Sunday, August 19, 2007

Stoking the Fire

2 games, 2 second half opening goals, 1 point. Not exactly the dream start we were looking for, and whilst frankly not a true reflection of the quality of some of our play, it's the nature of the two results which should be of most concern.

I opted for the television option last night, a decision backed up by the result and the weather, and one seemingly taken by many other Addicks judging by the banks of empty red seats in the away stand.

In short, the quality of some of our football was excellent. Pardew's preference for passing football has clearly been stamped upon his young side, and our style was the antithesis of a boorish Stoke side who are clearly the 'Bolton' of the Championship. Unfortunately Stoke took the three points, and therein lies the key lesson.

Having weathered plenty of first-half pressure, I certainly sensed a solid away win after Andy Reid's deflected opener. Unfortunately, the timing of Moutaouakil's injury immediately thereafter forced Pards to bring on McCarthy, when surely Zheng would shortly have been asked to replace Ambrose or Reid to box up the midfield.

Perhaps Pards was premature to make two half-time changes after a difficult, but hardly disastrous first period, thus reducing his subsequent options? Then again, I admire his willingness to act in a swift fashion; once again, a refreshing departure from Curbs (though not yet a winning one).

It would be easy to blame Paddy McCarthy for his role in both goals, allowing first Fuller and then Parkin to turn and shoot, but tackles and headers were lost in each case long before the Irishman tried to take responsibility. It would be also be ironic to blame perhaps the one Charlton player who would be least surprised by the physical aspects of life in this division.

This is no time to panic. Only Watford have shown early signs of serious form, and of course their direct style which saw them exit the Premiership with little fondness, is an ideal foundation for the new season. Accommodating so many new players was unlikely to be easy for Charlton, yet with a bit of luck we could have been sitting on six points with tons of improvement still to come. As a result, I still fully expect us to be in the promotion shake-up.

To ensure this is so, Pards will however have to find an appropriate balance between brawn and brains. It was notable for example that Chris Iwelumo's introduction up front saw us hold the ball up far better; the big man will not win many points for style, but he provides a different outlet.

A small compromise will be fine, but judging from the poor crowd at the Brittania, it seems even the locals have no great desire to watch the likes of Stoke's direct style, and I share their sentiments. For the timebeing, let's keep the faith.


At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wise words indeed NYA


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