Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thrown to the Wolves

Saturday's outstanding highlight for me was the first chance to sample the delights of the new M6 Toll, 27 miles of pure driving pleasure for barely more than the cost of a pint. Yes really folks, Charlton were that bad. Oh, and the pre-match music at Molineux was pretty good too.

It was such a flat performance, and I can only trust that we've been considerably better than that during the 7-game unbeaten run that I've missed. If not, then my insistence that we are the Championship winners elect are horribly wide of the mark. Passes were going astray as early as the first few minutes, and we never had enough periods of meaningful possession to pose a consistent threat. It was worryingly spineless and nothing like what I had been led to expect.

If Charlton had an obvious weak point before today's game, it was probably at left-back anyhow, a situation not helped by the very early injury to Chris Powell who, bless him, soldiered on for another half hour or so, probably mistakenly so given he was generally run ragged. With Ben Thatcher supposedly first choice and also injured, we ought to see the introduction of young Grant Basey on Tuesday night. It would appear to be the perfect occasion to give a youngster his first start.

Meanwhile, it was odd to see Yassin Moutouakil taking part in the pre-match warm-up despite not being included in the 16, but it did emphasise our relative embarrassment of riches on the defensive right flank. When Danny Mills was asked to cover for Powell, and centre-back Sam Sodje introduced to fill in on the right, the team was horribly unbalanced twice in effect, and with inevitable results.

I admire Pardew's cavalier approach to substitutes, but perhaps it was a step too far to name the very attack-minded trio of Thomas, McLeod and Todorov but not include the likes of Racon. The Frenchman could have stepped into midfield to allow Semedo to cover at left-back, as he did to great effect versus Sheffield Wednesday.

If the Portuguese utility man is Pardew's flexible friend, then it is logical to have a player on the bench who can step directly into his holding midfield position, if he is required elsewhere. Alternatively, let's just do without a replacement keeper; I'm not convinced they are worthwhile given the rare number of occasions they are called upon, and the outfield options their presence reduces.

Perhaps the only possible positive to take away from this game, is the fact that if Wolves are indeed one of the genuine promotion and play-off contenders, then they are really very average indeed (albeit good enough to beat us on this occasion). Then again, had we taken either of the game's outstanding first-half chances (which fell to Iwelumo and Ambrose respectively), then we might have done enough to take at least a point, a reasonable result with Plymouth and QPR on the home horizon.

Despite Iwelumo's obvious importance to the team, it is notable that he has so far failed to score with his head despite his obvious physical advantages in this regard. With Luke Varney generally flattering to deceive alongside (until oddly perhaps, he was moved to the right flank late on), there are considerable reasons to consider either the raw pace of McLeod or the subtlety of Todorov alongside the big man for Tuesday night.

For me, few players emerged with much credit, but notably Jose Semedo stood out as having had a solid and relatively faultless display, whilst Zheng alongside him offered plenty of energetic endeavour. Andy Reid looked jaded and could not impose himself on the game, whilst Darren Ambrose had many of the 1,000 or so visiting fans muttering the 'F-word'....frustrating.

Luckily the relentless nature of the Championship provides an immediate opportunity for redemption, against an improving Plymouth side that could leapfrog us with a win. Unfortunately work commitments require me to continue the English assault on Paris, but I will be back in time for the QPR game.


At 5:41 PM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

We're not marvellous, but neither are the other teams in this division. Watford may be an exception, although a 1-0 win at home against Hull doesn't suggest so. I haven't checked the stats, but I suspect that Wolves do much better at home than away. What we can't be doing is giving away easy goals through casual defending. BTW, Semedo is good, but he is a scapegoat player for more than a few.

At 5:56 PM, Blogger charlton north-downs said...

A good report NY, but a very painful read. Lets hope Pardew can inspire them for Tuesday.

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The big problem last season and particularly this is Ambrose .
The difference between success and failure is so slight that if you have a bloke that you are basically carrying , its impossible to win with 10 men. Go back and have a look at his overall CAFC record and see how many winning games he has featured in and the answer will become apparent. This season he has featured in all 3 losses. Pards should replace him with JT pronto or indeed play 3 upfront . If he features prominently this season we will not go up - simple as that.


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