Friday, January 09, 2009

Forest preview

After a week in which the club finally revealed the depth of its financial challenges, attention returns to the pitch where arguably matters are even worse and of course not unrelated.

Speaking of the pitch, it was somewhat surprising to learn this morning that a pitch inspection (by a different referee) was passed, despite matches having already been called off at Dagenham, Ebbsfleet, Southend and Gillingham.

With temperatures barely set to rise above freezing between now and kick-off, I fear this has all the makings of a PR screw up, especially with perhaps 3,000 Forest fans set to make the trip.

Even stranger was the admission that no further formal pitch inspection is planned before the arrival of the match officials (presumably around 1pm).

It begs the question therefore why Friday's pitch inspection wasn't merely pushed back to early Saturday morning, thus incorporating a further 20 hours or so of pitch-related information (P.R.I.)?

Frankly it may be in Charlton's interests to have the game postponed, so conspiracy theorists can begin theorising if my fears are correct.

Nottingham Forest (never 'Notts' Forest I should add), arrive at The Valley buoyed by a stunning 3-0 win at Manchester City last weekend.

The same 'new manager' phenomenon that was also recently observable at Blackburn, Leeds and Derby, was very much in evidence at Eastlands even if Billy Davies did not appear to play much of a direct role in match preparation.

Certainly one can claim that what use is a short-term boost if you damage the long-term prospects, but right now Charlton could do with any type of boost, short-term or otherwise.

The type of internal promotions that we have witnessed firstly with Les Reed, and now Phil Parkinson cannot shake players out of their comfort zones in the same way. The key therefore is whether Parkinson is the right man for Charlton in the long-term. The jury remains out for now.

Just as we did with Iain Dowie, Forest fans must deal with the less than palatable fact that their new manager was most recently associated with their most bitter rivals. Extra spice is added to Saturday's fixture from Charlton's perspective by the rumours that Davies acted less than gentlemanly after being offered the Charlton job before Dowie.

Anyhow, that's all in the past, attention needs to focus on the present and our desperate fate at the bottom of the Championship. The game is being billed as a 'six-pointer' given Forest occupy the vital 21st position in the table, but this may be misleading given that our survival will require far more than merely beating our nearest rivals.

As the season goes on, the likely survival points target can be predicted with greater certainty. Fears that we may need to beat Leicester's 2007/8 total of 52 points seem overly pessimistic at this point, with the table shaping up to imply 46 or 47 might do it. However, even this of course likely requires Charlton to win at least 7 or 8 matches, something we haven't managed once since early-October.

The transfer activity so far has inevitably revolved around loans, both in and out of the club. Graeme Murty is the only confirmed loan arrival so far, his experience and leadership qualities appealing to Parkinson.

The permanent signing of Matthew Spring however is more promising, representing the type of player we probably should have been focusing upon two years ago ie. cheap, experienced (but not 'old'), very comfortable at Championship level, and not viewing Charlton as a mere 'stepping stone'.

Having reviewed the annual accounts in detail, I'm less inclined to be so overtly critical of the continual reliance upon loans like Murty (preserving cash is absolutely key at this point). However I continue to wonder why the benefits of good old-fashioned coaching are seemingly so underemphasised?

If Moutaouakil's defensive qualities are questionable, why are the coaching staff not working every day on improving them? Any onlooker can see the lad has the raw talent to succeed; he's captained the French U-21s for goodness sake. Instead one can be sure Murty will start against Forest.

The same coaching argument is true frankly for any of our underperformers, which given our current league position probably constitutes all of them.

Whilst in nostalgic mood for the Curbishley era, fans can recall many players who very noticeably 'improved' after initially misfiring upon arrival (think Andy Hunt, Luke Young, John Robinson, Radostin Kishishev etc..).

One very clear drawback of the loans system is now very apparent in the case of Hameur Bouazza, who has in the space of a week been catapulted 22 places up the Championship table to join Birmingham on loan!

This deal is clearly good for Bouazza, Fulham and Birmingham (even if only as a squad player), but bad for Charlton, not withstanding his dubious qualities. We've been made to look stupid, but it's a problem of our own making.

With only Grant Basey (essentially a full-back), and perhaps Darren Ambrose (who knows what he is) likely candidates to replace him on the left flank, our failure to develop our own players in this position are painfully apparent.

Barring any more last-minute deals, I think Parkinson will line them up as follows: Elliot, Murty, Hudson, Fortune, McEveley, Holland, Spring, Basey, Sam, Gray, Waghorn. Subs: Weaver, Semedo, Ambrose, Burton, McLeod.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 1 (Gray), Forest 1 (Earnshaw). Tickets sold: 23, 019.


At 8:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Shelvey?

At 8:36 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

It looks though Spring will start, and I can't see him pairing a debutant with a 16-year old in midfield for such a vital game. Also given you need Semedo on bench anyhow as defensive cover, not sure having Shelvey on bench adds much - if we are losing you want strikers, not central midfielders.

He may play 4-4-1-1 again I suppose, but this game is very different kettle of fish from a relaxed Cup tie where you can experiment.

There can't be many 16-year olds anywhere in the divisions playing week-in week-out, and for good reason.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Ken Jennings said...

Watched Basey v. Norwich. Very surprised at his lack of agility, especially getting turned and being slow off the mark. No doubting his enthusiasm, though, unfortunately a tendency to be a bit clumsy and give away free kicks.
I thought he was risky at full back for the above reasons - so perhaps moving him up would be a better move. He would (hopefully) have some cover behind him and can use that nice left foot for crosses.

At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm taking 20 kids/adults from our footie team tomorrow and my fear is that it will get called off when we get there. Imagine the tears...

Interesting what you say about coaching qualities. I've long thought we had the players, but not the motivational skills at management level. Chatted to a Hull fan in the week who said that Parky lacked confidence in tV interviews, which reflected in the players, and focused on matters like players' oxygen levels and not basics like defending set pieces.

See a pattern?

Pembury Addick


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