Thursday, December 27, 2007

Come on you Reds

Another Charlton match, another red card. If only the club's foreign-based supporters could receive their own Red Card with the same frequency as its players (I'm still waiting).

Interestingly, during the five games in which Charlton have seen red, we are undefeated, managing three victories (Hull, Southampton, Ipswich) and two draws (Hull, Norwich).

Those statistics are slightly distorted of course by Jonathan Fortune's full-time dismissal, and the fact that Lloyd Sam was accompanied down the tunnel by a Hull compatriot. However, the potential damage to our chances from poor discipline, is mainly being felt via the suspensions so far.

Only Jose Semedo's red card was received in the form of a 2nd yellow card. This is at once both especially worrying (since it suggests a systemic lack of discipline), and also especially damaging (since suspensions stretch automatically to three games).

Lloyd Sam's dismissal seemed rather questionable (albeit less than one might imagine given what we know about his stature and style). However, Jonathan Fortune and Danny Mills' dismissals appear to be unforgivable, whilst Pards has implied as much about Sam Sodje's, although I'm more inclined to be sympathetic about a red card adminstered on the ball, as opposed to off it.

It is probably a little simplistic to be reading too much into our recent wave of yellow and red cards. However, there is not a single first-teamer of note without at least a yellow card to his name (Grant Basey is the nearest thing). Even Chris Powell and Matt Holland, who ought to be more interested in collecting business cards than yellow cards, have managed to warrant one of the latter.

Other than the aforementioned 'dark satanic Mills', our team is not exactly overburdened with self-confessed hardmen (always the worst type), and therein lies the confusion. I had been reluctant to join in the generalised Danny Mills 'love-in' since his return to The Valley (much preferring the dynamism of Moutaouakil) and six yellows and one red card from such an experienced player partly back up my case. It's strange how he managed to keep his head when he had an England shirt on.

From a fan's perspective, receiving a card for dissent is exceptionally frustrating. However, as anyone who has watched football on TV will know, the players use of the F-word is at best liberal, so it is difficult sometimes to understand what constitutes 'crossing the line'. Apparently it is to suggest that a referee might be less than impartial, or to make an insult personal (rather than merely vocational).

Certainly when I ran a Sunday League team in the UK, I always particularly looked forward to the referee's reports for those players booked for dissent eg. "In the 23rd minute, the home team's No. 7 asked me, "Ref, are you both blind and stupid?" I informed him that I was neither, and issued him a yellow card."

The conclusion that I most fear, because it would surely signal the end of our promotion hopes, would be the insinuation that Pards has 'lost' the dressing room, since one can safely assume he does not encourage the type of behaviour that Charlton fans have witnessed in recent weeks.

There were rumours that he had lost the respect of the West Ham dressing room before he was forced out, though I see little evidence of the 'baby Bentley' culture amongst our current crop. I suspect that in truth, rather than losing the dressing room, Pards is merely losing his patience (along with the rest of us).

Jonathan Fortune will be available for selection at Leicester and can slot straight into Sodje's position, but the suspension of Jose Semedo (arguably an early contender for Player of the Year) is making me wonder whether an experiment with 3-5-2 or 3-2-3-2 might not make some sense at this point. Either of the following line-ups would appear to be maximising our limited resources, and each avoids the temptation to paper over our limited full-back options:

3-5-2: Weaver---McCarthy, Bougherra, Fortune---Sam, Holland, Zheng, Racon, Thomas---Varney, Iwelumo.

3-2-3-2: Weaver---McCarthy, Bougherra, Fortune---Holland, Racon---Sam, Zheng, Thomas---Varney, Iwelumo.


At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Terry Thomas said...

The current goings on at Charlton are a far cry from what we have become used to in recent years. The major problems are the indiscipline on the pitch and the tedious style of play. Pardew seems to think that playing one lump up front is the way to get promoted, although I cant recall any side in recent years getting success that way. I've seen Charlton get promoted three times and we've always done it with 442 or 352, and with the two forwards being mobile and good on the ground.


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