Friday, February 01, 2008

Scunthorpe preview

Contrary to some of the doom and gloom expressed in certain quarters, I think it's been a good week for Charlton. A vital win against Stoke was followed by some canny work in the transfer market that has left us stronger both tactically and financially.

The quality of decisions should be judged at the time they are made, not with the benefit of hindsight. However, I sense that this is another transfer of a popular player whose rationale will become even more apparent in the fullness of time, much as Mark Kinsella's did.

I believe some of the sadness expressed at Andy Reid's departure is being distorted by the fact that he's generally viewed as a 'good bloke', just like Kinsella was, but unlike for example Danny Murphy or Scott Parker who the fans never quite warmed to in the same way.

However, we should not let this blind us from the fact that our financial realities have changed, and (up to) £4million is a very fair price for a player with such obvious deficiencies, despite his many talents. Based on what I have seen in both the Premiership and Championship, he was a luxury player in the Claus Jensen or Paolo di Canio mould, but less effective than both.

The last-minute loans of Greg Halford and Lee Cook are sensible acquisitions with virtually zero risk to Charlton. I must confess I've a weakness for players with genuine long-throws (I don't think we've had one in recent memory), and whilst Halford has had a troubled couple of years, Phil Parkinson presumably feels he knows him well enough to realise his potential.

Lee Cook meanwhile was one of the Championship's most exciting prospects, and if he is match fit, he will surely become so again. More importantly he can add the pace which Reidy so patently lacked. Given that Fulham and Sunderland might well be playing in a division lower than Charlton next season, it gives us a chance to take a good look with a possible view to a permanent deal.

I suspect neither will be involved at Scunthorpe, in a game which may anyhow fall victim to the weather. After a promising start at The Valley (a game that I attended), the Iron's season has gone horribly awry, winning just 1 of their last 18 Championship games. With no goals scored either since New Year's Day, anything other than an Addicks victory would be a clear disappointment.

Meanwhile, we have won just 2 of our last 8 Championship games, yet somehow appear to be in the strongest relative position that we have held for some considerable time. Blackheath Addick has undertaken a detailed analysis of historic points totals required for promotion, and suggests 85 points might be required for promotion.

However given that both Bristol City and WBA are currently en route for just 81 points (1.75pts per game), I suspect 85 would not only win promotion, but the title also. If so, that requires us to manage 2.23pts per game ourselves between now and then, a lofty target but not an insurmountable one by any means now.

The mini-spell we put together from Aug 25 (Sheff Weds, home) to Oct 6 (Barnsley, home) saw us accumulate 18 points from just 8 games, exceeding the standard for what is now required, so it can certainly be done.

From what I've read, the Stoke performance was impressive and it is likely that Pards will only be tempted to add Varney's pace alongside Gray's hold-up play, leaving Iwelumo on the bench if required. Thus I expect us to line up as follows: Weaver, Moutaouakil, Youga, McCarthy, Bougherra, Zheng, Holland, Ambrose, Sam, Varney, Gray. Subs: Randolph, Fortune, Semedo, Iwelumo, McLeod.

NY Addick predicts: Scunthorpe 0, Charlton 2 (Varney, Ambrose). Att: 7,109.


At 1:34 PM, Anonymous Oggy Red said...

The Herminator always had a decent long throw, NYA - the only problem, at the same time we also needed him to be on the other end of them.

Also, Luke Young could throw from touchline to near post but Charlton didn't really make full use in his last season or two.


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