Friday, March 04, 2011

Tranmere Preview

Perhaps the only positive thing coming out of Tuesday night, was the knowledge that a perfect opportunity to return to winning ways would present itself just four days later.

The attendance could be truly dire (the actual one that is, not the published one), and is bound to be worse than the previous Saturday season low of 14,436 against Notts County.

A comment on my last post accused me of being a perennial pessimist, so here’s an optimistic note - if we can play this poorly and still be 8th and firmly in the play-off hunt, what might the season bring if Chris Powell can generate just some moderate improvement?

The vast difference in games played due to postponements and FA Cup responsibilities, has lent the League One table a rather confusing look.

When you support one of the teams with games in hand, there’s a tendency to think you are in a better position than you really are by saying, ”Now, if we just win our x games in hand…”, handily forgetting that even the best teams in a division rarely win more than 50% of their matches.

So in an attempt to equalise for games played, here is the current League One table in terms of average points per game so far:

Brighton 2.00
Bournemouth 1.76
Huddersfield 1.70
Southampton 1.68
Peterborough 1.66
MK Dons 1.53
Charlton 1.52
Rochdale 1.50
Leyton Orient 1.47
Colchester 1.45
Carlisle 1.41
Oldham 1.39
Brentford 1.34
Hartlepool 1.33
Exeter 1.30

In short, Brighton are virtually out of sight but there’s a genuine four-way battle for second place.

Charlton meanwhile are effectively sitting in joint sixth place with MK Dons, turning next Tuesday’s fixture into one of enormous importance. As my most local away fixture, it’s frustrating that I’ll instead be on the wrong side of the Atlantic next week.

Colchester are in something of a false ‘absolute position’ in 7th, however in the case of Rochdale and Leyton Orient, there’s a reminder of panto season because it’s very much a case of ”They’re behind you!

Given that both sides are unbeaten in over two months, the chances of either side leapfrogging us in either the absolute or relative league table before long must be high.

Indeed the Os have only lost to Brighton and Arsenal in any competition since 2nd November, a fabulous achievement.

However for now I’ll spare readers another lecture on the relative resources that their respective (impressive) managers are playing with.

It won’t have escaped the eagle-eyed amongst you that 11 of our remaining 15 fixtures are against teams listed above. This leaves our fate firmly in our hands, but based on recent performances this may not be a good thing.

Consider for example the following seven fixtures between 22nd March and 16th April: Southampton (H), Bournemouth (A), Rochdale (A), Leyton Orient (H), Southampton (A), Oldham (A), Huddersfield (A).

Right now I’m trembling with fear at the prospect of our promotion hopes dying a slow death during those four weeks, but Powell will hopefully view them as a chance to prove the doubters (like me) wrong.

As has been pointed out on Dave’s excellent Drinking During The Game blog, the ‘Sir’ in Sir Chris Powell has quietly been dropped, seemingly the first person to be stripped of an honorary knighthood since Robert Mugabe.

One of course was once a well-respected black leader, more recently blamed for leading his supporters into abject despair on the back of false promises, ill-judged policies and emotional rhetoric.

The other meanwhile is President of Zimbabwe.

On a more serious note, an unlikely but meaningful wildcard to look out for is the possibility that Plymouth Argyle are wound up before the end of the season.

If this unfortunate outcome occurs and their record is expunged, there would be a boost to Southampton, MK Dons and Exeter, the only teams not to have taken points from Argyle this season. Charlton meanwhile took 4 from 6.

Tomorrow’s opponents Tranmere have been unpredictability personified all season, and arrive at The Valley on a nasty little run of form themselves.

Their boss Les Parry must be the only football manager with a PhD under his belt, although one imagines just a couple of GCSEs would provide enough education to unlock the current Addicks side.

This fixture conjures up uncomfortable memories of the 1991/92 season, when a 1-0 midweek defeat at Upton Park virtually put paid to Charlton’s unlikely play-off hopes in Curbishley and Gritt’s inaugural season.

In other news, Addicks chairman Michael Slater has been indirectly linked to secretive property magnate Kevin Cash, currently enjoying some exposure at an employment tribunal.

For those who have missed this ongoing and heartwarming story, two of his former household staff are claiming unfair dismissal after allegedly serving Cash his chicken dinner at 6pm rather than 7pm, much to his (understandable) rage.

My own wife has certainly learned from bitter experience not to make that particular mistake in our home. She's still cleaning the Chicken Tonight off the walls.

Nonetheless, the story has got the rumour mill roaring into overdrive again, with fans wondering if Cash might be one of the secret money men reportedly behind the Addicks takeover.

I’ve no idea of course, but suffice to say that if true he had better get used to having his boardroom dinner before 7pm at evening games.

By the time he’s polished off the chicken, tucked into dessert and indulged in coffee and CAFC-branded chocolate mints, he's likely to miss seeing us go 1-0 down.


At 10:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're a miserable old git but you do make me laugh..


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