Friday, October 03, 2008

Ipswich preview

The mood amongst the Addicks faithful turned increasingly sour this week, and ever the populist, this blog tapped into the prevailing sentiment.

Defeats against a club's most hated rival never go down well with supporters, but that was barely half the story. It was instead the half-hearted disjointed performance, and Pardew's typical lack of post-match contrition which particularly riled supporters.

Pedro 45 has written an impassioned case for the prosecution, which whilst still a little premature in my view, is nothing if not eloquent.

Virtually no supporters expected automatic promotion, and even hopes for the play-offs might have been deemed 'optimistic'. However we did expect more evidence that Pardew has a real plan that his squad can execute, that the players are responding to his methods, and that lessons were learnt from the second half of last season.

Over the course of the past 46 matches (beginning with Barnsley at home on 6 Oct), we have accumulated just 56 points. Leicester City went down last season with 52 points. We are sailing far too close to the wind, and even more worringly the trend is firmly backward not forward.

Those that point to 'budget constraints' are misguided in my view, because one might only reasonably point to the forced departures of Reid and Bougherra as representing players presumably happy at the club, and who would have been additive in the Championship.

And whilst of course we inevitably lost some players of rather dubious Premiership quality, we're no longer playing in the Premiership. In the meantime since relegation, Pards has spent approximately £9million on new recruits (as well as adding a myriad of loans and free transfers), a budget which frankly is the envy of all but a handful of competing clubs.

Ipswich fans have learnt through bitter experience to dampen their expectations. It's now been six years since they competed in the top flight, and after consecutive post-relegation finishes of 7th and 3rd, their subsequent demise reflects the importance of doing everything realistic to maximise the benefits of the parachute payments.

However under the stewardship of Jim Magilton, they secured a respectable 8th place finish last season, and have made a solid enough start again this time. Their home form was outstanding last season (15 wins from 23) , but only Barnsley were worse on the road, and we destroyed them last season with an outstanding first-half of football.

I received a nice email from my former economics Professor at my alma mater informing me (perhaps in jest), that he was adding my recent post on the credit crisis to the official reading list for the new cohort of undergraduates starting this week. I'm sure the likes of Keynes and Marx are delighted to be in such esteemed company.

Interestingly he's also a devoted Ipswich fan, and admitted, "I quite like Lisbie," and then compounded his initial mistake by adding, "...he's quite neat." Yet more evidence in my view of the parlous state of university funding back in the UK.

More seriously I had to chuckle when he described Ipswich's season so far. Simply substitute 'Ipswich' for 'Charlton', and 'Magilton' for 'Pardew' in the quotes below, and perhaps we've inavertently stumbled across the inherent traits of following a club playing Championship football. Ring any bells?:

"Ipswich are in a very strange state at the moment. Magilton took over when things were pretty dire and the team had come to an end, and he needed to start over. His first two years he had no money and did everything pretty much right, the team was coming together, he clearly had a plan in mind and they were, at times, playing nice football. We should really have made the play offs last year. Then there's money available, he fails to sign most of the people he really wanted, but he still brings in 8 new people over the summer. Since then he hasn't played the same team twice, his midfield seems to be drawn randomly from a hat, and he seems completely confused about what his best formation is. So, we have more potentially good players than we've had for a long time, but Magilton doesn't seem to know what to do with them."

It is difficult to approach a home fixture with Ipswich without recalling that wonderful night in May 1998 when we realised we were heading to Wembley. Our team that night was: Ilic, Barness, Bowen, Jones K, Rufus, Youds, Newton, Kinsella, Heaney, Jones S (Mortimer), Bright. Subs not used: Allen, Brown. What would Charlton fans give now, to have some of those characters back in the side?

Instead Pards must choose from a squad arguably with considerably more talent, but an acute absence of heart. He has promised changes, but then he did so before Tuesday night and merely added Ambrose for Gray, hardly a revolution.

If Charlton's future is going to be brighter than the immediate present, we should be maximising the playing time of those young and talented enough to form the core of a side that could be playing Championship football for some considerable time. Some of these players will require patience, some may ultimately not be good enough, but at least they won't be playing in the 'comfort zone'.

The future lies in the hands of the likes of Hudson and Bailey, not Ambrose and Zheng. If Zheng's exit is a virtual certainty in January, then I'd rather he didn't play now.

In Moutaouakil and Semedo, we have two talented youngsters who've taken the risk of leaving their home country, to play for a middling Championship side in England. They should be nurtured, not left to watch as yet another loan signing arrives in their stead.

Longer-term let's give the likes of Josh Wright a proper run in the side, so I don't have to keep receiving emails from Barnet and Brentford fans wondering why he's being overlooked. League Two is not the same as the Championship, but that's where Nicky Bailey played until last summer. The kid is probably desperate to show Charlton fans what he can do. We know what Matt Holland can do, and frankly it's not good enough anymore.

Until then, I expect Pards to select as follows: Weaver, Semedo, Basey, Primus, Hudson, Bailey, Zheng, Ambrose, Bouazza, Varney, Todorov. Subs: Elliot, Cranie, Holland, Gray, Dickson.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 2 (Todorov, Zheng), Ipswich 2 (Lisbie 2). Att: 22, 288.


At 10:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spot on re moo2 and Semedo it's a complete farce. Cranie has been involved in 2 defeats now and from what he's shown is nowhere near the quality of our own boys who can't get anywhere near the team it seems.

Moo2 was awesome against Reading and yes he may make some defensive mistakes but surely his potential merits a sustained run in the side. His confidence must be shot.

At 9:56 PM, Blogger phil said...

surely the conundrum of pardew's illogical persistance with a defensively incompetent and horror inducing left sided french full back but his simultaneous refusal to play a defensively incompetent horror inducing right sided french full back is answered with only two alternatives:pardew is educating us with a master class in french existential surrealism or alternatively he knows nothing whatsoever about the age of reason

At 11:44 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Phil, I believe the answer actually lies in the form of classic post-colonial guilt.

This is because Youga is not French as often thought, but from the Central African Republic, a country brutally colonised by the French (the nation of Moutaouakil) until 1958.

This would also explain his feelings towards Semedo, because after all Portugal were another major colonial power.


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