Wednesday, March 04, 2009

This Is A Low?

"Hit traffic on the dogger bank, Up the Thames to find a taxi rank, Sail on by with the tide and go asleep, And the radio says....THIS IS A LOW." (Blur, 1994)

I suspect most Charlton fans will be forced to admit that deep down, we're now sunk.

There's something darkly poetic perhaps about a home defeat on a filthy night, against a club that was playing non-League football as recently as 2003.

By all accounts we were given a footballing lesson tonight, by a side with a fraction of our resources, but a multiple of our heart.

They say bad weather is a great leveller. But not if one team acknowledges that pretty five-yard triangles will largely be unaffected, whilst the other punts it long to a solitary pint-sized striker.

Despite embarking on a small run of improved form (at least in a relative sense), Charlton have actually been left further adrift as their relegation rivals begin to lift their game.

The form guide has been firmly thrown out of the window in the Championship in recent weeks.

As I pointed out to a Burnley-supporting friend here in New York for example, the stuttering Clarets have simultaneously seen their play-off chances reduced, at the same time that their automatic promotion chances have increased.

Perhaps most gallingly for Charlton, some of those relegation rivals (especially Watford and Derby) are seemingly receiving a short-term boost, from making the type of brave managerial appointment that we skirted.

Even Billy Davies has presided over five League wins already at Forest, and he is reportedly under pressure.

Interestingly, the two teams that currently sit in the other relegation places both took the same easy option as Charlton did, making an internal appointment. However neither was the assistant to the previously discredited manager.

Three years of rank and uncharacteristic mismanagement have come to this. Much like stock market investors who vainly hoped 2009 would represent a fresh start, in truth there's no reason why this is the bottom for Charlton, even though it sure feels like it.

Danny Butterfield tonight became the 37th player to start a Championship game this season. There are 854,992,152 ways to select 11 from 37. At times it feels like we've tried them all, and still to no avail.

Even our last great hope Chris Dickson was reportedly embarrassingly poor tonight. This season really has been an abject failure.

It's time to start preparing for next season. If the bulk of the team likely to play for Charlton in League One get eleven games together now, then this gives us a chance of hitting the ground running.

Few will expect a Leicester-esque victory parade through the division. Indeed, at best next season may have to be the year of consolidation, that this season was probably meant to be.

Ignoring the loan signings for the moment, it's hard to find many more than a dozen or so of the current squad who will likely feature next season. They should all feature now to as far an extent as possible, without compromising our integrity.

A quick look down that long squad list suggests only the following are realistically going to wear a Charlton shirt next season: Bailey, Basey, Burton, Dickson, Elliot, Fleetwood, McLeod, Racon, Sam, Semedo, Shelvey, Sinclair, Spring, Wright, Youga.

Rather terrifying isn't it? Four of the above are strikers who never score, whilst one can probably presume that the foreign trio of Racon, Semedo and Youga might be tempted by a return to sunnier, and more familiar climes.

The finances available to reinforce those bare bones will meanwhile be severely limited, assuming of course the club does not take the option of administration, one that is effectively now 'free' given the irrelevance of the points deduction.

The club will set its PR team in motion to rally the fans behind a swift Championship return, but it should be viewed as being as pithy, as that free Premiership season ticket offer was now ridiculous with hindsight.

I told my Dad recently that if I returned to live in the UK, I'd probably choose to follow a local non-League team until my sons were old enough to properly appreciate a regular trip to The Valley.

Maybe it's just the bitterly cold weather, and the dire state of the economy that's additionally getting me down, but I'm genuinely worried I may get the chance to do both concurrently.

Merely steadying this ship under Captain Parkinson represents an enormous challenge. We may already have hit the iceberg.


At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Ketts said...

We will accept offers for any players we can raise fees for NYA,so Racon is almost certain to go.

Also Bailey is being courted by West Brom to spearhead their promotion charge next season.Hope we can hang on to him,he woud be a sensation in Tier 3.

The club would also like to move McLeod on.

Leicster certainly aren't anything special & the calibre of player we would likely have left would more than match their current squad.

The question is,is Parky the right man to motivate them & plot the return?

At 10:17 AM, Anonymous Spenny@work said...

Chris Dickson's so poor he wouldn’t make my Sunday team and will never be Championship class let alone league 1 class the strikers have been embarrassing since relegation players like Mcclod,Toddy,Gray,Fleetwood just can’t do it and have to go.Last night Dickson couldn’t finish a bag of crisps let alone open it…

At 5:00 PM, Blogger Ken Jennings said...

In attack, the team were utterly inept and clueless and a 'relegation fighting' 4-4-1-1 formation at home when there is no target man, shows the inept and clueless epithets are equally appropriate descriptions of the management.
I have been colder at the Valley and wetter but I have never been so dismayed. How can a club be totally bereft of anything resembling the word 'striker'?
I wonder if I will see anything different when I go back for more on Saturday? Oh why did I have to be a supporter of THIS club?

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't be too harsh on Dickson....everyone had a poor game. At least he provided the 2 bits of 'excitement' in the first half when he ran at the defence, albeit with a poor finish. Really you've got to blame the management for such a poor system in a must win game. Overall a very dismal night.


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