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.