Thursday, November 20, 2008

Pardew Gets The Horn

"There will certainly be one body before the Birmingham game, maybe two." (Alan Pardew, 6 Nov 2008)

He turned up a week late, but it seems the first body Pards had in mind was Martyn Waghorn, Sunderland's 18-year old striker.

You could almost cut the suspense with a knife as we await the second one.

I'm sure young Waghorn is an exciting prospect. He signed a new Premiership contract as recently as February, and given that Roy Keane doesn't suffer fools gladly, it's a fair bet that the kid can play. Then again he's only 18, and ergo he'd better be at least as good as Darren Ambrose.

Unfortunately it's yet another damning indictment on Pardew's management. After all, the six first-team strikers currently at the club (Varney, Gray, Todorov, McLeod, Dickson, Fleetwood), were all signed by him.

The transfer outlay on that sextet was over £5million, whilst I'd estimate their total monthly payroll to be perhaps £150,000. Given that we will have no chance of signing Waghorn at the end of his loan, where is the accountability for this extravagance?

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if Waghorn bags plenty of goals at Championship level, and each will rightly be cheered to the rafters. But what does that say about Luke Varney (3 goals since 8th Feb), a player to whom Pardew has until now, offered consistent and very public support?

I have genuinely been boosted by the changes Pards has apparently made to our training regime, and the early promising signs from the 4-5-1 formation he has utilised since Barnsley.

John Maynard Keynes once said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do Sir?" In what other context can one understand his sudden (and correct) fancy for Jose Semedo for example? Or his sudden willingness to sacrifice the previously untouchable and aforementioned Varney?

The supporters of Pards will highlight this type of flexibility, and willingness to acknowledge errors. Meanwhile, those fans like me who remain doubtful, prefer to suggest he is merely reshuffling the deckchairs aboard the proverbial Titanic.

By way of example, having performed admirably in two games at The Valley, it seems Josh Wright is now superceded again by Jonjo Shelvey in the 'young central midfielder's stakes'. I've genuinely no idea which of the two is the better player, but it seems Pards doesn't either.

Four goals in two tricky away games has won Pardew some time in the eyes of some doubting Charlton fans. The fact that only one point was gained has seemingly been lost in the vortex of our manager's spin.

It's just 2 Championship wins from 14 now; those keen to give him more time are playing a dangerous, if somewhat understandable game.

My favourite assessment of Pardew's managerial competence (Charlton's form over our last 46 games) is now flashing red lights all over the place.

The 46 Championship games we have played since hosting Sheffield United (ironically) on 27th Nov 2007, have generated just 49 points!

Fans of Leicester (52pts, 2007/8), Gillingham (50pts, 2004/5), Walsall (51pts, 2003/4) and Crewe (49pts, 2001/2) will not need reminding that this is quite possibly relegation form.

And Pardew's reaction after Birmingham?: "I wouldn't say we're in a relegation battle." And after Plymouth?: "If we can produce that kind of display week in, week out, we'll be up near the play-offs in no time."

Cardiff in 6th place have 28 points from 17 games (at 1.65 per game). If one is patient with Pards, and allows him say 40 games to be 'near the play-offs', then assuming the team in 6th place has continued to accumulate 1.65 points per game, we will need to have 'near' to 66 points.

If by 'near' to 66 points, he perhaps means 'within one win' (ie. 63 points) then we will need to accumulate 47 points from our next 23 games.

That's form which implies 94 points over the course of a full season. It's say 14 wins, 5 draws and just 4 defeats. It's surely utter nonsense, to suggest we're on the cusp of accumulating anything remotely like this.

As I wrote before the Plymouth game, the case for keeping Pardew (financial considerations aside), would seem to rest very squarely on two criteria.

Firstly, is there a reasonable expectation that he can and will safeguard our Championship future this season. And secondly, once having done so, is he the manager we would want in the Championship at the start of 2009/10?

The two are obviously linked. If results begin to suggest he will fulfil the first criteria, then one will gain confidence that he has a viable long-term vision for the club, which he would thus deserve to continue to take on next season.

What does the signing of Waghorn tell us in this regard? We all hope obviously that the lad scores goals, but it's something of a 'no-win' situation for Pards.

If he succeeds, it questions Pardew's judgment regarding those half-dozen that failed before him. And if he fails, we'll all doubtless declare that Pards hasn't learnt any lessons about tinkering with loan signings.

The bottom line for me, is that with the players already at his disposal (almost all of whom are now his signings), and with the three loan signings already onboard, he might be better served focusing on those rather than bringing in more new short-term recruits.

Our memories are not so short that we have forgotten the likes of Lee Cook and Scott Sinclair, whose presence (and the selection headaches they brought) might reasonably be claimed to have taken us backwards as last season faded away.

It's an unfair amount of pressure to place on young Waghorn's shoulders, and probably an unnecessary amount too. Welcome to Charlton, Martyn.


At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post NYA! I hope the selection of capable players like Semedo and Mou will steady the ship.The lack of goal power is an issue.I am hoping that success for the remainder of Pardews contract will mean that he can leave with some diginity, but please no renewal or extension. Lets get behind the team -leave SAP out of the equation.

At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When your manager signs players on a permanent basis and then finds the need to get loan plyers to play instead of them it suggests he can't be trusted in your judgement so why wait to hit the ICE BERG. Of course, miracles could happen and the corpse of CAFC be persuaded to do a Lazurus. I doubt itI have yet to see a truly compeant display (including Reading, which could easiy have gone tits up) and I felt this was a relegetion season 2 games in because we lost to Yeovil when the managers selection was again proved poor. he admitted as much. You are right New York Addict, we have had relegation form for a year so why does A2C have faith: because there is so little else and there is no such thing as an atheist in a life raft.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Ken Jennings said...

As dreadful as I feel at the Sacrelidge, I am also starting to question why the Club's decision makers are still falling for the persuasive stylings of Alan Pardew. I would fervently hope there is a time limit on their indulgence, so that my faith can be restored and Charlton Athletic can remain in the Championship.

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

the final semblance of logic has gone. I have nothing against someone who sounds talented, but before loaning him in, why hasn't Todorov, Dickson or Fleetwood been given a decent run in the team? If the budget is so tight, why are we signing players who aren't ready? we need players now! Todorov was the solution after burnley (where he made a difference), one start later and hes back on the bench. Dickson must wonder whats going on, and Fleetwood is having a lovely time down on the coast. cant judge players after one game or when they come on for 20 minutes. Mc Leod starts after being out for months (while todorov only fit enough to be on the bench) and again disappears. madness


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