Saturday, August 25, 2007

Iwelumotion

A stunning second half display from the Addicks secured our first win of the season. If, as I expect us to, we ultimately go onto win the Championship, this result will be seen as a vital catalyst.

The team were booed off at half-time and whilst it would be hard to disagree with their sentiments, their vitriol probably ought to have been reserved for Alan Pardew. It was only the second time that I have found myself questioning his management; the first was at Manchester City when our ultra-conservative approach perhaps cost us two vital points.

The two goals were down to lazy defending, but our general offensive gameplan appeared inexplicably to revolve around pumping hopeful long balls in the general direction of Bent and Iwelumo, thus effectively removing Reid, Ambrose and Thomas from the play. His post-match comments implied this was never the plan, but surely advice can be imparted from the touchline?

Similarly, the decision to play the right-footed Thomas on the left, and the left-footed Reid on the right was clearly flawed, yet he persisted until half-time until common sense took over (the difference was palpable almost immediately). As a result we failed to deliver a single telling cross from anywhere close to the byline for 45 minutes (not a great strategy when you're playing with two big strikers).

If an injury potentially cost us three points at Stoke, an injury may have earned us three points today. The late first-half substitution of Zheng for Thatcher forced Semedo to left-back (where he looked very comfortable), whilst Zheng added additional attacking poise in the middle, perfectly demonstrated with his sublime pass for Iwelumo's equaliser.

Pardew's unforced half-time substitution was however inspired. Todorov may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he was simply superb today; his movement was a constant delight, and his clever touches and flicks (always efficient not extravagant) provided a new and dangerous threat which Bent and Iwelumo would never have provided together. Not coincidentally, Iwelumo's shackles were removed thanks to Todorov's menace, and his two goals were the (brilliantly taken) result.

Sheffield Wednesday's hopes were not boosted by Brian Laws' decision to play with just one striker for the second half, the type of tactical flawed logic that we used to regularly witness under Curbs. As a result, wave upon wave of Charlton attacks were able to be launched without pressure, whilst the forward-looking Bougherra was able to push on knowing we were well covered in defence.

To win 3-2 in this manner is an enormous boost, and far more beneficial than a scrappy 1-0 win. The atmosphere in the post-match dressing room must have been terrific, and whilst the two goals conceded were avoidable, there were several extremely positive takeaways (Chinese? - Ed.)

All three goals were excellent. Reid's goal was taken calmly, but Ambrose deserves the plaudits for his clever hold-up play on the right. Iwelumo's first was cute, but ultimately all about Zheng's pass (plus look how deep the move started), whilst his second was simply superb work by the big man. Like Todorov and notably Semedo, Pardew's canniest signings pre-season may have been the free ones.

There were several positive contributions, but in addition to those mentioned, Jonathan Fortune stood out for a faultless display, whilst Jerome Thomas delivered in the second-half the quality that we know he is capable of at this level. Nicky Weaver meanwhile was probably blameless for the goals and delivered an ultimately match-winning quick-succession pair of saves at 2-1.

A final mention ought also to go to Paddy McCarthy who rebounded from criticism at Stoke, and played the role of makeshift right-back perfectly adequately, and certainly never let the team down today.

If lessons are learned from the first-half display then I saw enough in the second-half to tell me that we will not merely win this division, but will win it by ten points. I have not seen the likes of Watford, Sheff Utd and Wolves but I dare anyone to suggest they are capable of putting together the type of fluid football that ultimately tore apart a well-organised Wednesday side. I intend to put a serious-sized bet on us (despite the narrower odds), and I suggest you do the same. Onwards and upwards.


7 Comments:

At 7:35 PM, Blogger charlton north-downs said...

New York I was there and I will write a match report tomorrow as we have guests and I have stretched the mark by playing tennis in the morning and
watching my beloved Charlton in the afternoon in the sunshine. What a contrast tale of two half's .

 
At 8:03 PM, Blogger Confidential Rick said...

Where are the best odds NY ?

 
At 8:06 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Betfair usually best (you should get 8/1). For high street bookies try www.easyodds.co.uk for the comparisons.

 
At 8:54 PM, Anonymous guess who said...

10 point winners of the championshio....never, wba forever!!

 
At 12:34 AM, Anonymous SLC Red said...

I discovered you blog last week and wanted to compliment you on this well written enterprise. As perhaps the only Charlton fan in Salt Lake City, I had to leave the house cursing at half-time. What a welcome suprise. I don't have DISH and as you know there's no Championship on FSN. Thanks for the analysis. Love to the East Stand. Come on you Reds!

 
At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

This report is spot on in my view. I'd be a little more cautious about the rest of the season at this stage though. Wednesday are a poor side and we'll be lucky to play so badly in the first half again and come out on top. I agree with your assessment of Pardew's performance and it concerns me a little. It was very obvious that the "set up" was badly flawed in the first half. I hope lessons are being learnt. Bent isn't in the same class as Todorov is one. Semedo doesn't really have the strength and movement to be a central midfielder at this level is another, at least not with the "flaky" though talented Ambrose alongside him. He certainly isn't in the same league as Zheng Zhi. Thomas's performance was interesting. For some reason he has always played on the left, but he looked more effective yesterday than he has for a long time when switched to the right and this solves the problem of how to accomodate both him and Reid.

Still, the good news is that Pardew probably has 10-15 games to get the team "set". We clearly have the players to win promotion. Let's hope they deliver.

 
At 9:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A slight over-reaction imo.
I was much more confident before the season started. The defending at set pieces is atrocious and will need to be sorted out if we are to do well.

 

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