Friday, January 16, 2009

Wednesday preview

For the first time in over three months, Charlton's manager must decide on Saturday whether to change a winning side.

I wrote in my Norwich preview that if Parky selected an experimental young side, then a rare victory would present an unusual (but surely welcome) problem.

Based upon reports I've read, our performance at Carrow Road was hard-fought rather than brimming with quality, but it seemed to demonstrate two obvious points.

Firstly, regardless of the so-called 'professionalism' of our loan recruits, both they and their clubs have agendas which differ from our own (rehabilitation, match fitness etc..).

The incentives of Charlton's permanent players, particularly now that almost all of the ex-Premiership detritus has left, are entirely 'aligned' meanwhile with those of the club.

Secondly, as I've argued here before, if there is any cohort of players at the club least likely to be mentally affected by our 18-game winless run, it is surely the youngsters.

They have been less directly involved, and whereas their rawness can produce naivety, it can also generate implusiveness where our more experienced heads are perhaps 'thinking too hard'.

Importantly too, some of those youngsters have recently been involved at clubs on their own loan deals, and have experienced that winning feeling there too. I'm not sure this benefit should be underestimated either.

The club welcomed Tom Soares to the club, a player with considerable experience for a relative youngster, but again he represents the type of loan (like Waghorn, McEveley, Bouazza or Cranie) that we have no hope of signing permanently. I'm not sure how far this takes us.

However it would be overkill surely for Parky to just name an unchanged side, the unavailable Deon Burton excepted (more about him later). The likes of Wagstaff and Yussuff will get another chance as they continue their footballing education.

However for the likes of the more experienced Moutaouakil or Wright, to be automatically returned to obscurity in favour of the same stale style of team selection that got us here, would be a mistake.

The Burton situation appears to be a very clear case of 'third-party interference'. He is either a Charlton player, or he isn't surely?

Unless of course it represents a 'gentleman's agreement' between the two clubs, in which case Charlton's league position demands a rather ungentlemanly approach in my view (not that Burton has set the world on fire at Charlton).

A couple of seasons ago, West Ham apparently reneged on a similar agreement, and fielded Luis BoaMorte in a vital fixture against his former club Fulham. If Parky would ideally select Burton, then we should do the same.

These types of situations have cropped up often in the past couple of years, most notably in the cases of the transfers of Tim Howard and Steve Kabba. As West Ham fans never tire of gleefully pointing out, the moralising tone of critics of the Carlos Tevez saga needs to be seen in the above context.

With our closest rivals in 22nd and 23rd place facing each other tomorrow, and Watford, Norwich and Forest all playing at home, a defeat for the Addicks could leave us not so much adrift, as virtually sunk.

Whilst Wednesday sit very comfortably in midtable, they have surprisingly conceded the fewest goals at home in the division (just 7 in total). Their away form has generated an extraordinary goal difference of -20, suggesting Brian Laws' side is just a little unpredictable.

Although the Owls remain relatively well-supported (average crowds of 20,000, helped by a number of South Yorkshire derbies), they are watched in a delightful iconic Hillsborough stadium that holds twice as many.

Thus unlike some other well-supported Championship sides, the Wednesday fans cannot generate an intimidating atmosphere, a factor which might further assist those younger players that Parky remains loyal to.

I think he'll select as follows: Elliot, Moutaouakil, Hudson, Fortune, Basey, Soares, Bailey, Wright, Ambrose, Shelvey, Gray. Subs: Randolph, Holland, Spring, Sam, Waghorn.

NY Addick predicts: Wednesday 0, Charlton 1 (Soares). Att: 18, 289.


At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Murty injured? If not, I'd be astonished if he doesn't start. I'd also be surprised if Spring doesn't get the nod ahead of Josh Wright, but that choice will be more interesting. 1-0 would be a fantastic result!!!

At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly, we need some new faces in to feshen up the team. More players in on loan.


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