Friday, September 12, 2008

Wolves preview

The football world has seemingly been turned upside down since Charlton last played a competitive match.

Manchester City are now the richest club in the world, Curbs is out of work, Mike Ashley has gone from hero to zero, whilst it turns out England are quite good after all. And if if all of that wasn't enough, Charlton signed Martin Cranie.

The first international break offers an early chance to take stock of our season so far. Certainly the positives outweigh the negatives even if the results suggest a clear balance.

The players we have sold have not been missed, at least yet (one suspects most never will be). The new recruits meanwhile have shown plenty of promise, particularly Hudson and Bailey, but also Bouazza for one game at least. Zheng Zhi meanwhile feels like a new signing, even if I sense he will be available in the January sales.

Losing away games whilst winning home games makes a certain amount of marketing sense, but if like me you feared our young squad may lack 'bottle', the evidence from Watford and Preston is somewhat concerning. Two away games next week against promoted clubs will tell us more, but in the meantime we face high-flying Wolves at fortress Valley.

Wolves were solidly mid-table all of last season, only occasionally threatening the play-offs. As a result, few so-called pundits picked them out as likely promotion contenders this campaign. Thirteen goals in their first four games however has refocused minds, although it's still very early days. The 3-2 defeat at the Valley in March virtually ended our play-off hopes, and the pace particularly of Ebanks-Blake will remain in the memory of the Addicks faithful.

Charlton fans will doubtless warmly welcome back Chris Iwelumo whose effort was never found wanting, even if the quality often was. His roaring start to the season has doubtless also won the affection of Wolves fans too, but it's not as if we sold him for nothing. The more cultured approach of Andy Gray meanwhile has offset any loss we may have felt, with Iwelumo's fellow Scot scoring in his last four home games, and five in his last seven games overall.

The most disappointing aspect of our defeat at Preston for me, was learning that Nicky Bailey had inexplicably been started on the right side of midfield having utterly dominated during our highly impressive win over Reading. With Ambrose available on the bench, or Holland an equally versatile option, it seemed managerial tinkering of the very worst kind.

The return of Lloyd Sam should put this right (no pun intended), with Bailey returning to the centre, presumably to partner Holland (Zheng is not mentioned on the official website, so I guess he is unavailable although it's unclear why). Darren Ambrose may be a surprise pick however on either right or left, although he has rarely impressed on either flank.

Pards has never seemed entirely sure about Moutaouakil at right-back, so Cranie could very well make his debut in his stead. At left-back meanwhile it seems a toss-up, although Youga rather than Basey would be the more 'progressive' option.

Hence I predict Pards will go as follows: Weaver, Cranie, Youga, Hudson, Fortune, Bailey, Holland, Sam, Bouazza, Varney, Gray. Subs: Elliot, Basey, Ambrose, Dickson, Shelvey.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 3 (Varney, Bailey, Dickson), Wolves 2 (Ebanks-Blake 2). Attn: 22, 018.


At 7:19 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Think the team selection is probably right, though I wouldn't be all that surprised if Basey pips Youga for the left back slot. Pardew has said that he plans to play Cranie at right back so I don't know why Moutaouakil has been retained; he has always looked very promising to me but the manager seems determined not to play him. I simply don't understand it and if I was Yassin I'd be seriously **off.

Can't resist a response to your comment on Bailey. When managers make completely inexplicable decisions like that it is a real battle to retain any confidence in their judgement. Bizarre.

Anyway, fingers crossed your forecast is right!!

At 4:43 AM, Blogger Ken Jennings said...

As I wrote in a recent editorial, I question the "Tinkering". Is it for the good of the team, or the Manager's ego?
When you have a talented young player, who, as you state, has proven his ability to effectively contribute -how does replacing him with a short term loanee assist in his, or the teams' development?

Pardew f***ed it up after the Reading delight and I wonder how much more damage he will do to our squad, just to make himself look good in the short term - ready for the next suckers to stump up a big fat contract. Because isn't that what it is all about?


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