Monday, November 09, 2009

We Are Not Amused

Having successfully avoided finding out the result for fully eleven hours, I settled down for complete but (very) delayed 90-minute coverage of today's First Round tie.

It honestly never crossed my mind that we might conceivably have lost.

Admittedly even world-class defenders might occasionally have struggled with the succession of long throws aimed squarely at the head of the giant Matthew Bailey.

However one might reasonably assume their teammates may have offered a bit more quality at the other end in return. We did not create a single clearcut chance against part-timers.

Two outstanding early saves from Darren Randolph suggested he was grabbing his first-team chance quite literally with both hands, but he royally screwed up in the 82nd minute to hand Victoria a famous win.

Despite Phil Parkinson's post-match comments, I had never sensed that Charlton lacked commitment as it happens, perhaps with only a couple of exceptions as outlined below.

That incredible first-half goalmouth scramble surely offered considerable evidence that the players were willing to put their bodies on the line.

Sam Sodje meanwhile notably neutralised much of Victoria's aerial threat in the second period, with a series of acrobatic leaps. It would be hard to make the case meanwhile too that the likes of Omozusi, Dailly, Bailey and Semedo were not 'up for it'.

Instead the most disappointing aspect was the total lack of quality on display by supposedly League One's second best team which with only a couple of exceptions, represented a first-choice eleven.

On the type of perfect pitch which might be considered a mid-November rarity in non-League, where was the controlled passing football which has launched us to that second place spot, even if it is quite clearly now highly flattering to us?

Returned to the starting eleven after a spell on the bench, this televised tie represented an ideal chance for Jonjo Shelvey to show viewers his worth.

Instead he pranced around as if the stage was too small for him, and by the time he was rightly withdrawn he was largely anonymous. As I've suggested before, he's miles away from Premiership quality at present, but it's not clear anyone has told him yet.

Izale McLeod had shown one or two decent touches in an odd lone striker role, but his 46th minute elbow was disgraceful and a three-game suspension surely awaits based on video evidence. It seems that it's not only in front of goal that the £1million+ striker neglects to utilise his brain.

In the wider scheme of things, this loss is largely meaningless beyond the near-term embarrassment. Wednesday's tie at Southampton represents a more realistic chance of a trip to Wembely of course.

Whilst a money-spinning Third Round tie might have beckoned in January, the League must remain the top priority.

But where today's defeat does have meaning, is in terms of providing more evidence that it was the first six League games of the season that were the 'blip', rather than the most recent nine. To use an economic term, there's little sign of a 'V-shaped' recovery right now.

Throughout the season Parkinson has attempted to accommodate four 'natural' central midfielders. Perhaps earlier in the season we had enough raw talent as well as the 'surprise' factor to win matches, but now we just look unbalanced and bereft of ideas.

I'm not smart enough to have the answers. Maybe just a couple of back-to-back wins will reveal it was just a temporary confidence problem after all, with little fundamentally wrong. But on today's display, this seems just a trifle optimistic.


At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Ketts said...

Superb summing up NYA & a perfect example of why you are such a crucial player in the Charlton blogging world.

Hope you didn't have to stay up too late to witness that performance.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Suze said...

At least I was only ninety minutes behind the live play, though I did tell my Mum I'd phone her back part way through, because she might want to talk about the result. For a non-football fan she always calls after a match to talk about it.

It seemed the decided lack of commitment going forward was more the problem. There was no denying Randolph, Dailly and Sodje at the back were all that stood between us and humiliation, rather than embarrassment. And I agree, I'd be very surprised if McLeod doesn't get a ban after the viewing of video evidence for the elbow...

At 12:38 PM, Blogger ChicagoAddick said...

I thought you may do that. My son sky +'d it missed out on seeing friends later in the afternoon. He wasn't a happy bunny and of course unlike me, now faces the wrath of school mates this morning.

I missed the McLeod elbow because the internet feed went on the blink for a minute but what with him taking his shirt off after scoring, he doesn't come across as the cleverest.

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Lee said...

I hope that the FA comes down hard on McLeod and gives him at least a 6 game ban ... has no-one in management made the connection between our worrying form and McLeod the misfit taking a first team berth?

At 1:42 PM, Anonymous SLC Red said...

Like you, I had to avoid the result from getting up until 5pm Mountain. Had I not seen it, I don't think I would have believed the result or the report of how poor, uncreative or disinterested we had been. Yes, of course, a hiding to nothing. Having watched the Chelsea-Man Utd game when I got up, the Premiership seems an an awfully long time ago!

At 11:54 PM, Anonymous Curt BFC said...

A slightly more rational post than the one from this Grimsby fan regarding their own exit to a non-League team:

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