Friday, June 13, 2008

Paddy sold down the Hudson River

An enjoyable and relaxing week with my parents in Vermont was temporarily halted a couple of mornings ago, when my Dad delivered some shocking news.

"Have you heard what's happened?" he asked me grim-faced, as I emerged from a rare good night's sleep. A terrorist attack was my first terrible thought, or perhaps a plane had crashed in New York or London? "Neither," he confirmed, "...Paddy McCarthy's been sold to Crystal Palace."

I'm really not too sure what to make of this one at all, except that it probably lends further proof (as if any were needed), that the normal rules and controls that govern most businesses, seemingly don't apply to football.

To summarise, McCarthy was signed by Alan Pardew on 6 Jun 2007 for an initial fee of £650,000. Having spent the past seven seasons unconcerned with matters outside the Premiership, I think it's fair to say that he was virtually unknown to most Addicks fans. Nonetheless, we implicitly trusted Pards:

"He was really positive and sold it to me. He told me how good the club was, how much potential there is here and what type of team he's looking to put together next season. Everything he said was exactly what I wanted to be a part of."

McCarthy started on the opening day against Scunthorpe, but was dropped in preference of Jonathan Fortune at Stoke a week later. His contribution as a second-half substitute that evening did him few favours, but he filled in as a capable right-back in the 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday, and was then returned to centre-back for the win at Palace, and the draw at Colchester. For reasons that have never become apparent, he then suddenly disappeared from the picture, surprising given that the only defeat until then had been the only game he hadn't started (ie. Stoke).

After Danny Mills' red card at home to Hull on 22 Dec, Pards was forced to play Madjid Bougherra at right-back, and was obliged (ie. forced) to recall McCarthy who subsequently became a virtual ever-present. Indeed he delivered such consistent performances thereafter, he was even talked about as a possible 'Player of the Year, despite having played such a limited role until Xmas.

He also importantly demonstrated the type of leadership that the team so clearly lacked. If our post-Xmas dip in form coincided with his return to the side, then surely this was merely a coincidence, the true blame lying elsewhere, for example in Andy Reid's departure, or in Pardew's tactical tinkering.

It is possible that he was irked by the capture of Mark Hudson (a player seemingly with many similarities to McCarthy), but the Irishman himself described his sale as a 'bolt from the blue'. Moreover, with Sam Sodje presumably returning to Reading, and with Jonathan Fortune's future at Charlton somewhat doubtful, we were not exactly overburdened with centre-backs even with Hudson onboard. Presumably Matt 'Captain Cleanshorts' Holland will retain the armband, so their relative claims to be skipper should not have been cause for dispute.

Although I struggle to see how this transaction improves our chances next season, I'm more concerned about the questions it raises concerning Pardew's managerial approach since after all, McCarthy was his own signing just one year ago. An optimist may suggest that we are no worse off because the (undisclosed) fee broadly repays us for the initial outlay, whilst Hudson is an ample replacement.

A realist like me would suggest firstly that Hudson is probably on higher wages, and second that this view handily ignores the cost of two agency/signing-on fees, plus the simple fact that when injuries permitted, a Bougherra/McCarthy partnership showed perhaps the most potential of all (witness the two vital home wins over Stoke and Palace for example). If Bougherra himself is potentially on his way too, then we'd better hope that Paulo Monteiro has been working on his English.

The evidence clearly suggests that Pardew and McCarthy didn't get along (players with leadership qualities tend to have forthright opinions). McCarthy's post-transfer quote pretty much confirms it:

"Generally if a club accepts a bid it tells its own story and when I spoke to Neil Warnock he just came across as a man I think I'll have a great relationship with. He will maybe appreciate me as a player a little bit more."

All of which brings me back to my initial point about football operating in its own reality-free cocoon. The next time Richard Murray is asked to open the club cheque book, and to agree to add someone to the playing payroll, will Pardew be made more accountable? Didn't we learn from the Dowie experience in this regard? After all, one is entitled to wonder whether McCarthy would ever have played for Charlton again after Sep 2007, if circumstances had not required it.

And finally would a few quotes from Pards himself in circumstances like this not be an appropriate way of explaining McCarthy's sale to the fans? Unlike most of Dowie's signings, McCarthy was actually quite good, at least in the context of the Championship.

During the same week that fans were again urged to renew their season tickets, it's not unreasonable to be reassured that the manager is not just making it up as he goes along, particularly in light of the second half of last season. McCarthy was hardly Beckenbauer, but for some reason this transfer irks me more than most. Perhaps I'm still getting used to the fact that outside the Premiership, clubs are inevitably 'deal takers' rather than 'deal makers'.

Instead new boy Steve Waggott is forced to cut and paste from an old email presumably entitled, 'Quote upon the sale of Soulemayne Diawara' to state, "We wish Paddy well in his future career and we thank him for his efforts in his one-year stint with us." The fans deserve better.


At 9:18 PM, Blogger charlton north-downs said...

New York I'm not happy about McCarthy's transfer he was a player who gave 100% and god do we need that sought of player lack of pace and all.

At 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

look guys , much as I like reading your columns , the bloke was fundamentally useless . He made loads of mistakes , had the turning circle of the QE2 ,no pace , couldn't pass but don't worry because he was very committed (oh great).
I sometimes wonder if I watch the same games as other people .
Fortune is actually a much better player ( which at least Tony Pulis recognised), although whether he will be back in favour next season , who knows ?
Maybe Amady Faye will play centre half , stranger things have happened
but for heaven's sake dont lose any sleep over Paddy McCarthy who will never , never be good enough for the Premiership .

At 12:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently, when Pards bought Hudson, he asked Warnock/Jordan if they fancied anyone...Paddy's name came up, and a deal was struck. I see it as £500k up for the reds; I don't know if one is better than the other, but what I do know is that McCarthy wasn't good enough longer term. Time will tell I guess...

At 1:17 AM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Whether or not he was useless is the basis for a perfectly reasonable debate (I happen to think he was a capable defender).

My point was really about Pardew's accountability, given that he spent £650k (plus committed the club to more than that in wages), yet apparently decided after just four games that he wasn't going to play him again. He was then seemingly forced to play him, the guy does pretty well, and then hey presto he's sold for less than we paid for him!

I'm well aware that an incredible amount of money is wasted on transfers generally (with worrying amounts leaving the game in the hands of agents). However, my blog is more concerned specifically with Charlton, and in this instance I don't think it's unreasonable to question the rationale.

Few will argue if/when the likes of Bent, Faye, Thomas, etc.. make an exit, but McCarthy seemed the type of honest leader that would have been a very useful member of the squad (if not, why exactly did Pards sign him?).

At 1:57 AM, Anonymous Johnny73 said...

New York,

Like you I can't see any footballing reason for McCarthy to be sold. Once he settled at the club he did a decent job.

Any comments about his potential to play in the premiership are pointless as we are unlikely to compete in that league for sometime.

The reality is that Pards has always had a high turnover of players at all his clubs. The tinkering element of Pards goes all the way down to buying and selling players.

Personally i feel Pards has been told to generate his transfer budget by selling players and you can only sell what other clubs want to buy, that means losing decent players.

At 10:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"For reasons that have never become apparent, he then suddenly disappeared from the picture"

They were very apparent, every single game he played he cost us a goal. Improved after January though.


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