Friday, February 29, 2008

Sheff Utd preview

I'm not one to berate those Charlton fans, who sensibly conclude they've got better things to do than follow their team away from home.

However, a rumoured New York snow storm notwithstanding, I'll be landing at Heathrow first thing on Saturday morning, and hiring a car, before picking up a Blade (that's a Sheff Utd fan to the uninformed, not a knife) and driving the 180 miles or so to Bramall Lane. So in short, if I'm planning to be there, what's your excuse?

My fun-filled week in London is offering three consecutive Charlton matches, a half-marathon in Berkhamsted, and an Editors concert on Wednesday night. It's an obvious observation I know, but presumably an Editors concert is really short, containing only the best bits from all their songs?

I ask simply because of a pattern I've noticed emerging, beginning firstly when I lost my glasses moshing at a Blur concert, and then when I arrived late for a Delays concert, after train problems en route. So it's no surprise therefore, that I'm unlikely to be tempted by any reunion tour planned by the fabulously named Johnny Vomit & The Dry Heaves.

The big Charlton news this week concerned the arrival of Chelsea starlet Scott Sinclair, by my calculation the fifth talented wideman in the squad, each of whom can put up a reasonable claim for a starting berth. Given that we patently lack a creative central midfielder, perhaps Pards is planning a revolutionary 4-5-1 formation, but with no-one in the middle. I believe this is known as the 'donut' in coaching circles.

But seriously, it seems a wise acquisition, and if Cook and Sinclair start as expected tomorrow, it may well signal the effective end of the Charlton careers of Ambrose and Thomas, at least in any significant sense. I'm not sure either will be particularly missed; Lloyd Sam meanwhile deserves time.

I enjoyed a drink in New York on Wednesday night with a fellow CAFC fan, who's incidentally also planning to be in Sheffield. He felt the absence of Bougherra in recent matches had been key, and moreover he had formed an impressive partnership with Paddy McCarthy, that has clearly not been replicated alongside Jonathan Fortune. It's curious to note that Bougherra and McCarthy was the original partnership on the opening day, the Irishman seemingly paying a heavy and early price for mistakes made at Stoke just a week later. Now we seem to have come full circle.

Unfortunately not only is he absent again tomorrow, but we have one of the more dangerous front lines to contend with in James Beattie and Billy Sharp, even if the latter is yet to open his Championship account. Opinion meanwhile is divided upon the wisdom of Pards' very open criticism of Greg Halford (and to a lesser extent Grant Basey) following the Blackpool debacle, but one would imagine the former's height will be beneficial if nothing else. Nonetheless, the emperor (in this case Pards) may well be accused of having no clothes if he does not start with both Moutaouakil and Youga.

Sheffield United have paid a heavy price for first ditching Neil Warnock, and then appointing Bryan Robson, but despite having little to play for in the League, the hapless Kevin Blackwell will be keen to secure a full-time role at a club that's not on the brink of bankruptcy. Our fixtures against them last season very much defined our season; a heartless away defeat, followed by an ability to close out three points at home. The pattern threatens to define this season too following our heavy defeat to the Blades at The Valley, and there's no better time to stop the trend than the present.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing perhaps 4 or 5 Charlton players in the flesh for the first time (Gray, Youga, Halford, Cook, Sinclair etc..), and I expect us to line up as follows: Weaver, Halford, Youga, Sodje, McCarthy, Zheng, Holland, Cook, Sinclair, Gray, Varney. Subs: Elliott, Fortune, Semedo, Ambrose, Iwelumo.

NY Addick predicts: Sheffield United 2 (Beattie 2), Charlton 1 (Gray). Att: 23, 292.


At 6:00 PM, Blogger Pedro45 said...

My excuse is I've just had my cartilage done, and as I've been signed off sick for two weeks, I cannot be seen to be travelling up to Yorkshire and back...I'll be there Tuesday though. Enjoy your visit NYA!


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