Thursday, February 08, 2007

Seven Sent

Arguably the period between Curbs' last game and the appointment of Alan Pardew was a 'perfect storm' for Charlton-related bloggers. My slowdown in productivity since then reflects the fact that other than the underwhelming January transfer window, it's really now just a case of sitting, waiting and hoping.

Short of inspiration, and having been virtriolic in my criticism of Les Reed, this might thus be an appropriate juncture to compare fairly his brief record to Pardew's, because both have now overseen precisely seven Premiership games and one Cup game against lower League opposition.

In terms of points, Reed managed 4 from 7, whilst Pards managed 8 from 7, so some clear improvement there. Moreover, Pards has arguably had harder fixtures with 'big four' fixtures against Chelsea and Arsenal, compared to just Liverpool for Reed (though Pards had an extra home game). Reed did not have the benefit of a transfer window, but in fairness to Pardew only Ben Thatcher has so far had an introduction (and it required the sale of the hapless Traore to achieve), and Pards has had to deal with more injuries than his predecessor.

The two Cup defeats were both diabolical, and in the case of the Forest game at least, I could not believe what I was seeing. On that day I started to wonder if I was wrong about Reed after all, and that the late great Brian Clough would have struggled to motivate the defilers of the shirt that day. With Pards having chosen (or been required by the forces of realism) to maintain the bulk of that same squad despite the January window, we probably can't be completely certain that those types of performances are now history.

Other than the gradual improvement in results, I have been particularly impressed with Pardew's media presence. I don't know to what extent he's trained or whether he's a natural, but he exudes a sense of calm allied with conviction which clearly lifts the confidence of the fans, and one has to assume the players too. On Sky Sports News, Pardew was quoted as thanking Arsene Wenger for 'borrowing' him Alexandre Song, yet he said it with such confidence I almost missed the faux pas. Reed meanwhile was completely ill at ease in front of the cameras, and that uncertainty fed through to the fans (and indirectly to the players). Surely any fans that argued it was irrelevant so long as he got the message across on the training ground, got their answer with the subsequent performances (he didn't).

There haven't been any enormous surprises in terms of team selection, though for one if Rommedahl ultimately leaves in the summer, he can't any longer claim not to have been given a chance. I didn't expect to see Amdy Faye playing much of a role under Pards, yet he has seemingly been transformed into the type of midfielder that can ghost into the penalty box (ironically just like his manager did). He plays with wingers, regardless of whether he opts for 4-4-2 or 4-5-1 which suggests a fit Darren Bent might finally get some decent service on his return. Interestingly perhaps, it's not clear to me therefore how or where Andy Reid will eventually fit in to this system, yet it is hard to imagine doing without his creativity during the run-in. Fans meanwhile will begin to wonder whether Zheng Zhi is the 'next Omar Pouso' unless he can make a swift impression over the final twelve games.

Twelve games; it's come around worryingly quickly during this soap opera of a season. Pards reckons we need '38 or 39' points apparently, which if true will surely only see us home by the absolute skin of our teeth. Indeed I'd rather focus on 40+ points, particularly with our poor goal difference. Either way, it's an enormous challenge because even if we take 9 points from the Wigan/West Ham/Sheff Utd games, we might still require at least 9 more points from our final 9 games, no small task when you've averaged less than a point per game all season. And that of course ignores the very real possibility that we don't take anything like 9 from 9 in those three vital games! Remember I'm not a pessimist, just a realist.

I also couldn't help noticing that if you took the first 9 games that Curbs has overseen at West Ham, and added them to the final 29 games he oversaw at The Valley (thus making the equivalent of a full 38-game season), he has accumulated just 34 points, a relegation total if ever there was one. Hence if our fate is ultimately relegation, I do really hope that most fans refrain from concluding that " wouldn't have happened under Curbs..", because whilst some of the Board's decisions this season have exacerbated our fate, I don't believe that maintaining the status quo would have resulted in a much brighter outcome.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger Kappacino Kid said...

I would be more at ease with criticising Dowie than Reed. Reed is charlton through and through and his appointment was a major error by the board, which the players saw through instantly. Reed did his best, it was woeful, but I hope in future years he will be welcomed back to the Valley - as a fan and even a coach, but never again as a manager. Don't forget he did the decent thing, when he saw a white knight on is charger and fell on his own sword.

I have predicted we will get 40 points and surpass west ham 0n 35 and Wigan on 38. You may think this widely optimistic, but then you have never worn rose tinted glasses :-).

At least we are fighting and thats the main thing, if we go down, we go down fighting.

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

To be honest, I wasn't picking on Reed but it was just an opportune time to compare his short tenure to Pardew's because of the equal number of games overseen.

Unfortunately for Reed, 'doing his best' would never be enough, and it was a bad mistake to insist he was employed on more than a caretaker basis.

As for Dowie, I'm one of the few it seems that thought he was doing ok, and we were improving. It's easy to blame his signings (which were not as bad as people made out), but it was not easy to come into a new club and have to re-build the squad in the summer (because Curbs had left us with such garbage).

At 1:16 PM, Anonymous charltonross said...

I believe that the position we are in now is a result of poor decisions at board level from the day curbs left to the day pards was appointed (eg the appointment of Mills etc).

On the point of AAndy Reid i was thinking the same post-Bolton game. The reason he wont fit into the team so easily now is because M Bent is playing so well that it would be hard to drop him and this means he would have to play on the left of midfield in a 4-4-2, which i dont believe is his best position.


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