Friday, September 24, 2010

No Place Like Home

All being well, I will land back at Heathrow on Saturday morning after a busy week in New York.

Although the weather here has been variously described as 'glorious' (sunny, mid-80s), it has left me cowering in the shade panting like a overheated dog.

I'm not a hot weather person, and it reminded me just how little I have missed it since moving home. I consider the UK's mild weather to be its most underrated virtue.

I've been known to drive as far as Sheffield to watch the Addicks straight after landing back from a US trip, but I will be sensible this time and give the Daggers game a miss although I have a ticket for Tuesday night.

Instead if I have enough energy, I'm going to get an early taste of FA Cup action when my newly adopted non-League side Chesham United take on local rivals Wealdstone.

Just three wins separate The Generals from a potential dream tie (for me at least) against Charlton. It's humbling to note that Chesham play at the same level of the pyramid as Northwich Victoria (our nemesis last season).

Events at The Valley will mark the 25th anniversary of our temporary departure from what was then our enormous (indeed the country's biggest), but decrepit ground.

I attended the Crystal Palace game at which the departure was announced, the final Stoke game and the first game at Selhurst Park against Sunderland.

At just 12-years old, I was probably too young to appreciate the implications of what was going on.

However looking back, rather than wallow in sad nostalgia it's better surely to ask what might have happened to the club had we stayed at The Valley.

It's difficult to say of course but the club needed to hit rock bottom (off the pitch at least) in order for so many who held it dear to find the spirit to lift it back up again.

On the pitch however, there was a five-year miracle going on thanks to the incredible job that tomorrow's special guest Lennie Lawrence did. His contribution to the club's recovery was as important as anyone's during the past 25 years.

The Valley looks resplendent today when compared to those photos from 1985, but now it is on-pitch matters that have hit a low point, the team lying 54th in the domestic League hierarchy.

Our season is tantalisingly poised, easily able to spring in either direction in the space of just the next four days.

Two perfectly achievable home wins would give us 17 points from 9 games, probably automatic promotion form.

With plenty of potential for improvement, this would represent a most satisfactory start especially given the mediocrity of much of our play thus far.

I argued last week that Parky just needed to find an extra 10% from his side to be realistic promotion contenders, based upon his League One win ratio of 50%.

In the same post I made all of the predictable tactical adjustments that any fan could, but I stopped short of suggesting that the answer lay in good old-fashioned coaching and organisation.

Unlike numerous players who came and went under Curbishley, it's difficult so far (admittedly in only two years) to think of many of Parky's team that have categorically improved under his stewardship.

In addition to ongoing frustration about the rather unimaginative direct style in which the team plays, this remains a concern. As stated ad infinitum, the team spirit is not in question.

Those that attended the paintball tie against Dagenham were most uncomplimentary about the Essex side's quality, which rather begs the question why we only won 1-0.

With just local rivals Leyton Orient below them in the table, this really is a fixture that the Addicks have to win, and ideally to do so in some style with strikers scoring for once.

MK Dons will likely represent a more challenging task, their season off to a good start under young boss Karl Robinson, assisted by player coach, Dietmar Hamann.

Most of the best work has been done at their impressive stadium however, and defeats on the road at Carlisle and Brighton provide the Addicks with a benchmark.

Parky continues to have considerable team selection dilemmas in all areas, from goalkeeper to striker.

He will likely opt for the more experienced Luke Daniels between the sticks, whilst I would expect Matt Fry to return for the gaffe-prone Miguel Llera.

Scott Wagstaff continues to offer a goal threat (just as he did last season), but his all-round game remains a work-in-progress.

Kyel Reid was surprisingly dropped on Saturday, especially so given he regularly gives the impression of being far too good for this division.

Indeed with the woeful lack of creativity in central midfield, it is hard to believe that our best hopes do not rest upon both Reid and Lee Martin starting most matches (which of course likely means Wagstaff must again begin on the bench).

Speaking of central midfield, Racon will probably get the nod again ahead of McCormack although going forward I would not consider the popular Semedo's place to be sacrosanct given his solid, but ultimately limited approach.

Paul Benson needs to end his goal drought fast, else Parky must surely face the prospect of dropping his star signing to the bench in order to give the likes of Anyinsah and Sodje their own chances to find the elusive net.

For my charity bets, I'm going to back Benson to get off the mark with aplomb against his old club, whilst I fancy an edgy 1-0 win for the Addicks against MK Dons.

NY Addick bets £10 on Paul Benson to score 2 or more (at 5/1)
NY Addick bets £10 on Charlton 1-0 MK Dons (at 6/1)


At 8:06 PM, Anonymous SLC Red said...

This will be the nearest we have ever come to meeting. I'm flying out of Heathrow in the morning to JFK. Maybe we'll have that pint in December. Good luck Addicks.

At 9:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done with the charity bet! My money was on 0-0. Glad I was wrong!


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