Sunday, October 07, 2007

News at Ten

Pards has implied that the completion of the tenth League game marks a useful juncture at which to assess how far we've come, and where we go from here.

Despite the unremitting nature of this division, and despite the fact that all of those dozen or players brought in pre-season are now as familiar as those they replaced, we are only 21.7% of the way through the season. To put this in perspective, if the season was a calendar year, it's only March 20th. In short, there's a long way to go (Brian).

Nonetheless, without doubt there are considerably more pleasing aspects to Charlton's season so far than disappointing ones, and we have averaged almost two points per game, yet retain a nagging sense that it ought to have been more. We are on course for 87 points at this rate, a total which we would probably accept as highly satisfactory if offered now, and even more so if offered prior to the season's opening day.

Here are some interesting observations on the season so far:

1. We have scored in every game, including Cup games - when Pards splashed out over £1m on Izale McLeod just before the season's opener, most of us felt we were already well covered upfront, but it signalled an attacking intent which has so far been rewarded. Scoring goals will not be a problem this season; preventing them might be and has been.

2. We have scored first in 11 of our opening 13 competitive games - again, it's pretty obvious what the gaffer's 'Plan A' is; it's maybe 'Plan B' which requires some attention, especially after those opening goals have been scored (after all, we failed to win 5 of them). Again, however it's a refreshing approach and from what I've seen, it's been good to watch.

3. Pards is willing to make early substitutions - anyone who's been sat in the lower West Stand, Block F will surely be aware of the pair of older ladies who used to cackle, "Make a change Curbishley" at virtually every home game since December 1992. The virtuous trait of patience is being tested no longer, because Pards has made a half-time change in fully 4 of our League matches, the comebacks versus Sheff Weds and Colchester included.

4. We have stumbled across a settled side - through a combination of injuries, loans and most curiously the birth of Darren Ambrose's first child, we appear to have found a settled side. As expected, it's a typical 4-4-2 and reassuringly it currently does not include the likes of Moutouakil, Ambrose, Thomas and Todorov, players that would surely walk into any other Championship side.

5. Watford and WBA aside, we have nothing to fear - unfortunately for one of us, only two teams will get promoted automatically, and I suspect I speak for many of us when I declare that I couldn't handle the play-offs again. I was 24 years old last time around, and my heart and blood pressure have no doubt worsened since then. It's perhaps unfair to write off the likes of Bristol City or Barnsley, but it's a long season and each surely lacks the depth of squad that the three leading protagonists have.

6. Every one of our preseason transfers makes sense in retrospect - how we wish we were saying that last season. Who'd have imagined that three of our key players so far this season (see below) would be free transfers, one of which no-one could possibly have heard of before? Credit must go to Pards, the Board and the European scouting network for uncovering a couple of real gems.

7. All players were created equal, but some were created more equal than others - the following core group of five key players have been fundamental to our success so far, and their continued form will dictate whether we achieve our promotion goal: Jose Semedo, Zheng Zhi, Andy Reid, Chris Iwelumo, Nicky Weaver. Notably there are no defenders yet on the coveted list, and not without reason (see below).

8. Sort out the defensive concerns, and promotion will take care of itself - it has not so much been the number of goals conceded which is a concern (just 10 goals puts us joint third in the Championship in this regard), but the type of goals and when they occurred. Too many set-piece howlers, too many late goals (in the past week alone) and too many goals conceded in quick succession. We have only conceded more than two goals in five competitive games this season, but look at some of the facts thereof: Sheff Weds (2 goals in 9 mins), Colchester (2 goals in 6 mins), Stockport (3 goals in 15 minutes). In short our defence are forgetting the 'three Cs'...concentration, concentration, concentration.

So there we have it, New York Addick's news at ten. Talking of ten, we've notably only played three of the current top ten in the division, and six of the bottom ten so it's certainly not time to be complacent. However I've seen, heard and read enough to tell me we will be celebrating promotion in May, and I'm certainly not prone to irrational bouts of optimism in most aspects of my life. Up the Addicks!


At 10:34 AM, Blogger Blackheath Addicted said...

Sound summary; I'm more optimistic than at the start of the season. I would only add to point 4 that a big change has been avoiding playing Reid and Ambrose together (which tends to leave us short of pace and drive in midfield). And maybe a cautionary point 9. In only two of our 10 league games so far has there been more than a goal in it. I get the impression this team likes to play a little on the edge and perhaps needs a competitive edge in a game in order to function. Only one game so far (Leicester at home) has seen us coasting with the points seemingly in the bag and when we took our foot off the gas we were poor. Given our propensity for letting in late goals it could cost us.

At 3:36 PM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

Excellent analysis. Like you I couldn't face the plays off again. Defeat at the New Wembley by Barnsley the nightmare scenario.

At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear NYA,
Current weakness is the lack of a reliable central defensive pairing.
Could Mills play central defence? this would allow Moutakil back in at RB and put some pressure on Fortune/Boug/McCarthy to perform for the remaining place.LB is Powells for as long as he able to keep up with the pace, rumours on other websites that Cory may be able to play soon and compete for that position.


Post a Comment

<< Home