Saturday, August 21, 2010

Passed Out

I usually opt for the West Upper on a match-by-match basis, but for no particular reason I again tried out the West Lower where my old Premiership season ticket was once located.

So imagine my delight when a minute before kick-off, Charlton's suspended midfielder Jose Semedo sat down two seats away from me alongwith who I assume was Miguel Llera's dad and young son.

When the Portuguese squeezed past me, I can't help thinking he left his foot in. He may have been going for the seat, but it was reckless and unnecessary.

The young Llera meanwhile appeared confident, but then struggled to stay on his feet at the vital moment.

Joking aside, it remains frustrating that despite the obvious team spirit that Phil Parkinson has engendered, we were again out-passed by the opposition.

Charlton are not a passing side. We are a high-tempo side, getting the ball forward quickly, closing down space and trying to feed the ball to a pair of nippy wingers.

Obviously if passing was the be all and end all, then Arsenal would win the Premiership and Doncaster would be flying high in the Championship.

However I fear on this evidence that we may be too easy to 'find out', forcing us into a Plan B in which we are less comfortable.

All the while, technically competent sides like Oldham can pass the ball around us.

For example, every single time either Reid or Wagstaff got on the ball today, they were marked by two players.

Neither full-back was able to get forward in support quickly or energetically enough to tempt one of the defenders away.

With their wide threat thus largely snuffed out, Racon (especially) and McCormack struggled to win the central midfield battle, whilst Martin increasingly took out his frustration on his marginal role with several niggly fouls.

Pawel Abbott used his strength wherever possible to win some quality possession, but there was rarely anyone breaking beyond him.

Whilst taking nothing away from an impressive Oldham side who were always neat and tidy, it was a desperately disappointing performance and it has given me a sharp reality check.

Indeed other than Wagstaff's excellent finish, the home side did not create a single chance of note.

The away side meanwhile were denied by the post (twice), an excellent Rob Elliott save and some desperate defending.

Here are my ratings:

Elliott 8 - well-beaten for the goal, but produced two outstanding saves to salvage a point;
Francis 5 - looked shaky at times; also does it make sense to have one of the best headers of the ball taking some corners?
Jackson 6 - makes Grant Basey look pacy at times, but generally uses the ball well;
Doherty 6 - wins most of his headers, but his clearance for the equaliser was weak and unnecessarily in front of the centre of the goal;
Llera 6 - like Bambi on ice at times, but performed ok on a difficult afternoon;
McCormack 6 - fought hard for every ball but he was let down by his midfield partner;
Racon 4 - virtually anonymous and understandably withdrawn;
Reid 7 - always probing but largely marked out of the game - the lack of movement around him doesn't help him find space;
Wagstaff 6 - another smart finish but like Reid was largely crowded out;
Abbott 6 - a good knock-down for the goal, but lacked support;
Martin 5 - seemed frustrated but did little to alter affairs - needed to get beyond Abbott, not merely play behind him.


At 1:33 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

I agree one hundred percent with this assessment. What I'm not sure about is whether Parkinson's approach is by necessity or design. Does he want to play this way and so focuses entirely on what happens in the top third of the pitch or is it because he simply can’t get the quality in midfield? What do you think?

Whatever the answer is, we are likely to experience a very difficult season as spectators because even if the “system” works, in the sense that it gets points on the board, Charlton are not going to look like a promotion winning side. The odds are that the stronger teams will tend to outplay them and at least appear to be better sides, as Oldham did yesterday.

I’ve given up on Racon. When I first saw him I felt that he could be really useful, but in my view he is barely good enough to be playing at this level. Its not that he doesn’t have ability. The problem is that he plays with his head down and seems to have no real idea what to do when he is in possession [other than try a trick and lose the ball] and even less idea how to find space and create anything. Semedo is better [and much more popular] simply because he is so wholehearted and does a job defensively, but in possession he is even more limited than Racon. The central midfield area is a real problem, especially when playing with two wide men who aren’t passers of the ball either.

One thing Parky might do is narrow the midfield [i.e. leave out one of the wide players] or play five in the middle and task someone with getting forward in support, say Martin. Although it may have seemed harsh, one option yesterday might have been to bring on Fry at left back and push Jackson forward, taking off either Reid or Wagstaff. At least with more men in midfield there may be more options for the man on the ball. I quite like the look of Jackson, but I was also struck by how slow he seemed yesterday and that may mean that he’d be less of an asset in midfield than I had assumed.

I guess if there was an easy answer Phil Parkinson would have found it.

At 8:56 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

It'd be pretty worrying if PP was preparing them to be a passing side, and then we played like that. I'm not convinced by PP but I don't think he's that bad!

If his favoured central midfield pairing is Semedo and McCormack, then we can expect plenty of biting tackles and more of the same high-tempo football.

I thought Martin looked really frustrated yesterday - he could do some serious damage if he received the ball to feet 'in the hole', but it just never happened.

Racon has always been an enigma - I honestly couldn't tell you what type of player he was because he is so inconsistent.

Maybe it's too ambitious to play with two out-and-out wingers. Perhaps if you had more of a ball-playing midfielder on the flank (eg. Martin in place of Wagstaff) then we could keep possession more readily, whilst maintaining the balance.

At 1:09 AM, Blogger ChicagoAddick said...

Very perceptive report as always NYA. I think PP values a higher tempo game to a passing one. I'm okay with 110% workrate, tempo and pace over passing and individuality at this level.

We are still two players short though and I can see a nippy forward playing alongside Abbott or Sodje, with Martin playing right mid.

At 4:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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