Friday, December 17, 2010

Monkey Hangers

After more than three hours without a goal, Charlton will battle the elements and holiday traffic to arrive in Teeside for a game that has every chance of being postponed.

I guess my feelings towards any Addicks making the trip fall somewhere in between admiration and pity, but those who made the trip in the much warmer month of August 2009 were rewarded with a comfortable 2-0 win.

Although I run the risk of sounding like a broken record, having seen us comprehensively outplayed by Walsall and deservedly beaten by Brentford, I again find myself thoroughly disappointed with the degree to which the coaching staff is not producing a team that reflects the massive gulf in resources.

Hartlepool United are of course in a similar financial position to both of the aforementioned pair of clubs, their turnover being just £3m (the same as Charlton’s in 1994/95) and wage bill £2m.

I think is really the first time in my Charlton supporting life that the style of football on show is beginning to impact on my decision whether to attend or not, all of the other factors eg. family, journey time etc. notwithstanding.

Watching Charlton has never been more frustrating, and the funny thing is that despite all my moaning, we are winning far more than we are losing right now.

However this is akin to those that say you may as well drive a crappy car and fly Ryanair because they both get you from A to B. True of course, but how you get to your destination can’t simply be written off as irrelevant else BA and BMW would be out of business.

I don’t expect us to pass the ball like Arsenal or Barcelona, but I do expect some degree of technical ability and at least some occasional ‘quality’, even if only at set-pieces (where the lack of innovation astounds me).

If this ‘quality’ is going to be lacking in an absolute sense, then it would be nice given our wage bill if it could at least be apparent in a ‘relative’ sense.

Maybe it’s an age thing. As a teenager for example, I don’t recall caring much how we played so long as we got results.

Jeff Stelling’s favourite side are on a nice little run of one defeat in six League One games, most impressively and recently including two 1-0 away wins at Tranmere and Bournemouth.

Somewhat amazingly, they have picked up 15 of their 26 points on the road, despite scoring only eight goals away from Victoria Park.

At Brentford, there were occasional promising signs that a 4-3-3 formation might provide some rays of creative hope. It allowed McCormack and Racon to receive possession in between the opposition midfield and defence, whilst facing the goal.

Meanwhile Semedo was under less pressure to do more than the extreme holding role, to which he is well-suited (but no more).

Lee Martin was a little disappointing on the right-hand side of the forward three, and one wonders if this is a role better suited to Scott Wagstaff who usually gets crowded out in a 4-4-2.

However it was probably a formation designed for a one-off Cup game, and we can expect a reversion to the 4-4-2 that picked up impressive League wins at Swindon and Peterborough.

The bookies have priced the game up evenly, perhaps a little harsh on Charlton given they arrive on the back of three consecutive away wins, albeit over the course of nearly two months.

For my charity bet, I fancy a 1-1 draw which will probably suit both managers.

NY Addick bets £10 on Hartlepool 1-1 Charlton (at 6/1)


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