Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Suffer the Children

Last night I attended my first home game of the decade, and unlike my below described trip to MK Dons, the absence of my young son meant I was likely to witness more than just the opening period.

However with about 20 minutes on the clock, I was desperately regretting not bringing him along again, because the thought of much more of it was torture.

Charlton went a goal ahead thanks to a solitary moment of class, but as a spectacle it was turgid stuff.

Admittedly Colchester’s direct approach was partly to blame, but it was not as if we were trying to play slick passing football ourselves.

Those awful long balls to the channels, from full-back to no-one in particular were played more regularly from Charlton boots than Colchester . I know because I counted them.

Having built his reputation around the direct approach, at least Aidy Boothroyd’s side had the wisdom to lump it in the general direction of the goal. Unfortunately for them, they had Kevin Lisbie up front.

I’m not sure I buy Phil Parkinson’s post-match comments about Colchester denying us the ability to play our natural game.

I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the Swindon vs Exeter game between two passing sides, and we don’t look remotely like either of them.

Last night’s game meanwhile was strictly one for the purists, but unfortunately the stadium (or at least the West Upper where I was sat) was teeming with young kids, presumably enjoying a rare evening game during school holidays.

No doubt the suburbs of SE London and Kent were thus ringing last night with the sound of ”Never again Daddy,”, not least from the poor young lad who took a typically cultured Colchester clearance full in the face just a row behind me.

Parkinson was absolutely right however to note that we matched Colchester for spirit and fight, especially in the frantic final minutes.

The visitors are truly pitiful to watch, and whilst the statistical defence for their approach seems valid (ie. you can only score in the final third), is there any evidence that it actually works in practice? Doesn’t quality of possession count for something too?

Christian Dailly was immense, and will likely win my Player of the Year vote for sheer consistency. His fellow three defenders meanwhile could not be faulted, restricting Colchester to just half-chances.

At the opposite end of the field, Nicky Forster was neat and tidy and took his goal well.

He has something of the Clive Mendonca in the way he plays and moves, which is a shame because he spent most of the match trying to win headers against giants.

Not surprisingly perhaps, Therry Racon was anonymous with the ball fizzing back and forth above him, whilst Akpo Sodje had an unproductive evening.

Without the guile of the likes of Forster or Burton, Sodje needs to play the role of old-fashioned battering ram (particularly on nights like this), but he seems to lack the presence.

The oft-maligned Lloyd Sam proved some of his critics wrong meanwhile, making productive use of a limited amount of possession, not least with a peach of a cross for the goal.

Results elsewhere were mixed, and our merely average goal difference may soon become a decisive factor.

Play-offs look a near certainty now, but realistically who would we fancy ourselves against? Indeed we may want to be careful what we wish for.

We could narrowly and bravely finish third behind the top two, and then face the rampaging Saints in the play-offs, a thought frankly too horrible to contemplate.

Similarly a potential tie against Millwall threatens to render last night’s battle a mere ‘shot across the bows’.

They say the sign of a good team is one that plays badly but wins, but that’s a load of bull (especially as we’ve only won 6 of 16). The sign of a good team is one that plays well and wins.....regularly.

But I guess my general ‘take away’ from last night is whether the way the club is operating today is too short-termist (contrasting with the period under Curbishley for example).

Despite all the permutations, the bookies only give Charlton a 30% chance of winning promotion this season and they’re not usually wrong.

Obviously we’d take promotion it if it comes our way, but there’s a 70% chance we will have a 46-game campaign in League One again (even after these three ugly 1-0 wins in four games).

All of which begs the question, do all of these ostensibly short-term measures (the loans; the seemingly random rotation; the lack of a discernible 'system' etc.) serve the club's best interest in the medium-term (potentially as soon as next season)?

Maybe we need to accept a few rebuilding years of famine, to set up the subsequent feast. It might take a decade or more to get back to the Premiership; scrambling to a 1-0 victory in our next game is not the be all and end all.

At the moment we're both short-termist and stumbling, which can't be good.


At 9:16 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

I fear the short term view is down to the fact that the club will strggle to have a medium term future in this division with the running costs that have been allowed to continue out of the Premier League.

The famine you talk about could be very damaging both to the club, but more so to the current directors who were, rumoured, to be getting money for the club plus their loans repaid last summer.

If another season in this division will bring administration then the board will lose c. £25m. It's no wonder they are making rash short term decisions. Sadly, as you have hinted at, they've been doing this now for three years and they haven't worked yet!

At 3:51 PM, Blogger ChicagoAddick said...

Mrs NYA is very perceptive isn't she :-)


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