Thursday, August 31, 2006

Diawara makes it eight

With 40 hours of the transfer window left, the Addicks announced that 27-year-old Souleymane Diawara has become Iain Dowie’s 8th signing of the summer. I’ve never even heard of the lad let alone seen him play, but he has experience of playing in Europe, has won domestic trophies in France with Sochaux and is an experienced International. The price is slightly higher than I would have expected to pay for such a player but Dowie claims that he has followed his career for some time and is well aware of what he can do, so the rest of us will just have to trust his judgement. The fee was £3.712m (and twenty six new pence) by the way.

As I’m sure most Addicks are aware by now, one player who will not be present when Diawara joins up with the squad is Costa Rican talent Christian Bolanos, whose appeal for a work permit was turned down by the Home Office yesterday. I’m gutted about this news to be honest. I wasn’t at the friendlies that the kid took part in but I have heard nothing but glowing reports from those that were, and I’m sure that the club will be keeping an eye out for his inclusion in up and coming Costa Rica squads. As soon as Christian’s percentage creeps up over the 75% mark, I’m sure he will be on the first available plane back to London. It was obvious when the original application was turned down that Bolanos hadn’t played enough International matches, and I would love to know on what grounds the club appealed the decision anyway. It does seem a little harsh though to expect the kid to have been playing ¾ of his countries International games at the age of just 20.

So with Bolanos off of the list, and no further movement on the alleged deal for Pouso, Dowie now has approximately 21 hours of the transfer window left in order to find us the midfielder we so desperately need. Even if we find the right man, the question is: Do we have enough money left to sign him? By my reckoning we have spent just over £11m this summer and recouped nothing. Jason Euell looks likely to be off to Boro, but even if that move goes through I can’t imagine it being for anything more than a million. Perhaps it would be wise not to sign a midfielder tomorrow, and save the money for January instead. By then we will have a better idea of where we need to strengthen anyway.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Pouso on the way?

With 2 days of the transfer window left, BBC Sport has reported that we are on the verge of signing Uruguayan midfielder Omar Pouso on a season long loan. The player is allegedly in England at the moment, and discussing terms with the Addicks.

A few Google searches have confirmed that not much seems to be known about Pouso at the moment. The BBC article is lacking any serious details, and Soccerbase don’t even have his date of birth registered. (Edit - this story claims that Pouso is 26). With regards to his ability as a player, all I know is that he can hit a mean volley for 35 yards, just ask England. (video of that goal is here)

The President of his current club Penarol claimed yesterday "Pouso explained to us that they (Charlton) offered an attractive amount of money and we won't forbid him a step forward in his career”. Not quite sure what the player would have meant by that. If we are taking him on loan then I thought the general procedure was that the club signing the player just pays him the wages he would have been getting at his original club. I’m ready to be corrected if that isn’t the case.

In other news, poor little Kevin Davies has suffered a fractured cheekbone as a result of Hreidarsson's challenge at The Valley on Saturday. Allardyce has revealed that not only are the club going to appeal the red card he received that day (although he should have had 2 before receiving the one that actually dismissed him), the Bolton manager has also lambasted referee’s for never giving the player the protection he deserves.

"It is appalling that Kevin doesn't get the protection he deserves from referees. He is constantly put under duress by defenders and he never feigns injury or tries to con the referee by simulating" - Allardyce

The irony is almost unbearable. This man manages a squad which includes the likes of Diouf and Campo, two of the worst culprits in the league when it comes to feigning injury. It's always an elbowfest when Bolton come to town, and games with them are always boring, and littered with niggly free kicks because of the style in which they play. The elbow on Faye at the weekend may not have been the worst challenge Davies made on the day but there is no way that the FA will let him wriggle out of his suspension, not with the way he conducted himself throughout the rest of the match. One of my pet hates is managers who religously defend their players even when they are clearly in the wrong. Davies lived by the sword at the weekend, so he can't have any complaints when it came back to bite him.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wanderers jinx given the elbow at last

Darren Bent's well taken goals and Scott Carson's superb display between the sticks are the main reasons that we find ourselves off of the foot of the table today, but credit must also be given to Iain Dowie for delivering both a victory and a clean sheet for the first time in his Charlton career.

It was also an eventful afternoon for referee Mike Dean, who gave two penalties, issued two red cards, and should really have issued two more if the law had been obeyed to it's letter. Davies was a flurry of elbows all afternoon but Hreidarsson was foolish to get involved in retribution. Upon viewing the replays I think a sending off was probably the correct decision but if Davies hadn't have gone on to get his own marching orders, a debating point this morning would surely have been whether the Bolton player should have even been on the field by the time HH decided to dispense his own justice. The referee clearly missed the first incident between the same two players, and it was a stroke of fortune for Davies that Hermann decided to just get on with the game rather than roll around on the floor as if he had been shot.

Both of the penalties were harsh. There may have been contact between Diouf and Faye but there was certainly nothing which should have constituted a foul. When you view the replay from the camera in the East stand, the way that Diouf falls over without even bending or twisting his body is quite embarrassing really. Scott Carson was on hand to ensure that he did not profit from his theatrics and he was on his feet in a flash in order to clear the rebound, where lesser keepers may have still been laying on the floor congratulating themselves. We have a real gem in this lad, and we should be pushing Liverpool immediately in order to agree a fee and make the deal permanent in January. The last minute save from Idan Tal was just further evidence of his alertness and agility.

Our penalty was also a soft decision, and I'm inclined to agree with Allardyce that there may have been a subconscious decision from the referee to level things up. I can't imagine he would have given that if both sides had 11 men and he hadn't just given a debatable penalty at the other end. Still, he gave it, and Darren Bent did what he does best. The second goal was the first real combination that we have seen from the two front men this term and it was indeed refreshing to see the ball hit the back of the net, and a partnership beginning to form.

It wasn't all good news though, there were times yesterday when I was screaming at our defenders for leaving wide open spaces, particularly down our left, and Stelios in particular could have had a couple of goals on another day. There are obviously defensive frailties in the side at the moment and the loss of Hermann for the next three games isn't going to make it any easier for Dowie to get those errors ironed out.

Both of the debutants did ok. Traore was guilty of one of two positional blunders, but those will surely become less frequent once he is more familiar with the rest of his back four. Reid did not look as out of shape as I had expected him to, and he even sprinted on one occasion! We have quite a lot of height in the side now that Traore and Faye are included, and Reid's delivery of the ball from set pieces will no doubt be valuable to us this year.

An international break means that we don't play again until the 9th of September, and hopefully by the time that match comes around Bolanos will be cleared to play, and Thomas/Gibbs will be a little closer to recovering from their injuries. Isn't it amazing how much brighter things look after obtaining three points?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bolton Preview

I’m not so sure that I agree with Dowie’s claim that we “haven’t been put to the sword” in either of our first two games. The fact that we lost to Manchester United doesn’t really bother me, but the manner of the defeat was pretty morale sapping.

Towards the end of the Curbishley era there were a number of occasions where the heads of the players visibly dropped after going a goal behind, and that generally resulted in the opposition helping themselves to further goals. I’m a little worried because a similar thing happened on Wednesday night. I remember commenting at half time that although they had hit both the bar and the post, I didn't feel particularly threatened by United. Then half time came and went, they scored, our heads dropped, and they scored again and again. This is an alarming trait that our players seem to have, and one that needs to be nipped in the bud before it develops into a full-blown confidence crisis. If we do go behind in matches, we need to have the belief that we can still get something from them.

I saw a set of statistics towards the end of last year, which showed how many points Premiership teams had accrued when coming from behind in matches. I can’t find the link now, but we were awfully low in that table.

People within the media and on the various football forums net wide are widely tipping us to struggle now that they have seen our first two results, and this slide needs to be arrested immediately. We have never before been bottom of the Premiership, even in 98/99 when we got relegated. I don’t think we have ever lost the first four fixtures of a league campaign in my lifetime either, but with Chelsea (a) next up on the list it just goes to show what an important fixture it is at The Valley tomorrow.

Traore will come back into the fold and will make his home debut; it also looks as though Reid is set to figure from the start aswell. Wyn Grant reported earlier in the week that Bolanos’ work permit has finally been approved, so we could in theory be welcoming three new Addicks to The Valley this weekend. Presumably Hughes will drop out of the side for Reid, and Fortune for Traore with HH switching back into the centre. I don’t envisage any other changes.

Sam Allardyce and his league of nations arrive unbeaten after their first two matches, with a win at home against Tottenham followed up by an away draw with Fulham. They also have an excellent record at The Valley over the last 5 years, having beaten us on four occasions and drawn the other. We surely must be due a win against this side, and we can draw hope from the fact that they haven’t taken 3 points on their travels since the 17th December 2005. In fact, they have only scored one goal on the road in their last 5 League matches, and that was the penalty they were awarded at the cottage on Wednesday night.

I hate playing Bolton. They are well organised, but they are also dirty and boring. I don’t envisage this one being a classic by any means, but when you are scrapping for your lives at the bottom of the league (and we are, by the way) I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice entertaining football for three points.

I’m going onto nights this week, so the match report is unlikely to be up until late on Sunday/early Monday. Apologies in advance.

Cynic Athletic’s Prediction – 2-1 Win (Ambrose, Hasselbaink – Nolan)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

No attacking ideas, no points

If a team is beaten in it’s mind, then it’s going to get beaten on the pitch as well. With about 20 minutes to go last night I turned to my mate and commented that we were playing as if we were already 4-0 down, the side didn’t look like they believed there was a way back into the match, so the fact that we went on to concede another 2 late goals was hardly a surprise to any of us up in the attic of the Covered End. Indeed, if not for the sturdy Charlton woodwork and the accomplished shot-stopping of Scott Carson, tonight could have been utterly embarrassing.

United were good, there are no doubts about that, but they didn’t have to work nearly as hard as they should have done in order to claim all three points from us. Faye, Holland and Hughes were just chasing ghosts around the middle of the park for almost the entire second half, and Dowie now has less than a week to bring in a player to create things and orchestrate the midfield. 26 year-old Steed Malbranque from Fulham would be my first choice in that regard. Coleman has told the man that he won’t play for Fulham again even if he is fit, and if the fee is as little as £2.5m (the same amount we paid for M. Bent), we should definitely take a punt on him.

The baiting of Ronaldo kind of dried up once it became evident that he was the best player on the pitch by a country mile, and the defence struggled to cope with surging runs from the United midfield all evening. It was almost comical in the 80th minute when the ball came to Saha, only for both of the defenders we had between him and the goal to instinctively go running towards Ronaldo instead of attacking the ball. Saha can’t have believed his luck, and he simply turned and smashed the ball into the corner without even having to evade a challenge.

On another day we could have had a penalty or two at the beginning of the first half, but it’s worrying that we are yet to score a goal from open play, and even more worrying that we don’t look likely to score a goal from open play. There was no verve or creativity in this performance, and the chances that fell our way were a result of shoddy United defending rather than a nicely weighted through ball or perfect cross.

Dowie cited post-match that his plans for the fixture were thrown into disarray with the late injuries to Sorondo and Reid, but that doesn’t qualify as a legitimate excuse to me. Sorondo allegedly fractured a bone in his back during the West Ham game, and was in pain towards the end of that match. That was four days ago, so it doesn’t qualify as a late injury. Reid hasn’t been fully fit since he joined the club so plans to start him in place of the woefully ineffective Brian Hughes, although tactically sound, were never going happen this early in the season. I also found Dowie’s comments about the goalkeeping situation rather interesting. His quote, “We have two number ones at this club, and I hold Thomas in high regard, but Scott has just got the nod at the moment” must not have gone down particularly well in the Andersen household.

Anyway, two games played, 6 conceded, and bottom of the league. The start to this season could not have been much worse, and things need to be sorted out quickly. If you include the pre-season friendlies, Dowie hasn’t managed to deliver a clean sheet in any of the 9 games in which he has managed us. The Bolton fixture is huge now, and we must avoid defeat at all costs.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

United Preview

Alan Curbishley guided us to the Premiership twice during his reign, and under his tenure we came face to face with Manchester United no fewer than 12 times in the top flight, without ever managing to record a victory.

Iain Dowie will step up to the plate in order to have his first crack at the Red Devils tomorrow night, and fresh from an opening day defeat to West Ham, he could surely be forgiven for wishing that the opponents for his first competetive home game were somebody other than the 8 time Premiership Champions. We have never lost our first two Premiership games in any of the seasons in which we have graced the league, and Dowie is more than aware of how hard we will have to work in order to extend that record.

"Wednesday provides the ultimate test, against probably the best team the Premiership has had in the time it has been going. It is our first home game and we have got to make sure that the fans go away having been entertained." - Ian Dowie

Team news for Charlton, obviously Traore misses out after his error at the weekend but his spot on the left will be filled by Hreidarsson, with Sorondo probably getting the nod in the centre. Carson will surely continue in goal, and the midfield and strikers should also keep their places. The only change I could foresee would be the possible inclusion of Reid in Hughes' place, but it's widely reported that he isn't fully fit yet and in my opinion it would be foolish to risk him from the start in a match like this.

United arrive in SE7 in good form, although they may be forgiven for thinking that they are still in the midst of their pre-season routine, such was the level of resistance put up by Fulham on Sunday.
Rooney and Scholes (who both starred in that 5-1 demolition) will start their three-match suspensions, and it's likely that their main danger man will be replaced by Ji-Sung Park. At least we can be certain that Van Nistelrooy wont be getting his customary goal against us this time around.

The key area for me will be Ronaldo's tussle with the ageing Hreidarsson down our left flank. He will need to be carefully marshalled if we are to have any hope of keeping a clean sheet. Distribution of the ball when playing our way out of defence is also critical. If we obtain it and then hoof it up field, we will find it coming straight back at us. We need to play a bit more intelligently against sides of superior footballing ability.

Curbishley often described this sort of match as a 'bonus ball', in the sense that a win is a great result, a draw is a good result and even a loss is acceptable. To a certain extent I agree with this, but I can't help feeling that if we were to suffer a heavy defeat at the hands of United tomorrow night, it could severely damage the confidence of a squad who are already unfamiliar with each other. Of course it works the other way aswell should we get a huge victory, but can any Addick look themselves in the eye and say with their hand on their heart that they honestly expect us to win tomorrow night?

Cynic Athletic's Prediction - 2-1 Defeat (Ronaldo, Saha - Bent)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Traore off as Addicks stumble

“Referee’s make decisions. I’m not going to criticise him, but in my opinion he got the first booking wrong”Iain Dowie

The manager’s fragmented and contradictory post match comments were the only thing I found amusing about our trip to East London today, but upon reviewing the evidence I don’t think either of the bookings can be complained about. Traore’s suitability as a signing was questioned on more than one Charlton blog before he joined the club, but regardless of footballing ability, if a player doesn’t have the common sense not to stick his foot in front of the ball when the opposition are about to take a free-kick, then that player shouldn’t be on the field at all. It was a stupid thing to do, and it cost us any chance we had of actually winning the match.

However, Dowie was correct in pointing out that West Ham should have already been 1 man down by the time that Traore endeared himself to the travelling support. How Gabbidon’s blatant punching of the ball away from Hasselbaink’s head wasn’t deemed to be preventing a goalscoring opportunity, I will never know. The cross came from out on the wing and was in the air at least a couple of seconds, so it can’t have been deemed as ball-to-hand can it?

Bent put the penalty away with aplomb, Reid looked useful when he came on and Carson made one spectacular save in the first half, but I can’t really think of too many other positives to take from today. The marking was awful for West Ham’s equaliser, and I counted four mistakes in the build up to their second, the worst of which being a comical attempt to clear the ball off of the line by Karkouri. Carlton Cole (I just knew he was going to score today) came on late in the day to rub salt into our wounds, but in truth the game was already over as a contest by that point.

I’m not going to press any panic buttons over this defeat however, we are a new side this year and the players were always going to need time in order to mould themselves into the finished product that Dowie has in mind. I said in yesterday’s preview that one win from these first three games would be a decent return and in my heart of hearts, I always thought that we would be most likely to pick up that win against Bolton on the 26th.

Let's just sweep this defeat conveniently under the carpet and forget about it. Hopefully we can spring a surprise against United in midweek.

Friday, August 18, 2006

West Ham Preview

A brand new Charlton Athletic will take to the field tomorrow afternoon against West Ham at Upton Park. Plenty of new players, a new management team, new songs from the terraces, and hopefully some new ideas about the way Premiership football should be played.

We all know the size of the job Iain Dowie undertook when he agreed to take over the reins from Curbishley, and from what I have seen of the man so far, I am impressed with the way he has set about it. For so long this summer the squad looked dangerously think in places, but five new faces within the last 10 days have really bolstered those positions, and although many of the new recruits haven’t had much time to train with their new team mates, I am confident that over the course of the next few weeks they will settle in, and in 38 games time we will once again finish mid-table in what is widely described as the toughest league in the World.

As for the starting XI tomorrow, Amdy Faye is almost certain to start in the middle of the park, and I would imagine that Kishishev will be in there alongside him. Myhre should keep his place between the sticks, and a back four of Young, Hreidarsson, Karkouri and Traore is the most likely in my opinion. Bent and Hasselbaink will no doubt form our most lethal striking partnership since Hunt and Mendonca, and that just leaves the two wide positions to fill.

I think it’s safe to say that this game will have come too soon for Andy Reid to be considered for a starting place, he has just returned to training after a 4 ½ week injury and claims on the official site that he ‘still needs a bit of work’ before he will be match fit. I actually think that Dowie will opt for Rommedahl and Hughes, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if Ambrose pips one of them to the post.

From a Wet Sham perspective, new boy Robert Green will probably make his first start against the club that he was having a medical with 5 days ago, and former (useless) Addick Carlton Cole looks likely to benefit most from Ashton’s unfortunate injury. The reunion theme will be continued in midfield where old boy Lee Bowyer will no doubt make his debut, and while in defence, last season’s loanee Johnathan Spector (along with Konchesky of course) will also come face to face with their former colleagues.

We all want a good start to the season, of course we do, but the fixture computer hasn’t done us too many favours this time around and in truth, I think that one win from our first three games would be a decent return. If you're going to Upton Park tomorrow, make sure you're loud and proud.

Cynic Athletic’s Prediction – 1-1 Draw (Hasselbaink – Cole)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Reid sneaks in on the quiet

When I am at work I normally keep the BBC Football page open in order to keep up to date with the latest football news, and whenever Charlton sign a player I am generally besieged by text messages from various friends and family just in case I somehow missed the announcement. The system kind of broke down today though. I was too busy at work to even think about the internet, and nobody sent me a message, so when I got home and finally logged on I was totally blindsided by the news about the £3 million signing of Andy Reid.

We were linked with him about 3 years ago whilst Curbishley was in charge, but I’ve heard no mention of his name as a potential target for anybody this summer, let alone any reports linking him to the Valley.

As for my opinion of him as a player, he always looked cracking at Forest and I was gutted when he eventually moved to Spurs, but in truth he’s failed to live up to his own billing during his time at The Lane. His weight problems have been well documented in the media, and lack of effort in training has often been cited as the reason for his omission from the Tottenham side (that, and their penchant for signing 8 midfielders every season). But the lad is still only 24 years old so he definitely has the time to turn his career around at Charlton. The fee is perhaps slightly expensive when you consider that Spurs only bought for £4m. It’s hard to believe that his market value has only depreciated by 25% during his 18 months at The Lane. Still, he’s naturally left footed, comfortable on the ball, has a good set-piece delivery and possesses an eye for goal according to Iain Dowie, who also claims that the club beat off some stiff competition in order to land his signature.

Provided he can prove his fitness to the coaching staff over the next couple of days he will probably make the bench for this weekend’s game with the Shammers. In the longer term, he has primarily been signed to play on the left of a midfield foursome (or perhaps the left side of a central pairing with Faye), so Jerome Thomas will have a new rival to displace once he recovers from his injury. Midfield was a problem area for us a few weeks ago, but we now have Reid, Hughes, Kishishev, Ambrose, Holland, Faye, Rommedahl, Euell and Bolanos vying for places, with Thomas still to return and Walton able to deputise in the middle if necessary.

In an ideal world I would like to sign another striker before the window closes, but perhaps it’s wise to keep some money set aside for January. No doubt Dowie will have his first choice side settled by then, and he will be more aware of the positions in which he needs to reinforce.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The opposition are weakening...

Unfortunate news for West Ham this evening. Dean Ashton suffered an injury in training this morning, and scans have now confirmed that he has broken his ankle and will miss not only the England game tomorrow night, but also the start of the Premiership season.

One man's bad fortune is usually another man's blessing in disguise, and while I wish Ashton all the best in his recovery from injury I am excited that now there is a definite possibility of Darren Bent claiming another start for the Three Lions tomorrow against Greece. Even if McClaren opts to go with Crouch and Defoe up front, Bent is the only other striker in the squad, so he should certainly play some part in the match. Ashton of course will also be missing from West Ham's starting line up against us on Saturday.

News has also been released today that both Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes have been unsuccessful in their appeals to get pre-season red cards overturned, and the three match bans given to both players by FIFA have been upheld. These bans will allow both players to play in their first match of the season against Fulham, but the suspensions conveniently come into effect the day before we are due to play United at The Valley.

Those tough first two games have just become that little bit less daunting..

Also, I’d like to offer an official welcome to the club to Scott Carson, our new on loan goalkeeper from Anfield. I wasn't over-enamoured with the news when it broke yesterday but all of the football sites and forums that I frequent have served to assure me that the man has a big future in the game. Some Liverpool fans that I speak to regularly have even claimed that they expected him to play 15+ games this season, so it looks like we have got ourselves a good deal there. Hopefully we can persuade them to part with him on a permanent basis before his fee inflates itself to more than we can afford. Dowie talks more about the signing here.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Update on Green

West Ham have now also had an official bid accepted by Norwich. The bid is believed to be £1.7M, eventually rising to £2M dependant on clauses.

Dowie will have to move fast if he wants to capture his man, otherwise that will make 2 goalkeeping targets within the last week that have discussed terms with us, and then chosen to move elsewhere in the Premiership.

Link from BBC Football


And in another semi-related update, the club have announced a year long loan deal with "World Cup Keeper" Scott Carson. The stopper has since been relegated from the full squad back into the U-21's for tomorrows Euro 2008 qualifier with Moldova at Portman Road. Not a bad signing I suppose, although I would have preferred to see an option to buy for a pre-agreed price in with the loan deal. Otherwise theres always a danger that the player will have one cracking season, and then we will be priced out of any permanent deal for him.

Addicks turn to Green

With 5 days to go until it all kicks off again, Norwich City chief executive Neil Doncaster has revealed that Charlton have had an offer accepted for goalkeeper Robert Green.

26-year-old Green was signed as an apprentice by Norwich when he was 16, and has made 241 appearances during his 10-year stay at Carrow Road. His contract with the canaries expires next summer, and he has been linked with both Pompey and Fulham over the last 2 months.

Whenever its officially announced that we are in talks with a particular player the first thing I do is to scour the Internet for message boards and blogs relating to the players current team in order to gauge the opinion of their fans. In this case it appears that most of the Norwich supporters are already resigned to losing Green, and how they feel about the transfer depends upon how much money they get for him.

There are a couple of threads here which claim that the fee is likely to be £6 million (mostly due to this story in the Kent Messenger) but that is surely just wishful thinking. I can’t see Charlton paying that amount of money for a player who only has 1 years worth of Premiership experience, and is still yet to play after the cruciate ligament injury he suffered in the run up to the World Cup. The general consensus among the fans appears to be that Green is slightly overrated by all outside of Norwich, but has been a good servant to the club and they wish him all the best if he goes.

If the deal goes through I would expect the final fee to be between £2.2M and £2.5M, which by my reckoning would make Green the most expensive keeper we have ever signed.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Gearing Up

Lots of positive news has come out of Charlton in the last couple of days, and for the first time in a long time I am starting to relax a little bit ahead of the coming campaign. The 2-1 victory against the spectacularly named Germinal Beerschot at the Olympisch Stadium (again spectacularly named, although the namer sounds like he must have had a few too many Beershots) was the best result of our pre-season to date. The widely predicted signings of Bolanos, Faye and Traore have all come to fruition for combined fees of £4m, and Dowie has claimed that there may well be another signing or two before the season begins.

Provided he is match fit, Faye will doubtless move into one of the central midfield spots in place of either Matt Holland or Bryan Hughes for the West Ham game, leaving us with a starting XI looking something like this:





There are a couple of uncertains with that. Obviously Thomas is still to come back into that side once he is fit again, Walton could very well claim a starting berth ahead of either Kishishev or Karkouri, and Sorondo will also be pressuring the Moroccan for a place in the side, but on paper that side looks solid enough for a mid table finish to me.
Another article I found about Bolanos claims that he has experience playing at wing back, midfield, or even as an a striker if needs must, so there is versatility there. It's definitely the most complete our squad has looked since January, and it looks as though 21-year-old attacking midfielder Scott Brown could also become an Addick before next weekend.

Kudos to the club aswell for offering the valiant 32 away season ticket holders from last term free plane travel to and from the Utrecht game on Friday as a reward for their loyalty, although as Inspector Sands points out, if you are one of the 32 you may need to leave more time than usual for your checking in etc. Hopefully we can round the pre-season off with a win and a clean sheet.

My season ticket has finally arrived along with a host of other goodies including the 'Red Card', which in case you haven't received it yet allows each season ticket holder a certain number of benefits :

-> The right to buy 2 tickets for each of the 19 home matches, subject to availability.
-> Free entry into a prize draw to win an autographed home shirt
-> A bumper car sticker
-> Daily email bulletin detailing all news from the club (available here anyway)
-> Free entry to reserve and women's games
-> A tour around the Valley at the end of the season

All of this along with a flyer inviting each season ticket holder to join the cup ticketing scheme. A good idea which allows the club to debit your card whenever home cup tickets go on sale, and they will be automatically posted out to you before the game. Saves all of the queuing up down at the Valley on cold Wednesday mornings, and you'll certainly be glad you did it if there turns out to be an equivalent Operation Riverside this season...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Isaksson faces Addicks decision

Quick post today regarding Andreas Isaksson the Swedish goalkeeper who is allegedly on his way to SE7 from Rennes. The rumours began a fortnight ago when his agent Rodger Ljung claimed: "Charlton is one of the clubs interested in Andreas."

The player then came out a couple of days later and said:

"It would be a dream to play in the Premier League. Of course, I would be interested. You grow up with the Premier League in Sweden. I know there is interest, but that's all I know."

Since that quote a fee has been agreed with Rennes, and Isaksson has already held talks with Charlton and agreed terms, but now it appears that the goalkeeper is in demand up at the City of Manchester Stadium aswell. Stuart Pearce has been in negotiations for a couple of days with Portsmouth over the sale of goalkeeper David James, and Isaksson has been contacted by City and asked whether he would consider a move to Eastlands as his replacement.

Here is a quote made yesterday by the player, although I am unable to provide any links for this due to the fact that it was printed, and unfortunately the paper in question's website has no trace of the story.

"I have an agreement with Charlton, but I am waiting for City before I decide."

It looks like one way or the other, Isaksson is headed for The Premiership this coming season, he was left out of Rennes' opening fixture against Lille on Saturday, and the situation is likely to be resolved over the next couple of days.

Personally I hope we do sign the guy. Myhre did well in parts last season, but he's only got a year or so left in him. I think Dowie considers Andersen his current number 1, but the signing of Isaksson will give us 2 Premiership quality keepers to choose from next season, and that is the minimum number required in my opinion.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bolanos, the new Pele?

The only first hand review I've heard from the New Zealand game was that we should have scored 4 or 5, played well in patches but abysmally in others; and that the pony tailed trialist Christian Bolanos put in an excellent account of himself. That and the fact that Marcus Bent missed a couple of sitters aswell.

The usually reliable soccerbase has next to no information about the Costa Rican, but I did manage to find a decent article about him on the Guardian's website, which was written back in December 2005. David Pleat claimed:

"A trip to Japan for the Club World Championship allowed me to keep an eye open for foreign players who might make it in the Premiership, and this Costa Rican winger impressed me. I predict he will find a new home for his talents in England or continental Europe after the World Cup"

The rest of the article is here and it's worth a quick read, even if Pleat does make him sound like the second coming of Pele! Still, he surely isn't going to cost too much and his wages aren't going to be a problem when you consider that he only earns £70,000 a year at present.
It looks like he might not be the only player we add to our ranks this week either. BBC Football holds a quote from Glenn Roeder claiming that Newcastle have finally granted permission for 29 year old Amdy Faye to discuss personal terms, and the much talked about transfer of Djimi Traore is allegedly also on the brinks of completion.

Dowie said earlier this week that he was after 5 new faces before next weekend, but then claimed that three of the right quality would do. Whether Traore is the right quality or not will certainly be a subject for debate if we sign him, but he's managed to amass 140 appearances for the five time European Champions, and remained in their squad for 7 years whilst the more talked about names have come and gone. We'll have to reserve judgement until we can see for ourselves.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Radio Representation

Well, so much for my comment about the Park View Road game enlightening us as to what Iain Dowie considers to be his preferred formation, and so much for my hopes of it providing an insight into which players he favours. We ended up giving trialists and prospects a run out, and promptly got our noses rubbed in it by the non league footballing dynasty that is Welling United. Yes, yes, it's only a friendly but we have now lost three of them in a row, and I'm a great believer in the old cliche about winning becoming a habit. Reserve side or not, defeats damage morale, and right now we could really do with a couple of resounding wins. A clean sheet would be nice aswell.

Due to work comittments I'm having to turn down the option of corporate hospitality at the New Zealand game on Saturday, so the next time I see Charlton live will be at our first home game against Man United. Dowie commented this afternoon that if things go according to plan over the next fortnight, there will be another five new faces at The Valley before that happens:

"I know the type of areas I want to strengthen. That is not being critical of any of the players here, absolutely not. I feel, and the coaching staff feel, that we need to strengthen in one or two areas. We have said that four or five is about the level we need. If we get three in, if they are the right quality, then great. But I would like to get five in and I think that's important" - Iain Dowie (Full interview here)

On another note, I was listening to Talksport on my way home from work tonight. We were the subject of debate for a quarter of an hour on their evening programme, and Mickey Quinn (I think it was him) considers us 4th favourites to go down next term behind Watford, Sheffield United and Reading. I had a good mind to ring up and have a moan at one stage because he claimed that Iain Dowie would be lucky to make it through the season and still be in charge. He alleged that Charlton fans were ringing up in droves last year and moaning about Curbishley, and then claimed that we will all be on Dowie's back if we don't have a strong start to the coming season.

I can understand where he is coming from in the sense that over the last few years we have had decent starts and poor finishes, but over the course of his 10 minute attack on the club he made our fans out to be a bunch of fairweather supporters with ideas above our stations, who didn't appreciate the job that Alan Curbishley did for us, and who will be calling for the head of the new manager if we aren't upper mid table at Christmas. Any non-Charlton fan who heard it will now view our club in a totally different light to the one in which we should be viewed. For all my life we have been a 'family' club, who have consistently and steadily improved our League position due to continuity of management, sound financial dealings, and passionate support from the fans. To lambast us like he did in front of the listening millions was unfair and inappropriate.

I listen to Talksports phone-in every weekend after the Saturday games have finished, and I often download BBC's 6-0-6 equivalent at some point during the following week. Last season there were certainly a few idiots who called up and misrepresented the majority of Charlton fans' views, but there was always one sensible Addick who called up half an hour later and set the record straight for the rest of us. With the new season approaching, and the tough start that we've been handed fixture wise all of us have to prepare ourselves in advance for the fact that we may find ourselves close to the foot of the table after the first month or so.

Players are going to have to adapt to the fresh ideas being presented to them by the coaching staff, and the coaching staff will need time to coax the best out of the players. These things will take time, and I'm going to try and make a conscious effort to stay as positive as a Cynic can during this transitional period, and I implore the various muppets who have given our club an image that we do not deserve in front of the footballing nation to think before just calling the phone-ins and letting loose if we lose our first three matches. Im sure the players listen on the coach back from the games, and it can't do them any good.

We are not the little club that we used to be anymore, but there's no reason why we can't still present the image of a united front, who don't turn on the manager or the players when things don't go right out on the pitch. Tonights tirade against a club you don't normally hear a bad word about really shocked me, and I don't want that to become a common occurrence. Times are-a-changing at the Valley, so lets embrace the change and give the all players within the squad a fresh chance to prove themselves anew next term.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Catching Up

Whilst I have been away, the biggest news to come out of Charlton is undoubtedly the signing of veteran striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, so welcome to the club Jimmy. He and Darren Bent certainly look a formidable pairing on paper, and his goalscoring record proves that he finds the net regularly at every club he has ever signed for. 220 goals in 399 appearances is an incredible record by anybody’s standards, and if he can keep up that 0.55 goals per game ratio next season then we are all in for a bit of a treat.

It’s nice to see that even after only a month or so in the job Iain Dowie can already persuade quality players that Charlton is the right place for them to come and ply their trade. Allegedly we beat a whole host of other clubs to his signature, so kudos to Mills, Murray and Dowie for getting their man.

Walton was also signed whilst I was away for a fee of close to £500,000, and rising to a million if he fulfils his potential whilst at Charlton. He looks like a decent prospect for the future and he is a signing that I welcome, but if he is that good, you do have to wonder why he has only made 26 appearances in his 2 seasons at Leeds.

Other than those two, things have been ominously silent on the transfer front. The central midfield is obviously the problem area. Neither Murphy nor Smertin have been adequately replaced as yet, and the prospect of starting a new campaign with Kishishev, Hughes and Holland in the middle again is more than a little concerning, and Thomas’s injury makes things even worse.

I’m sure that we will make another signing or two before the West Ham game but ideally the management must have wanted the new boys to be training alongside the existing squad by now. The Steve Sidwell link seems to have quietened down a little lately, and other often-linked names (Boyce, Queudrue etc) have found other clubs, leaving us worryingly tied to the likes of Djimi Traore. You only have to read the Liverpool forums to work out what type of player he is…

With regard to the friendlies, 1 win and 2 defeats isn’t particularly inspiring but we can’t draw too many conclusions from matches where the entire team is changed at half time. The Millwall win was convincing enough, as was the first half up at Hibs, but then in Valencia we played 4-4-2 in the first half and 4-5-1 in the second, so Dowie is obviously still tinkering with the system we are to play this year. Perhaps tonight’s friendly at Welling will tell us a little more.
Personally, I’d like us to just stick with the 4-4-2 we all know, and are all comfortable with. Players grow up playing 4-4-2, and therefore there is a natural awareness of where your teammates are going to be. Things just look more fluent when players are comfortable in a formation, and it also means that we wont be isolating the front man in the same way that we did last year. It’s no wonder Darren Bent was caught offside more than any other player in the Premiership last year, he was consistently chasing aimless long punts over the top rather than receiving the ball to feet and having a strike partner in close proximity to lay the ball off to.

The link up deal with Valencia seems like another shrewd piece of business, but we have signed such deals before (notably with Inter Milan) and not seen too much come of them. Murray has commented that there will be an exchange of youth players as well as coaches between the two clubs, and apparently we will also have first option on players leaving the Mestalla. However, he then comments that the main focus of the partnership will be on introducing our commercial partners to them (and vice versa), aswell as getting Valencia involved in our community projects in Spain. Hear Murray interviewed about the deal here.