Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cardiff preview

I can't honestly say I've felt any emotion about our relegation on Saturday.

It's seemingly been on the cards for so long that in a way it should have been a relief, but all the talk of 'bouncing back' underplays the size of the challenge ahead.

When Parkinson's role was made permanent on New Year's Eve, I wrote somewhat prophetically: "If relegation were to be effectively assured by say Easter, then season ticket renewal forms will be landing on doormats, coincidental with a severe recession. Hardly an ideal time for the relationship between fans and Board to hit a 20-year low."

In his post-match comments Parkinson presumably under strict club orders, emphasised the link between season ticket sales and our potential success next season.

The link is spurious at best, and partronising at worst. Peterborough United sit in 2nd place in League One, a season after promotion and with average home gates of just 7,449.

The past two seasons have seen outstanding season ticket sales, on the back of (false) optimism about promotion chances and the related Premiership season ticket offer. Why should fans assume the funds will be any better spent?

One might imagine instead that proper coaching, tactical guile and suitable motivation may be more relevant factors in producing results (which in turn drive ticket sales).

The past eighteen months for Charlton have been abhorrent, and I'm inclined to think that anyone associated with it deserves instant dismissal.

Whilst somewhat willing to acknowledge that he was probably merely Pardew's lackey until November, the case for retaining Parkinson is weak to say the least.

I believe that given the squad he inherited, there was enough scope over 28 games to provide tangible evidence that he has the ability to deliver results. Perhaps not enough to save us from relegation, but surely more than just three victories?

Even with relegation assured already, I still don't buy the oft-used argument that the players simply weren't 'good enough'.

Why should Charlton's relegated squad be so patently worse for example than Watford's, or particularly promotion-hunting Sheffield United's?

By my estimation, of the 37 players who started Championship matches this season, 20 have Premiership experience.

There was simply no attempt to build any sort of consistent system for them to play in, whilst the constant tinkering and obsession with loans appeared to made up on the hoof.

Seemingly only in the past few weeks has some semblance of stability been established, and it seems the results have finally begun to reflect its benefits. Unfortunately it was much too late for salvation.

The decision that the Board must now make with regard to Parkinson's future is not an easy one, and I do not envy them having to do so.

I suspect they will retain him in the name of continuity, although after a season like this one, I would argue continuity is the last thing we need.

The club is now ripe for a suitable manager to come in, and rip the club apart and start all over. The foundation is there, but unfortunately the building materials have been shoddy.

I'm not a sentimentalist in situations like this; I don't see any reason why so many of the coaching staff should be ex-Charlton players for example.

That 'all for one' approach may have been right in the 1990s, but it's a different club today partly thanks ironically to the success it generated.

Parky's promotion with Colchester will also count in his favour, although the two situations are vastly different, not least the relative expectations.

Next season will be far from easy. Leicester were relegated on the final day with 52 points, so all of the talk of 'doing a Leicester' ignores the fact that we haven't even managed to 'do a Leicester' this far.

The outstanding seasons meanwhile by MK Dons and Peterborough (both promoted from League Two in 2007/8), suggest that Charlton will again have to compete with smaller but considerably more stable and confident outfits.

Anyhow in a sense our preparation for next season begins three games earlier than the rest of our competitors, and it will thus be interesting to see how Parkinson's team selection reflects this.

The Football League will no doubt expect Charlton to 'keep it real' given Cardiff's promotion hopes, but after just 4 wins in 37 matches, the concept of a 'weakened side' offers considerable scope for debate.

It seems unlikely for example that Messrs. Butterfield, Ward, Zheng, and Kandol will be Charlton players next season, so there is absolutely no point playing them any longer.

Fixtures such as this one are sickening, because the likes of Cardiff have had a fraction of our resources this season, yet tower over us in the League table. The crowd and atmosphere promise to be a shocker.

I hope we line up as follows: Elliott, Moutaouakil, Basey, Youga, Hudson, Sam, Bailey, Racon, Shelvey, Burton, Tuna.Subs:Randolph, Spring, Wagstaff, Dickson, Holland.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 1 (Bailey), Cardiff 2 (McCormack 2). Tickets sold: 18,019. Seats occupied: 10,229.


At 6:16 AM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

Whoever the manager is next season the realistic target is consolidation in League with a hope of the fringes of the play offs. Unless the current takeover rumours have any substance in which case it's a whole new ball game.

At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Ketts said...

Have to disagree with Wyn on this one,the realistic goal for next season has to be promotion.

To be fair the Board have identified that & more-or-less said we MUST get promoted.

To convert the plan into reality means getting the important decisions right.The first thing that needs to be sorted is the managerial situation.Parkinson has to be confirmed or got rid of quickly.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

Until Parkinson's job is confirmed (one way of the other) he will continue to play the best players he has at his disposal. Two wins from the remaining three games will increase his win stats by 40%.

I don't believe Parkinson will get us promoted next season, but then I didn't think he would improve our results this season. He is, however, more likely to be given the chance if he keeps our run going.

At this stage my confidence in Charlton is at such a low I’m not sure Jose Mourinho would get us promoted next season if he had £100m to spend on players.

For that reason we might as well keep the chap that costs us nothing. At least that way we will start 2010/11 with a few more quid in the bank, I have a feeling we are going to need it

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wyn, where can I find these takeover rumours please?! Can't seem to find anything on newsnow...

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Toronto Addick said...

GReat insight (as usual) NYA. I have always been a proponent of promoting from within, as I feel that the new manager may have an idea og current needs and do a betterjob of assesing direction and need (although they may not have the necessary means to do so). My two suggestions for the next season would be either Matt Holland or even Mark Kinsella. (Just my two penny's worth).


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