Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Reasons To Be Cheerful...

If it was up to me I'd make every Charlton game on a Tuesday night. Football under floodlights always seems so much more intense and the atmosphere is cranked up a notch or two regardless of the gate.

If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was Johnnie Jackson's favourite day of the week as well. Yet again, our talismanic leader drove Charlton on to another memorable victory. Yet another top night at the Valley.

Big Bob's new-look Charlton continue to impress with an attractive passing game that is light years away from Charlton sides of the recent (and not so recent) past. The new players have added something to every area we seriously lacked. We look a decent side capable of playing football. We look hungry and committed. We have options from the bench. Big Bob has created a monster that needs to fully understand just how powerful it can be.

How nice it is to say that.

Buyens (penalty picture above) and Bikey Amougou stood out yet again, perhaps upstaged only by a young lad of 17 years of age in Joe Gomez. Tucudean showed tonight why Charlton fans need to give the man a chance. Surely by now Charlton fans should have learnt their lesson in not jumping to conclusions! Vetokele showing the strikers instinct that could keep him amongst the Championship's leading scorers.

Some of these new faces may turn out to be our new heroes. They are heading in the right direction, for sure.

Johnnie never stopped running. His commitment the very best example of all we can ever ask from a Charlton player. What a man.

I felt for young Pope. Perhaps unsighted for their second goal, he knows he should have done better. He didn't deserve that. It left us with a nervy end to the game, but then it wouldn't have been Charlton any other way. 

The BBC match stats suggested Derby had nearly 65% of possession and it would be hard to argue against that. This was a hard fought victory against a very good passing side who will be up there challenging for promotion, of that I'm sure. Jamie Ward, a player who would not look out of place in the top flight, was outstanding for the visitors; a constant threat and a joy to watch at times. But as was the case with Wigan on Saturday, our minority possession proved to be irrelevant against chances taken. Only one stat counts come the final whistle. 

At this early stage of the season the league table deserves nothing more than a cursory glance at best, but after three games it is impossible to ignore the many positives from this new-look Charlton. Cause to be quietly optimistic? We'll see. I won't get carried away but one things for sure, I'm going to enjoy this positive feeling and embrace it.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Lost In The Moment...

I enjoyed a really good night at the Valley on Tuesday, but the game did have a pre-season feel about. Yesterday was different. League football was back at the Valley, and with it came that gut-wrenching  nervous tension and hopeful anticipation that will hang around now until next May.
A few pre-match beers calmed the nerves a little, but nothing helps better than an early Charlton goal. I'm not a fan of Jordan Cousins playing on the left of midfield, but the youngster gave Charlton a perfect start with a curling strike after just 8 minutes that took everyone by surprise.
Wiggins was tormented by Callum McManaman for Wigan's equaliser. At the time I felt Charlton's left-back should have done better, but having seen the goal again, you have to credit the Wigan man rather than blame bad defending. It was a great goal from a tight angle. Even so, Wiggins didn't have a great game. Perhaps the pressure of Fox breathing down his neck isn't helping. Competition for places in a Charlton squad? Another good sign. 
As was the case on Tuesday, Bikey Amougou was impressive at the back, whilst in the midfield, the energetic Buyens was always available for a pass and rarely wasteful. I doubt anyone missed Poyet yesterday. 
Wigan had plenty of spells of good possession, but lacked a cutting edge. Charlton stuck to their game plan.
When Igor Vetokele went through one on one late in the game, only to be superbly denied by Carson, you wondered if we'd have to settle for a point, but uncharacteristically Charlton continued to push for a winner. Big Bob's substitutions were positive and came with enough time to make an impact.
It seemed like every goal Charlton conceded last season was a cruel deflection and that unwelcome trend continued last week at Brentford, so it was very pleasing that our winner came in rather fortuitous circumstances. It's about time we had a bit of luck in front of goal. Franck Moussa's shot, deep in stoppage time, looked to be well blocked by a Wigan defender, only to loop up and over Carson into the goal. It seemed to take an age to hit the back of the net, but when it did the Valley erupted. As much as I enjoy the close season without worrying about football results, it's when moments like that happen that I am reminded of why I could never give up going to the football.
Following Charlton's winner Big Bob proceeded to upset Wigan's manager, Uwe Rosler, by over-celebrating the goal. Perhaps it wasn't the wisest thing to run towards the visitors bench with your fists clenched punching the air, but I think it's fair to say Peeters is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and I'm sure he was simply lost in the moment. We all were! I sat behind the Charlton bench on Tuesday and I was struck at how imposing a figure Big Bob was and how enthusiastic he was for Charlton to play a passing game.
Even in these early stages of the season there seems a very different Charlton personality out on that pitch; one that was brave enough to go for a winner when it may have been tempting to take the draw.
Another tough game awaits on Tuesday night against Derby County. I'd settle for a point right now, but then I would have done the same yesterday. 5 points from the first 3 games would represent a decent start, but something tells me Big Bob wants more... 

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Family Affair...

Since Roland Duchatelet bought Charlton there has been constant accusations from many that the identity of the club will be discarded mercilessly; that we will loose our Charlton to 'The network'. A summer of huge investment on and off the pitch has helped to calm those fears to some degree, but if you will allow yourself to look for small signs that the new owner might not be the ogre you think then you need only to have been at the Valley last night. In a high-profile position between the players entrance and the ticket office we now have a huge picture of Sir Chris erected. Far from brushed aside and forgotten, Powell has been remembered and respected for what he has done for our club. He's our hero, not Roland's, but the installation of this image alongside others (Kinsella and Killer amongst them) reflects very well on the new ownership and Katrien Meire's running of this club, in my opinion.
Signs of positive progress off the field, but what about on it?     
With two home league games inside of the next week it's fair to say the Capital One Cup 1st round won't top anyone's priority list. So often the proverbial banana skin, Charlton fans could not be blamed for keeping their hard earned cash in their pockets, but perhaps it was the curiosity of seeing a refurbished Valley that drew a rather impressive (relatively speaking) 5,700 gate. Those committed enough to venture to the game would have been well rewarded with a decent Charlton performance and four goals in surroundings more suited to the Premier league. Food for thought in what direction we may be attempting to move towards.
Colchester started well enough but soon faded under Charlton's dominance. The sending off of one-time Charlton target, Okuonghae, and the resulting penalty killed any real chance of this encounter being yet another horror night for Charlton, and sure enough, three second half goals eased Charlton in to the 2nd round. It could have been more. 
It's almost impossible to comprehend that Joe Gomez is still only 17. Playing at right back last night the young England U-17 international was outstanding and you have to wonder if Chris Solly was sitting rather uncomfortably at the back of the West Stand looking on. His calm and assured performance stood out, as did the experienced and reassuringly vocal, Bikey-Amougou. Yoni Buyens was impressive in the middle and his replacement on the hour mark, Gudmundsson, showed neat touches, an eye for a forward pass and most of all, a willingness to shoot from distance. It was his long range effort that provided Church with a tap in late in the game. I was pleased the much-maligned forward got a goal, as I was that the popular Wilson bagged two.
Sitting just behind the Charlton dug out I picked up on the enthusiasm Peeters has to play good attacking football and how cross he got when we wasted possession. I also picked up on the fact he seems to like smacking his players on the arse. In with the new regime, out with a good, honest, firm hand shake or a pat on the back and in with an open-handed arse slap, one of which seemed to take Tucudean by surprise after his substitution, much to the amusement of the coaching staff.
All in all it was a good night at the Valley made all the more memorable for the fact it was my daughter's first Charlton game. In fact, I took advantage of it being a non-school night and the low ticket prices and took my boy, 'er Indoors and my Addicks supporting Mum along as well. A real family affair! On the walk back to the car my little girl said she loved visiting the Valley. She knows how much the stadium means to me. Seeing her face light up when she first set eyes on the ground earlier in the evening will live with me forever. I asked her if she would now call herself a Charlton fan amongst her friends and she said "definitely, I want to come again". I told her that she will not always see Charlton brush teams aside and score four goals and that there will be highs and lows she must embrace. I warned her that we may never mix with the big boys in the Premier League. Just like her younger brother, I think they understand what supporting Charlton means, if only by virtue of what it's done to me down the years!
After the game Peeters hinted that the Delort deal was not dead and even the player himself admitted he was frustrated that the move has not happened yet. Hopefully Katrien can continue her good work and fill our number 9 jersey sooner rather than later. 
It's tempting to get carried away, and I'd love nothing more than to do so, but the visit of Wigan will be a whole different ball game and will be another huge test of Peeters new-look Charlton. Let's not forget this is a new team that need time to gel despite early promise. 
None the less, I, for one, will embrace the future with optimism! Bring it on!

Saturday, 2 August 2014


Good heavens, has it really been over 8 weeks since I last dropped by this blog? You won't have missed me, of course, but then again, if I'm honest I've not missed writing about Charlton. I can't deny it, as much as I have always loved my football, I do enjoy the close season. For a few precious months I don't need to plan my work and social life around Charlton fixtures and I can enjoy my days without worrying about football results. There's a certain novelty factor to a Saturday night untroubled by that gut-wrenching feeling of disappointment.

Towards the back end of last season I became thoroughly fed up with Charlton fans bickering amongst themselves so to coincide with the close season I decided to take a lengthy hiatus from social media. As a result, I've no idea if there is optimism ahead of the new season or not. I'm guessing there is still a fair amount of skepticism surrounding Mr. Duchatelet's long term intentions, but with costly improvements made to the Valley pitch and stadium and a number of fresh new faces added to the playing squad I would like to think we can finally put to bed this 'feeder club' nonsense. Whether or not there is credible concerns about being part of a 'network' remains to be seen, but I'm not seeing any hard evidence of it being a negative just yet and nor do I feel it has compromised Charlton's identity, for now at least. As always, I will reserve judgement until facts can be proven over speculation.

I've given Charlton's pre-season build-up nothing more than a cursory and occasional glance, but I must confess I woke this morning feeling very different. Perhaps that primeval emotion inside of me is waking from it's summer slumber, or perhaps the arrival of my season ticket yesterday has ignited a spark once again! 

Instinct is beginning to take over now the football season is edging ever closer. For a second or two, as I lay in my bed staring up at the ceiling, I even debated hopping in the car and heading down to Pompey, but a post-holiday empty wallet put an end to that idea. At the time of writing this, Charlton have just secured a 2-1 victory at Portsmouth to conclude their pre-season fixtures, with the new strikers finding the net with decent finishes by all accounts.

Next Saturday the real business begins at Griffin Park. I'm really gutted I wasn't able to get a ticket, but I can have little complaints really given my infrequent away day record. I've always loved visiting that ground even with the crippling lack of leg room in the away end upper. Last time I was there was back in 2009 when Charlton were negotiating their way through their first season in League One. Re-visiting my post following the game is a reminder of dark days I don't ever want to see again and the last two paragraphs in particular make for difficult reading.   

Anyone reading this who may have a spare for next Saturday, please let me know!!!

I have all week to shake myself off from my hibernation and ready myself for the rollercoaster ahead. Come on you Addicks!