Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Goodbye Deano

Deano's departure to Pompey saw a sad, but perhaps inevitable end to the Charlton career of one of the most consistent and revered players of the past decade. Most fans knew little about him when he joined from Bury, but by the end of his first season we had blitzed the competition in the First Division, and we knew we had a keeper to keep us in the top flight.

Indeed every season until 2004/05, one could have made a reasonable case for him being voted Player of the Year. He wasn't without his faults of course, a tendency to stay rooted to his line being the most obvious, but as a shot-stopper at times he really was second-to-none. Indeed at his peak (probably defined as 2002-04), I would have hesitated to have swapped him for any other keeper in the Premiership, and I think informed fans of other clubs respected him enormously. He would regularly perform such heroics that he very clearly won us games that our overall outfield play did not deserve - wins at Spurs and Birmingham spring to mind for example. That save from Dugarry in the latter is simply breathtaking.

Unfortunately however, there were signs in 2004/05 that his abilities were in decline, conceding 53 goals in 36 games. Whilst he would almost certainly have begun this season injury-permitting, the youthful potential of Andersen and the arrival of the experienced (and younger) Myhre have obviously persuaded Curbs to let Deano pursue a new opportunity. Moreover, his erratic performances this season when given a chance did him few favours.

I think Charlton have proved in the past that they won't stand in the way of loyal servants when an opportunity for first-team football exists elsewhere, and rightly so. Moreover, with the possible exception of Chris Powell, the decision with hindsight has rarely proved to be a wrong one with few players achieving more elsewhere than they did at Charlton. Perhaps the sale of Mark Kinsella (still only 33) is the best example of this.

Charlton fans will hopefully have the chance to pay tribute to Deano on Apr 17th, and he will deserve the plaudits, as his rapport with the fans (and quite often the visiting fans too) has been excellent throughout. Looking forward, there is still speculation about the club signing Robert Green - although Curbs seems to like having at least three strong keepers, it does seem a little excessive and is not repeated at many other clubs. Indeed, at times in prior seasons we have had four keepers who might not have been out of place in the first team and we thus have a long list of substitute keepers whose names are familiar but their performances are not (eg. Rachubka, Roberts, Royce, Caig, Leite).

Green seems an excellent keeper and would no doubt be a solid signing, but it would only make sense in my view if Andersen was sold to make way. (Whilst on the subject of Deano who had the face of a goalkeeper if ever I saw one, the Dane is disturbingly good-looking for a keeper and has clearly shied away from one too many collisions.) Otherwise, it is just another example of promising young players like Eliot and Randolph essentially having no future at the club because Curbs will never risk playing them if injuries required it.


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