Saturday, July 21, 2007

Young and Rommedahl move on

Two of the least surprising summer departures from the club were confirmed on Friday. One player will leave with general good wishes, the other with an overwhelming sense of frustration and disappointment.

Luke Young was signed at the peak of the last transfer market 'bubble' in 2001 for a lofty £4m, and although Charlton moulded him into an international full-back, his valuation is now just £2.5m despite having just turned 28.

Perhaps in light of his valuation, Charlton fans took a while to warm to their new right-back, despite the obvious difficulties that Radostin Kishishev had experienced in the same position the prior season. However through consistency of performance rather than quality thereof, we gradually began to appreciate his energy, defensive abilities and most of all his honesty.

Ever since Danny Mills departed for Leeds in 1999, Charlton have lacked a true attack-minded right-back, surprising perhaps since Chris Powell, Paul Konchesky and even Hermann Hreidarsson have each provided plenty of cavalier intent on the opposite flank. Luke Young often looked like a rabbit caught in headlights when he entered the final third of the field, and although his crossing ability was reasonable, he lacked the tricks to consistently reach the byline and improve the angle of delivery.

His excellent 2004/5 season saw him pick up both the Player of the Year trophy, as well as his first England cap as a steady replacement for Gary Neville. It was perhaps not surprising that he missed out on the World Cup given Neville's refound fitness and Jamie Carragher's versatility, but nonetheless seven caps is an impressive return given his relatively limited natural talent. He was good for Charlton, and Charlton were definitely good for him.

Dennis Rommedahl was of course an entirely different story. We were entitled to have high expectations given his strong reputation in international football, and his reputed sub-11 seconds for the 100m. Unfortunately if the truth be told, and with the benefit of hindsight, if he was really that good he certainly wouldn't have been available for £2m, and certainly not to Charlton. Three poor seasons and millions in wages later, he will be playing Champions League football next season, Charlton only managing to secure a million plus transfer fee by altering the currency. Modern day football, don't you just love it?

His pace was certainly never in question, and it was equally apparent over a couple of yards as well as in a flat-out sprint. Unfortunately his feet moved far quicker than his mind, and he resembled someone who has no natural 'feel' for the sport, and its natural shapes and movements. Moreover, unlike some fellow countrymen such as Thomas Gravesen or Henrik Pedersen, he certainly had no interest in the physical side either. Indeed it would be hard to pick a winner in a straight scrap between Rommedahl and another Dane, Claus Jensen but at least the latter was blessed with a delightful footballing brain that allowed us to forgive his more 'tender' moments.

Failing to score a single goal at home did not help Rommedahl's cause, and one wonders how much the fans would have got on his back were it not for the famous last-minute winner at Selhurst Park. Other well-taken goals at Newcastle, 'Boro and Portsmouth will remain as mere teases, a painful reminder of what could have been if only he had the application. Perhaps we can comfort ourselves with the thought that if we found him frustrating, how bad must it have been to have played alongside him, particularly for the likes of Matt Holland or Kish whose careers were built on the very qualities Rommedahl patently lacked.


At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Burt Camenzuli said...

Sir you write so well your every word is perfect in discribing the situation.


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