Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Day the Dream Died?

When Charlton club historian Colin Cameron pens his memoirs of season 2006/07, he may well choose to point to today's utterly demoralising defeat as the day the survival dream probably died.

Late goals at Bramall Lane and Upton Park are a welcome boost, but according to Betfair our probability of staying up is barely 12% this evening. I watched Wigan's capitulation at Chelsea and it suggested they are in some serious trouble, but we need to find two teams to finish above not just one, and gifting 'Boro their first away win is a devastating step backwards. I don't believe in blind faith and I've no intention of finding religion at this stage in my life, so I'll just focus as usual on the raw probabilities and thus I feel very depressed right now. To put it in context, you've a better chance of picking up a coin now and flipping three consecutive heads.

I didn't see the game, but it sounds like defensive frailties have cost us again. 43 goals conceded in just 23 games (comfortably the most in the Premiership) have placed a near insurmountable burden on our attacking play. Sadly our wanton lack of goals from outside our three main strikers (just five in total) have not eased that burden, and thus our sorry Premiership position is well-deserved.

Every new game under Pards provides further clues to what we can get used to expecting from his team. His preference for 4-4-2 was evidenced again, whilst his continued use of Rommedahl and Ambrose (now alongside Reid) in midfield was cavalier, probably overly so, but with the paucity of central midfield options at his disposal, he took an understandable calculated risk that didn't pay off. With draws of virtually no use to us anymore, I'm in favour of throwing caution to the wind, but if an umpteenth combination of defenders can't shut out goals at the other end, it's frankly a moot debate.

Monday will mark the half-way point in the transfer window and we have little to show for it despite promises to the contrary. When Peter Varney stated on 21 December they were making sure, " happens as close to January 1st as possible..", whilst I admired his optimism, I suspect he underestimated how difficult it is to attract players to the club in its current state, or at least those that might improve us. Moreover it is likely that they are insisting upon a wage cut in the event of relegation, not exactly a great selling point to footballers with other options.

Ever since Danny Murphy left in January 2006, our central midfield has been woeful, lacking the balance between creativity and steel that defines all successful teams. The signings of Walton, Pouso, Faye, and Reid have all failed to solve the issue, and whilst the 'little Oirish fella' offers something productive of course, it's not as a central midfielder in a 4-4-2. By some kind of miracle Zheng Zhi may adapt to the Premiership very quickly, but even Pards has already hinted it's a big step up for him.

I haven't given up but thanks to our goal difference, we are effectively seven and nine points behind Wigan and Sheff Utd respectively. We are yet to play them both at home of course but whilst they've been battling since August, we've only just learned to do so and I fear it will be a case of too little, too late.


At 6:52 PM, Anonymous Eaststander said...

Defensive frailties indeed today. HH trod on the ball for second goal, first goal the defence got sucked in, last goal was a screamer. Diawara continues to look a half decent player but is not a defender. El Karkouri played reasonably at right back but looks more like a midfielder at times.
We need to build a new defence now ready for next years Championship season.

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Bob Kelly said...

I think their third goal should have been saved by Carson. The shot came after Diawara (I think) lost a straight forward tackle. Today we also had a problem up front. when we got the ball forward JFH was too slow as usual and Marcus Bent, try though he does, is just not good enough. For all our early pressure in the second half we only really had two long range shots to show for it.

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First goal we went to sleep, second, ElK was totaly at fault, he should have pushed Yakubu outside rather then give him a free run and shot. It was all over then, we are relegated.

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