Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Swansea Preview

Charlton news during the summer has tended to be fleeting, yet almost consistently depressing.

Departures have been regular and often surprising; promised signings are notable by their absence.

Just as any empathetic person would therefore, a couple of weeks ago I decided that I could no longer witness Charlton's decline from afar, and thus purchased return air tickets to London, and match tickets for Swansea, Yeovil and Watford. All being well, I will thus be there in person on Saturday to comfort the club in its time of need.

The Kubler-Ross model of grief acceptance describes five key stages in the process, and it has probably taken me until this week to reach the all-important final one:

1. Denial: "We'll still have one of the strongest squads; after all we were a Premiership club until 2007."

2. Anger: "It's all the fault of that Chappell bloke. Where the hell has the money gone?"

3. Bargaining: "Reaching the play-offs would still be a good season."

4. Depression: "We'll be just like Leicester last season. We're doomed."

5. Acceptance: "We have played the bulk of our post-War football in the second tier, but today we've a great stadium, a decent manager and a sensible Board."

So I've accepted the new reality of Charlton in 2008/9. Reality is the key word, because it's not a question of optimism or pessimism.

Reality tells me that beginning the season with two central defenders is suboptimal. Reality tells me that it's unlikely that all of our youngsters will flourish at the same time (but equally, some of them will flourish nevertheless).

Reality tells me that there are at least six teams better than us this season, but vitally considerably more than three that are worse (so let's not panic). Reality tells me that winning 6 of our last 24 Championship games last season does not bode well, given that our squad is surely weaker now.

Reality also most importantly tells me that failing to take the necessary steps to cut the club's budget may lead to oblivion. We've been there once before, and there's no great desire to return.

The last teams to win automatic promotion back to the Premiership two seasons after relegation (as opposed to one), was WBA last season, and Sunderland in 2004/5, so it can be done. Notably however, they had finished 4th and 3rd respectively during that interim season. Blackburn also managed the same feat in 2000/01, after they got relegated with us in 1998/99. Interestingly they finished 11th in their interim season, the same place we occupied last season.

However in short, teams that win promotion to the Premiership typically either bounce straight back, or much like us in 1997/98, emerge somewhat out of the blue thanks to some combination of a smart manager and/or rich benefactor (think Fulham, Reading, Wigan, Portsmouth etc..).

Indeed, if one wants to get very depressed, consider that the bottom two divisions today contain fully six teams that have played in the Premier League since its foundation in 1992/93 (Oldham, Bradford, Leicester, Leeds, MK Dons and Swindon).

This season's Championship meanwhile will contain sixteen teams that have tasted the Premier League (all except Preston, Plymouth, Doncaster, Swansea, Cardiff, Blackpool, Burnley and Bristol City).

Thus if our minds occasionally drift longingly for those halcyon Premiership days, then we are presumably in good company. Strangely I find that a rather comforting thought.

Swansea might be described as having completed a 25-year transition period, but now find themselves in a new (and typically bland) stadium, and with a young exciting and apparently very capable foreign manager at the helm. Interviewed in last weekend's Sunday Times, Roberto Martinez assured readers his team will try to play football, so we shouldn't fear the kick and rush style that we struggled against last season.

After our disappointing opening game against Scunthorpe last season, this was not the type of fixture I wanted to see again, with the Swans cheered on by 3,000+ of their own expectant fans, ensuring it will feel more akin to a Cup tie (and we know how we fare in those).

With less than 72 hours to go until kick-off, the chances of any surprise last-minute signings look increasingly remote. I would thus expect us to line up as follows: Weaver, Semedo, Youga, Hudson, Fortune, Racon, Shelvey, Thomas, Sam, Varney, Gray. Subs: Elliott, Basey, Faye, Fleetwood, Sinclair.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 1 (Varney), Swansea 0. Att: 21, 932.


At 6:19 PM, Blogger Ken Jennings said...

Green with envy, I am. Thanks for taking them under your wing. Have a great trip and I look forward to your reports.

At 6:32 PM, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

NY Addick, that is probably the most practical, pragmatic and realistic overview on the state of affairs at CAFC that I have read for the past many weeks (and there has been much written!).

Last season, with most of the "experts" touting Charlton to pop right back up to the Premiership, match-to-match expectations were such that anything short of a win was viewed as abject failure.

Thus, there was great disappointment and consternation as we stumbled and floundered right on down to an eleventh place finish.

This year, with most reasonable thinking folk expecting us to struggle, each win will be a treasure and if we do manage to stay in the fight, it will make for a rewarding and entertaining season.

Let's hope the squad melds and bonds, the promising youngsters come through and those few left from the Premiership days, play with some heart and determination.

At 10:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that is the team that will start, provided Hudson is fit, but I'd like to see a slightly more defensive and narrower midfield. That would mean Basey for Thomas which would also give Youga more scope to get forward. Anyway, whoever plays, 1-0 would be a fantastic result.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger Dave Peeps said...

Well put NYA. The Kubler-Ross model for grief associated with death has a 6th point, Ritual. The fortnightly, or thereabouts, attendance at the graveside (or similar) to honour the departed and remember the past :)

At 10:51 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...


Didn't West Brom win the league last season in their second year since relegation?

An omen perhaps?

At 12:48 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

KHA, you are correct of course. I was merely testing the attentiveness of my readership.

I have altered the article as required - interesting to note that WBA finished 4th in their interim season (losing to Derby at Wembley), so I'm not sure it is much of an omen for Charlton.

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

If you are looking for omens, then interestingly Blackburn finished 11th in 1999/2000 (after being relegated), but bounced back to win automatic promotion the next season.

Charlton finished 11th last season.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

The more I look at Omens, the more I like them.

At 2:09 PM, Anonymous SLC Red said...

As ever, congratulations on your blog. We seem to be taking the 30,000 foot view here rather than concentrating on the basics. For the critical part of last season we lacked a creative midfielder and strikers that could put the ball in the net. Add that to a defense that inevitably leaks goals and ... we lost games. It's not a magic formula. This season, we may improve slightly up front in terms of personnel and confidence. Midfield is a huge problem waiting to be solved and defensively we are in worse shape. The only saving grace is the youth in our side. It won't work this season as they won't have the resilience necessary against tough, physical teams over a long season but we are building for the future. I don't have a flight or a match booked but I'll make it a couple of times at some point.


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