Sunday, August 12, 2007

Hello Mou-Tou

The sun was shining. A healthy crowd (enhanced by a vocal presence from Scunthorpe) sat in anticipation of a flying start for the Addicks. But as is invariably the case it seems, it didn't quite go to plan.

Pards surprised most fans by selecting Lloyd Sam (though his decision was fully justified by subsequent events), but otherwise the team was broadly as expected, with Marcus Bent given a chance to mend his often tense relationship with the fans.

The first half was dominated by the Addicks, but Scunthorpe actually created the best chance, a free header which probably ought to have been buried. At the other end, Reid hit the bar from a deflected free kick, whilst Lloyd Sam lacked the finish to complement some tight ball control on the edge of the box.

Our opening goal had always threatened to come from some combination of Sam and the outstanding Moutouakil, and so it transpired. Some excellent hold-up play from (the otherwise quiet) Todorov released Lloyd Sam, who in turn fed the rampaging Moutouakil whose extravagant cross deceived defenders and linesmen alike, allowing Marcus Bent to smash home from close range.

My friend from Scunthorpe (the editor of FourFourTwo no less) reassured me that, "...I can't see Scunny coming back now." I meanwhile began to consider that my prematch 3-0 'correct score' bet was looking quite tasty. Hubris.

Despite every coach (and club psychologist) in the land knowing that a team is most vulnerable after they've scored, Bent fell asleep at a corner to send the Iron into raptures. The goal was particularly galling because it was the second corner in very quick succession, so there really should have been no excuse not to have been focused again. Moreover it was exactly the type of Scunthorpe goal that we ought to have been most worried about, since they rarely offered a threat from open play.

We showed faint glimpses that we could nick a late (and probably deserved) winner, notably through Reid again, but with Iwelumo partnering McLeod up front for the final quarter, it was too much to expect a sudden 'subliminal' connection between the two, and so the game died away. We could perhaps argue that we deserved a penalty when Bent was hauled down, but let's focus on the things we can control, like defending a corner.

All in all, it just felt a little flat. It may have been my rare position high up in the West Stand, or perhaps the two pre-match pints I enjoyed with Chicago Addick, but my preseason excitement was very suddenly given a reality check. I also found the attendance slightly disappointing, implying we sold only approx 3,000 single-match tickets, for our opening day fixture as Championship favourites.

If one was to focus on the positives, it would be difficult not to mention Moutouakil, whose debutant performance was one of the most assured and exciting that I can recall witnessing. One delightful piece of skill early in the second period, whilst defending deep in his own half was enough to tell me that the club has unearthed an absolute star.

Elsewhere, defending corners aside Marcus Bent looked uncharacteristically dangerous (as he should do in fairness at this level), whilst Semedo again showed plenty to suggest he will play the 'water carrier' role well in midfield. Darren Ambrose got into some useful goalscoring positions, but generally flattered to deceive in central midfield, our perpetual problem area.

Of more concern for me however was the unyielding tendency to always 'look right' when in possession (to utilise the pace of Sam and Moutouakil), because we lacked a genuine outlet on the left, with Reid playing deep and inside, and Thatcher always reluctant to bomb forward. Unbalanced teams rarely prosper, and one hopes Pards can find a way to utilise both a fit Jerome Thomas, and the improving Sam.


At 10:32 AM, Anonymous sillav nitram said...

i thought it was fairly inevitable as charlton rarely do what's expected. it's only the first game but it's left me feeling flat and maybe that's not a bad thing because it's easy to get carried away with all the hype about being favourites to go up. clearly it's not going to be easy and perhaps it's better to start slow and build up steam, rather than come out of the traps like a greyhound only to get fall away badly at the end as cardiff did last year.

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Tim said...

HI NY Addick, as a Bristol boy and sometime follower, I noted that the son of Bristol City manager, Gary Johnsson scored the opener yesterday. If you look at the lads career he was going absolutely no-where and his dad has now rescued him from the abyss twice. I would be interested to learn your views on this theme, to me is smacks of a company chairman appointing his wife in some leading role she is not qualified for and paying her 200 grand to do it...


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