Sunday, February 18, 2007

Two Weeks Is A Long Time

If a week is a long time in politics, then two weeks is an eternity if you're a Charlton fan and the vital West Ham fixture is looming on the horizon. It's difficult to think about anything else right now, and an otherwise exceptional week of European football will be the mere hors d'oeuvre to Saturday's entrée.

As if Saturday's game didn't already have enough 'angles', the Egghead has decided that now would be an opportune moment to stick the boot into Alan Pardew. If he believes that Pardew was a 'cancer' in the dressing room (nice choice of words there) then it's becoming increasingly clear that Curbs is anything but chemotherapy. Indeed, other reports suggest that El Tel is already being lined up to perform an impossible (but lucrative) escape act.

I think it was the writer Alain de Botton that described satisfaction as being equal to 'achievement divided by expectation.' Viewed in this context, it should be abundantly clear that West Ham (and by implication Eggert Magnusson) have far more to lose on Saturday than we do.

As Charlton fans, we are all probably guilty recently of having ratcheted up our expectations to unrealistic levels, and thus lowering our scope to be satisfied. This has ensured that this season's poor form has caused vitrolic denunciation, instead of perhaps a more appropriate sense of acceptance that all good things must eventually come to an end. However from the standpoint of Magnusson's consortium, spending £85m on a struggling Premiership club (and tens of millions more in fees and wages for mediocre players), may ex post be viewed as rank and destructive folly.

Without wishing to suggest that Charlton's stakeholders have nothing to lose from relegation, I think we can approach Saturday's game in a far more relaxed frame of mind, and allow the enormous weight of expectation on Curbishley's shoulders to drag them down. It would be a huge (and wholly unfair) irony if his final game as West Ham manager took place at The Valley, but just as Charlton had to swiftly eat humble pie and dismiss Les Reed, so too might West Ham be forced to retract upon previous assurances to Curbs of patience in the face of adversity.

In truth however, a far more important fixture probably takes place three days earlier at Vicarage Road, where we find ourselves in the strange position of actively wanting to go bottom of the Premiership. If Wigan were to triumph instead, then an eight-point advantage (with superior goal difference) may well make the result of Saturday's encounter moot, except to the extent that it grants bragging rights to one side of the Thames.

Curbs deserves (and will doubtless get) a warm ovation from the home fans on Saturday, but in the event of a Charlton victory, there may well be the strange sight of both sets of fans singing, "There's only one Alan Pardew..." by the end. Whilst most Hammers fans accept that Pardew must take some of the blame for their predicament, most would prefer to focus upon the attitude of the players and the Tevez/Mascherano saga (which might yet lead to points deductions and the certainty of relegation).

Hence if Curbs underestimated the scale of the challenge he has taken on (he's admitted as much), some of his decisions, not least in the transfer market, smack of the same inflexibility and one-dimensional thinking which began to bore most Charlton fans long before his departure. The difference of course is that we were too respectful and grateful to express our displeasure; the West Ham fans will have no such qualms.


At 9:17 AM, Blogger worcestershireleaburn said...

NYA, I think maybe Curbs has been "found out" now he's at West Ham - and the inflexibility you mention may well be why he didn't get the England gig.

At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Simon said...

If there was ever such a thing as a six pointer then for me, as a Hammers fan, Saturday is it. This is a must not lose game for us. However, I disagree that it's importance is more for us than it is for you, unless you are already acknowledging relegation as inevitable? This game is about who has the fight and the guts to pull out of the bottom 3 mire and even though the successful team many not do that on Saturday, it will be a great starting point to kick off from. May the best team on paper win....


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