Friday, July 31, 2009

Best Team in Europe

"You say it best when you say nothing at all." (Ronan Keating, 1999)

I think it was Richie Benaud who said that a skilled TV commentator should only speak, if his words would add to the action the viewer could already see.

I’ve felt similarly about blogging about Charlton recently, which partly explains my two week absence.

At least there’s finally been a sense that decisions are being made at the club, although drawing conclusions on what they potentially mean for the status of the pending takeover for the club, is far from straightforward.

The ongoing lack of information from the club, whilst perhaps unavoidable, is doing nothing to mend this strained relationship with fans.

Criticism of the Board is widespread, but much of it unfair. In my view only two decisions in the past three years (albeit rather large ones) should reasonably be criticized, and not merely with the benefit of hindsight.

The first is the appointment of Les Reed on a ‘permanent’ basis, and the second was the way the full-time appointment of Phil Parkinson was managed (although not necessarily his appointment per se).

Both led to effective leadership vacuums for eight games, at a vital time during what turned out to be relegation seasons.

It is not clear the team would have survived either season under different circumstances, but the Reed decision was just plain poor, whilst the Parkinson one was handled poorly.

I don’t criticize the Board for their appointments of Dowie and Pardew; both were amongst the best realistic options available at that time, and based upon information known at that time.

Certainly as club fiduciaries however, the Board should surely have questioned the pair’s transfer strategy in more detail.

It is Board ‘intereference’ to tell the manager who to buy, but it is merely good practice to diligently question the background and valuation of each potential recruit, and the manager’s assessment thereof.

”So Alan, tell me more about this Izale fella…” doesn’t constitute unemotional managerial oversight in my view.

Does this week's recruitment of an assistant manager imply the takeover is likely off, and the current Board is moving on with stabilizing the team as best they can on a limited budget?

Or does it imply the takeover is firmly on with Parkinson given assurances about his future, and the green light to bring in a no. 2?

Given the conflicting ways to assess this announcement, specifically as a potential source of information on the status of the takeover, it was as much use as a chocolate teapot, and indeed today’s website statement on this very topic confirmed as much.

Signings continue to be free ones, with Christian Dailly the latest recruit. Given that the Scot is only two weeks younger than me, I can only hope his body hurts less than mine after he trains.

He is well-known for his taste for ‘Indie’ music, which may lead to some interesting team bus debates with some of the squad’s younger members.

Whilst hardly one for the future however, I think these types of signings are sensible (Richardson too), and it’s their type of experience and leadership which should at least ensure a third relegation in four seasons is avoided (a non-negligible probability previously in my view).

The club is reportedly also looking at veteran Tunisian defender Radhi Jaidi, a prodigious header of a football, a key trait in both boxes given the loss of the likes of Mark Hudson and Andy Gray.

With Dailly's arrival, at least there is a semblance of an experienced back four, but it’s getting a quartet of virtual strangers to gel and organize, which is the real challenge.

Given that we often defended last season like the opposition forwards had swine flu, it is to be hoped that Breacker’s background will be additive in this regard.

However once again, we will be competing largely with teams with substantially more prior togetherness, if not perhaps the same talents.

With only eight days to go until the opening day, our midfield remains intact and perhaps surprisingly so given rumoured interest about all five likely starters.

Whilst the use of Nicky Bailey on the left side unbalances the side somewhat, there is a real goalscoring threat right across the park, in what will surely be the comfortably the strongest midfield in the division.

With the underrated Jose Semedo, Grant Basey, and Matt Spring also in contention, and winger Wade Small still on trial, we have plenty of options here, more than can be said for our dwindling forward line.

Given Jonjo Shelvey’s ability to play like a deep-lying second striker, we can probably just about survive August without any further additions upfront, but we are desperate for a true target man.

Behind this rather threadbare squad, lies a group of talented but untested youngsters, some of which will surely play a role this season, but hopefully only when a modicum of much-needed confidence and optimism has infiltrated the entire club.

For those seeking just such 'green shoots', an Ipswich side inspired by the memory of Sir Bobby Robson beat Valladolid 3-1 tonight. Meanwhile, Charlton triumphed 2-1 over Ipswich just three days earlier, making us three goals better than Valladolid.

As recently as April, the mighty Barca could only beat Valladolid 1-0, which makes us two goals better than the Champions League winners. Hey pessimists, stick that one in your pipe and smoke it.

I head back to London next week, and all being well I’ll be taking up my seat in the Upper West Stand on Saturday, outstanding value at just £25 to see the finest team in Europe.


At 6:28 AM, Blogger Wyn Grant said...

I would be more critical of the Dowie decision which was really disastrous given the budget made available to him. Yes, he interviewed well and he had a (doctored) DVD. But talking the talk is different from walking the walk.

At 7:27 AM, Blogger Ketts said...

Hope you get to enjoy a victory against the injury-ravaged Chairboys NYA. Catch you pre-match in the RoD?

Will you be over long enough for any other matches?

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Dave said...

NYA - When Reed was appointed,the memory of the embarrassing search for Curbs' replacement was still fresh in the mind. Peter Taylor had looked and walked away and Billy Davies had done virtually the same thing. That process had taken many weeks and having sacked Dowie they had to take a swift decision. Les had been around since the Curbishley days and the players were, presumably, comfortable with him. As it turned out he clearly didn't have the personality to manage the media and the players didn't respond, but it was worth a brief shot in my view. The fact that the team hadn't responded for Dowie and went down under Pardew anyway further supports that. If he had managed to turn a few results, he may have got away with the media. The decision now to stick with Parky looks just like the Les Reed decision in that it feels like a second-best choice.They will argue that it's the only thing they can afford but further failure on the pitch will cost us even more. I wonder what Wycombe fans think about paying £25 to see the best team in Europe!

At 11:53 AM, Blogger Mike Woodhouse said...

I agree about Dowie (I was a huge fan until he signed Djimi Traore, at which point I pretty much gave up after 30-odd years) and Pardew (I wasn't too fussed because I'd already given up). With hindsight, the board have only ever made one managerial appointment that was good; they were just fortunate that it lasted over a decade.

Ho hum. Eight days? Really? How thrilling.

At 12:56 PM, Anonymous TeeC said...

finally a balanced summary of proceedings. excellent piece.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger New York Addick said...

I'll be back for the first six games, but only able to go to the two home games plus Orient.

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous noel said...

I'm desperately hoping they don't sign a 'targetman'. Then they will have no option but to pass the ball up the pitch, and with Shelvey, Racon, Sam, Samedo, Bailey etc they might even provide Burton with a few more stab-ins a la Norwich last May...I hated watching fullbacks constantly lump the ball in the general direction of Iwelumo....

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Toronto Addick said...

It seems the takeover is imminent!!

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Toronto Addick said...

It seems the takeover is imminent!!


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