the club haven't revealed the full figures for Murphy and Kiely but they have been widely reported as 1.5m and 750k respectively.

Murphy in particular was a bit of a choker. We know that Spurs wanted him badly. They tried to sign him before we did (even offering Liverpool more than we did by all accounts, but the player didn't want to go), so when they came back for him in January his value should have at the very least stayed constant with what we paid.
He was a Liverpool reserve when he arrived. He starred for us early this season, scored goals from midfield, and forced himself back into the England reckoning. Aging only 15 months or so over this period, we find that his value has decreased by approximately 40%. How does that add up?
Yes he was unsettled, but he was still under contract. If they want him, then they pay what he is worth or else they don't get him; that should have been the message to Tottenham. Another 500,000 on the price wouldn't have scared them away from a player they have been after for 2 years, not when they had already held a bit of a midfield clearout in January.

As for Parker, yes it was a good piece of business with the benefit of hindsight, but I wonder how much we would have accepted for him if the bidding club had been anyone other than Chelsea. Back when they signed him, they were right in the middle of their huge spending spree. Charlton must have known that if a first bid was rejected, a larger second bid would be forthcoming.
Although the original £7million bid was turned down flat, would it have been if it had come direct from Newcastle, or Villa, or even Manchester City?

Yet, there are still players in the squad like Lisbie, JJ and Euell (elaborated on here) who have all been the subject of bids over the previous 14 months, and they are still all at Charlton.

I guess the general point I'm struggling to make is that perhaps we are just not shrewd enough around the negotiating table.

New York Addick ended his piece with his view that although Bent is a player we are all proud to have at The Valley, perhaps in the long term an income from his sale would be able to rejuvenate an aging squad and relay foundations for a push forward into Europe, by way of purchasing talent from the CCC.
An opinion which I assume is shared by a large portion of us Addicks, I can't help but worry that if it does comes to pass, and we do decide to cash in on Darren, are we going to cash in for the full amount?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Quality finishes paper over the defensive cracks

First of all, I’m gutted that I didn’t put a tenner on the 3-2 prediction that I posted last night, it would have definitely have seen me writing this report with a smile on my face.

We might as well forget about the first half. Dull, turgid, and at times downright boring, the only real action was the goal. The defence dealt with the initial corner adequately, but the ball fell to Smertin who inexplicably passed it back to Barton inviting him to cross the ball again. Which he did. 1-0.

Those fans who did decide to watch the second half were rewarded by what turned out to be a great 45 minutes of football punctuated by three moments of real quality, our equaliser being the first of them.

Whatever Curbs said to galvanise the team at half time must have still been ringing in their ears. El Karkouri’s ball through the defence was sublime, (as soon as he played it I said goal); and with a trademark flick of Darren Bent’s boot, the ball was buried. Pundits would still be bleating about that next week had it been Bergkamp and Henry.
Frustrating to say the least then, when City restored their lead almost immediately. The professional thing to do would have been to shut up shop for 5 minutes, settle back into the rhythm that got us the goal, and then begin to go at them again. As it happened, we were just slack in our marking and the good work was undone.

The second moment of quality was delivered by Joey Barton. No real criticism of the defence this time around, you just can’t legislate for strikes like that.

Our second goal was another terrific move. Forget about the fact that it was a City throw, decisions go both for you and against you, you just have to get on with it rather than berate the officials. We worked the ball out to Kishishev who delivered the kind of cross that strikers thrive on, and Marcus Bent dispatched it with aplomb.

At this point I really thought we could go on to get something from the game, and although both sides had their chances (most notably Karkouri’s effort in the last minute) we just didn’t have enough about us to make it happen.

None of the attacking players were to blame for that really. The issue today wasn’t to do with the scoring of goals, it was to do with the fact that two of the goals we conceded were totally preventable.
Forget about Barton’s strike, nobody was saving that one. It was the other two goals that cost us points this afternoon. Myhre had no chance with either of them, but in both cases the defence could have been tighter.
Dunne’s snapshot went past three red shirts before finding the net, and could have been blocked if any one of the three was closer to him when the ball arrived, and as for the Samaras goal, that cross should never have made it into our box in the first place.

Curbishley was quick to pick up on this in the post match interviews. Amid all of his talk about the England speculation, he said that we don’t even look like keeping a clean sheet away from home at the moment, yet we were so solid back at the start of the campaign.
I think the return of El Karkouri will help us out in the defensive stakes. Although he does give away the occasional crazy free kick around the edge of our box, I think he is a better defender than John Fortune, plus he offers us a little bit more going forwards as well.

Overall today I’m disappointed with the result and our non-performance in the first half, but the fight and spirit we showed (plus two outstanding goals) in the second half have calmed me down a little, and just go to prove that we can be much better than the table suggests we are at the moment. If only we can tighten our defensive unit in the coming weeks, we may have a little more to shout about results-wise away from home.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

City Preview

With a satisfying win over the European Champions providing a splendid feather in our caps, Charlton travel back to the North West this weekend with the intention of setting right our awful form in the region over the last 2 years.

I’ve been looking at the stats this morning to see just how poor that form really is, and it turns out that it’s even worse than I realised.
Our last 9 trips to the North West have heralded 1 win, and 8 losses, the solitary success coming at Goodison Park last season.
Over the course of those 9 games, we have earned an embarrassing aggregate scoreline of 26-3. There is definitely something in the water up there.

So how likely are we to turn it around?

Last year, if you managed to stop Shaun Wright-Phillips, you stopped Manchester City. We failed to do that at Eastlands last time out, and paid the penalty, getting thumped 4-0.
This year, the want away Joey Barton has had a similar talismanic effect on their side, with the combative midfielder fulfilling the role of both playmaker and ball winner. Much of the final result on Sunday will depend on how Kishishev and Smertin manage to deal with him.

City at Eastlands are a difficult team to predict. There is no doubt that when the crowd get behind them at home the team builds up a head of steam and can be a match for almost anybody, but it is also a ground where the home faithful get frustrated rather quickly if the side isn’t performing as they see fit.
I think that if we are going to win here it is going to take as much blood and sweat as its will take craft and guile.

If we go behind, I don’t know if we will have what it takes to dig ourselves out of the mire, so the game plan should surely be to contain and frustrate City for the first half an hour or so, stifling their midfield and giving no space to Vassell up front, whose pace is always capable of making things happen.

Jerome Thomas should keep his place after a decent display against Liverpool, and he will again provide our main outlet for relieving some of the pressure we will be put under early on in the game.
In my opinion, swift counter attacking rather than consistent pressure is going to be our best bet for getting goals in this fixture. The pace of Bent and Thomas will prove key in that counter attacking, City don’t have much pace at the back.

Past fixtures between the sides have tended to be high scoring affairs, the last 3 games producing no fewer than 15 goals. I also remember goals from that first year in the premiership where we beat them 4-0 at home and 4-1 away.
As for team news, I don’t really expect changed from Tuesday’s XI, but Fortune faces a late fitness test on his rib injury, and Holland is fit again should Curbishley wish to tinker.

I'm away tonight, so there will be no updates to the site until the match report. Apologies in advance.

Cynic Athletic’s Prediction –3-2 Defeat (Barton, Cole 2 – Bent 2)

Friday, February 10, 2006

The All Time League Table

Bit of a slow news day today, so I thought I would share something that I found interesting whilst I was aimlessly wandering the internet last night.

Above is a section of the All Time Premier League Table. It's not 100% correct because it was last updated towards the back end of 2005, but it is, nonetheless, a decent reflection of how successful Charlton have been in the Premiership compared to other clubs since the competitions inception in 1992.

The first column is the number of seasons played in the Premiership, then from left to right it reads like a normal league table. P, W, D, L, F, A, GD, Pts

Manchester United are top of the table, Arsenal second, Liverpool third, and Chelsea in fourth. Crystal Palace find themselves down in 28th place. Millwall are conspicuous only by their absence.
The full table can be viewed on this page, it was too big to upload the whole thing onto blogger.

For those of you that would be interested in a more comprehensive all time table, have a look at this section below.

This one is nothing to do with the Premier League, it takes into account total seasons played in the Football League since 1888, and all of the points gained, and goals scored since.
Again, I can't guarantee total accuracy because the table hasn't been updated since last year according to the site I took it from.

Columns are - Total Seasons, P, W, D, L, F, A, GD, Pts.

The full table can be found here.

Palace come 59th in the all time table, Millwall find themselves with nosebleeds at the heady heights of 41st, while we bring up the rear of the South London trio in 69th place.

Interesting stuff I thought.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

A job well done

Well hush my mouth..

Typical Charlton I suppose, pulling a result like that out of the hat when for the first time in a long time, there seemed to be more than a few dissenting voices speaking out about the way our football is being played at the moment.

I'm not particularly qualified to talk about the match, seeing as I started work this evening at 5 and I have only just arrived home now, but thanks to the genius of 3g mobile phones I was able to download a 10 minute highlight video from Vodafone Live and watch it at about 11:15.

From what I saw it looked like we were good value for the win, I was only watching on a 2" screen, but a penalty looked the correct decision for the first goal. Bent took it really well, doing what Shevchenko couldn't, and sending Dudek the wrong way.

I don't know exactly how long the ball was in play for between the first and second goals, but I would assume that Liverpool still felt wronged over the penalty incident when play restarted, and we took full advantage of that fact by scoring again immediately.

The only highlights from the second half I managed to see were the post and bar incidents. Both of which were incredibly unlucky, especially Marcus Bent's effort. It would have finished off a superb move and a superb evening if that one had crashed into the bottom corner.
Still, I'll certainly settle for 2 goals and a clean sheet against the European Champions.

Reading through various reports online it looks as though we were outplayed for the majority of the first half, but fully deserved our winning margin on the strength of our second half showing.
Hopefully a win like this will serve to rebuild some of the players' confidence in themselves, and just maybe we can go up to Man City and spring a surprise next weekend.

Time for me to get the matchsticks and coffee out now. In their wisdom, Sky have decided that they wont show the match tomorrow morning, they're going to repeat it at 2 am tonight instead...


Edit - I noticed again that we were kicking towards the Covered End in the first half. Did anyone see who won the toss?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Hayes wins in 13% turnout

Congratulations to Ben Hayes on becoming the new supporters’ director. I didn’t vote for the man myself, but I’m sure that he will do a decent job of representing us over the next two years.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Ben, and what he plans to do during the course of his term, you can visit his own website here, or look through his question and answer session with Inspector Sands here.
Both pages are worth reading if you haven’t done so already, After all, if you wish to make your own voice heard by the club over the next 2 seasons, then Ben is the channel through which you will likely have to go.

I remember commenting on this page that it would be interesting to see just how many Addicks would be turning out to vote in this election, and now we have the answer.
A paltry 2,120 of the clubs 15,000 adult season ticket holders bothered to voice their opinion, and 20% of those who voted managed to spoil their ballot papers, rendering their opinions worthless. The upshot is that the winning candidate was only 92 votes ahead of the candidate in last place. And 87% of the people eligible to vote didn’t even bother.

I thought that due to the amount of coverage given to this election by the club we could expect a far more healthy turn out than that.
I’m sure that there were more than a few supporters who wanted to vote, but couldn’t really be arsed to queue up at the polling station on matchday. The ease and convenience of being able to vote online simply by clicking a link should have been enough to sway those people into making their choice.
It’s 2006, no one is going to tell me that supporters truly don’t have access to the internet. Even if not at home, I don’t imagine that there is an office or library in the country without a modem…

Perhaps the problem was that certain fans felt that whoever was elected wouldn’t be able to deliver upon all of their policies anyway; perhaps the whole position is viewed with a sceptical eye by a large group of our season ticket holders.

Here is Varney’s take on the result –

"Offering a place to a supporter on the board of a football club is something that is unique in the Premiership, and I believe that when the board reviews the process, although the turnout is larger than on the last occasion, they will still be disappointed with the low number of voters and by the excessively large number of spoilt ballot papers.”

Incidentally, the number of spoilt ballot papers was 423, which is 18 more than the total number of people who voted for the incumbent director.
For the record, Vince came second (8 votes behind), Sue Townsend was third, and Brian Cole came fourth.

Looking at these figures, I’m not so sure we will get the chance to vote again once Hayes’ term comes to an end.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Liverpool Preview

"All the wide players seem to have had a bit of a break at some point - Dennis is out at the moment and Darren Ambrose was suspended and injured earlier on in the season. But Jerome has come on in the last couple of games and livened things up.” Alan Curbishley

I am going to have serious doubts about the direction we are going in if Jerome doesn’t start tomorrow night at The Valley.
Most of the Charlton blogs I frequent have correctly identified that he is almost the only player at the moment willing to run with the ball and make things happen for the side.
Liverpool will likely play Finnan at right back, and I fancy that Jerome can give him a bit of a torrid time down the flank.

As for the rest of the side I don’t really have any new comments to make to be honest. You all know what I think of the players in our line up, and if you don’t you can be reminded here and here.
If the online community are to be used as a yardstick, its obvious that most of us are pretty disillusioned with our prospects right now. A win against Liverpool would of course banish some of the gloom that has descended upon SE7 recently, but I just can’t see us putting the ball in the net against this team.

Take the Chelsea result away from their recent form and you will see that they have won 11 or their last 13 premiership encounters, conceding only 5 goals during the course of that run. Yet, they have lost both previous games that they have played in London this term.
As a general rule they don’t seem to concede goals in open play, but the frailties of their zonal marking system have recently been pulled apart on Sky, which means that set pieces are the most likely area in which we can cause them some damage.

Work commitments mean that I won’t be able to get to The Valley for this match, which is a shame because I wanted to experience first hand what the atmosphere would be like.

I have talked here before about the boo boys in the covered end recently, and if we were to go a goal or two down tomorrow I expect they will be out in force again.
These people pay their money just like the rest of us, and because of that I suppose they are as entitled to vocally criticise the team as the rest of us are to vocally encourage them, but lets try and get behind the side tomorrow night lads. Things obviously aren’t great at the moment, and be that as it may, the last thing we need is the player’s heads dropping any lower than they must already be. The know they are in poor form, but they are also much more likely to turn it around if the noise coming from the covered end is positive rather than negative.

Mind you, saying that, my prediction isn’t positive at all. As much as I try not to vocally chastise the team, I’m not confident in our ability to beat an egg at the moment, let alone the European Champions…

Cynic Athletic’s Prediction – 2-0 Defeat (Crouch, Gerrard)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Esprit de corpses

Another frustrating afternoon at the office for Charlton, an afternoon where we got exactly what we deserved from White Hart Lane.

The attitude of the team was wrong right from the start and for the majority of the first half it was embarrassingly one sided. Our passing was off again, and there was a criminal lack of both urgency and desire.
No surprise that the first goal came early, and no surprises about the scorer either, Jermain Defoe’s shot coming off of Fortune, Young, Myhre, and the bar before eventually finding the net.

I was hoping that we would react positively to falling behind but there was no discernible change to the way we approached the match. Marcus Bent’s first touch remained awful, no invention in midfield, no width to speak of, and no clear cut chances. It was almost as if we were going through the motions at times, and the second goal was just inevitable.

I’m beginning to get fed up with the way we are playing. It’s not so much the poor football, but the lack of passion and fire within the players really worries me.

When we first got into this league every game was such a big event for the whole squad. You could see in their faces and tell by their work rates that they were going to give their all for the shirt. Players like John Robinson, Mark Kinsella, Steve Brown, Andy Hunt, and Richard Rufus, you never minded as much when we lost games in those days because you knew that the players couldn’t have given any more than they did. That’s just not the case anymore.

Perhaps it’s to do with the lack of home grown players we have in the team at the moment? There is next to nothing breaking into the first team from our academy, I want to know how much it costs us to keep the damn thing open each year.

Look at the likes of Wigan and West Ham this season, that is what I am getting at. They don’t know when they are beaten, either of them.
Yesterday at The Reebok I wouldn’t have given this current Charlton side a prayer of coming back in the last 10 minutes after going 1-0 down late on, but the Wigan players sweated blood, fought, and refused to give up, and they got their rewards in the end.

If we had gone 1-0 down in the 80th, I’m positive we would see more heads dropping down than sleeves rolling up.
We need to rekindle that spirit within ourselves, that esprit de corps that came as standard with any Charlton side back in the likes of 1998 and 2001.

Until we harden ourselves up and grind ourselves in again, we are going to keep getting turned over like we did today. The only time we looked like we had any kind of attacking threat was when Jerome Thomas came on. For those 10 minutes we looked like we had a purpose, surely he needs to start more games for us. We have two strikers who aren’t bad in the air, so playing without wingers who can cross the ball is senseless.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on the side, I don’t know.

I just felt like I knew what was written in the script today long before it played out on the pitch, and it’s depressing when you find out that you were right.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Spurs Preview

White Hart Lane has tended to be a happy hunting ground for Charlton since our return to the top flight. We are unbeaten in our last six visits to N17, claiming three draws and three wins.
Is it too much to ask for us to extend that record this weekend?

Our away form at the moment shows us picking up one point from the last 15 available, whereas Spurs have only lost once in front of their own fans all season.
On paper it looks a foregone conclusion, but the game isn’t played on paper is it…

Last time out at The Lane was Martin Jol’s first game in charge of Spurs, and we managed to cling on to record a 3-2 victory despite tremendous pressure from the home side late on in the game.
We scored a couple of good goals that day, and with our strike force at the moment I’m confident that if chances are made, we can definitely put them away. It’s just a question of how solid we are at the back.

Spurs are without Mido who is still away at The African Nations, and I doubt very much if Rasiak will be given another start after the mare of a performance he gave at Fulham, so I expect Spurs will revert back to the Keane and Defoe partnership up top for this match. A front two who aren’t a threat in the air at all, but both have quick feet and pace. A potent threat no doubt, but yet Spurs have gone 277 minutes without a premiership goal.
They are also giving late tests to both Davids and Taino, Michael Dawson is banned, and new signing Ghaly is doubtful.

Over on our side of the water, the BBC says that both Holland and Rommedahl are struggling to win their fitness races, so it looks like Kish will start in place of Holland, with that being the only change from the side that bored us all to tears against West Brom.

I never posted a match report after that game because to be quite honest there wasn’t too much to report on. I’ve already forgotten most of the match, but one gripe I do remember were the constant long balls up towards the front two which they consistently failed to bring under control.
I’m not sure whether Curbs had told them to play that way but it seemed that we hoofed it at every available opportunity on Tuesday, and with minimal success. Smertin isn’t a bad passer of the ball, and while he is in the side I hope that we can play it through him on the floor a little bit more.

One other thing while I’m on the subject of the West Brom game.
I love kicking towards the Covered End in the second half, and its always been tradition to play towards your home faithful as the legs begin to tire, so it just strikes me as odd that almost every team that come to the Valley turns it around these days.
I’m getting so used to us kicking towards the Jimmy Seed in the second half recently that I’m starting to wonder whether its us that change ends if we win the toss. Anyone else noticed this trend over the last year or so?

Back to Spurs. The atmosphere is going to be pretty hot I’d imagine, what with the whole Murphy situation.
I had assumed that he would be playing this weekend because he signed in plenty of time to complete registration, but it turns out that a clause was inserted into the deal to say that he couldn’t face us on Sunday. The upshot is that we don’t have to worry about him playing a blinder and laying on three goals for SE7’s most hated of all opposition strikers.

We do however, have to deal with the fact that he is doubtless going to be paraded around in front of us on the pitch before the match holding a Spurs scarf above his head like he’d never turned them down in the first place.

Remember what he said about our away support? If you’re going to The Lane this weekend, make sure you’re loud and proud.

Cynic Athletic’s Prediction – 2-1 Defeat (Keane, Lennon – D.Bent)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Curbs tempted by The Toon?

Well it’s started already. No official links as yet, but Wyn Grant has become the first person I’ve seen to link Curbishley with the newly vacated Newcastle hot seat.

It was something I considered a few months ago in my own head, the fact that Souness was probably going to be sacked at the end of this season, and if Charlton haven’t achieved what Curbs feels we should achieved by May, that he would consider the job a very attractive proposition.

There is obviously money to spend up there, passionate fans, and a squad that is capable of easily making the top 7-8 with one or two additions.
Plus the chance to link up with Parker again would no doubt appeal to Alan, we all know what an admirer he is of the player.

A couple of seasons ago I recall Curbishley saying that if he could leave Charlton mid table in the premiership, with a 30,000 all seater stadium and perhaps a major cup in the cabinet, then he would consider it a job well done (which of course it would be). I don’t recall the exact quote but they were definitely words to that effect.
Well, two out of his three criteria are pretty much fulfilled, and we currently find ourselves with only Brentford standing between us and the FA Cup Quarter Finals.

Over the last year or so there have been the occasional few idiots in the covered end who boo a particular decision (normally a substitution) made by Alan, and there have been a couple of times I have watched him throw his arms up in exasperation at the North Stand, once even indicating to the fans that it was an injury rather than a tactical decision he had made.
After that game (I can’t remember which it was), he said in the post match conference that the fans were ‘getting on his back’, and that must be so frustrating for him after all he has done for us.

A minority of boo-ers can sound deafening when the rest of the ground is silent.

You know and I know that vast majority of the boo boys have no idea where the club has come from over the last 14 years. They may well be Charlton fans now, but they have only joined the ride during the premiership years, and these are the people who, if Curbishley goes, will be the ones who have forced him out…

I’m pretty sure that Alan would be a popular choice with the Geordies.

I predict that the Toon will band around the likes of the Hiddinks, the Sven Goran Erikssons, and the Martin O’Neills, and then set their sights a little more realistically. Names like Curbs and Allardyce will no doubt then come into the frame.

Curbishley’s odds to get the job are currently 30 on Betfair (which translates to about 27/1 in traditional odds).

Don’t take this post as meaning that I want Curbishley to leave, just as an opinion that if the job was offered to him, I think he could feel that perhaps it’s the right time to move on...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Anger at Danny as the dust settles..

I’ve had a day now to think about the Murphy situation and the more I reflect, the angrier I get with Danny.

I maintain that the two main events that have caused his exit are

> The public criticism after his red card vs. Arsenal
> His omission from the England squad when widely tipped to sneak in

Neither of those reasons are anywhere near good enough to justify the monumental paddy that he has thrown.

Things were fine while he was playing well. The team was climbing the table, and there was talk throughout the national press that he was enjoying a new lease of life at the Valley which could ignite a recall to the England squad. But when that call never came, the first seeds of doubt were obviously sown in the players mind.
Doubt as to whether he had made the right move, and doubt as to whether he would be able to fulfil his ambitions at the club.

His form plummeted after that setback, grew steadily worse until the Arsenal game.

He fully deserved what Curbishley said after the red card. It was a ridiculous thing to do, there wasn't any excuse for doing it, and he did deserve to be sent off.
Danny Murphy is supposed to be a professional footballer, and it doesn’t matter how frustrated you are with a referees decisions, you do not throw the ball down in a petulant and childish fit anywhere on the pitch, let alone 10 yards from the official.

The criticism he received was his own fault. Not Curbishley’s, and certainly not the clubs.

When the suspension was over and he made his last appearance for the club at Goodison he was clearly not interested in the game. Giving the ball away time and time again until he was withdrawn on the hour, never to be seen in a Charlton shirt again.

The last four weeks have just been a jumble of stories from the press linking him mainly to Newcastle. The club itself, after initially denying that Murphy was going to be transferred at all just fell silent upon the whole issue as the stories grew more and more frequent. Never again offering a complete denial.
Curbishley said “all the newspaper reports have been really unsettling for Danny” in the above link, but why should that be the case?

He has been here barely 18 months, after turning down the club he has now gone to sign for. Professionals are in the news all the time, they are used to the scrutiny and used to the exposure, and they are experienced in how to deal with it.
All Danny Murphy has done is use the old “unsettled” chestnut as an excuse in order to jump ship, and I resent that.

A better man would have tried to fight for his place in the side, tried to shrug off the criticism, tried to prove the England set up made a mistake in omitting him from their squad. Not by hiding himself away, not speaking to the fans, and making it so that the club had no option other than to let him walk.

The team may not be better off without him, but the club certainly is. He got roundly booed by the Spurs fans when they played at The Valley this season. Now he is going to get roundly booed by the Addicks when we go to White Hart Lane.

And fully deserved it will be.