Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Doncaster preview

I was thinking of writing about the Lehman Brothers collapse this evening, but it's difficult to focus upon the implosion of the entire global financial system when there's a tricky visit to Doncaster Rovers looming on the horizon.

Rovers were a non-League team as recently as 2003, and the teams have not met at this level since 1957/58 when the Addicks secured a Boxing Day away win.

They earned the sobriquet the 'Arsenal of League One' last season, referring to their free-flowing passing football, rather than implying that their team had no English players, or that their manager never saw any controversial incidents. This does not bode well, because Charlton under Alan Pardew have never had a settled enough side to compete consistently on this basis.

Losing two consecutive matches having led at half-time is both unusual (about a 500/1 chance), and worrying at the same time. Our new-look team has plenty of youthful exuberance, but is it 'streetwise' enough to close out matches and secure three ugly points, especially whilst on the road?

Doncaster have secured seven points despite only scoring three goals, which suggests they've got the hang of it. As Swansea proved on the opening day despite defeat, promoted teams begin their campaign full of confidence and with only an improved squad by definition.

Pards implied he saw some positive elements on Saturday against a strong Wolves side. As a result, an unchanged side seems relatively likely although he may well opt for Ambrose for the first time this season, most likely in place of Lloyd Sam. If he heads north meanwhile firmly with a plucky draw in mind, perhaps Grant Basey will be preferred too for the volatile Bouazza?

Plenty of fans (me included) have bemoaned Pardew's unwillingness to give the talented Yassin Moutaouakil the type of continued run in the team that his confidence needs. The immediate introduction of Martin Cranie (two months younger than the Frenchman incidentally) brought back uncomfortable memories of last season's tinkering.

With Danny Mills, Greg Halford and now Cranie all brought on loan at right-back, Moutaouakil must be wondering why he's sticking around, and frankly who could blame him (though Mills was an injury-forced loan)? It'd be our loss not his, and suggests as a club we don't yet fully embrace the whole concept of recruiting young foreign prospects.

The League table suggests our opening fixtures have not been kind to us though, which serves as some degree of comfort in light of our three defeats. All five of our opponents so far are currently in the top half of the table, although the nine points we gave up to three of them is not entirely coincidental.

By 5pm on Saturday, we will have a much better idea which end of the table we can expect to be competing at. Last season we only had seven points from five games, but the fixture list presented us with two home games in four days rather than away, and we turned over Norwich and Leicester to kickstart our season. This time around, four points would be an excellent haul let alone six, though I'd probably settle for three, or even two.

I expect Pards to line them up as follows at the Keepmoat Stadium: Weaver, Cranie, Youga, Fortune, Hudson, Bailey, Holland, Ambrose, Basey, Varney, Gray. Subs: Elliot, Primus, Bouazza, Dickson, Shelvey.

NY Addick predicts: Doncaster 2 (Guy, Wellens), Charlton 1 (Ambrose). Att: 9, 772.


At 12:09 PM, Blogger Blackheath Addicted said...

NYA, I think you're being too harsh on Pardew over Moutaouakil. Ideally he and Youga would be starters, given their strengths going forward. But Yassin made bad mistakes last season away at Watford and Scunthorpe which cost us points, picked up a red card for the reserves which saw him suspended at the start of this season, came on as a sub against Athletico in the pre-season friendly and promptly gave the ball away which nearly led to a goal, then had such a poor first half against Preston that he was substituted.

I really hope he turns it around and comes back stronger defensively. But at the moment playing him is a risk.

At 12:25 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Moutaouakil seems the type of player who needs to be given a proper run in the side. Dropping him every time he makes a mistake is harsh and counterproductive. He's clearly got the talent (like Youga) so let's be patient and nurture it.

Why is Pards so patient with Varney for example, but is so unwilling to give MooToo time?

At 6:58 PM, Blogger College Park Addickted said...

The Varney-Moutaouakil comparison is appropriate. Yassin's benching is presumably only attributable to his defensive lapses that have led to scoring opportunities from opponents. But, by the same token, Varney's failure to convert sitters (including last Saturday's following the restart that would have put Charlton in full control of the match) makes Moo2kill's margin for error razor thin. I don't understand the differential treatment.

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous CityAddick said...


I'm glad your priorities ruled Doncaster above Lehman but I would still be interested to here what you have to say about it, particularly as you have more significant exposure to it and a great knowledge of sub-prime; you work for UBS don't you? All we got was Robbie Preston waffling on about 'moral hazard'.

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I don't work for UBS but I have come across a US-based Addick who does.

The situation seems to be changing hourly but I will write something in due course.


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