Saturday, August 16, 2008

Watford preview

If Charlton's thin squad can squeeze through the already crowded exit door at The Valley, they will be travelling today to Watford for a clash that will sadly demonstrate the harsh financial reality of Premiership relegation.

Watford's summer has also been a tale of forced sales (Henderson, Shittu), rumours of financial calamity and all-encompassing pessimism. Like Charlton, they also sold their best player in January 2008 (Marlon King), a decision which saw their promotion hopes largely dashed, though unlike us they clung on to a play-off berth.

After a promising result (if not performance) on the opening day, Charlton have had a mixed week, the disappointment of the Yeovil defeat soon forgotten after the promising signing of tigerish midfielder, Nicky Bailey.

Meanwhile, on the transfer front, whilst I suspect neither Amdy Faye or Jerome Thomas will be greatly missed, if one looks closely enough, one can detect further worrying desperation from Charlton.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that something may have occurred at Charlton, which goes beyond the simple understandable requirement to shore up the club's balance sheet, and shift to a more sustainable ongoing budget. Given the harsh environment for borrowing, one wonders whether some type of previously assumed perpetual facility (an overdraft perhaps), has simply been called in.

Both Thomas and Faye were on high wages, so for that reason alone, their departures are not a great surprise. However in the case of Thomas, if it was certain he was leaving (and given his age and talent, some sort of offer would surely have been forthcoming at the right price), then why did Pards unnecessarily Cup-tie him on Tuesday night?

In the case of Faye, the fact that he has only signed a one-year deal (a sensible move by relegation-threatened Stoke in light of Charlton's own experiences), suggests to me that the undisclosed fee was 'nominal' as they say.

Now that he's finally gone, if one steps back and unemotionally assesses Faye's contribution, his overwhelmingly negative reputation is perhaps a little harsh. He unwittingly became the 'poster child' for Dowie's brief reign, given his transfer fee and rumoured wages, but neither are exactly his fault. Some of his early performances in 2006/7 actually showed some promise (at least compared with Djimi Traore), but his lack of natural ability ensured he could never be more than a wholehearted ball-winner.

Jerome Thomas meanwhile in my view typifies the problem with English football. Blessed with exceptional talent, pace and trickery, he knows that he can eke out a 'comfortable' living without ever leaving the 'comfort zone'. It was only straight after he broke into the first team, that Charlton fans saw both the talent and the effort. Once ensconced amongst the 'core' first-team squad, he rested firmly back on his laurels.

This seems a problem especially acute in England because it happens to be blessed with the best-paid leagues, and increasingly suffers from a materialistic 'bling' culture that values money per se, not the labour that generates it. Arsene Wenger is rarely wrong about young players, and I suspect he was right about this one.

Our recent record at Vicarage Road is not a good one. The late fightback that was almost completed by Kevin Lisbie in the 2-2 draw in 2006/7 (but typically wasn't), was a big late-season blow to our chances of escaping relegation. Indeed, we have just one solitary win to remember there since the 1970s, Lee Bowyer and John Robinson securing a 1995/96 victory.

With former Watford man Hameur Bouazza an obvious straight replacement for Thomas on the left, it may not be a surprise meanwhile to see the stuttering (but honest) Luke Varney preferred instead of Sam on the right, allowing Chris Dickson a rare start upfront. Alternatively, the more defensively-minded Basey may slot in on the left, with Bouazza perhaps utilised as a pacy substitute option.

At right-back Pards may still opt for the versatile Semedo despite the return of Moutaouakil, whilst in midfield Jonjo Shelvey will surely make way for debutant Bailey to start alongside Racon, or more likely Holland.

I would expect us to line up as follows: Weaver, Semedo, Youga, Hudson, Fortune, Basey, Bailey, Holland, Sam, Varney, Gray. Subs: Elliot, Moutaouakil, Racon, Dickson, Bouazza.

NY Addick predicts: Watford 1 (Rasiak), Charlton 1 (Gray). Att: 14, 911.

2 Comments:

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous johnny73 said...

I'd have mootoo at right back, but agree with all your other selections.

If they can stay fit for the majority of the season, I can see mid table as an acceptable final position.

 
At 12:31 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I would also play MooToo - it's more the team I think he'll pick rather than they one I would pick.

 

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