Thursday, April 05, 2007

Man City preview

After the tension of Saturday's fortuitous win over Wigan, we can perhaps afford to relax a little at Man City, and begin to play the football that was apparently so lacking at the weekend. With our fixture opening the weekend's Premiership extravaganza, we have an outstanding opportunity to send another shot across the bows of our relegation rivals and ratchet up the nerves one more notch.

Football psychology is a complicated thing, so it remains to be seen meanwhile whether back-to-back victories for City leads to confidence or complacency. We can obviously hope for the latter and creep up to within three points of them.

There are several impressive attributes of this new Pardew-inspired Charlton side (at least in comparison to what came before), but the statistics essentially prove that he has instilled not only great heart and belief, but an enhanced level of fitness. Look at the facts:

- 3 of our 5 wins under Pards came courtesy of winners in the last ten minutes (Wigan, Pompey and Villa);

- all 3 of our draws under Pards occurred after we had conceded the first goal.

In short, our heads no longer drop and we keep going until the final whistle. It seems an extraordinarily simple concept until you compare it to what occurred before he arrived. Writing in last weekend's Sunday Telegraph, Duncan White expressed it eloquently as follows:

"It is another stage in the heartening recovery of Charlton, a club who had so badly lost their way. They were guilty of credulity and no little vanity in their appointment of Iain Dowie and Les Reed: false gurus with a penchant for vapid commonplaces dressed up as innovation. Wearing a Bluetooth headset is no guarantee of sophistication. With Brentian truisms ringing round The Valley, Charlton were a club sliding fast: football cliche is bad enough; the management cliche of corporate culture is worse.

That's where Pardew's honesty comes in. With his rolled-up sleeves and his relentless enthusiasm he is like a pepped-up PE teacher, and he is certainly getting the best out of his kids. It is not complicated for Pardew: put good players on the pitch and inspire them to play as hard as they can. The hungry youngsters Alexandre Song and Zheng Zhi have brought zip and bite while some more experienced hands are pushing the limits of their capabilities: the formerly fickle Jerome Thomas looks especially sparky. It is Pardew's sincerity that is winning these players over."

I was always very doubtful about Les Reed's credibility from the beginning, but I could reasonably be accused of falling for Iain Dowie's 'Bluetooth' sophistication. As Bill Shankly eloquently once put it, emphasising the essentially simple nature of the game:

"If you're not sure what to do with the ball, just pop it in the net and we'll discuss your options afterwards."

Pards has intimated that Ben Thatcher will likely start against his former club, the Herminator's physical presence perhaps less important than it was against the brutes of Wigan. The other key pre-match decision for Pards will be a tactical one, whether to begin again with the 4-4-1-1 that utilises Zheng as a very deep second forward, or the 4-4-2 that ultimately won us the game. Personally I might be tempted to try Ambrose in that position, and push Zheng back to play as a combative right midfielder, with Rommedahl presumably on the bench.

Derek 'Killer' Hales (KillerWatch© -£321) is predicting a 1-1 draw at the very ungenerous odds of 9/2. Meanwhile I will be looking for my third consecutive correct score forecast, and I just cannot shake off this Pards-inspired sense of optimism that pervades not only The Valley, but also this tiny Charlton-obsessed corner of New York. Cheered on by an uncharacteristically large away day Addickted presence, NY Addick predicts Man City 0, Charlton 1 (Bent D). Att: 39, 148.


At 4:41 AM, Blogger Ken Jennings said...

I have to say, NYA, that I would rather not see Dennis Rommedahl anywhere near this team, unless injury to others requires it. I hope Ambrose is fit now, as I would rather have his new found enthusiasm (and no little skills) any day of the week.

As for a game like this one, I would like to see him mixing it up in midfield along with Song - and who knows, maybe it's time for either of them to win it with a wonder goal.


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