Sunday, January 22, 2006

We have 'our Charlton' back

It may be a trifle premature, but it's just possible that we've got 'our Charlton' back. Most fans are realists - we don't expect to win every game, but we want to see total commitment, positive tactics and players making sensible decisions. These are the foundations of our success and given our limited budget, they are a prerequisite if we are to continue moving forward.

I suggested in an earlier blog that we would have no hope at Chelsea unless we approached the game in a way that gave us a chance to win, not just draw. Although Curbs went back to 4-5-1, it couldn't be described as a defensive move as at least three of the midfielders are more likely to look forward than back, and his natural temptation to drop Rommedahl was curtailed.

The pitch was once again a disgrace although it clearly worked in our favour. Perhaps Mourinho might forego a week's wages to let the club re-lay it. At times during the first half some of Chelsea's passing was good enough to overcome its shortcomings but despite all of their possession, they actually created very few chances and the goal was a soft one. It is frustrating to concede yet another goal from a set-piece - the bigger clubs have better players of course, but I don't see any particular inherent advantage at set plays so our failures in this department need urgent attention.

The unfortunate collision between Rommedahl and Young not surprisingly left the Dane worse off, but it did allow Charlton fans an early chance to see whether Marcus Bent was money well spent. Ironically during a week when fans also questioned the wisdom of buying a £48 ticket to this game, it's just possible both will turn out to have been very good value.

Our subs bench was unusual, containing two centre-forwards and two centre-backs, but no natural midfielders, giving Curbs no option but to emphasise his love of versatile players by putting Bent on whilst maintaing 4-5-1. Had we not equalised fairly soon after half-time, we no doubt would have seen the Bent/Bent forward partnership for the first time, but as it transpired he stayed wide right. Interestingly we finished the game with three strikers on the pitch despite a 1-1 scoreline, which might have left some of the away fans wonder if they were hallucinating.

Our equaliser was a fine one, and there's no better way to get the fans on your side than scoring on your debut as Marcus' namesake will tell him. The finish was well-executed but the pass was exquisite, and I have no doubts that Ambrose is going to be a terrific player for us, hopefully for many years. He is blessed with great feet and the pace to get behind defences, and although I'd rather see him play more centrally, he will continue to make things happen for us.

It was a shame we couldn't have crowned a great performance with a winner, but a draw was a fair result, and we probably should thank linesman Andy Williams for his help in this regard. Chelsea fans may wish he had stuck to a singing career, and at times he did appear to be 'watching girls go by' instead of defenders.

Every player did his job and worked hard, and we really defended as a team best-exemplified by Darren Bent's constant harrying of Carvalho that eventually saw the Portuguese defender get an early bath. Fortune was again rock-solid, and behind him Myhre brings the calm assurance that Kiely and Andersen lack, despite their obvious shot-stopping abilities.

It is notable that the team's recent improvement has occurred without the two midfielders that I previously considered automatic selections (Murphy and Smertin). With regard to the former, I'm finding it hard not to be cynical about the true reasons for his omission. If he does ultimately get transferred, the club are going to have a lot of explaining to do. Personally, provided we had time to spend the proceeds, I would accept £2.5m and move on.

With nine days left in the transfer window, we are all hoping for more new recruits to boost the squad and seek to avoid the traditional end-of-season collapse. West Ham's bid for Dean Ashton proves that it is not simply a case of identifying players you want, but being willing to pay a club's lofty valuation. For a downpayment of £7m, there is no way Charlton should of (or could of) matched it for a still unproven player.

On a different note, the papers are full of speculation about who Sven's successor should be. It's somewhat hypothetical of course, but I just don't see the FA appointing him because the media would be too lukewarm to give him the time he would need to find his feet. From Curbs' point of view I would also imagine being an international managers is a hugely dissatisfying role. Curbs backers should be more concerned about the next appointment at Newcastle than England.


At 10:33 PM, Anonymous darcysarto said...

I believe that Murphy has some personal problems, which the club are giving him space to deal with.

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Red_Pete said...

I believe that the most important player in our team at the moment is Kish. I thought he was awesome today and he showed all those important attributes of caring, running non-stop, closing down anything in blue that moved and never letting his head drop. I just cannot understand why the guy gets such abuse from so many of our so-called supporters.

At 11:23 PM, Blogger New York Addick said...

Kish has won me over and I think most of his other critics also to be fair.

At 12:41 AM, Anonymous NorseAddick said...

Fantastic result today, although our defence is still shaky. Obviously, Myhre should have held the ball, but the main problem is that we have two players at the first post who allow Crespo to get to the ball first. I wonder why we can't sort such errors out, which all seem to stem from a lack of concentration and aggression at defensive set-pieces. In the first half, our back four were too deep, leaving too much space between them and the midfielders, and in the second half, they were too high up the field, leaving lots of space between them and Myhre for Crespo to explore. Luckily, the linesman didn't have the brightest of days. This was after all Stamford Bridge, where most teams struggle far worse than we did today.

At 8:09 AM, Anonymous Lesley Angeles said...

NYA - Could you please clarify whether you still want Curbishley to resign?

Apologies but I am struggling to keep up with all the opinion changes.

At 12:31 PM, Blogger New York Addick said...

Thank you Les for your kind comment - I was worried you'd stopped reading my blog. I maintain that Curbs can't take us any further (equally he won't take us back either), but he has taken some of the radical steps that fans like myself wanted, got them playing as a team again and it has paid off so far.

If the board made the right appointment I would be happy with us making a fresh start.


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