Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Cup Runneth Over

After six weeks of hope, expectation, fear and conjecture since the 6th Round draw was made, our Cup run is over, and if we're frank deservedly so.

Maybe things could have been different if Bent had managed to convert his pair of early chances, but if a team keeps digging holes for itself, eventually it gets buried.

I almost found myself overcome with dewy-eyed nostalgia as our defence refound its pre-Xmas form, but it would be unfair not to pay some credit to Viduka and Hasselbaink who are the epitome of the mantra that 'class is permanent.' They may have a combined age of 64, but they caused us problems all evening and unfortunately for poor Jonathan Spector, his late injury-induced departure may have been an implicit mercy plea.

The League table suggests we are a better team than 'Boro, or at least a more consistent one, but in truth they had the ability to find another gear whereas we just cruised along in the same one. Unfortunately at times we resemble little more than a kick 'n rush team, given that whatever combination of midfielders Curbs selects, they are simply unable to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and drive the team on.

The second half was a sorry affair for us which suggested the weight of expectation that the build-up to this game had generated was simply too heavy to carry. Despite showing the character to bounce back twice with timely goals, there was only that very early promising spell which suggested to me we could win this tie. Ironically it may have been those very early chances that gave 'Boro the kick up the backside they needed.

It's difficult to take many positives from such an anti-climatic evening, but I'll express one here even though it might appear paradoxical. Had we won this evening, thus extending this seemingly never-ending dream about Cup finals and European football, it would in truth have allowed the team's obvious flaws to be papered over when they need in all honesty to be exposed and corrected. Indeed if one is willing to step back and look at our FA Cup run in black and white (easier to do when you're thousands of miles away from the excitement admittedly), in truth it existed solely of wins over lower-league opposition.

Curbs has intimated in interviews that it may be time to move on regardless of whether the FA come in for him, and it's hard for me to escape the conclusion that after 15 glorious years that the time is right. Now that our season is effectively over, it is an opportune time for the pros and cons of such a move to be debated. It seems to be a decision between the 'certainty' that Curbs represents, and the 'uncertainty' of change.

Countless behavioural studies have shown that decisions made under uncertainty often lead to irrational outcomes because people overweight the value of certainty; this is known as 'status quo bias.' As a fan of 1970s rock, even Curbs should appreciate the irony of this term. Without wishing to get too technical, even if the club made a change now, it would then run the risk of 'outcome bias' when judging the success or failure of that decision. In short (stay with me here), even if the decision to make a managerial change led for example to relegation, it does not imply the club was necessarily wrong to have made it.

Now I don't know about you, but I've reached the point with Charlton where I'm ready to embrace uncertainty and no longer fear it, a far cry from say the mid-to-late 1990s when the downside risks to the club were too great to contemplate change.

The irony of course is that the club could very well finish 7th this season if it can somehow find wins at Fulham and Bolton, but I maintain that this should not alter the fact that some changes are required if only to freshen up a club that has clearly gone stale. In my view, as a starter, the club would be better-served giving a handful of youngsters their debuts in these final games (even if the results go awry) than continue to limp on with the likes of Bartlett and Spector who don't represent the future of this club.


At 11:18 PM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

Good report. Curbs may well go and then we will see whether it is him that has stopped the club going to the next level or whether the club has gone as far as it can with its current resources.

At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was at the Riverside and it was not dissimilar to the Blackburn match in that we couldn't defend, nor the midfield create an attacking move. When looking for change it should not just be the manager but the complete coaching team. I agree that we should give some of the youngster a try for the rest of the season but we should also play Jeffers, Euell, Ambrose & Andersen so see if they have a future with the team which can't be judged by a ten minute substitute appearance.
The Club can take great credit for organising Operation Riverside with 48 coaches it's just a pity the team's coach let us down.

At 8:33 AM, Anonymous lancashire lad said...

I was at the Riverside....... was sent by Lancashire Lad, I don't do "anonymous"!

At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Devlinpowell said...

Truth be toald we were not as good as Boro they had match winners we did not our squad is paper thin again without a hungry midfield we lacked smertin and murphy also young pushing from the back Cannot balme curbs he can only work with what he has ( on the reasources her has ) Next level well I think we have found our level the league does not lie £'s talks Time to build a bigger stadium bigger profile attract more fans attract more players of quality No qick fixes here ( of foary god fatherski)

At 1:17 PM, Blogger worcestershireleaburn said...

Curbs is to blame. He picks the team. He is the reason that Murphy and Smertin left. Where was Ambrose? Why did we start playing so deep at 2-1 when up until then we had looked the better side? He is not good enough for England, and perhaps needs to move on now.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Ken J said...

Yes it has been stale for a long time. I've already written a piece on needing a new "baker" so won't repeat myself here. What I will say is that the various justifications offered for Curbs lack of progress have worn way too thin. We spent the money and we had the players at the beginning of this season to make a go of it, which our early season form clearly showed. We had the largest squad in our Premiership history, recognisable talent, some promising youngsters and what have we had? Disgruntled players, forgotten players, talented players leaving or just ignored or in ElK's case, shipped out because his Agent bitched about his non-selection. Somehow, the Manager must be involved in these disasters, don't you think? And shouldn't something be done about it?


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