Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Silly Season

Silly Season Example No.1: Charlton were linked today with Robert Earnshaw thanks to an offhand comment from (of all people) Ian Holloway. In common with most neutrals I suspect, I have a lot of time for Holloway; after all, he is a part-time comedian as well as full-time Plymouth Argyle manager.

However, there are at least two reasons to think this is plain silly. Firstly, we are inundated with strikers (exemplified by the 11 goals scored in 5 games already), but seemingly desperate for defenders. Second, he only signed for Derby at the end of June 2007, although he was dropped after their opening fixture.

Silly Season Example No.2: Charlton concede three goals in just 15 second half minutes at home to League Two's Stockport County, before rallying to win 4-3. Apart from being typical that one of the few Charlton games I've voluntarily missed ended up as a seven-goal thriller, it was more evidence that rank defending might scupper my acute sense that we are Championship title material.

Paddy McCarthy has emerged as an early contender for Public Enemy No.1 (following in the footsteps as such Valley legends as Bryan Hughes and Kevin Lisbie). As one of the few players that Pards signed for cash, we may have to trust his judgement on this one - a cultured defender he certainly isn't, but let's hope we can mould him into Steve Brown. Now, he was popular wasn't he?

But in all seriousness, might the fact that we not only have a brand new back four essentially, but also one that speaks several languages be a factor. Have you heard the one about the Moroccan, the Portuguese, the Englishman and the Irishman? It sounds like a joke. Some of our defending has been.

With just three 'natural' central defenders to choose from, Pards would be well advised to focus upon finding some cover in this area, perhaps a loan deal. Harry Worley? Callum Davenport? But would they realistically be any better than what we already have?

Silly Season Example No.3: Poor old Alan Curbishley has had a stressful few months. In television interviews he looks so forlorn, you almost want to draw him into your bosom, cradle his head and ask him tenderly why he never leaves anyone up at corners (though it may not be the best timing).

My concern for his welfare was especially triggered by a comment he made prior to West Ham's fateful trip to Bristol Rovers; "....if you look back at my managerial history then you'll see that I've always attacked this competition...."

Now Alan Curbishley has only managed one other club so he must be referring to his time at Charlton (1991-2006). The first opportunity he had to 'attack' the League Cup was in 1991/92 when we were edged out of the competition by Norwich City (0-5 on aggregate), admittedly having beaten Fulham (who were a bit crap in those days).

Not to be demoralised, he steered his brave side to a plucky 1-0 aggregate defeat to the mighty Bury in 1992/93. A man of principle, he would not be swayed and in 1993/94 (now back at The Valley), he took the opportunity to attack rivals Crystal Palace, restoring local bragging rights with a narrow 4-1 aggregate defeat. And who could forget the way we attacked Swindon in 1994/95, managing to surrender a 3-1 away-leg advantage to lose 5-4.

But wait. His cavalier approach finally paid some dividends in 1995/96 and 1996/97 when firstly, having defeated Barnet, we took on Wimbledon and defeated them 8-7 in an unforgettable two-legged encounter. Unfortunately Wolves were a step too far in the 4th Round and we limped out 2-1. And then in 1996/97, a brave 1-1 draw at home to Liverpool was overturned 4-1 at Anfield.

Normal service was resumed in 1997/98 when the Addicks were comprehensively beaten 4-1 by Ipswich over two legs. Luckily Curbs got his priorities right and learnt from the experience to deliver a famous two-legged play-off semi defeat later that same season.

Now a Premiership club, Curbs remained true to his beliefs in 1998/99, delivering a 2-1 home defeat to Leicester (having beaten QPR). A fearsome Bournemouth side then arrived at The Valley in 1999/2000 and sent the soon-to-be Division One Champions packing with a penalty shoot-out win. In 2000/01, the newly promoted Addicks (who would go on to finish 9th) contrived to concede five goals in two legs to lowly Stoke, and in 2001/02 we managed to balls up another glorious chance to reach the 5th Round, losing in a ding-dong to lower league opposition (again), this time Watford. We did win away at WBA though.

The 2002/03 season saw Oxford United (now of the Blue Square Premier) come to The Valley and win on penalties, before a lucky home escape against Luton Town (on penalties) led to an inevitable defeat at Everton in 2003/04. With Curbs reluctant to stop 'attacking' the League Cup despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, it was the turn of Crystal Palace (managed by tactical genius Iain Dowie) to embarrass us again, 2-1 this time at The Valley.

At least Curbs left us with a flourish however. The famous penalty shootout win at Chelsea in Oct 2005, was followed by the demoralising 3-2 defeat at home to Blackburn, in which the Addicks contrived to concede three goals inside fifteen minutes (sound familiar?).

So there we have it. Despite managing a team for 15 seasons (7 of them in the top flight), and despite having an unusual number of home draws, Curbs failed miserably to even steer Charlton to the last eight of the League Cup. I mean, even Iain Dowie managed that in his only season with us. All of which begs the question, great manager that he was, in this instance specifically though, what on earth is he talking about?


At 11:21 PM, Blogger Kappacino Kid said...

"Have you heard the one about the Moroccan, the Portuguese, the Englishman and the Irishman?" No but I have heard the one about the Algerian, the Portuguese, the Englishman and the Irishman?

At 2:54 AM, Anonymous SLC Red said...

How churlish of you to mar a brilliant piece of analysis by a snide aside at a nationalistic typo. OK, full marks on the factometer.


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