Saturday, May 02, 2009

Norwich preview

After a week of terrifying 'man gets flu' headlines, it's back to the slightly less terrifying business of Championship football at The Valley.

The otherwise potentially funereal atmosphere should at least be enlivened by the Canaries' own relegation battle.

Charlton can of course instead just relax and wallow in the warm comfort of their own considerably earlier demise.

Although a number of spots are yet to be decided, next season's League One already promises to have something of a southern feel to it.

This would of course be further enhanced if we were joined by the relative (albeit agricultural) sophisticates of Norwich, rather than those ghastly tykes from Yorkshire. Thus I rather hope we avoid defeat at The Valley on Sunday.

One might imagine that the mouthwatering possibility next season of a South-East sextet of Charlton, Southend, Gillingham, Colchester, Millwall and Leyton Orient, is already whetting the appetite of the club's marketing team, as they promote tantilising corporate packages to local businesses.

Throw in a day trip to Brighton, a short hop to Brentford or Wycombe, and a leisurely drive to the likes of Northampton and MK Dons, and I'm starting to wonder if the promise of The Ashes during the summer will be enough to placate my excitement about next season.

Bryan Gunn enjoyed a promising start to his managerial career, being forced to wait until his fifth game to experience defeat at home to Bristol City.

However that defeat heralded a miserable run of 11 points from 14 games, a trend which sees them requiring a win at The Valley, and defeat for Barnsley at Plymouth to ensure survival.

It has not escaped notice that the two relegated clubs (Charlton and Southampton), alongwith the club most likely to join them (Norwich), each changed manager mid-season via an internal appointment.

This compares to a different approach adopted by other clubs with managerial turnarounds, namely Nottingham Forest (safe), Derby (safe), and Watford (safe).

Whilst the long-term benefits of their approach may yet be tested, the short-term distress of relegation feels for now to be multiples more devastating than that could ever be.

Instad our trio of unfortunates, with combined average Championship attendances of 62,417, and a recent reputation whilst not exactly as stalwarts of the Premiership, but at least as respected and regular members thereof, now find themselves preparing for League games at Yeovil.

The media appear to have taken the predictable route of blaming the problems of adapting back to life outside the Premiership, but it's a simplistic argument.

It fails to address why other recently relegated clubs like Ipswich, Coventry or Palace have adapted so much better (what would Charlton give for example for Ipswich's so-called 'problems', whilst sitting 9th in the Championship?).

Phil Parkinson has shown about as much imagination with his recent team selections, as Susan Boyle has with her dress sense.

Having wasted a perfect opportunity against the likes of Blackpool or Derby to blood a couple of youngsters, he now risks the ire of Barnsley and the Football League if he does so on Sunday.

Cue therefore the same tired eleven, ostensibly our 'strongest side' yet one that's managed just 1 win in 13. What that says about Parky's managerial abilities is for more powerful people than me to decide.

I'll confidently predict he'll line them up as follows: Elliot, Butterfield, Youga, Ward, Hudson, Bailey, Racon, Zheng, Shelvey, Sam, Burton. Subs: Randolph, Solly, Spring, Tuna, Kandol.

NY Addick predicts: Charlton 1 (Bailey), Norwich 0. Tickets sold: 22,921.


At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Sheriff said...

Unsurprisingly, I'm hoping you turn on the style tomorrow and batter Norwich, thus making our inevitable defeat at Plymouth irrelevant.

Failing that, I'll settle for the most tedious 0-0 draw in either game.


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